Sunday, May 31, 2020
Lot of articles below on the police killing of George Floyd in
Minneapolis, the demonstrations that have ensued, and reports of
violence (especially in Minneapolis). I have no idea how extensive
the violence is, let alone who's responsible for what, but I'm
skeptical of reports that the nation is being torn apart, let alone
that urban America is being reduced to rubble. I remember the riots
of the late 1960s, Kerner Commission Report, and the backlash Nixon
so profited from. I doubt this is anything like that, but should
also note that the degree of anger over this particular killing --
as you well know there have been dozens that have risen to cause
célèbre status, and hundreds that remain obscure. There was, for
instance, a completely peaceful demonstration here in Wichita that
drew some 2,000 people -- much more than I would have imagined.
(No link, as The Wichita Eagle won't let me get past the headline,
even with a subscription -- making it pointess to pass the link
along.) What does make the current situation worse than in the 1960s
is malignant lout in the White House, his toxic party, and their
deluded followers. We used to jeer LBJ with "how many kids did you
kill today?" but there's no point taunting Trump like that: not
only doesn't he care, he's likely to take it as a challenge.
Speaking of the dead, the coronavirus death count in the United
100,000 this week. It topped 10,000 on April 17, and 50,000 18 days
later, on April 25. It took 32 days from there to double. The lockdown
in Kansas has pretty much ended, although that makes me even more wary
of going out. I do, however, have a doctor appointment on Monday, and
have been assured they got their protocols together. May make a grocery
run as well, as we're low on pretty much everything.
When I got up this morning, I played Down in the Basement
(a "treasure trove of vintage 78s 1926-1937") and Maria Muldaur's
Garden of Joy. From the former, I was especially struck by the
continuing relevance of
Bessie Brown's "Song from a Cotton Field." The latter ends with
a 2009 remake of the Depression-era "The Panic Is On," with a new
line for Obama. Couldn't find a YouTube link, but here's
Spotify, if that helps. Here's the 1931 original, by
Hezekiah & Dorothy Jenkins; I'm more familiar with a later
version which drops the complaint about Prohibition and adds an
optimistic like about FDR -- on a compilation somewhere, can't find
the link now. I did find more recent ones: by
Loudon Wainwright III (2010);
Daddy Stovepipe (2013); and by
Matt Rivers (2013).
Some scattered links this week:
Did you really think Trump would mourn with us:
The president's indifference to collective mourning is of a piece with
a political movement that denies our collective ties as well as the
obligations we have to each other. If Trump represents a radical political
solipsism, in which his is the only interest that exists, then it makes
all the sense in the world that neither he nor his allies would see or
even understand the need for public and collective mourning -- an activity
that heightens our vulnerability, centers our interconnectedness and
stands as a challenge to the politics of selfishness and domination.
Trump is following in Herbert Hoover's footsteps: "And we know
how that worked out." Well, yes and no. Hoover was smart and disciplined
and he was not without caring, but for some reason didn't believe he had
any options -- maybe because his super-rich Treasury Secretary Andrew
Mellon vetoed them. (Mellon served 12 years, so the old joke was that
three presidents served under him.) Trump has none of Hoover's virtues,
and even more remarkably neither do his principle advisers. Also
Trump just said what Republicans have been trying not to say for years:
"The president revealed his real concern about mail-in voting: He's worried
Republicans will lose more."
Trump's social media executive order, explained: "It won't hold up
in court. That's not the point." Also:
Trump's Twitter tirade is the tantrum of a troll.
Peter Baker/Daisuke Wakabayashi:
Trump's order on social media could harm one person in particular: Donald
Trump: "Without certain liability protections, companies like Twitter
would have to be more aggressive about policing messages that press the
boundaries -- like the president's."
Trump's phony war with Twitter escalates: "If Twitter were to fact-check
all of President Trump's posts, he could significantly hamper his ability
to propagandize effectively." Not to mention, send him into an endless
recursive loop of rage.
Twitter has finally started fact-checking Trump.
Section 230, the internet free speech law Trump wants to change,
Mark Zuckerberg comes to Trump's defense.
Trump is doing all of this for Zuckerberg: "The new executive order
targeting social-media companies isn't really about Twitter."
Trump is unlikely to repeal Section 230 or take any real action to curb
the power of the major social-media companies. Instead, he wants to keep
things just the way they are and make sure that the red-carpet treatment
he has received so far, especially at Facebook, continues without
impediment. He definitely does not want substantial changes going into
the 2020 election. The secondary aim is to rile up his base against yet
another alleged enemy: this time Silicon Valley, because there needs to
be an endless list of targets in the midst of multiple failures. . . .
Playing the refs by browbeating them has long been a key move in the
right-wing playbook against traditional media. The method is simple: It
involves badgering them with accusations of unfairness and bias so that
they bend over backwards to accommodate a "both sides" narrative even
when the sides were behaving very differently, or when one side was not
grounded in fact. Climate-change deniers funded by fossil-fuel companies
effectively used this strategy for decades, relying on journalists'
training and instinct to equate objectivity with representing both
sides of a story. This way of operating persisted even when one of the
sides was mostly bankrolled by the fossil-fuel industry while the other
was a near-unanimous consensus of independent experts and academics.
Well done, Twitter. You've finally figured out how to deal with Trump's
Trump's one constant is a fetish for bloodshed: "Violence is the
last refuge of the incompetent, and the president has bunkered down."
Aside from the notes on bullies and cowards, I note this Trump tweet:
"It makes me feel so good to hit 'sleazebags' back -- much better than
seeing a psychiatrist (which I never have!)." Assuming that seeing a
shrink is supposed to make you feel better only makes sense when you
realize that he has no capacity for self-reflection, in which case
his denial is not just vanity (something he has tons of) but also an
implicit recognition of his emptiness. Makes me wonder how terrifying
it is to know you know nothing of yourself.
Bolivia's post-coup president has unleashed a campaign of terror.
Susan B Glasser:
Trump plays macho man as America burns.
The most mendacious president in US history: "On Trump, his Twitter
lies, and why it's getting worse."
From the start of his Administration, his tweets have been an open-source
intelligence boon, a window directly into the President's needy id, and a
real-time guide to his obsessions and intentions. Misinformation,
disinformation, and outright lies were always central to his politics.
In recent months, however, his tweeting appears to have taken an even
darker, more manic, and more mendacious turn, as Trump struggles to manage
the convergence of a massive public-health crisis and a simultaneous
economic collapse while running for reëlection. He is tweeting more
frequently, and more frantically, as events have closed in on him.
Trailing in the polls and desperate to change the subject from the
coronavirus, mid-pandemic Trump has a Twitter feed that is meaner,
angrier, and more partisan than ever before, as he amplifies conspiracy
theories about the "deep state" and media enemies such as Scarborough
while seeking to exacerbate divisions in an already divided country.
Glasser refers to a piece by former Trump ghost-writer Tony
The psychopath in chief, which she sums up:
[Schwartz] argues that the Presidency has transformed Trump from an
attention-seeking narcissist, who spent decades lying about his golf
trophies, his sex life, and his real-estate properties, into an
ends-justify-the-means ruler who has increasingly and ominously
escalated his lies and extreme behavior. Many of Trump's lies, Schwartz
argues, come from his grandiose misconception of his own knowledge and
powers, including his bragging that he knows more "than anyone" about
ISIS, drones, social media, campaign finance, technology, polls, courts,
lawsuits, politicians, trade, renewable energy, infrastructure,
construction, nuclear weapons, banks, tax laws, the economy, and, during
the pandemic, medicine. "His obsession with domination and power have
prompted Trump to tell lies more promiscuously than ever since he became
President, and to engage in ever more unfounded and aggressive responses
aimed at anyone he perceives stands in his way," Schwartz wrote.
Glasser also reviews a forthcoming book by the Washington Post's Fact
Checker staff, Donald Trump and His Assault on Truth.
Kris Kobach is back, and a Kansas Senate seat may be up for grabs:
From where I sit, it looks to me like Roger Marshall has sewn up the
Senate nomination, although his stunt aping Trump and forcing his whole
family to take hydroxychloroquine makes me question his sanity. Kobach,
having failed to get a Trump admin job (other than the "voter fraud"
commission that he ran into the ground), and having failed to win his
governor race, strikes me as damaged goods (like Roy Moore in Alabama,
who after losing the special election dropped to fourth in the Senate
primary this year). Admittedly, Kobach is bad enough to worry about,
but so is Marshall and the rest of the field. I'm not impressed by
Barbara Bollier, but we'll take whatever we can get.
Erica L Green:
Over veterans' protests, Trump vetoes measure to block student loan
The coming collapse: "It is impossible for any doomed population to
grasp how fragile the decayed financial, social and political system is
on the eve of implosion."
Sheila Kaplan/Matthew Goldstein/Alexandra Stevenson:
Trump's vaccine chief has vast ties to drug industry, posing possible
conflicts: Moncef Slaoui: a venture capitalist, former executive
at GlaxoSmithKline, a board member of Moderna.
The fatal arrest of George Floyd, a black man kneed in the neck by
police, explained. As one section here notes, "the history of
police brutality against the black community is long and repetitive."
This event, following recent killings of
Ahmaud Arbery and
Breonna Taylor, led quickly to protests and more. Also see:
How Western media would cover Minneapolis if it happened in another
country. Later I saw a Tony Karon tweet that suggests the answer to
this question is that they'd dub the demonstration "the American spring."
White people can compartmentalize police brutality. Black people don't
have the luxury.
Trump responded to the protests by lashing out at antifa, the media,
and Democrats. Is there anything Trump doesn't blame on "his
favorite political punching bags"? Trump has gone on to
tweet: "The United States of America will be designating ANTIFA
as a Terrorist Organization." I don't see how he can do that, not
just because the law only applies to foreign organizations, but also
it's not clear that "antifa" is an organization at all. More ominously,
Attorney General William Barr "announced that the federal law enforcement
will activate the 56 regional FBI Joint Terrorism Task Forces to apprehend
and charge what he described as 'violent radical agitators.'" Using the
FBI to investigate and harass political "enemies" was common back when
J Edgar Hoover ran the agency, so I can't say his move is unprecedented,
but it is extremely repugnant to the Constitution and democracy. On the
other hand, if you do want to tackle "domestic terrorism," be aware that
virtually all of the threats are on the right.
Police targeted journalists covering the George Floyd protests.
The racist history of Trump's "When the looting starts, the shooting
Paul Butler: Law professor, former federal prosecutor,
author of Chokehold: Policing Black Men:
Trump's plan to end Obama's peaceful police reform succeeded.
The lies we tell about riots: "How America mystifies the wages of
The death of George Floyd, in context.
Police erupt in violence nationwide.
Officials blame outsiders for violence in Minnesota but contradict one
another on who is responsible.
Officer charged in George Floyd's death used fatal force before and had
history of complaints.
Feds flew an unarmed Predator drone over Minneapolis protests to provide
What we're missing when we condemn "violence" at protests.
Which brings us to perhaps the most important thing to understand about
how to watch protests: the context of what kind of protest garners police
response. Over the past three months, the 24-hour cable networks have
extensively covered mostly white armed men and women threatening police
and politicians at state capitols across the nation over coronavirus
How often have you seen police in riot gear? In fact, police seldom
use force or even present in force (protest shields, black helmets, etc.)
when conservative or right-wing groups protest. When is the last time you
saw a group of anti-abortion activists get tear-gassed? Yet left-leaning
groups, and especially groups of minorities, their protests are often met
with shows of force. Right-wing groups spit in the faces of police in
regular gear in Michigan, while SWAT teams show up like Storm Troopers
to chanting teens in Minneapolis.
Violent protests could be a gift to Trump: This is an obvious fear
many of us have, especially those of us who remember how Nixon exploited
the urban "riots" of the late 1960s. It also seems to be much on the
minds of pro-Trump media today, who have come out in force to spread
their take on whatever is happening. Personally, I don't see much to
gain from demonstrating at this point: the key message is getting out
more effectively via social media, and the Minneapolis city government
(if not the police) seems to be responding constructively. On the other
hand, if you must have a villain for the "riots," how about Trump? For
a better take also at TPM, see Josh Marshall:
The gang leader as president.
No more cop unions: I'll file this here because many of the examples
of how police unions have saved their members from responsibility for
acts of violence against the public come from Minneapolis. Of course,
I don't believe that police should not be allowed to join a union. But
there is much evidence of such unions behaving badly, from supporting
Republicans (which proved to be a fatal mistake in Wisconsin) to bending
policy for their own temperament.
Killer Mike delivers emotional speech to Atlanta protestors at Mayor's
press conference. Robert Christgau tweeted a link to this. When I
returned, the top item on my feed was by an Ali Velshi: "I'm hit in the
leg by a rubber bullet but am fine. State Police supported by National
Guard fired unprovoked into an entirely peaceful rally."
In Minneapolis, a police union gone rogue.
Whether the president understands the racist history of "looting and
shooting" is beside the point.
Former Minneapolis officer Derek Chauvin charged with murder in the death
of George Floyd.
Fox News hosts racist former detective Mark Fuhrman to analyze protests
following George Floyd's killing. Also:
Lou Dobbs blames "black churches," "black teachers and leaders" for
After George Floyd's death, Klobuchar faces scrutiny over record on
police brutality. On the other hand, see Igor Derysh:
Amy Klobuchar denies that she failed to prosecute former officer who
kneeled on George Floyd's neck.
Mark P Nevitt:
Trump cannot legally use "looting" to justify "shooting".
Michele L Norris:
How Amy Cooper and George Floyd represent two versions of racism that
black Americans face every day.
Far-right extremists are hoping to turn the George Floyd protests into
a new civil war.
Maybe we should stop giving the Minneapolis police military equipment.
America's social contract is broken: "The protests across the country
are about more than police violence."
Alice Speri/Alleen Brown/Mara Hvistendahl:
The George Floyd killing in Minneapolis exposes the failures of police
George Floyd's killing has opened the wounds of centuries of American
Alex S Vitale:
The answer to police violence is not 'reform.' It's defunding. Here's
why. "Bias training, body cameras, community dialogues -- Minneapolis
has tried them all." Maybe the 30% of the city budget that the police
suck up isn't the best way to use that money?
The intolerable tensions between American cities and their police forces.
"Directly at us": Louisville law enforcement shoots reporters with pepper
Matt Zapotosky/Isaac Stanley-Becker:
Gripped by disease, unemployment and outrage at the police, America
plunges into crisis.
"We're a country with an open wound": Joe Biden condemns the police killing
of George Floyd.
'Absolute vacuum in leadership': Internet sheds 'coward' Trump for hiding
as 75 cities protest. Assembled from tweets, the least original being
"We don't have a president" and "Hitler hid in a bunker too." My favorite:
Kind of like those FDR Fireside Chats.
You know, without the inspiration, empathy, concern, sacrifice, honesty,
integrity, and 3-syllable words.
Michigan sheriff and police didn't use harsh tactics to control Flint
Township's protest -- they laid down their batons and joined it.
Trump's purge of inspectors general, explained: "In an unprecedented
move, Trump has fired or sidelined at least five watchdogs in recent
The vital missing piece of the Democrats' stimulus bill: "If the
rule House Democrats followed doesn't allow enough spending, what use
is their rule?" What's missing is automatic stabilizers, so in the
future something like a rise in unemployment will automatically be
met with funding for unemployment insurance. The rule that prevents
this is one the Democratic leadership foolishly adopted when they
took over the House in 2019, meant to show that they're responsible
about deficits. However, if we've learned one thing about economics
over the last century, it's that deficit spending is the only way
to reduce the tragedy of economic catastrophe.
David Frum's hold over the center: "The Never Trumpers styled themselves
as critics of the GOP. Instead, they built up power over liberals." Review
of Frum's latest essay collection, Trumpocalypse: Restoring American
Democracy. For another review, see:
David Frum rethinks conservatism. Actually, one thing that I've found
is that Frum remains very entrenched in certain parts of conservatism. For
He proposes a political trade: a severe tightening of immigration
rules in return for the passage of much-needed social and climate
legislation -- a comprehensive national health care system, a carbon
tax (that would include products imported from polluters like China
and India). "If Democrats want to perpetuate their health care reforms,
they must do a better job of solidifying a sense of national belonging.
If Republicans want to safeguard the border, they must offer a better
deal to those living on that border's American side."
I might take such a deal, especially if I could stipulate that the
immigration limits were combined with a program to legitimate all or
most currently undocumented immigrants. But I doubt Republicans would
offer any such deal, because they're more committed to blocking health
care reform and limits on global warming than they really care about
Unemployment insurance is a vital part of economic freedom.
Trump boosts nuclear weapons spending, fueling a new arms race.
GOP vows to kill only thing keeping economy (and Trump) afloat:
Enhanced unemployment benefits: the spectre of workers laid off due to
the pandemic not feeling the pinch of starvation enough to settle for
even lower-wage jobs.
How John Brennan and Mike Pompeo left the US blind to Saudi problems.
How the Taliban outlasted a superpower: tenacity and courage.
The Trump administratio has abandoned worker safety at the worst
The crumbling cult of Jamie Dimon: "Dimon is a serial Noticer That
Things Could Be Better, but he has always remained quite vague on why
those things could be better or what might be required to improve them."
That much, plus being extremely rich, seems to pass for profundity these
days. I once wrote that "Barack Obama is so conservative he cannot even
imagine a world where Jamie Dimon isn't CEO of a major Wall Street bank."
Obama, you may recall, demanded a major shake up at GM as part of the
price for a bailout, but never pushed to change a head on Wall Street.
Heather Digby Parton:
Trump opposes masks because culture war nihilism is his last lie of
Jeremy W Peters:
They predicted 'The Crisis of 2020' . . . in 1991. So how does this end?
Recalls two scholars, William Strauss and Neil Howe, whose 1991 book
Generations: The History of America's Future, 1584 to 2069, tried
to work out a cyclical view of American history, based on 80-year cycles
broken up into 20-year phases. They later published a somewhat shorter
similar sequel, The Fourth Turning: An American Prophecy: What the
Cycles of History Tell Us About America's Next Rendezvous With Destiny
(paperback, 1997), which is still in print. The fourth phase of these
cycles is "crisis," which they projected to come to a head in 2020,
right about now. This is not far removed from the "four eras" schema
I've been writing about -- their turning points line up with 1780,
1860, 1940, and 2020, whereas mine are 1800, 1860, 1932, 1980, and
(most likely) 2020.
The sickness in our food supply: Explains, among much else, why
some farmers are dumping milk, eggs, and chickens, even with grocery
store shelves bare. That's just the way the industry is organized,
for maximum profit, until it breaks.
CNN arrest is what actual censorship looks like.
Joe Biden has a chance to make history on climate change: "All he has
to do is embrace the consensus that's waiting for him."
Trump dismisses his own government's guidance about masks as "politically
correct": "Trump's latest unhinged news conference illustrates why
he's no longer doing daily coronavirus briefings."
"Human capital stock": White House adviser Kevin Hassett uses dehumanizing
term for US workers. I'm not a big fan of taking an unfortunate turn
of phrase and blowing it up into a story, but this is pretty egregious,
as well as revealing. He could have said "our workers are ready to get
back to work," and all we'd be questioning is whether that's really true.
He could have said "workforce," and while the abstraction is creepier and
dehumanizing, we'd probably let is pass. It's true that some economists
and businessfolk like to talk about "human capital," but that's usually
to posit a human alternative to other forms of capital, and even there it
suggests that people's skills and "know how" can be owned as an asset --
something that most of us reject. However, "stock" is where this gets
really insulting: a word usually used for animals (e.g. livestock). One
could say "our bovine capital stock is ready to be eaten," but who the
fuck actually talks like that? That's a question I doubt anyone has
asked before, but now we have an answer: Trump economic adviser.
Packing 20,000 people into an arena for the RNC is a bad idea. Trump
wants it to happen anyway.
Robert J Shapiro:
The economic recovery will be a whimper, not a bang: "Many economists,
including some liberals, are predicting a strong comeback by November.
They are using the wrong models."
Graham urges senior judges to step aside before November election so
Republicans can fill vacancies. Always scheming.
Joseph E Stiglitz:
Argentina and the future of finance capitalism.
Famed Democratic pollster: Warren as VP would lead to Biden victory:
That's what Stan Greenberg says.
Andrew Van Dam:
The unluckiest generation in US history: "Millennials have faced the
worst economic odds, and many will never recover." As I recall, it was
baseball mogul Branch Rickey who said, "luck is the residue of design."
What me meant was built strong, deep teams, and luck will break your way.
The converse also applies: the more fundamental weaknesses you have, the
more likely luck will turn against you. The long-term trends of the last
20-40 years have been: the rich have gotten much richer; safety nets have
eroded, so most people are at greater risk should something bad happen;
and bad events have become more frequent due to war, climate change, and
lack of infrastructure investment. Those are trends that are hard to
notice as they're happening, only becoming evident when things break bad.
At first that may look like luck, but deeper down lies design.
In a disturbing rant, Trump says protesters 'would have been greeted
with the most vicious dogs'. What is it with Trump and dogs?
Household income surged in April despite the collapsing labor market.
For once, you should thank the Democrats for that. When the stock market
collapsed, Trump and the Republicans were desperate to inject cash into
the collapsing economy -- especially those $1200 checks with Trump's name
on them. Democrats went along, but only after insisting on funding the
unemployment insurance system, including broader eligibility and a $600
per week supplement, which meant that some laid-off workers actually came
out ahead. That was absolutely the right thing to do, and Republicans went
along with it only because it was bound to their own poorly thought out
plan. It's clear now that the "stimulus" didn't save the economy -- most
of the money went into savings or debt reduction -- but it did help a lot
of people. Thank the Democrats for that. And expect the Republicans to
revert to form as the economy opens up slowly, and actually does need a
shot of stimulus spending.
CNN reporter Omar Jimenez arrested live on air in Minneapolis.
Twitter flags Trump for "glorifying violence" in "looting starts, shooting
Let Hong Kong move to America: "Visas could do more than sanctions
to help Hong Kong and punish China." Contrast this with Jen Kirby:
Trump says he will revoke Hong Kong's special trade status. I don't
see how Trump's threat does anything but force Hong Kong ever deeper
under China's thumb. On the other hand, I'm not wild about Yglesias's
plan either. Reminds me of the special visa class that has allowed
right-wing Cubans to flood the country, warping any chance of ever
normalizing relations with Cuba, while sticking us with right-wing
political operatives like Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio.
The US should prioritize reopening schools, not salons and restaurants.
Joe Biden has a plan for that: "Not a joke, folks: He's running
on a transformative policy agenda." Most of these points have substance
while falling short of what Sanders (or for that matter Warren) proposed.
The weakest area remains health care, where he wants a "public option"
in what's probably a vain hope of reducing public costs by making the
marketplace more competitive.
Thursday, May 28, 2020
I was asked a question about Questlove's
100 albums list.
- Terence Trent d'Arby: Neither fish nor flesh [B+]
- Tower of Power: Live and In Living Color -
- James Brown: In the Jungle Groove [A+]
- Jeru the Damaja: The Sun Rises In The East 
- Jazzy Jeff & Will Smith: And In This Corner [B+]
- Gary Wilson: You Think You Really Know Me -
- J Dilla: Donuts [B]
- Wynton Marsalis: Live At Blues Alley 
- Young Black Teenagers: With The Young Black Teenagers -
- Syreeta: Stevie wonder presents Syreeta -
- London music works: Pee-Wee's Big Adventure Score -
- Jackson 5: Get It Together -
- Wu Tang: Enter the 36 Chambers [A-]
- Larry Young: Unity [A]
- Gil Scott-Heron: Reflections -
- Kali Uchis: Isolation [A-]
- Son of Bazerk: Bazerk Bazerk Bazerk 
- Diana Ross: Diana 
- Funkadelic: Let's Take It To The Stage [A-]
- Minnie Riperton: Come to my garden -
- Nina Simone: Nina Simone & Piano -
- The Meters: Look-Ka Py Py 
- Al Jarreau: Look to The Rainbow [C+]
- Tony Toni Tone: Sons of Soul 
- Jungle Brothers: Straight out the jungle [A-]
- Jill Scott: Who is Jill Scott? Words and Sounds Vol. 1 [**]
- The Isley Brothers: The Heat Is On [B+]
- Rick James: Street Songs [*]
- Los Lobos: Kiko [B+]
- Louis Jordan: Let the Good Times Roll [A-]
- The Beatnuts: Street Level 
- Sting: Nothing Like The Sun 
- Curtis Mayfield: Curtis/Live! -
- Brand Nubian: One for all [A-]
- Radiohead: Kid A [B]
- Cody Chesnutt: The Headphone Masterpiece [B+]
- Prince: The Truth -
- Stereolab: Dots & Loops [B]
- Common: Like Water for Chocolate [A-]
- Richard Pryor: That Nigger's crazy -
- The Avalanches: Since I left you [B+]
- Peter Rock & C.L. Smooth: Mecca & The soul brother 
- Sade: Stronger than pride -
- Ahmad Jamal Trio: The Awakening 
- Erykah Badu: New Amerykah Part one [***]
- The Beatles: Revolver [A]
- Tears for Fears: The seeds of love [B-]
- Herbie Hancock: Thrust [**]
- Max Roach: Percussion Bitter Sweet 
- The Police: Reggatta De Blanc [B+]
- Ultramagnetic MCs: Critical Beatdown 
- Fiona Apple: Tidal 
- Fela Kuti: Beasts of No Nation [B]
- The Pharcyde: Bizarre Ride II the Pharcyde [B-]
- Joni Mitchell: The Hissing of the Summer Laws [B-]
- Clipse: Hell Hath No Fury [A-]
- Marvin Gaye: Here, My Dear [A-]
- Graham Central Station: Release Yourself -
- Amy Winehouse: Back To Black [**]
- Pete Rock & C.L. Smooth: Pleasure -
- Earth, Wind & Fire: All 'N All [B+]
- John Coltrane: Coltrane Plays the Blues [B+]
- Eugene McDaniels: Headless Heroes of the Apocalypse -
- Talking Heads: Remain in Light [A+]
- Beastie Boys: Licensed to Ill [A-]
- Led Zepplin: Physical Graffiti [B+]
- The Time: What Time is it? [B+]
- Slum Village: Fantastic Vol 2 
- Sly & the Family Stone: Fresh [A-]
- Max Roach: Drums Unlimited 
- Fishbone: Fishbone -
- Stevie Wonder: Talking Book [A]
- The Jimi Hendrix Experience: Electric Ladyland [A]
- James Brown: Revolution of the mind: Live at the Apollo Vol3 -
- The Beatles: Sgt Pepper's Lonely Heart Club Band [A]
- Stevie Wonder: Songs in the Key of Life [A-]
- Miles Davis: On the Corner [***]
- John Coltrane: A Love Supreme [A+]
- Stevie Wonder: Journey Through the Secret Life of Plants [C+]
- The Beach Boys: Pet Sounds [A+]
- Janet Jackson: Control [*]
- Ice Cube: Amerikkka's Most Wanted -
- Beastie Boys: Paul's Boutique [B+]
- The Police: Synchronicity [A-]
- Miles Davis: Nefertiti [A-]
- Marvin Gaye: What's Going On [A-]
- Bill Withers: + 'Justements -
- Prince: Parade: Music from the motion picture Under the Cherry Moon [A-]
- Sly & The Family Stone: There's a Riot Going On [A]
- Michael Jackson: Thriller [A]
- Stevie Wonder: Music Of My Mind [B+]
- A Tribe Called Quest: Midnight Marauders [A-]
- Prince: 1999 [A-]
- D'Angelo: Voodoo [A-]
- De La Soul: De La Soul Is Dead [C+]
- Rufus: Ask Rufus -
- Michael Jackson: Off The Wall [A]
- Slum Village: Fan-Tas-Tic Vol 1 -
- Public Enemy: It Takes A Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back [A+]
- Average White Band: Person To Person -
Monday, May 25, 2020
Expanded blog post,
Music: Current count 33333  rated (+56), 209  unrated (-5).
Played a lot of old jazz last week. I mostly started with albums
that were nominated by JazzTimes in reader polls to select
the best albums of the 1970s and 1980s, but once I got into an
artist's oeuvre I let myself wander. A couple of these albums were
singled out by Chris Monsen as among the ten best of the 1980s, and
they fared considerably better than average. I was particularly on
the lookout for ECM releases, as they've only recently become
available on Napster. Dozens more records on the list, so I may
stick with this for a while.
I'm not giving up on new records -- more like pacing myself.
I am still maintaining my
They're just not inspiring me to check out a lot of albums at
Rated count includes a few records I missed counting in previous
weeks, but mostly reflects that I rarely gave records a second play
(especially old jazz). More exposure could lift a few of them --
especially among the Sonny Rollins releases, given that I have
The Complete RCA Victor Recordings (1962-64, 6CD) at A-,
and Gary Giddins' expert selection from the Milestones (1972-2000),
with one song per album, Silver City, at A+.
This is the last Monday of May, so
Streamnotes (May, 2020)
is wrapped up. I noticed that I had missed doing the indexing for
April, so fixed that.
I still haven't done the indexing for the last two Book Roundups,
so need to work on that. I also have enough
Questions to start trying to write
up some answers. Should have some of them by the end of the week.
PS: Thought I had got through a week with no major jazz or
pop deaths to report, but found out about
Jimmy Cobb (91) just after I posted. Also missed
Mory Kanté (70).
New records reviewed this week:
- The Dream Syndicate: The Universe Inside (2020, Anti-): [r]: B+(*)
- Steve Earle: Ghosts of West Virginia (2020, New West): [r]: B+(***)
- Joel Harrison + 18: America at War (2019 , Sunnyside): [r]: B+(***)
- Alain Mallet: Mutt Slang II: A Wake of Sorrows Engulfed in Rage (2018 , Origin): [cd]: B+(*)
- Ted Moore Trio: The Natural Order of Things (2019 , Origin): [cd]: B+(**)
- Shelly Rudolph: The Way We Love (2010-17 , OA2): [cd]: B
Recent reissues, compilations, and vault discoveries:
- Apala: Apala Groups in Nigeria 1967-70 (1967-70 , Soul Jazz): [r]: B+(*)
- Eddie Russ: Fresh Out (1974 , Soul Jazz): [r]: B
- Muhal Richard Abrams: Young at Heart/Wise in Time (1969 , Delmark): [r]: B+(**)
- Muhal Richard Abrams: Think All, Focus One (1994 , Black Saint): [r]: B+(***)
- Muhal Richard Abrams: Song for All (1995 , Black Saint): [r]: B+(***)
- George Adams: Sound Suggestions (1979, ECM): [r]: B+(*)
- George Adams/Don Pullen Quartet: Live at Montmartre (1985 , Timeless): [r]: B+(**)
- Art Ensemble of Chicago: Bap-Tizum (1972 , Atlantic): [r]: B
- Art Ensemble of Chicago: Nice Guys (1978 , ECM): [r]: B+(***)
- Art Ensemble of Chicago: <Full Force (1980, ECM): [r]: B+(***)
- Art Ensemble of Chicago: The Third Decade (1984 , ECM): [r]: B+(**)
- Tim Berne Sextet: The Ancestors (1983, Soul Note): [r]: B+(*)
- Tim Berne: Mutant Variations (1983 , Soul Note): [r]: B+(***)
- Arthur Blythe: Blythe Spirit (1981, Columbia): [r]: B+(***)
- Lester Bowie's Brass Fantasy: I Only Have Eyes for You (1985, ECM): [r]: B+(***)
- Lester Bowie's Brass Fantasy: Avant Pop (1986, ECM): [r]: A-
- Tommy Flanagan: Thelonica (1982 , Enja): [r]: B+(**)
- Charlie Haden/Paul Motian Feat. Geri Allen: Etudes (1987 , Soul Note): [yt]: A-
- Jimmy Lyons: Other Afternoons (1969 , Affinity): [r]: B+(**)
- Jimmy Lyons Quintet: Wee Sneezawee (1983 , Black Saint): [r]: A-
- Jimmy Lyons Quintet: Give It Up (1985, Black Saint): [r]: B+(***)
- Oregon: Oregon (1983, ECM): [r]: B
- Oregon: Crossing (1984 , ECM): [r]: B+(*)
- Sonny Rollins: With the Modern Jazz Quartet (1951-53 , Prestige/OJC): [r]: B+(**)
- Sonny Rollins: Sonny Rollins [Volume 1] (1956 , Blue Note): [r]: B+(**)
- Sonny Rollins: Sonny Rollins Volume 2 (1957, Blue Note): [r]: B+(**)
- Sonny Rollins: Sonny Rollins Plays (1956-57 , Essential Music Group): [r]: B+(***)
- Sonny Rollins Featuring Jim Hall: The Quartets (1962 . RCA Bluebird): [r]: B+(***)
- Sonny Rollins/Don Cherry Quartet: The Complete 1963 Copenhagen Concert (1963 , Doxy, 2CD): [r]: B+(**)
- Sonny Rollins & Don Cherry: Live at the Olympia '63 (1963 , Master Classics): [r]: B+(***)
- Sonny Rollins: Live in Tokyo, Japan '63 (1963 , Master Classics): [r]: B+(**)
- Sonny Rollins: Sonny Rollins and Co. 1964 (1964 , RCA Bluebird): [r]: A-
- Sonny Rollins: Horn Culture (1973, Milestone): [r]: A-
- Sonny Rollins: The Cutting Edge (1974, Milestone): [r]: B+(*)
- Sonny Rollins: Easy Living (1977, Milestone): [r]: B+(***)
- Sonny Rollins: Don't Stop the Carnival (1978, Milestone): [r]: B+(**)
- Sonny Rollins: Don't Ask (1979, Milestone): [r]: B
- Sonny Rollins: Love at First Sight (1980, Milestone): [r]: B+(***)
- Sonny Rollins: No Problem (1981, Milestone): [r]: B+(**)
- Sonny Rollins: Reel Life (1982, Milestone): [r]: B+(*)
- Sonny Rollins: The Solo Album (1985, Milestone): [r]: B+(**)
- Sonny Rollins: Old Flames (1993, Milestone): [r]: B+(**)
- Kenny Wheeler: Gnu High (1975 , ECM): [r]: B+(***)
- Kenny Wheeler: Around 6 (1979 , ECM): [r]: B+(**)
- Kenny Wheeler: Double, Double You (1983 , ECM): [r]: A-
Unpacking: Found in the mail last week:
- Sara Serpa: Recognition (Biophilia) [06-05]
Sunday, May 24, 2020
Robert Christgau wrote an impassioned piece last week on why it matters
for people to vote for Biden and the Democrats against Trump and the
Republicans in November. You can find it
here -- scroll down to the last question and answer. I agree
substantively, but have a few quibbles.
