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Monday, March 01, 2021

Music Week

Expanded blog post, March archive (in progress).

Music: Current count 35005 [34967] rated (+38), 236 [249] unrated (-13).

Last week I speculated that I might nudge this week's Music Week up a day to fit it into February. Of course, it could have been that I was in no mood to wrap up February Streamnotes. (I certainly wasn't.) However, my post on Tom Cotton's Big Plan chewed up all my time on Sunday. Then it occurred to me that February was a wasted month anyway, so why not cut my losses and get a fresh start on March. It was easy enough to move this week's reviews forward. And I can still postpone the wrap up bookkeeping a few days, so no pressure there.

I did make a dent in the new CD queue this week, but still quite a lot to get to there. Admittedly, didn't find much I liked there. Also my attempts at streaming new non-jazz (Willie Nelson, The Hold Steady, Slowthai) were also disappointing, so my only solid recommendations below are old music. I started the week listening to more records by the late Jamaican toaster U-Roy (including two recommended by Clifford Ocheltree), then stumbled onto some more reggae I felt like playing. After floundering around a bit, I decided to look for an expert list, and found this one on Mojo: The 50 Greatest Reggae Albums. I'm not sure it's a very good list, but it gave me some ideas to follow up on. I feel like sticking with it for a while. My own interest in reggae started in the 1970s, when I got on Island's promo list (although I may have had some earlier). Over the years, I've listened to a fair amount (although there's plenty more I haven't gotten to).

The reggae albums were just the push I needed to lift the rated count over 35,000. I was surprised to see that happen this week, but it's a big, round number I've been closing in on, so was just a matter of time before I would hit it. Not something I have to think about any more.

One thing I am tempted to think about is Chuck Eddy's 150 Best Albums of 1976. That was the year before I moved to New York, when Don Malcolm and I were planning out Terminal Zone, when my view of the rock world was at its most idealistic. My years in New York were richer in life experiences, and probably in music, but 1976 was when I started to feel like I really knew something.

Worth noting that Eddy's top two records are probably mine as well: Have Moicy! and Dr. Buzzard's Original Savannah Band. Also that at the time I used to figure I had to have at least one mainstream rock band in my top ten, and he has the year's two best: Blue Oyster Cult's Agents of Fortune (5) and Bob Seger's Night Moves (7). I can't imagine I'll ever warm to Aerosmith or Thin Lizzy or Boston or Crack the Sky or Heart, but I should track down some of his disco obscurities, especially as others are prominent on my list (and we share Silver Convention's Madhouse). Personal fave I'm surprised to see here is Michael Mantler's The Hapless Child and Other Inscrutable Stories (114).

Lawrence Ferlinghetti died last week, at 101. Seems like just yesterday we were touting his 101st birthday, so I'm still more in the mode of celebrating his life than mourning his death. There was a day (many decades ago) when I read a lot of poetry, and he was the North Star everyone else rotated around.


New records reviewed this week:

  • Franco Ambrosetti Band: Lost Within You (2020 [2021], Unit): [cd]: B+(**)
  • Emmet Cohen: Future Stride (2021, Mack Avenue): [r]: B+(**)
  • Randal Despommier: Dio C'è (2019 [2021], Outside In Music): [cd]: B
  • Yoav Eshed/Lex Korten/Massimo Biolcati/Jongkuk Kim: A Way Out (2019 [2021], Sounderscore): [cd]: B+(*)
  • Futari: Beyond (2019 [2021], Libra): [cd]: B+(*)
  • The Hold Steady: Open Door Policy (2021, Positive Jams): [r]: B+(**)
  • Ethan Iverson/Umbria Jazz Orchestra: Bud Powell in the 21st Century (2018 [2021], Sunnyside): [r]: B+(**)
  • Jazz Worms: Squirmin' (2017 [2021], Capri): [cd]: B+(*)
  • Andy LaVerne: Rhapsody (2021, SteepleChase): [r]: B+(**)
  • Johan Lindström Septett: On the Asylum (2020 [2021], Moserobie): [cd]: B+(*)
  • Shai Maestro: Human (2020 [2021], ECM): [r]: B+(*)
  • Meridian Odyssey: Second Wave (2020 [2021], Origin): [cd]: B+(*)
  • Willie Nelson: That's Life (2021, Legacy): [r]: B
  • Larry Newcomb Quartet: Love, Dad (2020 [2021], Essential Messenger): [cd]: B+(*)
  • Grete Skarpeid: Beyond Other Stories (2020 [2021], Origin): [cd]: B+(**)
  • Slowthai: Tyron (2021, Method): [r]: B+(*)
  • Yuma Uesaka/Cat Toren/Colin Hinton: Ocelot (2019 [2021], 577): [cd]: B+(***) [03-26]
  • Rodney Whitaker With the Christ Church Cranbrook Choir: Cranbrook Christmas Jazz (2020 [2021], Origin): [cd]: B
  • Greg Yasinitsky Yazz Band: New Normal (2019-20 [2021], Origin): [cd]: B

Recent reissues, compilations, and vault discoveries:

  • Hal Galper Quintet: Live at the Berlin Philharmonic 1977 (1977 [2021], Origin, 2CD): [cd]: B+(***)
  • Juozas Milasius/Tomas Kulavicius/Dalius Naujokaitis/Lithuanian Young Composers Orchestra: Live at Willisau, 1993 (1993 [2020], NoBusiness): [cd]: C+
  • Masauyki JoJo Takayanagi/Nobuyoshi Ino/Masabumi PUU Kikuchi: Live at Jazz Inn Lovely 1990 (1990 [2020], NoBusiness): [cd]: B+(**)

Old music:

  • Johnny Clarke: A Ruffer Version: Johnny Clarke at King Tubby's 1974-78 (1974-78 [2002], Trojan): [r]: B+(**)
  • Johnny Clarke: Dreader Dread 1976-1978 (1976-78 [1998], Blood & Fire): [r]: B+(***)
  • Phyllis Dillon: One Life to Live (1972, Trojan): [r]: B-
  • Mikey Dread: World War III (1980, Dread at the Controls): [r]: B+(***)
  • Mikey Dread: Pave the Way (1982, Heartbeat): [r]: B+(**)
  • Keith Hudson: Pick a Dub (1974 [1994], Blood & Fire): [r]: B+(**)
  • Keith Hudson: Rasta Communication (1978, Greensleeves): [r]: B+(**)
  • Prince Buster: Fabulous Greatest Hits (1964-68 [1968], Melodisc): [r]: A-
  • The Upsetters: Return to Django (1969, Trojan): [r]: B+(***)
  • The Upsetters: The Good, the Bad and the Upsetters (1970, Trojan): [r]: B+(***)
  • U-Roy: 30 Massive Shots From Treasure Isle (1970-74 [2009], Attack): [r]: B+(**)
  • U-Roy: Version of Wisdom (1971-74 [1990], Front Line/Virgin): [dl]: A-
  • U-Roy: The Lost Album: Right Time Rockers (1976 [1998], Sound System): [dl]: A-
  • U-Roy: Love Is Not a Gamble (1980, TR International): [r]: B+(***)
  • U-Roy: Serious Matter (1999, Tabou 1): [r]: B+(*)


Unpacking: Found in the mail last week:

  • Magnet Animals: Fake Dudes (RareNoise): cdr [03-26]
  • Hafez Modirzadeh: Facets (Pi) [03-05]
  • Ruth Weiss: We Are Sparks in the Universe to Our Own Fire (Edgetone)


Daily Log

Started to put this 1976 list together (Eddy's ranking in brackets):

  1. Michael Hurley/Unholy Modal Rounders/Jeffrey Frederick & the Clamtones: Have Moicy! (Rounder) [1]
  2. Dr. Buzzard's Original Savannah Band (RCA) [2]
  3. The Wild Tchoupitoulas (Island) [24]
  4. Parliament: The Clones of Dr. Funkenstein (Casablanca) [125]
  5. Blue Oyster Cult: Agents of Fortune (Columbia) [5]
  6. Michael Mantler/Robert Wyatt: The Hapless Child and Other Inscrutable Stories (Watt) [114]
  7. Ronnie Lane: One for the Road (Edsel) []
  8. Bootsy's Rubber Band: Stretchin' Out in Bootsy's Rubber Band (Warner Bros) []
  9. Bob Seger: Night Moves (Capitol) [7]
  10. Parliament: Mothership Connection (Casablanca) []
  11. Hot Chocolate: Man to Man (Big Tree) []
  12. Graham Parker: Howlin' Wind (Mercury) [89]
  13. Kate and Anna McGarrigle (Hannibal) [108]
  14. Kurt Weill: Threepenny Opera: Original Cast Recording -- New York Shakespeare Festival Production (Columbia) []
  15. Funkadelic: Hardcore Jollies (Warner Bros) [80]
  16. The Modern Lovers (Rhino) [28]
  17. George Jones: Alone Again (Epic)
  18. Anthony Braxton: Creative Orchestra Music 1976 (Arista)
  19. David Bowie: Station to Station (Virgin) [50]

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Tom Cotton's Big Plan

Senator Tom Cotton (R-AR) launched his 2024 presidential campaign last week with the publication of his bold plan "to send the Chinese Communist Party into the 'ash heap of history'": Beat China: Targeted Decoupling and the Economic Long War. This comes at a time when the Biden administration is making aggressive noises about China, to no small extent because Republicans are goading him on. Biden's rhetoric in turn offers cover and legitimation for Cotton's much more dangerously extreme stance. For an "explainer" on Cotton's scheme, see Alex Ward: Tom Cotton's big plan to "beat China," explained.

Cotton's plan has two major planks. The first is to "decouple" from China's economy, isolating China from world trade, in the hopes that will lead to an economic collapse that will bring down the political order and end Communist Party rule. Something like that did happen to cause the collapse of the Soviet Union, but there are many differences between the two cases, and far more stringent efforts to isolate North Korea, Cuba, and Iran only resulted in the targeted regimes digging in deeper to maintain their hold on power.

The second plank is a set of reforms to the American economy to make it more competitive with China, and to use US power around the world to force other countries to curtail their trade with China and to buy more American exports. This section is less coherent (e.g, "the senator singles out Japan as a place that could buy more American goods, and points to Malaysia and Vietnam as having labor forces that could produce these goods at competitive prices"), and in some cases comes close to admitting that Chinese state-directed methods are more effective than the US "free market" fetish (e.g., in the production of valuable "rare earth" metals).

We need to consider four questions to evaluate Cotton's plan:

  1. What are the risks to the US of forcing regime change on China? Are there risks so great that they would limit US action?
  2. Economic sanctions are widely regarded as a low-risk alternative to direct military action. But are they effective at achieving Cotton's goals, specifically regime change?
  3. Even if Cotton's plan can be implemented successfully without risk, is it really something Americans would and should want to do?
  4. Aside from the direct costs and risks of waging economic warfare, what are the significant opportunity costs -- other things that the US should be doing -- in choosing to oppose China?

If you honestly consider these questions, I'm pretty sure you'll see that Cotton's "plan" is one of the dumbest and most reckless ever. Indeed, the answers are so obvious one might quickly move on to real puzzles, like what motivates Cotton in this case? Romanticism for the lost Cold War? Defense industry graft? The macho certitude that America can always bend the world to its will?

Let's take these questions one by one:

1. What are the risks to the US of forcing regime change on China? Are there risks so great that they would limit US action?

Regime change is a tall demand, one that few rulers are willing to acquiesce to, and consequently one that is rarely insisted upon. Even the US compromised in accepting the less-than-unconditional surrender of Japan in 1945. America's Cold War aim was containment of the Soviet Union, not regime change. So Cotton's call for ending Communist Party control of China is an extremely aggressive stance. Admittedly, the US has insisted on regime change when confronting small and relatively weak countries, like Panama, Iraq, and Afghanistan. But China is not small nor weak. China, like the US, possesses nuclear weapons and missiles that can deliver them anywhere on earth. China is about the same physical size as the US, has a comparably sized economy, and close to four times as many people. While the US may have technical military advantages, China is too big to attack, and there are major limits on how much the US can intimidate China. Conversely, the US is too vulnerable to a Chinese counterattack to risk any existential military threat to China.

Cotton probably understands that much, but is hoping to find some internal flaw in the Chinese system that will cause it to collapse if given a little push -- as happened with the Soviet Union. This view is very naive. Chinese leaders observed the collapse of the Soviet system in Russia and Eastern Europe very closely, and moved decisively to repress dissent, and to direct needed economic reforms from the top down, reinforcing rather than undermining Party power. And they've been very successful, with a sustained 30-year track record of economic growth that far exceeds the performance of any other country or system, not least compared to the US.

2. Economic sanctions are widely regarded as a low-risk alternative to direct military action. But are they effective at achieving Cotton's goals, specifically regime change?

Short answer is no. The US has tried blockades and crippling economic sanctions against a number of much smaller, less self-sufficient nations (North Korea, Cuba, Iraq, Iran, more recently Venezuela), and the net effect has been to entrench existing regimes even further. Moreover, after the US did force regime change in Iraq, there was no groundswell of public support for their "liberation" -- rather, there was an armed revolt against US occupation. The only case of sanctions working was against South Africa, where they threatened long-standing economic ties between the West and the Apartheid regime. (This suggests that sanctions might be effective at influencing Israel to reform its own Apartheid regime, although I can think of reasons to be skeptical.)

The standard response to sanctions is autarky: if you can't import goods, make them yourself. This is tough for small nations, especially those with export-dominated economies. (Cuba especially struggled, most severely after the Soviet Union collapsed and Russia stopped buying up their sugar surplus and providing them with oil, but Cuba survived nonetheless.) China is big, diverse, and already provides most of its own needs. But also China's size makes other nations doubt the value of sanctions. It's easy for a US "ally" to forego trade with North Korea or Cuba or Myanmar, but China is a big trade partner for everyone, with a lot of hard currency (especially dollars) to buy and invest abroad. And China offers the irresistible prospect of a very large market for foreign exporters and investors, and they've long plied this prospect for favorable terms. It's hard to think of major US companies who don't have investments and operations tied to China. That, in turn, buys China political favors, as when they got Boeing to lobby for approval of China's WTO membership.

3. Even if Cotton's plan can be implemented successfully without risk, is it really something Americans would and should want to do?

This is the question least likely to be raised, given how easy it is for Americans to slip back into a Cold War mindset. Right-wingers forget that the Nixon thaw with China was actually a Cold War ploy to isolate the Soviet Union, and that China was long regarded as a Communist country we could do business with. Labor Democrats worried about losing jobs to China, but that only started bothering Republicans when Trump made it an issue in 2016. Trump canceled TTP and played some tariff games, but did nothing to rebalance trade with China, let alone safeguarding American jobs. Meanwhile, neoliberal Democrats took advantage of Chinese abuses of human rights, adding to the list of dictatorships Trump was accused of cozying up to. Meanwhile, right-wingers panicked over the "rising tide of socialism" among Democrats, resurrecting the deep paranoia of the racist "who lost China?" charges of 1949-50.

Still, what difference does any of this make? The oft-repeated charge that China wants to dominate the next century the way the US has dominated the last one, but that only brings up two further questions: has domination really paid dividends to most Americans? And is domination by any country even desirable looking forward? I'd argue both answers are no, and I'd further assert that the charge reflects Americans' own dissatisfaction with their supposed rule. Policing the world is a big job the US isn't up to (and was never much good at). Bankrolling the world is another big problem. Politics in the US has been ceded to special interests, whose orientation doesn't even come close to satisfying domestic needs, let alone those of people elsewhere. Despite the absence of democratic controls, the Chinese government is probably more in tune with the needs and desires of its people than the American system is. After all, over the last 30 years, China has lifted the majority of its population out of poverty, while income and wealth of most Americans has stagnated or declined.

You can also look at the "defense" postures of the two countries. The US projects power through nearly a thousand bases scattered all around the world. The US spends as much on "defense" as the rest of the world combined. China spends about one-quarter as much, enough to control its own population, defend its borders, and deter attack, but has little presence beyond its borders. The main points of contention between the US and China are Taiwan -- formerly part of China, which broke away when Chiang Kai-Shek's Nationalist Army retreated there in 1949, although it had been occupied by Japan from 1895-1945; after retreat, Chiang continued to claim mainland China, and tried to foment guerrilla war against Mao's government -- and various uninhabited islands in the China Sea, which China wants to exploit economically. These are old claims, which China has been steadfast in but has pursued very cautiously. China has also fought several border skirmishes with India, based on conflicting border claims dating back to British control of India, but China hasn't sought to extend its territory beyond the disputed claims.

Chiang was a brutal and corrupt military ruler, but since his death Taiwan has developed into a stable, prosperous democracy. It would be a shame to see it incorporated into a China that falls far short of those rights, but it would take extraordinary ego and folly for either the US or China to threaten nuclear war over a 70-year-old claim. But this seems more likely to happen if the US manages to push China into a corner than if we retain diplomatic manners. And less likely to happen if China becomes even more secure in a world with fewer arms and more openness.

Of course, various Americans, for various reasons, seize every instance of political repression for propaganda purposes. These are not insignificant issues, but they also aren't things that Americans have much standing to publicize. There are international organizations which focus on human rights issues, who are far better positioned to speak out on China's abuses, but they are supported by the US only in rare occasions of political convenience, and more generally opposed because the US and its "allies" (especially Israel) are often every bit as guilty. For instance, the US complains about Chinese treatment of Uighur Moslems while the US has long detained them in Guantanamo. The situation in Hong Kong is more complex, but again you can find lots of similar examples in US management of its territories.

The US has economic grievances as well, but none are worth going to war over. Two cases Cotton dwells on are "intellectual property" rents and China's monopolization of rare earth metals. The former is a scam to force poor nations to pay tribute to the richest people in richer nations, thus maintaining the global system of inequality. US trade policy has focused heavily on rents because the people who collect them have exploited the corruptness of the American political system for their purposes. We'd be better off abolishing the whole concept.

Of course, China doesn't like "IP" rents not because they care about the principle of the thing, but because currently they'd wind up having to pay tribute to richer countries like the US. But one could easily imagine the balance of payments flipping in the future, in which case China will happily agree. One thing the rare earth venture shows is that China understands monopoly power, at least when they come out on top. In one sense, this seems like a case where a country which does national economic planning can come out ahead of a nation which trusts "the market" to make all the decisions. But this can just as well be viewed as a classic capitalist gambit to corner the market for some rare commodity. We're told that the problem is that these metals have military applications, so it would be bad for the US military to be dependent on a potential rival for resources. Of course, it would be straightforward for the US government to direct resources at breaking this monopoly. It just wouldn't necessarily be the capitalist thing to do. But that doesn't bode well for the argument that we need to kill off the Chinese Communist Party to make the world safe for capitalism.

Cotton goes way beyond these obvious complaints. He wants to prevent Chinese students from studying in US universities, on the theory that they might learn something that could be used against us. He wants to prohibit the Chinese from buying up companies in Hollywood, because he's afraid they'll use their influence to corrupt American culture. (Re-read that sentence slowly to savor every nuance.) But Cotton also thinks that Covid-19 was a Chinese bioweapon gone amok. Or maybe he just finds such inflammatory charges convenient in his crusade to make the US despicable.

It's hard to see anything in this litany of complaints where the elimination of China as a military and/or economic rival would materially improve the lot of most Americans. Sure, there may be some business interests who would come out ahead, but many more would lose markets and/or suppliers. Even professional warmongers like Cotton would be better off preserving China as a token threat than scheming without enemies (not that he wouldn't find new ones).

On the other hand, war never gives you an ideal outcome. The collapse of the Soviet Union led to the most miserable decade in Russian history, where social cohesion broke down and property was sucked up by criminal oligarchs, a situation so dire that Putin's gangsta nationalism looked like salvation. China is far less dangerous under its present order than it would be if smashed into chaos.

4. Aside from the direct costs and risks of waging economic warfare, what are the significant opportunity costs -- other things that the US should be doing -- in choosing to oppose China?

The obvious point here is that China has a lot to say about whether the world comes to grips with climate change. A couple decades ago, China was so preoccupied with development it seemed likely to use up most of the world's coal reserves, but recently they've shifted gears and started to embrace non-carbon sources of energy, quickly becoming more responsible than the United States has been.

Open source technology is another area where cooperation could be advantageous to both countries and to the world. Clearly, both the US and China could have done a better job of coordinating in the early days of the Covid-19 pandemic. The fact that both nations view one another in a quasi-siege mentality has made cooperation difficult. I suspect that American hostility has added to Chinese paranoia over free speech. While there is no need for Americans to approve of Chinese repression, we do need to be less confrontational about it.

For this, we must recognize and respect that Chinese participation in international organizations is essential. For that, we'll need diplomats who can see multiple sides and look for mutually beneficial solutions. And we'll need to keep "paper tigers" like Cotton locked up in their cages.


As the links at the start of this post indicate, Biden has thus far been cautious in his approach to China. I haven't noticed him doing anything grossly stupid, although he has chosen to surround himself with reflexive hawks like Anthony Blinken and Jake Sullivan, and he hasn't actively challenged the provocations of outright hawks like Tom Cotton and Ted Cruz. The Politico article quotes several "China experts" warning about a "negotiation trap," as if there was any path but negotiations that could ever lead to mutual understanding. (Said "experts" were in fact Trump's China hands, who no doubt contributed to Trump's ineffectiveness.)

On the other hand, Biden did seize his first opportunity to do something really stupid in the Middle East: he ordered an airstrike in Syria in response to a so-called provocation in Iraq attributed to a militia allegedly representative of Iran. (See Stephen Miles: Biden's Syria strikes: A perpetual cycle of endless war.) This is significant not just because it continues the "endless war" model that US president have followed since Bill Clinton found he could relieve his personal anxieties by bombing Iraq, but because Biden jumped at his first opportunity to order death-from-air. As Trita Parsi, in Biden said 'Diplomacy is back!' Then he started dropping bombs: it took Trump four months before he ordered the bombing of Syria. As I recall, the first murder Obama ordered was the killing of Somali pirates, which was an even more personal decision than the sanitized military operations Trump and Biden rubber-stamped. I'm not sure who was the last US president not to directly order some kind of military or covert operation aimed at killing people abroad. (Probably Herbert Hoover.)

