Tuesday, April 30, 2019
Replied to a twitter thread. It seems to have started with Dave
Weigel, who wrote:
To understand Bidenmentum, you've got to have some of the conversations
I had yesterday: Middle-aged women explaining that 2016 showed that
voters won't elect a female president, so they've got to be strategic.
Kathleen Geier wrote:
This is so depressing. Countries like Argentina, Chile, Liberia, and
Taiwan have elected women presidents. Are those countries less sexist
than the US? Just because Hillary Clinton was a weak candidate who
ran a lousy campaign doesn't mean another woman can't win.
Only reason I can think of why significant numbers of voters reject
any woman candidate is that the US has been on a constant war footing
since 1948, and that's seeped deep into our pores; ironically,
overcompensating hawks like H Clinton scare more voters than they
Wrote this up as a proposal for Mike and Ram:
Been kicking around various ideas, and thought this one might be
worth sharing. I've spent a lot of time thinking about a political
book, built around the idea that US history breaks neatly into four
eras: 1800-1860, 1860-1932, 1932-1980, and 1980-2020. Each begins with
a legendary president (Jefferson, Lincoln, FD Roosevelt, Reagan) and
ends with a tragically inept one-termer (Buchanan, Hoover, Carter, and
Trump). (In this regard, one could also cite 1788-1800,
Washington-to-Adams, but that doesn't seem quite long enough to
count. Each era was dominated by a single political party, although
each had two minor breaks for presidents from the other party -- in
three cases two for two terms each (Cleveland and Wilson, Eisenhower
and Nixon, Clinton and Obama); in the 1800-1860 period the Whig party
managed to win two elections with former generals (Harrison and
Taylor), but they both died in office and were succeeded by
exceptionally unpopular VPs (Tyler and Fillmore). Within each era, not
only was one party dominant, but the other party tended to mimic the
dominant party: most obviously, how Eisenhower and Nixon supported and
extended New Deal reforms, while Clinton and Obama willingly gave
ground to the pro-market, small-government Republican agenda. (The
earlier eras are more mixed, partly because the dominant party was
itself evolving. Cleveland, for instance, was more conservative than
the most pro-business Republican of his day, while Wilson was
relatively progressive, admittedly with certain blinders, most
The Reagan-to-Trump era differs from the others in several
respects. The first three eras started with major shifts to the left:
the spread of democracy under Jefferson and Jackson; the end of
slavery with Lincoln; Roosevelt's New Deal. Reagan led a backlash,
aimed at making Americans less equal, at reducing democracy, and at
limiting the rights of most Americans. Although Republicans captured
the levers of power and dominated the public agenda, their program was
never very popular, their winning margins (aside from Reagan's two
elections) slim (twice, at least by actual votes, negative). The eras
subdivide, this one breaking down into three waves as presidential
power (Reagan, Bush, Trump) did their damage, separated by breaks
which allowed the economy to recover (from the first Bush recession of
1992 and the much larger Bush recession of 2008), and the Republicans
to recharge (taking control of Congress in 1994 and 2010, kneecapping
the Democrats from making changes).
My original idea was to start with this framework, then expand on
how Democrats should view 2020 as an epochal, era-ending election, an
opportunity not just to reverse the Reagan-to-Trump tide but to build
a new paradigm for decades to come. A lot of good things fall out of
that perspective. I'm thinking now that I should dial back the
ambition from book to essay length, crank out the essay, try to get it
published somewhere respectable, and see if there's any further
demand. But along the way, I thought of how either of you might help,
then came up with something slightly different. That is to look at the
Reagan-to-Trump era reactionary movement in the broader context of
fascist movements around the world. Also, to lessen my load, and give
this a better chance of actually happening, I propose that you two do
it as a graphic book (Mike writing, Ram illustrating). Maybe I can
contribute some rough ideas, a website, some online notes, like
The immediate trigger for the thought was reading Benjamin Carter
Hett's "The Death of Democracy: Hitler's Rise to Power and the
Downfall of the Weimar Republic." Some descriptions of Hitler can
easily be recast for Trump. Some cannot, but the essential point is
that both are public faces of crazed mass movements which were handed
power by arch-conservative power brokers (the Kochs and Mercers as
much as Hindenburg and his business backers), in both cases
understanding that their privileges can only be sustained if they can
hide behind a political movement preoccupied with hating others. It's
taken some countries much longer to mount a successful fascist
movement than others. Germany in the 1920s could look back on its
humiliating defeat in the Great War and rail against both internal
traitors and the insults of reparations, while imagining that the
extraordinary will of someone like Hitler could triumph, restoring
Germany's greatness among nations. Fascists could build on lesser
grounds, as Mussolini did in Italy. Even in England and France, small
groups felt cheated and spawned lesser fascist movements.
It was even harder to get a fascist movement started in the US, but
in the 1930s there was a clique of conservatives who harbored the
fantasy, and they started to build as the Cold War lent their
anti-union politics an air of respectability. As Robert Paxton argues
in "The Anatomy of Fascism," fascists start out as the public face of
oligarchic powers frustrated by having to deal with democracy. That
turns out to be a pretty apt description of Trump. And it's worth
noting that GW Bush made his own fortune working as the front man for
the oil magnates who owned the Texas Rangers. Also that as Reagan's
acting career washed up, he made his living as a shill for General
Electric (see Kim Phillips-Fein's "Invisible Hands" for more on GE's
hardcore opposition to FDR's New Deal). The difference between Hitler
and America's leading fascists is that Hitler moved beyond being a
front, seizing power and pursuing his own delusions, driving Germany
to utter ruin, whereas the damage wrought by the American troika have
yet to rebound against their masters.
Thinking along these lines, I was reminded of Marx's quip about
Napoleon III in 1848: "history repeats itself, first as tragedy and
then as farce." That seems about right for contrasting Trump to Hitler
and Mussolini, although one might not want to tempt fate given that
the full bill for electing Trump has yet to be paid. Also one doesn't
want to make light of the many terrible things that Trump as already
done. Still, I see no reason why we can't present him as a buffoon as
well as vile. Indeed, that's likely to be where the graphic form is
most effective. Nor should we refrain from treating Hitler and
Mussolini as farcical characters. Maybe if people had realized then
how ridiculous they were, they might have been stopped before they
could devastate so much of the world. Stopping Trump is still an
Monday, April 29, 2019
Expanded blog post,
Music: current count 31440  rated (+40), 255  unrated (-1).
Last Monday of the month, so time to unveil
April Streamnotes, including
this week's subset below. Five Mondays this month, so the totals are up
handsomely from the two previous four-Monday months. Weekly rated count
is up a bit, but that's partly because I found five records I failed to
record grades for recently. Some of those bookkeeping errors probably
caused me to log 29-album weeks (four so far this year) instead of 30,
long my standard for a productive week.
Worth noting that all three of this week's new non-jazz A-list albums
here also placed high on
Phil Overeem's latest list (numbers 4, 6, and 20). For what little
it's worth, I wrote those before seeing Overeem's list, but not before
Dan Weiss praised them on Facebook (although I think I first heard of
Billie Eilish from
Those tips help make up for the frustration of declining awareness
I've been feeling. Although I still keep a
music tracking file, I've stopped
making any systematic effort to find and list prospects, leaving me
with little concept of what to search out next. As a result, I veer
off on arbitrary tangents, as when I found a piece called
A Guide to Drexciya's Futuristic Electro. I really liked Drexciya's
Journey of the Deep Sea
Dweller, Vol. I back in 2012, so that seemed worth pursuing.
But it certainly fell far short of a plan.
Finally, a link that makes more sense to list here than in yesterday's
Rachel Syme: Vince Aletti's Obsessive Collection of Seminal Fashion
Magazinse. Vince was one of the first people I met when I moved
to New York City in 1977, so it's good to see him again, even older,
as we all are.
