Friday, December 09, 2016

Johnny Cash, the Poet in Black

By Ben Sisario
November 11, 2016

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Shortly before he died, Johnny Cash scrawled down eight short lines in a shaky hand, mortality clearly on his mind.

“You tell me that I must perish/Like the flowers that I cherish,” he wrote. He considered the hell of “nothing remaining of my name,” before concluding with an affirmation of his own legacy:

But the trees that I planted
Still are young
The songs I sang
Will still be sung

That poem, “Forever,” is part of a new collection, “Forever Words: The Unknown Poems” (Blue Rider Press), to be published next week. Edited by Paul Muldoon, a Pulitzer Prize-winning poet and Princeton professor, the book includes 41 works from throughout Cash’s life — the earliest piece, “The Things We’re Frightened At,” was done when he was 12 — that were among the papers left behind when Cash died in September 2003.

In some ways the poems mirror Cash’s songwriting, with terse ballads of outsiders in love, and parables drawn from the Bible; Cash’s version of Job is a wealthy cattleman who “cried out in agony/When he lost his children and his property.” And for Cash, who in his last years drew a new audience with a set of stark and fragile recordings, the poems present yet another look at a legend of American music.

“I want people to have a deeper understanding of my father than just the iconic, cool man in black,” said John Carter Cash, his son. “I think this book will help provide that.”

Some poems in “Forever Words” are unmistakably personal. “You Never Knew My Mind,” from 1967, captures Cash’s bitterness as he was going through his divorce from Vivian Liberto. (He married June Carter the next year.) “Don’t Make a Movie About Me” rejects the Hollywood machine but then slyly gives advice on a film treatment. “Going, Going, Gone,” from 1990, is a painfully detailed catalog of the ravages of drug abuse: “Liquid, tablet, capsule, powder/Fumes and smoke and vapor/The payoff is the same in the end.”

At other times, Cash seems to tinker with his own body of work. “Don’t Take Your Gun to Town,” dated to the 1980s, rewrites his classic 1958 song “Don’t Take Your Guns to Town,” in which a headstrong young cowboy dies when he ignores his mother’s advice. In the new version, a jaded man plans a “Taxi Driver”-like rampage against “people/Who need silencing,” but this time he listens.

“I believe he wanted to make a statement,” the younger Mr. Cash said. “He owned guns. But he definitely believed that you do not need to carry a gun in your pocket to town.”

Even so, Cash kept that version private, although, along with a handful of the poems in this collection, the manuscript for “Don’t Take Your Gun” was sold at auction.

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In his introduction, Mr. Muldoon places Cash in a poetic tradition that comes out of Scotch ballads, and also raises a point that was hotly debated after Bob Dylan won the Nobel Prize in Literature last month: Are song lyrics really the same as poetry? Do lyrics lose something when removed from their musical context?

Like Cash’s lyrics, the poems in “Forever Words” are written in plain language, usually with a clear rhyming meter. There are strikingly evocative images (“The dogs are in the woods/And the huntin’s lookin’ good”), as well as some well-worn phrases about soaring eagles and hell’s fury that might pass unnoticed in a song but jump out on the page.

In an interview, Mr. Muldoon put Cash alongside Leonard Cohen, who died on Monday, and Paul Simon as examples of songwriters whose words hold up on their own. Even so, he added, the “pressure per square inch” on lyrics “can be a wee bit lower than in a conventional poem.”

“But that’s not necessarily a bad thing,” he continued. There are occasions when the simple, direct phrase is the one that works.”

Taken together, Mr. Muldoon said, Cash’s poems have a broad sweep.

“You still see the same scenes — love, death, loss, joy, sadness,” Mr. Muldoon said. “The great themes of popular songs, and, indeed, poetry, which we welcome hearing about and making sense of as we go through our lives.”

The poems in “Forever Words” were chosen from about 200 pieces left by Cash in varying states of completion. Some may have been intended as lyrics, his son said, but it was not always clear. His father’s papers, Mr. Cash said, included biblical studies and even a dog-eared copy of Gibbon’s “Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire.”

“They weren’t hoarders,” Mr. Cash said of his parents, “but they really didn’t like to throw things away.”

The Cash estate has released a number of posthumous albums, including “Personal File,” in 2006, a collection of intimate home recordings. A couple of years ago, Mr. Cash said, he was considering new projects with Steve Berkowitz, a producer and record executive who has worked extensively with the estate, and they began sifting through the poems.

Looking to recruit Mr. Muldoon as editor, Mr. Berkowitz said he met him for an “all-Irish breakfast” at an Upper East Side diner and read him excerpts from the poems without revealing the author.

“‘This is pretty strong stuff,’” Mr. Berkowitz recalled Mr. Muldoon’s saying. “‘Who is it?’ I told him, ‘This is Johnny Cash.’” (In an email, Mr. Muldoon said he did not remember the meeting, “which is not to say it didn’t happen.”)

