Monday, May 20, 2019
Expanded blog post,
Music: current count 31518  rated (+20), 252  unrated (+3).
Rated count well down this week. Wednesday through Friday got totally
wiped out, starting with a dental appointment, then shopping for dinner
on Friday, then marathon cooking. Zhanna Pataki and I made a blini feast.
I found a Russian grocery store in Tulsa the previous week, and picked
up a pound of salmon caviar ("Alaskan rubies") and three whole schmaltz
herring. The latter went, one each, into sour cream sauce, mustard sauce,
and Estonian potato salad (with golden beets, apple, and ham (actually,
Canadian bacon). Other side salads: poached cod with horseradish sauce,
cucumbers in sour cream, green bean and walnut, carrot and garlic. I got
a couple of salmon filets and salted them. I made two loaves of rye bread
(only disappointment: came out dense and dry, probably because the dough
was, or maybe I just don't know how to properly knead bread; anyway, the
expensive Breville food processor wasn't up to the task). For dessert, I
made a light sponge cake, and topped it with strawberries and whipped
cream (recipe called for smetana, but I didn't allow myself enough time
to make my own -- probably should have bought some in Tulsa, when I had
the chance). I just now realized that I had brought a jar of eggplant
caviar back from Tulsa but failed to serve it. Dinner was spectacular,
A couple weeks ago I learned that Ani DiFranco has written a memoir,
No Walls and the Recurring Dream. She grew up in Buffalo,
and was close to my cousin's family there, so I have some kind of
personal interest in her story, and I've been aware of her musical
career from near the beginning. Then last week I noticed her No
Walls: Mixtape on Napster, so delved a bit deeper. I read what
I could from
Google's excerpt, while listening to
Mixtape -- unplugged remakes of 25+ years of remarkable songs --
and a couple other items I had missed that I found on her
Bandcamp. Stopped short of the bootlegs, although one of my favorites
(and one of the best places to start with her) is the live
Living in Clip. I was especially pleased that after panning
most of her recent albums with Todd Sickafoose I enjoyed
Year so much. I wrote about her in
[The New] Rolling Stone
Album Guide. A current grade list is
Robert Christgau reviewed Epic Beard Men
this week, along with two records by Quelle Chris that I had already
reviewed. I gave Guns another spin, enjoyed it, but left my grade
at B+(***). For whatever it's worth, I've graded A- all four of Strut's
Nigeria 70 compilations. I couldn't begin to rank them, other than
to note that I have the CDs to the first, and played one out of my travel
case while cooking last week. I doubt any are as good as the best King
Sunny Adé albums, or the second edition of The Rough Guide to Highlife,
but the new one hits the exact same pleasure centers, and that was good
enough for me.
The Ray Charles comp was the one I skipped when reviewing his Atlantics
last week. It's the one you'd most likely buy if you're reluctant to get
the entire 3-CD box (The Birth of Soul). Not sure why I didn't
grade it as high as the box or two of the source albums, other than that
I didn't give it a lot of time. I'm still bothered that we don't have
the ABC albums available for streaming. And I will note that one problem
with virtually every "greatest hit" collection from that period is the
mandatory inclusion of two hideous Beatles covers. Compilers don't always
pick the best songs, so that may be what's slightly off about the Rhino
Atlantic Best Of.
Best jazz album of the week was the first 2019 Clean Feed release I've
found on Napster. They've sometimes been hard to search out, but until
this year all of their releases have been available for streaming, which
lately has saved me the hassle of downloading. Not everything that's come
out is available yet, but I'm glad to get what I can. I'll try to catch
up in coming weeks. (There are a couple more on this week's list, as well
as one where the musician sent me the CD -- thanks for that favor.)
New records reviewed this week:
- Charlie Apicella & Iron City: Groove Machine (2018 , OA2): [cd]: B+(*)
- Camp Cope: How to Socialise & Make Friends (2018, Run for Cover): [r]: B+(***)
- Ani DiFranco: No Walls: Mixtape (2019, Righteous Babe): [r]: A-
- Epic Beard Men: Season 1 (2018, Strange Famous): [r]: B+(**)
- Epic Beard Men: This Was Supposed to Be Fun (2019, Strange Famous): [r]: A-
- The Fictive Five: Anything Is Possible (2018 , Clean Feed): [r]: B+(**)
- John Hart: Crop Circles (2017 , SteepleChase): [r]: B+(**)
- Fred Hersch & the WDR Big Band: Begin Again (2019, Palmetto): [cd]: B+(*)
- Jørgen Mathisen's Instant Light: Mayhall's Object (2018 , Clean Feed): [r]: A-
- The Pete McGuinness Jazz Orchestra: Along for the Ride (2018 , Summit): [cd]: B
- Yoko Miwa Trio: Keep Talkin' (2019, Ocean Blue Tear Music): [cd]: B+(***)
- Priests: The Seduction of Kansas (2019, Sister Polygon): [r]: B+(***)
- Scheen Jazzorkester & Thomas Johansson: «As We See It . . . » (2019, Clean Feed): [cd]: B+(***)
- The Selva: Canicula Rosa (2018 , Clean Feed): [r]: B+(**)
- Senyawa: Sujud (2018, Sublime Frequencies): [bc]: B+(***)
- Marcus Shelby Orchestra: Transitions (2017 , MSO): [cd]:B+(*)
- Rodney Whitaker: Common Ground: The Music of Gregg Hill (2017 , Origin): [cd]: B+(*)
Recent reissues, compilations, and vault discoveries:
- Nigeria 70: No Wahala: Highlife, Afro-Funk & Juju 1973-1987 (1973-87 , Strut): [bc]: A-
- Ray Charles: The Best of Ray Charles: The Atlantic Years (1951-59 , Rhino): [r]: A-
- Ani DiFranco: Red Letter Year (2008, Righteous Babe): [bc]: A-
- Ani DiFranco: Binary (2017, Righteous Babe): [r]: B+(*)
- Larry Ochs: The Fictive Five (2015, Tzadik): [bc]: B+(*)
Unpacking: Found in the mail last week:
- Luke Gillespie: Moving Mists (Patois)
- Ryan Keberle & Catharsis: The Hope I Hold (Greenleaf Music): June 28
- Doug MacDonald: Califournia Quartet (self-released)
- Matt Mitchell: Phalanx Ambassadors (Pi)
- Samo Salamon & Freequestra: Free Sessions, Vol. 2: Freequestra (Sazas/Klopotec)
- Samo Salamon/Szilárd Mezei/Jaka Berger: Swirling Blind Unstilled (Klopotec)
- The Dave Wilson Quartet: One Night at Chris' (self-released): May 27
Ran a day late on this one, partly because I went long on the intro,
but also because I found so many links in my early trawl through the
usual sources I wasn't able to finish my rounds, then found even more
when I tried to wrap up. I'm sure it's always the case that an extra
day or two to let the words settle and go back and restructure would
be useful, but I've rarely felt that more than this week.
