Monday, August 31, 2020
Expanded blog post,
Music: Current count 33914  rated (+49), 215  unrated (-10).
Another big week, closing out a huge five-week month -- the August
Streamnotes (link above) collected 216 records, which is close to the
record (something I don't have time to research at the moment). Fairly
significant dives into old jazz, triggered either by
questions or deaths, really pumped up
the total. This week the subjects are Wayne Shorter and the late Jimmy
Heath (whose new album came out shortly after his death). That left 92
new music albums, plus 14 new compilations of older music. This week
I finally took a crack at my demo queue, reducing it by half.
questions of late, but I did post some
notes on Heath and Shorter.
Don't have time to write much more. I did save an obituary link for
Japanese trumpet player
Itaru Oki (1941-2020). I have two of his records in my
database. I've also factored
Phil Overeem's latest list into my
metacritic rankings. One
of the new records there (number 2 on the old music list) is
Allen Lowe's latest book, packaged with 30 CDs.
Found out another cousin (well, -in-law) died, this one three years
ago. Barbara Burns, wife of Jerold Dean Burns, known as Pete to his
friends, and J.D. to his family. Been wondering about her.
New records reviewed this week:
- Rez Abbasi: Django-shift (2019 , Whirlwind): [cd]: B+(**)
- Idris Ackamoor & the Pyramids: Shaman! (2020, Strut): [r]: A-
- Mandy Barnett: A Nashville Songbook (2020, BMG): [r]: B+(**)
- The Big Bad Bones Featuring Scott Whitfield: Emergency Vehicle Blues (2019 , Summit): [cd]: B+(*)
- Endless Field: Alive in the Wilderness (2020, Biophilia): [r]: B+(**)
- Nubya Garcia: Source (2020, Concord): [r]: B+(**)
- Johnny Iguana: Johnny Iguana's Chicago Spectacular (2019 , Delmark): [r]: B+(**)
- Jyoti: Mama, You Can Bet! (2020, SomeOthaShip): [r]: B+(**)
- Jon-Erik Kellso: Sweet Fruits Salty Roots (2020, Jazzology): [r]: B+(***)
- Eva Kess: Sternschnuppen: Falling Stars (2019 , Neuklang): [cd]: B+(***)
- Allegra Levy: Lose My Number (2020, SteepleChase): [cd]: B+(**)
- Roberto Magris: Suite! (2018 , JMood, 2CD): [cdr]: B+(**)
- Raphaël Pannier Quartet: Faune (2020, French Paradox): [cd]: B+(**)
- Protoje: In Search of Lost Time (2020, RCA): [r]: B+(**)
- Bruno Råberg/Jason Robinson/Bob Weiner: The Urgency of Now (2017-18 , Creative Nation Music): [cd]: A-
- Maria Schneider Jazz Orchestra: Data Lords (2019 , ArtistShare, 2CD): [cd]: B+(**)
- Radam Schwartz Organ Big Band: Message From Groove and GW (2020, Arabesque): [cd]: B+(***)
- Somi With Frankfurt Radio Big Band: Holy Room: Live at Alte Oper (2019 , Salon Africana, 2CD)
- Trio Linguale [Kevin Woods/John Stowell/Miles Black]: Signals (2019 , Origin): [cd]: B+(*)
- Tropos: Axioms // 75 AB (2019 , Biophilia): [r]: B+(*)
- The Trevor Watts Quartet: The Real Intention (2019 , Fundacja Sluchaj): [bc]: B+(**)
Recent reissues, compilations, and vault discoveries:
- Bob James: Once Upon a Time: The Lost 1965 New York Studio Sessions (1965 , Resonance): [cd]: B+(**)
- Oneness of Juju: African Rhythms 1970-1982 (1970-82 , Black Fire, 2CD): [r]: B+(**)
- Bilal: Love for Sale (2001-03 , bootleg): [yt]: B+(**)
- Jimmy Heath: The Quota (1961 , Riverside/OJC): [r]: B+(**)
- Jimmy Heath: Triple Threat (1962 , Riverside/OJC): [r]: B+(**)
- Jimmy Heath and Brass: Swamp Seed (1963 , Riverside/OJC): [r]: B+(***)
- Jimmy Heath Quintet: On the Trail (1964 , Riverside/OJC): [r]: B+(***)
- Jimmy Heath: Nice People: The Riverside Collection (1959-64 , Riverside/OJC): [r]: A-
- Jimmy Heath: Picture of Heath (1975, Xanadu): [r]: A-
- Jimmy Heath: Peer Pleasure (1987, Landmark): [yt]: B+(**)
- Jimmy Heath Quartet: You've Changed (1991 , SteepleChase): [r]: B+(***)
- Jimmy Heath Quartet: You or Me (1995, SteepleChase): [r]: A-
- The Jimmy Heath Big Band: Turn Up the Heath (2004-06 , Planet Arts): [r]: B+(**)
- The Heath Brothers: Marchin' On! (1976, Strata-East): [yt]: B+(**)
- The Heath Brothers: Brotherly Love (1981 , Antilles): [r]: B+(*)
- The Heath Brothers: As We Were Saying . . . (1997, Concord): [r]: B+(**)
- The Heath Brothers: Endurance (2008 , Jazz Legacy): [r]: B+(**)
- Wayne Shorter: Introducing Wayne Shorter (1959 , Vee-Jay): [r]: A-
- Wayne Shorter: Second Genesis (1960 , Vee-Jay): [r]: B+(*)
- Wayne Shorter: Etcetera (1965 , Blue Note): [r]: B+(***)
- Wayne Shorter: Schizophrenia (1967 , Blue Note): [r]: B+(**)
- Wayne Shorter: Moto Grosso Feio (1970 , Blue Note): [r]: B+(*)
- Wayne Shorter: Odyssey of Iskra (1970 , Blue Note): [r]: B+(**)
- Wayne Shorter: Atlantis (1985, Columbia): [r]: C+
- Wayne Shorter: Phantom Navigator (1986 , Columbia): [r]: C
- Wayne Shorter: Joy Rider (1988, Columbia): [r]: C+
- Wayne Shorter: Alegria (2002 , Verve): [r]: B
Unpacking: Found in the mail last week:
- Allegra Levy: Lose My Number (SteepleChase)
- Merzbow/Mats Gustafsson/Balász Pándi: Cuts Open (RareNoise): cdr [09-25]
- WorldService Project: Hiding in Plain Sight (RareNoise): cdr [09-25]
Sunday, August 30, 2020
Before we waddle in the dirt, here's an election song from
Wreckless Eric & Amy Rigby. It will make you feel better.
And to top it off, how about
the Power (e.g., "the power to wrestle the earth from fools")?
Big event of the week was the Republican National Convention.
Once again, I didn't watch any of it live, but caught some high-
or low-lights on Stephen Colbert's "live" recaps, plus I read a
lot. I started collecting links on Tuesday, and I haven't made
the effort to group them, so the following list may seem to run
around in circles. I did try to list them chronologically under
each writer. (Past practice generally listed the latest pieces
first, but the opposite made more sense for day-by-day pieces,
and when I decided that I tried to reorder the others.)
There were other serious stories this week. A Category 4 hurricane
hit Louisiana, inflicting a lot of damage. Police in Kenosha, WS shot
an unarmed black man eight times in the back -- he survived, but is
paralyzed -- and that kicked off another round of Black Lives Matter
protests. Then an armed Trump supporter shot three protesters, killing
two. There was also a shooting in Portland, OR, where the victim was
a Trump-aligned counter-protester (presently unclear who pulled that
Barely mentioned below is a well-attended March on Washington, on
the 57th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.'s famous speech there.
One story I've shortchanged is Israel's continuing offensive against
Gaza, extended last week with bombing raids on Lebanon (as opposed
to the more covert destruction of the port of Beirut).
Links on the Republican National Convention:
Vox [Zack Beauchamp/Jane Coaston/German Lopez/Ian Millhiser/Nicole Narea/Andrew Prokop/Aaron Rupar/Dylan Scott/Emily Stewart/Matthew Yglesias/Li Zhou]:
5 winners and 2 losers from the RNC's first night: Winners: The
Fox News cinematic universe; Nikki Haley; Sen. Tim Scott; Recep Tayyip
Erdogan; Covid-19; Losers: Optimism; The GOP beyond Trump. That cut
Haley and Scott a lot of slack, "but the reason they stood out is that
they felt out of step with the rest of the two-and-a-half-hour
convention." In particular, the "story of Trump's triumph over
Covid-19" was so unconvincing they scored that point for the virus,
rather than flagging the story itself as the loser it was.
Republican National Convention speakers, explained for people who
don't watch Fox News. The Tuesday night roster.
2 winners and 3 losers from night 2 of the RNC:
Winners: Eric Trump ("the most effective orator of the evening");
nepotism. Losers: Ethics in government; The immigrants Trump didn't
naturalize; RNC vetting.
Wednesday's Republican National Convention speakers, explained for
people who don't watch Fox News.
2 winners and 3 losers from the third night of the Republican National
Convention: Winners: The Republican Party's alliance with law
enforcement; Gov. Kristi Noem (evidently the night's least embarrassing
speaker; their words were "nothing all that extraordinary"; also "She
inaccurately characterized Martin Luther King Jr. as a supporter of
Republican approaches to racial issues"). Losers: Mike Pence's presidential
aspirations; pretaped speeches; whitewashed feminism.
Thursday's Republican National Convention speakers, explained for people
who don't watch Fox News.
3 winners and 4 losers from the final night of the Republican National
Winners: Donald Trump; Black Republicans; The politicization of sports.
Losers: The Mellon Auditorium; Social distancing; Riots; Bill de Blasio.
This whole "winners/losers" thing has been sorely tested by the RNC. It
worked better following debates, where some candidates did better/worse,
and some issues were touted or ignored. With the RNC, the winners and
losers were still relative, but the bar was so far below normal the
"winning" speeches were merely the less embarrassing ones (remember,
Eric Trump was the lead day two "winner"), and the reasons behind
picking the non-people winners/losers were rarely obvious (e.g.,
Covid-19 was a day one winner, probably because whenever a speaker
mentioned it, the claims made obviously rang false).
Grand old meltdown: "Trump's Republican Party is the very definition
of a cult of personality."
The spectacle is unceasing. One day, it's a former top administration
official going public with Trump's stated unwillingness to extend
humanitarian aid to California because it's politically blue and Puerto
Rico because it's "poor" and "dirty." The next day, it's Trump launching
a boycott of Goodyear, a storied American company that employs 65,000
people, for one store's uneven ban on political apparel in the workplace.
A day later, it's Steve Bannon, the president's former chief strategist,
getting rung up on charges of swindling donors out of money for the
private construction of a border wall, money he allegedly spent on
yachts and luxury living. It was just the latest in a string of arrests
that leave Trump looking eerily similar to the head of a criminal
enterprise. What all of these incidents and so many more have in common
is that not a single American's life has been improved; not a single
little guy has been helped. Just as with the forceful dispersing of
peaceful protesters in Lafayette Park -- done so he could hold up a
prop Bible for flashing cameras -- Trump and his allies continue to
wage symbolic battles whose principal casualties are ordinary people.
The 'abomination' of a convention makes clear the GOP threat.
Nick Sandmann, RNC speaker and Covington Catholic video star,
explained: Why is an 18-year-old nobody speaking at the RNC?
Sandmann is the perfect victim: a young conservative man who came to
Washington to protest abortion and was "smeared" by the left as being
an awful racist because he had the temerity to wear one of President
Trump's hats. The fact that he's been fighting the media, and forcing
them to settle lawsuits, is icing on the cake.
In reality, though, Sandmann's appearance is a testament to the
emptiness of this narrative. There's no policy argument connected to
this story; revisiting it does nothing to convince voters that the
Trump administration can make their lives better in any kind of material
way. The RNC to date has been empty in this exact way, an attempt to
gin up anger and fear at the base's enemies rather than sell a positive
vision of America.
The RNC and the subtle rot of Trump's reality TV presidency: "Why
the RNC's broadcasted naturalizations and pardon ceremony felt so
The RNC weaponized exhaustion: "The sheer volume of lies and illegal
behavior from Trump and the Republicans is what allowed them to get away
The first night of the RNC featured more false and misleading claims than
all four nights of the DNC put together, according to a CNN fact-check.
The second night starred an anti-abortion activist whose tale about the
horrors of Planned Parenthood had been exposed as a fraud more than 10
years ago. On the third night, Vice President Mike Pence suggested that
the murder of a police officer by a far-right extremist was a crime
committed by left-wing rioters. It was all capped off by President
Trump's Thursday night speech, a farrago of falsehoods that even veteran
Trump fact-checkers found stunning.
Kimberly Guilfoyle's speech encapsulated the Fox News feel of the RNC's
first night: "Loudly." How can a person find any logic in gibberish
such as this:
"They want to control what you see and think and believe so that they
can control how you live," she said. "They want to enslave you to the
weak dependent liberal victim. They want to destroy this country and
everything that we have fought for and hold dear. They want to steal
your liberty, your freedom."
The only way to stop it, according to Guilfoyle, would be by reelecting
President Donald Trump. She listed several of Trump's accomplishments
since taking office, mentioning tax cuts, taking on ISIS, and renegotiating
"Don't let the Democrats take you for granted," she said. "Don't let
them step on you. Don't let them destroy your families, your lives, and
your future. Don't let them kill future generations because they told you
and brainwashed you and fed you lies that you weren't good enough."
Eric Trump's RNC speech had something rare: Policy substance. Just
because he mentioned (in deceptive spin) a few things -- "tax cuts for
the wealthy, cut regulations, an improved economy and reduced unemployment
(before the pandemic triggered a collapse), and increased military funding,
and the move of the US Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem" -- that the Trump
administration had done doesn't make him a policy wonk, let alone explain
the thinking behind de facto policies. Moreover, the thrust of his speech
was wholly in line with the Trump campaign spiel:
Using imagery of the Hoover Dam and Mount Rushmore, Trump's speech
painted a picture of an industrious heartland, ignored by the coastal
elites. "Every day my father fights for the American people," he said.
"The forgotten men and women of this country. The ones who embody the
American spirit." . . .
"In the view of the radical Democrats, America is the source of
the world's problems. As a result, they believe the only path forward
is to erase history and forget the past. They want to destroy the
monuments of our forefathers," he said. "They want to disrespect our
national anthem by taking a knee, while our armed forces lay down their
lives every day to protect our freedom. They do not want the Pledge of
Allegiance in our schools. Many do not want one nation under God. The
Democrats want to defund, destroy, and disrespect our law enforcement."
Trump went on to contrast this depiction of Democrats with his father,
who he claimed is a champion for law enforcement, religious people, the
"canceled," coal miners, and farmers. "To every proud American who bleeds
red, white, and blue -- my father will continue to fight for you," Trump
This featured notion that Trump fights for the little guy is possibly
the most grotesque lie in a campaign that is chock full of them.
Mike Pence's big lie about Trump and the coronavirus at the Republican
Perhaps the most remarkable thing about Pence's bowing and scraping
to Trump is that he seems to revel in it. In an interview with the
Times, his chief of staff, Marc Short, said Pence has studied
previous Vice-Presidencies, and he "exemplifies servant leadership."
Even in these twisted days, when Trump's takeover of the G.O.P. seems
virtually complete, it isn't every elected Republican who would like
to go in the history books as the forty-fifth President's most loyal
and obsequious servant. As he demonstrated on Wednesday night, when
he once again acted as Trump's lickspittle, Pence seems to fill the
Trump was supposed to change the GOP. But the GOP changed him.
"How the Republican Party turned Donald Trump into one of their own."
This formulation flips a common argument about Trump refashioning
the Party in his own image. He has done some of that in terms of
look and feel, but Trump's style is something that has been honed
for years by Fox pundits: he's basically a receptacle and incubator
for their rants. But he's stocked his administration with standard
issue Republicans, many straight from lobby shops, and they've
limited his policy options to what they would have any Republican
Aaron Ross Coleman:
Republicans claim Democrats want to defund the police. Biden's plan
calls for more police.
NYC tenants in RNC video say they were tricked.
Trump escalates rhetoric on unrest in cities, looking for a campaign
A guide to the GOP Convention's pretend agenda.
Dan Diamond/Adam Cancryn:
How Mike Pence slowed down the coronavirus response.
Thomas B Edsall:
'I fear that we are witnessing the end of American democracy': "The
Frank racism of the contemporary Republican agenda is on display at the
Donald Trump declares total war on the civil service: "The Republican
National Convention is a testament to the president's effort to permanently
recast the executive branch in his own warped image."
The platform the GOP is too scared to publish: "The question is not
why Republicans lack a coherent platform; it's why they're so reluctant
to publish the one on which they're running."
Once you read the list, I think you'll agree that these are authentic
ideas with meaningful policy consequences, and that they are broadly
shared. The question is not why Republicans lack a coherent platform;
it's why they're so reluctant to publish the one on which they're
- The most important mechanism of economic policy -- not the only tool,
but the most important -- is adjusting the burden of taxation on society's
richest citizens. . . .
- The coronavirus is a much-overhyped problem. It's not that dangerous
and will soon burn itself out. . . .
- Climate change is a much-overhyped problem. It's probably not happening.
If it is happening, it's not worth worrying about. . . . Regulations to
protect the environment unnecessarily impede economic growth.
- China has become an economic and geopolitical adversary of the United
States. . . . When China wins, the U.S. loses, and vice versa.
- The trade and alliance structures built after World War II are
outdated. . . . If America acts decisively, allies will have to follow
whether they like it or not -- as they will have to follow U.S. policy
- Health care is a purchase like any other. Individuals should make
their ow best deals in the insurance market with minimal government
supervision. . . .
- Voting is a privilege. States should have wide latitude to regulate
that privilege . . .
- Anti-Black racism has ceased to be an important problem in American
life. At this point, the people most likely to be targets of adverse
discrimination are whites, Christians, and Asian university applicants.
Federal civil-rights-enforcement resources should concentrate on
- The courts should move gradually and carefully toward eliminating
the mistake made in 1965, when women's sexual privacy was elevated
into a constitutional right.
- The post-Watergate ethics reforms overreached. We should welcome
the trend toward unrestricted and secret campaign donations. . . .
- Trump's border wall is the right policy to slow illegal immigration;
the task of enforcing immigration rules should not fall on business
operators. . . .
- The country is gripped by a surge of crime and lawlessness as a
result of the Black Lives Matter movement and its criticism of
police. . . .
- Civility and respect are cherished ideals. But in the face of
the overwhelming and unfair onslaught against President Donald Trump
by the media and the "deep state," his occasional excesses on Twitter
and at his rallies should be understood as pardonable reactions to
much more severe misconduct by others.
So there's the platform, why not publish it? . . . This is a platform
for a party that talks to itself, not to the rest of the country. And
for those purposes, the platform will succeed most to the extent that
it is communicated only implicitly, to those receptive to its message.
Trump's Republican National Convention was a spectacle fit for a
To call things what they are, the Republicans adopted a fascist aesthetic
for this year's Convention. It was in the pillars and the flags; the
military-style outfit that Melania Trump wore to deliver her speech, on
the second night; the screaming fervor with which many of the speeches
were delivered; the repeated references to "law and order"; and phrases
like "weakness is provocative," which the Republican senator Tom Cotton
offered on the final evening. The aesthetic -- and the rhetoric -- held
out the carrot of greatness, of what Hannah Arendt, explaining the appeal
of totalitarian movements, called "victory and success as such," the prize
of being on the winning side, whatever that side is. The seduction of
greatness may grow proportionately to anxiety: the more scared one is --
of losing one's job or health insurance, or of the coronavirus, of the
world never going back to normal, among other worries -- the more
reassuring it is to say (better yet, to scream) that one lives in the
greatest country on earth. One looks at people shouting triumphantly --
none of them social distancing, only a few wearing masks -- and one
feels somehow uplifted by the fantasy of being one of them.
Susan B Glasser:
The malign fantasy of Donald Trump's convention.
The problem, of course, is that America as we know it is currently in
the midst of a mess not of Biden's making but of Trump's. Suffice it
to say that, by the time Trump's speech was over and the red, white,
and blue fireworks spelling out "2020" had been set off over the
National Mall, late Thursday night, more than three thousand seven
hundred Americans had died of the coronavirus since the start of the
Convention -- more than perished on 9/11 -- and a hundred and eighty
thousand Americans total had succumbed to the disease, a disease that
Trump repeatedly denied was even a threat. His botched handling of
the pandemic was the very reason that his Convention was taking place
on the White House lawn in the first place.
Melissa Gira Grant:
The real, paranoid housewives of the Republican Convention: "Patricia
McCloskey and Kimberly Guilfoyle are a new twist on a dangerous lineage
of conservative women."
New citizens in Trump's naturalization stunt were unaware it would be
used at RNC.
Trying to disgust you is the only move the Republican convention's
antiabortion speakers have left.
Why Trump's racist appeals might be less effective in 2020 than they were
The GOP thinks Marxists are taking over. If only that were true:
All this insane paranoia about radical Democrats and the march of
socialism is helping to produce a backlash as more and more people
wonder if that wouldn't be a good idea after all.
Republicans promised a convention, but delivered crazy talk:
"On the first night of the RNC, speakers worshipped Trump but rarely
mentioned their party, and many went over the brink with wild anti-Biden
Night two of the RNC badly needed an editor: "After a wild first
night, the second night of the RNC had its insane moments but lacked
pace and drama."
Pence warns that America won't be America without Trump: "Even the
president hasn't yet made such a sweeping boast tying himself to the
essence of the nation." But if you consider that the only thing separating
his slogans "make America great again" and "keep America great" was Trump's
election, he did. We just foolishly assumed he meant something more, but
in the mind of a narcissist, what more could there be?
The big liar ends the RNC with big lies about himself and Biden:
"Trump ended the convention as it began -- with efforts to salvage his
record, make out Biden as a radical, frighten suburbanites, and ignore
A loyalty test for the GOP, a reality test for the country: "The
Republican Party has become a personality cult."
In the era of President Donald Trump, the news develops the quality
"of being shocking without being surprising," wrote Masha Gessen in
Surviving Autocracy. Each week's events are "an assault on the
senses and the mental faculties," and yet, somehow, "just more of the
That's how I felt watching the first night of the Republican National
Convention. It was a night that I couldn't quite believe. It was a night
I could not have imagined going any other way. It was bizarre, unnerving,
and unprecedented. It was banal, predictable, and expected.
"If you really want to drive them crazy, you say '12 more years,'"
Trump said as he opened the convention. The crowd happily chanted "12
more years." It drove me a little crazy, but mostly left me tired. It's
a performance of provocation hiding a convention that had nothing to say,
only enemies to fight, social changes to fear.
What is there to say upon hearing Trump described as "the bodyguard
of Western civilization?" It's not an argument so much as a loyalty
oath, an offering cut from the speaker's dignity and burnt for the
pleasure of the Dear Leader himself. But the outrageousness is the
point. Protest and you're triggered -- just another oversensitive
lib who can't take a joke. Ignore it and you're complicit. To care
is to lose. . . .
Fact-checkers will have a field day with all this, but it's a bit
beside the point. The sort of lie Trump and his supporters tell,
writes Gessen, "is the power lie, or the bully lie. It is the lie of
the bigger kid who took your hat and is wearing it -- while denying
that he took it." That is the sort of lie that suffused Monday night's
proceedings. The point isn't that it's true; it's that they can say it
and no one can stop them.
The core of Trump's agenda has always been untethering American
politics from factual reality, and among Republicans, at least, he's
been startlingly successful. The convention is a loyalty test for
Republicans, and a reality check for the rest of us.
The 3 charts that disprove Donald Trump's convention speech: "Trump
wants to take credit for something he didn't do [pre-pandemic economic
growth], and dodge blame for something he did do [coronavirus response]."
How Trump mastered the art of telling history his way. Grim
conclusion, quoting Doug Brinkley: "And if he gets reelected with us
knowing all of this, then he is a reflection of what America has
How Trump inoculates his supporters against reality.
Why the RNC blamed "restorative justice" for the Parkland shooting:
"The father of a Parkland shooting victim said school discipline, not
gun laws, was to blame for the mass shooting."
Mark and Patricia McCloskey, the gun-toting St Louis couple, explained:
"The couple is speaking at the first night of the Republican convention.
Trump didn't just fail to address Covid-19. He made the crisis worse.
"Trump and the RNC tried to put a positive spin on his record. But the
facts are clear."
Trump failed on the opioid crisis -- and Democrats are letting him get
away with it. This is the author's reporting turf, but I can't see
it as an issue worth talking about in this election -- the dig against
the Democrats is unfair, although when it does come up, the answer
should point out that this is a public health problem, exacerbated by
the lack of free and universal health care (which would include pain
management and addiction treatment). Republicans fail because they
don't want free and universal health care. Democrats won't succeed
until they do. But since Biden isn't exactly campaigning for that,
probably best not to play up the issue.
The absurdity of Trump's RNC speech, in one photo: The one on the left.
On the right, without the sign but with a better view of the fireworks
(symbolizing the destruction of American democracy?) is every bit as
absurd (and even more malign?).
CNN fact-checked Trump's RNC speech on air. It took 3 minutes.
"Trump's RNC speech averaged a false or misleading claim every 3
minutes." Includes a list of 21 items.
Trump used the RNC to gaslight America on Covid-19.
The manic denialism of the Republican National Convention.
