Monday, May 27, 2019
Sunday, May 26, 2019
Here in Wichita it's rained every day for a week with more coming
tonight, tomorrow, the day after. We're up to
11.96 inches this month (2nd wettest May ever; annual average is
34 inches). Many rivers in southeastern Kansas have flooded -- my
recent trip to Oklahoma was detoured when the Kansas State Turnpike
went under water. Wichita used to flood regularly, and my home would
surely be under water but for "the big ditch" -- a flood control
project built in 1950-59. (See Beccy Tanner:
'Big Ditch Mitch' saved Wichita many times; also, David Guilliams:
The Big Ditch: The Wichita-Valley Center Flood Control Project [PDF].)
I've been reading up on this, not least because I haven't seen the rivers
this high since 1966, when the Ditch spared Wichita (barely) an epochal
flood that wiped out the Arkansas River dam in Lamar, CO, and flooded
every other town on the river's path into Oklahoma and Arkansas. Reading
Guilliams' history reminds me that we had politicians in the 1940s who
were as short-sighted as the ones we have today, but I'll always be
thankful they got outvoted. That Ditch was the best investment Wichita
ever made. Without it I wouldn't be able to get around to this week's
Some scattered links this week:
Donald Trump's sneak attack on social security.
Foreign aid that costs an arm and a leg -- literally: "The US-funded
Israeli military is shooting so many unarmed Palestinians that the UN is
warning of an amputation crisis in Gaza."
Alexia Fernández Campbell:
How Trump's new immigration plan could hurt the economy.
Gaby Del Valle:
The Harriet Tubman $20 bill was supposed to be unveiled in 2020. Now it
might be delayed by almost a decade.
Russia's election meddling is despicable, but don't forget our own.
John Bolton on the Warpath: One of America's more gullible war reporters,
which lets him take Bolton more seriously than I would, offering a useful,
respectful profile which nonetheless makes him even more disgusting than
you imagined. Of particular interest are the details of how Bolton has made
millions of dollars recently trying to stir up multiple wars.
EPA plans to get thousands of pollution deaths off the books by changing
Trump's cover-up accelerates: "President Trump can only escalate. He
cannot help it."
Trump's position on the Mueller Report is legally ridiculous -- and
David A Graham:
Maggie Haberman/Annie Karni:
A would-be Trump aide's demands: a jet on call, a future cabinet post and
more: Give him lots of perks and Kris Kobach would be willing to serve
Trump as "immigration czar" (for a while).
One of the largest environmental protests ever is underway. It's led by
children. Most famously, Greta Thunberg, but she's not alone. I've
seen sub-teens on Jimmy Kimmel explain the science better than most
Democratic politicians, let alone Republicans (who don't try to explain
anything). In an effort to reassert his relevance, Bill McKibben
It's not entirely up to the school students to save the world.
Indian PM Narendra Modi and his party just swept India's elections.
Some more pieces on India's election:
Impeachment is a refusal to accept the unacceptable.
Does Trump want to be impeached? That very thought has occurred to me.
Bill Clinton actually got a bump in the polls out of being impeached. I
don't recall anything similar with John Tyler, Andrew Johnson, or Richard
Nixon, which is the company Trump will be joining. He may even think that
in the Us-vs-Them world he imagines himself thriving in, that not getting
impeached could be taken as not trying hard enough. Equally important, in
taunting the Democratic House leadership, he may hope to show them up as
weak and ineffective to their voter base. He's been campaigning hard since
inauguration day. It seems to be the only thing he really cares about, so
why not bet the farm? Maybe he even thinks there's a further endgame after
the election. After all, I've also been wondering whether Erdogan wanted
the failed coup that allowed him to purge his enemies in the military and
the courts and consolidate his grip on power. It would be harder to pull
that off in the US, but Trump's already broken numerous so-called "norms"
as he's mocked and degraded our past notions of democracy.
Trump continues drive to protect religious-based discrimination.
Lindsey Graham proposes invading Venezuela to oust Maduro. He's
citing Reagan's 1983 invasion of Grenada as a precedent, now (as then)
citing Cuban influence as a cassus belli. On the other hand, whereas
Grenada "had a population of less than 100,000 . . . Venezuela, on
the other hand, has a population of a little over 28 million people,
is lager than Texas, and has roughly 160,000 troops in its military."
Graham also wants to send more troops to the Middle East, where he's
up in arms against Iran. Warmongers like Graham and Bolton readily
group Iran and Venezuela without ever mentioning the one thing they
obviously have in common: before US sanctions crippled them, both
were major oil exporters. The effect of taking their oil off the
world market is to push prices (and oil company profits) up, or at
least to keep those profits from falling as global demand shifts to
Trump v Pelosi: anatomy of a feud.
Confessions of a presidential candidate: "How the political memoir
Moderate Democrats' delusions of 'prudence' will kill us all. This is
in response to an op-ed by "moderate Democrat" Greg Weiner:
It's not always the end of the world ("political prudence isn't in
vogue, but it should be"). I can see both sides of this debate, but
that's mostly because both are illuminated by the raging wildfires
deliberately set by the Republican far-right. Right now, I think the
balance of evidence favors Levitz, on two counts: the sheer amount of
destruction caused by Republicans in power, and the lack of positive
results from recent efforts by prudent Democrats (e.g., Obama).
The Fed's bad predictions are hurting us.
Robert O'Harrow Jr/Shawn Boburg:
A conservative activist's behind-the-scenes campaign to remake the nation's
courts: "Leonard Leo helped conservative nonprofits raise $250 million
from mostly undisclosed donors in recent years to promote conservative
judges and causes."
Nicole Perlroth/Scott Shane:
In Baltimore and beyond, a stolen NSA tool wreaks havoc. With David
E Sanger, the authors also reported:
How Chinese spies got the NSA's hacking tools, and used them for attacks;
Security breach and spilled secrets have shaken the NSA to its core:
gives them more credit for conscience than they deserve. America's
cyberwarriors aren't the first to fail to appreciate what happens
when other "warriors" learn to do what they do.
How the right to legal abortion changed the arc of all women's lives.
Australia isn't doing its part for the global climate. Sooner or later we'll
have to pay our share. Last week's elections kicked this can further
down the road. Quiggin has a new book out, Economics in Two Lessons,
explaining where markets work, and where they don't.
Trump's wrecking ball assaults American government. Luckily, it is strongly
built. I think a big part of Reagan's popularity came from the fact
that he couldn't do much short-term damage, even though that was plainly
the intent of his program. Democrats controlled Congress most of the time,
and liberals dominated the courts. Reagan indulged many people's prejudices,
saying things that flattered his base and riled them up against supposed
enemies, yet the real consequences of his presidency -- the destruction
of the labor movement, the major shift toward ever-greater inequality,
undermining civil rights while ramping up mass incarceration, the embrace
of militarism and the withdrawal from international cooperation, the end
of equal time and the takeover of politics by big money -- only gradually
became evident (not that they explicit about their goals, but because most
people didn't take the threat seriously). Of course, it became harder to
overlook the cumulative effect of Reagan and later waves of conservative
activism under the Bushes and Trump. Reich is probably right that the US
political system still moderates the extremism of Republican presidents --
although it's been much more effective at neutering reformist impulses by
Democrats -- yet clearly we are losing ground.
Trump's hasty plan to get Americans back on the moon by 2020, explained.
Worth noting that there is more at stake than just Trumpian ego. See Rivka
The race to develop the moon.
Michael S Schmidt/Julian E Barnes:
Trump's targeting of intelligence agencies gains a harder edge.
Trump directed Attorney General William Barr to investigate anyone
who thought that the Trump campaign may have colluded with Russia
in 2016, starting with the FBI and potentially going deeper into
the CIA and the broader "intelligence community," and he's given
Barr authority to declassify any secret documents he finds along
the way (see:
Trump gives Barr power to declassify US secrets in review of Russia
probe). This extraordinary politicization of the Justice Department
is obviously disturbing, but thus far most of the pushback has come
from the intelligence agencies, who prefer to operate in secret,
with little or no oversight -- e.g., Chuck Ross:
Ex-CIA officials fume about declassification order, ignoring previous
leaks of secret sources and methods. Also see: Natasha Bertrand:
Trump puts DOJ on crash course with intelligence agencies.
Congress wants to stop surprise medical bills. But they have one big
problem left to solve.
Mark Joseph Stern:
The Trump administration releases its plan to let health care providers
refuse to treat transgender people: This is getting real petty. Nor
is this all. See: Camille Baker:
The Trump administration wants to make it harder for transgender people to
access homeless shelters.
Does trump have an off-ramp on Iran? i doubt he even wants one,
nor is he likely to show any interest on wright's history lesson.
it looks to me like the conflict with iran is nothing more than a
favor to Israel, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE -- all of which know
how to push his buttons and stroke him with gifts. Moreover, he is
incapable of seeing potential downsides, or even risk. Challenging
him, or calling his bluff, would be unthinkable. He might even say
The controversy over WeWork's $47 billion valuation and impending IPO,
Holding Trump accountable is a pocketbook issue: After reviewing
Trump's own history of cheating his contractors, note this:
Trump, as president, is acting in line with his own predilection for
alleged corporate criminals.
- While Obama's Environmental Protection Agency sought a $4.8 million
fine from Syngenta Seeds for poisoning workers with pesticides, Trump's
EPA settled for $150,000.
- Trump's Consumer Financial Protection Bureau fined a man $1 for
allegedly swindling veterans out of their pensions -- also extracting
from him a promise not to do it again.
- In February 2018, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission settled
with three major banks that had engaged in illegal market manipulation --
charging them a financial penalty but requiring no admission of wrongdoing
and waiving "bad actor" penalties that would have impaired their ability
to do business in the future.
The specific dynamics of each agency and each industry are, of course,
But the basic pattern is the same -- under lax enforcement, crime
basically pays. You might not get caught, and even if you do get caught,
the monetary penalties will not create a meaningful deterrent to future
misconduct. . . . The overall problem, in other words, is much larger
in scope than Trump. But Trump is part of the problem. Not only is he
emblematic, as a business leader, of the cost of inadequate enforcement,
but he's also someone who clearly favors inadequate enforcement as a
matter of principle and appoints regulators who make the problem worse.
What we know so far about Trump's tax returns, explained.
Men and women have similar views on abortion.
Yglesias also has a piece called
Daenerys was right: King's Landing had to burn, which goes to great
lengths to try to rationalize the indiscriminate fire-bombing of the
capitol of Westeros. I understand the impulse to try to take a contrary
view, especially counter to those who casually impose their contemporary
political prejudices on such a fantasy landscape, but Yglesias overlooks
some pretty obvious clues (like the Daenerys speech to her troops where
she vows to conquer/liberate all of Westeros and Essos -- a speech that
the actress claims she studied Hitler for, but which sounded more to me
like Napoleon), as well as a couple of much more fundamental problems.
What always turned me off in Game of Thrones was its unquestioned
bedrock belief in hereditary aristocracy, and its correlative commitment
to war. Without having read the books, I gather that Martin is completely
opposed to both, but rather than constructing cardboard characters for
us to root for (in the vain hope that good will ultimately triumph over
evil), he exposes the foundations by showing how every character is
corrupted and disgraced by inequality and violence. That Yglesias winds
up rooting for a strong and fearsome ruler shows how much he's willing
Shocked by the rise of the right? Then you weren't paying attention.
Young blames "endemic racism and unfairness" -- I take the latter to
mean inequality and the business practices that increase it.
Poll: Most Americans disapprove of the Alabama abortion ban.
Saturday, May 25, 2019
From Greg Tate, on Facebook, comment reply to Allen Lowe question about
A friend who speaks six languages fluently (including Arabic and
Polish) told that in her mind its all one language. The Black American
creative tradition is by necessity that of the auto-didact but on a
deeper level its also one of people who couldn't afford to only be
great at one thing or the luxury of compartmentalizing the world. The
major innovators seem to be more inter-dimensional than the rest of us
in mind body and spirit--You get the sense that All of Life is one
language to them. Which is to say they are more West African than
Cartesian how they integrate the world outside with the world
inside. Nothing exemplifies this more to me than Davis saying he
thought he heard a brass band the first time he heard a guitar. Which
suggests his artistic high bar when he started playing wasn't mere
competency but to make people feel like they too were experiencing a
marching band projecting out of a guitar. Methinks we do a disservice
to these innovative artists when we think they were only trying to
work out mechanics--they were acquiring complex technique to reproduce
Susan Brown posted this on Facebook, crediting Gary Moss. It may be
the single most horrific thing I've read all year:
i wish everyone would read this
94 yr old Kissinger takes on Trump
Recently, Henry Kissinger did an interview and said vary amazing
things regarding President Trump. He starts with: "Donald Trump is a
phenomenon that foreign countries haven't seen before"! The former
Secretary of State Henry Kissinger gives us a new understanding of
President Donald Trump's foreign policy and predicts its success:
"Liberals and all those who favor (Hillary) Clinton will never
admit it. They will never admit that he is the one true leader. The
man is doing changes like never before and does all of it for the sake
of this nation's people. After eight years of tyranny, we finally see
Kissinger knows it and he continues with:
."Every country now has to consider two things: One, their
perception that the previous president, or the outgoing president,
basically withdrew America from international politics, so that they
had to make their own assessments of their necessities.
And secondly, that there is a new president who's asking a lot of
unfamiliar questions. And because of the combination of the partial
vacuum and the new questions, one could imagine that something
remarkable and new emerges out of it.
Then Kissinger puts it bluntly:
"Trump puts America and its people first. This is why people love
him and this is why he will remain in charge for so long. There is not
a single thing wrong with him and people need to open their eyes."
When he boasts that he has a "bigger red button" than Kim Jung Un
does, he so transcends the mealy-mouthed rhetoric of the past, thereby
forcing a new recognition of American power.
Kissinger once wrote:
"The weak grow strong by effrontery - The strong grow weak through
inhibition!" No sentence better captures the U.S.-North Korea
Trump is discarding the inhibitions and calling the bluff on North
Korea's effrontery: His point is that the contrast of American retreat
under Obama and its new assertion of power under Trump creates a new
dynamic that every one of our allies and of our enemies must
Our allies grew complacent with Obama's passivity and now are
fearful due to Trump's activism. And they must balance the two in
developing their policies:
They realize that the old assumptions, catalyzed by Bush 43's
preoccupation with Iraq and Obama's refusal to lead are obsolete. So,
Trump is forcing a new calculus with a new power behind American
interests. Those - here and abroad - who rode the old apple cart worry
about its being toppled.
But, as Kissinger so boldly stated: "Trump is the one true leader
in world affairs and he is forcing policy changes that put America
This is the most accurate statement of what the American Citizens
who live outside of the swamp want and expect from their
I like the list of 13 things that I, as a senior American citizen,
want. Trump is at least talking about issues that most Americans are
My mantra about Trump is this: Truthfully, We are in agreement with
most of what he says. We are getting older and our tickers aren't what
they used to be, but what matters is that he covers most of the 13
things we as seniors want, at least I do for sure
- Hillary: held accountable for her previous wrongs!
- Put "GOD" back in America!
- Borders: Closed or tightly guarded!
- Congress: On the same retirement & healthcare plans as everybody else
- Congress: Obey its own laws NOW!
- Language: English!
- Culture: Constitution and the Bill of Rights!
- Drug-Free: Mandatory Drug Screening before & during Welfare!
- Freebies: NONE to Non-Citizens
- Budget: Balanced
- Foreign Countries: Stop giving them our money! Charge them for our
help! We need it here.
- Term limits for congress
- "RESPECT OUR MILITARY AND OUR FLAG!" And our law enforcement.
DRAIN THE SWAMP!
Further down, Susan offered this meme:
First Lady Melania Trump has sent out a request for prayers for our
president. Let us be a shield for him as he fights for us.
Further down, she links to an AP News piece on Alabama's "near-total
abortion ban," presumably favorably. But a commenter picked up another
tweet, from Stephanie Wittels Wachs, which is on target:
Make no mistake - a state that criminalizes abortion but ranks 50th in
public education doesn't give a shit about children.
Monday, May 20, 2019
Expanded blog post,
Music: current count 31518  rated (+20), 252  unrated (+3).
Rated count well down this week. Wednesday through Friday got totally
wiped out, starting with a dental appointment, then shopping for dinner
on Friday, then marathon cooking. Zhanna Pataki and I made a blini feast.
I found a Russian grocery store in Tulsa the previous week, and picked
up a pound of salmon caviar ("Alaskan rubies") and three whole schmaltz
herring. The latter went, one each, into sour cream sauce, mustard sauce,
and Estonian potato salad (with golden beets, apple, and ham (actually,
Canadian bacon). Other side salads: poached cod with horseradish sauce,
cucumbers in sour cream, green bean and walnut, carrot and garlic. I got
a couple of salmon filets and salted them. I made two loaves of rye bread
(only disappointment: came out dense and dry, probably because the dough
was, or maybe I just don't know how to properly knead bread; anyway, the
expensive Breville food processor wasn't up to the task). For dessert, I
made a light sponge cake, and topped it with strawberries and whipped
cream (recipe called for smetana, but I didn't allow myself enough time
to make my own -- probably should have bought some in Tulsa, when I had
the chance). I just now realized that I had brought a jar of eggplant
caviar back from Tulsa but failed to serve it. Dinner was spectacular,
A couple weeks ago I learned that Ani DiFranco has written a memoir,
No Walls and the Recurring Dream. She grew up in Buffalo,
and was close to my cousin's family there, so I have some kind of
personal interest in her story, and I've been aware of her musical
career from near the beginning. Then last week I noticed her No
Walls: Mixtape on Napster, so delved a bit deeper. I read what
I could from
Google's excerpt, while listening to
Mixtape -- unplugged remakes of 25+ years of remarkable songs --
and a couple other items I had missed that I found on her
Bandcamp. Stopped short of the bootlegs, although one of my favorites
(and one of the best places to start with her) is the live
Living in Clip. I was especially pleased that after panning
most of her recent albums with Todd Sickafoose I enjoyed
Year so much. I wrote about her in
[The New] Rolling Stone
Album Guide. A current grade list is
Robert Christgau reviewed Epic Beard Men
this week, along with two records by Quelle Chris that I had already
reviewed. I gave Guns another spin, enjoyed it, but left my grade
at B+(***). For whatever it's worth, I've graded A- all four of Strut's
Nigeria 70 compilations. I couldn't begin to rank them, other than
to note that I have the CDs to the first, and played one out of my travel
case while cooking last week. I doubt any are as good as the best King
Sunny Adé albums, or the second edition of The Rough Guide to Highlife,
but the new one hits the exact same pleasure centers, and that was good
enough for me.
The Ray Charles comp was the one I skipped when reviewing his Atlantics
last week. It's the one you'd most likely buy if you're reluctant to get
the entire 3-CD box (The Birth of Soul). Not sure why I didn't
grade it as high as the box or two of the source albums, other than that
I didn't give it a lot of time. I'm still bothered that we don't have
the ABC albums available for streaming. And I will note that one problem
with virtually every "greatest hit" collection from that period is the
mandatory inclusion of two hideous Beatles covers. Compilers don't always
pick the best songs, so that may be what's slightly off about the Rhino
Atlantic Best Of.
Best jazz album of the week was the first 2019 Clean Feed release I've
found on Napster. They've sometimes been hard to search out, but until
this year all of their releases have been available for streaming, which
lately has saved me the hassle of downloading. Not everything that's come
out is available yet, but I'm glad to get what I can. I'll try to catch
up in coming weeks. (There are a couple more on this week's list, as well
as one where the musician sent me the CD -- thanks for that favor.)