Abortion became a much hotter political issue last week, with the
passage and signing of a law in Alabama which criminalizes abortion in
all cases except when it is necessary to save the life of the woman,
with doctors risking prison terms of up to 99 years if their call on
life-saving is disputed. Much focus on this particular law centers on
the lack of any exclusion for rape and incest, which most people agree
would be reasonable grounds for abortion. (As
Phil Freeman tweeted: "Your first mistake was assuming old white
men in Alabama were against rape and incest.") But the Alabama law is
just one of many state laws Republicans have been pushing lately, all
aimed at relitigating Roe v. Wade in the Trump-packed Supreme
The "heartbeat" bills that could ban almost all abortions, passed
in four states including Ohio and Georgia, and coming soon in Missouri;
still more draconian bills are in the works, such as
A Texas bill would allow the death penalty for patients who get
I'll start this off by quoting from a Facebook post by a relative
of mine in Arkansas, Marianne Cowan Pyeatt, offering an unvarnished
glimpse of what anti-abortion Republicans are telling themselves:
All of a sudden we are supposed to believe that millions and millions
of aborted babies are the result of rape and not just a lack of
responsibility to use birth control or face the consequences if you
can't even be adult enough to take precautions. We all know that the
reason they can't make exceptions for rape is because every women
would lie and claim to be raped to get an abortion. There are morning
after pills for real rape victims or they can give the child away. No
one says they have to keep them. And the fact that this is even being
debated is because all the people who did very little for decades when
they could forget what was going on in those clinics are suddenly
facing a world where full-term babies can be murdered at birth. YOU
stupid liberals have taken it SO FAR that no decent person can ignore
it any longer. And we aren't so stupid as to believe that only
abortion of a baby could "save the mother's life" in medical
emergencies . . . we know delivery is many, many times faster. At that
point, if it dies, at least you tried and the mother is "saved" from
her life-threatening condition with no murder involved. I find it
hilarious that in insisting on that last frontier of killing babies
right up to birth has finally given people the resolve to take a stand
and right a wrong.
One thing this shows is that the fight over abortion rights is
being fought at the margins, with both sides seeking maximalist
positions, although there is nothing symmetrical about the conflict.
There is only one fanatical side to this issue: those who, like
Marianne here, want to ban all abortions. No one on the opposite
side -- and I am about as opposite as anyone gets -- wants to
terminate all pregnancies. Rather, we understand that pregnancy
is a complicated issue that affects women in many different ways,
and that there are some circumstances where some women feel they
would be better off with an abortion. We believe that this should
be a free and responsible choice, and to make this a real choice
for all women requires that we isolate it from the encumbrances
of government regulation and economic pressure.
I've long thought that conservatives and libertarians should be
strong supporters of abortion rights. Libertarians cherish freedom,
and freedom is the ability to make free choices -- among which one
of the most important is whether to bear and raise children. Not
everyone who wants children is able to have them, but safe abortion
at least makes it possible to choose not to have children. As for
conservatives, they always stress the responsibilities parenthood
infers. It would be perverse if they did not allow those who felt
themselves unable to assume the responsibility of raising children
the option of not having them. Indeed, in the past have sometimes
wanted to impose limits on the fertility of those they deemed unfit
to raise children (e.g., the forced sterilization of the eugenics
movement). Consequently, the hard turn of Republicans against free
access to abortion and birth control has always struck me as bad
faith: a political ploy, initially to capture votes of Catholics
and Southern Baptists, who had traditionally voted Democratic. I
first noticed this in Bob Dole's 1972 Senate campaign, and I never
forgave him for politicizing the issue. (He was being challenged
by William Roy, a ob/gyn who had occasionally performed abortions,
which were legal in Kansas well before Roe v. Wade. Until
that time Kansas Democrats were more likely to be anti-abortion
than Republicans. Using abortion as a partisan tactic may have
started with Nixon's 1972 "silent majority"/"southern strategy."
It was especially successful in Missouri. See
How abortion became a partisan issue in America.)
Abortion rights are desirable if there are any circumstances where
abortion is a reasonable choice. Most people recognize rape and incest
as valid reasons, as well as the health of the woman and/or the fetus.
Beyond that there arise lots of possible economic and psychological
concerns, which can only really be answered by the woman (with the
advice of anyone she chooses to consult). We generally, if not always
consistently, recognize that our freedom is rooted in a right to
privacy. Since a decision to terminate has no broader repercussions,
there is no good reason for the government to get involved. (One might
argue that a decision not to terminate might concern the state, in
that it would wind up paying for the child's education and health
care, but no one who supports abortion rights is seeking that sort
of oversight. China's "one child" policy is an example, but no one
here is arguing for the state to enforce such a thing.)
Regardless of how cynical Republican leaders were when they jumped
on the anti-abortion bandwagon, they learned to love it because it
dovetailed with the prejudices and fears they exploited (Jason Stanley
has a handy list, in his recent book, How Fascism Works), while
doing little to detract from their main objective: making the rich
richer, and building a political machine to keep the riches coming.
(Thomas Frank, in his 2004 book What's the Matter With Kansas?,
tried to expose their two-faced cynicism, but he wound up only agitating
the anti-abortion mobsters into demanding more results for their votes.)
Marianne's post is full of such prejudices, even while she tries to
paper over others. But while the first line refers to the Alabama
law, she'd rather turn the tables by accusing "stupid liberals" of
wanting to kill babies the instant before birth. That would be a
symmetrically opposite point of view, but even if legal it's not a
real something anyone would do.
Some links on the Alabama law and the assault on abortion rights:
Trump and top Republicans distance themselves from Alabama's controversial
abortion law. I take this as evidence it's polling very badly. Trump
has never put much thought into abortion, and probably doesn't care, as
strange as that seems given how much impact he has had on the issue. Back
in 2016, he was asked whether women who sought abortions should be
prosecuted, and he guessed they should. That was one of the very few
instances where he took back a statement -- something he never did
when criticized for sympathizing with Nazis and other racists, or
spouting his own racist slurs on immigrants and "shithole countries."
Those are things he has deep convictions about. Anti-abortion is just
something he has to play along with because the base expects it.
Why some anti-abortion conservatives think Alabama's abortion law goes
Elizabeth Dias/Sabrina Tavernise/Alan Blinder:
'This is a wave': inside the network of anti-abortion activists winning
across the country.
Why the anti-abortion movement stopped making allowances for rape and
Abortion is morally good:
Were I still Evangelical, and still longed to end abortion, I'd have many
reasons to celebrate. When your enemies pick up your arguments and tolerate
your allies in their midst, you can be relatively confident that you've
achieved the social and political dominance that you've worked toward for
years. Milano and the DCCC have walked directly into a trap that abortion
opponents set for them, and they don't even seem to realize what they've
done. Anything less but the prioritization of women over the pregnancies
they carry cedes ground the left cannot afford to lose.
I'm an anti-abortion Christian. But Alabama's ban will do more harm than
The GOP has its final anti-abortion victory in sight: "Stripping voter
rights. Rigging the Supreme Court. Dull procedural tricks. It's all paying
off at once."