The Cash estate is already at work on an album of songs based on the poems, with musicians including Kris Kristofferson, Jewel, Chris Cornell and Jamey Johnson, in a project similar to Billy Bragg and Wilco’s work with Woody Guthrie lyrics. The album is planned for release next fall.

Over the last year, the Cash estate has brought on a new management and marketing team, and the album is one of many new projects. Also planned are a Broadway show and a Johnny Cash slot machine, and the trust recently registered trademarks for phrases like “What would Johnny Cash do?” to place on clothing memorabilia.

When asked about these plans, Mr. Cash said that he and the managers of the trust — of which he is a beneficiary — strove to avoid crass commercialization, and also wanted to follow his father’s wishes.

“We try to live by the moral guide that he laid down,” Mr. Cash said, which, among other things, means no alcohol or tobacco ads. “But he also did Taco Bell commercials.”

The goal of “Forever Words,” Mr. Cash said, was to establish his father as a major poet and a “cultural American literary figure.”

There is also a personal benefit.

“When I read these things, it puts me back in touch with the man,” he said. “It lets me communicate with my father again.”

Thursday, December 08, 2016

Majority Rule Equals Tyranny

Walter E. Williams
December 7, 2016

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It is alleged that Hillary Clinton won a popular vote majority. Therefore, if the nation were not burdened with the antiquated Electoral College, anguished and freaked-out Americans whine, she, instead of Donald Trump, would be the next president of the United States. You say, "Hold it. Before you go further, Williams, what do you mean it is alleged that Clinton received most of the popular vote? It's a fact." I say "alleged" because according to Gregg Phillips of True the Vote, an estimated 3 million noncitizens voted. Presumably, those votes went to Clinton.

In 2000, Al Gore won the popular vote just as Hillary Clinton allegedly did. Such outcomes have led to calls to abandon the Constitution's Article 2 provision for the state electors to select presidents. Despite the fact that the system has served us well for over 200 years, many Americans now call for its abandonment in favor of electing presidents by popular vote. Before we abandon the Electoral College, let's consider the function it performs.

According to 2013 census data, nine states -- California, Texas, New York, Florida, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Georgia and Michigan -- have populations that total roughly 160 million, slightly more than half the U.S. population. It is conceivable that just nine states could determine the presidency in a popular vote. The Electoral College gives states with small populations a measure of protection against domination by states with large populations. It levels the political playing field a bit. For example, California is our most populous state, with about 39 million people. Wyoming is our least populated state, with about 600,000 people. California's population is about 66 times larger than Wyoming's. California has 55 electoral votes, and Wyoming has three. Thus, in terms of electoral votes, California's influence is only 18 times that of Wyoming. Even though our nine high-population states have a total of 241 electoral votes, a candidate needs 270 to win the presidency. That forces presidential candidates to campaign in thinly populated states and respect the wishes of the people there.

The Founding Fathers held a deep abhorrence for democracy and majority rule. In fact, the word democracy appears nowhere in the Declaration of Independence or the Constitution. In Federalist No. 10, James Madison wrote, "Measures are too often decided, not according to the rules of justice and the rights of the minor party, but by the superior force of an interested and overbearing majority." John Adams predicted, "Remember, democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts and murders itself. There never was a democracy yet that did not commit suicide." Edmund Randolph said, "That in tracing these evils to their origin, every man had found it in the turbulence and follies of democracy." Chief Justice John Marshall observed, "Between a balanced republic and a democracy, the difference is like that between order and chaos."

Throughout our Constitution are impediments to the tyranny of majority rule. Two houses of Congress pose one obstacle to majority rule. Fifty-one senators can block the wishes of 435 representatives and 49 senators. The president can veto the wishes of 535 members of Congress. It takes two-thirds of both houses of Congress to override a presidential veto. To change the Constitution, an amendment must be proposed, which requires not a majority but a two-thirds vote of both houses, and enacted, which requires ratification by three-fourths of state legislatures. Finally, the Electoral College is yet another measure that thwarts majority rule.

Despite a public consensus on the issue -- resulting from miseducation -- there's nothing just or fair about majority rule. In fact, one of the primary dangers of majority rule is that it confers an aura of legitimacy and respectability to acts that would otherwise be deemed tyrannical. Think about it. How many decisions in your life would you like made through majority rule? What about what car we purchase, where we live and whether we should have ham or turkey for Thanksgiving dinner? I am sure you would deem it tyranny if these decisions were made by a majority vote.