Hannah Arendt referred to Eichmann's excuse that he was just following orders as "the banality of evil." I'm not sure whether Biden's callous, carefree order, made simply by approving a plan someone else drew up, is more evil, or just more banal. But the immediate effect is to throw a monkey wrench into prospects for returning to the Iran nuclear weapons deal -- a signature Obama achievement, one that Biden had campaigned on.

That's welcome news in Israel and Saudi Arabia, who never seriously worried about Iran's nuclear program but saw it as a way to manipulate Washington into an unthinking anti-Iran alliance. It's not surprising that Trump fell for the con -- the only thing that really mattered to him was cashing the checks. Nor does Biden's background suggest he's capable of independent thought in this arena, but until he realizes the need to reformulate "American interests" in terms of peace, order, justice, and cooperation, he is likely to be blindsided by the various parties convinced that projecting American power is its own virtue.

PS: For examples of the latter, see Robert W Merry: Keeping the hegemon-addicted in their proper place. Parsi followed up the bombing attack with Iran rejects meeting as Biden's slow diplomacy hits predictable snag. Michael T Klare has some constructive suggestions in: Biden, climate change, and China. Biden also has a recognizing reality problem with Russia, as Dave DeCamp reports: Biden says US will 'never' accept Russia's annexation of Crimea.

Monday, February 22, 2021

Music Week

Expanded blog post, February archive (in progress).

Music: Current count 34967 [34957] rated (+10), 249 [253] unrated (-4).

I made my excuses in last week's No Music Week, so won't repeat myself here. Not much to report, but also no reason not to kick this out on schedule.

I've been erratic since Wednesday, not writing anything up on Sunday, when I was cooking a fairly serious dinner. (Salmon teriyaki, fried rice, stir-fried lima beans, some frozen potstickers, flourless chocolate cake. Picture on Facebook.) Only played the Sam Rivers album today, figuring it to be the best shot at an A- record -- may have cut it some slack, finishing my review before the long closing flute lead, so phobes beware.

Started of trying to explore the late rasta toaster U-Roy, but didn't get very far, mostly because his discography boggled my mind. I should note that Clifford Ocheltree recommended two records I couldn't find: The Lost Album: Right Time Rockers (1976 [2010], Sound System); and Version of Wiscom (1978-79 [1990], Front Line/Virgin). He carried on into the 21st century, but the 1970s look to be his prime time: my own pick is still the 1969-70 Your Ace From Space.

Percussionist Milford Graves also died last week (1941-2021). He had a pretty sketchy discography since his 1965 Percussion Ensemble. Some highlights include Real Deal (1992, with David Murray), Beyond Quantum (2008, with Anthony Braxton and Wiliam Parker), and Space/Time: Redemption (2015, with Bill Laswell).

Last Monday of the month, but I'm in no mood to turn over my Streamnotes file, so maybe I'll aim for a February 28 Music Week on Sunday, and feel more like it then.


New records reviewed this week:

  • Benoît Delbecq: The Weight of Light (2020 [2021], Pyroclastic): [cd]: B+(**)
  • Signe Emmeluth: Hi Hello I'm Signe (2020 [2021], Relative Pitch): [r]: B
  • Katarsis 4: Live at the Underground Water Reservoir (2019 [2020], NoBusiness): [cd]: B+(*)
  • Joe Lovano: Trio Tapestry: Garden of Expression (2019 [2021], ECM): [r]: B
  • Mast: Battle Hymns of the Republic (2020 [2021], World Galaxy): [r]: B+(**)
  • Yoko Miwa Trio: Songs of Joy (2020 [2021], Ubuntu Music): [cd]: B+(**)

Recent reissues, compilations, and vault discoveries:

  • Sam Rivers Quartet: Braids [Sam Rivers Archive Project, Volume 4] (1979 [2020], NoBusiness): [cd]: A-

Old music:

  • U-Roy: Dread in a Babylon (1975, Virgin): [r]: B+(**)
  • U-Roy: Foundation Skank: 1975-1975 Rare Sides by the DJ Originator (1971-75 [2009], Sound System): [r]: B+(***)


Unpacking: Found in the mail last week:

  • Satoko Fujii: Hazuki: Piano Solo (Libra) [03-19]

Thursday, February 18, 2021

No Music Week

Expanded blog post, February archive (in progress).

The last two weeks have been brutal. My wife fell and broke her leg. While she was in the hospital, I developed an infection and was sick for the better part of a week. And, as most of you are no doubt aware, it's been brutally cold in the Midwest, even as far south as Wichita (with the whinging even louder in Texas). Second longest stretch of sub-20F weather in history, hitting a low the other day of -17F. Snow more days than not, and while it still doesn't amount to more than six inches, none of it has melted. Looks like it will stay below freezing through Friday, then edge over, then finally warm up a bit next week.

Laura got home from hospital last Friday, and we've been struggling on all accounts -- although the first days were the worst, and we're doing a bit better day-by-day. Haven't been out since Friday, aside from taking the trash/recycle cans to the curb on Monday, where they remain untouched. I made a grocery store run on Thursday. Picked up a chicken (since boiled, then baked under biscuits), a piece of chuck steak (since fried, then baked with mushroom gravy), some hamburger (turned that into sloppy joes), and beef/lamb for a future meatloaf. All old family comfort dishes. Took a break from that yesterday and made a Chinese classic, Ants Climbing Tree, with cellophane noodles and ground pork, with garlic and scallions, bean paste, cooked in chicken stock. I bought the essential ingredients many months ago. We can probably go weeks pulling things out of the freezer, although staples we normally keep fresh like potatoes and onions are in short supply.

One thing I haven't done is listen to new music, let alone write about it. I usually have a bit of a down after wrapping up a year, but lately I've stuck with old reliables, mostly from the travel cases (Mississippi John Hurt at the moment, preceded by Stevie Wonder and Curtis Mayfield). Started to stream Ethan Iverson's Bud Powell album, but only made it four cuts in. When I realized I wasn't going to have anything to report for Monday's Music Week, I reconciled myself to not reviewing anything until I do a "No Music Week" post. Main thing I wanted to accomplish there was to catalog my incoming mail, which I had neglected for a couple weeks. Took me to Thursday to catch up with the "unpacking." The resulting top line looks like this:

Music: Current count 34957 [34955] rated (+2), 253 [233] unrated (+20).

The +2 fixes some bookkeeping errors. Related to that, note that I muffed the previous week's count, revising the rated count down from +68 to +58. Still 43 shy of 35,000. Odds of hitting that next week would be 4-6 normally, but this is no normal week. The +20 is the unpacking below. No actual reviews to offer this week, so I'm not even holding anything back. Not sure whether there will be a Music Week on Monday. Depends on whether I can shift out of this rut.

Rush Limbaugh died this week. The only time I actually listened to him was a few days in early 2009. We hired a guy to install tile in our kitchen, and he and his son came in with a big boom box tuned to Limbaugh. I was at first pleasantly surprised to find out that Obama is a socialist, but like all of Limbaugh's spew, that turned out to be way off the mark. But lack of direct contact didn't shield me from his impact. He probably ranks as the most toxic figure in American politics ever. I have yet to find any piece that remotely does him justice -- although even efforts to be "fair and balanced" show him to be totally repulsive. If you want to read something, you might start with Zack Beauchamp: Rush Limbaugh's toxic legacy. As the author points out, "The Republican Party he poisoned is very much alive."

One particular grudge I have against Limbaugh is that he used a book title I had been toying with: The Way Things Ought to Be. I've been thinking about that title recently, as I've found myself less and less interested in either writing about how vile the Republicans are -- a major concern during the GW Bush years, not that anything they've done since has blunted my outrage -- or what the Democrats need to do to more effectively resist and overcome the Republican derangement (more of an inclination during the Trump years than reiterating the obvious). That always struck me as an aspirational title rooted in basic philosophy and ethics, and that's the sort of thing I feel like working out now. Needless to say, Limbaugh's book was nothing of the sort. Published in 1992, it was mostly a hatchet job on Anita Hill. If you recall the name, you'll recognize several of the levels on which that was inappropriate. (One that I wasn't aware of was that Clarence Thomas officiated over Limbaugh's third wedding, two years after the book was published.)

Just noticed that Jamaican toaster Ewart Beckford, better known as U-Roy, has just died, at 78. I strongly recommend the one early record I've heard: Your Ace From Space (1969-70 [1995], Trojan). But many more followed. Maybe I'll check out some more.

Minor bookkeeping points:

  • I've decided to start tracking downloads in the "Pending" section of my Year 2021 music file, and in the "Unpacking" section of my Music Week reports. I needed a mechanism to keep track of records I've downloaded, and that seems like the most obvious way to do so. I am, however, still not entering those records into my database until I've reviewed them.
  • I've decided to treat all of this week's NoBusiness package as 2021 records (flagged "-20") in the file above. Official release date was Nov. 15, 2020, and I was aware of a couple in my 2020 Tracking File, but I've usually filed late promos in the year received. Just unusual here to have such a large batch.
  • I've changed the formatting of the Music Year 2021 file, putting the lists into tables tagged with the grades. I've wanted to do for ages, and it's a good sign that I mustered the programming chops to do it today.


Unpacking: Found in the mail last week:

  • Derek Baiey/Mototeru Takagi: Live at FarOut, Atsugi 1987 (NoBusiness -20)
  • Dan Blake: Da Fé (Sunnyside) [03-12]
  • Ian Charleton Big Band: A Fresh Perspective (none) [03-16]
  • The Dynamic Les DeMerle Band Featuring Bonnie Eisele: Hot Night in Venice: Live at the Venice Jazz Club (Origin)
  • Rebecca Dumaine and the Dave Miller Trio: Someday, Someday (Summit) [03-12]
  • Frank Gratkowski/Achim Kaufmann/Wilbert de Joode/Tony Buck: Flatbosc & Cautery (NoBusiness -20)
  • Barry Guy: Irvin's Comet (NoBusiness -20)
  • Jazz Worms: Squirmin' (Capri)
  • Katarsis 4: Live at the Underground Water Reservoir (NoBusiness -20)
  • Reza Khan: Imaginary Road (Painted Music) [03-26]
  • Johan Lindström Septett: On the Asylum (Moserobie)
  • Juozas Milasius/Tomas Kulavicius/Dalius Naujokaitis/Lithuanian Young Composers Orchestra: Live at Willisau, 1993 (NoBusiness -20)
  • Charlie Porter: Hindsight (OA2)
  • Reggie Quinerly: New York Nowhere (Redefinition) [03-12]
  • RED Trio & Celebration Band: Suite 10 Years Anniversary (NoBusiness, 2CD -20)
  • Sam Rivers Quartet: Braids [Sam Rivers Archive Project, Volume 4] (1979, NoBusiness -20)
  • Schapiro 17: Human Qualities (Summit) [03-12]
  • Idit Shner: Live at the Jazz Station (OA2)
  • John Stowell/Dan Dean: Rain Painting (Origin)
  • Masauyki JoJo Takayanagi/Nobuyoshi Ino/Masabumi PUU Kikuchi: Live at Jazz Inn Lovely 1990 (NoBusiness -20)
  • Thumbscrew: Never Is Enough (Cuneiform): download [02-26]
  • Sabu Toyozumi/Mats Gustafsson: Hokusai (NoBusiness -20)
  • Nate Wooley/Liudas Mockunas/Barry Guy/Arkadijus Gotesmanas: NOX (NoBusiness -20)

Tuesday, February 16, 2021

Daily Log

Jeffrey St Clair reported on a YouGov/Economist poll asking who was the worst president in US history? Answers: Trump 46%, Obama 24%, Nixon 5%, George W. Bush 4%, Clinton 4%, Carter 3%, Wilson 2%, A. Johnson 2%, George Bush 2%, Buchanan 1%. Not a good showing for history students, although I'm not certain I wouldn't have picked Trump, too. Conspicuously missing: Ronald Reagan.

Sunday, February 14, 2021

Daily Log

Cale Siler posted a particularly stupid comment on Facebook, which started:

So let me get this straight.

We have a President with dementia.

An ex call girl for a Vice President.

A transvestite over our Health and Human Services.

A President's son who is a crackhead, a human trafficking pedophile who money laundered billions from other countries sharing half with his dad. . . .

You can't make this crap up People!

The post ended with "Copied." I took that as signifying that he didn't write it, but copied it from some other source and decided to send it out as personal wisdom. The post got 20 "likes" -- plus my short comment:

Yet, people, someone did make this crap up. And you didn't know any better than to copy it.

Cale responded:

Tom Hull just out of curiosity when you was in school was you the kid who like drew on the desk with led an then licked it all off [emojis]

I finally responded:

My, aren't you clever? Last time I commented on one of your meme forwards, you suggested I must have ate paint chips as a child. Back then they were as likely as not to contain lead, and lead is toxic, leading to diminished cognitive skills. I reckon this comment was meant that same way, but I'm not the one who fell for this ridiculous passel of lies. And for the record, the heavy metal is spelled LEAD. LED is a light-emitting diode, or the past participle of the verb lead, as in "you can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him think." By the way, the cores in "lead pencils" don't contain lead (and never have). They contain graphite, possibly mixed with a little clay. And while they aren't tasty, they aren't toxic either. Unless, of course, you get an old one and chew the paint on the outside.

I didn't bother with his other grammatical mistakes ("when you was," "was you the kid," "kid who like drew," "with led," "an then," no question mark -- all within 26 words). One amusing sidelight is that thanks to thread order my comment is followed by Jasper Schonfield's "Sad but true!" -- probably intended as applause for Cale's post, but comes right after my comments.

Thursday, February 11, 2021

Daily Log

Was reading Aaron Rupar: The House impeachment managers' case against Trump, summarized in 500 words, and decided to tweet (ending with link):

I wouldn't have bothered with an impeachment trial of a president already removed from office, but it is clear that the entire "stop the steal" campaign that climaxed on 1/6 was so egregious that it had to be exposed in a proper public forum:

Tuesday, February 09, 2021

Music Week

Expanded blog post, February archive (in progress).

Music: Current count 34955 [34897] rated (+58), 233 [231] unrated (+2).

This will, sorry to say, have to remain brief. I doubt I'll ever get around to writing up a 2020 year-end essay, despite having follow the year's records more closely than ever before. However, no regrets about letting the plague year fade into historical memory. Let's get this over with.

I'm surprised to find this post is only a day late. I took ill on Sunday, spent much of Monday with doctors, and tried my best to sleep through Tuesday -- failing mostly because the dog had other ideas. Urinary tract infection, nasty business. Presumably the antibiotics will kick in and I'll be back to normal in a few days. Two additional factors have compounded my misery. For one thing, we're in the middle of what the Wichita Eagle has called our worst cold snap since 1983. That mostly means daytime temperatures in the teens, with overnight lows close to zero. We got a bit of snow early on, and a bit more since. It doesn't amount to much, but it isn't melting either, so going out (as I did on Monday) is treacherous, and the cold itself is painful.

The other big thing is that my wife, Laura Tillem, fell on the porch Wednesday and broke her thigh bone. They operated on her, a procedure they call intramedullary nailing. The "nail" is a long titanium rod inserted into the canal of the femur, so it provides weight-bearing structural support even before the bone heals. She was in the hospital through Monday morning, then transferred to a rehab clinic (actually, another hospital on the northwest edge of Wichita). If all goes well, she may come on Friday. Needless to say, her absence has made my condition much harder to deal with.

Although the review count is high, all of that came from before Sunday. Since then, the only CD I've played downstairs has been The Tatum Group Masterpieces, Vol. 8, where Ben Webster, Red Callender, and Bill Douglass join Art Tatum. It's a extraordinary set of gentle ballads -- perfect, soothing background music, which is all I've been up for.

My Year 2020 file has been frozen. The latter is an archive file which captures what I knew at the moment when I decided the year was done. I'll continue to update the former for a year. Same for my jazz and non-jazz EOY files, though I'm likely to stop bothering with them when/if I create 2021 files. The current A-lists are 83 jazz, 72 non-jazz, with old music breaking 12-17. B+(***) records broke 152-105 (27-18 for old). The division among lower grades is pretty close (490-487; 52-41 for old). Total number of reviewed records (from tracking file): 1610. That total was inflated a bit by my decision to include all 2019 albums that hadn't appeared in my 2019 tracking file, plus all December albums even if they had appeared, but that only added 52. I believe my previous high was 1334 albums in 2011, followed by 1230 in 2010, with 1222 in 2019 a close third. (I didn't check every year. Just did an initial sort by file size, then fgrep|wc for the counts. Also, I used the frozen files, to keep the comparisons fair.)

I won't be doing that again. My 2021 tracking file has very little in it beyond albums I have promo copies of. Last year I primed my EOY Aggregate files with review grades (mostly from AOTY and Metacritic, but I also tracked other sources, especially jazz and country), so I had a pretty good real-time idea how the year was stacking up before the EOY lists started appearing. I'm not doing that for 2021. While I enjoyed keeping on top of so much information, it took up a lot of time, and I'm thinking that time could be better spent. On the other hand, without that data to guide me, I expect I'll be listening to many fewer albums in 2021.

I spent much of last week scrounging up more data for the EOY Aggregate. I think we can say that's done now. The best-regarded albums for 2020 (points in braces, my grades in brackets, with * subdividing B+):

  1. Fiona Apple: Fetch the Bolt Cutters (Epic) {814} [A-]
  2. Run the Jewels: RTJ4 (Jewel Runners/RBC/BMG) {664} [A]
  3. Phoebe Bridgers: Punisher (Dead Oceans) {619} [**]
  4. Taylor Swift: Folklore (Republic) {434} [***]
  5. Bob Dylan: Rough and Rowdy Ways (Columbia) {401} [A-]
  6. Dua Lipa: Future Nostalgia (Warner) {390} [A-]
  7. Waxahatchee: Saint Cloud (Merge) {364} [A-]
  8. Haim: Women in Music Pt. III (Columbia) {327} [**]
  9. Sault: Untitled (Black Is) (Forever Living Originals) {318} [***]
  10. Perfume Genius: Set My Heart on Fire Immediately (Matador) {314} [*]
  11. Fontaines DC: A Hero's Death (Partisan) {259} [*]
  12. Yves Tumor: Heaven to a Tortured Mind (Warp) {240} [**]
  13. Jessie Ware: What's Your Pleasure? (Interscope) {231} [A-]
  14. Moses Sumney: Grae (Jagjaguwar) {219} [B]
  15. Rina Sawayama: Sawayama (Dirty Hit) {217} [B-]
  16. Sault: Untitled (Rise) (Forever Living Originals) {215} [***]
  17. Charli XCX: How I'm Feeling Now (Asylum) {194} [***]
  18. The Weeknd: After Hours (Republic) {187} [B]
  19. Tame Impala: The Slow Rush (Interscope) {179} [*]
  20. Fleet Foxes: Shore (Anti-) {178} [B]
  21. Adrianne Lenker: Songs and Instrumentals (4AD) {172} [*|B]
  22. Laura Marling: Song for Our Daughter (Chrysalis/Partisan) {172} [**]
  23. Caribou: Suddenly (Merge) {164} [**]
  24. Thundercat: It Is What It Is (Brainfeeder) {162} [B]
  25. Freddie Gibbs & the Alchemist: Alfredo (ESGN/ALC/Empire) {160} [*]
  26. Idles: Ultra Mono (Partisan) {158} [***]
  27. Bruce Springsteen: Letter to You (Columbia) {156} [**]
  28. Maria Schneider Orchestra: Data Lords (ArtistShare -2CD) {150} [**]
  29. Soccer Mommy: Color Theory (Loma Vista) {150} [***]
  30. Porridge Radio: Every Bad (Secretly Canadian) {145} [*]
  31. Kelly Lee Owens: Inner Song (Smalltown Supersound) {142} [**]
  32. Roisin Murphy: Roisin Machine (Skint) {137} [**]
  33. Bad Bunny: YHLQMDLG (Rimas) {135} [**]
  34. Chloe x Halle: Ungodly Hour (Columbia) {133} [*]
  35. Jason Isbell & the 400 Unit: Reunions (Southeastern) {133} [*]
  36. Lady Gaga: Chromatica (Interscope) {133} [***]
  37. The Strokes: The New Abnormal (Cult/RCA) {131} [*]
  38. Sufjan Stevens: Ascension (Asthmatic Kitty) {123} [A-]
  39. Grimes: Miss Anthropocene (4AD) {122} [***]
  40. Mac Miller: Circles (Warner) {120} [A-]
  41. Megan Thee Stallion: Good News (300 Entertainment) {115} [A-]
  42. Khruangbin: Mordechai (Dead Oceans) {114} [*]
  43. Jeff Parker: Suite for Max Brown (International Anthem) {113} [**]
  44. Nubya Garcia: Source (Concord) {109} [**]
  45. Ambrose Akinmusire: On the Tender Spot of Every Calloused Moment (Blue Note) {108} [**]
  46. Deftones: Ohms (Reprise) {105} [C+]
  47. Lil Uzi Vert: Eternal Atake (Atlantic) {104} [*]
  48. Shabaka and the Ancestors: We Are Sent Here by History (Impulse!) {100} [A-]
  49. Hayley Williams: Petals for Armor (Atlantic) {100} [*]
  50. Lucinda Williams: Good Souls Better Angels (Highway 20) {97} [A-]
  51. Jay Electronica: A Written Testimony (Roc Nation) {96} [*]
  52. Bartees Strange: Live Forever (Memory Music) {96} [*]
  53. The Chicks: Gaslighter (Columbia) {94} [***]
  54. Lianne La Havas: Lianne La Havas (Nonesuch) {92} [*]
  55. Protomartyr: Ultimate Success Today (Domino) {87} [**]
  56. Taylor Swift: Evermore (Republic) {86} [***]
  57. Bill Callahan: Gold Record (Drag City) {83} [B]
  58. Clipping: Visions of Bodies Being Burned (Sub Pop) {81} [***]
  59. Jarv Is: Beyond the Pale (Rough Trade) {80} [A-]
  60. Drive-By Truckers: The Unraveling (ATO) {79} [A-]
  61. The Microphones: Microphones in 2020 (PW Elverum & Sun) {79} [**]
  62. The Flaming Lips: American Head (Warner/Bella Union) {78} [*]
  63. Bright Eyes: Down in the Weeds, Where the World Once Was (Dead Oceans) {76} [**]
  64. Mary Halvorson's Code Girl: Artlessly Falling (Firehouse 12) {76} [B]
  65. Ashley McBryde: Never Will (Warner Nashville) {73} [A-]
  66. Eric Revis: Slipknots Through a Looking Glass (Pyroclastic) {73} [A-]
  67. Destroyer: Have We Met (Merge) {72} [*]
  68. J Hus: Big Conspiracy (Black Butter) {72} [**]
  69. Margo Price: That's How Rumors Get Started (Loma Vista) {72} [*]
  70. X: Alphabetland (Fat Possum) {72} [*]
  71. Immanuel Wilkins: Omega (Blue Note) {70} [A-]
  72. Working Men's Club: Working Men's Club (Heavenly) {69} [**]
  73. The 1975: Notes on a Conditional Form (Dirty Hit) {68} [***]
  74. Lil Baby: My Turn (Quality Control) {68} [**]
  75. Ariana Grande: Positions (Republic) {67} [*]
  76. Irreversible Entanglements: Who Sent You? (International Anthem) {67} [A-]
  77. Jyoti [Georgia Anne Muldrow]: Mama, You Can Bet! (SomeOthaShip) {67} [**]
  78. Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever: Sideways to New Italy (Sub Pop) {67} [**]
  79. Billy Nomates: Billy Nomates (Invada) {65} [A-]
  80. Andy Shauf: The Neon Skyline (Anti-) {65} [**]
  81. Chris Stapleton: Starting Over (Mercury Nashville) {65} [**]
  82. AC/DC: Power Up (Columbia) {64} [B]
  83. Jeff Rosenstock: No Dream (Polyvinyl) {64} [B]
  84. Moses Boyd: Dark Matter (Exodus) {63} [**]
  85. US Girls: Heavy Light (4AD) {63} [B-]
  86. Susan Alcorn Quintet: Pedernal (Relative Pitch) {61} [**]
  87. Halsey: Manic (Capitol) {60} [***]
  88. Arca: KiCk i (XL) {59} [*]
  89. Hum: Inlet (Earth Analog) {59} [B]
  90. Touché Amoré: Lament (Epitaph) {59} [**]
  91. Bonny Light Horseman: Bonny Light Horseman (37d03d) {58} [B]
  92. Code Orange: Underneath (Roadrunner) {58} [B]
  93. Carla Bley/Steve Swallow/Andy Sheppard: Life Goes On (ECM) {57} [***]
  94. Elizabeth Cook: Aftermath (Agent Love) {57} [A-]
  95. Pearl Jam: Gigaton (Monkeywrench/Republic) {57} [B]
  96. Beabadoobee: Fake It Flowers (Dirty Hit) {56} [**]
  97. The Beths: Jump Rope Gazers (Carpark) {56} [*]
  98. Brandy Clark: Your Life Is a Record (Warner Nashville) {56} [A-]
  99. Georgia: Seeking Thrills (Domino) {56} [***]
  100. Mary Lattimore: Silver Ladders (Ghostly International) {56} [*]
  101. Rudresh Mahanthappa: Hero Trio (Whirlwind) {56} [A-]
  102. Oneohtrix Point Never: Magic Oneohtrix Point Never (Warp) {56} [*]
  103. Sorry: 925 (Domino) {56} [**]
  104. Sun Ra Arkestra: Swirling (Strut) {56} [A-]