New records reviewed this week:
- Kevin Abstract: Arizona Baby (2019, Question Everything/RCA): [r]: B+(**)
- Juan Álamo & Marimjazzia: Ruta Panoramica (2016 , Summit): [cd]: B+(**)
- Anderson .Paak: Ventura (2019, Aftermath/12 Tone Music): [r]: B+(***)
- Brittany Anjou: Enamigo Reciprokataj (2015-16 , Origin): [cd]: B+(**)
- Seamus Blake: Guardians of the Heart Machine (2017 , Whirlwind): [r]: B+(***)
- Club D'Elf: Night Sparkles (Live) (2011 , Face Pelt): [r]: B+(***)
- Control Top: Covert Contracts (2019, Get Better): [r]: A-
- Cooper Moore/Stephen Gauci: Studio Sessions Vol. 1 (2019, Gaucimusic): [bc]: B+(***)
- Ronnie Cuber: Straight Street (2010 , SteepleChase): [r]: B+(***)
- Billy Eilish: When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go? (2019, Darkroom/Interscope): [r]: A-
- Anat Fort Trio: Colour (2019, Sunnyside): [r]: B+(**)
- Four: There You Go Thinking Again (2018 , Jazz Hang): [cd]: B
- Bill Frisell/Thomas Morgan: Epistrophy (2016 , ECM): [r]: B+(*)
- Stephen Gauci/Sandy Ewan/Adam Lane/Kevin Shea: Live at the Bushwick Series (2019, Gaucimusic): [bc]: B+(*)
- Lizzo: Cuz I Love You (2019, Nice Life/Atlantic): [r]: A-
- Lisa Maxwell's Jazz Orchestra: Shiny! (2018 , Uncle Marvin Music): [cd]: B+(*)
- Bennett Paster: Indivisible (2018 , self-released): [cd]: B+(*)
- Andrew Rathbun: Character Study (2017 , SteepleChase): [r]: B+(**)
- Eric Reed: Everybody Gets the Blues (2019, Smoke Sessions): [r]: B+(**)
- Steph Richards: Take the Neon Lights (2019, Birdwatcher): [r]: B+(***)
- Dave Scott: In Search of Hipness (2018 , SteepleChase): [r]: B+(*)
- Swindle: No More Normal (2019, Brownswood): [r]: B-
- Trapper Keaper: Meets Tim Berne & Aurora Nealand (2019, Ears & Eyes/Caligola): [cd]: B+(***)
- Cory Weeds Quintet: Live at Frankie's Jazz Club (2019, Cellar Live): [r]: B+(*)
- Walt Weiskopf European Quartet: Worldwide (2019, Orenda): [cd]: A-
Recent reissues, compilations, and vault discoveries:
- Afro-Blue Persuasion: Live at Haight Levels: Volume One (1967 , Tramp): [r]: B+(**)
- Afro-Blue Persuasion: Live at Haight Levels: Volume Two (1967 , Tramp): [r]: B+(**)
- Elecktrokids: Elektroworld (1995 , Clone Classic Cuts): [bc]: B+(**)
- Mark Turner/Gary Foster: Mark Turner Meets Gary Foster (2003 , Capri, 2CD): [cd]: B+(***)
- Bill Cunliffe/Gary Foster: It's About Love (2003, Torii): [r]: B+(***)
- Drexciya: Journey of the Deep Sea Dweller III (1992-97 , Clone Classic Cuts): [bc]: A-
- Drexciya: Journey of the Deep Sea Dweller IV (1992-97 , Clone Classic Cubs): [bc]: B+(***)
- Drexciya: Neptune's Lair (1999, Tresor): [r]: B+(***)
- Drexciya: Grava 4 (2002, Clone): [r]: B+(**)
- Billie Eilish: Don't Smile at Me (2017, Darkroom/Interscope, EP): [r]: B+(***)
Unpacking: Found in the mail last week:
- Greg Abate with the Tim Ray Trio: Gratitude: Stage Door Live @ The Z (Whaling City Sound)
- Brittany Anjou: Enamigo Reciprokataj (Origin)
- Rebecca DuMaine and the Dave Miller Combo: Chez Nous (Summit): June 7
- Satoko Fujii: Stone (Libra): June 7
- The Invisible Party: Shumankind (Chant -18)
- Peter Jensen & DR Big Band: Stand on Your Feet and Fight: Voices of the Danish West Indies (ILK)
- Ellynne Rey: The Birdsong Project (self-released): May 1
- Rent Romus' Life's Blood Ensemble: Side Three: New Work (Edgetone)
- The Richard Shulman Trio: Waltzing out of Town (RichHeart Music): May 11
- Wayne Wallace Latin Jazz Quintet: The Rhythm of Invention (Patois): June 7
- Walt Weiskopf European Quartet: Worldwide (Orenda): May 3
- Cardi B: Invasion of Privacy (2018 , Atlantic) [A-]
- Todd Snider: Cash Cabin Sessions, Vol. 3 (2019, Aimless) [A-]
Sunday, April 28, 2019
Started early and still running late. Having recently read Benjamin
Carter Hett's The Death of Democracy: Hitler's Rise to Power and
the Downfall of the Weimar Republic, I woke up this morning with
the idea of writing something about Trump, Republicans, and Fascism
for today's introduction. Never got close to that. Hett's book is
pretty straight history, but you can find a page here or there where
you could easily gloss in Trump's name for Hitler's. Then you move
onto other pages where Trump fails any comparison, usually by being
too dumb or too lazy. There are also big differences between the
Nazis and the Republicans, although differences on race, foreigners,
unions, and military muscle are insignificant. The biggest one is
that the Nazis actually had their own goon squad that could go out
and physically attack their suspected enemies, whereas Republicans
only wish they could do that. Still, the key point about Germany in
1932 was supposedly sober conservatives were so desperate to squash
the left -- indeed, any trace of popular government, of democracy --
that they were willing to hand power over to a psycho like Hitler
and his vicious gang of followers. Republicans seem happy to do the
same thing here in America, for the same reasons, and with the same
obliviousness to consequences.
I should note somewhere that former Senator
Richard Lugar (R-IN)
died last week. Back in the 1980s he was the model of how a Republican
politician could straddle moderate urban politics (he was mayor of
Indianapolis) and the Reagan reaction, which for a time helped make
the latter seem more innocuous and palatable. He was finally devoured
by the right, purged in a primary by an opponent so extreme that the
Democrats were able to (temporarily) pick up the seat. I never felt
any particular fondness for Lugar, but I could understand why people
respected him. Even his breed of Republican is now a thing of the
Also noted that historian
David Brion Davis has died. His 1967 book The Problem of Slavery
in Western Culture greatly affected the way pretty much everyone
understood the history of slavery in the Americas. I've often thought
I should check out his later books, especially the ones that extended
his study into the 19th century. I learned of his death from a cranky
Corey Robin note, which I decided not to bother with below. Here's
a more useful (and generous)
Anyhow, this is what the week has to show for itself:
To solve climate change and biodiversity loss, we need a Global Deal for
My brain on cable news: "Tuning into TV's battle to the death."
What's actually on cable these days is a bizarre legalistic death battle.
Cohen, Manafort, Flynn, Butina, Mueller, Giuliani, et al. We aren't
debating whether Trump has been responsible for the deaths of innocents,
because everyone knows that he is -- presidents and collateral damage go
hand in hand. If Trump goes to prison, it will not be for child murder,
but for distributing hush money to silence former mistresses and for
taking bribes and for engaging in back channel machinations with Russia.
Whatever it takes, I suppose, but I have to agree with my cable guy:
there's something unseemly about the means employed.
Fox News is addictive and awful: choirboys gone to seed and women's
dresses with weird portholes at the shoulders or at the cleavage. The
anchors jeer smilingly at ideas that any sensible person of generous
mind can see make sense. Quick clips of closed-circuit footage of humans
with darker skin doing bad things are injected into the river of commentary --
mug shots included -- to create little mental firecracker pops of righteous
wrath among the pickup-truck crowd, along with "funny" attacks on progressive
causes by rightist comedians who love steak and country music. Fox &
Friends is a hot mess of clean living and white-right American
self-deception, and I can't watch it for very long without feeling
queasy. But it's an easy mark.
Trump's new defense of his Charlottesville comments is incredibly
false. Related: Allegra Kirkland:
Whitewash: Trump takes new approach to sanitizing Charlottesville
The UAE's seedy influence operations are a footnote to the Mueller
Hedge-fund ownership cost Sears workers their jobs. Now they're fighting
back. Seems like lots (damn near all of ) the companies you read about
in bankruptcy first passed through a phase where private equity operators
first bought the company with its own debt than stripped assets and paid
themselves "management fees." Maybe if they were lucky they'd be able to
sell the carcass off, but current bankruptcy law favors creditors over
employees and customers, finishing the liquidation while leaving the
public worse off. Our think tanks need to think about this situation,
and come up with new bankruptcy laws that allow companies to survive
such malign ownership, preferably under employee ownership, with debt
loads reduced to levels which allow the companies to carry on. Other
regulations could help, but just changing bankruptcy law would shift
the incentives dramatically.
Coalition airstrikes in Raqqa killed at least 1,600 civilians, more than
10 times US tally, report finds.
Tom Engelhardt: Publisher and introduction writer at
The roots of Trumpian agitprop: Hint: article namechecks Leni
Riefenstahl, as well as Susan Sontag writing about Riefenstahl.
Spain election: socialist party PSOE declared winner: live update
blog; PSOE is expected to be able to form a coalition with the further
leftist party Podemos; the far-right party Vox surged, but only wound
up with 24 MPs (6.8%), at the expense of more mainstream conservatives
(PP is down from 137 to 66).
The terrifying potential of the 5G network: "The future of wireless
technology holds the promise of total connectivity. But it will also be
especially susceptible to cyberattacks and surveillance." Guess who else
is selling snooping gear? Richard Silverstein:
Israel and the selling of the surveillance state.
Our enemies are the same people: San Diego synagogue shooter inspired
by New Zealand anti-Muslim massacre.
White identity politics is about more than racism: Interview with
Ashley Jardina, author of White Identity Politics..
Rich guys are most likely to have no idea what they're talking about,
Capitalism in crisis: US billionaires worry about the survival of the
system that made them rich.
The uncanny power of Greta Thunberg's climate-change rhetoric.
The climate-change movement feels powerful today because it is
politicians -- not the people gluing themselves to trucks -- who seem
deluded about reality. Thunberg says that all she wants is for adults
to behave like adults, and to act on the terrifying information that
is all around us.
Related: Stewart Lee:
Why Greta Thunberg is now my go-to girl.
Armpits, white ghettos and contempt: "Who really despises the American
heartland?" Opens with a sidebar on Stephen Moore (Trump's Fed pick),
Moore is an indefensible choice on many grounds. Even if he hadn't
shown himself to be extraordinarily misogynistic and have an ugly
personal history, his track record on economics -- always wrong,
never admitting error or learning from it -- is utterly disqualifying.
Survival of the wrongest: "Evidence has a well-known liberal bias."
Much more on Stephen Moore.
The great Republican abdication: "A party that no longer believes
in American values." Wait! Aren't greed, hubris, and desperate schemes
to rig every contest the ultimate American values? Those are clearly
the hallmarks of the recent Republican Party, and those are traits
one can question and denounce. But calling them un-American misses a
big part of their appeal.
To stop global catastrophe, we must believe in humans again: "We have
the technology to prevent climate crisis. But now we need to unleash mass
resistance too -- because collective action does work." Edited extract
from his new book, Falter: Has the Human Game Begun to Play Itself
Out?. He also pleaded for mass resistance recently in
Glaciers and Arctic ice are vanishing. Time to get radical before it's
Paul Mozur/Jonah M Kessel/Melissa Chan:
Made in China, exported to the world: the surveillance state.
Trump's Fed pick wrote that women should be banned from March Madness:
Well, actually he's written and said a lot of stupid things, not least
on matters more germane to his appointment -- not that whether he's an
asshole is irrelevant. As for Trump's other pick of a political hack for
a Fed seat, see: Li Zhou:
It's official: Herman Cain is not going to be on the Fed. Zhou also
Young voters want more action on climate change -- even if it hurts the
Gabby Orr/Andrew Restuccia:
How Stephen Miller made immigration personal.
Ben Protess/William K Rashbaum/Maggie Haberman:
How Michael Cohen turned against President Trump.
Obama's original sin: "A new insider account reveals how the Obamas
administration's botched bailout deal not only reinforced neoliberal
Clintonism, but also foreshadowed an ongoing failure to fulfill campaign
promises." Review of Reed Hundt: A Crisis Wasted: Barack Obama's
Defining Decisions. Reminds me that perhaps the first of those
decisions was letting Clinton factotum John Podesta run the transition
team, which initially penciled in such pivotal figures as Tim Geithner
and Lawrence Summers.
Most Americans believe Trump lied to them, but think impeachment is a
bad idea. Related: Ella Nilsen:
Democrats' impeachment dilemma, explained.
Unanswered questions in the Mueller report point to a sprawling Russian
Darren Samuelsohn/Andrew Desiderio/Kyle Cheney:
'This is risky': Trump's thirst for Mueller revenge could land him in
trouble. Related: Andrew Restuccia:
Mueller report exposes diminishing power of Trump denials: "The
report has reignited a media debate about how seriously to take the
White House's statements of fact."
Eric Schmitt/David E Sanger/Maggie Haberman:
In push for 2020 election security, top official was warned: don't tell
The trigger presidency: "How shock jock comedy gave way to Donald
Trump's Republican Party.
