If This Is War, Then Fight Like It Is One

November 16, 2015

by Avi Davis

In January of this year, after the horrific attacks on the Charlie Hebdo headquarters in Paris, I wrote several pieces in which I predicted that the attack was only the beginning of the war in which the citizens in Western capitals would become directly  and irrevocably involved.baatclan-390668

Of course it was not the true beginning at all.  That distinction belongs to the French riots of 2005 and the Danish cartoon riots of 2006  in which the depravity of Muslim-European conduct was put on full televised display.

What I did not foresee in January this year  is how rapidly my prophecy would transform into reality by November.  Only eleven months and Paris,  the gleaming jewel of Europe, is again the victim of a massive assault.  Yet this time  a far more sophisticated and damaging  one than almost anyone could have expected.

Why Paris yet again?  Because it is a soft target and difficult to defend; because it is a symbol of western hedonism with its theaters, concert halls, side walk cafes, rock concerts and galleries; And because, along with Berlin, it represents to the Islamic fundamentalist mind the core of the European experiment in Western unity.  To inflict pain on Paris is to blast a hole through western confidence  –  an objective that the attacks on Friday have surely achieved.

So now what?  French president Francoise Hollande has labeled the attacks an act of war, and has vowed vengeance. And indeed over the weekend the French air force in Syria carried out a range of sorties against Islamic State targets in Syria. The G20 meeting in Turkey also committed itself to greater coordination in the assault against Islamic State.

But since the Charlie Hebdo attacks there were plenty of crises to remind us of the continuing war against the West waged by Islamic terrorists. In April, Garissa University in Northeastern Kenya was the victim of a merciless assault by terrorists associated with al Shahab – an African offshoot of al Qaeda, which resulted in the deaths of 147 students.  This was followed with massacres by Boko Haram in Nigeria, a powerful suicide bombing earlier this month in Beirut and of course the downing of a Russian airliner in Sinai on November 1st – both claimed by Islamic State.

The fact that these events are occurring around the world and not just in France should remind us of the global nature of the conflict.

In other words, this newly declared war, if anyone IS still truly in doubt, is nothing less than a world war between an atavistic death cult and what we know as Civilization.  It is not a clash, in Samuel Huntington’s famous epigrammatic conception, of civilizations.  It is rather a true Manichean struggle between the forces of life and the forces of death.

And how is such a world war prosecuted?  Well perhaps we should  think back to the last one and consider how it was successfully waged.

It was waged unconditionally and ruthlessly, so that the full weight, power and resources of the countries whose civilian populations were in direct peril, was brought to bear against the enemy. This included military force leveled at the the enemy’s territorial strongholds;  Intelligence services which were freed from all constraints in order to gather as much information as they needed, from whatever sources were available and employing whatever technology was then current, in order to interdict enemy plots; And, of course, the operation was governed by a united command, under the aegis of the United States, whose civilian leadership was absolutely committed to the task before them and would not flinch nor be deterred from the mission of achieving unconditional surrender.

But that would be only the measures to be taken against the enemy in its lair.  What about the enemy at home?  How can any citizen of the West fail to be alarmed by reports from the survivors of the Bataclan Theater that  the perpetrators of the killings spoke fluent, unaccented French and were later revealed to be French citizens?

The French, British, Swiss and German governments can no longer afford to speak blithely about the politics of inclusion and lean on the excuses of poverty and ill-education as the source of the incipient terror igniting in their suburbs.  Undercover agents must penetrate the banlieus of France, the outer suburbs of Malmo and the breeding grounds of terrorism in Birmingham and Manchester.  Mass arrests of Imams preaching violence must be conducted and their cohorts and congregations should be made fully aware that further incitement to violence will no longer be tolerated.  And European immigration policy must be completely overhauled to prevent young Muslim males from gaining entry to European countries without first having committed unequivocally to the democratic values of those nations.

And one more thing:  Isn’t it time for  the Europeans to recognize that the State of Israel, which has been fighting the same war on its own turf and its under own terms for decades, is not the nemesis of  Europe but rather its ally and perhaps even its savior?  Israeli counter-intelligence, Israeli security technology and Israeli cyber skills – all among the best resources of their kind in the world, should now be graciously accepted  by the Europeans in their struggle to defeat a common enemy.

