I took my wife to see Sonny Rollins a few weeks ago. He was musical dynamite. At 77 years old, he was playing with all the verve and vigor of a 30 year old. While other players who get to be his age leave the heavy musical lifting to younger players, Rollins didn't let his sidemen overshadow him, and his sidemen were some mighty fine players.
Rollins only played one set, but it was close to two hours and his energy never seemed to flag. The other band members took solos, but Rollins really soloed. My wife thought that some of his solos were too long, but I could have listened to him go on all night. The next day I even pulled out some of his CDs because I just hadn't had enough.
He received a standing ovation as soon as he walked on stage just for being Sonny Rollins. He's one of the remaining survivors of his generation. We fans appreciated the fact that he was willing to come to Detroit and serenade us. Outside of Labor Day weekend, not very many big name Jazz musicians come here. People will travel downtown to listen for free, but it's hard to get people to pay for this music.
Another great player that I saw years ago, was Oscar Peterson, who sadly, died a few days ago. His technique never failed to amaze me, but it was more than technique, the music was passionate and beautiful. The one time, many years ago when I saw him in concert, the audience amazed me too. People were leaving during the encore to get to their cars in order to beat the traffic.
One old timer still around and still playing is Barry Harris, one of the myriad players both jazz and nonjazz, who have come from Detroit. He is doing his annual Kwanzaa concert in Detroit. My wife and I went to one of these concerts a few years ago. He was using local talent as his rhythm section, and if I remember correctly the bass player may have gotten lost at one point. It was still a fun concert.
Another elder, who like Rollins, Peterson, and Harris, has achieved the status of elder statesman of jazz is Ornette Coleman. Because he created music that was like none that came before him, he had a much tougher time than the other musicians mentioned. There's a fairly lengthy article in the current Rolling Stone, but you have to subscribe in order to read it on line.
And then there's Sun Ra and the Arkestra. Ra himself (keyboardist, composer, and leader of the Arkestra), left the planet a few years ago, but he left thousands of recordings both from the studio and live in concert. Some Ra fans are kind of like Deadheads, but mostly without the drugs. Sunny, as his fans affectionately referred to him would have frowned on that. Ra fans would go to every live show, buy every album (which Ra pressed himself on his own Saturn label), and record shows on portable tape players. Some of these recordings have become (sort of) legitimate releases. While I don't consider myself an obsessive fan, I do have a reasonable number of his releases. I saw him four or five times when he brought the Arkestra through town, and I bought a record or two every time.
Just this month, Transparency Records released a 28 CD set recorded during the Arkestra's extended stay the week leading up to New Year's Eve, 1981 at the short lived, long defunct, Detroit Jazz Center. I don't remember which one, but I went to one of those shows. I wanted to buy a set, but I thought it was going to be way to expensive. It wasn't. I only had to fork over $85.00 and a set (one of the only 400 released) is mine. The sound isn't that great. That's normal for a Sun Ra release, but the music so far, after listening to seven discs is phenomenal . . . if you like Sun Ra. Although he does play straight ahead jazz covering the whole history of jazz, the music can get pretty far "out there" so he's definitely not for everyone. I try not to play him if my wife is home.
Some people have even accused Sun Ra of being weird. Can you imagine that?
Now that she's gone, Benazir Bhutto is being canonized by politicians and the MSM. I'm not gloating over her death, I'm sickened by it. However, we need to start facing the truth. Debbie Schlussel gives quite a bit of insight into the real Benazir Bhutto here, here, and here. Follow the link from that last post to the L. A. Times piece by Bhutto's niece. She says (in part),
Ms. Bhutto's political posturing is sheer pantomime. Her negotiations with the military and her unseemly willingness until just a few days ago to take part in Musharraf's regime have signaled once and for all to the growing legions of fundamentalists across South Asia that democracy is just a guise for dictatorship.
It is widely believed that Ms. Bhutto lost both her governments on grounds of massive corruption. She and her husband, a man who came to be known in Pakistan as "Mr. 10%," have been accused of stealing more than $1 billion from Pakistan's treasury. She is appealing a money-laundering conviction by the Swiss courts involving about $11 million. Corruption cases in Britain and Spain are ongoing.