Lenker's Songs and Instrumentals were separate digital releases, but combined on CD. I graded each half, but most list sources combined the two. Most of the recent changes were due to my counting of individual ballots for Francis Davis's Jazz Critics Poll, the Uproxx Music Critics Poll, and the Pazz & Jop Rip-Off. My initial tactic was to only count ballots of individuals I've counted in past years, but I added a few more names where I thought the picks were particularly interesting. One effect of this was to secure 2nd place for RTJ4, after Punisher had briefly topped it. The JCP ballots (all but 17 were counted) explain why jazz is represented here much more than in other aggregates (28, 43, 44, 45, 48, 63, 65, 71, 75, 75, 84, 93, 96, 96). I consider that a feature.


New records reviewed this week:

  • 2nd Grade: Hit to Hit (2020, Double Double Whammy): [bc]: B+(**)
  • Jhené Aiko: Chilombo (2020, Def Jam): [r]: B+(*)
  • Thana Alexa: ONA (2020, self-released): [r]: B+(**)
  • Gyedu-Blay Ambolley: 11th Street, Sekondi (2019, Agogo): [bc]: B+(**)
  • Tim Berne/Matt Mitchell: Spiders (2020, Out of Your Head): [dl]: A-
  • Jake Blount: Spider Tales (2020, Free Dirt): [bc]: B+(***)
  • Busta Rhymes: Extinction Level Event 2: The Wrath of God (2020, Conglomerate/Empire): [r]: B
  • Chika: Industry Games (2020, Warner, EP): [r]: B+(**)
  • Common: A Beautiful Revolution [Part 1] (2020, Loma Vista): [r]: B+(***)
  • Chris Crack: White People Love Algorithms (2020, New Deal Collectives): [r]: B+(**)
  • Ani DiFranco: Revolutionary Love (2021, Righteous Babe): [r]: B+(**)
  • Kevin Dixon: The Summer We All Bought Guns (2020, Covid Charlie's Demo-lution): [bc]: B
  • Che Ecru: Til Death (2020, F Plus): [bc]: B+(**)
  • Wendy Eisenberg: Auto (2020, Ba Da Bing): [bc]: B+(*)
  • En Attendant Ana: Juillet (2020, Trouble in Mind): [r]: B+(**)
  • See'J Foster: HiSonGreWings (2020, self-released): [bc]: B+(**)
  • Gabriel Garzón-Montano: Agüita (2020, Jagjaguwar): [bc]: B+(*)
  • Dana Gavanski: Yesterday Is Gone (2020, Ba Da Bing!): [r]: B+(*)
  • Dana Gavanski: Wind Songs (2020, Ba Da Bing, EP): [r]: B
  • Beverly Glenn-Copeland: Live at Le Guess Who? 2018 (2018 [2020], Transgressive): [bc]: B+(***)
  • Goodie Mob: Survival Kit (Organized Noize/Goodie Mob World): [r]: A-
  • Conan Gray: Kid Krow (2020, Republic): [r]: B+(*)
  • Gunna: Wunna (2020, YSL/300): [r]: B+(*)
  • Juniper: Juniper (2020, self-released): [bc]: A-
  • KMRU: Peel (2020, Editions Mego): [bc]: B+(*)
  • LCSM [Likwid Cotinual Space Motion]: Earthbound (2020, Super-Sonic Jazz): [bc]: B+(***)
  • Madlib: Sound Ancestors (2021, Madlib Invazion): [r]: B+(*)
  • Maluma: Papi Juancho (2020, Sony Music Latin): [r]: B+(**)
  • Shawn Mendes: Wonder (2020, Island): [r]: B+(*)
  • Moor Mother & Billy Woods: Brass (2020, Backwoodz Studioz): [r]: B+(**)
  • Nihiloxica: Kaloli (2020, Crammed Discs): [r]: B+(**)
  • Kassa Overall: Shades of Flu: Healthy Remixes for an Ill Moment (2020, Flu Note): [bc]: B+(*)
  • Palberta: Palberta 5000 (2021, Wharf Cat): [r]: B+(*)
  • Tayla Parx: Coping Mechanisms (2020, Taylamade/Atlantic): [r]: B+(*)
  • Penya Na Msafiri Zawose: Penya Safari E.P. (2020, On the Corner): [bc]: B+(*)
  • Real Estate: The Main Thing (2020, Domino): [r]: B+(*)
  • Roddy Ricch: Please Excuse Me for Being Antisocial (2019, Atlantic): [r]: B
  • Roshin: Unrequited (2020, self-released): [bc]: B+(*)
  • Lingo Seini Et Son Groupe: Musique Hauka (2020, Sahel Sounds): [bc]: B+(**)
  • Shamir: Shamir (2020, self-released): [r]: B
  • Skyzoo & Dumbo Station: The Bluest Note (2020, Tuff Kong, EP): [r]: A-
  • Skyzoo: Milestones (2020, Mello Music Group, EP): [r]: A-
  • Stove God Cooks: Reasonable Drought (2020, The Conglomeration Entertainment): [r]: B+(**)
  • Thick: 5 Years Behind (2020, Epitaph): [r]: B+(**)
  • Ty Dolla $ign: Featuring Ty Dolla $ign (2020, Atlantic): [r]: B
  • Westside Gunn: Who Made the Sunshine (2020, Griselda/Shady/Interscope): [r]: B+(*)
  • Matthew Wright: Locked Hybrids (2020, Relative Pitch): [bc]: B
  • Youngboy Never Broke Again: Top (2020, Never Broke Again/Atlantic): [r]: B-

Recent reissues, compilations, and vault discoveries:

  • Birds of Prey: The Album ([2020], Atlantic): [r]: B+(**)
  • Billy Brooks: Windows of the Mind (1974 [2020], WeWantSounds): [bc]: B-
  • Beverly Glenn-Copeland: Transmissions: The Music of Beverly Glenn-Copeland (1970-2019 [2020], Transgressive): [bc]: A-
  • Honey Radar: Sing the Snow Away: The Chunklet Years (2015-18 [2020], Chunklet Industries): [r]: B+(**)
  • Portals: A Kosmische Journey Through Outer Worlds and Inner Space ([2020], Behind the Sky): [bc]: B+(***)
  • Nancy Sinatra: Start Walkin' 1965-1976 (1965-76 [2021], Light in the Attic): [r]: B+(**)
  • Southeast of Saturn: Michigan Shoegaze/Dream Pop/Space Rock (990s [2020], Third Man): [r]: B+(*)
  • Voz Di Sanicolau: Fundo De Marê Palinha (1976 [2020], Analog Africa, EP): [bc]: B+(**)
  • Mike Westbrook: Love and Understanding: Citadel/Room 315 Sweden '74 (1974 [2020], My Only Desire): [bc]: A-

Old music:

  • Beverly Glenn-Copeland: Keyboard Fantasies (1986, Atlast): [bc]: B+(**)
  • SK Kakraba: Songs of Paapieye (2015, Awesome Tapes From Africa): [bc]: B+(**)
  • Playboy Tre and DJ Swatts: Goodbye America: Da Story of a Drunk Loner (2008, Last Call Entertainment): [r]: A-
  • Playboy Tre: Liquor Store Mascot (2009, Playboy Music): [r]: A-


Unpacking: Sorry, I haven't gotten around to listing the half-dozen or so CDs I received in the mail last week

Sunday, February 07, 2021

Weekly Links

Not doing Weekend Roundups any more, but it might not be a bad idea to keep reference to the week's more significant articles. Don't expect much in the way of comments.

Patrick Cockburn: The political fallout from the Capitol Hill invasion may prove more significant than 9/11.

Timothy Snyder: The American abyss.

Charlie Warzel: I talked to the Cassandra of the Internet age: "The internet rewired our brains. He predicted it would." Michael Goldhaber and "the attention economy."

Saturday, February 06, 2021

Daily Log

Finally did the indexing for January Streamnotes. Without limited sampling and regrades, count is 258 (273 with), very likely the biggest one ever. Finished going through the Pazz & Jop Rip-Off Poll ballots, adding about 20% to EOY Aggregate. Before that, I went through the Uproxx Critics Poll ballots, and added 10-15% of them. I could have done a better job of keeping track of numbers. In general, I counted everyone I had counted in past polls, but also picked out ballots that struck me as especially interesting -- most often because they picked some jazz and/or hip-hop. The latter trait pushed RTJ4 back into 2nd place, after it had momentarily slipped behind Phoebe Bridgers. Of course, I have a fan interest there, so sue me. I'm going to do one more Google search for lists, then call it quits. Freeze date will coincide with Monday's Music Week.

Laura fell and broke her leg Wednesday evening. We were returning from a short dog walk, where she had a lot of trouble walking anyway. She fell on the porch, opening the front door, while holding the dog leash. One recalls that the dog's previous owner, Liz Fink, died after a fall walking the same dog. Laura's break was more severe, but she's in better shape, and didn't hit anything in the fall (other than the leg break). I called an ambulance, and they took her to St. Francis Hospital. They X-rayed, then stabilized the leg that night. The break was across the middle of the thigh, pushed way out of alignment. They admitted her, then did surgery on Thursday -- intramedullary nailing, where they insert a titanium rod ("nail") into the cavity of the femur, attching it top and bottom. In theory, she could put weight on the leg the next day, but in practice it's taking longer than that to get going. She's still in hospital Saturday night. She'll be sent to St. Teresa's rehab unit when she's able (probably Monday).

Got snow today, the start of what looks to be a protracted cold spell (steadily dropping down past 0F on Friday). I got up too early, floundered around, went back to bed for most of the afternoon. Haven't been to the grocery store in seems like three weeks, so don't have much in the way of supplies. I've been picking through leftovers and making easy things like eggs and reheated soup -- not very happy with all that. Didn't go to hospital today.

Haven't watched TV or worked on puzzle since the accident. Those have become big parts of my daily routine, and I miss them, but they are specifically the things we do together. (Well, the puzzle in series, but we finish them together, and it's at that stage.)

Friday, February 05, 2021

Daily Log

While going through the PJRP ballots, I saw a posting of "Barack Obama's Favorite Music of 2020," and thought I'd jot it down. This is a songlist, so he's even nerdier than I am (comments speculate this is really Sascha's work):

  • Megan Thee Stallion ft. Beyoncé: "Savage Remix
  • Jeff Tweedy: "Love Is the King"
  • Travis Scott ft. Young Thug & M.I.A.: "Franchise"
  • Lido Piienta ft. Li Samuet: "Nada"
  • Waxahatchee: "Can't Do Much"
  • Lil Baby: "The Bigger Picture"
  • Bruce Springsteen: "Ghosts"
  • Dua Lipa ft. DaBaby: "Levitating"
  • J. Cole: "The Climb Back"
  • J Hus ft. Koffee: "Repeat"
  • H.E.R.: "Damage"
  • Bob Dylan: "Goodbye Jimmy Reed"
  • Jhené Aiko: "Summer 2020
  • Ruston Kelly: "Brave"
  • Prince Kaybee, Shimza, Black Motion & Ami Faku: "Uwrongo (Edit)"
  • Faye Webster: "Better Distractions"
  • Internet Money ft. Don Toliver, Gunna & NAV: "Lemonade"
  • Mac Miller: "Blue World"
  • Anderson .Paak ft. Rick Ross: "Cut Em In"
  • Chris Stapleton: "Starting Over"
  • Spillage Village, JID & EARTHGANG: "Mecca"
  • Bad Bunny: "La Difícil"
  • WizKid ft. Tems: "Essence"
  • Hope Tala: "All My Girls Like to Fight"
  • Phoebe Bridgers: "Kyoto"
  • Gunna: "Sun Came Out"
  • Jessie Ware: "Remember Where You Are"
  • Goodie Mob: "4 My Ppl"
  • Yebba: "Distance"
  • Little Simz: "One Life, Might Live"

Tuesday, February 02, 2021

Daily Log

Continued to add lists to EOY Aggregate. Found a big one I had missed, top 100 from Under the Rader, which despite its name is probably the least adventurous and most predictable magazine out there. I tweeted this:

Only 2 rap albums in Under the Radar's top 100 (RTJ4, Alfredo) proves my point that 2020 had fewer rap albums that generic rock/pop writers felt obliged to listen to than any year in the last 30, despite widespread anti-Trump and pro-BLM sympathies. Look harder, lots to find.

I used "rap" instead of "hip-hop" for space. List did include a few other Afro-American artists: Moses Sumney (2), Shamir (87), Thundercat (94); possibly more I didn't immediately recognize, but the point holds up. Last week, RTJ4 was at 2, and Alfredo 30, followed by Lil Uzi Vert (48), Jay Electronica (49), Megan Thee Stallion (50), Clipping (57), Flo Milli (92), Lil Baby (114), Open Mike Eagle (121), Spillage Village (125), Westside Gunn (126), Childish Gambino (130). A lot of lists didn't include any of these, but ones that gave up some space mostly, like Under the Radar, didn't look beyond the first two -- although Sault (10 & 16), Sumney (14), Weeknd (22), Thundercat (25), and several jazz musicians got some notice.

Sunday, January 31, 2021

Music Week

Expanded blog post, January archive (final).

Music: Current count 34897 [34864] rated (+33), 231 [224] unrated (+7).

The end of January is usually my demarcation point between years. Last year I postponed Music Week to get to January 31, giving me the full month to try to wrap up 2020. This is the last Monday of January, so should be the last week, but lots of things feel unsettled. I thought about giving myself a few extra days, like last year, but when I ran the week's count, it was so high I decided a better plan would be to publish what I have now, then move next Music Week up a day, so it will land on January 31 instead of February 1. Or I could run it on next Monday, but back-date the files. Besides, I won't be doing a Weekend Roundup, so the slot's open. It will be a "short" week, but promises to be an intense one.

Accordingly, I won't try to write up any EOY comments here. (No guarantee I will get it done next time, but that's the plan.) You should be able to find links to the usual files here. One thing I will be adding will be Robert Christgau's 2020 Dean's List, which I've heard will be delivered to subscribers on Wednesday. I know this because I had to make some updates to his website to fix errors he noticed in working on this. (My Young M.A regrade was occasioned by one of those errors. I initially reviewed it in late 2019, when it came out, before he reviewed it in March 2020.)

Surprised I didn't come up with more A- records this week, but I've had quite a few distractions. The two I did find are obscure African reissues, checked out when I finally got around to adding the 65-deep reissues list from Ye Wei Blog (Jason Gross). In fact, most of the reissues/old music entries below were recommended by Jason, or one-step removed, including the Mainstream jazz reissues. Note that some items from his list appear as "old music" instead of as "reissues": I designated the latter when I found a reissue date, otherwise I reverted to the original release date.

I need to make some changes in my music coverage after this month, but no need to rush into that now. Suffice it to say that I will continue to try to write up notes/reviews on the new (for me) records I hear, especially those CDs I receive as promos. But I will be less aggressive about tracking and searching out new music -- e.g., I have a 2021 music tracking file, but it has little in it beyond what I have heard or have in my queue, and I'm not starting a metacritic/EOY aggregate file as I've done for the last few years. I've started to play more old records for nothing but my own pleasure, and I hope to have a happier year in 2021.


New records reviewed this week:

  • Karrin Allyson Sextet: Shoulder to Shoulder: Centennial Tribute to Women's Suffrage (2019, EOne Music): [r]: B+(***)
  • Callum Au/Claire Martin: Songs and Stories (2020, Stunt): [r]: B+(**)
  • Peter Bernstein: What Comes Next (2020, Smoke Sessions): [r]: B+(*)
  • Binker and Moses: Escape the Flames (2017 [2020], Gearbox): [os]: A-
  • The Bombpops: Death in Venice Beach (2020, Fat Wreck Chords): [r]: B+(**)
  • Peter Campbell: Old Flames Never Die (2020, self-released): [r]: B+(*)
  • Luca Collivasone/Gianni Mimmo: Rumpus Room (2020, Amirani): [r]: B+(*)
  • Brandon Evans: The Grove (2020, Human Plastic, EP): [r]: B+(**)
  • Justin Farren: Pretty Free (2020, Bad Service Badger): [r]: A-
  • Michael Formanek Quartet: Pre-Apocalyptic (2014 [2020], Out of Your Head): [dl]: B+(***)
  • The Henrys: Paydirt (2020, HR-2019): [r]: B+(*)
  • David Liebman/Randy Brecker/Marc Copland/Drew Gress/Joey Baron: Quint5t (2020, Inner Voice Jazz): [r]: B+(**)
  • Gianni Mimmo/Alison Blunt: Busy Butterflies (2020, Amirani): [r]: B+(**)
  • Mukdad Rothenberg Lankow: In the Wake of Memories (2020, Clermont Music): [r]: A-
  • Ratboys: Printer's Devil (2020, Topshelf): [r]: B+(*)
  • Enrico Rava/Matthew Herbert/Giovanni Guidi: For Mario (Live) (2020, Accidental): [bc]: B+(*)
  • Raw Poetic & Damu the Fudgemunk: Moment of Change (2020, Redefinition): [bc]: B+(**)
  • Tim Ray: Excursions and Adventures (2019 [2020], Whaling City Sound): [r]: B+(*)
  • Reciprocal Uncles [Gianni Lenoci/Gianni Mimmo]: The Whole Thing (2019 [2020], Amirani): [r]: B+(**)
  • Romare: Home (2020, Ninja Tune): [r]: B+(**)
  • Mara Rosenbloom: Respiration (2020, Fresh Sound New Talent): [r]: B+(**)
  • David Rothenberg: Nightingales in Berlin (2019, Terra Nova): [r]: B+(*)
  • Jeff Rupert/George Garzone: The Ripple (2017 [2020], Rupe Media): [r]: B+(*)
  • Dave Stryker: Baker's Circle (2019 [2021], Strikezone): [cd]: B+(***) [03-05]
  • Tchami: Year Zero (2020, Confession): [r]: B+(**)
  • TOC: Indoor (2019 [2020], Circum-Disc): [bc]: B+(***)
  • TOC & Dave Rempis: Closed for Safety Reasons (2019 [2020], Circum-Disc): [bc]: A-
  • Anna Webber: Rectangles (2019 [2020], Out of Your Head): [dl]: B+(**)
  • Ndabo Zulu & Umgidi Ensemble: Queen Nandi: The African Suite (2020, Mageba Music, 2CD): [r]: B+(*)

Recent reissues, compilations, and vault discoveries:

  • Dexter Gordon: Montmartre 1964 (1964 [2020], Storyville): [r]: B+(***)
  • Dexter Gordon: The Squirrel: Live at Montmartre Copenhagen '67 (1967 [2020], Parlophone): [r]: B+(**)
  • New Orleans Mambo: Cuba to NOLA (1974-2019 [2020], Putumayo World Music): [bc]: B+(***)
  • The Tabansi Studio Band: Vol. 3: Wakar Alhazai Kano/Mus'en Sofoa (1970s [2020], BBE): [bc]: A-
  • Turn Me Loose White Man (1900-60 [2020], Constant Sorrow, 30CD)

Old music:

  • Charles Mingus: Jazz in Detroit/Strata Concert Gallery/46 Selden (1973 [2018], BBE, 5CD): [bc]: B+(***)


Further Sampling:

Records I played parts of, but not enough to grade: -- means no interest, - not bad but not a prospect, + some chance, ++ likely prospect.