The problems in your life aren't real; the real problems are the ones
that nobody, except for everybody on this stage, has the courage to
talk about. The media wants to brainwash you; the Marxists are massing
outside your idyllic suburban lawn; if the enemy gets its way, small
businesses will be decimated, Thomas Jefferson will be cancelled, and
911 will go straight to voice mail. The speakers at the Republican
National Convention keep ringing the same notes: fabricated panic
followed by hoarse, manic Panglossianism. Jobs were lost under past
Democrats, and they would be lost under future Democrats, but with
President Trump there is only milk and honey. Joe Biden is a stultifying
agent of the status quo, too boring to mention by name; he is also an
unprecedented break with tradition, a threat to all that we hold dear.
Climate change, of course, is waved away as mass hysteria; even the
coronavirus pandemic is mentioned rarely and almost always in the past
tense, as if the decision to deliver speeches in a cavernous, empty
auditorium were merely the whim of a quirky location scout. Anyone
watching from quarantine, during a once-in-a-century unemployment
crisis, would not need a fact check to know that this is all a
stretch, to say the least.
Marantz goes on for a few paragraphs like this, then he quotes
Ronald Reagan from the RNC in 1980: "Never before in our history
have Americans been called upon to face three grave threats to our
very existence, any one of which could destroy us. We face a
disintegrating economy, a weakened defense, and an energy policy
based on the sharing of scarcity." As best I recall, one of those
was bogus, and the other two were trivial compared to what we got
after Reagan was elected. Marantz then segues into a review of Rick
Perlstein's new book, Reaganland. One factoid he pulled out
of there is that "84 percent of Reagan voters gave 'time for a change'
as their major reason for choosing him -- not any ideological reason
at all." I can imagine a high percentage of Trump voters saying that
in 2016, but now? Depends on how effectively the R's can portray
Biden as the incumbent, responsible for all the mess Trump rails
The Republican National Convention's carnival of white grievance.
Unconventional: The Republicans, day one: "Even Diversity Night was
Unconventional: The Republicans, day two: "The Melania Mystery, the
Kudlow Confusion, and the two-track convention."
Unconventional: The Republicans, day three: "Chicago, 1968; pandemic,
Kenosha, and the hurricane, 2020: Reality has a way of intruding on the
Unconventional: The Republicans, day four: "The GOP extravaganza
concluded with a fireworks display, a sign of life in a limp evening."
The Hatch Act, the law Trump flouted at the RNC, explained.
The RNC's big Covid-19 lie, refused in one chart. Chart plots
7-day rolling average of new confirmed Covid-19 cases per million
people, comparing US, EU, and six other well-to-do countries.
"There are, in other words, world leader who did take decisive
action to save lives. Donald Trump isn't one of them."
The RNC yanked a speaker who promoted an anti-Semitic conspiracy
theory: Mary Ann Mendoza. "Cancel culture" lives on.
The most shocking line in Vice President Pence's 2020 RNC speech:
"Pence blames right-wing violence on a vague leftist enemy."
Pence's speech highlighted a single law enforcement officer, strongly
implying that this officer was the victim of left-wing radicals opposed
to police officers and to President Trump: "Dave Patrick Underwood was
an officer of the Department of Homeland Security's Federal Protective
Service, who was shot and killed during the riots in Oakland, California,"
said Pence, before acknowledging Underwood's sister, who was in the
Underwood's death is tragic, but it has nothing to do with left-wing
Underwood was killed just blocks away from anti-police violence protests
in Oakland, but federal authorities say he was killed by Steven Carrillo,
an Air Force staff sergeant and a follower of the "boogaloo boys," a
right-wing extremist movement that, according to the Washington Post's
Katie Shepherd, "has sought to use peaceful protests against police
brutality to spread fringe views and ignite a race war." . . .
And yet, to Mike Pence, Underwood's death was just an opportunity to
pin violence on his political opponents -- regardless of whether the
attack has any real basis in fact.
We need to talk about the GOP's 'black friends': Several pieces
here mention the relatively large number of black speakers at the RNC,
but this article explains it: "The Republican National Convention has
been all about using black people to convince white people it's OK
to vote for a bigot." On the other hand, the ploy implies that the
battle lines have shifted. George Wallace and Ronald Reagan never
needed this sort of cover, but Trump's pollsters obviously felt he
did. On the other hand, if Republicans believed that Trump had any
appeal to black voters, they wouldn't be scrambling to help get Kanye
West's name on battleground state ballots.
Trump's pitch to evangelical voters, explained in one RNC speech:
"He's 'the most pro-life president we have ever had,' according to
anti-abortion activist Abby Johnson."
American history has never seen anything to rival the Trumps' RNC family
act: Alternate title, "The Trump children hogged the spotlight like
nothing else in history."
The Republicans' love letter to rich culture warriors.
The difference between the DNC and RNC, in one tweet: It's mostly
visual, so you'll have to follow the link to get it. Of course, that's
not the only difference, or even the most important one.
Paul R Pillar:
The costs of Mike Pompeo's partisanship.
Why Republicans didn't write a platform for their convention this year:
"The party's true priority is supporting Donald Trump."
Trump thinks racism is his best chance: "Trailing in the polls, he
used the Republican National Convention to ratchet his violence-encouraging
rhetoric to an even more dangerous level."
Trump's cloud of gossip has poisoned America: "The president's
insatiable need to traffic in rumor and conspiracy blows larger holes
in our shared reality with each passing day."
The GOP convention just ripped the mask off Trump's corruption and
lies: On Pam Bondi's speech.
The contradictory Republican case to Black voters -- and why it
- Doreen St Félix:
The special hypocrisy of Melania Trump's speech at the Republican
This was the week American fascism reached a tipping point.
The surprising boredom of Trump's circus show.
Mike Pence is a parody of a politician.
Wednesday night, the gravely serious Mike Pence ended his workmanlike
speech at Fort McHenry with a similar frenzy of repetition: "With
President Donald Trump in the White House for four more years and
with God's help, we will make America great again, again."
As presidential campaign slogans go, it isn't "Tippecanoe and
Tyler Too," which helped elect William Henry Harrison in 1840.
Pence's oratory is revealing since he is a disciplined politician
who obediently follows the script and scrupulously avoids crazed
Trumpian improvisations. In short, every line in a Pence speech is
there because White House political strategists thought it represented
shrewd politics -- even Pence rhetorically sticking another scarlet "A"
for "Again" on every MAGA hat. What the vice president is saying is
that, despite Trump's supposed Mount Rushmore greatness, America needs
saving yet again. In Pence's telling, the nation is akin to an innocent
maiden in the silent movies who keeps getting tied to the railroad
Donald Trump, of course, has no responsibility for anything. Not
the pandemic, not the economy, not White House incompetence, not a
white vigilante killing protesters in Kenosha, and not Hurricane
Laura devastating the Gulf Coast. Trump is simply the unluckiest
president since William Henry Harrison died in office just a month
after he was inaugurated in 1841.
Still unclear to me why, if God let Trump down in his first term,
She's going to come to his rescue in a second term.
The Republicans still don't know how to run against Biden.
Registered foreign agent Pam Bondi accuses Joe Biden of self-dealing in
Republican convention speech.
Trump's spent years touting the stock market. At the RNC, he just . . .
didn't. "Somewhere along the way, did someone decide it might not
be a moment to tout stocks?" As long as Trump stays on script, which
he mostly did at the RNC, everything he says has been pre-cleared and
calculated for effect. What he says is what his handlers think will
do him the most good. They may not be right, but it's not for lack of
polling and testing.
The bland, boring visuals of the Republican National Convention:
"The aesthetics of the 2020 RNC are a disaster."
The RNC will be a strange mix of denial and terror.
A dubious Pompeo speech for an empty Trump foreign policy.
Trumpism is the real cancel culture.
This doesn't seem to be organized as a formal series, but I've noticed
that Vox is running a number of pieces about what a second term with
Donald Trump as president might mean. The articles are all speculative
about the future, but they are also effective indictments about what
the first Trump term did. I thought I'd try to collect them here:
What a second Trump term could mean for LGBTQ people.
A nation of immigrants no more.
Lock them up: The danger of political prosecutions in a second Trump
A second Trump term would mean severe and irreversible changes in the
climate. Isn't that already the meaning of the first Trump term?
Or at least part of the meaning. Roberts argues: "Trump's damage to
the climate is not like his damage to the immigration system or the
health care system. It can't be undone. It can't be repaired. Changes
to the climate are, for all intents and purposes, irreversible." He's
exaggerating on both ends. Trump's damage to government won't be so
easy to reverse (especially with his packed courts). On the other
hand, zero carbon emissions would eventually result in a lowering
of the carbon dioxide content in the atmosphere. Not soon, but, you
What would Trump actually want to do on health care in a second term?
"America First, but on steroids": What Trump's second-term foreign
policy might look like: "Little could stop President Trump from
remaking the world in his image." It's tempting to wax dystopian
when contemplating second terms for presidents who did extraordinary
damage in their first terms -- invariably, they imagine even greater
feats, especially with the popular ratification of their first term --
but the track records are more benign. GW Bush's second term was an
utter disaster for America, but more past-due bills from his first
term than new ambitions. His big push to privatize Social Security
was beaten back, and he never managed to mop you the remainder of
his Axis of Evil (having gotten totally bogged down in Iraq and
Afghanistan). Then his fraudulent housing bubble burst, and the
Great Recession ensued. Reagan's second term was mostly tied up
with scandals. Nixon didn't even manage to finish his second term.
Even Eisenhower did little in his second term. Of course, one thing
that helped in all of these cases is that Democrats won big in the
6th year mid-terms, so Republicans had no chance of doing much
legislatively. Of course, foreign policy could be different, given
how much power Congress has surrendered to the president over the
years (and how much various presidents have snatched). Most of the
topics in Ward's article are alarming, in large part because Trump
is so unprincipled and erratic, but the last ("Trump may just start
withdrawing from everything") might be for the better. A more
sensible approach would be to draw back military forces based on
multilateral treaties that build up international institutions,
and that's clearly over his head. I don't want to cast doubt on
the likelihood of disaster that a second Trump term would pose.
First of all, after seeing what Trump has done, it would reflect
very poorly on the judgment of the voters. Second, we'd have to
bear with four more years of extreme bullshit, while real crises
continue to multiply. Third, although popular opinion (through
Congress) can frustrate his legislative agenda, his administration
mostly works through executive orders and appointments to pack the
courts. Fourth, he is just staggeringly bad at crisis management,
and you should expect a lot of them. Finally, nobody has any idea
how much damage he's caused in the last four years, or how much
effort it's going to take to restore any semblance of normalcy.
The Republican war on government (formerly conceived as "of the
people, by the people, and for the people") sometimse includes
bold proposals like privatizing the Post Office and the TVA, which
can be opposed politically, but it mostly proceeds by entropy: by
thousands of little cuts, not least to the incentive to public
service. Much of what government does is manage risk (cf. Michael
Lewis's book, The Fifth Risk). The thing is, you rarely
notice that you've shortchanged risk management until it breaks,
and disaster ensues.
Trump has mostly worked to change the rules under which business
and government operate, but it takes time before people adapt to
exploit the new rules. For example, the Republicans won Congress
in 1946 and combined with Southern Democrats to override Truman
vetoes on labor and banking legislation. The effects of those
laws didn't really become evident until the 1980s, when Reagan
signaled open war on labor unions, and the savings & loan
industry blew up. Things happen faster now because the brain rot
of the Reagan era has progressed to Trump's zombiedom, because
an era of relatively equal collective affluence has turned into
an orgy of individualist greed. Trump's one claim to greatness
is how thoroughly he personifies America's decline.
Some more scattered links this week:
Trump has now oved $2.3 million of campaign-donor money into his private
What populism is and is not. Review of Thomas Frank's book, The
People, NO! The War on Populism and the Fight for Democracy.
How federal housing programs failed black America: Review of
Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor's book, Race for Profit: How Banks and
the Real Estate Industry Undermined Black Homeownership.
The police shooting of Jacob Blake, explained: Black man, unarmed,
shot 7 times in the back, in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Protests ensued, and
more shooting: Kyle Rittenhouse, age 17, armed with an AR-15, shot
three protesters, killing two.
Why police encouraged a teenager with a gun to patrol Kenosha's
17-year-old charged with murder in Kenosha, Wisconsin, shootings.
Two shot dead in Kenosha amid third night of Jacob Blake protests.
"A 17-year-old from Illinois has been arrested and charged with first-degree
intentional homicide." A friend tweeted that he'd be speaking at the RNC
tonight. A surprising number of people found that credible. After all,
it's only the next logical step beyond the St. Louis couple who pointed
guns at marchers and wound up speaking at the RNC (despite, or maybe
because, they got arrested for menacing with a gun). The only things
that kept this guy from the dais were timing, logistics, and the
courage of his convictions.
Ellie Hall/Amber Jamieson/Tasneem Nashrulla/Kadia Goba:
The Kenosha shooting suspect was in the front row of a Trump rally in
Trump created a permission structure for the shootings in Kenosha.
Cops have long encouraged armed right-wing counterprotesters like the
teenage shooter in Kenosha.
Conservatives are defending a white teen charged with killing
Christians fundraising for Rittenhouse.
The violent delights of the Trumpian right: "In the end, it was
always going to be about blood and soil and gun-toting vigilantes."
Many conservatives who own guns likely wouldn't use them to slaughter
fellow Americans. But their embrace of rhetoric that legitimizes acts
of violence against Black Lives Matter protesters, Democratic opponents,
and other perceived opponents only helps those who might take things to
their logical, bloody conclusion. As the November election grows closer,
the economy struggles, and the nation's political temperature rises,
the risk of further bloodshed may get worse. Kellyanne Conway, one of
Trump's top White House advisers, suggested that the White House has no
interest in trying to lower political tensions any time soon. "The more
chaos and anarchy and vandalism and violence, the better it is for the
very clear choice on who's best on public safety, law and order," she
Mark Joseph Stern:
The conservative defense of Kyle Rittenhouse is dangerous nonsense.
What we know about a deadly shooting in Portland, Oregon: "1 person
is dead in Portland after a pro-Trump caravan descended on the city."
Victim appears to be part of that "pro-Trump caravan." Members of the
caravan attacked protesters with "pepper spray and paintballs," so the
violence didn't start with the shooting. Might as well file this here
for now. Back-and-forth risks escalating random police shootings and
consequent protests into civil war. Peters also wrote:
Trump responds to a deadly shooting in Portland by blaming Democrats --
and calls for the National Guard. Trump is clearly pining for his
Reichstag Fire. For Biden's response, see Elise Viebeck:
Biden accuses Trump of 'recklessly encouraging violence' in response
to Portland shooting.
White supremacists are invading American cities to incite a civil
Trump's election theme is that Americans won't be safe in a Biden
presidency. The opposite is true. Americans won't be safe as long
as a white supremacist president is leading a movement of bigots to
incite a civil war, and attempting to ensure that the majority of
Americans with cosmopolitan, egalitarian values remain politically
disenfranchised and under the thumb of those who fear and despise them.
Trump is visiting Kenosha on Tuesday. The mayor would rather he didn't.
The Republicans newest plan to derail voting rights.
The exhilarating jolt of the Milwaukee Bucks' wildcat strike.
The incestuous relationship between Donald Trump and Fox News:
Review of Brian Stelter's book, Hoax: Donald Trump, Fox News and
the Dangerous Distortion of Truth.
David A Farenthold/Jonathan O'Connell/Joshua Partlow:
Jessica Flack/Melanie Mitchell:
Uncertain times: "The pandemic is an unprecedented opportunity --
seeing human society as a complex system opens a better future for us
all." Not sure this piece ever gets to where it's going, but I do
believe that increasing social complexity is forcing us to rethink
basic assumptions about how people work.
US law enforcement's warrior complex is on full display in the streets --
and in leaked documents: "Hacked documents from the early weeks of
the ongoing protest movement illustrate one of Black Lives Matter's
central observations: Policing in the United States functions as a
What makes California's current major wildfires so unusual: Updated
from last week. After all, the state is still on fire.
Isabel Wilkerson wants to change how we understand race in America:
Wilkerson's book is Caste: The Origin of Our Discontents. Makes
me wonder why she can't just say "class."
Those who like government least govern worst: "From the Iraq War
to the coronavirus: why Republicans fail at governance." Mostly about
Robert Draper's book, To Start a War: How the Bush Administration
Took America Into Iraq, although the article title could have brought
up any number of examples. Toward the end, Klein tries to draw a link
between the coronavirus response fiasco and Iraq, and there are some
(like magical thinking), but there are also differences. Republicans
are generally pretty deferential to the military, so it's hard to pin
the failure in Iraq on lack of funding or message discipline or even
resolve -- all of which had an adverse effect on coronavirus response,
and are characteristic of Republicans' general contempt for government.
Yet Iraq was a disaster anyway. Faith in power and disregard for other
people have something to do with it. With both, really.
How to decarbonize America -- and create 25 million jobs: Interview
with Saul Griffith, who runs an organization called Rewiring America,
and has an
ebook on how
to do it.
Vladimir Putin is on the ballot in November: This is really stupid.
I don't doubt that Putin prefers Trump to Biden, and that he has little
reason not to throw some of his cyber resources into tainting the 2020
election, but the net effect in terms of US-Russian relations will be
negligible. The assertion that if Trump wins a second term, "Russia will
be able to wantonly throw its weight around globally" is ridiculous. It
hasn't happened in Trump's first term, and nothing changes for a second.
The main limit on Russian "expansion" is Russia's own weakness and lack
of popularity. Sure, they can on rare occasions play on external schisms
as they have in Georgia and Ukraine, but most of the former Russian sphere
thoroughly hates them, and their only "allies" elsewhere are countries the
US has driven into their arms (like Syria, Venezuela, and Iran). If Biden
decides to "get tough" on them, he'll only alienate and destabilize the
world situation further. I don't doubt that Trump and Putin are sympatico
because of their shared links to oligarchs, their reliance on jingoistic
nationalism, and their general contempt for democracy, but interests are
something else. Where Trump might help Putin most is in promoting the arms
trade -- that being one of Russia's few competitive exports. He also might
blow up the Middle East, which would be good for Russian oil and gas prices.
(He's already taken most Iranian and Venezuelan oil off the market.) I
don't doubt that if Putin were on the ballot, hardly anyone would vote
for him. Except maybe in a Republican primary, where a cunning oligarch
and despot might be preferred over a really stupid one.
Protesters in multiple states are facing felony charges, including
Why Hurricane Katrina was not a natural disaster: "Fifteen years
ago, New Orleans was nearly destroyed. A new book suggests that the
cause was decades of bad policy -- and that nothing has changed." The
book is Katrina: A History, 1915-2015, by Andy Horowitz. As I
note under Alex Ward (above), bad policy may take many years to reveal
itself as a disaster, which is the argument here. Louisiana is getting
hit by another big hurricane this week:
Trump asked for fewer Covid-19 tests. Now the CDC is recommending less
How violent protests against police brutality in the '60s and '90s changed
public opinion. It's not unreasonable to worry that acts associated
with protests might lead to a backlash and even a setback. But lots of
things are different now. Police brutality often triggered riots in the
1960s, but it wasn't seen as such, partly because the riots weren't
preceded by protest marches, and partly because there weren't cameras
everywhere back then to document the brutality. Civil rights marches
in the 1960s were much more analogous to the current BLM marches, not
only because they were organized protests but also because they were
met with public police brutality not unlike we see today. Whereas the
riots produced a backlash against "criminality," the marches made the
case for civil rights, and were generally successful (ultimately). I
worry that repeating protests too often will create an escalating
dynamic that could turn counterproductive (which may have happened
in Portland, although I'm not close enough to be sure). I also don't
have any problem with arresting people who destroy property and/or
act violently -- nor would I exempt the police when they do so. But
secondary violence never excuses the violence that triggered the
protests in the first place, nor does it justify further violence by
police, let alone their self-appointed "allies." Police have as much
responsibility to protect protesters as anyone else -- something they
can all too easily forget when they dress up like stormtroopers.
In Trumpworld, the grown-ups in the room all left, and got book deals:
Gang-reviews books by Sean Spicer, James Comey, Omarosa Manigault Newman,
Andrew G McCabe, Anonymous, John Bolton, and Mary L Trump.
Over 100 ex-staff members for John McCain endorse Joe Biden. As
someone who's long regarded McCain as one of the most reprehensible
characters in American politics, I don't find this very gratifying.
Especially give the other large Republican cluster to come over to
Top Republican national security officials say they will vote for
Biden. McCain was long the most reckless hawk in the GOP, and
that's bread and butter to the security officialdom, so the bet is
that Biden will follow militarist orthodoxy more faithfully than
Trump will. Biden has given them little reason to think otherwise,
so they may be onto something. Those camps loom large in
All the Republicans who have decided not to support Trump.
On climate change, we've run out of presidential terms to waste.
He probably said that about Bush too -- if not the first, certainly
the second. After all, he founded 350.org when 350 was just a fearsome
future number. The latest carbon dioxide number (from 2019) is
What happens to the Supreme Court (and the Constitution) if Trump wins:
"The Supreme Court has rejected some of the GOP's sloppiest and most
presumptuous arguments. It won't anymore if Republicans grow their
Elizabeth Warren calls for investigation into Trump's politicization
Can Biden's center hold? Long piece, good background including some
things I didn't know, recounting the campaign to date, not much forward
projection, even on the title question. Of course, all you can really
say is that what holds Biden's center together is fear and loathing of
Donald Trump. Take that away and you can pick Biden apart from every
angle. But for now, Biden is managing to straddle two theories that are
normally in opposition: one is the centrist belief that if you can stop
right-wing destruction and restore functioning institutions (not just
government, although that's the big one), America will rebound largely
on its own, and all will be well; the other is the leftist belief that
unless equality and justice are restored, nothing can work right, and
our problems will continue to multiply. Biden is more associated with
the former, but not so dogmatically as to exclude inputs from the left.
Moreover, as long as he's running against Trump, the left-center split
isn't (or shouldn't be) an issue.
Private equity is cannibalizing the post-pandemic economy: "These
vulture firms helped create the conditions for economic collapse. Now
they're cleaning up."
All of this is to say that private equity had a heavy (if largely unseen)
hand in weakening a number of crucial industries right before a national
disaster. Not only will it likely face no consequences for indirectly
facilitating a portion of the suffering, but it also now stands to profit
from the wreckage of the economic recession it helped flame. . . .
That very disconnect illuminates the failure of an economy that
encourages disaster profiteering. Though private equity may seem uniquely
villainous, in the end, those firms are only doing what they were created
to do and always explicitly promised to do: generate profit for their
investors above all else. Their predations are made possible by a
government that condones them or is content to simply turn away, as it
has so many times before. That calls not just for a general condemnation
of financial greed -- which most politicians are happy to offer -- but
real measures to end it. As Warren and Fife put it, "Wall Street has
already shown us what it will do if left unchecked."
Why Cuban doctors deserve the Nobel Peace Prize.
Since the start of Cuban medical internationalism in 1960, over
400,000 medical workers have worked in more than 40 countries. . . .
Cuban medical workers are risking their health to break the chain of
the COVID-19 infection. Cuban scientists developed drugs -- such as
interferon alpha-2b -- to help fight the disease. Now Cuban scientists
have announced that their vaccine is in trials; this vaccine will not
be treated as private property but will be shared with the peoples of
the world. This is the fidelity of Cuban medical internationalism.
The Jerry Falwell Jr scandal, explained: "It's not just about sex --
it's a tale of financial, institutional, and political corruption. And
there's a Trump angle." More on Falwell:
Trump's 40 biggest broken promises.
Why we can't stop fighting about cancel culture: Is cancel culture
a mob mentality, or a long overdue way of speaking truth to power?"
No, neither, and not just because it isn't even a thing. Think about
it. Cancel is something that only those in power can do. It's something
they do all the time, usually without fanfare or even notice. They don't
need a "culture" to get them to do it. All they need is the power. I
made a joke above about "cancel culture" causing the cancellation of
an RNC speaker who had suddenly become an embarrassment (although her
usual racist shtick was probably why she got the invite in the first
place). On the other hand, people without the power to actually cancel
an appearance can still ask or demand that it happen, but they have no
direct power to make it happen. It's really just a challenge to power,
and those in power don't like those out of power butting into their
business, so they imagine a "culture" which drives this dynamic on.
Germany is launching a new experiment in basic income.
Joe Biden's strategy of appealing to Republicans is courting disaster.
See 2016. I don't mind the messaging going that way, but the mistake that
Biden cannot afford is slighting the "ground game" to make sure the base
votes, and understands what's at stake. That's something Obama did well,
and Hillary barely did at all.
Climate is taking on a growing role for voters, research suggests.
Related: Lisa Friedman:
Climate could be an electoral time bomb, Republican strategists fear.
How Obamacare helped millions who lost their jobs during Covid-19, in 3
UAE-Israel deal: Breakthrough or betrayal?
Americans are falling through the safety net. The government is helping
predatory lenders instead.
The real pandemic gap is between the comfortable and the afflicted:
"Beneath society's plutocratic layer, America is not as united in the
face of crisis as we like to pretend." Who's pretending? The idea that
this is a war, with its now-ancient implication that we're all in it
together, didn't take root. Once the stock market rebounded, Trump and
the Republicans lost interest in bipartisan deals that might help the
non-rich. Still, there is another gap, between Watson's "comfortable"
and those who struggle from paycheck to paycheck. Watson puts that
gap somewhere between $30,000 and $130,000, noting that "Pew reports
18 percent of 'upper income' (above $112,600 in annual income) people
have been laid off or lost their jobs since the pandemic started
(compared with 39 percent of 'lower income' people, who earn less
than $37,500)." I'd define it a bit differently: the "comfortable"
are those who simply added their $1,200 stimulus checks to their
savings, in contrast to the "uncomfortable" many who spent it on
debts and necessities and soon wound up with nothing less. The big
difference there is having an uninterrupted income stream larger
than routine expenses, which has a lot more to do with who saves
than thriftiness ever did.