Trump's high-stakes subpoena battle with House Democrats,
Trump lets loose stunning falsehood that doctors, mothers 'execute'
How the War on Terror is being written: Starts on Guantánamo, ends
with a long list of links to source documents. Midway, Taub notes:
The year after [James] Mitchell published his memoir [Enhanced
Interrogation], it was cited in a lengthy
report by Physicians for Human Rights, which argues that the
interrogation program represented "one of the gravest breaches of
medical ethics" since the Nazi medical experiments during the
Second World War.
These documents -- along with contemporaneous reports and books
by investigative journalists, academics, lawyers, and human-rights
advocates -- make up an evolving draft of post-9/11 history. With
each passing year, more details surface in memoirs, lawsuits, and
military commissions, and the historical record comes into sharper
focus. Millions of pages have come to light, and millions more remain
classified. But, seventeen years into the war on terror, a core,
uncomfortable fact remains: people on the receiving end of classified
security programs -- from drone strikes to renditions and interrogations --
become aware of the outlines of secret U.S. national-security laws and
practices long before American citizens have any clarity or say about
what is being done in their name.
Guantánamo's darkest secret.
Mueller prosecutors: Trump did obstruct justice.
Democrats want to challenge Trump's foreign policy in 2020. They're still
working out how. Surprisingly little here, or maybe not given how
readily Democrats have lined up behind the common consensus policies in
place since shortly after WWII. Consider "the four main pillars of a
progressive foreign policy (so far)":
- Confront climate change
- Democracy promotion and anti-corruption
- Strengthening alliances
- Rebuilding America
I would have started off with negotiated demilitarization: securing
treaties all around the world that resolve conflicts and reduce the
military posture of all nations (especially the US). My second point
would be to expand "democracy promotion and anti-corruption" to lean
left, to support more power for workers and for women, while accepting
that capital rights need to be limited and regulated. On trade, I'd
work to limit (or in many cases eliminate) rents based on intellectual
property. This in turn should lead to greater sharing of best practices
in science and technology, which would help with problems like climate
change, loss of biodiversity, etc. I'd also like to see some sort of
international framework for dealing with migration. Democrats have done
a miserable job of formulating foreign policy due to the old colonial
mentality where they've never seen the rest of the world's peoples as
our equals, and never recognized that our welfare is co-dependent on
the world's. Another piece on trying to change Democratic strategy:
When will Washington end the Forever War?.
Sri Lanka suffered from decades of violence before the Easter Sunday
bombings. Related: Samanth Subramanian:
After the Easter bombings, Sri Lanka grapples with its history of
We're not hearing enough from 2020 candidates about things they could do
Joe Biden is the Hillary Clinton of 2020: "Americans want outsiders,
reformers, and fresh faces, not politicians with decades of baggage."
Pretty much all you need to know about Biden in 2020, but not the only
thing written this week. E.g.:
Anita Hill deserves a real apology. Why couldn't Joe Biden offer
Joe Biden's policies are as troubling as his inappropriate
Joe Biden's long record supporting the war on drugs and mass incarceration,
Joe Biden is the Hillary Clinton of 2020 -- and it won't end well this
What Joe Biden hasn't owned up to about Anita Hill.
The 2020 candidates smell blood: "The reason so many Democrats are
running is they think Biden won't survive."
The field in 2016 was so small not because politicians with national
aspirations didn't exist, but because they thought Clinton -- with her
name recognition, financial resources, party relationships, high early
polling numbers, and general next-in-line aura -- was inevitable. She
cleared the field of most competition because other mainstream candidates
knew she would win (and non-mainstream Bernie figured she would too).
Biden is something more like a 2016 Jeb Bush: a weak establishment
favorite whose time might be past and -- should voters deprioritize his
top perceived strength, electability -- who could soon face the wolves.
Newell also wrote:
Biden has successfullyl goaded Trump, which is exactly what he needs to
do. One thing many Democrats will be looking for in primary season
is the candidate who most effectively articulates their rage over Trump,
and one of the best ways to do that is to get under his thin skin.
How Joe Biden could win the 2020 Democratic Primary: Put a lot of
weight on his initial poll lead, and hope nothing goes wrong.
Is Joe Biden 'electable' or not? Thank God, nobody seems to know.
The Democratic establishment should chill out about Bernie Sanders.
As Sanders continues to rate highly in national polls, many longtime party
stalwarts are palpably agitated over a blend of personal grievances and
overblown political and policy concerns. . . .
As a personal matter, the establishment's response is understandable.
Sanders, an independent Vermont senator, tends to portray the institutional
Democratic Party as corrupt and relentlessly sows suspicion about the
motives and integrity of everyone who disagrees with him. He treats the
catastrophe of the 2016 election as a deserved rebuke to party leaders.
And he brushes aside mountains of practical realities that others have
spent years dealing with.
But blowing up over this makes no sense. The whole point of a party
establishment is to be cynical, detached, practical-minded, and realistic.
If they assess Sanders's actual track record -- rather than his personally
insulting rhetoric -- they'd discover a fairly unremarkable blue-state
liberal who's good at winning elections and has extensive experience with
the disappointing realities of the legislative process.
Relevant here: Peter Daou:
I was Bernie's biggest critic in 2016 -- I've changed my mind: "It
would be an epic act of self-destruction for Democrats to try to hobble
his campaign." Let's see if I can explain this in simple terms. During
the Reagan-to-Trump era, Democrats have been preoccupied with raising
money (cultivating donor support). Some, like Obama and the Clintons,
have even done a good job of this, largely by promising that they'd do
an even better job for business than the Republicans would -- something
the stats clearly support. Meanwhile, the Democrats have let their base
go to hell, and found their support eroding, even as Republicans have
even less to offer. What Sanders is doing is rebuilding the Democratic
Party base, by appealing to the people Democrats have been screwing for
decades now. Attacking Sanders risks driving this base away, if not to
the Republicans then to a third party or nothing. Sanders is doing the
party a huge favor by not running as an independent. The party needs to
reciprocate by welcoming him and his voters. They might even find, like
Daou, that they'll learn something.
Brexit is not just a tragedy for Britain.
Saturday, April 27, 2019
Fixed dinner for four last night. Wasn't planned, except iasmuch as I
bought a pound of hamburger thinking I'd make meatloaf, then postponed
it after my wife stuck the meat in the freezer. I already had a pound of
ground lamb there, and keep everything else I would need as staples. So
when I announced I'd fix it Friday, my wife invited a couple of friends
over. I don't normally make any extra dishes for just the two of us --
the meatloaf baked with some root vegetables, so makes a nice comforty
meal-for-two, with leftovers for sandwiches. But with two more guests,
I figured I should add a little something. I decided to limit myself to
things I could fix without shopping. Came up with this:
- Meatloaf (beef + lamb, with onion, green bell pepper, garlic, a can
of tomatoes, two eggs, parmesan cheese, some spices) with coarsely chopped
root vegetables (yukon potatoes, parsnip, a sweet potato).
- Baked beans topped with bacon (two cans of Van Camps, flavored with
mustard, catsup, worcestshire, brown sugar, maple syrup, also threw in
a bit of Chinese bean sauce).
- Cut green beans (a frozen bag), microwaved and added to a skillet
with butter, shallots (two chopped), ham (two slices, diced fine),
roasted garlic, a chopped scallion, sliced almonds, and a splash of
sesame oil. (Thought about adding parmesan, but don't think I did.)
- Roaster butternut squash soup.
- Chocolate mousse for dessert.
I made the soup several days before. I thought it was pretty tasty,
but I mostly make soups for Laura, and she didn't seem much interested
in it. The other choices were mostly dictated by trying to get rid of
things from the freezer and the pantry. I first tried another bag of cut
green beans, but after I screwed up and boiled the pot dry, I decided
they weren't worth saving, and grabbed another bag. The canned beans
were old too: we threw out several ancient cans last week, so that got
me thinking I should use what I had left. The bacon was OK, but running
out of time. I meant to include carrots, but had to throw the few I had
out (as well as most of the rest of the produce drawer).
The first two were old family recipes (the beans from my first wife)
that I had fiddled with over the years. The green beans was pure improv.
Earlier I had the idea of making creamed corn, but gave that up when I
only found small packages of corn in the freezer. (The recipe, of course,
frowned on using frozen corn, but I think I've used it before.) The cream
got me to thinking about chocolate mousse, as one of the few really good
desserts I could whip up in just a few minutes.
The chocolate mousse was a last-minute idea, started just before the
guests arrived. I had several opened packages of chocolate in the fridge,
and found 4 oz. of 70% bittersweet there.
I had a guest whisk the melted chocolate/butter and egg yolks, and
they wound up lumpy. I didn't pay enough attention to whipping either
the egg yolks or the cream, and both came out less airy than ideal.
The result was kind of lumpy and soupy, although the taste was there.
It's just that you had to chew it to break the lumps open, but that
turned out to be surprisingly satisfying.
Monday, April 22, 2019
Expanded blog post,
Music: current count 31400  rated (+29), 256  unrated (+4).
Seems like pretty much everything is a struggle these days. My most
common complaint is that I'm getting sick and tired of not being able
to do things right. A typical example was trying to repair a screen door
lock. A nylon washer disappeared, and has proven impossible to replace.
I bought some things I thought I might be able to use, then lost them.
Bought some more, and turned out they were too thick, and hole was too
small. I tried drilling out the hole, and destroyed the washer. Finally
reassembled the door handle without the washer. The set screw is hard
to get a grip on. It will no doubt fall apart again in a matter of days,
at best a couple weeks. I have a bunch of other things that are falling
apart, many because I didn't do a good enough job building them in the
On the other hand, I have gotten a few things done. The new pantry
shelf unit is painted and bolted in place, although we haven't really
put it to use yet. That's waiting a second pantry improvement. I built
a rather neat storage unit, then screwed up hanging the door so it
never closed correctly (or at least easily). It finally dawned on me
that if I could shave a quarter inch off the bottom surface, it should
close without having to change the hinges. All that's left to do there
is to rehang the door, and see whether the theory worked. Tomorrow.
At least I finally got my computers moved, making my workspace much
more comfortable. Still haven't done the next step, which is to set up
virtual web servers on the secondary machine, so I can start redesigning
the Robert Christgau and Carola Dibbell websites. I should at least know
what I'm doing there.
Meanwhile, another routine week of music discoveries. Hard part for
me is deciding what to search out. This seems like a typical week with
two weeks of
Christgau picks, further
Phil Overeem's list, and the first
Michael Tatum Downloader's Diary in quite a while. Unfortunately, I
found myself coming up short with their well-considered picks. Instead,
I went with the new Chemical Brothers album (I think someone on the
Expert Witness Facebook group raved about it, but don't recall who),
and a 1979 jazz album reissue that probably showed up in a
Bandcamp Daily list (which I started using a couple weeks back
when I couldn't play Napster).