New records reviewed this week:
- Charlie Apicella & Iron City: Groove Machine (2018 , OA2): [cd]: B+(*)
- Camp Cope: How to Socialise & Make Friends (2018, Run for Cover): [r]: B+(***)
- Ani DiFranco: No Walls: Mixtape (2019, Righteous Babe): [r]: A-
- Epic Beard Men: Season 1 (2018, Strange Famous): [r]: B+(**)
- Epic Beard Men: This Was Supposed to Be Fun (2019, Strange Famous): [r]: A-
- The Fictive Five: Anything Is Possible (2018 , Clean Feed): [r]: B+(**)
- John Hart: Crop Circles (2017 , SteepleChase): [r]: B+(**)
- Fred Hersch & the WDR Big Band: Begin Again (2019, Palmetto): [cd]: B+(*)
- Jørgen Mathisen's Instant Light: Mayhall's Object (2018 , Clean Feed): [r]: A-
- The Pete McGuinness Jazz Orchestra: Along for the Ride (2018 , Summit): [cd]: B
- Yoko Miwa Trio: Keep Talkin' (2019, Ocean Blue Tear Music): [cd]: B+(***)
- Priests: The Seduction of Kansas (2019, Sister Polygon): [r]: B+(***)
- Scheen Jazzorkester & Thomas Johansson: «As We See It . . . » (2019, Clean Feed): [cd]: B+(***)
- The Selva: Canicula Rosa (2018 , Clean Feed): [r]: B+(**)
- Senyawa: Sujud (2018, Sublime Frequencies): [bc]: B+(***)
- Marcus Shelby Orchestra: Transitions (2017 , MSO): [cd]:B+(*)
- Rodney Whitaker: Common Ground: The Music of Gregg Hill (2017 , Origin): [cd]: B+(*)
Recent reissues, compilations, and vault discoveries:
- Nigeria 70: No Wahala: Highlife, Afro-Funk & Juju 1973-1987 (1973-87 , Strut): [bc]: A-
- Ray Charles: The Best of Ray Charles: The Atlantic Years (1951-59 , Rhino): [r]: A-
- Ani DiFranco: Red Letter Year (2008, Righteous Babe): [bc]: A-
- Ani DiFranco: Binary (2017, Righteous Babe): [r]: B+(*)
- Larry Ochs: The Fictive Five (2015, Tzadik): [bc]: B+(*)
Unpacking: Found in the mail last week:
- Luke Gillespie: Moving Mists (Patois)
- Ryan Keberle & Catharsis: The Hope I Hold (Greenleaf Music): June 28
- Doug MacDonald: Califournia Quartet (self-released)
- Matt Mitchell: Phalanx Ambassadors (Pi)
- Samo Salamon & Freequestra: Free Sessions, Vol. 2: Freequestra (Sazas/Klopotec)
- Samo Salamon/Szilárd Mezei/Jaka Berger: Swirling Blind Unstilled (Klopotec)
- The Dave Wilson Quartet: One Night at Chris' (self-released): May 27
Ran a day late on this one, partly because I went long on the intro,
but also because I found so many links in my early trawl through the
usual sources I wasn't able to finish my rounds, then found even more
when I tried to wrap up. I'm sure it's always the case that an extra
day or two to let the words settle and go back and restructure would
be useful, but I've rarely felt that more than this week.
Abortion became a much hotter political issue last week, with the
passage and signing of a law in Alabama which criminalizes abortion in
all cases except when it is necessary to save the life of the woman,
with doctors risking prison terms of up to 99 years if their call on
life-saving is disputed. Much focus on this particular law centers on
the lack of any exclusion for rape and incest, which most people agree
would be reasonable grounds for abortion. (As
Phil Freeman tweeted: "Your first mistake was assuming old white
men in Alabama were against rape and incest.") But the Alabama law is
just one of many state laws Republicans have been pushing lately, all
aimed at relitigating Roe v. Wade in the Trump-packed Supreme
The "heartbeat" bills that could ban almost all abortions, passed
in four states including Ohio and Georgia, and coming soon in Missouri;
still more draconian bills are in the works, such as
A Texas bill would allow the death penalty for patients who get
I'll start this off by quoting from a Facebook post by a relative
of mine in Arkansas, Marianne Cowan Pyeatt, offering an unvarnished
glimpse of what anti-abortion Republicans are telling themselves:
All of a sudden we are supposed to believe that millions and millions
of aborted babies are the result of rape and not just a lack of
responsibility to use birth control or face the consequences if you
can't even be adult enough to take precautions. We all know that the
reason they can't make exceptions for rape is because every women
would lie and claim to be raped to get an abortion. There are morning
after pills for real rape victims or they can give the child away. No
one says they have to keep them. And the fact that this is even being
debated is because all the people who did very little for decades when
they could forget what was going on in those clinics are suddenly
facing a world where full-term babies can be murdered at birth. YOU
stupid liberals have taken it SO FAR that no decent person can ignore
it any longer. And we aren't so stupid as to believe that only
abortion of a baby could "save the mother's life" in medical
emergencies . . . we know delivery is many, many times faster. At that
point, if it dies, at least you tried and the mother is "saved" from
her life-threatening condition with no murder involved. I find it
hilarious that in insisting on that last frontier of killing babies
right up to birth has finally given people the resolve to take a stand
and right a wrong.
One thing this shows is that the fight over abortion rights is
being fought at the margins, with both sides seeking maximalist
positions, although there is nothing symmetrical about the conflict.
There is only one fanatical side to this issue: those who, like
Marianne here, want to ban all abortions. No one on the opposite
side -- and I am about as opposite as anyone gets -- wants to
terminate all pregnancies. Rather, we understand that pregnancy
is a complicated issue that affects women in many different ways,
and that there are some circumstances where some women feel they
would be better off with an abortion. We believe that this should
be a free and responsible choice, and to make this a real choice
for all women requires that we isolate it from the encumbrances
of government regulation and economic pressure.
I've long thought that conservatives and libertarians should be
strong supporters of abortion rights. Libertarians cherish freedom,
and freedom is the ability to make free choices -- among which one
of the most important is whether to bear and raise children. Not
everyone who wants children is able to have them, but safe abortion
at least makes it possible to choose not to have children. As for
conservatives, they always stress the responsibilities parenthood
infers. It would be perverse if they did not allow those who felt
themselves unable to assume the responsibility of raising children
the option of not having them. Indeed, in the past have sometimes
wanted to impose limits on the fertility of those they deemed unfit
to raise children (e.g., the forced sterilization of the eugenics
movement). Consequently, the hard turn of Republicans against free
access to abortion and birth control has always struck me as bad
faith: a political ploy, initially to capture votes of Catholics
and Southern Baptists, who had traditionally voted Democratic. I
first noticed this in Bob Dole's 1972 Senate campaign, and I never
forgave him for politicizing the issue. (He was being challenged
by William Roy, a ob/gyn who had occasionally performed abortions,
which were legal in Kansas well before Roe v. Wade. Until
that time Kansas Democrats were more likely to be anti-abortion
than Republicans. Using abortion as a partisan tactic may have
started with Nixon's 1972 "silent majority"/"southern strategy."
It was especially successful in Missouri. See
How abortion became a partisan issue in America.)
Abortion rights are desirable if there are any circumstances where
abortion is a reasonable choice. Most people recognize rape and incest
as valid reasons, as well as the health of the woman and/or the fetus.
Beyond that there arise lots of possible economic and psychological
concerns, which can only really be answered by the woman (with the
advice of anyone she chooses to consult). We generally, if not always
consistently, recognize that our freedom is rooted in a right to
privacy. Since a decision to terminate has no broader repercussions,
there is no good reason for the government to get involved. (One might
argue that a decision not to terminate might concern the state, in
that it would wind up paying for the child's education and health
care, but no one who supports abortion rights is seeking that sort
of oversight. China's "one child" policy is an example, but no one
here is arguing for the state to enforce such a thing.)
Regardless of how cynical Republican leaders were when they jumped
on the anti-abortion bandwagon, they learned to love it because it
dovetailed with the prejudices and fears they exploited (Jason Stanley
has a handy list, in his recent book, How Fascism Works), while
doing little to detract from their main objective: making the rich
richer, and building a political machine to keep the riches coming.
(Thomas Frank, in his 2004 book What's the Matter With Kansas?,
tried to expose their two-faced cynicism, but he wound up only agitating
the anti-abortion mobsters into demanding more results for their votes.)
Marianne's post is full of such prejudices, even while she tries to
paper over others. But while the first line refers to the Alabama
law, she'd rather turn the tables by accusing "stupid liberals" of
wanting to kill babies the instant before birth. That would be a
symmetrically opposite point of view, but even if legal it's not a
real something anyone would do.
Some links on the Alabama law and the assault on abortion rights:
Trump and top Republicans distance themselves from Alabama's controversial
abortion law. I take this as evidence it's polling very badly. Trump
has never put much thought into abortion, and probably doesn't care, as
strange as that seems given how much impact he has had on the issue. Back
in 2016, he was asked whether women who sought abortions should be
prosecuted, and he guessed they should. That was one of the very few
instances where he took back a statement -- something he never did
when criticized for sympathizing with Nazis and other racists, or
spouting his own racist slurs on immigrants and "shithole countries."
Those are things he has deep convictions about. Anti-abortion is just
something he has to play along with because the base expects it.
Why some anti-abortion conservatives think Alabama's abortion law goes
Elizabeth Dias/Sabrina Tavernise/Alan Blinder:
'This is a wave': inside the network of anti-abortion activists winning
across the country.
Why the anti-abortion movement stopped making allowances for rape and
Abortion is morally good:
Were I still Evangelical, and still longed to end abortion, I'd have many
reasons to celebrate. When your enemies pick up your arguments and tolerate
your allies in their midst, you can be relatively confident that you've
achieved the social and political dominance that you've worked toward for
years. Milano and the DCCC have walked directly into a trap that abortion
opponents set for them, and they don't even seem to realize what they've
done. Anything less but the prioritization of women over the pregnancies
they carry cedes ground the left cannot afford to lose.
I'm an anti-abortion Christian. But Alabama's ban will do more harm than
The GOP has its final anti-abortion victory in sight: "Stripping voter
rights. Rigging the Supreme Court. Dull procedural tricks. It's all paying
off at once."
Anna North, who also wrote the three articles linked above:
Renee Bracey Sherman:
Recent abortion bans will impact poor people and people of color most.
Alabama's near-total abortion ban is the ultimate elevation of the "unborn"
The abortion fight and the pretense of precedent.
Most Alabama voters don't support their state's exemption-free abortion
Some scattered links this week:
Alexia Fernández Campbell:
Farmers are losing patience with Trump's trade war.
Trump is making the same US mistake in the Middle East yet again.
Helene Cooper/Edward Wong:
Skeptical US allies resist Trump's new claims of threats from Iran.
Meanwhile, the lame-brains in the Trump administration get carried away:
see Eric Schmitt/Julian E Barnes:
White House reviews military plans against Iran, in echoes of Iraq War.
They're talking about deploying 120,000 troops, which seems like a lot but
is actually the same number they used in 2003 to do such a bang-up job in
Iraq -- a country about one-third the size of Iran (both in area and in
population). For more details, see Fred Kaplan:
War with Iran wouldn't be like Iraq: "It would be worse."
The secret vote that could wipe away consumer rights.
Isabel Debre/Raphael Satter:
Facebook busts Israel-based campaign to disrupt elections.
'I did my best to stop American foreign policy': Bernie Sanders on
Nicholas Fandos/Maggie Haberman:
House panel investigates obstruction claims against Trump lawyers.
David A Farenthold/Jonathan O'Connell:
Trump's prized Doral resort is in steep decline, according to company
documents, showing his business problems are mounting.
Bolton in Wonderland: "The only upside to Bolton's dangerous aggression
toward Iran is that it may put him too far out in front of Trump."
America's long, rich history of pretending systemic racism doesn't
America needs a permanent anti-war movement: "Public apathy toward
relatively small-scale military actions makes war with Iran more likely."
Actually, most cities have anti-war organizations, but they don't get
enough support, especially as we're swamped with domestic crises and
more attention is paid to conventional politics (because Republicans
are so bad more people in their desperation support Democrats).
Elizabeth Warren's new policy rollout targets Pentagon corruption.
Fossil fuels are underpriced by a whopping $5.2 trillion: "We can't
take on climate change without properly pricing coal, oil, and natural
gas. But it's a huge political challenge."
Austrian government collapses over Russia scandal.
Countervailing powers: the forgotten economic idea Democrats need to
rediscover. Klein is right that hardly anyone uses the term these
days, but I grew up with it, and still refer to it often. I'm not sure
where I got the idea, but Klein starts with John Kenneth Galbraith's
1952 book, American Capitalism: The Concept of Countervailing
Power. The idea is to build up multiple sources of power to work
against the abuses that follow from concentrations of wealth and power.
(The maxim I learned alongside this was "power corrupts, and absolute
power corrupts absolutely.") Klein also cites a recent book, Tim Wu's
The Curse of Bigness: Antitrust in the New Gilded Age.
Springtime for autocrats: "How Trump just legitimized one of Europe's
most anti-democratic leaders." Hungary's Viktor Orbán visits the White
Venezuela's collapse is the worst outside of war in decades, economists
Mark Landler/Maggie Haberman/Eric Schmitt:
Trump tells Pentagon chief he does not want war with Iran. This
was the story which led Steven Colbert to exclaim, "I hope this doesn't
get taken out of context, but thank God Donald Trump is president."
Before I give Trump any credit on this score, I want to see him fire
John Bolton, and tweet about how Bolton's been subverting his efforts
to get along peacefully with the world. Even then, the fact that he
hired Bolton never boded well.
The House just passed a sweeping LGBTQ rights bill.
Why prescription drugs cost more in America: Video. Also a link to
The true story of America's sky-high prescription drug prices.
William Barr delivers chilling message to FBI for Trump. "If you
come at the king, you best not miss"?
On refugees, the Trump administration is competent and malevolent.
President Trump's new immigration proposal would be terrible for
Trump's social media bias reporting project is a data collection tool
in disguise: "Instead of cracking down on violent extremism, the
government is collecting email addresses."
United States and Venezuela: a historical background.
The fog of ambition: Review of George Packer: Our Man: Richard
Holbrooke and the End of the American Century.
The Trump economy is hurting most Americans. Statistics won't fool voters.
Bezos offers absurd and hypocritical reason for his massive space plan:
He thinks we have to sustain economic growth indefinitely, even beyond the
carrying capacity of Earth, which can only be done by escaping into space.
Which I suppose means he can't imagine post-capitalism, even though there
are dozens of books on the subject, and dozens more on sustainable economies.
Maybe he should drop in on a local book store? His scheme would be deemed
so crackpot he could never get funding from government let alone banks, but
seeing as he's on track to become Earth's first trillionaire, we're tempted
to take him seriously. That is an irony of capitalism: sometimes a blessing,
sometimes a farce.
Brian M Rosenthal:
'They were conned': how reckless loans devastated a generation of taxi
drivers. Or what happens when you allow a secondary market for a
limited number of licenses.
Trump gives up the game he's playing with Congress during Fox News
interview: "Trump admits he's relying on the courts -- not Congress --
to change policy."
Trump's reckless "treason" accusation against the FBI, explained.
Trump pardons billionaire fraudster who wrote glowing book about
him: Conrad Black, "a former media mogul and business partner,"
convicted for fraud and obstruction of justice, author of a 2016 piece
"Trump is the good guy," the pardon citing his "tremendous contributions
to business, as well as to political and historical thought." Also
pardoned at the same time, Patrick Nolan. (See Aaron Blake:
The very political pattern of Trump's pardons.) The latter article
has a number of examples, notably
Dinesh D'Souza, convicted for campaign finance fraud, author of a
number of awful books and films, inventor of the "angry Kenyan" Obama
The liberal embrace of war: "American interventionists learned a lesson
from Iraq: pre-empt the debate. Now everyone is for regime change." He
seems to have jumped the gun here, for while the liberal media heads he
cites (e.g., Rachel Maddow) readily echoed the Bolton line on Venezuela
and Iran, actual Democratic politicians have been less eager to topple
foreign regimes. Jonathan Chait points this out:
Taibbi's 'liberal embrace of war' screed cites zero liberals embracing
war. I'd score that one for Chait, although I don't fault Taibbi's
worries about Democrats enabling Republican warmongering. As for the
"liberal" media, also see: James North:
US mainstream media is contributing to rising risk of war with Iran.
Nor is Chait above concocting his own shady, twisted titles:
Bernie Sanders wants to destroy the best schools poor urban kids have.
He means charter schools, which only succeed (relatively) in places where
public schools have been grossly neglected (partly by politicians moving
funds to charter schools). For more on Sanders' plan, see Dylan Scott:
Bernie Sanders rolls out education plan that cracks down on charter
schools; also Nikhil Goyal:
Bernie's plan to save public schools.
An expert's 7 principles for solving America's housing crisis.
The raging controversy over Ronald Sullivan, Harvey Weinstein, and Harvard,
Bernie Sanders and AOC's plan to crack down on high-interest loans,
explained: They call it the Stop Loan Sharks Act, by capping
interest on things like credit cards at 15% (still sounds high to
Trump's puzzling trade war with China, sort of explained: Useful
survey of Trump's side of the tariff war, credits Trump with more
smarts than the evidence suggests: "Precisely because the trade war
is an inherently lose-lose situation, any possible resolution of it
is a win." But that assumes that the trade war will end some day,
and that everyone will have forgotten about the costs of starting
Joe Biden's surprisingly controversial claim that Trump is an aberration,
explained. Cites some critiques:
There's an interesting chart here showing that
only a quarter of Clinton's ads primarily centered on policy,
"a much lower number than any previous 21st-century campaign."
That slack was made up by attacking Trump personally, trying to
isolate him from the Republican Party, which not only didn't do
Clinton much good, it also didn't help Democrats down ticket.
Compare that to 2018, when Democrats focused on policy issues
(like health care).
Kamala Harris wants public defenders to get paid as much as
The disaster aid fight shows just how unprepared Congress is to deal with
the effects of climate change. As an engineer, one of my core beliefs
is that it's much cheaper and much more effective to prevent faults than
to repair and compensate for disasters. But despite the title, that isn't
the core problem here. (Even if it were, some natural disasters are way
beyond our power to prevent. And while there is no doubt that climate
change increases the number and severity of disasters, there is no quick
and easy solution to that, either.) The immediate problem is that at the
same time we're being hit with more and more disasters, Republicans have
decided they don't want to pay for disaster relief, largely because it
runs counter to their belief that government shouldn't involve itself in
helping people (at least not Puerto Ricans).
Saturday, May 18, 2019
Disconnected red speaker posts at 4:06 PM, then turned amplifier back
Monday, May 13, 2019
Expanded blog post,
Music: current count 31498  rated (+29), 249  unrated (+1).
Weird how these weekly totals keep landing on 29 (6th time so far this
year). Should have been less, given that I drove to the Tulsa area on
Wednesday, returning Friday evening. Took my travel cases for the car,
nothing remotely new in them. Packed the Chromebook, but inadvertently
left it at home. Supposedly I can check email and web on phone, plus
a million apps including Napster, but I've never got the hang of that.