Biden needs a Sister Souljah moment: I read this op-ed in the
Wichita Eagle this morning, and was appalled and disgusted. Will
is a conservative pundit who doesn't love Trump but also doesn't
like anything his opponents stand for, so he should be irrelevant
at the moment. I might have skipped this, but then I found
Biden needs a Sister Souljah month, which elicited a response from
We don't need another Sister Souljah moment. I didn't recall what
the rapper said to provoke Bill Clinton's wrath, but still recalled the
incident for its gratuitous racism. It was Clinton's way of reminding
white people that he's one of them, and that he can be counted on to
defend them against raging blacks. Biden doesn't need such a moment,
and shouldn't want one, and anyone who prods him in that direction is
aiming to make the racial divide worse. Take Donald Trump: he has a
Sister Souljah moment almost every day, and each one begets the next.
Tracinski's real point is that Biden needs to make sure he's viewed
as anti-riot. I'm against riots too, and I don't care how draconian
he gets in prosecuting rioters -- as long as the same justice applies
to police and to Trump's agitator-thugs. Or I would be, but shouldn't
police be held to a higher standard? As it is, much of what they do
seems designed to provoke riots, not to prevent or pacify them.
PS: Biden did issue a strong statement, included
here. As Steve M notes, "The New York Times covers it by
burying it in the 13th paragraph of a
story about President Trump's overnight Twitter barrage." He also
Why did Hillary Clinton lose in 2016? She lost for many reasons, but
one was the media's willingness to let her opponent Bigfoot his way
to a disproportionate share of press coverage. Trump was seen as great
copy and great television, so the media yielded the floor to him every
time he beat his chest and demanded attention, dismissing most efforts
by Clinton to Change the subject to serious issues. And here we are.
Monday, August 24, 2020
Expanded blog post,
Music: Current count 33865  rated (+51), 225  unrated (+4).
Started off last week playing old albums by the late tenor saxophonist
Steve Grossman. (I only had two in my
remembering 1991's In New York.) Turns out I had missed quite
a bit. Consistently strong albums, especially in the 1990's, with the
Quartet with Michel Petrucciani perhaps closest to the cusp.
Then I went after a long list of British jazz albums suggested by
Q&A query: Don Rendell, Ian Carr, and Michael Garrick. I had
noticed but didn't pursue recent box sets of the 1965-69 Rendell-Carr
Quintet and the Carr's 1970-75 Nucleus group, but as I had listened
to everything on separate albums, I figured I could summarize the
boxes and assign them a grade. I haven't seen the packaging, so no
extra credit there, nor for the convenience of keeping everything
together. Garrick, who played a lot with Rendell and/or Carr, is the
more significant talent, and also the one I've missed most by. One not
below I can heartily recommend is his For Love of Duke . . . and
Ronnie (1995-97 , Jazz Academy).
These old jazz albums went fast, but by Friday, when I turned my
Roundup, I hadn't listened to a single new album. I promised to
sort my input queue by release date and start picking off the oldest
releases, but didn't get to that, and when I did pick out the most
promising release I had seen reviewed, Matt Wilson's Hug!,
I discovered it's not out until next week. I'll try again next week.
The only things in the
Q&A queue are suggestions for
artists to explore. One is Jimmy Heath (1926-2020). I only had two
of his records in my
adding his latest/final this week. I'm surprised I don't have his
1992 Little Man Big Band listed -- pretty sure I owned that,
although I doubt I've played it since it was new. Heath didn't
record as much as others I think of as his peers (Benny Golson,
Johnny Griffin, Joe Henderson, Clifford Jordan, maybe Hank Mobley
and/or Wayne Shorter), but my sampling -- even against my "shopping
list" -- has been relatively sparse. Something to look into.
Another suggestion is Bilal's Love for Sale, recorded
2001-03 and unreleased but leaked in 2006, and evidently pretty
easy to find. The guy who wrote up
my Wikipedia page has written up an extremely detailed one on
Looking through the week's deaths, I see several familiar musicians:
Justin Townes Earle (38, singer-songwriter, son of Steve Earle),
Peter King (80, English saxophonist),
Charlie Persip (91, drummer),
Hal Singer (100, saxophonist). I tracked down several of Singer's
albums back in
June. I belatedly played
Earle's 2019 album, and it's pretty good (see below).
On a more personal note, my cousin Devoe Brown (89) died today --
the third cousin I've lost this year. He was a builder in Twin Falls,
Idaho. He married Colleen in 1950, and they had four daughters and
a son. For many years he would buy, live in, fix up, and resell old
houses. He started building new ones, eventually whole subdivisions
of them. His father was a blacksmith and railroad worker, William
Clagge Brown (1907-74), who moved his family from Arkansas to Missouri
to Pocatello in the early 1940s. Clagge rode in rodeos, and was the
most credible outdoorsman in a family chock full of hunters. Some
griddles he crafted are among my most prized possessions. We visited
both ways in the 1950s and 1960s. I became reacquainted with Devoe in
the 1990s, and we've remained close. I don't think I've known anyone
who so much enjoyed to laugh. One couldn't ask for better company.
About six months ago, when he was diagnosed with liver illness, he
took it in stride, describing his decline as "the grand finale" of
his life. The last few months haven't been so grande, but it's
always been a pleasure to hear his voice.
New records reviewed this week:
- Abraham Inc.: Together We Stand (2019, Table Pounding): [bc]: B+(***)
- Gregg August: Dialogues on Race: Volume One (2020, Iacuessa): [r]: B+(***)
- David Berkman: Plays Music by John Coltrane and Pete Seeger: Solo Piano (2020, Without): [cd]: B+(**)
- Black Art Jazz Collective: Ascension (2020, HighNote): [r]: B+(*)
- Charley Crockett: Welcome to Hard Times (2020, Son of Davy): [r]: B+(*)
- Justin Townes Earle: The Saint of Lost Causes (2019, New West): [r]: B+(***)
- Paul Flaherty/Randall Colbourne/James Chumley Hunt/Mike Roberson: Borrowed From Children (2019 , 577): [r]: B+(**)
- Bill Frisell: Valentine (2020, Blue Note): [r]: B+(**)
- Jimmy Heath: Love Letter (2019 , Verve): [r]: B+(*)
- Eddie Henderson: Shuffle and Deal (2019 , Smoke Sessions): [r]: B+(**)
- Christoph Irniger Trio: Open City (2020, Intakt): [r]: B+(***)
- Ingrid Laubrock + Kris Davis: Blood Moon (2019 , Intakt): [r]: B+(**)
- Matt Wilson Quartet: Hug! (2019 , Palmetto): [cd]: B+(**) [08-28]
Recent reissues, compilations, and vault discoveries:
- Horace Tapscott With the Pan Afrikan Peoples Arkestra: Ancestral Echoes: The Covina Sessions, 1976 (1976 , Dark Tree): [cd]: A-
- Ian Carr With Nucleus: Solar Plexus (1971, Vertigo): [r]: B+(**)
- Nucleus: Elastic Rock (1970, Vertigo): [r]: B+(*)
- Nucleus: We'll Talk About It Later (1970 , Vertigo): [r]: B+(***)
- Ian Carr With Nucleus Plus: Labyrinth (1973, Vertigo): [r]: B+(*)
- Ian Carr's Nucleus: Roots (1973, Vertigo): [r]: B+(*)
- Nucleus: Under the Sun (1974, Vertigo): [r]: B
- Nucleus: Snakehips Etcetera (1975, Vertigo): [r]: B+(*)
- Nucleus: Alleycat (1975, Vertigo): [r]: B+(*)
- Nucleus & Ian Carr: Torrid Zone: The Vertigo Recordings 1970-1975 (1970-75 , Esoteric, 6CD): [r]: B+(*)
- Shirley Collins and the Albion Country Band: No Roses (1971, Pegasus): [r]: B+(***)
- Michael Garrick Trio: Moonscape (1964 , Trunk, EP): [r]: B+(***)
- Michael Garrick: The New Quartet (2001 , Jazz Academy): [r]: A-
- Michael Garrick Sextet With Don Rendell and Ian Carr: Prelude to Heart Is a Lotus (1968 , Gearbox): [bc]: B+(**)
- Garricks' String Quartet: Green and Pleasant Land (2003, Jazz Academy): [r]: B+(*)
- The Michael Garrick Trio: Gigs: Introducing Mick Garrett . . . (, Jazz Academy): [r]: B+(*)
- Johnny Griffin/Steve Grossman: Johnny Griffin & Steve Grossman Quintet (2000 , Dreyfus): [r]: B+(***)
- Steve Grossman: Some Shapes to Come (1973 , PM): [r]: A-
- Steve Grossman: Terra Firma (1975-76 , PM): [r]: B+(***)
- Steve Grossman: Way Out East, Volume 1 (1984, RED): [r]: B+(**)
- Steve Grossman: Way Out East, Volume 2 (1984, RED): [r]: B+(**)
- Steve Grossman: Love Is the Thing (1985 , RED): [r]: B+(***)
- Steve Grossman Trio: Bouncing With Mr. A.T. (1989 , Dreyfus): [r]: A-
- Steve Grossman: Live at Café Praga (1990 , Timeless): [r]: B+(***)
- Steve Grossman: My Second Prime (1990 , RED): [r]: B+(*)
- Steve Grossman: Do It (1991, Dreyfus): [r]: B+(***)
- Steve Grossman Quintet Featuring Harold Land: I'm Confessin' (1992 , Dreyfus): [r]: B+(**)
- Steve Grossman + Cedar Walton Trio: A Small Hotel (1993, Dreyfus): [r]: B+(***)
- Steve Grossman/Michel Petrucciani: Quartet (1998 , Dreyfus): [r]: B+(***)
- Don Rendell: Meet Don Rendell (1954-55 , Jasmine): [r]: B+(***)
- Don Rendell/Bobby Jaspar: Recontre A Paris (1955, Swing, EP): [r]: B+(**)
- Don Rendell/Ian Carr Quintet: Shades of Blue (1965, Columbia): [r]: B+(*)
- Don Rendell/Ian Carr 5tet: Dusk Fire (1966, Columbia): [r]: B
- Don Rendell/Ian Carr Quintet: Phase III (1967 , Columbia): [r]: B+(**)
- Don Rendell/Ian Carr Quintet: Live (1968 , Columbia): [r]: B+(***)
- Don Rendell/Ian Carr Quintet: Change Is (1969, Columbia): [r]: B+(***)
- Don Rendell/Ian Carr Quintet: The Complete Lansdowne Recordings (1965-69 , Jazzman): [r]: B+(**)
- The Don Rendell Five Featuring Barbara Thompson: Just Music (1974 , Spotlite): [r]: B+(**)
- Don Rendell/Ian Carr/Michael Garrick: Reunion (2001 , Spotlite): [r]: B+(***)
Grade (or other) changes:
- Steve Grossman: Time to Smile (1993 , Dreyfus): [was: B] B+(**)
Unpacking: Found in the mail last week:
- The Big Bad Bones Featuring Scott Whitfield: Emergency Vehicle Blues (Summit) [08-21]
- The Claire Daly Band: Rah! Rah! (Ride Symbol) [10-02]
- Jason Foureman and Stephen Anderson: Duo (Summit)
- Sukyung Kim: Lilac Hill (self-released)
- Modern Jazz Quartet Karlsruhe: Four Men Only: Complete Recordings (1968-73, NoBusiness -3CD)
- Radam Schwartz Organ Big Band: Message From Groove and GW (Arabesque)
- Trio Linguale [Kevin Woods/John Stowell/Miles Black]: Signals (Origin) [08-21]
Sunday, August 23, 2020
The Democrats had their virtual convention last week. I didn't
watch any of it live. For that matter, neither did my wife, who's
got a much thicker skin for these things -- probably developed from
hate-watching Fox News, although in fairness she mostly does that
to watch them squirm on particularly embarrassing news days. I did
watch Stephen Colbert's nightly post-convention monologues, so I
got a taste of the virtual spectacle -- mostly selected for joke
potential. I've also read (or at least skimmed) the pieces, both
on the convention and on the Biden campaign, linked below:
Vox [Zack Beauchamp/Aaron Ross Coleman/Dylan Matthews/Nicole Narea/Ella Nilsen/Anna North/Andrew Prokop/Dylan Scott/Emily Stewart/Emily VanDerWerff/Li Zhou]:
Andrew Yang said the smartest thing about Biden at the DNC: "The
magic of Joe Biden is that everything he does becomes the new reasonable."
What it will take to fight the sexist, racist attacks against Kamala
Harris. Interview with Niambi Carter, author of American While
Black: African Americans, Immigration, and the Limits of Citizenship.
How politicians showed off their books at the Democratic National
Convention. Something I'm always curious about, but Cory Booker
didn't help himself by showcasing a David Brooks book.
Rating the Democratic National Convention: Highlights & bummers:
A friend's blog report.
Joe Biden likes you. On his acceptance speech. The speech itself is
here. Klein does some of his Why We're Polarized stuff, but
his main point is this:
The core of Joe Biden's politics is his talent at fulfilling the simplest
of political and emotional needs: Joe Biden likes you. That was the message
of this convention, and it's the message that has always been at the core
of his politics. Joe Biden likes you if you're a Democrat or a Republican.
He likes you even if you don't like him, because it's his job to like you,
no matter how you vote.
"While I will be a Democratic candidate, I will be an American president,"
Biden said. "I will work as hard for those who didn't support me as I will
for those who did. That's the job of a president. To represent all of us,
not just our base or our party."
If this sounds trite, consider the contrast it offers to the reality
we live in, and the politics President Trump models.
I must say I don't find that very reassuring. I get the contrast to
Trump, and I believe that the most basic lesson of life is how necessary
it is to respect other people (even ones very different from yourself).
Still, putting likability above commitment runs the risk of losing the
principles and allegiances that will get him elected in the first place,
and make him ineffective. Obama didn't just want to make bipartisan deals.
He was willing to make bad ones, just to look good to people who didn't
care. Biden may want to be liked by everyone, but he won't be -- indeed,
the depths of irrational invective and hatred Republicans direct at him
during the campaign should make that point inescapable.
American carnage: "In 2017, Trump promised to end 'this American carnage.'
Four years later, carnage defines his presidency."
Can Joe Biden unrig the economy? "Raising taxes on the rich would
help stop the economy from simply channeling income to 1 percent."
What everyone should learn from Michelle Obama.
Obama's Democratic convention speech gave a clear warning: Democracy is
at stake in 2020: As he's done so often in his career, Obama grasps
at the most anodyne, least objectionable position in a crisis. It is
true that Republicans have no respect for democracy, and if given the
chance will do anything they can to tilt elections in their direction.
Still, it does little good to defend democracy in the abstract when you
don't use of it to do popular things, or even practice the Preamble to
the US Constitution (establish justice, promote the general welfare,
etc.). When Democrats gained control of Congress and the Presidency in
the 2008 elections, they did nothing whatsoever to fight back against
the gross distortions of money in politics. They didn't even get rid
of the anti-democratic filibuster in the structurally un-democratic
US Senate. Don't get me wrong: it's good that Obama values democracy
now. It's just a shame that he didn't make better use of it when he
had the chance.
The Democratic convention highlighted gun violence. Here's what Biden
plans to do about it. Gun control isn't an unpopular issue, but is
is a polarizing one, so much so that I doubt it works as a political
issue, so I don't see any value in the Democrats bringing it up.
This is the future Joe Biden wants. Introduction to a series called
A Biden Presidency: "The Democratic nominee's policy vision,
explained." Other links in this series:
A Covid-19 victim's daughter delivered a moving account of her father's
death -- and a searing critique of Trump. This may be the sound bite
of the convention: "My dad was a healthy 65 year-old. His only preexisting
condition was trusting Donald Trump, and for that he paid with his
Bernie Sanders just made the progressive case for Joe Biden.
Obama, Harris, and an unconventional convention.
Fox News thinks Joe Biden's DNC speech was "a home run": "Trump won't
be happy with Fox News's rave reviews of Biden's speech."
David E Sanger:
Top Republican national security officials say they will vote for Biden:
"In a letter released hours before Joe Biden delivered his nomination
acceptance speech, over 70 senior officials called President Trump
'unfit to lead' and outlined their support for his opponent." Every
vote counts, but some endorsements create associations you'd rather
not have. These, in particular, remind us that Biden has faithfully
supported decades of national security blunders and disasters. One
note is that the names most closely associated with Trump, while
sometimes being highly critical of him (e.g., John Bolton), are
still unwilling to break party ranks and commit to Biden.
Biden's 2020 message rests on Trump's fundamental Covid-19 failure.
Cites a major piece by Ed Yong:
How the pandemic defeated America: "A virus has brought the world's
most powerful country to its knees." Scott quoted this much:
A month before his inauguration, I wrote that "the question isn't
whether [Trump will] face a deadly outbreak during his presidency,
but when." Based on his actions as a media personality during the
2014 Ebola outbreak and as a candidate in the 2016 election, I
suggested that he would fail at diplomacy, close borders, tweet
rashly, spread conspiracy theories, ignore experts, and exhibit
reckless self-confidence. And so he did.
No one should be shocked that a liar who has made almost 20,000
false or misleading claims during his presidency would lie about
whether the U.S. had the pandemic under control; that a racist who
gave birth to birtherism would do little to stop a virus that was
disproportionately killing Black people; that a xenophobe who presided
over the creation of new immigrant-detention centers would order
meatpacking plants with a substantial immigrant workforce to remain
open; that a cruel man devoid of empathy would fail to calm fearful
citizens; that a narcissist who cannot stand to be upstaged would
refuse to tap the deep well of experts at his disposal; that a scion
of nepotism would hand control of a shadow coronavirus task force to
his unqualified son-in-law; that an armchair polymath would claim to
have a "natural ability" at medicine and display it by wondering out
loud about the curative potential of injecting disinfectant; that an
egotist incapable of admitting failure would try to distract from his
greatest one by blaming China, defunding the WHO, and promoting miracle
drugs; or that a president who has been shielded by his party from any
shred of accountability would say, when asked about the lack of testing,
"I don't take any responsibility at all."
When I scanned the article, I missed those but picked out a few
additional paragraphs, which struck me as germane, albeit less pointed
How did it come to this? A virus a thousand times smaller than a dust
mote has humbled and humiliated the planet's most powerful nation.
America has failed to protect its people, leaving them with illness
and financial ruin. It has lost its status as a global leader. It has
careened between inaction and ineptitude. The breadth and magnitude
of its errors are difficult, in the moment, to truly fathom. . . .
The U.S. has little excuse for its inattention. In recent decades,
epidemics of SARS, MERS, Ebola, H1N1 flu, Zika, and monkeypox showed
the havoc that new and reemergent pathogens could wreak.
Health experts, business leaders, and
even middle schoolers ran simulated exercises to game out the spread
of new diseases. In 2018, I wrote
an article for The Atlantic arguing that the U.S. was not ready
for a pandemic, and sounded warnings about the fragility of the
nation's health-care system and the slow process of creating a vaccine.
But the COVID-19 debacle has also touched -- and implicated -- nearly
every other facet of American society: its shortsighted leadership, its
disregard for expertise, its racial inequities, its social-media culture,
and its fealty to a dangerous strain of individualism. . . .
Despite its epochal effects, COVID-19 is merely a harbinger of worse
plagues to come. The U.S. cannot prepare for these inevitable crises if
it returns to normal, as many of its people ache to do. Normal led to
this. Normal was a world ever more prone to a pandemic but ever less
ready for one. To avert another catastrophe, the U.S. needs to grapple
with all the ways normal failed us. It needs a full accounting of every
recent misstep and foundational sin, every unattended weakness and
unheeded warning, every festering wound and reopened scar. . . .
Compared with the average wealthy nation,
America spends nearly twice as much of its national wealth on health
a quarter of which is wasted on inefficient care, unnecessary
treatments, and administrative chicanery. The U.S. gets
little bang for its exorbitant buck. It has the lowest life-expectancy
rate of comparable countries, the highest rates of chronic disease, and
the fewest doctors per person. This profit-driven system has scant incentive
to invest in spare beds, stockpiled supplies, peacetime drills, and layered
contingency plans -- the essence of pandemic preparedness. America's
hospitals have been pruned and stretched by market forces to run close
to full capacity, with little ability to adapt in a crisis. . . .
The federal government could have mitigated those problems by buying
supplies at economies of scale and distributing them according to need.
Instead, in March,
Trump told America's governors to "try getting it yourselves." As
usual, health care was a matter of capitalism and connections. In New
rich hospitals bought their way out of their protective-equipment
shortfall, while neighbors in poorer, more diverse parts of the
city rationed their supplies. . . .
At times, Americans have seemed to collectively surrender to COVID-19.
The White House's coronavirus task force wound down. Trump resumed holding
rallies, and called for less testing, so that official numbers would be
rosier. The country behaved like a horror-movie character who believes
the danger is over, even though the monster is still at large.
Yong has another piece out:
Long-haulers are redefining COVID-19.
Joe Biden has found his big idea: "It's not just about defeating
Donald Trump, but providing an off-ramp from this all-consuming political
moment." Still hard to get much of a grip on all this vacuousness. It
doesn't especially bother me if Biden doesn't come up with plans or
anything forward thinking until after the election, but the idea that
everything will be just fine if only we don't have Trump driving us
crazy almost daily seems a little myopic. While acting deliberately
may be too much to ask of a politician these days, shit happens, and
that means the president will have to react -- often, intelligently,
with care and maybe even cunning.
A night of magical thinking at the Democratic convention: "Democrats
are already in love with their future, in spite of the face that Joe
Biden has glossed over how he will get them there."
Doreen St Félix:
Michelle Obama's unmatched call to action at the Democratic National
Ordinary Americans stole the show at this year's Democratic convention.
Kara Voght/Rebecca Leber:
Biden's pitch to voters: What America needs now is empathy: After
Trump, a little empathy seems like a good idea. Still, remind me of
the old George Burns quote: "The secret of acting is sincerity. If you
can fake that, you've got it made." Biden's been trading in empathy
his whole career, all the while voting for special interests. What we
really need is someone to show us that government is on the people's
side, doing things that help everyone in tangible ways. Republicans
deny that this is even possible, which gives them an excuse for being
so awful at it. Democrats, including Biden, have often gone along,
touting deregulation and "market solutions" and austerity. But the
thing is, in a world as complex and interconnected as ours has become,
you need institutions committed to the public interest, and you really
need them to work. Empathy may give you motivation to do that, but
there are other motivations available, like survival.
On to the Republican Convention next week. For a preview, see
The Repubican National Convention: Who's speaking and how to watch.
Also not one but two hurricanes, one on Monday to open the RNC, a
second (bigger) one for its climax:
Hurricane warnings issued as Gulf Coast prepares for March and Laura.
Neither are likely to come close to the RNC in Charlotte. Here's some
early anticipation of the RNC:
Some scattered links on other subjects this week:
Ban yachts: "They're floating castles of crime, polluting our air and
water." By the way, there's a striking passage in Paul Krugman's The
Conscience of a Liberal, pointing out that during the era of relative
equality in the 1950s/1960s (what he calls, in a phrase that surely will
not stand the test of time, "the great compression") when private yachts
were virtually unheard of -- in stark contrast both to the "roaring '20s"
the scarily popular pro-Trump conspiracy theory, explained. More QAnon:
Donald Trump is losing his tech war with Xi Jinping. Lots of
interesting details here, but the big takeaway is that China has
a national economic plan which invests in world-class high tech
industries and is lifting itself to be a world leader, where the
US has a system (loosely speaking) of crony capitalism, where
privately-owned businesses (and not necessarily American ones)
can buy government favors but also gain much of their profits by
using low-cost labor and suppliers abroad, so their profits do
little (if anything) to help American workers, who (if anything)
get poorer in the bargain. One detail: in 2019, China applied
for more patents than the US. Over the last few decades, the main
thrust of American trade policy has been to force other countries
to pay intellectual property rents (to companies, not really to
America). China is now poised to capture the lion's share of that
income stream. I am very firm in my belief that patents are bad,
so my preference is to ban them everywhere. As the US sinks ever
lower in the patent tribute system, Americans should realize that
the patent system is a losing game. (Americans have long charged
China with cheating at that game, although the US didn't recognize
foreign patents back in the 19th century.)
What MLK and Malcolm X would do today: Interview with Peniel
Joseph, author of The Sword and the Shield: The Revolutionary Lives
of Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr., a dual biography.
One of the things I write about Malcolm is that Malcolm is Black America's
prosecuting attorney, but he becomes the statesman. And Dr. King is the
defense attorney who becomes this pillar of fire. He becomes this man on
fire in the last several years of his life, and he's prosecuting and
castigating in a way that we never think about King.
What makes California's current major wildfires so unusual: "Dry
lightning, extreme heat, and Covid-19 are all shaping California's
efforts to contain massive, deadly blazes." Related:
Darryl Fears/Faiz Siddiqui/Sarah Kaplan/Juliet Eilperin:
Heat is turbocharging fires, drought and tropical storms this
At least 140 Western weather stations notched record highs in the past
10 days as a thermometer in California's Death Valley hit 130 degrees
Fahrenheit, one of the highest temperatures measured on Earth. Eighty
million U.S. residents are under excessive heat advisories. More than
35 wildfires are raging in California, burning 125,000 acres in the
San Francisco Bay area alone, threatening 25,000 businesses and homes
this week. Parts of the country are suffering drought conditions. And
in the Atlantic Ocean, a marine heat wave is fueling what is becoming
an unusually active storm season.
