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Sunday, January 31, 2021

Music Week

Expanded blog post, January archive (final).

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

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

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

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

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


New records reviewed this week:

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

Recent reissues, compilations, and vault discoveries:

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

Old music:

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


Further Sampling:

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

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


Grade (or other) changes:

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


Unpacking: Found in the mail last week:

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

Saturday, January 30, 2021

Daily Log

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

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

Here's the JazzTimes reissues list:

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

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

The individual ballots are here and here.

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

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

Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Daily Log

Matthew Yglesias tweeted:

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

I replied:

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

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

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

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


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


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

Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Music Week

Expanded blog post, January archive (in progress).

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

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

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

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

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


New records reviewed this week:

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

Recent reissues, compilations, and vault discoveries:

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

Old music:

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


Further Sampling:

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

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


Grade (or other) changes:

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


Unpacking: Found in the mail last week:

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

Monday, January 25, 2021

Weekend Roundup

Blog link.

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

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

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

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

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

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


Table of contents:


Exit Trump

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


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

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

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

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

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

Christina Cauterucci: What Donald Trump did to DC.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ian Millhiser:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Aaron Rupar:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Megan K Stack: The week the Trump supporters disappeared.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Enter Biden

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


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

Katelyn Burns:

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

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

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

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

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

Nicole Narea:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Andrew Perez/Julia Rock:

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

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

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

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

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

Covid-19

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

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


German Lopez:

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

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

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

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

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

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

The World

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Alex Ward:

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

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

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

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

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

And Everything Else

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

Fabiola Cineas:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bill Pearis: Here are your Bernie Sanders music memes.

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

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

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

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

Saturday, January 23, 2021

Daily Log

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

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

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

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Music Week

Expanded blog post, January archive (in progress).

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

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

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

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

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


New records reviewed this week:

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

Recent reissues, compilations, and vault discoveries:

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

Old music:

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


Grade (or other) changes:

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


Unpacking: Found in the mail last week:

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

Daily Log

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, January 18, 2021

Weekend Roundup

Blog link.

Table of contents:

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

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

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


Insurrection

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Paul Krugman:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Anna North:

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

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

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

Justin Rohrlich:

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

Aaron Rupar:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Alex Ward:

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

Impeachment

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Harold Meyerson:

  • Impeachent: Second time around.

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

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

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

Andrew Prokop:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Exit Trump


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jonathan Chait:

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

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

  • Trump is on the verge of losing everything.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Eric Levitz:

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

Martin Longman: When a lie gets too big.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Enter Biden

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cameron Peters:

Emily Stewart:

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

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

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

The Covid-19 Pandemic Surge

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

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


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

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

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

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

Concerning the World

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

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

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

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

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

Everything Else

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

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

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

Constance Grady:

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

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

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

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

Ian Millhiser:

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Music Week

Expanded blog post, January archive (in progress).

Music: Current count 34756 [34687] rated (+69), 219 [214] unrated (+5).

Worked very fast and hard last week, trying to update the EOY Aggregate file, knocking out a long and troublesome Weekend Roundup, and doing some website maintenance. The extra day contributed to the rated total, but it was mostly a matter of sitting on my ass in front of the computer, rifling through often short albums where I didn't put a lot of thought into what to play next. For instance, I added Jason Gross's new albums list, 152 albums long, which suggested more than I could get at. Later on, I took a different tack, knocking off many of the highest-rated unheard albums from the aggregate. At this point I've heard all but one of the top 190 albums (Nick Cave, at 168, is the only album I haven't heard), although from 191-208 I'm only hitting 50%.

NPR Jazz Critics Poll is unlikely to come out before Friday, and could slip to early next week. I was given until Wednesday noon to turn in a short piece on my top-rated album, Mark Lomax's 400 Years Suite. By the way, NPR just published a statistics piece, Equal at Last? Women in Jazz, by the Numbers, by Lara Pellegrinelli and others, on the distribution of poll picks by sex, up through last year. I doubt I'm betraying any deep confidences in pointing out that the 2020 results (not considered here) are either down significantly from the 2019 peak or comfortably above the long-term trendline.

Here is a spreadsheet of results of the 2020 Pazz & Jop Rip-Off Poll, compiled from votes by 200 fairly serious fans. (It was originally conceived as a fans' version of the critics-only Village Voice's Pazz & Jop poll, but since the latter's demise has attracted a number of recognizable critics.) The most obvious difference I see, at least compared to The 2020 Uproxx Music Critics Poll, as well as aggregates at Album of the Year and Metacritic, is significantly more Christgau influence. For example, Christgau A- (or higher) picks ranked by PJRP (numbers in parens are rank in AOTY aggregate; including HMs down to 100):

  1. Fiona Apple: Fetch the Bolt Cutters (1)
  2. Run the Jewels: RTJ4 (3)
  3. Bob Dylan: Rough and Rowdy Ways (9)
  4. Waxahatchee: Saint Cloud (8)
  5. HAIM: Women in Music Pt. III (10)
  6. X: Alphabetland
  7. Fontaines D.C.: A Hero's Death (16)
  8. Billy Nomates: Billy Nomates
  9. Elizabeth Cook: Aftermath
  10. Drive-By Truckers: The Unraveling
  11. Lucinda Williams: Good Souls, Better Angels
  12. Low Cut Connie: Private Lives
  13. Public Enemy: What You Gonna Do When the Grid Goes Down
  14. Dramarama: Color TV
  15. Brandy Clark: Your Life Is a Record
  16. Kalie Shorr: Open Book: Unabridged *
  17. Hanging Tree Guitars
  18. The Chicks: Gaslighter (64)

* This is an expanded reissue on a new label of a self-released 2019 album Christgau reviewed (grade: A) in February 2020. I expect it will replace the earlier release in his Dean's List. I don't have any inside knowledge of what will appear in his January CG (out tomorrow), but I wouldn't be surprised to see the list expand a bit. (If the skew is not just influence but shared taste, records which did much better in PJRP would be more likely to show up in Christgau's CG. Sault is the obvious test case.)

Sure, the top 8 (plus Fontaines D.C. at 11, but less so X at 10) are consensus picks, but they skew slightly higher here than on the other lists (mostly at the expense of Phoebe Bridgers, Taylor Swift, Perfume Genius, and Dua Lipa -- Christgau graded Swift at B+ and Lipa at ***; their drops from AOTY to PJRP were 4-9 and 5-15). Below 11, the Chicks have the most widespread support, followed by Lucinda Williams.

I should also note that the records in the list above skew white (3 exceptions). Some Christgau A-list albums that didn't make the list: Al Bilali Soudan: Tombouctou; Bktherula: Nirvana; Black Thought: Streams of Thought, Vol. 3: Cane and Abel; City Girls: City on Lock; Kehlani: It Was Good Until It Wasn't; Les Amazones d'Afrique: Amazones Power; Lil Wayne: Funeral; Princess Nokia: Everything Is Beautiful; Serengeti: With Greg From Deerhoof; Serengeti & Kenny Segal: Ajai; Westside Gunn: Pray for Paris.

Note several 2021 releases in today's list -- only one from my queue but not officially out yet. I figured that having listened to one of Ivo Perelman's 2020 releases I should compare with the forthcoming one. Only one previously unheard A- so far from the Jason Gross list cited above. In past years I've found a half-dozen or more, but 2020 has been a rather peculiar year.

Seems like a lot of musicians have died recently. Rapper MF Doom has gotten the most press, and deservedly so. I've lost track of the others, but do recall: Howard Johnson (the tuba player in Gravity), Ed Bruce (who wrote the Waylon-Willie Outlaws' greatest hit), Bobby Few (pianist), Gerry Marsden (of the Pacemakers), Claude Bolling, Frank Kimbrough, David Darling, Harold Budd.

Sheldon Adelson also died. Few rich people have spent more money to make the world a worse place. One can only hope that his most notorious beneficiaries (Benjamin Netanyahu and Donald Trump) won't know what to do without him.


New records reviewed this week:

  • Andre Akinyele: Uniglo Boy (2020, Orange River): [r]: B+(**)
  • Roo Arcus: Tumbleweed (2020, Social Family): [r]: B+(*)
  • Baba Zula: Hayvan Gibi (2020, Night Dreamer/Gulbara): [bc]: A-
  • Bdrmm: Bedroom (2020, Sonic Cathedral): [r]: B+(**)
  • The Big Moon: Walking Like We Do (2020, Fiction): [r]: B
  • Nat Birchall Meets Al Breadwinner: Tradition Disc in Dub (2020, Tradition Disc): [bc]: B+(***)
  • Brothers Osborne: Skeletons (2020, Spinefarm): [r]: B+(*)
  • Playboi Carti: Whole Lotta Red (2020, AWGE/Interscope): [r]: B+(**)
  • Collocutor: Continuation (2018-19 [2020], On the Corner): [r]: B+(*)
  • Marco Colonna & Alexander Hawkins: Dolphy Underlined (2020, Fundacja Sluchaj): [bc]: B+(***)
  • Coriky: Coriky (2020, Dischord): [bc]: B+(*)
  • Elvis Costello: Hey Clockface (2020, Concord): [r]: B-
  • Crack Cloud: Pain Olympics (2020, Meat Machine): [r]: B+(*)
  • Dan Ex Machina: Pity Party Animal (2020, self-released): [bc]: B+(***)
  • Dan Ex Machina: My Wife (2020, self-released): [bc]: B+(**)
  • Dan Ex Machina: Bail Shag EP (2017 [2021], self-released, EP): [bc]: B+(*)
  • Ward Davis: Black Cats and Crows (2020, Ward Davis Music): [r]: B+(*)
  • Dehd: Flower of Devotion (2020, Fire Talk): [r]: B+(*)
  • Helena Deland: Someone New (2020, Luminelle): [r]: B+(*)
  • Diabla Diezco: Memento Mori (2020, Mord): [bc]: B+(***)
  • Dogleg: Melee (2020, Triple Crown): [r]: B
  • Dave Douglas: Overcome (2020, Greenleaf Music): [r]: B+(**)
  • Steve Earle & the Dukes: J.T. (2021, New West): [r]: A-
  • Bill Fay: Countless Branches (2020, Dead Oceans): [r]: B+(**)
  • Future Islands: As Long as You Are (2020, 4AD): [r]: B+(*)
  • Melody Gardot: Sunset in the Blue (2020, Bravado): [r]: B
  • Selena Gomez: Rare (2020, Interscope): [r]: B+(**)
  • Jerry Granelli: The Jerry Granelli Trio Plays Vince Guaraldi & Mose Allison (2020, RareNoise): [r]: B+(*)
  • Siul Hughes: Stoopkid (2018 [2019], Fake Four): [bc]: B+(**)
  • Siul Hughes: Hueman (2020, Fake Four): [bc]: B+(***)
  • Sierra Hull: 25 Trips (2020, Rounder): [r]: B+(**)
  • Kelley Hurt/Chad Fowler/Christopher Parker/Bernard Santacruz/Anders Griffen: Nothing but Love: The Music of Frank Lowe (2019 [2020], Mahakala Music): [bc]: B+(***)
  • Kang Tae Hwan/Hang Hae Jin: Circle Point (2019 [2020], Dancing Butterfly): [bc]: B+(**)
  • Hwyl Nofio: Isolate (2020, Hwyl): [bc]: B+(*)
  • Ital Tek: Outland (2020, Planet Mu): [r]: B+(**)
  • Sarah Jarosz: World on the Ground (2020, Rounder): [r]: B+(***)
  • Hermione Johnson: Tremble (2019 [2020], Relative Pitch): [bc]: B+(**)
  • Last Dream of the Morning [John Butcher/John Edwards/Mark Sanders]: Crucial Anatomy (2018 [2020], Trost): [r]: B+(**)
  • Lithics: Tower of Age (2020, Trouble in Mind): [r]: A-
  • Luca T. Mai: Heavenly Guide (2018 [2020], Trost): [r]: B
  • Roc Marciano: Marcielago (2019 [2020], Marci): [yt]: B+(**)
  • Roc Marciano: Mt. Marci (2020, Marci): [r]: B+(*)
  • Gia Margaret: Mia Gargaret (2020, Orindal): [r]: B+(*)
  • Branford Marsalis: Ma Rainey's Black Bottom [Original Soundtrack] (2020, Milan): [r]: B
  • Metz: Atlas Vending (2020, Sub Pop): [r]: B
  • Kevin Morby: Sundowner (2020, Dead Oceans): [r]: B+(*)
  • Jason Palmer: The Concert: 12 Musings for Isabella (2019 [2020], Giant Steps Arts, 2CD): [r]: A-
  • Esmé Patterson: There Will Come Soft Rains (2020, BMG): [r]: B+(**)
  • Ivo Perelman/Matthew Shipp/Joe Morris: Shamanism (2020, Mahakala Music): [r]: A-
  • Ivo Perelman Trio: Garden of Jewels (2020 [2021], Tao Forms): [cd]: A- [01-22]
  • Gonzalo Rubalcaba & Aymée Nuviola: Viento Y Tiempo: Live at the Blue Note Tokyo (2019 [2020], Top Stop Music): [r]: A-
  • Samo Salamon & Friends: Almost Alone Vol. 1 (2020, Samo): [cd]: B+(***)
  • Jeannie Seely: An American Classic (2020, Curb): [r]: B
  • James Solace: Mind Music (2020, Hot Creations, EP): [r]: B+(**)
  • James Solace: Setting Sun/The Light (2020, Four Thirty Two, EP): [r]: B+(**)
  • Touché Amoré: Lament (2020, Epitaph): [r]: B+(**)
  • Two Weeks Notice: A Calm, Measured Response (2020, Fake Four, EP): [bc]: B+(**)
  • Ugly Beauty: Ugly Beauty (2019 [2020], self-released): [bc]: B+(*)
  • Rufus Wainwright: Unfollow the Rules (2020, BMG): [r]: B-

Recent reissues, compilations, and vault discoveries:

  • BBQ With Fred Frith: Free Postmodernism/USA 1982 (1982 [2020], SÅJ): [bc]: B+(**)
  • Erotique New Beat (1989 [2020], Mental Groove): [bc]: B+(***)
  • Sun Ra: On Jupiter (1979 [2021], Enterplanetary Koncepts): [r]: B+(***)
  • Buddy Rich: Just in Time: The Final Recording (1986 [2019], Gearbox): [bc]: B+(*)
  • Schlippenbach & Johansson: Onkel Pös Carnegie Hall Hamburg 1978 (1978 [2021], SÅJ): [bc]: A-
  • Soul Love Now: The Black Fire Records Story 1975-1993 (1975-93 [2020], Strut): [bc]: B+(***)
  • Jack Wright/Michael Taylor: Kryptischgasse (2001 [2020], Right Brain, EP): [bc]: B+(*)

Old music:

  • Jeannie Seely: The Seely Style (1966, Monument): [r]: B
  • Jeannie Seely: Thanks Hank! (1967, Monument): [r]: B+(*)
  • Cristina Vane: Troubled Sleep (2017, self-released): [r]: B+(**)


Further Sampling:

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

  • Mark Helias/Tim Berne: Blood From a Stone (2020, Radiolegs): [bc:1/5, 9:07/51:04]: +
  • Evan Parker/Matthew Wright/Trance Map+ [Adam Linson/John Coxon/Ashley Wales]: Crepuscle in Nickelsdorf (2017 [2019], Intakt): [bc: 2/7, 13:48/58:44]: +
  • Manuel Valera New Cuban Express Big Band: José Martí En Nueva York (2019 [2020], Greenleaf Music): [bc: 3/7, 24:19/61:24]: +


Unpacking: Found in the mail last week:

  • Albare: Albare Plays Jobim Vol. 2 (Alfi)
  • Meridian Odyssey: Second Wave (Origin) [01-15]
  • Grete Skarpeid: Beyond Other Stories (Origin) [01-15]
  • Dave Stryker: Baker's Circle (Strikezone) [03-05]
  • Rodney Whitaker With the Christ Church Cranbrook Choir: Cranbrook Christmas Jazz (Origin) [01-15]
  • Greg Yasinitsky: Yazz Band: New Normal (Origin) [01-15]

Purchases:

  • Mark Lomax, II & the Urban Art Ensemble: 400 Years Suite (CFG Multimedia)

Daily Log

I need to turn my Mark Lomax notes into a 75-word review for NPR. Fortunately, I've already written more than I need, at least if I count the background from my note on Lomax's 12-CD 400: An Afrikan Epic, my number 3 pick in 2019. The old reviews:

Dr. Mark Lomax, II: 400: An Afrikan Epic (CFG Multimedia -12CD) Drummer, had a Jazz CG Pick Hit in 2010 but only one more album came to my attention, until I got wind of this massive undertaking. Turns out he's been busy, teaching at Ohio State, giving TED Talks, adding to his academic credentials, and recording albums I want a shot at sooner of later. This here is his encyclopedia of African and Afro-American history and lore, organized as 12 parts or albums -- hard to tell with digital these days. The first chunk, which Napster has as The First Ankhcestor, is all drums, primal but also deeply felt and highly developed. He moves on to his extraordinary quartet -- Edwin Bayard (tenor/soprano sax), Dr. William Menefield (piano), and Dean Hulett (bass) -- with some pointed spoken word on the opening of the transatlantic slave trade. They carry most of what follows, especially Bayard (imagine Coltrane, Sanders, and Ayler -- as Sanders put it, "the father, the son, and the holy ghost" -- raised to a higher level. Less sonically appealing are sections done up in strings, but even violins and cellos can't bury the rhythm. Toward the end the drums take over again. Took me a half-dozen sittings over four days just to stream the whole thing, which makes this hugely impractical to review and nearly unfathomable, but it is chock full of magnificent music.

Mark Lomax, II & the Urban Art Ensemble: 400 Years Suite (CFG Multimedia) Single-disc live presentation of music from the Columbus, Ohio drummer's monumental 12-CD 400: An Afrikan Epic, performed by his superb regular quartet -- Dean Hulett on bass, William Menefield on piano, and most importantly Edwin Bayard on soprano and tenor saxophone -- plus a string quartet. Bayard blows you away every time, but the gospel piano solo is nearly as impressive. Wish I had a CD, and the time to see if even the strings say masterpiece.

Actually, the latter is about the right length, so I probably need to do more compression than anything. How about this?

Mark Lomax, II & the Urban Art Ensemble: 400 Years Suite (CFG Multimedia) Drummer, should rank as a top composer but remains little known, teaching in Columbus and self-releasing superb albums, culminating in 2019's monumental 400: An Afrikan Epic: 12-hours that capture the whole African-American experience and genius. This 80-minute live précis is all highlights, adding string quartet to his own, with William Menefield's dazzling piano and long-time collaborator Edwin Bayard's titanic saxophone.

Monday, January 11, 2021

Weekend Roundup

Blog link.

Table of contents:

Last week, I found myself flashing back to scenes in the 1980 movie Airplane!. It was a very funny spoof of late-1970s disaster movies (especially Airport 1975, but the series of gags I most recall featured the air traffic controller (played by Lloyd Bridges), admitting "this was the wrong week to quit" various vices (cigarettes, booze, cocaine, sniffing glue -- by which point it was smeared all over his face and hair). Well, this was the wrong week to quit Weekend Roundup. My plan was to keep doing it through the Biden inauguration, then free up my weekends. I've collected my posts in four long book files. While I feel obligated to wrap up the Trump term, I'm too old and tired to contemplate doing this for another four years.

Still, last week was one for the book. I grabbed a couple items as early as Friday, but unfortunately I wasn't able to knuckle down and focus on this until mid-afternoon Sunday. So this will probably be shorter (and glibber?) than is deserved. The key events were:

  • A Trump rally in Georgia on the eve of the state's Senate runoff elections.
  • Georgia's election of two new Democratic Senators, which doesn't really give Democrats control of the Senate but gives them a fighting chance of getting appointments confirmed and passing legislation.
  • The extremist politicization of the previously routine counting of the electoral votes by Congress.
  • Trump fomenting an insurrection where his followers attacked, invaded, and (briefly) occupied the Capitol Building, disrupting the counting of electoral votes.
  • The restoration of order, and completion of the counting, showing once again that Biden won the election.
  • The reaction to the violence and disorder, and the still unfolding fallout.
  • Meanwhile, the pandemic got worse than ever, with daily death counts topping 4,000 for the first time.

