Monday, June 29, 2020
Expanded blog post,
Music: Current count 33526  rated (+41), 211  unrated (-5).
Last Monday of the month, so spent most of the day doing bookkeeping
for the monthly roll-up (link above). Five weeks this month, so the
total is up -- 193 records, or 194 if you count the Hal Singer regrade,
which I slipped into "old music" instead of "grade changes" for context.
About half old music, with dives into records I had missed when a new
one (or a death or a
reader question) tempted me to look
further or some other reference).
Speaking of questions, I field ones about David Murray and James
Carter, and duck one on jazz books, in
my latest batch. Use
the form to ask me more.
Recommended music links: No systematic search, but these
are a few things I had open:
Johnny Mandel (94) also died this week.
New records reviewed this week:
- Al Bilali Soudan: Tombouctou (2020, Clermont Music): [r]: A-
- Jehnny Beth: To Love Is to Live (2020, Caroline): [r]: B+(*)
- Don Braden/Joris Teepe Quartet: In the Spirit of Herbie Hancock: Live at De Witte (2019 , O.A.P.): [r]: B+(***)
- Phoebe Bridgers: Punisher (2020, Dead Oceans): [r]: B+(**)
- Daniel Carter/Matthew Shipp/William Parker/Gerald Cleaver: Welcome Adventure! Vol. 1 (2019 , 577): [r]: B+(***)
- Caterpillar Quartet: Threads (2020, ESP-Disk): [cdr]: B+(**)
- Whit Dickey Trio: Expanding Light (2019 , Tao Forms): [r]: A-
- Beth Duncan: I'm All Yours (2020, Saccat): [cd]: B [07-24]
- Bob Dylan: Rough and Rowdy Ways (2020, Columbia): [r]: A-
- John Finbury: Quatro (2020, Green Flash Music): [cd]: B
- Jean-Marc Foussat/Daunik Lazro/Evan Parker: Café Oto 2020 (2020, Fou, 2CD): [cd]: B+(**)
- Wendy Gondeln/Mats Gustafsson/Wolfang Voigt: The Shithole Country & Boogie Band (2016-18 , Corbett vs. Dempsey): [bc]: B+(***)
- CeeLo Green: CeeLo Green Is Thomas Callaway (2020, Easy Eye Sound): [r]: B
- Haim: Women in Music Pt. III (2020, Columbia): [r]: B+(**)
- Hinds: The Prettiest Curse (2020, Mom + Pop): [r]: A-
- Jason Kao Hwang: Human Rites Trio (2019 , True Sound): [cd]: A- [07-01]
- Jumpstarted Plowhards: Round One (2019, Recess, EP): [r]: B+(*)
- Corb Lund: Agricultural Tragic (2020, New West): [r]: B+(**)
- Benjamin Moussay: Promontoire (2019 , ECM): [r]: B+(**)
- Bobby Previte/Jamie Saft/Nels Cline: Music From the Early 21st Century (2019 , RareNoise): [r]: B+(*)
- Sonar With David Torn: Tranceportation (Volume 2) (2019 , RareNoise): [bc]: B+(***)
- Alister Spence: Whirlpool: Solo Piano (2019 , Alister Spence Music, 2CD): [cd]: B+(*) [07-24]
- Dan Willis and Velvet Gentlemen: The Monk Project (2018-19 , Belle Avenue): [cd]: B [07-17]
- Adrian Younge & Ali Shaheed Muhammad: Jazz Is Dead 001 (2020, Jazz Is Dead, EP): [r]: B+(*)
- Adrian Younge & Ali Shaheed Muhammad: Jazz Is Dead 002: Roy Ayers (2020, Jazz Is Dead, EP): [r]: B+(**)
Recent reissues, compilations, and vault discoveries:
- Willem Breuker/Han Bennink: New Acoustic Swing Duo (1967-68 , Corbett vs. Dempsey, 2CD): [bc]: B+(***)
- Grayson Capps: South Front Street: A Retrospective 1997-2019 (1997-2019 , The Royal Potato Family): [r]: B+(*)
- Neil Young: Homegrown (1974-75 , Reprise): [r]: B+(**)
- Al Bilali Soudan: Al Bilali Souadn (2012, Clermont Music): [r]: B+(**)
- Don Braden Quintet: The Time Is Now (1991, Criss Cross): [r]: B+(**)
- Don Braden: Organic (1994 , Epicure): [r]: B+(**)
- Don Braden: Brighter Days (2001, High Note): [r]: B+(*)
- Milt Buckner & Hal Singer: Milt & Hal [The Defnitive Black & Blue Sessions] (1966 , Black & Blue): [r]: B+(**)
- Hyphy Hitz (2004-07 , TVT): [dl]: B+(***)
- Pharoah Sanders: Izipho Zam (My Gifts) (1969 , Strata-East): [yt]: B+(***)
- Hal Singer: Rent Party (1948-56 , Savoy Jazz): [r]: A-
- Hal Singer: Blues and News (1971, Futura): [r]: B+(**)
- Hal Singer/Jef Gilson: Soul of Africa (1974, Le Chant Du Monde): [r]: A-
- Hal Singer: Senior Blues (1991, Carrere): [r]: B+(**)
- Hal Singer & Massimo Faraň Trio: We're Still Buddies (2001 , Azzurra Music): [r]: B+(*)
- Hal Singer: Challenge (2010, Marge): [r]: A-
Grade (or other) changes:
- Hal Singer With Charlie Shavers: Blue Stompin' (1959 , Prestige/OJC): [r]: [was: B+] B+(***)
Unpacking: Found in the mail last week:
- Ricardo Grilli: 1962 (Tone Rogue) [07-10]
TomDispatch tweeted a link to the Robert Reich article I cited yesterday.