California has Australian problems now.
Colby Itkowitz/Amy Gardner:
Tennessee adopts new law that could strip some protesters of voting
Protesters who camp out on state property, such as the activists who
have demonstrated for months outside the state Capitol against racial
injustice, could now face felony charges punishable by up to six years
in prison. Convicted felons are automatically stripped of their voting
rights in Tennessee.
What it would take to end child poverty in America: Interview with
Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA).
The tragedy of Hillary Clinton. This piece probably belongs with the
DNC pieces above, as it is based on her speech there, but if I couldn't
banish her from the roster, at least I sequester her here. Even Klein
admits, "nothing ensures ignominy like failure," and Hillary's failure
was a monumental one: she lost to Donald Trump. What Klein doesn't admit
is that she uniquely lost to Trump because her unacknowledged faults
precisely clouded Trump's far greater ones. Take corruption for instance:
Trump could paint her as Crooked Hillary because he had bought favors
from her in the past. Clinton's Foundation underscored her nouveau greed
because Trump had his own Foundation (one that did even less to disguise
its crookedness). Klein dabbles in counterfactuals, suggesting we would
be much better off had Trump lost to Hillary. But while he relishes the
idea of Hillary holding press conferences filled with facts and sound
advice, Hillary would have found herself on top of a broken government
system she couldn't control, likely faced with a hostile Congress --
chances that her Democrats would have won the House in 2018 were close
to nil -- and media, still saddled with scandals she could never explain
away. So she handles coronavirus a bit better -- maybe 110,000 dead now
compared to 170,000 under Trump -- and the economy a bit worse (Congress
wouldn't have given her anything like the CARES Act Democrats gave Trump),
and she'd wind up looking hopeless for reelection. Maybe that's all just
so unfair. Maybe in a true meritocracy her talents could have won out.
But Clinton's big break, which let her win a Senate seat in a state she
didn't live in, parlay that into Secretary of State for the rival who
beat her, and corner the 2016 nomination with no opposition (except for
a Vermont socialist she almost lost to), was as unmerited as picking the
right guy to fuck, and sticking with him while he goes out and fucks so
many others. Their bond was always their addiction to power, and they've
never escaped that scent. It even overpowered Trump's stink, and that's
why she lost in 2016, and became useless to us forevermore.
Why Republicans are failing to govern: "Does Mitch McConnell want
Trump to be a one-term president?" Republicans have proposed as a next
stimulus step a "$1 trillion HEALS Act," but they don't seem to be
serious even about that -- it just gives them some talking room as
they try to blame their failures on the Democrats, who've passed a
$3.5 trillion dollar package in the House. Seems like there should be
a lot of room for compromise there, especially when the alternative
is nothing. Klein posits "four theories for the GOP's governance crisis":
- It's Trump's fault.
- Conservative thinking has no room for Covid-19.
- They're worried about Tea Party 2.0.
- They've given up on 2020, and many are looking toward 2024.
That brings me to the explanation for GOP behavior that is almost
unanimous among Senate Democrats I've spoken to. They believe Republicans
are readying themselves to run the strategy against former Vice President
Joe Biden they ran against President Obama: Weaponize the debt -- which
Republicans ran up by trillions during the Trump administration -- as a
cudgel against anything and everything the Democrats want to do. Force
Democrats to take sole ownership of an economic response that's too small
to truly counteract the pain.
If Republicans are behaving like an opposition party that primarily
wants to stop Democrats from doing anything, that's because it's the role
they're most comfortable playing, and one many of them expect to reprise
Stocks are soaring. So is misery. "Optimism about Apple's future profits
won't pay this month's rent."
On Tuesday, the S&P 500 stock index hit a record high. The next day,
Apple became the first U.S. company in history to be valued at more than
$2 trillion. Donald Trump is, of course, touting the stock market as proof
that the economy has recovered from the coronavirus; too bad about those
173,000 dead Americans, but as he says, "It is what it is." . . .
Take the example of Apple, with its $2 trillion valuation. Apple has
a price-earnings ratio -- the ratio of its market valuation to its profits --
of about 33. One way to look at that number is that only around 3 percent
of the value investors place on the company reflects the money they expect
it to make over the course of the next year. As long as they expect Apple
to be profitable years from now, they barely care what will happen to the
U.S. economy over the next few quarters.
Another way to look at that price-earnings ratio is that investors
expect Apple to continue to make monopoly profits every one of the next
33 (or more) years. That's double the length of patents, so they're also
betting capitalism won't be very competitive in the next 33 years, that
the present cartelization will only deepen. There's nothing in history
to justify such expectations. Or another way to look at it is that rich
people today have way too much money, much more than they can invest in
actually producing things, so their only option left is to bid up the
price of assets only they can afford -- which offers the gratification
of making them appear to be even richer. Economists have a term for
that: bubble. Still, they only seem to be able to recognize one when
Trump, the mail and the unbinding of America: "The Postal Service
facilitates citizen inclusion. That's why Trump hates it." I suspect
that credits Trump with more depth than he has. He started railing
against the Post Office when he thought it was helping his arch-rival,
Jeff Bezos, so initially just another tantrum. Of course, he got even
more agitated when he discovered people could vote by mail. But Trump's
deeper problem with the USPS is basic Republican dementia: government =
bad; business = good; ergo hack government up and turn the pieces into
businesses, so they can figure out better ways to rip off customers and
feed the profits to the rich.
Trump's racist, statist suburban dream: "Racial inequality wasn't
an accident. It was an ugly political choice." This refers back to
Richard Rothstein's book, The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of
How Our Government Segregated America, which is part of the story --
for more in that vein, see Ira Katznelson: When Affirmative Action
Was White: An Untold Story of Racial Injustice in Twentieth-Century
America -- but nowhere near all of it.
Trump sends in the economic quacks: "Now he's prescribing
hydroxychloroquine to fight recession."
Republicans have politicized almost every aspect of American life.
I think this is true, and that it's had an adverse effect both on
society and on politics. Republicans might counter that Democrats
have been politicizing things too, but looked at case by case you'll
find that's usually in response to Republican polarization. The big
example is climate change, which an increasing number of Republicans
doubt and deny because doing so has become part of their political
identity. That wasn't the case 30 years ago, when the "ozone hole"
was recognized as a common problem needing a technical solution.
Former DHS staff: Trump claimed "magical authorities" to break the
law: Touts a group called Republican Voters Against Trump (RVAT),
which have been posting videos of Republicans explaining why.
America is drowning in joblessness -- and swimming in cash: "Thanks
to the CARES Act, Americans hae saved roughly $930 billion more in
recent months than they were on pace to do before the pandemic."
Why Trump shouldn't compare America's Covid-19 outbreak to New Zealand's,
in one chart.
Melania Trump's changes to the White House Rose Garden, explained:
"She dug up trees and put in paved walkways."
Judge orders Trump to pay Stormy Daniels $44,000 in legal fees.
The permanent outsider: "President Trump has no idea how to run for
reelection as an incumbent.
Gaza's health sector at risk as Israel's week-long airstrikes continue:
"Israel has been bombing Gaza for eight days straight, all as part of what
Israel says is a response to incendiary balloons sent from Gaza into
Israeli territory." First I've heard about it, which gives you a measure
of how Israel has routinized its arbitrary violence against Palestinians.
No doubt there's more to link to here:
Out of China: An affair in a dangerous ditch. She spent 1980
working in China, chronicled in her marvelous book Forbidden
Fruit: 1980 Beijing, recapped here with further thoughts.
Paul R Pillar:
Trump's schadenfreude foreign policy and its political appeal:
The German word means to take joy in the suffering of others. Aside
from highly touted arms sales, that's about the only return Trump has
managed in foreign policy, and if/when those weapons are used you can
count them too. Trump has dashed any delusions one might have hoped
for based on his campaign. The author of The Art of the Deal
seems consitutionally incapable of making any deals at all. (The only
one so far has been the NAFTA band-aid.) What's the point of sucking
up to Putin, Xi, and Kim except to negotiate deals to reduce conflict
and stabilize relations? All he's managed to do with Russia has been
to dismantle decades worth of arms limits agreements, leading to a
renewed arms race. (Which seems, by the way, to be ok with Russia,
as one of their few viable export industries is arms.) Elsewhere,
he's repeatedly broken things, while encouraging "allies" like UAE,
Saudi Arabia, and Israel to break even more. His withdrawal from
the Paris Accords shows that his Bad Neighbor Policy -- not official
term, but the suggested as the polar opposite of Franklin Roosevelt's
Good Neighbor Policy, an attempt to build some good will that proved
invaluable in WWII -- permeates all levels. Pillar is right to point
out that foreign policy is not a zero-sum game: hurting other people
and countries doesn't help America; it often hurts, and not just in
loss of reputation, trust and prestige. So why does Trump do it?
Pillar tip-toes around several theories, noting that his policies
are more likely rooted in his understanding of domestic politics
than in any concern for the rest of the world, and coming closest
to the mark with "Trump supporters disproportionately exhbit traits
that make them more likely to feel pleasure from someone else's
pain." There's a much shorter word for Trump's syndrome: sadism.
The only thing that restrains us from talking about his "sadistic
foreign policy" is the sheer amount of indifference and ineptness,
which blunts the pleasure sadists obtain from the pain of others.
On the other hand, schadenfreude is a bit too kind, as it implies
a degree of sorrow Trump is simply incapable of.
The economic recovery that isn't: "Don't believe the story that
Trump will tell at the Republican convention." Related:
Pelosi's Kennedy endorsement and why people are so mad about it.
Air pollution is much worse than we thought: "Ditching fossil fuels
would pay for itself through clean air alone."
Trump's cloud of gossip has poisoned America: "The president's
insatiable need to traffic in rumor and conspiracy blows larger holes
in our shared reality with each passing day."
Kanye West is running for president -- seriously: He's getting on
the ballot in places like Ohio and Wisconsin. From what I've been able
to tell, his sole support comes from Republican operatives who won't
vote for him but hope he'll split some black votes away from Biden.
I seriously doubt he'll find many, or be any sort of a factor, but
he could kind of work as a "fuck it all" alternative to major party
candidates who are widely despised. Who he draws the most votes from
is so irrational it's impossible to predict. More: Ben Jacobs:
Kanye West's presidential campaign is both proceeding and unraveling.
Robert J Shapiro:
How Trump may be plotting to stay out of jail:
Donald Trump has a serious dilemma. If Joe Biden loses in November,
he can go home and settle in as a party elder stateman, as defeated
nominees have often done. But if Trump loses, he faces years of
intensive investigations by Congress and, assuming he pardons himself,
years of investigations by state prosecutors, likely criminal indictments,
and possible conviction and imprisonment. The investigations also could
expose some of his children to legal peril. And Trump assets -- and
those of the Trump Organization -- will be vulnerable to government
seizure if New York state prosecutors and courts find that his past
actions were part of an organized enterprise engaged in criminal
activity. . . .
In Trump's view, this could be his ultimate deal. He agrees to accept
the election results and retire peacefully, but only if Biden and
Democratic congressional leaders agree to shelve future investigations
and forgo federal prosecutions of him and his family and associates --
and call on state prosecutors and attorneys general to do the same.
If Trump loses non-trivially, I don't see that he has much leverage.
I don't see how he can throw a fit and simply refuse to leave. I don't
know that he can pardon himself, but I have entertained the idea that
he might resign after November in expectation of a President Pence
pardon, following the Ford-Nixon precedent, possibly extending to his
family and company if not to all of his confederates. (I doubt he cares
much about them anyway.) That still leaves possible state prosecution,
and civil complaints. I'm not much impressed with the power of Congress
to investigate Trump, so I don't see much worry there. On the other
hand, Trump does have two pretty strong points in his favor. One is
that although there is a lot he could be indicted for, it's almost
inconceivable that he would ever be convicted by a jury that hadn't
been rigged. The second is that it sets a rather nasty precedent for
a new administration to criminally investigate its predecessor. As
far as I know, that's never been done in the US -- well, until Trump,
who currently has the DOJ investigating "Obamagate." Nixon deserved
jail, but spared that spent the rest of his life out of politics and
relatively harmless. (Not that eulogizing him didn't tarnish Clinton's
reputation.) Obama never prosecuted anyone in the Bush administration,
which effectively turned Bush's many faults into his own -- a huge
favor to the Republicans, and a huge drag on his own ability to make
changes. If Biden wins, he will inherit a mess even more huge than
Obama did, so it's very important that he remind people how much
this has been due to the mistakes and ill intentions of Trump and
his gang. So whatever he does about prosecuting Trump, we need to
make sure that the full extent of his crimes and scandals are aired.
Perhaps this is time for some sort of "truth and reconciliation"
commission? With it you could grant some degree of amnesty for
honest testimony. You should be careful about how this is set up,
but the emphasis should be on getting to the truth, and learning
from it, and not on petty revenge. For a cautionary piece on why
you need to keep people aware of truth, see Ari Rabin-Havt:
We shouldn't have to remind people George W Bush was a terrible
president. But we do.
Trump is 'Fox's Frankenstein,' insiders told CNN's Brian Stelter -- and
here's the toll it's taken. Stelter has a book coming out next week:
Hoax: Donald Trump, Fox News, and the Dangerous Distortion of Truth.
It's hard to escape the conclusion that everyone involved deserve each
other -- especially the ones who think they have scruples but don't act
How the US can fight corruption after Trump: Talking about foreign
policy here, although one reason the US has never done much about
limiting corruption abroad is that we tolerate so much of it at home.
The other reason, which isn't much touched on here, is that buying
off foreign officials is usually good for business (at least in the
short term, which with business is the only term that matters).
3 renters on getting screwed over by landlords during the Covid-19 housing
Joe Yerardi/Alexia Fernández Campbell:
Fewer inspectors, more deaths: The Trump administration rolls back
workplace safety inspections. Isn't this really what the Trump
administration is all about? This is part of a Vox series called
System Failure, a collaboration with
Center for Public Integrity. Other pieces:
How this year's primary season demonstrated the waning influence of
pro-Israel hawks: At least that's true within the Democratic Party,
where AIPAC efforts to purge Representatives critical of Israel have
largely failed. Most Democratic politicians are as obeisant as ever
to the Israel lobby, but rank-and-file voters have been drifting away
for years, partly as they recognize Israel as a racist warmongerer,
and partly as Netanyahu has personally aligned with the Republicans.
Biden was personally able to secure a pro-Israel plank in the Party
platform, but a more representative platform would have been a good
deal more critical.
Monday, August 17, 2020
Expanded blog post,
Music: Current count 33814  rated (+40), 221  unrated (+3).
My wife announced that she's not going to watch any of the Democratic
Convention speeches, figuring they'll just be depressing. Needless to
say, I wasn't even considering the prospect. I can read up whatever it
is I need (e.g., here's Vox's
The 2020 Democratic National Convention's speaker lineup and how to
watch). Looking at the lineup, the show will be sanctimonious,
condescending, and more than a little nostalgic, reminding you of
the opportunities past Democrats have squandered, and how little we
have to show for it. I can see the value of inviting the occasional
token Republican, and I'm glad Doug Jones gets a spotlight moment,
but do we really need both Clintons to speak? And is the bench of
Democratic prospects so weak Michelle Obama needs to be the keynote
speaker? Barack Obama was nobody when he spoke in 2004, and it looks
like the DNC is never going to let something like that happen again.
While I'm sure Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez will make the most of her
token minute, bracketing her between John Kerry and Chuck Shumer is
pretty much guaranteed to spoil the night. Then Sally Yates? On the
other hand, at least they passed over Adam Schiff and Jerry Nadler.
In past successful Democratic presidential campaigns -- by which
I mean Clinton in 1992 and Obama in 2008 -- the candidates ran to
the left until election, then made their accommodations with the
established powers after they won, leaving most of their platforms
with their luggage. To some extent, Gore did that in 2000, although
not very convincingly, and even less Hillary tried that tack even
less credibly in 2016. Biden seems determined to run through the
vast open ground to his right, reassuring business, the suburbs,
the shattered remnants of the middle and working classes, that he
will restore a measure of normalcy and sanity after the batshit
craziness of the Trump (and, if you still have any memory cells,
Bush) fiascoes. And the left (including me) seem willing to let
him call the tactical campaign shots however he sees best. On the
other hand, the "democratic wing of the Democratic Party" has
gradually accumulated a real power base in Congress, one that
Biden and Harris will have to deal with to move forward -- not
least because the real answers to the real problems are the ones
coming from the left, but also because there no longer is a
neoliberal Republican block like the one Clinton (and much less
successfully Obama) tried to triangulate through. That residual
power base is why the left doesn't need to get its message out
during the rest of this campaign.
The other is that you can't build toward an egalitarian vision
of peace and prosperity without first establishing a fundamental
commitment to decency, honesty, and trust, and you won't have any
of that if Donald Trump and the Republicans win in November. We
may have differing ideas how to accomplish this, but the one that
the Democrats have chosen was arrived at more or less democratically,
and it is important to respect that process. Even if it means a week
of boring, uninspiring TV. I really don't need any of these speakers
to tell me who to vote for in November. But if you do need help, by
all means tune in. You're the person they want to address.
One reason I'm not too terribly disappointed with the way the
ticket has turned out is that I've been reading Thomas Frank's new
book, The People, No! Eighty pages in, most of what he's
covered so far has been the 1896 presidential election -- the one
between William McKinley (R-OH) and William Jennings Bryan (D-NE) --
and the slanders against Bryan were harrowing. This doesn't have
much relevance to the actual 2020 election. Trump's credentials
as a populist are totally bogus, and Biden's aren't much better.
Indeed, Biden will probably wind up raising more money than Trump
(as Hillary did in 2016, and as Obama previously did). But if
Sanders had won the nomination, he would have represented the
most radical break in Democratic Party nominees since Bryan in
1896, following the ultra-conservative Grover Cleveland in 1892.
The shift from 1968-1972 was comparatively miniscule: both
Hubert Humphrey and George McGovern were midwestern liberals
who agreed on virtually everything -- the one sticking point,
and it was a big one, was the Vietnam War. Still, that was
enough for many Democrats to sabotage their ticket by voting
It seems unlikely to me that establishment Democrats would have
broken ranks as decisively as they had done in 1896 and 1972, if
only because Trump is far too odious an alternative, but it is
likely that the degree of vitriol directed at Sanders would have
approached the levels aimed at Bryan. Of course, Republicans being
the deranged scum they are, much the same will be aimed at Biden
and Harris, but at least with them it's not something I have to
take personally. (Not that I wouldn't be game to try, had Sanders
won the nomination. At least the upside there justifies the risk.)
One hopes that people will not only see through the slanders, but
that they will reflect back properly on those who launched them.
Also that they will be seen as evasions of responsibility for the
tremendous harm caused by Trump and his party. (And, by all means,
never attack Trump without also blaming his accomplices. He may be
their nominal leader, but often as not he's the one being led
around by the nose.)
I thought this was going to be a lax week, but ran the numbers and
came up with 40 again. Started off with more Polish jazz left over from
last week, plus another ZAUM album. Then Robert Christgau published his
August Consumer Guide. As I noted in a tweet, I had previously graded
several albums: Car Seat Headrest (A-), Dream Wife (A-), Haim (**), Lori
McKenna (A-), X (*). Picked up almost all of the rest below. That leaves
Birds of Prey, Deap Vally, and the Boswell Sisters -- I have Sony's
That's How Rhythm Was Born (1931-34) in my database (B+); Christgau's
pick isn't on Napster, but there are several alternatives. Three of this
week's A- records come from Christgau, although only John Chibadura was
an easy call -- City Girls and Kehlani could have gone either way, and
probably would have fallen short without the encouragement and extra time.
Other suggestions came from all over. A couple were recommended in an
Expert Witness Facebook post asking for items on Bandcamp. I can't say
as they were particularly good, but they led indirectly to the new Mekons
album, which is. I played a couple things I downloaded, and searched for
a recent batch of Clean Feed releases. One I looked for but didn't find
is a new WHO Trio album of Strayhorn/Ellington compositions. When I saw
the Keith Ingham/Harry Allen records, I just had to check them out. When
in doubt, I look at Napster's "featured" records, and decided to check
out the live Stooges set. That reminded me of two albums I used to have
but hadn't entered into the database. I probably should have looked and
given them a fresh listen, but the memories were clear enough.
A couple other albums were suggested by working on Christgau Consumer
Guides from September last year. Christgau wants to impose an eight month
delay on them to give subscribers a sense of exclusivity, so I haven't
been in any hurry to tackle them. Anyhow, finally started entering them
into my private copy of the website last week. Still not sure what to
do about enforcing the delay. I've long had code for handling timelocks
on regular pages, so those are working on the CG columns, but I've never
imposed delays on database fetches, so that will require new code. It
seems to me that the way it should work would be to set up an account
management system synched to
newsletter, so that paid subscribers could also see restricted
content on the website, but that would take a lot of work, and it's
not clear how to keep the two sites in synch.
I should note that Steve Grossman died last week. I knew him mostly
as one of a cluster of mainstream tenor saxophonists from the 1990s --
Bennie Wallace is the one I followed most closely, but I especially
liked Grossman's 1991 In New York. Rather surprised to find
that I only had one more of his albums in my database. I'll write up
more next week. I'm especially glad that I started with his 1973
debut, Some Changes to Come. That dates from his tenure in
Miles Davis's great fusion band, and builds thereupon.
It's been a trying week for me, with my brother hospitalized for
what at first looked like Covid-19, but turned out to just be
pneumonia. Had another scare with a friend in Massachusetts, which
again turned out to be something else (but still quite serious). We
continue to do virtually no socializing, and only rarely make even
the most rudimentary shopping efforts. With this isolation, it's
been a rare pleasure to occasionally post on Facebook a picture of
some little meal I've managed to whip up. Some recent ones:
Szechuan chicken wings;
Chinese ribs. (Looks like if you click on one, you can cycle through
the rest, as you won't find many pictures there not of food. I think all
the links are public. My rule is to only seek and accept friends that I
have personal relationships with, and I very rarely bother Facebook with
my writings -- that's what
Twitter is for.) Not as
satisfying as cooking for others, but in times like these we make do.
Still open for
New records reviewed this week:
- Aminé: Limbo (2020, Republic): [r]: A-
- Arbor Labor Union: New Petal Instants (2020, Arrowhawk): [r]: B+(**)
- BROM: Dance With an Idiot (2019 , Trost): [r]: B+(***)
- City Girls: City on Lock (2020, Quality Control/Motown): [r]: A-
- Emily Duff: Born on the Ground (2020, Mr Mudshow Music): [r]: B+(***)
- Tyler Higgins: Broken Blues (2016 , Shhpuma): [r]: B+(**)
- Kehlani: It Was Good Until It Wasn't (2020, Atlantic): [r]: A-
- Martin Küchen & Landaeus Trio: Mind the Gap of Silence (2019 , Clean Feed): [r]: B+(***)
- Makaya McCraven: Universal Beings E&F Sides (2017-18 , International Anthem): [r]: B+(**)
- Paulette McWilliams: A Woman's Story (Blujazz): [cd]: B+(*)
- Mekons: Exquisite (2020, self-released): [bc]: B+(***)
- Dawn Oberg: 2020 Revision (2020, self-released, EP): [bc]: B-
- Larry Ochs/Aram Shelton Quartet: Continental Drift (2012-18 , Clean Feed): [r]: A-
- The Rails: Cancel the Sun (2019, Psychonaut): [r]: B+(*)
- Roots Magic: Take Root Among the Stars (2019 , Clean Feed): [r]: B+(***)
- Thumbscrew: The Anthony Braxton Project (2019 , Cuneiform): [dl]: A-
- Charles Tolliver: Connect (2019 , Gearbox): [r]: B+(***)
- Matt Ulery: Pollinator (2019 , Woolgathering): [r]: B+(**)
- Otomo Yoshihide/Chris Pitsiokos: Live in Florence (2018 , Astral Spirits): [dl]: B+(*)
Recent reissues, compilations, and vault discoveries:
- Harry Beckett: Joy Unlimited (1974 , Cadillac): [r]: B+(**)
- Nublu Orchestra Conducted by Butch Morris: Live in Sao Paulo (2008 , Nublu): [r]: B+(*)
- The Stooges: Live at Goose Lake, August 8, 1970 (1970 , Third Man): [r]: B
- Gillian Welch: Boots No. 2: The Lost Songs Vol. 1 (2002 , Acony): [r]: B+(*)
- Zam Groove: Music From Zambia (, SWP): [bc]: B+(*)
- John Chibadura: The Best of John Chibadura (, ZMC): [r]: A-
- Extra Ball: Birthday [Polish Jazz Vol. 48] (1976, Polskie Nagrania Muza): [r]: B
- Steve Harris/ZAUM: A Is for Ox (2006-07 , Amazon): [bc]: B+(***)
- The Keith Ingham-Harry Allen Quintet: My Little Brown Book: A Celebration of Billy Strayhorn's Music, Volume One (1993 , Progressive): [r]: A-
- The Harry Allen-Keith Ingham Quintet: The Intimacy of the Blues: A Celebration of Billy Strayhorn's Music (1993 , Progressive): [r]: B+(***)
- Keith Ingham: Rockin' in Rhythm (2010 , Arbors): [r]: B+(*)
- Krzysztof Komeda-Trzcinski: Komeda [Polish Radio Jazz Archives 04] (1957-62 , Polskie Radio): [r]: A-
- Krzysztof Komeda: Ballet Etudes (1963, Metronome): [r]: A-
- Jerzy Milian Trio: Baazaar [Polish Jazz Vol. 17] (1969 , Polskie Nagrania Muza): [r]: B+(*)
- Zbigniew Namyslowski: Zbigniew Namyslowski (1977, Polskie Nagrania Muza): [r]: B
- Zbigniew Namyslowski: Standards (2003, Quartet): [r]: B+(***)
- Zbigniew Namyslowski: Assymetry (2006, Quartet): [r]: B+(**)
- Jan Ptaszyn Wroblewski Quartet: Flying' Lady [Polish Jazz Vol. 55] (1978, Polskie Nagrania Muza): [r]: B+(***)
- Jan Ptaszyn Wróblewski Sextet: Komeda: Moja Slodka Europejska Ojczyzna [Polish Jazz Vol. 80] (2013 , Warner Music Poland, 2CD): [r]: B+(**)
Added grades for remembered lps from way back when:
- Iggy and the Stooges: Metallic K.O. (1976, Skydog): B+
- Iggy Pop: TV Eye 1977 Live (1977 , RCA): B-
Unpacking: Found in the mail last week:
- David Berkman: Plays Music by John Coltrane and Pete Seeger: Solo Piano (Without)
- Bruno Råberg/Jason Robinson/Bob Weiner: The Urgency of Now (Creative Nation Music)
- Eric Revis: Slipknots Through a Looking Glass (Pyroclastic) [09-11]
- Fumi Tomita: Celebrating Bird/A Tribute to Charlie Parker (Next Level) [09-25]
Sunday, August 16, 2020
After what seemed like a very long deliberation, Joe Biden selected
Kamala Harris as his running mate for vice president. The main takeaway
is that he'll listen to whatever the left wing of the party has to say,
but he's going to staff the government with people friendly with and
acceptable to business
interests. The New Democrat vision was to show that business is better
served with Democrats in power. Clinton and Obama worked hard to make
that case -- especially with trade deals like NAFTA and TTP that were
injurious and opposed by critically important traditional union allies.