Anna North, who also wrote the three articles linked above:
Renee Bracey Sherman:
Recent abortion bans will impact poor people and people of color most.
Alabama's near-total abortion ban is the ultimate elevation of the "unborn"
The abortion fight and the pretense of precedent.
Most Alabama voters don't support their state's exemption-free abortion
Some scattered links this week:
Alexia Fernández Campbell:
Farmers are losing patience with Trump's trade war.
Trump is making the same US mistake in the Middle East yet again.
Helene Cooper/Edward Wong:
Skeptical US allies resist Trump's new claims of threats from Iran.
Meanwhile, the lame-brains in the Trump administration get carried away:
see Eric Schmitt/Julian E Barnes:
White House reviews military plans against Iran, in echoes of Iraq War.
They're talking about deploying 120,000 troops, which seems like a lot but
is actually the same number they used in 2003 to do such a bang-up job in
Iraq -- a country about one-third the size of Iran (both in area and in
population). For more details, see Fred Kaplan:
War with Iran wouldn't be like Iraq: "It would be worse."
The secret vote that could wipe away consumer rights.
Isabel Debre/Raphael Satter:
Facebook busts Israel-based campaign to disrupt elections.
'I did my best to stop American foreign policy': Bernie Sanders on
Nicholas Fandos/Maggie Haberman:
House panel investigates obstruction claims against Trump lawyers.
David A Farenthold/Jonathan O'Connell:
Trump's prized Doral resort is in steep decline, according to company
documents, showing his business problems are mounting.
Bolton in Wonderland: "The only upside to Bolton's dangerous aggression
toward Iran is that it may put him too far out in front of Trump."
America's long, rich history of pretending systemic racism doesn't
America needs a permanent anti-war movement: "Public apathy toward
relatively small-scale military actions makes war with Iran more likely."
Actually, most cities have anti-war organizations, but they don't get
enough support, especially as we're swamped with domestic crises and
more attention is paid to conventional politics (because Republicans
are so bad more people in their desperation support Democrats).
Elizabeth Warren's new policy rollout targets Pentagon corruption.
Fossil fuels are underpriced by a whopping $5.2 trillion: "We can't
take on climate change without properly pricing coal, oil, and natural
gas. But it's a huge political challenge."
Austrian government collapses over Russia scandal.
Countervailing powers: the forgotten economic idea Democrats need to
rediscover. Klein is right that hardly anyone uses the term these
days, but I grew up with it, and still refer to it often. I'm not sure
where I got the idea, but Klein starts with John Kenneth Galbraith's
1952 book, American Capitalism: The Concept of Countervailing
Power. The idea is to build up multiple sources of power to work
against the abuses that follow from concentrations of wealth and power.
(The maxim I learned alongside this was "power corrupts, and absolute
power corrupts absolutely.") Klein also cites a recent book, Tim Wu's
The Curse of Bigness: Antitrust in the New Gilded Age.
Springtime for autocrats: "How Trump just legitimized one of Europe's
most anti-democratic leaders." Hungary's Viktor Orbán visits the White
Venezuela's collapse is the worst outside of war in decades, economists
Mark Landler/Maggie Haberman/Eric Schmitt:
Trump tells Pentagon chief he does not want war with Iran. This
was the story which led Steven Colbert to exclaim, "I hope this doesn't
get taken out of context, but thank God Donald Trump is president."
Before I give Trump any credit on this score, I want to see him fire
John Bolton, and tweet about how Bolton's been subverting his efforts
to get along peacefully with the world. Even then, the fact that he
hired Bolton never boded well.
The House just passed a sweeping LGBTQ rights bill.
Why prescription drugs cost more in America: Video. Also a link to
The true story of America's sky-high prescription drug prices.
William Barr delivers chilling message to FBI for Trump. "If you
come at the king, you best not miss"?
On refugees, the Trump administration is competent and malevolent.
President Trump's new immigration proposal would be terrible for
Trump's social media bias reporting project is a data collection tool
in disguise: "Instead of cracking down on violent extremism, the
government is collecting email addresses."
United States and Venezuela: a historical background.
The fog of ambition: Review of George Packer: Our Man: Richard
Holbrooke and the End of the American Century.
The Trump economy is hurting most Americans. Statistics won't fool voters.
Bezos offers absurd and hypocritical reason for his massive space plan:
He thinks we have to sustain economic growth indefinitely, even beyond the
carrying capacity of Earth, which can only be done by escaping into space.
Which I suppose means he can't imagine post-capitalism, even though there
are dozens of books on the subject, and dozens more on sustainable economies.
Maybe he should drop in on a local book store? His scheme would be deemed
so crackpot he could never get funding from government let alone banks, but
seeing as he's on track to become Earth's first trillionaire, we're tempted
to take him seriously. That is an irony of capitalism: sometimes a blessing,
sometimes a farce.
Brian M Rosenthal:
'They were conned': how reckless loans devastated a generation of taxi
drivers. Or what happens when you allow a secondary market for a
limited number of licenses.
Trump gives up the game he's playing with Congress during Fox News
interview: "Trump admits he's relying on the courts -- not Congress --
to change policy."
Trump's reckless "treason" accusation against the FBI, explained.
Trump pardons billionaire fraudster who wrote glowing book about
him: Conrad Black, "a former media mogul and business partner,"
convicted for fraud and obstruction of justice, author of a 2016 piece
"Trump is the good guy," the pardon citing his "tremendous contributions
to business, as well as to political and historical thought." Also
pardoned at the same time, Patrick Nolan. (See Aaron Blake:
The very political pattern of Trump's pardons.) The latter article
has a number of examples, notably
Dinesh D'Souza, convicted for campaign finance fraud, author of a
number of awful books and films, inventor of the "angry Kenyan" Obama
The liberal embrace of war: "American interventionists learned a lesson
from Iraq: pre-empt the debate. Now everyone is for regime change." He
seems to have jumped the gun here, for while the liberal media heads he
cites (e.g., Rachel Maddow) readily echoed the Bolton line on Venezuela
and Iran, actual Democratic politicians have been less eager to topple
foreign regimes. Jonathan Chait points this out:
Taibbi's 'liberal embrace of war' screed cites zero liberals embracing
war. I'd score that one for Chait, although I don't fault Taibbi's
worries about Democrats enabling Republican warmongering. As for the
"liberal" media, also see: James North:
US mainstream media is contributing to rising risk of war with Iran.
Nor is Chait above concocting his own shady, twisted titles:
Bernie Sanders wants to destroy the best schools poor urban kids have.
He means charter schools, which only succeed (relatively) in places where
public schools have been grossly neglected (partly by politicians moving
funds to charter schools). For more on Sanders' plan, see Dylan Scott:
Bernie Sanders rolls out education plan that cracks down on charter
schools; also Nikhil Goyal:
Bernie's plan to save public schools.
An expert's 7 principles for solving America's housing crisis.