  • Luke Norris: Northernsong (2020, Ears & Eyes): [bc: 3/8, 22:16/57:21]: +
  • David Ramirez: My Love Is a Hurricane (2020, Sweetworld): [r: 3/10]: --


Grade (or other) changes:

  • Hayes Carll: Alone Together Sessions (2020, Dualtone): [r]: [was: B+(**)]: A-
  • Ashley McBryde: Never Will (2020, Warner Nashville): [r]: [was: B+(**)]: A-


Unpacking: Found in the mail last week:

  • Cowboys & Frenchmen: Our Highway (Outside In Music) [02-26]
  • Pat Donaher: Occasionally (self-released) [04-09]
  • Lukas Ligeti: That Which Has Remaind . . . That Which Will Emerge . . . (Col Legno) [03-26]
  • Sana Nagano: Smashing Humans (577) [03-19]
  • Zoe Scott: Shades of Love (Zoe Scott Music)
  • Jim Snidero: Live at the Deer Head Inn (Savant) [03-26]
  • Yuma Uesaka/Cat Toren/Colin Hinton: Ocelot (577) [03-26]
  • Theo Walentiny: Looking Glass (self-released) [04-02]

Saturday, January 30, 2021

Daily Log

Trying to wrap up my EOY Aggregate. Main thing I've done the last few days has been to factor Jazz Critics Poll ballots in. I rather arbitrarily decided only to count individual ballots of critics I've counted in the past, which allowed me to ignore 18 (of 149) ballots. Somewhere along the line, I found the Jazz Times critics poll. As I painstakingly transcribed it, I figured I should squirrel a copy away somewhere (brackets include JCP standings [up to 50], my grades):

  1. Maria Schneider Orchestra: Data Lords (ArtistShare) [1, **]
  2. John Scofield: Swallow Tales (ECM) [?, ***]
  3. Ambrose Akinmusire: On the Tender Spot of Every Calloused Moment (Blue Note) [2, **]
  4. Rudresh Mahanthappa: Hero Trio (Whirlwind) [9, A-]
  5. Bill Frisell: Valentine (Blue Note) [43, **]
  6. Immanuel Wilkins: Omega (Blue Note) [11, A-]
  7. Gerald Clayton: Happening: Live at the Village Vanguard (Blue Note) [?, **]
  8. Nubya Garcia: Source (Concord Jazz) [27, **]
  9. Sun Ra Arkestra: Swirling (Strut) [25, A-]
  10. Shabaka and the Ancestors: We Are Sent Here by History (Impulse!) [23, A-]
  11. Mary Halvorson's Code Girl: Artlessly Falling (Firehouse 12) [4, B]
  12. Eric Revis: Slipknots Through a Looking Glass (Pyroclastic) [3, A-]
  13. Jeff Parker: Suite for Max Brown (International Anthem) [10, **]
  14. Keith Jarrett: Budapest Concert (ECM) [16, **]
  15. Charles Tolliver: Connect (Gearbox) [48, ***]
  16. Joshua Redman/Brad Mehldau/Christian McBride/Brian Blade: Round Again (Nonesuch) [32, ***]
  17. JD Allen: Toys/Die Dreaming (Savant) [20, A-]
  18. Artemis: Artemis (Blue Note) [18, **]
  19. John Beasley: MONK'estra Plays John Beasley (Mack Avenue) [46, **]
  20. Matthew Shipp: The Piano Equation (Tao Forms) [33, **]
  21. Michael Formanek Quartet: Pre-Apocalyptic (Out of Your Head) [?, ++]
  22. Matthew Shipp Trio: The Unidentifiable (ESP-Disk) [7, A-]
  23. Joel Ross: Who Are You? (Blue Note) [?, **]
  24. Kenny Barron/Dave Holland Trio Featuring Johnathan Blake: Without Deception (Dare2) [35, A-]
  25. Jim Snidero: Project-K (Savant) [?, ***]
  26. Gregory Porter: All Rise (Blue Note) [+, *]
  27. Marcin Wasilewski Trio/Joe Lovano: Arctic Riff (ECM) [?, **]
  28. Ron Miles: Rainbow Sign (Blue Note) [8, **]
  29. Peter Campbell: Old Flames Never Die (Peter Campbell) [?, *]
  30. Aaron Diehl: The Vagabond (Mack Avenue) [?, *]
  31. Denny Zeitlin: Live at Mezzrow (Sunnyside) [?, **]
  32. Jimmy Heath: Love Letter (Verve) [13, *]
  33. Harold Mabern: Mabern Plays Mabern (Smoke Sessions) [?, **]
  34. Liberty Ellman: Last Desert (Pi) [31, ***]
  35. Nate Wooley: Seven Storey Mountain VI (Pyroclastic) [17, *]
  36. Jonathan Kreisberg: Capturing Spirits: JKQ Live! (New for Now) [-]
  37. Delfeayo Marsalis Uptown Jazz Orchestra: Jazz Party (Troubadour Jass) [?, **]
  38. Chad Taylor Trio: The Daily Biological (Cuneiform) [40, A-]
  39. Ndabo Zulu & Umgidi Ensemble: Queen Nandi: The African Symphony (Mageba) [?]
  40. Christian Sands: Be Water (Mack Avenue) [?, *]

Here's the JazzTimes reissues list:

  1. Thelonious Monk: Palo Alto (Impulse!) [A-]
  2. Art Blakey & the Jazz Messengers: Just Coolin' (Blue Note) [***]
  3. Ella Fitzgerald: The Lost Berlin Tapes (Verve) [**]
  4. Nina Simone: Fodder on My Wings (Verve) [**]
  5. Nat King Cole: Straighten Up and Fly Right: The Best of Hittin' the Rap: The Early Years (1936-1943) (Resonance) [***]
  6. Dexter Gordon Quartet: Live in Châteauvallon 1978 (Elemental) []
  7. Charlie Parker: The Complete Savoy 10-Inch LP Collection (Craft) [**]
  8. Neil Swainson Quintet: 49th Parallel (Reel to Real) [***]
  9. Charles Mingus: @ Bremen 1964 & 1975 (Sunnyside) [A-]
  10. John Coltrane: Giant Steps (60th Anniversary Super Deluxe Edition) (Rhino) []

Only explanation that occurs to me for omission of Rollins in Holland is that they rigidly enforced their release date eligibility rules (album came out 2020-12-04).

The individual ballots are here and here.

Critics who voted both in JT and JCP: Dan Bilawsky, Philip Booth, Shaun Brady, Brad Cohan, Thomas Conrad, JD Considine, Andrew Gilbert, Steve Greenlee, Geoffrey Hies, Allen Morrison, Britt Robson, Mike Shanley, Jackson Sinnenberg, Jeff Tamarkin, George Varga, Michael J West. (16/149, 16/25)

Critics who only voted in JT: AD Amorosi*, Morgan Enos*, Melvin Gibbs, Andrew Hamlin*, Veronica Johnson, Bill Meredith, Ken Micallef*, Mac Randall*, Chris J Walker*. (9/25) * added to EOY Aggregate.

Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Daily Log

Matthew Yglesias tweeted:

I don't know who needs to hear this, but the right approach to OH-SEN is for Democrats to put all their money into incumbents + NC/PA/WI and let Kasich run as an independent.

I replied:

Dems backed independent Ormond in KS Senate race and lost, then backed R-in-all-but-name Bollier and lost again. KS is redder than OH, so I get the desperation, but I'd rather campaign on principles than play such games - and lose anyway. Dems need to learn to win, everywhere.

Things I couldn't work into 280 characters: Ormond and Bollier got close to no credit at all for being center-right (although Bollier did manage to raise a lot of money, and Ormond was largely self-financed); Republicans ran against both characterizing them as far-left Democratic tools (for some reason, they think Nancy Pelosi signifies this). A more progressive Democrat would spend more time talking about issues where Republican stands are unpopular and dysfunctional, and eventually that message may start to sink in. Polls consistently show that Democratic policies are much more popular than Republican ones -- even in Kansas. It's just Democrats that voters love to hate, and Democrats who talk like Republicans to try to close the gap just come off as phonies and/or crooks. Not sure why, but Republican media has that reaction wired in pretty tight.

Ohio has trended Republican since they installed those crooked voting machines in 2004. Some of this is understandable, in that southeast Ohio has a lot in common with West Virginia and has flipped accordingly, and northeast Ohio has continued to deindustrialize (is Youngstown even a city any more?) -- but really, Republicans have nothing to offer those areas, except resentment and blame. On the other hand, traditionally Republican cities like Cincinnati and Columbus have become more Democratic, and the suburbs should follow the national trend. I don't believe in writing off any state, but Ohio is at the top of my list of states Democrats should be contesting more aggressively. Backing Kasich is a loser's play.

By the way, Steve M. has a piece on Ohio: The Ohio Senate race could be the ugliest contest of 2022.


Made meatloaf. Had the hamburger, and thought I had ground lamb in the freezer, but found pork instead. Red bell pepper instead of green, "liquid smoke" for worcestershire sauce (ran out last week). Sweet potatoes and 2-3 yukon gold.


Christgau's Dean's List came out today, so I spent a chunk of time putting it on his website (see essay and list). Was slowed down by having to add the CG timelock calls. Looks like I'll need to return tomorrow to catch up with some changes.

Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Music Week

Expanded blog post, January archive (in progress).

Music: Current count 34864 [34804] rated (+60), 224 [221] unrated (+3).

The end of January is usually my demarcation point between years. Last year I postponed Music Week to get to January 31, giving me the full month to try to wrap up 2020. This is the last Monday of January, so should be the last week, but lots of things feel unsettled. I thought about giving myself a few extra days, like last year, but when I ran the week's count, it was so high I decided a better plan would be to publish what I have now, then move next Music Week up a day, so it will land on January 31 instead of February 1. Or I could run it on next Monday, but back-date the files. Besides, I won't be doing a Weekend Roundup, so the slot's open. It will be a "short" week, but promises to be an intense one.

Accordingly, I won't try to write up any EOY comments here. (No guarantee I will get it done next time, but that's the plan.) You should be able to find links to the usual files here. One thing I will be adding will be Robert Christgau's 2020 Dean's List, which I've heard will be delivered to subscribers on Wednesday. I know this because I had to make some updates to his website to fix errors he noticed in working on this. (My Young M.A regrade was occasioned by one of those errors. I initially reviewed it in late 2019, when it came out, before he reviewed it in March 2020.)

Surprised I didn't come up with more A- records this week, but I've had quite a few distractions. The two I did find are obscure African reissues, checked out when I finally got around to adding the 65-deep reissues list from Ye Wei Blog (Jason Gross). In fact, most of the reissues/old music entries below were recommended by Jason, or one-step removed, including the Mainstream jazz reissues. Note that some items from his list appear as "old music" instead of as "reissues": I designated the latter when I found a reissue date, otherwise I reverted to the original release date.

I need to make some changes in my music coverage after this month, but no need to rush into that now. Suffice it to say that I will continue to try to write up notes/reviews on the new (for me) records I hear, especially those CDs I receive as promos. But I will be less aggressive about tracking and searching out new music -- e.g., I have a 2021 music tracking file, but it has little in it beyond what I have heard or have in my queue, and I'm not starting a metacritic/EOY aggregate file as I've done for the last few years. I've started to play more old records for nothing but my own pleasure, and I hope to have a happier year in 2021.


New records reviewed this week:

  • Gabriel Alegria Afro-Peruvian Sextet: Social Distancing (2020 [2021], Saponegro): [cd]: B+(**) [01-29]
  • Juan Pablo Balcazar: Suite Resbalosa (2018 [2020], Fresh Sound New Talent): [r]: B+(***)
  • Big Sean: Detroit 2 (2020, GOOD Music/Def Jam): [r]: B+(**)
  • Nicholas Brust: Frozen in Time (2018 [2020], Fresh Sound New Talent): [r]: B+(**)
  • Aaron Burnett & the Big Machine: Jupiter Conjunct (2019 [2020], Fresh Sound New Talent): [r]: B
  • Cable Ties: Far Enough (2020, Merge): [r]: B+(***)
  • Cam: The Otherside (2020, RCA): [r]: B+(***)
  • A.G. Cook: Apple (2020, PC Music): [r]: B
  • Deerhoof: Future Teenage Cave Artists (2020, Joyful Noise): [r]: B+(*)
  • Deerhoof and Wadada Leo Smith: To Be Surrounded by Beautiful, Curious, Breathing, Laughing Flesh Is Enough (2020, Joyful Noise): [bc]: B+(**)
  • Deerhoof: Love-Lore (2020, Joyful Noise): [r]: B+(*)
  • Eyelids: The Accidental Falls (2020, Decor): [r]: B+(*)
  • Laura Fell: Safe From Me (2020, Balloon Machine): [r]: B+(*)
  • Fireboy DML: Apollo (2020, YBNL Nation/Empire): [r]: B+(*)
  • Keeley Forsyth: Debris (2020, The Leaf Label): [r]: B
  • Angelica Garcia: Cha Cha Palace (2020, Spacebomb): [r]: B
  • Groupe RTD: The Dancing Devils of Djibouti (2020, Ostinato): [r]: B+(***)
  • HHY & the Kampala Unit: Lithium Blast (2020, Nyege Nyege Tapes): [bc]: B+(*)
  • Juniore: Un Deux Trois (2020, Le Phonographe): [r]: B+(**)
  • Kiwi Jr.: Football Money (2020, Persona Non Grata): [bc]: B+(**)
  • Adrianne Lenker: Instrumentals (2020, 4AD): [r]: B
  • Lydia Loveless: Daughter (2020, Honey, You're Gonna Be Late): [r]: B+(*)
  • Melkbelly: PITH (2020, Wax Nine/Carpark): [r]: B
  • Blake Mills: Mutable Set (2020, New Deal/Verve): [r]: B
  • Moby: All Visible Objects (2020, Mute): [r]: B+(*)
  • Jim Noir: A.M Jazz (2019, Dook): [bc]: B+(**)
  • The Orielles: Disco Volador (2020, Heavenly): [r]: B+(*)
  • Popcaan: Fixtape (2020, OVO Sound/Warner): [r]: B+(**)
  • Pottery: Welcome to Bobby's Motel (2020, PTKF): [r]: B+(*)
  • Spanish Love Songs: Brave Faces Everyone (2020, Pure Noise): [r]: B-
  • Special Interest: The Passion Of (2020, Thrilling Living): [r]: B+(***)
  • Macie Stewart & Kia Kohl: Recipe for a Boiled Egg (2020, Astral Spirits): [bc]: B+(*)
  • Dougie Stu: Familiar Future (2020, Ropeadope): [r]: B
  • Teyana Taylor: The Album (2020, Def Jam): [r]: B+(***)
  • Teenage Halloween: Teenage Halloween (2020, Don Giovanni): [r]: B+(*)

Recent reissues, compilations, and vault discoveries:

  • Damily: Early Years: Madagascar Cassette Achives (1995-2002 [2020], Bongo Joe): [r]: B+(***)
  • The Disciples: For Those Who Understand (1995 [2020], Partial): [bc]: B+(**)
  • Bonnie Hayes With the Wild Combo: Good Clean Fun (1982-84 [2020], Blixa Sounds): [r]: B+(**)
  • Kakai Kilonzo & Les Kilimambogo Brothers: Buffalo Mountain (1975-85 [2020], No Wahala Sounds): [bc]: A-
  • Pedro Lima: Maguidala (1985 [2020], Bongo Joe): [r]: A-
  • Mighty Threes: Africa Shall Stretch Forth Her Hand (1978 [2020], Jah Fingers Music): [bc]: B+(**)
  • Jay Migliori and Dick Twardzik: Jazz Workshop Quintet: A Harvard WHRB Session (1954 [2020], Fresh Sound): [r]: B+(**)
  • Tony Oxley: February Papers (1977 [2020], Discus Music): [bc]: B
  • Max Romeo: Revelation Time (1975 [2020], 17 North Parade): [r]: B+(*)
  • Scorcha! Skins, Suedes and Style From the Streets 1967-1973 (1967-73 [2020], Trojan): [r]: B+(*)
  • Phil Seymour: If You Don't Want My Love (1980-85 [2020], Sunset Blvd): [r]: B+(**)
  • Silkworm: In the West (1994 [2020], Comedy Minus One): [r]: B+(***)
  • Sugar Billy: Super Duper Lover (1975 [2020], Mainstream): [bc]: B+(***)
  • Keith Tippett: The Monk Watches the Eagle (2004 [2020], Discus Music): [bc]: B-

Old music:

  • Bonnie Hayes With the Wild Combo: Good Clean Fun (1982, Slash): [r]: B+(***)
  • Stan Hope: Stan Hope (1971, Mainstream): [bc]: B+(**)
  • Charles McPherson: Charles McPherson (1971, Mainstream): [bc]: B+(**)
  • Reggie Moore: Furioso (1972, Mainstream): [bc]: B+(**)
  • Prince Alla: The Best of Prince Alla (1976-79 [1981], Redemption Sounds): [r]: B+(**)
  • Clark Terry & Bob Brookmeyer: The Power of Positive Swinging (1965, Mainstream): [bc]: B+(***)
  • Clark Terry/Bob Brookmeyer Quintet: Gingerbread Men (1966, Mainstream): [bc]: B+(**)
  • Clark Terry: Mumbles (1966, Mainstream) **
  • Ernie Wilkins and His Orchestra: Hard Mother Blues (1970, Mainstream): [bc]: B+(*)
  • Pete Yellin: Dance of Allegra (1972, Mainstream): [bc]: B+(**)


Further Sampling:

Records I played parts of, but not enough to grade: -- means no interest, - not bad but not a prospect, + some chance, ++ likely prospect.

  • Roscoe Mitchell: Splatter (2017 [2020], I Dischi Di Angelica): [bc: 1/3, 5:32/74:07]: -


Grade (or other) changes:

  • Young M.A: Herstory in the Making (2019, M.A Music): [r]: [was: B+(*)] B+(***)


Unpacking: Found in the mail last week:

  • Benoît Delbecq: The Weight of Light (Pyroclastic) [02-12]
  • Jonathan Kane and Dave Soldier: February Meets Soldier String Quartet (EEG) [02-01]
  • Doug MacDonald Duo: Toluca Lake Jazz (Doug MacDonald Music) [02-05]
  • Yoko Miwa Trio: Songs of Joy (Ubuntu Music) [02-12]

Monday, January 25, 2021

Weekend Roundup

Blog link.

Tuesday before Inauguration Day, we were watching television, and someone made a comment about what that evening felt like. I don't remember what he said, but the feeling I had reminded me of Christmas Eve when I was a child. I was anticipating a day of peace, tranquility, and bounteous presents. Not a feeling I've had often since, so I was surprised to find how vivid it felt. Still, unlike my childhood, I didn't get up early and excited the next day. I slept in, so by the time I came downstairs it had happened: Trump left the White House and flew off to Florida; Biden and Harris had been sworn in, and my wife reported that the ceremony had been peaceful, solemn, and a bit inspiring.

Then she complained about something stupid Jake Sullivan had written, but I wasn't in any mood to go there. Biden's domestic policy promises to offer a break from the recent past: not only from the increasingly extreme Republican service to the rich and the bigoted but from the supposedly moderate (but more like Reagan-lite) Clinton-Obama periods. On the other hand, Biden's initial take on foreign policy is to return to pre-Trump orthodoxy, which includes a lot of destructive baggage -- not least personnel heavily implicated in past mistakes. No doubt I'll write more about that in the future, but I'd rather not spoil the vibe. Besides, Biden's first two foreign policy moves -- rejoining WHO and the Paris Accords -- were exactly right, both as policy and priority.

By the way, this should be my last Weekend Roundup. I started doing something like this in June 2007, in a segment I originally called Weekly Links, then renamed Weekend Roundup a couple months later. I saw it as a method to keep track of what was happening, to keep a journal for future reference. I've collected those pieces in book files, one for 2000-08, then one more for each subsequent four-year term. Trump's ended this week, so I figure I'm done with it, but I don't feel like starting another one on Biden. Age factors into this, as does weariness, and a desire to focus on other projects. But also I don't want to spend the next four years regularly finding fault with Biden like I did with Obama. I wound up very bitter over Obama's failures. I don't expect much better from Biden, but also would like to enjoy what little good we get out of him.

Over the last year, I've been spending an average of 3 days a week putting Weekend Roundup together, and that's way too much. I imagine they went quicker further back, but lately we've seen both an explosion of scandalous stories worth covering and of thoughtful critiques -- the latter is one reason I'm finding my own contributions less and less necessary. I wonder, for instance, if it might be more useful for me to occasionally tweet links and notes as they occur to me, rather than saving them up for a weekly piece that few ever manage to read through. But freeing up time will also allow me to focus on other projects, not least other ways to present my thinking.