I'm somewhat ambivalent about what to call the storming of the Capitol. In most regards it resembles the general unruliness of a riot, but the fact that the mob was organized and directed not at a mere symbol of state power but at the literal seat of democracy, where representatives were engaged in a process meant to insure the orderly transfer of power, marks it as an insurrection. Its target also underscores that it was not a protest against state power but a direct attack on democracy, and as such on the fundamental belief that the power of the state is rooted in the will of the people.

Whether it was a coup attempt is a somewhat messier question. Coups (from a French word for a sudden strike) are normally conflicts within the power structure, where one faction (usually from the military and/or the state security groups) moves to seize control of the state. That didn't happen, and I have no reason to think that the US military would do such a thing -- not that they, nor especially the CIA, have scruples about organizing and/or supporting coups abroad.

On the other hand, Trump made no secret of his desire that someone intervene to deliver his re-election. In his methods, he most resembles a monarch (or mob boss) who obliquely wonders whether someone will relieve him of some problem person, then feigns surprise when some underling kills the offender. Trump didn't care who would save him, nor did he worry about the means. He would have been happy had state election officials "found" enough votes to overcome the shortfall. He wanted state legislators to approve alternate electors, regardless of state laws. He repeatedly appealed to the courts. He urged his allies in Congress to challenge the counting, and he ordered his VP to throw the election to him. So when his mob stormed the Capitol, he was briefly optimistic. There is no reason to think he wouldn't have been thrilled to have the mob forced Congress at gunpoint to throw the election to him. And when all his efforts failed, he still gets to walk away pretending he never did anything wrong -- and that he is still the aggrieved party.


Ainsley Earhardt, the blonde sandwiched between the two douchebags at Fox & Friends, offered this emotional plea:

There are 75 million people that voted for President Trump. And they are scared. They are worried about what the future of this country looks like. They are confused and heartbroken that their candidate didn't win and they don't want to be forgotten.

Tony Karon cited this quote, then added:

Whiny white privilege knows no limits, eh? Especially when you monetize it, like FOX News, which profits off disseminating the lies and hatred driving this nonsense.

Actually, I'm all for respecting people's hurt feelings, but where is there any acknowledgement that the 82 million Biden voters care at least as much, as intensely, as existentially as those Trump voters? (Actual totals are closer to 81-to-74 million, but the margin is more than 7 million votes.) I shudder to think what the reaction would be if Trump somehow managed to steal this election, especially after all the damage he's done since unfairly, undemocratically seizing the election in 2016. And, like, we're the side that believes in peace, in equality, in civility, in law, in order, in community, and in reality.

Twitter Chatter

I wound up collecting enough of these to merit their own section (although note that I only started collecting them on Friday (and didn't keep it up), and I only follow a tiny number of feeds -- although retweets expand what I see significantly):

Stephen Colbert:
It'll be a shame if history allows one horrific event on this president's watch to overshadow all the other horrific events on this president's watch.
Kathleen Geier:
I know that 2021 has barely started but this has got to be in the running for headline of the year. [Hawley blames 'woke mob' for cancellation of book day after actual mob stormed Capitol]
Mike Konczal:
That the occupation of the Capitol was far more violent, and had the capacity for far more violence, than I understood while it was happening is the most jarring thing I've learned about the putsch over the subsequent days. It's terrifying.
Yousef Munayyer:
We spend $750 billion annually on "defense" and the center of American government fell in two hours to the duck dynasty and the guy in the chewbacca bikini.
Olivia Nuzzi:
A person who currently advises Donald Trump tells me: "It's all hit him since yesterday: 'You may have legal exposure from yesterday. You definitely have legal exposure from other things. You have less than two weeks to remain ensconced in here with executive privilege.'"
Jeff Sharlet:
A funny-because-it's-awful, awful-because-it's funny thing is that on Parler so many fascists, having finally achieved the uprising they could never before pull off, are doing everything they can to give all the credit to antifa. "What, us?" No, we can't organize shit."
Oliver Willis:
Hope Hicks resigning at this point is like Eva Braun walking out of the bunker and saying "ultimately, he went a little too far at the end."


Georgia and the End of the 2020 Election

On Tuesday, Georgia elected two new US Senators, with Democrats Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff defeating incumbents Kelly Loefler and David Perdue. See: Senate live results. Perdue and Loeffler led in the November election (which Trump lost by 11,789 votes), so one can take an extra pleasure in seeing how the runoff system, designed during the Jim Crow era to preserve white supremacy, finally opened the door. From what I can tell, it looks like turnout was more than 90% of the presidential election, which is remarkably high for a runoff election.

As I recall, on the night of the election, the Democrats jumped to an early lead, lost that late in the evening, then came back overnight. Ossoff's win wound up at about 45,000 votes, and Warnock did better (or Loeffler did worse), with a margin of 83,000 votes. There was a lot of speculation that Trump's post-election antics could cost Republicans in this race. I never put much stock in that, but what is unquestionably true is that Democrats stepped up and took the runoff very seriously.

This results in a 50-50 tie in the Senate. As the Vice President can break ties, that should give Democrats the ability to organize and run the processes. Still, as "control" goes that's a pretty tenuous margin, and depends a lot on keeping the most conservative senator(s) happy -- Joe Manchin is the obvious bottleneck here. Not much recent talk about ending the filibuster. If that doesn't happen (and Manchin is on record against changing the filibuster rule), it will be very hard to get any very progressive bills through the Senate. While the tie makes it harder for Republicans to obstruct everything, it relieves them of some of the pressure to cooperate with Biden. Republicans should be in a very good position to regain control of Congress in 2022, if they can avoid blame for whatever goes wrong -- which given the state they've left the nation in is quite a lot.

On Wednesday, Congress met to count and certify the Electoral College votes, with a substantial faction of Republicans trying to steal a win for Trump. Before they got very far, Trump's mob stormed the Capitol, disrupting the proceedings. I cover that in two later sections, but here I'll include stories that relate to the session, both before and after the disruption.


Vox [Dylan Matthews, Ella Nilsen, Zack Beauchamp, Andrew Prokop, Li Zhou, Ian Millhiser]: 5 winner and 2 losers from the Georgia Senate elections. Winners: Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff; Joe Manchin (as the most conservative Democrat in the Senate, he can play hardest-to-please, making him the bottleneck for Democratic votes); Stacey Abrams and Georgia organizers; Ketanji Brown Jackson (or Leondra Kruger); more stimulus. Losers: Mitch McConnell; Trump's election discrediting strategy.

Chas Danner: Trump made earlier call to pressure Georgia election investigator.

Jerusalem Demsas: The 14 Republican senators objecting to the Electoral College's certification.

Ella Nilsen: Democrats win the Senate -- by the slimmest margin possible.

Andrew Prokop:

Bill Scher: Electoral College certification is dividing the GOP. Good.

Dylan Scott: "Phenomenal" Black turnout won the Senate for Democrats in Georgia.

Nate Silver: Georgia was a disaster for Republicans, and it's not clear where they can go next.

After last week, though, I'm not sure I'd want to place a lot of money on the GOP in 2022, either. If the Georgia runoffs served as a quasi-midterm, they might suggest that the GOP can't count on the sort of gains that a party typically wins in midterms. As in the primaries leading up to 2010, the GOP is likely to have some vicious intraparty fights, possibly leading it to nominate suboptimal candidates in some races. And with the violence last week and Republican efforts to contest the Electoral College outcome in Congress, Democrats may be very motivated again in 2022, feeling -- not unreasonably -- as though democracy itself may be on the line.

Emily Stewart: David Perdue may follow the Trump playbook on Senate election loss: He ultimately didn't, as the margin of his loss grew throughout Wednesday, eventually hitting 45,000, so he finally conceded. Perdue and Loeffler also backed off from their promise to support Trump's ersatz electors, although Perdue's term had expired before the vote, and Loeffler's ends as soon as Georgia certifies Warnock's win.

Li Zhou: 147 Republican lawmakers still objected to the election results after the Capitol attack.

Trump's Insurrection

One thing I wish I had time to do was to dig up some of the video that exposes the actual and potential violence of the mob's storming of the Capitol Building. It's worth noting that rioters came armed with everything from zip-ties and pepper spray to pipe bombs and Molotov cocktails. Another thing I didn't get to is the threat of further "protests" and more violence around the inauguration.


Devlin Barrett: Trump's remarks before Capitol riot may be investigated, says acting US attorney in DC.

Dan Barry/Mike McIntire/Matthew Rosenberg: 'Our president wants us here': The mob that stormed the capitol.

Zack Beauchamp:

Kim Bellware: Police departments across the US open probes into whether their own members took part in the Capitol riot. I'd venture to say that if they purged the ones who did participate, that would help with some of the other problems that plague police departemnts. Normally I'd oppose any sort of politically-defined job restriction, but the people who actually participated in the violence and insurrection (as opposed to people who merely attended the rally) aren't fit to be police.

Aaron Blake: What Trump said before his supporters stormed the Capitol, annotated.

Sidney Blumenthal: Trump's MAGA insurrectionists were perverse US civil war re-enactors.

Jonathan Chait:

Fabiola Cineas:

  • Whiteness is at the core of the insurrection.

  • Donald Trump is the accelerant: "A comprehensive timeline of Trump encouraging hate groups and political violence." Much of this is familiar, but the sheer length is staggering. Latest entry:

    At an outdoor rally in Washington, DC, Trump turned on Republicans who refused to support his efforts to overturn the election results, calling them weak, and urged Vice President Mike Pence to reject the Electoral College results.

    Trump told listeners, "You will never take back our country with weakness." (Trump's lawyer Rudy Giuliani also delivered a speech in which he encouraged "trial by combat.") He encouraged them to head to the Capitol to support objections to certification of the vote.

    Hours of violence followed the speech when supporters stormed the US Capitol, as well as state capitols across the country. Capitol Police fatally shot Ashli Babbitt, a Trump supporter, as she and others tried to breach the halls of the Senate. Four others died, including a police officer. Washington, DC, Mayor Muriel Bowser imposed a city-wide curfew beginning at 6 pm, and few people were arrested, though many rioters violated the restriction.

    That evening, Trump again equivocated in messages to supporters, making little attempt to try to stop the violence. He later denounced the violence, but refused to clearly state he lost the election. According to the New York Times, he soon expressed regret to White House aides about committing to a peaceful transfer of power and condemning the Capitol attack.