First, I gagged on the phrase "criminally stupid." Stupid, maybe,
but that isn't (and shouldn't be) a crime. Gauging the importance of
any election requires both a lot of information and a good sense of
political dynamics over time. How difficult it is should be clear
from our different estimates and prognoses of what a Trump victory
would mean. (Which, just to be clear, don't diminish our agreement
that this election is "crucial" and that if it goes the wrong way
a lot of very bad things will happen.)
For instance: "Abortion will end, feminism atrophy, gay rights
shrivel." If the Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade, states will
be free to outlaw abortion (and for that matter birth control),
but only a few states will. Same with LGBTQ rights. The effect
will be to undermine rights that currently all Americans share,
but unless this can be followed up with new federal legislation
the effect will be to make red and blue states diverge further.
Granted, if Republicans win by landslides (augmented or enabled
by gerrymandering and voter suppression, which is the only way
that seems possible) they might be able to rewrite federal law
to force their views on blue states. They might even amend the
constitution to get rid of parts they don't like (although most
likely they'll be happy enough to have their packed courts read
the constitution their way).
None of this woud cause feminism to "atrophy": if anything, it
will make it sharper and more necessary. Indeed, while we prefer
not to speak of it, one thing that invariably happens is that when
power tilts one direction, resistance grows. A lot of bad things
have happened since 2016, but resistance has grown, both in numbers
and in clarity and resolve. The lines about what Hillary would have
done differently aren't very convincing -- especially the one about
billionaires, because while she was chummy with different ones than
Trump was, she was always very deferential to them (as were Democrats
like Obama and Biden). At least with Trump as president, we don't
have to go through this election defending her. I'm not a person who
believes that things have to get worse before they can get better,
but I do recognize that people often learn things only the hard way.
I voted for Hillary even though I thought she was fucking awful,
because I understood how much worse Trump was, but also because I
thought we'd be better off starting from her as a baseline than we'd
be with Trump.
Obviously, I think that with Biden vs. Trump, as well. I voted
for Bernie Sanders, and Biden was one of my least favorite candidates,
so I'm not happy he's the nominee, but I'm also not very unhappy with
the way the race has shaped up. Aside from the necessity of beating
Trump and the Republican ticket -- which in terms of policy (if not
personality) if anything worse than Trump -- the second most important
thing for me is to advance the ideas of the left. While Sanders and
others have made remarkable progress, it was clear that they have not
swayed the powers in the party, and that the latter would stop at
nothing (including self-defeat) to keep control of the Democratic
Party. With Biden we have a seat at the table to argue for policies
on their merits, and we shouldn't have to spend much of our energy
fighting off internecine attacks from the right. Nothing is certain,
but as I keep insisting, the answers to our major problems are on
the left. Biden needs answers as much as we do.
The Democratic Primary in
Hawaii went for Joe Biden (63.23%), over Bernie Sanders (36.77%).
You can draw either conclusion from this. On the one hand, Biden has
drawn consistent majorities everywhere since shortly after Super
Tuesday, and there's no real chance he's going to weaken. On the
other hand, there's still a sizable bloc of Democrats who think we
can do better, and that too -- despite the campaign blackout and
Bernie's own endorsement of Biden -- shows no sign of weakening.
Some scattered links this week:
Jon Lee Anderson:
The coronavirus hits Brazil hard, but Jair Bolsonaro is unrepentant.
America's deadly obsession with intellectual property.
Still, the Global War on Terrorism goes on.
The American right's favorite strongman: "Viktor Orbán dismantled
Hungary's democracy. Conservatives love him." What they really love
about him is how his party (Fidesz) has managed to lock themselves into
power even if elections turn against them.
In the United States, the Republican Party has shown a disturbing
willingness to engage in Fidesz-like tactics to undermine the fairness
of the political process. The two parties evolved independently, for
their own domestic reasons, but seem to have converged on a similar
willingness to undermine the fairness of elections behind the scenes.
Extreme gerrymandering, voter ID laws, purging nonvoters from the
voting rolls, seizing power from duly elected Democratic governors,
packing courts with partisan judges, creating a media propaganda
network that its partisans consume to the exclusion of other sources --
all Republican approaches that, with some nouns changed, could easily
describe Fidesz's techniques for hollowing out from democracy from
In this respect, Hungary really is a model for America. It's not
a blueprint anyone is consciously aping, but proof that a ruthless
party with less-than-majority support in the public can take durable
control of political institutions while still successfully maintaining
a democratic veneer.
Trump says he's taking hydroxycloroquine. Related:
- Ginia Bellafante:
First they fled the city. Now they're building $75,000 in-ground pools:
"When the going gets tough, the rich buy oases."
IG fired days after inquiring about Pompeo's 'donor dinners'.
Reopening reality check: Georgia's jobs aren't flooding back: "A
month after easing lockdown restrictions, the state is still seeing a
steady stream of unemployment claims, economic data shows."
- John Cassidy:
The coronavirus is exposing Wall Street's reckless gamble on bad
- Casey Cep:
Telling the stories of the dead is essential work. I've been
reading obituaries regularly, at least since my parents died (2000).
Very rarely do I notice anyone I knew or recognized, although I did
run across a couple of Intermediate School teachers I loathed. But
one thing that's always bothered me is that they're not written up
as stories. They're basically run as advertisements: you buy space,
and get to write whatever drivel you want, and for a bit extra you
can add a picture. Made me think that if I ever ran a newspaper,
I'd at least research and write up this one story on everyone. The
point of this article is that in the pandemic, every obituary has
become a story. Same thing happened after 9/11, when the New York
Times took a moment to write about every victim, no matter how
insignificant. Actually, they never were insignificant. They just
looked that way from Mount Olympus.
Stop the $2 billion arms sale to the Philippines.
Duterte's human rights record is atrocious. If the arms sale goes through,
it will escalate a worsening crackdown on human rights defenders and on
dissent -- while fomenting an ongoing bloodbath. Duterte is infamous for
launching a "War on Drugs" that, since 2016, has claimed the lives of as
many as 27,000 souls, mostly low-income people summarily executed by
police and vigilantes.
In Duterte's first three years of office, nearly 300 journalists, human
rights lawyers, environmentalists, peasant leaders, trade unionists, and
human rights defenders were assassinated. The Philippines has been ranked
the deadliest country for environmentalists in the world, after Brazil.
Many of these slayings are linked to military personnel.
Now, Duterte is using COVID-19 as a pretext for further militarization
and repression, despite the dire consequences for public health.
Fired watchdog was investigating arms sales to Saudi Arabia.
Trump's HHS secretary accidentally tells the truth: Racism is driving
Will the US try to interdict Iranian tankers bound for Venezuela?
Trump has sabotaged America's coronavirus response: I mentioned this
but one to note one more thing: the date (January 31, 2020). That's
pretty early (before the first US cases were reported), although much
of what's here has since become common knowledge:
For the United States, the answers are especially worrying because the
government has intentionally rendered itself incapable. In 2018, the
Trump administration fired the government's entire pandemic response
chain of command, including the White House management infrastructure.
In numerous phone calls and emails with key agencies across the U.S.
government, the only consistent response I encountered was distressed
confusion. If the United States still has a clear chain of command for
pandemic response, the White House urgently needs to clarify what it
is -- not just for the public but for the government itself, which
largely finds itself in the dark.
The coronavirus wouldn't be decimating meatpacking plants if company
bosses hadn't busted the unions. Although western Kansas hasn't
gotten much publicity, Ford and Finney counties have the highest per
capita infection rates in Kansas.
Umair Irfan/Jen Kirby:
The other plague: Locusts are devouring crops in East Africa and the
There's nothing good about Phyllis Schlafly: Deconstructing
Inspectors general, explained by a former inspector general: Interview
with Clark Ervin, following Trump's firing of State Department IG Steve
Michael T Klare:
The US and China are dangerously close to a military confrontation in the
South China Sea.
Why "essential" workers are treated as disposable: Interview with
SIEU president Mary Kay Henry.
Why are liberals more afraid of the coronavirus than conservatives?
My answer is that liberals still think reality matters, and as such
respond to real problems, whereas conservatives live in a fantasy world
where political will creates its own reality. Klein, liberal that he
is, surveys the research, and even quotes Jon Haidt: "Conservatives
react more strongly than liberals to signs of danger, including the
threat of germs and contamination." On the other hand, people of all
political stripes tend to react as herds, and right now conservative
leaders have their own reasons for making light of the pandemic, and
that's emboldening conservative followers. It's tempting to say that
the scales would be tipped if Obama were president and spouting his
usual lines about confidence. Still, the flip wouldn't be symmetrical:
Democrats are more likely to trust the science, because they believe
that government should serve the public, especially in times of crisis.
Republicans, on the other hand, seek power to favor private interests,
and even go so far as to deny that public interests exist (except for
national security, which they conflate with the needs of private arms
merchants), and would like to cripple government's ability to help,
lest people look to government for help in the future. (Although note
that Republican governors are the first in line for federal relief
when disaster strikes their states.)
Biden's opposition to marijuana legalization is at odds with most
Trump's lethal aversion to reading: "Trump is a know-it-all who
knows almost nothing and refuses to read anything except his own name."
Greg Miller/Josh Dawsey/Aaron C Davis:
One final viral infusion: Trump's move to block travel from Europe
triggered chaos and a surge of passengers from the outbreak's center.
Democrats suddenly have a much better chance of retaking the Senate in
We're not polarized enough: Review of Ezra Klein's book, Why
Nevertheless, the health and stability of the American political system
depends on the defeat of the Republican Party. Absent a radical shift in
the right's priorities, the only way to depolarize our institutions is
to win and win big against those who want to keep them undemocratic,
protecting the right from the moderating influence more competitive
elections could have. Those victories will depend on reformers
successfully marshaling the forces driving group identity, rather than
assuming the balance of power in America has been set primarily by
immutable psychologies. The way forward lies in convincing Americans
not to retreat from national politics but to think even more broadly
and abstractly about where this country ought to go. Why We're
Polarized does some of the job, but leaves a daunting truth unsaid:
To fight polarization, we'll have to get much more polarized. The only
way out is through.
Workers deserve to be owners, too. I think extending significant
ownership shares to workers is one of the most important things that
can be done in America.
Inside the latest plan to "bankrupt" and privatize Social Security:
Bankrupting, sure, but I don't see anything here about privatizing,
which -- beyond the push toward optional 401(k) plans -- has always
been a pipe dream. One can imagine ending Social Security and plunging
millions of elderly and disabled Americans back into poverty, but one
cannot imagine a privatized system where most (let alone all) Americans
would be better off.
Why the pandemic is driving conservative intellectuals mad: Not as
broad as I'd like, focusing as he does on one R.R. Reno, although he
does bring Peggy Noonan into it.
US regional imperialism: big sticks, and even bigger guns.
Will the coronavirus make us rethink mass incarceration?
A predictable catastrophe in Michigan: Multiple dams failed alog
the Tittabawassee River, causing massive flooding.
These are the sorts of problems no one wants to address until it's
too late, not just in Michigan but across the United States, where
the phrase "crumbling infrastructure" has been with us so long that
it too is probably on the verge of collapse. We are an old broken-down
country, physically and spiritually, incapable of meaningful action
until we find ourselves in the middle of a totally predictable crisis.
So many of the issues that have arisen during the current pandemic --
the dangers of nursing homes, racial inequality, social atomization --
were ones that should have been familiar to us and dealt with long
before we found ourselves faced with a novel virus. Instead we waited
as we always do until the dams burst, metaphorically and otherwise.
Peace process was never intended to give Palestinians a state -- true
confessions from Council on Foreign Relations. Cites an article
by Steven Cook of the Council on Foreign Relations.
A huge boost in infrastructure spending is very popular -- if rich people
pay for it. Argues that it's going to be very hard to get a big boost
in infrastructure (or other pubic service) spending if most people perceive
it's being paid for out of their own pockets. (Paying for it by taxing the
rich is OK, and indeed the most popular tax proposal on a long list is the
wealth tax.) Personally, I think this would be a very good time to raise
the gas tax. Sure, a flat sales or excise tax isn't progressive, but prices
at present are so depressed consumers come out ahead anyway. And to the
extent that the tax increase reduces demand (and global warming), that's
not such a bad thing either.
Neil J Young:
Flooding the swamp: "Why Trump's many scandals never seem to stick."
Alternate title: "There's always a bigger scandal.
Li Zhou/Ella Nilsen:
Congress should consider these 7 ideas for the next stimulus package.
Bold ideas, no chance of surviving a Republican veto, and indeed it's
not clear even to me where the money comes from.
Friday, May 22, 2020
Aside from last week's
this is my first Book Roundup since
October 31, 2019,
so lots of ground to cover. As usual, 40 books in the main section (well,
45), some with lists of extras tacked on. Then a bunch of "briefly noted" --
most just noted. Not inconceivable I could return and write more about
some of them later. I've even been known to read the occasional book that
first appeared there. But at least this includes them in
the big file for future
This time I have a third section, which includes leftovers from the
Trump Books roundup. I didn't sort them out as I did before. Again,
this section includes some forthcoming books -- some surprisingly
close to the election, like they're deliberately planning on being
irrelevant. [PS: On further reflection, I think I should move
these new books back into the old post, but will hold off on doing
that until later, so those reading in real time won't have to go
My usual methodology here is to start with Amazon's tracking of my
tastes and interests, and see where their recommendations lead me --
especially given that their book pages contain blurbs and user reviews,
often even a partial "look inside," usually sufficient information to
base my notes on. However, Amazon has become much more frustrating and
much less useful lately. Their "my recommendations" page is now about
80% non-book clutter, and their book subject lists have generally been
slashed from 50 to 15 books (I've seen them with as few as 4), so not
much to explore from there. Their book pages used to have long lists
of related books (usually books that others have bought or looked at),
but the only thing they offer regularly now is "books you may like" --
pretty much the same list on every page. Their subject browsing has
never been useful (it's even hard to find it). Even searches are pot
shots. For the Trump books, I scoured through 50-60 screens of titles
before posting last week. Most of the books below showed up in the
next 20-30 screens.
I wound up going to
Barnes and Noble for Trump
books. Their subject browsing has been slightly better in the past,
although it, too, seems worse than before. (Filters now seem to cancel
each other out rather than further refine, and order by date is flat
out broken.) Plus they don't have nearly as much aggregate information,
so when I do find a book there, I wind up having to search it out on
Amazon. I also looked at Indie Bound, but found no help at all. Looks
like you can order there, but can't really shop. [PS: Finally,
looked at Good Reads, which turns out to be more useful.]
In the future, it looks like I'm going to have to return to doing
things like thumbing through the New York Review of Books looking for
advertisements. (In the past, I went to libraries and bookstores to
jot down lists of titles. From age 16 on I prowled around bookstores
several times a week, regarding it as essential to my mental health,
but that practice declined and ended when Borders went bankrupt.)
I even tried doing a Google search for "new political books," which
referred me to BookAuthority's
63 Best New Politics Books to Read in 2020. Some real crap, but
at least 25% of the books there didn't show up in my Amazon searches.
(Thanks to that list, I added Lawrence Lessig's book to the list,
and after looking up Lessig I wrote the two Ganesh Sitaraman entries,
increasing the main list to 42 books.)
Two of the longer sublists deserve special mention. I often list
previous works by authors, but that went a little long with Joseph
J Ellis. I look at the aforementioned "big file" often to see what
other books someone has written, so it's always tempting to broaden
that list -- currently, it's just everything mentioned in previous
Book Roundups, but I can imagine stuffing it into a database. On
the other hand, I didn't do that for the next author down, Eric
Foner. That's partly because I've followed Foner more closely in
the past, and indeed have read several of his books that predate
the file (actually starting with Free Soil, Free Labor, Free
Men: The Ideology of the Republican Party Before the Civil War
(1970; paperback, 1995, Oxford University Press).
Also did a long list under Nathan J Robinson, but the other list I
wanted to mention was the one under Laurie Garrett. You hear people
arguing that no one could have anticipated the pandemic, but as the
list shows, there's actually a pretty substantial literature on the
subject, with Garrett's big 1994 book as a cornerstone. Admittedly,
I padded the list with historical books on the 1918 influenza. That
is the most similar historical event to the present one, so seems
of special interest today. I wasn't finding much on older plagues,
but given how much else I had I decided not to look harder. But I
did think of a Robert Desowitz book I had read 20+ years ago, and
thought it worth mentioning. Also stumbled across a new article
by Garrett, which would have been good in a Weekend Roundup.
Hard to predict when the next Book Roundup will appear, given
what a mess my scratch file is currently in, plus the recent search
troubles. I currently have 49 books left over, but most of them
are mere stubs (some of those I might as well add as such below).
On the other hand, at least a dozen are ready to go, and even as
I write this I'm finding more books I want to comment on.
Books (from the main section) I've read so far:
Erwin Chemerinsky: We the People;
Ani DiFranco: No Walls and the Recurring Dream;
Matt Farwell/Michael Ames: American Cipher;
Eric Foner: The Second Founding;
Ezra Klein: Why We're Polarized;
John McPhee: Draft No. 4;
Suketu Mehta: This Land Is Our Land;
Cailin O'Connor/James Owen Weatherall: The Misinformation Age;
Charles Postel: Equality;
Emmanuel Saez/Gabriel Zucman: The Triumph of Injustice;
Joan C Williams: White Working Class.
Most of these I picked up rather haphazardly from the library.
I've also read all (or nearly) of Robert Christgau: Book Reports
and Paul Krugman: Arguing With Zombies as pre-book essays.
Wrote two of those up at the end, only after seeing them in my
Posting this without yet doing the indexing. The "big file," see
above for link, currently has 4,505 books (paragraphs, approximately
the same thing), so it is already pretty unwieldy (although I can
still load its 1.8 MB into an emacs buffer and search it almost
instantly, so it still works for me).
David A Ansell: The Death Gap: How Inequality Kills
(paperback, 2019, University of Chicago Press): Doctor, has spent
40 years working in some of the poorest hospitals in Chicago, wrote
a book about his experiences: County: Life, Death and Politics
at Chicago's Public Hospital (2011, Academy Chicago Publishers).
Problem here is not just that America's health care system fails
poor Americans, inequality has stacked the deck against them even
before illness or injury strikes. Related:
- Heather Boushey: Unbound: How Inequality Constricts Our Economy
and What We Can Do About It (2019, Harvard University Press).
- Michael Marmot: The Status Syndrome: How Social Standing
Affects Our health and Longevity (paperback, 2005, Owl Books).
- Michael Marmot: The Health Gap: The Challenge of an Unequal
World (2015; paperback, 2016, Bloomsbury).
- Jonathan Rothwell: A Republic of Equals: A Manifesto for
a Just Society (2019, Princeton University Press).
- Nelson D Schwartz: The Velvet Rope Economy: How Inequality
Became Big Business (2020, Doubleday).
- Veronica Squires/Breanna Lathrop: How Neighborhoods Make Us
Sick: Restoring Health and Wellness to Our Communities (2019,
paperback, IVP Books).
Andrew Bacevich: The Age of Illusions (2020,
Metropolitan Books): Ex-soldier, professed conservative, Bacevich
has written a long series of books about the revival of militarism
in America after Vietnam and how that renascent military was wasted
and ruined in a series of wars in the Middle East. He looks to be
retracing his steps here, focusing especially on the decision to
maintain "sole superpower" status after the Cold War's sudden end,
a decision that encouraged new enemies to replace the old. While
that has been profitable for an arms industry and a bureaucracy
always in need of enemies, the forever wars have only left America
poorer and shabbier than before.
Christopher Caldwell: The Age of Entitlement: America Since
the Sixties (2020, Simon & Schuster): This is regarded
as a rare conservative attempt at serious cultural history, but as
always the word "entitlement" gives the mythmaking impulse away.
Caldwell takes "readers on a roller-coaster ride through Playboy
magazine, affirmative action, CB radio, leveraged buyouts, iPhones,
Oxyconti, Black Lives Matter, and internet cookies" to illustrate
his case that "the reforms of the 1960s, reforms intended to make
the nation more just and humane, instead let many Americans feeling
alienated, despised, misled."
Erwin Chemerinsky: We the People: A Progressive Reading of
the Constitution for the Twenty-First Century (paperback,
2018, Picador): Dean of UC Berkeley School of Law, previously wrote
The Conservative Assault on the Constitution (2011), and
The Case Against the Supreme Court (2014). His "progressive
reading" emphasizes the preamble, which among other things permits
the government to "promote the general welfare, and secure the
blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity" -- about as
progressive a directive as one can imagine. Also see:
- Erwin Chemerinsky: The Case Against the Supreme Court
(2014; paperback, 2015, Penguin Books).
- Danielle S Allen: Our Declaration: A Reading of the
Declaration of Independence in Defense of Equality (paperback,
- Stephen M Feldman: The New Roberts Court, Donald Trump, and
Our Failing Constitution (2017, Palgrave MacMilan).
- Eric J Segall: Originalism as Faith (paperback, 2018,
Cambridge University Press).
- Ilan Wurman: A Debt Against the Living: An Introduction to
Originalism (paperback, 2017, Cambridge University Press).
Robert Christgau: Book Reports: A Music Critic on His First
Love, Which Was Reading (paperback, 2019, Duke University
Press): Second collection of essays, following up Is It Still Good
to Ya? Fifty Years of Rock Criticism 1967-2017 (paperback, 2018,
Duke University Press) with a selection of book reviews -- some on
music history and criticism, some on fiction, some loosely grouped
as "Bohemia Meets Hegemony" and "Culture Meets Capital."
Adam Cohen: Supreme Inequality: The Supreme Court's Fifty-Year
Battle for a More Unjust America (2020, Penguin Press): From
1936 to 1969 we were fortunate to have a Supreme Court that leaned
left, for the only real period in American history when the Court
worked to broaden and deepen the rights of all citizens, often in
opposition to repressive and reactionary state and even federal laws.
In 1969, Nixon started a campaign to pack the court with right-wingers
(although his first two nominees were rejected by the Senate, his
choice of William Rehnquist started to change the tide). Also see
(plus the Robin Pogrebin/Kate Kelly book below, and the Erwin
Chemerinsky book/list above):
- Mollie Hemingway/Carrie Severino: Justice on Trial: The
Kavanaugh Confirmation and the Future of the Supreme Court
- Carl Hulse: Confirmation Bias: Inside Washington's War Over
the Supreme Court, From Scalia's Death to Justice Kavanaugh
- David A Kaplan: The Most Dangerous Branch: Inside the Supreme
Court in the Age of Trump (paperback, 2019, Broadway Books).
- Ruth Marcus: Supreme Ambition: Brett Kavanaugh and the
Conservative Takeover (2019, Simon & Schuster).
- James D Zirin: Supremely Partisan: How Raw Politics Tips the
Scales in the United States Supreme Court (2016, Rowman &
John Corbett: Pick Up the Pieces: Excursions in Seventies
Music (2019, University of Chicago Press): Music writer and
impressario (owns his own reissue label), reminiscences about 4-11
records from each year of the 1970s -- a pretty hip selection, many
(even obscurities) I would have picked, probably more jazz than I
knew at the time. Starts with the Kinks' "Lola," ends 1979 with the
Raincoats' cover of same (plus one 1980 album, Grace Jones' Warm
William Dalrymple: The Anarchy: The East India Company,
Corporate Violence, and the Pillage of an Empire (2019,
Bloomsbury): Major historian of British India, focuses here on the
early period when English power was entrusted to private enterprise,
the notorious East India Company -- a case example of what's likely
to happen when the powers of state are directed exclusively for the
profit of foreign shareholders. The progression is spelled out in
chapter titles: "1599," "Sweeping With the Broom of Plunder,"
"Bloodshed and Confusion," "Racked by Famine," and "The Corpse of
India." After the revolt of 1859, the British government had to
step in and take over. They, too, did a lousy job.
Ani DiFranco: No Walls and the Recurring Dream: A Memoir
(2019, Viking; paperback, 2020, Penguin Press): DIY folksinger from
Buffalo, released her own records and made a business out of that,
which she still regards as a pretty weird thing to do. I have a cousin
who moved to Buffalo and knows her -- my cousin's family shows up here
and there in the book, and I figure I probably caught a glance of
Ani as a girl, long before I started hearing about how amazing she
was, which was long before you did, so I've always felt a bit of a
personal connection. Also I figure it's good for me to read the
occasional memoir, especially of people growing up political, as
I may write one myself some day. I found the early family/city
parts fascinating, the music/industry less so. I suspect she does
EJ Dionne Jr: Code Red: How Progressives and Moderates Can
Unite to Save Our Country (2020, St Martin's Press): The
Washington Post columnist's second Trump book, perhaps a
little more desperate than the first (One Nation Under Trump:
A Guide for the Perplexed, the Disillusioned, the Desperate, and
the Not-Yet-Deported), but doubling down on his centrist
pitch, that progressives have to give in and accept nothing for
their votes, so the centrists can cut their own deals furthering
Barbara Ehrenreich: Had I Known: Collected Essays
(2020, Twelve): Starts with the Harper's piece that grew into
her bestseller, Nickel-and-Dimed, with more on inequality,
health, men, women, science, joy, God, and "bourgeois blunders" -- a
rather vast category. A good selection, but after two dozen books,
not remotely close to collected.
Joseph J Ellis: American Dialogue: The Founders and Us
(2018, Knopf): Historian, has written a number of books on the founding
of the United States (partial list below). Notes the persistence of
"what would the Founding Fathers think?" questions on current topics,
tries to juxtapose several contemporary questions with thinking from
those founders: Thomas Jefferson (racism), John Adams (inequality),
George Washington (imperialism), and James Madison (the doctrine of
original intent). I wouldn't put much stock in the answers (at least
from the first two), but shows us again how the study of history is
always (for better or worse) an interaction with the present. More
Ellis books, and other recent period titles:
- Joseph J Ellis: After the Revolution: Profiles of Early American Culture (1979; paperback, 2002, WW Norton).
- Joseph J Ellis: Passionate Sage: The Character and Legacy of John Adams (1993; paperback, 2001, WW Norton).
- Joseph J Ellis: American Sphinx: the Character of Thomas Jefferson (1996; paperback, 1998, Vintage Books).
- Joseph J Ellis: Founding Brothers: The Revolutionary Generation (2000; paperback, 2002, Vintage Books).
- Joseph J Ellis: His Excellency: George Washington (2004; paperback, 2005, Vintage Books).
- Joseph J Ellis: American Creation: Triumphs and Tragedies in the Founding of the Republic (2007; paperback, 2008, Vintage Books).
- Joseph J Ellis: First Family: Abigail and John Adams (2010; paperback, 2011, Vintage Books).
- Joseph J Ellis: Revolutionary Summer: The Birth of American Independence (2013; paperback, 2014, Vintage Books).
- Joseph J Ellis: The Quartet: Orchestrating the Second American Revolution 1783-1789 (2015; paperback, 2016, Vintage): Singles out George Washington, Alexander Hamilton, John Jay, and James Madison.
Matt Farwell/Michael Ames: American Cipher: Bowe Bergdahl
and the US Tragedy in Afghanistan (2019, Penguin Press):
Bergdahl was a troubled teenager in Idaho, signed up and got thrown
out of the US Coast Guard, joined the US Army as a private and got
sent to Afghanistan. There, he wandered off his base, was captured
by the Taliban and held for five years before being repatriated in
a prisoner exchange. He was then reviled by the right-wing press,
and as a result was court-martialed for desertion, convicted, and
dishonorably discharged, without further incarceration. His story
parallels America's futile and foolish war effort.
Eric Foner: The Second Founding: How the Civil War and
Reconstruction Remade the Constitution (2019, WW Norton):
America's foremost historian of the period, his main book
Reconstruction: America's Unfinished Revolution, 1863-1877
(1988; updated edition, paperback, 2014, Harper). This focuses
most specifically on the three constitutional amendments of the
period, including the one about "birthright citizenship" that
Trump has most explicitly attacked. This details how and why
they were passed, and how they've been reinterpreted by the
courts ever since (e.g., how the 14th Amendment has been taken
as carte blanche for corporate power).
Laurie Garrett: The Coming Plague: Newly Emerging Diseases
in a World Out of Balance (1994; paperback, 1995, Farrar
Straus & Giroux): This is an old book, massive (768 pp), nothing
remotely specific on this year's pandemic, but a solid rejoinder to
anyone's insinuation that "no one could have anticipated this."
Garrett, by the way, is still around, most recently writing
Trump Has Sabotaged America's Coronavirus Response. Here are some
more books on pandemics and plagues, broadening the net both going
back and forward.
- Laurie Garrett: Betrayal of Trust: The Collapse of Global
Public Health (paperback, 2001, Hachette Books).
- Laurie Garrett: I Heard the Sirens Scream: How Americans
Responded to the 9/11 and Anthrax Attacks (paperback, 2012,
- Warren A Andiman: Animal Viruses and Humans: A Narrow
Divide: How Lethal Zoonotic Viruses Spill Over and Threaten Us
(paperback, 2018, Paul Dry Books).
- Katherine Arnold: Pandemic 1918: Eyewitness Accounts From
the Greatest Medical Holocaust in Modern History (paperback,
2020, St Martin's Griffin).
- John M Barry: The Great Influenza: The Story of the Deadliest
Pandemic in History (2004; paperback, 2005, Penguin Books).
- Thomas J Bollyky: Plagues and the Paradox of Progress: Why
the World Is Getting Healthier in Worrisome Ways (paperback,
2019, MIT Press).
- Nancy K Bristow: American Pandemic: The Lost Worlds of the
1918 Influenza Epidemic (2012; paperback, 2017, Oxford University
- Jeremy Brown: Influenza: The Hundred-Year Hunt to Cure the
Deadliest Disease in History (paperback, 2019, Atria Books).
- Alfred W Crosby: America's Forgotten Pandemic: The Influenza
of 1918 (2nd edition, paperback, 2003, Cambridge University
- Molly Caldwell Crosby: The American Plague: The Untold Story
of Yellow Fever, the Epidemic That Shaped Our History (2006;
paperback, 2007, Berkley).
- Mike Davis: The Monster at Our Door: The Global Threat of
Avian Flu (2005, New Press; paperback, 2006, Holt).
- Robert S Desowitz: Who Gave Pinta to the Santa Maria?
Tracking the Devastating Spread of Lethal Tropical Diseases Into
America (1997; paperback, 1998, Harcourt Brace).
- Michael Greger: Bird Flu: A Virus of Our Own Hatching
(2006, Lantern Books).
- Oscar Harway: Spanish Flu 1918: Data and Reflections on the
Consequences of the Deadliest Plague, What History Teaches, How Not
to Repeat the Same Mistakes (paperback, 2020, independent).
- Mark Honigsbaum: The Pandemic Century: One Hundred Years of
Panic, Hysteria, and Hubris (2019, WW Norton).
- Ali S Khan: The Next Pandemic: On the Front Lines Against
Humankind's Gravest Dangers (2016, PublicAffairs).
- Christian W McMillen: Pandemics: A Very Short Introduction
(paperback, 2016, Oxford University Press).
- Michael BA Oldstone: Viruses, Plagues, and History: Past, Present
and Future (paperback, 2009, Oxford University Press).
- Michael T Osterholm/Mark Olshaker: Deadliest Enemy: Our War
Against Killer Germs (paperback, 2020, Little Brown).
- David Quammen: Spillover: Animal Infections and the Next
Human Pandemic (2012; paperback, 2013, WW Norton).
- David Quammen: Ebola: The Natural and Human History of a
Deadly Virus (paperback, 2014, WW Norton).
- David Quammen: The Chimp and the River: How AIDS Emerged
From an African Forest (paperback, 2015, WW Norton).
- Pardis Sabeti/Lara Salahi: Outbreak Culture: The Ebola
Crisis and the Next Pandemic (2018, Harvard University Press).
- Soia Shah: Pandemic: Tracking Contagions, From Cholera to
Ebola and Beyond (2016, Sarah Crichton Books; paperback, 2017,
- Alan Sipress: The Fatal Strain: On the Trail of Avian Flu
and the Coming Pandemic (paperback, 2010, Penguin Books).
- Laura Spinney: Pale Rider: The Spanish Flu of 1918 and How
It Changed the World (2017, PublicAffairs).
- David Waltner-Toews: On Pandemics: Deadly Diseases From
Bubonic Plague to Coronavirus (paperback, 2020, Greystone
- Nathan Wolfe: The Viral Storm: The Dawn of a New Pandemic
Age (2011, Times Books; paperback, 2012, Griffin).
- Slavoj Zizek: Pandemic! Covid-19 Shakes the World
(paperback, 2020, Polity).
Kim Ghattas: Black Wave: Saudi Arabia, Iran, and the
Forty-Year Rivalry That Unravaled Culture, Religion, and Collective
Memory in the Middle East (2020, Henry Holt). There's a
natural dynamic to revolution to try to expand -- one thinks of
the French wars against European monarchies, and Russia's appeal
to proletarian revolution elsewhere. When Iran threw off the Shah,
one of the first things the new Islamic Republic did was to mount
a challenge for leadership of the Muslim World -- something Saudi
Arabia had assumed since occupying the "holy cities" of Mecca and
Medina. Hence the "forty-year rivalry" documented here. While
revolutionary fervor in Iran has ebbed, isolation orchestrated
by the Saudis, Israel, and the United States (as always, the
sorest of sore losers) has kept a desperate edge on the conflict.