It was particularly unappealing of Ms. Bhutto to ask Musharraf to bypass the courts and drop the many corruption cases that still face her in Pakistan. He agreed, creating the odiously titled National Reconciliation Ordinance in order to do so. Her collaboration with him was so unsubtle that people on the streets are now calling her party, the Pakistan People's Party, the Pervez People's Party. Now she might like to distance herself, but it's too late.
Why did Ms. Bhutto and her party cronies demand that her corruption cases be dropped, but not demand that the cases of activists jailed during the brutal regime of dictator Zia ul-Haq (from 1977 to 1988) not be quashed? What about the sanctity of the law? When her brother Mir Murtaza Bhutto -- my father -- returned to Pakistan in 1993, he faced 99 cases against him that had been brought by Zia's military government. The cases all carried the death penalty. Yet even though his sister was serving as prime minister, he did not ask her to drop the cases. He returned, was arrested at the airport and spent the remaining years of his life clearing his name, legally and with confidence, in the courts of Pakistan.
Ms. Bhutto's repeated promises to end fundamentalism and terrorism in Pakistan strain credulity because, after all, the Taliban government that ran Afghanistan was recognized by Pakistan under her last government -- making Pakistan one of only three governments in the world to do so.
And I am suspicious of her talk of ensuring peace. My father was a member of Parliament and a vocal critic of his sister's politics. He was killed outside our home in 1996 in a carefully planned police assassination while she was prime minister. There were 70 to 100 policemen at the scene, all the streetlights had been shut off and the roads were cordoned off. Six men were killed with my father. They were shot at point-blank range, suffered multiple bullet wounds and were left to bleed on the streets.
My father was Benazir's younger brother. To this day, her role in his assassination has never been adequately answered, although the tribunal convened after his death under the leadership of three respected judges concluded that it could not have taken place without approval from a "much higher" political authority.
I call this required reading. And I have to wonder why G. Bush and the rest of the political establishment supported this woman.
I've often thought that being Jewish, you're damned if you do and damned if you don't. No matter what you do or don't do, someone somewhere will condemn you for it and ascribe it to a sinister Jewish conspiracy. This is doubly true if you're an Israeli Jew. Over at LGF, I found a link to this article, which demonstrates my thesis perfectly.
A research paper that won a Hebrew University teachers' committee prize finds that the lack of IDF rapes of Palestinian women is designed to serve a political purpose.
The abstract of the paper, authored by doctoral candidate Tal Nitzan, notes that the paper shows that "the lack of organized military rape is an alternate way of realizing [particular] political goals."
The next sentence delineates the particular goals that are realized in this manner: "In the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, it can be seen that the lack of military rape merely strengthens the ethnic boundaries and clarifies the inter-ethnic differences - just as organized military rape would have done."
The paper further theorizes that Arab women in Judea and Samaria are not raped by IDF soldiers because the women are de-humanized in the soldiers' eyes.
The truly sickening aspect of this so-called research paper is that it was written and then rewarded by Israeli academics. I'd heard about the insane, leftward, delusional tilt at Israeli universities, but I can't even find words strong enough to describe how bizarre this is. This is worse than anything I've read about coming out of American universities.
"It is noteworthy," Lord concludes, "that Palestinian propaganda around the world frequently accuses Israelis of murder and rape. Such that this situation is unique: An army is found blameworthy of rape, and is also blameworthy of not raping."
Red Square, proprietor of The People's Cube, briefly stepped out of character to post the following editorial/photoshop,
I suppose this merely exposes the jingoistic war monger in me. Or maybe I just think the United States needs to win this war and it's the responsibility of the MSM and the Democrats in Congress to help.
The Democrats have worked themselves into a lather over the CIA's destruction of some interrogation tapes. When I first heard the news, it was obvious to even a piker like me that this was going to lead to a feeding frenzy from that loud influential group of Americans who are invested in America's defeat. I also wondered why Sandy Berger got off so lightly for doing even worse.
But after reading about real torture performed by terrorists in Iraq on innocent Iraqis, and the discovery of these torture chambers by U.S. Marines, it's getting increasingly difficult to get worked up about waterboarding Islamic terrorists who are complicit in the murder of thousands. I have to agree with Linda Chavez,
So what exactly did we expect the CIA to do when they captured high-level al-Qaida operatives? Read them their Miranda rights, provide them with free lawyers and place them in a cell with cable TV?