Also, two rare regrades to from B+(***) to A-, originally reviewed
by streaming but given a few more changes after CDs arrived. People
shouldn't get the idea that all they have to do to get higher grades
is to send me CDs, but they do help in cases where I've held a grade
back due to some minor reservations.
April Streamnotes should be released with next Music Week, on April
29. Currently have 113 records in the draft file, so I'll probably
wind up with 140-150.
New records reviewed this week:
- Art Ensemble of Chicago: We Are on the Edge: A 50th Anniversary Celebration (2018 , Pi, 2CD): [cd]: B+(**)
- The Chemical Brothers: No Geography (2019, Virgin EMI): [r]: A-
- Martin Frawley: Undone at 31 (2019, Merge): [r]: B+(***)
- Ahmed Ag Kaedy: Akaline Kidal (2019, Sahel Sounds): [r]: B+(**)
- Salif Keita: Un Autre Blanc (2018 , Naive): [r]: B+(***)
- Khalid: Suncity (2018, RCA, EP): [r]: B+(*)
- Khalid: Free Spirit (2019, RCA): [r]: B+(***)
- Larry Koonse: New Jazz Standards Vol. 4 (2019, Summit): [cd]: B
- Joachim Kühn: Melodic Ornette Coleman: Piano Works XIII (2018 , ACT): [r]: B+(*)
- Russ Lossing: Changes (2018 , SteepleChase): [r]: B+(***)
- Russ Lossing: Motian Music (2019, Sunnyside): [r]: B+(**)
- Reba McEntire: Stronger Than the Truth (2019, Big Machine): [r]: B+(*)
- Sam Ospovat: Ride Angles (2018 , Skirl): [cd]: B+(**)
- Hama Sankare: Ballébé: Calling All Africans (2018, Clermont Music): [r]: B+(***)
- Hama Sankare: Niafunke (2019, Clermont Music): [r]: B+(***)
- Silk Road Assassins: State of Ruin (2019, Planet Mu): [r]: B+(*)
- Marcos Silva: Brasil: From Head to Toe (2019, Green Egg): [cd]: B
- Solange: When I Get Home (2019, Saint/Columbia): [r]: B+(*)
- Spellling: Mazy Fly (2019, Sacred Bones): [r]: B+(**)
- Sunflower Bean: King of the Dudes (2019, Mom + Pop, EP): [r]: B+(**)
Recent reissues, compilations, and vault discoveries:
- Infinite Spirit Music: Live Without Fear (1979 , Jazzman): [r]: A-
- Live at Raul's (1979 , Steady Boy): [r]: B+(*)
- Onda De Amor: Synthesized Brazilian Hits That Never Were (1984-94) (1984-94 , Soundway): [bc]: B+(**)
- Weaponize Your Sound (2019, Optimo Music): [bc]: B+(**)
- Salif Keita: The Mansa of Mali: A Retrospective (1978-94 , Mango): [r]: B+(***)
- Russ Lossing: Dreamer (2000, Double Time): [r]: B+(**)
- Russ Lossing/Ed Schuller/Paul Motian: As It Grows (2002 , Hatology): [r]: B+(**)
- Russ Lossing: All Things Arise (2005 , Hatology): [r]: B+(**)
- Timosaurus: I Love You More Than Yesterday (2011, self-released): [bc]: B+(**)
Grade (or other) changes:
- Hiljaisuus: Kuzu (2017 , Astral Spirits/Aerophonic): [cd]: was: B+(***) A-
- Matthew Shipp Trio: Signature (2018 , ESP-Disk): [cd]: was B+(***) A-
Unpacking: Found in the mail last week:
- The Campfire Flies: Sparks Like Litle Stars (OverPop Music)
- Mark Dresser Seven: Ain't Nothing but a Cyber Coup & You (Clean Feed): May 10
- Four: There You Go Thinking Again (Jazz Hang)
- Bennett Paster: Indivisible (self-released): May 3
- Trapper Keeper: Meets Tim Berne & Aurora Nealand (Ears & Eyes)
- Mark Turner/Gary Foster: Mark Turner Meets Gary Foster (Capri): May 17
- The United States Air Force Band: The Jazz Heritage Series: 2019 Radio Broadcasts (self-released)
Sunday, April 21, 2019
Let's start off with a range of reactions to the release (with
extensive redactions) of the final report of Special Prosecutor Robert
The Mueller report, explained in 500 words: Fair to start with this
executive summary of the report itself, but this falls far short of its
intent ("everything you wanted to know . . . but detailed as briefly as
possible"), mostly by not examining the context or process. One thing
I've long wondered about was to what extent low-level operatives in
Trump's (and his PAC allies') cyber operations were aware of let alone
had contacts with the Russian operatives who worked on Trump's behalf.
Even if they didn't explicitly coordinate, they very likely built on
and reinforced each other's work. Mueller seems to have taken a top-down
approach, looking at a few suspicious meetings, but it's not clear that
he did any investigation of the campaign staff most competent to actually
collude (not just with the Russians but with other foreign or nominally
independent organizations). Mueller may have had narrow legal reasons
for limiting his focus, but it would have been helpful to spell them
out. One big problem with the American political system is that a lot
of what campaigns -- both raising money and spending it -- do may not
technically be illegal but stikes me (and probably most people) as
Scott R Anderson, et al. (long list of contributors at
What Mueller found on Russia and on obstruction: a first analysis.
Why was Trump so afraid of the Mueller investigation? We may never know.
Indeed. Maybe, as the author implies, he had things to hide that Mueller
didn't uncover. Maybe he just couldn't stand the pressure of being picked
apart by investigators whose ambitions and/or biases could result in him
being framed? Trump knows as well as anyone how the system can be rigged.
The only thing you can be sure of is that Trump's word on what happened is
Five critical takeaways from the Mueller report.
Trump will be attacking the 'Crazy Mueller Report' for the rest of his
Alvin Chang/Javier Zarracina:
The Mueller report redactions, explaind in 4 charts: Total redacted
content: 7.25%. Most heavily redacted were Russian "Active Measures"
Social Media Campaign (46%), Russian Hacking (23%), and Prosecution and
Declination Decisions (31%).
Neal Katyal on whether the Mueller report went far enough: Interview
with a law professor who helped "draft the special-counsel regulations"
after Ken Starr's protracted effort to crucify Bill Clinton. Katyal says:
I would say three people's colors have been revealed by this report. We
have learned Mueller's reputation is real. We have learned Trump's
disregard for the truth and the rule of law is real. And we have learned
Barr has become a total Trumpian Attorney General.
The Seth Rich conspiracy theory needs to end now: "The Mueller report
confirms that the late DNC staffer had absolutely nothing to do with leaked
emails later shared by WikiLeaks."
George T Conway III:
Trump is a cancer on the presidency. Congress should remove him.
EJ Dionne Jr:
Mueller's report is the beginning, not the end.
The hustlers and swindlers of the Mueller report.
Susan B Glasser:
The Mueller report won't end Trump's presidency, but it sure makes him
Robert Mueller did not merely reject the Trump-Russia conspiracy theories.
He obliterated them.
9 ways the media blew it in its 'Russiagate' coverage.
Does the Mueller report exonerate Trump? I asked 12 legal experts.
Confused about who's who in the Mueller report? Start here.
The best defense of Trump is still a damning indictment: "The Mueller
report's defense of Trump: exculpatory incompetence, misplaced rage."
The problem with impeachment. Despite the nesting, let's put the
impeachment eggs in this one basket:
I skipped over the stories of various politicians calling for
impeachment (or not). I basically agree with Rubin (and Pelosi): as long
as impeachment is a partisan divide, there's no way to do it, and
trying detracts from other efforts to expose Trump. Still, it doesn't
hurt to rattle that sword now and then, especially as its futility
is really an indictment of the Republicans protecting Trump. In the
long run, people need to think about better ways of limiting abuse
of presidential power. I think it should be possible for Congress
to overturn arbitrary Trump orders like his border emergency and
Yemen War support, to pick two recent examples, without having to
muster enough support to also override his veto -- especially given
that we have an electoral system which lets someone win a 4-year
term with as little support as Trump had in 2016.
7 times the Mueller report caught Sean Spicer and Sarah Sanders lying
The obstruction case against Trump that Barr tried to hide.
In the Mueller report, Erik Prince funds a covert effort to obtain
Clinton's e-mails from a foreign state.
It's official: House Democrats subpoena the full, unredacted Mueller
The Mueller report's biggest mystery: "What did Mueller find out about
Trump associates and email leaks?"
James Risen/Robert Mackey/Trevor Aaronson:
Annotating special counsel Robert Mueller's redacted report.
Five questions that still need to be answered in the Mueller report.
How Barr's excerpts compare to the Mueller report's findings.
Mitt Romney is "sickened" by the Trump administration's "dishonesty" after
reading Mueller report.
Liberals sold their souls to the war machine on Russia.
Don McGahn not listening to Donald Trump doesn't absolve the President
of a crime.
Peter Van Buren:
Mueller's investigation is missing one thing: a crime:
Almost everything Mueller has, the perjury and lying cases, are crimes
he created through the process of investigating. He's Schrodinger's Box:
the infractions only exist when he tries to look at them.
On the other hand, a lot of things that aren't really prosecutable
crimes look and smell bad. Politicians lie about them because they
know this, and are trying to avoid exposing their faults.
I originally figured I'd try to write up my take on this, but at
this point I'm too exhausted (not to mention disgusted).
Some scattered links this week:
Nobody knows anything about 'electability': Article runs with Biden's
picture up top, since pundits would much rather talk about his "electability"
than his policy views or track record, but touches on others, noting that
"they're making lots of dubious assumptions."
All this glib talk about electability has a cost. It leads commentators,
often implicitly, to give "electable" candidates a pass when their policy
views are fuzzy or flat-out wrong. So what should journalists do? It's
simple: Spend less time discussing which candidates can win the presidency
and more time discussing what they'd do if they actually won.
The unlawful ambitions of Donald Trump's immigration policy.
Nearly 100,000 Pentagon whistleblower complaints have been silenced.
Andrew Yang's plan to take on opioids: decriminalize heroin and fentanyl.
America's coup efforts in Venezuela enter a frightening new phase.