My second cousin down there swears she does everything with Siri, and
I could see how that might be better than trying to type on a clumsy
and error-prone touch screen. As a confirmed Apple-phobe, that isn't
even an option I'd consider, but I gather Samsung has something along
those lines (bixby?). I suppose I should look into that. Meanwhile, I
seem to be the only person I know who can go 3-4 days between charges,
so I take comfort in that.
I wanted to visit my cousin Duan, second son of my mother's oldest
sister, Lola. I hadn't been down there since his older brother, Harold,
passed several years ago, and he's up to 92 now. He's lived in/around
Bristow as long as I can remember -- we went to visit Aunt Lola every
couple months when I was young, and by then Harold and Duan had their
families, my second cousins just a couple years younger than I was, so
we were fairly close. Harold and Duan were drafted into WWII, and Duan
got called back for the Korean War. That seems to have qualified him
for living in the Veterans Center in Claremore, where he moved a few
months ago. Probably a good place for him at this stage, but not one
I'd ever look forward to (not a prospect with my 4F). Can't say as we
had good talks, but was good to see him.
I saw live music twice in Oklahoma, although nothing I can recommend.
The first was a free concert at the Veterans Center, with a c&w
singer who called himself Cowboy, and who toured with a dwarf pony in
tow -- something the vets seemed to appreciate. He mostly played Merle
Haggard songs (and nothing as obvious as "Okie From Muskogee"; more
like "Silver Wings"). One bizarre moment: he had a little girl bring
him up a disguise designed to make him look like Elvis Presley, then
launched into a medley of three r&b songs ("Lawdy Miss Clawdy,"
"See See Rider," don't recall the third), suggesting not only that
even today black music was only acceptable if dressed up as white.
He then played a fourth Elvis song, something late and not black,
and didn't bother with the disguise for that. Blackface has gone out
of fashion, but whiteface still works in Oklahoma. (There were a few
black residents at the Center, but they were a tiny minority, and I
don't recall any at the show.)
Second live music experience was attending a recital at the Coweta
High School of their various band ensembles, starting with 6th grade.
All three of my second-cousin's granddaughters played there, among at
least a hundred others. No strings, but lots of flutes and clarinets --
I counted 12 and 18 in the high school band -- a few saxophones, the
odd oboe or bassoon, a fair amount of brass, and a pretty substantial
investment in percussion (including a featured percussion ensemble).
Best was a pair of Cuban tunes. More typical were the Andrew Lloyd
Weber medleys. Lasted over two hours, which was exhausting for all
(huge crowd, by the way). They made passing reference to also having
a jazz ensemble, but nothing I heard fit that bill.
Given that hole in my week, the only way I got to 29 was by streaming
oldies. I started by looking for Betty Carter's album with Ray Charles.
Napster didn't have it, or for that matter much of anything else after
Charles left Atlantic for ABC. I mostly know his Atlantics through the
1991 Rhino 3-CD box, The Birth of Soul (my grade: A), but since
the individual albums were available, I worked through them, yielding
most of this week's pick hits. That also got me Ray Charles Presents
David 'Fathead' Newman, and I followed that up with a few more of
Newman's records (especially his early HighNotes). I didn't go very
deep there, as I've never found him to be especially remarkable.
After I got back from Oklahoma, I played the new Greg Abate record,
so I took a look at his back catalog. He's a mainstream saxophonist,
more rooted in bebop than swing, and I especially liked his 2014
album Motif, so I was more hopeful there. I skipped a few
things like his samba album, but got a fairly good sense of where
he's come from. Several very nice albums, the best being one with
Alan Barnes. The next logical step would be to see what else I can
find by Barnes. My database lists six of his albums, all Penguin
Guide ***(*)-rated, but I haven't heard any of them yet. Surprised
I've missed him, although I have rated records he shared but I've
filed under other names: Tony Coe, Scott Hamilton, Warren Vaché.
Revisited the latest Coathangers album this week, after
Robert Christgau gave it an A-. As I recall, Michael Tatum also
likes the album. I gave it a B+(***) on one or two plays back in March,
and found that my review didn't need much tweaking. I played his other
pick, Priests' The Seduction of Kansas, after the break, so next
week for it and Camp Cope's How to Socialise & Make Friends --
both good, high B+ records.
New records reviewed this week:
- Greg Abate with the Tim Ray Trio: Gratitude: Stage Door Live @ The Z (2019, Whaling City Sound): [cd]: B+(***)
- Rebecca DuMaine and the Dave Miller Combo: Chez Nous (2018 , Summit): [cd]: B+(**)
- Peter Jensen & DR Big Band: Stand on Your Feet and Fight: Voices of the Danish West Indies (2018 , ILK): [cd]: B+(*)
- Ellynne Rey: The Birdsong Project (2019, self-released): [cd]: B
- Gwilym Simcock: Near and Now (2018 , ACT): [r]: B
- Aki Takase Japanic: Thema Prima (2018 , BMC): [r]: B+(***)
- The United States Air Force Band: The Jazz Heritage Series: 2019 Radio Broadcasts (2019, self-released, 4CD): [cd]: C-
- Wayne Wallace Latin Jazz Quintet: The Rhythm of Invention (2019, Patois): [cd]: B+(*)
- Greg Abate Quartet: Bop City: Live at Birdland (1991, Candid): [r]: B+(***)
- Greg Abate: Straight Ahead (1992 , Candid): [r]: B+(**)
- Greg Abate Quintet: Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde (1995, Candid): [r]: B+(*)
- Greg Abate Quintet: Bop Lives! (1996, Blue Chip JAzz): [r]: B+(**)
- Greg Abate: Evolution (2002, 1201 Music): [r]: B+(***)
- Greg Abate/Alan Barnes: Birds of a Feather (2007 , Woodville): [r]: A-
- Ray Charles: Ray Charles (1953-56 , Atlantic): [r]: A
- Ray Charles: The Great Ray Charles (1956 , Atlantic): [r]: B+(**)
- Ray Charles: The Genius After Hours (1956-57 , Atlantic): [r]: B+(**)
- Ray Charles: Yes Indeed! (1952-58 , Atlantic): [r]: A-
- Ray Charles: What'd I Say (1952-59 , Atlantic): [r]: A
- Ray Charles: The Genius of Ray Charles (1959, Atlantic): [r]: B+(**)
- Ray Charles: Ray Charles in Person (1959 , Atlantic): [r]: B+(*)
- Ray Charles: Ray Charles Live (1958-59 , Atlantic): [r]: B+(***)
- Ray Charles: The Genius Sings the Blues (1952-60 , Atlantic): [r]: B+(***)
- David "Fathead" Newman: Fathead: Ray Charles Presents David 'Fathead' Newman (1958 , Atlantic): [r]: B+(*)
- David Newman: Fire! At the Village Vanguard (1988 , Atlantic): [r]: B+(**)
- David "Fathead" Newman: Chillin' (1998 , HighNote): [r]: B+(*)
- David "Fathead" Newman: Keep the Spirits Singing (2000 , HighNote): [r]: B+(*)
- David "Fathead" Newman: The Gift (2002 , HighNote): [r]: B+(*)
- David "Fathead" Newman: Song for the New Man (2004, HighNote): [r]: B+(***)
Grade (or other) changes:
- The Coathangers: The Devil You Know (2019, Suicide Squeeze): [r]: [was B+(***)] A-
Unpacking: Found in the mail last week:
- Charlie Apicella & Iron City: Groove Machine (OA2): May 17
- Fred Hersch & the WDR Big Band: Begin Again (Palmetto): June 7
- The Pete McGuinness Jazz Orchestra: Along for the Ride (Summit): June 7
- Scheen Jazzorkester & Thomas Johansson: As We See It . . . (Clean Feed)
- Marcus Shelby Orchestra: Transitions (MSO): June 7
- Rodney Whitaker: Common Ground: The Music of Gregg Hill (Origin): May 17
Sunday, May 12, 2019
I spent much of the week in Oklahoma, visiting my 92-year-old cousin,
his two daughters, and various other family. I packed my Chromebook, then
forgot it, so went a few days without my usual news sources -- not that
anything much changed while I was away. Trying to catch up here, including
a few links that seem possibly useful for future reference.
Looks pretty obvious from my "recent reading" sidebar that I'm in
a gloomy mood about the viability of democracy in this nation. The
odd book out is subtitled "On the Writing Process" -- thought that
might inspire me to write about it, and it has made me a bit more
self-conscious in my writing. The one I recommend most is Jason
Stanley's How Fascism Works: The Politics of Us and Them.
I lumped it into a list in my recent
Book Reports, but it's well thought out and clear, with a fair
smattering of historical examples but more focused on here and now:
things you will recognize. I rather wish there was a more generic
word than "fascism": one with less specific historical baggage,
one that can be used in general discourse without tripping off
unnecessary alarms. On the other hand, as a leftist, I've always
had a keen nose for generic fascism, so the word suits my purposes
just fine. I have, in fact, been using it since the 1970s, which
is one reason the modern American conservative movement always
seems to coherent and predictable.
Some scattered links this week:
More US pressure on North Korea is not the path to denuclearization.
Matt Apuzzo/Adam Satariano:
Russia is targeting Europe's elections. So are far-right copycats.
I don't doubt Russia's capacity for spreading cyber-havoc, but isn't
it more likely that Russia is the copycat, echoing and amplifying the
Andrew J Bacevich:
Why did we fight the Iraq War? Review of Michael J Mazarr's book,
Leap of Faith: Hubris, Negligence, and America's Greatest Foreign
Trump is a bad businessman. Is he a tax cheat, too?
Once again, the US embarrasses itself on climate change.
It will be very hot and very wet -- we've exceeded 415ppm of carbon
dioxide for the first time since the pliocene.
The Complete Mercenary: "How Erik Prince used the rise of Trump to
make an improbable comeback."
US fossil fuel subsidies exceed Pentagon spending: "according to
a new report from the International Monetary Fund."
Revenge of the coastal elites: "How California, Oregon and Washington
are winning the fight against Trump's hateful policies."
Neil Eggleston/Joshua A Geitzer:
The court handling Trump's lawsuit must move at breakneck speed: "The
president deserves his day in court. But the American people deserve that
day to come quickly."
A farewell to arms control? "With Trump and Bolton at the helm, the
international arms control regime is effectively dead."
What's behind Bolton's attacks on the 'troika of tyranny'? "Bolton's
broadsides against Cuba, Nicaragua, and Venezuela hint at ambitions for
much more dangerous geopolitical conflict -- and nothing short of a new
Cold War." You might think this impossible with the Soviet Union gone,
and Russia more focused on promoting right-wing extremism, but the real
enemy the US faced in the Cold War was always the workers and peasants
oppressed by capitalists and their oligarchic allies, and that's an
"enemy" that still exists.
Niall Ferguson/Eyck Freymann:
The coming generation war: "The Democrats are rapidly becoming the
party of the young -- and the consequences could be profound." There
are few scholars I hold in lower regard than Ferguson, but there are
enough charts and numbers here to let you think. I still think that
class matters more than age, probably other demographic factors as
well, but I wouldn't be surprised that age skews as advertised in all
categories. Maybe you could object that class rises with age -- as
successful people accumulate wealth, the poor die off younger -- but
the rich are such a slim slice of the population even a big skew is
unlikely to amount to much.
O billionaires!: Review of Michael R Bloomberg: Bloomberg by
Bloomberg and Howard Schultz/Joanne Gordon: From the Ground Up:
A Journey to Reimagine the Promise of America. One thing about
these political wannabes: they'll never be accused of being traitors
to their class.
Putin and Trump's ominous nostalgia for the Second World War.
The roots of Trumpian agitprop.
Bernie Sanders's political revolution on foreign policy, explained.
Related: Zack Beauchamp:
What should a left foreign policy look like? An Elizabeth Warren adviser
offers his vision. An interview with Ganesh Sitaraman, whose
The emergence of progressive foreign policy. I still find parts of
this disturbing, like the insistence on maintaining military alliances
like NATO, as opposed to negotiating demilitarization and de-escalating
conflicts through more even-handed institutions like the United Nations.
Also, the shift in focus needs to be clearer: for a long time US foreign
policy has mostly been dictated by the needs of multinational corporations,
with little if any concern for economic justice, either for the majority
of Americans or for people around the world.
The Democratic counterrevolution has a self-appointed leader: Josh
Has Trump actually done anything about drug prices?
William Hartung/Mandy Smithberger:
A dollar-by-dollar tour of the national security state: How a "base
budget" of $554.1 billion adds up to $1.2542 trillion.
Creeping toward tyranny: I haven't read Hedges for a few years
now, so it hadn't quite sunk in how his principled hypersensitivity
has decayed into an all-consuming pessimism (of the intellect, but
also of the will):
Capitalists, throughout history, have backed fascism to thwart even
the most tepid forms of socialism. All the pieces are in place. The
hollowing out of our democratic institutions, which cannot be blamed
on Trump, makes tyranny inevitable.
Bad timing to exempt Trump from any blame right now, as his defiance
of Congressional subpoenas, his rejection (veto) of resolutions ending
his border "state of emergency" and Yemen War support, and his unilateral
sabre rattling over Venezuela and Iran are unprecedented. Still, he's
right that the signs anticipated and enabled Trump. Indeed, we're likely
to look back on his Bush-era books and accord him the honor of being our
first major "premature anti-fascist" (as Americans who fought against the
Fascists in Spain were labelled after the US declared war on Germany and
Italy). The only real problem with his 2007 American Fascists: The
Christian Right and the War on America was in focusing on gullible
Christians rather than their secular manipulators. The last book I read
by him was The Death of the Liberal Class (2010), which anticipated
Thomas Frank's Listen, Liberal (2016), his broadside on mainstream
Democrats. But when I checked out Hedges' latest book, America: The
Farewell Tour, I couldn't get into it. I'm past needing to learn how
bad it can get.
Right-wing Israeli author writes "The Virtue of Nationalism" -- and
accidentally exposes its pitfalls: On Yoram Hazony. Pull quote:
"Alongside Israel, there are two other countries Hazony claims have
been similarly victimized by the shaming campaigns of liberals and
globalists: apartheid South Africa and Serbia under the dictatorship
of Slobodan Milosevic."
Juan Guaidó makes open plea for US military coordination in Venezuela.
Trump has a new solution for poverty: pretend poor people don't exist:
"A proposal to redefine 'poverty' would throw potentially millions of
low-income people out of government-assistance programs."
E Tammy Kim:
Do corporations like Amazon and Foxconn need public assistance?
US-China trade talks end with no deal -- and more tariffs.
Trump to Congress: pass legislation to end surprise medical bills:
"The president has a good idea on health care -- and one that could actually
Climate change and the new age of extinction: Until now, or maybe
I just mean recently, this hasn't had much to do with climate.
To keep nearly eight billion people fed, not to mention housed, clothed,
and hooked on YouTube, humans have transformed most of the earth's surface.
Seventy-five per cent of the land is "significantly altered," the I.P.B.E.S.
noted in a summary of its report, which was released last week in Paris.
In addition, "66 per cent of the ocean area is experiencing increasing
cumulative impacts, and over 85 per cent of wetlands (area) has been lost."
Approximately half the world's coral cover is gone. In the past ten years
alone, at least seventy-five million acres of "primary or recovering forest"
have been destroyed.
Habitat destruction and overfishing are, for now, the main causes of
biodiversity declines, according to the I.P.B.E.S., but climate change is
emerging as a "direct driver" and is "increasingly exacerbating the impact
of other drivers." Its effects, the report notes, "are accelerating."
Watson wrote last week, in the Guardian, that "we cannot solve
the threats of human-induced climate change and loss of biodiversity in
isolation. We either solve both or we solve neither."
Related: Brad Plumer:
Humans are speeding extinction and altering the natural world at an
'unprecedented' pace. Also: Robert Watson:
Loss of biodiversity is just as catastrophic as climate change;
Human society under urgent threat from loss of Earth's natural life;
What is biodiversity and why does it matter to us?.
Want to expand Medicare? Then answer the $5 trillion questions.
"If you think the fight with insurance companies is tough, just wait
until single-payer advocates have to go head-to-head with doctors."
Admits that switching to "Medicare for All" could save overall health
care costs ($2.1 trillion is the number given), but that assumes cost
cuts, only 20% of which come from eliminating the insurance companies,
with 70% expected to come from paying doctors and hospitals less. I
don't see much of a problem here, although as usual the devil is in
the details. Big chunks of that 70% can be recovered without hitting
the wages of doctors, nurses, and other essential personnel. I also
see reason to cap top earners, but that's something that should be
done not just with doctors and administrators -- inequality is a
problem everywhere. On the other hand, why not just focus on easy
wins like cutting the private insurance companies out?
Beto's long history of failing upward: I've tended to resist citing
links on candidates, but this one is fairly deep. O'Rourke is one I don't
have much enthusiasm for, but while this is sharply critical, it doesn't
really lower my estimation of him.
A reporter's long, strange trip into the darkest parts of the American
mind: Review of Anna Merlan's new book, Republic of Lies: American
Conspiracy Theorists and Their Surprising Rise to Power. With a
picture of Alex Jones.
Trump, the billion-dollar loser -- I was his ghostwriter and saw it
Who owns South Africa?: "A fiercely debated program of land reform could
address racial injustice -- or cause chaos."
Are we in a constitutional crisis? "This is how democracy ends: not with
a bang, but with a long and technical debate over whether we're using the
65 years after Brown v Board of Education, school segregation is getting
North Dakota quietly decriminalized marijuana.
Is noise pollution the next big public-health crisis? Owen has a
book coming out this fall: Volume Control: Hearing in a Deafening
Bolton is spinning Israeli 'intelligence' to push for war against Iran.
Related: Sharmini Peries:
The Trump Administration is manufacturing an Iran crisis.
- Alex Ward:
Over 4 months after Mattis quit, Trump picks Patrick Shanahan as defense
James Reston Jr.:
Trump's other impeachable offense: "As Nixon learned, Congress will not
abide a president who defies its subpoenas."
Are we watching John Bolton's last stand? "Is John Bolton about to
get the Iran war he's always wanted, or is he on the verge of losing his
job?" I don't credit Trump with much insight or diligence on foreign
policy, but even so he must suspect that Bolton was a remarkably poor
pick as National Security Adviser. In particular, Bolton has his own
agenda, and has no scruples about contravening and undermining Trump's
own stated objectives. So it would make a lot of sense for Trump to
fire Bolton (and Pompeo, who is an only slightly less egregious hawk,
as well). Indeed, if I thought I'd get into the president's ear, I'd
write an op-ed taunting Trump to do just that, justifying it as key
to his 2020 re-election prospects. I'm still convinced that a major
reason Trump beat Clinton in 2016 was her "commander-in-chief test,"
where she came off as the more dangerous hawk. Hiring Bolton undoes
much of Trump's edge there, even if he doesn't trick Trump into much
Eric Hobsbawm, the communist who explained history: Review of Richard
Evans' biography, Eric Hobsbawm: A Life in History, referring back
to Hobsbawm's own memoir, Interesting Times, and various of his
books like The Age of Extremes (on the 20th century).
A new brain study shows a better way to engage voters on climate change:
Call it "climate crisis."
Trump turns shooting migrants into a punchline at Florida rally.