We don't know exactly what the captured al-Qaida operatives told interrogators — thankfully — but we do know that there hasn't been another al-Qaida attack in the United States in more than six years. We also know that congressional leaders, at least initially, made no objections to the use of waterboarding when they were informed about it in September 2002. (Speaker Pelosi now claims that she did object later.)
It is difficult to imagine what harm might have come from the release of the CIA interrogation tapes — but there is no doubt that had they continued to exist, at some point they would have become public. The tapes' release would have jeopardized sources and methods used by the CIA, the most serious category of risk to American intelligence. And their release might have led to assassinations of CIA operatives, greater risk for our captured soldiers, and international hand-wringing by our putative allies.
Rodriguez's lawyer says that his client sought and received legal clearance to destroy the tapes. Even though he is likely to become a scapegoat, what he did was right. He protected not just his men but all of us. I, for one, thank him.
It's useful to be reminded of what real torture looks like when the Democrats in Washington are working themselves into a characteristic froth about the CIA and the destroyed interrogation tapes. Sen. Ted Kennedy, D-Mass., declared that for "the past six years, the Bush administration has run roughshod over our ideals and the rule of law." It reminded him of nothing so much as the "18-and-a-half-minute gap on the tapes of Richard Nixon." Sen. Richard Durbin, D-Ill., smells "obstruction of justice."
So now we will have an inquiry into whether the CIA has violated the law by destroying tapes it was under no obligation to make in the first place; concerning an interrogation technique that at the very worst (according to most reliable reports) involved making three notorious terrorists think, for a few seconds, that they were drowning.
I have severe doubts as to whether waterboarding constitutes torture. But I am certain that the unceasing attention it receives and the eagerness of many Democrats to indict the Bush administration has done more damage to America's image than anything the CIA has done. I say this for two reasons:
1) When Democrats talk of coverup and torture, we know they're referring to waterboarding, but the world doesn't know that. People in the Middle East and elsewhere naturally assume that torture is torture — the kind that al Qaeda was grimly practicing in Muqdadiya and elsewhere. And the more dark insinuations that issue from Capitol Hill and the New York Times, etc., the more certain the rest of the world is that we are doing similar things. I was recently invited, for example, by the Oxford Union in England to debate (for the affirmative) the proposition "Resolved: This House Would Torture to Save Lives." I declined but counter-offered on David Frum's advice to debate "Resolved: This House Believes Terrorists Deserve the Full Protection of the Geneva Conventions." I await their reply.
2) The unending controversy about waterboarding has completely obscured the reality of what is going on at Guantanamo, where inmates are gaining weight on the culturally sensitive diet, having surgeries to repair old injuries, reading their Korans and praying on the U.S.-supplied prayer mats, and conferring with their lawyers while troops of journalists, politicians and human rights activists parade by.
Unfortunately, I have a feeling this twisted circus is going to go on for a long time, receive way more publicity than it deserves, and end up being another tool, provided by useful idiots, for Jihad.
When Proposal 2 was passed by the voters of Michigan by a margin of 16% (58% to 42%), it was supposed to end racial and other preferences at Michigan's public universities. As stated,
• Reflects the colorblind language of the 1964 Civil Rights Act -- because equal treatment is the essence of civil rights.
• Ends discrimination against groups and individuals based on race or sex for state employment, university admissions, and public contracting.
• Bans quotas and set-aside programs giving every person a fair chance to compete for good paying jobs and college admissions.
Proposal 2 DOES NOT...
• Affect public health facilities, including breast cancer screening centers, fair housing programs, or private scholarships.
• Eliminate outreach or true equal opportunity programs.
• Eliminate Title IX or girls' sports.
The fact that Michigan voters voted overwhelmingly in favor of it doesn't matter to the Proposal's opponents. To them, anyone who voted for it is the stereotypical right-wing, racist, sexist, homophobic, idiot who didn't know enough to vote for what was good for them and what mainstream America wants. And they are still trying to find ways around discriminating against anyone who doesn't fit the current "victim" template, especially at the University of Michigan and other public universities. At the hallowed halls of U. of M. diversity is the order of the day, education be damned.