Walter E. Williams is a professor of economics at George Mason University. To find out more about Walter E. Williams and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at

Merkel’s About-Face

With her approval ratings dropping, the German chancellor suggests a burka ban.
By Bruce Bawer
December 7, 2016
Merkel - Women wearing burkas in Munich
Merkel - Women wearing burkas in Munich (Getty Images)
When she first ran for chancellor of Germany in 2005, Angela Merkel promised “zero tolerance” in matters of national security; five years afterward, she said that multiculturalism had “failed, and failed utterly.” But in January 2015, in what seemed a massive U-turn, she proclaimed Islam a “part of Germany”; and later that year, she welcomed a veritable army of Muslim “refugees” into the country, a foolhardy act that won her high praise from politically correct elites around the world. Hillary Clinton applauded Merkel’s “bravery in the face of the refugee crisis”; in December 2015, Time named Merkel Person of the Year. Just five days later, however, Merkel again slammed multiculturalism, warning that it “leads to parallel societies” and promising to cut immigration figures. Yet—maddeningly, menacingly—she kept the floodgates open, explaining that the “refugee crisis” represented a “historic test for Europe” and calling on other European leaders to follow her example.
Then came New Year’s Eve 2015-16. In a chilling illustration of the folly of Merkel’s policy, hundreds of migrants committed brutal sexual assaults—most famously in central Cologne, but also in the heart of nearly every other major German city. Since then, Merkel has had more and more to answer for: her country has experienced a rise in gang violence; it’s acquired more no-go zones; it’s undergone an epidemic of rapes in public swimming pools; and it’s seen the murder of German citizens by foreign-born Muslims become increasingly commonplace.
The most high-profile recent homicide victim—her body was found on a Freiburg riverbank in October—was 19-year-old Maria Ladenburger, a medical student and daughter of a top European Commission attorney. Ladenburger’s October 26 death notice in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung asked for donations to Weitblick Freiburg, a student group under whose auspices she’d worked as a volunteer aiding refugees and migrants. On December 3 came news of a DNA report proving that the girl had been raped and killed by an Afghani asylum-seeker, identified by authorities only as Hussein K.
The murder sparked national outrage, as did the decision by ARD—the state-run, license-fee-funded broadcaster—to ignore it on its daily newscast, calling the story “too regional.” Rainer Wendt, chairman of the national police union, spoke for many Germans when he blamed Ladenburger’s slaughter on mass immigration and the so-called “welcome culture,” whose apostles, he charged, had responded to Hussein K.’s monstrous act with “not a word of compassion, no self-doubt, only arrogant insistence on [their] own noble disposition.” For Germans who’ve had enough of Merkel’s catastrophic immigration policy, the Ladenburger case has proved a lightning rod, contributing to her sinking approval ratings in the run-up to next year’s federal elections.
Which may explain why, in a December 6 speech to leaders of her party, the Central Democratic Union, the tough version of Merkel reappeared. Calling for a law against the burka, which is already forbidden in France, Belgium, and the Netherlands, as well as in parts of Spain, Italy, and Switzerland, Merkel maintained that the “full veil” was “not appropriate here” and “should be banned wherever it’s legally possible.” She further insisted that sharia law should never take precedence over German law.
The Washington Post suggested that Merkel’s latest remarks might “signal a pragmatic shift to the right” in the wake of Brexit and Donald Trump’s victory. The Post might also have cited this week’s constitutional referendum in Italy (the results of which were viewed as a thumbs-down to the EU and euro), the continuing rise of Geert Wilders’s Freedom Party in the Netherlands and of Marine Le Pen in France, and—most important—the blow dealt to Merkel in September when the Alternative for Germany party, which criticizes mass immigration, scored big in regional elections. But before one accepts the idea that Merkel has actually turned over a new leaf, it’s advisable to keep in mind that she’s been playing a double game throughout her tenure, talking tough (sometimes) about Muslim immigration and assimilation even as she’s stuck stubbornly to policies that have spelled disaster not only for Germany but also for much of Western Europe.
To be sure, in an attempt to lighten Germany’s load, Merkel has tried to force resistant EU members to take in some of the “refugees” she’s admitted; but to the extent that any of them do so, alas, the primary impact will be further to erode stability and order within those nations’ borders. Merkel also worked hard this year on what’s been called a “murky deal” with Turkey to try to stem the refugee tide, but so far, its main effect has been to embolden that country’s Islamofascist president, Recep Erdogan.
In any case, even if Merkel did come through with a burka ban, such a move—however positive—would mean little in the long run unless it was part of a broader, tougher approach designed to address effectively Germany’s, and Western Europe’s, ongoing Islamization. Unfortunately, there’s no sign of any such drastic policy shift.
Despite Merkel’s drop in popularity during the last few years, a November poll showed that a remarkable 59 percent of the German electorate still wanted to see her returned to office when federal elections are held sometime between August and November of next year. But already that figure has dropped dramatically: just this week, according to a Deutsche Welle survey, only 36 percent expressed that hope. Certainly, judging by the history of Merkel’s combination of tough talk and “compassionate” action on immigration, it seems likely that if German voters truly desire serious reform on this front, they should seek new leadership.