Unconscious bias is running for president: "On Elizabeth Warren and the
false problem of "likeability." Recommended by a Facebook friend, this is
a bit more than half right, but suffers from an as-yet-unnamed form of
specious argument related to the "mansplaining" that Solnit has written
extensively about. I don't doubt that the prejudices she decries are real,
but the "privileges" she seeks to overthrow have never struck me as worth
much. On the other hand, note that Warren's response to these prejudices
hasn't been to whine about them. She's talking to the so-called privileged,
and seems to be winning them over: Alex Thompson:
Trump backers applaud Warren in heart of MAGA country.
Trump lost $1 billion over 10 years, New York Times report shows:
"So much for Trump's brand as a savvy, self-made business leader."
On the trail with Bernie Sanders 2.0.
Time's up for capitalism. But what comes next? "Every day, we help
decide how the future will unfold. But how do we cast ballots for a
democracy that doesn't yet exist?" Adapted from her forthcoming book,
Democracy May Not Exist but We'll Miss It When It's Gone. I've
long meant to read her previous book, The People's Platform: Taking
Back Power and Culture in the Digital Age (2014), recommended by
Let's hit the pause button on more space for prosecutors: op-ed on
prison overcrowding here in Wichita.
The constitutional system is not build to resist Trump's defiance of
Trump's Iran policy is making war more likely.
Trump would have been charged with obstruction were he not president,
hundreds of former federal prosecutors assert.
I don't have much to say about Game of Thrones, but I was struck
by this ratiocination by
"But it's one thing for Daenerys to act like Bush, and another for her
to act like Hitler." He's talking about the indiscriminate fire-bombing
of cities full of innocent civilians, but while Bush criminally started
wars, lied about his reasoning, rounded up and tortured supposed enemies,
disrupted the lives of millions doing irreparable harm, just to show the
world that it's more important to fear his "shock and awe" than to respect
his self-proclaimed beneficence, and while Hitler did those same things
on an even more epic scale, the most comparable historical example of a
leader laying waste to entire cities was Harry Truman -- who we generally
recall as an exceptionally decent and modest president.
You can say that war does that, even to otherwise decent people. You
can say that Hitler and Bush were worse than Truman because they started
wars whereas Truman was simply trying to end one he had inherited. (This
is not the place to get into how he escalated the Cold War and the Korean
War, which in many ways I find more troubling than his "final solution"
to WWII.) You can say that Hitler was worse than Bush because his desire
for war was more deeply rooted in the uncritical imperialism and racism
of the era, which made him even more vindictive and bloodthirsty. But
I'd also note that Truman was not above the prejudices of Hitler's era,
and that Bush (while less racist than Truman let alone Hitler) was, like
all conservatives ever, fully committed to traditional hierarchies of
wealth and power, which made it easy for him to run roughshod over all
I have no idea where Daenerys fits among this trio, as she is a
fictional character in an imaginary world. Even if she reflects the
world of her creators, she does so haphazardly and inconsistently.
Monday, May 06, 2019
Expanded blog post,
Music: current count 31469  rated (+29), 248  unrated (-7).
Had a low energy period after posting
April Streamnotes last
Monday, so I'm not surprised that the rated count dropped. If anything,
I'm surprised it's as high as it is, but that was mostly from streaming
back catalog of artists recently reviewed.
I speculated last week that Walt Weiskopf's Worldwide is his
best yet, but I had missed most of his 1990s albums, so I had to hedge.
There are still a couple things I haven't heard, but nothing old came
close to the new one -- best of the albums below is probably Siren
(1999). When I gave Betty Carter's The Music Never Stops an A-
a few weeks back, I noted lots of holes in my database. Scratching my
head for something to listen to, I remembered that, and plugged a few
of them (while being unable to find others). The new Teodross Avery
album also sent me back. No great finds from any of those excursions.
I also tried looking up the album Carter and Ray Charles did together
in 1961, but couldn't find it. I noticed then I had an unrated Charles
record, and wondered whether I could build a playlist to duplicate it
(as opposed to having to dig up my physical copy). Turns out there's
damn few of Charles' ABC records on Napster, but I still got 17/20
songs from Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music, while
the other three were easy to find on YouTube. Not quite an equivalent
listening experience, but close enough, I figured (especially given
that I recalled hearing nearly everything). I'll do a few more Ray
Charles albums next week, starting with the early Atlantics.
On the other hand, this week's two new A- records are ones I hadn't
read a thing about before they showed up. After months of second guessing
other folks' picks, I feel like I've done my job.
I'll be posting a new
(link always points to the latest Q&A).
New records reviewed this week:
- Teodross Avery: After the Rain: A Night for Coltrane (2019, Tompkins Square): [bc]: B+(***)
- The Campfire Flies: Sparks Like Litle Stars (2019, OverPop Music): [cd]: A-
- Mark Dresser Seven: Ain't Nothing but a Cyber Coup & You (2018 , Clean Feed): [cd]: B+(**)
- Satoko Fujii: Solo Piano: Stone (2018 , Libra): [cd]: B+(**)
- The Invisible Party: Shumankind (2017 , Chant): [cd]: A-
- Jon Lipscomb Quartet: Fodder (2016 , self-released): [bc]: B+(**)
- Rent Romus' Life's Blood Ensemble: Side Three: New Work (2018 , Edgetone): [cd]: B+(***)
- The Richard Shulman Trio: Waltzing out of Town (2019, RichHeart Music): [cd]: B+(*)
Recent reissues, compilations, and vault discoveries:
- Kinloch Nelson: Partly on Time: Recordings 1968-1970 (1968-70 , Tompkins Square): [bc]: B+(*)
- The Teodross Avery Quartet: In Other Words (1994, GRP): [r]: B+(**)
- Teodross Avery & the 5th Power: New Day, New Groove (1998 , 5th Power): [r]: B+(*)
- Teodross Avery: Bridging the Gap: Hop-Hop Jazz (2008, BTG Music): [r]: B-
- Betty Carter/Ray Bryant: Meet Betty Carter and Ray Bryant (1955-56 , Columbia): [r]: B+(*)
- Betty Carter: The Modern Sound of Betty Carter (1960, ABC): [r]: B+(*)
- Betty Carter: Inside Betty Carter (1964-65 , Capitol Jazz): [r]: B+(*)
- Betty Carter: Finally, Betty Carter (1969 , Roulette): [r]: B+(*)
- Betty Carter: At the Village Vanguard (1970 , Verve): [r]: B+(**)
- Betty Carter: The Betty Carter Album (1976 , Verve): [r]: B
- Ray Charles: Greatest Country and Western Hits (1962-66 , DCC): [r]: A-
- Jon Lipscomb: Solo Guitar Improvisations Vol. 1 (2016, self-released): [bc]: B+(*)
- Walt Weiskopf: Night Lights (1995, Double Time): [r]: B+(**)
- Walt Weiskopf: Song for My Mother (1995 , Criss Cross): [r]: B+(***)
- Walt Weiskopf: Sleepless Nights (1996 , Criss Cross): [r]: B+(***)
- Walt Weiskopf: Anytown (1998, Criss Cross): [r]: B+(**)
- Walt Weiskopf: Siren (1999, Criss Cross): [r]: B+(***)
- Walt Weiskopf: Man of Many Colors (2001 , Criss Cross): [r]: B+(***)
- Walt Weiskopf: Open Road (2014 , Posi-Tone): [r]: B+(***)
- Walt Weiskopf: Fountain of Youth (2016 , Posi-Tone): [r]: B+(**)
Unpacking: Found in the mail last week:
- Yoko Miwa Trio: Keep Talkin' (Ocean Blue Tear Music)
Sunday, May 05, 2019
No time to work on this, as I spent Sunday trying to break in a new
Mexican cookbook. Much of Saturday too, and more of Friday -- not that
I had even started then. The one story that dominated the interest of
the liberal media was Attorney General William Barr's Senate testimony
and his failure to appear before the House. I was tempted to tweet when
I looked at
Talking Points Memo and
they had devoted their entire front page to Barr (aside from one bit
on the implosion of Stephen Moore's Fed nomination).
Actually, this should have been a banner week for the media to pick
apart Trump's increasingly manic and deranged foreign policy. The US
hasn't been taken such a nakedly imperial stance toward Latin America
since FDR traded in his cousin's penchant for Gunboat Diplomacy for
the sunny promise of a Good Neighbor Policy. I didn't link to anything
below on Trump's phone call to Putin, mostly because no one seems to
know enough about it to write intelligently. But there were also fairly
major stories that could have been reported about Korea, China, Iran,
Egypt, Turkey, Yemen, and Israel/Palestine (where Netanyahu celebrated
his election victory by launching the heaviest assault on Gaza since
Some scattered links this week:
Alexia Fernández Campbell:
Jason Del Ray:
The making of Amazon Prime, the internet's most successful and devastating
Venezuela's Guaido 'consering asking US to invade. That'll really
convince the Venezuelan people he has their best interests at heart.
Trump wants to block Deutsche Bank from sharing his financial records.
Matt Gertz/Rob Savillo:
Major media outlets' Twitter accounts amplify false Trump claims on average
19 times a day.
Under Trump, the language we use to create political reality is
One of the most frightening things I've witnessed in recent months was
a very polite conversation in a well-lit room in the Ronald Reagan
Building, in Washington, D.C., on Monday. The director of policy
planning at the State Department, Kiron Skinner, was interviewed
onstage by a woman who used to hold her job: Anne-Marie Slaughter,
who is now the head of the New America Foundation (where I am a
fellow this year). . . .
I have heard talk like this before, in Russia. A government official
once told me that he "carried out emanations": not policies, laws, or
even orders but signals akin to what Skinner called "hunches and
instincts." It's what officials do in countries that are led by a
combination of ignorance and corruption.
David A Graham:
Why Stephen Moore's Fed bid failed.
Bill McKibben has been sounding the climate alarm for decades. Here's his
best advice. Interview with McKibben, whose new book is Falter:
Has the Human Game Begun to Play Itself Out?.
All of the impeachable offenses: "Focusing on the Mueller report
alone risks leaving out the obvious.
Trump has nominated Kelly Craft to be the next UN ambassador. Here's who
Trump's abortion lies are going to get somebody killed.
Tennessee passed a law that could make it harder to register voters.
Once again, 'NYT' distorts the news, dishonestly making Gazans the
aggressor and Israel the victim.
John Kelly joines board of company that detains migrant children.
Joshua Partlow/David A Fahrenthold:
At Trump golf course, undocumented employees said they were sometimes told
to work extra hours without pay.
Susan E Rice:
The real Trump foreign policy: stoking the GOP base: "Why else would
he pursue so many policies in Latin America that do not serve the national
interest?" What about the economic interests of his donors? Or their more
general hatred of popular rule (aka democracy)?
Charlie Savage/Eric Schmitt/Maggie Haberman:
Trump pushes to designate Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist group. Paul
Woodward, in linking to this, also linked to a background piece from Jan.
27, 2017: William McCants/Benjamin Wittes:
Should the Muslim Brotherhood be designated a terrorist organization?
The dangerous ideas of Bill Barr: "The attorney general's theory of
executive power places presidents above the law."
The left needs to stop crushing on the generals. I'd respond that the
left I know doesn't, but when you write for American Conservative
your perspective might be distorted enough to include some "leftists" I
For the record, tonight's Cinco de Mayo menu, nearly all from The
Best Mexican Recipes (America's Test Kitchen):
- Chicken adobo
- Braised short ribs with peppers and onion
- Cheese enchiladas
- Classic Mexican rice
- Skillet street corn
- Restaurant-style black beans
- Shrimp and lime ceviche
- Mango, jicama, and orange salad
- Cherry tomato and avocado salad
- Key lime pie
- Duce de leche cheesecake
I generally cut the hot peppers back by 50%. I made the beef and the
desserts the night before. Started around noon, aiming at 6pm dinner,
but it wound up closer to 7pm, putting a couple guests to work. Used a
gluten-free shell for the key lime pie, but made cheesecake crust from
scratch, using a box of caramel and sea salt cookies plus some graham
crackers. Used store-bought yellow corn tortillas, which were the weak
link in the enchiladas (otherwise pretty great). Ten people, so the
table was pretty crowded. Kitchen was a colossal mess, but got it
straightened out by bedtime.
I've never been a big fan of Mexican food, but figured I should give
it a try, especially given access to specialty grocers here. But when
I bought my first Mexican cookbook, I found it impenetrable. This one
is intentionally simplified, which helped get me started. This cookbook
didn't have any desserts, so I scrounged around the web, not finding
much that interested me. (I've made flan and rice pudding many times
before, but didn't want to do them here. And while I'm partial to cake,
tres leches isn't a favorite.) On the other hand, lime figures large
in the meal, and I had the pie shell on the shelf. The cheesecake was
a second thought, and turned out to be a nice complement.
Tuesday, April 30, 2019
Replied to a twitter thread. It seems to have started with Dave
Weigel, who wrote:
To understand Bidenmentum, you've got to have some of the conversations
I had yesterday: Middle-aged women explaining that 2016 showed that
voters won't elect a female president, so they've got to be strategic.
Kathleen Geier wrote:
This is so depressing. Countries like Argentina, Chile, Liberia, and
Taiwan have elected women presidents. Are those countries less sexist
than the US? Just because Hillary Clinton was a weak candidate who
ran a lousy campaign doesn't mean another woman can't win.
Only reason I can think of why significant numbers of voters reject
any woman candidate is that the US has been on a constant war footing
since 1948, and that's seeped deep into our pores; ironically,
overcompensating hawks like H Clinton scare more voters than they
Wrote this up as a proposal for Mike and Ram:
Been kicking around various ideas, and thought this one might be
worth sharing. I've spent a lot of time thinking about a political
book, built around the idea that US history breaks neatly into four
eras: 1800-1860, 1860-1932, 1932-1980, and 1980-2020. Each begins with
a legendary president (Jefferson, Lincoln, FD Roosevelt, Reagan) and
ends with a tragically inept one-termer (Buchanan, Hoover, Carter, and
Trump). (In this regard, one could also cite 1788-1800,
Washington-to-Adams, but that doesn't seem quite long enough to
count. Each era was dominated by a single political party, although
each had two minor breaks for presidents from the other party -- in
three cases two for two terms each (Cleveland and Wilson, Eisenhower
and Nixon, Clinton and Obama); in the 1800-1860 period the Whig party
managed to win two elections with former generals (Harrison and
Taylor), but they both died in office and were succeeded by
exceptionally unpopular VPs (Tyler and Fillmore). Within each era, not
only was one party dominant, but the other party tended to mimic the
dominant party: most obviously, how Eisenhower and Nixon supported and
extended New Deal reforms, while Clinton and Obama willingly gave
ground to the pro-market, small-government Republican agenda. (The
earlier eras are more mixed, partly because the dominant party was
itself evolving. Cleveland, for instance, was more conservative than
the most pro-business Republican of his day, while Wilson was
relatively progressive, admittedly with certain blinders, most
The Reagan-to-Trump era differs from the others in several
respects. The first three eras started with major shifts to the left:
the spread of democracy under Jefferson and Jackson; the end of
slavery with Lincoln; Roosevelt's New Deal. Reagan led a backlash,
aimed at making Americans less equal, at reducing democracy, and at
limiting the rights of most Americans. Although Republicans captured
the levers of power and dominated the public agenda, their program was
never very popular, their winning margins (aside from Reagan's two
elections) slim (twice, at least by actual votes, negative). The eras
subdivide, this one breaking down into three waves as presidential
power (Reagan, Bush, Trump) did their damage, separated by breaks
which allowed the economy to recover (from the first Bush recession of
1992 and the much larger Bush recession of 2008), and the Republicans
to recharge (taking control of Congress in 1994 and 2010, kneecapping
the Democrats from making changes).
My original idea was to start with this framework, then expand on
how Democrats should view 2020 as an epochal, era-ending election, an
opportunity not just to reverse the Reagan-to-Trump tide but to build
a new paradigm for decades to come. A lot of good things fall out of
that perspective. I'm thinking now that I should dial back the
ambition from book to essay length, crank out the essay, try to get it
published somewhere respectable, and see if there's any further
demand. But along the way, I thought of how either of you might help,
then came up with something slightly different. That is to look at the
Reagan-to-Trump era reactionary movement in the broader context of
fascist movements around the world. Also, to lessen my load, and give
this a better chance of actually happening, I propose that you two do
it as a graphic book (Mike writing, Ram illustrating). Maybe I can
contribute some rough ideas, a website, some online notes, like
The immediate trigger for the thought was reading Benjamin Carter
Hett's "The Death of Democracy: Hitler's Rise to Power and the
Downfall of the Weimar Republic." Some descriptions of Hitler can
easily be recast for Trump. Some cannot, but the essential point is
that both are public faces of crazed mass movements which were handed
power by arch-conservative power brokers (the Kochs and Mercers as
much as Hindenburg and his business backers), in both cases
understanding that their privileges can only be sustained if they can
hide behind a political movement preoccupied with hating others. It's
taken some countries much longer to mount a successful fascist
movement than others. Germany in the 1920s could look back on its
humiliating defeat in the Great War and rail against both internal
traitors and the insults of reparations, while imagining that the
extraordinary will of someone like Hitler could triumph, restoring
Germany's greatness among nations. Fascists could build on lesser
grounds, as Mussolini did in Italy. Even in England and France, small
groups felt cheated and spawned lesser fascist movements.
It was even harder to get a fascist movement started in the US, but
in the 1930s there was a clique of conservatives who harbored the
fantasy, and they started to build as the Cold War lent their
anti-union politics an air of respectability. As Robert Paxton argues
in "The Anatomy of Fascism," fascists start out as the public face of
oligarchic powers frustrated by having to deal with democracy. That
turns out to be a pretty apt description of Trump. And it's worth
noting that GW Bush made his own fortune working as the front man for
the oil magnates who owned the Texas Rangers. Also that as Reagan's
acting career washed up, he made his living as a shill for General
Electric (see Kim Phillips-Fein's "Invisible Hands" for more on GE's
hardcore opposition to FDR's New Deal). The difference between Hitler
and America's leading fascists is that Hitler moved beyond being a
front, seizing power and pursuing his own delusions, driving Germany
to utter ruin, whereas the damage wrought by the American troika have
yet to rebound against their masters.
Thinking along these lines, I was reminded of Marx's quip about
Napoleon III in 1848: "history repeats itself, first as tragedy and
then as farce." That seems about right for contrasting Trump to Hitler
and Mussolini, although one might not want to tempt fate given that
the full bill for electing Trump has yet to be paid. Also one doesn't
want to make light of the many terrible things that Trump as already
done. Still, I see no reason why we can't present him as a buffoon as
well as vile. Indeed, that's likely to be where the graphic form is
most effective. Nor should we refrain from treating Hitler and
Mussolini as farcical characters. Maybe if people had realized then
how ridiculous they were, they might have been stopped before they
could devastate so much of the world. Stopping Trump is still an
Monday, April 29, 2019
Expanded blog post,
Music: current count 31440  rated (+40), 255  unrated (-1).
Last Monday of the month, so time to unveil
April Streamnotes, including
this week's subset below. Five Mondays this month, so the totals are up
handsomely from the two previous four-Monday months. Weekly rated count
is up a bit, but that's partly because I found five records I failed to
record grades for recently. Some of those bookkeeping errors probably
caused me to log 29-album weeks (four so far this year) instead of 30,
long my standard for a productive week.