"Coddling dictators" isn't a strategy to get re-elected, but not escalating
conflicts by shaming other countries is a good idea; Trump's willingness
to deal with anyone could have been his saving grace in foreign relations;
too bad it's no good at it.
Sunday, June 28, 2020
Late-breaking tweet from @realDonaldTrump: "Nobody wants a Low IQ
person in charge of our Country," trying to deflect from the obvious
by adding that "Sleepy Joe is definitely a Low IQ person!" Sure, he's
never struck me as especially bright, but it's rather clever that
the Democrats are nominating someone Trump cannot attack without the
slanders reflecting back on him.
Trump's approval rate at 538 is down to 40.6%, with 56.1% disapprove.
That's the biggest split I can recall.
Officials warn defunding police could lead to spike in crime from
ex-officers with no outlet for violence. When I mentioned this to
my wife, she already had examples to cite. Article cites "L.A. police
chief Michel Moore" as saying:
The truth is that there are violent people in our society, and we need
a police department so they have somewhere to go during the day to
channel their rage. If these cuts are allowed to continue, we could
be looking at a very real future where someone with a history of
domestic abuse is able to terrorize their spouse with impunity
instead of being occupied testing out new tactical military equipment
or pepper-spraying some random teens. The fact that these dangerous
attackers and killers are being gainfully employed by the LAPD is
the only thing standing between us and complete chaos.
By the way, there is a
new batch of questions
and answers, not all on music. Ask more,
Some scattered links this week:
Vehicle attacks rise as extremists target protesters.
Isaac J Bailey:
We don't need to cancel George Washington. But we should be honest about
who he was. I agree with that. Washington, and for that matter Thomas
Jefferson, James Madison, and James Monroe are not just important figures
in American history, but can also still be inspiring. In some respects, I
could argue the same for Andrew Jackson and Woodrow Wilson, to pick two
highly problematic characters who have received some critical attention
recently. Nor am I much bothered by statues of Christopher Columbus,
although I can't think of any redeeming qualities he had. Again, the
history should be made clear, but I'm not sure the icons matter much.
The Confederates are one exception I'll grant: the sooner we get rid
of these tokens of white supremacy, the better. And I hope some day the
deliberately orchestrated plot to names things after Ronald Reagan gets
unrolled. Nothing good can be linked back to his legacy. And if you
don't want to melt all that "art" down, perhaps store it in a musty
museum somewhere -- as long as it's treated with the solemnity of
Auschwitz. By the way, I'm totally cool with
John Wayne airport could get a new name that doesn't celebrate a
homophobic white supremacist.
How the GOP gave up on governing in order to keep winning elections:
Excerpt from Benen's new book, The Impostors: How Republicans Quit
Governing and Seized American Politics. More on this "no governing"
Charles M Blow:
Can we call Trump a killer? Argues for "his culpability in the
neglectful handling of the coronavirus." That's a distinction I don't
find terribly interesting, but there are other cases where the evidence
is undeniable, like the assassination of Iranian Gen. Qasem Suleimani,
which Trump has bragged about. You might object that all US presidents
order killings abroad, but that's no excuse let alone comfort. Obama
got his first taste of blood when he ordered the killing of a Somali
pirate, and that just opened the floodgates, leading to hundreds of
drone killings and the summary execution of Osama Bin Laden, as well
as the Air Force's casual slaughter of bystanders. You might object
that the sheer numbers lost to Trump's delayed Covid-19 reaction and
premature re-opening far exceed the drone kill count (perhaps not the
military offensives), and besides here we're talking dead Americans,
but negligence is always messy to prove. On the other hand, where has
Trump not been negligent and careless? The Mexico border and Puerto
Rico are two cases that leap to mind, and I expect you can find bodies
there, too. On the other hand, calling him Killer is too likely to be
taken as flattery. I'll wait for the ICC indictments.