Saturday, December 03, 2016

Trump couldn’t have made a better pick than Gen. Mattis

December 2, 2016
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U.S. President-elect Donald Trump (L) and Vice President-elect Mike Pence (R) greet retired Marine General James Mattis in Bedminster, New Jersey, U.S., November 19, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Segar/File Photo
I'm lucky enough to know Gen. James Mattis slightly. Just well enough to trust him unreservedly with our military and our nation’s security.
The president-elect could not choose a better man to be our next secretary of defense. Not just because Mattis is a battle-hardened Marine with a remarkable combat record. And not just because he has a mind of remarkable clarity and is, without question, the best-read general of his generation.
I trust Mattis because he’s a man of character. His public image is of one rough-and-tough Marine, but the man I’ve encountered is, above all, one of integrity. His code of honor is so out of fashion one has to reach back to a Victorian vocabulary: He has a noble spirit.
And he’s a genuine patriot, not a shouter with his eye on the next chance. He will do what’s right, not what’s expedient. And he will never go along with anything he believes might harm our country.
In addition to plenty of dirty-boots experience in the Middle East and a deep knowledge of history, Mattis has another great qualification: He wasn’t looking for a job. He was happy in retirement, studying, helping his fellow Marines and contributing thoughtfully to our national security behind the scenes.
The last time I heard from him — a bit before the election — he mentioned that he was glad to be west of the Rockies. A Washington, DC, post was not part of the plan.
This matters. In an age of sycophants and clawing ambition, it’s a splendid prospect to have a classic patriot who’s willing to sacrifice to serve (as Mattis already has for four decades in uniform).
Our most underrated president of the last century, Dwight D. Eisenhower, didn’t want anyone in his Cabinet who actively sought the position. He wanted successful men from various walks of life who would have to leave successful careers and contented lives to come to Washington and run a department ethically.
For Gen. Mattis, the position of secretary of defense wouldn’t be just another inside-the-Beltway badge to add to his resume. The greatest danger would be that he would prove too honest for DC.
Yet another quality Mattis would bring to the office — a vital one — is that he’s a superb listener. He’s not quick to speak, but when he finally does have his say, his words show command of the subject under discussion.
And he uses words with the same economy as a rifleman uses bullets: no wasted rounds.
What would the nation get with Gen. James Mattis as secretary of defense? Integrity. Deep knowledge. Courage, both moral and physical. Humility. Decency. Vision. A steely sense of duty. Fiscal responsibility. A natural leader of men.
In short, character.
Inevitably, we’ve heard complaints from the left about the “danger” of generals in high government positions, with the suggestion that they’ll take us into wars. But it hasn’t been the generals who’ve gotten us into our recent conflicts or failed to resolve them.
For the last 16 years, we’ve seen civilians with no military experience launch ill-considered wars and impulsive interventions without considering the second- and third-order effects. Generals, by contrast, are reluctant to send our troops to war — they know the complexity and the cost.
Mattis has a long list of military accomplishments, but I suspect one of the experiences that cut deepest came in 2004, in Fallujah. After a week of brutal, successful combat his Marines stood within 48 hours of a clear-cut victory over a terrorist army. And the Bush administration lost its collective nerve, calling a halt just short of the finish line.
I watched the tragedy unfold from northern Iraq, where I was a guest of the Kurds. And we all said the same thing to each other: “We’ll have to go back and finish this.” And we did, in less than a year.
Having seen his Marines die, only to be denied victory at the 11th hour because the global media was howling, must’ve been terribly painful for Mattis. One of the many reasons he’s so widely respected in military circles is that he understands, contrary to academic pronunciamentos, victory is not only possible, but essential.
Mattis not only fights the good fight — he fights to win. With him as our next secretary of defense, the United States of America would win.

Friday, December 02, 2016

Today's Tune: The Rolling Stones - Ride 'Em On Down

Review: The Rolling Stones Reinvigorate the Blues on 'Blue and Lonesome'