The raging controversy over Ronald Sullivan, Harvey Weinstein, and Harvard,
Bernie Sanders and AOC's plan to crack down on high-interest loans,
explained: They call it the Stop Loan Sharks Act, by capping
interest on things like credit cards at 15% (still sounds high to
Trump's puzzling trade war with China, sort of explained: Useful
survey of Trump's side of the tariff war, credits Trump with more
smarts than the evidence suggests: "Precisely because the trade war
is an inherently lose-lose situation, any possible resolution of it
is a win." But that assumes that the trade war will end some day,
and that everyone will have forgotten about the costs of starting
Joe Biden's surprisingly controversial claim that Trump is an aberration,
explained. Cites some critiques:
There's an interesting chart here showing that
only a quarter of Clinton's ads primarily centered on policy,
"a much lower number than any previous 21st-century campaign."
That slack was made up by attacking Trump personally, trying to
isolate him from the Republican Party, which not only didn't do
Clinton much good, it also didn't help Democrats down ticket.
Compare that to 2018, when Democrats focused on policy issues
(like health care).
Kamala Harris wants public defenders to get paid as much as
The disaster aid fight shows just how unprepared Congress is to deal with
the effects of climate change. As an engineer, one of my core beliefs
is that it's much cheaper and much more effective to prevent faults than
to repair and compensate for disasters. But despite the title, that isn't
the core problem here. (Even if it were, some natural disasters are way
beyond our power to prevent. And while there is no doubt that climate
change increases the number and severity of disasters, there is no quick
and easy solution to that, either.) The immediate problem is that at the
same time we're being hit with more and more disasters, Republicans have
decided they don't want to pay for disaster relief, largely because it
runs counter to their belief that government shouldn't involve itself in
helping people (at least not Puerto Ricans).
Saturday, May 18, 2019
Disconnected red speaker posts at 4:06 PM, then turned amplifier back
Monday, May 13, 2019
Expanded blog post,
Music: current count 31498  rated (+29), 249  unrated (+1).
Weird how these weekly totals keep landing on 29 (6th time so far this
year). Should have been less, given that I drove to the Tulsa area on
Wednesday, returning Friday evening. Took my travel cases for the car,
nothing remotely new in them. Packed the Chromebook, but inadvertently
left it at home. Supposedly I can check email and web on phone, plus
a million apps including Napster, but I've never got the hang of that.
My second cousin down there swears she does everything with Siri, and
I could see how that might be better than trying to type on a clumsy
and error-prone touch screen. As a confirmed Apple-phobe, that isn't
even an option I'd consider, but I gather Samsung has something along
those lines (bixby?). I suppose I should look into that. Meanwhile, I
seem to be the only person I know who can go 3-4 days between charges,
so I take comfort in that.
I wanted to visit my cousin Duan, second son of my mother's oldest
sister, Lola. I hadn't been down there since his older brother, Harold,
passed several years ago, and he's up to 92 now. He's lived in/around
Bristow as long as I can remember -- we went to visit Aunt Lola every
couple months when I was young, and by then Harold and Duan had their
families, my second cousins just a couple years younger than I was, so
we were fairly close. Harold and Duan were drafted into WWII, and Duan
got called back for the Korean War. That seems to have qualified him
for living in the Veterans Center in Claremore, where he moved a few
months ago. Probably a good place for him at this stage, but not one
I'd ever look forward to (not a prospect with my 4F). Can't say as we
had good talks, but was good to see him.
I saw live music twice in Oklahoma, although nothing I can recommend.
The first was a free concert at the Veterans Center, with a c&w
singer who called himself Cowboy, and who toured with a dwarf pony in
tow -- something the vets seemed to appreciate. He mostly played Merle
Haggard songs (and nothing as obvious as "Okie From Muskogee"; more
like "Silver Wings"). One bizarre moment: he had a little girl bring
him up a disguise designed to make him look like Elvis Presley, then
launched into a medley of three r&b songs ("Lawdy Miss Clawdy,"
"See See Rider," don't recall the third), suggesting not only that
even today black music was only acceptable if dressed up as white.
He then played a fourth Elvis song, something late and not black,
and didn't bother with the disguise for that. Blackface has gone out
of fashion, but whiteface still works in Oklahoma. (There were a few
black residents at the Center, but they were a tiny minority, and I
don't recall any at the show.)
Second live music experience was attending a recital at the Coweta
High School of their various band ensembles, starting with 6th grade.
All three of my second-cousin's granddaughters played there, among at
least a hundred others. No strings, but lots of flutes and clarinets --
I counted 12 and 18 in the high school band -- a few saxophones, the
odd oboe or bassoon, a fair amount of brass, and a pretty substantial
investment in percussion (including a featured percussion ensemble).
Best was a pair of Cuban tunes. More typical were the Andrew Lloyd
Weber medleys. Lasted over two hours, which was exhausting for all
(huge crowd, by the way). They made passing reference to also having
a jazz ensemble, but nothing I heard fit that bill.
Given that hole in my week, the only way I got to 29 was by streaming
oldies. I started by looking for Betty Carter's album with Ray Charles.
Napster didn't have it, or for that matter much of anything else after
Charles left Atlantic for ABC. I mostly know his Atlantics through the
1991 Rhino 3-CD box, The Birth of Soul (my grade: A), but since
the individual albums were available, I worked through them, yielding
most of this week's pick hits. That also got me Ray Charles Presents
David 'Fathead' Newman, and I followed that up with a few more of
Newman's records (especially his early HighNotes). I didn't go very
deep there, as I've never found him to be especially remarkable.
After I got back from Oklahoma, I played the new Greg Abate record,
so I took a look at his back catalog. He's a mainstream saxophonist,
more rooted in bebop than swing, and I especially liked his 2014
album Motif, so I was more hopeful there. I skipped a few
things like his samba album, but got a fairly good sense of where
he's come from. Several very nice albums, the best being one with
Alan Barnes. The next logical step would be to see what else I can
find by Barnes. My database lists six of his albums, all Penguin
Guide ***(*)-rated, but I haven't heard any of them yet. Surprised
I've missed him, although I have rated records he shared but I've
filed under other names: Tony Coe, Scott Hamilton, Warren Vaché.
Revisited the latest Coathangers album this week, after
Robert Christgau gave it an A-. As I recall, Michael Tatum also
likes the album. I gave it a B+(***) on one or two plays back in March,
and found that my review didn't need much tweaking. I played his other
pick, Priests' The Seduction of Kansas, after the break, so next
week for it and Camp Cope's How to Socialise & Make Friends --
both good, high B+ records.