The Korean War atrocities no one wants to talk about. Technically,
the Korea War is America's longest running war -- 70 years this week --
because the US never had the decency to acknowledge that it was pointless
and over. But that's hardly the only thing the US remains in denial over.
More on Korea:
Trump is wrecking South Korea's relationship with North Korea.
How South Korea's pro-democracy movement fought to ban "murderous tear
We should celebrate the 70th anniversary of the Korean War by leaving:
"The US doesn't need to protect the south any more." More pointedly, the
US is keeping South Korea from negotiating its own separate peace -- as
such, the US presence is more threatening than reassuring.
Don't tie peace on the Korean Peninsula to denuclearization in the
North. We have managed to live with "hostile" powers possessing
nuclear weapons since 1950, and none have used those bombs against
us (unlike what the US did to Japan in 1945, when the US still had
a monopoly on such terror). The only thing that makes North Korea
different is that we've insisted on not formally ending the war
which de facto ended in 1953. The only way to lessen the threat is
to reduce the degree of hostility, which at present mostly takes
the form of crippling economic sanctions against the North, and
to open up formal lines of communication and trade. Recognizing
that North Korea has nuclear weapons and the rocketry to deliver
them is at this point common sense. Morever, it's clear that the
only reason they bothered to develop such useless weapons is to
force the US to recognize that they're too dangerous not to treat
with the basic respect that normal nations routinely show each
other. For more, see the Reckford article below, which also cites
the failure of sanctions against Cuba and Venezuela to produce
any results imagined as favorable to the US.
The Korean War started the trend of endless wars for America. How
do we change course?
The United States is not equipped to solve every global problem. No
nation is. In the case of the Korean War, our failure to close that
chapter of history has allowed mistrust to fester for so long that
détente seems impossible, despite the fact that lowering tensions
would protect U.S. interests in the region better than the status quo.
Uncovering the hidden history of the Korean War.
The US didn't bring freedom to South Korea -- its people did.
To have any chance at ending the Korea War, America must become more
Why Trump's 'maximum pressure' campaigns are a maximum failure.
Donald Trump's big problem with senior voters.
Kyle Cheney/Leah Nylen:
Prosecutor says he was pressured to cut Roger Stone 'a break' because
of his ties to Trump.
American Fascism: It has happened here.
American fascist energies today are different from 1930s European fascism,
but that doesn't mean they're not fascist, it means they're not European
and it's not the 1930s. They remain organized around classic fascist tropes
of nostalgic regeneration, fantasies of racial purity, celebration of an
authentic folk and nullification of others, scapegoating groups for economic
instability or inequality, rejecting the legitimacy of political opponents,
the demonization of critics, attacks on a free press, and claims that the
will of the people justifies violent imposition of military force. Vestiges
of interwar fascism have been dredged up, dressed up, and repurposed for
modern times. Colored shirts might not sell anymore, but colored hats are
Bernie's student army learns to live with Biden. Given time (and
Trump), stories like this were bound to appear.
Aaron Ross Coleman:
Protesters win a new investigation into Elijah McClain's death.
Nancy Cook/Adam Cancryn:
Trump team weights a CDC scrubbing to deflect mounting criticism.
Does he know anything about management other than "you're fired"?
What "defund the police" really means.
These protests feel different because they're shifting public opinion:
Interiew with Megan Ming Francis.
As she points out in her book, Civil Rights and the Making of the
Modern American State, the NAACP from 1909 to 1923 mobilized
state-building by first shifting public opinion, then creating change
within political and legal structures. And according to polls, opinion
is already shifting: In 2015, just 51 percent of Americans believed
racism is a big problem in the US; now 76 percent of Americans do.
The menacing symbolism of the noose: "Noose incidents are uncoincidentally
on the rise as protesters continue to demand justice for Black lives."
The hedge fund man behind pro-Trump media's new war on China.
Huayi Zhang, associated with Robert Mercer.
Global protests reveal that white supremacy is a problem everywhere.