Dan Kaufman: The Fall of Wisconsin: The Conservative Conquest
of a Progressive Bastion and the Future of American Politics
(2018, WW Norton): The Kochs put a lot of money and organization into
flipping Wisconsin, and had their most remarkable success these, with
Scott Walker winning two terms as governor, Ron Johnson twice defeating
Russell Feingold for the Senate, and a state legislature so gerrymandered
Republicans still have a massive edge despite losing the popular vote --
Democrats did manage to rebound some in 2018. Moreover, Republicans won
not by sugar-coating their ideology, but by taking advantage of their
wins to implement some of the most radically right-wing policies in the
Marc Hetherington/Jonathan Weiler: Prius or Pickup? How the
Answers to Four Simple Questions Explain America's Great Divide
(2018, Houghton Mifflin): Sure, badly. On the other hand, if you tell
someone what your politics are, then ask them to answer the questions
for you, the answers will probably correlate, at least in that people
with different politics will probably put you into the authors pigeonholes.
All that proves is that you can lie with statistics, as opposed to the
usual process of just spouting nonsense. Authors also wrote:
- Marc J Heherington/Jonathan D Weiler: Authoritarian and
Polarization in American Politics (paperback, 2009, Cambridge
AG Hopkins: American Empire: A Global History (2018,
Princeton University Press). I thought I'd slip this in under Daniel
Underwahr's How to Hide an Empire, but at 960 pp this is by far
the more sweeping book, basically a recasting of the whole history of
America as viewed through its imperialistic proclivities. Author is
British, which no doubt helped set up the global imperial framework.
Ezra Klein: Why We're Polarized (2020, Simon &
Schuster): Polarization per se doesn't bother me. Indeed, given
that Republicans have moved significantly to the right, it's good
that Democrats have moved somewhat left, and would I'd be happier
if they moved even further. Sure, this does cause problems, like
when one party (almost always the Republican) tries to obstruct
the other from doing it would do itself if under different
circumstances (like pass stimulus bills). Klein cites a lot of
political science research on how people identify themselves in
groups, but he refuses to credit any kind of "identity politics"
strawman (unlike, say, Mark Lilla, in The Once and Future
Liberal: After Identity Politics). He sees identity as
inevitable but also flexible and multi-layered, which strikes
me as right.
Paul Krugman: Arguing With Zombies: Economics, Politics,
and the Fight for a Better Future (2020, WW Norton): New
York Times columnist and sometime economist recycles his columns,
organized into thematic sections, like how Obamacare was supposed
to work, why the Euro didn't, why tax cuts aren't always good, why
deficits aren't always bad, and how politics affects (and infects)
Michael Lind: The New Class War: Saving Democracy From the
Managerial Elite (2020, Portfolio): Started out as a thinker
with conservative impulses, gradually turned on the right without
abandoning those instincts. Seems to be intent on defending working
class Trump voters here from the charge of bigotry, arguing that
they're caught in the grip of a class war against them, and for a
"class compromise that provides the working class with real power."
Andrew Marantz: Anti-Social: Online Extremists, Techno-Utopians,
and the Hijacking of the American Conversation (2019, Viking).
You know, there's a lot of incoherent shit on the internet. If you look
for it, you'll find it, and if you take it seriously, you'll start to
worry about, oh say, the future of civilization. As near as I can tell,
that's what Marantz is doing here, plus a little legwork to meet up
with some of the people who play assholes in virtual space. I'm not
sure any of it matters, but he does spend enough time chatting up the
alt-right to draw out their general maleficence, so that's something.
Just not sure it's worth the trouble.
Branko Marcetic: Yesterday's Man: The Case Against Joe Biden
(paperback, 2020, Verso): Intended as "a deep dive into Joe Biden's
history and the origins of his political values," argues that "far from
being a liberal stalwart, Biden often outdid even Reagan, Gingrich, and
Bush, assisting the right-wing war against the working class, and
ultimately paving the way for Trump." Even though Biden's been the
Democratic frontrunner, we haven't seen many books reviewing his life
and record. But I'm reminded here that the publisher has a history of
dredging up dirt on Democratic candidates -- back in 2000, I read one
of their more brutal hatchet jobs, Al Gore: A User's Manual
(by Alexander Cockburn and Jeffrey St Clair). Biden is a much easier
target -- Gore at least seemed to have the gravitas and smarts to
make his frequent maneuvers to the right seem merely opportunistic,
whereas Biden simply does whatever seems easiest. On the other hand,
Biden's running less on his own record than on someone else's, and
few have seen fit to call him on that. More on Biden:
- Mike McCormick: Joe Biden Unauthorized: And the 2020 Crackup
of the Democratic Party (paperback, 2020, 15 Years a Deplorable).
Michael J Mazarr: Leap of Faith: Hubris, Negligence, and
America's Greatest Foreign Policy Tragedy (2019, PublicAffairs):
A RAND Corporation senior analyst, the sort of person who would have
rubber-stamped the Bush administration's plot to invade Iraq, claims
to have figured out how it all went so horribly wrong. He blames the
decision on "a strain of missionary zeal that lives on" -- clearly,
John Bolton is a particularly odious example. But while it's pretty
easy these days to find politicians who admit that Iraq was a mistake,
it's much harder to find ones who question the assumptions that went
into that miscalculation. As such, even with books like this on the
shelf, we have little reason to expect future war planners to have
learned from past disasters.
John McPhee: Draft No. 4: On the Writing Process (2017;
paperback, 2018, Farrar Straus and Giroux): My favorite nonfiction
writer constructs a memoir of his writing, stories of who and when
and why, mixed with occasional grammar tips. I was hooked at the
latter, although his thoughts on structure will challenge me more.
Still, I'm reluctantly coming to suspect that at 89 his major works
are behind him: The Founding Fish was 2002, Uncommon
Carriers 2006, and since then just collections, most recently
The Patch (2018), which I passed up at the library: essays
on fishing, football, golf, lacrosse, bears, and something called
"An Album Quilt."
Suketu Mehta: This Land Is Our Land: An Immigrant's
Manifesto (2019, Farrar Straus and Giroux): Born in India,
grew up in New York, wrote journalism all around the world, giving
him the feel and perspective to write his major book, Maximum
City: Bombay Lost and Found (2004). "Mehta juxtaposes the phony
narratives of populist ideologues with the ordinary heroism of
laborers, nannies, and others . . . also stresses the destructive
legacies of colonialism and global inequality on large swaths of
the world: When today's immigrants are asked, 'Why are you here?'
they can justly respond, "We are here because you were there.'"
Cailin O'Connor/James Owen Weatherall: The Misinformation Age:
How False Beliefs Spread (2018; paperback, 2020, Yale University
Press): Useful anecdotal history of many cases where blatant falsehoods
were propagated far and wide, both recent and fairly deep into the past
(e.g., the "health benefits" of bleeding). Also a series of approximate
mathematical models of how such ideas are transmitted, ranging from
gossip to propaganda.
Kevin C O'Leary: Madison's Sorrow: Today's War on the Founders
and America's Liberal Ideal (2020, Pegasus Books): A research
fellow at the Center of the Study of Democracy at UC Irvine, previously
wrote Saving Democracy: A Plan for Real Representation in America
(paperback, 2006, Stanford University Press). Argues that Madisonian
democracy was essentially liberal, and that the Republican Party has
"unleashed an illiberal crusade against the ideals of the Founding
Fathers." Both liberals and conservatives have tried to claim the
Founders and their Constitution as their own. I've long thought that
Scalia's "originalism" is a crock. On the other hand, the liberal
case has mostly been aspirational, as they recall best sentiments
and overlook how often those ideals have been failed. Still, I
recall that my own politics started with a naive embrace of our
noble past, leading me to turn against modern politicians of both
parties for their many failures to live up to those ideals. But
since then, one party has stood out in its desire to wreck the
very foundations of democracy and equality: the Republicans, as
O'Leary makes clear here.
Thomas Philippon: The Great Reversal: How America Gave Up on
Free Markets (2019, Belknap Press): By which he means: stopped
worrying about monopoly power and shied away from antitrust enforcement.
Economist, teaches finance at Stern School of Business. That's a
reasonable position: capitalists wax eloquent about the efficiencies
of the free market, but the first thing they learn to do in business
school is to undermine and thwart competition. But I've seen this book
picked apart by none other than James K Galbraith -- to some extent
in defending his father (who was tolerant of well-regulated monopoly),
but also for lionizing Wright Patman (D-TX), who had a reputation as
a populist in the 1930s but didn't impress me much when he was chairing
the House Banking Committee in the 1960s.
Thomas Piketty: Capital and Ideology (2020, Belknap
Press): Massive successor to the French economist's Capital in
the Twenty-First Century, runs 1104 pages. Krugman panned this
for wandering too far afield, but one suspects that a good part of
the complaint has to do with Piketty's more radical political
leanings. Goes deep in time, and all around the world, seeking to
understand the roots of inequality and its extension today.
Robin Pogrebin/Kate Kelly: The Education of Brett Kavanaugh:
An Investigation (2019, Portfolio): The authors dug up some
of the background exposés that crowded out discussion of judicial
philosophy -- reason enough to keep him far away from the Supreme
Court. Book includes several revelations that resurfaced questions
as to whether Kavanaugh lied to Congress during his confirmation
hearings, and whether he should be impeached for it. Clearly, as a
Supreme Court Justice, he's well positioned to do immense damage
to our rights under the Constitution.
Charles Postel: Equality: An American Dilemma 1866-1896
(2019, Farrar Straus and Giroux): A history of several political movements
following the Civil War that took the notion of equality, given renewed
emphasis following the end of slavery and the constitutional promise of
equal rights, and tried to expand it to various groups -- farmers, women,
labor. It's worth noting that several of those movements made alliances
with the restoration of white power in the South, and as such compromised
the equality they sought on the fractured ground of racism. Postel wrote
a previous book, The Populist Vision.
Jedediah Purdy: This Land Is Our Land: The Struggle for a New
Commonwealth (2019, Princeton University Press): Philosopher,
I guess, although he makes his living teaching law. Hailing from West
Virginia, he's haunted by the relationship between environmental
destruction and poverty. A blurb touts this as a "Thoreauvian call
to wake up," but surely he realizes that lifting a title from Woody
Guthrie suggests a more straightforward revolution.
Jennifer Ratner-Rosenhagen: The Ideas That Made America:
A Brief History (2019, Oxford University Press): Intellectual
history, "from the Puritans to Postmodernism, and everything in
between." That's a tall, probably impossible order, especially
given how much actual thinking in American history simply cancels
one another out. To come up with something more usually requires
an agenda. This one isn't clear, not least because what we might
have recognized as a liberal/progressive consensus a generation or
two ago has been widely trashed of late, mostly (but not only) by
the right. Author previously wrote American Nietzsche: A History
of an Icon and His Ideas (2011; paperback, 2012, University of
Nathan J Robinson: Why You Should Be a Socialist
(2019, All Points Press): Editor of Current Affairs, has a
pile of books since 2013, including ones focused on Bill Clinton
and Donald Trump, but more intent on explaining how much better
life could be with democratic socialism. Other books by Robinson
and other books on democratic socialism:
- Nathan J Robinson/Oren Nimni: Blueprints for a Sparkling
Tomorrow: Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream (paperback,
2015, Demilune Press).
- Nathan J Robinson: Superpredator: Bill Clinton's Use and
Abuse of Black America (paperback, 2016, Demilune Press).
- Nathan J Robinson: The Current Affairs Mindset: Essays on
People, Politics, and Culture (paperback, 2017, Demilune
- Nathan J Robinson: Trump: Anatomy of a Monster
(paperback, 2017, Demilune Press).
- Nathan J Robinson: Interesting Times: Arguments &
Observations (paperback, 2018, Demilune Press).
- Nathan J Robinson: The Current Affairs Rules for Life
(paperback, 2018, Demilune Press).
- Paul S Adler: The 99 Percent Economy: How Democratic Socialism
Can Overcome the Crises of Capitalism (2019, Oxford University
- Kate Aronoff/Peter Dreier/Michael Kazin, eds: We Own the
Future: Democratic Socialism -- American Style (paperback,
2020, New Press):
- Micah Uetricht: Bigger Than Bernie: How We Can Go From the
Sanders Campaign to Democratic Socialism (2020, Verso).
- Richard D Wolff: Understanding Socialism (paperback,
2019, Democracy at Work).
David Rohde: In Deep: The FBI, the CIA, and the Truth About
America's "Deep State" (2020, WW Norton). All bureaucracies
have their own special interests, and those that act in secrecy are
especially likely to hide their own agendas. The FBI, especially but
not exclusively under J Edgar Hoover, often put its own agenda first,
which led to numerous abuses, especially directed at what they dubbed
"subversive" groups, like civil rights activists and labor unions. The
CIA has been even more secretive, and their remit to run clandestine
operations has been even more widespread. Moreover, they've enjoyed
direct private access to the president -- at least since 9/11 on a
daily basis, so their ability to shape US foreign policy, whatever
their motives may be, is nonpareil but also obscure. Indeed, it's
not uncommon for presidents-elect to reverse course following their
first briefing, which only adds to the aura of mysterious power. So
much as been obvious to everyone on the left since Harry Truman, but
the last few years it's been Trump et al. who've been up in arms over
the "deep state" -- an epithet they tend to apply indiscriminately
to the whole civil service. This book provides some background, but
mostly to help sort out the charges that the FBI and CIA, with their
Obama-era leadership, were out to get Trump. I don't doubt there's
something to those charges, but Trump's demands are such an overreach
not just of decent policy but of law that it's hard to side with him,
even against adversaries this bad.
Heather Cox Richardson: How the South Won the Civil War:
Oligarchy, Democracy, and the Continuing Fight for the Soul of
America (2020, Oxford University Press): Historian, argues
not just that the defeated Confederacy was able to restore its old
system of white supremacy for a century after the Civil War, but
that a the American West provided a key vector for Southern political
influence, notably through the "movement conservatives" like Barry
Goldwater. Thus we see that their efforts to maintain supremacy did
not end with the civil rights movement, but continue to influence
the Republican Party today. Richardson previously wrote:
- Heather Cox Richardson: West From Appomattox: The Reconstruction
of America After the Civil War (2007, Yale University Press).
- Heather Cox Richardson: To Make Men Free: A History of the
Republican Party (2014, Basic Books).
Emmanuel Saez/Gabriel Zucman: The Triumph of Injustice: How
the Rich Dodge Taxes and How to Make Them Pay (2019, WW Norton):
Saez is the world's foremost statistician of inequality, so expect a
fair amount of number crunching here. Zucman, who I associate with
French economist Thomas Piketty, has a previous book more specific to
this concern: The Hidden Wealth of Nations: The Scourge of Tax
Havens (2015; paperback, 2016, University of Chicago Press).
Makes a strong case for cracking down on tax havens, showing that
the failure of the US and other countries to do so is a deliberate
choice in favor of oligarchy. Also makes a case for a wealth tax.
Gabriel Sherman: The Loudest Voice in the Room: How the
Brilliant, Bombastic Roger Ailes Built Fox News -- and Divided a
Country (2014; paperback, 2017, Random House). This is the
basis for Showtime's TV series, with Russell Crowe playing Ailes.
I had missed the book, which sounds like it's meant to blow smoke
up Ailes' ass, and couldn't stand watching the show -- mostly
because I didn't find Ailes' bloviating speeches credible (not so
much that I couldn't believe he gave them but I couldn't stomach
the notion that anyone bought them). Still, probably the single
most important political story of the last quarter-century, so
someone had to tell it.
Ganesh Sitaraman/Anne L Alstott: The Public Option: How to
Expand Freedom, Increase Opportunity, and Promote Equality
(2019, Harvard University Press): The most often hear "public option"
these days as Joe Biden's preferred way of patching up Obamacare's
failure to assure competitive private health insurance. As such, it's
seen as an alternative to Medicare for All, but the latter is a much
better example of what the authors mean by "public option": a case
where the government provides a public service, not bound by the
private sector's need to maximize profit. The section on history
offers examples like public libraries and Social Security, and
admits "mixed results in education and housing." Part Three plots
out where this could go, and probably shortchanges "And More" with
just 12 pages.
Ganesh Sitaraman: The Great Democracy: How to Fix Our
Politics, Unrig the Economy, and Unite America (2019, Basic
Books): Author of The Crisis of the Middle-Class Constitution:
Why Economic Inequality Threatens Our Republic (2017, Knopf),
which offered a pretty convincing account of the founding of the
nation as an egalitarian ideal struggling to become real. Here he
focuses on more recent history: the rise of the right from Reagan
on (which he roots in and doesn't distinguish from neoliberalism,
a term he uses a lot but I'd prefer to limit). Prescriptions follow.
[PS: In his "Acknowledgments" I was surprised to find generous
mention of Pete Buttigieg.]
Gene Sperling: Economic Dignity (2020, Penguin Press):
Cover adds: "Chief White House Economic Adviser to President Obama and
President Clinton." Sperling advertised himself as The Pro-Growth
Progressive in 2005, with his "economic strategy for shared
prosperity." At that time, he was cooling his heels, working at the
Brookings Institution, waiting to become Hillary Clinton's chief
economic adviser for her ill-fated 2008 campaign (2008 was, however,
very good to Sperling, as he received $2.2 million "from a variety of
consulting jobs, board seats, speaking fees and fellowships" (that's
prosperity, but not what I'd call shared). He easily made the transition
from Clinton to Obama, and was a prominent player in Ron Suskind's 2011
book Confidence Men: Wall Street, Washington, and the Education of a
President. The new book leads off with a blurb from Hillary Clinton,
who says "it should be our North Star for the recovery and beyond."
There are people with worse resumes in Washington (e.g., those currently
working for Trump), but few "progressives" have aimed so low and still
failed to deliver. Even now, he's trying to buy us off with "dignity"
(which, by the way, he defines as "you know it when you see it"). Good
luck with that.
Matt Stoller: Goliath: The 100-Year War Between Monopoly
Power and Democracy (2019, Simon & Schuster): Big book
on the dangers of concentration of economic power as companies
connive to prevent or limit competition: something antitrust law
was meant to prevent, but has been hobbled by loose definitions
and lax enforcement, not unrelated to the ever-greater role that
lobbying and campaign "contributions" play in American politics.
Joan C Williams: White Working Class: Overcoming Class
Cluelessness in America (paperback, 2019, Harvard Business
Review Press): Sympathetic enough to her subjects, emphasizing how
the desire for stability and belief in self-sufficiency offer the
white working class a conservative ethos, a point which could be
extended to the non-white working class if they only had a party
option that wasn't as offensive as the Republicans. Contrasts this
to the urban professionals who may be more liberal socially but
also lack the grounding in community and its identities, and may
wind up more alienated as a result. In passing, she mentions "class
migrants," who typically come from the working class but are able
to function in the professional world, appreciating bits of both.
Other recent books noted with little or no comment:
Alberto Alesina/Carlo O Favero/Francesco Glavazzi: Austerity:
When It Works and When It Doesn't (2019, Princeton University
Charlotte Alter: The Ones We've Been Waiting For: How a New
Generation of Leaders Will Transform America (2020, Viking).
Profiles of young politicians, the eldest Pete Buttigieg (b. 1982),
the only other one I recognize Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (b. 1989).
Andrew J Bacevich, ed: American Conservatism: Reclaiming an
Intellectual Tradition: A Century of Writings From Henry Adams to the
Present (2020, Library of America).
Molly Ball: Pelosi (2020, Henry Holt).
Frida Berrigan: It Runs in the Family: On Being Raised by
Radicals and Growing Into Rebellious Motherhood (paperback,
2015, OR Books).
Rutget Bregman: Humankind: A Hopeful History (2020,
Little Brown): "A more politically radical Malcolm Gladwell."
Vincent Brown: Tacky's Revolt: The Story of an Atlantic Slave
War (2020, Belknap Press).
Oren Cass: The Once and Future Worker: A Vision for the
Renewal of Work in America (2018, Encounter Books): Former
"domestic policy director for Mitt Romney's presidential campaign."
Panashe Chigumadzi: These Bones Will Rise Again (2020,
The Indigo Press): On Zimbabwe and overthrowing Robert Mugabe.
Michael D'Antonio: The Hunting of Hillary: The Forty-Year
Campaign to Destroy Hillary Clinton (2020, Thomas Dunne Books).
Alan Dershowitz: Guilt by Accusation: The Challenge of
Proving Innocence in the Age of #MeToo (2019, Hot Books).
Joan Marans Dim/Antonio Masi: Lady Liberty: An Illustrated
History of America's Most Storied Woman (2019, Fordham University
Mike Duncan: The Storm Before the Storm: The Beginning of
the End of the Roman Republic (2017; paperback, 2018,
Anna Fifield: The Great Successor: The Divinely Perfect Destiny
of Brilliant Comrade Kim Jung Un (2019, PublicAffairs).
Marc Fleurbaey, et al: A Manifesto for Social Progress: Ideas
for a Better Society (paperback, 2018, Cambridge University
Kristen Ghodsee: The Left Side of History: World War II and
the Unfulfilled Promise of Communism in Eastern Europe (paperback,
2015, Duke University Press).
Ted Gioia: Music: A Subversive History (2019, Basic
Malcolm Gladwell: Talking to Strangers: What We Should Know
About the People We Don't Know (2019, Little Brown).
Thom Hartmann: The Hidden History of Guns and the Second
Amendment (paperback, 2019, Berrett-Koehler).
Thom Hartmann: The Hidden History of the Supreme Court
and the Betrayal of America (paperback, 2019, Berrett-Koehler).
Thom Hartmann: The Hidden History of the War on Voting:
Who Stole Your Vote -- and How to Get It Back (paperback,
Nolan Higdon/Mickey Huff: United States of Distraction:
Media Manipulation in Post-Truth America (And What We Can Do About
it) (paperback, 2019, City Lights).
Jonathan Horn: Washington's End: The Final Years and
Forgotten Struggle (2020, Scribner).
Susan Jacoby: The Age of American Unreason in a Culture of
Lies (paperback, 2018, Vintage Books): Revised edition of
her 2008 The Age of American Unreason, itself a return to
Richard Hofstadter's famous Anti-Intellectualism in American
Sean Kay: Rockin' the Free World! How the Rock & Roll
Revolution Changed America and the World (2016, Rowman &
Littlefield; paperback, 2018, RL).
Stephen Kinzer: Poisoner in Chief: Sidney Gottlieb and the
CIA Search for Mind Control (2019, Henry Holt).
Michael T Klare: All Hell Breaking Loose: The Pentagon's
Perspective on Climate Change (2019, Metropolitan Books).
Michael J Klarman: The Framers' Coup: The Making of the
United States Constitution (2016, Oxford University Press).
Mikael Klintman: Knowledge Resistance: How We Avoid Insight
From Others (2019, Manchester University Press).
Nicholas D Kristof/Sheryl WuDunn: Tightrope: Americans Reaching
for Hope (2020, Knopf).
Peter La Chapelle: I'd Fight the World: A Political History
of Old-Time, Hillbilly, and Country Music (paperback, 2019,
University of Chicago Press).
Rob Larson: Capitalism vs. Freedom: The Toll Road to Serfdom
(paperback, 2018, Zero Books).
Erika Lee: America for Americans: A History of Xenophobia in
the United States (2019, Basic Books).
Lawrence Lessig: They Don't Represent Us: Reclaiming Our
Democracy (2019, Dey Street Books).
Steven Levingston: Barack and Joe: The Making of an Extraordinary
Partnership (2019, Hachette Books).
Matthew Lockwood: To Begin the World Over Again: How the
American Revolution Devastated the Globe (2019, Harvard
Agusto Lopez-Claros/Bahiyyih Nakhjavani: Equality for Women =
Prosperity for All: The Disastrous Global Crisis of Gender Inequality
(2019, St Martin's Press).
Allen Lowe: God Didn't Like It: Electric Hillbillies, Singing
Preachers, and the Beginning of Rock and Roll, 1950-1970
(paperback, 2013, Constant Sorrow Press).
Annie Lowrey: Give People Money: How a Universal Basic Income
Would End Poverty, Revolutionize Work, and Remake the World
George Monbiot: Out of the Wreckage: A New Politics for an Age
of Crisis (2017; paperback, 2018, Verso).
Jenny Odell: How to Do Nothing: Resisting the Attention
Economy (2019, Melville House).
Michael O'Sullivan: The Levelling: What's Next After
Globalization (2019, PublicAffairs).
Robert B Reich: The System: Who Rigged It, How We Fix It
Ruth Reichl: Save Me the Plums: My Gourmet Memoir
(2019; paperback, 2020, Random House).
Thomas E Sheridan/Randall H McGuire, eds: The Border and Its
Bodies (2019, University of Arizona Press).
Frank Smyth: The NRA: The Unauthorized History (2020,
Rebecca Solnit: Recollections of My Nonexistence: A Memoir
Joseph E Stiglitz: Globalization and Its Discontents Revisited:
Anti-Globalization in the Era of Trump (paperback, 2017, WW
Cal Thomas: America's Expiration Date: The Fall of Empires
and Superpowers . . . and the Futrure of the United States
Jia Tolentino: Trick Mirror: Reflections on Self-Delusion
(2019, Random House).
Rick Van Noy: Sudden Spring: Stories of Adaptation in a
Climate-Changed South (2019, University of Georgia Press).
Michael Walzer: A Foreign Policy for the Left (2018,
Yale University Press).
Jesse Wegman: Let the People Pick the President: The Case for
Abolishing the Electoral College (2020, St Martin's Press).
Tara Westover: Educated: A Memoir (2018, Random House).
Kevin D Williamson: The Smallest Minority: Independent
Thinking in the Age of Mob Politics (2019, Gateway).
Even after trying hard to round up all but the flimsiest and most
ridiculous books on Trump, his administration, and the 2020 election,
I find I still missed a few:
Seth Abramson: Proof of Conspiracy: How Trump's International
Collusion Is Threatening American Democracy (2019, St Martin's
Press): Previously wrote Proof of Collusion: How Trump Betrayed
America (2018, Simon & Schuster), and has a third volume
in the works, each over 400 pp range (this one 592).
Seth Abramson: Proof of Corruption: Bribery, Impeachment,
and Pandemic in the Age of Trump (2020, St Martin's Press):
A third volume, after Proof of Collusion (2018) and Proof
of Conspiracy (2019). This seems to me like far and away the
fattest subject, even before the author tacked on something about
the pandemic, probably making it one of the first books to broach
the subject. Still, seems too early to tell much.
Jeffrey F Addicott: Trump Judges: Protecting America's
Establishment Pillars to "Make America Great Again" (paperback,
2020, Imprimatur Press).
Dan Alexander: White House, Inc: How Donald Trump Turned
the Presidency Into a Business (2020, Portfolio). Senior
Editor at Forbes, so it's unclear whether this is muckraking or
just their usual run of business puff pieces. But possibly useful
to the extent he shows how it's done.
Martin Amis: The Rub of Time: Bellow, Nabakov, Hitchens,
Travolta, Trump: Essays and Reportage, 1986-2016 (2017,
Sara Azari: Unprecedented: A Simple Guide to the Crimes of
the Trump Campaign and Presidency (2020, Potomac Books):
Author is "a practicing lawyer who specializes in white-collar
crime," and at least starts with cases that led to prosecutions --
first chapter is on George Papadopoulos). Doesn't read "simple,"
but at 176 pp is short.
Kobby Barda: The Key to Understanding Donald J Trump
(2019, Simple Story).
Edwin L Battistella: Dangerous Crooked Scoundrels: Insulting
the President, From Washington to Trump (2020, Oxford University
Joy Behar: The Great Gasbag: An A-Z Study Guide to Surviving
Trump World (2017; paperback, 2018, Harper).
Pablo J Boczkowski/Zizi Paracharissi, eds: Trump and the
Media (paperback, 2018, MIT Press).
Dan Bongino: Spygate: The Attempted Sabotage of Donald J
Trump (2018, Post Hill Press).
Ben Bradlee Jr: The Forgotten: How the People of One Pennsylvania
County Elected Donald Trump and Changed America (2018, Little
Donna Brazile: Hacks: The Inside Story of the Break-ins
and Breakdowns That Put Donald Trump in the White House
(2017, Hachette Books).
Laura Briggs: How All Politics Became Reproductive Politics:
From Welfare Reform to Foreclosure to Trump (2017, University
of California Press).
Martha Brockenbrough: Unpresidented: A Biography of Donald
Trump (2018, Feiwel Friends).
FH Buckley: The Republican Workers Party: How the Trump
Victory Drove Everyone Crazy, and Why It Was Just What We Needed
(2018, Encounter Books).
Leonard Cruz/Steven Buser, eds: A Clear and Present Danger:
Narcissism in the Era of Donald Trump (paperback, 2016,
Brian Francis Culkin: The Meaning of Trump (paperback,
2018, Zero Books).
The Daily Show With Trevor Noah: The Donald J Trump Presidential
Twitter Library (2018, Spiegel & Grau).
Kim Darroch: Collateral Damage: Britain, America, and Europe
in the Age of Trump (2020, PublicAffairs): Former British
Ambassador to the US, resigned under fire "after a series of cables
containing unflattering descriptions of President Trump."
Alan Dershowitz: Defending the Constitution: Alan Dershowitz's
Senate Argument Against Impeachment (paperback, 2020, Hot Books).
Ian Doescher/Jacopo della Quercia: MacTrump: A Shakespearean
Tragicomedy of the Trump Administration, Part I (paperback,
2019, Quirk Books): An adaptation of Shakespeare's Macbeth,
or possibly Barbara Garson's Macbird (1967)?
Lou Dobbs: The Trump Century (2020, Broadside Books):
The Thousand Year Reich in an age of diminished expectations.
Jesse Duquette: The Daily Don: All the News That Fits Into
Tiny, Tiny Hands (paperback, 2019, Arcade).
David A Farenthold: Uncovering Trump: The Truth Behind Donald
Trump's Charitable Giving (paperback, 2017, Diversion Books).
John Bellamy Foster: Trump in the White House: Tragedy and
Farce (paperback, 2017, Monthly Review Press): Marxist
sociologist, editor of Monthly Review, has a number of books
on ecological and financial crises. This is a short (144 pp), early
take on Trump's election, by a guy who knows a "neo-fascist" when
he sees (or smells) one.
John Gartner/Steven Buser, eds: Rocket Man: Nuclear Madness
and the Mind of Donald Trump (paperback, 2018, Chiron
Publications): Some chapters:
"If Trump Were a Policeman I Would Have to Take Away His Gun";
"Trump's Sick Psyche and Nuclear Weapons: A Deadly Mixture";
"Facing the Truth: The Power of a Predatory Narcissist";
"Trump's No Madman, He's Following the Strongman Playbook";
"Visions of Apocalypse and Salvation."
John Glaser/Christopher A Preble/A Trevor Thrall: Fuel
to the Fire: How Trump Made America's Broken Foreign Policy Even
Worse (and How We Can Recover) (2019, Cato Institute).
Mardy Grothe: Deconstructing Trump: The Trump Phenomenon
Through the Lens of Quotation History (2019, Quoterie Press).
Pete Hegseth: American Crusade: Our Fight to Stay Free
(2020, Center Street): Flag-waving "old school patriot" with military
background and tattoos, sees Trump as a "sign of a national rebirth,"
while decrying "Leftists who demand socialism, globalism, secularism,
and politically-correct elitism." Parlayed his conceits into a job as
co-host of Fox & Friends Weekend.
Donald Heinz: After Trump: Achieving a New Social Gospel
(paperback, 2020, Cascade Books).
Rosanna Hildyard: Ubu Trump (paperback, 2017,
Eyewear Publishing): Alfred Jarry's 1888 play Ubu Roi,
"translated and entirely updated" by Hildyard. When I first saw
MacTrump, I flashed on this as the more apt production . . .
and here it is!
Gene Ho: Trumpography: How Biblical Principles Paved the
Way to the American Presidency (paperback, 2018, iUniverse).
Adam Hodges: When Words Trump Politics: Resisting a Hostile
Regime of Language (paperback, 2019, Stanford University Press):
Analysis of Trump's words (you know, "the best words"), especially via
Carl Hoffman: Liar's Circus: A Strange and Terrifying Journey
Into the Upside-Down World of Trump's MAGA Rallies (2020,
Custom House). Katy Tur's Unbelievable (2017) provides a
sense of what Trump's rallies are like, or at least were during
the 2016 campaign, but this promises to be both more in-depth and
more up-to-date. While the fans and the appeal are likely to be
the same, I can't help but wonder if Trump being president doesn't
intensify the sense of power.
Charles Hurt: Trump Saves America: Our Last Hope to Be
Great Again (2019, Center Street).
Aaron James: Assholes: A Theory of Donald Trump
Brittany Kaiser: Targeted: The Cambridge Analytica
Whistleblower's Inside Story of How Big Data, Trump, and Facebook
Broke Democracy and How It Can Happen Again (2019, Harper).
David King: Why Trump Deserves Trust, Respect, and
Admiration (paperback, 2016, CreateSpace): Blank pages --
not the first such Trump book I've seen.
Edward Klein: All Out War: The Plot to Destroy Trump
Howard Kurtz: Donald Trump, the Press, and the War Over the
Truth (2018, Regnery).
Gary Lachman: Dark Star Rising: Magick and Power in the Age
of Trump (paperback, 2018, TarcherPerigee).
Martin E Latz: The Real Trump Deal: An Eye-Opening Look at
How He Really Negotiates (2018, Brisance Books).
David Limbaugh: Guilty by Reason of Insanity: Why the
Democrats Must Not Win (2019, Regnery).
Trevor Loudon: White House Reds: Communists, Socialists &
Security Risks Running for US President, 2020 (paperback, 2020,
independent): Quotes Trump saying the 2020 election would be about
"Communism versus Freedom," then proceeds to red-bait "ten high profile
contenders for the Democratic presidential nomination." Previously
wrote Barack Obama and the Enemies Within (2011, 688 pp), and
The Enemies Within: Communists, Socialists and Progressives in the
US Congress (2013, 702 pp).
Michael Maccoby, ed: Psychoanalytic and Historical Perspectives
on the Leadership of Donald Trump (paperback, 2020, Routledge).
Derek Mailhiot: Trump: America's First Zionist President
(paperback, 2019, independent): Author means this as a compliment,
but where exactly does that leave America First? Even if you see
Trump's "deep relationship" is really with Christian Zionism, what
does that mean but a yearning for Armageddon? And that's a longing
Israeli Zionists want to encourage?