Worth noting that all three of this week's new non-jazz A-list albums
here also placed high on
Phil Overeem's latest list (numbers 4, 6, and 20). For what little
it's worth, I wrote those before seeing Overeem's list, but not before
Dan Weiss praised them on Facebook (although I think I first heard of
Billie Eilish from
Those tips help make up for the frustration of declining awareness
I've been feeling. Although I still keep a
music tracking file, I've stopped
making any systematic effort to find and list prospects, leaving me
with little concept of what to search out next. As a result, I veer
off on arbitrary tangents, as when I found a piece called
A Guide to Drexciya's Futuristic Electro. I really liked Drexciya's
Journey of the Deep Sea
Dweller, Vol. I back in 2012, so that seemed worth pursuing.
But it certainly fell far short of a plan.
Finally, a link that makes more sense to list here than in yesterday's
Rachel Syme: Vince Aletti's Obsessive Collection of Seminal Fashion
Magazinse. Vince was one of the first people I met when I moved
to New York City in 1977, so it's good to see him again, even older,
as we all are.
New records reviewed this week:
- Kevin Abstract: Arizona Baby (2019, Question Everything/RCA): [r]: B+(**)
- Juan Álamo & Marimjazzia: Ruta Panoramica (2016 , Summit): [cd]: B+(**)
- Anderson .Paak: Ventura (2019, Aftermath/12 Tone Music): [r]: B+(***)
- Brittany Anjou: Enamigo Reciprokataj (2015-16 , Origin): [cd]: B+(**)
- Seamus Blake: Guardians of the Heart Machine (2017 , Whirlwind): [r]: B+(***)
- Club D'Elf: Night Sparkles (Live) (2011 , Face Pelt): [r]: B+(***)
- Control Top: Covert Contracts (2019, Get Better): [r]: A-
- Cooper Moore/Stephen Gauci: Studio Sessions Vol. 1 (2019, Gaucimusic): [bc]: B+(***)
- Ronnie Cuber: Straight Street (2010 , SteepleChase): [r]: B+(***)
- Billy Eilish: When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go? (2019, Darkroom/Interscope): [r]: A-
- Anat Fort Trio: Colour (2019, Sunnyside): [r]: B+(**)
- Four: There You Go Thinking Again (2018 , Jazz Hang): [cd]: B
- Bill Frisell/Thomas Morgan: Epistrophy (2016 , ECM): [r]: B+(*)
- Stephen Gauci/Sandy Ewan/Adam Lane/Kevin Shea: Live at the Bushwick Series (2019, Gaucimusic): [bc]: B+(*)
- Lizzo: Cuz I Love You (2019, Nice Life/Atlantic): [r]: A-
- Lisa Maxwell's Jazz Orchestra: Shiny! (2018 , Uncle Marvin Music): [cd]: B+(*)
- Bennett Paster: Indivisible (2018 , self-released): [cd]: B+(*)
- Andrew Rathbun: Character Study (2017 , SteepleChase): [r]: B+(**)
- Eric Reed: Everybody Gets the Blues (2019, Smoke Sessions): [r]: B+(**)
- Steph Richards: Take the Neon Lights (2019, Birdwatcher): [r]: B+(***)
- Dave Scott: In Search of Hipness (2018 , SteepleChase): [r]: B+(*)
- Swindle: No More Normal (2019, Brownswood): [r]: B-
- Trapper Keaper: Meets Tim Berne & Aurora Nealand (2019, Ears & Eyes/Caligola): [cd]: B+(***)
- Cory Weeds Quintet: Live at Frankie's Jazz Club (2019, Cellar Live): [r]: B+(*)
- Walt Weiskopf European Quartet: Worldwide (2019, Orenda): [cd]: A-
Recent reissues, compilations, and vault discoveries:
- Afro-Blue Persuasion: Live at Haight Levels: Volume One (1967 , Tramp): [r]: B+(**)
- Afro-Blue Persuasion: Live at Haight Levels: Volume Two (1967 , Tramp): [r]: B+(**)
- Elecktrokids: Elektroworld (1995 , Clone Classic Cuts): [bc]: B+(**)
- Mark Turner/Gary Foster: Mark Turner Meets Gary Foster (2003 , Capri, 2CD): [cd]: B+(***)
- Bill Cunliffe/Gary Foster: It's About Love (2003, Torii): [r]: B+(***)
- Drexciya: Journey of the Deep Sea Dweller III (1992-97 , Clone Classic Cuts): [bc]: A-
- Drexciya: Journey of the Deep Sea Dweller IV (1992-97 , Clone Classic Cubs): [bc]: B+(***)
- Drexciya: Neptune's Lair (1999, Tresor): [r]: B+(***)
- Drexciya: Grava 4 (2002, Clone): [r]: B+(**)
- Billie Eilish: Don't Smile at Me (2017, Darkroom/Interscope, EP): [r]: B+(***)
Unpacking: Found in the mail last week:
- Greg Abate with the Tim Ray Trio: Gratitude: Stage Door Live @ The Z (Whaling City Sound)
- Brittany Anjou: Enamigo Reciprokataj (Origin)
- Rebecca DuMaine and the Dave Miller Combo: Chez Nous (Summit): June 7
- Satoko Fujii: Stone (Libra): June 7
- The Invisible Party: Shumankind (Chant -18)
- Peter Jensen & DR Big Band: Stand on Your Feet and Fight: Voices of the Danish West Indies (ILK)
- Ellynne Rey: The Birdsong Project (self-released): May 1
- Rent Romus' Life's Blood Ensemble: Side Three: New Work (Edgetone)
- The Richard Shulman Trio: Waltzing out of Town (RichHeart Music): May 11
- Wayne Wallace Latin Jazz Quintet: The Rhythm of Invention (Patois): June 7
- Walt Weiskopf European Quartet: Worldwide (Orenda): May 3
- Cardi B: Invasion of Privacy (2018 , Atlantic) [A-]
- Todd Snider: Cash Cabin Sessions, Vol. 3 (2019, Aimless) [A-]
Sunday, April 28, 2019
Started early and still running late. Having recently read Benjamin
Carter Hett's The Death of Democracy: Hitler's Rise to Power and
the Downfall of the Weimar Republic, I woke up this morning with
the idea of writing something about Trump, Republicans, and Fascism
for today's introduction. Never got close to that. Hett's book is
pretty straight history, but you can find a page here or there where
you could easily gloss in Trump's name for Hitler's. Then you move
onto other pages where Trump fails any comparison, usually by being
too dumb or too lazy. There are also big differences between the
Nazis and the Republicans, although differences on race, foreigners,
unions, and military muscle are insignificant. The biggest one is
that the Nazis actually had their own goon squad that could go out
and physically attack their suspected enemies, whereas Republicans
only wish they could do that. Still, the key point about Germany in
1932 was supposedly sober conservatives were so desperate to squash
the left -- indeed, any trace of popular government, of democracy --
that they were willing to hand power over to a psycho like Hitler
and his vicious gang of followers. Republicans seem happy to do the
same thing here in America, for the same reasons, and with the same
obliviousness to consequences.
I should note somewhere that former Senator
Richard Lugar (R-IN)
died last week. Back in the 1980s he was the model of how a Republican
politician could straddle moderate urban politics (he was mayor of
Indianapolis) and the Reagan reaction, which for a time helped make
the latter seem more innocuous and palatable. He was finally devoured
by the right, purged in a primary by an opponent so extreme that the
Democrats were able to (temporarily) pick up the seat. I never felt
any particular fondness for Lugar, but I could understand why people
respected him. Even his breed of Republican is now a thing of the
Also noted that historian
David Brion Davis has died. His 1967 book The Problem of Slavery
in Western Culture greatly affected the way pretty much everyone
understood the history of slavery in the Americas. I've often thought
I should check out his later books, especially the ones that extended
his study into the 19th century. I learned of his death from a cranky
Corey Robin note, which I decided not to bother with below. Here's
a more useful (and generous)
Anyhow, this is what the week has to show for itself:
To solve climate change and biodiversity loss, we need a Global Deal for
My brain on cable news: "Tuning into TV's battle to the death."
What's actually on cable these days is a bizarre legalistic death battle.
Cohen, Manafort, Flynn, Butina, Mueller, Giuliani, et al. We aren't
debating whether Trump has been responsible for the deaths of innocents,
because everyone knows that he is -- presidents and collateral damage go
hand in hand. If Trump goes to prison, it will not be for child murder,
but for distributing hush money to silence former mistresses and for
taking bribes and for engaging in back channel machinations with Russia.
Whatever it takes, I suppose, but I have to agree with my cable guy:
there's something unseemly about the means employed.
Fox News is addictive and awful: choirboys gone to seed and women's
dresses with weird portholes at the shoulders or at the cleavage. The
anchors jeer smilingly at ideas that any sensible person of generous
mind can see make sense. Quick clips of closed-circuit footage of humans
with darker skin doing bad things are injected into the river of commentary --
mug shots included -- to create little mental firecracker pops of righteous
wrath among the pickup-truck crowd, along with "funny" attacks on progressive
causes by rightist comedians who love steak and country music. Fox &
Friends is a hot mess of clean living and white-right American
self-deception, and I can't watch it for very long without feeling
queasy. But it's an easy mark.
Trump's new defense of his Charlottesville comments is incredibly
false. Related: Allegra Kirkland:
Whitewash: Trump takes new approach to sanitizing Charlottesville
The UAE's seedy influence operations are a footnote to the Mueller
Hedge-fund ownership cost Sears workers their jobs. Now they're fighting
back. Seems like lots (damn near all of ) the companies you read about
in bankruptcy first passed through a phase where private equity operators
first bought the company with its own debt than stripped assets and paid
themselves "management fees." Maybe if they were lucky they'd be able to
sell the carcass off, but current bankruptcy law favors creditors over
employees and customers, finishing the liquidation while leaving the
public worse off. Our think tanks need to think about this situation,
and come up with new bankruptcy laws that allow companies to survive
such malign ownership, preferably under employee ownership, with debt
loads reduced to levels which allow the companies to carry on. Other
regulations could help, but just changing bankruptcy law would shift
the incentives dramatically.
Coalition airstrikes in Raqqa killed at least 1,600 civilians, more than
10 times US tally, report finds.
Tom Engelhardt: Publisher and introduction writer at
The roots of Trumpian agitprop: Hint: article namechecks Leni
Riefenstahl, as well as Susan Sontag writing about Riefenstahl.
Spain election: socialist party PSOE declared winner: live update
blog; PSOE is expected to be able to form a coalition with the further
leftist party Podemos; the far-right party Vox surged, but only wound
up with 24 MPs (6.8%), at the expense of more mainstream conservatives
(PP is down from 137 to 66).
The terrifying potential of the 5G network: "The future of wireless
technology holds the promise of total connectivity. But it will also be
especially susceptible to cyberattacks and surveillance." Guess who else
is selling snooping gear? Richard Silverstein:
Israel and the selling of the surveillance state.
Our enemies are the same people: San Diego synagogue shooter inspired
by New Zealand anti-Muslim massacre.
White identity politics is about more than racism: Interview with
Ashley Jardina, author of White Identity Politics..
Rich guys are most likely to have no idea what they're talking about,
Capitalism in crisis: US billionaires worry about the survival of the
system that made them rich.
The uncanny power of Greta Thunberg's climate-change rhetoric.
The climate-change movement feels powerful today because it is
politicians -- not the people gluing themselves to trucks -- who seem
deluded about reality. Thunberg says that all she wants is for adults
to behave like adults, and to act on the terrifying information that
is all around us.
Related: Stewart Lee:
Why Greta Thunberg is now my go-to girl.
Armpits, white ghettos and contempt: "Who really despises the American
heartland?" Opens with a sidebar on Stephen Moore (Trump's Fed pick),
Moore is an indefensible choice on many grounds. Even if he hadn't
shown himself to be extraordinarily misogynistic and have an ugly
personal history, his track record on economics -- always wrong,
never admitting error or learning from it -- is utterly disqualifying.
Survival of the wrongest: "Evidence has a well-known liberal bias."
Much more on Stephen Moore.
The great Republican abdication: "A party that no longer believes
in American values." Wait! Aren't greed, hubris, and desperate schemes
to rig every contest the ultimate American values? Those are clearly
the hallmarks of the recent Republican Party, and those are traits
one can question and denounce. But calling them un-American misses a
big part of their appeal.
To stop global catastrophe, we must believe in humans again: "We have
the technology to prevent climate crisis. But now we need to unleash mass
resistance too -- because collective action does work." Edited extract
from his new book, Falter: Has the Human Game Begun to Play Itself
Out?. He also pleaded for mass resistance recently in
Glaciers and Arctic ice are vanishing. Time to get radical before it's
Paul Mozur/Jonah M Kessel/Melissa Chan:
Made in China, exported to the world: the surveillance state.
Trump's Fed pick wrote that women should be banned from March Madness:
Well, actually he's written and said a lot of stupid things, not least
on matters more germane to his appointment -- not that whether he's an
asshole is irrelevant. As for Trump's other pick of a political hack for
a Fed seat, see: Li Zhou:
It's official: Herman Cain is not going to be on the Fed. Zhou also
Young voters want more action on climate change -- even if it hurts the
Gabby Orr/Andrew Restuccia:
How Stephen Miller made immigration personal.
Ben Protess/William K Rashbaum/Maggie Haberman:
How Michael Cohen turned against President Trump.
Obama's original sin: "A new insider account reveals how the Obamas
administration's botched bailout deal not only reinforced neoliberal
Clintonism, but also foreshadowed an ongoing failure to fulfill campaign
promises." Review of Reed Hundt: A Crisis Wasted: Barack Obama's
Defining Decisions. Reminds me that perhaps the first of those
decisions was letting Clinton factotum John Podesta run the transition
team, which initially penciled in such pivotal figures as Tim Geithner
and Lawrence Summers.
Most Americans believe Trump lied to them, but think impeachment is a
bad idea. Related: Ella Nilsen:
Democrats' impeachment dilemma, explained.
Unanswered questions in the Mueller report point to a sprawling Russian
Darren Samuelsohn/Andrew Desiderio/Kyle Cheney:
'This is risky': Trump's thirst for Mueller revenge could land him in
trouble. Related: Andrew Restuccia:
Mueller report exposes diminishing power of Trump denials: "The
report has reignited a media debate about how seriously to take the
White House's statements of fact."
Eric Schmitt/David E Sanger/Maggie Haberman:
In push for 2020 election security, top official was warned: don't tell
The trigger presidency: "How shock jock comedy gave way to Donald
Trump's Republican Party.
Trump's high-stakes subpoena battle with House Democrats,
Trump lets loose stunning falsehood that doctors, mothers 'execute'
How the War on Terror is being written: Starts on Guantánamo, ends
with a long list of links to source documents. Midway, Taub notes:
The year after [James] Mitchell published his memoir [Enhanced
Interrogation], it was cited in a lengthy
report by Physicians for Human Rights, which argues that the
interrogation program represented "one of the gravest breaches of
medical ethics" since the Nazi medical experiments during the
Second World War.
These documents -- along with contemporaneous reports and books
by investigative journalists, academics, lawyers, and human-rights
advocates -- make up an evolving draft of post-9/11 history. With
each passing year, more details surface in memoirs, lawsuits, and
military commissions, and the historical record comes into sharper
focus. Millions of pages have come to light, and millions more remain
classified. But, seventeen years into the war on terror, a core,
uncomfortable fact remains: people on the receiving end of classified
security programs -- from drone strikes to renditions and interrogations --
become aware of the outlines of secret U.S. national-security laws and
practices long before American citizens have any clarity or say about
what is being done in their name.
Guantánamo's darkest secret.
Mueller prosecutors: Trump did obstruct justice.
Democrats want to challenge Trump's foreign policy in 2020. They're still
working out how. Surprisingly little here, or maybe not given how
readily Democrats have lined up behind the common consensus policies in
place since shortly after WWII. Consider "the four main pillars of a
progressive foreign policy (so far)":
- Confront climate change
- Democracy promotion and anti-corruption
- Strengthening alliances
- Rebuilding America
I would have started off with negotiated demilitarization: securing
treaties all around the world that resolve conflicts and reduce the
military posture of all nations (especially the US). My second point
would be to expand "democracy promotion and anti-corruption" to lean
left, to support more power for workers and for women, while accepting
that capital rights need to be limited and regulated. On trade, I'd
work to limit (or in many cases eliminate) rents based on intellectual
property. This in turn should lead to greater sharing of best practices
in science and technology, which would help with problems like climate
change, loss of biodiversity, etc. I'd also like to see some sort of
international framework for dealing with migration. Democrats have done
a miserable job of formulating foreign policy due to the old colonial
mentality where they've never seen the rest of the world's peoples as
our equals, and never recognized that our welfare is co-dependent on
the world's. Another piece on trying to change Democratic strategy:
When will Washington end the Forever War?.
Sri Lanka suffered from decades of violence before the Easter Sunday
bombings. Related: Samanth Subramanian:
After the Easter bombings, Sri Lanka grapples with its history of
We're not hearing enough from 2020 candidates about things they could do
Joe Biden is the Hillary Clinton of 2020: "Americans want outsiders,
reformers, and fresh faces, not politicians with decades of baggage."
Pretty much all you need to know about Biden in 2020, but not the only
thing written this week. E.g.:
Anita Hill deserves a real apology. Why couldn't Joe Biden offer
Joe Biden's policies are as troubling as his inappropriate
Joe Biden's long record supporting the war on drugs and mass incarceration,
Joe Biden is the Hillary Clinton of 2020 -- and it won't end well this
What Joe Biden hasn't owned up to about Anita Hill.
The 2020 candidates smell blood: "The reason so many Democrats are
running is they think Biden won't survive."
The field in 2016 was so small not because politicians with national
aspirations didn't exist, but because they thought Clinton -- with her
name recognition, financial resources, party relationships, high early
polling numbers, and general next-in-line aura -- was inevitable. She
cleared the field of most competition because other mainstream candidates
knew she would win (and non-mainstream Bernie figured she would too).
Biden is something more like a 2016 Jeb Bush: a weak establishment
favorite whose time might be past and -- should voters deprioritize his
top perceived strength, electability -- who could soon face the wolves.
Newell also wrote:
Biden has successfullyl goaded Trump, which is exactly what he needs to
do. One thing many Democrats will be looking for in primary season
is the candidate who most effectively articulates their rage over Trump,
and one of the best ways to do that is to get under his thin skin.
How Joe Biden could win the 2020 Democratic Primary: Put a lot of
weight on his initial poll lead, and hope nothing goes wrong.
Is Joe Biden 'electable' or not? Thank God, nobody seems to know.
The Democratic establishment should chill out about Bernie Sanders.
As Sanders continues to rate highly in national polls, many longtime party
stalwarts are palpably agitated over a blend of personal grievances and
overblown political and policy concerns. . . .
As a personal matter, the establishment's response is understandable.
Sanders, an independent Vermont senator, tends to portray the institutional
Democratic Party as corrupt and relentlessly sows suspicion about the
motives and integrity of everyone who disagrees with him. He treats the
catastrophe of the 2016 election as a deserved rebuke to party leaders.
And he brushes aside mountains of practical realities that others have
spent years dealing with.
But blowing up over this makes no sense. The whole point of a party
establishment is to be cynical, detached, practical-minded, and realistic.
If they assess Sanders's actual track record -- rather than his personally
insulting rhetoric -- they'd discover a fairly unremarkable blue-state
liberal who's good at winning elections and has extensive experience with
the disappointing realities of the legislative process.