What will it take to defeat Trumpism? "Learning lessons from the end
of the Confederacy, Nazi Germany, and Saddam's Iraq" -- a mixed bag of
examples, all three thoroughly defeated militarily (Iraq least decisively),
then allowed to reconstitute themselves (the Confederacy most along its
original, white supremacist lines). It's much easier for a foreign power
to defeat a malevolent faction (slaveholders, Nazis, Baathists) than it
is to keep those ideas from re-emerging in the defeated populace. Still,
the relative success in de-Nazifying Germany has more to do with ethnic
unity (vs. the black-white divide in the South, and the Sunni-Shiite-Kurd
divide in Iraq), and the annihilated value of Nazism for the resurgence
of German capitalism. (A big part of the reason Germany recovered so well
was the imposition of worker participation in corporate boards, which has
mostly kept German corporations from turning into predatory profit-scrapers
like their American and British counterparts.) Still, I wonder whether
Feffer isn't making too much out of Trumpism. Given the incoherence of
its leader and the ineptness of its followers, it's likely after defeat
to break down into its constituent parts and crawl back into the woodwork,
festering, waiting for its next charismatic revival.
Feffer notes that "in West Germany in 1947, 55% of those living under
the US occupation believed that 'National Socialism was a good idea badly
carried out.'" The occupation of Germany at that time was still pretty
harsh, and poverty was widespread, but after the Bundesrepublic gained
independence in 1949, and the economy boomed with the European Coal and
Steel Community in 1952, Nazi sympathies faded away. The only sure way
to get rid of Trumpism is to fix the problems it arose to fight, or show
that those problems aren't real.
Russell Arben Fox:
The coronavirus in Kansas: The first 100 days. Covid-19 cases have
continued to rise, with Sedgwick County topping 1,000 cases. For more,
see John Handy/Andy Tsubass Field:
Kansas communities see dramatic spikes in coronavirus cases.
Andrew Freedman/Matthew Cappucci:
Historic Saharan dust event fouls air along Gulf Coast as next blast
Susan B Glasser:
Trump retreats to his Hannity bunker: "Beaten by the pandemic and
down in the polls, a President and his propagandist create an alternate
Amy Goldstein/Emily Guskin:
Almost one-third of black Americans know someone who has died of covid-19,
survey shows: Compare to 9% of white Americans.
Respected marketing guru explains how Trump could 'monetize' a loss to
Biden in November -- and make millions of dollars from his far-right
MAGA base: Donny Deutsch.
Why a socialized system like Medicare for All beats for-profit healthcare
in one chart of covid-19 infection rates.
An anti-colonialist Zionist? Remembering Albert Memmi: "The great
prophet of anti-colonialism embraces Zionism without ever questioning
its colonial implications." Memmi was born in Tunisia, was Jewish,
wrote The Colonizer and the Colonized (1957) and many other
books, was "asked to leave" when Tunisia became independent, lived
in France until dying at age 99. Also on Memmi:
There is no plan. There is no second-term agenda. Takeaway
from a Hannity interview, but just because Trump couldn't think of
an agenda doesn't mean there won't be one. Trump has long delegated
odious tasks like thinking and doing to the little people (mostly,
it seems, Pence and Kushner).
The fact is that the Republican Party hasn't been much interested
in governing the country for some time. They want to deregulate
industries whose executives pay the campaign bills, and cut taxes
on the donor class, and knuckle immigrants, but the idea of drawing
up a comprehensive set of policies to make life better for the broader
American public has long been anathema. (The Democrats often govern
incompetently, and with too much regard for the preferences of powerful
interests over those of working people, but they do seek to govern the
country.) Trump is merely the most garish expression of this, turning
the nation's highest governing office into a rolling circus act while
shredding the institutions of democracy, and while the termites of the
state go to work behind the scenes.
This thing about the Republicans not being interested in governing
has been making the rounds lately, and rather misses the point. The
Republicans are obsessed with grabbing and monopolizing power, but
they actually have a very narrow definition of governing. Their aim
is to use power to accumulate more power, so they mostly see the
government as a vast patronage machine that can be used to reward
their supporters and punish their enemies, and that's about it. The
closest thing any Republican had to a vision was Tom DeLay's K Street
Project, where they demanded that lobbyists support their culture war
in order to qualify for graft favors. But fear seems to drive them
even more than greed: by seizing power, they deny it to their mortal
enemies, the Democrats, who if given the opening would surely also
use their power to reward their supporters and punish their enemies.
That view isn't fair because Democrats habitually try to rule for the
benefit of everyone, whereas Republicans are much more discriminating
in who they help and hurt. Where Republicans most obviously fail is
in trying to govern in a crisis. They don't plan, they don't prepare,
their graft becomes visible, and quite often they simply don't care.