Stephen Mansfield: Choosing Donald Trump: God, Anger, Hope,
and Why Christian Conservatives Supported Him (2017, Baker
Gerardo Marti: American Blindspot: Race, Class, Religion,
and the Trump Presidency (paperback, 2020, Rowman &
Mike McCormick: Fifteen Years a Deplorable: A White House
Memoir (paperback, 2019, 15 Years a Deplorable).
Rachel Montgomery: All I Ever Wanted to Know About Donald
Trump I Learned From His Tweets: A Psychological Exploration of the
President Via Twitter (paperback, 2017, Skyhorse).
Samhita Mukhopadhyay/Kate Harding, eds: Nasty Women: Feminism,
Resistance, and Revolution in Trump's America (paperback, 2017,
Stephanie Muravchik/Jon A Shields: Trump's Democrats
(2020, Brookings Institution Press).
Jack Murphy: Democrat to Deplorable: Why Nine Million Obama
Voters Ditched the Democrats and Embraced Donald Trump (paperback,
Caitríona Perry: In America: Tales From Trump Country
(2018, Gill Books).
Carol Pogash, ed: Quotations From Chairman Trump
(2015, RosettaBooks). I'm surprise this hasn't been revised and
reissued, given how much additional verbiage Trump has spewed in
the meantime. Maybe the editor thinks it was already perfect? By
the way, this wasn't the first attempt to parody Chairman Mao's
"Little Red Book": I had a copy of Quotations From Chairman
LBJ back in the day; and it was followed by a little blue
book of Richard Nixon quotes, Poor Richard's Almanack.
Joel Pollak/Larry Schweikart: How Trump Won: The Inside Story
of a Revolution (paperback, 2017, Regnery).
Kevin Powell: My Mother. Barack Obama. Donald Trump. And the
Last Stand of the Angry White Man (2018, Atria Books).
Jack Rasmus: The Sourge of Neoliberalism: US Economic Policy
From Reagan to Trump (paperback, 2020, Clarity Press).
Ted Rall: Trump: A Graphic Biography (paperback,
2016, Seven Stories Press).
Ian Reifowitz: The Tribalization of Politics: How Rush
Limbaugh's Race-Baiting Rhetoric on the Obama Presidency Paved the
Way for Trump (paperback, 2019, Ig Publishing).
Sheldon Roth: Psychologically Sound: The Mind of Donald J
Trump (Bombardier Books). Against every other psychologist
and psychiatrist who's weighed in on the subject, argues that Trump
is "remarkably complicated, often brilliant, comfortingly human, and
most importantly, of completely sound mind."
David Rubin: Trump and the Jews (2018, Shiloh Israel
Press): Note that Amazon's "frequently bought together" adds David
Rubin: God, Israel, and Shiloh: Returning to the Land (paperback,
2011, Shiloh Israel Press), and Mark Blitz: Decoding the Antichrist
and the End Times: What the Bible Says and What the Future Holds
(paperback, 2019, Charisma House).
John Bernard Ruane: The Real News! The Never-Before-Told
Stories of Donald Trump & Fake News (paperback, 2018,
Post Hill Press).
Michael Savage: Stop Mass Hysteria: America's Insanity From
the Salem Witch Trials to the Trump Witch Hunt (2018, Center
Steven E Schier/Todd E Eberly: The Trump Presidency: Outsider
in the Oval Office (paperback, 2017, Rowman & Littlefield).
Ben Shapiro: The Establishment Is Dead: The Rise and Election
of Donald Trump (2017, Creators Publishing).
Marsha Shearer: America in Crisis: Essays on the Failed
Presidency of Donald Trump (paperback, 2019, GoMyStory).
James B Stewart: Deep State: Trump, the FBI, and the Rule
of Law (2019, Penguin Books).
David A Stockman: Trumped! A Nation on the Brink of Ruin . . .
And How to Bring It Back (2016, Laissez Faire Books): Ronald
Reagan's Budget Director, turned libertarian iconoclast, fantasizes
a bit about Trump making "ten great deals" -- which, of course, he
never came close to considering, and not just because he doesn't
really consider anything.
Gene Stone: The Trump Survival Guide: Everything You Need
to Know About Living Through What You Hoped Would Never Happen
(2017, Dey Street Books).
Roger Stone: The Making of the President 2016: How Donald
Trump Orchestrated a Revolution (2017, Skyhorse). I missed
this, but did list Stone's later book, The Myth of Russian
Collusion: The Inside Story of How Donald Trump Really Won
(paperback, 2019, Skyhorse).
Stephen E Strang: God, Trump, and Covid-19: How the Pandemic
Is Affecting Christians, the World, and America's 2020 Election
(paperback, 2020, Frontline): Short (128 pp) follow up to the author's
God, Trump, and the 2020 Election: Why He Must Win and What's at
Stake for Christians if He Loses (2020, Frontline), and for that
matter his 2017 book, God and Donald Trump.
Joe Walsh: F*ck Silence: Calling Trump Out for the Cultish,
Moronic Authoritarian Con Man He Is (2020, Broadside Books):
Author is a "rock-ribbed conservative," a former Republican congressman
from Illinois who briefly challenged Trump in the 2020 Republican
Jonathan Weisman: (((Semitism))) Being Jewish in America in
the Age of Trump (2018, St Martin's Press).
Shannon Wheeler: Sh*t My President Says: The Illustrated
Tweets of Donald J Trump (2017, Top Shelf Productions).
John K Wilson: President Trump Unveiled: Exposing the
Bigoted Billionaire (paperback, 2017, OR Books).
Byron York: Obsession: Inside the Democrats' War on
Trump (2020, Regnery). Chief political correspondent for the
Washington Examiner, and Fox News hack. Previously wrote: The Vast
Left Wing Conspiracy: The Untold Story of How Democratic Operatives,
Eccentric Billionaires, Liberal Activists, and Assorted Celebrities
Tried to Bring Down a President -- and Why They'll Try Even Harder
Next Time (2005, Crown Forum).
Also: books that I've written about (or noted) before, that I missed
when looking for old Trump books:
Tucker Carlson: Ship of Fools: How a Selfish Ruling Class
Is Bringing America to the Brink of Revolution (2018, Free
Andrew C McCarthy: Ball of Collusion: The Plot to Rig an Election
and Destroy a Presidency (2019, Encounter Books).
Monday, May 18, 2020
Expanded blog post,
Music: Current count 33277  rated (+33), 214  unrated (+2).
First a reminder that you can use
this form to ask me a question, or
just make a comment. I'll start answering when they've piled up to
a presently undetermined critical mass. The form is similar to the
one I created for
Both use a free software captcha package to cut down on spam. I've
heard it cuts down on legit submissions as well, although Christgau
has received close to 1,000, so it seems to work well enough.
I hadn't noticed any prominent musician deaths in the past week. Well,
75, singer for The Pretty Things, a Brit Invasion group that had a
cult following among my
Terminal Zone comrades.
I did find out about a couple of older deaths last week, when I
received a PDF booklet with biographical sketches of a few dozen
people who participated in antiwar protests at Washington University
in St. Louis in 1970. I moved to St. Louis a couple years later, so
wasn't directly involved at that stage, but wound up knowing close
to a third of the people in the booklet, as well as others unlisted.
Two had died a few years back: Larry Kogan, who I knew as the owner
of Left Bank Books but had been one of the main figures prosecuted
for burning down the ROTC building in 1970; and Fred Faust, who had
edited the student newspaper and been the main technical guy for
every radical publication of the period. Fred started a typesetting
business called Just Your Type, and one day he came up to me in
Larry's book shop and offered me a job. That was the first job I
ever had, and it changed my life: taught me I could make a living
and survive on my own. Incidentally, when I left academia, I got
into reading rock crit, and started my own checkered career as a
I noticed that JazzTimes is running a readers' poll to pick
the 10 best jazz albums of the 1980s. I've jotted down their ballot
for future reference (162 albums). First thing I'm struck by is that I
missed a majority of the albums (100, 61.7%). I bought some jazz in the
late 1970s, and lots from 1995 on (increasingly shifting to promos and
streaming), so what I know of jazz in the 1980s has mostly been backfill,
and almost all from purchases, so I've been pretty selective. Still, I
can't complain that the ballot has a lot of obviously mediocre pop jazz
(some: one Kenny G, one Bob James, two George Benson, one Yellowjackets,
two Bobby McFerrin). Still, a lot of stuff on that list I would like to
hear sooner or later (including 12 from ECM, 6 from Soul Note/Black Saint,
3 from Enja). Still, I've only graded 17 records on the list A- or above
(4 by Don Pullen, 3 by Ornette Coleman), so a lot of fairly typical B+
I'm not prepared to offer a list, but here's one that Chris Monsen
posted on Facebook (with my grades in brackets -- checked out the last
three while writing this):
- David Murray Octet, Ming [A-]
- Air, 80° Below '82 [A-]
- John Carter Octet, Dauwhe [**]
- Tim Berne, Mutant Variations [***]
- Detail, Okhela  -- reissued as Day Two [**]
- Jimmy Lyons Quintet, Sneezawee [A-]
- Bill Dixon, Thoughts [B-]
- Ganelin Trio, Poco-A-Poco [***]
- Geri Allen, Charlie Haden, Paul Motian, Etudes [A-]
- Henry Threadgill Sextett, Rag, Bush and All [+]
I looked for their 1970s poll, but the page has been taken down.
I did manage to scrounge up a results page from Google's cache, so
added it to my notebook. The results page only listed 82 albums.
With a shorter list of more famous records, the share I've listened
to rose to 63.4% (up from 38.3% for the 1980s). The number of A- or
better albums remained close to constant (16 vs. 17, 30.7% of graded
albums vs. 27.4% for the 1980s). More really low grades, too (8 B-
or lower in the 1970s vs. 3 in the 1980s).
Several points on this week's haul:
I made a much procrastinated effort to catch up with whatever
promo vinyl I've received (never much, but Astral Spirits sent three
LPs recently and I had a couple more leftover from 2017). I also
found an ungraded Pamelo Mounk'a album in the pile (which led me
to look at streaming archives). I almost never
play LPs, and I'm not equipped very well to do so. My ancient Bang
& Olufsen turntables (I've had two, one from the 1970s and one
from around 1980) died long ago, so I'm using Laura's 1980s Technics --
seems to run my old LPs OK, but the new platters were all warped and
slipped (I wound up using downloads for reference). I got rid of most
of my vinyl when we moved to Wichita in 1999, so there's never been
much need to make it accessible. I should search for more ungraded
records, just to clean up dangling bits in the database. But the
whole setup is pretty inconvenient right now. I certainly don't see
any need to invest in a new turntable, no more than I enjoy this
Robert Christgau mailed out his
May 2020 Consumer Guide last week. He recommended two full A records:
one by Lucinda Williams (which I gave a solid A- to last week), and the
one by Fiona Apple everyone seems to love (I hedged it down to B+(***) a
couple weeks ago, then nudged it up a bit on revisiting it this week, but
I'm still not a huge fan). I checked out some of his other picks, and a
few Phil Overeem likes.
Tim Niland pointed me to one of
Jazz Club Ferrara's releases, which led me to their
Bandcamp page, where I found sixteen volumes of "unpublished
live recordings selected from [their] archives." This is one of
possibly many digital releases meant to provide relief from the
After no unpacking last week, this week bounced back to something
more normal, maybe even a bit above normal.
New records reviewed this week:
- The Bad Plus: The Tower Tapes #4 (2019 , Jazz Club Ferrara): [bc]: B+(**)
- Danny Barnes: Man on Fire (2020, ATO): [r]: B+(***)
- Majid Bekkas: Magic Spirit Quartet (2018 , ACT Music): [r]: B+(*)
- Josh Berman/Paul Lytton/Jason Roebke: Trio Discrepancies (2018 , Astral Spirits): [lp]: B+(**)
- Tim Berne's Snakeoil: The Tower Tapes #1 (2017 , Jazz Club Ferrara): [bc]: B+(**)
- Broken Shadows: The Tower Tapes #2 (2020, Jazz Club Ferrara): [bc]: A-
- Wayne Escoffery: The Humble Warrior (2019 , Smoke Sessions): [r]: B+(*)
- Bob Gluck: Early Morning Star (2019 , FMR): [cd]: B+(*) [06-15]
- The Howling Hex: Knuckleball Express (2020, Fat Possum): [r]: B+(**)
- Sam Hunt: Southside (2020, MCA Nashville): [r]: B+(*)
- KVL: Volume 1 (2019, Astral Spirits): [lp]: B+(*)
- Rob Luft: Life Is the Dancer (2019 , Edition): [r]: B
- Chad Matheny: United Earth League of Quarantine Aerobics (2020, Dreams of Field, EP): [bc]: A-
- Mdou Moctar: Mixtape Vol. 1 (2020, self-released): [bc]: B+(***)
- Lido Pimienta: Miss Colombia (2020, Anti-): [r]: B+(**)
- Charles Rumback: June Holiday (2018 , Astral Spirits): [lp]: B+(**)
- Shabazz Palaces: The Don of Diamond Dreams (2020, Sub Pop): [r]: B+(**)
- Snotty Nose Rez Kids: Born Deadly (2020, Fontana North, EP): [r]: B+(**)
- Craig Taborn/Dave King: The Tower Tapes #3 (2019 , Jazz Club Ferrara): [bc]: B+(***)
- Azu Tiwaline: Draw Me a Silence Part 1 (2020, IOT, EP): [r]: B+(**)
- Rod Wave: Pray 4 Love (2020, Alamo): [r]: B+(**)
- Hayley Williams: Petals for Armor (2020, Atlantic): [r]: B+(*)
- Charli XCX: How I'm Feeling Now (2020, Asylum): [r]: B+(***)
Recent reissues, compilations, and vault discoveries:
- Derek Bailey & Greg Goodman: Extracting Fish-Bones From the Back of the Despoiler (1992 , The Beak Doctor): [lp]: B+(**)
- Emperor X: Nineteen Live Recordings (2005-13 , Dreams of Field): [bc]: B+(*)
- The Good Life: The Animals Took Over (2009 , self-released): [bc]: A-
- John Gruntfest & Greg Goodman: In This Land All the Birds Wore Hats and Spurs (1984-2008 , The Beak Doctor): [lp]: A-
- Fela Anikulapo Kuti & Egypt 80: Perambulator (1983 , Knitting Factory): [r]: B+(***)
- Nina Simone: Fodder on My Wings (1982 , Verve): [r]: B+(**)
- Stone Crush: Memphis Modern Soul 1977-1987 (1977-87 , Light in the Attic): [bc]: B+(**)
- Luís Lopes: Noise Solo at ZBD Lisbon (2011-12 , LPZ): [lp]: B+(*)
- Pamelo Mounk'a: No. 1 Africain: Ça Ne Se Prete Pas (1982, Star Musique): [lp]: B+(*)
- Pamelo Mounk'a: Propulsion! (1983, Disques Sonics): [r]: A-
- Pamelo Mounk'a: L'Essentiel (1981-84 , Syllart): [r]: A-
- Pamelo Mounk'a: L'Indispensable (1982-85 , Syllart): [r]: B+(***)
- Pamelo Mounk'a: L'Incontournable (1982-85 , Syllart): [r]: B+(***)
- William Elliott Whitmore: Kilonova (2018, Bloodshot): [r]: B+(**)
- Hal Willner: Whoops, I'm an Indian (1998, Pussyfoot): [bc]: B+(***)
Grade (or other) changes:
- Fiona Apple: Fetch the Bolt Cutters (2020, Epic): [r]: [was: B+(***) A-
Unpacking: Found in the mail last week:
- Dave Glasser: Hypocrisy Democracy (Here Tiz)
- Daniel Hersog: Night Devoid of Stars (Cellar Live)
- Alain Mallet: Mutt Slang II: A Wake of Sorrows Engulfed in Rage (Origin)
- Ted Moore Trio: The Natural Order of Things (Origin)
- Rent Romus/Heikki Koskinen/Life's Blood Ensemble: Manala (Edgetone)
- Shelly Rudolph: The Way We Love (OA2)
- Thank Your Lucky Stars: Girl in Her 29s (self-released)
- Bill Warfield and the Hell's Kitchen Funk Orchestra: Smile (Planet Arts/43 Street)
Ballot from the JazzTimes poll above, with my grades (!
indicates grade added after first pass):
- George Adams/Don Pullen Quartet: Earthbeams (Timeless, 1980) [A-]
- The Art Ensemble of Chicago: Full Force (ECM, 1980) [***] !
- George Benson: Give Me the Night (Warner Bros., 1980) 
- Carla Bley: Social Studies (ECM, 1980) [*]
- Herb Ellis: Trio (Concord, 1980) 
- Joe Henderson: Mirror Mirror (MPS, 1980) [+]
- Irakere: Irakere II (Columbia, 1980) 
- Steve Kuhn: Playground (ECM, 1980) [***]
- Pat Metheny: 80/81 (ECM, 1980) 
- Mingus Dynasty: Chair in the Sky (Elektra, 1980) 
- David Murray: Ming (Black Saint, 1980) [A]
- Old and New Dreams: Playing (ECM, 1980) [***]
- McCoy Tyner: Quartets 4 X 4 (Milestone, 1980) 
- James Blood Ulmer: Are You Glad to Be in America? (Rough Trade, 1980) [+]
- Grover Washington, Jr.: Winelight (Elektra, 1980) [B]
- Art Blakey: Album of the Year (Timeless, 1981) [B]
- Arthur Blythe: Blythe Spirit (Columbia, 1981) [***]
- Lester Bowie: The Great Pretender (ECM, 1981) [+]
- Chick Corea: Three Quartets (Stretch, 1981) 
- Chick Corea Trio: Music (ECM, 1981) 
- Al Jarreau: Breakin' Away (Warner Bros., 1981) 
- John McLaughlin: Belo Horizonte (Warner Music Group, 1981) 
- John McLaughlin/Al Di Meola/Paco DeLucia: Friday Night in San Francisco (Philips, 1981) [+]
- Jaco Pastorius: Word of Mouth (Warner Bros., 1981) 
- Oscar Peterson: Nigerian Marketplace (Pablo, 1981) 
- Pharoah Sanders: Rejoice (Theresa, 1981) 
- John Scofield: Shinola (Enja, 1981) 
- Phil Woods: Birds of a Feather (Antilles, 1981) 
- Monty Alexander: Triple Threat (Concord, 1982) 
- The Art Ensemble of Chicago: Urban Bushmen (ECM, 1982) [+]
- Ornette Coleman: Of Human Feelings (Antilles, 1982) [A]
- Miles Davis: We Want Miles (CBS, 1982) 
- Chico Freeman: Tradition in Transition (Elektra, 1982) [*]
- Paquito D'Rivera: Mariel (Columbia, 1982) 
- Herbie Hancock: Quartet (Columbia, 1982) 
- Ronald Shannon Jackson: Mandance (Antilles, 1982) [+]
- Paul Motian: Psalm (ECM, 1982) [***] !
- Dewey Redman: The Struggle Continues (ECM, 1982) [*]
- Woody Shaw: Master of the Art (Elektra, 1982) 
- Sphere: Four in One (Elektra, 1982) 
- Tim Berne: Mutant Variations (Soul Note, 1983) [***] !
- Tommy Flanagan: Thelonica (Enja, 1983) [**] !
- Herbie Hancock: Future Shock (Columbia, 1983) 
- Freddie Hubbard: Sweet Return (Atlantic, 1983) 
- Abdullah Ibrahim: Ekaya (Ekapa RPM, 1983) [A]
- Keith Jarrett: Standards, Vol. 1 (ECM, 1983) [+]
- Steve Lacy: The Door (RCA Novus, 1983) [U]
- Wynton Marsalis: Think of One (Columbia, 1983) 
- Oregon: Oregon (ECM, 1983) [B] !
- Jamaaladeen Tacuma: Show Stopper (Gramavision, 1983) [+]
- Kenny Wheeler: Double, Double You (ECM, 1983) [A-] !
- Muhal Richard Abrams: Rejoicing With the Light (Black Saint, 1984) 
- Geri Allen: The Printmakers (Minor Music, 1984) [***]
- Jack DeJohnette's Special Edition: Album Album (ECM, 1984) [B]
- The Heath Brothers: Brothers & Others (Antilles, 1984) 
- Dave Holland Quintet: Jumpin' In (ECM, 1984) [B]
- Wynton Marsalis: Hot House Flowers (Columbia, 1984) [B-]
- Bobby McFerrin: The Voice (Elektra/Musician, 1984) 
- Pat Metheny Group: First Circle (ECM, 1984) 
- Tito Puente: El Rey (Concord Picante, 1984) 
- James Williams: Alter Ego (Sunnyside, 1984) 
- George Adams/Don Pullen Quartet: Live at the Village Vanguard, Vols. 1 & 2 (Soul Note, 1985) [A-] [+]
- Ray Anderson: Old Bottles, New Wine (Enja, 1985) [A-]
- Lester Bowie's Brass Fantasy: The Great Pretender (ECM, 1985) [***] ! -- probably I Only Have Eyes for You; The Great Pretender was a 1981 album, also on ECM
- Larry Coryell and Emily Remler: Together (Concord, 1985) 
- James Newton: The African Flower (Blue Note, 1985) 
- Bill Frisell: Rambler (ECM, 1985) 
- Dave Holland Quintet: Seeds (ECM, 1985) 
- Sheila Jordan: The Crossing (Black Hawk, 1985) [+]
- The Mel Lewis Orchestra: 20 Years at the Village Vanguard (Atlantic, 1985) 
- Carmen Lundy: Good Morning Kiss (Black Hawk, 1985) 
- Manhattan Transfer: Vocalese (Atlantic, 1985) 
- Wynton Marsalis: Black Codes (From the Underground) (Columbia, 1985) [+]
- Frank Morgan: Easy Living (OJC, 1985) [***] !
- Odean Pope: The Saxophone Shop (Soul Note, 1985) [***] !
- Wayne Shorter: Atlantis (Columbia, 1985) 
- Cedar Walton: The Trio, Vols. 1-3 (Soul Note, 1985) 
- Tony Williams: Foreign Intrigue (Blue Note, 1985) 
- George Adams/Don Pullen Quartet: Breakthrough (Blue Note, 1986) [A+]
- Kenny Barron: What If? (Enja, 1986) 
- Tim Berne: Fulton Street Maul (Columbia, 1986) 
- Joanne Brackeen: Fifi Goes to Heaven (Concord, 1986) [B]
- Chick Corea: Elektric Band (GRP, 1986) 
- Hank Crawford: Soul Survivors (Milestone, 1986) 
- Miles Davis: Tutu (Warner Bros., 1986) [B]
- Kenny G: Duotones (Arista, 1986) 
- Joe Henderson: State of the Tenor, Vols. 1 & 2 (Blue Note, 1986) [A-]
- Bob James and David Sanborn: Double Vision (Warner Bros., 1986) 
- Marc Johnson: Bass Desires (ECM, 1986) 
- The Leaders: Mudfoot (Black Hawk, 1986) [A-]
- Bobby McFerrin: Spontaneous Inventions (Elektra/Musician, 1986) 
- Pat Metheny/Ornette Coleman: Song X (Geffen, 1986) [A]
- Mulgrew Miller: Work (Landmark, 1986) 
- Michel Petrucciani: Pianism (Blue Note, 1986) [+]
- Michel Petrucciani: Power of Three (Blue Note, 1986) [+]
- Max Roach: Bright Moments (Soul Note, 1986) [B]
- Poncho Sanchez: Papa Gato (Concord, 1986) 
- John Scofield: Blue Matter (Gramavision, 1986) [*]
- Wayne Shorter: Phantom Navigator (Columbia, 1986) 
- Jimmy Smith: Go for Whatcha Know (Blue Note, 1986) 
- Cecil Taylor: For Olim (Soul Note, 1986) [B]
- Tony Williams: Civilization (Blue Note, 1986) 
- World Saxophone Quartet: Plays Duke Ellington (Elektra, 1986) [C+]
- Michael Brecker: Michael Brecker (MCA/Impulse!, 1987) [B]
- Bill Bruford's Earthworks: Earthworks (EG, 1987) [+]
- Ornette Coleman: In All Languages (Caravan of Dreams, 1987) [A]
- Jack DeJohnette's Special Edition: Irresistible Forces (MCA, 1987) [U]
- Charlie Haden: Quartet West (Verve, 1987) [**]
- Charlie Haden/Geri Allen/Paul Motian: Etudes (Soul Note, 1987) [A-] !
- Dave Holland: Razor's Edge (ECM, 1987) 
- Dave Liebman: Homage to John Coltrane (Owl, 1987) 
- Branford Marsalis: Random Abstract (Columbia, 1987) 
- Carmen McRae and Betty Carter: Duets (Great American Music Hall, 1987) [**]
- Pat Metheny Group: Still Life (Talking) (Geffen, 1987) 
- Greg Osby: Sound Theater (JMT, 1987) 
- Oscar Peterson: With Harry Edison and Eddie Vinson (Pablo, 1987) 
- Courtney Pine: Journey to the Urge Within (Verve, 1987) [B]
- Power Tools: Strange Meeting (Antilles, 1987) 
- Sonny Rollins: G-Man (Milestone, 1987) [A+]
- Marvin "Smitty" Smith: Keeper of the Drums (Concord, 1987) 
- David Torn: Cloud About Mercury (ECM, 1987) 
- McCoy Tyner: Blues for Coltrane (Impulse!, 1987) 
- Joe Williams: Every Night (Verve, 1987) 
- John Blake: New Beginnings (Gramavision, 1988) 
- Michael Brecker: Don't Try This at Home (Impulse!, 1988) 
- Betty Carter: Look What I Got (Bet-Car/Verve, 1988) 
- Don Cherry: Art Deco (A&M, 1988) [A-]
- Stanley Clarke: If This Bass Could Talk (Portrait, 1988) 
- Jerry Gonzalez: Rumba Para Monk (Sunnyside, 1988) [+]
- Julius Hemphill: Big Band (Elektra/Musician, 1988) [**]
- Joe Lovano: Village Rhythm (Soul Note, 1988) 
- Jackie McLean: Dynasty (Triloka, 1988) [A-]
- Carmen McRae: Carmen Sings Monk (RCA, 1988) [A-]
- David Murray: Ming's Samba (Portrait, 1988) [+]
- Music Revelation Ensemble: Music Revelation Ensemble (DIW, 1988) 
- Don Pullen: New Beginnings (Blue Note, 1988) [A]
- Wayne Shorter: Joy Ryder (Columbia, 1988) 
- Take 6: Take 6 (Reprise, 1988) 
- Toots Thielemans: Only Trust Your Heart (Concord, 1988) 
- McCoy Tyner Revelations (Blue Note, 1988) [+]
- Grover Washington, Jr.: Then and Now (Columbia, 1988) 
- Bobby Watson: No Question About It (Blue Note, 1988) 
- Cassandra Wilson: Blue Skies (JMT, 1988) [**]
- World Saxophone Quartet: Rhythm and Blues (Elektra, 1988) [B-]
- George Adams: America (Blue Note, 1989) 
- Geri Allen: In the Year of the Dragon (JMT, 1989) 
- George Benson: Tenderly (Warner Bros., 1989) 
- Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra: Grooves Up (Capri, 1989) 
- Harry Connick, Jr.: When Harry Met Sally . . . (Columbia, 1989) 
- Chick Corea: Akoustic Band (GRP, 1989) 
- Miles Davis: Amandla (Warner Bros., 1989) [+]
- Gene Harris: Listen Here! (Concord, 1989) 
- Andrew Hill: Eternal Spirit (Blue Note, 1989) [A-]
- Christopher Hollyday: Christopher Hollyday (RCA, 1989) 
- Shirley Horn: Close Enough for Love (Verve, 1989) 
- Branford Marsalis: Trio Jeepy (Columbia, 1989) 
- Jean-Luc Ponty: Storytelling (Columbia, 1989) 
- Sun Ra & His Intergalaxtic Arkestra: Second Star to the Right (Salute to Walt Disney) (Leo, 1989) [***]
- Marcus Roberts: The Truth Is Spoken Here (RCA/Novus, 1989) 
- Gary Thomas: By Any Means Necessary (JMT, 1989) 
- Tony Williams: Native Heart (Blue Note, 1989) 
- Yellowjackets: The Spin (MCA, 1989) 
Their 1970s poll ballot has vanished, but I managed to scrape
the results from Google's cache (ordered by votes, my grades in
- Miles Davis: Bitches Brew (Columbia, 1970) [A-]
- Herbie Hancock: Head Hunters (Columbia, 1973) [+]
- Chick Corea: Return to Forever (ECM, 1972) [A-]
- Keith Jarrett: The Köln Concert (ECM, 1975) [A-]
- Weather Report: Heavy Weather (Columbia, 1977) [B-]
- Pat Metheny: Bright Size Life (ECM, 1976) 
- Freddie Hubbard: Red Clay (CTI, 1970) [A-]
- Jaco Pastorius: Jaco Pastorius (Epic, 1976) [+]
- Miles Davis: A Tribute to Jack Johnson (Columbia, 1971) [A+]
- Weather Report: Weather Report (Columbia, 1971) [B]
- George Benson: Breezin' (Warner Bros., 1976) [B]
- The Mahavishnu Orchestra: The Inner Mounting Flame (Columbia, 1971) [A]
- Dave Holland: Conference of the Birds (ECM, 1973) [A]
- Charlie Haden: Liberation Music Orchestra (Impulse!, 1970) [+]
- The Mahavishnu Orchestra: Birds of Fire (Columbia, 1973) [+]
- Return to Forever: Light as a Feather (Polydor, 1973) [B]
- Wayne Shorter: Native Dancer (Columbia, 1975) [B-]
- Miles Davis: On the Corner (Columbia, 1972) [***]
- Weather Report: Black Market (Columbia, 1976) 
- Grover Washington Jr.: Mister Magic (Kudu, 1975) [B]
- Bill Evans: The Bill Evans Album (Columbia, 1971) 
- Weather Report: Mysterious Traveller (Columbia, 1974) [B]
- Joe Pass: Virtuoso (Pablo, 1973) [+]
- Charles Mingus: Changes One & Two (Atlantic, 1974) [A] [A-]
- Dexter Gordon: Homecoming (Columbia, 1976) [A-]
- Ornette Coleman: Science Fiction (Columbia, 1971) [A-] -- expanded reissue
- Return to Forever: Romantic Warrior (Columbia, 1976) [C+]
- Bill Evans/Tony Bennett: The Bill Evans/Tony Bennett Album (Fantasy, 1975) [+]
- Charles Mingus: Let My Children Hear Music (Columbia, 1972) [C+]
- Stanley Turrentine: Sugar (CTI, 1970) [A-]
- Herbie Hancock: Mwandishi (Columbia, 1971) [B] -- expanded reissue
- Ella Fitzgerald and Oscar Peterson: Ella and Oscar (Pablo, 1975) [*]
- Keith Jarrett: Belonging (ECM, 1974) [A]
- Keith Jarrett: My Song (ECM, 1978) [A-]
- Oscar Peterson/Joe Pass/Niels-Henning Ørsted Pedersen: The Trio (Pablo, 1974) 
- V.S.O.P.: The Quintet (Columbia, 1977) 
- Stan Getz: Captain Marvel (Columbia, 1972) 
- Old and New Dreams: Old and New Dreams (ECM, 1979) [**]
- Al Jarreau: Look to the Rainbow (Warner Bros., 1977) [C+]
- Woody Shaw: Rosewood (Columbia, 1978) [**]
- John McLaughlin & Carlos Santana: Love Devotion Surrender (Columbia, 1973) 
- Stanley Clarke: School Days (Nemperor, 1976) [C+]
- Carla Bley: Escalator Over the Hill (JCOA, 1971) [B]
- Jack DeJohnette: New Directions (ECM, 1978) [*]
- Grover Washington Jr.: Inner City Blues (Kudu, 1972) [*]
- Freddie Hubbard: Straight Life (CTI, 1971) [***]
- Paul Desmond: Pure Desmond (CTI, 1974) [B]
- Julius Hemphill: Dogon A.D. (Mbari, 1972) [A-]
- McCoy Tyner: Trident (Milestone, 1975) 
- Sarah Vaughan: The Duke Ellington Songbook, Vols. 1 & 2 (Pablo, 1979) [***] [**]
- George Benson: Beyond the Blue Horizon (CTI, 1971) [*]
- John McLaughlin: My Goal's Beyond (Douglas, 1971) 
- Shakti: Shakti With John McLaughlin (Columbia, 1976) [***]
- Betty Carter: The Audience with Betty Carter (Bet-Car, 1979) [B-]
- The Art Ensemble of Chicago: Nice Guys (ECM, 1978) [***] !
- Bill Evans: Alone Again (Fantasy, 1975) 
- Weather Report: 8:30 (Columbia, 1979) 
- The Art Ensemble of Chicago: Les Stances a Sophie (Nessa, 1970) 
- McCoy Tyner: Echoes of a Friend (Milestone, 1972) 
- Cecil Taylor: Silent Tongues (Arista, 1974) [A-]
- Sarah Vaughan: Send in the Clowns (Mainstream, 1974) 
- Art Pepper: The Trip (Contemporary, 1976) [+]
- Lee Ritenour: Captain Fingers (Epic, 1977) 
- Joe Henderson: In Pursuit of Blackness (Milestone, 1971) 
- Ella Fitzgerald and Joe Pass: Fitzgerald & Pass . . . Again (Pablo, 1976) 
- McCoy Tyner: Supertrios (Milestone, 1977) 
- Stanley Clarke: Journey to Love (Nemperor, 1975) 
- Air: Air Lore (Arista Novus, 1979) [A]
- Sonny Rollins: Next Album (Milestone, 1972) [+]
- Sonny Rollins: Don't Stop the Carnival (Milestone, 1978) 
- Herbie Hancock: Herbie Hancock Trio (CBS, 1977) 
- Dexter Gordon: Bouncin' with Dex (SteepleChase, 1975) 
- The Art Ensemble of Chicago: Fanfare for the Warriors (Atlantic, 1973) [B-]
- Ornette Coleman/Charlie Haden: Soapsuds, Soapsuds (Horizon, 1977) [+]
- George Benson: Good King Bad (CTI, 1976) 
- Charlie Haden: Closeness (Horizon, 1976) [+]
- Tony Williams: The Joy of Flying (Columbia, 1979) 
- Ron Carter: Piccolo (Milestone, 1977) 
- Sonny Rollins: Easy Living (Milestone, 1977) 
- The Heath Brothers: Passin' Through (Columbia, 1978) 
- Bill Evans with the George Russell Orchestra: Living Time (Columbia, 1972) 
- Ron Carter: Peg Leg (Milestone, 1978) 
Sunday, May 17, 2020
No introduction. No time, and none needed.