The Detroit Free Press, another opponent of Proposal 2, ran an editorial, thinly disguised as a news article on the tribulations of U. of M.'s and Wayne State University's efforts to discriminate - uh - I mean diversify. They destroyed their own pro-diversity argument however, with this quote:
Deneshea Richey, 17, a student at Cass Tech High in Detroit, is going through the process now and has a list of about 10 schools she is applying to.
U-M was once on her list, but she has decided she won't "waste the application fee." Before, a relatively low grade-point average might have been offset by her work history, the fact that she lives alone and other factors, including the fact she is African American.
Maybe I'm naive, but wouldn't a low high school GPA dim her chances for success at an academically rigorous university like U. of M.? Wouldn't it make more sense for her to go somewhere where standards weren't quite so high so she had a better chance of graduation and a lesser chance of flunking out? The factors that kept her high school GPA low probably wouldn't change for the better at U. of M. and in fact might even change for the worse. She'd be moving away from home into a much more highly competitive environment. She'd have more responsibilities and more distractions. She would be even more on her own than she is now.
Why are so many engaged in an open conspiracy to make education even more difficult for people like Richey? Who are they trying to fool?
Thomas Sowell has written on and condemned affirmative action in many articles and in an entire book. Rather than depend on platitudes and emotion, he offers logic, reason, and the past experience of affirmative action programs. Deneshea Richey and university officials in Michigan should read what Dr. Sowell has to say.
Leonard Pitts, like many of us in the civilized world was outraged by the Sudan teddy bear incident,
Just to make sure I've got this straight: Their God is threatened by a teddy bear?
As in a plush, cuddly doll in the shape of a bear? As in the glass-eyed figure children sleep with for security? We're talking teddy bears as in teddy bears? A teddy bear has offended their God?
Lord, have mercy.
However, Pitts does not see this as a problem related to Islam. As he says,
Throughout her ordeal, she has maintained that she respects Islam and has asked that people not think ill of the faith because of this. Which is exactly right. Islam is not the problem. Fundamentalism, however, is. And that, as we should know from our own experience, is a mindset that is not confined to one faith.
To the contrary, every faith has them, these rigid doctrinaires who would sacrifice their very humanity for the fool's gold of theological purity, these people so eager to live the literal law of their holy books that they miss the point of those holy books, shedding compassion, kindness and plain common sense along the way.
Near the end of his piece however, Pitts says,
And then there is Darfur, the western region where four years of government-backed genocide has left an estimated 200,000 people dead. Some might say they are the lucky ones. Luckier than the man whose eyes were gouged out with a bayonet. Luckier than the people burned alive inside their huts. Luckier than the women raped so brutally they can no longer walk, so brutally that urine trickles constantly down their legs.
And just who is committing those atrocities? Pitts wants us to believe that they are some generic fundamentalists, the kind that you can find in any religion. It must be sheer coincidence then, that the two examples of religion-inspired violence cited by Pitts are both Islamic. If there are members of other religions engaged in this same kind of barbarism (and all of the other religious hatred inspired violence being perpetrated by Islamofascists around the world), why didn't Pitts bring them to our attention?
Because there aren't any, of course. In the world of moral equivalence, Israelis booing their inept suicidal leadership, Christians who criticize Islamofascists, and Muslim terrorists are all labeled as "extremists". (Notice that it is the ADL that still labels Muslim terrorists as extremists. I will have more to say about that in a later post). How anyone in the West can still think that way is beyond me, but it must take a lot of mental gymnastics and refusal to face reality in order to do it.
Our second example whitewashing Islamofascists is from this piece of absurdity from the Detroit News. Here it is in its entirety.
When Imam Sayid Hassan al-Qazwini and other religious leaders met at the White House with Bill Clinton in 1999, something the president said encouraged Qazwini's conviction that Americans needed to know more about Islam.
It was only when his daughter, Chelsea, took a class in world religions, Clinton said, that he understood how much Islam had in common with Christianity and Judaism.
"These words rang bells in my ears," Qazwini said, sitting in his office in the largest mosque in the country, the Islamic Center of America. "And I thought 'what could I do about educating a bigger number of people than I do just in the churches and the universities?' I thought: 'I need to write a book'."