    I don't normally copy links from within quoted text, but the last story seemed especially significant, and turns out to have a lot of information beyond its headline ("Democrats ready impeachment charge against Trump for inciting Capitol mob"). For instance:

    Mr. Trump had told advisers in the days before the march that he wanted to join his supporters in going to the Capitol, but White House officials said no, according to people briefed on the discussions. The president had also expressed interest beforehand in calling in the National Guard to hold off anti-Trump counterprotesters who might show up, the people said, only to turn around and resist calls for bringing those troops in after the rioting by his loyalists broke out.

Aaron C Davis/Rebecca Tan/Beth Reinhard: Several Capitol police officers suspended, more than a dozen under investigation over actions related to rally, riot.

Josh Dawsey/Ashley Parker: Inside the remarkable rift between Donald Trump and Mike Pence.

Jason Del Rey: Shopify hits President Trump where it hurts: His wallet: "The software firm has taken down President Trump's online stores."

Jerusalem Demsas:

Anthony DiMaggio: Fascism by gaslighting: Trump's coup and the grassroots insurrection strategy. Includes a revealing study of Trump speeches, wherein he "spent radically more time fixating on his partisan political opponents than did Obama or Bush."

Attempts to criminalize the Democratic Party via claims that it embraces criminal immigrant-based gang violence. This includes Trump's references to the Democrats as the "party of crime," the party that is "okay with crime" and with "open borders, which means lots of crime." In contrast Republicans and Trump "want tough, strong, powerful borders, and we want no crime." Trump depicts Democratically-controlled "sanctuary cities" -- "which the Democratic Party supports totally -- they love them" -- as the primary focal point "where crime pours in" to the country.

Trump's use of animal metaphors, his depiction of LatinX immigrants as criminals, and his claim that immigrants bring in "tremendous infectious disease," are indistinguishable from eliminationist Nazi propaganda, which characterized Jews as "rats," as a "poison[ous]," "filthy" and "infected" people, as a "plague," and as a criminal "arsonist" and "serpent[ine]" threat to public order and safety. That this simple yet damning comparison between Trumpian and Nazi propaganda is routinely downplayed in American political life is a sign of just how far our politics has deteriorated under Trump in the era of mass fascism-denialism.

Joshua Frank: Fools rush in: Trump, pardons and the tyrant's cult.

Understanding Trump as a cult leader is the only way to truly appreciate the power he wields and the idiocy he manifests. Few others could call upon their legions to storm government buildings with the dashing hope their efforts would make a difference, overturning what they falsely believed was a rigged election. No longer did police lives matter to these twisted Patriots. No longer did America's legal system matter, which shot down one election lawsuit after another. No longer did common sense matter, if the Capitol stormers had any to begin with. Only their President mattered. Only fulfilling his delusional fantasies mattered, and this was worth risking imprisonment and even death for. While the refrain may have been "Make America Great Again," the real mantra echoing through Washington last Wednesday was "Keep Trump President." He had not, after all, lost, according to them. The multiple logics here were murky at best, but the essence of their rhetoric was not.

Shirin Ghaffary: Why Twitter finally banned Trump: "The company suggested that Trump's tweets risk further violence during a critical time for democracy."

Melissa Gira Grant: This isn't an insurrection. It's an alliance.

Miranda Green: Who dies for Donald Trump? Profile of Ashli Babbitt, the one rioter shot and killed by Capitol Police while trying to take over the Capitol building.

Benjamin Hart: Capitol police officer dies after sustaining injuries in riot.

Rebecca Heilweil/Shirin Ghaffary: How Trump's internet built and broadcast the Capitol insurrection: "Online extremists started planning the chaos of January 6 months ago."

Sean Illing: The fantasy-industrial complex gave us the Capitol Hill insurrection: "This is America's brain on misinformation."

Kellie Carter Jackson: The inaction of Capitol Police was by design.

According to the Associated Press, the Capitol Police knew about the potential threat of the riot days before it took place, but rejected offers of help from the National Guard and the FBI. Officials said that they wanted to avoid using federal force against Americans, as they had done this summer. The choice to turn down help amid warnings of an insurrection is as revealing as it is disturbing: Why did law enforcement assume that they'd encounter violence from protesters marching for Black lives in June, but think that a largely white crowd of pro-Trump extremists and conspiracy theorists would remain peaceful? The difference in the Capitol Police's response shocked many who bemoaned the double standard. But police brutality against Black Americans and police inaction toward white Americans is not some surprising anomaly; it is the status quo.

Sarah Jones: This is what Trumpism without Trump looks like.

Peter Kafka: Fox News wants its viewers angry enough to watch but not angry enough to riot. "Guess what happens when you tell people, over and over, that they're being robbed? They may believe you." I don't think that's quite right: they don't care how angry you get; they just don't want to be held culpable for what you do with that anger. Maybe they should change their motto from "we report/you decide" to "we incite/you do the time"?

Robert Klemko/Kimberly Kindy/Kim Bellware/Derek Hawkins: Kid glove treatment of pro-Trump mob contrasts with strong-arm police tactics against Black Lives Matter, activists say.

Paul Krugman: How the Republican Party went feral, and Appeasement got us where we are: "It's time to stand up to the fascists among us."

Akela Lacy: Rep. Cori Bush on Republicans who fueled attack on Capitol: "That blood is on all of their hands".

Nancy LeTourneau: Why the GOP will remain a threat to democracy, even after Trump is gone: Posted Jan. 5, avant le deluge, but even as Trump surged to the forefront of our fears, a point worth remembering. The only thing that the GOP split over certifying electors proved is that Republicans may differ on tactics, but remain united on their fundamental goal of subverting democracy.

Eric Levitz: Impeach and remove Trump now. "He must be frog-marched out of our civic life in disgrace." Agreed, but impeachment won't do that. What's needed is to teach people to recognize what indulging Trump's vanities and paranoia has cost them, so they learn not to let people like Trump back in the halls of power ever again.

Adam Liptak: Can Twitter legally bar Trump? The first amendment says yes: "There are reasons to question the wisdom of recent actions by Twitter in barring President Trump from its site and Simon & Schuster in canceling the publication of Senator Josh Hawley's book. But the First Amendment is on their side."

Mike Ludwig: The Trumps have fueled a far right media monster that is not going away.

Jane Lytvynenko/Molly Hensley-Clancy: The rioters who took over the Capitol have been planning online in the open for weeks.

Andrew G McCabe/David C Williams: Trump's new criminal problem: "The president could face charges for inciting the Capitol riot -- and maybe even for inciting the murder of a Capitol Police officer."

Stephanie McNeal: Here are some of the most horrifying and stunning videos from the assault on the Capitol.

Ian Millhiser: 13 federal criminal laws that the pro-Trump mob may have violated, explained.

Parker Molloy: Desperate not to take responsibility for what they've set in motion, pro-Trump media pivot to conspiracy theories.

Sara Morrison: The Capitol rioters put themselves all over social media. Now they're getting arrested.

Tina Nguyen: MAGA activists plot revenge on Republican 'traitors': "The swift move to vengeance offers a preview of how Trump and his MAGA community plan to reshape the GOP in the coming months."

Anna North: Police bias explains the Capitol riot.

Anna North/Ella Nilsen: The catastrophic police failure at the US Capitol, explained.

Olivia Nuzzi:

Molly Olmstead: What new details tell us about the Capitol rioters' plans.

Ashley Parker/Josh Dawsey/Philip Rucker: Six hours of paralysis: Inside Trump's failure to act after a mob stormed the Capitol.

Madeline Peltz: YouTube terminated Steve Bannon's account. He had blood on his hands after months of calling for revolution and violence.

Andrew Perez/David Sirota: We should know exactly who funded last week's right-wing riot: "Last week's right-wing riot at the Capitol was egged on by politicians and organizations that have received substantial dark-money funding from corporate interests. It's past time to enact reforms to end the era of dark money -- and find out who exactly is bankrolling the anti-democratic far right."

Cameron Peters:

James Poniewozik:

Andrew Prokop: Republican senator: White House aides say Trump was "delighted" as Capitol was stormed: "Sen. Ben Sasse said that, according to senior White House officials, Trump was 'confused' why others weren't as excited."

Frank Rich: The trashing of the republic: "The only response to the carnage in Washington is to banish Trump and his traitorous collaborators from civil society." And how do you do that, given that you don't have the power, and they feed on contempt?

Alexander Reid Ross: Inside the alt-right meltdown after failed Capitol putsch.

Aaron Rupar:

  • Trump turns once and for all against Republicans who won't help him steal the election: "Speaking to protesters from the White House, Trump said, 'We have to primary the hell out of the ones that don't fight.'"

  • How Trump's speech led to the Capitol riot.

    Just before a MAGA mob descended on the US Capitol on Wednesday and caused a riot that killed five people, including a Capitol police officer who was beaten to death, President Donald Trump delivered a speech to his supporters in which he used the words "fight" or "fighting" at least 20 times.

    "We're going to have to fight much harder and Mike Pence is going to have to come through for us," Trump said at one point, alluding to Pence's ultimate refusal to attempt to steal the election for him during that day's hearing where the Electoral College made his loss official.

    "You'll never take back our country with weakness. You have to show strength. You have to be strong," he added during the speech in which he pushed long-debunked lies about Joe Biden's convincing victory over him being the product of fraud.

Andrea Salcedo: Republican AGs group sent robocalls urging protesters to the Capitol. GOP officials now insist they didn't know about it.

Neil Schoenherr: WashU Expert: Mob at US Capitol building amounts to insurrection: So says Greg Magarian.

Melody Schreiber: The actual death toll from the pro-Trump won't be known for weeks: "Many who stormed the Capitol in the middle of the Covid-19 pandemic did not wear masks. Then they went back to D.C.'s hotels and shops." We've already seen two Democratic Representatives test positive after sheltering with Republicans who refused to wear masks -- Pramila Jayapal and Bonnie Watson.

Alex Shephard: The conservative media really wants you to think the Capitol riot is the left's fault.

Fran Shor: White chickens, coming home to roost. Her backfile includes the book, Weaponized Whiteness: The Constructions and Deconstructions of White Identity Politics, and The long life of institutional white supremacist terror.

Timothy Snyder: The American abyss: "A historian of fascism and political atrocity on Trump, the mob and what comes next."

Like historical fascist leaders, Trump has presented himself as the single source of truth. His use of the term "fake news" echoed the Nazi smear Lügenpresse ("lying press"); like the Nazis, he referred to reporters as "enemies of the people." . . .