I should note that you can ask questions (or comment) on this or pretty
much anything else by using
this here form.
Some scattered links this week:
Eileen Appelbaum/Andrew Park/Rosemary Batt:
How private equity firms will profit from Covid-19. Starts with
the recent bankruptcy of PE-owned J. Crew, which is less about how
PE firms will profit and more about how they already have profited --
by looting companies while driving them into the ground. Mentions
some proposed laws unlikely to draw Republican Support: one is the
Stop Wall Street Looting Act; another is the Pandemic Anti-Monopoly
JC Penney also filed for bankruptcy. Although it is publicly
traded, its management had run up debt much like bankrupt private
America is not as resilient as it thinks it is. Well, we survived
Nixon. We survived Reagan. A friend opined that "if we can survive one
George Bush, we can survive another." I know too many who didn't, but
by and large, sure. Chances are most of us will survive Trump too, but
it's getting tougher, and the wear and tear is showing. The fact is that
bad policy often takes decades to wear down and break catastrophically.
Aronoff isn't making this explicit of a political argument here, but
it's easier to visualize infrastructure flaws as the result of partisan
acts aimed at undermining public service. Rather, she starts with the
forecast for this year's Atlantic hurricane season (see
A new model is predicting "one of the most active Atlantic hurricane
seasons on record"), which is likely to strain disaster relief.
She has other examples, like the "silver tsunami" of aging population,
and so forth. Still, all these examples look political to me.
Building an economy that works again.
Lenny Bernstein/Josh Dawsey/Yasmeen Abutaleb:
Growing friction between White House, CDC hobbles pandemic
Elizabeth Warren knows what Joe Biden needs in a Vice President.
I'm not interested enough in the VP stakes to care much one way or
the other, but I can see several advantages to Warren way beyond
making a token gesture to "the left." Some other VP pieces:
Seeking: Big Democratic ideas that make everything better. In
some kind of ideal situation, the political response to the pandemic
and its consequent economic depression would transcend party lines,
as both sides recognized the need for similar, well-established fixes
to common problems, and worked together to move quickly and surely.
To some extent, that happened back in March, when lockdown was the
only available approach to slow the spread, and Republicans in power
were so desperate for economic relief they allowed Democrats to make
the bills fairer and broader than they would have liked. Since then,
the issues have become more polarized, and the November elections
will largely turn on which party offers the most sensible promise
of managing and moving beyond the crisis. This is one of a cluster
of articles as Republicans and Democrats sharpen their political
stances, so I'll collect a few here:
Katelyn Burns/Ian Millhiser:
Sen. Richard Burr and the coronavirus insider trading scandal,
explained. Also note:
The private militias providing "security" for anti-lockdown protests,
Why we need postal democracy: He means voting by mail.
If only we had that $6.4 trillion we wasted on Iraq and Afghanistan
to lift the economy and fight coronavirus.
Biden is planning an FDR-size presidency: "He thinks he'll survive
Tara Reade's accusation. But he knows he can't be an average-Joe Democrat
The betrayal of the American soldier: Author is a former Army
Ranger, has a new book on his experiences, especially in Afghanistan:
Un-American: A Soldier's Reckoning of Our Longest War.
James K Galbraith:
We need a radically different model to tackle the Covid-19 crisis.
Amid the coronavirus crisis, a regimen for reëntry: "Health-care
workers have been on the job throughout the pandemic. What can they
teach us about the safest way to lift a lockdown?"
Appeals court greenlights emoluments suit against Trump.
Jacob S Hacker:
The progressive pursuit of a bolder Biden. Pull-quote here is
a point I've made before: "Neither FDR nor LBJ looked like progressive
champions when they ran for or ascended to the presidency." They moved
left because that's where they had to in order to be effective, to
solve real pressing problems. However, now that you mention LBJ, one
should also point out that in foreign policy he even more reflexively
into the conventional anti-communist paradigm, leading him deep into
the quagmire of war in Vietnam, ultimately destroying his legacy and
giving Republicans an opening they eventually parlayed into Donald
Trump. Biden's recent "tough talk" on China, Russia, Cuba, and Iran
promises to suck him into a similar trap. As McGeorge Bundy put it,
the difference between JFK and LBJ was that the former wanted to be
smart, while the latter wanted to appear tough. I fear much the same
can be said for Obama and Biden. Hacker, by the way, has a new book
coming out with Paul Pierson: Let Them Eat Tweets: How the Right
Rules in an Age of Extreme Inequality.
If the pandemic has had any salutary effects beyond making Trump's
defeat more likely, it is that it has highlighted the bonds that
unite all Americans. These bonds will be tested by Trump and his
allies in the weeks ahead. Already, they have tried to activate
anti-urban sentiment and racism to repeat the polarizing path to
victory of 2016. Yet Biden -- second-in-command under the nation's
first black president and the candidate with the greatest symbolic
affiliation with the white working class -- is better poised than
almost anyone to turn these strategies back on the president. To do
so, he'll need his two greatest assets: an ability to connect and
empathize with Americans from every walk of life, and an understanding
that government isn't a swamp but a source of solidarity and prosperity.
Yet he'll also need something that comes much less naturally: a vision
not just of how to win an election, but of how to remake a broken system.
Eric Trump claims coronavirus is Democratic hoax, will 'magically'
vanish after 2020 election: Is there some sort of contest inside
the Trump family to see who is the dumbest? Or the most self-centered?
Isn't that what you'd call someone who who thinks are so powerful
and ubiquitous and callous to fake 300,000 deaths worldwide just to
make one moron look bad? And, for that matter, if they really are
so powerful and malevolent, what makes you think Donald Trump is the
leader you want to take them on? (Piss them off, maybe.) On the other
hand, Eric has spent his entire life so completely under his father's
thumb he may not realize that there is a world beyond.
Stop trying to shame socialists into voting for Joe Biden. It's not
going to work. Amen. They're just exposing themselves as assholes,
and revealing an anti-left prejudice so profound one doubts they will
ever show the reciprocal support they demand. There are, of course,
good reasons why socialists should vote for Biden, but there's still
plenty of time to make that case before November, and we're likely
to be more receptive once the sting of defeat has dulled. Especially
if Biden actually offers something more substantial than simply being
the not-Trump candidate.
Hannah Knowles/Candace Buckner:
Alaska lawmaker says Hitler was not white supremacist after comparing
coronavirus measures to Nazi rule. Well, just goes to show how
confused conservatives can get when they understand they're supposed
to denounce Nazis are bad, but find for the most part they're just
The GOP is the problem. Is 'human identity politics' the solution?
It's no accident Britain and America are the world's biggest coronavirus
losers: "Even before the pandemic hit, both nations had been stripped
of the people and systems required to respond effectively."
Why we need redundancy in more than the military. Writes about
the effects of Covid-19 on military families. Author is editor, with
Catherine Lutz, of War and Health: The Medical Consequences of
the Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Meridith McGraw/Nahal Toosi:
Trump ousts State Department watchdog: After State Department
Inspector General Steve Linick opened up an investigation into Secretary
Mike Pompeo. For more, see: Hannah Knowles:
Top Democrats launch investigation into late-night firing of State
Department inspector general.
Thanks to climate divestment, Big Oil finally runs out of gas.
Why the neoliberals won't let this crisis go to waste: Interview
with the author of a 2013 book: Never Let a Serious Crisis Go to
Waste: How Neoliberalism Survived the Financial Meltdown. I read
his book when it came out, and found it pretty frustrating. My takeaway
was that nothing much changed because the neoliberals were so quick
and effective at preventing any alternative viewpoints. They recognized
that change requires imagination, and if you can squelch that, you can
survive conditions that were objectively disillusioning. This title is
clearer about who's trying to take advantage of the crisis. However,
it may not be so easy this time. Still, when you look at how completely
Mike Bloomberg upended the Democratic primaries, and how Andrew Cuomo
is conspiring to privatize post-pandemic social life under the control
of tech billionaires, it's not just the Koch types one needs to worry
Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders are building new, policy-focused task
The police shooting of Breonna Taylor, a black woman who was killed in
her apartment, explained.
Rachel Esplin Odell/Stephen Wertheim:
Can the Democrats avoid Trump's China trap?: "The president wants a
new cold war to deflect attention from his failures."
The "Good War" in Afghanistan was never good.
Brand new Dems? A speculative piece on partisan positioning,
presented mostly as brand management. One example is the recent
ad flurry where both Trump and Biden tried to out-hawk one another
Biden, to the extent that he is visible at all, is terrible at
campaign messaging. He doesn't connect well with his supporters, many
of whom minimize their exposure to him for fear of demoralization.
Nor does he connect well with persuadable independents. With more
than 60,000 American pandemic deaths to date and nearly 30 million
jobs lost or furloughed, Biden could frame the election around the
critical concerns of ordinary Americans. Nope. In April he devoted
two of his biggest ads to defending himself against Trump's accusations
that he is dangerously soft on China and its role in the pandemic.
Republican strategists, terrified of substantive electioneering, have
decided that Trump's best bet is precisely to lure Biden into an
esoteric, anachronistic, and xenophobic fight about who will stand up
to China. Biden has taken the bait. Even by the standards of easily
rattled Democratic politicians, his is a remarkably rapid surrender
of rhetorical ground.
Trump was able to spook Biden in part because of the second kind of
messaging -- party branding. . . . Biden was afraid to look weak on
China because Americans have a built-in view of the GOP as the party
that does a better job of handling national security. This perception --
a six-point advantage in recent polls -- makes a significant difference
when elections are decided by one or two points. It's not only Trump
who will invoke the Yellow Peril. In a messaging memo that recently
came to light, Republican Senate candidates are forcefully advised to
"attack China" in relation to the coronavirus crisis. These candidates,
too, are exploiting a partisan brand advantage on "national security" --
a concept with powerful connotations of strength, patriotism, and fear
of the other.
Ousted whistleblower warns US is heading toward "darkest winter in
What liberals don't get about Trump supporters and pop culture:
"The seemingly bizarre pop culture takes emanating from MAGA world are
just reflections of its core philosophy."
Big banks got the sweetest deal from the Covid-19 bailouts: Well,
don't they always? Interview with Nomi Prins, who was the first to
report that banks raked in much more from the Fed than they did from
their $700 billion TARP bailout.
To fight Covid-19, we need to build worker power and worker safety:
I can see an argument that workers shouldn't always be allowed to strike
over economic demands -- one might come up with a fair arbitration system
to resolve such disputes, although my preferred solution is co-determination,
where workers have seats on boards and management committees. But one case
where workers should absolutely have the right to refuse to work is when
doing so presents a safety problem. Indeed, I think we should guarantee
workers union representation for just such cases, regardless of whether
a worker is part of a regular union. Indeed, while one approach to job
safety would be to strengthen OSHA rules and enforcement, it would be
more flexible and ultimately more effective to let workers enforce their
own safety concerns, through a process which ultimately includes a
guaranteed right to strike.
Germany and South Korea excelled at Covid-19 containment. It still came
Michael D Shear/Maggie Haberman:
White House races to contain virus in its ranks: 'It is scary to go to
Trump is getting trounced among a crucial constituency: The haters:
"In 2016, Donald Trump cleaned up among voters who disliked him and
Hillary Clinton. This year, Biden is winning big among the comparable
group." That's one constituency that's always going to break against
What on Earth is the US doing by bombing Somalia? For more:
US airstrikes hit all-time high as coronavirus spreads in Somalia.
How the right went far-right: Review of Andrew Marantz:
Antisocial: Online Extremists, Techno-Utopians, and the Hijacking
of American Conservatism.
The American unemployment system is broken by design.
Zephyr Teachout/Pat Garofalo:
Cuomo is letting billionaires plan New York's future. It doesn't have
to be this way. Refers to Naomi Klein's
Screen New Deal piece, on how capitalism profits from disaster.
Jared Kushner is a national disaster.
Saturday, May 16, 2020
was back on October 31, 2019, so I'm overdue for another. I quickly
came up with more than one column's worth, and noticed that an awful
lot of those books -- including several cascaded lists -- dealt with
Donald Trump, his corrupt administration, and the political dynamics
that got him elected, and that continues to support him. Obviously,
a big part of the timing has to do with the 2020 election. We have,
by comparison, few books on Democrats, aside from political strategy
books aimed at defeating Trump. So I thought I'd group these Trump
books into a single post. This does not include more general political
and economic books, or books on specific issues that aren't explicitly
tied to Trump -- although Trump looms large over them as well.
I'm including a number of forthcoming books. I usually wait for them
in my periodic reports, as I always have enough old stuff to fill the
column, but if they fit the theme, I might as well include them here.
Some extend as far out as October 27. The future dates are noted. Some
books in the main section include lists of additional books on same or
Anonymous: A Warning (2019, Twelve): Allegedly by
"a senior Trump administration official," a book-length expansion
of a New York Times op-ed called "I Am Part of the Resistance Inside
the Trump Administration." As far as I know, the author hasn't been
exposed yet. His/her bona fides are established by insisting that
he/she is a conservative activist, dedicated to advancing movement
goals with or without Trump's blessing. I don't doubt that policy
subversion like this happens in all White Houses, but it's usually
not something to brag about.
Krystal Ball/Saagar Enjeti: The Populist's Guide to 2020:
A New Right and New Left Are Rising (paperback, 2020, Strong
Arm Press): Authors are co-hosts of "Rising at the Hill TV," where
they seem to take opposing left-right positions, agreeing only on
the establishment figures at the root of the problems. Each signs
their own pieces, with the combined book gaining accolades from
both Tucker Carlson and Nina Turner (co-chair of Bernie 2020).
Wayne Barrett: Without Compromise: The Brave Journalism
That First Exposed Donald Trump, Rudy Giuliani, and the American
Epidemic of Corruption (paperback, 2020, Bold Type Books):
Edited by Eileen Markey, this collects the late Village Voice
reporter's early reporting on Trump -- it's pretty safe to say
that Trump first came to my attention thanks to Barrett's reports,
and I learned all I ever really needed to know about Trump there.
Barrett later wrote a book on Trump (1992's Trump: The Deals
and the Downfall), revised in 2016 (Trump: The Greatest
Show on Earth: The Deals, the Downfall, the Reinvention).
Not sure why the publication date here is so far out, or whether
the book includes much on Barrett's other prime subject, Ed Koch --
his book, written with Jack Newfield, was City for Sale: Ed
Koch and the Betrayal of New York).
Andrea Bernstein: American Oligarchs: The Kushners, the
Trumps, and the Marriage of Money and Power (2020, WW Norton):
Co-host of a podcast called "Trump Inc.," offers a deep dive into
where the family fortunes came from, how they "encouraged and
profited from a system of corruption, dark money, and influence
David Bromwich: American Breakdown: The Trump Years and How They
Befell Us (2019, Verso Books): A short (192 pp) chronicle of "the
degradation of US democracy," mostly through the expansion of presidential
war-making powers and the double-speak that was first enshrined in law by
the 1947 National Defense Act. Has a second new book out this month:
How Words Make Things Happen (2019, Oxford University Press).
Some previous books: Politics by Other Means: Higher Education and
Group Thinking (1994); The Intellectual Life of Edmund Burke:
From the Sublime and Beautiful to American Independence (2014);
Moral Imagination: Essays (2014).
Roderick P Hart: Trump and Us: What He Says and Why People
Listen (paperback, 2020, Cambridge University Press): While
probably not a pro-Trump book, Hart is generous enough to take Trump
at his word. In fact, he counts Trump's words, sorts them out, and
establishes why Trump voters respond to various words and themes,
and therefore promises to answer questions about who and why where
most writers rely on their prejudices.
Susan Hennessy/Benjamin Wittes: Unmaking the Presidency:
Donald Trump's War on the World's Most Powerful Office
(2020, Farrar Straus and Giroux). The authors are editors of the
website Lawfare and senior fellows at the Brookings Institution,
and Hennessy previously worked as an attorney in the NSA, so it's
not surprising they view the presidency as a legal and institutional
totem rather than as the simple reflection of any actual President,
or that they should want to defend it against an occupant as ill
suited as Trump. On the other hand, the phrase "the world's most
powerful office" gives me the creeps. Ever since WWII, Congress has
increased the power of the presidency, especially through the vast
array of warmaking forces at the president's disposal. One could
write a book showing how dangerous that is given a president as
unstable and deranged as Trump, and that's the likely value of
this book. But the list of favorable blurb authors -- Hillary
Clinton, James Comey, Michael Hayden, Preet Bharara -- for this
book suggest that the author's agenda is something else.
Charles J Holden/Zach Messitte/Jerald Podair: Republican
Populist: Spiro Agnew and the Origins of Donald Trump's America
(2019, University of Virginia Press). This is a stretch, a case of
scouring history for precedents and settling for trivial likeness.
Agnew was a relatively liberal Maryland governor, but Nixon wanted
a hatchet man for his campaign, especially someone who could exploit
the prejudices of the white ethnics Nixon's strategists hoped to pry
away from the Democratic Party. Agnew stepped up, and became a culture
war lightning rod, but Nixon made sure to get rid of him before his
own resignation. No subsequent politician sought to emulate Agnew,
and there is no reason to think that Agnew could have run on his own.
As for being a "populist," the authors mean bigot and prig, which is
all that reminds them of Trump.
Ben Howe: The Immoral Majority: Why Evangelicals Chose
Political Power Over Christian Values (2019, Broadside Books).
White evangelical Christians vote overwhelmingly for Donald Trump.
This confuses liberals who are inclined to give evangelicals the
benefit of their doubts, and saddens evangelicals who have liberal
instincts. But it doesn't surprise ex-believers like myself much,
as we've long noted the deep well of hatred their "faith" justifies
- Angela Denker: Red State Christians: Understanding the
Voters Who Elected Donald Trump (2019, Fortress Press).
- John Fea: Believe Me: The Evangelical Road to Donald
Trump (2018, Eerdmans)
- Thomas S Kidd: Who Is an Evangelical? The History of a
Movement in Crisis (2019, Yale University Press).
- Sarah Posner: Unholy: Why White Evangelicals Worship at the
Altar of Donald Trump (2020, Random House).
- Andrew L Seidel: The Founding Myth: Why Christian Nationalism
Is Un-American (2019, Sterling).
- Ronald J Sider, ed: The Spiritual Danger of Donald Trump:
30 Evangelical Christians on Justice, Truth, and Moral Integrity
(paperback, 2020, Cascade Books). [June 1]
- Katherine Stewart: The Power Worshippers: Inside the
Dangerous Rise of Religious Nationalism (2020, Bloomsbury).
- Peter Wehner: The Death of Politics: How to Heal Our Frayed
Republic After Trump (2019, Harper One).
- Andrew L Whitehead/Samuel L Perry: Taking America Back for
God: Christian Nationalism in the United States (2020, Oxford
Sarah Kendzior: Hiding in Plain Sight: The Invention of
Donald Trump and the Erosion of America (2020, Flatiron
Books): Journalist from Missouri, previously wrote The View
From Flyover Country, claims she predicted Trump's win in
2015, then launches into a comparison of Trump to Uzbek strongman
Islam Karimov, who also made aspirations to greatness part of his
political vocabulary. The book broader and deeper than Trump, with
chapters of "a buried American history" from at least the 1980s,
although tying that decade to Roy Cohn keeps the focus close enough
John Marini: Unmasking the Administrative State: The Crisis
of American Politics in the Twenty-First Century (2019,
Encounter Books): One of Trump's most resonant campaign lines in
2016 was his pledge to "drain the swamp." I didn't believe him, but
more importantly I didn't understand him. By "swamp" I assumed he
meant the pervasive influence of money in Washington, flowing from
thousands of lobbyists and the interest groups they represented.
What else could he possibly have meant? So when he took office, I
took it as plain hypocrisy when he hired dozens of lobbyists to
hand control of regulation over to the businesses affected. But
here Marini argues that "the swamp" has nothing to do with money.
Rather, "the swamp" is the domain of government workers: people
hired by the government to serve the public interest by limiting
private greed and ensuring that government services are run for
the public's benefit. He dubs these public servants "the swamp
creatures," and applauds Trump's efforts to purge them and/or to
subjugate them to Trump's partisan patronage machine. Michael Lewis
covers some of this in The Fifth Risk, showing how Trump's
efforts to politicize administration undermines our collective
well-being. How much so is all but unfathomable, but the Covid-19
pandemic has exposed one sector's failings most dramatically.
Dan P McAdams: The Strange Case of Donald J Trump: A
Psychological Reckoning (2020, Oxford University Press):
It's tempting to think one can psychoanalize Trump, given that
even before he ran for president he was such a public figure,
projecting virtually no sense of personal depth. After various
other attempts, this one is widely praised for its balance and
for insights into why Trump still appeals to many people, even
while many more regard him as puerile, narcissist, sociopathic,
Jennifer Mercieca: Demagogue for President: The Rhetorical
Genius of Donald Trump (2020, Texas A&M University Press):
A "political communication expert," a professor in the Department of
Communication at Texas A&M, co-editor of a previous book on another
president's somewhat different rhetorical conception. After immersing
herself in Trump-speak, she found that Trump and his campaign "expertly
used the common rhetorical techniques of a demagogue." She backs that
up with technical analysis (citing various fallacious arguments,
"reification, paralipsis, and more"). Turns out that those of us who
jumped to the conclusion that he's just another fascist were on the
- Justin S Vaughan/Jennifer R Mercieca: The Rhetoric of Heroic
Expectations: Establishing the Obama Presidency (paperback,
2014, Texas A&M University Press).
Malcolm Nance: The Plot to Betray America: How Team Trump
Embraced Our Enemies, Compromised Our Security, and How We Can Fix
It (2019, Hachette Books). Author "spent 35 years participating
in field and combat intelligence activity including both covert and
clandestine anti & counter-terrorism support to national intelligence
agencies, and has written a series of books, first celebrating the US
War on Terror (e.g., An End to Al Qaeda: Destroying Bin Laden's
Jihad and Restoring America's Honor), and trying to relaunch the
Cold War with Russia (e.g., The Plot to Hack America: How Putin's
Cyberspies and WikiLeaks Tried to Steal the 2016 Election, and
The Plot to Destroy Democracy: How Putin's Spies Are Winning
Control of America and Dismantling the West). I find this line
of argument against Trump to be both useless and obscene: useless
because Trump isn't either a principled or effective critic of the
security hawks, and obscene because what the critics advocate for
is even worse than what Trump does (or sometimes talks about doing).
And I'm especially uncomfortable with talk about "betraying America"
(or, worse still, "treason"). The purpose of such talk is invariably
to shut down discussion of political choices in foreign policy --
something that is sorely needed.
Richard W Painter/Peter Golenbock: American Nero: The History
of the Destruction of the Rule of Law, and Why Trump Is the Worst
Offender (2020, BenBella Books): Painter "served as White
House chief ethics counsel under President George W Bush," which
doesn't sound like much in the way of credentials -- if you ask me,
Bush's administration was as corrupt at any in American history (at
least, pre-Trump), and his staff lawyers were remarkably practiced
at rationalizing torture and other war crimes. On the other hand,
he doesn't simply draw the line at Trump. He's written a long book
that goes deep into American history, exposing dozens of examples
where "the rule of law" was violated by American politicians. But
first he starts with sketches of Nero and George III, emphasizing
their similarities to Trump (starting with narcissism).
Joe Palazzolo/Michael Rothfeld: The Fixers: The Bottom-Feeders,
Crooked Lawyers, Gossipmongers, and Porn Stars Who Created the 45th
President (2020, Random House). Cover looks like it fell out
of a tabloid, which seems peculiarly appropriate for this president.
Makes you wonder whether Trump's relative immunity to scandal isn't
the result of such prolonged exposure it's not only lost its power
to shock, it's become part of his aura. Of course, the big draw here
is the bit about porn stars, not least because they are more honest
and less unsavory than fixers like Roy Cohn and Michael Cohen.
Dan Pfeiffer: Un-Trumping America: A Plan to Make America a
Democracy Again (2020, Twelve): "Pod Save America" co-host,
worked (as did the other three) in Obama administration, feels that
entitles him to give practical advice on how to defeat Trump in 2020.
There are a number of books like that out recently, including:
- David Daley: Unrigged: How Americans Are Battling Back to
Save Democracy (2020, Liveright).
- EJ Dionne Jr: Code Red: How Progressives and Moderates Can
Unite to Save Our Country (2020, St Martin's Press).
- David Faris: It's Time to Fight Dirty: How Democrats Can
Build a Lasting Majority in American Politics (paperback,
2019, Melville House).
- Caroline Fredrickson: The Democracy Fix: How to Win the
Fight for Fair Rules, Fair Courts, and Fair Elections (2019,
- Leah Greenberg/Ezra Levin: We Are Indivisible: A Blueprint
for Democracy After Trump (2019, Atria/One Signal).
- Mark Halperin: How to Beat Trump: America's Top Political
Strategists on What It Will Take (paperback, 2019, Regan
- Eitan Hersh: Politics Is for Power: How to Move Beyond
Political Hobbyism, Take Action, and Make Real Change (2020,
- Ian Haney López: Merge Left: Fusing Race and Class, Winning
Elections, and Saving America (2019, New Press).
- Dan Pfeiffer: Yes We (Still) Can: Politics in the Age of Obama,
Twitter, and Trump (2018; paperback, 2019, Twelve).
- David Plouffe: A Citizen's Guide to Beating Donald Trump
- Steven Stoft: Ripped Apart: How Democrats Can Fight Polarization
to Win (paperback, 2020, Steven Stoft).
- Rick Wilson: Running Against the Devil: A Plot to Save
America From Trump -- and Democrats From Themselves (2020,
Crown Forum): A "renowned Republican political strategist" turned
Jerrold M Post/Stephanie R Doucette: Dangerous Charisma: The
Political Psychology of Donald Trump and His Followers (2019,
Pegasus Books): Post is "the long-time head of psychological profiling
at the CIA," where he prepared numerous profiles of world leaders --
"he may be the only psychiatrist who has specialized in the self-esteem
problems of both Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein." That sounds pretty
dubious to me: I have serious doubts about shrinks who have direct access
to patients, and understand how easy it is to project one's prejudices,
especially across vast distances. One possible value-added here is the
probe into the psyches of Trump's supporters. Post previously wrote:
- Jerrold M Post: Narcissism and Politics: Dreams of Glory
(paperback, 2014, Cambridge University Press).
Philip Rucker/Carol Leonnig: A Very Stable Genius: Donald
J Trump's Testing of America (2020, Penguin Press): Another
detailed chronicle of madness and mayhem in the Trump White House,
as leaked to two senior Washington Post writers (Pulitzer
Prize winners). They seem to be especially chummy with the unelected
foreign policy intelligentsia alarmed by Trump's occasional lapses
from the usual American clichés, which can get annoying. The title
is Trump's self-description, which has been widely lampooned (see
parody books below).
Robert P Saldin/Steven M Teles: Never Trump: The Revolt of
the Conservative Elites (2020, Oxford University Press):
Sure, various Republican "elites" had reservations about Trump in
early 2016, but they turned out to be purely tactical: once Trump
won, all was forgiven, with GOP officials as well as rank-and-file
lining up dutifully, eventually learning not to even flinch when
he does something obviously uncouth. That left a few incalcitrants
to oppose Trump in the sanctified name of conservatism. This book
divides them up into four parts: national security professionals;
political operatives; public intellectuals; lawyers and economists.
The best known are in the third group, but many of them work for
mainstream media outlets where their views are esteemed.
Jim Sciutto: The Madman Theory: Trump Takes on the World
(2020, HarperCollins): CNN's chief national security correspondent,
his standing within America's imperial security establishment amply
demonstrated by his 2019 book, The Shadow War: Inside Russia's
and China's Secret Operations to Defeat America. Title refers
to Nixon's "madman theory," which at least had a cunning rationale
behind it. That Trump's madcap approach to foreign policy differs
first in that it isn't remotely a theory, as is clear when Sciutto
admits that Trump's employs his version "sometimes intentionally
and sometimes not." I'm fairly sure that someone could write a book
that reduces Trump's foreign policy to a handful of simple rules,
like: Trump is always looking for short-term business propositions;
Trump has no concerns about liberal ideals like human rights and
democracy, but he does loathe any hint of socialism, and he defaults
to being a race and religious bigot; Trump likes foreign leaders who
flatter him, even if they're the wrong race and/or religion; Trump
bears grudges against countries that fail to show him sufficient
obeissance, and is obsessed with the idea that supposed allies are
cheating him (or America); Trump has no real interest in results,
so he's happy doing nothing as long as people are saying the right
things. Needless to say, he is frustrating and annoying to anyone
who actually has an ideological stake in foreign policy, like the
neoliberal and neoconservative mandarins who dominate the business,
but he hasn't changed much of what they do.
Stuart Stevens: It Was All a Lie: How the Republican Party
Became Donald Trump (2020, Knopf): Author "spent decades
electing Republicans at every level" and "knows the GOP as intimately
as anyone in America," but evidently has changed his mind root and
branch -- as opposed to the "Never Trumpers" who claim to remain true
to principles that Trump personally betrayed. I've been saying all
along that Trump is the expected outcome of decades of right-wing
political machinations, so I'm gratified to see Stevens making just
that case. I doubt he's exactly right, but his complaint about "five
decades of hypocrisy and self-delusion" is spot on.
Jeffrey Toobin: True Crimes and Misdemeanors: The Investigation
of Donald Trump (2020, Doubleday): First significant history
of the Mueller Invesgitation and the Impeachment of Donald Trump, by
the legal analyst for CNN and The New Yorker, who has written weighty
books on the Clinton impeachment (A Vast Conspiracy: The Real Story
of the Sex Scandal That Nearly Brought Down a President), Bush v.
Gore (Too Close to Call: The Thirty-Six Day Battle to Decide the
a2000 Election), the Supreme Court (The Nine: Inside the Secret
World of the Supreme Court and The Oath: The Obama White House
and the Supreme court), as well as some famous criminal cases (OJ
Simpson, Patty Hearst, Oliver North). Not sure I give a shit, but
this is a book he was destined to write.
[August 4]. Other new books on Mueller and/or impeachment:
- Daphne Barak: To Plea or Not to Plea: The Story of Rick Gates
and the Mueller Investigation (2019, Center Street).
- Michael D'Antonio/Peter Eisner: High Crimes: The Inside Story
of the Trump Impeachment (2020, St Martin's).
- Neal Katyal: Impeach: The Case Against Donald Trump
(paperback, 2019, Mariner).
- Kenneth Foard McCallion: Treason & Betrayal: The Rise and
Fall of Individual-1 (paperback, 2019, Bryant Park Press).
- Jon Meacham, ed: The Impeachment Report: The House
Intelligence Committee's Report on Its Investigation Into Donald
Trump and Ukraine (paperback, 2019, Crown).
- Eric Swalwell: Endgame: Inside the Impeachment of Donald J
Trump (2020, Abrams Press): US Representative (D-CA).
- The Washington Post/Jan Feindt: The Mueller Report Illustrated:
The Obstruction Investigation (paperback, 2019, Scribner).
Dannagal Goldthwaite Young: Irony and Outrage: The Polarized
Landscape of Rage, Fear, and Laughter in the United States
(2019, Oxford University Press). I haven't yet found a book that
explores the thesis that Donald Trump is basically a stand-up comic,
but that's one way of viewing his rallies -- at least if you can
manage not to gag, which is the most common reaction among people
who are perceptive. One big problem is that Trump isn't very funny,
but he does some things that comics do: he distorts the truth in
unexpected ways, in the hopes of getting an instant emotional
response instead of a reasoned one. Young explores a number of
politically-focused cultural figures, finding that those on the
right aim mostly at provoking rage, whereas many of those on the
left would rather evoke laughter. (Of course, not everyone left
of center aims at comedy; most pundits are sober analysts, and
there are another few who simply rail at the right -- although
they usually still do have more facts at their disposal than is
customary on the right -- well, Russia-phobes excepted). Indeed,
for me the most remarkable cultural change I've seen since Trump
became president has been the politicization of late-night talk
shows, where Trump is lambasted and ridiculed in ways that were
unimaginable for Reagan and the Bushes, or for that matter Obama
and the Clintons. I'm not sure that's a good thing, but I have
taken considerable comfort in knowing that my own revulsion over
Trump is so widely shared.
James D Zirin: Plaintiff in Chief: A Portrait of Donald Trump
in 3,500 Lawsuits (2019, All Points Books): Not sure anyone
ever tried to count before, but Trump clearly holds the record for
most lawsuits (either filed or defended against), probably by an order
of magnitude, maybe two or three. Trump has a couple of lawsuits being
argued this week before the Supreme Court, where he's attempting to
suppress subpoenas for his financial records -- something all other
recent presidential candidates have volunteered. I can think of other
lawsuits where presidents attempted to elevate their office beyond
the normal reach of law (Nixon, Clinton), as well as cases like Bush
v. Gore, and Trump has political cases like those, but most of his
relate to his business practices, which doesn't make them any less
And these are recent Trump-themed books I'm only briefly noting,
as I don't have much more to say about them. Most memoirs by Trump
staff and appointees wind up here -- presumably they have some
historical value, even if they wind up being pure propaganda. I
have, however, separated out the purer pro-Trump propaganda books,
as well as trivia and attempts at humor (see the following sections).
Eric Alterman: Lying in State: Why Presidents Lie -- and Why
Trump Is Worse (2020, Basic Books).
Alain Badiou: Trump (paperback, 2019, Wiley).