Interior Dept. opens ethics investigation of its new chief, David
Bernhardt. That didn't take long, although few things could be
Trump administration announces new measures against Cuba. Especially
clever is the line about Cuba expanding "its malign influence and
ideological imperialism across the region." Another example of the
recent fashion of attacking the left by using the same language the
left has traditionally used about the right. Also: Gregory Weeks:
The US is thinking of invading Venezuela. That's unlikely to lead to
democracy. And: Francisco Toro:
Pompeo reaches the dead end of Trump's Venezuela policy, and
With US military action, Venezuela could become the Libya of the
Related: Alex Horton:
Trump soured relations in Latin America. China and Russia have welcomed
Half of England is owned by less than 1% of the population. Next up:
So 1% of the people own half of England. Inheritance tax reform could fix
The dangerous bullying of Ilhan Omar. Related:
Ilhan Omar's deeply American message.
An art historian explains the tough decisions in rebuilding Notre
David D Kirkpatrick:
Trump endorses an aspiring Libyan strongman, reversing policy. Maybe
when he saw the memo he just misread the name (Khalifa Hifter)?
CBO: over 1 million Americans have become uninsured since 2016.
Bernie Sanders's Fox News town hall wasn't a debate. Bernie won anyway.
Marijuana legalization is very popular.
7 winners from the first big presidential fundraising reports:
After sections on Sanders, Harris, and Buttagieg: "Donald Trump is
set to raise tons of cash while Democrats battle each other." No
self-funding this time around. He's back to cash in.
The false choice between helping Notre Dame and helping poor people.
Republican strategist Karl Rove says Bernie Sanders could beat Trump
in 2020: Much of this is based on Sanders' performance in facing
a Fox-hosted town hall, warning his fellow right-wing activists that
"beating Sanders by attacking his democratic socialist views 'won't
be as easy as Republicans may think.'" Still, he's trying:
However, the Republican strategist wasn't completely glowing in his
analysis of the Democrat, arguing in his Wall Street Journal piece,
"Such platitudes go only so far in masking what drives Mr. Sanders'
philosophy: resentment, grievance, and a desire to take from those
who have and redistribute the wealth, all to expand government. He
may describe socialism in benign terms, but he regularly drops his
guard, opening himself up to devastating counterpunches."
I started to compile a list of recent right-wing books, noticing
a trend of trying to paint Democrats as resentful, embittered, and
vindictive -- traits that sure sound to me like the hate mongering
that has bent the right-wing base so far out of shape and elected
demagogues like Trump. Some examples, to give you a flavor of how
desperate right-wing propagandists have become: Noah Rothman's
Unjust: Social Justice and the Unmaking of America; Derek
Hunter's Outrage, Inc.: How the Liberal Mob Ruined Science,
Journalism, and Hollywood, and Arthur C Brooks' Love Your
Enemies: How Decent People Can Save America From the Culture of
Contempt. Those titles (with minor tweaks) could easily have
been used for books critiquing the right. That right-wingers have
adopted them shows that they recognize that their credibility has
Who are the real terrorists in the Mideast?
American history for Truthdiggers: Vietnam, a US tragedy: Number 29
in the author's series recapping American history, starting in 1607 with
Original sin. I've always found this history interesting, both
for what it tells us about where we came from, and why we keep making
the same mistakes over and over again, but I've never felt like beating
myself up over the sins of my ancestors. On the other hand, having
grown up and lived through Vietnam, I feel no sympathy whatsoever for
anyone who refuses to acknowledge that the American War in Vietnam
was anything less than a colossal mistake. Still:
It is the war that never dies. Vietnam, the very word shrouded with
extraordinary meaning in the American lexicon. For some it represents
failure; for others guilt; for still more, anger that the war could
have and should have been won. Americans are still arguing about this
war, once the nation's longest. For those who lived through it -- the
last war the U.S. fought partly with draftees -- it was almost
impossible not to take sides; to be pro-war or anti-war became a
social and political identity unto itself. This tribal split even
reached into the ranks of military veterans, as some joined antiwar
movements and others remained vociferously sure that the war needed
to be fought through to victory. Indeed, today, even the active-duty
U.S. military officer corps is rent over assessment of the Vietnam
I've been reading recently about how the reaction against Germany's
defeat (most notoriously the "stab-in-the-back" myth) in 1918 fueled
the rise of Nazism in Germany. The same thing has happened with the US
right and Vietnam, leading conservatives (dedicated as ever to keeping
a social order which raises the rich up and beats the poor down) more
often than not to wrap themselves up in militarist myths of past and
future martial glory. Nor is Vietnam the only war that those invested
in "America's war machine" refuse to learn from. See: William J Astore:
America's generals haven't learned anything from Iraq.
We are all complicit in America's war machine.
Who will be the last to die for a lie? The Afghan War drags on.
With friends like these: abusive frenemies and American Mideast policy.
Secrecy, self-dealing, and greed at the NRA.
Joseph E Stiglitz:
Progressive capitalism is not an oxymoron: This is real basic:
Standards of living began to improve in the late 18th century for two
reasons: the development of science (we learned how to learn about
nature and used that knowledge to increase productivity and longevity)
and developments in social organization (as a society, we learned how
to work together, through institutions like the rule of law, and
democracies with checks and balances).
Key to both were systems of assessing and verifying the truth. The
real and long-lasting danger of the Trump presidency is the risk it
poses to these pillars of our economy and society, its attack on the
very idea of knowledge and expertise, and its hostility to institutions
that help us discover and assess the truth.
There is a broader social compact that allows a society to work and
prosper together, and that, too, has been fraying. America created the
first truly middle-class society; now, a middle-class life is increasingly
out of reach for its citizens.
America arrived at this sorry state of affairs because we forgot that
the true source of the wealth of a nation is the creativity and innovation
of its people. One can get rich either by adding to the nation's economic
pie or by grabbing a larger share of the pie by exploiting others --
abusing, for instance, market power or informational advantages. We
confused the hard work of wealth creation with wealth-grabbing (or, as
economists call it, rent-seeking), and too many of our talented young
people followed the siren call of getting rich quickly.
Also see Andrew Ross Sorkin's interview with Stiglitz:
Socialist! Capitalist! Economic systems as weapons in a war of words.
Stiglitz has a new book: People, Power, and Profits: Progressive
Capitalism for an Age of Discontent (WW Norton).
Trump's veto over Yemen is a scandalous abuse of presidential power.
The Israeli-Palestinian peace process is dead. An expert explains why.
Interview with Khaled Elgindy, author of Blind Spot: America and the
Palestinians From Balfour to Trump. Some more links on Israel and
last week's election:
Iran labels all US troops in the Middle East "terrorists": It's
a response to America's similar designation of Iranian troops the
day before." Actually, both designations raise into question the
self-conception (and conceits) of the designator. On the other hand,
US troops have killed a lot more people over the last two decades,
so there's something to the charges. See Danny Sjursen, above, for
This is how Bernie Sanders thinks about foreign policy: "The
senator wants to create a global democratic movement to end oligarchy
and authoritarianism." That would be a major change from US policy
under both parties ever since the start of the cold war, which was
to support and extend capitalist property rights everywhere, while
to undermine labor and anti-colonial political movements, and very
often to support local oligarchs and authoritarians against their
What Pete Buttigieg learned from Donald Trump: "In a crowded field,
it pays off to say 'yes' to everything and get attention."
Monday, April 15, 2019
Expanded blog post,
April archive (incomplete).
Music: current count 31371  rated (+27), 252  unrated (+1).
May just be seasonal allergies, but feeling too lousy to even take
a stab at writing an introduction. I still have
XgauSez to edit
and post before I go to bed tonight, so need to get onto that while
A couple of notes, though. I've been talking about moving computers
around for a month or more. I finally got that done this week. Best
thing so far is that I have two relatively uncluttered desks to work
on, instead of one hopelessly messy one. Also I moved the speakers
above the desk, where they sound better and I can access the controls.
(Also, now both computers have speakers. Subwoofers are still under
the desk, where they should be, and that space is less cluttered than
before. No website work yet, but I should get to that soon.
Delighted to see Michael Tatum's
A Downloader's Diary (49) finally posted. I checked out a couple
of his recommendations below (also found a new live Pet Shop Boys he
didn't mention). Also continuing to pick albums off from Phil Overeem's
25% through the briar patch list.
Finally, I finally did manage to cast a Downbeat Critics
Poll ballot, a day past the deadline, but seems likely to be counted
(not that I could ever tell from the results). I didn't do a very
good job of collecting notes this time, but here is
what I have.
New records reviewed this week:
- Charlotte Adigery: Zandoli (2019, Deewee, EP): [r]: B+(**)
- Etienne Charles: Carnival: The Sound of a People Vol. 1 (2019, Culture Shock Music): [r]: B+(**)
- Ben Lamar Gay: Confetti in the Sky Like Fireworks [This Is Bate Bola OST] (2018 , International Anthem): [r]: B
- Ariana Grande: Thank U, Next (2019, Republic): [r]: B+(**)
- William Hooker: Cycle of Restoration (2018 , FPE): [r]: B+(*)
- Amber Mark: Conexão (2018, Virgin EMI, EP): [r]: B+(**)
- Wynton Marsalis: Bolden: Music From the Original Soundtrack (2019, Blue Engine): [cd]: B+(***)
- Xose Miguélez: Ontology (2018 , Origin): [cd]: B+(**)
- Billy Mohler: Focus! (2019, Make): [cd]: A-
- OGJB Quartet [Oliver Lake/Graham Haynes/Joe Fonda/Barry Altschul]: Bamako (2016 , TUM): [cd]: B+(***)
- Nicki Parrott: From New York to Paris (2019, Arbors): [r]: B+(**)
- Jeremy Pelt: Jeremy Pelt the Artist (2018 , HighNote): [r]: B+(*)
- Pet Shop Boys: Agenda (2019, X2, EP): [r]: B+(**)
- Pet Shop Boys: Inner Sanctum (2018 , X2): [r]: A-
- Joshua Redman Quartet: Come What May (2018 , Nonesuch): [r]: B+(***)
- Ruby Rushton: Ironside (2018 , 22a): [r]: B
- Jim Snidero: Waves of Calm (2019, Savant): [r]: B+(***)
- Dave Stryker: Eight Track III (2019, Strikezone): [cd]: B+(**)
- James Suggs: You're Gonna Hear From Me (2018, Arbors): [r]: B+(**)
- Fumi Tomita: The Elephant Vanishes (2018 , OA2): [cd]: B
- Warren Vaché: Songs Our Fathers Taught Us (2019, Arbors): [r]: B+(***)
- Dann Zinn: Day of Reckoning (2018 , Origin): [cd]: B+(***)
Recent reissues, compilations, and vault discoveries:
- Louis Armstrong: Sparks, Nevada 1964! (1964 , Dot Time): [r]: A-
- Imamu Amiri Baraka: It's Nation Time: African Visionary Music (1972 , Motown): [r]: B+(***)
- Duke Ellington: In Coventry, 1966 (1966 , Storyville): [r]: B
- Ben Lamar Gay: 500 Chains (2013-14 , International Anthem): [r]: B+(***)
- Ben Lamar Gay: Grapes (2013-14 , International Anthem): [r]: B+(*)
- Ben Lamar Gay/Edinho Gerber: Benjamin E Edinho (2011-13 , International Anthem, EP): [r]: B+(*)
- Joanne Grauer: Introducing Lorraine Feather (1978 , MPS): [r]: B+(*)
- Kankyo Ongaku: Japanese Ambient, Environental and New Age Music 1980-1990 (1980-90 , Light in the Attic): [r]: A-
Unpacking: Found in the mail last week:
- Juan Álamo & Marimjazzia: Ruta Panoramica (Summit)
- Larry Koonse: New Jazz Standards Vol. 4 (Summit)
- Lisa Maxwell's Jazz Orchestra: Shiny! (Uncle Marvin Music): May 17
- Sam Ospovat: Ride Angles (Skirl)
- Marcos Silva: Brasil: From Head to Toe (Green Egg): May 3
Sunday, April 14, 2019
I don't feel up to writing much about
Julian Assange, but following his arrest in London, I anticipate
that I'll find a bunch of links this week and should collect them
together. Assange is an Australian, a computer programmer who came
up with Wikileaks, a system to collect and publish anonymously
submitted documents. That's always seemed like a noble endeavor,
an aid in exposing how the rich and powerful conspire in private
to manipulate and profit, and for a while he seemed to be doing
just that. He quickly ran afoul of those powers, most notably the
US government, which set out to charge him with various crimes,
and quite possibly orchestrated a broader smear campaign against
him. Assange, in turn, sought asylum from criminal charges, and
since 2012 has been sheltered by the Ecuadorean embassy in London.