Relevant here: Peter Daou:
I was Bernie's biggest critic in 2016 -- I've changed my mind: "It
would be an epic act of self-destruction for Democrats to try to hobble
his campaign." Let's see if I can explain this in simple terms. During
the Reagan-to-Trump era, Democrats have been preoccupied with raising
money (cultivating donor support). Some, like Obama and the Clintons,
have even done a good job of this, largely by promising that they'd do
an even better job for business than the Republicans would -- something
the stats clearly support. Meanwhile, the Democrats have let their base
go to hell, and found their support eroding, even as Republicans have
even less to offer. What Sanders is doing is rebuilding the Democratic
Party base, by appealing to the people Democrats have been screwing for
decades now. Attacking Sanders risks driving this base away, if not to
the Republicans then to a third party or nothing. Sanders is doing the
party a huge favor by not running as an independent. The party needs to
reciprocate by welcoming him and his voters. They might even find, like
Daou, that they'll learn something.
Brexit is not just a tragedy for Britain.
Saturday, April 27, 2019
Fixed dinner for four last night. Wasn't planned, except iasmuch as I
bought a pound of hamburger thinking I'd make meatloaf, then postponed
it after my wife stuck the meat in the freezer. I already had a pound of
ground lamb there, and keep everything else I would need as staples. So
when I announced I'd fix it Friday, my wife invited a couple of friends
over. I don't normally make any extra dishes for just the two of us --
the meatloaf baked with some root vegetables, so makes a nice comforty
meal-for-two, with leftovers for sandwiches. But with two more guests,
I figured I should add a little something. I decided to limit myself to
things I could fix without shopping. Came up with this:
- Meatloaf (beef + lamb, with onion, green bell pepper, garlic, a can
of tomatoes, two eggs, parmesan cheese, some spices) with coarsely chopped
root vegetables (yukon potatoes, parsnip, a sweet potato).
- Baked beans topped with bacon (two cans of Van Camps, flavored with
mustard, catsup, worcestshire, brown sugar, maple syrup, also threw in
a bit of Chinese bean sauce).
- Cut green beans (a frozen bag), microwaved and added to a skillet
with butter, shallots (two chopped), ham (two slices, diced fine),
roasted garlic, a chopped scallion, sliced almonds, and a splash of
sesame oil. (Thought about adding parmesan, but don't think I did.)
- Roaster butternut squash soup.
- Chocolate mousse for dessert.
I made the soup several days before. I thought it was pretty tasty,
but I mostly make soups for Laura, and she didn't seem much interested
in it. The other choices were mostly dictated by trying to get rid of
things from the freezer and the pantry. I first tried another bag of cut
green beans, but after I screwed up and boiled the pot dry, I decided
they weren't worth saving, and grabbed another bag. The canned beans
were old too: we threw out several ancient cans last week, so that got
me thinking I should use what I had left. The bacon was OK, but running
out of time. I meant to include carrots, but had to throw the few I had
out (as well as most of the rest of the produce drawer).
The first two were old family recipes (the beans from my first wife)
that I had fiddled with over the years. The green beans was pure improv.
Earlier I had the idea of making creamed corn, but gave that up when I
only found small packages of corn in the freezer. (The recipe, of course,
frowned on using frozen corn, but I think I've used it before.) The cream
got me to thinking about chocolate mousse, as one of the few really good
desserts I could whip up in just a few minutes.
The chocolate mousse was a last-minute idea, started just before the
guests arrived. I had several opened packages of chocolate in the fridge,
and found 4 oz. of 70% bittersweet there.
I had a guest whisk the melted chocolate/butter and egg yolks, and
they wound up lumpy. I didn't pay enough attention to whipping either
the egg yolks or the cream, and both came out less airy than ideal.
The result was kind of lumpy and soupy, although the taste was there.
It's just that you had to chew it to break the lumps open, but that
turned out to be surprisingly satisfying.
Monday, April 22, 2019
Expanded blog post,
Music: current count 31400  rated (+29), 256  unrated (+4).
Seems like pretty much everything is a struggle these days. My most
common complaint is that I'm getting sick and tired of not being able
to do things right. A typical example was trying to repair a screen door
lock. A nylon washer disappeared, and has proven impossible to replace.
I bought some things I thought I might be able to use, then lost them.
Bought some more, and turned out they were too thick, and hole was too
small. I tried drilling out the hole, and destroyed the washer. Finally
reassembled the door handle without the washer. The set screw is hard
to get a grip on. It will no doubt fall apart again in a matter of days,
at best a couple weeks. I have a bunch of other things that are falling
apart, many because I didn't do a good enough job building them in the
On the other hand, I have gotten a few things done. The new pantry
shelf unit is painted and bolted in place, although we haven't really
put it to use yet. That's waiting a second pantry improvement. I built
a rather neat storage unit, then screwed up hanging the door so it
never closed correctly (or at least easily). It finally dawned on me
that if I could shave a quarter inch off the bottom surface, it should
close without having to change the hinges. All that's left to do there
is to rehang the door, and see whether the theory worked. Tomorrow.
At least I finally got my computers moved, making my workspace much
more comfortable. Still haven't done the next step, which is to set up
virtual web servers on the secondary machine, so I can start redesigning
the Robert Christgau and Carola Dibbell websites. I should at least know
what I'm doing there.
Meanwhile, another routine week of music discoveries. Hard part for
me is deciding what to search out. This seems like a typical week with
two weeks of
Christgau picks, further
Phil Overeem's list, and the first
Michael Tatum Downloader's Diary in quite a while. Unfortunately, I
found myself coming up short with their well-considered picks. Instead,
I went with the new Chemical Brothers album (I think someone on the
Expert Witness Facebook group raved about it, but don't recall who),
and a 1979 jazz album reissue that probably showed up in a
Bandcamp Daily list (which I started using a couple weeks back
when I couldn't play Napster).
Also, two rare regrades to from B+(***) to A-, originally reviewed
by streaming but given a few more changes after CDs arrived. People
shouldn't get the idea that all they have to do to get higher grades
is to send me CDs, but they do help in cases where I've held a grade
back due to some minor reservations.
April Streamnotes should be released with next Music Week, on April
29. Currently have 113 records in the draft file, so I'll probably
wind up with 140-150.
New records reviewed this week:
- Art Ensemble of Chicago: We Are on the Edge: A 50th Anniversary Celebration (2018 , Pi, 2CD): [cd]: B+(**)
- The Chemical Brothers: No Geography (2019, Virgin EMI): [r]: A-
- Martin Frawley: Undone at 31 (2019, Merge): [r]: B+(***)
- Ahmed Ag Kaedy: Akaline Kidal (2019, Sahel Sounds): [r]: B+(**)
- Salif Keita: Un Autre Blanc (2018 , Naive): [r]: B+(***)
- Khalid: Suncity (2018, RCA, EP): [r]: B+(*)
- Khalid: Free Spirit (2019, RCA): [r]: B+(***)
- Larry Koonse: New Jazz Standards Vol. 4 (2019, Summit): [cd]: B
- Joachim Kühn: Melodic Ornette Coleman: Piano Works XIII (2018 , ACT): [r]: B+(*)
- Russ Lossing: Changes (2018 , SteepleChase): [r]: B+(***)
- Russ Lossing: Motian Music (2019, Sunnyside): [r]: B+(**)
- Reba McEntire: Stronger Than the Truth (2019, Big Machine): [r]: B+(*)
- Sam Ospovat: Ride Angles (2018 , Skirl): [cd]: B+(**)
- Hama Sankare: Ballébé: Calling All Africans (2018, Clermont Music): [r]: B+(***)
- Hama Sankare: Niafunke (2019, Clermont Music): [r]: B+(***)
- Silk Road Assassins: State of Ruin (2019, Planet Mu): [r]: B+(*)
- Marcos Silva: Brasil: From Head to Toe (2019, Green Egg): [cd]: B
- Solange: When I Get Home (2019, Saint/Columbia): [r]: B+(*)
- Spellling: Mazy Fly (2019, Sacred Bones): [r]: B+(**)
- Sunflower Bean: King of the Dudes (2019, Mom + Pop, EP): [r]: B+(**)
Recent reissues, compilations, and vault discoveries:
- Infinite Spirit Music: Live Without Fear (1979 , Jazzman): [r]: A-
- Live at Raul's (1979 , Steady Boy): [r]: B+(*)
- Onda De Amor: Synthesized Brazilian Hits That Never Were (1984-94) (1984-94 , Soundway): [bc]: B+(**)
- Weaponize Your Sound (2019, Optimo Music): [bc]: B+(**)
- Salif Keita: The Mansa of Mali: A Retrospective (1978-94 , Mango): [r]: B+(***)
- Russ Lossing: Dreamer (2000, Double Time): [r]: B+(**)
- Russ Lossing/Ed Schuller/Paul Motian: As It Grows (2002 , Hatology): [r]: B+(**)
- Russ Lossing: All Things Arise (2005 , Hatology): [r]: B+(**)
- Timosaurus: I Love You More Than Yesterday (2011, self-released): [bc]: B+(**)
Grade (or other) changes:
- Hiljaisuus: Kuzu (2017 , Astral Spirits/Aerophonic): [cd]: was: B+(***) A-
- Matthew Shipp Trio: Signature (2018 , ESP-Disk): [cd]: was B+(***) A-
Unpacking: Found in the mail last week:
- The Campfire Flies: Sparks Like Litle Stars (OverPop Music)
- Mark Dresser Seven: Ain't Nothing but a Cyber Coup & You (Clean Feed): May 10
- Four: There You Go Thinking Again (Jazz Hang)
- Bennett Paster: Indivisible (self-released): May 3
- Trapper Keeper: Meets Tim Berne & Aurora Nealand (Ears & Eyes)
- Mark Turner/Gary Foster: Mark Turner Meets Gary Foster (Capri): May 17
- The United States Air Force Band: The Jazz Heritage Series: 2019 Radio Broadcasts (self-released)
Sunday, April 21, 2019
Let's start off with a range of reactions to the release (with
extensive redactions) of the final report of Special Prosecutor Robert
The Mueller report, explained in 500 words: Fair to start with this
executive summary of the report itself, but this falls far short of its
intent ("everything you wanted to know . . . but detailed as briefly as
possible"), mostly by not examining the context or process. One thing
I've long wondered about was to what extent low-level operatives in
Trump's (and his PAC allies') cyber operations were aware of let alone
had contacts with the Russian operatives who worked on Trump's behalf.
Even if they didn't explicitly coordinate, they very likely built on
and reinforced each other's work. Mueller seems to have taken a top-down
approach, looking at a few suspicious meetings, but it's not clear that
he did any investigation of the campaign staff most competent to actually
collude (not just with the Russians but with other foreign or nominally
independent organizations). Mueller may have had narrow legal reasons
for limiting his focus, but it would have been helpful to spell them
out. One big problem with the American political system is that a lot
of what campaigns -- both raising money and spending it -- do may not
technically be illegal but stikes me (and probably most people) as
Scott R Anderson, et al. (long list of contributors at
What Mueller found on Russia and on obstruction: a first analysis.
Why was Trump so afraid of the Mueller investigation? We may never know.
Indeed. Maybe, as the author implies, he had things to hide that Mueller
didn't uncover. Maybe he just couldn't stand the pressure of being picked
apart by investigators whose ambitions and/or biases could result in him
being framed? Trump knows as well as anyone how the system can be rigged.
The only thing you can be sure of is that Trump's word on what happened is
Five critical takeaways from the Mueller report.
Trump will be attacking the 'Crazy Mueller Report' for the rest of his
Alvin Chang/Javier Zarracina:
The Mueller report redactions, explaind in 4 charts: Total redacted
content: 7.25%. Most heavily redacted were Russian "Active Measures"
Social Media Campaign (46%), Russian Hacking (23%), and Prosecution and
Declination Decisions (31%).
Neal Katyal on whether the Mueller report went far enough: Interview
with a law professor who helped "draft the special-counsel regulations"
after Ken Starr's protracted effort to crucify Bill Clinton. Katyal says:
I would say three people's colors have been revealed by this report. We
have learned Mueller's reputation is real. We have learned Trump's
disregard for the truth and the rule of law is real. And we have learned
Barr has become a total Trumpian Attorney General.
The Seth Rich conspiracy theory needs to end now: "The Mueller report
confirms that the late DNC staffer had absolutely nothing to do with leaked
emails later shared by WikiLeaks."
George T Conway III:
Trump is a cancer on the presidency. Congress should remove him.
EJ Dionne Jr:
Mueller's report is the beginning, not the end.
The hustlers and swindlers of the Mueller report.
Susan B Glasser:
The Mueller report won't end Trump's presidency, but it sure makes him
Robert Mueller did not merely reject the Trump-Russia conspiracy theories.
He obliterated them.
9 ways the media blew it in its 'Russiagate' coverage.
Does the Mueller report exonerate Trump? I asked 12 legal experts.
Confused about who's who in the Mueller report? Start here.
The best defense of Trump is still a damning indictment: "The Mueller
report's defense of Trump: exculpatory incompetence, misplaced rage."
The problem with impeachment. Despite the nesting, let's put the
impeachment eggs in this one basket:
I skipped over the stories of various politicians calling for
impeachment (or not). I basically agree with Rubin (and Pelosi): as long
as impeachment is a partisan divide, there's no way to do it, and
trying detracts from other efforts to expose Trump. Still, it doesn't
hurt to rattle that sword now and then, especially as its futility
is really an indictment of the Republicans protecting Trump. In the
long run, people need to think about better ways of limiting abuse
of presidential power. I think it should be possible for Congress
to overturn arbitrary Trump orders like his border emergency and
Yemen War support, to pick two recent examples, without having to
muster enough support to also override his veto -- especially given
that we have an electoral system which lets someone win a 4-year
term with as little support as Trump had in 2016.
7 times the Mueller report caught Sean Spicer and Sarah Sanders lying
The obstruction case against Trump that Barr tried to hide.
In the Mueller report, Erik Prince funds a covert effort to obtain
Clinton's e-mails from a foreign state.
It's official: House Democrats subpoena the full, unredacted Mueller
The Mueller report's biggest mystery: "What did Mueller find out about
Trump associates and email leaks?"
James Risen/Robert Mackey/Trevor Aaronson:
Annotating special counsel Robert Mueller's redacted report.
Five questions that still need to be answered in the Mueller report.
How Barr's excerpts compare to the Mueller report's findings.
Mitt Romney is "sickened" by the Trump administration's "dishonesty" after
reading Mueller report.
Liberals sold their souls to the war machine on Russia.
Don McGahn not listening to Donald Trump doesn't absolve the President
of a crime.
Peter Van Buren:
Mueller's investigation is missing one thing: a crime:
Almost everything Mueller has, the perjury and lying cases, are crimes
he created through the process of investigating. He's Schrodinger's Box:
the infractions only exist when he tries to look at them.
On the other hand, a lot of things that aren't really prosecutable
crimes look and smell bad. Politicians lie about them because they
know this, and are trying to avoid exposing their faults.
I originally figured I'd try to write up my take on this, but at
this point I'm too exhausted (not to mention disgusted).
Some scattered links this week:
Nobody knows anything about 'electability': Article runs with Biden's
picture up top, since pundits would much rather talk about his "electability"
than his policy views or track record, but touches on others, noting that
"they're making lots of dubious assumptions."
All this glib talk about electability has a cost. It leads commentators,
often implicitly, to give "electable" candidates a pass when their policy
views are fuzzy or flat-out wrong. So what should journalists do? It's
simple: Spend less time discussing which candidates can win the presidency
and more time discussing what they'd do if they actually won.
The unlawful ambitions of Donald Trump's immigration policy.
Nearly 100,000 Pentagon whistleblower complaints have been silenced.
Andrew Yang's plan to take on opioids: decriminalize heroin and fentanyl.
America's coup efforts in Venezuela enter a frightening new phase.
Interior Dept. opens ethics investigation of its new chief, David
Bernhardt. That didn't take long, although few things could be
Trump administration announces new measures against Cuba. Especially
clever is the line about Cuba expanding "its malign influence and
ideological imperialism across the region." Another example of the
recent fashion of attacking the left by using the same language the
left has traditionally used about the right. Also: Gregory Weeks:
The US is thinking of invading Venezuela. That's unlikely to lead to
democracy. And: Francisco Toro:
Pompeo reaches the dead end of Trump's Venezuela policy, and
With US military action, Venezuela could become the Libya of the
Related: Alex Horton:
Trump soured relations in Latin America. China and Russia have welcomed
Half of England is owned by less than 1% of the population. Next up:
So 1% of the people own half of England. Inheritance tax reform could fix
The dangerous bullying of Ilhan Omar. Related:
Ilhan Omar's deeply American message.
An art historian explains the tough decisions in rebuilding Notre
David D Kirkpatrick:
Trump endorses an aspiring Libyan strongman, reversing policy. Maybe
when he saw the memo he just misread the name (Khalifa Hifter)?
CBO: over 1 million Americans have become uninsured since 2016.
Bernie Sanders's Fox News town hall wasn't a debate. Bernie won anyway.
Marijuana legalization is very popular.
7 winners from the first big presidential fundraising reports:
After sections on Sanders, Harris, and Buttagieg: "Donald Trump is
set to raise tons of cash while Democrats battle each other." No
self-funding this time around. He's back to cash in.
The false choice between helping Notre Dame and helping poor people.
Republican strategist Karl Rove says Bernie Sanders could beat Trump
in 2020: Much of this is based on Sanders' performance in facing
a Fox-hosted town hall, warning his fellow right-wing activists that
"beating Sanders by attacking his democratic socialist views 'won't
be as easy as Republicans may think.'" Still, he's trying:
However, the Republican strategist wasn't completely glowing in his
analysis of the Democrat, arguing in his Wall Street Journal piece,
"Such platitudes go only so far in masking what drives Mr. Sanders'
philosophy: resentment, grievance, and a desire to take from those
who have and redistribute the wealth, all to expand government. He
may describe socialism in benign terms, but he regularly drops his
guard, opening himself up to devastating counterpunches."
I started to compile a list of recent right-wing books, noticing
a trend of trying to paint Democrats as resentful, embittered, and
vindictive -- traits that sure sound to me like the hate mongering
that has bent the right-wing base so far out of shape and elected
demagogues like Trump. Some examples, to give you a flavor of how
desperate right-wing propagandists have become: Noah Rothman's
Unjust: Social Justice and the Unmaking of America; Derek
Hunter's Outrage, Inc.: How the Liberal Mob Ruined Science,
Journalism, and Hollywood, and Arthur C Brooks' Love Your
Enemies: How Decent People Can Save America From the Culture of
Contempt. Those titles (with minor tweaks) could easily have
been used for books critiquing the right. That right-wingers have
adopted them shows that they recognize that their credibility has
Who are the real terrorists in the Mideast?
American history for Truthdiggers: Vietnam, a US tragedy: Number 29
in the author's series recapping American history, starting in 1607 with
Original sin. I've always found this history interesting, both
for what it tells us about where we came from, and why we keep making
the same mistakes over and over again, but I've never felt like beating
myself up over the sins of my ancestors. On the other hand, having
grown up and lived through Vietnam, I feel no sympathy whatsoever for
anyone who refuses to acknowledge that the American War in Vietnam
was anything less than a colossal mistake. Still:
It is the war that never dies. Vietnam, the very word shrouded with
extraordinary meaning in the American lexicon. For some it represents
failure; for others guilt; for still more, anger that the war could
have and should have been won. Americans are still arguing about this
war, once the nation's longest. For those who lived through it -- the
last war the U.S. fought partly with draftees -- it was almost
impossible not to take sides; to be pro-war or anti-war became a
social and political identity unto itself. This tribal split even
reached into the ranks of military veterans, as some joined antiwar
movements and others remained vociferously sure that the war needed
to be fought through to victory. Indeed, today, even the active-duty
U.S. military officer corps is rent over assessment of the Vietnam
I've been reading recently about how the reaction against Germany's
defeat (most notoriously the "stab-in-the-back" myth) in 1918 fueled
the rise of Nazism in Germany. The same thing has happened with the US
right and Vietnam, leading conservatives (dedicated as ever to keeping
a social order which raises the rich up and beats the poor down) more
often than not to wrap themselves up in militarist myths of past and
future martial glory. Nor is Vietnam the only war that those invested
in "America's war machine" refuse to learn from. See: William J Astore:
America's generals haven't learned anything from Iraq.