Thanks to technological capacity and personal talent, Donald Trump lied at a pace perhaps unmatched by any other leader in history. For the most part these were small lies, and their main effect was cumulative. To believe in all of them was to accept the authority of a single man, because to believe in all of them was to disbelieve everything else. Once such personal authority was established, the president could treat everyone else as the liars; he even had the power to turn someone from a trusted adviser into a dishonest scoundrel with a single tweet.

Craig Timberg/Drew Harwell: Pro-Trump forums erupt with violent threats ahead of Wednesday's rally against the 2020 election.

Emily VanDerWerff: Is the country falling apart? Depends on where you get your news?

Alissa Wilkinson:

Jennifer Williams: Was the US Capitol attack "domestic terrorism"? Offers definitions by "analysts," "law enforcement," and "politicians/pundits," which vary somewhat. I have reservations, but one thing I'm sure of is that we'll be hearing a lot more about "domestic terrorism" in the near future, and the applicability of the term won't be debatable.

Jennifer Williams/Alex Ward: Trump has the authority to launch nuclear weapons -- whether Pelosi likes it or not: The authors are critical of Pelosi for talking to generals about limiting Trump's ability to launch nuclear weapons, arguing "there is no reason to think Trump plans to randomly nuke anybody." Given how fascinated Trump evidently is with nuclear weapons -- he's championed a budget of more than $1 trillion for new bombs, he threatened North Korea with them, he ended several treaties with Russia limiting them, he wondered whether we could use them on hurricanes -- and how deranged he currently is, I'd say Pelosi has something to worry about. Still, the problem is that no president should have this power -- not just an especially bad one. Unfortunately, that's not a problem Democrats have much power to fix right away. And one they may well forget exists when one of their own gets his itchy fingers on the trigger.

Impeachment and Aftermath

I think we should have learned two things from the impeachment of Clinton: that it's a cheap trick for a House majority to harass an president from the other party, and that it's not an effective way to deal with serious executive malfeasance. Part of the problem is that the constitutional bar is too low in the House and too high in the Senate, but the bigger problem is how both sides (but mostly, and most irrationally, the Republicans) have adopted blinders which allow them to see political opponents as criminals and traitors, and leave them blind to similar faults on their own side. Democrats have been itching to impeach and remove Trump ever since he slipped into office thanks only to the skewed Electoral College vote. And, frankly, he's done much to deserve such condemnation, while making zero effort to ingratiate himself with the majority of the country that voted against him (in 2016, and more emphatically in 2020). Still, I think we have to recognize that impeachment is a political matter, not a moral one. And it is unclear to me that impeaching Trump over the Ukraine scandal did the Democrats any good. So I'm skeptical that a rushed impeachment in the last two weeks of Trump's term is worth the trouble, even given his obvious culpability for the insurrection. Nonetheless, it looks like Democrats will seize on this gesture, as if doing so is the most necessary thing they can do to save democracy. I think they need to focus more on what it takes to win elections.


Erin Banco/Asawin Suebsaeng: Trump officials rush to keep him from sparking another conflict -- at home or abroad.

Charles M Blow: Trump's lackeys must also be punished.

Katelyn Burns: Top Democratic lawmaker says an impeachment vote will come this week: "House Majority Whip James Clyburn said Trump will likely face an impeachment vote by Wednesday."

Paul Campos: Pence should invoke 25th Amendment to remove Trump from office immediately. Pelosi has also argued this, and at this point this seems like the only alternative to her bringing an impeachment vote in the House. One question is whether Pence has the power to win a vote in the Cabinet to do this. I suspect he does, as he was the main person responsible for staffing decisions early on (but figure he lost two votes with the Chao and DeVos resignations). The bigger question is why should he bother. Why isn't it enough just to have his staff bottle Trump up? If Trump can't organize events, speak on camera, tweet, launch a war or a pre-emptive nuclear strike against the inauguration -- why turn him loose (where he can do all but the latter)? Democrats may argue that his behavior was so despicable he needs to be made an example of, but they don't really have the power to do that, and failure could be worse than doing nothing. (Still, how certain can you be that Trump is really bottled up?)

Marjorie Cohn: Trump can be indicted under federal, state and DC laws for his role in Jan. 6. She argues that "Trump must be impeached and removed from office," but I'm more intrigued by the title -- although the specific charges she mentions ("seditious conspiracy" and "inciting insurrection") strike me as a bit on the nebulous side. On the other hand, I don't see a problem with investigating such charges, even if indictment and conviction seem unlikely. Also, if Trump is immune from prosecution due to a self-pardon, wouldn't he lose his 5th Amendment protection to avoid having to answer questions? And wouldn't he still be liable should he perjure himself?

Sean Collins: Americans are divided on wether to remove Trump, according to the polls. The key number here is "69 percent of Republicans saying the president was either not at all or not very much to blame." Even more deranged: "52 percent of Republicans told YouGov that it was actually Biden's fault."

Nicholas Fandos: How to impeach a president in 12 days: Here's what it would take.

Bryan Garsten: Impeach and convict Trump. Congress must defend itself. The problem with this argument is that Congress hasn't defended its constitutional prerogatives for a long time. As they've ceded more and more power to the executive, and adopted the increasing political polarization of the public, members of Congress have reduced themselves to being political team players, subordinate to their party's president, or intractably opposed to an opposition party president. The Judiciary has done a somewhat better job of maintaining its independence, but that's unraveling as well.

John Judis: Democrats: Impeachment is a political trap.

What's the point? To make it impossible for Trump, then 78, to run for office again? Nothing would benefit the Democrats more than another Trump bid.

Politics is not a simple matter of right and wrong. It is a matter of priorities. Yes, Trump did wrong, he is a bad guy. But the country is in the grips of a pandemic -- over 4000 people died on Thursday -- and in December, the country lost 140,000 more jobs. The Democrats have to focus on that not on Trump. The country has spent four years focusing on Trump. It's what he loves. It's his briar patch. Enough is enough, as Lindsey Graham put it.

Fred Kaplan: Trup still has the power to blow up the world.

Annie Karni: On the way out, Melania Trump denounces attacks on her as 'shameful'.

Ed Kilgore:

Ian Millhiser: How Congress can permanently disqualify Trump from office after impeachment. OK, can be done, but odds against it are very steep, as it requires a second vote after a Senate conviction, which requires agreement by two-thirds (so at least 17 Republican Senators).

Ella Nilsen/Li Zhou: Why Democrats are moving toward impeachment -- 12 days before Trump leaves office.

Cameron Peters: Mitch McConnell outlines what a second Trump impeachment trial might look like. Basically, he sees it as a good, inconsequential way to kill time while avoiding dealing with appointments and legislation Biden wants to advance.

Andrew Prokop: Will Trump be impeached or face removal under the 25th Amendment?

Nathaniel Rakich: Slightly more Americans are ready to impeach Trump this time around.

Asha Rangappa: If Trump pardons himself now, he'll be walking into a trap: "Self-pardons threaten the rule of law. The Justice Department would have to charge him."

Katherine Stewart: The roots of Josh Hawley's rage: "Why do so many Republicans appear to be at war with both truth and democracy?" From her backfile, Stewart is author of The Power Worshippers: Inside the Dangerous Rise of Religious Nationalism; also: Trump or no Trump, religious authoritarianism is here to stay, and Why Trump reigns as King Cyrus: "The Christian right doesn't like the president only for his judges. They like his style." More on Hawley:

Mimi Swartz: Never forget what Ted Cruz did: "The senator has been able to use his Ivy League pedigree as a cudgel. After last week, his credentials should condemn him."

JD Tuccille: Sedition charges are almost always a terrible idea.

Politics as Usual

Some pieces on resignations, regrets, and realignments wound up here, but not enough on the bad jobs report and the need for further economic relief legislation.


Katelyn Burns:

Jen Kirby: Here are the few Republicans who have called for Trump's removal.

Ian Millhiser: America's anti-democratic Senate, in one number: "Once Warnock and Ossoff take their seats, the Democratic half of the Senate will represent 41,549,808 more people than the Republican half."

Terry Nguyen: Millions of students and adult dependents won't receive a $600 stimulus payment.

Dylan Scott:

  • Trump officials are resigning over the US Capitol siege. Here's who's stepped down so far.

  • President Trump won't attend Joe Biden's inauguration. The last sitting US president to skip his successor's inauguration was Andrew Johnson in 1869, when Ulysses S Grant became president. Johnson and Trump have another thing in common: both were impeached, but escaped Senate conviction (Johnson very narrowly). Well, another thing they share is that they're both notorious for making their racism a big part of their public identity. My reaction on hearing this was "good riddance," but others (including the adjudicators at Twitter) took this as evidence that Trump was fomenting violence at the inaugural, and chickenshit that he is, didn't want to be in the line of fire.

Emily Stewart: "Buckle up": Democrats signal they're ready to go on stimulus.

Li Zhou: "I want him out": Lisa Murkowski calls for Trump's resignation. Further qualifications:

Biden's "Build Back"

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


Quint Forgey/Natasha Bertrand: For CIA director, Biden taps veteran diplomat William Burns.

Umair Irfan: How Joe Biden plans to use executive powers to fight climate change.

Tyler Pager/Josh Gerstein/Kyle Cheney: Biden to tap Merrick Garland for attorney general.

The Covid-19 Pandemic Surge

Latest map and case count: 22.4 million+ cases (14 day change +34%, total up 1.9 million in last week), 374,389 deaths (+43%), 130,781 hospitalized (+11%). January 7 set records with over 4,100 deaths and more than 280,000 new cases. Vaccination first dose is up to 5.9 million. Vaccination is increasing at a slower rate than cases.


Ariel Gold: Is Israel practicing vaccine leadership or medical apartheid?

German Lopez: America's messy Covid-19 vaccine rollout, explained: "The US was supposed to vaccinate 20 million people in December. It didn't get to 5 million."

Josh Rogin: 1,100 State Department employees got vaccinated. At USAID, zero did.

Matt Stieb: US surpasses 4,000 Covid deaths in a day for the first time.

Around the World

Damelya Aitkhozhina: Russia is cracking down on political performance art. It should listen, not lash out.

Robert Herbst: Jonathan Kuttab's one state vision. Kuttab describes his vision in a short book, Beyond the Two-State Solution (ebook available from Nonviolence International).

John Hudson/Anthony Faiola/Karen DeYoung: On its way out the door, Trump administration names Cuba a state sponsor of terrorism.