Kate Bennett: Free, Melania: The Unauthorized Biography
(2019, Flatiron Books).
Peter Bergen: Trump and His Generals: The Cost of Chaos
(2019, Penguin Press).
Sarah Blaskey/Nicholas Nehamas/Caitlin Ostruff/Jay Weaver: The
Grifter's Club: Trump, Mar-a-Lago, and the Selling of the Presidency
John Bolton: The Room Where It Happened: A White House
Memoir (2020, Simon & Schuster).
Kate Andersen Brower: Team of Five: The Presidents Club in
the Age of Trump (2020, Harper).
Nina Burleigh: Golden Handcuffs: The Secret History of Trump's
Women (2018, Gallery Books): Four women on cover: Ivanka and
the three wives.
Ian Buruma: The Churchill Complex: The Curse of Being Special,
From Winston and FDR to Trump and Brexit (2020, Penguin Press).
Josh Campbell: Crossfire Hurricane: Inside Donald Trump's
War on the FBI (2019, Algonquin Books).
Patrick Cockburn: War in the Age of Trump: The Defeat of
ISIS, the Fall of the Kurds, the Conflict With Iran (2020,
Robert Dallek: How Did We Get Here? From Theodore Roosevelt
to Donald Trump (2020, HarperCollins).
Bob Davis/Lingling Wei: Superpower Showdown: How the Battle
Between Trump and Xi Threatens a New Cold War (2020,
HarperCollins): Wall Street Journal reporters.
Lawrence Douglas: Will He Go? Trump and the Looming Election
Meltdown in 2020 (2020, Grand Central).
Daniel W Drezner: The Toddler in Chief: What Donald Trump
Teaches Us About the Modern Presidency (paperback, 2020,
University of Chicago Press).
Jonathan Engel: Unaffordable: American Healthcare From
Johnson to Trump (2018, University of Wisconsin Press).
David Enrich: Dark Towers: Deutsche Bank, Donald Trump,
and an Epic Trail of Destruction (2020, Custom House).
Guy Fawkes: 101 Indisputable Facts Proving Donald Trump
Is an Idiot: A Brief Background to the Most Spectacularly Unqualified
Person to Ever Occupy the White House (2018, Guy Fawkes).
Emily Jane Fox: Born Trump: Inside America's First Family
(paperback, 2019, HarperCollins).
David Frum: Trumpocalypse: Restoring American Democracy
Mark Green/Ralph Nader: Fake President: Decoding Trump's
Gaslighting, Corruption, and General Bullsh*t (paperback,
Jean Guerrero: Hatemonger: Stephen Miller, Donald Trump,
and the White Nationalist Agenda (2020, HarperCollins).
Nikki R Haley: With All Due Respect: Defending America With
Grit and Grace (2019, St Martin's).
Steve Harris: America's Secret History: How the Deep
State, the Fed, the JFK, MLK, and RFK Assassinations, and Much
More Led to Donald Trump's Presidency (2020, Skyhorse).
Richard L Hasen: Election Meltdown: Dirty Tricks, Distrust,
and the Threat to American Democracy (2020, Yale University
Steven Hassan: The Cult of Trump: A Leading Cult Expert
Explains How the President Uses Mind Control (2019, Free
Julie Hirschfeld Davis/Michael D Shear: Border Wars: Inside
Trump's Assault on Immigration (2019, Simon & Schuster).
Charles E Hurlburt: The Enemy Within: A Chronicle of the Trump
Administration: Book One (11/2016-08/2018) (paperback, 2019,
Mary Jordan: The Art of Her Deal: The Untold Story of Melania
Trump (2020, Simon & Schuster).
David A Kaplan: The Most Dangerous Branch: Inside the Supreme
Court in the Age of Trump (paperback, 2019, Broadway Books).
Jonathan Karl: Front Row at the Trump Show (2020,
Jasmine Kerrissey/Eve Weinbaum/Claire Hammonds/Tom Juravich/Dan
Clawson, eds: Labor in the Time of Trump (paperback, 2020,
Glenn Kessler/Salvador Rizzo/Meg Kelly [The Fact Checker Staff
of The Washington Post]: Donald Trump and His Assault on Truth
(paperback, 2020, Scribner): Only 384 pp?
Harold Hongju Koh: The Trump Administration and International
Law (2018, Oxford University Press).
Daniel S Lucks: Reconsidering Reagan: Racism, Republicans,
and the Road to Trump (2020, Beacon Press).
Lachlan Markay/Asawin Suebsaeng: Sinking in the Swamp: How
Trump's Minions and Misfits Poisoned Washington (2020, Viking):
Two investigative reporters for The Daily Beast explain how
Trump has remade the DC "swamp" in his own image.
Jim Mattis/Bing West: Call Sign Chaos: Learning to Lead
(2019, Random House): Trumps' first Secretary of Defense, but evasive
on all that.
HR McMaster: Battlegrounds: The Fight to Defend the Free
World (2020, Harper): Trump's second National Security Advisor.
Rory McVeigh/Kevin Estep: The Politics of Losing: Trump, the
Klan, and the Mainstreaming of Resentment (2019, Columbia
Pippa Norris/Ronald Inglehart: Cultural Backlash: Trump,
Brexit, and Authoritarian Populism (paperback, 2019, Cambridge
Joseph S Nye Jr: Do Morals Matter? Presidents and Foreign
Policy From FDR to Trump (2020, Oxford University Press).
Greg Palast: How Trump Stole 2020: The Hunt for America's
Vanished Voters (paperback, 2020, Seven Stories Press).
William J Perry/Tom Z Collina: The Button: The New Nuclear
Arms Race and Presidential Power From Truman to Trump (2020,
BenBella Books): Former Secretary of Defense.
John J Pitney Jr: Un-American: The Fake Patriotism of Donald
J Trump (2020, Rowman & Littlefield).
Patrick Porter: The False Promise of Liberal Order: Nostalgia,
Delusion and the Rise of Trump (2020, Polity).
Eric A Posner: The Demagogue's Playbook: The Battle for
American Democracy From the Founders to Trump (2020,
Scott Ritter: Scorpion King: America's Suicidal Embrace
of Nuclear Weapons From FDR to Trump (2nd ed, paperback,
2020, Clarity Press).
Amy Roost/Alissa Hirshfeld: Fury: Women's Lived Experiences
During the Trump Era (paperback, 2020, Regal House).
David Rothkopf: Traitor: A History of American Betrayal
From Benedict Arnold to Donald Trump (2020, St Martin's).
Sarah Huckabee Sanders: Speaking for Myself: Faith, Freedom,
and the Fight of Our Lives Inside the Trump White House
(2020, St Martin's).
Steven E Schier/Todd E Eberly: How Trump Happened: A System
Shock Decades in the Making (2020, Rowman & Littlefield).
Gerald F Seib: We Should Have Seen It Coming: From Reagan to
Trump -- A Front-Row Seat to a Political Revolution (2020,
Glenn Simpson/Peter Fritsch: Crime in Progress: Inside the
Steele Dossier and the Fusion GPS Investigation of Donald Trump
(2019, Random House): Authors are co-founders of Fusion GPS.
Ryan Skinnell, ed: Faking the News: What Rhetoric Can Teach
Us About Donald J Trump (paperback, 2018, Societas).
Guy M Snodgrass: Holding the Line: Inside Trump's Pengaton
With Secretary Mattis (2019, Penguin).
Brian Stelter: Hoax: Donald Trump, Fox News, and the Dangerous
Distortion of Truth (2020, Atria/One Signal).
Benjamin R Teitelbaum: War for Eternity: Inside Bannon's
Far-Right Circle of Global Power Brokers (2020, Dey Street
Ivana Trump: Raising Trump (2017, Gallery Books).
Shoba Sivaprasad Wadhia: Banned: Immigration Enforcement in
the Time of Trump (2019, NYU Press).
Ken Wilber: Trump and a Post-Truth World (paperback,
Jeffrey R Wilson: Shakespeare and Trump (paperback,
2020, Temple University Press).
For context, these are Trump-themed books I've written about or
merely noted in previous Book Report posts. In some cases I've
reproduced (or more often edited down my) original comments. Books
from this section that I have read:
Tim Alberta: American Carnage;
David Daley: Ratf**ked;
Ben Fountain: Beautiful Country Burn Again;
Allen Frances: Twilight of American Sanity;
David Frum: Trumpocracy;
Stanley B Greenberg: RIP GOP;
Michael Lewis: The Fifth Risk;
Alexander Nazaryan: The Best People;
James Poniewozik: Audience of One;
Matt Taibbi: Insane Clown President;
Katy Tur: Unbelievable.
Alan I Abramowitz: The Great Alignment: Race, Party Transformation,
and the Rise of Donald Trump (2018, Yale University Press):
Looks at shifting party alignments, especially racial/ethnic, religiosu,
ideological, and geographic.
Seth Abramson: Proof of Collusion: How Trump Betrayed
America (2018, Simon & Schuster).
Tim Alberta: American Carnage: On the Front Lines of the
Republican Civil War and the Rise of President Trump (2019,
Harper): Politico reporter, tight with Republican House leaders like
Boehner and Ryan, covers changing forces since 2008, especially Tea
Party, Freedom Caucus, and the ultimately decisive arrival of Trump.
Dale Beran: It Came From Something Awful: How a Toxic Troll
Army Accidentally Memed Donald Trump Into Office (2019, All
Max Blumenthal: The Management of Savagery: How America's
National Security State Fueled the Rise of Al Qaeda, ISIS, and Donald
Trump (2019, Verso): Basic primer on how the US fed and nurtured
its eventual enemies in the Middle East -- a fundamental incoherence
that Trump has done nothing to resolve.
Frank O Bowman III: High Crimes and Misdemeanors: A History
of Impeachment for the Age of Trump (2019, Cambridge University
Amanda Carpenter: Gaslighting America: Why We Love It When
Trump Lies to Us (2018, Broadside Books).
Chris Christie: Let Me Finish: Trump, the Kushners, Bannon,
New Jersey, and the Power of In-Your-Face Politics (2019,
Stephen F Cohen: War With Russia? From Putin & Ukraine
to Trump & Russiagate (paperback, 2019, Hot Books).
James Comey: A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies, and Leadership
David Daley: Ratf**ked: The True Story Behind the Secret Plan
to Steal America's Democracy (2016; paperback, 2017, Liveright):
Nuts-and-bolts on how the right-wing has plotted its takeover of American
democracy, especially by gerrymandering.
Stormy Daniels: Full Disclosure (2018, St Martin's
Michael D'Antonio: The Truth About Trump (paperback,
2016, St Martin's Griffin): Reissue of 2015 book, Never Enough:
Donald Trump and the Pursuit of Success.
Michael D'Antonio/Peter Eisner: The Shadow President: The
Truth About Mike Pence (2018, Thomas Dunne Books). First
book I'm aware of to take stock of Trump's Vice President, who
seems to have parlayed his obsequious devotion to Trump and his
extensive networking with far-right Republicans into a position
of exceptional behind-the-scenes power.
EJ Dionne Jr/Norman J Ornstein/Thomas E Mann: One Nation
After Trump: A Guide for the Perplexed, the Disillusioned, the
Desperate, and the Not-Yet-Deported (2017, St Martin's
Press): Quickie from veteran Washington reporters.
Maureen Dowd: The Year of Voting Dangeously: The Derangement
of American Politics (2016, Twelve).
Ben Fountain: Beautiful Country Burn Again: Democracy, Rebellion,
and Revolution (2018, Ecco Books): Novelist, shocked by the
2016 election, posits an 80-year cycle of crises, lining Trump up with
the comings of the Civil War and the Great Depression.
Allen Frances: Twilight of American Sanity: A Psychiatrist
Analyzes the Age of Trump (2017, William Morrow). Argues
that Trump is not technically insane, but raises many pertinent
questions about whether America as a whole.
Justin A Frank: Trump on the Couch: Inside the Mind of the
President (2018, Avery).
David Frum: Trumpocracy: The Corruption of the American
Republic (2018, Harper): Former Bush speechwriter turned
Never Trumper, faults Republicans for failing to satisfy the needs
of their base voters, has a good nose for Trump's corruption.
Stanley B Greenberg: RIP GOP: How the New America Is Dooming
the Republicans (2019, Thomas Dunne Books). Democratic pollster,
sees Republicans boxing themselves into a corner due to declining
demographics and a dysfunctional platform.
Joshua Green: Devil's Bargain: Steve Bannon, Donald Trump,
and the Storming of the Presidency (2017, Penguin).
Asad Haider: Mistaken Identity: Race and Class in the Age of
Trump (paperback, 2018, Verso).
Luke Harding: Collusion: Secret Meetings, Dirty Money, and
How Russia Helped Donald Trump Win (paperback, 2017, Vintage
Seth Hettena: Trump/Russia: A Definitive History
(2018, Melville House).
Elizabeth Holtzman: The Case for Impeaching Trump
(2019, Hot Books).
Michael Isikoff/David Corn: Russian Roulette: The Inside
Story of Putin's War on America and the Election of Donald Trump
David Cay Johnston: The Making of Donald Trump (2016,
David Cay Johnston: It's Even Worse Than You Think: What
the Trump Administration Is Doing to America (2018, Simon
Michiko Kakutani: The Death of Truth: Notes on Falsehood in the
Age of Trump (2018, Tim Duggan Books).
Marvin Kalb: Enemy of the People: Trump's War on the Press,
the New McCarthyism, and the Threat to American Democracy
(2018, Brookings Institution Press).
Brian Klaas: The Despot's Apprentice: Donald Trump's Attack
on Democracy (2017, Hot Books).
Naomi Klein: No Is Not Enough: Resisting Trump's Shock
Politics and Winning the World We Need (paperback, 2017,
Haymarket Books): Prominent critic, especially of what she calls
"disaster capitalism." Tied this title to Trump, but later books
also deal with Trump, just in broader contexts.
Naomi Klein: The Battle for Paradise: Puerto Rico Takes
on the Disaster Capitalists (paperback, 2018, Haymarket
Naomi Klein: On Fire: The (Burning) Case for a Green New
Deal (2019, Simon & Schuster).
Michael Kranish/Marc Fisher: Trump Revealed: An American
Journey of Ambition, Ego, Money, and Power (2016, Scribner).
Laurence Leamer: Mar-A-Lago: Inside the Gates of Power at
Donald Trump's Presidential Palace (2019, Flatiron).
Brandy Lee: The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump: 27 Psychiatrists
and Mental Health Experts Assess a President (2017, Thomas Dunne
Barry Levine/Monique El-Faizy: All the President's Women:
Donald Trump and the Making of a Predator (2019, Hachette Books).
Michael Lewis: The Fifth Risk (2018, WW Norton).
Mostly writes on financial debacles, but is more interested in
following the stories of interesting people. For this book, he
goes into the federal bureaucracy, providing an eye-opening view
of the valuable services of three government departments, and
how Trump's politicization of those departments is undermining
their jobs. And since much of what they do aims to limit risks,
you rarely notice them until something bad happens.
Jeffrey Lord: Swamp Wars: Donald Trump and the New American
Populism vs. the Old Order (2019, Bombardier Books).
Amanda Marcotte: Troll Nation: How the Right Became Trump-Worshipping
Monsters Set on Rat-F*cking Liberals, America, and Truth Itself
(2018, Hot Books).
Andrew G McCabe: The Threat: How the FBI Protects America
in the Age of Terror and Trump (2019, St Martin's Press).
Jeff Merkley: America Is Better Than This: Trump's War Against
Immigrant Families (2019, Twelve).
Greg Miller: The Apprentice: Trump, Russia and the Subversion
of American Democracy (2018, Custom House).
Angela Nagle: Kill All Normies: Online Culture Wars From
4Chan and Tumblr to Trump the Alt-Right (paperback, 2017,
Alexander Nazaryan: The Best People: Trump's Cabinet and
the Siege on Washington (2019, Hachette Books): Offers us
a rogues gallery of Trump's cabinet-level deputies, who more often
than not turn out to reflect the vanity and avarice of their leader.
David Neiwert: Alt-America: The Rise of the Radical Right in
the Age of Trump (2017; paperback, 2018, Verso): Wrote a pair
of books on how the right responded to the Obama election in 2008;
e.g., with John Amato: Over the Cliff: How Obama's Election Drove
the American Right Insane.
Omarosa Manigault Newman: Unhinged: An Insider's Account
of the Trump White House (2018, Gallery Books).
John Nichols: Horsemen of the Trumpocalypse: A Field Guide
to the Most Dangerous People in America (paperback, 2017,
Nation Books): Quickie, offering brief biographies of Trump's early
cabinet and staff, many of whom didn't last long (although they
were usually replaced by others even more sycophantic and/or corrupt.
Pippa Norris/Ronald Ingelhart: Cultural Backlash: Trump, Brexit,
and Authoritarian Populism (paperback, 2019, Cambridge University
Keith Olbermann: Trump Is F*cking Crazy (This Is Not a Joke)
(2017, Blue Rider Press).
Greg Olear: Dirty Rubles: An Introduction to Trump/Russia
(paperback, 2018, Four Sticks Press).
James Poniewozik: Audience of One: Donald Trump, Television,
and the Fracturing of America (2019, Liveright). TV critic,
provides a detailed account of Trump's media exposure, his constant
search for the limelight, how his fame and wealth are linked, and
where his politics comes from. The single most insightful book I've
found on Trump.
Bill Press: Trump Must Go: The Top 100 Reasons to Dump Donald
Trump (and One to Keep Him) (2018, Thomas Dunne Books).
Joy-Ann Reid: The Man Who Sold America: Trump and the
Unraveling of the American Story (2019, William Morrow).
Rick Reilly: Commander in Cheat: How Golf Explains Trump
(2019, Hachette Books).
Corey Robin: The Reactionary Mind: Conservatism From Edmund
Burke to Donald Trump (2011; paperback, 2017, Oxford University
Press): Original subtitle ended at Sarah Palin.
Nathan J Robinson: Trump: Anatomy of a Monster
(paperback, 2017, Demilune Press).
April Ryan: Under Fire: Reporting From the Front Lines of the
Trump White House (2018, Rowman & Littlefield).
Greg Sargent: An Uncivil War: Taking Back Our Democracy in
an Age of Trumpian Disinformation and Thunderdome Politics
(2018, Custom House).
Marc Shapiro: Trump This! The Life and Times of Donald
Trump: An Unauthorized Biography (paperback, 2016, Riverdale
Cliff Sims: Team of Vipers: My 500 Extraordinary Days in the
Trump White House (2019, Thomas Dunne Books).
Mark Singer: Trump and Me (2016, Mark Duggan Books).
Amy Siskind: The List: A Week-by-Week Reckoning of Trump's
First Year (2018, Bloomsbury): Extensive index of every time
she noticed Trump doing something well outside the norms of his office,
accumulating 528 pp in little more than one year.
Ryan Skinnell, ed: Faking the News: What Rhetoric Can Teach Us
About Donald J Trump (paperback, 2018, Societas).
Sean Spicer: The Briefing: Politics, the Press, and the
President (2018, Regnery): Trump's first press secretary.
Charles J Sykes: How the Right Lost Its Mind (2017,
St Martin's Press).
Matt Taibbi: Insane Clown President: Dispatches From the
2016 Circus (2017, Spiegel & Grau): Quickie compilation
of 2016 campaign reports.
Lawrence Tribe/Joshua Matz: To End a Presidency: The Power
of Impeachment (2018, Basic Books).
Katy Tur: Unbelievable: My Front-Row Seat to the Craziest
Campaign in American History (2017, Dey Street Books): TV
reporter assigned to Trump for the 2016 campaign.
Craig Unger: House of Trump, House of Putin: The Untold Story
of Donald Trump and the Russian Mafia (2018, Dutton): Previously
wrote House of Bush, House of Saud: The Secret Relationship Between
the World's Two Most Powerful Dynasties (2004).
Vicky Ward: Kushner, Inc. Greed. Ambition. Corruption. The
Extraordinary Story of Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump (2019,
St Martin's Press).
Rick Wilson: Everything Trump Touches Dies: A Republican
Strategist Gets Real About the Worst President Ever (2018,
Michael Wolff: Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House
(2018, Henry Holt).
Michael Wolff: Siege: Trump Under Fire (2019,
Bob Woodward: Fear: Trump in the White House (2018,
Simon & Schuster).
One thing that the Trump years have given us is a shitload of
parody, satire, and trivia: some insightful in ways that more sober
assessments miss the impact of, some comforting, some outrageous,
some scabrous, some totally missing the point. Here are some (not
all by any means). Some may even be pro-Trump.
(* indicates books I haven't listed before.)
Alec Baldwin/Kurt Andersen: You Can't Spell America Without
Me: The Really Tremendous Inside Story of My Fantastic First Year as
President Donald J. Trump (A So-Called Parody) (2017, Penguin
John Barron: A Is for "Asshole": A Children's "ABC" Guide
to Donald Trump & the Trump Administration (paperback,
William H Clark/John M Werthen Jr: Tweeter of the Free World:
A Covfefe Table Book: A Collection of Donald Trump's Funniest Tweets
(2018, Politically Correct Publishing).*
The Editors of the Onion: The Trump Leaks: The Onion Exposes
the Top Secret Memos, Emails, and Doodles That Could Take Down a
President (2017, Harper Design).*
Faye Kanouse/Amy Zhing: If You Give a Pig the White House:
A Parody for Adults (2019, Castle Point).*
Holan Publishing Inc: Sh*t Trump Says: The Most Terrific,
Very Beautiful and Tremendous Tweets and Quotes From Our 45th
President (2017, Hollan Publishing).*
Holan Publishing Inc: Sh*t Trump Says: Flips, Flops, Flattery,
and Falsehoods From Our 45th President (2019, Hollan Publishing).*
John Klotsche: Donald John Trump: MEMEoir of a Stable
Genius (paperback, 2019, Gatekeeper Press).*
John Lithgow: Dumpty: The Age of Trump in Verse (2019,
Mike Luckovich: A Very Stable Genius (paperback,
2018, ECW Press): editorial cartoons.*
Michael S Luzzi: Trumpty Dumpty: A Parody Is on the Loose,
Trump's Invaded Mother Goose, a Chronicle of Trumpty Times, Reimagind
in Classic Rhymes (paperback, Boggs Hill Boys Press).*
MAD: MAD About Trump: A Brilliant Look at Our Brainless
President (paperback, 2017, MAD).*
MAD: MAD About the Trump Era (paperback, 2019, MAD).*
Brennan Matthews/Michelle Kerr: Tragic Trump: A Series of
Comical Explanations for President Donald Trump (paperback,
Media Lab Books: My Amazing Book About Tremendous Me:
Donald J Trump -- Very Stable Genius (2018, Media Lab Books).*
Leroy Mould II/Karin Carlson, eds: Very Stable Genius:
The Best Words and Quotations of Donald J Trump, Individual One,
the Chosen One. Volume II (paperback, 2019, independent).*
A Nasty Woman: F*ck Trump: An Adult Coloring Book
(paperback, 2017, Toppings Publishing).*
Rob Sears: The Beautiful Poetry of Donald Trump
(2020, Canongate Books).*
GB Trudeau: Yuge! 30 Years of Doonesbury on Trump
(paperback, 2016, Andrews McNeel).
GB Trudeau: #SAD!: Doonesbury in the Time of Trump
(paperback, 2018, Andrews McMeel).
GB Trudeau: Lewser! More Doonesbury in the Time of Trump
(paperback, 2020, Andrews McMeel).
Finally, I want to group together a long list of pro-Trump books.
In most cases, the titles alone suffice to give you an idea of how
deranged the books are. (* indicates books I haven't listed before;
I'm grouping both old and new books together for cumulative effect.)
It's possible that a small number of these exhibit more honesty and
discretion than is immediately apparent, but most are pure propaganda,
straight from the right-wing disinformation machine. There is a real
sickness out there.
Nick Adams: Trump and Churchill: Defenders of Western
Civilization (2020, Post Hill Press): Foreword by Newt
Mykel Barthelemy: Trump Is a Racist! Here's Why
(paperback, 2019, independent).*
James A Beverley: God's Man in the White House: Donald Trump
in Modern Christian Prophecy (paperback, 2020, Castle Quay).*
Conrad Black: Donald J Trump: A President Like No Other
(2018, Regnery): Reissue [August 18] with new title: A President Like
No Other: Donald J Trump and the Restoring of America (paperback,
2020, Encounter Books).
Don Bongino: Exonerated: The Failed Takedown of President
Donald Trump by the Swamp (2019, Post Hill Press).
Eric Bolling: The Swamp: Washington's Murky Pool of Corruption
and Cronyism and How Trump Can Drain It (2017, St Martin's).
L Brent Bozell III/Tim Graham: Unmasked: Big Media's War
Against Trump (2019, Humanix Books).
Jason Chaffetz: The Deep State: How an Army of Bureaucrats
Protected Barack Obama and Is Working to Destroy the Trump Agenda
Jason Chaffetz: Power Grab: The Liberal Scheme to Undermine
Trump, the GOP, and Our Republic (2019, Broadside Books).
John Michael Chambers: Trump and the Resurrection of America:
Leading America's Second Revolution (2019, Defiance Press).
Steve Cioccolanti: Trump's Unfinished Business: 10 Prophecies
to Save America (paperback, 2020, Discover Media).
Horace Cooper: How Trump Is Making Black America Great Again:
The Untold Story of Black Advancement in the Era of Trump (2020,
Jerome R Corsi: Killing the Deep State: The Fight to Save
President Trump (2018, Humanix Books).
Ann Coulter: In Trump We Trust: E Pluribus Awesome!
Ann Coulter: Resistance Is Futile! How the Trump-Hating Left
Lost Its Collective Mind (2018, Penguin).*
Charles Davies: Getting Trump: How the Media Is Hurting Itself
Chasing the Donald (2019, Defiance Press).
Alan Dershowitz: Trumped Up: How Criminalization of Political
Differences Endangers Democracy (paperback, 2017, CreateSpace).
Alan Dershowitz: The Case Against Impeaching Trump
(2018, Hot Books): Later reissued as The Case Against the Democratic
House Impeaching Trump (2019, Hot Books).
JM Eckert: And In Walked Trump: For Such a Time as This
(paperback, 2018, Xulon Press).
John L Fraser: The Truth Behind Trump Derangement Syndrome:
There is More Than Meets the Eye (paperback, 2018, JF
Major Garrett: Mr. Trump's Wild Ride: The Thrills, Chills,
Screams, and Occasional Blackouts of an Extraordinary Presidency
(2018, All Points Books).
Newt Gingrich: Understanding Trump (2017, Center
Newt Gingrich: Trump's America: The Truth About Our Nation's
Great Comeback (2018, Center Street).
Newt Gingrich: Trump vs China: Facing America's Greatest
Threat (2019, Center Street).
Sebastian Gorka: The War for America's Soul: Donald Trump,
the Left's Assault on America, and How We Take Back Our Country
Victor Davis Hanson: The Case for Trump (2019,
Basic Books): Historian of ancient Greece, turned right-wing hack.
Robert Henderson: Praying for the Prophetic Destiny of
the United States and the Presidency of Donald J Trump From the
Courts of Heaven (paperback, 2020, Destiny Image).*
Thomas R Horn: The Rabbis, Donald Trump, and the Top-Secret
Plan to Build the Third Temple: Unveiling the Incendiary Scheme by
Religious Authorities, Government Agents, and Jewish Rabbis to Invoke
Messiah (paperback, 2019, Defender).*
Thomas R Horn: Shadowland: From Jeffrey Epstein to the
Clintons, From Obama and Biden to the Occult Elite: Exposing the
Deep-State Actors at War With Christianity, Donald Trump, and
America's Destiny (paperback, 2020, Defender).*
David Horowitz: Big Agenda: President Trump's Plan to Save
America (2017, Humanix Books).
David Horowitz: Blitz: Trump Will Smash the Left and Win
(2020, Humanix Books).
Charles Hurt: Still Winning: Why America Went All In on Donald
Trump -- And Why We Must Do It Again (2019, Center Street).
Gregg Jarrett: The Russia Hoax: The Illicit Scheme to Clear
Hillary Clinton and Frame Donald Trump (2018; paperback, 2019,
Gregg Jarrett: Witch Hunt: The Story of the Greatest Mass
Delusion in American Political History (2019, Broadside Books).
Ronald Kessler: The Trump White House: Changing the Rules
of the Game (2018, Crown Forum).*
Charlie Kirk: The MAGA Doctrine: The Only Ideas That Will
Win the Future (2020, Broadside Books).*
Corey R Lewandowski/David N Bossie: Let Trump Be Trump:
The Inside Story of His Rise to the Presidency (2017,
Corey R Lewandowski/David N Bossie: Trump's Enemies: How the
Deep State Is Undermining the Presidency (2018, Center Street).
Corey R Lewandowski/David N Bossie: Trump: America First
(2020, Cener Street).
Theodore Roosevelt Malloch: The Plot to Destroy Trump: The
Deep State Conspiracy to Overthrow the President (paperback,
Lily Manchubel: Too Far Left: An Eroding United States Democratic
Republic: Anecdotal Observations of President Obama's Administration Left
Leaning Cultural Shift, Poor Foreign and Domestic Government Policies;
Versus That of Trump's More Right of Center Programs (paperback,
2019, Lulu Publishing Services): Deserves some sort of award for cutest
Matt Margolis: Trumping Obama: How President Trump Saved Us
From Barack Obama's Legacy (paperback, 2019, Bombardier Books).
KT McFarland: Revolution: Trump, Washington and "We the
People" (2020, Post Hill Press).*
Paul McGuire/Troy Anderson: Trumpocalypse: The End-Times
President, a Battle Against the Globalist Elite, and the Countdown
to Armageddon (paperback, 2019, FaithWords).*
Stephen Moore/Arthur Laffer: Trumponomics: Inside the America
First Plan to Revive Our Economy (2018, All Points Books):
Possibly the two worst "economists" in America.*
Hal Moroz: The Book of Tweets: President Trump's Social
Media Revolution & America's New Birth of Freedom (paperback,
Bill O'Reilly: The United States of Trump: How the President
Really Sees America (2019, Henry Holt).
George Papadopoulos: Deep State Target: How I Got Caught in
the Crosshairs of the Plot to Bring Down President Trump
(2019, Diversion Books).
Star Parker With Richard Manning: Necessary Noise: How Donald
Trump Inflames the Culture War and Why This Is Good News for America
(2019, Center Street).
Jeanine Pirro: Liars, Leakers, and Liberals: The Case Against
the Anti-Trump Conspiracy (2018, Center Street).
Jeanine Pirro: Radicals, Resistance, and Revenge: The Left's
Plot to Remake America (2019, Center Street).
Andrew F Puzder: The Capitalist Comeback: The Trump Boom
and the Left's Plot to Stop It (2018, Center Street): Trump's
first pick to be Secretary of Labor.*
Ralph Reed: For God and Country: The Christian Case for
Trump (2020, Regnery).*
Vernon Robinson III/Bruce Eberle: Coming HOme: How Black
Americans Will Re-Elect Trump (2020, Humanix Books).*
Jesse Romero: A Catholic Vote for Trump: The Only Choice
in 2020 for Republicans, Democrats, and Independents Alike
(paperback, 2020, TAN Books).*
Austin Ruse: The Catholic Case for Trump (2020,
Anthony Scaramucci: Trump: The Blue-Collar President
(paperback, 2019, Center Street).
Allen Salkin/Aaron Short: The Method to the Madness: Donald
Trump's Ascent as Told by Those Who Were Hired, Fired, Inspired --
and Inaugurated (2019, All Points).
Michael Savage: Trump's War: His Battle for America
(2017, Center Street).
Michael Savage: Trump's Fight for America: The Battle
Continues (2020, Center Street).
Kurt Schlichter: The 21 Biggest Lies About Donald Trump
(And You!) (2020, Regnery).
Peter Schweizer: Profiles in Corruption: Abuse of Power
by America's Progressive Elite (2020, Harper).*
Lee Smith: The Plot Against the President: The True Story
of How Congressman Devin Nunes Uncovered the Biggest Political Scandal
in US History (2019, Center Street).*
George A Sorial/Damian Bates: The Real Deal: My Decade
Fighting Battles and Winning Wars With Trump (2019, HarperCollins):
Sorial is a "longtime Trump Organization executive and attorney."
Sean Spicer: Leading America: President Trump's Commitment to
People, Patriotism, and Capitalism (2020, Center Street).
Roger Stone: The Myth of Russian Collusion: The Inside Story
of How Donald Trump Really Won (paperback, 2019, Skyhorse).
Stephen E Strang: Trump Aftershock: The President's Seismic
Impact on Culture and Faith in America (2018, Frontline).*
Stephen E Strang: God and Donald Trump (2017,
Stephen E Strang: God, Trump, and the 2020 Election:
Why He Must Win and What's at Stake for Christians if He Loses
Kimberley Strassel: Resistance (At All Costs): How Trump
Haters Are Breaking America (2019, Twelve).
Mark Taylor: The Trump Prophecies: The Astonishing True Story
of the Man Who Saw Tomorrow . . . and What He Says Is Coming Next
(2nd ed, paperback, 2019, Defender).*
Donald Trump Jr: Triggered: How the Left Thrives on Hate and
Wants to Silence Us (2019, Center Street).
Lance Wallnau: God's Chaos Candidate: Donald J Trump and
the American Unraveling (2016, Killer Sheep Media): Written
after Jeb Bush referred to Trump as "the chaos candidate."*
Doug Wead: Game of Thorns: The Inside Story of Hillary
Clinton's Failed Campaign and Donald Trump's Winning Strategy
(paperback, 2018, Center Street).*
Doug Wead: Inside Trump's White House: The Real Story of
His Presidency (2019, Center Street).*
Diana West: The Red Thread: A Search for Ideological Drivers
Inside the Anti-Trump Conspiracy (paperback, 2019, independent).*
Matthew Whitaker: Above the Law: The Inside Story of How the
Justice Department Tried to Subvert President Trump (2020,
Regnery): Whitaker was Trump's Acting Attorney General after Trump
fired Jeff Sessions.*
John Yoo: Defender in Chief: Donald Trump's Fight for
Presidential Power (2020, St Martin's): GW Bush's "torture
Monday, May 11, 2020
Expanded blog post,
Music: Current count 33244  rated (+37), 212  unrated (-6).