Is any of the above likely to happen?  Regretfully, I have little hope for it.  The titular leader of the West, the American president, has no stomach for such engagements and has staked his presidency and its legacy on the idea that only a small band of malcontents, whom he won’t even label as Islamic, are responsible for the horrific events which have roiled world capitals for the past ten years.  No other world leader, besides perhaps Vladimir Putin, seems prepared to take the draconian steps necessary to destroy the scourge which threatens the lives of their citizens.  Neither David Cameron in Britain, nor Angela Merkel in Germany, nor Francois Hollande in France will ever be true or effective war time leaders.

And so, at a time in history when the civilized world cries out for fiery, determined  leadership, we are saddled with lack luster also rans, schooled in politically correct nostrums and the traditional liberal aversion to military engagement who have fostered a climate of passivity in the face of unrelenting aggression.

It is not a prescription for victory.

Avi Davis is the president of the American Freedom Alliance in Los Angeles and the editor of the Intermediate Zone

The Republican Contenders and the CNBC Assassination Squad

October 30, 2015

by Avi Davis

There are two pieces of big news which resulted from the third Republican debate which took place in Colorado on Wednesday night.  The first is that the CNBC moderators were shown to be out of their league.  They lost control of the proceedings early on and never really regained it and then compounded this failure by asking the most pointedly inane personal questions of the candidates, treating them as if they were circus animals being paraded for the network’s and audience’s enjoyment.

Ted Cruz of course slapped their insults right back at them when he lambasted their line of questioning which included crude characterizations of Donald Trump as a cartoon book character, Mario Rubio as an insolvent pauper, Ben Carson as incapable of “vetting” those who appropriate his image and Jeb Bush as a loser because his poll numbers have sagged.   Clearly the CNBC moderators had geared up for a confrontation with the Republican candidates, thinking of every means they could to cast them as interlopers and incompetents.

Is it any wonder then that no less than four of the candidates made specific reference to the nastiness of the questioning and the clear attempt by the moderators to paint those standing of the stage as little more than a group of truculent children with no business contending for the highest office in the land? And Ted Cruz was right to compare the treatment meted out to the Republicans with the way the Democrats had been gingerly handled two weeks prior.  If you remember that was a time when a proudly identified socialist unashamedly called for a political revolution in the United States – and his remarks did not seem to bat a lash on any moderator’s eye.

This is of course of a piece with the generally poor coverage of the Republican race.  Donald Trump, in Oklahoma this week, goaded the cameramen filming him to pan on the 10,000 strong audience he had attracted, knowing, as he said, that the filmed and written reports likely to follow would not mention any more than a handful in attendance. Mario Rubio, questioned about the Sun Sentinel’s editorial in Florida that day which had called for the Senator to resign his seat because he was absent so often from Senatorial proceedings,  illuminated that paper’s bias when he compared the Sentinel’s treatment of Senators Bob Graham,John Kerry and Barack Obama, when they all ran for president (missing far more Senate business than Rubio).  He just laughed at the paper’s hypocrisy.

So here’s the story on the real winners and losers in Boulder on Wednesday night:  The commentators were revealed to be petty, uninformed muckrakers with an axe to grind, trolling for any dirt they could dish up on the candidates;  while the candidates themselves, to a man (and woman) carried themselves with dignity under an assault from their interrogators. A victory for civility over contempt and a triumph of clarity over obfuscation.

One does to have wonder about the commitment of those who run Cable news networks to the ideas of fairness and openness for which they pride themselves as compared to the actual practices of those who sit behind their news desks.  In a fairer world each one of those CNBC  moderators would have been fired after Wednesday’s fiasco- for not only their blatant prejudice, but also for diminishing the American people’s trust in the accuracy of their reportage.

So the moderators lost.  But there was one other loss which occurred on stage that night that went largely unnoticed.

And that is the end of the Bush Era in U.S.politics.  From the time of George Herbert Walker Bush’s  rise to the vice presidency in 1980, until last night, it seemed certain that there would always be a Bush flapping his wings over or near the White House’s gates. It ended last night with Jeb Bush’s attempt to pour coal on the fire that the moderators had already lit under Mario Rubio, when he  suggested that Rubio should resign his Senate seat.  Rubio’s rapier response cut Bush to shreds and left him speechless and vulnerable.  He ended the evening an also ran, his campaign huffing to an abrupt halt.