Trump is the worst ever in this regard, but you have to go back
generations to find competent Republican administrators. A big part
of this can be traced back to how the Republican campaign machinery
is designed expressly to do nothing but attack Democrats. Trump has
no agenda for a second term because he doesn't even comprehend what
he's been doing in his first term -- except, that is, relentlessly
attacking his numerous enemies. That's all he's got to campaign on.
"It's ideologue meets grifter": How Bill Barr made Trumpism possible.
Interview with David Rohde, author of a
New Yorker profile on Barr.
New research explores how conservative media misinformation may have
intensified the severity of the pandemic.
Why it's so damn hot in the Arctic right now. Related:
4 ideas to replace traditional police officers.
Trump's reality TV presidency is being crushed by reality. Draws
a lot on Stuart Stevens, Mitt Romney's chief campaign strategist in
2012 and author of It Was All a Lie: How the Republican Party
Became Donald Trump, talking a lot about the incompetency and
incoherence of Trump's government. One thing Stevens says: "To me,
the only thing remotely like it is the collapse of communism in the
Soviet Union, because the dissonance between what the party was and
what it said it was was just so great."
In praise of polarization: "How identity politics changed the
Democratic Party -- for the better." Without the guiding hand of
identity there wouldn't be polarization, a subject that Klein flogged
to death in his book, Why We're Polarized.
A disastrous summer in the arctic.
Barr joins Trump effort to will antifa into existence with new 'anti-gov
extremists' task force.
The 'V-shaped' recovery has died of coronavirus. Wasn't going to
happen anyway, because the panic and lockdown changed buying habits
in ways that simply re-opening wouldn't (and couldn't) undo. Perhaps
at some point, if the stimulus remains robust and is widely distributed
people will feel a desire to spend some of their savings on big-ticket
items, but that's a while off. More likely, the Republicans will kill
off stimulus (except for the stock market) and we'll get a double-dip
recession instead. (Was tempted to say W-shaped, but still not sure of
the eventual upstroke.)
Ryan Lizza/Laura Barron-Lopez/Holly Otterbein:
Why Biden is rejecting Black Lives Matter's boldest proposals:
"Activists want to defund the police. Biden won't even legalize pot."
This stuff doesn't bother me, at least not like his Venezuela tweet
did. He'll drag his feet, but he's at least somewhat open to reason.
And given the gauntlet that any sort of reform has to run, he'll
likely be there at the end, not leading but also not obstructing,
and that's probably where his broadest supporters want him.
Princeton drops Woodrow Wilson from name of public policy school.
Wilson was president of Princeton before moving into politics, so this
particular naming was an obvious choice at the time, and I doubt it's
being given up lightly. Wilson did several notably progressive things
as president. He also started two wars with Mexico, engaged in a lot
of "gunboat diplomacy" in the Caribbean, led the US into WWI, and ran
a very aggressive campaign against war dissenters -- notably jailing
presidential candidate Eugene Debs. He represented the US personally
in the talks leading to the Treaty of Versailles, making a promise
that David Fromkin turned on its head for his essential book on the
post-WWI Middle East: A Peace to End All Peace. Well into the
Cold War era, he was revered by Democrats for his internationalism,
and his opponents' isolationism is still a dirty epithet. Many of
these things should be giving us doubts about his legacy, but the
one that's finally catching up with him is explained by Dylan
Matthews in his 2015 article:
Woodrow Wilson was extremely racist -- even by the standards of his
time, which was written after Princeton students started objecting
to his name heading Princeton's School of Public and International
Why America's police look like soldiers: "Why are the police bringing
military assault rifles to protests?"
How police unions became so powerful -- and how they can be tamed.
Media Matters: This could be an ongoing series, but for
now just a taste of how Fox et al. are handling the debacle:
Progressive Black candidates swept key races on Tuesday. Results
don't look quite that weeping, although
Middle school principal Jamaal Bowman unseats Eliot Engel in New York
was a big story (and not close, despite Engel endorsements from NY Dem
leaders, not to mention AIPAC).
The coronavirus surge that Texas could have seen coming.
1960s coverage of Stonewall shows that mainstream press has always
struggled to cover protests: "New Yorkers reading the local,
mainstream papers wouldn't have known that a new civil rights
movement was unfolding."
William J Perry/Tom Z Collins:
Who can we trust with the nuclear button? No one.
Trump is holding a rally in one of the country's worst Covid-19 hot
spots: Next stop (Tuesday, June 23): Phoenix, Arizona, where
"cases in the state have increased by 174 percent over the past
three weeks, and the Arizona Health Department reported a record-high
3,600 new cases on Tuesday alone."