I don't know how much Assange has had to do with Wikileaks since
2012 (or how much freedom he has had to do anything), but his
brand name wound up playing a role in Trump's 2016 campaign when
it framed the release of hacked emails from the Clinton campaign.
One effect of the DNC dump was to expand the Democratic side of
bipartisan outrage against Assange, especially as Clinton's drones
tried to paint him as a Putin accomplice.
I don't have strong opinions about Assange one way or the other,
but I did welcome his release of leaked documents on the Iraq War
and the US State Department. (See my September 2, 2010 entry,
on the "Collateral Murder" video, anti-war vet Ethan McCord, and
a related speech by Barak Obama -- what I said then is still pretty
relevant today.) Releasing the DNC emails didn't particularly bother
me either, although the timing was suspicious (immediately after the
Trump's Access Hollywood tape, allowing the media to spin
scandal on top of scandal), as was the lack of any RNC/Trump campaign
emails to balance the picture.
Anyhow, the Assange links:
Let's also break out multiple links on Israel's elections:
Scattered links on other topics this week:
Julian Castro really wants to talk about immigration, but it's most
impressive talking about his work.
Trump's sister quietly retired in February, and it's actually a big deal:
Something here I didn't know: that Trump has a sister,
Maryanne Trump Barry, who is a US Court of Appeals judge (appointed,
by the way, by Bill Clinton in 1999, although Ronald Reagan appointed
her to US District Court in 1983). She retired to escape an investigation
into the possibly fraudulent scheme whereby Fred Trump transferred
property to his children to evade taxes.
Elizabeth Warren's new plan to make sure Amazon (and other big companies)
pays corporate tax, explained: "No more claiming big profits to
investors while paying nothing to the IRS."
Progressives should worry more about the odds that Joe Biden will win:
"Liberals are assuming the former vice president will fade on his own, a
trap Republicans fell for with Trump." They may both be front-runners,
but not many similarities beyond that. Trump campaigned as an outsider,
whereas Biden is the most complete insider even considering a run. The
most comparable 2016 Republican is Jeb Bush, although I'd give Biden
better odds than I gave Bush -- he may not have much of a program or
a real following, but at least he's not a laughingstock.
Immigration makes America great. This is a good general "explainer"
on most of issues related to immigration. I'm more of a moderate (or
maybe skeptic?) when it comes to promoting immigration: I'm concerned
about the downward pressure on labor markets immigrants pose; I worry
that immigration feeds our right-wing tendencies to ignore the needs
of impoverished natives; I've noted that many immigrants lean to the
political right (in many cases becoming jingoistic -- the Cubans are
an obvious case, since US immigration law favors anti-communists).
I've noted, for instance, that no less than five (of 16) Republican
presidential candidates in 2016 has at least one foreign-born parent
(including Trump, who also has a foreign-born wife). Still, I don't
doubt the general economic advantages of immigration at present (or
slightly elevated) levels. And the problems I've noted would go away
if we had a better political atmosphere.
Trump's flailing shake-up of the Department of Homeland Security,
explained: Key subhed here: "Trump's been in tantrum mode for
But Trump is an all-stick, no-carrot kind of guy. His idea of doing a
deal with Democrats was to cancel DACA protection for young undocumented
immigrants and then offer to reinstate it in exchange for sweeping
concessions. And he wants to get Mexico to do favors for him by
threatening to hurt both countries' economies unless they do what he
wants. This incredibly punitive, wildly ineffective approach to
dealmaking has been a hallmark of Trump's approach to the presidency
from Day 1, and it appears to be derived from his success as a business
executive at using his greater wealth to stiff contractors and
But in the presidency, this kind of bullying doesn't work at all,
as you can see from his lack of success in getting border wall money
appropriated. A reasonable response to policy failure would be to try
to go in a new direction, but Trump seems entirely uninterested in
that. So rather than rethink his approach, he's now inclined to burn
through administration personnel, even though shuffling the names on
an org chart around isn't going to alter any of the fundamentals of
Howard Schultz only has one idea about politics, and it's bad:
"Making him president won't fix the problems of partisanship."
Trump's possibly illegal designation of a new acting homeland security
Republicans are taking Ilhan Omar's comments on 9/11 out of context to
smear her. Well, when did they ever let context complicate a good
Betsy DeVos quietly making it easier for dying for-profit schools to rip
off a few more students on the way out.
Why conspiracy theories are getting more absurd and harder to refute:
Interview with Nancy L Rosenblum, co-author (with Russell Muirhead) of
A Lot of People Are Saying: The New Conspiracism and the Assault on
A brief guide to David Bernhardt, Ryan Zinke's replacement at the
Interior Department: "Three things to know about the former oil
lobbyist who's just been confirmed as the new Secretary of the
4 key things to know about India's elections Thursday.
The new Brexit deadline is October 31.
The post-purge agenda: what the White House wants next on immigration:
"Donald Trump and Stephen Miller are pushing for a multi-pronged asylum
Why the Senate is blocking a new net neutrality bill, a year after trying
to save it. The House passed a bill. McConnell refuses to allow the
Senate to consider it. Trump says if passed he will veto it.
A Texas bill would allow the death penalty for patients who get abortions:
"The bill is unlikely to pass, but it's part of a larger trend."
Trump's Iran terrorist designation is designed to lock in endless enmity.
Daniel DePetris/Richard Sokolsky:
Bolton and Pompeo are steering Trump toward war with Iran;
On the eve of Israel's elections, Netanyahu thanks Trump for sanctioning
Iran at his request.
Josie Duffy Rice:
Jussie Smollett and the impulse to punish. Chicago's outgoing
mayor Rahm Emmanuel, cementing his reputation as a grandstanding
dickhead, ordered the city to sue Jussie Smollett for the costs of
investigating him before dropping charges, some $130,000.
Given the failures of law enforcement in Chicago, [F.O.P. president
Kevin] Graham is not in a strong position to castigate [Cook County
states attorney] Foxx. In the first half of 2018, Chicago police made
an arrest or identified a suspect in just fifteen per cent of murder
cases. Similarly, Emanuel's concern about the costs of the Smollett
investigation is misguided at best; in 2018 alone, the city paid a
total of a hundred and thirteen million dollars in police-misconduct
settlements and related legal fees. . . .
As Matthew Saniie, the chief data officer for Foxx's office, recently
wrote, in Cook County, cases in which the defendant, like Smollett,
pleads not guilty to a fourth-degree felony end in a deferred prosecution
seventy-five per cent of the time. Foxx runs the second-largest prosecutor's
office in the country, responsible for prosecuting crimes in Chicago and
a hundred and thirty-four municipalities. Her staff sees almost half a
million cases every year. Prosecutorial discretion is one of the pillars
of our justice system, and it is her job to discern what deserves her
staff's attention, as opposed to what has grabbed the most public attention.
Trump promised his sons would keep business out of politics. He's admitting
that was a lie. This links to: Elaina Plott:
Inside Ivanka's dreamworld: "The 'first daughter' spent years rigorously
cultivating her image. But she wasn't prepared for scrutiny."
Central American farmers head to the US, fleeing climate change.
Trump hotels exempted from ban on foreign payments under new stance.
Bernie Sanders imagines a progressive new approach to foreign policy:
While the rest of the field plays catch up with his 2016 platform, he
breaks new ground. But his main break with the bipartisan orthodoxy is
thus far limited to sensibility. He's more likely to promote peace and
respect than the others because he values them, but he's yet to get
down to the specifics it will take to deal with Israel/Palestine, to
pick the one case other politicians most fear.
Monday, April 08, 2019
Expanded blog post,
April archive (incomplete).
Music: current count 31344  rated (+32), 251  unrated (+2).
Back in business. I figured all it would take to get Napster working
again was a reboot -- it broke following a software update that didn't
require one but involved a new Flash module, so I suspected that threw
things out of sync. Still, I didn't want to do that for other reaasons,
but was forced to when the computer freaked out and gave me a swizzle
patterned screen. That suggested something far worse, but the reboot
fixed that too.
Working Napster gave me a chance to catch up with the last couple
weeks of Robert Christgau picks --
Stella Donnelly/Sharon Van Etten and
Pedro the Lion/Jason Ringenberg -- where only the B+ record didn't
disappoint. (Actually, I couldn't find Ringenberg's Stand Tall
on Napster, but was able to fish a Soundcloud link from my email trash,
so thanks to the publicist.) Guess I'm still missing the
Ariana Grande/Amber Mark week -- I had the former's Sweetener
way down at B, a grade split matching Mitski's Be the Cowboy, but
haven't heard the more recent one.
Took a dive into George Strait after panning his new one, mostly because
I noticed an unheard Christgau A- in the database (Something Special),
and it panned out. I had his first Greatest Hits (1985) at A-, so
it made sense to check out its source albums (just three of them). I'm not
sure that grade holds up, but didn't recheck it. Still, after dismissing
most of his songs as unmemorable, I've wound up with "You Look So Good in
Love" stuck in my mind all week.