Once hailed by both his father and his brother, former presidents of the United States, to be the best politician in the family, he has actually revealed himself to be its worst campaigner –  his lack luster debate performances and less than stellar speeches on the hustings, making him look uncomfortable and out of touch. It cannot be too long before the realization that there will not be a third Bush presidency spanning the last half century dawns on even the most diehard Bush followers and the Bush mint, which has determinedly hammered out two presidents over the past thirty-five years, will be shuttered for good.

Avi Davis is the President of the American Freedom Alliance and the editor of the Intermediate Zone

If the Oslo Accords Are Dead, Then So Might Be Mahmoud Abbas

October 20, 2015

by Avi Davis


When, two weeks ago, Mahmoud Abbas stood before the United Nations and declared the Oslo Accords dead, he was only confirming what had been obvious to Israelis ( if not the world)  for more than 15 years.  The Accords, signed with such pomp, ceremony and optimism 22 years ago at the White House  had long since been ignored by the Palestinian Authority for their primary purpose – building  the framework for a permanent peace treaty between Israel and the Palestinians.  Rather, the  reversion to terror, the stock-in- trade of Fatah and its kleptocratic mafiosa who returned from Tunis with Yasser Arafat in 1993 – has been the only consistent policy of the Palestinian leadership over the intervening 22 years.

Mahmoud Abbas World Leaders Address the UN General Assmebly


So now arrives the 15th anniversary of the outbreak of the Second Intifada and almost on cue, a new round of violence has erupted in Israel  – this time without question instigated by the Palestinian leadership.  Anyone caring to read the highly reputable Palestinian Media Watch or the redoubtable MEMRI, both of which offer reports and translations of the statements of Palestinian leaders and the Palestinian media,  will find hard evidence of the incitement to murder and the lies of leaders such as Abbas and Erekat who have trafficked for years in the absolute falsehood that the Jews are seeking to change the status quo on the Temple Mount.

It is nothing new. Over the past 95 years, whenever the Palestinian leadership has sought to build political capital either domestically or abroad they have regularly resorted to the allegations of the Al Asqa Mosque’s defilement  as their casas belli. 

It happened in April, 1920 during the Nebi Musa riots in the Old City of Jerusalem; in August, 1929 prior to the Tarpat massacres in Hebron; it was a precursor to the Arab revolt of  1936 and to the War of Independence of 1948; and most recently in 2000 the allegation was used when Ariel Sharon decided to visit the Temple Mount. Each time, the war cry, carried vociferously over the airwaves and into every Palestinian home, was the threat of a Jewish takeover of the Dome of the Rock.  It galvanized thousands of young men to murder their friends and neighbors.

The accommodations that the Israelis have afforded the Arab leadership on the captured Temple Mount, the holiest location in Judaism  -yet a far less holy shrine to Islam – has been remarkably forthcoming, but in the end self-defeating.  The Arabs have repaid this generosity with murder, mayhem and an attempt to destroy any archeological evidence that verifies a Jewish presence on the Temple Mount.

Now Abbas ignites another Intifada, not out of hopelessness as so many in the Western media are pontificating, but out of calculation.  Having consistently dodged any attempt to resolve the Israeli- Palestinian conflict peacefully through open negotiation; having failed to unilaterally obtain U.N. sanction for a Palestinian state based on the 1949 cease fire lines, Abbas is following the model of previous Palestinian leaders –  the Grand Mufti Haj Amin al Husseini  and Yasser Arafat in leading a glorious revolt against the Palestinians’ so-called  Jewish oppressors.

But there should be deep caution in such an approach.  Both  al Husseini and Arafat set back the Palestinian cause years, if not generations, when they urged their followers to resort to violence.  Haj Amin al Husseini was eventually deported  by the British  and ended his life in exile in Egypt and Lebanon, where, for the remaining 35 years of his life, he exerted very little influence over the course of events in his homeland.

Arafat ended his life a virtual prisoner in his Ramallah compound, unable to do much but make ineffectual public statements that not even his own people paid much attention to. He died with his plans for winning his Palestinian state through war in ruins, thousands of his own people dead and with diminishing world sympathy.

Mahmoud Abbas now faces the prospect of  a similar fate. The Israeli leadership will not long tolerate a Palestinian leader who publicly incites his people to murder Jews and bestows his blessing on the perpetrators.  The irony is, of course, that Abbas has known for years that it is the Israeli military who keeps him safe and in nominal control of the West Bank. Hamas, which has ruled Gaza since 2006, has long plotted his usurpation.  In a Hobson’s Choice he has relied on the Israelis to prop him up, since his Palestinian ‘moderation’ is presented as a far more propitious alternative than that of a  genocidal monster licking its chops on the outskirts of Jerusalem or Tel Aviv.