Can Trump beat the Florida convention curse? I didn't know there
was one -- Nixon won after Miami Beach conventions in 1968 and 1972;
the Democrats also did Miami Beach in 1972, McGovern losing to Nixon;
and Romney lost after being nominated in Tampa in 2012 -- but Trump
is bound to bring out the worst in the state.
Modern monetary theory: Neither modern, nor monetary, nor (mainly)
theoretical?: Review of the MMT-based Macroeconomics
textbook by William Mitchell, Randall Wray and Martin Watts.
Anita Rao/Pat Dillon/Kim Kelly/Zak Bennett:
Is America a democracy? If so, why does it deny millions the vote?
A series of articles in the Guardian on "the fight to vote":
Donald Trump's re-election playbook: 25 ways he'll lie, cheat and
abuse his power: "From now until November, opponents of the most
lawless president in history face a fight for democracy itself."
Things like postponing the election remain to be seen, and would
be hard to pull off. "Coddle dictators" sticks in my craw. Ever
since WWII, US foreign policy has supported dictators who were
deemed good for business, while opposing ones (and, by the way,
democracies) who weren't (e.g., Iran, Guatemala, Chile). The only
way Trump deviates from this is that he needs "good for business"
to be good for him personally. Whether the US cherishes or ignores
human rights depends strictly on which side of the good/bad ledger
a country falls.
Forget about it. The author continues to be shocked that others
can still be shocked by the latest Trumpian outrages, given how many
comparable examples even a cursory remembrance of history offers up.
I've been reading and writing about conservatism since the summer of
2000, when I interviewed William F. Buckley Jr., Irving Kristol, and
Norman Podhoretz for a Lingua Franca article. I was surprised
to hear how discontented these elder statesmen were now that the Cold
War was over. It was almost as if they longed for the United States --
or at least themselves -- to be back in the grip of murderous anxiety,
ready to embark on a terrible rampage. Since then, what has always
struck me is how turbulent and intemperate, how savage and ferocious,
the dream life of the right truly is -- even among, especially among,
its most staid figures.
When Trump became a contender for the White House, I saw him as an
extension or fulfillment of the conservative movement rather than a
break with it. Almost everything people found outrageous and objectionable
about his candidacy -- the racism, the contempt for institutions, the
ambient violence, the hostility to the rule of law -- I'd been seeing
in the right for years. Little in Trump surprised me, except for the
fact that he won.
Whenever I said this, people got angry with me. They still do.
For months, now years, I puzzled over that anger. . . . Historical
consciousness can be a conservative force, lessening the sting of
urgency, deflating the demands of the now, leaving us adrift in a
sea of relativism. But it need not be . . . Telling a story of how
present trespass derives from past crime or even original sin can
inspire a more strenuous refusal, a more profound assault on the
now. It can fuel a desire to be rid of not just the moment but the
moments that made this moment, to ensure that we never have to face
this moment again. But only if we acknowledge what we're seldom
prepared to admit: that the monster has been with us all along.
Charlie Savage/Eric Schmitt/Michael Schwartz:
Russia secretly offered Afghan militants bounties to kill US troops,
intelligence says: "The Trump administration has been deliberating
for months about what to do about a stunning intelligence assessment."
This is supposedly a big deal, but sounds like a total crock. While
Afghan government and Taliban have continued to attack each other,
US fatalities in Aghanistan have dwindled to practically nothing --
not just since Trump signed a cease-fire with the Taliban, but you
have to go as far back as 2014 to find a month with 10 US fatalities.
So if Russia is paying a bounty, they're not finding many takers,
and it's not costing them much. It seems much more likely that the
whole story was hatched by "deep state" figures to try to scuttle
the Taliban peace deal, to reverse US troop withdrawals, to gin up
anti-Russian sentiment for a new Cold War, and (what the hell) to
make Trump look bad by drawing out the Trump-Putin buddy meme.
This left me wondering whether the US had actually paid bounties
for dead Russians during the 1980s, when inflicting casualties on
Russians was the explicit goal of US support for Afghan mujahideen.
I tried googling that, but all I got were echoes of the NY Times
piece, like the Guardian's
Outrage mounts over report Russia offered bounties to Afghanistan
militants for killing US soldiers (and not wanting to be left
out or devalued,
Russia offered bounty to kill UK soldiers). Similar articles
were all over the supposedly liberal press (Google it yourself:
these are from the first two pages): ABC, Chicago Tribune, CNBC,
CNN, LA Times, MSNBC, NPR, Reuters, Time, USA Today, Vox, Washington
Post, Axios. Some bought the story but tried to put the focus on
Trump, as in Jacob Kuntson:
Trump denies report he was briefed on alleged Russian bounties on US
troops (my favorite line here was "The report was confirmed by
the Washington Post, Wall Street Journal and CNN," meaning that those
organizations picked up and ran the story); also Bob Brigham:
Trump remained silent as Putin paid to kill US soldiers;
Back from golfing, Trump denies knowing about Russian bounties to
kill US soldiers.