December 2, 2016
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On April 7th, 1962, three young Englishmen obsessed with American blues met for the first time, at the Ealing Jazz Club in London. Two of them – singer Mick Jagger and guitarist Keith Richards from an aspiring combo, Little Boy Blue and the Blue Boys – were attending a performance by the local blues scene's leading troupe, Blues Incorporated, led by guitarist Alexis Korner. The third man, guitarist Brian Jones, was playing with Korner's group, under the pseudonym Elmo Lewis. Three months later, on July 12th, Jagger, Richards and Jones made their live debut as the Rollin' Stones at the Marquee Club, with bassist Dick Taylor, later of the Pretty Things, and pianist Ian Stewart, who would become the Stones' devoted road manager and true-blues conscience.
Between those spring and summer landmarks, Jagger also did time with Blues Incorporated in a lineup that included the Stones' eventual drummer Charlie Watts, singing imported electric-Chicago standards such as "Got My Mojo Working," a 1957 single by Muddy Waters, and a late-1955 recording by Jimmy Reed's guitarist Eddie Taylor, "Ride 'Em on Down." Fifty-four years later, on Blue and Lonesome, Jagger turns back to that Taylor stomp, chewing on the words – descended from a starker Delta blues, "Shake 'Em on Down," codified on a 1937 release by Bukka White – like a favorite meal as the air gets thick with Richards and Ron Wood's sniping guitars and Watts' rifle-volley snare fills.
Recorded last December in just three days with co-producer Don Was at British Grove Studios in the London suburb of Richmond – almost spitting distance from the site of the Crawdaddy Club, where the Stones played a life-changing 1963 residency – Blue and Lonesome is the band's first all-covers studio release since the 1964 U.K. EP The Rolling Stones, and the Stones' first pure, straight blues record ever. It is also the working lineup of the world's biggest blues band – with Wood in his 41st year as the new boy and bassist Darryl Jones as Watts' co-anchor since 1993 – doing what comes naturally in a dozen songs mostly associated with sweet home Chicago: Reed, Howlin' Wolf, singer-guitarist Magic Sam and especially harp master Little Walter, with four of his Fifties and Sixties singles here.
There is deep South too. The brash London whelps that covered bayou bluesman Slim Harpo's 1957 B side "I'm a King Bee" on their debut album and named a live LP in honor of the flip ("Got Love If You Want It") have a romping good time with "Hoodoo Blues" by Harpo's contemporary, Lightnin' Slim. And there is a thrilling, unexpected stop, with slide guitar from fellow pilgrim Eric Clapton, at the Louisiana intersection of blues and soul in Little Johnny Taylor's "Everybody Knows About My Good Thing." The Stones were actually working closer to the older Delta, covering Mississippi Fred McDowell's "You Gotta Move" on Sticky Fingers, when Taylor's single was a Top Ten R&B hit in 1971 on the Ronn label out of Shreveport. But Jagger's freewheeling phrasing is the good-time relish of a man who has been writing cheatin' songs all of his life but knows when he's got the gold standard in front of him.
The Stones first heard these songs as foreign language – the lust and trials of older, hardened men. That rough weather now fits the Stones – including Wood, who did his apprentice time in London R&B mods the Birds and on bass for the Jeff Beck Group – like a suit off the rack at Chicago's Maxwell Street Market. In "Just Your Fool," a Checker Records 45 for Little Walter in 1962, Watts presses the beat like a forced, precision march under the chug and spike of Richards and Wood's guitars. "Blue and Lonesome," from a 1965 Little Walter single and caught here in a single take, opens with a rush of power-chord sustain, then drops into tense strut marked with jittery bursts of slalom guitar, Jagger cutting in with seething confrontation, especially on harp. Jones originally played that instrument in the Stones, but Jagger grew into their secret weapon. His hearty, supple attack and exclamatory accents are as exciting and decisive as Richards' bedrock ways on guitar.
Made on impulse, as a much-needed break during other studio work, Blue and Lonesomeis a monument to muscle memory. Solos are brief and tight, evoking the honed-punch effect of the original recordings. The running highlight throughout the album is the churning ensemble bond: the hot-plate jump of the guitars over the chasing rhythm in the Little Walter sprint "I Gotta Go"; the feral, stalking tension in Magic Sam's "All of Your Love" as Jagger tears at the title lyric like an upper-octave Howlin' Wolf.
Blue and Lonesome is not a record of mere returning, a look back at how it all started. The Stones were already big time when some of these songs were released by the originators including Howlin' Wolf's 1966 threat "Commit a Crime" and Magic Sam's defining version of "All of Your Love" on his 1967 landmark, West Side Soul. In fact, the younger Stones couldn't have tackled Jimmy Reed's 1957 lament "Little Rain" like the slow, advancing storm here. Watts comes in like stoic resignation, on brushed snare, under rolling clouds of guitar; Jagger fires lightning streaks of harp. It's barely a song – six lines of determined yearning and time running out. But it is dense with lesson, a reflection of the grip and wisdom that, for every bluesman, only comes with miles and age.