I've long thought of the world in terms of possible book projects, and I have several of those stored up, as well as a fairly vast trove of writing. (A quick wc of the notebook directory counts 7,169,740 words, not including 8,536 so far here.) While they are currently organized chronologically, one project would be to go back and pull select excerpts and sort them thematically. I have a publisher interested in publishing a short volume of extracts, so that should be the low fruit. Beyond that, we'll see. I also have a few other ideas to start sorting out. We'll go into them later.

I'll continue doing Music Week on Mondays, although this week will be late -- not just because this Weekend Roundup ate up my Monday but because we're approaching the end of January, and that's when I like to wrap up the previous year. That should include the last additions to the EOY aggregate files, the freeze of a copy of the 2020 file, and so forth. I'll add more 2020 records to my EOY lists as I find them, and move on to 2021, but I expect to cut back on my searching and tracking.


Table of contents:


Exit Trump

Trump pardoned a bunch of people -- mostly friends, fellow travelers, and people who committed crimes Trump is particularly fond (or maybe envious?) of, including a couple rappers busted for guns -- then flew off to Florida, with considerably less pomp than he had hoped for. This section also includes a few more pieces on the Capitol insurrection and its supporters. Seems like the right place, since Trump owns all that.


Alex Abad-Santos: Donald Trump's presidency was the worst thing that happened to the Trump brand. Includes comments from "five branding experts."

Zeeshan Aleem/Sean Collins: On his last full day in office, Trump sinks to his lowest low in major polls. There's a tweet here by Manu Raju showing "final presidential approval ratings before leaving office," with Trump at 34%, just a bit above Truman (1952) at 32%, but one name is conspicuously missing: GW Bush, in 2008-09 -- they mention that Bush's net approval rose 13 points between the 2008 election and Obama's inauguration, but don't say from what (if memory serves, well less than 34%) to what. (Obviously, one difference between Bush and Trump was that the former exited gracefully, whereas the latter went kicking and screaming.) Also missing was Herbert Hoover in 1933, for lack of polling data back then, but he would have ranked pretty low.

Bill Allison: Organizers of Trump rally had been on campaign's payroll.

Zack Beauchamp: Trump is gone. But the threat of right-wing violence that arose under his watch remains.

Tom Boggioni: Does Ivanka Trump really have a "political future" after this disaster? "Ivanka and Jared Kushner reportedly "in a bit of a panic" -- her plan to primary Marco Rubio in '22 may be on hold." I didn't think she had any political future even before Trump's post-election death spiral. Aside from the name, she doesn't have any of the charisma that gave Trump his limited following, nor does she have any substance to make up for her shortcomings. Same goes for the rest of the clan. I'd go further and speculate that the whole aristocracy thing has worn thin (and not just thanks to the Bushes and Clintons, although they do come to mind), but that's just an added handicap. Moreover, while I find Rubio thoroughly loathsome, I suspect he will be very hard to beat.

Christina Cauterucci: What Donald Trump did to DC.

Kyle Cheney: Trump authorizes DOJ to declassify Russia probe documents.

Kyle Cheney/Josh Gerstein: Feds: Evidence shows well-laid plan by some Capitol insurrectionists.

Adam Ciralsky: "The President threw us under the bus": Embedding with Pentagon leadership in Trump's chaotic last week.

Anthony Clark: Will there be a Trump presidential library? Don't count on it.

Ta-Nehisi Coates: Trump is out. Are we ready to talk about how he got in?

The chasm between professed ideal and actual practice is not surprising. No one wants to believe themselves to be the villain of history, and when you have enough power, you can hold reality at bay. Raw power transfigured an age of serfdom and warmongering into one of piety and courtly love.

This is not merely a problem of history. Twice now, Rudy Giuliani has incited a mob of authoritarians. In the interim, "America's Mayor" was lauded locally for crime drops that manifested nationally. No matter. The image of Giuliani as a pioneering crime fighter gave cover to his more lamentable habits -- arresting whistleblowers, defaming dead altar boys, and raiding homeless shelters in the dead of night. Giuliani was, by Jimmy Breslin's lights, "blind, mean, and duplicitous," a man prone to displays "of great nervousness if more than one black at a time entered City Hall." And yet much chin-stroking has been dedicated to understanding how Giuliani, once the standard-bearer for moderate Republicanism, a man who was literally knighted, was reduced to inciting a riot at the U.S. Capitol. The answer is that Giuliani wasn't reduced at all. The inability to see what was right before us -- that Giuliani was always, in Breslin's words, "a small man in search of a balcony" -- is less about Giuliani and more about what people would rather not see.

And what is true of Giuliani is particularly true of his master. It was popular, at the time of Donald Trump's ascension, to stand on the thinnest of reeds in order to avoid stating the obvious. It was said that the Trump presidency was the fruit of "economic anxiety," of trigger warnings and the push for trans rights. We were told that it was wrong to call Trump a white supremacist, because he had merely "drawn upon their themes."

George T Conway III: Donald Trump's new reality: "Former president, private citizen and, perhaps, criminal defendant."

Nick Corasaniti: Rudy Giuliani sued by Dominion Voting Systems over false election claims.

Michael Crowley: Trump's '1776 report' defends America's founding on the basis of slavery and blasts progressivism. That was quick, given that the "advisory committee" wasn't established until September 2020, but when all you're doing is writing up pseudohistory for preconceived political purposes, it wasn't that big of a reach. And how funny they released it on Martin Luther King Day? We often comment on how often Trump lies, but rarely on how today's lies depend on belief in a mythic past constructed of lies meant not just to misinform but to prevent us from understanding how we got to where we are. For more:

Josh Dawsey/Michael Scherer: Trump jumps into a divisive battle over the Republican Party -- with a threat to start a 'MAGA Party'. Won't happen, and not just because Trump is too old and lazy and ignorant to become the American Marine Le Pen. If he did, the rump Republicans would have to destroy him, and he wouldn't last a minute against Team Fox. Further comment:

Ryan Devereaux: Capitol attack was culmination of generations of far-right extremism.

Tom Dreisbach/Meg Anderson: Nearly 1 in 5 defendants in Capitol riot cases served in the military. That's three times the share of veterans in the adult population (7%).

Josh Gerstein/Kyle Cheney: Trump pardons dozens, including Steve Bannon, as he exits White House. As noted in the intro, the most interesting thing about the pardons is what they reveal about Trump's psyche, as he picked out people who were useful to him, and/or people who committed crimes he could identify with. What's less clear at this moment is how much graft was involved, and how close it came to him personally. After all, his Blagojevic pardon doesn't immunize him from being charged for committing virtually the same crime. Clearly, people around him were actively collecting money to influence pardons, but some of the better publicized cases (like Joe Exotic) didn't happen. A third question, which we still know less about, is where the "self-pardon" and all the "pre-emptive pardons" went (aside from Bannon, who has been charged but not yet convicted). Some pieces:

Karen Heller: Attorney Roberta Kaplan is about to make Trump's life extremely difficult: "On the other side of Donald Trump's turbulent presidency, the lawyers are waiting." She has three lawsuits pending against Trump, in what promises to be a booming business. She also co-founded the Time's Up Legal Defense Fund, which "offers financial assistance for plaintiffs filing harassment cases."

Kali Holloway: Are we witnessing the emergence of a new 'lost cause'? "Just as after the Civil War, desperate attempts to preserve white supremacy are being camouflaged as a valorous fight for a noble end."

Umair Irfan: A federal court just struck down Trump's attempt to make power plants even dirtier.

Peter Kafka: How will Trump handle life without Twitter and Facebook? Ask Alex Jones.

Glenn Kessler: Trump made 30,573 false or misleading claims as president. Nearly half came in his final year. Well, maybe they should have paid more attention earlier.

Ankush Khardori: The Trump administration let Boeing settle a killer case for almost nothing.

DOJ under Trump was unprecedentedly lax in its efforts to fight financial fraud and white-collar crime -- which have reached all-time highs while criminal prosecutions in the area have hit all-time lows, and which have also included high-level meddling by political appointees in major corporate investigations. Trump's Justice Department made a preelection push to persuade credulous observers that it was finally cracking down on corporate crime by hastily completing an antitrust case against Google, announcing a settlement with Purdue Pharma over its marketing of the drug OxyContin, and finalizing a deal with Goldman Sachs to resolve a lengthy foreign bribery investigation -- but even that effort was decidedly less impressive than it appeared, and it made the announcement of the Boeing deal, just days before the end of the Trump administration, even more conspicuous.

Carol D Leonnig/Nick Miroff: Trump extended Secret Service protection to his adult children and three top officials as he left office. The officials: Steven Mnuchin, Mark Meadows, and Robert C O'Brien. Pence is also entitled to protection for six months after leaving office. Clinton, Bush, and Obama made similar arrangements for daughters in college or high school, but not for staff.

Eric Levitz: We're lucky the Trump presidency wasn't worse: "Electing an authoritarian reality star brought us mass death and insurrection. But it's also left us with a fighting chance to fortify our democracy." It will take some time to assess how disastrous the Trump presidency turns out. The most obvious question is how easy it will be to reverse its many bad policies and acts -- obviously the lifetime court appointments loom large there, but executive orders take time, legislation even more (especially with such a thin majority), many repercussions only slowly emerge. One should recall that Taft-Hartley, passed over Truman's veto by Republican Congress elected in 1946, took until the 1980s to cripple the labor movement (although it had a more immediate effect in dissuading the AFL-CIO from organizing in the South). While Trump was the weak link in his administration, it is already clear that his underlings were very effective at imposing their will on the federal bureaucracy.

Eric Lipton: Trump administration quietly eased sanctions on Israeli billionaire.

Sara Luterman: The ignominious deceits of Congressman Cawthorn: "Representative Madison Cawthorn has misled the public about training for the Paralympics, just as he misrepresented his education and business history."

Steve M: Guy proposing a Donald Trump highway checks all the boxes: Gun nut, Covid denialist, QAnon fan: Florida state Rep. Anthony Sabatini.

Amanda Marcotte: Trump's coup didn't fail just from incompetence -- credit the progressive activists who stopped him. One thing I flashed on while the Capitol was being overrun was the Soviet coup attempt against Gorbachev. It was stopped by a massive outpouring of citizens in the street, which fairly quickly convinced the military not to go through with the coup. One thing notable throughout Trump's whole effort to steal the election was that his dead-enders were almost never met by anti-Trump voters -- about the only appearance of the latter was a brief celebration once the election was called. This was because demonstrations of support for Biden weren't necessary. The vote counts broke in Biden's favor -- very narrowly in Georgia, Wisconsin, and Arizona, but clear enough for the people who counted them -- and Trump's legal (and political) challenges were easily rebuffed. Biden voters learned to trust the system, so when the final insurrection took place, we could trust in the cops to restore order (not that a few didn't help order break down in the first place). Still, I wonder how well founded that faith was. I'm still bothered by how Republicans ran 4-5 points better, especially in battleground states and critical Senate contests, than polls suggested. While there are explanations that aren't completely implausible, it does seem like Republicans have some kind of hidden edge -- not enough to save Trump, but enough to set them up very nicely elsewhere. So I'm not convinced that the election wasn't stolen; just that it wasn't stolen from Trump. And I'll also note that had Trump's steal succeeded, he'd be facing much larger street protests than he was able to foment. We saw a bit of that in 2017 when the electoral college gave him a win with a three million vote deficit, and it would have been much worse this time (or, I suppose, more glorious, if you're into that sort of thing). Even though the right is far more violent than the left, I shudder to think about the turmoil and heavy-handed repression a Trump victory would have generated.

Nick Martin: Republicans rethink "law and order" once they become its target: One of the most common problems we have in America is people who can't imagine what it would feel like should the tables be turned. This despite the fact that we've all heard some version of the golden rule, such as "do not do to others that which you would not like done to yourselves." However, while one might imagine this problem to be widespread, it likely occurs much more often among right-wingers, who believe that people are intrinsically unequal and should be sorted into hierarchies where they are treated differently, than with the left, who believe that all people are fundamentally similar. It is far easier to imagine how others may feel if you recognize that we all feel much the same.

This is how you end up with Steve Stivers telling cops posted at the Capitol that he believes the metal detectors are unconstitutional while pledging his support to legislation that installs "metal detectors and armed resource officers" in American schools. And people are carrying weapons onto the floor: Madison Cawthorn openly admitted to The Smoky Mountain News last Thursday that he was carrying a loaded gun during the Capitol riot.

The Capitol riot -- in the eyes of the majority of House Republicans, as evidenced by their votes to decertify the election -- was not a crisis. The metal detectors, however, are another story.

Seth Maxon: Violence is mainstream Republican politics now: "The party spent these four years increasingly accepting, then celebrating, right-wing threats and attacks." Possibly the deepest article in a series called What We Learned.

Jane Mayer: Why Mitch McConnell dumped Donald Trump? "Was it a moral reckoning or yet another act of political self-interest?" Silly question.

Ian Millhiser:

Zach Montellaro: State Republicans push new voting restrictions after Trump's loss: "Georgia is at the center of the effort, with state Republicans discussing voter ID changes and other new policies after Biden won the state."

David Neiwert: Global radical right celebrated when extremists breached the Capitol -- and drew lessons from it.

Rick Perlstein: This is us: Why the Trump era ended in violence.

Daniel Politi: Arizona GOP censures Cindy McCain for failing to support Donald Trump. One of many examples as the far-right purges intensify. Nor was she the only one: The Arizona GOP censures 3 prominent members for not sufficiently supporting Trump. The others are Gov. Doug Ducey and former Sen. Jeff Flake.

Andrew Prokop: Why Trump couldn't steal the election -- and how a future demagogue could.

Francine Prose: The last four years of Trump were hell. What a relief it's finally over: "I don't cry easily, but this week I just burst into tears thinking about all we have lived through."

Aja Romano: Kicking people off social media isn't about free speech.

Aaron Rupar:

Theodore Schleifer: Trump issued a pardon for the man at the center of an epic fight between Google and Uber: "The full pardon of Anthony Levandowski came out of nowhere."

Alex Shephard: Why Donald Trump is already teasing a 2024 campaign. Because he wants Republican Senators to convict him? More likely because he wants another election slush fund. Or maybe he just figures he needs to spread a little shit around to attack the media flies? The changes of any of those things working out are slim and getting slimmer, and in each case the attention is likely to do him more harm than good. He never achieved his goal of getting tired of winning, but I bet he gets real tired of losing.

Tierney Sneed/Matt Shuham: The Capitol mob was only the finale of Trump's conspiracy to overturn the election.

Rebecca Solnit: The Trump era wasn't all bad. We saw progress -- thanks to social movements. The optimism fairy strikes again. Yes, it was all bad. Any time millions of Americans have to take to the streets to protest disasters, atrocities, and injustices reveals that the system has broken down in some fundamental way. Maybe those protests will amount to something, but more often than not they won't. Moreover, protest space is increasingly being taken over right-wingers who make a mockery of the progressive protests we grew up with. In any case, protests take a lot of effort and tsuris. It would be much preferable if you could just sit down with people in a position to do something, and resolve your differences in ways that are mutually beneficial. Although I agree with Solnit that independent single-issue movements are still useful, the most important change I see over the last four years has been a turn toward practical electoral politics. And while Trump inadvertently spurred that by being such an ass, by important development was how Bernie Sanders showed that progressive Democrats could run effective campaigns without having to pander to business interests, as the "New Democrats" had done.

Elizabeth Spiers: Farewell to Trump's baby sociopaths: "Good riddance to the fake redneck, the cancer-charity grifter, and the amoral Florida woman." Not bad, but it shouldn't be hard to come with better tags -- e.g., ones that build on "baby sociopaths."

But we also must bid farewell to the Trump children: the ambulatory evidence that narcissism, incompetence, and corruption are genetically inherited traits. Like their decency-challenged paterfamilias, they hardly bothered to veil their contempt for democratic norms, and used every available opportunity to exploit their positions -- and by extension, taxpayers -- to make money and accumulate unearned power. They deserve their own send-off, especially considering the persistent rumors that they have political ambitions of their own and that some form of recidivism seems inevitable. Each one is unique and memorable, much in the same way that every individual experience of food poisoning is similarly horrible and yet surprisingly varied in its repulsiveness.

Megan K Stack: The week the Trump supporters disappeared.

Joseph E Stiglitz: Republicans, not Biden, are about to raise your taxes: "President Trump built in tax increases beginning in 2021, for nearly everyone but those at the very top."

Zoe Tillman: Trump left a big legal mess for Biden: "There are numerous lawsuits pending over Trump-era policies Biden doesn't support, along with cases that ensnared the Justice Department with Trump's own legal troubles."

Francis Townsend: Cornered weasel Josh Hawley files ethic counter-suit against seven Democratic senators: I've skipped over at least a half-dozen Hawley pieces, figuring he's not worth the print, but this title managed to catch my fancy. Having broken the ice, more on Hawley:

Craig Unger: The rise and fall of the Trump-Epstein bromance: "The sex trafficker and future president shared tastes for private planes, shady money, and foreign-born models -- many of them "on the younger side."

Anya van Wagtendonk: Trump reportedly considered putting an ally willing to dispute election results in charge of the DOJ. The idea was to replace acting AG Jeffrey Rosen with Jeffrey Clark. "A rash of DOJ officials, briefed on the plan via conference call on January 3, threatened to resign if that occurred." The New York Times story:

Frank Vyan Walton: Trump fans file suit to block Biden's executive orders and rerun election: No chance, even now, but if the courts were as packed as they want they'd win even cases like this one:

We all know they have no standing, they have no right, they have no evidence and they have not many brain cells rubbing together. But the sheer fucking entitlement is just staggering.

Amy B Wang/Josh Dawsey/Amy Goldstein: Democrats press ahead with second impeachment trial, as GOP is divided on how to defend Trump.

Enter Biden

Biden was inaugurated on Wednesday, and quickly went to work signing several batches of executive orders, signifying a major changes by reversing many Trump orders. His efforts on Covid and foreign policy will appear in those sections. For an overview with links to more articles, Vox has Joe Biden's first 100 days.


Kainaz Amaria/Ella Nilsen: Joe Biden's unique Inauguration Day, in photos.

Katelyn Burns:

Charlotte Klein: What did Biden's day-one executive orders achieve?

Ezra Klein: Democrats, here's how to lose in 2022. And deserve it. "You don't get re-elected for things voters don't know about."

German Lopez: Biden's flurry of first-day executive actions, explained

Dylan Matthews: Will Biden's $15 minimum wage cost jobs? The evidence, explained. The evidence mostly says no, although people who studied Econ 101 but not the world are always tempted to argue otherwise, although rarely without ulterior motives. Still, this argument shouldn't be decisive. Two further points: if the minimum wage had kept pace with productivity increases, it would be over $22/hour today, so $15 isn't a real reach; more importantly, the core meaning of minimum wage is the minimal value we put on human dignity (time and work). A minimum wage that doesn't clear the poverty level, at least without other compensation, says we think poverty is fine.

Sara Morrison: How Biden's FCC could fix America's internet. At least, in replacing Trump's FCC chair Ajit Pai, it could restore "net neutrality" -- the rule that says internet providers can't solicit bribes from content producers for better throughput (or punish those who don't pay up with poorer service). I will add one cautionary note: Obama's FCC was largely captive to Silicon Valley business interests, who made big contributions to Obama (and Biden). Although consumers have a clear interest in "net neutrality," so do big businesses like Google and Facebook. Other things that should be done are less likely to find corporate sponsors, which makes it less likely that Biden will champion them.

Nicole Narea:

Ella Nilsen: Joe Biden's impossible mission: "The new president wants to unite a divided America. That's even harder than it sounds." Easy to make fun of Biden here, but an aspiration toward unity is part of the Democratic Party's identity -- a part not shared by the Republicans, which makes it a critical distinction -- because Democrats imagine that their policies will benefit everyone. Hence, both parties aim or claim to help business, the rich, whites, the rural, the religious, veterans, but only Democrats expand that circle to include everyone else. They see unity as both a source and a validation of policies which promote social cohesion and a shared sense of justice, and they recognize that Republicans have clawed their way to power by dividing people, both by promoting individualism and by directing people frustrations at supposed enemies -- the non-white, the poor, the non-religious, the insufficiencly patriotic cosmopolitans, the "deviant," the "free thinkers," the "socialists." Nixon hit on that strategy with his "silent majority," and Republicans have repeatedly doubled down even as their ranks became less silent and less than a majority. (It's worth noting that Nixon learned the politics of division as a world-class red-baiter in the 1940s. When Republicans shriek about "socialists" these days they're summoning up their most primal fears and hatred -- not that racism isn't even deeper-rooted, but racists were among the first to adopt red-baiting as a tactic.) By the way, some of us would even argue that socialist policies would be better for the 1%. True, they wouldn't like not being the 1% any more, but equality would save they from the economic worries that dominate their lives, not least the fear of being ripped off -- not just with guns but more commonly the pen -- because, as Willie Sutton liked to say, that's are where the money is. Related:

Timothy Noah: The end of the 40-year war on government: "Biden's election can be ore than a repudiation of Trumpian misrule. It can reject Ronald Reagan's cynicism, as well."

Anna North: Biden's planned actions on reproductive health care, explained.

Aldous J Pennyfarthing: Harriet Tubman $20 bill fast-tracked by Biden following Trump administration delay: I've never cared much one way or the other about this: not that I'd defend Jackson over Tubman as a human or a worthy political figure, but it is just money. Besides, I always suspected that the choice of Tubman was not just a way of ticking two boxes but a tease, given how obsessed Republicans are with putting their names on things. On the other hand, I saw this Ashley Stevens tweet just before noticing the article, and she may be onto something:

Unpopular opinion: I don't even want Harriet Tubman on the 20 dollar bill. Honestly I think there's some sort of perversion in doing so. A woman who was traded as capital becoming the face of capital doesn't sit right with my spirit.

On the other hand, Steve M has collected some of the racist reaction to the Tubman bill: Likely to be the most defaced bill, thanks to our conservative friends.

Andrew Perez/Julia Rock:

Seth Perlow: What made Amanda Gorman's poem so much better than other inaugural verse.

Lisa Rein/Anne Gearan: Biden is firing some top Trump holdovers, but in some cases, his hands may be tied.