While they were unable to convince most capitalists, they
did manage to break off enough support to run well-funded campaigns.
Biden fits neatly into their program -- if anything, he anticipated it,
coming from a state which is famed mostly for its lax corporate laws.
Against Donald Trump, he has the potential to raise a lot of big donor
money -- as long as he is seen as a buffer against, rather than as a
tool of, the insurgent left. The strongest VP candidate, based on her
campaign skills, organizational ability, and command of the issues and
policies, was Elizabeth Warren, but she's widely viewed in business
circles as antagonistic to their interests. Harris is not viewed as
hostile -- indeed, she's had tremendous success raising money in
Silicon Valley -- making her the safe (and lucrative) bet.
Reassuring big money donors is one big thing Harris brings to the
campaign. Her chuminess not only helps support Biden, it helps insulate
the campaign from charges of being a vehicle for far-left radicals --
the main charge that Trump's Republicans have been making. In particular,
Harris's reputation as a law-and-order hard case makes it clear that
"defund the police" and "abolish ICE" are not part of the Biden agenda,
quickly reducing a major thrust of Republican campaign fodder to the
hysterical ravings of deranged paranoids.
Biden's primary success was based on a hunch shared by many Democrats,
including some who policy-wise are more sympathetic to the left, that
this year, running against this exceptionally odious president, it is
important to risk as little as possible, to build a broad coalition
around the single essential goal of denying Trump a second term. The
early primary season turned on issues, with Sanders and Warren pulling
the party to the left with their strong command of issues and policy;
Buttigieg and Klobuchar countered as the most articulate candidates
on the right, squeezing out potential compromisers like Harris and
Booker. As Sanders emerged as the leader, the billionaires jumped in,
and Michael Bloomberg spent the better part of a billion dollars to
prove how virulently opposed to Sanders and Warren his class was.
Bloomberg had no personal appeal, but served as a catalyst, aligning
the party rank-and-file's deepest seated fears into a surge of support
for Biden. Had she not dropped out, Harris might have become the
middle-ground candidate that Biden turned into. But having dropped
out, she returns to the campaign largely unscathed.
Biden committed to selecting a woman early on. Thus far, the
only person who has found that decision controversial has been
Donald Trump. There has been a good deal of discussion about race,
which mostly struck me as misguided and/or irrelevant. I admit
that I didn't see any advantage to Biden picking a black running
mate. I figured doing so might cost him more white voters than it
otherwise gained -- mostly because his own history on race and/or
crime issues is rather tawdry, which may have helped him gain
white votes, especially in Southern primaries. On the other hand,
Harris is a brilliant solution to the question: she is the sort
of black that iffy whites would find least stereotypical -- traits
Obama shared, but her even more so -- yet she is black enough to
provoke hideous reactions among more committed racists, who were
solidly pro-Trump anyway. If anything has been made clear from
first reactions, it's that Trump and his ilk are the ones trying
to stir up America's race problem.
One reason Obama won was that he made it possible for many iffy
whites to feel good about themselves for rising above their racist
past. In picking Harris, Biden shows that he's better than that.
In slandering Harris, Trump shows that he's not. That's hardly the
only clear cut distinction between the two, but it sure is one of
Some background, referred or alluded to in the links that follow.
Harris was born in 1964 in Oakland, California. Her parents were
both immigrants, who came to UC Berkeley in 1960-61 as graduate
students, received PhD's, and had distinguished careers. Her
father is Donald J. Harris, from Jamaica, professor of economics
at Stanford, now emeritus (age 81). Her mother was Shyamala Gopalan,
from Tamil Nadu, India, studied endocrinology, and worked on breast
cancer research in various universities and labs, including Lawrence
Berkeley National Laboratory. She died in 2009 (70). They had two
daughters, and divorced in 1971. The daughters lived with their
mother, including several years in Montreal, Canada. Kamala graduated
from high school in Quebec, then attended Howard University in DC,
then UC Hastings College of Law. She was admitted to the Bar in 1990,
working in the Alameda County DA office, then in San Francisco (DA
and Mayor's Office). She was elected San Francisco District Attorney
in 2003 and 2007, California Attorney General 2010 and 2014, and was
elected to the US Senate in 2016.
Some links on the Harris pick:
Sanders defends Harris as vice presidential pick: "I think she's
an asset for the Biden campaign, and I think she's going to do great
things on the campaign trail." Also: "But I think there is overwhelming
understanding that Donald Trump must be defeated, Biden must be elected."
For some more Harris endorsements, see
Kamala Harris: 'A great partner to Joe Biden,' says Elizabeth Warren.
Trump backers' dizzying response to Kamala Harris's selection.
Black like Kamala: "Republican efforts to deny Senator Harris's
identity as an African-American and turn her into a noncitizen are
destined to fail."
Alexander Burns/Jonathan Martin/Katie Glueck:
How Biden chose Harris: A search that forged new stars, friends and
rivalries. This pegs Harris, Warren, Whitmer, and Rice as the
final four, with Duckworth knocked out by her Bangkok birth --
thinking was that she's eligible, but debate on that would be a
The Kamala Harris identity debate shows how America still struggles to
talk about multiracial people.
Aaron Ross Coleman:
Kamala Harris is a politician, not an activist. It's an awkward fit for
Is Kamala Harris a hawk? Well, she's not the worst (that would be
Susan Rice), but she's consistently gone along with US foreign policy,
and occasionally "even attacked Trump from the right."
The fall and rise of Kamala Harris.
Why the surge in racist misinformation about Kamala Harris is so
I used to be critical of Kamala Harris. Now I am going to defend her
at every turn. I wouldn't go that far. If you don't criticize her
when she takes a bad position on an issue you care about, how the hell
is she ever going to learn? But I've long had a certain amount of
sympathy for politicians. They have a tough job, one that few people
I know would envy. They are constantly being berated by the ignorant,
and seduced by rich special interests. Their lives are far removed
from most of their constituents, yet many of them at least try to
balance off their influences and the consequences of their actions,
and some on occasion learn from their mistakes. Harris strikes me
as about par for Democrats these days -- and, sure, Biden is a bit
below par -- but neither have parked their brains into the ideological
straitjacket of Republican conservatism, and both have backgrounds
which at least allow them to imagine what other people feel. Granted,
most of the people they interact with are well-heeled elites, and
their instincts are not to rock those boats, so I don't expect they
will do anything very risky, even if that's what is needed. But if
they manage not to do things that are horribly stupid, we'll come
out ahead. And for now, that's about all we can ask of politicians.
Still, we shouldn't be so protective of them we stop seeking better
understanding and better answers. Citizenship doesn't need a fan
club. It needs people to stand up for their rights, even when a
Democrat gets in the way.
With Elizabeth Warren sidestepped, Wall Street execs cheer Joe Biden's
pick of Kamala Harris for VP.
Annie Karni/Jeremy W Peters:
Her voice? Her name? GOP's raw personal attacks on Kamala Harris.
In an email on Wednesday night, the campaign sought to fund-raise off
Ms. Harris's selection, calling her "the meanest, most horrible, most
disrespectful, MOST LIBERAL of anyone in the U.S. Senate," saying she
and Mr. Biden wanted to "DESTROY America."
A new ad released by the campaign ran through a list of accusations
against Ms. Harris, several of them false, saying she wanted to "confiscate
your guns by force" and "give cop killers a pass" -- more conventional
Republican attempts to stir passions on public safety and social change.
But that flag was not being waved by the campaign's usual echo chambers.
Instead, there were disparate messages. On Tuesday night, Mr. Carlson said
that there were "time-share salesmen you could trust more" than Ms. Harris
and "payday lenders who are more sincere," alluding to an institution long
accused of exploiting poor communities of color.
On Fox News, Mr. D'Souza said that because Ms. Harris's Jamaican father
had traced his ancestry to a slave owner, her racial identity as a Black
woman was in question.
The Fox News host Sean Hannity, meanwhile, called Ms. Harris a senator
with a "radical extremist record" whose selection "solidifies what's the
most extreme radical far-left out-of-the-mainstream ticket of any major
political party in American history."
I really find this "destroy America" charge galling coming from
Republicans. The America I grew up in was one where a middle-class
standard of living was protected by labor unions, where infrastructure
was either owned by the public or conscientiously regulated to protect
the public interest. It wasn't perfect. Some people were excluded, and
some were treated shabbily, but the country was founded in ideals that
promised something better. That's been destroyed, most enthusiastically
by Republicans (and sure, with help from more than a few Democrats, but
rarely with the same utter lack of concern for consequences). So what
exactly is it that they think Biden-Harris want to destroy? And why?
It's just really hard to figure out what's left, still unscathed by the
depredations of unfettered capitalism, that the Democrats may uniquely
want to diminish. The best I can come up with is a tiny atavistic kernel
of white male ego, but even I can't figure out why that's something to
care about, let alone reason to vote for a party that doesn't seem to
care a whit for the environment, for health and safety, for workers and
their families, for civic and world peace.
Natasha Korecki/Christopher Cadelago/Marc Caputo:
How Kamala Harris outflanked her skeptics to become Biden's VP pick.
This pegs Harris, Susan Rice, and Karen Bass as the final contenders,
with Tammy Duckworth in the running late. One concern about Duckworth
was that she was born in Thailand, where her father was stationed in
the US Army.
GOPers can't find their Kamala: "The attacks from Trump's allies
just don't seem to fit."
The Biden-Harris ticket is the antithesis of Trumpism.
Annie Linskey/Chelsea Janes:
Harris's wooing of Black activists paved a path to the ticket.
Kamala Harris's controversial record on criminal justice, explained.
"Progressives will have to weigh what Harris is saying now versus parts
of her past."
Trump makes fear-based appeal to women after Biden picked Harris.
Ian Millhiser/Aaron Rupar:
The Trump campaign attack on Kamala Harris's citizenship is right out
of the birther playbook.
Newsweek editors finally apologize under pressure for racist birther
op-ed about Kamala Harris. Also:
Kushner panders to Trump's new racist birther crusade against Harris.
Kamala Harris crystallizes Trump's view of women: They're 'nasty' or
Trump: Biden is insulting men everywhere by picking woman as running
mate. "If you're looking for a quintessential example of fragile
masculinity, look no further."
Kamala Harris is the choice Joe Biden needed to win over Silicon Valley.
Harris's special touch with the ultra-rich has been integral to her
political ascent in San Francisco, where she first served as district
attorney before her statewide wins as attorney general and then US
senator. Harris was a regular presence on the city's cocktail circuit
and has been profiled in society pages ever since her 30s. Her campaigns
were funded by the old-money families that predated the modern tech boom.
When that boom did arrive, Harris capitalized and built an orbit of
new-money fans that she will further bring into the Biden fold. Her
biggest donors over the last two decades read like a who's who list of
tech moguls: Salesforce founder Marc Benioff has told Recode that Harris
is "one of the highest integrity people I have ever met." Early Facebook
president Sean Parker invited Harris to his wedding. Fundraisers for her
presidential bid included billionaire Democratic power brokers like Reid
Hoffman and John Doerr.
Chris Lehane, a longtime adviser to Bay Area donors, recalled Harris
as a "workhorse" when it came to making fundraising calls during her
first run for California attorney general in 2009.
"She'd work the whole list," he said, "and then ask for more names."
One particularly close bond for Harris has been with Democratic mega-donor
Laurene Powell Jobs, the billionaire philanthropist and wife of the late
Steve Jobs. When Powell Jobs was invited to speak at the annual Code
Conference in 2017, she brought Harris along with her.
The unlikely bond between Joe Biden and Kamala Harris.
Fox News is leading the attack on Kamala Harris. See the links under
Media Matters below for more examples.
Biden's pledge to choose a woman for VP was popular -- and so is Harris.
Jeffrey St Clair:
Roaming charges: It had to be you: In case you want some obscure
facts to go with the snark. Like Trump contributed $6,000 to Harris
campaigns in 2011 and 2013, and Ivanka gave Harris $2,000 in 2014.
Links to Nate Silver's
2020 Presidential forcast, which gives Trump the same 28% chance of
winning he had in 2016 against Hillary Clinton. By the way, I find the
"snake chart" particularly useful here for identifying the marginal
battleground states, as well as providing rank orders on either side.
Right now, the swing state is Pennsylvania, which is much more
reassuring than Florida or Arizona (both shows as leaning Biden,
but not needed to get to 270).
In her first speech on the ticket, Kamala Harris goes full prosecutor:
"The case against Trump and Pence is open and shut."
Kamala Harris gives new meaning to the Biden campaign.
Kamala Harris's foreign policy, explained: "It's more robust than
you might think." Curious choice of word: "robust." It's as utterly
conventional as you might guess, with happy talk about allies, snarling
at Russia and China, routine support for "defense" spending, the usual
pledge of allegiance to Netanyahu, and a token nod acknowledging that
climate change is something to worry about. Her most unorthodox move
was to vote to limit arms sales to Saudi Arabia.
Media Matters: Some kind of nervous breakdown at Fox:
Radio host Joe Pagliarulo promotes sexist attack against Kamala Harris;
Diamond and Sillk: Kamala Harris "is not even Black";
Beware the double Trojan horse: Ben Shapiro calls Kamala Harris a
"Trojan horse" and Joe Biden "a Trojan horse for Kamala Harris";
Fox News guest says Kamala Harris shouldn't be considered "African-American"
because she "is from the legacy of" slave owners: That's Dinesh D'Souza;
Laura Ingraham says Biden-Harris ticket is "too left-wing for Reverend
Mark Levin kicks off his show by ranting unprompted about Kamala Harris'
Tucker Carlson lashes out after guest corrects his pronunciation of
Kamala Harris' name;
Sean Hannity says choice of Kamala Harris as VP makes Democratic ticket
the "most radical" in history;
Fox News chief White House correspondent defends Trump campaign's lie
Tweet of the week, from
Something I just keeping back to over and over is the tremendous
continuity between the last two Republican presidents, both of whom
left the country in ruins, amidst historic catastrophes. The entire
party and movement are rotten to the core and unfit to govern.
Steve M. astutely replied:
And yet Democratic politcians never say this -- mainstream Dems don't
want to insult Republican voters, while progressive Dems are so angry
at mainstream Dems that they lose sight of the sheer godawfulness of
Some scattered links this week:
Michael Cohen releases details about his forthcoming memoir.
Title is Disloyal. Publication date September 8. Annie Karni:
In tell-all foreword, Cohen promises sordid tales Trump 'does not want
you to read': "In his memoir, Disloyal, Michael D. Cohen,
President Trump's onetime lawyer and fixer, claims that he had unique
access to Mr. Trump, a man with 'no true friends.'"
A novel way to fund a green economy: "Instead of bailing out Exxon
and other fossil fuel companies, a National Investment Authority could
democratize finance and help ordinary people and their governments fight
The government has been pretty kind to fossil fuel companies these last
few months. Recent disclosures from the Federal Reserve's secondary
bond-buying program show that it has now bought $17 billion worth of
ExxonMobil debt and $28.5 million from Energy Transfer Partners, the
company behind the Dakota Access Pipeline. Private asset manager Blackrock
oversees this purchasing program, among others.
Blackrock, with friends in both parties, is on the verge of becoming
a fourth branch of government. Despite its pledge in early 2020 to
recalibrate investment practices with climate change in mind, so far
on behalf of the Fed it has seemed to offer up nearly unlimited public
funds to bail out the world's biggest polluters. These investments serve
as a lifeline to a deeply troubled and increasingly unprofitable industry.
Meanwhile, state and local governments -- and the millions of people
who'll soon lose their unemployment insurance -- have found bailouts
much harder to come by. And hopes for a green recovery (which an
increasingly large swathe of the Democratic Party supports to stave
off depression and climate catastrophe) look alarmingly scarce.
We can't fight climate change without China: "The Democratic Party's
2020 platform echoes President Trump's hawkishness on China. That's a
Co-opt & corrupt: How Trump bent and broke the GOP.
What are the chances Trump could actually go to jail?
GAO finds Chad Wolf, Ken Cuccinelli are ineligible to serve in their
top DHS roles.
The helpless outrage of the anti-Trump book: "The Trump era has birthed
a distinct new genre of political writing: irate, forgettable, and strangely
complacent." Review of Donald W Drezner: The Toddler in Chief: What
Donald Trump Teaches Us About the Modern Presidency, and Jonathan Karl:
Front Row at the Trump Show, with side glances elsewhere. I'm struck
by a quote from long-time ABC White House correspondent Karl (previously
known for his "reputation for pitching softballs to Bush Administration
officials"): "I don't believe there has ever been a more exhausting,
exhilarating, dangerous, maddening, frustrating, downright bizarre,
or more important time to be a White House reporter." I'm sure that
dealing with Trump on a daily basis can seem to be all of those things --
except important: nothing Trump says has any bearing on the stories
journalists should be telling about his administration, and detracts
from their ability to do so.
US push to extend Iran arms embargo fails at UN Security Council:
2 votes for (US and Dominican Republic, of 13 needed), 2 against (Russia
and China), 11 abstentions. More:
Could covert war with Iran become overt before November 3rd?.
I doubt it, but the scenario I wouldn't put past Pompeo goes like this:
Trump loses, but is still in office until January, and uses that period
of time to launch various offenses against Iran. Iran, in turn, will be
tempted to hold back until Biden takes office, hoping for restoration
of US support for the nuclear agreement; Iran's failure to retalliate
will be taken by Trump as license to escalate further. Note that some
of the attacks could be facilitated by proxies, like the new UAE-Israel
Pompeo set to double down on failure to extend Iran arms embargo.
How DeForrest Brown, Jr, centers the black body in techno music:
I don't usually put music links here, but have had trouble keeping
track of them for Music Week. I reviewed several records by Brown
especially recommending his (i.e., Speaker Music's) Black Nationalist
Sonic Weaponry (A-).
What is QAnon? A not-so-brief introduction to the conspiracy theory
that's eating America: "Do millions of Americans really believe
Donald Trump is saving children from underground demons? It seems
that way." I admit that I never had any interest in even finding out
what QAnon referred to. Still don't, even after often reading that
Trump's most fervent supporters are psyched on whatever it is. Even
if it weren't nuts, I doubt it would ever have a fraction of the
ill-effects of believing in Atlas Shrugged. Or, for that
matter, The Road to Serfdom. The old mental illnesses are
still the direst.
America's death march: Whoever wins, this election won't save us:
"Neither [Biden nor Trump] will stop hyper-nationalism, crisis cults
and other signs of an empire in terminal decline." I hate coming off
as an optimist, but Hedges has turned into a useless critic of modern
life, like the existentialists around the time I stopped bothering
with them. There are gross malaises that Hedges may still have some
insight into, but there's also a lot of nuts-and-bolts dysfunction
that even Biden can figure out and do something to keep utter chaos
and collapse at bay -- like keeping the Post Office delivering mail.
Halting global warming and unwinding America's worldwide "empire of
bases" may be a bit harder, and Biden doesn't have the best of track
records, but even there the election decision will surely have some
The dystopian tech that companies are selling to help schools reopen
Billionaires have made an absolute killing during the pandemic. The
number is staggering.
How the GOP became the party of resentment: Review of Rick Perlstein's
book Reaganland, the fourth volume in what promises to be an immense
history of American conservatism from Goldwater on. (I've read the second
volume, Nixonland. Been meaning to get to the others, but I'm daunted
by their length -- over 3,000 pages to date.)
Most candidates run to the center in the general election. Biden is
moving left. Title is misleading, as the only criteria Klein is
using is where the VP picks stands in relation to the Presidential
candidate (Clinton-Kaine, Obama-Biden, Kerry-Edwards, Gore-Lieberman),
and depend on making assumptions that may not be warranted. The first
three VP's came from more centrist states, but if anything came off
as more populist (especially Edwards). Lieberman came from a more
liberal state, and was probably viewed as more liberal than Gore at
the time, but he later discredited himself. Harris is from a more
liberal state than Biden, but isn't all that liberal for California.
On the other hand, the left-right spectrum has shifted this time,
with Trump so extreme on the right it's nonsensical to even try to
split the difference. I don't expect Biden to try to move left, but
some left-aligned policies are so popular there's no reason not to
go with them. If Harris looks to be a bit to his left, I don't see
how that hurts him.
What would Keynes do? Podcast/interview with Zach Carter, author
of The Price of Peace: Money, Democracy, and the Life of John Maynard
For Keynes, there's always something outside of consumer preferences
that they need to align with. There's always a good life and a good
society that we're trying to guide society towards. He believes there
are objectively good things in the world, that not everything is
relative, that not everybody's preferences are equal. That is a
paternalistic approach, as you note.
The way that his successors who take him seriously as a philosopher
try to resolve this -- and I think [John Kenneth] Galbraith is the most
successful in this -- is to say this is what democracy is for. We don't
want to have big, bad, terrible monarch telling us what to do. But in a
democracy people can express their preferences politically. And using
the market as an alternative to democratic politics is signing us up
for a particularly bad life. . . .
[Keynes] could never really make up his mind about where he was on
the question of socialism, but it was very clear to him by the end of
his life that large sections of the economy had to be socialized if we
were going to realize the type of good life that he wanted realized.
In the States, we think of him as this guy who legitimizes deficit
spending. In the UK, he has a very different legacy: his most significant
policy achievement in the UK is socializing British medicine. He's the
financial architect of the National Health Service.
Trump's incoherent policy on TikTok and China.
Falling upward: The surprising survival of Larry Summers: "He
is once again a senior economic adviser to another prospective
An inland hurricane tore through Iowa. You probably didn't hear about
it. Gusts of up to 112 mph did considerable damage, leaving a
quarter-million without power. There is some video from Chicago showing
heavy rain, but no other mention of it. I've seen completely dry wind
storms in Kansas, with winds in the vicinity of 80 mph. They are very
rare. I've seen hurricanes from the Gulf of Mexico dump a lot of rain
in Kansas, and I've read that the 1900 Galveston hurricane still
produced hurricane-force winds as far inland as Chicago, but this
wasn't one of those.
Trump's bizarre obsession with Mount Rushmore.
Louisa Loveluck/Chris Mooney:
Baghdad's record heat offers glimpse of world's climate change future.
The Never Trumpers have already won: "They're not trying to save the
GOP from a demagogue. They're infiltrating the Democratic Party." Review
of Robert P Saldin/Steven M Teles: Never Trump: The Revolt of the
Exceptionally close to the Never Trump insurgency, Saldin and Teles
take a cozy approach to their study of this movement and its central
characters, faithfully drawing on their accounts of the rise of Trump.
They start with the national security experts -- figures such as former
National Security Council staffers Peter Feaver and Philip Zelikow.
Officially, this stalwart crew feared that Trump threatened the Cold
War national security consensus that had once led conservatives beyond
geopolitical "isolationism." Views once safely quarantined to the
libertarian or racist fringes of their party were now getting a second
look, they worried.
Their concern here was hardly disinterested: More important than
anything else for them was that Trump was breaking the taboo within
the Republican Party that forbade calling the Iraq War a gross error.