The Rolling Stones' New Blues: Inside Their Roots Revival, Bright Future

November 16, 2016

September 1965. Charlie Watts steps to a microphone in a smart sport jacket, introducing "one of our favorite numbers" to a packed Dublin theater. The 24-year-old drummer heads back to his modest kit, and the Rolling Stones tumble into Howlin' Wolf's "Little Red Rooster," Keith Richards' duh-dunt-dah-duh riff battling Brian Jones' spiky slide-guitar runs. And a thousand Irish teenage girls greet each Chess Records guitar stab with crescendoing, this-song-is-so-fab shrieks. (Later, the audience will embark on an actual riot, storming the stage, which just makes it a typical Stones tour stop.)
Ten months earlier, the band had somehow managed to push that raw take on 12-bar Chicago blues atop the U.K. singles chart (though U.S. radio refused to play it, suspecting that the lyrics' prowling rooster was not, in fact, a bird). "Little Red Rooster" is apparently still the only traditional blues ever to hit Number One in the U.K. "It's crackers," Mick Jagger says five decades later, on a late-October day in Manhattan, pondering that achievement, recalling those screams. He laughs. "You know, it's crazy. I mean, that was a weirdo thing, 'cause we could've done anything at that time and it would've been Number One. That was the point." He's wearing a white button-front shirt with a subtle blue pattern and teensy black trousers that are probably the same waist size as his checkered pants on that Irish stage 51 years back. He looks his age, sort of, except not at all.
As with all the Stones' early blues recordings, Jagger says that "Red Rooster" was done "out of love." "We were kids," he says, "and we were proselytizing. The Beatles, to some extent, did the same – they talked about the music they loved, which was always, like, soul music." The Stones' music was rooted more firmly in their influences, however, and they went further in honoring them. In May of '65, they strong-armed the U.S. teen TV showShindig! into hosting Howlin' Wolf himself, with the Stones sitting at the besuited, six-foot-three, 275-pound 55-year-old's feet as he bellowed "How Many More Years," jumping in place and eliciting some improbable adolescent shrieks in his own right. "When those blues records came out," says Jagger, "they were, in a sense, for their audience, pop music. They would play it like we would play Kendrick Lamar. To me, take away the genres for a minute and it's all pop music."
Now, the Stones have circled back to the blues, with Blue & Lonesome, a (mostly) live-in-the-studio collection of 12 songs originally performed by the likes of Little Walter, Jimmy Reed and, again, Howlin' Wolf. It's the first Stones album to have zero Jagger-Richards originals; even their debut had a couple of attempts at songwriting. Recording Blue & Lonesome was easy – it took all of three days. "It made itself," says Richards. As Ronnie Wood points out, however, it's also the product of "a lifetime's research, really."
Figuring out when and how to release it was trickier. "I'm saying to the record company," says Jagger, "'Can you make this pop music if you want? Is it marketable?'" The album came out of sessions that were supposed to be for an LP of Stones originals, still in its early stages. Jagger wondered whether they should wait to get that one finished, maybe release them together.
But then again, the last time the Stones managed to finish a studio album was back in 2005, with A Bigger Bang. "The record company probably said, 'Well, the other one's never gonna come,'" Jagger says, twisting those lips of his into an outsize grin. " 'We might as well put this one out.' I don't blame 'em. I probably would have done the same thing. 'Cause, 'Now I got something, might as well put it out.'"
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Thursday, December 01, 2016

A horrifying look into the mind of 9/11’s mastermind, in his own words

November 28, 2016
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Khalid Sheik Mohammed (AP)
What is it like to stare into the face of evil? James E. Mitchell knows.
In his gripping new memoir, “Enhanced Interrogation: Inside the Minds and Motives of the Islamic Terrorists Trying To Destroy America,” Mitchell describes the day he was questioning Khalid Sheik Mohammed, when the 9/11 mastermind announced he had something important to say. “KSM then launched into a gory and detailed description of how he beheaded Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl,” Mitchell writes. Up to that moment, the CIA did not know KSM had personally carried out the murder. When asked whether it was “hard to do” (meaning emotionally difficult), KSM misunderstood the question. “Oh, no, no problem,” KSM said, “I had very sharp knives. Just like slaughtering sheep.”
To confirm his story, the CIA had KSM reenact the beheading so that it could compare the features of his hands and forearms to those in the video of Pearl’s murder. “Throughout the reenactment, KSM smiled and mugged for the cameras. Sometimes he preened,” Mitchell writes. When informed that the CIA had confirmed that he was telling the truth, KSM smiled.
“See, I told you,” KSM said. “I cut Daniel’s throat with these blessed hands.”
This is the pure evil Mitchell and his colleagues confronted each day at CIA “black sites.” “I have looked into the eyes of the worst people on the planet,” Mitchell writes. “I have sat with them and felt their passion as they described what they see as their holy duty to destroy our way of life.”
The world has heard almost nothing from KSM in the 15 years since the 9/11 attacks, but Mitchell has spent thousands of hours with him and other captured al-Qaeda leaders. Now, for the first time, Mitchell is sharing what he says KSM told him.
Mitchell is an American patriot who has been unjustly persecuted for his role in crafting an interrogation program that helped stop terrorist attacks and saved countless lives. He does not shy from the controversies and pulls no punches in describing the interrogations. If anything, readers may be surprised by the compassion he showed these mass murderers. But the real news in his book is what happened after enhanced interrogations ended and the terrorists began cooperating.
Once their resistance had been broken, enhanced interrogation techniques stopped and KSM and other detainees became what Mitchell calls a “Terrorist Think Tank,” identifying voices in phone calls, deciphering encrypted messages and providing valuable information that led the CIA to other terrorists. Mitchell devotes an entire chapter to the critical role KSM and other detainees played in finding Osama bin Laden. KSM held classes where he lectured CIA officials on jihadist ideology, terrorist recruiting and attack planning. He was so cooperative, Mitchell writes, KSM “told me I should be on the FBI’s Most Wanted List because I am now a ‘known associate’ of KSM and a ‘graduate’ of his training camp.”
KSM also described for Mitchell many of his as yet unconsummated ideas for future attacks, the terrifying details of which Mitchell does not reveal for fear they might be implemented. “If we ever allow him to communicate unmonitored with the outside world,” Mitchell writes, “he could easily spread his deviously simple but potentially deadly ideas.”
But perhaps the most riveting part of the book is what KSM told Mitchell about what inspired al-Qaeda to attack the United States — and the U.S. response he expected. Today, some on both the left and the right argue that al-Qaeda wanted to draw us into a quagmire in Afghanistan — and now the Islamic State wants to do the same in Iraq and Syria. KSM said this is dead wrong. Far from trying to draw us in, KSM said that al-Qaeda expected the United States to respond to 9/11 as we had the 1983 bombing of the Marine barracks in Beirut — when, KSM told Mitchell, the United States “turned tail and ran.” He also said he thought we would treat 9/11 as a law enforcement matter, just as we had the bombings of the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania and the USS Cole in Yemen — arresting some operatives and firing a few missiles into empty tents, but otherwise leaving him free to plan the next attack.
“Then he looked at me and said, ‘How was I supposed to know that cowboy George Bush would announce he wanted us ‘dead or alive’ and then invade Afghanistan to hunt us down?’” Mitchell writes. “KSM explained that if the United States had treated 9/11 like a law enforcement matter, he would have had time to launch a second wave of attacks.” He was not able to do so because al-Qaeda was stunned “by the ferocity and swiftness of George W. Bush’s response.”
But KSM said something else that was prophetic. In the end, he told Mitchell, “We will win because Americans don’t realize . . . we do not need to defeat you militarily; we only need to fight long enough for you to defeat yourself by quitting.”
KSM explained that large-scale attacks such as 9/11 were “nice, but not necessary” and that a series of “low-tech attacks could bring down America the same way ‘enough disease-infected fleas can fell an elephant.’ ” KSM “said jihadi-minded brothers would immigrate into the United States” and “wrap themselves in America’s rights and laws” until they were strong enough to rise up and attack us. “He said the brothers would relentlessly continue their attacks and the American people would eventually become so tired, so frightened, and so weary of war that they would just want it to end.”
“Eventually,” KSM said, “America will expose her neck for us to slaughter.”
KSM was right. For the past eight years, our leaders have told us that we are weary of war and need to focus on “nation building at home.” We have been defeating ourselves by quitting — just as KSM predicted.
But quitting will not bring us peace, KSM told Mitchell. He explained that “it does not matter that we do not want to fight them,” Mitchell writes, adding that KSM explained “America may not be in a religious war with him, but he and other True Muslims are in a religious war with America” and “he and his brothers will not stop until the entire world lives under Sharia law.”