Aaron Rupar: No meltdowns: Jen Psaki's first briefing as Biden press secretary was a breath of fresh air. Three video clips provided, including one Sean Spicer for comparison ("a flashback to the moment when it became clear that the Trump administration was going to be the stuff of dystopian novels").

Emily Stewart: Biden faces a historic unemployment crisis: "The week before Biden took office, 1.4 million Americans filed for unemployment."

Li Zhou: The 50-50 Senate is already running into trouble figuring out its rules. Depending on the VP to break ties isn't quite the same thing as having a majority. On the other hand, McConnell's scheme to keep the filibuster is a recipe for obstruction and inaction. One more thing that should be stressed is that there is no scenario where the filibuster helps Democrats now, or really in the future. If they don't get rid of it, they'll be signaling to the people that they're not really serious about passing legislation. Related:

Covid-19

Latest map and case count: 25.1 million+ cases (14 day change -31%, total up 1.2 million in last week), 419,077 deaths (-4%), 113,609 hospitalized (+5%). As Atlantic's Covid Tracking Project notes, Pandemic numbers are (finally) tiptoeing in the right direction. Still, Wednesday and Thursday were two of the three highest daily death totals ever.

According to New York Times, 18.5 million Americans have received at least one vaccine dose (5.6%), of which 3.2 million have received two. Kansas ranks 46th (ahead of Alabama, Nevada, Idaho, and Missouri). Kansas has used the 2nd lowest percentage of vaccines received (43%; only Virginia, with 42%, is lower).


German Lopez:

Donald G McNeil Jr: Fauci on what working for Trump was really like. Also:

Sarah Mervosh: How West Virginia became a US leader in vaccine rollout. They managed to deliver 83% of allotted vaccines, a higher percentage than any other state.

Rachael Rettner: US life expectancy drops dramatically due to COVID-19: "It's the largest drop in life expectancy in at least 40 years."

Aaron Rupar: Fauci threw a lot of shade at Trump in his first comments as a Biden adviser: "What a difference a new president can make."

Dylan Scott: America's Covid-19 death toll has surpassed 400,000.

Alex Ward: Biden will use the Defense Production Act in his anti-coronavirus effort.

The World

Trump's Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, continued to poison the earth under possible Biden diplomatic initiatives. Meanwhile, Biden's Secretary of State, Tony Blinken, tried to reassure Congress that he's as callous and dim-witted as his predecessors (with the possible exception of Pompeo). Goes to show that American foreign policy is still governed by fantasies, where jobs are only doled out to those who attest that "the emperor's new clothes" are magnificent indeed. (On the other hand, note that their critics like to call themselves "realists." See Jordan Henry: Just how good is Joe Biden's foreign policy team?)


Bernard Freamon: Gulf slave society: "The glittering city-states of the Persian Gulf fit the classicist Moses Finley's criteria of genuine slave societies."

Rebecca Gordon: The fall of the American empire: Inside title: "The rubble of empire: doctrines of disaster and dreams of security as the Biden years begin." When I started to compile my blogs from 2001-08, my working title was The last days of the American empire. This could be a foreword to the book I was imagining, with its litany of doctrines, invasions, "grotesque economic inequality," corruption, "ever-deepening conflict." Still, as the years piled on, the slow-motion crash never quite came to its expected end, but also I started to doubt the "empire" concept. Now I'm leaning toward The eclipse of the American Century, not least because the 1900-2000 time frame also defines a unique period of enormous, relentless technological change -- I imagine it as the steep slope of an S-curve, rising quickly around 1900 and starting to plateau around 2000. The US was positioned to take maximum advantage of tech growth, until we started taking riches as entitling us to run the world, and that conceit and hubris spelled the end. But oddly enough, Americans only thought of themselves as an empire at the beginning and end of the 20th century. In between, the operative word was hegemony, the soft glove of power.

Jen Kirby: President Biden's international restoration project has begun: "The US is rejoining the Paris climate accord and the World Health Organization on day one."

Andrea Mazzarino: Indirect deaths: "The massive and unseen costs of America's post-9/11 wars at home and abroad."

Lili Pike: The US is back in the international climate game.

Jennifer Scholtes/Connor O'Brien: Adios AUMF? Democrats press Biden for help in revoking old war powers.

Alex Ward/Jen Kirby/Nicole Narea: Biden's key national security picks had their confirmation hearings. Here's what to know. Avril Haynes (CIA), Alejandro Mayorkas (Homeland Security), Tony Blinken (State), Lloyd Austin (Defense). They spouted a fair amount of orthodox bullshit to help expedite confirmation. E.g.:

China, of course, loomed large. Blinken tried to assure lawmakers -- especially Republicans -- that the Biden administration was clear-eyed about the threat China poses. "As we look at China, there is no doubt that it poses the most significant challenge of any nation-state, to the United States, in terms of our interests, the interests of the American people," Blinken said.

Blinken said the US needed to approach China from a position of "strength, not weakness," which Blinken said required the US to work with allies, engage in international institutions, and for standing up for US values, such as condemning Beijing's policies toward the Uighurs and Hong Kong. (Blinken also said he supported the State Department's designation today that China was committing genocide against the Uighurs.)

The bit that got me first was the "strength" fetish, as if all we had to do to bend China to our will was get stronger -- that same approach having failed repeatedly against far less formidable foes. But there's much more to puzzle over, like why we confuse "US values" and "the interests of the American people," when the last four years suggests the US government cares for either. Perhaps in the future US policy (both foreign and domestic) could embrace common principles of human rights and international law, and from that vantage point we could join others in shaming China -- and other malefactors, a list which certainly includes our "allies" in Israel and Saudi Arabia) -- into behaving better. But an essential first step is to behave better ourselves. Blinken offered a slight hint when he talked about ending US support for the Saudi-led war in Yemen. However, he went on to weasel out of any commitment:

Blinken told lawmakers that he believes the US should continue to defend Saudi Arabia from aggression; however, he said the Biden administration would review the relationship to make sure it aligned with the US's interests and values.

Few things are clearer than that the aggressor in Yemen is Saudi Arabia. Also note that Austin waffled on Afghanistan, holding open the possibility of re-escalating the war. Evidently, that makes him more attractive to the Senate, which went on to confirm him 97-2. More on these picks:

Alex Ward:

  • Biden plans to continue many of Trump's foreign policies -- at least for now: "Biden team members have already signaled they intend to continue several of Trump's policies from Venezuela to Ukraine to Israel and even China." Despite his "America first" demagoguery, Trump never really had a foreign policy, just a torrent of conservatism's usual "irritable mental gestures," combined with a thirst for graft. It's unfortunate that Biden isn't breaking with many of them, but it's mostly Anthony Blinken doing the trash talking here. While his track record suggests he believes this nonsense, it's also reasonable that there is little to be gained by abandoning a stance unilaterally when it might prove useful as a bargaining chip. Where Biden has already moved, it's mostly been in the right direction.

  • Joe Biden ousts the man who tried to reshape US global media: "In his first foreign policy move, Biden fired Michael Pack, the head of the US Agency for Global Media."

  • The last US-Russia nuclear arms deal is about to expire. Biden wants to extend it. Given that Russia has already signaled a desire for a 5-year extension, this one should be easy.

  • Don't expect Biden to reenter the Iran nuclear deal right away. I thought Obama made a mistake in not trying to resolve more issues with Iran, going on to lift sanctions, exchange embassies, and open up trade, but the whole premise of the deal was based on a faulty assumption: that Iran is intractably opposed to US interests, and is dedicated to obtaining nuclear weapons as a way of increasing its leverage over the US and its so-called allies. The deal was the only way to achieve its ends. That Israel and Saudi Arabia continued to object only proved that their intent wasn't to limit Iran but to preserve a hostile relationship they benefited from. Of course, Trump was so completely under their thumb that he probably would have wrecked even a more robust Iran deal. Biden's slowness shows that Israel and Saudi Arabia still have clout, but suggests that he'll try to resolve the conflict with more broadly. Best news here is that Robert Malley seems to be the leading candidate for Iran envoy.

Edward Wong/Chris Buckley: US says China's repression of Uighurs is 'genocide': "The finding by the Trump administration is the strongest denunciation by any government of China's actions and follows a Biden campaign statement with the same declaration." I don't doubt that China's repression of ethnic minorities in Sinkiang (and, for that matter, Tibet) is heavy and oppressive, but doesn't genocide mean killing large numbers of people? And doesn't it also imply an obligation for other countries to intervene? Given that the latter is a practical impossibility, shouldn't one tone down the rhetoric? Alternatively, shouldn't the same criteria be applied elsewhere? I don't think that Israel's treatment of Palestinians amounts to genocide, but it is ethnically based and comparably oppressive. (Main difference is that China has "re-education camps" that attempt to integrate Uighurs into Chinese society, whereas Israel has no such desire -- which is worse is debatable.) Saudi Arabia's war against the Houthis of Yemen is if anything more lethal (latest: Saudi airstrikes kill 34 Houthis in central Yemen, although probably less systematic. There are other cases one might consider, but the US only seems to consider cases where it has an ulterior motive. The designation on Trump's last day was a typical poison pill move, meant to further the ridiculous meme that Biden is soft on China -- if Biden revokes the designation, that will be taken as proof of point; if not (and thus far Biden hasn't taken the bait), it will be taken as proof that Biden is so weak he's unwilling to stand up to genocide, while it hands over diplomatic efforts where cooperation with China is essential. More on China (also see Ward, above):

And Everything Else

Some other entries that didn't fall into the buckets above.


Gilbert Achcar: The Arab Spring, a decade later. [subscriber-only article]

Reed Berkowitz: A game designer's analysis of QAnon.

Chris Bertram: Branching points: Short post, tries to list "events that took place since the fall of the Berlin Wall (1989) are the important moments when something different could have been done that might have saved us from being in the situation we are in." His list:

  • The decision of the US Supreme Court to award the Presidency to George W. Bush instead of Al Gore (2000)
  • The attacks on the Twin Towers (2001)
  • The decision by Bush, supported by Blair, to invade Iraq (2003)
  • The failure of policy-makers to anticipate and avert the financial crisis (2008)
  • The failure of European leaders to manage the Eurozone crisis so as to avert mass unemployment etc (2009- )
  • The Arab spring (2010- )
  • The "migrant crisis" in Europe (2015- )
  • The Brexit vote (2016)
  • The election of Donald Trump (2016)

Some other suggestions from the comments (sorted by year):

  • 1994: Tony Blair becomes leader of the Labour Party
  • 1990s: Democrats (Clinton wing) sell out: NAFTA, welfare "reform," China and the WTO, Glass-Stegall repeal
  • 1999: Putin elevated to Prime Minister of Russia; 2nd Chechen War
  • 2002: Gujarat, India.
  • 2010: the Citizens United ruling from the US Supreme Court

Fabiola Cineas:

Diana Falzone/Lachlan Cartwright: Fox News launches 'purge' to 'get rid of real journalists,' insiders say: "Fox laid off at least 16 staffers, including Chris Stirewalt, who defended the election-night call that pissed off Trump." Related:

Melissa Gira Grant: The beginning of the end of meaningless work. Checks in with Kathi Weeks, ten years after publication of her book, The Problem With Work: Feminism, Marxism, Antiwork Politics, and Postwork Imaginaries.

Robert Greene II: Hank Aaron was more than a man who hit home runs: Aaron died last week, at 86. I date my interest in baseball to 1957, not least because I can still recite the All-Star Teams from that year (at least the ones who played: that was the year Cincinnati stuffed the ballot boxes, but the NL overruled the fans, giving OF slots to Aaron and Willie Mays instead of Gus Bell and Wally Post, and the SS-3B spots to Ernie Banks and Eddie Matthews instead of Don Hoak and Roy McMillan). Thanks to my cousin, I was a Yankees fan, perhaps because I was drawn to winners, a trait that also worked in Aaron's favor. Milwaukee had a farm team in Wichita, and went on to win the pennant in 1957 and the World Series in 1958. They had a great team those years, but Aaron was clearly the star, which made him one of my favorite players, and kept me from entertaining any stupid ideas about race. More:

Rebecca Heilweil: Parler begins to come back online with the help of a Russian tech company.

Meryl Kornfield: Six shot dead, including pregnant woman, in 'mass murder,' Indianapolis officials say.

Branko Marcetic: The CIA's secret global war against the left. This focuses on Operation Condor (from the 1970s), although the CIA's "secret global war against the left" dates back to its inception in the late-1940s, with the CIA's efforts in Italy and France to keep Communists from winning elections, and more violently in Greece to defeat leftist partisans who had fought against the Nazi occupation. Everything the CIA did from the '50s through the '80s was justified as anti-Communist -- even the 1954 coup in Iran, which was mostly about undoing Iran's nationalization of British oil interests, was justified as preventing a Communist takeover. Condor was significant as it turned a series of Latin American countries into dictatorships, with several bloody purges (especially in Chile and Argentina), but it was neither the first nor the last time the US has sought to prop up right-wing terror in Latin America, nor was it as bloody as the coup and purge in Indonesia in the 1960s, or the much more protracted war in Vietnam (where the CIA's failure led to the military stepping in, and failing even worse).

Rani Molla: Why right-wing extremists' favorite new platform is so dangerous.

Bill Pearis: Here are your Bernie Sanders music memes.

Jeffrey St Clair: Roaming charges: New days, old ways: So, it took St Clair less than a week to attack the Biden administration with the same snark he used to critique Trump. But he does have a good story on Hank Aaron.

Scott W Stern: Remembering Margo St James, a pioneering sex worker organizer. She died recently, at 83.

Michael G Vann: The true story of Indonesia's US-backed anti-communist bloodbath: "The massacre of the Indonesian left in 1965-66, backed by Washington, was one of the great cries of the twentieth century." Review of John Roosa: Buried Histories: The Anticomunist Massacres of 1965-1966 in Indonesia.

Anya van Wagtendonk: Legendary broadcaster Larry King has died at age 87. I literally have nothing to say about him, and almost didn't bother with the link. The writer doesn't have much to say either: e.g., "And he was perhaps equally known for his bold sartorial choices -- he was rarely seen without his signature suspenders, often paired with a bright shirt and colorful necktie."

Saturday, January 23, 2021

Daily Log

Shopping for a new all-in-one thermal printer/scanner/copier. Assume everything is Ink Jet, Color, Ethernet/Wi-Fi, print from smartphone/tablet. Desired: 2 trays, auto-duplex, photo paper.

  • $329.89: HJ OfficeJet 9025, 24ppm b, 20ppm c, 500/100 sheets. Black 2000pp $44.89; CMY 700pp $63.89.
  • $229.89: HP OfficeJet Pro 9015, 250/60 sheets. [in stock 02-22]
  • $199.89: HJ OfficeJet 8035, auto-duplex, 20ppm b/w, 225/60 sheets, 8 months Insta-Ink.
  • $169.89: HJ OfficeJet Pro 8025, 20ppm b, 10ppm c.
  • $279.89: HP OfficeJet Pro 7740 Wireless All-in-One.
  • $229.89: HP ENVY Photo 7855 All in One Photo Printer, wireless; ppm 15/10 b/c.
  • $179.89: HP Envy Photo 7155. HP 64 ink: black (200pp) $18.89, tri-color (165pp) $24.89.
  • $139.89: HP OfficeJet Pro 6978 all-in-One Wireless Printer.
  • : HP DeskJet 3755.
  • : Canon imageCLASS MF232w
  • : Canon Pixma MG3620
  • : Canon Color Image CLASS LBP622Cdw
  • $349.99: Canon G7020 all-in-one wireless supertank printer
  • $258.70: Canon TR8520 all-in-one printer

Epson Photo Style RX580: color ink cartridges 5-pack: $69.59. Epson 78 set: $83.55.

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Music Week

Expanded blog post, January archive (in progress).

Music: Current count 34804 [34756] rated (+48), 221 [219] unrated (+2).

Not much to say right now, so probably best to go ahead and post this. I figure on making some changes after next week (or perhaps I should say the end of January), but I can wait until then to explain what and why. Still fiddling with EOY Aggregate, but that's one thing that I'll stop working on in the next week or so. I'll try to sum up what I've learned next week.

I meant to write a postscript to last week's Music Week, but moved on to other things and never got to it. My recollection is rusty now, but I had made some speculation about Robert Christgau's Wednesday Consumer Guide, and felt like I should follow up. Doesn't really matter now. The CG had three new and two old records I hadn't heard, so they loom large below. I also bumped Open Mike Eagle up after a relisten, but didn't bother going back to other B+ albums by Taylor Swift, Toots and the Maytals, or 75 Dollar Bill (the one I prefer is Live at Café Oto Dec. 19, 2019). I will say that my one-play reaction to Evermore was that it was every bit as good as Folklore.

I did a much needed update to the Robert Christgau website last week. The main thing was to add all of the CG reviews from his And It Don't Stop newsletter. As it's a paid subscription thingy, it was felt that there should be a delay before non-subscribers can see the reviews on the website, so the big thing was writing code to enforce that, although the bigger thing was keeping everything else working as various changes to the PHP programming language broke old code. I got a couple of letters about old things that were wrong, but the update seems to have worked reasonably well. We kicked around some ideas for a redesign (more under the hood than external), and I plan to start working on that within two weeks -- as recent things wind down and new projects get going.

I'm getting tired of trying to keep track of recent deaths, and was hoping to skip that part this week (after linking to a couple pieces on Phil Spector yesterday), but when I checked the list, I recognized Junior Mance (a fine pianist who had a long career after his early-1960s peak -- seek out Junior's Blues) and Duke Bootee (early hip-hop producer, co-wrote "The Message" for Grandmaster Flash and Melle Mel, and had a good one-shot album in 1984, Bust Me Out). Oh, also Jimmie Rodgers (1933-2021) -- not the legendary country singer but a pop star with some big hits in the late-1950s -- "Honeycomb" and "Kisses Sweeter Than Wine" were among my first (and most played ever) 45s.


New records reviewed this week:

  • Adulkt Life: Book of Curses (2020, What's Your Rupture?): [r]: B+(***)
  • Daniel Avery: Love + Light (2020, Phantasy Sound): [r]: B+(**)
  • BC Camplight: Shortly After Takeoff (2020, Bella Union): [r]: B
  • Beach Bunny: Honeymoon (2020, Mom + Pop): [r]: B+(*)
  • Belle & Sebastian: What to Look for in Summer (2019 [2020], Matador, 2CD): [r]: B+(**)
  • BlackPink: The Album (2020, YG Entertainment/Interscope): [r]: B+(**)
  • Susie Blue and the Lonesome Fellas: Bye Bye Blues (2020, Seraphic): [r]: B+(**)
  • James Dean Bradfield: Even in Exile (2020, Montyray): [r]: B+(*)
  • Brian Charette: Beyond Borderline (2019, SteepleChase): [r]: B+(*)
  • Brian Charette: Like the Sun (2020, Dim Mak): [r]: B
  • John Craigie: Asterisk the Universe (2020, Zabriskie Point): [r]: A-
  • Cut Worms: Nobody Lives Here Anymore (2020, Jagjaguwar): [r]: B+(*)
  • Nick Dunston: Atlantic Extraction: Live at Threes (2020, Out of Your Head): [dl]: B+(**)
  • Dvsn: A Muse in Her Feelings (2020, OVD Sound/Warner): [r]: B+(*)
  • Empress Of: I'm Your Empress Of (2020, Terrible): [r]: B+(**)
  • Fantastic Negrito: Have You Lost Your Mind Yet? (2020, Cooking Vinyl/Blackball Universe): [r]: B+(***)
  • Ghetto Kumbé: Ghetto Kumbé (2020, ZZK): [bc]: B+(**)
  • The Grasso-Ravita Jazz Ensemble: Jagged Spaces (2020 [2021], Grassvita Music): [cd]: B+(*)
  • Guiss Guiss Bou Bess: Set Sela (2019, Helico): [r]: A-
  • The Happy Fits: What Could Be Better (2020, The Happy Fits): [r]: B+(**)
  • Roderick Harper: Evolving (2020 [2021], R.H.M. Entertainment): [cd]: B+(*)
  • Stephanie Lambring: Autonomy (2020, Tone Tree Music): [r]: B+(**)
  • Pak Yan Lau & Darin Gray: Trudge Lightly (2016-18 [2020], By the Bluest of Seas): [bc]: B+(**)
  • Lomelda: Hannah (2020, Double Double Whammy): [r]: B+(*)
  • Sabir Mateen/Christopher Dell/Christian Ramond/Klaus Kugel: Creation (2012 [2020], 577): [r]: B+(***)
  • McCarthy Trenching: Perfect Game (2020, self-released): [r]: B+(***)
  • Melenas: Dias Raros (2020, Trouble in Mind): [r]: B+(**)
  • Buddy & Julie Miller: Lockdown Songs (2020, self-released): [r]: B+(***)
  • MoE With Mette Rasmussen and Ikuro Takahasi: Painted (2019 [2020], Relative Pitch): [bc]: B
  • Munson-Hicks Party Supplies: Munson-Hicks Party Supplies (2020, Soft Launch): [r]: B+(**)
  • NZCA Lines: Pure Luxury (2020, Memphis Industries): [r]: B+(*)
  • Okan: Espiral (2020, Lulaworld): [r]: B+(***)
  • J.S. Ondara: Folk N' Roll Vol 1: Tales of Isolation (2020, Verve Forecast): [r]: B
  • Chris Pitsiokos: Speak in Tongues and Hope for the Gift of Interpretation (2020, Relative Pitch): [bc]: B+(*)
  • The Justin Rothberg Group: Hurricane Mouse (2020 [2021], self-released): [cd]: B+(*)
  • Sleaford Mods: Spare Ribs (2021, Rough Trade): [r]: B+(***)
  • Sweeping Promises: Hunger for a Way Out (2020, Feel It): [bc]: A-
  • Aki Takase/Rudi Mahall: Fifty Fifty (2018 [2019], Trouble in the East): [bc]: B+(**)

Recent reissues, compilations, and vault discoveries:

  • Man Jumping: Jumpcut (1985 [2020], Emotional Rescue): [bc]:
  • Mirah: You Think It's Like This but Really It's Like This (2000 [2020], K): [bc]: B+(***)
  • Lon Moshe & the Southern Freedom Arkestra: Love Is Where the Spirit Lies (1976-77 [2020], Strut): [bc]: B+(**)
  • Sun Ra Arkestra: Egypt 1971 (1971 [2020], Strut, 4CD): [bc]: B+(*)
  • Riley: Grandma's Roadhouse (1970 [2010], Delmore Recording Society): [bc]: B
  • The Ibrahim Khalil Shihab Quartet Featuring Mankunku: Spring (1968 [2020], Matsuli Music): [bc]: A-

Old music:

  • Group Doueh & Cheveu: Dakhla Sahara Session (2017, Born Bad): [r]: A-
  • Solitaire Miles: The Solitaire Miles Jazztets With Willie Perkins (2008-10 [2018], Seraphic, EP): [bc]: B+(*)
  • Solitaire Miles: Susie Blue and the Lonesome Fellas (2015, Seraphic): [r]: B+(**)
  • Viktor Vaughn: Vaudeville Villain (2003, Sound-Ink): [r]: A-


Grade (or other) changes:

  • Open Mike Eagle: Anime, Trauma and Divorce (2020, Auto Reverse): [r]: [was: B+(**)] A-


Unpacking: Found in the mail last week:

  • Franco Ambrosetti Band: Lost Within You (Unit) [01-29]
  • Yelena Eckemoff: Adventures of the Wildflower (L&H Production, 2CD) [03-19]
  • Yoav Eshed/Lex Korten/Massimo Biolcati/Jongkuk Kim: A Way Out (Sounderscore) [02-19]
  • Futari: Beyond (Libra) [01-22]
  • Tivon Pennicott: Spirit Garden (New Phrase)
  • Turn Me Loose White Man (1900-60 [2020], Constant Sorrow, 30CD)

Daily Log

Saw this on Facebook, and thought I'd squirrel it away in the notebook for future reference, as it provides some Wichita history you rarely read about. Author is James Thompson, a civil rights lawyer better known for his campaigns for US Congress. He is the lawyer for the family of Troy Lanning.