Other records suggested by various sources, most prolifically
Phil Overeem. The tip on Angel-Ho came from breathless hype in
The Nation ("Angel-Ho is the future of pop music"). I dug up Petra
Van Nuis after she wrote to me (so sometimes that works). Strait and
Mandy Barnett just showed up in Napster's featured lists.
Making fair progress on most projects, although not enough on moving
the computer. (Will do that after I post this, I promise.) Biggest one
is a new piece of badly-needed pantry shelving, which needs one more
coat of paint before I drag it in and bolt it to the wall. I have a
couple more projects in that space, ready to roll as soon as the first
one is operational. Still, more projects seem to present themselves all
the time. Dug up a couple plastic drawers full of CDs today, and my wife
argued that I should get rid of them (something about the hoarding being
psychotic). I had a plan a couple years back to start donating CDs to a
local library, but never followed through on it -- partly because I was
working on the Jazz Guide, maybe because they kept naming various
buldings after the Kochs. The reason for having a substantial library is
to look things up, but I'm fast losing my ability to do so, not to mention
my prospects of ever writing anything worthwhile on the subject.
Still, the project I feel more pressing need for is to come up with a
system so I can quickly identify where all my tools (and hardware) are.
I'm forever thrashing, trying to find things I know I have somewhere,
sometimes even having to buy more tools to replace those I've lost (most
recently, a set of hole saws). In fact, thrashing seems to be the word
for the week, maybe even the season.
New records reviewed this week:
- Angel-Ho: Death Becomes Her (2019, Hyperdub): [r]: B+(*)
- Art "Turk" Burton: Ancestral Spirits (2019, T N' T Music): [cd]: A-
- Romain Collin: Tiny Lights: Genesis (2019, XM): [cd]: B+(**)
- The Comet Is Coming: Trust in the Lifeforce of the Deep Mystery (2019, Impulse!): [r]: B+(**)
- Jordon Dixon: On! (2019, self-released): [cd]: B+(***)
- Stella Donnelly: Beware of the Dogs (2019, Secretly Canadian): [r]: B+(***)
- Steve Earle & the Dukes: Guy (2019, New West): [r]: B+(***)
- Fleurine: Brazilian Dream (2018 , Pure Imagination): [cd]: B+(**)
- George Freeman: George the Bomb! (2018 , Blujazz/Southport): [cd]: B+(**)
- Polly Gibbons: All I Can Do (2019, Resonance): [cd]: B
- Girls on Grass: Dirty Power (2019, self-released): [r]: B+(**)
- Pablo Lanouguere Quintet: Eclectico (2019, self-released): [cd]: B+(**)
- Jenny Lewis: On the Line (2019, Warner Bros.): [r]: B+(*)
- Helado Negro: This Is How You Smile (2019, RVNG Intl): [r]: B+(*)
- New Orleans Jazz Orchestra: Songs: The Music of Allen Toussaint (2018 , Storyville): [cd]: B+(**)
- Pedro the Lion: Phoenix (2019, Polyvinyl): [r]: B+(*)
- Jason Ringenberg: Stand Tall (2019, Courageous Chicken): [sc]: A-
- Royal Trux: White Stuff (2019, Fat Possum): [r]: B+(**)
- Sir Babygirl: Crush on Me (2019, Father/Daughter, EP): [r]: B+(***)
- George Strait: Honky Tonk Time Machine (2019, MCA Nashville): [r]: B
- Terraza Big Band: One Day Wonder (2017 , Outside In Music): [cd]: B+(*)
- Sharon Van Etten: Remind Me Tomorrow (2019, Jagjaguwar): [r]: B+(*)
- Petra Van Nuis & Dennis Luxion: Because We're Night People (2018, String Damper): [r]: B+(*)
- Dave Zinno Unisphere: Stories Told (2018 , Whaling City Sound): [cd]: B+(*)
Recent reissues, compilations, and vault discoveries:
- Burnt Sugar/The Arkestra Chamber: Twentieth Anniversary Mixtapes: Groiddest Schnizzits: Volume Two (2001-17 , Trugroid/Avantgroidd): [r]: B+(***)
- Mandy Barnett: I Can't Stop Loving You: The Songs of Don Gibson (2013, Rounder): [r]: B+(***)
- The Comet Is Coming: Channel the Spirits (2016, The Leaf Label): [r]: B+(***)
- George Strait: Strait Country (1981, MCA): [r]: B+(**)
- George Strait: Strait From the Heart (1982, MCA): [r]: B
- George Strait: Right or Wrong (1983, MCA): [r]: B+(***)
- George Strait: Does Fort Worth Ever Cross Your Mind (1984, MCA): [r]: B+(**)
- George Strait: Something Special (1985, MCA): [r]: A-
- George Strait: The Best of George Strait [20th Century Masters: The Millennium Collection] (1983-93 , MCA Nashville): [r]: B+(**)
- George Strait: 50 Number Ones (1982-2004 , MCA Nashville, 2CD): [r]: B+(***)
Unpacking: Found in the mail last week:
- Art Ensemble of Chicago: We Are on the Edge: A 50th Anniversary Celebration (Pi, 2CD): April 26
- Art "Turk" Burton: Ancestral Spirits (T N' T Music): May 3
- George Freeman: George the Bomb! (Blujazz/Southport)
- Wynton Marsalis: Bolden: Music From the Original Soundtrack (Blue Engine): April 19
- Xose Miguélez: Ontology (Origin): April 19
- Billy Mohler: Focus! (Make)
- New Orleans Jazz Orchestra: Songs: The Music of Allen Toussaint (Storyville): April 19
- OGJB Quartet [Oliver Lake/Graham Haynes/Joe Fonda/Barry Altschul]: Bamako (TUM): May 17
- Dave Stryker: Eight Track III (Strikezone): May 3
- Fumi Tomita: The Elephant Vanishes (OA2): April 19
- Dann Zinn: Day of Reckoning (Origin): April 19
Sunday, April 07, 2019
One of my principles here is not to bother with politician horserace
links, especially presidential candidates. One thing I've long held is
that a president is only as good as his (or someday her) party, so the
big question to ask any presidential candidate is: what are you going to
do to get your party elected and make it an effective force? Still, every
now and then I have opinions on specific people. When Greg Magarian griped
Tim Ryan and
Michael Bennet getting a burst of press attention, as have recent
Beto O'Rourke and
Pete Buttigieg raising great gobs of money, I commented:
Worth noting that O'Rourke and Buttigieg are principled neoliberals, and
are raising money as such. They can do that because their youth and
inexperience hasn't saddled them with the sort of baggage the Clinton
establishment bears. That's bad news for Biden, who would be the obvious
next-in-line for Clinton's donors if they didn't suspect that the brand
is ruined. They may also be thinking that running someone young and
outside might help crack Sanders' lead among young voters -- something
Biden has no prayer of doing.
The one candidate I've been hearing the most (and most negative) about
is Joe Biden. He hasn't announced yet, but evidently the decision has been
made, the timing around Easter. Biden has led recent polls, but that can
be attributed to his much greater name resolution. I've always figured the
decision would turn on whether he's willing to risk his legacy on a very
likely loss, but I suppose the decision will turn mostly on whether he can
line up sufficient funding. (I had some doubts that Bernie Sanders would
run, but when I saw his early funding reports, I immediately realized I
was being silly.) Clearly, he didn't run in 2016 because Hillary Clinton
had locked up most of his possible funding. That's less obvious this year,
but a lot of competitive candidates have jumped in ahead of him.
Biden isn't awful, but he has a lot of baggage, including a lot of
things that wound up hurting Clinton in 2016 (like that Iraq War vote).
Some of those things could hurt him in the primaries, especially his
rather dodgy record on race and crime, and with women. Other things,
like his plagiarism scandal, will hurt him more in the general election.
But the big problem there is that he was a Washington insider and party
leader for so long that he makes it easy for Republicans to spin this
election into a referendum on forty years of Democratic Party failures.
Obama was largely able to avoid that in 2008, but Clinton couldn't in
Also, there is the nagging suspicion that he isn't really a very good
day-to-day candidate. Last time he ran for president he was an also-ran,
unable to get more than 1-2% of the vote anywhere. He got the VP nod from
Obama after Clinton decided she'd rather be Secretary of State, and one
suspects that the Clintons pushed for Biden as VP because they didn't
regard him as a serious rival in 2016 (when a sitting VP would normally
have the inside track to the nomination). And he's exceptionally prone to
gaffes. He managed to avoid any really bad ones running with Obama, but
running on his own he'll get a lot more scrutiny and pressure. Nobody
thinks he's stupid or evil -- unlike Trump, whose base seems to regard
those attributes as virtues -- but nobody is much of a fan either (well,
except for the fictional
Leslie Knope, which kind of proves the point).
For more, if you care, see Michelle Goldberg:
The wrong time for Joe Biden:
Beyond gender, on issue after issue, if Biden runs for president he will
have to run away from his own record. He -- and by extension, we -- will
have to relive the debate over the Iraq war, which he voted to authorize.
He'll have to explain his vote to repeal the Glass-Steagall Act, which,
by lifting regulations on banking, helped create the conditions for the
2008 financial meltdown. (Biden has called that vote one of the biggest
regrets of his career.) In 2016, Hillary Clinton was slammed for her
previous support of the 1994 Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement
Act, which contributed to mass incarceration. Biden helped write the law,
which he called, in 2015, the "1994 Biden crime bill." . . . No one should
judge the whole span of Biden's career by the standards of 2019, but if
he's going to run for president, it's fair to ask whether he's the right
leader for this moment. He is a product of his time, but that time is up.
Other political news last week included the death of Ernest Hollings,
the long-time South Carolina senator, at 97. I was, well, shocked to see
him referred to in an obituary as a populist -- a thought that had never
crossed my mind. I would grant that he was not as bad as the Republicans
who served in the Senate alongside him (Strom Thurmond and Lindsey Graham),
or his Republican successor (Jim DeMent). Still, those are pretty low
By the way, a couple of non-political links below: subjects I used to
follow closely in more carefree times. See if you can pick them out.
Some scattered links this week:
How climate change is fueling the US border crisis: "In the western
highlands of Guatemala, the questio is no longer whether someone will
leave but when." Two further installments:
The epidemic of debt plaguing Central American migrants, and
The dream homes of Guatemalan migrants.
Nearly everything Trump just said about Puerto Rico is wrong.
FBI director: White nationalist violence is a "persistent, pervasive
threat". Related: Weiyi Cai/Simone Landon:
Attacks by white extremists are growing. So are their connections.