The decision is a part of a blitz of 11th-hour moves by the Trump administration to push through hard-line policies championed by influential domestic political constituencies, despite the complications they will create for State Department lawyers, humanitarian interests abroad and the incoming Biden administration.

"This blatantly politicized designation makes a mockery of what had been a credible, objective measure of a foreign government's active support for terrorism," said Sen. Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.). "Nothing remotely like that exists here. In fact, domestic terrorism in the United States poses a far greater threat to Americans than Cuba does."

Nino Pagliccia: Venezuela: The United States is experiencing what it has generated in other countries with its policies of aggression. The view from another nation Trump has tried to destroy democracy in.

Michael D Swaine: Pompeo makes last hour push to set the US up for confrontation with China.

Other Matters of Interest

Ron Charles: Conservatives crying 'Orwell' are downright Orwellian.

Patrick Cockburn: What Assange's victory really means: A judge in the UK ruled not to extradite Wikileaks founder Julian Assange to the US, where he would face espionage charges and a possible sentence of up to 175 years. Assange remains in jail in the UK. More:

Jariel Arvin: 2020 ties for the hottest year on record. Only surprise here is "ties." Note the map of "US 2020 Billion-Dollar Weather and Climate Disasters" (a record-breaking 22 of them).

Matt Gertz: Fox throws in the towel on its "news" side: Fox is shifting its primetime slots from "news" to "opinion."

The message is clear. Fox executives hold the "news"-side figures responsible for the criticism from Trump, outcry from viewers, and the ratings dip that followed the network's decision desk accurately calling first Arizona and then the 2020 election for President-elect Joe Biden. Rather than being rewarded for telling their audience the truth, they are being punished.

Ishmael Reed: The tragedy of Stanley Crouch.

Ben Smith: Heather Cox Richardson offers a break from the media maelstrom. It's working. On the historian's Substack newsletter. Probably worth reading if not for the hassle of the sales pitch.

Jacob Soll: This is the conservative tradition: "A new history traces an anti-democratic politics of hate, repression, paranoia, and revenge to its origins." Review of Edmund Fawcett's book, Conservatism: The Fight for a Tradition.

Jeffrey St Clair: Roaming charges: White riot, they wanna riot, they wanna riot of their own.

Matt Taibbi: We need a new media system: "If you sell culture war all day, don't be surprised by the real-world consequences." Conclusion is right, but adding just one channel that meets his definition of balance doesn't seem like much of an answer. Moreover, what makes you think he'd be happy if such a thing existed? He condemns the New York Times ("Criticism of Republicans is as baked into New York Times coverage as the lambasting of Democrats is at Fox"), even though their opinion pages are meticulously balanced between center-right and center-center, and they can be counted on to spread establishmentarian takes on everything.

Jeff Wise: Two-mile nose dive by a Boeing 737 in Indonesia as yet unexplained.


PS: A right-wing relative posted a meme saying "63 million Trump voters will never leave him! I am one of them. Are you one of us?" I rarely respond to taunts like that, but this time I commented:

I expect that most will leave him, and sooner rather than later. He's a loser, a whiny self-centered baby, a national embarrassment. Even if you once thought you liked him, before long you'll be glad to be rid of him.

I might have added that even the meme already allowed that 11 million Trump voters had already left him. He replied with something snarky, and I didn't pursue it further, but one other commenter said he didn't understand why folks were so hung up on Trump personally.

Monday, January 04, 2021

Music Week

Expanded blog post, January archive (in progress).

Music: Current count 34687 [34643] rated (+44), 214 [212] unrated (+2).

Too late to try to write anything significant here, and doubtful that delaying another day will change much. Still spending a lot of time adding lists to the EOY Aggregate, and still a long ways from catching up. My plan is to stop after folding in the Jazz Critics Poll results, although I'm already feeling like I'm getting diminishing returns. A week ago it seemed like Taylor Swift might be making a run for 4th place, but this week she loses ground to Bob Dylan, and is closer to losing her 5th slot to Waxahatchee (currently -1) and maybe even Dua Lipa (-7).

Fair number of records below, but fewer A-list than is usual at this time of year. Could be I'm getting diminishing returns from the EOY lists, or perhaps I'm the one running out of steam. Picked up my first 2021 rating, but release date was Jan. 1, and it's a follow-up to the week's top rated album. I had the 2020 promo queue cleaned out until Samo Salamon's latest arrived today (not counted in the unrated). I haven't dipped into the 2021 promo queue yet, which is 11 deep. I'll get to them in due course, but figured it would be confusing to consider them early.

Little progress on anything else. Still haven't done the December Streamnotes indexing, nor answered the pending queue of questions. Jazz Critics Poll should be unveiled at NPR later this week, but I haven't heard much detail yet, so wouldn't be surprised to find it slipping a week. Everything is counted, and this year I've forwarded the compiled ballots to the critics, so I expect the error count will be closer to zero than usual. I hope to get some cosmetic development done, but nothing actually depends on it.


New records reviewed this week:

  • 3unshine: We Are 3unshine (2019 [2020], Real Show): [r]: B+(**)
  • AC/DC: Power Up (2020, Columbia): [r]: B
  • Alma: Have U Seen Her? (2020, PME): [r]: B+(**)
  • BbyMutha: Muthaland (2020, The Muthaboard): [r]: B+(***)
  • Brandy: B7 (2020, Brand Nu/Entertainment One): [r]: B+(*)
  • Dean & Britta: Quarantine Tapes (2020, Double Feature): [bc]: B+(**)
  • Drunken Kong: Where We Start (2020, Tronic): [r]: B+(***)
  • Dueling Experts: Dueling Experts (2020, Mello Music Group): [r]: B+(***)
  • Hazel English: Wake Up! (2020, Polyvinyl): [r]: B+(*)
  • Erasure: The Neon (2020, Mute): [r]: B
  • R.A.P. Ferreira: Purple Moonlight Pages (2020, Ruby Yacht): [r]: A-
  • R.A.P. Ferreira: Bob's Son: R.A.P. Ferreira in the Garden Level Cafe of the Scallops Hotel (2021, Ruby Yacht): [bc]: B+(***)
  • The Full Salon: The Full Salon (2018 [2020], self-released): [bc]: B
  • A Girl Called Eddy: Been Around (2020, Elefant): [r]: B+(*)
  • Marquis Hill: Soul Sign (2020, Black Unlimited Music Group): [r]: B
  • Rui Ho: Lov3 & L1ght (2020, Planet Mu): [r]: B+(**)
  • Hum: Inlet (2020, Earth Analog): [r]: B
  • Illuminati Hotties: Free I.H.: This Is Not the One You've Been Waiting For (2020, self-released): [r]: B+(*)
  • Jasmine Infiniti: Bxtch Släp (2020, New World Dysorder): [r]: B+(**)
  • International Teachers of Pop: Pop Gossip (2020, Desolate Spools): [r]: B+(**)
  • Sunny Jain: Wild Wild East (2020, Smithsonian Folkways): [r]: B+(*)
  • Juice WRLD: Legends Never Die (2019 [2020], Grade A/Interscope): [r]: B
  • Maria Kannegaard Trio: Sand I En Vik (2020, Jazzland): [r]: B+(***)
  • The Killers: Imploding the Mirage (2020, Island): [r]: B
  • Sonny Landreth: Blacktop Run (2020, Provogue): [r]: B+(*)
  • Bob Mould: Blue Hearts (2020, Merge): [r]: B+(*)
  • Keir Neuringer/Ensemble Klang: Elegies & Litanies (2019 [2020], Ensemble Klang): [bc]: A-
  • Kyle Nix: Lightning on the Mountain (2020, self-released): [r]: B+(*)
  • Christopher Parker & Kelly Hurt: No Tears Suite (2020, Mahakala Music): [r]: B+(**)
  • Poppy: I Disagree (2020, Sumerian): [r]: B+(*)
  • Soho Rezanejad: Honesty Without Compassion Is Brutality (Volume 1) (2019, Silicone): [bc]: B+(*)
  • Soho Rezanejad: Honesty Without Compassion Is Brutality (Volume 2) (2020, Silicone): [bc]: B+(*)
  • Jeff Rosenstock: No Dream (2020, Polyvinyl): [r]: B
  • Ana Roxanne: Because of a Flower (2020, Kranky): [r]: B+(*)
  • Royce Da 5'9": The Allegory (2020, EOne): [r]: B+(**)
  • Sports Team: Deep Down Happy (2020, Island): [r]: B+(***)
  • Cristina Vane: Old Played New (2020, Blue Tip): [r]: B+(***)
  • Cristina Vane: The Magnolia Sessions (2020, Anti-Corp): [r]: B+(**)
  • Luke Vibert: Luke Vibert Presents Amen Andrews (2020, Hypercolour): [r]: B+(**)
  • Luke Vibert: Luke Vibert Presents Modern Rave (2020, Hypercolour): [r]: B+(***)
  • Luke Vibert: Luke Vibert Presents Rave Hop (2020, Hypercolour): [r]: B+(**)

Recent reissues, compilations, and vault discoveries:

  • London Is the Place for Me 7: Calypso, Palm-Wine, Mento, Joropo, Steel & Stringband ([2019], Honest Jon's): [bc]: B+(**)
  • London Is the Place for Me 8: Lord Kitchener in England 1948-1962 (1948-62 [2019], Honest Jon's): [bc]: B+(***)
  • Uzelli Elektro Saz (1976-1984) (1976-84 [2020], Uzelli): [r]: B+(**)

Old music:

  • Don & Dewey: Jungle Hop (1957-64 [1991], Specialty): [r]: B+(**)
  • Ensemble Klang: Tom Johnson: Cows, Chords & Combinations (2009 [2010], Ensemble Klang): [bc]: B+(***)


Further Sampling:

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

  • Tim Berne/Matt Mitchell: Spiders (2020, Out of Your Head Untamed): [bc: 1/5, 12:31/42.46]: +
  • Nick Dunston: Atlantic Extraction: Live at Threes (2020, Out of Your Head Untamed): [bc: 1/3, 3:13/48:11]: +
  • Michael Formanek Quartet: Pre-Apocalyptic (2014 [2020], Out of Your Head Untamed): [bc: 2/7, 22:06/66:08]: ++
  • Steve Lehman: Xenakis and the Valedictorian (2020, Pi, EP): [bc: 1/10, 0:46/9:06]: -
  • Bob Vylan: We Live Here (2020, Venn, EP): [bc: 2/8, 5:20/18:41]: ++
  • Anna Webber: Rectangles (2019 [2020], Out of Your Head Untamed): [bc: 3:39/38:19]: ++
  • Dan Weiss Starebaby: Natural Selection (2020, Pi): [bc: 29:02/78:14]: -


Unpacking: Found in the mail last week:

  • Hal Galper Quintet: Live at the Berlin Philharmonic 1977 (Origin, 2CD) [01-15]
  • Samo Salamon & Friends: Almost Alone Vol. 1 (Sazas)
  • Amber Weekes: My Romance: A Special Valentin (Amber Inn Productions, EP) [02-14]

Sunday, January 03, 2021

Weekend Roundup

Blog link.