Probably the longest list of musician deaths of any week so far
Sweet Pea Atkinson (74): singer for Was (Not Was), had one
solo album, Don't Walk Away (1982), a good one.
Richie Cole (72), alto saxophonist, many albums 1976-2019.
John Erhardt (58): pedal steel guitarist for Wussy.
Dave Greenfield (71): keyboardist for The Stranglers.
Penniman (87), better known as Little Richard: major
figure in early rock & roll, recorded regularly from 1951-72
(occasionally up to 1992), his biggest hits running from "Tutti
Frutti" (1955) to "Good Golly Miss Molly" (1958).
Florian Schneider (73), of Kraftwerk.
Millie Small (72): had hit Jamaican single "My Boy
- Betty Wright (66): soul singer, had hit "Clean Up Woman" (1971)
At least those were the ones I jotted down.
lists another dozen-plus musicians I didn't recognize -- mostly classical
and world, but also three rappers: Benedict Chijioke [Ty], William Daniels
[King Shooter], and Andre Harrell, the latter better known as a producer.
No new names so far Monday, but comedian Jerry Stiller (92) died today.
As you may know, his "better half" (Anne Meara) passed in 2015.
I haven't tracked down much writing on these musicians, but can point
to Robert Christgau's
Little Richard: Sexual Shaman and Embodiment of Rock 'n' Roll at Its
Most Incendiary. Billboard has been keeping
their own list, which adds names like:
and many more from earlier in the year.
Speaking of obituaries, the Wichita Eagle runs a couple pages of them
on Sundays, a bit less on Wednesdays. I didn't do an exact count, and I
didn't dig back into the archives, but there's a good chance that Sunday's
list was the first time in my life when more people younger than me died
than people older than me. The list above split 6 older, 2 younger, but
5 of the 6 were +5 years or less, so for my wife, the break would be 1
older (Little Richard), 7 younger. That's, well, disturbing.
Records listed below lean toward old music. I started the week listening
to items I hadn't previously heard from drummer
Bandcamp page (Auricle Records). One of the first records I tried
Perfect World, a Penguin Guide **** and an A- last
week. Nothing this week that good, but that's often the case given
how I snatch up the better-regarded records first, and am usually
content to give the rest a single spin. Some other Hemingway records
I especially recommend (* on Bandcamp page):
Songs (2002), The Whimbler (2005)*, Riptide (2011)*;
BassDrumBone's Hence the Reason (1997);
Saturn Cycle (1994, with Georg Gräwe and Ernst Reijseger);
En Adir (1997, with Ivo Perelman, Marilyn Crispell and William Parker);
Inbetween Spaces (2010, with Ellery Eskelin)*;
Below the Surface Of (2010, with Terence McManus)*;
The Apple in the Dark (2010, with Ivo Perelman);
Code Re(a)d (2014, with Assif Tsahar and Mark Dresser);
Table of Changes (2015, with Marilyn Crispell);
Luminous (2018, with Simon Nabatov and Barry Guy);
many more side credits, including most of what he did in Anthony
Braxton's legendary 1983-93 Quartet --
Willisau (Quartet) 1991 is especially monumental;
also two Lisa Sokolov records Presence (2004) and
A Quiet Thing (2009).
Hemingway's site offered two BassDrumBone albums I hadn't heard,
so that got me looking at trombonist Ray Anderson. The two Dutch
albums on Kemo are fun, and there's a good chance that one (or both)
could eventually earn an A- grade. The Henry Threadgill album is one
I had ungraded on vinyl, and then I noticed the Air albums. Having
run out of Astral Spirits CDs, I felt the need to dust off the
turntable and play the three LPs they sent me -- but I had pulled
the Threadgill album out a while back, so went with it first -- then
moved on to other ungraded LPs (they'll show up in next week's
Meanwhile, I wiped out nearly all of my demo queue, and even
delved into some downloads I had lying around. Plus I got guidance
from two list compilers:
Lucas Fagen (a short, belated 2019 list) and
Phil Overeem (a long one on 2020 so far). Thanks to the latter for
noticing Mark Lomax's The 400 Years Suite -- though he would
probably return the nod for me writing up Lomax's 2019 12-CD 400:
An Afrikan Epic. The new one can be viewed as a footnote to last
year's edition, but I doubt anyone else will produce a more powerful
jazz album this year.
The Aruán Ortiz album is a re-grade from one I streamed back in
March. Maybe it does
help to send me physical product (although this one is pure promo).
A persistent publicist got me to listen to a download of the Dave
Glasser album after the physical got lost in the mail. I should
also mention the MakroQuarktet set. Good chance I would have given
an A- to a straight reissue of their 2008 album Each Part a
Whole, but the extra material didn't quite merit it. However,
if you consider the extra material a mere bonus, and understand
that after sampling it you can stick the the first disc, you might
value it higher.
Not much to report on various projects. I did announce a
Q&A feature last week, but so far have only received one
question (and not one I'm chomping at the bit to answer --
something about a low grade for a record I don't recall in
any detail, beyond the obvious point that I didn't much like
it). I won't guarantee that I'll answer every question, but
I'll get to that one in due course. Meanwhile, any questions?
this form. Thanks.
New records reviewed this week:
- Anáhuac: Y_y (2017 , Astral Spirits): [dl]: B
- Anáhuac: Ascua (2018 , Astral Spirits): [dl]: B+(*)
- Brian Andres Trio Latino: Mayan Suite (2019 , Bacalao): [cd]: B+(*) [05-15]
- Blueface: Dirt Bag (2019, Cash Money, EP): [r]: B+(***)
- Blueface: Find the Beat (2020, Cash Money): [r]: B+(**)
- Dave Glasser: Hypocrisy Democracy (2019 , Here Tiz): [dl]: A-
- Jinx Lennon: Border Schizzo Fffolk Songs for the Fuc**d (2020, Septic Tiger): [r]: B+(**)
- Mark Lomax, II & the Urban Art Ensemble: 400 Years Suite (2019 , CFG Multimedia): [r]: A
- Josh Nelson Trio: The Discovery Project: Live in Japan (2019 , Steel Bird): [cd]: B+(**)
- Arturo O'Farrill/The Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra: Four Questions (2020, Zoho): [cd]: B
- Adam Rudolph/Ralph M. Jones/Hamid Drake: Imaginary Archipelago (2020, Meta): [cd]: B+(***)
- Brandon Seabrook With Cooper-Moore & Gerald Cleaver: Exultation (2019 , Astral Spirits): [dl]: B+(***) [06-19]
- TeeJayx6: The Swipe Lessons (2019, The Family Entertainment): [r]: B+(***)
Recent reissues, compilations, and vault discoveries:
- The MacroQuarktet: The Complete Night: Live at the Stone NYC (2007 , Out of Your Head, 2CD): [cd]: B+(***)
- Air: Live Air (1976-77 , Black Saint): [r]: B+(*)
- Air: Montreux Suisse Air: Live at Montreux 1978 (1978, Arista Novus): [r]: B+(*)
- Air: Air Mail (1980 , Black Saint): [r]: B+(**)
- Ray Anderson/Mark Helias/Gerry Hemingway: Oahspe (1978 , Auricle): [bc]: B+(***)
- Ray Anderson/Han Bennink/Frank Möbus/Ernst Glerum/Paul Van Kemenade: Who Is in Charge? (2010 , Kemo): [r]: B+(***)
- Ray Anderson/Han Bennink/Ernst Glerum/Paul Van Kemenade: Checking Out (2016, Kemo): [r]: B+(***)
- BassDrumBone [Ray Anderson/Mark Helias/Gerry Hemingway]: Cooked to Perfection (1986-96 , Auricle): [bc]: B+(**)
- John Butcher/Gerry Hemingway: Buffalo Pearl (2005 , Auricle): [bc]: B+(***)
- Gerry Hemingway: Kwambe (1978, Auricle): [bc]: B+(*)
- Gerry Hemingway: Solo Works (1981, Auricle): [bc]: B
- Gerry Hemingway Quintet: Outerbridge Crossing (1985 , Sound Aspects): [bc]: B+(*)
- Gerry Hemingway: Tubworks (1985 , Sound Aspects): [bc]: B+(*)
- Gerry Hemingway Quintet: Slamadam (1991-94 , Random Acoustics): [bc]: B+(***)
- Gerry Hemingway: Acoustic Solo Works 1983-94 (1983-94 , Random Acoustics): [bc]: B+(*)
- Gerry Hemingway Quintet: Waltzes, Two-Steps and Other Matters of the Heart (1996 , GM): [bc]: B+(***)
- Gerry Hemingway Quartet: Johnny's Corner Song (1997 , Auricle): [bc]: B+(**)
- Gerry Hemingway/Thomas Lehn (Tom & Gerry): Kinetics (2003-06 , Auricle): [bc]: B+(*)
- Gerry Hemingway: Kernelings: Solo Works 1995-2012 (1995-2012 , Auricle): [bc]: B+(**)
- New Air: Live at Montreal International Jazz Festival (1983 , Black Saint): [r]: B+(***)
- Henry Threadgill Sextett: Subject to Change (1984 , About Time): [lp]: B+(**)
- WHO [Michel Wintsch/Gerry Hemingway/Bänz Oester]: Identity (1999, Leo): [r]: B+(***)
- WHO Trio: WHO Zoo (Acoustic) (2011-13 , Auricle): [bc]: B+(***)
- WHO Trio: WHO Zoo (Electric) (2011-13 , Auricle): [bc]: B+(***)
Grade (or other) changes:
- Aruán Ortiz With Andrew Cyrille and Mauricio Herrera: Inside Rhythmic Falls (2019 , Intakt): [cd]: [was: B+(**)] A-
Unpacking: Nothing new found in the mail last week.
Sunday, May 10, 2020
We seem to be at a crossroads, where the pandemic is undiminished
but the pressures to re-open the economy have grown to the point where
stupidity is taking over. I have to admit I was surprised to see the
economy shut down as quickly and firmly as happened in the first weeks
of March. I was also surprised that Congress moved so dramatically to
compensate victims of the collapse. However, over the last couple of
weeks Republicans have started to revert to form. It's never been
clearer how they see the stock market as a proxy for America: with
the stock market recovered from its initial shock, they don't have
any qualms about letting the rest of the economy rot. Sure, they
talk about opening up, but what they really want to do is to shirk
responsibility: to blame unemployment on chickenshit workers and
customers, and bully them into bucking up.
Meme of the week: "The end of stay-at-home orders doesn't mean the
pandemic is over. It means they currently have room for you in the
Some scattered links this week:
Following Mexico's worker strikes, US steps in to keep border factories
Peter Baker/Michael Crowley:
Two White house coronavirus cases raise question of if anyone is really
Trump vows complete end of Obamacare law despite pandemic.
The coronavirus killed American exceptionalism.
Fauci and Birx's public withdrawal worries health experts: "As Trump
clamps down on coronavirus communications, voices of experts give way to
those of politicians."
Win or loose, Trump's top campaign aides are raking in the cash.
For Parscale, who just a few years ago was designing websites in San
Antonio for Trump's properties, among other clients, the sudden wealth
has afforded him a $2.4 million waterfront house in Fort Lauderdale,
Florida, a pair of million-dollar condos, a brand new $400,000 boat,
and another half-million dollars in luxury cars, including a Range
Rover and a Ferrari.
"This thing has been a large criminal enterprise. It's like that
scene in the 'Goodfellas' after the heist," said Republican consultant
Stuart Stevens, a veteran of the George W. Bush and Mitt Romney
presidential campaigns. "Dishing out furs to mob bosses' girlfriends
On the other hand, you have to admit that Parscale et al. are really
getting in tune with what Trump is all about.
Aaron C Davis:
In the early days of the pandemic, the US government turned down an offer
to manufacture millions of N95 masks in America. Related:
Jason Dearen/Mike Stobbe:
Trump administration buries detailed CDC advice on reopening.
Pulitzer winner Chris Hedges: These "are the good times -- compared to
what's coming next." Interview with Hedges, who insists: "We're
heading for a steep decline; Biden and the Democrats have no answers."
Concludes with a long pitch on "what does it mean to vote for Joe Biden?" --
projecting into the future every mistake and misstep Biden has made over
the last 40-50 years (and sure, there have been a lot of them). On the
other hand, to pick just one example, do you really think that Biden
wants to further militarize the police and double again the population
of American prisons? And do you really think that Democrats today would
let him do that? Or sign another trade deal like NAFTA, further decimating
America's manufacturing industry? I think it speaks poorly as to Biden's
character that he has gone along with (and in rare instances led) such
things in the past, and I think Democrats made a mistake nominating a
politician with such a miserable record, but I don't think it fates him
or them to repeatedly worsen such mistakes in the future. Hedges insists,
"America's current political system is a corporate political duopoly."
He then admits trivial differences, although the Republican side of the
list ("nativists and racists and climate deniers and creationists") doesn't
strike me as all that trivial. True, Democrats have long been beholden to
the donor class, and they've often put their donors' interests above the
people's, but they also depend on the people for votes, and occasionally
offer them some consolation and hope -- while Republicans under Trump have
little to offer their "base" beyond vindictive rage. Hedges' critique of
the "corporate Democrats" has been valid for a long time, but is eroding
now as the reality of increasing inequality and risks posed by war, by
pollution, by climate change, and by pandemic becomes undeniable. Biden's
nomination may be a last hurrah for the Democratic Party old guard, but if
elected the problems he will face are ones that only have viable solutions
by moving the country to the left. He may well lack the imagination and
leadership skills to succeed, but it's hard to see how he could fail worse
than the current president and his party. I might respect Hedges' pessimism
more if he offered some insight that wasn't simply rooted in repetition of
past failures. It may well be true, for instance, that globalization and
overpopulation has made pandemics (and similar health risks like resistant
bacteria) inevitable and increasingly frequent. It probably is true that
climate change is irreversible and will lead to catastrophic events. It
may be the case that elites will prove so skilled at manipulating mass
psychology that democracy will never get the chance to make rational
poitical decisions. It is likely that technology will develop in strange
ways with vast unintended consequences. It may be that people are so
ill-adapted to civilization that they will tear it down rather than
figure out how to humanize it. Serious pessimists can do something with
such thoughts. Hedges, on the other hand, offers this prescription for
a better future: "Mass mobilization and civil disobedience is what is
needed to defeat the oligarchs and take those first steps necessary to
win back an American democracy." Sure, that's what left-activists like
Hedges have believed and lived by at least since the noble struggle for
civil rights, but that never was a tactic virtuous in its own right --
as the anti-abortion movement proved, and today's anti-lockdown protests
are reiterating. At some point every movement has to move off the streets
and into the voting booths. And even if it's still hard to find candidates
clearly committed to "defeating oligarchs" and "restoring democracy," it's
not really that hard to identify differences. You can start by preferring
candidates who empathize with more people and are more skeptical of elite
favors. You can look for candidates who are smarter and more realistic.
And if all else fails, you can vote for Democrats on the grounds that
(unlike Republicans) they at least on occasion line up with reasonable,
The plague brought the Renaissance. What could Covid-19 bring?
"Three hypotheses on post-pandemic life." Pull quote: "My three
hypotheses (and my hope) is that the long-term effect of the coronavirus
pandemic will be to strengthen the importance (at least in North America)
of competence, science, and solidarity." Evidently by showing what
happens when you lack or ignore all three.
Peter Elkind/Doris Burke/Meg Cramer:
Meet the shadowy accountants who do Trump's taxes and help him seem
richer than he is.
Debunking Trump's China nonsense.
On the road to emancipation: "The making of the Radical Republicans."
Reviews LeeAnna Keith: When It Was Grand: The Radical Republican History
of the Civil War. Here's a fact I didn't know, but which makes today's
polarization seem relatively civil: "Joanne B. Freeman's The Field of
Blood relates how nearly every session of Congress from the mid-1830s
to the outbreak of civil war in 1861 witnessed members exchanging punches
or drawing knives and pistols." I did know about the caning of Charles
Sumner on the Senate floor, but thought it more isolated. [Andrew Delbanco
reviewed Freeman's book
here, starting with details of the assault on Sumner.] Other notes:
"Kellie Carter Jackson's recent study of black abolitionists, Force
and Freedom, focuses on their increasingly vocal calls for slave
rebellion." And: "In The War Before the War, his study of the
response to the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850, Andrew Delbanco suggests
that armed conflict over slavery began years before the attack on Fort
Sumter" -- not so surprising given to anyone familiar with the career
and legacy of John Brown.
Does the Never Trump movement matter?: Reviews a new book by
Robert P Saldin and Steven M Teles: Never Trump: The Revolt of
the Conservative Elites. While GOP elites may have started out
uneasy about Trump, their qualms were tactical rather than moral,
and they vanished the moment Trump scored his upset victory. It is
significant that there are virtually no politicians in the "Never
Trump" camp. The only identifiable names are pundits, most of whom
write for mainstream outlets which prize the occasional centrist
heterodoxy a George Will or a David Brooks trades in. Such writers
are only amusing when they lay into Trump (Jennifer Rubin and Max
Boot show particular relish there) but become instantly ridiculous
the moment they try to defend their conservative bona fides. One
imagines they saw their apostasy as a calculated bet given certainty
that Trump would prove a colossal failure, and now they're stuck and
lost. When the time does come to blot Trump from GOP memory -- as it
has for GW Bush -- the party faithful won't remember the "Never
Trumpers" for their prescience. They're a spent force both in and
beyond their party.
With a distracted public, the Pentagon tries to get away with killing
innocent civilians. Sure, but since when did the US need a pandemic
to provide cover for indiscriminate slaughter abroad?
It's not your imagination. Allergy season gets worse every year.
Getting Trumped by Covid-19. First-person narrative, experiencing
lockdown first in Norway then in America (Massachusetts). One of those
nations dealt with it competently and effectively. One didn't. She
tested positive after flying to Boston.
Ida B Wells awarded posthumous Pulitzer Prize for lynching investigations.
A little late, given that she died in 1931, and her reporting on lynchings
date from 1892.
The Justice Department has dropped Michael Flynn's case. Related:
Bill Barr's revealing defense of the Flynn decision.
Barr reignites charge he is conducting Mueller cleanup for Trump.
Welcome to William Barr's America, where the truth makes way for the
11 legal experts agree: There's no good reason for DOJ to drop the
Michael Flynn case.
Why the Flynn dismissal is way worse than a pardon.
Mary B McCord:
Bill Barr twisted my words in dropping the Flynn case. Here's the truth.
Heather Digby Parton:
Michael Flynn walks free -- and Donald Trump's massive betrayal of America
continues. Poor choice of words: "betrayal of America" implies that
"America" has some interests distinct from the American people, and her
thrust becomes clear with the second sentence landing on Vladimir Putin.
As I see it, Flynn is guilty of three things: (1) politicizing his rank
as a lieutenant general while still in service, setting himself up as an
influential Republican operative once he got fired; (2) using his insider
political status to seek out lucrative "consulting" fees from foreign
governments (especially, but not exclusively, Turkey), even while seeking
a Trump post that would obviously present conflicts of interest; and (3)
lying to the FBI about what he had done. Now, the latter doesn't strike
me as much of a crime -- indeed, it seems designed to criminalize behavior
that is merely embarrassing -- but that he lied is an admission that what
he lied about was embarrassing, even if not technically illegal (in which
case he could have pleaded the fifth amendment, but that would probably
have failed his FBI vetting, and therefore his chance of capitalizing on
his appointment). In dropping the charges, Barr is doing something else,
even if it's not quite clear exactly what. He seems to be signaling to
other Trump people that it's OK to do Flynn-like things, including lie
to the FBI, as long as they remain in Trump's good graces. He also seems
to be telling the American people that it's OK if politics (or in Flynn's
case, the pursuit of money and influence) skirts a few laws -- that the
Justice Department will use its discretion to decide who to prosecute
and who it can exempt, and that those decisions are more clearly than
ever ones of political expediency. I don't know whether that "betrays
America," but it most definitely screws the American people.
The Michael Flynn dismissal is another shot in Trump's war on the Mueller
Mike Flynn ran interference for Israel -- but that angle goes unmentioned
The beginning of the end for oil? [Also at
Screen New Deal: "Under cover of mass death, Andrew Cuomo calls in
the billionaires to build a high-tech dystopia." Also on Cuomo:
An epidemic of hardship and hunger: "Why won't Republicans help
Americans losing their jobs?"
Trump and his infallible advisers: "Beware men who never admit
having been wrong." As many have noted, Trump seems constitutionally
incapable of admitting error, even when confronted with his own claims
that coronavirus cases "within a couple of days is going to be down
close to zero" and the economy is "holding up nicely."
At a time of crisis, America is led by a whiny, childlike man whose ego
is too fragile to let him concede ever having made any kind of error.
And he has surrounded himself with people who share his lack of character.
But where do these people come from? What has struck me, as details
of Trump's coronavirus debacle continue to emerge, is that he wasn't
getting bad advice from obscure, fringe figures whose only claim to fame
was their successful sycophancy. On the contrary, the people telling him
what he wanted to hear were, by and large, pillars of the conservative
establishment with long pre-Trump careers.
But when Krugman expands upon an example, he picks Kevin Hassett,
who strikes me as pretty fringe, although he does have a long pre-Trump
career, most notoriously his 1999 book Dow 36,000. Hassett was
given the job of figuring out a way to model Covid-19 cases to make
them disappear or at least diminish. For more on this, see Matthew
The Trump administration's "cubic model" of coronavirus deaths,
explained. Krugman closes:
Yes, Trump's insecurity leads him to reject expertise, listen only to
people who tell him what makes him feel good and refuse to acknowledge
error. But disdain for experts, preference for incompetent loyalists
and failure to learn from experience are standard operating procedure
for the whole modern G.O.P.
Trump's narcissism and solipsism are especially blatant, even
flamboyant. But he isn't an outlier; he's more a culmination of the
American right's long-term trend toward intellectual degradation. And
that degradation, more than Trump's character, is what is leading to
vast numbers of unnecessary deaths.
Crashing economy, rising stocks: What's going on? "What's bad for
America is sometimes good for the market." The simplest explanation is
that Trump et al. actually care about the stock market, unlike workers,
people, or even the economy -- not just because they're all about the
1% that owns 70% of the stocks, but because return on investment is
the only thing that really matters to them. Of course, given their
notorious incompetence, they still might blow it, but it turns out
that it's remarkably easy to bolster the stock market: just shell out
lots of money to companies, especially to banks, and the Fed is designed
just to do that.
Peacocks and vultures are circling the deficit.
The zombie invasion of Team Biden: "As I
wrote last week, the Biden campaign has been doing its best to conceal
Larry Summers's involvement in the campaign. But now Bloomberg News
has outed him." Let me add one more point: the problem with Summers
isn't just that he's often wrong (although he is, and spectacularly so),
but that he's such a dominant intellectual bully that he sucks all of
the oxygen out of the room, letting no one else get a word in. Of course,
blame for that should be shared by Clinton and Obama, who gave Summers
positions that gave him that kind of leverage. From what I gather, Obama
had fairly major issues both with Summers and Geithner, but was rarely
(if ever) able to overrule them. It's hard to see how Biden could stand
up to him.
The GOP isn't cynical enough to save us from a depression: "For
Republicans, some things are more important than winning an election --
and denying aid to vulnerable workers is one of them."
The agonizing story of Tara Reade. "Here's what I found, and where
What's killing the white working class? "The GOP continues to supply
more of the policies that are destroying its base." Review of Anne Case
and Angus Deaton: Deaths of Despair and the Future of Capitalism.
They were among the first to note a downturn in life expectancy among
working class whites, and they build on that discovery here. I'm less
sure about the political dimension. Republicans get a reliable majority
of white working class votes, even though by any objective measure
Republican policies have made working class lives poorer and riskier.
However, I wonder whether the subset of the working class that votes
for Trump and other Republicans doesn't differ from the class as a
whole: by having (for the moment) more stable jobs, by enjoying more
robust families, by being able to call on the support of churches.
In contrast, the people who are dying prematurely are most likely
the ones who have slipped through the fractures. Republicans have
done a remarkable job of convincing a majority of the white working
class that the failures of their neighbors are due to their personal
weaknesses (abetted by sinister liberal elites), and that their best
defense is to join the Republican defense of their culture. That's
a krock, of course, but until tragedy strikes, most people like to
think they are immune.
Why we need cooperatives for the digital economy: I'd go a step
further and assert that any commercial software platform can be
supplanted by a publicly-funded cooperative which would be cheaper
to develop and run, more reliable, more functional for many more
people, and free of both obvious and hidden traps and taxes.
One damn thing after another: Review of recent books by Sheri
Berman (Democracy and Dictatorship in Europe: From the Ancien Régime
to the Present Day) and Adam Przeworski (Crises of Democracy).
Trump administration releases new campus sexual assault rules in the
midst of the pandemic.
Trump drafts everyday Americans to adopt his battlefield rhetoric.
In his State of the Union speech, Trump warned about the peril of
"stupid wars," not that his insight kept him from pursuing them at
roughly the same rate as his predecessors (granting, of course, that
the Bushes were a bit more intense and reckless). Trump's innovation
has been to come up with an even stupider war: one fought against an
"invisible enemy"; one to be fought not thousands of miles away but
locally; one fought not by trained, expensively equipped volunteer
soldiers but by every working person, with few (if any) defenses;
one fought for no reason other than to make the president look good,
and to help his business supporters make money. Trump's "leadership"
in this reminds me of how eager many generals have often been to
sacrifice foot soldiers to secure pyrrhic victories.
Encouraging the public to transition out of isolation and into the world,
the president is increasingly deploying battlefield rhetoric in asking
everyday Americans to confront a raging coronavirus pandemic that has
already infected 1.3 million people in the U.S. and killed more than
80,000 -- and this week clawed its way into the inner circle of his
"The people of our country should think of themselves as warriors,"
he said during a recent visit to a face mask plant in Arizona. "Our
country has to open."
A day later, reporters at the White House asked the president whether
the new moniker was his way of telling the American people to swallow
the fact that reopening the economy will result in more Covid-19 cases --
and therefore more deaths.
"So I called these people warriors," he responded, gesturing to nurses
gathered behind him. "And I'm actually calling now . . . the nation
warriors. We have to be warriors. We can't keep our country closed down
for years. And we have to do something."
As Leana S Wen explains in
Six flaws in the arguments for reopening, "it's worth the sacrifice
if some people die so that the country has a functioning economy" is "a
false choice; there are ways to safely reopen, and consumer confidence
depends on the reassurance of public health protections." More warrior
The folly of Trump's blame-Beijing coronavirus strategy.
Trump's coronavirus task farce.
The task force is the perfect model of governance for our time, because
it is made up of people who assign tasks to other people, wait for them
to finish, and then assume that somehow, they got it done themselves.
It depends on our modern cult of executive worship, which takes the
fact that certain people have the power to make people below them carry
out their orders and turns it into an innate ability to Get Things Done.
The Democrats' cult of pragmatism: A piece I had missed from March 9,
2020, back when the Democrats still had a presidential primary race, and
the inevitable didn't even look very likely. Indeed, more here on Andrew
Cuomo and Rahm Emmanuel than on the mediocrity who finally snagged the
Charles P Pierce: More than a dozen titles in
his blog caught my eye, but I wanted to link to this one because
it's a piece of the sort of everyday graft the Trump administration
is rife with but rarely gets called out on:
This is just business as usury for this administration*: "Mick
Mulvaney's Consumer Financial Protection Bureau pulled out all the
stops to protect the profits of payday lenders." Some other
Will Americans ever forgive Trump for his heartless lack of compassion?
I rather suspect the answer is mixed. If Trump was able to display the
combination of diligence and compassion that we witnessed from, say,
Rudy Giuliani in the first couple weeks after 9/11 (before he started
reading his polling and decided he deserved a third mayoral term),
his polling would be much higher (although soft, given the likelihood
of a return to form). On the other hand, I imagine that a sizable
chunk of his followers actually likes the idea that he's a cold,
conniving bastard, and while they don't necessarily approve of him
only thinking of himself, they do like the idea that he continues
to piss off those they perceive as their sworn enemies -- and that
matters much more to them than even whether he's relatable.
4 reasons state plans to open up may backfire -- and soon. By the
way, efforts to reopen in South Korea and Germany have already backfired.
See: Nicole Winfield/Vanessa Gera/Amy Forliti:
Reopenings bring new cases in S. Korea, virus fears in Italy.
Democrats should make voting reform a nonnegotiable baseline for the
next stimulus bill: "Universal vote-by-mail is the only way to
ensure free and fair elections in November." Cites Colorado research
showing that mail-in voting "raised turnout more than 10 points among
the most vulnerable demographics, including low-income voters, and
benefited Republicans and Democrats equally." Republicans are unlikely
to believe that the issue is non-partisan -- states with heavy mail-in
voting tend to vote Democrat -- and have staked much of their political
future on various schemes to suppress the vote. The one thing mail-in
voting indisputably does is increase turnout, making elections more
representative of popular will. Anyone who believes in democracy will
take that as a plus, but unfortunately many Republican leaders do not,
and are willing to risk questions about the legitimacy of their wins
when they are based on ever-smaller plebiscites.
Elsewhere, Rupar tweeted one of the week's dumber Trump quotes,
about Pence publicist Katie Miller (also wife of evil Trump gnome
TRUMP: "Katie, she tested very good for a long period of time, and then
all of a sudden she tested positive . . . this is why the whole concept
of tests aren't necessarily great . . . today, I guess, for some reason,
she tested positive."
I noticed this when Rosanne Cash replied:
Once I took a pregnancy test and it was negative for a long time, and
then ALL OF A SUDDEN it was positive and I said what is this whole
concept and then, for some reason, I had a baby.
The absolute absurdity of blanket corporate immunity: "With his new
proposal, McConnell rides to the rescue of America's least imperiled."
Well, there needs to be some form of enforcement of safety practices to
prevent the spread of Covid-19. Torts have always been a last resort to
limit abuses of power by businesses (or anyone else), but they're slow,
expensive, and effectively arbitrary. I don't see how the long-term
threat of lawsuits can be trusted to ensure public safety, but unless
you come up with some more efficient means of enforcement, blanket
immunity is only likely to encourage businesses to abuse their powers
and skirt their responsibilities. Moreover, it's not clear where this
is coming from. At this point, most businesses are much more concerned
with reassuring workers and customers that they're safe to open. On
the other hand, McConnell may have a long-term goal to make it all
but impossible for customers and workers to sue companies, and sees
this as a moment to wedge immunity in. "Never let a crisis go to
waste," and all that.
Thousands will go uninsured in the Covid-19 outbreak because Republicans
rejected Medicaid expansion.
The essential worker trap: "It's hard to get unemployment benefits if
you've been deemed 'essential.'" Indeed, it seems like a lot of the push
to "re-open" the economy is coming from states looking to cut unemployment
The bailout miscalculation that could crash the economy.
A Bay of Pigs-style fiasco in Venezuela.
Bush was worse than Trump. Reaction to Peter Baker:
George W Bush calls for end to pandemic partisanship, where (not
for the first time) Bush proved to be saner, smarter, and more of a
statesman than Trump. Of course, any attempt to rehabilitate Bush --
even if the point is to illuminate how awful Trump is -- isn't worth
the confusion. The fact is that Nixon, Reagan, Bush, and Trump form
a series, where each is worse because their predecessors each left
the polity in much worse shape than they found it. Weiss singles out
the Iraq War as proof that Bush was the worst, but my own view is that
Iraq was just a stupid, arrogant afterthought to Bush's real disaster,
which was the decision to invade Afghanistan -- a decision Bush still
rarely gets credit for, because the media campaign was so automatic
that the major people Bush defeated (McCain in the primary, Gore in
the main) would have done exactly the same thing. (Presumably not my
candidate, Ralph Nader. But even Bernie Sanders voted for the War on
Terror; Barbara Lee was the only one with the foresight and fortitude
to vote against the mad rush to war.) Every time I see one of these
attempts at Bush nostalgia, I'm reminded of
the SNL skit where Will Ferrell plays GW Bush and delivers the
truest line ever: "So I just wanted to address my fellow Americans
tonight and remind you guys that I was really bad." Also see:
One should never forget how much severe damage GW Bush did relative
to when he started out -- worst of all was his "War on Terror," which
his successors have extended another dozen years with no sense of a
change of mind, a militarization of the American psyche that has meant
that a generation of Americans have known nothing but vicious insanity,
but his two terms were riddled with atrocious policy, starting with
his tax cuts, ending with the recession caused by years of indulging
Wall Street. Still, you Bush usually had the decency to hide his plans
behind a shroud of lies and doublespeak. Trump has mostly extended
Bush's standard Republican policy directions -- his cruel turn against
immigration is Trump's one major innovation -- what has changed is how
shameless Trump is about his contempt for law, for decency, for the
great majority of people he seeks to trample on.
The unemployment rate soared to 14.7 percent in April. The chart
is especially striking, with the unprecedentedly huge instant jump,
from the lowest rate since 1980 to nearly 30% more than the previous
post-1980 high. Even so, the monthly report understates the current
rate, which "is actually 20 percent." (A couple weeks ago I did some
math based on raw figures and came up with 19.2% unemployment. Using
my formula from then, unemployment should be up to about 25.1%
now -- minus whatever small number of people who filed unemployment
claims but have since returned or found new work.)
Flattening the curve isn't good enough.
"Leave no vacancy behind": Mitch McConnell remains laser-focused on
judges amid coronavirus. He understands that Republican control
of the Senate and Presidency are tenuous, but once confirmed judges
serve for life. And while partisan judges cannot legislate, they can
powerfully restrict the ability of the people to make meaningful
changes to law and government. More evidence that the Republicans
are more focused on conserving their power than on letting future
governments serve the will of the people.
Wednesday, May 06, 2020
Recent musician deaths:
- Richie Cole (72), alto saxophonist.
- Millie Small (72), had hit Jamaican single "My Boy Lollipop."
- Florian Schneider (73), of Kraftwerk.