We are all complicit in America's war machine.
Who will be the last to die for a lie? The Afghan War drags on.
With friends like these: abusive frenemies and American Mideast policy.
Secrecy, self-dealing, and greed at the NRA.
Joseph E Stiglitz:
Progressive capitalism is not an oxymoron: This is real basic:
Standards of living began to improve in the late 18th century for two
reasons: the development of science (we learned how to learn about
nature and used that knowledge to increase productivity and longevity)
and developments in social organization (as a society, we learned how
to work together, through institutions like the rule of law, and
democracies with checks and balances).
Key to both were systems of assessing and verifying the truth. The
real and long-lasting danger of the Trump presidency is the risk it
poses to these pillars of our economy and society, its attack on the
very idea of knowledge and expertise, and its hostility to institutions
that help us discover and assess the truth.
There is a broader social compact that allows a society to work and
prosper together, and that, too, has been fraying. America created the
first truly middle-class society; now, a middle-class life is increasingly
out of reach for its citizens.
America arrived at this sorry state of affairs because we forgot that
the true source of the wealth of a nation is the creativity and innovation
of its people. One can get rich either by adding to the nation's economic
pie or by grabbing a larger share of the pie by exploiting others --
abusing, for instance, market power or informational advantages. We
confused the hard work of wealth creation with wealth-grabbing (or, as
economists call it, rent-seeking), and too many of our talented young
people followed the siren call of getting rich quickly.
Also see Andrew Ross Sorkin's interview with Stiglitz:
Socialist! Capitalist! Economic systems as weapons in a war of words.
Stiglitz has a new book: People, Power, and Profits: Progressive
Capitalism for an Age of Discontent (WW Norton).
Trump's veto over Yemen is a scandalous abuse of presidential power.
The Israeli-Palestinian peace process is dead. An expert explains why.
Interview with Khaled Elgindy, author of Blind Spot: America and the
Palestinians From Balfour to Trump. Some more links on Israel and
last week's election:
Iran labels all US troops in the Middle East "terrorists": It's
a response to America's similar designation of Iranian troops the
day before." Actually, both designations raise into question the
self-conception (and conceits) of the designator. On the other hand,
US troops have killed a lot more people over the last two decades,
so there's something to the charges. See Danny Sjursen, above, for
This is how Bernie Sanders thinks about foreign policy: "The
senator wants to create a global democratic movement to end oligarchy
and authoritarianism." That would be a major change from US policy
under both parties ever since the start of the cold war, which was
to support and extend capitalist property rights everywhere, while
to undermine labor and anti-colonial political movements, and very
often to support local oligarchs and authoritarians against their
What Pete Buttigieg learned from Donald Trump: "In a crowded field,
it pays off to say 'yes' to everything and get attention."
Monday, April 15, 2019
Expanded blog post,
April archive (incomplete).
Music: current count 31371  rated (+27), 252  unrated (+1).
May just be seasonal allergies, but feeling too lousy to even take
a stab at writing an introduction. I still have
XgauSez to edit
and post before I go to bed tonight, so need to get onto that while
A couple of notes, though. I've been talking about moving computers
around for a month or more. I finally got that done this week. Best
thing so far is that I have two relatively uncluttered desks to work
on, instead of one hopelessly messy one. Also I moved the speakers
above the desk, where they sound better and I can access the controls.
(Also, now both computers have speakers. Subwoofers are still under
the desk, where they should be, and that space is less cluttered than
before. No website work yet, but I should get to that soon.
Delighted to see Michael Tatum's
A Downloader's Diary (49) finally posted. I checked out a couple
of his recommendations below (also found a new live Pet Shop Boys he
didn't mention). Also continuing to pick albums off from Phil Overeem's
25% through the briar patch list.
Finally, I finally did manage to cast a Downbeat Critics
Poll ballot, a day past the deadline, but seems likely to be counted
(not that I could ever tell from the results). I didn't do a very
good job of collecting notes this time, but here is
what I have.
New records reviewed this week:
- Charlotte Adigery: Zandoli (2019, Deewee, EP): [r]: B+(**)
- Etienne Charles: Carnival: The Sound of a People Vol. 1 (2019, Culture Shock Music): [r]: B+(**)
- Ben Lamar Gay: Confetti in the Sky Like Fireworks [This Is Bate Bola OST] (2018 , International Anthem): [r]: B
- Ariana Grande: Thank U, Next (2019, Republic): [r]: B+(**)
- William Hooker: Cycle of Restoration (2018 , FPE): [r]: B+(*)
- Amber Mark: Conexão (2018, Virgin EMI, EP): [r]: B+(**)
- Wynton Marsalis: Bolden: Music From the Original Soundtrack (2019, Blue Engine): [cd]: B+(***)
- Xose Miguélez: Ontology (2018 , Origin): [cd]: B+(**)
- Billy Mohler: Focus! (2019, Make): [cd]: A-
- OGJB Quartet [Oliver Lake/Graham Haynes/Joe Fonda/Barry Altschul]: Bamako (2016 , TUM): [cd]: B+(***)
- Nicki Parrott: From New York to Paris (2019, Arbors): [r]: B+(**)
- Jeremy Pelt: Jeremy Pelt the Artist (2018 , HighNote): [r]: B+(*)
- Pet Shop Boys: Agenda (2019, X2, EP): [r]: B+(**)
- Pet Shop Boys: Inner Sanctum (2018 , X2): [r]: A-
- Joshua Redman Quartet: Come What May (2018 , Nonesuch): [r]: B+(***)
- Ruby Rushton: Ironside (2018 , 22a): [r]: B
- Jim Snidero: Waves of Calm (2019, Savant): [r]: B+(***)
- Dave Stryker: Eight Track III (2019, Strikezone): [cd]: B+(**)
- James Suggs: You're Gonna Hear From Me (2018, Arbors): [r]: B+(**)
- Fumi Tomita: The Elephant Vanishes (2018 , OA2): [cd]: B
- Warren Vaché: Songs Our Fathers Taught Us (2019, Arbors): [r]: B+(***)
- Dann Zinn: Day of Reckoning (2018 , Origin): [cd]: B+(***)
Recent reissues, compilations, and vault discoveries:
- Louis Armstrong: Sparks, Nevada 1964! (1964 , Dot Time): [r]: A-
- Imamu Amiri Baraka: It's Nation Time: African Visionary Music (1972 , Motown): [r]: B+(***)
- Duke Ellington: In Coventry, 1966 (1966 , Storyville): [r]: B
- Ben Lamar Gay: 500 Chains (2013-14 , International Anthem): [r]: B+(***)
- Ben Lamar Gay: Grapes (2013-14 , International Anthem): [r]: B+(*)
- Ben Lamar Gay/Edinho Gerber: Benjamin E Edinho (2011-13 , International Anthem, EP): [r]: B+(*)
- Joanne Grauer: Introducing Lorraine Feather (1978 , MPS): [r]: B+(*)
- Kankyo Ongaku: Japanese Ambient, Environental and New Age Music 1980-1990 (1980-90 , Light in the Attic): [r]: A-
Unpacking: Found in the mail last week:
- Juan Álamo & Marimjazzia: Ruta Panoramica (Summit)
- Larry Koonse: New Jazz Standards Vol. 4 (Summit)
- Lisa Maxwell's Jazz Orchestra: Shiny! (Uncle Marvin Music): May 17
- Sam Ospovat: Ride Angles (Skirl)
- Marcos Silva: Brasil: From Head to Toe (Green Egg): May 3
Sunday, April 14, 2019
I don't feel up to writing much about
Julian Assange, but following his arrest in London, I anticipate
that I'll find a bunch of links this week and should collect them
together. Assange is an Australian, a computer programmer who came
up with Wikileaks, a system to collect and publish anonymously
submitted documents. That's always seemed like a noble endeavor,
an aid in exposing how the rich and powerful conspire in private
to manipulate and profit, and for a while he seemed to be doing
just that. He quickly ran afoul of those powers, most notably the
US government, which set out to charge him with various crimes,
and quite possibly orchestrated a broader smear campaign against
him. Assange, in turn, sought asylum from criminal charges, and
since 2012 has been sheltered by the Ecuadorean embassy in London.
I don't know how much Assange has had to do with Wikileaks since
2012 (or how much freedom he has had to do anything), but his
brand name wound up playing a role in Trump's 2016 campaign when
it framed the release of hacked emails from the Clinton campaign.
One effect of the DNC dump was to expand the Democratic side of
bipartisan outrage against Assange, especially as Clinton's drones
tried to paint him as a Putin accomplice.
I don't have strong opinions about Assange one way or the other,
but I did welcome his release of leaked documents on the Iraq War
and the US State Department. (See my September 2, 2010 entry,
on the "Collateral Murder" video, anti-war vet Ethan McCord, and
a related speech by Barak Obama -- what I said then is still pretty
relevant today.) Releasing the DNC emails didn't particularly bother
me either, although the timing was suspicious (immediately after the
Trump's Access Hollywood tape, allowing the media to spin
scandal on top of scandal), as was the lack of any RNC/Trump campaign
emails to balance the picture.
Anyhow, the Assange links:
Let's also break out multiple links on Israel's elections:
Scattered links on other topics this week:
Julian Castro really wants to talk about immigration, but it's most
impressive talking about his work.
Trump's sister quietly retired in February, and it's actually a big deal:
Something here I didn't know: that Trump has a sister,
Maryanne Trump Barry, who is a US Court of Appeals judge (appointed,
by the way, by Bill Clinton in 1999, although Ronald Reagan appointed
her to US District Court in 1983). She retired to escape an investigation
into the possibly fraudulent scheme whereby Fred Trump transferred
property to his children to evade taxes.
Elizabeth Warren's new plan to make sure Amazon (and other big companies)
pays corporate tax, explained: "No more claiming big profits to
investors while paying nothing to the IRS."
Progressives should worry more about the odds that Joe Biden will win:
"Liberals are assuming the former vice president will fade on his own, a
trap Republicans fell for with Trump." They may both be front-runners,
but not many similarities beyond that. Trump campaigned as an outsider,
whereas Biden is the most complete insider even considering a run. The
most comparable 2016 Republican is Jeb Bush, although I'd give Biden
better odds than I gave Bush -- he may not have much of a program or
a real following, but at least he's not a laughingstock.
Immigration makes America great. This is a good general "explainer"
on most of issues related to immigration. I'm more of a moderate (or
maybe skeptic?) when it comes to promoting immigration: I'm concerned
about the downward pressure on labor markets immigrants pose; I worry
that immigration feeds our right-wing tendencies to ignore the needs
of impoverished natives; I've noted that many immigrants lean to the
political right (in many cases becoming jingoistic -- the Cubans are
an obvious case, since US immigration law favors anti-communists).
I've noted, for instance, that no less than five (of 16) Republican
presidential candidates in 2016 has at least one foreign-born parent
(including Trump, who also has a foreign-born wife). Still, I don't
doubt the general economic advantages of immigration at present (or
slightly elevated) levels. And the problems I've noted would go away
if we had a better political atmosphere.
Trump's flailing shake-up of the Department of Homeland Security,
explained: Key subhed here: "Trump's been in tantrum mode for
But Trump is an all-stick, no-carrot kind of guy. His idea of doing a
deal with Democrats was to cancel DACA protection for young undocumented
immigrants and then offer to reinstate it in exchange for sweeping
concessions. And he wants to get Mexico to do favors for him by
threatening to hurt both countries' economies unless they do what he
wants. This incredibly punitive, wildly ineffective approach to
dealmaking has been a hallmark of Trump's approach to the presidency
from Day 1, and it appears to be derived from his success as a business
executive at using his greater wealth to stiff contractors and
But in the presidency, this kind of bullying doesn't work at all,
as you can see from his lack of success in getting border wall money
appropriated. A reasonable response to policy failure would be to try
to go in a new direction, but Trump seems entirely uninterested in
that. So rather than rethink his approach, he's now inclined to burn
through administration personnel, even though shuffling the names on
an org chart around isn't going to alter any of the fundamentals of
Howard Schultz only has one idea about politics, and it's bad:
"Making him president won't fix the problems of partisanship."
Trump's possibly illegal designation of a new acting homeland security
Republicans are taking Ilhan Omar's comments on 9/11 out of context to
smear her. Well, when did they ever let context complicate a good
Betsy DeVos quietly making it easier for dying for-profit schools to rip
off a few more students on the way out.
Why conspiracy theories are getting more absurd and harder to refute:
Interview with Nancy L Rosenblum, co-author (with Russell Muirhead) of
A Lot of People Are Saying: The New Conspiracism and the Assault on
A brief guide to David Bernhardt, Ryan Zinke's replacement at the
Interior Department: "Three things to know about the former oil
lobbyist who's just been confirmed as the new Secretary of the
4 key things to know about India's elections Thursday.
The new Brexit deadline is October 31.
The post-purge agenda: what the White House wants next on immigration:
"Donald Trump and Stephen Miller are pushing for a multi-pronged asylum
Why the Senate is blocking a new net neutrality bill, a year after trying
to save it. The House passed a bill. McConnell refuses to allow the
Senate to consider it. Trump says if passed he will veto it.
A Texas bill would allow the death penalty for patients who get abortions:
"The bill is unlikely to pass, but it's part of a larger trend."
Trump's Iran terrorist designation is designed to lock in endless enmity.
Daniel DePetris/Richard Sokolsky:
Bolton and Pompeo are steering Trump toward war with Iran;
On the eve of Israel's elections, Netanyahu thanks Trump for sanctioning
Iran at his request.
Josie Duffy Rice:
Jussie Smollett and the impulse to punish. Chicago's outgoing
mayor Rahm Emmanuel, cementing his reputation as a grandstanding
dickhead, ordered the city to sue Jussie Smollett for the costs of
investigating him before dropping charges, some $130,000.
Given the failures of law enforcement in Chicago, [F.O.P. president
Kevin] Graham is not in a strong position to castigate [Cook County
states attorney] Foxx. In the first half of 2018, Chicago police made
an arrest or identified a suspect in just fifteen per cent of murder
cases. Similarly, Emanuel's concern about the costs of the Smollett
investigation is misguided at best; in 2018 alone, the city paid a
total of a hundred and thirteen million dollars in police-misconduct
settlements and related legal fees. . . .
As Matthew Saniie, the chief data officer for Foxx's office, recently
wrote, in Cook County, cases in which the defendant, like Smollett,
pleads not guilty to a fourth-degree felony end in a deferred prosecution
seventy-five per cent of the time. Foxx runs the second-largest prosecutor's
office in the country, responsible for prosecuting crimes in Chicago and
a hundred and thirty-four municipalities. Her staff sees almost half a
million cases every year. Prosecutorial discretion is one of the pillars
of our justice system, and it is her job to discern what deserves her
staff's attention, as opposed to what has grabbed the most public attention.
Trump promised his sons would keep business out of politics. He's admitting
that was a lie. This links to: Elaina Plott:
Inside Ivanka's dreamworld: "The 'first daughter' spent years rigorously
cultivating her image. But she wasn't prepared for scrutiny."
Central American farmers head to the US, fleeing climate change.
Trump hotels exempted from ban on foreign payments under new stance.
Bernie Sanders imagines a progressive new approach to foreign policy:
While the rest of the field plays catch up with his 2016 platform, he
breaks new ground. But his main break with the bipartisan orthodoxy is
thus far limited to sensibility. He's more likely to promote peace and
respect than the others because he values them, but he's yet to get
down to the specifics it will take to deal with Israel/Palestine, to
pick the one case other politicians most fear.
Monday, April 08, 2019
Expanded blog post,
April archive (incomplete).
Music: current count 31344  rated (+32), 251  unrated (+2).
Back in business. I figured all it would take to get Napster working
again was a reboot -- it broke following a software update that didn't
require one but involved a new Flash module, so I suspected that threw
things out of sync. Still, I didn't want to do that for other reaasons,
but was forced to when the computer freaked out and gave me a swizzle
patterned screen. That suggested something far worse, but the reboot
fixed that too.
Working Napster gave me a chance to catch up with the last couple
weeks of Robert Christgau picks --
Stella Donnelly/Sharon Van Etten and
Pedro the Lion/Jason Ringenberg -- where only the B+ record didn't
disappoint. (Actually, I couldn't find Ringenberg's Stand Tall
on Napster, but was able to fish a Soundcloud link from my email trash,
so thanks to the publicist.) Guess I'm still missing the
Ariana Grande/Amber Mark week -- I had the former's Sweetener
way down at B, a grade split matching Mitski's Be the Cowboy, but
haven't heard the more recent one.
Took a dive into George Strait after panning his new one, mostly because
I noticed an unheard Christgau A- in the database (Something Special),
and it panned out. I had his first Greatest Hits (1985) at A-, so
it made sense to check out its source albums (just three of them). I'm not
sure that grade holds up, but didn't recheck it. Still, after dismissing
most of his songs as unmemorable, I've wound up with "You Look So Good in
Love" stuck in my mind all week.
Other records suggested by various sources, most prolifically
Phil Overeem. The tip on Angel-Ho came from breathless hype in
The Nation ("Angel-Ho is the future of pop music"). I dug up Petra
Van Nuis after she wrote to me (so sometimes that works). Strait and
Mandy Barnett just showed up in Napster's featured lists.
Making fair progress on most projects, although not enough on moving
the computer. (Will do that after I post this, I promise.) Biggest one
is a new piece of badly-needed pantry shelving, which needs one more
coat of paint before I drag it in and bolt it to the wall. I have a
couple more projects in that space, ready to roll as soon as the first
one is operational. Still, more projects seem to present themselves all
the time. Dug up a couple plastic drawers full of CDs today, and my wife
argued that I should get rid of them (something about the hoarding being
psychotic). I had a plan a couple years back to start donating CDs to a
local library, but never followed through on it -- partly because I was
working on the Jazz Guide, maybe because they kept naming various
buldings after the Kochs. The reason for having a substantial library is
to look things up, but I'm fast losing my ability to do so, not to mention
my prospects of ever writing anything worthwhile on the subject.
Still, the project I feel more pressing need for is to come up with a
system so I can quickly identify where all my tools (and hardware) are.
I'm forever thrashing, trying to find things I know I have somewhere,
sometimes even having to buy more tools to replace those I've lost (most
recently, a set of hole saws). In fact, thrashing seems to be the word
for the week, maybe even the season.