That Never Trumpers were more bothered by Trump's apostasy on Iraq
than by his racism, self-dealing, and ignorance of the Constitution
makes sense. However, it doesn't necessarily follow that their revolt
against Trump has won them much influence in the Democratic Party --
where second thoughts on Iraq, for instance, is now the norm even
among those who originally voted to authorize the war. It is true
that they have reinforced the view among Democratic hawks that it is
safest to attack Trump over foreign policy issues, especially when
they can paint him as doing favors for Russia. But that's not because
they've cultured any support among rank-and-file Democrats. All they
did was to sway a few centrists into thinking that they might pick up
support among nominal Republicans for impeachment and such if the
issues were defined strictly in national security terms. That never
worked, other than to sidetrack Democrats from pressing more popular
charges, like corruption and gross negligence. By the way, Saldin
and Teles wrote a reply to this review:
Don't blame Never Trumpers for the left's defeat. They have a
point, provided you don't count Michael Bloomberg among the Never
Trumpers -- although you could argue that he was the biggest one
of all, especially in a world where free speech is denominated in
The most tremendous reelection campaign in American history ever:
"Inside the chaotic, desperate, last-minute Trump 2020 reboot." I can't
read this because "You've reached your monthly article limit." But I
read the Kos synopsis:
Trump's campaign IS the cesspool of corruption and incompetence we
thought it was.
Trump's "blasphemous" attacks on Biden were torn from the Republican
hymnal: "The president's pearl-clutching critics have forgotten
how defaming Democrats' faith is a longstanding tradition for the
GOP." Still, no examples here further back than 2012 -- I expected
at least a reference to the Republicans' characterization of the
Democratic Party in the 1880s: "The party of rum, Romanism, and
rebellion." After all, charging your opponent with antipathy to
religion just exposes your own bigotry and intolerance. Nwanevu
quotes Ashley Parker: "Rather than look for campaign ammunition
in the former vice president's long track record of politically
vulnerable votes and policy proposals, Trump has instead chosen
to describe Biden as a godless Marxist bent on destroying the
country with a radical agenda that would make Che Guevara blanch."
At least those are charges that require no work researching, or
any measure of self-reflection.
Trump's new favorite talking point about US coronavirus cases is highly
misleading: "Trump wants you to believe the US coronavirus outbreak
is similar to Germany's and South Korea's. Don't buy it."
How Trump's mail voting sabotage could result in an election night
The Postal Service says tens of millions of mail-in ballots are at risk
of not being counted. Also:
The White House says USPS isn't removing mail-sorting machines. Postal
workers say it is. By the way, I've seen reports in the Wichita Eagle
that mail-sorting machines have been removed in Kansas and Missouri.
Normally, when efficiency is a concern, you install more machines, not
Jacob Bogage/Joseph Marks:
House accelerates oversight of Postal Service as uproar grows, demanding
top officials testify at 'urgent' hearing.
Meadows gets into heated exchange as he tries defending Trump's war on
Trump tampers with Postal Service after months of railing against
Adam Clark Estes:
What's wrong with the mail: "As November nears, the Postal Service
is facing a crisis that could interfere with the election."
Amy Gardner/Josh Dawsey/Paul Kane:
Trump opposes election aid for states and Postal Service bailout,
threatening Nov. 3 vote.
Postal service changes pose threat to voting, says former USPS
Americans must defend the Postal Service like our democracy depends on
Trump's attack on the Postal Service is a threat to democracy -- and to
Trump says he opposes USPS funding in an effort to block mail-in voting.
"Friday night massacre" at US Postal Service: Postmaster General boots
top brass ahead of election.
Philip Rucker/Josh Dawsey/Ashley Parker:
Tracing Trump's Postal Service obsession -- from 'loser' to 'scam' to
David Sirota/Matthew Cunningham-Cook:
Trump's Postal Service chairman has led Senate GOP's $100 million Super
Andy Sullivan/Heather Timmons:
US Postal Service reorganization sparks delays, election questions.
Trump's attacks on the Postal Service deserve sustained, red-alert coverage
from the media.
The Postal Service scandal doesn't belong only to Donald Trump. Mitch
McConnell played a big role. This led me to another link reminding
us that the Republican war on government doing anything useful for
ordinary people has deep roots:
When Reagan tried to destroy the Postal Service.
Conservatives are trying to destroy the US Postal Service. Instead we
should expand it.
Betsy DeVos's plot to enrich private schools amid the pandemic:
"The secretary of education wants religious schools to flourish at
the public system's expense; and she's doing it under the cover of
the coronavirus crisis."
Big Pharma's Covid-19 profiteers.
How a homemaker with no political experience took on Europe's longest-serving
dictator: Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, in Belarus, challenging Alexander
Lukashenko. Election results gave the win to Lukashenko, with over 80%
of the vote. This, in turn, has led to protests:
Israel and the UAE just struck a historic peace deal. It's a big win
for Trump. Hard to see where Trump deserves any credit here. As
a practical matter, Israel has been very low on UAE's foreign policy
list for quite some time, so joining Egypt and Jordan in recognizing
Israel isn't much of a thing. Perhaps more importantly, this gives
Netanyahu an excuse for backing away from his campaign promises to
annex the West Bank -- which are disturbing especially in Europe,
where BDS is increasingly popular.
But at the heart of the agreement is a trade: As the statement lays out,
Israel will "suspend declaring sovereignty over" parts of the West Bank
that it had previously expressed intentions to annex. In exchange, the
UAE will treat Israel as it would any other country it has friendly
relations with -- making it only the third Arab country to have such
open relations with Jerusalem.
More on Israel/UAE:
Why Democrats are holding out for more comprehensive stimulus:
"They don't think Trump's executive actions come close to covering
what's needed -- and they have the leverage to push for more."
Besides: "Republicans are set to bear more of the political backlash,
PS: Robert Christgau forwarded this string of tweets from John Ganz
(@lionel_trolling). I couldn't follow it as presented, so wondered if
copying it down might help. Christgau's comment:
Read the five-part thread, reread a few of your political tweets,
and ask yourself whether he nailed you or not. If you find that
question discomfiting, please try to err on the side of not being
contrarian till the election is over.
- There's also a kind of anti-respectability politics, which views
everything that appeals to conventional people as either hopelessly
naive and dowdy or thoroughly hypocritical, and sometimes as both
- Usually this attitude is fostered in bohemian milieus, where a
shared commitment to 'epater les bourgeois' and cultivated
anti-conformism mistakes itself for political principle, it's almost
beneath mentioning that it becomes its own sort of conformism
- You get an importation of the intellectual habits of art criticism
and social appraisal into politics, in some ways a welcome new
perspective for political judgment to consider, but have the
unfortunate result of turning everything into a question of affect or
- There is always a performative aspect of politics, it's a kind of
theater, so the eye trained to either judge artistic or social
performances is going to make very witty and sometimes penetrating
observations about politics, but usually they have more wit than
- Politics, or rather commentary on politics, is one of the last
places where people can maintain the very 19th century pretension of
being simultaneously totally ensconced in a tiny elite cult of
decadence while convincing themselves they understand the feelings of
There are also some comments by Ganz:
- Some of the points of the bohemian political commentators are
undoubtedly correct: much of conventional society and its ruling class
are hypocritical and stupid, and their vaunted norms both hide their
misconduct and prevent them from thinking
- But they don't really have much of substantial position beyond
seeing through these things and flaunting their own superiority to it
- Very fond of armchair sociology, they can't raelly theorize their
own sociological position vis a vis the squares and dupes and how they
need them for their existence
- It's histrionic in the old sense of the word: a kind of theater of
poses and attitudes, which might provide worthwhile critique of the
serious world that is actually just as full of pretense, if it could
drop its own pretense to self-seriousness and authenticity
Well, no, I don't think he "nailed" me. I don't even think he struck
a glancing blow. Although it's hard to tell what he was aiming at, due
to the total lack of specific references. I don't doubt that there are
strands of socio-political analysis that reflect one clique making fun
of, belittling, and/or looking askance at a broader population, scoring
points with their wit. At least since I started reading critical theory,
I've always been critical of trying to understand, much less practice,
politics as an aesthetic concern. In fact, I'm pretty skeptical of
anyone who attempts to impose an arbitrary ethics on it.
I have no idea what kind of political analysis Christgau wants to
counter, but I can make a guess given his time frame: from now to the
November election. On a good day, you can imagine an infinite range
of political possibilities, and that's what people like me prefer to
talk about. I'd like to write about why patents are always bad, or
why everyone should have free access to the internet, and advertising
should be banned there (except when you specifically ask for its, and
even then you need to ability to challenge it). However, between now
(roughly speaking) and election day in November, the political universe
we live in has radically constricted to the choices on the ballots, in
particular the two dominant political parties here in the US). During
that time, the only practical thing you can do is to compare A and B
(or, realistically, R and D) -- or, at least, that's the position of
people who are totally invested in the election to the exclusion of all
else. I'm not generally disposed to do that. In particular, I want to
reserve the option of saying when both sides are in the wrong -- and I
swear to you, I'm not being contrarian; there is always some underlying
principle at stake. And those principles are grounded in serious thought;
they're not just things that strike my aesthetic fancy.
Of course, politics isn't just voting. If, between now and November,
cops kill yet another unarmed black teenager for no reason, I'm not
going to tell you not to go march, even if I suspect doing so might
reflect poorly on the election. It might even be a good idea to put
a march together in Washington for funding for the USPS, unemployment,
to stop evictions, etc. (a good time might be during the so-called
Republican Convention, but not at wherever it's supposed to be -- not
to draw attention to them but to take away from their news cycle).
And sure, take it easy on the Democrats until November. If they win,
you'll have plenty of occasion to critique them in the future, but at
least you'll be starting in a better place. And if they lose, you'll
need them more than ever.
Monday, August 10, 2020
Expanded blog post,
Music: Current count 33774  rated (+45), 218  unrated (-5).
Most of this week's haul is tied to a
question I tried to answer
a couple days back. I've done a little editing on my answer since its
initial post. Always good to get back and tune some more -- something
I rarely manage these days. The big questions concerned British jazz
from the 1960s-70s, and also Polish jazz. The question mentioned a list
of British and South African musicians by name. My review counts for
them are: Joe Harriott (6), Michael Garrick (2), Don Rendell (0), Ian
Carr (0), Mike Osborne (2), Tony Coe (4), Harry Beckett (2), Tubby
Hayes (6), Chris McGregor (4), Dudu Pukwana (5), Mongezi Feza (1),
Johnny Dyani (3), Louis Moholo (6), Annie Whitehead (0), Lindsay
Cooper (0). That illuminates some holes in my listening.
I thought I might come up with a reference list of British jazz
musicians, but both Google and Wikipedia failed badly -- e.g., neither
mentioned Evan Parker, who would certainly top my list with 48 albums.
After Parker, my most reviewed British jazz musicians are:
Barry Guy (32),
John McLaughlin (32),
John Surman (27),
Dave Holland (25),
Tommy Smith (19),
John Butcher (17),
Paul Dunmall (16),
Marian McPartland (15),
Billy Jenkins (14),
Andy Sheppard (11),
Trevor Watts (11),
Derek Bailey (10),
Elton Dean (9),
Alexander Hawkins (9),
Stan Tracey (9),
Chris Barber (8),
Tony Oxley (8),
John Taylor (8),
Keith Tippett (8). Very likely I've forgotton a few. Further down, you
get important musicians like Howard Riley (6), Gordon Beck (5), Paul
Rutherford (5), Iain Ballamy (3), Humphrey Lyttleton (3), Ronnie Scott
(3), Alan Skidmore (3), Mike Westbrook (3), Acker Bilk (2), Spike Hughes
(2), Ken Colyer (1). I've probably slighted most of them.
But rather than try to catch up with British jazz musicians I've
missed, I spent much of the week with Polish ones. Mostly it was just
easier: Polskie Nagrania Muza (now owned by Warner Music Poland) has
a series of 80 volumes of "Polish Jazz," and that's most of what you
get when you do a title search for "Polish jazz" on Napster. The
immediate appeal was a couple albums I had missed by Tomasz Stanko,
and a couple more by Zbigniew Namyslowski -- I've long been a fan of
his 1973 album, Winobranie. Most of this week's haul comes
from that series, with a few more to come next week (although my
interest is finally starting to flag). I wasn't surprised to find a
bunch of trad jazz titles, but was pleased to note how well done they
were. Indeed, the bop groups were also pretty sophisticated. The only
genre that fell short of contemporary standards was 1970s fusion --
which, you may recall, could be pretty bad everywhere.
Two other clusters in the "old music": I started the week with
English folksinger Shirley Collins' latest, and thought I'd sample
some of her early records (especially one with Albion Dance Band
which I used to own, but couldn't find). That didn't last long. The
second cluster is from English drummer Steve Harris. I was reminded
of him while looking at my list of
Penguin Guide crown
albums, and his was the only one I hadn't heard. Turns out
that both it and a bunch more have recently (2018) been released
on Bandcamp. I wound up liking the 2002 ZAUM album even
For new music, I worked a few things off my queue -- some of which
won't be released until the Fall (it's hard to pace myself with them).
Also spent a fair amount of time on the fence over DeForrest Brown Jr.'s
latest album, so I wound up listening to his other releases. Listening
order below, not release order.
I'll try to get around to some old British jazz this week. See if
anything really clicks. Would be great if I could find my old Blue
Notes for Monghezi LP, still unrated. Also been looking at the
Bandcamp lists, which suggested Speaker Music (also Jenna Camille
and Hideto Sasaki).
Recommendation: Jason Bailey and Mike Hull (my nephew) have started
to produce podcasts.
Episode 1: 'Fight the Power' discusses Spike Lee's film,
Do the Right Thing.
Questions queue is empty now. Please
use the form.
New records reviewed this week:
- Max Bessesen: Trouble (2020, Ropeadope): [cd]: B+(**) [09-04]
- Jenna Camille: The Time is NOW (2020, self-released): [r]: B+(*)
- Shirley Collins: Heart's Ease (2020, Domino): [r]: B+(**)
- Duotrio: In the Bright and Deep (2020, Blujazz): [cd]: B-
- Gato Libre: Koneko (2019 , Libra): [cd]: B+(**)
- John Hollenbeck: Songs You Like a Lot (2019 , Flexatonic): [cd]: B- [08-14]
- Camden Joy: American Love (2020, self-released): [bc]: B+(**)
- Kenny Kotwitz & the LA Jazz Quintet: When Lights Are Low (2020, PMRecords): [cd]: B+(*)
- Simon Moullier: Spirit Song (2017-20 , Outside In Music): [cd]: B+(***) [10-09]
- Jose Rizo's Mongorama: Mariposas Cantan (2018-19 , Saungu): [cd]: B+(**) [09-16]
- Lawrence Sieberth Quartet: An Evening in Paris (2020, Musik Blöc): [cd]: B+(**) [09-24]
- Speaker Music: Of Desire, Longing (2019, Planet Mu): [bc]: B+(**)
- Speaker Music: Processing Intimacy (2019-20 , Planet Mu): [bc]: B+(***)
- Speaker Music: Percussive Therapy (2020, Planet Mu -EP): [bc]: B+(**)
- Speaker Music: Black Nationalist Sonic Weaponry (2020, Planet Mu): [r]: A-
Recent reissues, compilations, and vault discoveries:
- Hideto Sasaki-Toshiyuki Sekine Quartet Plus 1: Stop Over (1976 , BBE): [bc]: B+(**)
- Ewa Bem With Swing Session: Be a Man [Polish Jazz Vol. 65] (1981 , Polskie Nagrania Muza): [r]: B+(**)
- Shirley Collins: Sweet England (1959, Argo): [r]: B+(**)
- Shirley Collins: False True Lovers (1959, Folkways): [r]: B+(*)
- Shirley Collins/Davy Graham: Folk Roots, New Routes (1964, Decca): [r]: B+(*)
- Ducks Deluxe: Side Tracks & Smokers (1973-2009 , Jungle): [r]: B+(**)
- Hagaw: Do You Love Hagaw? [Polish Jazz Vol. 12] (1967, Polskie Nagrania Muza): [r]: B+(**)
- Steve Harris: ZAUM (2002, Slam): [bc]: A-
- Steve Harris/ZAUM: Above Our Heads the Sky Splits Open (2004, Slam): [bc]: A-
- Steve Harris/ZAUM: The Little Flash of Letting Go (2004-05 , Spitz Live): [bc]: B+(***)
- High Society: High Society [Polish Jazz Vol. 18] (1969 , Polskie Nagrania Muza): [r]: B+(***)
- Jazz Band Ball Orchestra: Jazz Band Ball Orchestra (1966, Polskie Nagrania Muza): [r]: B+(**)
- Mieczyslaw Kosz: Reminiscence [Polish Jazz Vol. 25] (1971 , Polskie Nagrania Muza): [r]: B+(*)
- Andrzej Kurylewicz Quintet: Go Right (1963, Polskie Nagrania Muza): [r]: B+(***)
- Andrzej Kurylewicz: Polish Radio Big Band [Polish Jazz Vol. 2] (1964 , Polskie Nagrania Muza): [r]: B+(**)
- Adam Makowicz: Live Embers [Polish Jazz Vol. 43] (1975, Polskie Nagrania Muza): [r]: B+(*)
- Mieczyslaw Mazur: Rag Swing Time [Polish Jazz Vol. 27] (1971, Polskie Nagrania Muza): [r]: B+(**)
- The Wlodzimierz Nahorny Trio: Heart [Polish Jazz Vol. 15] (1967 , Polskie Nagrania Muza): [r]: B+(***)
- Zbigniew Namyslowski: Zbigniew Namyslowski Quartet [Polish Jazz Vol. 6] (1966, Polskie Nagrania Muza): [r]: A-
- Zbigniew Namyslowski Quintet: Kujaviak Goes Funky [Polish Jazz Vol. 46] (1975, Polskie Nagrania Muza): [r]: A-
- Zbigniew Namyslowski Quintet: Polish Jazz - Yes! [Polish Jazz Vol. 77] (2016, Warner Music Poland): [r]: B+(**)
- NOVI: Bossa Nova [Polish Jazz Vol. 13] (1967, Polskie Nagrania Muza): [r]: B
- Polish Jazz Quartet: Polish Jazz Quartet (1964 , Polskie Nagrania Muza): [r]: B+(**)
- The Ragtime Jazz Band: The Ragtime Jazz Band [Polish Jazz Vol. 7] (1966, Polskie Nagrania Muza): [r]: B+(**)
- Tomasz Stanko Quintet: Music for K (1970 , Polskie Nagrania Muza): [r]: A-
- Tomasz Stanko: Music 81 [Polish Jazz Vol. 69] (1982 , Polskie Nagrania Muza): [r]: B+(***)
- Andrzej Trzaskowski: The Andrzej Trzaskowski Quintet [Polish Jazz Vol. 4] (1965, Polskie Nagrania Muza): [r]: B+(**)
- Michal Urbaniak's Group: Live Recording [Polish Jazz Vol. 24] (1971, Polskie Nagrania Muza): [r]: B+(***)
- Warsaw Stompers: New Orleans Stompers [Polish Jazz Vol. 1] (1959-64 , Polskie Nagrania Muza): [r]: A-
- Janusz Zabieglinski: Janusz Zabieglinski and His Swingtet [Polish Jazz Vol. 9] (1967, Polskie Nagrania Muza): [r]: B+(**)
Unpacking: Found in the mail last week:
- John Finbury: American Nocturnes (Green Flash Music)
- Somi With Frankfurt Radio Big Band: Holy Room: Live at Alte Oper (Salon Africana)
- South Florida Jazz Orchestra: Cheap Thrills: The Music of Rick Margitza (Summit) [08-28]
Sunday, August 09, 2020
One thing I've noticed here but don't have the time or patience to
try to unpack is that a significant share of the articles below look
ahead to after the November election -- usually assuming that Trump
will be defeated, some allowing for the possibility that Trump will
cheat massively and produce a disputed result. This was bound to
happen sooner or later, but this soon is a bit surprising. Maybe
it's because the whole year is something we can't wait to get over
Some of the future articles imagine a chance for the Republican
Party to reform itself after the Trump debacle, but I don't see
that happening any time soon -- in large part thanks to the speed
with which the Party recovered after the 2008 debacle. In many
ways, Democrats will find it harder to function after winning
than Republicans will -- especially if their victory isn't deep
enough to capture both houses of Congress, allowing Republicans
to obstruct their efforts, and Fox to blame those losses on the
Finally, some pieces start to look at where the economy is headed --
not so much after the pandemic but along with it. Had I tried to
speculate on that 4-6 months ago, I no doubt would have come up with
little more than reassertions of what I had long been thinking. Now
I'm less certain than ever.
Biden's date for announcing his VP pick is August 10. Good to get
this posted before then.
Some scattered links this week:
Trump falsely claims coronavirus is "disappearing" and Russia isn't
meddling in the 2020 election: "Trump's surprise news conference
held at his private club was packed with false claims about America's
Biden personally intervened to get the word 'occupation' removed from
the Democratic Party platform: I don't discount the significance
of one's views on Israel-Palestine as a test of political principles,
but as a practical matter in a contest between Biden and Trump, and
more generally between the parties, dropping it from the platform,
and inserting some pablum, doesn't bother me. Biden isn't stuck in
Sheldon Adelson's pocket, and he's not going to owe anything to the
fundamentalist Christian apocalypse-mongers backing Trump. After
the election, he'll have options based on future events, which he
may or may not respond to constructively. But at this point, Israel
has gone so far down its racist-militarist apartheid path that it's
hard to see the US having any real influence (as if it ever has).
Elsewhere, it's more important that the US disengage from its own
occupations and interventions. Dismantling systemic racism and
militarism at home would also help, perhaps more than anything
else. Israel has chosen to follow its own rogue path, but that
choice has always been easier with the US as a model. Take that
away, and maybe Israel will start to realize the folly of its
path. In the long run, all nations have to change of their own
accord -- even the ones the US is so obsessed with bending to
its will, like North Korea, Venezuela, Iran, Russia, and China.
Joshua A Barocas/Jennifer E Lacy:
The pandemic is an extraordinary opportunity to reform US education:
"We should allow kids to take a gap year and waive standardized testing
before it's too late."
If anything, there is a sense that many in the Trump administration
and its allies across the country want public education to fail. For
example, Kansas City Metropolitan charter and private schools received
between $19.9 million and $55.9 million from the Paycheck Protection
Program (PPP), program whereas Kansas City Public Schools received
Why Stuart Stevens wants to defeat Donald Trump: Interview with
Stevens, who worked in the GW Bush presidential campaigns and was
Mitt Romney's top strategist in 2012. More recently, he wrote It
Was All a Lie: How the Republican Party Became Donald Trump, and
is an adviser to the Lincoln Project. Still a lot of delusions here
for past Republicans, especially Romney. Also a strong belief that
the president's number one job is opposing Putin. For another
interview with Stevens, see David Corn:
The Republican Party is racist and soulless. Just ask this veteran
Yes, Trump actually did want to be added to Mount Rushmore: "A White
House aide reportedly looked into the process for adding another president's
face to the monument." Filed under "Delusions of grandeur."
The unraveling of America: "Anthropologist Wade Davis on how Covid-19
signals the end of the American era."
Superhawk Elliott Abrams named Special Envoy on Iran: Most recently,
he's been Special Envoy for Venezuela, a job he's made a total mess of.
Disasters are nothing new for Abrams. Ever since he got out of jail for
his role in Reagan's Iran-Contra scandal, he's using his foreign policy
clout to make things worse -- especially his tenure as GW Bush's top dog
on Israel-Palestine. More on Abrams:
The unexpected past, the unknown future: It could have been different:
Nostalgia for the bad old days, just following 9/11, when the Bushies
thought all they had to do to rule the world was "to take the gloves
off." Engelhardt resisted that idea from its inception, and if he's
ever been wrong, it was to underestimate how bad it might get.
Amy Gardner/Josh Dawsey:
As Trump leans into attacks on mail voting, GOP officials confront
signs of Republican turnout crisis: It's real hard to anticipate
how turnout is going to break, but this is one part of the question.
This was the first of several articles linked to in
As Trump attacks mail voting, GOP officials confront signs of Republican
turnout crisis. Another is Pema Levy:
Democracy depends on the postal service more than ever. Republicans
won't help fix it. Some more pieces on Trump, voting, and mail:
Facebook took down a Trump post for the first time. Trump claimed
that "children are almost -- and I would almost say definitely -- but
almost immune from this disease [Covid-19]." Not true, and dangerously
so, but Trump got to play the victim, as one of his flacks put it:
"Another day, another display of Silicon Valley's flagrant bias
against this President, where the rule are only enforced in one
For years, Trump has made false claims on Facebook; in recent months,
he has made incorrect statements about topics such as mail-in voting
and former Vice President Joe Biden's platform on policing. Independent
fact-checkers that are part of Facebook's fact-checking network have
flagged these posts as incorrect on their own sites, but Facebook has
not labeled them as such on its platform because its rules exempt
politicians from being fact-checked. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has
repeatedly said that he does not want his company to be an "arbiter of
truth" and that the company does not fact-check political speech.
Trump issued an executive order effectively banning TikTok if it
doesn't sell in the next 45 days. Also:
Susan B Glasser:
"Mr President, what are your priorities?" is not a tough question:
"Trump is running for reëlection, but, unlike four years ago, he can't
even say why." Reduced to red hat slogans, he wants to keep America as
great as it became the moment he was elected and inaugurated in 2017,
which by definition will cover four more years. Why can't people grasp
that? I mean, aside from the fact that none of the people are Donald
Trump's vapid answer is more than a reflection of a political-messaging
dilemma -- it's a sign of decline, both in terms of the President's
ability to respond cogently to a simple query and as a warning for
American democracy, given that such a large segment of the electorate
apparently finds it acceptable to support a leader whose only campaign
selling point is himself. Is Trump's inability to come up with something
to say about the next four years a reflection of the fact that even he
thinks he is going to lose? Perhaps, but it's also a measure of how far
Trump has descended into full "l'état, c'est moi"-ism. Running
for reëlection without offering even a hint of a program is a sure
indicator of at least aspirational authoritarianism.