But this may soon end. Seen as permanently abandoning diplomacy, the Israeli government may abandon him as well, and re- establish administrative control over the areas of the West Bank where the Palestinian Authority now reigns.  This is an uncomfortable and highly problematic choice for the Israelis, fraught with diplomatic peril, but in the end there may be no other means to ensure the safety and security of Israeli civilians.

Abbas’ fate in such a scenario is anyone’s guess.  But ending up in exile like al Husseini or in virtual prison like Arafat, might not be too bad an option when considering the alternative planned for him at the hands of Hamas.



Pigs at the Trough

October 17, 2015

In Thursday’s Wall Street Journal, the ever reliable columnist Daniel Henniger wrote the following about the first Democratic debate:

“What is striking about the candidates’ economic proposals is how disconnected they are from a private-sector economy. The Democrats have disappeared into a sealed world of public-sector economics, running to wishful thinking, like Bernie Sanders’s “tuition-free” public-college education. In Mrs. Clinton’s version, college would be “debt-free.”

CNN’s uncurious Anderson Cooper didn’t ask the senator how it could be “free.” But Mr. Sanders answered it himself: “I pay for my program, by the way, through a tax on Wall Street speculation.”

It is so fantastic. The Democrats, not least Mr. Obama and Mrs. Clinton, seem to have discovered El Dorado itself in “Wall Street,” a city of infinite gold dust to finance their economic pyramids in perpetuity.”


So here we have the absolute irony of the Democrats’ crusade against the evils of capitalism: while happy to drink from the trough when it suits them, they will call for the trough’s removal, eclipse or destruction when the political winds are conveniently blowing their way.

For all the rhetoric about Wall Street and ‘casino capitalism’ from the Democratic candidates, one has to wonder what they actually mean by these terms?   Do they perhaps means entertainment giants such as Time-Warner, Sony Corporation and Viacom – publicly traded corporations on Wall Street whose executives have been major contributors to Democratic causes?  Do they perhaps mean Silicon Valley high fliers such as Google, Oracle and eBay – no strangers to Democratic politics?  Or do they perhaps mean the New York Times Company –  traded on the NYSE,; or the multinational conglomerate, Graham Holdings Company – owner of the Washington Post and many other news outlets – both of whose support the Democratic nominee  will desperately need in his or her quest for the White House

And don’t forget all those Wall Street bankers who are banging on the doors of Democratic Headquarters to be considered for jobs in the new Administration.  It should be remembered that both Hank Paulson  and Robert Rubin, Treasury Secretaries who both who served under Democratic Presidents, had prior storied careers on Wall Street.

El Dorado indeed.

Yet for some reason the same companies and bankers who never seem to tire of getting beaten up by candidates Obama and Clinton, continue to disgorge the dough when slapped on the rump.

Barack Obama raised a record $42.2 million in his 2008 election campaign from Wall Street bankers and financial insiders, and although the amount was considerably less in 2012, the fact that anyone on Wall Street was willing to give him a dime after his four year long jeremiad accusing them of having virtually raped the country, is a marvel in itself.

The truth is that there is a symbiotic relationship between politicians and ‘Wall Street’: One is seeking to buy and grease the passage to power and the other seeking to buy and secure influence.  It doesn’t matter which party it is or who the bankers and corporations may be:   Politicians need Wall Street and Wall Street just as badly needs politicians.

So all rhetoric aside, lets just agree that the political pigs will continue to feed at the financial trough, and the Democrats will continue to pretend to kick the trough away: yet will always quietly and secretly bring it back whenever they think that no one is looking.