Castro’s greatest victory

By Caroline B. Glick
November 28, 2016
Cuban Prime Minister Fidel Castro, right, and P.L.O leader Yasser Arafat join hands following the P.L.O. closing speech at the final session of the 7th Non-Aligned Summit conference, March 13, 1983 in New Delhi. (AP)
The Palestinians are loudly mourning the passing of Cuban dictator Fidel Castro. PLO chief and Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas ordered flags in the PA to be flown at halfmast on Sunday to honor Castro.

They are right to celebrate him.
The Cuban Communist dictator, who murdered tens of thousands of his own people, imprisoned tens of thousands more, caused a million Cubans to flee their homeland and transformed an island paradise into a water enclosed prison was a key ally of Palestinian terrorists in their war to destroy Israel.
Castro’s support for the PLO and its longtime terrorist master Yasser Arafat spanned five decades. Castro’s secret police, the DGI, trained Palestinian terrorists both in Cuba and in the Middle East.

According to the CIA, several hundred Palestinian terrorists were trained in Cuba in the 1970s. Cuban trainers also worked with the PLO in Algiers and Damascus and later in training terrorists from around the world at PLO training camps in Lebanon in the 1970s and early 1980s.

Military training in terrorist tactics wasn’t the only way that Castro helped Arafat. He also provided the PLO with diplomatic cover and political guidance. Palestinian terrorists, including Arafat, began routinely visiting Cuba in the early 1960s. Castro welcomed the formation of the PLO in 1964. His military and intelligence officers met with Arafat and other senior Palestinian terrorists in Algiers and Damascus as early as 1965.

In 1974 the PLO adopted the Phased Plan for the annihilation of Israel. The Phased Plan committed the PLO to a piecemeal strategy of destroying Israel rather than calling for the terrorist group to work with Arab states to destroy Israel in an all-out war.

According to the Phased Plan, the PLO committed to take control over every inch of territory under Israeli control that it could and use those areas as launchpads for expanding the war whose ultimate goal was Israel’s eradication.

Shortly after signing the initial Oslo peace deal at the White House in September 1993, Arafat told an audience at a mosque in South Africa that the Oslo process was the first step toward the implementation of the Phased Plan.

The Phased Plan was trumpeted by the Soviet bloc and their supporters in the Western Left as a sign of PLO moderation. Following its adoption, with Soviet support and Cuban sponsorship, the PLO began winning major diplomatic battles over Israel.