Table of contents:

Woke up thinking about a possible introduction, but nine hours later my brain is fried. I not only can't remember what I was thinking, I no longer care. So this feels like a stub, a mere exercise, but I vaguely recall a few hours back thinking this is still a fairly efficient way to digest the week's news. I've learned a few things along the way, and I've written more than usual below.

One thing I will note is that I'm about 3/4 through Kurt Andersen's Evil Geniuses: The Unmaking of America: A Recent History. Much of the book covers a story I've contemplated writing for much of the subject period: he has a fundamental understanding of the mechanics of increasing inequality, and how those levers were plied by Republicans (and way too often Democrats) since the late 1970s. His characterization of the architects of this counterrevolution as "evil geniuses" is well put, although somewhere in that last quarter of the book I expect they will lose the "geniuses" part. (Not that the right-wing is incapable of clever sophistry any more, but as their rationalizations have worn thin, they'd rather just throw their weight around.)

One key idea that I hadn't thought much about is Andersen's theses about change and nostalgia. He describes the 1960s and early 1970s as the period of "peak new," followed by an extended period of reaction and nostalgia. He points out that even fashion, design, and art have ceased changing after 2000, whereas during the 20th century it was relatively easy to identify the decade any photo was taken in. What this means isn't always clear. For instance, he points out that the 2020 election came down to competing nostalgias.

It occurs to me that intense change -- change so substantial and accelerated we're conscious of it happening in real time -- is not only rare in human history, but can largely be consigned to the 20th century. I'm imagining an S-curve where the steep slope is limited to 1900-2000. Not sure what to label the Y-axis: maybe domination of and estrangement from nature? I must admit I am fond of the idea of balancing time/progress on the fulcrum of my birth in 1950. Long ago it occurred to me that there's never been a "generation gap" like the one between my generation and my parents'. As for how dramatic the changes were around 1900, my eyes were first opened up by John Berger's essay, "The Moment of Cubism." Technological change over the 19th century was substantial (and accelerating), but didn't come close to the impact after 1900. Similarly, we haven't stopped since 2000, but the pace seems slowed, and the scale reduced.


Lost track of all the deaths this week, but did want to mention Judy Loganbill, a former Democratic state legislator here in Wichita. The obituary doesn't do her justice. She was a teacher before she got into politics, and she was a lifelong peace activist, who served on the board of the Wichita Peace organization.

I also wanted to mention Dawn Wells, the actress who played Mary Ann Summers on Gilligan's Island, as sort of the archetype of Kansas womanhood. I watched that show religiously, but the role became even more memorable for me through Tom Carson's novel, Gilligan's Wake, where she represents archetypal America in her ability to regain her virginity after every lapse. Where I do have a bone to pick is Carson's genteel treatment of Bob Dole, whose rank in the pantheon of American political scoundrels was fixed in my mind by his scurrilous 1972 campaign against Bill Roy.


That Was the Year That Was

Michelle Cottle: The 2020 high school yearbook of Donald J Trump.

Chauncey DeVega: Top 10 reasons why making year-end lists won't save America. Article doesn't even begin to follow from the title. I think the annual EOY list exercise does two things: it encourages thinking comparatively over a period of time longer than the usual right now; and it usually reinforces the idea that years are much more alike than different. Could be that 2020 will prove the exception. Right now, I feel that movie lists are even phonier than whoever won whatever major league sports titles anyone bothered to hold. On the other hand, books and TV shows have more lead time, and are delivered straight to the home, so they're probably more or less normal. Music? Well, that's harder to say. Nobody toured, so music product meant to promote tours had to be recontextualized, if it made any sense at all. (Taylor Swift and Sturgill Simpson probably made the best use of that change.) At the other extreme, a lot of half-assed DIY product appeared, most soon forgotten. (Brad Mehldau's Suite: April 2000 and Hamell on Trial's The Pandemic Songs are two exceptions.)

Josh Kovensky: It's Rudy! The melting mayor beats Cunningham to become TPM's 2020 Duke of Dukes.

Paul Krugman: 2020 was the year Reaganism died: "The government promised to help -- and it did." Well, not so fast. Government in 2020 was divided, and while some parts of it tried to help (and indeed did), other parts didn't try, or didn't help, or in some cases actively worked to make a bad situation worse. If Reaganism died in 2020, expect a whole year of zombie columns in 2021 -- as you may recall, Krugman spent much of the last decade railing against zombie economics (assumptions proven wrong decades ago, yet still somehow directing politicians to further folly). On the other hand, we should try to remember the brief moment in March when the economy and the stock market collapsed and Republicans were so desperate for something they let Democrats largely craft a bill that actually helped people. Too bad Democrats didn't get (or claim) more credit for that. By the end of the year, Republicans had restored the people's cynicism about the corruption and/or ineffectiveness of government, which left them nicely positioned to obstruct Democratic efforts to solve or reduce problems, without getting blamed themselves.

Jeb Lund: Ron DeSantis is TNR's 2020 Scoundrel of the Year: "An heir to Trumpism, the Florida governor has concealed the severity of the coronavirus pandemic and fomented a depraved indifference to human life."

Derek Robertson: The eight pieces of pop culture that defined the Trump era. A pretty maudlin list, half of which totally escaped my attention -- perhaps the lesson is how little pop culture we actually share these days?

Spencer Sunshine: 2020 was a record year for far right violence in the US.

Several publications and writers looked back at what they wrote in 2020, and recommended a few articles:

Trump's Last Days

Felipe De La Hoz: Citing the pandemic, CBP has expelled newborn US citizens with their migrant mothers.

Richard Fausset: Trump calls Georgia Senate races 'illegal and invalid'. I doubt that means anything, but the implication is that he has inside knowledge that the Republicans are losing the elections. The two races are to be decided by the voters on Tuesday. Money and advance voting are off the charts. More:

  • Becca Andrews: Kelly Loeffler blows all the dog whistles at once.

  • Astead W Herndon/Richard Fausset: Georgia Republicans deliver persistent message: Fear the Democrats: "Senators Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue are resting their re-election hopes on a strategy that calls more attention to what they're against than what they support." That's pretty true for Republicans everywhere. Roger Marshall's Senate campaign here in Kansas was nothing but a long, primal scream about the dire consequences of a Democrat (any Democrat, even one who spent almost all of her political life as a Republican) ever getting elected from Kansas, and he won by a substantial margin. Still, you have to wonder how much longer they can cry wolf like that -- also, how long they can dodge their own crooked and malignant records.

  • Jonathan Lee Walton: Raphael Warnock's Georgia critics don't understand Black churches: "The prophetic tradition is about loving America -- and holding it to account." Ever notice how right-wingers, including racists, project their fears onto their opponents, expecting them to respond in kind to their hate and ignorance?

Christopher Flavelle: How Trump tried, but largely failed, to derail America's top climate report.

Ryan J Foley: Federal judge in Iowa ridicules Trump's pardons: US District Judge Robert Pratt: "It's not surprising that a criminal like Trump pardons other criminals. But apparently to get a pardon, one has to be either a Republican, a convicted child murderer or a turkey." I don't think Rod Blagojevich qualifies on any of those counts, but Trump recognized a kindred spirit in someone convicted of trying to sell an appointment. What happens when Trump gets tied into a similar influence-peddling scheme?

Amy Gardner: 'I just want to find 11,780 votes': In extraordinary hour-long call, Trump pressures Georgia secretary of state to recalculate the vote in his favor.

The rambling and at times incoherent conversation offered a remarkable glimpse of how consumed and desperate the president remains about his loss, unwilling or unable to let the matter go and still believing he can reverse the results in enough battleground states to remain in office.

"There's no way I lost Georgia," Trump said, a phrase he repeated again and again on the call. "There's no way. We won by hundreds of thousands of votes."

More comments:

Shayna Jacobs: NY prosecutor hires forensic accounting experts as Trump criminal probe escalates.

Julius Krein: Donald Trump's influence will evaporate once he leaves office. Here's why.

Andrew O'Hehir: Josh Hawley becomes first GOP senator to contest Biden's certification, likely forcing Jan. 6 fight. But not the last:

Ashley Parker: Trump to give ally Nunes the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Cameron Peters: Louie Gohmert's failed election lawsuit, briefly explained: It's slightly more technical, but the point of the lawsuit was to put aside the votes and let the Vice President decide who becomes President. A Trump-appointed judge dismissed, arguing that Gohmert "lacks standing" to bring such a lawsuit. That may be a technicality, but it's rarely been more obvious. Pence, by the way, seems to have leaned both ways:

Eve Peyser: The time Trump ranted about hair spray quality to coal miners.

Jamil Smith: Trump's lost cause: "The fight underway to keep Trumpism alive post-presidency has an ugly and worrisome precedent in American history." Key term is "lost cause." When I first saw this piece, I figured it might focus more narrowly on Trump's love for the monuments that helped perpetuate the Confederate slavery regime, but this suggests Trump aspires to a greater level of martyrdom.

Michael Stratford: Trump opens up federal dollars for private school vouchers amid pandemic.

Politics as Usual

The last days of the 116th Congress ended with an override of Trump's veto of the Defense Department funding act, and Mitch McConnell blocking Trump's proposal for $2,000 stimulus checks (embraced by Democrats, and passed in the House). Then, as of January 3, the newly elected 117th Congress took over (See: Cameron Peters: A historic new Congress has just been sworn in.) The new Congress has a reduced Democratic majority in the House (but not enough to keep Nancy Pelosi from being elected Speaker), and a reduced and tenuous Republican advantage in the Senate, subject to two runoff elections in Georgia (on Tuesday, January 6), which could result in a 50-50 tie, with Vice President Pence holding the tie-breaker vote until Kamala Harris becomes Vice President on January 20.