I recently submitted a settlement offer to the City of Wichita regarding the Troy Lanning shooting case from 2012. The City Council will take up the case in executive meeting this week to determine whether to accept the offer. After recently submitting a brief to the Kansas Supreme Court on the case, I got to thinking about the facts of the case and the similarity in how the City has treated these types of lawsuits.

It will be 9 years this April since Troy, who was unarmed, was shot in the back and killed by former WPD officer Randy Williamson. Mr. Williamson would be fired six months later for shooting up a building and then lying to say someone pointed a gun at him from the shadows. Troy Lanning's shooting is the ONLY officer involved shooting that District Attorney Marc Bennett refuses to clear and thus remains an open criminal investigation. That Randy Williamson was fired for shooting a building and not for shooting an unarmed man is typical of the way these shootings were handled prior to Chief Ramsey.

Between October 2011 and 2015, Wichita had one of the highest shooting to officer ratios in the country, approximately 13 times higher than the national average. Greater than Chicago and Detroit. In 2012, Wichita had more shooting deaths by officers than Detroit despite only having 25% of the number of officers of Detroit. in 2012, 1 in five shooting homicides in Wichita were done by WPD. Despite these alarming numbers, the City of Wichita continues to practice a scorched earth defense of these cases and has spent millions defending them when they could have settled for less than what they spent on attorney fees for a firm not even located in Wichita.

Unfortunately, Troy Lanning's case is not unusual, I also have the Karen Jackson case. She was shot while stabbing herself and telling the officers to shoot her. The officers failed to use the Crisis Intervention Training they received even though they knew she was in mental crisis. Rather than back up and allow her to calm down they drew a line in the sand and shot her.

The same thing happened to Icarus Randolph. A Marine combat veteran who was in mental crisis on July 4. Rather than use the training they receive to calm the situation, the officer refused to call a specialist or supervisor and shot and killed Icarus in front of his family.

Marquez Smart was shot in Old Town along with several other people. The gun he was alleged to have had, was fired twice, yet 4 people were shot. At least one eye witness said Marquez was not armed.

Stacy Richard was shot 16 times in his home after police received a call that he was suicidal. They fired approximately 50 shots. Stacy survived the shooting remarkably, but took his own life approximately a year later. The officers rushed into his home despite only being on the scene for less than 5 minutes and knowing that there was no one else in the home besides Stacy. The officer who led them in was later arrested for running a gambling ring and for felony threat and domestic violence. That case has been dismissed.

Everyone knows about the killing of Andrew Finch on his front porch after a swatting call. The city has also refused to settle that case as well.

There are numerous other cases too. Each with their own facts, tears and heartbreak.

Not every shooting is a bad shooting and not every shooting is a good shooting. I have looked at dozens of shootings both here and around the country. The police are forced to make split second decisions and their job is hard and often not appreciated the way it should be. I truly believe in the goodness of most law enforcement. But Officers make mistakes, just like anyone else.

The problem I have is the City's refusal to settle these cases where officers at best made a mistake or at worst, as with the case of Troy Lanning, committed manslaughter and possibly murder. The City's policy compounds the harm already done. In addition, prior to Chief Ramsey, WPD classified these shootings as "justifiable homicides" before the investigation was completed. The cases were opened as a "justifiable homicide" despite not having taken a single statement from witnesses, not questioned the officer etc. They arrived at their conclusion that the shooting was justifiable and then shaped the investigation to that conclusion. In addition, prior to Chief Ramsey, WPD investigated the shootings themselves. Now at least the Sedgwick County Sheriff's Department conducts the investigation of WPD shootings and WPD investigates shootings by the Sheriff's department.

Chief Ramsey has done a great job of helping rid the force of bad officers and to ensure that the appropriate response is used for the situation, especially when it is a mental health call. Most of our officers are good people. There are always bad apples. Its time to allow these families and this city to heal.

My apologies for the long post. Just putting thoughts down. It has felt for so long that no progress was being made because these cases were not settling like they should. However, looking back at the entire picture; I can see how far we've come as a City, even though we still have miles and miles to go before we rest.

Monday, January 18, 2021

Weekend Roundup

Blog link.

Table of contents:

Again failed to wrap this up on Sunday. Even a day late, I'm faced with a choice between cutting it loose now or writing some introductory comments, which I actually had given some thought to. I think I'll cut it loose, if for no other reason than that Tuesday promises to reveal a hundred-plus pardons for the highest bidders -- yet another story one can't omit. Then on Wednesday, Trump will supposedly fly off for Florida, while Biden is inaugurated in a secure bunker in Washington, DC, to be witnessed by crowds even smaller than Trump's in 2016. I guess he gets the last laugh on that score.

Congress reconvenes on Tuesday, so conceivably the Senate could vote to convict and remove Trump, although no one expects that to actually happen. Of course, I sympathize with Charles Pierce: Donald Trump cannot be allowed to be the President* of the United States for a single second longer, but I'm used to disappointments in political life, and I'm patient enough to give Trump one last day in office, knowing that will be the end of it, and thinking rationally that even though he could do something truly horrific with that day, most likely he'll dedicate it to graft and ego-stroking.

Nothing below on Martin Luther King Day. I wasn't even aware of the holiday until I leafed through the paper this morning. By then, I had put two discs from Rhino's superlative The R&B Box into the changer. They were brilliant, and I was deeply touched by the occasion. It reminded me that a huge slice of what's great and glorious in America has been the work of African-Americans. While music has long stood out among those contributions, the one I'm even more thankful for today was providing the margin to defeat Donald Trump. Black lives not only matter; they're often our salvation.


Insurrection

I originally thought I'd combine insurrection and impeachment into a single section, but a quick glance at the first batch of articles suggested splitting them. Although insurrection led to impeachment, the latter was narrowly political, based on the House Democrats' slim majority and their felt compulsion to do what they could when they could to register how profoundly they were unsettled by the president's mob's violent uprising against democracy. If Democrats didn't have a House majority, they wouldn't have impeached Trump, no matter how much they wanted to. And, as usual, impeachment is little more than a hollow political gesture. On the other hand, the insurrection was rooted in a broader conception of politics, rooted in the "culture war" Trump has spent his entire political career stoking. Moreover, insurrection is still ongoing, as the planned "demonstrations" in DC and at 50 state capitols attests. Moreover, there is no reason to doubt that the hard core of pro-Trump militants will stop after January 20. Many of these same people were responsible for the uptick of right-wing violence after Obama was elected in 2008. They became Trump's people in 2016, and he has done nothing but encourage them over the last four years. They started forming militias by the 1980s and 1990s, so expect some of them to go underground and dedicate themselves to guerrilla war against the democratic state and its soft targets. Therefore, we need to look at last week's insurrection as a prelude not just to this week's but to months and years of "domestic terrorism" if not outright civil war.

Devlin Barrett/Matt Zapotosky: FBI report warned of 'war' at Capitol, contradicting claims there was no indication of looming violence.

Dalton Bennett, et al: 41 minutes of fear: A video timeline from inside the Capitol siege.

Miriam Berger: US pundits keep comparing Washington to a war zone. People who know war disagree.

Kyle Cheney/Sarah Ferris: Mikie Sherrill says unidentified lawmakers led 'reconnaissance' tours ahead of Capitol attack.

Sean Collins: Lawmakers are testing positive for Covid-19 after the Capitol lockdown: "At least five."

Jesselyn Cook/Nick Robins-Early: Online police communities are rife with conspiracies and support for the Capitol riot.

Matthew Cunningham-Cook: Arizone GOP chair urged violence at the Capitol. The Mercers spent $1.5 million supporting her.

Jerusalem Demsas: The online far right is angry, exultant, and ready for more.

Elizabeth Dias/Ruth Graham: How white evangelical Christians fused with Trump extremism: "A potent mix of grievance and religious fervor has turbocharged the support among Trump loyalists, many of whom describe themselves as participants in a kind of holy war."

Matt Fuller: House Democrats briefed on 3 terrifying plots to overthrow government.

Hilary George-Parkin: Insurrection merch shows just how mainstream extremism has become.

Fiona Hill: Yes, it was a coup attempt. Here's why. "What Trump tried is called a "self-coup," and he did it in slow motion and in plain sight."

Mara Hvistendahl: Capitol mob has roots in anti-lockdown protests: "Reopen and anti-mask groups were a crucial recruiting ground for the 'Stop the Steal' effort that culminated in last week's deadly siege."

Joshua Kaplan/Joaquin Sapien: "No one took us seriously": Black cops warned about racist Capitol police officers for years.

Kimberly Kindy/Kim Bellware/Mark Berman: Off-duty police were part of the Capitol mob. Now police are turning in their own.

Paul Krugman:

  • This putsch was decades in the making: "GOP cynics have been coddling crazies for a long time."

    This coddling of the crazies was, at first, almost entirely cynical. When the G.O.P. began moving right in the 1970s its true agenda was mainly economic -- what its leaders wanted, above all, were business deregulation and tax cuts for the rich. But the party needed more than plutocracy to win elections, so it began courting working-class whites with what amounted to thinly disguised racist appeals.

    Not incidentally, white supremacy has always been sustained in large part through voter suppression. So it shouldn't be surprising to see right-wingers howling about a rigged election -- after all, rigging elections is what their side is accustomed to doing. And it's not clear to what extent they actually believe that this election was rigged, as opposed to being enraged that this time the usual vote-rigging didn't work.

  • The economic consequences of the putsch: Why are markets optimistic?

Luis Feliz Leon: Chickens coming home to roost: Far right storms US Capitol: "The Capitol Riot recalls right-wing counterinsurgencies the US has sponsored in the Dominican Republic and around the world."

David A Lieb/Adam Geller: Pro-Trump protests fizzle out at Capitol buildings across the US.

Luke Mogelson: Among the insurrectionists: "The Capitol was breached by Trump supporters who had been declaring, at rally after rally, that they would go to violent lengths to keep the President in power. A chronicle of an attack foretold." Also: A reporter's footage from inside the Capitol siege.

Anna North:

Olivia Nuzzi: What Madison Cawthorn saw at the insurrection: "The youngest member of Congress is invigorated by the mob he helped incite."

Benjamin Parker: The alt-right is now the entire right: "The voices of reason, reality, and responsibility are a cowering minority in the Republican party."

Cameron Peters: A new report shows Capitol Police knew Congress might be targeted days before Capitol attack.

Justin Rohrlich:

Aja Romano: Baked Alaska's clout-chasing spiral into white supremacy is an internet morality tale.

Aaron Rupar:

Liz Scheltens: The warning signs before the Capitol riot. Video, cites sources:

Adam Serwer: The Capitol rioters weren't 'low class': "The business owners, real-estate brokers, and service members who rioted acted not out of economic desperation, but out of their belief in their inviolable right to rule."

By 1909, a decade after the massacre in Wilmington inspired a wave of new Jim Crow legislation across the South, Republican President William Howard Taft praised Democrats for having excluded "an ignorant, irresponsible element" -- that is, Black voters -- from the polity. The respectable people were in charge again.

Of course, it was their success in seizing power and disenfranchising their political rivals that allowed them to maintain their respectability. Had they failed, had the South's brief experiment in multiracial democracy succeeded, they would have been seen as the bandits, assassins, and terrorists that they were. Impunity is what makes murder and terrorism respectable. After all, if these deeds were actually crimes, they would have been punished.

Watching the mob ransack the Capitol last week, Trump is reported to have been initially enthusiastic about the riot, but later disgusted by "what he considered the 'low-class' spectacle of people in ragtag costumes rummaging through the Capitol."

Now we know the truth. They weren't "low class." They were respectable. They almost always are.

Matt Shuham: A common line keeps emerging from Capitol rioters: Trump asked us to be here.

Richard Silverstein: At MAGA rally, Israeli flag and neo-nazis co-exist, awkwardly.

It's no accident that Bibi Netanyahu's closest political allies in Europe are anti-Semites: Hungary's Viktor Orban and Poland's Andrzej Duda. It's also no accident that almost all the Jews in these two countries were exterminated by the Nazis with varying levels of collaboration from local officials. European anti-Semites hate the Jews among them, but love Jews who emigrate to Israel. Because they live in exactly the sort of state these national-supremacists want for themselves: a sovereign state for pure Hungarians or Poles. One that excludes non natives like Roma, Jews, Muslims or African refugees. It is, ironically, the same reason Adolf Eichmann said that if he were a Jew he too would be a Zionist.

Stuart A Thompson/Charlie Warzel: They used to post selfies. Now they're trying to reverse the election. "Right-wing influencers embraced extremist views, and Facebook rewarded them."

Alex Ward:

Benjamin Wallace-Wells: The long prologue to the Capitol Hill riot.

Impeachment

I spent much of last week's Weekend Roundup doubting that impeaching Donald Trump would be worth the trouble, but the House Democrats (plus 10 Republicans) went ahead and did it anyway. Bully for them. Now I doubt that it's worth the trouble for the Senate to try him, especially as the trial won't start until he's out of office. (There's some debate below on whether trying him after he's gone is even legal, but my point is that there's more urgent work for the new Democratic Senate to do.) One argument in favor of trial is that conviction will bar Trump from running again, but I don't see that a Trump 2024 campaign is much to worry about. (Indeed, precluding that could be a big reason for Republicans to step up.)

Even without a Senate conviction, Trump is likely to face consequences for his many offenses. Some are noted below.


Perry Bacon Jr: Trump has been rebuked like no other president -- but really only by Democrats. On the other hand, I'd argue that partisan opposition to Trump is not unprecedented, and possibly not as nasty and vituperative as the Republican attacks on Bill Clinton. One should also note that the precedent for using impeachment as a narrow partisan cudgel was set by Newt Gingrich against Clinton. Pelosi has wound up using it twice, but only in response to much more serious offenses than Clinton's petty lie. Indeed, if Pelosi had tried to impeach Trump every time he lied, she'd never have had time for anything else. Ultimately, Trump was "rebuked like no other president" because he behaved like no other president. The real shame is that only Democrats could see and act on that.

Zack Beauchamp: The case for consequences: "Why Republicans have to be held accountable for the attack on Capitol Hill."

Jerusalem Demsas: A fight over metal detectors reveals how broken Congress really is.

Ross Douthat: Could Mitch McConnell get to yes? "Why the Republican leader should be tempted by the Senate's opportunity to bar rump from running for president again." I can't imagine why anyone would take McConnell's suggestion that he might be open to convicting Trump at face value, but then few pundits are more credulous when it comes to Republican motivations than Douthat. A long Senate trial would be the perfect excuse for McConnell to avoid dealing with Biden's appointments and initial legislative proposals. The real question is whether McConnell decides to repeat his extreme obstructionism from 2009 (his vow to make Obama a one-term president). I can think of several reasons why that not play so well this time. But one thing you can be sure of is that no matter which way he plays it, it won't be because he's grown a conscience about the tattered state of American democracy, or that he's developed the slightest care about what's best for the country.

Melinda Fakuade: A running list of corporate responses to the Capitol riot.

Anita Kumar/Daniel Lippman: 'Supremely self-absorbed': Isolated Trump unlikely to mount an aggressive impeachment defense.

J Michael Luttig: Once Trump leaves office, the Senate can't hold an impeachment trial. This argument makes sense to me: there's no point removing from office someone who's already left office. But the wrinkle here is the possible banning of Trump from ever holding office again -- that would still seem to be a consideration even after Trump departs. Still, I'm surprised to hear so little about this position. Laurence H Tribe argues otherwise: The Senate can constitutionally hold an impeachment trial after Trump leaves office.

Harold Meyerson:

  • Impeachent: Second time around.

  • 1861 and 2021: A troubling resemblance: My thesis that 2020 is the overdue year for change of political eras is certainly holding up well on the leading edge. Trump, like Buchanan, Hoover, and Carter, is a repudiated one-term presidential disaster, and the transition this year evokes comparisons with 1861 and 1933 (even 1981 was marked by the Iran hostage crisis and the worst recession between 1933 and 2008). Less clear whether Biden can provide the uplift of Lincoln, Roosevelt, or Reagan (another caveat there, as Reagan's main trick was to turn his back on reality and invoke a fantasy world, but he did herald the dystopia that his fantasies only temporarily masked). Of course, I don't believe that a real civil war is coming: in 1861 the states had substantial militias, while the feds had but a hollow shell of an army; today the armed pseudo-patriots are few and far between, while the state security forces are immense. I don't mean to make light of the potential the former have for scattered acts of terrorism, but they have no chance of anything more (unless the state starts making many more enemies than it captures or kills).

Ian Millhiser: New poll shows Trump's support dropping sharply among Republicans. Cites polling from Pew showing Trump's approval rating dropping to 29% -- Biden begins presidency with positive ratings; Trump departs with lowest-ever job mark. I think "lowest-ever" means for Trump -- as I recall, GW Bush got down around 21% (and Cheney 9%). Although Trump has lost support among Republicans, his current approval number is still 60%, down from 77% before the election and 85% peak (he got a little bump early in the pandemic, when it wasn't yet clear how badly he blew it; at that point, Democratic approval also peaked at 12%, down to 4% now). More:

Alex Pareene: An impeachment trial will be good practice for actual oversight.

Andrew Prokop:

Michael S Rosenwald: There's an alternative to impeachment or 25th Amendment for Trump, historians say: Having recently read Eric Foner's book on the Reconstruction amendments (The Second Founding: How the Civil War and Reconstruction Remade the Constitution), section 3 of the 14th Amendment was something I recognized, but while it was clear who it applied to then, I couldn't recall how new people could be declared insurrectionists and stripped of their political rights. I still don't quite get it. Moreover, I think we need broader and deeper democracy, so I don't see how that's advanced by excluding people we don't like (even if the reason we don't like them is that they're trying to take away our rights).

Philip Rucker/Josh Dawsey/Ashley Parker: Trump to flee Washington and seek rehabilitation in a MAGA oasis: Florida. Headline reads like he's looking for a comeback, perhaps as governor. But then the article veers to his children buying property in Florida, and speculates that Ivanka might run for Marco Rubio's Senate seat.

Emily Stewart: Corporate America takes away Trump's toys: "America's elites got what they wanted from Donald Trump. Now they're walking away."

Amy B Wang: Republicans call for unity but won't acknowledge Biden won fairly.

Li Zhou: Here are the 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach Trump. Notes that that's all it took to make this the most bipartisan impeachment ever. Still, that's less than 5% of the Republican caucus.

Jonathan Zimmerman: Impeach Trump but not for what he said on January 6th: Well, there are so many things Trump could (and should) be impeached for that the debate has always been more practical: what charges stand the best chance of widespread support and possible conviction? Polls have often shown a majority in favor of impeachment, but no issue has ever stood a chance of conviction. Given that's the case, I have to ask: why bother? Maybe you can use impeachment as a "teachable moment" to advance the political critique of Trump, and perhaps you'll score a point or two as Republicans are forced to defend unpopular positions (like insurrection) in order to protect political power. But the inevitable fruitlessness of impeachment makes me wonder whether the effort wouldn't be better spent elsewhere. That leaves me ambivalent: on the one hand, I wouldn't impeach Trump for anything, but I'd never miss a chance to vote against him. Zimmerman's point is somewhat different: he worries that impeaching Trump over a speech could be used to suppress further speech. I don't feel like going into that.

Exit Trump


Politico: 30 things Donald Trump did as president you might have missed: This gives you a pretty good idea of the range of things Trump's administration touched. I would edit this to make it significantly more critical (e.g., Trump's efforts to repeal Obamacare did make it more popular, but he still managed to undermine the law, especially by keeping more people uninsured); the obvious point on Defense spending isn't that he did an audit, which for sure showed gross mismanagement of funds, but that he wound up spending more than ever, while filling the Department with industry lobbyists.)