Arafat was invited to address the UN General Assembly later in 1974 where he spoke with a gun strapped to his hip. The PLO was then granted “observer status” at the UN.

Arafat paid a triumphant visit to Havana following his UN appearance where he was warmly greeted by Castro. The next year, the General Assembly passed Resolution 3379 defining Zionism as a form of racism. Cuba was the only non-Arab state to sponsor the resolution.

Resolution 3379 set the stage for the diplomatic war against the Jewish national liberation movement and the Jewish state that has raged ever since.

Cuban partnership with the PLO was part of a larger political war waged through Third World leaders by the KGB against the US and the Western world. Both the KGB archive spirited out of the Soviet Union by Vasili Mitrockhin and the revelations of former Romanian Communist spy chief Ion Mihai Pacepa, who defected to the US in 1978, have demonstrated the nature of that war.

The KGB used the language of human rights and national liberation as a means to deny the US-led West the moral legitimacy to fight the Cold War against the Soviet Union and its satellites. Castro and Arafat were leading fighters in this propaganda war.

The basic concepts behind this war were developed shortly after the end of World War II. Under the KGB, the US and its allies were deliberately smeared as colonialist and imperialist powers. Every liberation group and every state that was supported by the US was castigated as reactionary. On the other hand, every terrorist group and regime that were supported by the USSR were celebrated as authentic, democratic revolutionary movements seeking to free their peoples from the yoke of Western imperialism.

The political war placed the US and its allies into an intellectual trap. Inside the closed intellectual jail of liberation theory, every action the West took was necessarily reactionary and imperialistic. As a result the US and its allies could do nothing to defend themselves since every argument they made was simply dismissed as imperialist propaganda.

The political successes won by the Soviet propaganda war were extraordinary. For instance, in 1969, the Non-Aligned Movement comprised of newly independent post-colonial states sided with the Vietnamese Communists against the US at its fourth conference. The NAM was silent about the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia the previous year.

Vilifying Israel was a major component of the Soviets’ political warfare strategy. Israel was viewed as a key enemy of the USSR.

It wasn’t always this way.

Until 1949 the Soviet Union viewed the Zionist movement and the nascent Jewish state as a potential client. The Truman administration recognized Israel just moments before the Soviet Union did. And unlike the US, the Soviets supplied arms to Israel during the 1948-49 War of Independence. Without Soviet help, it is doubtful that Israel would have survived the joint invasion of five Arab armies the day it declared independence.

The Soviets soured on Israel for three reasons. First, Israel’s first prime minister, David Ben-Gurion, decided to side with the US against the USSR in the Cold War despite the State Department’s hostility toward Israel.

Second, Ben-Gurion moved to purge Communists from the IDF and other power centers immediately after the War of Independence.

Finally, the Soviets soured on Israel because the birth of Israel awoke the yearnings of the Jews of the Soviet Union. In 1949, Israel’s first ambassador to Moscow, Golda Meyerson – later Meir – was mobbed by Soviet Jews when she visited the main synagogue in the city.

A wave of antisemitic repression followed the event. It was in 1949 that the Soviets began castigating Zionism as a form of imperialism and racism. Zionism became a code word for Jewish and prominent Jews in the Soviet Union and the Soviet bloc were arrested, tried in show trials and murdered for alleged “Zionist” sympathies.

The Soviets also viewed their ideological assault on Zionism as a means of demonizing the US. The Jews’ native rights to the land of Israel were as old and wellknown as the Bible. If Westerners could be convinced that the Jews were colonial usurpers in Israel, they could be convinced that Western civilization was evil.

According to Pacepa, by 1968 the KGB completed its control over the PLO. It used Castro and his DGI agency as a means to promote the Palestinian political war against Israel. According to Cuban American researchers, Castro was a conduit for promoting anti-Zionism and support for Palestinian terrorists among Western radicals. For instance, the DGI introduced PLO terrorists to African American radicals like the Black Panthers, who were trained by Castro’s forces.

Castro’s lionization by the Palestinians and the international Left alike shows that 25 years after the collapse of the Soviet Union, the legacy of the Soviets’ political war against the US-led West was not only successful during the Cold War, but is still very much a part of our world.

Castro never taught the Palestinians how to live in peace. He never taught them how to raise crops. He taught them how to murder and libel. He taught them how to indoctrinate others to believe lies about themselves and about their perceived enemies.

The fact that these lies are still believed by so many in the Left shows that Castro died a victor. The fact that the terrorist methods he developed with Arafat under the guiding hand of Moscow are still viewed by Western intellectuals as legitimate “tools of resistance” shows that he won.

And the fact that Palestinian murderers who learned the trade at his knee are still viewed as legitimate forces in world politics shows that together with his KGB bosses, Castro was able to get away with his crimes.
The West managed to defeat the Soviet state, but not the Soviet cause. And the flags at half-mast for Castro in Ramallah are proof of the Castro-executed Soviet victory over morality and over truth.