New records reviewed this week:
- Greg Abate with the Tim Ray Trio: Gratitude: Stage Door Live @ The Z (2019, Whaling City Sound): [cd]: B+(***)
- Rebecca DuMaine and the Dave Miller Combo: Chez Nous (2018 , Summit): [cd]: B+(**)
- Peter Jensen & DR Big Band: Stand on Your Feet and Fight: Voices of the Danish West Indies (2018 , ILK): [cd]: B+(*)
- Ellynne Rey: The Birdsong Project (2019, self-released): [cd]: B
- Gwilym Simcock: Near and Now (2018 , ACT): [r]: B
- Aki Takase Japanic: Thema Prima (2018 , BMC): [r]: B+(***)
- The United States Air Force Band: The Jazz Heritage Series: 2019 Radio Broadcasts (2019, self-released, 4CD): [cd]: C-
- Wayne Wallace Latin Jazz Quintet: The Rhythm of Invention (2019, Patois): [cd]: B+(*)
- Greg Abate Quartet: Bop City: Live at Birdland (1991, Candid): [r]: B+(***)
- Greg Abate: Straight Ahead (1992 , Candid): [r]: B+(**)
- Greg Abate Quintet: Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde (1995, Candid): [r]: B+(*)
- Greg Abate Quintet: Bop Lives! (1996, Blue Chip JAzz): [r]: B+(**)
- Greg Abate: Evolution (2002, 1201 Music): [r]: B+(***)
- Greg Abate/Alan Barnes: Birds of a Feather (2007 , Woodville): [r]: A-
- Ray Charles: Ray Charles (1953-56 , Atlantic): [r]: A
- Ray Charles: The Great Ray Charles (1956 , Atlantic): [r]: B+(**)
- Ray Charles: The Genius After Hours (1956-57 , Atlantic): [r]: B+(**)
- Ray Charles: Yes Indeed! (1952-58 , Atlantic): [r]: A-
- Ray Charles: What'd I Say (1952-59 , Atlantic): [r]: A
- Ray Charles: The Genius of Ray Charles (1959, Atlantic): [r]: B+(**)
- Ray Charles: Ray Charles in Person (1959 , Atlantic): [r]: B+(*)
- Ray Charles: Ray Charles Live (1958-59 , Atlantic): [r]: B+(***)
- Ray Charles: The Genius Sings the Blues (1952-60 , Atlantic): [r]: B+(***)
- David "Fathead" Newman: Fathead: Ray Charles Presents David 'Fathead' Newman (1958 , Atlantic): [r]: B+(*)
- David Newman: Fire! At the Village Vanguard (1988 , Atlantic): [r]: B+(**)
- David "Fathead" Newman: Chillin' (1998 , HighNote): [r]: B+(*)
- David "Fathead" Newman: Keep the Spirits Singing (2000 , HighNote): [r]: B+(*)
- David "Fathead" Newman: The Gift (2002 , HighNote): [r]: B+(*)
- David "Fathead" Newman: Song for the New Man (2004, HighNote): [r]: B+(***)
Grade (or other) changes:
- The Coathangers: The Devil You Know (2019, Suicide Squeeze): [r]: [was B+(***)] A-
Unpacking: Found in the mail last week:
- Charlie Apicella & Iron City: Groove Machine (OA2): May 17
- Fred Hersch & the WDR Big Band: Begin Again (Palmetto): June 7
- The Pete McGuinness Jazz Orchestra: Along for the Ride (Summit): June 7
- Scheen Jazzorkester & Thomas Johansson: As We See It . . . (Clean Feed)
- Marcus Shelby Orchestra: Transitions (MSO): June 7
- Rodney Whitaker: Common Ground: The Music of Gregg Hill (Origin): May 17
Sunday, May 12, 2019
I spent much of the week in Oklahoma, visiting my 92-year-old cousin,
his two daughters, and various other family. I packed my Chromebook, then
forgot it, so went a few days without my usual news sources -- not that
anything much changed while I was away. Trying to catch up here, including
a few links that seem possibly useful for future reference.
Looks pretty obvious from my "recent reading" sidebar that I'm in
a gloomy mood about the viability of democracy in this nation. The
odd book out is subtitled "On the Writing Process" -- thought that
might inspire me to write about it, and it has made me a bit more
self-conscious in my writing. The one I recommend most is Jason
Stanley's How Fascism Works: The Politics of Us and Them.
I lumped it into a list in my recent
Book Reports, but it's well thought out and clear, with a fair
smattering of historical examples but more focused on here and now:
things you will recognize. I rather wish there was a more generic
word than "fascism": one with less specific historical baggage,
one that can be used in general discourse without tripping off
unnecessary alarms. On the other hand, as a leftist, I've always
had a keen nose for generic fascism, so the word suits my purposes
just fine. I have, in fact, been using it since the 1970s, which
is one reason the modern American conservative movement always
seems to coherent and predictable.
Some scattered links this week:
More US pressure on North Korea is not the path to denuclearization.
Matt Apuzzo/Adam Satariano:
Russia is targeting Europe's elections. So are far-right copycats.
I don't doubt Russia's capacity for spreading cyber-havoc, but isn't
it more likely that Russia is the copycat, echoing and amplifying the
Andrew J Bacevich:
Why did we fight the Iraq War? Review of Michael J Mazarr's book,
Leap of Faith: Hubris, Negligence, and America's Greatest Foreign
Trump is a bad businessman. Is he a tax cheat, too?
Once again, the US embarrasses itself on climate change.
It will be very hot and very wet -- we've exceeded 415ppm of carbon
dioxide for the first time since the pliocene.
The Complete Mercenary: "How Erik Prince used the rise of Trump to
make an improbable comeback."
US fossil fuel subsidies exceed Pentagon spending: "according to
a new report from the International Monetary Fund."
Revenge of the coastal elites: "How California, Oregon and Washington
are winning the fight against Trump's hateful policies."
Neil Eggleston/Joshua A Geitzer:
The court handling Trump's lawsuit must move at breakneck speed: "The
president deserves his day in court. But the American people deserve that
day to come quickly."
A farewell to arms control? "With Trump and Bolton at the helm, the
international arms control regime is effectively dead."
What's behind Bolton's attacks on the 'troika of tyranny'? "Bolton's
broadsides against Cuba, Nicaragua, and Venezuela hint at ambitions for
much more dangerous geopolitical conflict -- and nothing short of a new
Cold War." You might think this impossible with the Soviet Union gone,
and Russia more focused on promoting right-wing extremism, but the real
enemy the US faced in the Cold War was always the workers and peasants
oppressed by capitalists and their oligarchic allies, and that's an
"enemy" that still exists.
Niall Ferguson/Eyck Freymann:
The coming generation war: "The Democrats are rapidly becoming the
party of the young -- and the consequences could be profound." There
are few scholars I hold in lower regard than Ferguson, but there are
enough charts and numbers here to let you think. I still think that
class matters more than age, probably other demographic factors as
well, but I wouldn't be surprised that age skews as advertised in all
categories. Maybe you could object that class rises with age -- as
successful people accumulate wealth, the poor die off younger -- but
the rich are such a slim slice of the population even a big skew is
unlikely to amount to much.
O billionaires!: Review of Michael R Bloomberg: Bloomberg by
Bloomberg and Howard Schultz/Joanne Gordon: From the Ground Up:
A Journey to Reimagine the Promise of America. One thing about
these political wannabes: they'll never be accused of being traitors
to their class.