Avi Davis is  the President of the American Freedom Alliance and  the editor of the Intermediate Zone

Moral Relativism in the Middle East and its Consequences

October 16, 2015
Outrage has followed Secretary of State John Kerry’s statement that “massive settlement building” in the West Bank has occasioned a deep sense of frustration among Palestinians and has lead (or contributed) to the outbreak of violence in Israel. Similarly, John Kirby, spokesman for the Department of State, remarked yesterday that the Israeli response to some of the instances of lone terror attacks has been “excessive”. The New York Times, Los Angeles Times and even the Wall Street Journal have all run headlines in the past few days suggesting that it is Palestinian teens who have been the victims of attacks rather than its obvious perpetrators.
Contemptible John Kerry blames Israel for his own mess | New York Post
Maybe outrage is appropriate but no one should be surprised. This is par for the course for this Administration and it is common for the media – even the Wall Street Journal, (whose reportage seems to inhabit a different moral plane than its editorial page), to promote an idea of moral equivalence. We should register that this is the new moral universe we inhabit – where right is wrong, where premeditated murder transforms into evidence of mere frustration and gangsters are accorded the status of freedom fighters.
John Kerry and the State Department should be seen as modern day appeasers who, like their more famous forbears in the 1930s, saw good and evil in relative terms and became the apologists of those who would one day vow to destroy them.
He now has the Israelis scratching their heads about his confusion of the difference between the perpetration of terror  and its deterrence and defense. They see that this moral relativism is now nothing more than a diplomatic reflex of the Obama Administration when it comes to dealing with the Arab-Israeli dispute.
Of course there has been no “massive settlement building” in Judea and Samaria – a fact Kerry knows quite well.  In fact, as a result of the 10 month moratorium on building in the settlements  imposed upon Israel by the Obama Administration in 2010, building anything new in the settlements since that times has become increasingly difficult.  The Israeli population of the West Bank has remained largely static over the past 5 years at around 360,000.  The only growth in settlements has been the growth of illegal Arab settlements, financed by the European Union.
Kerry, of course, maintains the fiction that both sides are to blame since he still wishes to be seen as the honest broker who can bring the two sides together for a peace deal.  But he should recognize by now that Mahmoud Abbas is NEVER coming back to the table.  In his last years, Abbas much like his predecessor Yasser Arafat, wants to leave his mark on the history of his people, not as a peace maker but as a warrior. And why wouldn’t he?  He will earn much higher marks as an Arab leader if he leaves a trail of blood behind him, rather than a deal with the accursed Jews.
President after President and Secretary of State after Secretary of State, have repeatedly made exactly the same mistake.  The Arab world does not repay moral relativism with concessions and openness to peace.  It sees it rather as weakness and an opportunity for manipulation.
A strong statement from the Administration, threatening to block funding for the Palestinian Authority or impose sanctions in the U.N. would send a far more effective message and it is one that the Palestinian leaders would respect.  But failure to do so will only result in emboldening the resort to terror and suggesting to men like Mahmoud Abbas that he can actually achieve something from continuing incitement.
Avi Davis is  the President of  the American Freedom Alliance and the editor of the Intermediate Zone

Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation: A Review

October 15, 2015

Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation character posters released, new ...


by Avi Davis

There are a few good questions to ask about the purpose of this review.  For starters, why am I writing it?  Since, as a heavy critic of mass popular culture and its soulless inanity, why should I bother with a movie which could just as well represent inanity at its most fulsome?  And with our world crashing around us, haven’t we other things to distract us?




The answer is simple, if not particularly ennobling.    Tom Cruise is a 50-something guy who is reportedly able, at his advanced age, to cling to the fuselage of a cargo jet in full flight – and not just once, but for as many as eight takes during filming.  He dives into the vortex of a whirlpool and holds his breath for as long as six minutes, while fiddling with, losing and then recovering a key card.  He drives a motorcycle like a mother and survives a crash that would have ripped the skin and bones off mere mortals.  And all of these encounters he performs on his own – no stunt men, no CGI, no body doubles.

And so:  I am also a 50-something guy a couple of years older than Mr Cruise. Personal adventure is something that still swivels my chair and I am unashamed of admitting that I  live for the thrill of doing things like riding bicycles around Iceland or scaling the peaks of  the Grand Tetons, even as those undertakings  become increasingly challenging as the years go by.

I have marveled for years at how aging rockers such as Mick Jagger, Bruce Springsteen and actors such as Sylvester Stallone and Liam Neeson have been able to remain viable action oriented entertainers into their  60s ( 70s in the case of Jagger!)  – sprightly,well-muscled, lean – as if the passage of time means nothing.     If they can do such things at such advanced ages, then surely I can personally handle my rather more modest physical challenges. Right?


Well, sort of. No one should be under the illusion that any of these men are able to achieve their physical wonders without the aid of an army of assistants and helpers and physicians and dieticians who monitor everything they put into their bodies and every activity they undertake.

But still – how many stars at similar ages in the 1950s and 60s could have assumed as limber and as dexterous a role as if they were twenty years younger?