  • Obamacare: Trump didn't repeal Obamacare -- he accidentally bolstered it
  • Strategy: Trump refocused national security on great power competition
  • Coronavirus: Trump failed to provide workplace guidance, making safety harder for workers
  • Religion in schools: Trump boosted religious organizations in education
  • Oversight: Trump's Interior Department set a new standard for ignoring Congress
  • Cannabis: Legal marijuana spreads across most of the country
  • Loan forgiveness: Trump curbed relief for defrauded students
  • Shell companies: Trump made it easier to prosecure financial crimes like money laundering
  • Poverty: Trump shrank the food safety net -- a lot
  • Overtime pay: Millions of workers lost access to extra pay for long hours
  • Greenhouse gases: On gas emissions, Trump went the opposite direction from the rest of the world
  • Drones: Trump imposed a near-ban on government use of Chinese drones
  • Defense spending: Trump made it possible to follow the Pentagon's money
  • Taxes: Trump goosed the economy with tax cuts that didn't pay political dividends
  • Robocalls: Trump cracked down -- mostly successfully -- on unwanted calls and texts
  • Climate science: Trump exiled climate scientists from Washington -- literally
  • Medical records: Trump took a big swing at finally fixing health-care technology
  • Sexual harassment: Trump rescinded rules protecting workers at federal contractors
  • Auto emissions: Trump went all-in on ending curbs on auto emissions, dividing the industry
  • Antitrust: The anti-monopolists started winning -- despite Trump at first, then with his help
  • Immigration: A big crackdown on legal immigrants
  • Toxic chemicals: Trump impeded regulation -- even though Republicans wanted it
  • Internet upgrade: Trump rallied the world against China's 5G dominance
  • Farm aid: Trump doled out billions in aid to farmers
  • Banking: Trump rolled back rules on banks designed to prevent another financial crisis
  • Social media: Trump galvanized an anti-Silicon Valley movement in the GOP
  • Environmental impacts: Trump reduced environmental approvals for infrastructure projects
  • Artificial intelligence: Trump's White House took quiet steps to promote US development of AI
  • Housing segregation: Trump rolled back rules on racially segregated housing
  • Trade rules: Trump made trade a top priority, but had only mixed results

New York Times: The business rules the Trump administration is racing to finish: Bullet points:

  • Prohibiting Chinese apps and other products.
  • Defining gig workers as contractors.
  • Trimming social media's legal shield.
  • Taking the tech giants to court.
  • Adding new cryptocurrency disclosure requirements.
  • Limiting banks on social and environmental issues.
  • Overhauling rules on banks and underserved communities.
  • New "hot money" deposit rule.
  • Narrowing regulatory authority over airlines.
  • Rolling back a light bulb rule.

All these are in addition to the already staggering list of rules and rollbacks the Trump administration has issued. See: The Trump administration is reversing more than 100 environmental rules. Here's the full list.

Peter Baker/Maggie Haberman/Annie Karni: Pence reached his limit with Trump. It wasn't pretty. "After four years of tongue-biting silence that critics say enabled the president's worst instincts, the vice president would not yield to the pressure and name-calling from his boss."

Julian E Barnes/Michael S Schmidt: NSA installs Trump loyalist as top lawyer days before Biden takes office: "The acting defense secretary ordered the spy agency to appoint Michael Ellis, who has been accused of having a hand in one of the Trump administration's most contentious legal decisions."

Laura Bassett: All that's left of Trumpism is hilariously stupid, deadly serious social media stunts: "MAGA nation's thirst for viral clout is going to get more people killed."

Jonathan Chait:

  • Trump made the stupidest possible argument on Mike Pence: He gave Pence the choice between being a "patriot" and a "pussy." Or maybe he just confused Pence. After all, wouldn't the "patriot" be the guy who stands up for the Constitution, the rule of law, and democracy? And wouldn't the guy who puts those concerns aside to kowtow to the craven ravings of a despot be the "pussy"? (Dictionary definition: "slang: disparaging and offensive, a timid, passive person, especially a man.") Trump has rarely spoke with much precision, but rarely has his own delusions of grandeur been so obvious as here.

  • A history of the Trump era through stories about toilets.

  • Trump is on the verge of losing everything.

  • Trump wanted to erase Obama's legacy. He failed. Did he? Sure, Trump wasn't quite able to wipe our recollection of the notion that quiet competence and a modicum of care resulted in better government. But he did manage to wipe out a very long list of specifics, many of which will be hard to restore. Sure, one can point to Biden's election as a vindication of Obama over Trump, but Biden's actual promises have little to do with nostalgia, and much to do with the fact that America's severest problems have been made much worse by Republican rule, and little helped by Obama's interlude.

Chuck Collins/Omar Ocampo: Trump and his many billionaire enablers. Includes a list of billionaire doors to the Trump Victory Fund, where Sheldon Adelson ranked a mere 8th.

McKay Coppins: The coming Republican amnesia: "How will the GOP recover from the Trump era? Pretend it never happened."

Jerusalem Demsas: Deep cleaning, packing supplies, and a concession: The Trumps plan their White House exit.

Elizabeth Dwoskin/Craig Timberg: Misinformation dropped dramatically the week after Twitter banned Trump and some allies: "Zignal Labs charts 73 percent decline on Twitter and beyond following historic action against the president."

Richard Fausset/Danny Hakim: Atlanta prosecutor appears to move closer to Trump inquiry: "The Fulton County district attorney is weighing an inquiry into possible election interference and is said to be considering hiring an outside counsel."

Scott Galloway/James D Walsh: The most important takeaways from big tech's deplatforming of Trump. Starts with "Mark Zuckerberg and Jack Dorsey didn't kick Trump off Facebook and Twitter, respectively; Stacey Abrams did."

Peter Jamison/Carol D Leonnig/Paul Schwartzman: The $3,000-a-month toilet for the Ivanka Trump/Jared Kushner Secret Service detail. Jeffrey St Clair pointed me to this article, after noting that Ivanka had tweeted: "Disrespect for our law enforcement is unacceptable."

Carol D Leonnig/Josh Dawsey/Rosalind S Heiderman: Trump prepares to offer clemency to more than 100 people in his final hours in office. Looks like this will be his last act as president. Some more pardon pieces:

Lisa Lerer/Reid J Epstein: Abandon Trump? Deep in the GOP ranks, the MAGA mind-set prevails.

Nancy LeTourneau: To no one's surprise, Trump is still lying.

Eric Levitz:

Eric Lipton/Ben Protess/Steve Eder: An urgent reckoning for the Trump brand: "Companies and institutions are shunning President Trump and some associates after the attack on the US Capitol. The Trump family business, built on luxury hospitality, is contemplating a reinvention."

Martin Longman: When a lie gets too big.

Andrew Marantz: The importance, and incoherence, of Twitter's Trump ban. It's been about a week since Trump was booted off Twitter, and it already counts as possibly the best quality-of-life move in some while. Not only does it make it harder to Trump to impinge on your life, its absence means the media and late night comics have to dig a little deeper for stories (and jokes).

Nick Martin: Trump's four-year drilling binge has done irreparable damage. True enough, but nothing here on Obama's eight-year drilling binge, which had more dramatic effect, reversing the declining production since Hibbert's Peak in 1969, not only making the US the world's largest oil producer but wiping out the trade deficit in oil. Sure, Trump has been even more lax on the environmental front (but most of Obama's production gains were through fracking, which has its own environmental problems). The big difference was probably that Obama took over after record high prices under Bush, so the industry was more inclined to invest. Those prices dropped first with the recession (which both reduced demand and stopped the banks from speculating on futures), then with the glut, and lower prices (and more "green" competition) have depressed investment. Trump's own efforts to prop up prices have concentrated on banishing low-cost producers Iran and Venezuela.

Dylan Matthews: The F word: "The debate over whether to call Donald Trump a fascist, and why it matters." Cites a letter by Robert Paxton (author of The Anatomy of Fascism):

As you know I have been reluctant to use the F word for Trumpism, but yesterday's use of violence against democratic institutions crosses the red line.

There is a spookily close parallel with an event that occurred in the late French Third Republic - the attempt by right-wing militants to march on the Chambre des députés in the night of February 6, 1934. In the street fighting between police and marchers on the bridge that links the Place de la Concorde to the Chambre sixteen people were killed. That demonstration and the polarization that it reflected and deepened are often considered to mark the beginning of a process that led to the fall of the Republic and arrival of the Vichy regime. I couldn't help but think of that last evening as we watched the unbelievable images on TV.

For more on the 1934 crisis, see Wikipedia. Matthews also quotes from Paxton's book:

Fascism may be defined as a form of political behavior marked by obsessive preoccupation with community decline, humiliation, or victimhood and by compensatory cults of unity, energy, and purity, in which a mass-based party of committed nationalist militants, working in uneasy but effective collaboration with traditional elites, abandons democratic liberties and pursues with redemptive violence and without ethical or legal restraints goals of internal cleansing and external expansion.

The problem with applying this definition to Trump has been the relative lack of organized violence, although I've long suspected that this is due less to beliefs and desires than to the constraints that have thus far limited Trump's power: the more power you give him, the more likely he is to rival Hitler. Even so, Trump is likely to be limited by his incompetence, his vanity, and the historical untenability of racism, imperialism, and war. Still, a fascist doesn't have to be as disastrous as Hitler to be a fascist. It would be wise to detect the impulses before they get out of hand -- as they did with the Capitol insurrection.

One more question is why does it matter whether people make the link between Trump and pre-WWII fascists? It all depends on who you are talking to. The US fought WWII specifically against fascism, and that resonates even today. To say Trump is a fascist emphasizes how he runs counter to American political traditions -- an appeal not just to liberals but to conservatives who value the freedom secured by American democracy. Such people have had a peculiar sense of when fascism needs to be opposed. They coined the term "premature anti-fascists" to describe leftists who recognized the danger of fascism long before the US government felt the need to fight fascism in WWII. For leftists, Trump's fascist affinities were recognized early -- long before the attack on the Capitol. But the charge of fascism has always been a heuristic (a pattern through which various perceptions come into focus). It may (or may not) make practical sense to use the term, as opposed to the many other ways one might talk about Trump's bad deeds. But Trump's fomenting of mob violence against Congress certainly expanded the circle of people willing to talk about Trump's fascism.

Nicole Narea: Trump's border visit was a desperate attempt to preserve his legacy on immigration. When I first heard of this, I thought maybe Trump was making some kind of grand tour of his accomplishments, but then I remembered he didn't have any -- at least not ones he'd like to draw attention to.

Cameron Peters: Alex Azar's resignation letter paints a misleading picture of Trump's coronavirus response.

Sabrina Rodriguez: Trump's partially built 'big, beautiful wall': In the end, President Donald rump built a mere fraction of what he promised."

Austin Sarat: Trump targeted the mentally ill with his lame duck execution spree. This ranks high on the list of disgusting things Trump has done (not that I have the stomach to try ranking them). I've long thought that the key question on capital punishment is not whether the covict has done something deserving of death but whether the state should have the power to kill securely incarcerated people in cold blood. I can think of lots of reasons to say no, including the fact that the other nations who still slaughter prisoners are the world's leading human rights abusers, which come to think of it is why the US is one of them. But another is that the punishment is applied so inconsistently and haphazardly, as is clear from this tendency to single out the most helpless prisoners available. Also note that while many of Trump's orders can (and will) be reversed, his killings are final -- the one part of his legacy he can always look back on and relish. Related:

Emily Stewart: Why the MyPillow guy was at the White House, explained as best as we can: Mike Lindell.

Enter Biden

See Building Biden's Cabinet for a survey of who's been selected for Biden's top administration positions, and who's being considered for still open slots. Another updated scorecard is Intelligencer's All of president-elect Joe Biden's cabinet nominees. Also: Who Joe Biden picked to fill his cabinet.


David Dayen: How Biden can move on from the Obama era: "The American Economic Liberties Project's 'Courage to Learn' report explains Obama's failures on competition policy, and a path forward for the new president." It's hard to think of anything the Obama administration did a poorer job of than antitrust ("if you block the last two companies in the economy from merging, that's not a successful antitrust policy" -- and that only happened toward the end of the second term).

Connor Echols: Biden's hidden hawks: This singles out several "particularly concerning" second-tier appointees, "both for their lack of repentance for past sins and their potential to do harm going forward."

  1. Victoria Nuland, Biden's nominee for under secretary of state for political affairs, the third-ranking post in the State Department.
  2. Samantha Power, Biden's pick to lead the United States Agency for International Development, or USAID.
  3. Kurt Campbell, Biden's pick for "Asia tsar."

Dino Grandoni/Juliet Eilperin: Biden swells the ranks of his White House climate team.

Anne Kim: Joe the centrist? Biden's Family Assistance Plan is really bold.

Nicholas Kristof: When Biden becomes . . . Rooseveltian! Seems premature, but the conditions are ripe, even if there's never been any reason to think the man might rise to the occasion. Starts with a famous story:

Soon after Franklin Roosevelt was inaugurated in 1933, a visitor assessed the stakes of his New Deal proposal.

"Mr. President, if your program succeeds, you'll be the greatest president in American history," the visitor told him. "If it fails, you will be the worst one."

"If it fails," Roosevelt responded, "I'll be the last one."

Paul Krugman: Four rules that should guide Bidenomics: Ugh! Can we start by banning the personalized term? Call it "Democratic economic politics" if you must, as it's a shared set of precepts and policies which can be meaningfully contrasted to "Republican economic politics" -- and that wouldn't surrender the concept of an economic science separate from partisan preference (not that academic economists don't have their partisan loyalties). Still, let's list the rules:

  1. Don't doubt the power of government to help.
  2. Don't obsess about debt.
  3. Don't worry about inflation.
  4. Don't count on Republicans to help govern.

Nancy LeTourneau: The attacks on Biden's Civil Rights Division nominee have already started. Kristen Clarke. You may recall that Republicans singled out Clinton's and Obama's nominees for this position (Lani Guinier, Debo Adegbile). They get nervous at the prospect of the Civil Rights Division being led by someone serious about civil rights.

German Lopez: Biden's plan to fix the Covid-19 vaccine rollout, explained. Bullet points:

  • More federal work to get shots to people.
  • Boost the supply of vaccines.
  • Expanded vaccine eligibility.
  • Mobilize a larger public health workforce.
  • Launch a national public education campaign.

Ian Millhiser: McConnell is already sabotaging Biden's presidency: "The Senate hasn't held a single confirmation hearing on Biden's nominees. That's not normal."

Nicole Narea: What we know about Biden's inauguration plans.

Cameron Peters:

Emily Stewart:

Bill Scher: It's time for a domestic terrorism law: Filed this under Biden because "Joe Biden's transition team was already working on a domestic terrorism law before the insurrection." I've been worried about right-wing violence at least since the 1990s (remember Oklahoma City?), and of course I know it wasn't newly minted then: the practice of violence is deeply embedded in the DNA of conservatism. I would even venture that aside from 9/11, I doubt there's ever been a year since the 1990s where Islamic terrorists (or "antifa" or "eco-terrorists") have killed more Americans in America than right-wingers have. Still, it's unclear to me that new anti-terrorism laws are either needed or useful. On the other hand, I can understand the fear, as I expect right-wing terror is going to get much worse before the "fire and fury" Trump (and Fox) stoked burns itself out. Some debate:

Jon Walker: Democrats must federalize Medicaid. Well, sure, but while the states bear a lot of responsibility for not expanding Medicaid per the ACA, a more fundamental problem is having a second-class Medicare-for-some in the first place.

Alex Ward: Biden taps Bill Burns, a career diplomat, to lead CIA. Note that Robert Wright/Connor Echols gave Burns a relatively decent mark on their Grading candidates for Biden's foreign policy team.

The Covid-19 Pandemic Surge

Latest map and case count: 23.9 million+ cases (14 day change +9%, total up 1.5 million in last week), 397,566 deaths (+27%), 126,139 hospitalized (+5%). While today's numbers are down a bit from the peak, the 14-day changes are still rising, giving us The worst week for deaths since the pandemic began. Monday will probably top the 400,000 deaths mark.

According to Bloomberg's Covid-19 vaccine tracker, the US has administered 14.7 million doses. The number of people who have received two doses is still very small.


Marc Fisher/Lori Rozsa/Mark Kreidler/Annie Gowen: 400,000: The invisible deaths of covid-19: "It took just over a month for the US coronavirus death toll to clib from 300,000 to nearly 400,000" (see chart).

Dhruv Khullar: Five countries, five experiences of the pandemic.

Ezra Klein: Biden's Covid-19 plan is maddeningly obvious: "It is infuriating that the Trump administration left so many of these things undone."

The person in charge of managing the hell out of the operation is Jeff Zients, who served as chief performance officer under President Barack Obama and led the rescue of HealthCare.gov. In a Saturday briefing with journalists, Zients broke the plan down into four buckets. Loosen the restrictions on who can get vaccinated (and when). Set up many more sites where vaccinations can take place. Mobilize more medical personnel to deliver the vaccinations. And use the might of the federal government to increase the vaccine supply by manufacturing whatever is needed, whenever it is needed, to accelerate the effort. "We're going to throw the full resources and weight of the federal government behind this emergency," Zients promised.

Concerning the World

William LeoGrande: Putting Cuba on the terrorism list is unjustified and unwise.

James North: Pompeo's lie of al-Qaeda link raises risk of conflict with Iran. More on Pompeo:

Yumna Patel: In 'watershed' moment, B'Tselem labels Israel 'apartheid regime'. More comments, and more on Israel:

Charles Pierson: A Yemeni famine made in Washington and Riyadh.

Gareth Porter: How CENTCOM Chief McKenzie manufactured an Iran crisis to increase his power.

Everything Else

William Astore: We're all prisoners of war now: "When will America free itself from war?"

Ask yourself this question: During a deadly pandemic, as the American death toll approaches 400,000 while still accelerating, what unites "our" representatives in Congress? What is the only act that draws wide and fervent bipartisan support, not to speak of a unique override of a Trump presidential veto in these last four years? It certainly isn't providing health care for all or giving struggling families checks for $2,000 to ensure that food will be on American tables or that millions of us won't be evicted from our homes in the middle of a pandemic. No, what unites "our" representatives is funding the military-industrial complex to the tune of $740.5 billion in fiscal year 2021 (though the real amount spent on what passes for "national security" each year regularly exceeds a trillion dollars). Still, that figure of $740.5 billion in itself is already higher than the combined military spending of the next 10 countries, including Russia and China as well as U.S. allies like France, Germany, and the United Kingdom.

Bryan Bender: The military has a hate group problem. But it doesn't know how bad it's gotten.

Constance Grady:

  • Josh Hawley's book deal cancellation comes after a year of social debates in publishing.

  • The word "Orwellian" has lost all meaning: "How the right made the word 'Orwellian' an empty cliché." I'm not sure I ever knew what it meant, but maybe that's because I was always under the impression that 1984 was meant as a warning against a possible future, not as a prescription. Orwell was one of the "God That Failed" crowd of former turned anti-communists, so he was quickly turned into a useful idiot in the right-wing propaganda war. (I had to read Animal Farm as part of my high-school indoctrination.) But it isn't hard to find Orwell quotes that discredit this caricature -- e.g., "political language is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give the appearance of solidity to pure wind." That quote here was immediately followed by a DJTJ tweet complaining that "Free-speech no longer exists in America. It died with big tech and what's left is only there for a chosen few." Like DJTJ, evidently, though that hardly explains the faux outrage. Also:

William Grimes: Phil Spector, famed music producer and convicted murderer, dies at 81: "Pop genius and NRA poster-boy" is the way I'd put it. On the former, see Jon Pareles: Phil Spector: Listening to 15 songs from a violent legacy. Those songs range 1958-80, with the string most associated with him ending in 1966 with "River Deep, Mountain High." The murder occurred in 2003. Spector had long been fascinated with guns, liked to bring them out and play around with them, and eventually killed an actress named Lana Clarkson. At the time, he claimed it was an accident, but it was the sort that seemed bound to happen, and he was convicted of 2nd degree murder. Hardly a loss to music at that point, but a cautionary tale about guns. Also see:

Robert D McFadden: Sheldon Adelson, billionaire donor to GOP and Israel, is dead at 87. New York Times obituary, so not the most critical, but a fair place to start. Adelson was an extreme example of how someone who was extremely rich ("$34.9 billion at the time of his death") could exert extraordinary political influence. He was Trump's top financial backer in 2016, and contributed much more in 2020: "about $250 million in checks to support Trump and GOP House and Senate candidates." He had so much influence over Republicans that in 2016 there was much talk of a "Sheldon Adelson primary," where hopefuls trekked to Las Vegas to beg for his support. Although he embraced most of the political causes of the very rich, his overriding issue was support for Israel and its racism and militarism, and he may have had even more influence there, both through his direct control of much Israeli media (see How US billionaire Sheldon Adelson is buying up Israel's media) and his political contributions, especially his sponsorship of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. For some more on Adelson:

Ian Millhiser:

  • Abolish the lame-duck period: "America's long lame-duck period gave Trump supporters months to plan a violent uprising. It needs to end." I doubt the insurrection had all that much planning, but the point about the 2.5 month lame-duck period is well taken. In most democracies, power changes hand within days of an election. (Millhiser gives examples like 5 days in the UK, 7 days in France, 10 days in India and Japan, 2 weeks in Canada.) The US used to have an even longer transition (March 4), which was changed after the 1932 election -- perhaps the most fractious and perilous transition before this year, as FDR had to wait and wait while Hoover watched banks collapse and the Depression worsen. After that experience, the Constitution was amended to move up the date.

  • The Supreme Court hands down its first anti-abortion decision of the Amy Coney Barrett era.

Jeffrey St Clair: Roaming charges: Do me two times, I'm goin' away. Makes fun of Biden for calling Trump "an embarrassment." Of course, there are worse things you can (and should) charge Trump with, but embarrassment is the common denominator, something we should (if not can) all be able to agree on.

Dorothy Wickenden: The pre-Civil War fight against white supremacy: "In a country riven by racial politics, three women strove for a just society." Frances Seward, Martha Coffin Wright, Harriet Tubman.


   Mar 2001