Tried making black bean burgers, using recipe from
Sally's Baking Addiction. Made a half recipe, with one can of black
beans, and one egg. Couldn't find the gluten-free bread crumbs, so
used a mix of almond flour and regular bread crumbs. Added a little
whiskey sauce. Divided into four patties, a little thinner than the
recipe called for. They cooked OK, but didn't brown as expected, so
I tried turning the broiler on, which didn't help much (other than
to scorch the parchment). Melted swiss cheese over them. Served on
potato buns with mustard, brown butter mayo, red onion, pickle.
Pretty good. Recipe offers baking and broiling as options. Don't
see why I couldn't just pan-fry them.
Joni Bradley posted a link to
Lynn Paramore: Meet the economist behind the one percent's stealth takeover
of America. I commented:
This is a review of Nancy McLean's 2017 book, Democracy in Chains:
The Deep History of the Radical Right's Stealth Plan for America,
about James Buchanan, who spent most of his life as a professor in
Virginia, running a Koch-funded "think tank." The thing I was most
struck by was how much of the motivation behind his crap economic
theories was the desire to preserve and extend racial
segregation. Indeed, it's hard to find a conservative luminary in the
1950s who hasn't left an embarrassing trail of white supremacist
rantings (e.g., William Buckley, Barry Goldwater, Milton Friedman).
Gail Pellett on Facebook, on Kent State and the demonstration in
St. Louis that followed.
Fifty years ago today, late at night, a bandana tied around my
face, I watched a building burn down on the grounds of Washington
University in St Louis. I was part of a group of student anti-war
protestors and our fury was ignited by news earlier that day that four
students were shot and killed and nine injured as 28 National Guard
soldiers opened fire on anti-war protestors at Kent State University,
near Cleveland, Ohio.
Three days earlier Nixon had announced that he was expanding the
Vietnam War to Cambodia. Student protestors across the country reacted
with outrage. Already students comprised the bulk of the anti-war
movement, largely because young males were being drafted into that war
as cannon fodder. But a larger critique of American government and
society was emerging and some of us were calling for a revolution. We
spoke about the need for a new consciousness about race and class and
women and the planet.
The building I watched burn on the night of May 4, belonged to the
Reserve Officer Training Corps program on campus. ROTC programs were
major recruiting projects on campuses across the country and students
had been protesting their presence for years. The week of May 1, and
after the Kent State shootings, those buildings were torched from
coast to coast.
Other students on other campuses had also been killed. Two years
earlier at Orangeburg State College in South Carolina, three African
American students were shot dead by local highway patrolmen and almost
two dozen injured while students were protesting racial injustice and
war. A disproportionate number of African American young men were
being drafted and coming back in body bags. Then, eleven days after
May 4, 1970, at Jackson State Univ. in Mississippi, two African
American students were killed and twelve were injured by local
police. Their stories were either ignored or forgotten, washed away by
the furor over four white students being killed on a campus by
National Guard. That's how racism worked then and now -- on our
historical memory as a nation.
When people talk about our time today as the most polarized in the
U.S., and the dangerous potential for violence, I can tell what age
group they are not . . . they didn't live through the 1960s. A decade when
we witnessed a presidential assassination, a presidential candidate
murdered, leaders of the civil rights movement including Dr Martin
Luther King, assassinated, the leaders and members of the Black Power
movement brutally gunned down, the urban riots after King's
murder. All of this while the government was waging a war of bombs and
chemicals on a tiny country half a world away, and a non-violent
anti-war movement spawned a violent wing that inspired hundreds of
bombings across the country. Yes, I remember May 4, and the decade of
violence and activism that surrounded it. And how most of the
activists from that era -- black, white, brown, men, women -- continued
their activism on many levels and in many spheres to pursue justice
and equality, to oppose war and foster peace. Yes, I remember.
John Chacona posted an "album challenge" with his favorite albums
of 1978, just album covers, not sure if they're ordered in any way:
- Ornette Coleman: Body Meta
- Arthur Blythe: Lenox Avenue Breakdown
- The Cars: The Cars
- Sun Ra: Lanquidity
- Funkadelic: One Nation Under a Groove
- Air: Air Time
A few years later (1982), a movie came out called My Favorite
Year (with Peter O'Toole). I remember then thinking back and
deciding that my favorite year was 1978: living in New York, moved
in with Rebecca, then got our luxury apartment in Waterside, took
our only real vacation together (driving all over upstate NY). The
Yankees came from way behind to destroy the Boston Red Sox. and
went on to win the World Series (4-2 over the Dodgers). I stopped
writing for the Village Voice, but still a pretty good year
for music. I rated the following A or A+:
- Blondie: Parallel Lines
- Arthur Blythe: Lenox Avenue Breakdown
- Captain Beefheart: Bat Chain Puller
- Joe Ely: Honky Tonk Masquerade [+]
- Brian Eno: Before and After Science
- Willis Jackson: Bar Wars
- Nick Lowe: Pure Pop for Now People [+]
- Willie Nelson: Stardust
- Pere Ubu: The Modern Dance [+]
- Pere Ubu: Dub Housing
- The Rolling Stones: Some Girls
- Ramones: Road to Ruin
- Tom Robinson Band: Power in the Darkness
- Silver Convention: Love in a Sleeper
- Talking Heads: More Songs About Buildings and Food
- Johnny Thunders: So Alone
- Neil Young: Comes a Time
- X-Ray Spex: Germ Free Adolescents [+]
Sal Boca posted a recipe for "Stroud's Cinnamon Rolls": scanned images
of two magazine pages. I'm attempting to transcribe:
Makes 25 rolls
We developed this recipe using a 4.5-quart stand mixer. If using a
larger mixer, you may need to increase the mixing time after adding
the butter in step 2 to about 10 minutes. If the dough doesn't come
together in the mixer, switch to a paddle attachment and mix just
until the dough comes together. Then switch back to the dough hook and
keep kneading. Use an instant-read thermometer to make sure that the
milk is the correct temperature. We developed this recipe using a
ceramic baking dish. If you choose to use a metal baking pan, reduce
the baking time to 20 minutes. The slight tackiness of the dough aids
in rolling it into smooth balls in step 4, so do not dust your counter
- 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons warm milk (110 degrees)
- 1 large egg
- 2 cups plus 2 tablespoons (10-5/8 ounces) all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons instant or rapid-rise yeast
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1 teaspoon table salt
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
- 1-1/4 cups (8-1/4 ounces) sugar
- 6 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon table salt
- 12 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, divided
For the dough: Whisk milk and egg together in bowl of stand
mixer. Add flour and yeast. Fit mixer with dough hook and mix on low
speed until all flour is moistened, about 2 minutes, scraping down
dough hook and bowl as needed. Let stand 15 minutes.
Add sugar and salt and mix on medium-low speed for 5
minutes. With mixer running, add butter, 1 tablespoon at a
time. Continue to mix on medium-low speed 5 minutes longer, scraping
down dough hook and bowl occasionally (dough will stick to bottom of
bowl). Transfer dough to greased large bowl. Cover tightly with
plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature until doubled in size,
about 1 hour.
For the coating: Combine sugar, cinnamon, and salt in
bowl. Reserve 1/4 cup cinnamon sugar. Place remaining cinnamon sugar
in shallow dish. Place 6 tablespoons melted butter in second shallow
Grease 13 by 9-inch baking dish. Turn out dough onto counter
and divide dinto fifteen 1-1/3-ounce portions, divide any remaining
dough evenly among portions. Working with 1 portion at a time, cup
dough with your palm and roll against counter into smooth, tight
Working with 3 or 4 dough balls at a time, roll dough balls in
melted butter in shallow dish, then roll in cinnamon sugar in shallow
dish. Place dough balls in prepared dish in 3 rows of five. Cover
loosely with plastic and let rise at room temperature until doubled in
size, about 1 hour (cinnamon sugar coating may crack during rising;
this is OK). Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350
Bake until rolls are puffed and golden brown and register at
least 20 degrees in center, about 25 minutes. Whisk reserved cinnamon
sugar and remaining 6 tablespoons melted butter in bowl until combind
(mixture may look separated). Brush tops and sides of hot rolls with
cinnamon sugar-butter mixture (use all of it) and let cool in dish for
10 minutes. Remove rolls from dish and serve warm.
To make ahead: Before letting dough balls rise for second time in
step 5, cover baking dish with plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to
24 hours. Let dough balls sit at room temperature for 1 hour before
Monday, May 04, 2020
Expanded blog post,
Music: Current count 33207  rated (+28), 218  unrated (-3).
Some leftover Weekend Roundup business:
I came close to posting Joshua Goodman:
Ex-Green Beret led failed attempt to oust Venezuela's Maduro. What
held me back was that it wasn't clear, from an otherwise pretty detailed
article, exactly when these events happened. Then I saw a short article
in the Wichita Eagle this morning that suggested the events as quite
recent. Also: Tom Phillips:
Venezuela: anti-Maduro battle isn't over as ex-US soldier says he launched
raid, and Patricia Torres/Julian Borger/Joe Parkin Daniels/Tom
The plot that failed: how Venezuela's 'uprising' fizzled. However,
the latter suggests that these events happened a year ago (there is a
John Bolton tweet from Apr 30, 2019), so what's new may just be the
ex-Green Beret quotes/claims. What is clear is that this is another
shameful chapter in America's clandestine (sometimes overt) efforts
to intervene in Latin America, always in support of business interests,
with scant (if any) regard for the rights and welfare of the masses.
Tweet from Matthew Yglesias today: "It's wild to me that while
a bunch of countries appear to have successfully suppressed the virus,
America is just going to give up." I replied: "Is this the first time
in history that a US president has followed Sen. George Aiken's Vietnam
War advice: declare victory and come home? Good idea then, but I don't
see how it might even apply now." Looking at Yglesias's
thread, I noticed an article by Francis Fukuyama called
The thing that determines a country's resistance ot the coronavirus,
which is trust. I've seen Trump described as a "destroyer of trust"
Michael Lewis), and indeed no political figure in my recollection
has worked so relentlessly and effectively at destroying the public's
trust in government, but the process has been going on for a long time --
my own naive faith in America was devastated by the prosecution of the
Vietnam War, which for me was only the first of scores of revelations.
Given the efforts on all sides to politicize everything -- not unlike
the even more pervasive drive to monetize everything -- it's remarkable
that anyone is still trustworthy. But the modern world is so complex
and unfathomable that we have no real alternative -- and nowhere is
this more painfully obvious than with medicine.
Another famous musician died last week:
Tony Allen, the Nigerian drummer who founded Afrobeat (although
his bandleader, Fela Anikulapo Kuti, took most of the credit). He
released a few dozen post-Fela albums under his own name. Perhaps
the best came out early this year, Rejoice, a 2010 vault tape
co-headlined by the late South African trumpet master, Hugh Masekela.
Looking at lists of recent deaths, one name that jumped out at me
Maj Sjowall (84), co-author of the Martin Beck detective books,
a name I recall from early days when I took seriously every book
published by Pantheon Books. One of many names I was unfamiliar with,
but belatedly thankful for, was
Henry Geller, who was resposible for getting cigarette advertising
banned from TV.
Also noticed the "overlooked" obituary of
Kate Worley (1958-2004), who wrote the Omaha the Cat Dancer
comics (with illustrator Reed Waller). I probably read more of them
than of any of the recent authors to show up in these lists.
Count a bit light this time. That happens from time to time, and
may reflect nothing more than that I played old music for breakfast
most of the week. Also worked on my queue, which is under ten deep,
and some of that on vinyl. (I guess I should at least make sure my
turntable still works, but I've been going through a lazy spell.)
I've done a bit of website work for
Robert Christgau and for
Carol Cooper, but neither
are quite ready for prime time. The latter is an experiment trying
to convert her archive to use WordPress. I'm a bit more than half
way through, and think it doesn't look too bad. I have a potentially
bigger WordPress project for
Notes on Everyday Life,
but haven't begun to get it off the ground. Learning a few things,
I've also ported some of my
Xgau Sez to my
website, so you can fill in a form to
ask me a question (or comment or
just vent). I've added an extra entry for keywords, thinking that
it might be nice eventually to be able to bring up all the answers
on a given subject. No guarantee I'll use what you provide, but a
good suggestion will save me some thought (on the other hand, a
bad one will cost me more). I haven't ported the answer code yet.
Figure I don't have to do that until I have a question to answer.
One more item back on the agenda: I'd like to do some significant
weeding out of the paper and plastic hoard here. Started by pitching
a couple stacks of magazines into the recycle tonight. Last time I
looked into donating stuff to libraries, there seemed to be zero
interest in magazines, so that seemed like a safe place to start.
A few years back, I had a plan to start donating CDs to Wichita
State University, but my interest waned with every building they
named after a Koch, and more so after my sister died. Not sure
they're even interested any more -- at any rate lost my contact
there. I've been assuming that trying to sell things would be
too much hassle for too little return (pretty much the lesson I
drew from selling lots of vinyl before moving from NJ to KS --
got something like 25 cents per LP). If you have any thoughts on
this, let me know.
New records reviewed this week:
- Tetuzi Akiyama/Nicolas Field/Gregor Vidic: Interpersonal Subjectivities (2017 , Astral Spirits): [cd]: A-
- Chris Byars: On the Shoulders of Giants (2019 , SteepleChase): [r]: B+(**)
- Chris Cogburn/Juan García/Ignaz Schick: Anáhuac (2016 , Astral Spirits): [cd]: B+(**)
- Ronnie Cuber: Four (2019, SteepleChase): [r]: B+(***)
- Joe Ely: Love in the Midst of Mayhem (2020, Rack 'Em): [r]: B+(*)
- Dylan Hayes Electric Band: Songs for Rooms and People (2020, Blujazz): [cd]: B
- Art Hirahara: Balance Point (2020, Posi-Tone): [r]: B+(*)
- Anna Högberg Attack: Lena (2019 , Omlott): [bc]: B+(***)
- Brian Landrus/Fred Hersch/Drew Gress/Billy Hart: For Now (2019 , BlueLand): [cd]: B+(*) [05-15]
- Lil Wayne: Funeral (2020, Young Money): [r]: B+(**)
- LP and the Vinyl: Heard and Sceen (2019 , OA2): [cd]: B
- Nduduzo Makhathini: Modes of Communication: Letters From the Underworld (2020, Blue Note): [r]: B+(**)
- Joe McPhee/Dave Rempis/Tomeka Reid/Brandon Lopez/Paal Nilssen-Love: Of Things Beyond Thule Vol. 2 (2018 , Aerophonic): [bc]: B+(**)
- Tom Misch & Yussef Dayes: What Kinda Music (2020, Beyond the Groove): [r]: B+(**)
- Darrell Scott: Sings the Blues of Hank Williams (2020, Full Light): [r]: B
- Martial Solal & Dave Liebman: Masters in Paris (2016 , Sunnyside): [r]: B+(***)
- Dayna Stephens Trio: Liberty (2019 , Contagious Music): [r]: B+(***)
- Michael Thomas: Event Horizon (2019 , Giant Step Arts, 2CD): [cd]: B+(***) [05-08]
- Gary Versace: All for Now (2019 , SteepleChase): [r]: B+(**)
- Webber/Morris Big Band: Both Are True (2018 , Greenleaf Music): [r]: B+(**)
Recent reissues, compilations, and vault discoveries:
- Alan Braufman & Cooper-Moore: Live at WKCR May 22, 1972 (1972 , Valley of Search, EP): [r]: B+(**)
- Alan Braufman: Valley of Search (1975 , Valley of Search): [r]: A-
- Don Cherry/Dewey Redman/Charlie Haden/Ed Blackwell: Old and New Dreams (1979, ECM): [r]: B+(**)
- Don Cherry/Dewey Redman/Charlie Haden/Ed Blackwell [Old and New Dreams]: Playing (1980 , ECM): [r]: B+(***)
- Gerry Hemingway Quintet: Perfect World (1995 , Random Acoustics): [bc]: A-
- Old and New Dreams: Live in Saalfelden 1986 (1986 , Condition West): [bc]: B+(***)
Unpacking: Found in the mail last week:
- Bob Gluck: Early Morning Star (FMR) [06-15]
- Arturo O'Farrill/The Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra: Four Questions (Zoho)
- Aruán Ortiz With Andrew Cyrille and Mauricio Herrera: Inside Rhythmic Falls (Intakt)
- Adam Rudolph/Ralph M. Jones/Hamid Drake: Imaginary Archipelago (Meta)
Checklist for Gerry Hemingway's
- Gerry Hemingway: Kwambe (1978, Auricle) [*]
- BassDrumBone: Oahspe ()
- Gerry Hemingway: Solo Works (1981, Auricle) [B]
- Gerry Hemingway Quintet: Outerbridge Crossing (1985 , Sound Aspects) [*]
- Gerry Hemingway: Tubworks (1985 , Sound Aspects) [*]
- Gerry Hemingway Quintet: Special Detail (1990 , Hat Art) [***]
- Gerry Hemingway Quartet: Down to the Wire (1991 , Hat Art) [*]
- Gerry Hemingway Quintet: Demon Chaser (1993, Hat Art) [+]
- Gerry Hemingway Quintet: The Marmalade King (1994 , Hat Art) [***]
- Gerry Hemingway Quintet: Slamadam (1991-94 , Random Acoustics) [***]
- Gerry Hemingway: Electro-Acoustic Solo Works 1984-95 (1984-95 , Random Acoustics) [B]
- Gerry Hemingway: Acoustic Solo Works 1983-94 (1983-94 , Random Acoustics) [*]
- Gerry Hemingway Quintet: Perfect World (1995 , Random Acoustics) [A-]
- Gerry Hemingway Quartet: Johnny's Corner Song (1997 , Auricle) [**]
- BassDrumBone: Cooked to Perfection ()
- Gerry Hemingway Quintet: Waltzes, Two-Steps and Other Matters of the Heart (1996 , GM) [***]
- Gerry Hemingway Quartet: Devils Paradise (1999 , Clean Feed) [***]
- Gerry Hemingway Quintet: Double Blues Crossing (2002 , Between the Lines) [**]
- Gerry Hemingway Quartet: The Whimbler (2004 , Clean Feed) [A-]
- Tom & Gerry: Kinetics ()
- John Butcher & Gerry Hemingway: Buffalo Pearl ()
- Jin Hi Kim & Gerry Hemingway: Pulses (2009 , Auricle) [***]
- Ellery Eskelin & Gerry Hemingway: Inbetween Spaces (2008 , Auricle) [A-]
- Terrence McManus & Gerry Hemingway: Below the Surface Of (2008 , Auricle) [A-]
- Gerry Hemingway Quintet: Riptide (2009 , Clean Feed) [A-]
- Gerry Hemingway: Kernelings - Solo Works 1995-2012 ()
- WHO Trio: WHO Zoo (Electric) ()
- WHO Trio: WHO Zoo (Acoustic) ()
Saw a meme on Facebook that Phil Overeem forwarded, saying "did EVERYONE
have an English teacher that changed their life?" I stewed a bit, then
Yeah, I had an English teacher who changed my life: she single-handedly
blocked me from A honor lists in grades 7-8, and I had one in 9th who was
even worse -- only thing I learned from him was to hate the literary canon.
Also had a 9th grade science teacher who ruined what was until then my best
subject. (Still managed to get straight A's from him, so it wasn't really
the grades.) With teachers like them, I dropped out of school in 10th grade.
Learned a lot on my own since then, and managed a GED and a little college,
but never subjected myself to another English or Science course.
Phil Overeem responded (thrice):
Tom, I am sorry to hear that, I've seen 'em exactly as you describe,
but I hope you won't hold that against us all. You certainly have done
alright under your own power!
Upon reflection, one horrible teacher of mine was directly responsible
for me becoming better educated: his bs was so total I was driven to look
further into matters, at which point I learned his bs was even worse than
I'd thought. And I was a mere 12.
I probably don't even need to say this, but I am quite certain I am
some of my former students' least favorite teacher. It's pretty difficult
to do this job and not rub some folks the wrong way. I know of one student
in particular who, after I broke a cardinal rule of Socratic seminars
("The teacher should be silent.") NEVER FORGAVE ME. In fact, I do not
think she ever spoke to me again. And we had an excellent relationship
Sunday, May 03, 2020
This title offers a pretty apt introduction to the week:
As death toll passes 60,000, Trump's team searches for an exit strategy.
A good second course would be Adam Serwer:
Trump is inciting a coronavirus culture war to save himself.
Trump doesn't seem to understand much, but his big hedgehog idea
is that every day is a campaign day, and issues matter only in that
they can be spun as campaign fodder. This mostly means casting them
as culture war, using his takes to excite his base, or to offend
his enemies (which in turn excites his base). He doesn't have any
other interest in solving problems, and never feels the least bit
of responsibility when his administration fails. Indeed, he's found
that he can usually get away with not mentioning it (or declaring
it "fake news" when someone else brings it up). After all, political
discourse on the right has been untethered from reality ever since
Reagan discovered "morning in America."
As for his minions, they, too, have one hedgehog idea, which is
to consolidate as much political power as possible, and use that
power to do favors for their donors, seeing that as the way to
consolidate even more power. Hence, even with the pandemic dominating
the headlines, they keep plugging away at spreading their corrupt
Some primary returns:
Ohio (April 28, postponed from March 17): Joe Biden 72.43%,
Bernie Sanders 16.61%;
Kansas (May 2): Joe Biden 76.85%, Bernie Sanders 23.15%. Kansas,
by the way, used a ranked choice system, which eventually reduced
Tulsi Gabbard, Elizabeth Warren, and "uncommitted" to 0 votes.
Wikipedia has more: Warren got 7.8% in the first round. Biden
gained 6,119 votes when she was eliminated, vs. 5,822 for Sanders.
Some scattered links this week:
How Benjamin Netanyahu has managed the pandemic for political gain.
More on Israel:
Trump moves to replace watchdog who identified critical medical
Joe Biden/Elizabeth Warren:
There's no oversight of coronavirus relief -- because that's what
Trump wants. Pretty solid as politician-penned op-eds go. Nice
photos too. Makes them look as well as sound like a ticket.
Was that military flyover really worth the cost to taxpayers?
"Looking at what we spend on unwanted, overpriced tanks and planes
against the shortfalls in protective gear."
Trump wants to use coronavirus aid as leverage to force blue states to
change immigration policies. The way I read this, he wants to use
the existence of "sanctuary cities" as an excuse to deny federal aid to
"blue states." I'm not aware of any states actually having immigration
Tyler Cullis/Trita Parsi:
In tortured logic, Trump begs for a do-over on the Iran nuclear
Reopening the economy will send us to hell.
The new Great Depression is coming. Will there be a new New Deal?
Not without a major political shift, and it's quite possible that as
the crisis shifts into a "new normalcy" Republicans won't get blamed
and discredited like they were under Hoover -- after all, coronavirus
is still viewed as an external factor, even though the real damage to
the US economy and society had gradually built up under decades of
Republican-driven misrule. (Democrats don't have "clean hands" there,
but their faults were mostly the result of conceding to Republican
percepts while trying to compete for business favors). New York Times
has several more related op-eds:
The novel frugality. My parents grew up on farms during the Great
Depression, so much of this is pretty familiar to me. After my mother
died, the first thing I did was throw out a drawer full of wire ties
and recycled plastic bags.
Trump's nationalism advances on a predictable trajectory to violence.
His supporters will kill when they're told to.
Mitch McConnell's shameless pursuit of power, explained: Interview
with Jane Mayer, author of a recent New Yorker profile,
How Mitch McConnell became Trump's enabler-in-chief.
The coronavirus revealed what was already broken in America: Lots
of people could have made this point, but one Illing interviewed here
is George Packer, who many of us have had trouble stomaching since he
emerged as a leading liberal apologist for Bush's 2003 invasion of
Iraq. To be fair, he walked his advocacy back, rather quickly in his
2005 book, The Assassins Gate: America in Iraq, but he wrote
a hagiography of fellow hawk Richard Holbrooke as recently as 2019.
His book cited here is The Unwinding: An Inner History of the New
America (2013), and he wrote a recent piece in The Atlantic where
We are living in a failed state. I'll limit myself to one minor
point here. Illing quotes Packer as writing, "If 9/11 and 2008 wore
out trust in the old political establishment, 2020 should kill off
the idea that anti-politics is our salvation." Trust maybe, but the
"old political establishment" clung tenaciously to power after 9/11
and 2008, with no practical challenge from the so-called opposition
party. In fact, when Democrats gained power in 2009, they made a big
show of continuity -- both of the post-9/11 Forever Wars and of the
desperate 2008 scramble to bail out the banks -- retaining Bush's
Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, giving Fed chairman Ben Bernanke
a second term, and promoting NY Fed chairman Timothy Geithner to
Secretary of the Treasury. I never really thought of Trump in 2016
as "anti-politics," but one can't imagine any candidate more certain
than Hillary Clinton to extend the continuity of politics as usual
from Bush-Obama, so maybe we shouldn't be shocked that some voters
fell for "what have you got to lose"? Near four years later, we're
just beginning to add up the toll -- but the Democrats countered
with a candidate who is even more wedded to the old politics.
The post-pandemic future of work.
A single Trump tweet sums up his media strategy: Confusion.
Many world leaders have seen double-digit polling surges amid coronavirus.
Trump isn't one of them.
Kent State and the war that never ended. Reviews some books:
Derf Backderf: Kent State: Four Dead in Ohio (described as
a "gut-wrenching graphic nonfiction novel");
Nancy K Bristow: Steeped in the Blood of Racism: Black Power,
Law and Order, and the 1970 Shootings at Jackson State College;
David Paul Kuhn: The Hardhat Riot: Nixon, New York City, and
the Dawn of the White Working-Class Revolution; as well as
mentioning earlier books: I.F. Stone: The Killings at Kent State:
How Murder Went Unpunished (1970), and Philip Caputo: 13
Seconds: A Look Back at the Kent State Shootings (2005).
Why we can't help France fight its failed colonial wars in Africa:
"US lawmakers are pushing our military to stay in a region that really
has no strategic interest for America." I don't see what "strategic
interest" has to do with it, although that argument has been used with
some success in the past, as when J William Fulbright objected to LBJ's
attempt to send US troops into 1960s Congo. Since then US encroachments
in Africa have generally been kept quiet, even though the existence of
AFRICOM shouts otherwise. On the other hand, France has intervened
repeatedly in its former African colonies. (Although, when France and
Italy wanted to intervene in Libya, they prevailed on their "NATO ally"
to do the heavy bombing.)
It helps to keep this history in context. One of the key lessons of
WWII was that European powers could no longer afford to govern their
colonies in Africa and Asia -- in part because the profits of empire
had been privatized, but also because people everywhere were revolting
against imperial rule -- but they still wanted to exploit them. The
solution was to arrange for independence led by friendly or corrupt
local elites. The US got into the game big time, especially anywhere
independence threatened capital interests, all the while assuring US
companies a cut of the profits (although after globalization is has
become impossible to tell which companies belong to which countries).
Of course, Washington would rather work through proxies and cronies,
but with hundreds of bases scattered all around the world, thousands
of "advisers" and arms merchants, the US alone is capable of striking
anywhere almost instantly. On the other hand, when people do choose
to fight back, American troops have often proved to be ineffective.
Maybe, as Jonathan Schell put it, the world really is unconquerable.
The morbid ideology behind the drive to reopen America.
Through creative accounting, Trump tries to cast America's death toll as
The coronavirus is showing members of the professional class that the
government doesn't work for them either.
Mitch McConnell's rediscovery of the deficit is a recipe for a
Mark Mazzetti/Julian E Barnes/Edward Wong/Adam Goldman:
Trump officials are said to press spies to link virus and Wuhan labs.
Trump is keeping meatpacking plants open -- but employees are scared to
show up for work.
The White House has blocked Anthony Fauci from testifying in front of
a House committee.
A sexual assault allegation against Joe Biden ignited a firestorm of
controversy: "A woman says Biden assaulted her in 1993 and has
filed a criminal complaint."
Maybe had Sanders won the Democratic nomination, I might be tempted
to argue that personal character matters in this election, but he's
a rare exception among politicians. Most are the sort you don't want
to get too close to, and Biden is at best par for the course, perhaps
a bit dingier, maybe creepier too. But at this point I really don't
care, except negatively inasmuch as I think these personal stories
are distractions from the substantive political issues we should be
focusing on in this election. Of course, Biden has a pretty severely
tarnished record there, too, but compared to Trump he's an easy pick.
Maybe on character, too, but at this point I'm not even interested
in finding out. I'm reminded that when Louisiana Republicans picked
Ku Klux Klan Führer David Duke as their gubernatorial candidate, his
opponent, who had recently spent time in jail for corruption, ran
a successful campaign on the slogan: "Vote for the crook. It's
important." I doubt Biden will have to stoop that low, but running
against Trump, he surely can.
Jonathan O'Connell/Steve Rich/Peter Whoriskey:
Public companies received $1 billion in stimulus funds meant for small
How Greenwich Republicans learned to love Trump. Turns out that
Trump's supporters aren't just dumb white blue collar workers. They
also include a big slice of well off, secluded suburban elites.
Democrats aren't stuck with Joe Biden: "No one has to tie themselves
in knots to defend him if they don't want to." Nice sentiment, but hard
for me to see any alternative. The primary season got wrecked before the
pandemic finished it off, but Biden did get his votes, even if he did
next to nothing to deserve them, and lost badly when voters had a chance
to consider alternatives. But now what? Have the party insiders impose
some alternative that voters never had the chance to consider? Pareene
mentions the possibility of an Andrew Cuomo-Stacy Abrams ticket, as if
that would be more viable. Like Pareene, I'm not going to tie myself in
knots trying to defend Biden. I may not defend him at all. But I'll vote
for him against Trump, and I'll try not to make myself look too desperate
in doing so.
Where coronavirus is hitting rural America hard.
Socialism for investors, capitalism for everyone else. Still writing
from the prejudice that "socialism" is a bad thing (much like people thought
they were scoring points when complaining about "corporate welfare"). The
word, after all, is rooted in "social," which is something hedge funds will
never be associated with. I'm reminded here of "the Greenspan put" -- the
guarantee that whenever markets showed signs of weakness, the Fed would
intervene to prop they up again. Back in the 1990s, investors could still
claim a "risk premium," even though Greenspan had virtually eliminated
the risk of investing. Since 2008, the Fed has had to get creative to prop
up an ever more precariously overvalued stock market, and the measures
Pearlstein is talking about here are simply the latest and most extreme
measures. As for "everyone else," what they get isn't really capitalism,
just the trail of wreckage capitalists have always left in their wake.
A city in Oklahoma ends face mask requirement after store employees
threatened. City is
Stillwater, in north-central Oklahoma, pop. 50,391, home of Oklahoma
State University, population below poverty line 27.3%. I've passed
through the town dozens of times, often in recent times hoping (and
failing) to find a more cosmopolitan restaurant than smaller towns
nearby. Can't think of much nice to say about the place.
Mitch McConnell is gaslighting Democrats (again).
Kim Stanley Robinson:
The coronavirus is rewriting our imaginations. Sometimes, I guess,
it takes a novelist used to constructing imaginary worlds to see the
one we're in:
In many ways, we've been overdue for such a shift. In our feelings,
we've been lagging behind the times in which we live. The Anthropocene,
the Great Acceleration, the age of climate change -- whatever you want
to call it, we've been out of synch with the biosphere, wasting our
children's hopes for a normal life, burning our ecological capital as
if it were disposable income, wrecking our one and only home in ways
that soon will be beyond our descendants' ability to repair. And yet
we've been acting as though it were 2000, or 1990 -- as though the
neoliberal arrangements built back then still made sense. We've been
paralyzed, living in the world without feeling it.
Now, all of a sudden, we're acting fast as a civilization. We're
trying, despite many obstacles, to flatten the curve -- to avoid mass
death. Doing this, we know that we're living in a moment of historic
importance. We realize that what we do now, well or badly, will be
remembered later on. This sense of enacting history matters. . . .
Margaret Thatcher said that "there is no such thing as society," and
Ronald Reagan said that "government is not the solution to our problem;
government is the problem." These stupid slogans marked the turn away
from the postwar period of reconstruction and underpin much of the
bullshit of the past forty years. . . .
Economics is a system for optimizing resources, and, if it were
trying to calculate ways to optimize a sustainable civilization in
balance with the biosphere, it could be a helpful tool. When it's
used to optimize profit, however, it encourages us to live within
a system of destructive falsehoods.
Bernie Sanders/Pramila Jayapal:
The pandemic has made the US healthcare crisis far more dire. We must
fix the system.
The right's gun routine falls flat during the pandemic: "Michigan's
governor has a killer virus to be scared of, not a bunch of clowns
terrorizing lawmakers with firearms. That's why she held firm on her
Jeff Stein/Carol D Leonnig/Josh Dawsey/Gerri Shih:
US officials crafting retaliatory actions against China over coronavirus
as President Trump fumes.
Emily Stewart/Christina Animashaun:
30 million Americans have lost their jobs in 6 weeks. This week's
new filings down to 3.3 million, still almost five times the pre-March
The inevitable coronavirus censorship crisis is here.
The exclusivity economy: "How concierge dining, health, and travel
services insulate the wealthy and hide soaring inequality." Draws on
Nelson D Schwartz's book, The Velvet Rope Economy: How Inequality
Became Big Business -- a long list of options the rich have to
keep themselves separate (and more pampered) from everyone else.
Kenneth P Vogel/Jim Rutenberg/Lisa Lerer:
The quiet hand of conservative groups in anti-lockdown protests.
One prominent Tea Party funder, Charles Koch and his groups, is
reportedly not involved in the demonstrations.
What the coronavirus models can't see.
Republicans are absolutely deluded if they think only blue states need
a bailout: The state hit worst is Louisiana, followed by New Jersey,
New York, Missouri, Florida, Kansas, and Kentucky. We've managed to end
some of the Brownback tax cuts in Kansas, but the tax base here is still
heavily dependent on some of the highest sales taxes in the nation.
Chart shows 21 states, and most are red. Not on the list: any of the
West Coast and only Rhode Island and Maine in New England.
Governors in all 50 states get better marks than Trump in COVID response.
Hillary Clinton has officially endorsed Joe Biden for president.