Random House published "American Crescent" last month, and a group of interfaith leaders, including the Michigan Roundtable for Diversity & Inclusion, will meet at the mosque at 7 p.m. today to discuss it.
Qazwini cuts a prominent profile in Islam in the United States. He meets regularly with presidents and politicians, bishops and ministers of many Christian churches, rabbis and other religious leaders -- even the pope. Since Sept. 11, 2001, he has spoken more than 250 times at universities, churches and temples -- in part to explain that the terrorist attacks were affronts to the beliefs of Islam.
In "American Crescent" Qazwini uses the story of his life to explain why Islam is ultimately good for America -- and, to no small degree, why America is good for Islam. It is, as the publisher's note suggests, "At once a fascinating personal story and a heart-felt plea to integrate Islamic teachings into the tolerant traditions of America"
Leaders of other faiths call the book a bold strike against the extremists and an explanation of how Islam and American patriotism can walk hand-in-hand.
"He personally has experienced what extremists can do to people and what ideology can do to hurt people," said Rev. William Gepford, of the Littlefield Presbyterian Church in Dearborn. "My impression is that Imam Qazwini is very open about living in the United States and helping his congregation live in the United States as Muslims, accepting the rights of all."
Qazwini, the descendant of seven generations of prominent Muslim scholars, regularly tells his followers, "Remember, we are freer to practice our religion here than in most other countries in the world, including the countries we came from."
In his first moments in the United States, when an airline attendant treated him with kindness, Qazwini writes that he recalled the teaching of the Shi'a Muslim leader Imam Ali that "Your country does not belong to you more than any other country. The best country is the one that treats you well."
By and large, he believes he has been well-treated in the United States, and that Muslims are, too, despite almost daily negative publicity.
"The idea of the book was to make Islam available to the average American," Qazwini said. "I thought I would use my own story to engage the readers. If you write a dry text, an abstract text, you may not find enough people who are interested."
Qazwini takes some Muslims to task for their persecution of him and his family in Iraq and for some harshly enforced segregation of the genders. Like many religious leaders, he chides some of his followers for their secular approach, confusing culture with religion. He calls them "hummus Muslims."
"I think he got it about right," said Chuck Alawan, an American-born Muslim who is a long-time leader of the faith in Metro Detroit. "I think for someone who was not born in this country, he grasped the very essence of what it is to be an American."
The problem with Qazwini is, and having never met the man personally I hate to say this, but he is a liar. I wrote about Qazwini in a previous post, again reprinted below in its entirety.
I read Robert Sklar's editorial in the Detroit Jewish News with fascination last week. We are constantly being told that the way to a radical Muslim's heart is through dialogue. We Jews and Christians have been repeatedly encouraged to reach out to the Muslim community. But what happens when Jews and Christians do reach out? Well, for one thing, the true colors of Muslim leaders become vivid and crystal clear.
After reading the editorial, I read Rabbi Klein's Yom Kippur sermon where he tells of his experience in reaching out to local Muslims.
If you recall, the convergence of our calendars found Rosh Hashana and the first day of Ramadan on the same Monday night new moon, preceded by the Lutheran’s Church’s “World Peace Sunday”. On the Friday night immediately before Rosh Hashana we welcomed Christian and Muslim lay and clergy to our Shabbat worship, which was followed by a Saturday night program at the new Dearborn mosque, which was followed by a Sunday afternoon service and discussion in a Detroit church. The tone and tenor of all three experiences spoke of common goals and values, of shared hopes for continuing interfaith dialogue and increasing cooperation. From those Holidays to these, much has changed, and on this Yom Kippur, I ask your forgiveness for my naïve belief that we share core values with our American Muslim neighbors.
The Muslim cleric with whom I sat on a panel discussion at the church was Imam Hassan Qazwini. I was heartened to hear him speak Saturday night and again on Sunday afternoon of that interfaith weekend, about the evil of terrorism, and the terrible, tragic loss of innocent, civilian lives at the hands of suicide bombers. It was just a few weeks after that weekend, during the final week of Ramadan, that Iran’s president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad made international headlines with his message to university students in Teheran that Israel should be wiped off the map of the earth. Ahmadinejad declared war against the “World of Arrogance”. He called Israel the “primary front of the World of Arrogance in the heart of the Islamic world,” and he declared that the struggle against Israel was only the beginning of a war between Islam and the international non-Muslim world, a war that Islam would certainly win. “Is it possible,” he asked rhetorically, “to witness a world without America and Zionism? You had best know that this slogan and this goal is attainable, and surely can be attained.”