So there you have my admission.  I am in awe of Tom Cruise. Or, should I say even more truthfully, I am just plain jealous of him.  This alpha of alpha males takes on roles which actually endanger his life and through mental application, skill and perhaps even a little good luck, survives them.  Given these facts, the whole movie and its asinine plot is almost beside the point.  It is, after all,  merely a vehicle for Mr. Cruise to prove to us that he has still got it.

The Mission Impossible franchise, one that Cruise actually owns, has arguably sustained him as not only a major action figure but as a successful motion picture artist in general. Many of his other films outside of the franchise have bombed so miserably that they alone would not be able to maintain his status as Hollywood’s most bankable star.  But don’t credit the strength of plot, character development or story continuity in any of these films for that success.

And the pattern continues with Rogue Nation which reprises the role of Cruise’s character, Secret Agent Matthew Hunt.  Hunt’s task in the new film, which he never gets to really either accept nor decline, is to identify and then blot out the leadership of ‘ The Syndicate’, a shadowy group of malcontent geniuses seeking to destabilize world governments through assassinations of key political figures. Why it is doing this and what it hopes to gain by undertaking such perverse action is never made very clear.  But the evil consortium (which comes complete with its own German-accented, Aryan-looking leader who even has the obligatory twitching eyebrow) is a daunting foe, seemingly capable of predicting its adversaries’ actions several movie frames ahead.

The trouble is, Hunt’s organization, the IMF ( the Impossible Missions Force – yes, that really IS its name  –  and it is right up there in a contest with unobtainium from Avatar for a Nomenclature Laziness Award) has lost the confidence of the CIA and is being disbanded, its funding cut while Agent Hunt is in mid-mission.

What is more the CIA does not believe The Syndicate even exists. In order for Hunt to reclaim his organization’s good name and its funding, let alone save the world, he must expose  The Syndicate.  And for this he must go rogue –  at risk to his own life and livelihood.

Such nobility of soul of course is highly admirable, if hardly credible.

But OK.  Suddenly Hunt finds himself being hunted by The Syndicate, the FBI and his own erstwhile colleagues at the IMF – who are trying to get to him before all the others do.

Confused yet?  Well, join me, the audience and most of the seemingly befuddled movie cast itself in that category.

But not to fear, it all comes good in the end, even if it never becomes  exactly clear who is hunting who.  Hunt zips in and out of Vienna opera theaters, Moroccan strongholds, the U.K’s prime ministerial residence and a host of other exotic locations, seeking to single handedly ( although eventually joined by some of his ex- IMF pals who similarly go rogue) to bring down The Syndicate and retrieve his honor.

Hunt’s love interest in Rogue Nation is the fetching Ilsa Faust (Rebecca Ferguson), an agent of no fixed nationality, whose primary role seems to be to rescue Hunt from all manner of disastrous life threatening situations in which he places himself.  And she’s not really even on his side!  Their affair sizzles with all the steam from a fetid swamp.  The closest they get to actual romance is an off hand comment from Hunt at the end of the film about getting  away from it all to live a quiet life on a Caribbean island.

So what makes Rogue Nation so eye-poppingly watchable?  Biometrics, used cleverly in identification devices;  dazzling computer graphics;  disguises that are so inventive that you will wonder how they made them;  action scenes in diving suits, on rappelling ropes, on motor cycles and of course on jets at 5,000 feet – all offering enough entertainment to keep us involved, even we you don’t really know what is going on.

Its all impossible, but so what?  Most of us create fantasies about who we are or who we want to be and Hollywood offers to transform such illusions into celluloid for a few hours of distracting entertainment.  I am no different in that regard. And I loved it.  May Matthew Hunt or Tom Cruise  – whichever one of them is the real human being- go on solving impossible problems on impossible missions for that impossibly named outfit for which he works, for all the forseeable, if impossible, future.  I will be ready to offer my vote of thanks with my $15.00.


Avi Davis is the president of the American Freedom Alliance and the editor of The Intermediate Zone.



Crosseyed Heart by Keith Richards: A Review

October 14, 2015



RELEASE DATE  September 18, 2015
LABEL:  Republic Records
FORMATS:  Digital, Vinyl, CD

REVIEW DATE:  October 21, 2015

In the middle of Life, Keith Richards’ rambunctious 2010 autobiography, he declares:” I am not here to make records and money. I’m here to say something and to touch other people – sometimes its a cry of desperation: Do you know this feeling?”