Isaac Sebenius/James K Sebenius:
How many needless Covid-19 deaths were caused by delays in responding?
Most of them.
Joe Biden should not try to out-hawk Trump on Venezuela. Biden's
tweet on Venezuela is one of the few things that genuinely disurb me
about his nomination. It is factually inaccurate -- Trump may "admire
thugs and dictators" but not Nicolas Maduro; he clearly loathes Maduro,
and is using the power and influence of the United States to overturn
Maduro's election victory and replace him with a pliable puppet. I"m
not even sure that Maduro qualifies as a "thug and dictator" -- not
that I doubt that power is seductive and tends to corrupt, but as far
as I can tell, most of Venezuela's problems have been imposed by the
US, and their propaganda is formulaic and suspect as usual. Biden's
vow that he "will stand with the Venezuelan people and for democracy"
shows, to put it charitably, how completely he has been taken in by
the propaganda. If you want a definition of "thug and dictator," what
about someone who would impose a puppet government on another nation?
If Biden had any respect for democracy abroad, he wouldn't be casting
his lot with Trump and the oil moguls on this issue. And if he had
even the slightest self-awareness of how much havoc and misery US
intervention in Latin America has caused, he would grasp the folly
of trying to force American views on others. Nor do you have to go
back to Monroe and Wilson for examples: the recent coups in Bolivia
and Brazil are currently creating human rights disasters that reflect
back on us. Biden needs to break with that legacy, not echo it.
The Georgia legislature finally passes a hate crime bill in the wake
of Ahmaud Arbery's death. When signed, that will leave only three
states without hate crime laws (the others are South Carolina, Wyoming,
Defense industry cheers as the Trump administration is poised to loosen
restrictions on drone exports. Critics complain that "the Trump
administration appears to be sacrificing long-term security goals for
short-term economic gain" -- i.e., for the arms merchants, not for
those who foot the military budget. Of course, if selling arms leads
to an arms race, the industry would see long-term economic gains as
well, and we would all wind up less secure.
Lawrence H Summers/Anna Stansbury:
US workers need more power: Good title, but don't fear, he's not
really offering much. No talk about co-determination, let alone making
companies fully employee-owned, which is the direction we should be
On "White Fragility": Review of Robin DiAngelo's book, "a few
thoughts on America's smash-hit #1 guide to egghead racialism,"
one of which is it "may be the dumbest book ever written." I
rather doubt that, if for no other reason than that I recall
Taibbi's review of Thomas Friedman's The World Is Flat.
Biden's journey left.
Pentagon war game includes scenario for military response to domestic
Gen Z rebellion. "Gen Z" is defined as those born after 1996.
Trump can't name one thing he'd prioritize if re-elected: Good.
The head of US broadcasting is leaning toward pro-Trump propaganda.
Biden would fire him. Michael Pack, head of US Agency for Global
Media (USAGM), which runs "Voice of America, Middle East Broadcasting,
Radio Free Asia, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, and the Office of
Cuba Broadcasting," so is already neck-deep in the propaganda business.
Pack, a close ally of former top Trump strategist Steve Bannon, began
his three-year tenure just this month and wasted no time making dramatic
changes to reshape the agency. Last week, within hours of introducing
himself to employees, he purged four top officials from the agency's
media organizations. The two chiefs of Voice of America (VOA), the most
prominent outlet in the agency, had already resigned earlier over Pack's
The real villain of John Bolton's Trump book is John Bolton. More
How Trump's China obsession could derail nuclear arms control, in one
tweet: "Bolton makes clear President Trump's foreign policy is
absolutely terrible -- but Bolton's is much, much worse."
The US military will stay on the US-Mexico border, even with migration
Trump is rescuing Maine lobstermen from himself, and blaming Obama:
"The lobster bailout, explained."
Martha McSally's bailout proposal for the travel industry, explained:
"The Arizona senator wants to give each US adult $4,000 to go on vacation --
but only if you're not too poor." The bottom line is that this is another
Republican tax cut for the rich, albeit limited and dressed up funny.
Trump's reelection polling is looking really bad. Why does he always
have to note: "After all, Michael Dukakis was up by 17 points in mid-July
1988"? Not only is that a bummer, there are lots of reasons why this year
is nothing like that year.