Putin and Trump's ominous nostalgia for the Second World War.
The roots of Trumpian agitprop.
Bernie Sanders's political revolution on foreign policy, explained.
Related: Zack Beauchamp:
What should a left foreign policy look like? An Elizabeth Warren adviser
offers his vision. An interview with Ganesh Sitaraman, whose
The emergence of progressive foreign policy. I still find parts of
this disturbing, like the insistence on maintaining military alliances
like NATO, as opposed to negotiating demilitarization and de-escalating
conflicts through more even-handed institutions like the United Nations.
Also, the shift in focus needs to be clearer: for a long time US foreign
policy has mostly been dictated by the needs of multinational corporations,
with little if any concern for economic justice, either for the majority
of Americans or for people around the world.
The Democratic counterrevolution has a self-appointed leader: Josh
Has Trump actually done anything about drug prices?
William Hartung/Mandy Smithberger:
A dollar-by-dollar tour of the national security state: How a "base
budget" of $554.1 billion adds up to $1.2542 trillion.
Creeping toward tyranny: I haven't read Hedges for a few years
now, so it hadn't quite sunk in how his principled hypersensitivity
has decayed into an all-consuming pessimism (of the intellect, but
also of the will):
Capitalists, throughout history, have backed fascism to thwart even
the most tepid forms of socialism. All the pieces are in place. The
hollowing out of our democratic institutions, which cannot be blamed
on Trump, makes tyranny inevitable.
Bad timing to exempt Trump from any blame right now, as his defiance
of Congressional subpoenas, his rejection (veto) of resolutions ending
his border "state of emergency" and Yemen War support, and his unilateral
sabre rattling over Venezuela and Iran are unprecedented. Still, he's
right that the signs anticipated and enabled Trump. Indeed, we're likely
to look back on his Bush-era books and accord him the honor of being our
first major "premature anti-fascist" (as Americans who fought against the
Fascists in Spain were labelled after the US declared war on Germany and
Italy). The only real problem with his 2007 American Fascists: The
Christian Right and the War on America was in focusing on gullible
Christians rather than their secular manipulators. The last book I read
by him was The Death of the Liberal Class (2010), which anticipated
Thomas Frank's Listen, Liberal (2016), his broadside on mainstream
Democrats. But when I checked out Hedges' latest book, America: The
Farewell Tour, I couldn't get into it. I'm past needing to learn how
bad it can get.
Right-wing Israeli author writes "The Virtue of Nationalism" -- and
accidentally exposes its pitfalls: On Yoram Hazony. Pull quote:
"Alongside Israel, there are two other countries Hazony claims have
been similarly victimized by the shaming campaigns of liberals and
globalists: apartheid South Africa and Serbia under the dictatorship
of Slobodan Milosevic."
Juan Guaidó makes open plea for US military coordination in Venezuela.
Trump has a new solution for poverty: pretend poor people don't exist:
"A proposal to redefine 'poverty' would throw potentially millions of
low-income people out of government-assistance programs."
E Tammy Kim:
Do corporations like Amazon and Foxconn need public assistance?
US-China trade talks end with no deal -- and more tariffs.
Trump to Congress: pass legislation to end surprise medical bills:
"The president has a good idea on health care -- and one that could actually
Climate change and the new age of extinction: Until now, or maybe
I just mean recently, this hasn't had much to do with climate.
To keep nearly eight billion people fed, not to mention housed, clothed,
and hooked on YouTube, humans have transformed most of the earth's surface.
Seventy-five per cent of the land is "significantly altered," the I.P.B.E.S.
noted in a summary of its report, which was released last week in Paris.
In addition, "66 per cent of the ocean area is experiencing increasing
cumulative impacts, and over 85 per cent of wetlands (area) has been lost."
Approximately half the world's coral cover is gone. In the past ten years
alone, at least seventy-five million acres of "primary or recovering forest"
have been destroyed.
Habitat destruction and overfishing are, for now, the main causes of
biodiversity declines, according to the I.P.B.E.S., but climate change is
emerging as a "direct driver" and is "increasingly exacerbating the impact
of other drivers." Its effects, the report notes, "are accelerating."
Watson wrote last week, in the Guardian, that "we cannot solve
the threats of human-induced climate change and loss of biodiversity in
isolation. We either solve both or we solve neither."
Related: Brad Plumer:
Humans are speeding extinction and altering the natural world at an
'unprecedented' pace. Also: Robert Watson:
Loss of biodiversity is just as catastrophic as climate change;
Human society under urgent threat from loss of Earth's natural life;
What is biodiversity and why does it matter to us?.
Want to expand Medicare? Then answer the $5 trillion questions.
"If you think the fight with insurance companies is tough, just wait
until single-payer advocates have to go head-to-head with doctors."
Admits that switching to "Medicare for All" could save overall health
care costs ($2.1 trillion is the number given), but that assumes cost
cuts, only 20% of which come from eliminating the insurance companies,
with 70% expected to come from paying doctors and hospitals less. I
don't see much of a problem here, although as usual the devil is in
the details. Big chunks of that 70% can be recovered without hitting
the wages of doctors, nurses, and other essential personnel. I also
see reason to cap top earners, but that's something that should be
done not just with doctors and administrators -- inequality is a
problem everywhere. On the other hand, why not just focus on easy
wins like cutting the private insurance companies out?
Beto's long history of failing upward: I've tended to resist citing
links on candidates, but this one is fairly deep. O'Rourke is one I don't
have much enthusiasm for, but while this is sharply critical, it doesn't
really lower my estimation of him.
A reporter's long, strange trip into the darkest parts of the American
mind: Review of Anna Merlan's new book, Republic of Lies: American
Conspiracy Theorists and Their Surprising Rise to Power. With a
picture of Alex Jones.
Trump, the billion-dollar loser -- I was his ghostwriter and saw it
Who owns South Africa?: "A fiercely debated program of land reform could
address racial injustice -- or cause chaos."
Are we in a constitutional crisis? "This is how democracy ends: not with
a bang, but with a long and technical debate over whether we're using the
65 years after Brown v Board of Education, school segregation is getting
North Dakota quietly decriminalized marijuana.
Is noise pollution the next big public-health crisis? Owen has a
book coming out this fall: Volume Control: Hearing in a Deafening
Bolton is spinning Israeli 'intelligence' to push for war against Iran.
Related: Sharmini Peries:
The Trump Administration is manufacturing an Iran crisis.
- Alex Ward:
Over 4 months after Mattis quit, Trump picks Patrick Shanahan as defense
James Reston Jr.:
Trump's other impeachable offense: "As Nixon learned, Congress will not
abide a president who defies its subpoenas."
Are we watching John Bolton's last stand? "Is John Bolton about to
get the Iran war he's always wanted, or is he on the verge of losing his
job?" I don't credit Trump with much insight or diligence on foreign
policy, but even so he must suspect that Bolton was a remarkably poor
pick as National Security Adviser. In particular, Bolton has his own
agenda, and has no scruples about contravening and undermining Trump's
own stated objectives. So it would make a lot of sense for Trump to
fire Bolton (and Pompeo, who is an only slightly less egregious hawk,
as well). Indeed, if I thought I'd get into the president's ear, I'd
write an op-ed taunting Trump to do just that, justifying it as key
to his 2020 re-election prospects. I'm still convinced that a major
reason Trump beat Clinton in 2016 was her "commander-in-chief test,"
where she came off as the more dangerous hawk. Hiring Bolton undoes
much of Trump's edge there, even if he doesn't trick Trump into much
Eric Hobsbawm, the communist who explained history: Review of Richard
Evans' biography, Eric Hobsbawm: A Life in History, referring back
to Hobsbawm's own memoir, Interesting Times, and various of his
books like The Age of Extremes (on the 20th century).
A new brain study shows a better way to engage voters on climate change:
Call it "climate crisis."
Trump turns shooting migrants into a punchline at Florida rally.
Unconscious bias is running for president: "On Elizabeth Warren and the
false problem of "likeability." Recommended by a Facebook friend, this is
a bit more than half right, but suffers from an as-yet-unnamed form of
specious argument related to the "mansplaining" that Solnit has written
extensively about. I don't doubt that the prejudices she decries are real,
but the "privileges" she seeks to overthrow have never struck me as worth
much. On the other hand, note that Warren's response to these prejudices
hasn't been to whine about them. She's talking to the so-called privileged,
and seems to be winning them over: Alex Thompson:
Trump backers applaud Warren in heart of MAGA country.
Trump lost $1 billion over 10 years, New York Times report shows:
"So much for Trump's brand as a savvy, self-made business leader."
On the trail with Bernie Sanders 2.0.
Time's up for capitalism. But what comes next? "Every day, we help
decide how the future will unfold. But how do we cast ballots for a
democracy that doesn't yet exist?" Adapted from her forthcoming book,
Democracy May Not Exist but We'll Miss It When It's Gone. I've
long meant to read her previous book, The People's Platform: Taking
Back Power and Culture in the Digital Age (2014), recommended by
Let's hit the pause button on more space for prosecutors: op-ed on
prison overcrowding here in Wichita.
The constitutional system is not build to resist Trump's defiance of
Trump's Iran policy is making war more likely.
Trump would have been charged with obstruction were he not president,
hundreds of former federal prosecutors assert.
I don't have much to say about Game of Thrones, but I was struck
by this ratiocination by
"But it's one thing for Daenerys to act like Bush, and another for her
to act like Hitler." He's talking about the indiscriminate fire-bombing
of cities full of innocent civilians, but while Bush criminally started
wars, lied about his reasoning, rounded up and tortured supposed enemies,
disrupted the lives of millions doing irreparable harm, just to show the
world that it's more important to fear his "shock and awe" than to respect
his self-proclaimed beneficence, and while Hitler did those same things
on an even more epic scale, the most comparable historical example of a
leader laying waste to entire cities was Harry Truman -- who we generally
recall as an exceptionally decent and modest president.
You can say that war does that, even to otherwise decent people. You
can say that Hitler and Bush were worse than Truman because they started
wars whereas Truman was simply trying to end one he had inherited. (This
is not the place to get into how he escalated the Cold War and the Korean
War, which in many ways I find more troubling than his "final solution"
to WWII.) You can say that Hitler was worse than Bush because his desire
for war was more deeply rooted in the uncritical imperialism and racism
of the era, which made him even more vindictive and bloodthirsty. But
I'd also note that Truman was not above the prejudices of Hitler's era,
and that Bush (while less racist than Truman let alone Hitler) was, like
all conservatives ever, fully committed to traditional hierarchies of
wealth and power, which made it easy for him to run roughshod over all
I have no idea where Daenerys fits among this trio, as she is a
fictional character in an imaginary world. Even if she reflects the
world of her creators, she does so haphazardly and inconsistently.
Monday, May 06, 2019
Expanded blog post,
Music: current count 31469  rated (+29), 248  unrated (-7).
Had a low energy period after posting
April Streamnotes last
Monday, so I'm not surprised that the rated count dropped. If anything,
I'm surprised it's as high as it is, but that was mostly from streaming
back catalog of artists recently reviewed.
I speculated last week that Walt Weiskopf's Worldwide is his
best yet, but I had missed most of his 1990s albums, so I had to hedge.
There are still a couple things I haven't heard, but nothing old came
close to the new one -- best of the albums below is probably Siren
(1999). When I gave Betty Carter's The Music Never Stops an A-
a few weeks back, I noted lots of holes in my database. Scratching my
head for something to listen to, I remembered that, and plugged a few
of them (while being unable to find others). The new Teodross Avery
album also sent me back. No great finds from any of those excursions.
I also tried looking up the album Carter and Ray Charles did together
in 1961, but couldn't find it. I noticed then I had an unrated Charles
record, and wondered whether I could build a playlist to duplicate it
(as opposed to having to dig up my physical copy). Turns out there's
damn few of Charles' ABC records on Napster, but I still got 17/20
songs from Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music, while
the other three were easy to find on YouTube. Not quite an equivalent
listening experience, but close enough, I figured (especially given
that I recalled hearing nearly everything). I'll do a few more Ray
Charles albums next week, starting with the early Atlantics.
On the other hand, this week's two new A- records are ones I hadn't
read a thing about before they showed up. After months of second guessing
other folks' picks, I feel like I've done my job.
I'll be posting a new
(link always points to the latest Q&A).