Richards’ music over the past 50 years with the Rolling Stones has on occasion lived up to that sentiment. Songs such as Satisfaction, Street Fighting Man and Before They Make Me Run, all contained messages and ideas to which listeners could immediately attach themselves.  But more often than not his Rolling Stones contributions have focused on the ephemera of lasting love and the twists and tangles of the sexual tension between men and women. The sentiments often seemed far less important than the menacing beat by which they were propelled.

In solo projects, however, Richards has been far more introspective and self- examining.  The two solo albums Talk is Cheap (1988) and Main Offender (1992), produced during a period in which infighting looked likely to end the Stones’ career, offered a view of Richards outside the commercial demands of Stones product, revealing both his sentimentality and his talent for balladry.  Never a strong vocalist, he made the most of his thin voice on songs such as Make No Mistake and Take It so Hard, giving them a hard edged charm. Nevertheless, the songs on these two albums had a discouraging sameness that tended to blend them together.

All of which makes Crosseyed Heart, his first solo album in 23 years, such a revelation.  Richards’ voice, which has now aged and matured into a deep husk, is a wonderful ragged  instrument that he employs to magnificent affect in its lower register in titles such as the opening Crosseyed Heart and mid-album Illusion.   But not only that, there is a distinctiveness in the song selection and range in mood, from deep blues to reggae flounce to flat out rock – that brings with it a sense of Richards’s versatility – which was not particularly evident on the earlier albums.

Crosseyed Heart features Richards once again backed by Steve Jordan, who co-wrote the album, and other members of his long time band, the X-Pensive Winos, including vocalist Sarah Dash and guitarist Waddy Wachtel.  Together they contribute to an album with a startling survey of the artist’s emotions:  first there is the gossamer threaded languor of Robbed Blind: the shimmering elevated loveliness of Just a Gift and the chorus backed, soul inflected tremor of Something for Nothing.  Yes, there is also the obligatory Stones swagger ( Trouble and Substantial Damage) which would have fit neatly on any latter-day Stones album (even if sorely missing Charlie Watts’ pneumatic beat).  But for the most part, Richards is making a clear statement on Crosseyed Heart that he is much more than simply the rhythm guitarist in Mick Jagger’s band.

The one other important thing to distinguish this disc from other Stones offerings – and even his other solo albums – is the production. While many of the group’s albums were deliberately designed to sound as if they are recorded in a garage – with Mick Jagger’s vocals slurred to an off kilter incoherence –Crosseyed Heart is recorded with all the sophistication the songs deserve:  Richards’ diction and articulation is clear and un-muddied; the sounds of the guitars, the piano and the brass are as crisp as crackers snapped in two and the backing female choruses, particularly on songs such as Something for Nothing and Just a Gift, adds a luxuriant aural sheen which allows those songs to soar.

Much has been written about Richards’ drug and nicotine addictions, his scrapes with the law, his convictions and his general physical survival from perilous accidents, but not quite enough of his genuine artistry and his talents as a bluesman. Much like the old bluesmen he admires, many of whom were and still are singing the blues well into old age –  Richards, at 71, seems to be  just gathering steam and now seems particularly eager to distill his life experience into his art.

That life experience encompasses considerable material.  For years pundits have been predicting Richards’s premature demise.  In the 1970s  and 80s he regularly made the 10 People Most Likely to Die List and songs were even written to urge that he didn’t succumb to his many apparent demons (see in particular Nils Lofgren’s Keith Don’t Go).

He has defied them all.  In the Stones’ recent tours he has looked as lean and muscular as he did in the 1970s and although his heavily lined face certainly betrays all the years of hard living, his uncompromising attitude and his defiant machismo – so much a part of the Stones’ image – carries on.

But there is something on this record which provides a deeper truth than just the mere fact of the man’s survivability.

In the third verse of Robbed Blind, Richards raises his voice two octaves above his normal bass register and projects, at a caterwauling pitch, the words:  “Cause it ain’t about the money, honey.”   It is a moment of pure transcendence, brimming with vim and conviction.

After this happens, I can sit back in my chair, raise the dial  and with complete candor report back to the artist himself:  ” Yes, Keith, I know this feeling.”

Avi Davis is the president of the American Freedom Alliance and the editor of the Intermediate Zone




Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 50 other followers

%d bloggers like this: