Monday, April 16, 2018
Music: current count 29570  rated (+21), 365  unrated (-6).
Looks like rated count tanked, but four of the albums listed below
are 2-CD, one 3-CD, and one is 4-CD. Granted, I didn't give the multiple
sets (aside from Ivo Perelman) extra spins. My two new A- records got
at least four plays. The only question I had about the other -- a 2-CD
reissue of the first half of Anthony Braxton's 4-CD Willisau (Quartet)
1991 -- was whether it would rise to a full A, but I noted a couple
of off spots, and figured my original A- grade would hold (albeit a high
one). On the other hand, I carved out three separate grades for original
albums collected in Louis Armstrong's Pops Is Tops: The Complete
Verve Studio Albums and More. Finally an Armstrong box you don't
need, although to the extend you can isolate the leader's vocals and
occasional trumpet from Russ Garcia's orchestra, you might beg to
differ. The album with Oscar Peterson isn't so great either. If you
want to hear Satch singing show tunes, try challenging him, as Ella
Fitzgerald did: see Ella and Louis and, even better, Ella
and Louis Again.
The Arild Andersen album took a while because it never quite hit
me as strong as Live at Belleville, his first album with tenor
saxophonist Tommy Smith. The John Prine album was even more marginal.
Touted as his first album of original songs since 2005's Fair and
Square, one might have hoped that Trump raised up his political
hackles like Bush did, but he chose to sing about something less
depressing: death -- or at least it's less depressing given his
spin on the afterlife. He looks bad, and sounds worse, but bears
a message of forgiveness for damn near everyone. Feels a lot like
You Want It Darker, which is about as much a decline from
I'm Your Man as this is from The Missing Years.
Folks get old and decrepit, and maybe you should appreciate them
a little before they die.
Two near misses. After seven volumes of The Art of Perelman-Shipp
last year, I was feeling a little fatigue in facing three more duo CDs.
I played the third disc enough to be impressed, but was glad I didn't
have to sort them all separately. I was even more impressed by George
Coleman on the Brian Charette disc. He's showing remarkable vigor for
an 82-year-old, but was somewhat better served on 2016's A Master
Speaks. The other B+(***) this week is a bass duo recovered from
1994 -- a rather self-limiting format, but really doesn't sound like
a bass duo at all. More like an interesting but oblique soundtrack.
Unpacking was very skimpy last week, but I folded Monday's mail in
so it looks closer to normal below. Still, didn't factor those into
the unrated count, so we're a bit out of sync. I have quite a bit of
One significant addition to the website is that I've resurrected a
set of pages on my late sister's
Sacred Space project, from 2002. I
had these pages tucked into a corner of my website before they got
trashed by my ISP. I was able to salvage the text files, but had to
scrounge through my stuff to locate a CD-ROM with the images. At
this point I've done little more than update the HTML. I still need
to annotate the images (I'll need help for that; even more help
would be to find better images, as many of these are awful fuzzy),
add image links to the portal pages, and add links from the
Checklist to the portal
pages. I probably need to transpose most of the images, and make
thumbnails so they can be presented more sensibly (instead of just
I could also use some more historical details. The project was
originally displayed at Wichita State University, and has had at
least one other presentation, but has mostly been in storage. It
was officially directed by Diane Thomas Lincoln (who died in
2012), but I recall Kathy talking about the portal concept much
earlier, and I've always regarded her as the driving force behind
the project. WSU had agreed to re-present the project this summer --
something Kathy was very much looking forward to.
New records rated this week:
- Arild Andersen: In-House Science (2016 , ECM): [dl]: A-
- Jakob Bro: Returnings (2016 , ECM): [r]: B
- Brian Charette/George Coleman: Groovin' With Big G (2017 , SteepleChase): [r]: B+(***)
- Satoko Fujii Orchestra Berlin: Ninety-Nine Years (2017 , Libra): [cd]: B+(**)
- Gerry Hemingway/Samuel Blaser: Oostum (2015 , NoBusiness): [cdr]: B+(*)
- The Doug MacDonald Quintet/The Roger Neumann Quintet: Two Quintets: Live Upstairs at Vitello's (2017 , Blujazz, 2CD): [cd]: B+(*)
- Erin McDougald: Outside the Soirée (2018, Miles High): [cd]: B+(**)
- Michael Morreale: MilesSong: The Music of Miles Davis (2016 , Summit, 2CD): [cd]: B+(**)
- Meg Okura/Sam Newsome/Jean-Michel Pilc: NPO Trio Live at the Stone (2016 , Chant): [bc]: B+(*)
- Meg Okura & the Pan Asian Chamber Jazz Ensemble: Ima Ima (2018, Chant): [bc]: B+(*)
- Ivo Perelman/Matthew Shipp: Oneness (2017 , Leo, 3CD): [cd]: B+(***)
- John Prine: The Tree of Forgiveness (2018, Oh Boy): [r]: A-
- Jim Snidero & Jeremy Pelt: Jubilation! Celebrating Cannonball Adderley (2017 , Savant): [cdr]: B+(**)
- Spin Cycle [Scott Neumann/Tom Christensen]: Assorted Colors (2017 , Sound Footing): [cd]: B+(**)
Recent reissues, compilations, and vault discoveries rated this week:
- Louis Armstrong: Pops Is Tops: The Complete Verve Studio Albums and More (1957 , Verve, 4CD): [r]: B
- Anthony Braxton: Quartet (Willisau) 1991 Studio (1991 , Hatology, 2CD): [r]: A-
- Keith Jarrett/Gary Peacock/Jack DeJohnette: After the Fall (1998 , ECM, 2CD): [dl]: B+(**)
- Kirk Lightsey/Harold Danko, Shorter by Two: The Music of Wayne Shorter Played on Two Pianos (1983 , Sunnyside): [r]: B+(**)
- Barre Phillips/Motoharu Yoshizawa: Oh My, Those Boys! (1994 , NoBusiness): [cd]: B+(***)
Old music rated this week:
- Louis Armstrong: Louis Under the Stars (1957 , Verve): [r]: B+(*)
- Louis Armstrong: I've Got the World on a String (1957 , Verve): [r]: B
- Louis Armstrong/Oscar Peterson: Louis Armstrong Meets Oscar Peterson (1957, Verve): [r]: B+(**)
Unpacking: Found in the mail last week:
- Yelena Eckemoff: Desert (L&H Production): May 4
- Dave Gisler Trio: Rabbits on the Run (Intakt): May 20
- Fred Hersch Trio: Live in Europe (Palmetto): May 11
- Angelika Niescier Trio: The Berlin Concert (Intakt): May 20
- Henry Threadgill: Double Up Plays Double Up Plus (Pi): May 18
- Henry Threadgill 14 or 15 Kestra: Agg: Dirt . . . and More Dirt (Pi): May 18
- The United States Air Force Band Airmen of Note: The Jazz Heritage Series 2018 Radio Broadcasts (self-released)
- The United States Air Force Band Airmen of Note: Best of the Jazz Heritage Series Volume 1 (self-released)
Sunday, April 15, 2018
John Bolton started work as Trump's new National Security Adviser on
Monday. On Friday, Trump ordered a massive missile attack on Syria. Those
who warned about Bolton, like
Fred Kaplan, have been vindicated very quickly. Presumably, what took
Trump and Bolton so long was lining up British and French contributions
to the fusillade, to make this look less like the act of a single madman
and more like the continuation of a millennium of Crusader and Imperialist
attacks on Syria. For a news report on the strike, long on rhetoric and
short on damage assessment, see
Helene Cooper, Thomas Gibbons-Neft, Ben Hubbard: U.S., Britain and France
Strike Syria Over Suspected Chemical Weapons Attack. Two significant
points here: (1) the targets were narrowly selected to represent Syria's
alleged chemical weapons capability (which raises the question of why, if
the US knew of these facilities before, it didn't insist on inspections
under Syria's Russia-brokered agreement to give up its chemical weapons --
more rigorous inspections could have kept the alleged chemical attacks
from ever happening, as well as saving Syria from "retaliatory" strikes);
(2) the US and its cronies consider this round of strikes to be complete
(Trump even used the phrase
"Mission Accomplished" to describe them).
I suppose the good news here is that while Russia is unhappy about
the strikes, Trump and Bolton (and "Mad Dog") have limited themselves
to a level of aggression unlikely to trigger World War III. On the other
hand, what Trump did was embrace one of the hoariest clichés of American
politics: the notion that US presidents prove their mettle by unleashing
punitive bombing strikes on nations incapable of defense or response.
The first example I can recall was Reagan's bombing of Libya in 1986,
although there were previous examples of White House tantrums, like
Wilson sending Pershing's army into Mexico to chase down Pancho Villa
in 1916-17. After Reagan, GHW Bush launched grudge wars against Panama
and Iraq, but the art (and hubris) of bombing on a whim was more fully
developed and exploited by Bill Clinton, especially in Iraq. Clinton
got so much political mileage out of it that GW Bush bombed Iraq his
first week in office, just to show that he could.
Still, what makes it a cliché is not just that other presidents
have done it. People who play presidents on TV and in the movies do
it also, if anything even more often and reflexively. I first noticed
this in The West Wing -- I didn't watch much TV during its
1999-2006 run, but it seems like nearly every episode I did catch
saw its otherwise reasonable President Bartlett ordering the bombing
of someone or other. Just last week President Kirkman of Designated
Survivor unleashed a rashly emotional attack on a fictional
country based on even shoddier intelligence than Trump's. A couple
weeks ago in Homeland the US bombed Syria against President
Elizabeth Keane's orders, simply because her Chief of Staff thought
it would provide some useful PR spin. When all of pop culture calls
out for blood, not to mention advisers like Bolton, it's impossible
to imagine someone like Donald Trump might get in their way.
The usual problem with clichés is that they're lazy, requiring
little or no thought or ingenuity. Politicians are even more prone
to clichés than writers, because they rarely run any risk saying
whatever they're most expected to. Some people thought that Trump,
with his brusque disregard for "political correctness," might be
different, but they sadly overestimated his capacity for any form
of critical thought. On the other hand, Washington is chock full
of foreign policy mandarins trapped in the same web of clichés,
even as it's long been evident that their plots and prescriptions
don't come close to working. And nowhere have knee-jerk reactions
been more obvious than with Syria, where America's effort to fight
some and promote other anti-Assad forces is effectively nihilist.
Rational people recoil from situations where there is no solution.
Trump, on the other hand, takes charge.
Some more links on the fire this time in Syria:
Some scattered links this week:
Matthew Yglesias: 4 stories that drove politics this week: House
Speaker Paul Ryan is retiring from Congress; Mr. Zuckerberg went to
Washington; The FBI raised Michael Cohen's office (doesn't he mean
"raided"?); James Comey started promoting his book. The latter point
mentions what I would have picked as a key story: the pardon for
Scooter Libby -- one of the dozen or so most obnoxious things Trump
has personally done so far. Perhaps even bigger is the latest Trump
assault on Syria. While the missile launch occurred after Yglesias
was done for the week, the PR pitch lurked over the entire week.
Other Yglesias posts this week:
James Comey admits that his read of the polls may have influenced his
handling of the Clinton email probe: Yglesias adds: "A damning
admission." I'm inclined to take it more at face value, as (belated)
recognition that he was letting his decisions be dictated by what he
expected the perceived reactions might be. In particular, he was much
more concerned about what Republicans might say had he done the normal
thing and kept quiet about an ongoing investigation until the FBI had
actually reviewed the evidence; and that he was completely clueless
to how his rumor-mongering might affect the Democrats, the election,
and the fate of the nation. And he reaches for the facile excuse that
based on polls he expected Clinton to win anyway so he figured nothing
he could do would change things, although what he did was the single
most important factor in tilting the election toward Trump. Even today,
Comey's claim to have acted even-handedly is tone deaf to the actual
temper of the political divide. While he is forthright in condemning
Trump, he manages to make himself look to Trump supporters like a hack
spouting partisan rancor -- and therefore he's unlikely to convince
anyone of anything other than their presuppositions.
For more on the book, see:
Jen Kirby: 5 eye-popping revelations from James Comey's book excerpts:
- Trump was obsessed with the so-called "pee tape"
- Comey has some things to say about Jeff Sessions
- Comey is airing his Trump grievances. Like, really airing them.
- Comey says the Trump administration reminded him of his days prosecuting
- Comey defends his handling of the Clinton email investigation -- and
makes it seem as if everyone else has absolved him too
Also, not for me but maybe for you:
Alex Ward: Why James Comey isn't the hero you think he is.
Donald Trump sold out to Paul Ryan, not the other way around.
John Kelly's diminished standing in the Trump administration, in one
photo: Not actually the first time Kelly has been photographed with
his hand over his face. Probably not the last either. The suggestion is
that it's not true that Kelly has no sense of shame. More likely he just
has no principles.
The RNC's new Lyin' Comey website, explained: One of the era's
more cynical attempts at negative psychology.
Interestingly, though, the Lyin' Comey site does not really dedicate
much attention (if any) to rebutting anything in particular Comey
said about Trump.
Instead, its main focus is pointing out that between October 2016
and Comey's firing in May 2017, Democrats had a lot of mean things
to say about him.
Mark Zuckerberg has been apologizing for reckless privacy violations since
he was a freshman.
House Speaker Paul Ryan was the biggest fraud in American politics.
Ryan's decision to give up his Congressional seat in 2018 has led to a
lot of commentary, but this is the one key point -- reiterated in
Paul Krugman: The Paul Ryan Story: From Flimflam to Fascism:
Look, the single animating principle of everything Ryan did and proposed
was to comfort the comfortable while afflicting the afflicted. Can anyone
name a single instance in which his supposed concern about the deficit
made him willing to impose any burden on the wealthy, in which his
supposed compassion made him willing to improve the lives of the poor?
voted against the Simpson-Bowles debt commission proposal not
because of its real flaws, but because it would raise taxes and fail
to repeal Obamacare.
And his "deficit reduction" proposals were
always frauds. The revenue loss from tax cuts always exceeded any
explicit spending cuts, so the pretense of fiscal responsibility came
entirely from "magic asterisks": extra revenue from closing unspecified
loopholes, reduced spending from cutting unspecified programs. I called
flimflam man back in 2010, and nothing he has done since has called
that judgment into question.
More on Ryan:
For what it's worth, I think Ryan's decision makes sense on three
counts: (1) Ryan is one of the most despised political figures in the
nation right now, and in 2018 every Democrat running for the House is
going to be running against Ryan (much as every Republican since 2010
has run against Nancy Pelosi); I'd bet that the Kochs have polling
showing this liability, so they helped nudge him into backing out and
trying to protect his brand for more opportune times; (2) after being
Speaker, becoming Minority Leader is one of the shittiest jobs in US
political life (sure, Pelosi did it, but QED); (3) I believe Ryan that
he won't run for president in 2020, but someone is going to primary
Trump, and if that results in a Trump exit or a contested convention
Ryan wants to position himself as the compromise/unity choice -- the
same strategy that got him the Speakership. Of course, he could just
cash in and become a lobbyist, but his sponsors probably still think
he still has a political future.
Scott Pruitt's ethics problems are conservative ideology in action.
I was thinking of articulating this somewhat differently: that conservatives
are exceptionally prone to corruption because they believe that private
gain is more important than public welfare, and doubly so to the extent
they're able to create a world where private wealth is the only source
of future security. Yglesias' main point is "conservatives don't believe
in the EPA's mission," which correlates with the idea that corruption is
fine as one way to hobble a bureaucracy they don't want to work. For the
case in point, any money Pruitt wastes on security and luxury travel and
fancy furniture is money unavailable for enforcing clean air and water
laws. Similarly, conservatives seek to direct funding away from welfare
to defense, not because they so value defense but because money spent
there almost never increases public welfare. And conservatives -- John
Bolton is a good example -- favor foreign policies that increase risk
and fear, because they promote greater defense spending.
The American Chopper Meme, explained. The Pruitt one near the end
makes an interesting point.
The Bell Curve is about policy. And it's wrong. About Charles
Murray, the reference to his 1994 book The Bell Curve, which
attempted to salvage racism by using statistics rather than utterly
discredited genetic claims. The most charitable interpretation one can
make about Murray's data is that it shows that racial discrimination
has been somewhat successful at disadvantaging blacks. Still, I'm
surprised to see anyone bringing this lame horse up, especially
after the book was thoroughly rebutted in
Russell Jacoby/Naomi Glauberman, eds.: The Bell Curve Debate.
Still, as Yglesias notes, Murray is still active, still spreading
politically motivated nonsense, as much about class as race. I guess
I shouldn't be so surprised. After all, if you're dumb enough to
believe Trump is on your side, you're probably dumb enough to think
Charles Murray is smart.
The case against Facebook. I can't say as I'm following either
Facebook or the angst over it, but if you are, also see:
Matt Taibbi: Can We Be Saved From Facebook? and
Watching Facebook and Senate Hypocrisy in Real-Time.
Tara Golshan: Trump is calling backsies on exiting the Trans-Pacific
Partnership trade deal: Significantly, he's being lobbied by
Republicans, especially from agricultural states.
Umair Irfan: Scott Pruitt's actions at the EPA have triggered a half-dozen
investigations. Also note that Pruitt's penchant for corruption preceded
his move to Washington. See:
Sharon Lerner: Why Did the EPA's Scott Pruitt Suppress a Report on
Corruption in Oklahoma?
Mark Kalin: List-Making as Resistance: Chronicling a Year of Damage Under
Trump: Interview with Amy Siskind, author of The List: A Week-by-Week
Reckoning of Trump's First Year. Where most journalists have tried to
make their living off Trump's Twitter feed, Siskind prefers to chronicle
what's actually been happening. Doubt she's got it all -- the book is a
mere 528 pages -- but it should be a good start. For an excerpt, see
Amy Siskind: Yes, We Are Like Frogs in Boiling Water With Trump as
Carolyn Kormann: Ryan Zinke's Great American Fire Sale.
Paul Krugman: What's the Matter With Trumpland? Mostly true as far
as he goes, but the key point isn't the liberal platitude that the most
successful areas are those with the most educational opportunities and
cultural attraction for educated workers (including immigrants). It's
that declining areas have been making political choices that make their
prospects even worse.
That new Austin et al. paper makes the case for a national policy of
aiding lagging regions. But we already have programs that would aid
these regions -- but which they won't accept. Many of the states that
have refused to expand Medicaid, even though the federal government
would foot the great bulk of the bill -- and would create jobs in the
process -- are also among America's poorest.
Or consider how some states, like Kansas and Oklahoma -- both of
which were relatively affluent in the 1970s, but have now fallen far
behind -- have gone in for radical tax cuts, and ended up savaging
their education systems. External forces have put them in a hole,
but they're digging it deeper.
And when it comes to national politics, let's face it: Trumpland
is in effect voting for its own impoverishment. New Deal programs and
public investment played a significant role in the great postwar
convergence; conservative efforts to downsize government will hurt
people all across America, but it will disproportionately hurt the
very regions that put the G.O.P. in power.
I doubt it's disproportionate. After all, wealthier "blue states"
have much more to lose, but it's certainly the case that nothing
Trump and the Republicans will actually do will help to even out
regional economic differences. Actually, we've been through this
debate before. In the 1930s southern Democrats saw the New Deal as
a way out of their impoverishment, but from about 1938 on most of
the leading southern Democrats broke with Roosevelt, fearing that
too much equality would upset their racial order, even if (perhaps
even because) it raised living standards. Of course, they didn't
reject all federal spending in their districts. They became the
most ardent of cold warriors. (On the New Deal, see Ira Katznelson:
Fear Itself: The New Deal and the Origins of Our Time. As
for the cold warriors and their money train, James Byrne, John
Stennis, and Carl Vinson were major figures.)
Krugman also wrote
Unicorns of the Intellectual Right, to remind us about the
"intellectual decadence" and "moral decline" of right-leaning
In macroeconomics, what began in the 60s and 70s as a usefully
challenging critique of Keynesian views went all wrong in the 80s,
because the anti-Keynesians refused to reconsider their views when
their own models failed the reality test while Keynesian models,
with some modification, performed pretty well. By the time the
Great Recession struck, the right-leaning side of the profession
had entered a Dark Age, having retrogressed to the point where
famous economists trotted out 30s-era fallacies as deep insights.
But even among conservative economists who didn't go down that
rabbit hole, there has been a moral collapse -- a willingness to
put political loyalty over professional standards. We saw that most
recently in the way leading conservative economists raced to endorse
ludicrous claims for the efficacy of the Trump tax cuts, then tried
to climb down without admitting what they had done. We saw it in the
false claims that Obama had presided over a massive expansion of
government programs and refusal to admit that he hadn't, the warnings
that Fed policy would cause huge inflation followed by refusal to
admit having been wrong, and on and on.
German Lopez: Trump is already trying to call off his attorney general's
war on marijuana.
Alex Ward: Mike Pompeo, your likely new -- and Trump-friendly -- secretary
of state: When Pompeo first ran for Congress, I had him pegged as a
straight Koch plant with a quasi-libertarian economic focus, which I
actually found preferable to his predecessor (Christian Fascist and
Boeing flack Todd Tiahrt). However, his resume included a West Point
education, and he soon emerged as a hardline neocon militarist. What
brought him to Trump's attention was his demagogic flogging of Hillary
Clinton and the Benghazi!!! pseudo-scandal. I can't imagine Trump
nominating anyone who isn't "Trump-friendly," so I wouldn't get too
agitated about that. Right now the problem with Pompeo isn't that he's
simpatico with Trump; it's that his nomination shows that Trump is
buying into Pompeo's neocon worldview -- although I'd also worry that
Pompeo's tenure at CIA has made him even more contemptuous of law and
diplomacy than he was before. Also see:
Ryan Grim: Mike Pompeo Could Go Down if Senate Democrats Decide to
Jennifer Williams: Trump just pardoned Scooter Libby: If you recall
the case (way back in 2007), you'll recall that Libby was the only one
convicted by a special prosecutor investigation into the politically
motivated unmasking of a CIA agent -- an act that Libby doesn't seem
to have been involved in, but Libby's perjury and obstruction prevented
those actually guilty from ever being charged. At the time, GW Bush
commuted Libby's three-year prison sentence, evidently afraid that if
he didn't, Libby would switch sides and rat out other Bush operatives.
Libby wound up paying a fine and spending two years on probation, but
that's well in the past right now, so the pardon at this point barely
affects Libby's life. So it's hard to read this as anything other
than a blanket promise to his underlings that even if they do get
caught up in his scandals and convicted, as long as they don't
implicate Trump the president will protect them. It is, in other
words, a very deliberate and public way of undermining the Mueller
investigation. I'm not sure if it violates US law on obstruction
of justice, but UK law has a term that surely applies: perverting
the course of justice. For more, see:
Dylan Scott: Democrats are kind of freaking out about Trump's Scooter
Libby pardon and what it means.
By the way, I'm not sure that the two are linked, but Libby was
Vice President Dick Cheney's Chief of Staff, and Cheney never had
the same sort of influence over the Bush Administration after Libby
left. Of course, the other explanation is that Cheney's dominance
early on had backfired, especially after the 2006 election debacle.
Cheney also lost a key ally when Donald Rumsfeld got sacked, and
was further embarrassed as his approval ratings sank under 20%.
Gary Younge: Trump and Brexit Are Symptoms of the Same Failure to Reckon
With Racism: Having lived both in UK and US, Younge seems the failure
to deal with racism as leading not just to dysfunction but to dementia,
with Brexit and Trump just two flagrant examples.
The argument about which country is, at present, the most dysfunctional
is of course futile, since the answer would render neither any less
dysfunctional. Britain set itself an unnecessary question, only then to
deliver the wrong answer. Those who led us out of the European Union had
no more plans for what leaving would mean than a dog chasing a car has
to drive it. Not only do we not know what we want; we have no idea how
to get it, even if we did.
Monday, April 09, 2018
Music: current count 29549  rated (+32), 371  unrated (+4).
Fairly normal week in terms of overall rated count, but above average
in A-list records. That's basically because I finally got a chance to
pay some attention to some leads (e.g.,
Phil Overeem convinced me to listen to the Sonny Rollins reissue,
and reminded me to take another look for No Age). Note that the Nik
Bärtsch Ronin album doesn't drop until May 6. When I was trying to
March Streamnotes I was
rather desperate to find a couple more A-list albums, and the Bärtsch
download seemed like a prospect -- but I couldn't find time to dig it
up. A few years ago I tried holding back reviews of albums I got to
ahead of release date, but found that nobody much cared, so I gave
up on the extra complication.
Miles Davis/John Coltrane, Sonny Rollins, Sons of Kemet, and a few
lesser items appeared on the album ballots for Downbeat's Critics
Poll. I cast a ballot last week, while collecting
usual notes. As it happens,
I was feeling pretty miserable at the time, so after I got through the
new/old album questions, I pretty much coasted, in most cases voting
for whoever I voted for the previous year. Even more so, the sections
in the notes where I list "first pass" picks from their offered ballot
went unchecked and unchanged. On the other hand, it doesn't look like
whoever at Downbeat put this year's ballot together put a lot
of work into revision either.
I'm not a big fan of trying to rank musicians, so I'm not bothered
by my reduced diligence this year. (I have less objection to sorting
them out into broad tiers, like the ones I've noted for their Hall of
Fame nominees.) The one category I did give some serious thought to
was Hall of Fame, where I voted for: Roswell Rudd (5), George Russell
(3), and Anthony Braxton (2). I've voted for Russell every year since
I started receiving invitations, and if you don't know why, take that
as your homework assignment. I've voted for Braxton off-and-on, and
would say that he's the most deserving living musician who hasn't
been voted in yet (now that Lee Konitz finally got the nod). This
year is the 50th anniversary of his first albums, Three Compositions
of New Jazz and For Alto, and while those aren't personal
favorites, I have him down for 20 A/A- albums, and that's just the
tip of a very massive iceberg.
As for Rudd, he died last year, and one thing I've noticed in
past critics polls is how they tend to flock to whoever was the
most famous musician who died in the past year. (Indeed, I think
Konitz finished 2nd or 3rd to just-dead guys a half dozen times
or more.) Rudd's long been a personal favorite -- I count 10
A+/A/A- records under his name, and he's played on close to ten
more filed under other names -- so I figured I should join in
on this expected wave. Problem is, Downbeat didn't list
his name on their ballot, and winning on write-ins is probably
I spent a lot of time thinking about the Baseball Hall of Fame
back in the 1990s, and much of what I learned applies here too.
The key questions you have to ask is how large a set of candidates
from the past you wish to honor, and how many comparable newcomers
appear each year. The Rock and Roll HOF grows at a rate of 5-or-6
per year (down from 10/year when founded in 1986), which is probably
too much -- aside from the question of whether they're picking the
best ones, which judging from the 11 2017-18 inductees I'd say they
aren't (the most credible picks are Tupac Shakur and Nina Simone,
not that I would have picked either. On the other hand, Downbeat's
HOF grows at a rate of 2/year: one picked by the Critics Poll, the
other by their Readers Poll. While the DBHOF started earlier (1952)
and has recently added a few extras through a Veterans Committee,
the current total is still just 150. That strikes me as both too
few and falling well behind the rate at which new jazz musicians of
that calibre are appearing. I explain this more in the notes file.
Of course, one problem is that few of the DB critics are
into avant-jazz. (Just one bit of proof there: Christian McBride
regularly wins as best bassist, while William Parker regularly
languishes down in the 7-10 spots.) Still, once in a blue moon
someone on the cutting edge manages to get recognized there. One
of the first died last week: pianist Cecil Taylor, 89. I'm afraid
I'm not a huge fan, but he has done some amazing work. I saw him
once, and left early, figuring he'd keep recycling stuff I've
already heart for the rest of his second set. Still, I wasn't
upset or disappointed. And I've heard a bunch of albums by him
that I seriously recommend. From my database, all A- or above:
- Jazz Advance (1956 , Blue Note)
- Love for Sale (1959, Blue Note)
- The World of Cecil Taylor (1960, Candid) [A]
- Air (1960, Candid)
- Nefertiti, the Beautiful One Has Come (1962 , Revenant 2CD)
- Silent Tongues (1974, Arista/Freedom)
- One Too Many Salty Swift and Not Goodbye (1978 , Hat Art 2CD)
- The Eighth (1981 , Hatology)
- Olu Iwa (1986, Soul Note)
- The Feel Trio: Looking (Berlin Version) (1989 , FMP)
- The Feel Trio: Celebrated Blazons (1990 , FMP)
- The Willisau Concert (2000 , Intakt)
That a dozen records, out of forty I've heard, out of two or three
times that many he released. I'm not sure you really need that many,
but then I'm "not a big fan" -- those who are never seem to be able
to get enough. The Penguin Guide, for instance, credits Taylor
with more 4-star albums than any other jazz artist (including Duke
Ellington, Miles Davis, and the even more prolific Anthony Braxton).
Unlikely he'll ever be matched -- though it wouldn't hurt to look
into some of his successors, especially Irène Schweizer and Satoko
New records rated this week:
- Nik Bärtsch's Ronin: Awase (2017 , ECM): [dl]: A-
- Nat Birchall: Cosmic Language (2018, Jazzman): [r]: B+(***)
- Martin Blume/Tobias Delius/Achim Kaufmann/Dieter Manderscheid: Frames & Terrains (2016 , NoBusiness): [cdr]: B+(**)
- Benjamin Boone/Philip Levine: The Poetry of Jazz (2012-14 , Origin): [cd]: A-
- Anat Cohen/Fred Hersch: Live in Healdsburg (2016 , Anzic): [r]: B+(*)
- Lucy Dacus: Historian (2018, Matador): [r]: B+(*)
- Victor Gould: Earthlings (2017 , Criss Cross): [r]: B+(**)
- Mary Halvorson: Code Girl (2016 , Firehouse 12, 2CD): [bc]: B+(*)
- Modern Mal: The Misanthrope Family Album (2017, Mal): [r]: B+(*)
- Patricia Nicholson/William Parker: Hope Cries for Justice (2017 , Centering): [cd]: B+(***)
- Danielle Nicole: Cry No More (2018, Concord): [r]: B+(*)
- No Age: Snares Like a Haircut (2018, Drag City): [r]: A-
- Peripheral Vision: More Songs About Error and Shame (2018, self-released): [cd]: B+(***)
- Roberta Piket: West Coast Trio (2017 , 13th Note): [cd]: B+(*)
- Chris Platt Trio: Sky Glow (2017 , self-released): [cd]: B+(*)
- Marvin Pontiac: The Asylum Tapes (2017, Strange and Beautiful): [r]: A-
- Noah Preminger: Genuinity (2017 , Criss Cross): [r]: B+(**)
- Scott Reeves Jazz Orchestra: Without a Trace (2015-17 , Origin): [cd]: B
- Jay Rodriguez: Your Sound: Live at Dizzy's Club Coca Cola (2018, Whaling City Sound): [cd]: B+(**)
- Alex Sipiagin: Moments Captured (2016 , Criss Cross): [r]: B
- Sons of Kemet: Your Queen Is a Reptile (2018, Impulse!): [r]: A-
- Superorganism: Superorganism (2018, Domino): [r]: B+(***)
- John Surman: Invisible Threads (2017 , ECM): [dl]: B+(***)
- Salim Washington: Dogon Revisited (2018, Passin' Thru): [bc]: B+(***)
- Wreckless Eric: Construction Time & Demolition (2018, Southern Domestic): [bc]: B+(***)
- Pablo Ziegler Trio: Jazz Tango (2017, Zoho): [r]: B+(*)
Recent reissues, compilations, and vault discoveries rated this week:
- Derek Bailey & Company: Klinker (2000 , Confront, 2CD): [r]: B
- Miles Davis & John Coltrane: The Final Tour [The Bootleg Series Vol. 6] (1960 , Columbia/Legacy, 4CD): [r]: A-
- Wynton Marsalis Septet: United We Swing: Best of the Jazz at Lincoln Center Galas (2003-07 , Blue Engine): [cd]: B+(*)
- Sonny Rollins: Way Out West [Deluxe Edition] (1957 , Craft): [r]: A
- We Out Here (2018, Brownswood): [r]: B+(*)
Unpacking: Found in the mail last two weeks:
- Daniel Carter/William Parker/Matthew Shipp: Seraphic Light (AUM Fidelity): May 18
- Detroit Bop Quintet: Two Birds (TQM): April 20
- Robert Diack: Lost Villages (self-released): April 13
- District Five: Decoy (Intakt): April 27
- Mary Halvorson: Code Girl (Firehouse 12, 2CD)
- Dave Holland: Uncharted Territories (Dare2): advance, May 11
- Kira Kira: Bright Force (Libra): April 27
- Lello Molinari: Lello's Italian Job Volume 2 (Fata Morgana Music): May 1
- Reggie Quinerly: Words to Love (Redefinition Music): April 20
- Samo Salamon/Tony Malaby/Roberto Dani: Traveling Moving Breathing (Clean Feed)
- Rob Schwimmer: Heart of Hearing (Sunken Heights Music): June 1
- Edward Simon: Sorrows & Triumphs (Sunnyside): April 20
- Hans Teuber & Jeff Johnson: Deuce (Origin): April 20
- Alexander Von Schlippenbach/Globe Unity Orchestra: Globe Unity - 50 Years (Intakt): April 20
- Woodwired: In the Loop (Uta)
- WorldService Project: Serve (Rare Noise): advance, April 27
Sunday, April 08, 2018
Meant to write an intro, but ran out of time. So let's cut to the
Some scattered links this week:
Matthew Yglesias: The week's main political stories, explained: The
trade war with China heated up: Trump announced tariffs on a wide range
of Chinese exports; China responded with tariffs on US exports; the stock
market panicked, then bounced back. Scott Pruitt is suddenly in ethics
trouble. Teachers are on strike in Oklahoma and Kentucky. Democrats scored
a big win in Wisconsin. More Yglesias pieces:
Tom Hundley: India and Pakistan are quietly making nuclear war more
likely: "Both countries are arming their submarines with nukes."
Umair Irfan: 5 lies Scott Pruitt told this week about his mounting
scandals. Irfan also wrote
Scott Pruitt's bizarre condo scandal and mounting ethics questions,
explained. For Pruitt's background, see
David Roberts: Tribalism put Scott Pruitt in power. It may not be enough
to save him. Roberts means several different things by "tribalism,"
ranging from the belief that following conservative ideology is doing
God's work to simple service to America's "resource industries":
Tribalism explains why Pruitt hired an enormous security team, built a
$43,000 security phone booth, avoids flying coach, hires political
cronies without Senate confirmation, exiles anyone who questions him,
boxes out career staff, works to diminish the influence of scientists,
meets almost exclusively with industry groups, and has issued agency
talking points playing down the threat of climate change.
However deluded Pruitt may be, a perhaps simpler explanation would
be he's simply corrupt. Also:
Rebecca Leber: Making America Toxic Again;
Margaret Talbot: Scott Pruitt's Dirty Politics. It shouldn't be
a surprise when Trump's underlings get caught up in scandals: their
whole belief system celebrates naked and brutal greed, so while they
toil to make the rich richer, they can't help but feel entitled to
their share of the spoils. I suppose what's unique about Pruitt is
the siege mentality he brought to the job -- hence the millions he's
spent on isolating himself from the public and his own department.
He clearly knows that his agenda to reverse fifty years of clean air
and water regulations is vastly unpopular. He's clearly bracing for
revolt. One example is
Matt Shuham: Collins: Pruitt Is 'Wrong Person' to Lead EPA 'On Policy
Grounds Alone': Of course, I've been saying that all along, but
it's good to see anyone (especially a Republican senator) able to see
the fire through the smoke.
At the same time Pruitt is likely to be fired for his scandals,
there's a curious effort -- possibly promoted by Pruitt himself --
to promote him to Attorney General. See
Andrew Prokop: The Scott Pruitt for attorney general rumor Trump
just angrily tweeted about, explained.
Dahlia Lithwick: Secret Handshake: "The depressing truth at the
center of the O'Reilly and Trump settlement agreements."
Suresh Naidu/Eric Posner/Glen Weyl: More and more companies have monopoly
power over workers' wages. That's killing the economy.
Anna North: What would America look like without Roe v. Wade? These
teenagers are finding out: Article doesn't really live up to its
title, but the story it tells is tragic and shows how stupid some
government bureaucrats can be when they let rigid political beliefs
dictate policy. You'd think that even ardent Trump nativists would
see some merit to allowing teenage refugee girls to get an abortion
rather than give birth to new citizens. One of the more chilling
stories I've read about the Trump administration. North also wrote:
How Trump helped inspire a wave of strict new abortion laws, and
Plenty of conservatives really do believe women should be executed
for having abortions.
Mark Perry: Steve Coll's Directorate S is Disturbing Account of
U.S. Mistakes After 9/11: I'm about 200 pages into Coll's book,
which thus far isn't nearly as disturbing as it should be. I've noted
several key points so far: the US categorically rejected any sort of
negotiations that might have shorted the rush to war; the CIA, which
got the jump over DOD by being able to move into Afghanistan quicker,
favored cash deals with warlords over state-building with Karzai or
anything that might have reduced stress or aided development; the CIA
introduced a torture regime which they had no experience with, and
which almost immediately backfired; the US made no effort to reduce
tensions between Pakistan and India, which ultimately were the main
driving force behind Pakistani "duplicity" -- the tendency to salute
the US flag while pursuing their own interests; meanwhile, Rumsfeld
was preoccupied with invading Iraq, while totally hand-waving the
problem of what to do following "catastrophic success." That brings
us to about 2004, before American involvement in Afghanistan really
fell apart. The book goes much further, and no doubt more problems
will become clearer. The one common denominator among every American
involved -- even Afghan-born Zalmay Khalilzad. ambassador 2003-05
before moving on to Iraq -- was their total indifference to how the
occupying American warriors were perceived by locals.
By the way, one tragic side story. When Hillary Clinton and Jack
Reed, US Senators, came to Afghanistan to support the war (and talk
about all the great things Americans were doing for Afghan women),
they were met by a VIP support convoy, which on their way had hit
and killed an Afghan woman pedestrian (and didn't stop, per security
Emily Stewart: Trump threatens a "big price" after reports of deadly
chemical attack in Syria: Just a week or two ago, Trump was talking
about withdrawing American troops from Syria following the dissolution
of ISIS as its capital in Raqqa was captured. But ever since Obama
declared that use of chemical weapons in Syria would be a "red line"
warranting US armed response anti-Assad forces have promoted reports
of chemical weapons use to goad the US into further involvement.
Obama backed down after Assad agreed to destroy all of his chemical
weapons, which should have been the end of the issue. However, in
April 2017 Trump bit on another report and ordered punitive cruise
missile strikes. I've never been convinced that Assad directed the
Khan Shaykhun chemical attack, but hawks were conveniently able
to keep the US pinned down in the Syrian Civil War for another year
afterward, and that history is clearly being repeated here. Lindsey
Graham, in particular, is going out of his way to goad Trump into
further bombing. As for the effect of last year's salvo, see
Fred Kaplan: Lost in Syria: "One year after Trump launched missiles
at Syria, we still don't know what he's trying to accomplish there."
By the way, I'm sure you've heard all about the poisoning of
former Russian spy Sergei Skirpal in London -- especially how the
UK and US have decided to retaliate against Russia's "chemical
weapons attack" by chucking dozens of Russian diplomatic personnel
out. Less likely that you've seen this:
Jason Ditz: Ex-Spy Skirpal Recovering Rapidly, Hospital Confirms.
American media is so slanted that it's easy to get the ball rolling
on a story that blames the Russians, and nearly impossible to reverse
it. I don't doubt that there is much to be critical of Putin and his
country for, but often the point of such stories here is to advance
a (Neo) Cold War agenda that threatens world peace.
Alexia Underwood: Sisi won Egypt's election. That doesn't mean he's
safe. People complain about Putin rigging the Russian presidential
election, but at least he had opposition and Russians had a choice.
(Not very good choices, as at least one potential opposition candidate
was excluded from the ballot.) But there's nothing fair about Egypt's
election, where Sisi got 97% of the vote, defeating "the only other
candidate, Mousa Mostafa Mousa, who was publicly known to be a strong
supporter of the president."
Monday, April 02, 2018
No Music Week
No real point doing a "Music Week" post this week. I spent pretty
much all of the week playing old favorites from the travel cases, so
the rated count for the week was a mere +2. I also haven't catalogued
the week's incoming mail -- not that there's much to report. So I'll
roll those into next week's post, which should be back to normal.
I was preoccupied last week with my sister Kathy's memorial, on
Saturday afternoon, and a family-and-friends get-together on Sunday.
I tried to do what I could to help out, which mostly meant cooking
a lot of food. For the reception following the service, I baked six
cakes (sweet potato bundt with a glaze; oatmeal stout with a broiled
topping; applesauce with raisins and walnuts in a loaf pan; and three
9x13 sheet cakes: fall spice, carrot, and chocolate) plus two pans of
For a savory snack alternative, I fixed Barbara Tropp's Chinese
Crudités. I filled up three half-sheet baking pans with piles of
vegetables cut into bite-sized chunks, some steamed (cauliflower,
brussels sprouts), most blanched (asparagus, baby corn, broccoli,
carrots, green beans, snap peas, zucchini) or raw (green/red/yellow
bell peppers, cherry tomatoes, celery, cucumber). I bought a bag
of brussels sprouts, way more than I needed, so I roasted half of
them and added them to the tray. The vegetables could be dipped
in four Chinese sauces: a rather spicy sesame, a very garlicky
peanut, dijon mustard, and sweet and sour.
We also made a Moroccan fruit salad (apples, nectarines, pears,
pineapple, banana, mejdol dates, macerated in orange juice and honey),
a similar berry salad (blueberries, raspberries, strawberries), and
For the Sunday get-together, I ordered barbecue meats from Hog
Wild and made four large side dishes: baked beans topped with bacon;
a Russian potato salad with smoked salmon, olives, capers, and dill;
a sweet and sour cole slaw (nothing creamy), and mast va khiar (a
Persian cucumber-yogurt with scallions, golden raising, black walnuts,
and mint). I figured there'd be enough leftover dessert, and there
was (barely). Several people helped with the cooking, especially Josi
Hull on Friday and Mike, Morgan and Kirsten Saturday night.
Even before the cooking, much of the week was spent shopping and
reconnoitering. I bought some very large bowls and baking sheets,
and more cake pans than I actually used. Also things like tongs for
serving and various containers for moving food around. I dumped a
lot of tasks onto Josi, like picking up plates and plasticware and
ice. The church people helped as well, especially with coffee and
Ram planned out the memorial service ("celebration of life), and
wrote and printed up the notes. He also set up a
website with a selection of
Kathy's writings, a (very partial) gallery of artwork, and a form
for submitting "memories and reflections," promising to compile the
latter into book form. (I started to collect some notes on
my website as well.) The service was,
well, unlike any I had ever attended.
Kathy joined the UU Church shortly after she moved back to Wichita,
following a few months when she stayed with me in New Jersey. As
children, we attended Disciples of Christ churches -- they were
evangelical but not fundamentalist, preferring the New Testament
(especially the Gospels) to the Old. As a young teen, I got very
involved in the church, but a few years later I turned against it
and the rest of the family lost interest, if not in religion at
least in church-going. I flipped over into an extreme rationalism,
but to the extent I ever bothered to try to understand it, Kathy
flopped the other direction. Like me, she went through a period
of examining all of the world's religions, but where I wound up
rejecting them all, she found ways to synthesize them.
The one religion she felt the closest affinity to was Wicca,
and she discovered that there was a sizable faction of Wiccans
at the First UU Church in Wichita (sometimes, I gather, at odds
with the other main faction, Humanists). Kathy joined First UU
in 1991 (actually after she had started leading moon dances) and
was very active off and on. I knew a little bit
about Unitarians because I went through a phase where I looked
into the history of early Protestant sects, especially Puritans,
and I've read some modern feminist essays on medieval witchcraft,
but I've never spent any time on Wicca, even having an expert in
the family. So the rituals, chants, and song about the Goddess
that opened and closed the service were lost on me. One of the
songs, I think, was from
a book Kathy wrote/compiled.
In between were a couple dozen tributes/memoirs by various people
Kathy had touched. My brother Steve recalled the first time he saw
Kathy, through a hospital window. My nephew Mike remembered Kathy as
the first person to reveal that unorthodox opinions and unconventional
lifestyles were even possible. (Kathy had an unofficial gay marriage
ceremony when Mike was a teen, but the relationship didn't last long.
She had a shorter still heterosexual marriage much earlier, but the
father of her son was a casual acquaintance I never met, who played
no role in Ram's life.) My cousin Ken Brown recounted how close our
When Kathy got pregnant, she came to stay with us in New Jersey.
After a few months, I got a job in Massachusetts, and we decided
Kathy should return to Wichita. When she got here, she moved in
with two other pregnant women, Cassandra and Lydia, and the three
had baby boys within days of each other, the six (and eventually
a few more) forming an extended family even long after they moved
apart. Cassandra, Lydia, and a third woman I didn't know spoke
about this unique relationship, and the third woman sang a Lakota
funeral song -- a remarkable moment.
Many more people spoke about Kathy's full moon dances and other
spiritual/community efforts. One colleague from the WSU art department
spoke, as did several former students. One student Kathy effectively
adopted was Matt Walston, who's become a
notable artist in his own right.
Kathy and Matt had talked about death, and one wish Kathy had was that
Matt make a "death mask" from her face. (Matt had some experience at
making masks, like
this one.) Matt made molds and distributed several papier maché
masks, while his wife, Carrie Armstrong, gave emotional testimony.
Laura talked about how much she was amazed by Kathy's art. Only one
speaker wandered off subject, ending the session on a bit of an off
There was some discussion of the "Sacred Spaces" project, which
Kathy had been a driving force behind c. 2002. It's long been in
storage, but WSU had agreed to exhibit it this summer, and Kathy
had been talking to Mike about shooting a film around it. Several
people vowed to make sure that still happens. I used to have a
gallery of photos from the exhibit up on my site, but they got
wiped out in a spat with the ISP. I just found the original CDR,
so I'll make an effort to get them restored soon.
One thing we screwed up was not making any sort of announcements
at the end of the service. Matt had set up a room with some of
Kathy's art and a plaster death mask people could paint on, but
most people weren't aware of that. It also took a while to set
up my food, so many people took off before they got a chance to
enjoy -- and I missed a number of people I wanted to talk to.
Nonetheless, about 85-90% of the food was eaten. My estimate is
that we had about 160 people present (the chapel holds 125, so
the others had to sit on folding chairs in the foyer, and it
looked like 30-40 people there).
The Sunday get-together was anticlimactic. Some people didn't
know about it and had travel plans to get away. I figured it would
drag on well past the advertised 1 PM start, so we didn't make
much of an effort to get there early, and it turned out that most
of the people who came had left by the time we got there. (I had
sent the food ahead, so nobody missed us that bad.) We got there
at 3:30, and stayed until 6 or so. I got back in time to cobble
Roundup last night. But not early enough to do a Music Week
today. Next time. Also, sometime this week I'll try to fill out a
Downbeat Critics Poll ballot (assuming it's not too late
yet -- I didn't even consider working on it when I got the ballot
Sunday, April 01, 2018
I was prepared to skip this weekly exercise completely: I spent most
of the last week preparing for my sister's funeral (or "celebration of
life" as the official title went) and related social gatherings. But
with the last such event ended this afternoon, and with various guests
taking their leave, I found myself wanting to do something "normal."
Not that much of what follows can be considered "normal" in any other
regard. I recently read Allen Frances' Twilight of American Sanity:
A Psychiatrist Analyzes the Age of Trump, which fell rather short
of its titular ambition. Although there are occasional references to
commonplace psychology, he mostly focuses on ubiquity and persistence
of "delusional thinking" -- mostly defined as failure to recognize a
long list of liberal political creeds. I don't have much quarrel with
his platform planks, but I'm more suspicious of economic/class factors
than psychological ones. Where I think insight into psychology might
be helpful is in trying to model human behavior given the complexity
of the world and our various limits in apprehending it. It's certainly
credible that psychological traits that were advantageous in primitive
societies malfunction in our changing world, but how does that work?
And what sort of adjustments would work better?
Some scattered links this week:
Matthew Yglesias: The 4 stories that drove this week in politics:
David Shulkin is out at Veterans Affairs; Oklahoma teachers are going
on strike; Conservative media feuded with Parkland students; Trump
gave a weird speech: "one of the rambling, factually challenged
addresses for which he's famous. . . . Trump will continue to walk
the line between dishonest, uninformed, and inarticulate in a way
that keeps people guessing."
Other Yglesias pieces:
Trump-era politics is a surreal nightmare and we can't wake up:
"Diving back in kind of reminds me of Charlton Heston waking from his
space travel to discover that he's on a planet run by orangutans.
Except instead of orangutans, we have the Republican Party."
Ousted VA secretary blasts privatization in a New York Times op-ed:
The effect, I think, is to frame his firing as a policy dispute. Sure,
there is a major policy divide between an ideological faction that wants
to privatize VA health care and those, including virtually all veterans
groups, who like the current fully socialized system. The privatisers
were able to push Shulkin out not by winning their policy argument, but
by characterizing Shulkin as insufficiently loyal to Trump.
David Shulkin is out as secretary of veterans affairs.
Let's not repeal the 2nd Amendment: Former Supreme Court justice
John Paul Stevens wrote an op-ed:
Repeal the Second Amendment -- not a new idea as Stevens previously
included changes to the second amendment in his 2014 book Six Amendments:
How and Why We Should Change the Constitution. Yglesias argues that
even under the precedent-setting Heller ruling, which Stevens dissented
from and cites as reason for amending the constitution, there is still a
lot of leeway for sensible regulation of guns -- indeed, much more than
there is political will to implement. Moreover, just as Heller reversed
over a hundred years of precedents, Yglesias proposes that new Supreme
Court justices could reverse Heller. As a practical matter, he's probably
John Williams will likely be the next president of the New York Fed:
"He's got a track record of poor forecasting and weak regulation."
Stormy Daniels' 60 Minutes interview raises 2 critical questions she
- How many other sexual partners has Trump paid hush money to?
- How many foreign intelligence services know about one or more of
Joy Crane/Nick Tabor: 501 Days in Swampland: "A constant drip of
self-dealing. And this is just what we know so far . . ."
Dylan Curran: Are you ready? Here is all the data Facebook and Google
have on you.
Barbara Ehrenreich: It Is Expensive to Be Poor.
If anything, the criminalization of poverty has accelerated since the
recession, with growing numbers of states drug testing applicants for
temporary assistance, imposing steep fines for school truancy, and
imprisoning people for debt. Such measures constitute a cruel inversion
of the Johnson-era principle that it is the responsibility of government
to extend a helping hand to the poor. Sadly, this has become the means
by which the wealthiest country in the world manages to remain complacent
in the face of alarmingly high levels of poverty: by continuing to blame
poverty not on the economy or inadequate social supports, but on the poor
Thomas Frank: Dow dreamers show Trump's war on elites is pure fantasy:
On Larry Kudlow and Kevin Hassett.
Ann Hulbert: Today's Rebels Are Model Children: "The young protesters
now on the march are responsible and mature -- and they're asking adults
to grow up."
Stephen Kinzer: Efraín Ríos Montt, Guatemalan Dictator Convicted of
Genocide, Dies at 91.
Jen Kirby: Here are 6 of the most bizarre things Trump said in his
Paul Krugman: Putting the Ex-Con in Conservatism.
Anna North: How Trump helped inspire a wave of strict new abortion laws.
Richard Silverstein: IDF Murders 17 Gazans, Wounds 1,400 in Great Return
March Protest; also
Robert Mackey: Israel Opens Fire on Palestinian Protesters in Gaza;
Trump Envoy Blames "Hostile March"; also
James North: 'NY Times' covers up Israel's killing of nonviolent protesters
along the Gaza border; and
Philip Weiss: A brief, unhappy history of Israeli massacres.
Matt Taibbi: Is the Two-Party System Doomed?: Reflecting on a
comparative politics essay (US, France, UK) by Thomas Piketty called
Brahmin Left vs. Merchant Right. I don't quite get it, but:
But having two parties sponsored by the same donors simply can't work
in the long-term. The situation ends up being what a Colombian politician
once deemed "two horses with the same owner."
From Mitt Romney's idiotic tirade against "the 47%" to Hillary
Clinton's recent remarks about how she won all the "dynamic" parts of
America, our political leaders have consistently showed that they don't
see or understand the levels of resentment out there.
Papers like Piketty's are a warning that if the intellectuals in both
parties don't come up with a real plan for dealing with the income
disparity problem before someone smarter than Donald Trump takes it
on, they're screwed. Forget nativists vs. globalists. Think poor vs.
rich. Think 99 to 1. While Washington waits with bated breath for the
results of the Mueller probe, it's the other mystery -- how do we fix
this seemingly unfixable economic system -- that is keeping the rest
of the country awake at night.
Taibbi notes that Trump at least took advantage of the resentments
of the excluded, even if all he had to offer were lies. It's likely
to be hard to pull that off again given his track record, but worth
recalling that the only thing that made him seem credible in 2016 was
how completely the Clintons had been discredited.
Danny Vinik: How Trump favored Texas over Puerto Rico.