New records reviewed this week:
- Teodross Avery: After the Rain: A Night for Coltrane (2019, Tompkins Square): [bc]: B+(***)
- The Campfire Flies: Sparks Like Litle Stars (2019, OverPop Music): [cd]: A-
- Mark Dresser Seven: Ain't Nothing but a Cyber Coup & You (2018 , Clean Feed): [cd]: B+(**)
- Satoko Fujii: Solo Piano: Stone (2018 , Libra): [cd]: B+(**)
- The Invisible Party: Shumankind (2017 , Chant): [cd]: A-
- Jon Lipscomb Quartet: Fodder (2016 , self-released): [bc]: B+(**)
- Rent Romus' Life's Blood Ensemble: Side Three: New Work (2018 , Edgetone): [cd]: B+(***)
- The Richard Shulman Trio: Waltzing out of Town (2019, RichHeart Music): [cd]: B+(*)
Recent reissues, compilations, and vault discoveries:
- Kinloch Nelson: Partly on Time: Recordings 1968-1970 (1968-70 , Tompkins Square): [bc]: B+(*)
- The Teodross Avery Quartet: In Other Words (1994, GRP): [r]: B+(**)
- Teodross Avery & the 5th Power: New Day, New Groove (1998 , 5th Power): [r]: B+(*)
- Teodross Avery: Bridging the Gap: Hop-Hop Jazz (2008, BTG Music): [r]: B-
- Betty Carter/Ray Bryant: Meet Betty Carter and Ray Bryant (1955-56 , Columbia): [r]: B+(*)
- Betty Carter: The Modern Sound of Betty Carter (1960, ABC): [r]: B+(*)
- Betty Carter: Inside Betty Carter (1964-65 , Capitol Jazz): [r]: B+(*)
- Betty Carter: Finally, Betty Carter (1969 , Roulette): [r]: B+(*)
- Betty Carter: At the Village Vanguard (1970 , Verve): [r]: B+(**)
- Betty Carter: The Betty Carter Album (1976 , Verve): [r]: B
- Ray Charles: Greatest Country and Western Hits (1962-66 , DCC): [r]: A-
- Jon Lipscomb: Solo Guitar Improvisations Vol. 1 (2016, self-released): [bc]: B+(*)
- Walt Weiskopf: Night Lights (1995, Double Time): [r]: B+(**)
- Walt Weiskopf: Song for My Mother (1995 , Criss Cross): [r]: B+(***)
- Walt Weiskopf: Sleepless Nights (1996 , Criss Cross): [r]: B+(***)
- Walt Weiskopf: Anytown (1998, Criss Cross): [r]: B+(**)
- Walt Weiskopf: Siren (1999, Criss Cross): [r]: B+(***)
- Walt Weiskopf: Man of Many Colors (2001 , Criss Cross): [r]: B+(***)
- Walt Weiskopf: Open Road (2014 , Posi-Tone): [r]: B+(***)
- Walt Weiskopf: Fountain of Youth (2016 , Posi-Tone): [r]: B+(**)
Unpacking: Found in the mail last week:
- Yoko Miwa Trio: Keep Talkin' (Ocean Blue Tear Music)
Sunday, May 05, 2019
No time to work on this, as I spent Sunday trying to break in a new
Mexican cookbook. Much of Saturday too, and more of Friday -- not that
I had even started then. The one story that dominated the interest of
the liberal media was Attorney General William Barr's Senate testimony
and his failure to appear before the House. I was tempted to tweet when
I looked at
Talking Points Memo and
they had devoted their entire front page to Barr (aside from one bit
on the implosion of Stephen Moore's Fed nomination).
Actually, this should have been a banner week for the media to pick
apart Trump's increasingly manic and deranged foreign policy. The US
hasn't been taken such a nakedly imperial stance toward Latin America
since FDR traded in his cousin's penchant for Gunboat Diplomacy for
the sunny promise of a Good Neighbor Policy. I didn't link to anything
below on Trump's phone call to Putin, mostly because no one seems to
know enough about it to write intelligently. But there were also fairly
major stories that could have been reported about Korea, China, Iran,
Egypt, Turkey, Yemen, and Israel/Palestine (where Netanyahu celebrated
his election victory by launching the heaviest assault on Gaza since
Some scattered links this week:
Alexia Fernández Campbell:
Jason Del Ray:
The making of Amazon Prime, the internet's most successful and devastating
Venezuela's Guaido 'consering asking US to invade. That'll really
convince the Venezuelan people he has their best interests at heart.
Trump wants to block Deutsche Bank from sharing his financial records.
Matt Gertz/Rob Savillo:
Major media outlets' Twitter accounts amplify false Trump claims on average
19 times a day.
Under Trump, the language we use to create political reality is
One of the most frightening things I've witnessed in recent months was
a very polite conversation in a well-lit room in the Ronald Reagan
Building, in Washington, D.C., on Monday. The director of policy
planning at the State Department, Kiron Skinner, was interviewed
onstage by a woman who used to hold her job: Anne-Marie Slaughter,
who is now the head of the New America Foundation (where I am a
fellow this year). . . .
I have heard talk like this before, in Russia. A government official
once told me that he "carried out emanations": not policies, laws, or
even orders but signals akin to what Skinner called "hunches and
instincts." It's what officials do in countries that are led by a
combination of ignorance and corruption.
David A Graham:
Why Stephen Moore's Fed bid failed.
Bill McKibben has been sounding the climate alarm for decades. Here's his
best advice. Interview with McKibben, whose new book is Falter:
Has the Human Game Begun to Play Itself Out?.
All of the impeachable offenses: "Focusing on the Mueller report
alone risks leaving out the obvious.
Trump has nominated Kelly Craft to be the next UN ambassador. Here's who
Trump's abortion lies are going to get somebody killed.
Tennessee passed a law that could make it harder to register voters.
Once again, 'NYT' distorts the news, dishonestly making Gazans the
aggressor and Israel the victim.
John Kelly joines board of company that detains migrant children.
Joshua Partlow/David A Fahrenthold:
At Trump golf course, undocumented employees said they were sometimes told
to work extra hours without pay.
Susan E Rice:
The real Trump foreign policy: stoking the GOP base: "Why else would
he pursue so many policies in Latin America that do not serve the national
interest?" What about the economic interests of his donors? Or their more
general hatred of popular rule (aka democracy)?
Charlie Savage/Eric Schmitt/Maggie Haberman:
Trump pushes to designate Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist group. Paul
Woodward, in linking to this, also linked to a background piece from Jan.
27, 2017: William McCants/Benjamin Wittes:
Should the Muslim Brotherhood be designated a terrorist organization?
The dangerous ideas of Bill Barr: "The attorney general's theory of
executive power places presidents above the law."
The left needs to stop crushing on the generals. I'd respond that the
left I know doesn't, but when you write for American Conservative
your perspective might be distorted enough to include some "leftists" I
For the record, tonight's Cinco de Mayo menu, nearly all from The
Best Mexican Recipes (America's Test Kitchen):
- Chicken adobo
- Braised short ribs with peppers and onion
- Cheese enchiladas
- Classic Mexican rice
- Skillet street corn
- Restaurant-style black beans
- Shrimp and lime ceviche
- Mango, jicama, and orange salad
- Cherry tomato and avocado salad
- Key lime pie
- Duce de leche cheesecake
I generally cut the hot peppers back by 50%. I made the beef and the
desserts the night before. Started around noon, aiming at 6pm dinner,
but it wound up closer to 7pm, putting a couple guests to work. Used a
gluten-free shell for the key lime pie, but made cheesecake crust from
scratch, using a box of caramel and sea salt cookies plus some graham
crackers. Used store-bought yellow corn tortillas, which were the weak
link in the enchiladas (otherwise pretty great). Ten people, so the
table was pretty crowded. Kitchen was a colossal mess, but got it
straightened out by bedtime.
I've never been a big fan of Mexican food, but figured I should give
it a try, especially given access to specialty grocers here. But when
I bought my first Mexican cookbook, I found it impenetrable. This one
is intentionally simplified, which helped get me started. This cookbook
didn't have any desserts, so I scrounged around the web, not finding
much that interested me. (I've made flan and rice pudding many times
before, but didn't want to do them here. And while I'm partial to cake,
tres leches isn't a favorite.) On the other hand, lime figures large
in the meal, and I had the pie shell on the shelf. The cheesecake was
a second thought, and turned out to be a nice complement.