John F Harris:
Donald Trump has the sole authority to blow up the world. It is madness
to let him keep it. Madness to give any president solo authority,
much less one who seems incapable of understanding what nuclear weapons
can do, yet who seems fascinated with finding out. Thought about filing
this under Hiroshima (below), but decided this is a current issue, not
history. One thing that keeps is current is how completely Trump has
dismantled arms limitation treaties with Russia. Also how he's approved
the plan to spend a trillion dollars rebuilding America's nuclear
arsenal. I sometimes wonder what else Trump can do to destroy the
country before leaving office, and this is high on the list.
Present absences: Review of Rashid Khalidi's new book, The
Hundred Years' War on Palestine: A History of Settler Colonialism
and Resistance, 1917-2017, selecting the Balfour Declaration
as his arbitrary starting point, no doubt cognizant that the "war"
isn't over at a mere century.
Why the United States invaded Iraq: Review of Robert Draper's
new book, To Start a War: How the Bush Administration Took America
Into Iraq. Seems like there should be more here on Afghanistan,
but for Bush, Cheney, et al., war with Iraq was predetermined, and
if anything Afghanistan just slowed them down a bit. One thing here
I previously missed was the 1998 "Rumsfeld Commission," where Congress
gave "Donald Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz and other hawks . . . a high-profile
platform" to fantasize about and play up the Iraqi threat. Draper
also "presents the former CIA director George Tenet in a particularly
unflattering light, suggesting that he made up for his frustrations
with Bill Clinton by excess ("slam dunk") enthusiasm for GW Bush.
If Draper expertly dissects the ferocious turf battles that took place
within the administration over the war, he does not really seek to set
it in a wider context other than to note rather benignly that "the story
I aim to tell is very much a human narrative of patriotic men and women
who, in the wake of a nightmare, pursued that most elusive of dreams:
finding peace through war." But there was more to it than that. Thanks
to Donald Trump's bungling, Bush may be benefiting from a wave of nostalgia
for his presidency. But he was criminally culpable in his naïveté and
incuriosity about the costs and consequences of war. At the same time,
Cheney and Rumsfeld were inveterate schemers whose cynicism about going
to war was exceeded only by their ineptitude in conducting it.
Trump antagonizes GOP megadonor Adelson in heated phone call.
Voter suppression is back, 55 years after the Voting Rights Act.
Trump's latest move at the Pentagon is brazenly unlawful: Giving
Anthony Tata the job of Deputy Undersecretary of Defense for Policy
(you remember, the job in 2003 filled by "dumbest fucking person on
earth" Douglas Feith), without getting Senate approval..
Trump's troop tantrum: "There's no strategy behind the decision to
withdraw US troops from Germany. It's about the president's anger and
How cities can tackle violent crime without relying on police:
Interview with Patrick Sharkey, author of Uneasy Peace: The Great
Crime Decline, the Renewal of City Life, and the Next War on Violence.
Isabel Kershner/Pam Belluck:
When Covid subsided, Israel reopened its schools. It didn't go well.
How inequality is changing the Republican Party -- and breaking American
politics. Review of Jacob S Hacker/Paul Pierson: Let Them Eat
Tweets: How the Right Rules in an Age of Economic Inequality. I
read the book recently, and recommend it. More on this book:
The elusive horror of Hiroshima: It's the 75th anniversary of our
rude awakening to the atomic age. This refers back to John Hersey's
early reporting of the bomb's devastation -- you can read Hersey's
here. I previously wrote about Hiroshima and Nagasaki on their
Thinking about the unthinkable. I also wrote an earlier piece in the
August 6, 2005 notebook.
Some more on Hiroshima:
The war was won before Hiroshima -- and the generals who dropped the
bomb knew it. Article from 2015, no less timely now. Alperovitz
first wrote about this in his 1965 book: Atomic Diplomacy: Hiroshima
and Potsdam: The Use of the Atomic Bomb and the American Confrontation
With Soviet Power. More recently, Alperovitz and Martin Sherman
Dropping atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki was unnecessary.
Andrew J Bacevich:
75 years after Hiroshima, time to give Dr. Strangelove his walking
papers: "Even if the bombing was not a criminal act, the modernization
of the US nuclear arsenal qualifies as madness."
Hiroshma and Nagasaki as collateral damage.
Sleepwalking into the atomic age: "The decision to bomb Hiroshima
wasn't a decision at all." Basically what I think, although I haven't
had time to read this closely. It's interesting that some scientists
do actually seem to have understood what they were opening up, but no
way someone like Harry Truman did. His "decision" was driven by inertia,
and rationalized well after the fact. Of course, his rationalizations
weren't very good, or very helpful.
Truman's 'human sacrifice' to subdue Moscow. This is one of a dozen
articles collectively titled
Atomic Bombings at 75.
Hiroshima and Nagasaki: Excerpt from Raico's essay on Harry Truman
in John V Denson, ed: Reassessing the Presidency: The Rise of the
Executive State and the Decline of Freedom.
Richard J Samuels:
Why the US dropped atomic bombs on Japan: This piece doesn't even
try to answer that question, but in reviewing Marc Gallicchio's book,
Unconditional: The Japanese Surrender in World War II, it suggests
that even before the end of the US-Soviet alliance in WWII the Cold War
was developing in Washington, largely fueled by Republicans who saw red
baiting as a way to battle back against New Deal reforms. The book no
doubt has more on the internal discussions on surrender. In the end,
the US backed away from its unconditional surrender demand and allowed
Emperor Hirohito to be spared. Had that allowance been communicated
earlier, it's possible that the war could have ended before the atom
bombs were dropped, and before the Soviet Union declared war on Japan
and fatefully invaded Manchuria and Korea, but no one was operating
with a clear understanding of the other. That's usually the case in
Memorial days: The racial underpinnings of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki
Nuclear war or invasion: The false dichotomy of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
How Mike Pompeo built a blood-for-oil pipeline: "The State Department,
a conservative-connected shell company, and a key Kurdish crime family
team up to siphon Syrian oil for US investors."
NRA looted its Foundation to cover cash hemorrhage, DC AG alleges.
Michael Krimmage/Matthew Rojansky:
The problem with Putinology: "We need a new kind of writing about
Russia." Primarily a review of Catherine Belton's Putin's People:
How the KGB Took Back Russia and Then Took on the West, which
exemplifies the "old kind of writing," which trades in paranoia over
Russia's evil designs to cripple and dominate the West -- easy enough
to sell in America given the legacy and continuing hegemony of Cold
War propaganda. The authors counter some of this, but don't go very
far -- they certainly don't want to be dismissed as pro-Putin. It's
easy for us to be critical of Putin, but we forget what a disaster
Russia faced in the 1990s under Boris Yeltsin. With the old regime
discredited, Yeltsin turned state-owned enterprises over to a set of
underworld figures who emerged as more-or-less criminal oligarchs.
Putin's principal task was the bring the oligarchs back from anarchy,
which he did in classic Mafia manner by becoming capo di tutti capi.
He wrapped his move by playing up nationalism, but he's more often
been a limit against the ultra-nationalist opposition, which really
does want to restore Russia's imperial greatness by recovering the
periphery lost in 1991. He's also embraced the usual center-right
power bases, like the church and the military. And he hasn't always
respected the tenets of liberal democracy, but that's partly because
they've never really taken root in Russia, and also because the left
has never been able to form a credible opposition to Putin (remnants
of the Communist Party are so wrapped up in nostalgia that they
often wind up to Putin's right). Of course, America doesn't really
care about Putin strong-arming his opponents -- even the tiny slice
devoted to America's vision of neoliberalism. Rather, they cannot
abide Russia doing business with countries on America's shit list,
like Syria, Iran, and Venezuela. The fact is that Russia has few
opportunities to form bonds abroad, and standing up to American
bullying is still a popular stance in Russia. This situation only
gets worse as American foreign policy gets ever more self-centered
and myopic -- a trend that Trump has added a few new twists to but
has been the rule since GW Bush decided to lead his Global War on
Terror. The art to diplomacy is the ability to see what's important
to the other side, and compromises which deliver more than half a
loaf to both sides. Simply demanding that the other side bow over
and submit has never worked very well (or for very long), and is
even more ridiculous given America's declining stature with the
rest of the world. A positive step here would be to start showing
some respect for Putin, which doesn't necessarily mean glossing
over his crimes, just putting them in context.
'She is absolutely our No. 1 draft pick': GOP pines for Rice as Biden
VP. Hoping not to do a VP cluster this week, but must reiterate
that Rice would be a really poor choice. PS: Mine is not the only
The Jakarta method: How the US used mass murder to beat Communism:
Review of Vincent Bevins' book, The Jakarta Method: Washington's
Anticommunist Crusade and the Mass Murder Program That Shaped Our
World. Aside from the brutal wars in Korea and Vietnam, and I
suppose in Afghanistan and Iraq, I've long felt that Indonesia's
anti-communist purge in 1965-66 was the single most reprehensible
event in American foreign policy.
The unique US failure to control the virus: "Slowing the coronavirus
has been especially difficult for the United States because of its
tradition of prioritizing individualism and missteps by the Trump
administration." Also of prioritizing business over all other aspects
of human life.
Trump's latest attack on Biden: Photoshops and cheap shots.
David Brooks wants a nicer, more competent form of Trumpism.
I for one don't care what Brooks thinks, but I will jump off from this
Bannon and Trump got the emotions right. They understood that Republican
voters were no longer motivated by a sense of hope and opportunity; they
were motivated by a sense of menace, resentment and fear. At base, many
Republicans felt they were being purged from their own country -- by the
educated elite, by multiculturalism, by militant secularism. . . . It
would have been interesting if Trump had governed as a big-government
populist. But he tossed Bannon out and handed power to Jared Kushner
and a bunch of old men locked in the Reagan paradigm. We got bigotry,
incompetence and tax cuts for the wealthy.
Of course, Trump to offer Republican populists, beyond his own
emotions as someone as hated and degraded by those elites as was his
base -- yet that never came off as sympathy, only as more rage. As
for the post-Trump Party, Brooks suggests building on these "core
- Everything is not okay. The free market is not working well.
- Economic libertarianism is not the answer. Free markets alone won't
solve our problems.
- The working class is the heart of the Republican Party.
- China changes everything.
- The managerial class betrays America.
When I read that list, the answer is pretty simple: put workers in
charge of US companies. Worker-owned companies aren't going to ship
jobs overseas. Worker-owned companies aren't going to strip assets
for short-term gain. Workers who own companies will support their
communities, and their nation. And when workers own companies, the
managerial class will work for them. Nothing else satisfies these
concerns as simply and elegantly. Well, aside from China: not sure
that anyone understands what that point means.
David Shor's unified theory of American politics. He's obviously a
very smart guy who's been paid by Democrats to think about how to win
elections for the last decade, and he's come up with insights that are
uncomfortable to everyone. One thing that occurred to me in his bit on
the Obama-to-Trump voters is that while he's probably right that race
was the determining factor, one should consider the different ways the
two candidates affected thinking on race. Obama was very conciliatory,
which encouraged white voters to credit themselves for rising above
the race question. Trump, on the other hand, gave white voters reason
to feel good about themselves even if they were racist, which it turns
out many still were. But Trump's also allowed super-racists to thrive,
and maybe that's starting to make the fence-sitters a bit nervous. All
through the interview, Shor is very critical of people who develop any
consistent sort of ideology, which includes most Democratic politicians,
their campaign staffs, and their donors (even rich ones). His advice:
"you should talk about popular issues, and not talk about unpopular
ones." And do the research to tell one from the other, rather than
just following your instinct. Here's an interesting quote:
So I think people underestimate Democrats' openness to left-wing policies
that won't cost them elections. And there are a lot of radical, left-wing
policies that are genuinely very popular. Codetermination is popular. A
job guarantee is popular. Large minimum-wage increases are popular and
could literally end market poverty.
All these things will engender opposition from capital. But if you
focus on the popular things, and manage to build positive earned media
around those things, then you can convince Democrats to do them. So we
should be asking ourselves, "What is the maximally radical thing that
can get past Joe Manchin." And that's like a really depressing optimization
problem. And it's one that most leftists don't even want to approach, but
they should. There's a wide spectrum of possibilities for what could happen
the next time Democrats take power, and if we don't come in with clear
thinking and realistic demands, we could end up getting rolled.
Right-wing conspiracy theorists get (even more) unhinged as Trump's
chances fade: "With QAnon on the rise, Alex Jones tells his fans
to 'kill' progressives: Trump Nation is going full cuckoo."
Last year's Amazon fires stirred international outrage. This year's dry
season has started out worse.
Alexa Mikhail/Dan Rosenzweig-Ziff/Joel Jacobs:
After hundreds of covid-19 deaths in state-run veterans homes,
lawmakers press VA to adhere to science. I should mention again
that my cousin was one of the victims in a VA facility in Oklahoma.
Trump's latest plan to use the census for political gain, explained.
As they note, "more than a third of all US coronavirus cases occurred
Michael T Osterholm/Neel Kashkari:
Here's how to crush the virus until vaccines arrive: "To save lives,
and save the economy, we need another lockdown."
The pandemic benefit seems so great because actual wages are insanely
Rethinking the solution to New York's fiscal crisis.
The health care scare: "I sold Americans a lie about Canadian medicine.
Now we're paying the price."
How to drive fossil fuels out of the US economy, quickly.
The end of interest: This is interesting:
Amid all the strange, alarming and exciting things that have happened
lately, the fact that real long-term (30-year) interest rates have
fallen below zero has been largely overlooked. Yet this is the end of
capitalism, at least as it has traditionally been understood. Interest
is the pure form of return to capital, excluding any return to monopoly
power, corporate control, managerial skills or compensation for risk.
If there is no real return to capital, then then there is no capitalism.
In case it isn't obvious, I'll make the point in subsequent posts that
there is no reason to expect the system that replaces capitalism (I'll
call it plutocracy for the moment) to be an improvement.
I have two thoughts based on this. The first is a corollary, that
if capitalism is dead, the free market will no longer be able to rebuild
the economy. Therefore, government must step in, providing planning and
finance (and possibly even direction) for new ventures. The nations of
East Asia (most dramatically China) have been able to grow above market
rates thanks to central economic planning, in contrast to the relatively
anemic growth in the West, especially if you discount the excess wealth
generated by monopolies, corporate predation, and asset inflation (which
is what happens when the rich have more money than things to spend it
on). The Green New Deal is certainly one way the government could force
feed the economy, and thereby prop it up, but probably isn't in itself
all that will be needed. Which leads to the second point, which is that
we need to come up with a better alternative than plutocracy. Indeed,
we're far enough into plutocracy now that it's more properly seen as a
problem, not a solution. But if Quiggin wants to scare people, sure,
feel free to point out where that road heads.
William K Rashbaum/Benjamin Weiser:
DA is investigating Trump and his company over fraud, filing suggests.
Jeffrey D Sachs:
America's unholy crusade against China: Reaction to Mike Pompeo's
big China speech -- "inflammatory anti-China rhetoric could become even
more apocalyptic in the coming weeks, if only to fire up the Republican
base ahead of the election" -- not sure why he focuses so much on
According to Pompeo, Chinese President Xi Jinping and the Communist
Party of China (CPC) harbor a "decades-long desire for global hegemony."
This is ironic. Only one country -- the US -- has a defense strategy
calling for it to be the "preeminent military power in the world," with
"favorable regional balances of power in the Indo-Pacific, Europe, the
Middle East, and the Western Hemisphere." China's defense white paper,
by contrast, states that "China will never follow the beaten track of
big powers in seeking hegemony," and that, "As economic globalization,
the information society, and cultural diversification develop in an
increasingly multi-polar world, peace, development, and win-win
cooperation remain the irreversible trends of the times."
More on China (for pieces on TikTok, see Shirin Ghaffery above):
Let's face it, China is its own worst enemy: "Much like Trump, Xi's
grand ambitions are checked by his inability to make friends." Bandow
is a libertarian (Cato Institute) critic of American foreign policy,
so so he avoids most of the usual Washington clichés. Still, he comes
up with a long list of ways Xi's instincts to fight back and bully at
every slight has hurt China's business relations.
Economics is a disgrace.
Kobach and Clay go down: Takeaways from a big primary night:
Arizona, Kansas, Michigan, Missouri, Washington, and
Tennessee. In Kansas Republican Senate primary, Roger Marshall
beat Kris Kobach 39.41% to 25.68%, with Bob Hamilton at 18.34% and
Wichita Eagle-endorsed David Lindstrom in 4th with 6.33%. Kobach
barely won the governor primary in 2018 then lost, so he's increasingly
viewed as a loser as well as a lunatic. Lacy Clay (D-MO), who's always
struck me as a pretty progressive Congressman, lost to Cori Bush, who
promises to be even better. Another incumbent, Steve Watkins (R-KS),
recently indicted, lost his primary. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) faced a
well-financed opponent she had barely won over in 2018, and won
66.27% to 33.73%. The biggest piece of election news was Missouri
voting in favor of Medicaid expansion. Article doesn't have any
"takeaways" from Tennessee (which voted later), where Trump-endorsed
Bill Hagerty appears to have won the Republican Senate nomination.
Israel bombed Beirut:
A confidential highly-informed Israeli source has told me that Israel
caused the massive explosion at the Beirut port earlier today which
killed over 100 and injured thousands. The bombing also virtually
leveled the port itself and caused massive damage throughout the city.
Israel targeted a Hezbollah weapons depot at the port and planned
to destroy it with an explosive device. Tragically, Israeli intelligence
did not perform due diligence on their target. Thus they did not know
(or if they did know, they didn't care) that there were 2,700 tons of
ammonium nitrate stored in a next door warehouse. The explosion at the
arms depot ignited the next door warehouse, causing the catastrophe
that resulted. More on Beirut:
Silverstein followed this initial report with
Ex-CIA analyst confirms Beirut blast initiated by "military munitions,"
Lebanese President to examine role of "external actors"; and
Senior Israeli opposition leader: Hezbollah arms cache caused Beirut
explosion. I should note that I haven't seen any corroboration of
Silverstein's reports elsewhere. Israel has publicly denied its
involvement, although they've frequently attacked alleged Hezbollah
supplies and forces in Syria, waged a brutal war against Lebanon in
2006, and invaded Lebanon in 1982, not leaving until 2000. They still
occupy a small patch of Lebanon, a major bone of contention with
Hezbollah. Mainstream media sources have focused on the large store
of ammonium nitrate, which came from an abandoned Russian ship, while
claiming that the initial fire which ignited the larger explosion
had something to do with fireworks. As the articles below note,
Lebanon has been struggling for some time, and there is a lot of
pent-up resentment against the long-ruling cliques. There were
popular demonstrations against the government over a year ago,
and they have flared up again.
It really is time to get rid of the filibuster.
Lucian K Truscott IV:
Let's remember that long with everything else, Donald Trump's a total
pig. Pic here of a much younger Trump with his old buddy, Jeffrey
Students suspended for taking pictures of crowds in Georgia school's
reopening: This is the "cancel culture" I remember from the 1950s.
9 people test positive for coronavirus at Georgia school that went
viral for crowded photo.
What Tom Cotton gets so wrong about slavery and the constitution:
It was the Arkansas Republican Senator to called slavery "a necessary
evil upon which the union was built" -- not the founders he cites.
See Bryan Armen Graham:
Tom Cotton calls slavery 'necessary evil' in attack on New York Times'
1619 Project. Note that Cotton is not only asserting his own views,
he's trying to suppress the views of others: specifically, historians
who have attempted to document the long and disgraceful history of
slavery and racism in the United States.
Li Zhou/Ella Nilsen:
Why Republicans are dragging their feet on more stimulus. Now that
the stock market has recovered, and the rich are richer than ever, their
job is done. Sure, they still would like to get lawsuit immunity for
businesses. But fuck everyone else. Note: The first group of pieces date
from earlier in the week, before Trump punted with his executive orders.
I've put them first, then reports on the executive orders and the reaction
in a second block.
Then on Saturday, Trump broke off negotiations and signed his orders.
They are a purely political ploy: a way to claim he's doing something
without delivering much of anything. They are a "free lunch," as in
"there's no such thing as a free lunch":
Trump just signed 4 executive orders providing coronavirus relief. It's
not clear if they're all legal. Also:
Democrats call Trump's coronavirus relief orders "paltry" and "absurdly
Mnuchin: Dems have 'a lot of explaining to do' if they challenge Trump
EOs in court. That's a pretty clear admission that the executive
orders were designed as political traps. Concepcion also wrote:
Navarro defends Trump sidelining relief talks: 'The Lord and founding
fathers created EOs'.
Sunday show coverage of Covid-19 relief negotiations was again filled
with false equivalency.
Gold. Pure Gold.:
This is terrible policy. But it's political gold for Democrats. I mean,
this is a classic Trumpian gambit. I'm giving you money to help out.
But actually you have to pay me back after you reelect me. And if Trump
isn't reelected, what does he care? It becomes a landmine for Joe Biden
who has to oversee collecting the money that workers effectively borrowed
without knowing it. This is actually the kind of bait and switch Trump
has been known for his whole life.
Caitlin Oprysko/Evan Semones:
Trump announces executive actions after stimulus talks broke down.
The first part is his "payroll tax holiday." Not clear what right he
has to do any of this, let alone where the money will come from, and
doubtful any of it will hold up to a court challenge, but for Trump
there is no long term past November.
Trump laid out four actions that he said would cut taxes for workers
through the end of the year, extend unemployment benefits but at a
reduced rate, renew a moratorium on evictions during the pandemic,
and defer student loan payments and interest until the end of the year.
Rep. Ayanna Pressley's reaction to these executive orders:
Don't let the occupant of the White House distract you.
He just unilaterally cut Social Security and your unemployment
benefits. In the middle of a pandemic.
As if to underscore Pressley's point, see Tony Romm:
Trump promises permanent cut to payroll tax funding Social Security
and Medicare if he's reelected. Romm also wrote, with
Erica Werner/Jeff Stein:
Trump's executive orders spark confusion among businesses and state
officials as Democrats assail them as 'unworkable'.
Warren denounces Trump's executive orders as "cruel joke" on the American
Trump's go-it-alone stimulus won't do much to lift the recovery.
Tuesday, August 04, 2020
Expanded blog post,
Music: Current count 33729  rated (+32), 223  unrated (+3).
After a month-plus of regularly hitting 40+ records per week, my
energy and/or patience flagged last week. I started most days with
something from the travel cases, or Tougher Than Tough: The Story
of Jamaican Music (long out of sight, found it on a top shelf up
stairs, along with Fats Waller's If You Got to Ask, You Ain't Got
It box. Didn't unpack until Monday, and spent the rest of the
day muddling through
metacritic lists. After that,
didn't feel like writing anything, so put that off a day. Still don't,
but will try to touch a few bases.
As I noted in the intro to
Weekend Roundup, my cousin
Duan Stiner caught Covid-19 and died last week, three days
shy of 93. He had been living in a VA facility northeast of Tulsa
for two years. Although "locked down" in March, the disease got
in and decimated the population. Last time I visited was shortly
after he moved there. I can't say as I was particularly pleased
with the place, but his daughters were upbeat, and visited him
virtually every day (until March). It was a sad end to a long
life of hard work and good humor. I've been missing him for a
Duan was just one of several older relatives who have faced a
lot of hardship this year. Another cousin, Chloe McCandlis, died
in February. Others are ill or struggling, and even those who are
getting by are finding 2020 to be an especially difficult year to
be old in. I haven't traveled since my trip to see Duan in Oklahoma,
and I'm not likely to for the foreseeable future, so I'm feeling
especially helpless and useless these days.
A friend here in Wichita, Don Bass, also died, and we just heard
that another is in the hospital.
In music, I should mention that
Sean Tyla (73) died. He was the leader of the seminal pub rock
band Ducks Deluxe, which recorded two albums 1974-75. Both records
were personal favorites, with the second (Taxi to the Terminal
Zone) the namesake for the
short-lived magazine Don Malcolm
and I published in 1977. Worth noting that I much preferred the UK
version of their eponymous debut: there were two jazzy pieces that
made much more sense in context than moved to weaken the second
side of RCA's US release. They exemplified everything I loved in
rock & roll. For the moment, I harbored the idea that the
past of rock & roll might be its future. Of course, a couple
years later the future did arrive, and it was something else.
When Ducks Deluxe broke up, Tyla carried on as the Tyla Gang,
while other band members joined the Motors and the Rumour (Graham
Parker's backup band, but they also recorded without Parker). I
enjoyed his first title (Yachtless), but nothing else he
did made much of an impression.
Best source for new records this week has been
Bandcamp Daily, but I
also tried picking off some of the higher ranking metacritic
titles (link above). Also scanned
Phil Overeem's July list, slimmed down and slightly annotated. The
grade change came after receiving a CD, which certainly helped.