Barack Obama warns against a "circular firing squad" over ideological
purity in politics: Sounds like Obama is attacking the left, once
again counseling compromises that ultimately prove ineffective, but
his centrist-neoliberal allies are every bit as ideological, and if
anything have more experience in using their spite against the left
to make sure even their lame compromises rarely change anything. I'm
reminded how John Lewis refused to purge Communists from the UMW,
because he appreciated that they were the union's most passionate and
effective organizers. The centrists need to realize that they need
the left in order to attain anything significant once they've worked
their compromises. And as the article shows, left-leaning polticians
aren't actually doing things to undermine party unity -- other than
making solid policy proposals and arguing them on their merits. Obama,
on the other hand, is showing himself to be irrelevant. Some may feel
nostalgic for his basic competence and his devotion to the threadbare
pieties of Americanism, but as a politician you have to judge him on
his inability to deliver the change he campaigned for and his failure
to build a party that could protect, sustain, and extend even his most
Congress passes historic resolution to end US support for Saudi-led war
David M Halbfinger:
If you've followed Israeli elections, you may have noticed that since
the late 1970s, the only time Israeli politics have shifted left was when
the Bush I administration made clear its displeasure with Yitzhak Shamir's
obstruction of the Madrid Peace Talks. Israeli voters noticed, and voted
the more flexible Yitzhak Rabin in, leading to the Oslo Accords, which
Clinton allowed Netanyahu and Ehud Barak to turn into a charade. But as
Clinton, Bush, Obama, and even more explicitly Trump kowtowed to Israel,
Israelis had no reason not to indulge their chauvinist prejudices, with
each election pushing the government ever further to the right.
How digital technology is destroying our freedom: Interview with
Douglas Rushkoff, exploring the theme of his recent Team Human
and earlier books like Life Inc.: How the World Became a Corporation
(2009), Program or Be Programmed (2011), Present Shock: When
Everything Happes Now (2013), and Throwing Rocks at the Google
Bus (2016) -- he's sort of a latter-day Neil Postman. (The one book
I've read by him is Nothing Sacred: The Truth About Judaism,
where he sees Judaism as an evolutionary step toward atheism. I could
make a similar claim for Calvinism, based more on personal history.)
Trump does have a health care plan. It would cause millions to lose
Should the Green New Deal repeat the failures of Cap-and-Trade?
Donald Trump is trying to kill you: "Trust the pork producers; fear
the wind turbines." I will add this quibble: if you ever find yourself
standing under a wind turbine, you'll find that they are very ominous
and unpleasant, emitting loud noises as the huge blades screech and
whine above your head.
Republican health care lying syndrome: "Even Trump supporters don't
believe the party's promises."
The incredible shrinking Trump boom: "At least corporate accountants
are having some fun." I suspect this title could be used for a much broader
investigation than this note on the effects of the Trump tax cut.
GOP cruelty is a pre-existing condition: "Republicans just won't stop
trying to take away health care."
Republicans really hate health care: "They've gone beyond cynicism
to pathology." Related: Jamelle Bouie:
An opening for Democrat: "On health care, this isn't what Trump's
voters bargained for." Bouie writes:
But while Trump's decision to govern for conservatives has netted him
high approval ratings with Republicans who remain loyal to him, it has
also undermined the coalition that put him in the White House,
threatening his prospects for re-election.
We saw some of this with the midterms. The drive to repeal Obamacare
was a major reason Republicans lost their majority in the House of
Representatives. The attempt made Trump's approval rating plunge to
the mid-30s, lower than that of other presidents at that point in their
first term. Large majorities opposed the bill to repeal and replace the
health care law, and 60 percent said it was a "good thing" it failed to
pass. Forty-two percent of voters named health care as their top issue
in the midterms, and 77 percent of them backed Democrats.
In 2016, Trump ran without the burden of a record. He could be
everything to everyone -- he could say what people wanted to hear. And
he used that to reach out to working-class whites as a moderate on the
economy and a hard-line conservative on race and immigration.
Now, as president, Trump is a standard-issue Republican with an almost
total commitment to conservative economic policy. Those policies are
unpopular. And they have created an opening for Democrats to win back
some of the voters they've lost.
Jonathan Mahler/Jim Rutenberg:
How Rupert Murdoch's empire of influence remade the world: Part 1: Imperial
reach, followed by
Part 2: Internal divisions, and
Part 3: The new Fox weapon.
What baseball teaches us about measuring talent: Review of Christopher
Phillips' new book Scouting and Scoring: How We Know What We Know About
Baseball. Noted because this is a subject I've spent a lot of time on,
albeit not very recently.
Google cancels AI ethics board in response to outcry: I can imagine
many angles to this, but the best reported one was opposition to Heritage
Foundation president Kay Coles James, underscoring the notion that
conservatives have no credibility when it comes to ethics -- although
Google's inclusion of a "drone company CEO" was even more blatant.
- Douglas Preston:
The day the dinosaurs died: "A young paleontologist may have discovered
the most significant event in the history of life on Earth."
Some Mueller team members aren't happy with Barr's description of their
Trump plans to nominate a second loyalist to the Fed: Herman Cain:
You got to give Trump some credit for learning here. When the Fed chair
opened up, his staff gave him two options. While he picked the lesser
inflation hawk, he still wound up with a guy who repeatedly raised the
Fed funds rate, constricting the economy (and especially speculators
and scam artists like himself who benefit most from cheap money). No
doubt this got him thinking: Why not pick some loyal political hacks
instead of letting the bankers limit his choices? Stephen Moore was
his test case, and while Cain isn't as much of a hack as Moore, he's
even less "qualified" (in normative terms).
Trump attacks Rep. Ilhan Omar hours after a supporter was charged with
threatening to kill her: Subhed: "He wants to drive a wedge between
Jewish voters and the Democratic Party." TPM emphasized the latter in
its coverage of Trump's speech to the Republican Jewish Coalition:
Trump tries to lure Jewish voters: Dems would 'leave Israel out there'.
Related: Matt Shuham:
American Jewish orgs to Trump: Netanyahu is ot 'our' Prime Minister.
On the other hand, Netanyahu is Sheldon Adelson's Prime Minister --
Adelson owns the newspaper in Israel most closely associated with
Netanyahu, and Adelson is the Republican Party's most visible Jewish
bankroller, so that's probably close enough for Trump.
What's going on with Mar-a-Lago and Chinese spies, explained.
Related: Fred Kaplan:
Mar-a-Lago is a foreign spy's dream come true.
The Pentagon wins again: "In an effort to prevent non-defense cuts,
House Democrats grant the DOD exactly the raise it wanted."
The "reputational interests" of William Barr. Related:
Bill Barr has promised transparency. He deserves the chance to deliver.
Monday, April 01, 2019
Expanded blog post,
March archive (incomplete).
Music: current count 31312  rated (+15), 249  unrated (-4).
Rated count way down, about half of what I consider a solid week.
When I dropped to 29 last week, I described that as a "lazy week."
Could say that again, but the real reason for the drop off is that
the Flash plugin on my computer is fucked up, making it impossible to
use Napster (or, for that matter, Spotify). That left me with playing
CDs (9) and using Bandcamp (6), and I didn't really have much to
choose from or look for on either. Unplayed CD queue is currently
deep, and I don't just randomly play unknowns on Bandcamp. On the
other hand, the Bandcamps generally got two spins, and the CDs more
than that (I'd guess Larry Fuller got 7-8 plays -- not that I needed
more than 2, but it made for pretty pleasant background music). All
that lead to a couple anomalies. Only one A- is the lowest weekly
total in quite some time, and I'm actually not real solid on it --
I've never been much of a
Betty Carter fan,
and should probably go
back and check some of her earlier releases (and re-check The
Audience With Betty Carter, which I have at B- even though it
wears a Penguin Guide crown). It could be that I promoted
it at the last minute because I came up with nothing else.
The other anomaly is the high percentage of B+(***) grades (8/15).
Certainly the multiple replays helped out. At this point, I'm pretty
sure the jazz records (especially the CDs) have plateaued, but three
of the Bandcamps might merit further investigation: Mekons, Quelle
Chris, and Mdou Moctar. I think I have those three pegged right, but
they're close, and it's worth noting that I have the immediately
previous albums by all three at A- (It Is Twice Blessed,
Everything's Fine, and Blue Stage Sessions).
Priorities for the coming week will be to reconstruct my crashed
tax file, finish (paint) a new pantry shelf, and finally get my
computers rearranged and reconnected (hopefully fixing the Napster
problem, and allowing me to get onto some website work). Also have
my DownBeat Critics Poll invite, so that will be another
(pretty much wasted) chunk of time. One website task I did manage
to get done last week was to build a
book page for
Robert Christgau's new essay collection, Book Reports: A Music
Critic on His First Love, Which Was Reading, due out from Duke
University Press on April 12. Info and various links on that page.
Still to be done is the nasty task of embargoing most of the pieces
that appear in the book, so this is your last change (for several
years) to squirrel away free copies of most of the book.
New records reviewed this week:
- Laura Antonioli: The Constant Passage of Time (2018 , Origin): [cd]: B+(**)
- Michaël Attias: Ëchos La Nuit (2018 , Out of Your Head): [cd]: B+(**)
- Blu & Oh No: A Long Red Hot Los Angeles Summer Night (2019, Native Sounds): [bc]: B+(**)
- Chord Four: California Avant Garde (2016 , self-released): [cd]: B+(***)
- Larry Fuller: Overjoyed (2018 , Capri): [cd]: B+(***)
- Ross Hammond & Sameer Gupta: Mystery Well (2018, Prescott): [bc]: B+(***)
- Remy Le Boeuf: Light as a Word (2017 , Outside In Music): [cd]: B+(**)
- Mekons: Deserted (2019, Bloodshot): [bc]: B+(***)
- Mdou Moctar: Ilana: The Creator (2019, Sahel Sounds): [bc]: B+(***)
- Ivo Perelman/Mat Maneri/Nate Wooley: Strings 3 (2018 , Leo): [cd]: B+(*)
- Ivo Perelman/Mat Maneri/Nate Wooley/Matthew Shipp: Strings 4 (2018 , Leo): [cd]: B+(***)
- Quelle Chris: Guns (2019, Mello Music Group): [bc]: B+(***)
- SOL Development: The SOL of Black Folk (2019, self-released): [bc]: B+(**)
- Tiger Hatchery: Breathing in the Walls (2017 , ESP-Disk): [cd]: B+(***)/li>
Recent reissues, compilations, and vault discoveries:
- Betty Carter: The Music Never Stops (1992 , Blue Engine): [cd]: A-
Unpacking: Found in the mail last week:
- Romain Collin: Tiny Lights: Genesis (XM): April 12
- Jordon Dixon: On! (self-released): June 7
- Polly Gibbons: All I Can Do (Resonance): April 19
- Pablo Langouguere Quintet: Eclectico (self-released): May 31