David Atkins: House Dems signal bolder action by weakening self-imposed austerity rules. You may (but probably don't) recall how the Democrats in the House celebrated their new majority status in 2019 by adopting unnecessary and counterproductive "PAYGO" rules. Rejecting them this time is less a victory of "progressives" over "centrists" than a win for people who want to be able to do things vs. those who don't.

Daniel Block: The new surprise billing law is an imperfect win.

Sarah K Burris: Nancy Pelosi's house vandalized with dead pig's head. By the way, Mitch McConnell's house was also vandalized, albeit less menacingly, allowing the mainstream media to achieve bipartisan nirvana; see: Meryl Kornfield: Homes of Pelosi, McConnell are vandalized after Senate fails to pass $2,000 stimulus checks.

Ben Ehrenreich: The year of magical thinking in American politics: "Trump campaigned on one kind of nostalgia, while Biden campaigned on another. The less regressive vision won out, but we're still hurtling toward the abyss."

Matt Ford:

Brittany Gibson: How Georgia got organized.

Eric Levitz:

Ian Millhiser: How Bernie Sanders plans to force a vote on $2,000 Covid-19 relief checks. The idea was to hold up the vote on overriding Trump's veto of the Defense Department funding bill, trying to force McConnell into agreeing to a vote on the $2,000 checks Trump wants and the House agreed to. It didn't work, in part because most Democrats were more anxious to override Trump's veto than to pass the checks. For one take on this, see Jake Johnson: Stimulus standoff ends in "Democratic surrender": After McConnell blocks $2,000 checks, Dems move on. Some more pieces on $2K (I also wrote about this under St Clair, below):

Emily Stewart:

Biden Prospects

It was a very quiet news week regarding Biden's staffing picks. See Building Biden's Cabinet for a survey of who's been selected for Biden's top administration positions, and who's being considered for still open slots. Another updated scorecard is Intelligencer's All of president-elect Joe Biden's cabinet nominees.


Shikha Dalmia: How Biden can future-proof America's immigration system.

Bruce Gyory: How Biden won: Six hard truths: "Digging into the exit poll data on gender, education, age, and more."

Alex Thompson/Theodoric Meyer: Janet Yellen made millions in Wall Street, corporate speeches.

The Covid-19 Pandemic Surge

Latest map and case count: 20.5 million+ cases (14 day change -5%, total up 1.4 million in last week), 351,068 deaths (flat), 123,614 hospitalized (+10%).


Matthew Chapman: GOP Gov. Kristi Noem called out by federal judge for having "done little" to stop Covid-19 spread.

Sumner Concepcion: WH Covid task force members push back at Trump's bogus claim of inflated death rates.

Dan Diamond: How Trump warped HHS long before Covid-19.

Quint Forgey: Fauci predicts normal life won't return in US before fall 2021: Sounds like another example of him toning down his messaging based on calculations about how much gloom the American people can take. I doubt the old normal will ever return, but sure, by Fall 2021, a new normal for acceptable risk in social and business interactions may be possible. Before that, less so. [PS: Here's a survey of "11 top experts" that predicts "a steady decline in cases by next fall, and back to normal in a few years": Here's how the pandemic finally ends.]

German Lopez: Everyone failed on Covid-19: "The US's coronavirus epidemic is an American failure, not solely a Trump or Republican one." That may be the most general truth, but Trump, Pence, Kushner, and a long list of other Republicans distinctively stamped the mass failure. Also, note that nearly everything that Congress did to lessen the impact of the shutdown and help masses of people through the crisis was driven by Democrats, and often obstructed by Republicans. And while deep biases, like promotion of business needs over everything else, also affected Democratic officials, Republicans were more single-mindedly devoted to that creed, partly because they their contempt for most Americans allowed them to ignore the health and security implications of their preferred policies. Another factor is Republicans' unique fear and ignorance of science. Scientists and public policy wonks have been studying and developing countermeasures for pandemics at least since the 1990s, so when this one hit, public health officials had a good idea what to do. Their success around the world correlates directly with political systems which followed their advice. America's federal system, its long subordination to business interests, and our deeper commitment to individualism, made fighting the pandemic harder here than in most other countries, but you can go back to any date and find political choices that made the situation worse or could have helped. And nearly always you will find Republicans doing the wrong things. Even if you look at the purple map here which purports to show that "Every state has too many Covid-19 cases per capita," the only two states that aren't maximum purple are Hawaii and Vermont.

Anna North: Elected Congress member Luke Letlow has died of Covid-19: "The Louisiana Republican is the first Congress member or member-elect to die from the disease." He was 41. Also note:

Brian Resnick: The worst idea of 2020: "Natural herd immunity" as a pandemic relief strategy.

Rachel Roubein: Trump misses 20 million Covid shot target.

Waler Shapiro: The importance of brutal honesty in this pandemic winter.

Michael D Shear/Maggie Haberman/Noah Weiland/Sharon LaFraniere/Mark Mazzetti: Trump's focus as the pandemic raged: What would it mean for him? Didn't Trump say that after the election Covid-19 would drop out of the news? Maybe he just meant nobody important would talk about it anymore? Indeed, he hasn't said a word. You might take that as further evidence of how extreme his narcissism is.

David Wallace-Wells: America's vaccine rollout is already a disaster. Big problem here is that only a small percentage of the vaccines allotted have actually been administered. A chart in the article works out to about 13.5%. The more current numbers at Bloomberg's vaccine tracker are better, at 32.8% shots used, but still run the risk of vaccine shots expiring unused. By the way, at the moment Kansas is by far the worst state in the nation, with 17.1% of shots used (compared to Mississippi at 25.3% and Alaska at 26.7%, or for that matter Guam at 22.0%). Kansas is also dead last with 0.67% of the population vaccinated (Mississippi has 0.71%, Alaska 2.52%). The Bloomberg stats also go international. The one nation that is far ahead of the pack on vaccination is Israel, with 10% vaccinated. However, see: Oliver Holmes/Hazem Balousha: Palestinians excluded from Israeli Covid vaccine rollout as jabs go to settlers.

Ed Yong: Where year two of the pandemic will take us: "As vaccines roll out, the US will face a choice about what to learn and what to forget."

Around the World

Mike Brand: Why US foreign policy should focus on the root causes of violence.

Michael Crowley/Charlie Savage/Eric Schmitt: Pompeo weighs plan to place Cuba on US terrorism sponsor list: "The move would complicate any effort by the incoming Biden administration to resume President Barack Obama's thaw in relations with Havana."

Jerusalem Demsas: Argentina becomes the first large Latin American country to legalize abortion.

Eric Schmitt: In abrupt reversal of Iran strategy, Pentagon orders aircraft carrier home: "After weeks of escalation and threatening language, the Defense Department is sending mixed messages as the anniversary of the death of an Iranian general nears." A couple days earlier, Schmitt wrote: Pentagon sends more B-52s to Middle East to deter Iranian attacks on US troops. As recently as December 2, Schmitt co-wrote: Trump sought options for attacking Iran to stop its growing nuclear program. More on Iran:

Alex Ward: How military superiority made America less safe: "America's dominance wasn't by happenstance. It was a choice." Interview with Stephen Wertheim, author of Tomorrow the World: The Birth of US Global Supremacy. One interesting thing here is that Wertheim dates the idea of supreme US global power to 1940, before US entry into WWII. Indeed, his short book ends in 1945, with "The Debate That Wasn't," so he doesn't really get into the fateful decision to repurpose the idea of global supremacy as a cudgel in the global class strugle, playing up the threat posed by the Soviet Union and the growth of Communist-led anti-colonial movements.

Other Matters of Interest

Tim Barker: Life Beyond Markets, with Mike Konczal: Interview with Konczal, about his forthcoming book, Freedom From the Market: America's Fight to Liberate Itself From the Grip of the Invisible Hand. [Pub date Jan. 12; I have a copy on order.]

Christopher Ingraham: World's richest men added billions to their fortunes last year as others struggled: "Billionaires have added about $1 trillion to their total net worth since the pandemic began."

Ethan Iverson: Modern Hollywood discovers its jazz 'Soul': Pixar's Christmas release is the best jazz film in a long time. But then, there isn't a lot of competition."

Ian Millhiser: The decline and fall of the American death penalty: "The number of death sentences and executions in the US has fallen off a cliff since the 1990s. 2020 continued that trend." Despite Trump and Barr.

Ellen Nakashima: Microsoft says Russians hacked its network, viewing source code.

Jeffrey St Clair: Roaming charges: It is what it is, but is that all there is? Lots of things, starting with tweets from Thomas Friedman and Paul Krugman opposing "untargeted" $2,000 relief checks. Any other day they'd be complaining that progressives are undermining pragmatic compromises by insisting on ideal solutions. But no one thinks the checks are an ideal solution. The only reason they're on the table is Trump demanded them, and of all the things Trump's willing to go along with, they're not so bad. My own take is that they're not relief (as we normally think of it) but a one-shot experiment with guaranteed income. Sure, some people who get the checks will simply bank them as a hedge against future expenses, but what's wrong with giving people a bit more liquidity? Guaranteed income doesn't stop working when people are able to balance their books; that's actually when it starts making a real difference. Of course, nobody's touting it in those terms. Some other items of note here:

  • "981: the number of people in the US shot and killed by police in 2020." Presumably that includes the one shot and killed by police last week less than two blocks from here, which gave 2020 the record homicide count for Wichita. I expect it will be found justified, and I see no reason to protest such a finding. By the way, two more homicides on Jan. 1 set us on a pace to smash the 2020 record, by a factor of 12.
  • Sketches for US Space Force uniforms and insignia: "They look like uniforms for Nazi school crossing guards."
  • "I was gutted to hear of the death of Barry Lopez, whose Of Wolves and Men and Arctic Dreams exerted a profound, and still lingering, influence on my thinking about the natural world."
  • "On the last day of one of the hottest years on record, featuring some of the most vicious wildfires, hurricanes and cyclones in history, Alaska is about to hit by its strongest storm in more than a century (if not ever)."
  • In lieu of his usual current reading and listening lists, offers lists of "25 best books" and "25 best recordings" (I've heard 24, have 4 A-, most of the rest mid/high B+; I haven't read any of the books, but most look interesting).


Dec 2020