New records reviewed this week:
- Angel-Ho: Death Becomes Her (2019, Hyperdub): [r]: B+(*)
- Art "Turk" Burton: Ancestral Spirits (2019, T N' T Music): [cd]: A-
- Romain Collin: Tiny Lights: Genesis (2019, XM): [cd]: B+(**)
- The Comet Is Coming: Trust in the Lifeforce of the Deep Mystery (2019, Impulse!): [r]: B+(**)
- Jordon Dixon: On! (2019, self-released): [cd]: B+(***)
- Stella Donnelly: Beware of the Dogs (2019, Secretly Canadian): [r]: B+(***)
- Steve Earle & the Dukes: Guy (2019, New West): [r]: B+(***)
- Fleurine: Brazilian Dream (2018 , Pure Imagination): [cd]: B+(**)
- George Freeman: George the Bomb! (2018 , Blujazz/Southport): [cd]: B+(**)
- Polly Gibbons: All I Can Do (2019, Resonance): [cd]: B
- Girls on Grass: Dirty Power (2019, self-released): [r]: B+(**)
- Pablo Lanouguere Quintet: Eclectico (2019, self-released): [cd]: B+(**)
- Jenny Lewis: On the Line (2019, Warner Bros.): [r]: B+(*)
- Helado Negro: This Is How You Smile (2019, RVNG Intl): [r]: B+(*)
- New Orleans Jazz Orchestra: Songs: The Music of Allen Toussaint (2018 , Storyville): [cd]: B+(**)
- Pedro the Lion: Phoenix (2019, Polyvinyl): [r]: B+(*)
- Jason Ringenberg: Stand Tall (2019, Courageous Chicken): [sc]: A-
- Royal Trux: White Stuff (2019, Fat Possum): [r]: B+(**)
- Sir Babygirl: Crush on Me (2019, Father/Daughter, EP): [r]: B+(***)
- George Strait: Honky Tonk Time Machine (2019, MCA Nashville): [r]: B
- Terraza Big Band: One Day Wonder (2017 , Outside In Music): [cd]: B+(*)
- Sharon Van Etten: Remind Me Tomorrow (2019, Jagjaguwar): [r]: B+(*)
- Petra Van Nuis & Dennis Luxion: Because We're Night People (2018, String Damper): [r]: B+(*)
- Dave Zinno Unisphere: Stories Told (2018 , Whaling City Sound): [cd]: B+(*)
Recent reissues, compilations, and vault discoveries:
- Burnt Sugar/The Arkestra Chamber: Twentieth Anniversary Mixtapes: Groiddest Schnizzits: Volume Two (2001-17 , Trugroid/Avantgroidd): [r]: B+(***)
- Mandy Barnett: I Can't Stop Loving You: The Songs of Don Gibson (2013, Rounder): [r]: B+(***)
- The Comet Is Coming: Channel the Spirits (2016, The Leaf Label): [r]: B+(***)
- George Strait: Strait Country (1981, MCA): [r]: B+(**)
- George Strait: Strait From the Heart (1982, MCA): [r]: B
- George Strait: Right or Wrong (1983, MCA): [r]: B+(***)
- George Strait: Does Fort Worth Ever Cross Your Mind (1984, MCA): [r]: B+(**)
- George Strait: Something Special (1985, MCA): [r]: A-
- George Strait: The Best of George Strait [20th Century Masters: The Millennium Collection] (1983-93 , MCA Nashville): [r]: B+(**)
- George Strait: 50 Number Ones (1982-2004 , MCA Nashville, 2CD): [r]: B+(***)
Unpacking: Found in the mail last week:
- Art Ensemble of Chicago: We Are on the Edge: A 50th Anniversary Celebration (Pi, 2CD): April 26
- Art "Turk" Burton: Ancestral Spirits (T N' T Music): May 3
- George Freeman: George the Bomb! (Blujazz/Southport)
- Wynton Marsalis: Bolden: Music From the Original Soundtrack (Blue Engine): April 19
- Xose Miguélez: Ontology (Origin): April 19
- Billy Mohler: Focus! (Make)
- New Orleans Jazz Orchestra: Songs: The Music of Allen Toussaint (Storyville): April 19
- OGJB Quartet [Oliver Lake/Graham Haynes/Joe Fonda/Barry Altschul]: Bamako (TUM): May 17
- Dave Stryker: Eight Track III (Strikezone): May 3
- Fumi Tomita: The Elephant Vanishes (OA2): April 19
- Dann Zinn: Day of Reckoning (Origin): April 19
Sunday, April 07, 2019
One of my principles here is not to bother with politician horserace
links, especially presidential candidates. One thing I've long held is
that a president is only as good as his (or someday her) party, so the
big question to ask any presidential candidate is: what are you going to
do to get your party elected and make it an effective force? Still, every
now and then I have opinions on specific people. When Greg Magarian griped
Tim Ryan and
Michael Bennet getting a burst of press attention, as have recent
Beto O'Rourke and
Pete Buttigieg raising great gobs of money, I commented:
Worth noting that O'Rourke and Buttigieg are principled neoliberals, and
are raising money as such. They can do that because their youth and
inexperience hasn't saddled them with the sort of baggage the Clinton
establishment bears. That's bad news for Biden, who would be the obvious
next-in-line for Clinton's donors if they didn't suspect that the brand
is ruined. They may also be thinking that running someone young and
outside might help crack Sanders' lead among young voters -- something
Biden has no prayer of doing.
The one candidate I've been hearing the most (and most negative) about
is Joe Biden. He hasn't announced yet, but evidently the decision has been
made, the timing around Easter. Biden has led recent polls, but that can
be attributed to his much greater name resolution. I've always figured the
decision would turn on whether he's willing to risk his legacy on a very
likely loss, but I suppose the decision will turn mostly on whether he can
line up sufficient funding. (I had some doubts that Bernie Sanders would
run, but when I saw his early funding reports, I immediately realized I
was being silly.) Clearly, he didn't run in 2016 because Hillary Clinton
had locked up most of his possible funding. That's less obvious this year,
but a lot of competitive candidates have jumped in ahead of him.
Biden isn't awful, but he has a lot of baggage, including a lot of
things that wound up hurting Clinton in 2016 (like that Iraq War vote).
Some of those things could hurt him in the primaries, especially his
rather dodgy record on race and crime, and with women. Other things,
like his plagiarism scandal, will hurt him more in the general election.
But the big problem there is that he was a Washington insider and party
leader for so long that he makes it easy for Republicans to spin this
election into a referendum on forty years of Democratic Party failures.
Obama was largely able to avoid that in 2008, but Clinton couldn't in
Also, there is the nagging suspicion that he isn't really a very good
day-to-day candidate. Last time he ran for president he was an also-ran,
unable to get more than 1-2% of the vote anywhere. He got the VP nod from
Obama after Clinton decided she'd rather be Secretary of State, and one
suspects that the Clintons pushed for Biden as VP because they didn't
regard him as a serious rival in 2016 (when a sitting VP would normally
have the inside track to the nomination). And he's exceptionally prone to
gaffes. He managed to avoid any really bad ones running with Obama, but
running on his own he'll get a lot more scrutiny and pressure. Nobody
thinks he's stupid or evil -- unlike Trump, whose base seems to regard
those attributes as virtues -- but nobody is much of a fan either (well,
except for the fictional
Leslie Knope, which kind of proves the point).
For more, if you care, see Michelle Goldberg:
The wrong time for Joe Biden:
Beyond gender, on issue after issue, if Biden runs for president he will
have to run away from his own record. He -- and by extension, we -- will
have to relive the debate over the Iraq war, which he voted to authorize.
He'll have to explain his vote to repeal the Glass-Steagall Act, which,
by lifting regulations on banking, helped create the conditions for the
2008 financial meltdown. (Biden has called that vote one of the biggest
regrets of his career.) In 2016, Hillary Clinton was slammed for her
previous support of the 1994 Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement
Act, which contributed to mass incarceration. Biden helped write the law,
which he called, in 2015, the "1994 Biden crime bill." . . . No one should
judge the whole span of Biden's career by the standards of 2019, but if
he's going to run for president, it's fair to ask whether he's the right
leader for this moment. He is a product of his time, but that time is up.
Other political news last week included the death of Ernest Hollings,
the long-time South Carolina senator, at 97. I was, well, shocked to see
him referred to in an obituary as a populist -- a thought that had never
crossed my mind. I would grant that he was not as bad as the Republicans
who served in the Senate alongside him (Strom Thurmond and Lindsey Graham),
or his Republican successor (Jim DeMent). Still, those are pretty low
By the way, a couple of non-political links below: subjects I used to
follow closely in more carefree times. See if you can pick them out.
Some scattered links this week:
How climate change is fueling the US border crisis: "In the western
highlands of Guatemala, the questio is no longer whether someone will
leave but when." Two further installments:
The epidemic of debt plaguing Central American migrants, and
The dream homes of Guatemalan migrants.
Nearly everything Trump just said about Puerto Rico is wrong.
FBI director: White nationalist violence is a "persistent, pervasive
threat". Related: Weiyi Cai/Simone Landon:
Attacks by white extremists are growing. So are their connections.
Barack Obama warns against a "circular firing squad" over ideological
purity in politics: Sounds like Obama is attacking the left, once
again counseling compromises that ultimately prove ineffective, but
his centrist-neoliberal allies are every bit as ideological, and if
anything have more experience in using their spite against the left
to make sure even their lame compromises rarely change anything. I'm
reminded how John Lewis refused to purge Communists from the UMW,
because he appreciated that they were the union's most passionate and
effective organizers. The centrists need to realize that they need
the left in order to attain anything significant once they've worked
their compromises. And as the article shows, left-leaning polticians
aren't actually doing things to undermine party unity -- other than
making solid policy proposals and arguing them on their merits. Obama,
on the other hand, is showing himself to be irrelevant. Some may feel
nostalgic for his basic competence and his devotion to the threadbare
pieties of Americanism, but as a politician you have to judge him on
his inability to deliver the change he campaigned for and his failure
to build a party that could protect, sustain, and extend even his most
Congress passes historic resolution to end US support for Saudi-led war
David M Halbfinger:
If you've followed Israeli elections, you may have noticed that since
the late 1970s, the only time Israeli politics have shifted left was when
the Bush I administration made clear its displeasure with Yitzhak Shamir's
obstruction of the Madrid Peace Talks. Israeli voters noticed, and voted
the more flexible Yitzhak Rabin in, leading to the Oslo Accords, which
Clinton allowed Netanyahu and Ehud Barak to turn into a charade. But as
Clinton, Bush, Obama, and even more explicitly Trump kowtowed to Israel,
Israelis had no reason not to indulge their chauvinist prejudices, with
each election pushing the government ever further to the right.
How digital technology is destroying our freedom: Interview with
Douglas Rushkoff, exploring the theme of his recent Team Human
and earlier books like Life Inc.: How the World Became a Corporation
(2009), Program or Be Programmed (2011), Present Shock: When
Everything Happes Now (2013), and Throwing Rocks at the Google
Bus (2016) -- he's sort of a latter-day Neil Postman. (The one book
I've read by him is Nothing Sacred: The Truth About Judaism,
where he sees Judaism as an evolutionary step toward atheism. I could
make a similar claim for Calvinism, based more on personal history.)
Trump does have a health care plan. It would cause millions to lose
Should the Green New Deal repeat the failures of Cap-and-Trade?
Donald Trump is trying to kill you: "Trust the pork producers; fear
the wind turbines." I will add this quibble: if you ever find yourself
standing under a wind turbine, you'll find that they are very ominous
and unpleasant, emitting loud noises as the huge blades screech and
whine above your head.
Republican health care lying syndrome: "Even Trump supporters don't
believe the party's promises."
The incredible shrinking Trump boom: "At least corporate accountants
are having some fun." I suspect this title could be used for a much broader
investigation than this note on the effects of the Trump tax cut.
GOP cruelty is a pre-existing condition: "Republicans just won't stop
trying to take away health care."
Republicans really hate health care: "They've gone beyond cynicism
to pathology." Related: Jamelle Bouie:
An opening for Democrat: "On health care, this isn't what Trump's
voters bargained for." Bouie writes:
But while Trump's decision to govern for conservatives has netted him
high approval ratings with Republicans who remain loyal to him, it has
also undermined the coalition that put him in the White House,
threatening his prospects for re-election.
We saw some of this with the midterms. The drive to repeal Obamacare
was a major reason Republicans lost their majority in the House of
Representatives. The attempt made Trump's approval rating plunge to
the mid-30s, lower than that of other presidents at that point in their
first term. Large majorities opposed the bill to repeal and replace the
health care law, and 60 percent said it was a "good thing" it failed to
pass. Forty-two percent of voters named health care as their top issue
in the midterms, and 77 percent of them backed Democrats.
In 2016, Trump ran without the burden of a record. He could be
everything to everyone -- he could say what people wanted to hear. And
he used that to reach out to working-class whites as a moderate on the
economy and a hard-line conservative on race and immigration.
Now, as president, Trump is a standard-issue Republican with an almost
total commitment to conservative economic policy. Those policies are
unpopular. And they have created an opening for Democrats to win back
some of the voters they've lost.
Jonathan Mahler/Jim Rutenberg:
How Rupert Murdoch's empire of influence remade the world: Part 1: Imperial
reach, followed by
Part 2: Internal divisions, and
Part 3: The new Fox weapon.
What baseball teaches us about measuring talent: Review of Christopher
Phillips' new book Scouting and Scoring: How We Know What We Know About
Baseball. Noted because this is a subject I've spent a lot of time on,
albeit not very recently.
Google cancels AI ethics board in response to outcry: I can imagine
many angles to this, but the best reported one was opposition to Heritage
Foundation president Kay Coles James, underscoring the notion that
conservatives have no credibility when it comes to ethics -- although
Google's inclusion of a "drone company CEO" was even more blatant.
- Douglas Preston:
The day the dinosaurs died: "A young paleontologist may have discovered
the most significant event in the history of life on Earth."
Some Mueller team members aren't happy with Barr's description of their
Trump plans to nominate a second loyalist to the Fed: Herman Cain:
You got to give Trump some credit for learning here. When the Fed chair
opened up, his staff gave him two options. While he picked the lesser
inflation hawk, he still wound up with a guy who repeatedly raised the
Fed funds rate, constricting the economy (and especially speculators
and scam artists like himself who benefit most from cheap money). No
doubt this got him thinking: Why not pick some loyal political hacks
instead of letting the bankers limit his choices? Stephen Moore was
his test case, and while Cain isn't as much of a hack as Moore, he's
even less "qualified" (in normative terms).
Trump attacks Rep. Ilhan Omar hours after a supporter was charged with
threatening to kill her: Subhed: "He wants to drive a wedge between
Jewish voters and the Democratic Party." TPM emphasized the latter in
its coverage of Trump's speech to the Republican Jewish Coalition:
Trump tries to lure Jewish voters: Dems would 'leave Israel out there'.
Related: Matt Shuham:
American Jewish orgs to Trump: Netanyahu is ot 'our' Prime Minister.
On the other hand, Netanyahu is Sheldon Adelson's Prime Minister --
Adelson owns the newspaper in Israel most closely associated with
Netanyahu, and Adelson is the Republican Party's most visible Jewish
bankroller, so that's probably close enough for Trump.
What's going on with Mar-a-Lago and Chinese spies, explained.
Related: Fred Kaplan:
Mar-a-Lago is a foreign spy's dream come true.
The Pentagon wins again: "In an effort to prevent non-defense cuts,
House Democrats grant the DOD exactly the raise it wanted."
The "reputational interests" of William Barr. Related:
Bill Barr has promised transparency. He deserves the chance to deliver.
Monday, April 01, 2019
Expanded blog post,
March archive (incomplete).
Music: current count 31312  rated (+15), 249  unrated (-4).
Rated count way down, about half of what I consider a solid week.
When I dropped to 29 last week, I described that as a "lazy week."
Could say that again, but the real reason for the drop off is that
the Flash plugin on my computer is fucked up, making it impossible to
use Napster (or, for that matter, Spotify). That left me with playing
CDs (9) and using Bandcamp (6), and I didn't really have much to
choose from or look for on either. Unplayed CD queue is currently
deep, and I don't just randomly play unknowns on Bandcamp. On the
other hand, the Bandcamps generally got two spins, and the CDs more
than that (I'd guess Larry Fuller got 7-8 plays -- not that I needed
more than 2, but it made for pretty pleasant background music). All
that lead to a couple anomalies. Only one A- is the lowest weekly
total in quite some time, and I'm actually not real solid on it --
I've never been much of a
Betty Carter fan,
and should probably go
back and check some of her earlier releases (and re-check The
Audience With Betty Carter, which I have at B- even though it
wears a Penguin Guide crown). It could be that I promoted
it at the last minute because I came up with nothing else.
The other anomaly is the high percentage of B+(***) grades (8/15).
Certainly the multiple replays helped out. At this point, I'm pretty
sure the jazz records (especially the CDs) have plateaued, but three
of the Bandcamps might merit further investigation: Mekons, Quelle
Chris, and Mdou Moctar. I think I have those three pegged right, but
they're close, and it's worth noting that I have the immediately
previous albums by all three at A- (It Is Twice Blessed,
Everything's Fine, and Blue Stage Sessions).
Priorities for the coming week will be to reconstruct my crashed
tax file, finish (paint) a new pantry shelf, and finally get my
computers rearranged and reconnected (hopefully fixing the Napster
problem, and allowing me to get onto some website work). Also have
my DownBeat Critics Poll invite, so that will be another
(pretty much wasted) chunk of time. One website task I did manage
to get done last week was to build a
book page for
Robert Christgau's new essay collection, Book Reports: A Music
Critic on His First Love, Which Was Reading, due out from Duke
University Press on April 12. Info and various links on that page.
Still to be done is the nasty task of embargoing most of the pieces
that appear in the book, so this is your last change (for several
years) to squirrel away free copies of most of the book.
New records reviewed this week:
- Laura Antonioli: The Constant Passage of Time (2018 , Origin): [cd]: B+(**)
- Michaël Attias: Ëchos La Nuit (2018 , Out of Your Head): [cd]: B+(**)
- Blu & Oh No: A Long Red Hot Los Angeles Summer Night (2019, Native Sounds): [bc]: B+(**)
- Chord Four: California Avant Garde (2016 , self-released): [cd]: B+(***)
- Larry Fuller: Overjoyed (2018 , Capri): [cd]: B+(***)
- Ross Hammond & Sameer Gupta: Mystery Well (2018, Prescott): [bc]: B+(***)
- Remy Le Boeuf: Light as a Word (2017 , Outside In Music): [cd]: B+(**)
- Mekons: Deserted (2019, Bloodshot): [bc]: B+(***)
- Mdou Moctar: Ilana: The Creator (2019, Sahel Sounds): [bc]: B+(***)
- Ivo Perelman/Mat Maneri/Nate Wooley: Strings 3 (2018 , Leo): [cd]: B+(*)
- Ivo Perelman/Mat Maneri/Nate Wooley/Matthew Shipp: Strings 4 (2018 , Leo): [cd]: B+(***)
- Quelle Chris: Guns (2019, Mello Music Group): [bc]: B+(***)
- SOL Development: The SOL of Black Folk (2019, self-released): [bc]: B+(**)
- Tiger Hatchery: Breathing in the Walls (2017 , ESP-Disk): [cd]: B+(***)/li>
Recent reissues, compilations, and vault discoveries:
- Betty Carter: The Music Never Stops (1992 , Blue Engine): [cd]: A-
Unpacking: Found in the mail last week:
- Romain Collin: Tiny Lights: Genesis (XM): April 12
- Jordon Dixon: On! (self-released): June 7
- Polly Gibbons: All I Can Do (Resonance): April 19
- Pablo Langouguere Quintet: Eclectico (self-released): May 31