One question in the queue. Feel free to
New records reviewed this week:
- The 1975: Notes on a Conditional Form (2020, Dirty Hit): [r]: B+(***)
- Arca: @@@@@ (2020, XL): [r]: B+(*)
- Armand Hammer: Shrines (2020, Backwoodz Studioz): [r]: B+(***)
- The Beths: Jump Rope Gazers (2020, Carpark): [r]: B+(*)
- Boldy James & the Alchemist: The Price of Tea in China (2020, ALC/Boldy James): [r]: B+(***)
- Lisa Cameron/Tom Carter/Ingebrigt Håker Flaten: Tau Ceti (2019 , Astral Spirits): [bc]: B+(*)
- Crazy Doberman: Illusory Expansion (2019 , Astral Spirits): [bc]: B+(*)
- Falkner Evans: Marbles (2019 , CAP): [cd]: B+(*)
- John Fedchock NY Sextet: Into the Shadows (2019 , Summit): [cd]: B+(**)
- Sue Anne Gershenzon: You Must Believe in Spring (2020, self-released): [cd]: B
- Kate NV: Room for the Moon (2020, RVNG Intl): [bc]: A-
- Keys & Screws [Thomas Borgmann/Jan Roder/Willi Kellers]: Some More Jazz (2017 , NoBusiness): [cdr]: A-
- David Krakauer & Kathleen Tagg: Breath & Hammer (2020, Table Pounding): [bc]: B+(**)
- Lianne La Havas: Lianne La Havas (2020, Nonesuch): [r]: B+(*)
- Jessy Lanza: All the Time (2020, Hyperdub): [r]: B+(*)
- Mako Sica/Hamid Drake: Balancing Tear (2020, Astral Spirits): [bc]: B+(*)
- Protomartyr: Ultimate Success Today (2020, Domino): [r]: B+(**)
- Jason Robinson & Eric Hofbauer: Two Hours Early, Ten Minutes Late: Duo Music of Ken Aldcroft (2018 , Accretions): [cd]: B+(**)
- Christian Ronn/Aram Shelton: Multiring (2018 , Astral Spirits): [bc]: B+(**)
- Benny Rubin Jr. Quartet: Know Say or See (2019 , Benny Jr. Music): [cdr]: B+(***)
- Andy Shauf: The Neon Skyline (2020, Anti-): [r]: B+(**)
- Sparks: A Steady Drip, Drip, Drip (2020, BMG): [r]: C+
- Paul Weller: On Sunset (2020, Polydor): [r]: B
- Kamaal Williams: Wu Hen (2020, Black Focus): [r]: B+(*)
Recent reissues, compilations, and vault discoveries:
- Doug Hammond/David Durrah/Charles Burnham: Reflections in the Sea of Nurnen (1975 , Tribe): [bc]: B
- Nkem Njoku & Ozzobia Brothers: Ozobia Special (1980s , BBE): [bc]: A-
- Shirley Scott: One for Me (1974 , Arc): [bc]: B+(***)
- Sleaford Mods: All That Glue (2013-20 , Rough Trade): [r]: B+(***)
- Luiz Carlos Vinhas: O Som Psicodélico de L.C.V. (1968 , Mad About): [bc]: B+(*)
- Kate NV: Binasu (2017, Orange Milk): [bc]: B+(***)
- Kate NV: For (2018, RVNG Intl): [r]: B+(*)
- Annie Ross: Sings a Handful of Songs (1963, Everest): [r]: B
- Annie Ross & Pony Poindexter: Recorded at the Tenth German Jazz Festival in Frankfurt (1966, SABA): [r]: B+(*)
Grade (or other) changes:
- Luís Lopes Humanization 4tet: Believe, Believe (2018 , Clean Feed): [cd]: [was: B+(***)] A-
Unpacking: Found in the mail last week:
- Rez Abbasi: Django-shift (Whirlwind) [08-28]
- Tom Guarna: Spirit Science (Destiny) [09-18]
- Bob James: Once Upon a Time: The Lost 1965 New York Studio Sessions (1965, Resonance) [08-29]
- Eva Kess: Sternschnuppen: Falling Stars (Neuklang) [08-28]
- Roberto Magris: Suite! (JMood) [08-17]
- Raphaël Pannier Quartet: Faune (French Paradox) [08-21]
- Maria Schneider: Data Lords (ArtistShare, 2CD)
- Horace Tapscott With the Pan Afrikan Peoples Arkestra: Ancestral Echoes: The Covina Sessions, 1976 (Dark Tree)
- Matt Wilson Quartet: Hug! (Palmetto) [08-28]
Sunday, August 02, 2020
My oldest surviving cousin, Duan Stiner, died on Sunday, due to
Covid-19. He was days away from his 93rd birthday. He had been living
in a VA center near Tulsa, Oklahoma. The center was locked down in
March. He hasn't been able to leave, and our relatives haven't been
able to visit, since then. Nonetheless, Covid-19 got into the facility,
causing at least 58 cases and 10 deaths (figures I got before Duan
died). Duan joined the Army in 1945, spent some time occupying Japan,
then got called back for the Korean War in 1950. He never talked much
about his Army days (unlike his older brother, Harold, who was an MP
and was present for the war crimes trials on Tokyo; Harold died in
2015). Duan was a butcher, first in a grocery store, then he owned
his own meat business. When I was young, my parents used to buy a
side of beef at a time from him. I think he was the first person I
personally knew to die of the disease, although I've written about
dozens of more famous people in these pages.
I also found out that Don Bass (77) died last week, but don't know
the cause (so he may have been the first). I ran into him often,
especially at Peace Center events. He was a talented artist, and
always a welcome sight.
More newsworthy individual deaths below. For numbers of the less
At least 151,000 people have died from coronavirus in the US.
Worldometer has the US death count at 158,365. (Those links
may be volatile.)
Minor formatting change here, as I've eliminated the outer layer of
Some scattered links this week:
An economic survival package, not a stimulus package. I could have
buried this among the other "stimulus" articles (see Li Zhou), but
they're tied to actual negotiations, whereas this is more along the
lines of what should be done. Krugman described the downturn as more
of an induced coma than a typical recession, a distinction that is
lost on people who have one-track minds (like everyone in business).
Until the virus is contained and normalized (cured would be nice, but
I'm imagining a somewhat more delicate and treacherous equilibrium),
talk of restoring growth really misses the point, which is survival --
difficult enough in any case.
More thoughts on the post-pandemic economy: GDP is headed down, but
are we worse off for that?
If we do let obsessions with government deficits and debt curtail spending,
then we can expect to see a long and harsh recession. . . . And, we also
have to recognize that when we have a serious problem of unemployment,
the failure to run large deficits is incredibly damaging to the country.
Millions of workers will needlessly suffer, as will their families. And
the failure is increased when it means not spending in areas that will
have long-term benefits for the country, like child care and slowing
global warming. It is tragic that deficit hawks are able to do so much
harm to our children under the guise of saving our children.
More than just a tweet: Trump's campaign to undercut democracy.
The right's increasingly unhinged fight against Black Lives Matter:
"As the movement's popularity surges, the conservative media insists
that it is hell-bent on destroying the American way of life."
Charles M Blow:
Trump's nakedly political pandemic pivot.
Trump's pick to manage public lands has four-decade history of "overt
racism" toward native people: Meet William Perry Pendley.
Trump attacks an election he is at risk of losing: "Mr Trump has
become a heckler in his own government, failing to marshal leaders in
Washington to form a robust response to the health and economic crises.
Instead, he is raising doubts about holding the election on time."
The NYPD unit that snatched a protester off the street has been accosting
people for years.
Alexia Fernández Campbell:
A small federal agency focused on preventing industrial disasters is on
life support. Trump wants it gone: "The Chemical Safety and Hazard
Investigation Board is without enough voting members, and its investigations
are stuck in limbo."
Matthew Cappucci/Mustafa Salim:
Baghdad soars to 125 blistering degrees, its highest temperature on
record. Also record-high temperatures elsewhere in the Middle
Is the Postal Service being manipulated to help Trump get reëlected?
Cotton's office denies he believes slavery was a 'necessary evil' after
backlash over remark: Maybe if he wasn't such a reactionary racist,
he wouldn't be so often misunderstood? Still, it's hard to be any kind
of conservative in America without having lots of racist skeletons in
your closet. Maybe that's why so many conservatives move them to the
front porch, and celebrate them.
Republicans' pandemic blunders keep piling higher.
How Jared Kushner's secret testing plan "went poof into thin air":
"This spring, a team working under the president's son-in-law produced
a plan for aggressive, coordinated national COVID-19 response that
could have brought the pandemic under control. So why did the White
House spike it in favor of a shambolic 50-state-response?" Or, as
David Atkins commented on this piece:
Trump and Kushner should be prosecuted for crimes against humanity.
Democrats unveil draft foreign policy platform with promises to end
"forever wars" and "regime change": however, blanket support for
Israel makes it harder to achieve those goals.
Richard Fausset/Rick Rojas:
John Lewis, a man of 'unbreakable perseverance,' is laid to rest:
I'm afraid I found all the pomp surrounding the death and funeral of
John Lewis a bit disconcerting. Such events only come about when
someone has a political legacy they want to build up -- usually around
a president, most recently/similarly someone like John McCain. I don't
actually have much of an opinion about Lewis, but he does provide a
reminded that the fight for civil rights isn't over, and the struggle
for equality still has a long ways to go. Still, it was a big deal,
all the more conspicuous because of the times (e.g., see the picture
of Obama delivering a eulogy to a more-than-half-empty church). More
related to the funeral:
The no-trust world. The first point George Brockway made in his
brilliant The End of Economic Man (1991) was that nothing works
in modern society without trust. Indeed, it's impossible to get anything
done when you constantly have to scan 360 degrees for potential threats.
(E.g., imagine trying to do simple reconstruction projects in war-torn
Iraq.) Of course, it's even harder to defend against an invisible virus,
especially where you can't trust people around you to follow recommended
practices. Karen Greenberg's article below pairs well with this one: a
big part of the reason we an trust no one is that powerful people, like
but not exclusively Trump, are rarely held accountable for their acts,
let alone their accidents.
Forging a right-left coalition may be the only way to end the War on
Drugs. Link to Atlantic article therein, but I'm up against my
article limit. Quote sets up a 1991 debate between black liberal
Charlie Rangel and white reactionary William F Buckley Jr, quoting
Rangel in favor of escalating the war on drugs:
In fact, Rangel clarified, if somebody wants to sell drugs to a child,
they should fear "that they will be arrested and go to jail for the
rest of their natural life. That's what I'm talking about when I say
fear." Then he suggested that America should tap the generals who won
the Gulf War to intensify the War on Drugs. "What we're missing: to
find a take-charge general like Norman Schwarzkopf, like Colin Powell,
to coordinate some type of strategy so that America, who has never run
away from a battle, will not be running away from this battle," he said.
"Let's win this war against drugs the same way we won it in the Middle
That Gulf War "victory" doesn't look so great now, though the War
on Drugs may have fared even worse. Neither failed for lack of tough
guys like Schwarzkopf. Both were severely tarnished by the arrogance
and racism that was baked into their execution, and were utterly
ruined by the contempt and carelessness the enforcers had for the
people they impacted. Here's another quote:
Had the drug war ended back in the early 1990s, younger Millennials
would have been spared a policy that empowered gangs, fueled bloody
wars for drug territory in American cities, ravaged Latin America,
enriched narco cartels, propelled the AIDS epidemic, triggered police
militarization, and contributed more than any other policy to racial
disparities in national and local incarceration.
Also note that while Buckley and other libertarians have criticized
the War on Drugs, they've never spent any political capital doing so.
The one issue conservatives are serious about is privileging the rich,
and that makes them comfortable with repression as a tool to protect
the established order. So while it's possible that the left might pick
up a few right-wing votes to decriminalize drugs, I don't expect them
to be much help.
Why America feels like a post-Soviet state.
The TikTok-Trump drama, explained.
Can the pandemic bring accountability back to this country?
The US-supported coup in Bolivia continues to produce repression and
tyranny, while revealing how US media propaganda works.
Daniel A Hanley:
Another Trump legacy: Spreading price discrimination on the Internet:
"Consumers are already feeling the pain of the president reversing net
neutrality." Two prominent offenders mentioned here are Cox, which we
use, and AT&T, which has made a big push to break into Cox's cable
DHS compiled 'intelligence reports' on journalists who published leaked
We have no choice but to be radical.
"It's ideologue meets grifter": How Bill Barr made Trumpism possible.
Interview with David Rohde, who wrote a long
New Yorker profile of Barr.
We train police to be warriors -- and then send them out to be social
workers. A breakdown of training time (840 total hours) here shows
that 20% goes for "firearm skills, self-defense, and use of force." A
breakdown of actual time spent by police shows that only a tiny fraction
of time is spent dealing with violent time, and that's mostly taken up
by things like interviewing witnesses. Given that a large percentage of
police are former military, this training bias is probably even more
warped -- and given how many former military suffer from PTSD, the
bias could be even more dangerous.
Annie Karni/Katie Rogers:
Like father, like son: President Trump lets others mourn: "Whether
he is dealing with the loss of a family member or the deaths of nearly
150,000 Americans in a surging pandemic, President Trump almost never
displays empathy in public. He learned it from his father."
There's never been a better time to be a white-collar criminal:
"Thanks to the Trump administration's signature mix of incompetence
and corruption, America is knee-deep in fraud and corporate malfeasance."
Trump's reasoning is bad, but withdrawing troops from Germany is a good
The nightmare on Pennsylvania avenue: "Trump is the kind of boss who
can't do the job -- and won't go away.
The cult of selfishness is killing America: "The right has made
irresponsible behavior a key principle."
Why can't Trump's America be like Italy? "On the coronavirus, the
'sick man of Europe' puts us to shame." The "sick man of Europe" quip
was commonly applied to the Ottoman Empire in its last century, as
European powers were chipping away at its borders and demanding
"capitulations" to give them extraterritorial rights within the
Empire. I've never heard it used to refer to anyone else. Italy is
often derided for its unstable governments and unequal economy, but
Greece and Portugal are more often viewed as the bottom of the
barrel. If there is a "sick man of Europe" these days, it must be
Donald Trump, who's personally much more rooted in Europe than in
What you don't know can't hurt Trump: "Slow the testing down," he
said, and it's happening."
Republicans keep flunking microbe economics: "Getting other people
sick isn't an 'individual choice.'" Henry Farrell has a comment at
Crooked Timber, more focused on economists than Republicans.
My own theory is that most economists do everything possible to
view everything through their own prism, which is single-mindedly
focused on increasing growth. The problem with the pandemic is
that it's causing a lot of people to consider other factors, like
health and safety, and that messes with the economists' heads.
It also messes with Republicans, who basically agree with the
economists but tweak their measurements to only really consider
the effects of policy on making the rich richer.
Michelle Ye Hee Lee/Jacob Bogage:
Postal Service backlog sparks worries that ballot deliveries could be
delayed in November.
How the Simulmatics Corporation invented the future: Mostly on
the data-driven 1960 presidential election.
How white supremacists are using protests to fuel racial tensions.
It's widely felt, especially among Trump's campaign advisers, that
playing up the protests, and especially provoking violence in/around
them, will produce a backlash that will benefit Trump and his ilk.
Trump's eight potentially impeachable offenses in six months:
If we've learned anything about impeachment under Trump, it's that it
isn't a very useful process. The two-thirds supermajority rule makes
it impossible to convict in the Senate, and the simple majority rule
in the House makes it too each to impeach. Maybe that could work if
the complaint wasn't political, but everything's political these days,
so nothing works. As this list here indicates, it's easy to come up with
a list of essentially political charges, and it's also fruitless. What
might have worked better was if Congress had reserved to itself the
right to overrule executive actions by simple majority, but somehow
we've gotten into the ridiculous where Trump can simply veto
Congressional resolutions (like ones limiting arms sales to Saudi
Arabia, or military interventions in Syria). That puts us back at
needing a two-thirds supermajority, which is well nigh impossible.
On the other hand, the thing I find most disturbing about this list
isn't its pointlessness. It's that a lot of these things aren't
very good charges. Indeed, number four ("abuse of power in foreign
affairs") insists on policies that Trump is right not to have
followed ("willingness to ignore China's treatment of the Uighurs
in exchange for help with farmers during trade negotiations" and
"totally ignored Russia placing bounties on the lives of American
soldiers in Afghanistan").
The key to a real Democratic landslide: Better rural performance:
I'm sympathetic to this position, partly because with all the factors
stacked against them Democrats have to win landslides to be effective --
Obama's margins clearly weren't sufficient, and the popular pluralities
of Al Gore and Hillary Clinton didn't even score as wins -- but also
because I believe that Republicans are doing a terrible job of serving
rural and small-town voters, and Democrats could do a lot better, so
why not try harder. Kansas has long thought of itself as a rural state,
but the percentage has been declining steadily, at least since my father
moved to Wichita in the 1940s. According to the first measure I found,
the rural percentage in 2018 was 31.5%, but I doubt the farm percentage
is even 10%. (There are 58,500 farms in Kansas. If 4 people lived on
each, that would come to 8%. The nationwide farm population is 2%.)
Trump tried to shut him down, but Robert Mueller was his own worst
enemy. Review of Jeffrey Toobin's new book, True Crimes and
Misdemeanors: The Investigation of Donald Trump.
It was insane to restart sports in America.
Far-right groups now pose the greatest terrorist threat in the US and
Europe. Links to:
Jihadist plots used to be US and Europe's biggest terrorist threat.
Now it's the far right. And that's just freelance terror, not
the kind practiced by "law enforcement" organizations.
The lies our textbooks told my generation of Virginians about slavery.
The 277 policies for which Biden need not ask permission: "As president,
Joe Biden could take action on hundreds of policies without having to go
through Congress. The Biden-Sanders unity task force provides a map."
Sara Morrison/Rebecca Heilweil:
How Trump and his son helped make a Covid-19 conspiracy theorist go
viral in a matter of hours.
The slow-motion 2020 election disaster states are scrambling to prevent,
Joe Biden will announce his running mate soon. Here's who's on the
list. Not something I spend much time thinking about, although
I still think Elizabeth Warren is a cut above the rest on two major
counts: she's a fearless campaigner, and while that isn't especially
reassuring in a presidential candidate, it's a quality that stacks
up especially well against Trump and Pence; and she simply knows a
lot more about policy than anyone else. She's also likely to be a
shrewd judge of personnel, if she gets the chance. The last two
Republican gave their VPs (Cheney and Pence) decisive impact on
staffing, but Clinton and Obama worked through their own personal
staffs (who often gave them limited bad choices). Beyond Warren,
Gretchen Whitmer would be a sensible pick, helping in a key state
where she's currently very popular. I don't see any advantage in
picking a black woman: Biden has very solid black support, but he
also has substantial support from whites who might take exception
to a black VP, so why run that risk. Only one I have any specific
objection to is Susan Rice, who was a consistent hawk under Obama
and a leading player in all of his foreign policy mistakes. The
idea that her selection would allow Biden to focus on domestic
policy while she runs foreign is one of the worst advanced here.
Still, there isn't much reason to think that anyone else on the
list would be much better than Rice on foreign policy issues --
they've just had less opportunity to discredit themselves.
The 2020 election doesn't really matter to Republicans.
The CFPB once defended consumers. Thanks to Trump, it now helps companies
prey on them instead.
Vijay Prashad/Alejandro Bejarano:
'We will coup whoever we want': Elon Musk and the overthrow of democracy
Countries with levels of police brutality comparable to that in the US
are called 'police states': That's the title in the link from
Attention to the Unseen; better than "To protect and serve: Global
lessons in police reform." There's a chart here of "Number of people
killed by the police" per ten million residents, and the US is only in
second place, barely above Iraq and just below Democratic Republic of
the Congo, but no other country is close (only Luxembourg is more than
5% of the US rate, and Luxembourg is so small that its 16.9 rate works
out to be 1 unfortunate person).
Trump knows he's going to lose. He's already salting the earth behind
him. Part of her evidence is Fed nominee Judy Shelton. Rampell
wrote more about her here:
Yes, Trump's latest Fed pick is that bad. Here's why.
How Trump politicized schools reopening, regardless of safety.
Katie Rogers/Maggie Haberman:
Kayleigh McEnany heckles the press. Is that all?
Tech billionaire Peter Thiel is searching for new political allies. He's
found one in Kansas: Thiel's spent almost $1 million on Kris Kobach's
Senate primary race. The only other candidate Thiel has supported so far
this year is Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR). More on Kansas and/or elections:
Herman Cain, 2012 presidential contender, dies after contracting
Covid-19: He was 74, a former CEO of Godfather's Pizza, one
of the most prominent black Republicans, a major Trump surrogate.
He attended Trump's Tulsa rally, signed his liability waiver, and
was diagnosed a week later. More on Cain:
Robert J Shapiro:
Trump is wrong again: US manufacturing is not recovering.
Jeffrey St Clair:
Roaming charges: Demon seed.
Kansas should go f--- itself: Review of Thomas Frank's new book,
The People, No: A Brief History of Anti-Populism. I have the
book, and expect to read it soon -- maybe then I'll be able to figure
out the confusion from Taibbi's review. I've read most of Frank's
books, from What's the Matter With Kansas? (which has left
a bad taste, mostly because it seems mostly to have been read and
taken to heart by culture war conservatives, who have taken it as
a dare to hold Republicans responsible for their promises) through
Listen, Liberal (which perhaps could be blamed for exposing
the Clintons as liars and frauds, although there's little evidence
that the people who took that insight and voted for Trump got it
from reading a book). Taibbi also cites a recent review by Jeff
Why the working class votes against its economic interests,
which could be of Frank's work, but actually refers to Robert B
Reich: The System: Who Rigged It, How We Fix It, and Zephyr
Teachout: Break 'Em Up: Recovering Our Freedom From Big Ag, Big
Tech, and Big Money.
Trump ordered federal forces to quell Portland protests. But the chaos
ended as soon as they left.
Alexander S Vindman:
Coming forward ended my career. I still believe doing what's right
5 real steps the US could take to help Uighurs in China: The first
one that's missing is: why? It's certainly not because the US has any
sympathy with or concern for Muslims in the far west of China, even as
part of a more general commitment to human rights. To demonstrate the
latter, one would have to make a show of supporting the Palestinians
against Israeli occupation. One suspects the US of bad faith, because
the US has rarely shown anything but bad faith on human rights. Otherwise,
the US would support international institutions that tackle human rights
issues, like the ICC. The US can't even be bothered to support the WHO.
And the "real steps" listed here are straight from the Cold War toolkit
being retargeted at China, for reasons only known to Trump and Pompeo.
For more on them, see the comment under Robin Wright, below.
Why Trump will never win his new cold war with China. Couple
things here. First, the notion that the US "won" the Cold War with
Russia is flat-out wrong, and misguided too. I've compared it to
a wrestling match where one fighter has a heart attack, then the
other pounces on top to claim the win. The people under the Soviet
Union's thumb simply gave up their system of government, and really
didn't get much from the West for their trouble. (Russia was so
ravaged under Yeltsin that average life expectancy dropped 10 years
in less time than that. Putin's popularity is to no small extent
based on arresting that decline.) One striking aspect is that
countries the US had totally ignored, like Albania and Mongolia,
fell without so much as a funny glance from the US. The ones that
didn't fall were the ones the US fought wars with (Korea, Vietnam),
blockaded (Cuba), and China (both, but somewhat different), so
there's no evidence that the Cold War's most aggressive tools
achieved anything, other than to make the US look like a public
menace. China might also have fallen, but the ruling party held
on and imposed top-down reforms that radically grew the Chinese
economy -- much faster and more equitably than any capitalist
regime had achieved. Second thing is that while the Soviet Union
saw itself as leading a worldwide workers revolution, China is
just concerned with China. Their investments abroad promote their
businesses, mostly at home. While they like the idea of garnering
good will, they don't pose any threat to the regimes they do
business with. As such, there's no demand for a global capitalist
alliance to limit their power, let alone to tell them how to run
their own damn country. On the other hand, the US is always telling
its "allies" and clients how to run their countries and how to
mistreat their people -- start by looking up
Washington Consensus for examples. Article explains some of
the ways China has outmaneuvered typical Cold War tactics like
sanctions. It doesn't even dignify the neocons' unipolar military
fantasies with a rebuttal, but well before his death in 2010,
Chalmers Johnson wrote about how China could easily disable
America's advanced weapons systems by "launching a dumptruck
full of gravel into space" (destroying every satellite). The
fact is that America's military can't win in Aghanistan, let
alone take on a vastly more sophisticated foe like China. The
only question here is how stupid Trump and Pompeo really are.
More on China:
Thursday's historically bad economic growth numbers, explained.
Subhed tries to reassure us -- "It's not as bad as it looks" -- but
that vastly understates how bad the chart looks. Real GDP dropped
about 5% in Q1, most of which occurred before the lockdown. The Q2
GDP drop, which picked up part of the original lockdown, the slow
reopening, but not much of the further backpedaling as cases rose
to a second peak, is a staggering 33%. That's "not just the worst
on record, but the worst on record by a large margin." This suggests
to me that, given that the drop in employment is only half that much,
we're seeing a huge drop in productivity in addition to lost jobs.
Offhand, that makes intuitive sense, given the number of people
working from home, the overhead of masks and sanitation, and the
pretty severe dip in demand. But Yglesias focuses more on how the
numbers are cooked up. That leads him to the hypothesis that in Q3
"we're probably going to see a historically amazing growth number
when expressed as an annualized rate," and that "Trump will doubly
brag that it's the best economy ever, but of course it won't be,
any more than Q2 was the worst economy." Still, one shouldn't
soft-peddle the notion that this is the worst economy ever. The
only reason it hasn't been as painful as the Great Depression is
that Congress (mostly thanks to Democrats) moved quickly to shore
up incomes (and the Fed moved even faster to bail out banks and
stockholders). Take that away (as many Republicans want to do) and
it won't be long before we feel just how bad this economy is.
More on this economy:
The real stakes in the David Shor saga.
Senate Republicans have a new stimulus bill. Here's what's in it.
Author also wrote, with Ella Nilsen:
Senate Republicans' dramatically smaller unemployment insurance proposal,
Millions of people will see a sharp drop in their unemployment benefits
because Congress failed to act..