I immediately called Imam Qazwini at the Islamic Center of America, but for two days, could only reach the mosque’s answering machine. So I emailed him, expressing my hope that he would publicly distance himself from the President of Iran, especially in light of that month’s interfaith weekend. I said that as religious leaders, we must quickly and publicly denounce this kind of hateful rhetoric, lest it become even more difficult for our faith-communities to build bridges of friendship and cooperation. I never heard from him. Al chet sh’chatani, for the sin I committed in dismissing the history of our local Muslim leadership, for the hope that a moderate Islam was growing in Dearborn.
This summer, during Israel’s war with Hezbollah, the Dearborn community rallied beneath Hezbollah flags, shouting “Death to the Zionists”. The Arab American Political Action Committee, and the Congress of Arab American Organizations condemned Israel and America’s support of Israel, equating the Jewish nation with Nazi Germany, calling the Jewish state “occupied Palestine” and praising the dedication of Hamas and Hezbollah “freedom fighters.” Reported in the press was a gathering at the Bint Jabeil Cultural Center, held the last week of July, at the height of the Lebanese war. The report described a blistering call for the destruction of Israel and death to its Zionist lackeys in the west. Imam Qazwini was there, as were other Muslim clerics.
Read the whole thing. And then remember what Robert Sklar says in his editorial:
There are rules for dialogue, and one clear rule is that one side should not be advocating the destruction of the other.
On the holiest day of the Jewish year, Rabbi Joseph Klein rose before his congregation in Oak Park last month to deliver a stunning sermon in which he apologized for working with local Muslim leaders and vowed to boycott interfaith events.
He accused Muslim leaders of complicity in "hate-filled and violence-promoting rallies" against Israel in Dearborn this summer, referring to protests in which Muslims carried signs equating the Star of David with a Nazi swastika.
The sermon was a thunderclap marking the edge of a storm that has been building for more than a year as local Jewish and Muslim communities pulled apart. Now, the tensions are open and obvious. Rabbis are avoiding events attended by imams and, when they do show up, conversation often becomes strained.
As a result, after years of pioneering efforts in southeast Michigan to create a haven for dialogue among Jews, Christians and Muslims, metro Detroit's world-famous interfaith tapestry is unraveling.
A month after they were spoken, Klein's words still are echoing across the Internet, cut and pasted into e-mails circulating among Christians, Muslims and Jews and leaving a trail of shock and sadness.
It should be made clear however that the fault of this "unraveling tapestry" is not the fault of Rabbi Klein, but the fault of local Imams who pretend that they are really interested in working with the Jewish community. This is no time to shoot the messenger. Rabbi Klein merely pointed out that the actions of these Imams speak louder than their words. This past summer, instead of speaking out against Hezbollah as they provoked a war with Israel, Qazwini and others from the local Islamic community went to Washington D.C. to condemn Israel and the United States for supporting the only democracy in the Middle East. This was inbetween a busy schedule of hate-filled rallies in Dearborn supporting Hezbollah.
As usual the local press pays no attention to the two-faced actions of local imams. They have to present an "even handed" report and avoid all traces of racism or "islamophobia." In other words, they whitewash the situation, absolving Muslims of all rightly deserved blame for the hatred they spew.
In the Free Press article, Qazwini claims,
. . . Klein is unrealistic if he thinks Muslim leaders based in Michigan can cool the world's religious hot spots.
Nobody's asking him to do that. What he can do though, is be honest and stop pretending he's working for peace rather than Islamic supremecy in the United States.
Make sure you go to the links to Debbie Schlussel. She's got a lot more on Qazwini, exposing him as an agent of Jihad.
For those who truly believe in the moral equivalence of those generic fundamentalists and extremists read this post that I originally linked to at American Digest which led me to Wolf Howling.
"No one can find a safe way out for himself if socety is sweeping towards destruction. Therefore everyone, in his own interests, must thrust himself vigorously into the intellectual battle. None can stand aside with unconcern; the interests of everyone hang on the result." -- Ludwig von Mises