Friday, October 6, 2017


Music Week

Music: Current count 28842 [28813] rated (+29), 396 [405] unrated (-9).

After many short weeks, back to semi-normal last week, a swing that would have been even more pronounced had I not gotten distracted over the weekend: cooked a fairly large dinner on Saturday, had guests and a birthday party to attend on Sunday. Monday, too, has largely been chewed up by technical problems, so I'm getting a late start on this post, and not including Monday's unpacking.

The short and scattered nature of yesterday's Weekend Roundup was one consequence of my weekend distractions. One thing I did there was to cite Donna Brazile's controversial Inside Hillary Clinton's Secret Takeover of the DNC, as well as a rejoinder by Josh Marshall, before moving on to my own concerns. Shortly after I posted, I noticed Charles Pierce's own anti-Brazile rant: The Democratic Party Is Finding a Way to F*ck This Up, which starts off with this hideous preface:

I will go to my grave convinced that the 2016 Democratic primary process was the single most depressing political event I ever witnessed. . . . But the Democratic nominating circus was an endless slog that veered between a coronation and a smug, self-righteous quasi-insurgency that quickly developed a paranoid streak a mile wide. This set a perfect stage for the nearly omnipresent Russian ratfcking. The ratfckers didn't have to create divisions to exploit, they already were there.

I mean, sure, it was more depressing than 2008, when Hillary Clinton was denied the Democratic Party nomination and therefore was unable to blow the general election. But even though I was delighted with Obama's primary successes in 2008, Bernie Sanders' campaign was unprecedented, and his near-success even more thrilling. The Republican primaries had more faces, and some stylistic variation, but there ultimately wasn't a dime's worth of difference between the candidates. But there were real, significant differences between Sanders and Clinton, and they were things that mattered -- so how could one not get swept up in the opportunity?

I don't know, but I have a hypothesis, based on a few people I know who I think of as having more/less lefty (but pro-Hillary) politics and extrapolating to more establishment-oriented liberals. It involves two factors: one is a cynical belief that substantial progressive change is not possible; the other is blind faith in liberal meritocracy, which has anointed the long line of Democratic Party leaders from aristocrats like the Roosevelts and Kennedys to accommodating strivers like the Clintons and Obama. That cynicism lets such people dismiss Bernie with whatever epithet they fancy (for Pierce, "smug, self-righteous") even though there is no evidence for their assertions, while always giving Hillary the benefit of any doubts, even though her own track record is full of compromises and betrayals. Such people are very hurt, probably more by Hillary's loss than by Trump's victory, because the former calls into question their belief in American exceptionalism, whereas the latter mostly hurts other people.

Russia is their perfect villain, a way of blaming their failure not on other Americans but on some external evil. Still, I recently read David Daley's Ratf**ked: The True Story Behind the Secret Plan to Steal America's Democracy, and I don't recall a single Russian operative in the entire book. The "ratfuckers" -- the people conspiring to engineer districts and electorates to their partisan advantage -- are Republicans, and they've been very effective at it. I don't doubt that Russia helped them out here and there, but the game plan was hatched in Republican circles, and they were the ones who mostly carried it out. Blaming Russia may make some Democrats feel better about themselves, but it mostly means they're continuing to turn a blind eye to their real enemies. And in their failure to recognize real enemies, they've not only been ineffective at defending against them -- they've lost credibility among the very people who suffer Republican rule the worst.

Pierce goes on to attack "SPW" ("Senator Professor Warren"), and to set up scapegoating the left if the Democrat Ralph Northam loses the Virginia gubernatorial race. He's right that the Democrats have various problems achieving unity, even in the face of the most obviously horrid Republicans in history, but it beats me how he thinks he's contributing to solidarity by trashing Bernie.

Since I posted, I've run across two more pieces on the Brazile Affair: Glenn Greenwald: Four Viral Claims Spread by Journalists on Twitter in the Last Week Alone That Are False -- three attacking Brazile, two of those repeated by Pierce -- and Matt Taibbi: Why Donna Brazile's Story Matters -- But Not for the Reason You Might Think. The lesson Taibbi draws from the story is how the Clinton camp distrusted democracy -- they sought to rig the primaries not because they couldn't win otherwise, but because they didn't think they should have to submit to the voters.


New records rated this week:

  • Thomas Anderson: My Songs Are the House I Live In (2017, Out There): [r]: A-
  • Big Thief: Masterpiece (2016, Saddle Creek): [r]: B+(*)
  • Robt Sarazin Blake: Recitative (2017, Same Room, 2CD): [r]: A-
  • Mihály Borbély Quartet: Be by Me Tonight/Gyere Hozzám Estére (2016, BMC): [r]: B+(**)
  • Peter Brötzmann/Steve Swell/Paal Nilssen-Love: Live in Tel Aviv (2016 [2017], Not Two): [bc]: B+(**)
  • Ernesto Cervini's Turboprop: Rev (2013-16 [2017], Anzic): [cd]: B+(**)
  • Cowboys and Frenchmen: Bluer Than You Think (2017, Outside In Music): [cd]: B+(*)
  • Marc Devine Trio: Inspiration (2017, ITI): [cd]: B+(***)
  • Jeff Dingler: In Transit (2017, self-released): [cd]: B+(**)
  • Matthieu Donarier/Santiago Quintans: Sun Dome (2017, Clean Feed): [r]: B-
  • Sinne Eeg: Dreams (2017, ArtistShare): [cd]: B+(**)
  • Satoko Fujii Quartet: Live at Jazz Room Cortez (2016 [2017], Cortez Sound): [cd]: B
  • Dre Hocevar: Surface of Inscription (2016 [2017], Clean Feed): [r]: B-
  • Adam Hopkins: Party Pack Ice (2015 [2017], pfMENTUM, EP): [cd]: B+(*)
  • Jon Langford: Jon Langford's Four Lost Souls (2017, Bloodshot): [r]: B+(***)
  • Large Unit: Fluku (2016 [2017], PNL): [bc]: A-
  • Paal Nilssen-Love/Frode Gjerstad: Nearby Faraway (2016 [2017], PNL): [bc]: B+(***)
  • The Paranoid Style: Underworld USA (2017, Bar/None, EP): [r]: B+(***)
  • Adam Rudolph: Morphic Resonances (2017, M.O.D. Technologies): [cd]: B+(*)
  • Samo Salamon/Szilárd Mezei/Achille Succi: Planets of Kei: Free Sessions Vol. 1 (2016 [2017], Not Two): [cd]: B+(***)
  • A. Savage: Thawing Dawn (2017, Dull Tools): [r]: B+(*)
  • Slow Is Possible: Moonwatchers (2016 [2017], Clean Feed): [r]: B+(*)
  • Trio S: Somewhere Glimmer (2017, Zitherine): [cd]: B+(*)
  • Deanna Witkowski: Makes the Heart to Sing: Jazz Hymns (2017, Tilapia): [cd]: B
  • Mark Zaleski Band: Days, Months, Years (2016 [2017], self-released): [cd]: B+(**)

Old music rated this week:

  • Mihály Borbély Quartet: Hungarian Jazz Rhapsody (2014, BMC): [r]: B+(***)