Trump's catastrophic failure on testing is no joke: "The president
is continually more focused on good numbers than good policy."
Why it feels like there are a lot more fireworks this year. No,
I hadn't noticed. I don't think I've heard a single firework bang so
far this month, or maybe this year. No doubt I will hear some closer
to the 4th, but probably less than usual. The old Lawrence Stadium
used to shoot off fireworks at least once a week, but they tore it
down, built a new ballpark, and have yet to play a single game there.
Wichita is not traditionally hostile to fireworks -- although the
Fire Dept. had a lot more say in the matter when I was growing up
than in recent years. I went out driving one July 4th and identified
at least 20 places that were shooting off major fireworks (of course,
the big one was downtown, which we could watch from out front lawn).
Then I drove down Main St. toward where I grew up, and it looked like
a war zone with all the debris. My mother especially loved fireworks,
but I'd be just as happy never to see or hear any ever again.
Wednesday, June 24, 2020
Trying to figure out a sloppy joe recipe. Sources:
- The Wholesome Dish
- Five Heart Home
- The Chunky Chef
- Beef Is What's for Dinner
- All Recipes
- Taste of Home
- Culintary Hill
- ground beef: 1 lb
- butter: C(1 tbs)
- onion: A(1/2 c), C(1/2 large), D(1 c), E(1/4 c), G(1)
- green bell pepper: A(1/2 c), C(1/3), D(1 c), E(1/4 c)
- garlic: B(2 cloves), C(3)
- tomato sauce: ABG(8 oz), D(14.5 oz)
- tomato paste: C(1 tbs)
- ketchup: BG(1/2 c), C(2/3 c), D(1/4 c), E(3/4 c), F(1 c)
- water: F(1/4 c)
- barbecue sauce: D(1/4 c)
- brown sugar: A(1/2 c), B(1-2 tbs), D(2 tsp), E(3 tsp), F(2 tbs), G(1 tbs)
- worcestershire sauce: B(2 tbs), C(1/2 tsp), DG(1 tbs), F(2 tsp)
- red wine vinegar: A(1 tbs)
- white vinegar: G(1 tbs)
- prepared (yellow) mustard: B(1 tsp), C(1 tsp), E(1 tsp), F(2 tsp)
- dry mustard: D(1 tsp), G(1 tsp)
- chili powder: C(3/4 tsp)
- garlic powder: B(1/2 tsp), E(1/2 tsp), F(1/2 tsp)
- onion powder: B(1/4 tsp), F(1/2 tsp)
- salt: A(1 tsp), FC(1/2 tsp), EG(to taste)
- ground black pepper: AC(1/4 tsp), BEG(to taste)
Came up with this one.
Monday, June 22, 2020
Expanded blog post,
Music: Current count 33485  rated (+36), 216  unrated (+1).
Don't feel like writing much here. Started the week thinking I'd
track down some records by the late Keith Tippett, but quickly got
sidetracked by Stan Tracey, an older British pianist who did some
duet records with Tippett c. 1977. I then picked up some old World
Saxophone Quartet records, adding them to my
David Murray Guide.
I probably should have done this anyway, but someone on Facebook
commented on my missing Revue, which he teased was some
kind of consensus pick as the greatest jazz album of the decade.
The old Gary Bartz records came after reviewing his new one. I
should note that Harlem Bush Music, which combines the
two albums before Juju Street Songs, was previously A-.
Didn't do much on new records this week. Started most days with
golden oldies, then when I sat down at the computer, switched over
to old jazz rather than going through my new queue. Best reviewed
new records this week were by Bob Dylan and Phoebe Bridgers -- who
got more favorable reviews than Dylan this week (32 to 22 in my
metacritic file.) I'll
check out both soon, but was more curious about Black Eyed Peas
(AOTY critic score 50/1, user score 83/30). Not great, but much
better than that, with a choice cut called
New records reviewed this week:
- Ambrose Akinmusire: On the Tender Spot of Every Calloused Moment (2020, Blue Note): [r]: B+(**)
- Gary Bartz and Maisha: Night Dreamer Direct-to-Disc Sessions (2019 , Night Dreamer): [r]: B+(***)
- Black Eyed Peas: Translation (2020, Epic): [r]: B+(***)
- Chromeo: Quarantine Casanova (2020, Chromeo, EP): [r]: B+(**)
- Orrin Evans and the Captain Black Big Band: The Intangible Between (2020, Smoke Sessions): [r]: B+(**)
- Fra Fra: Funeral Songs (2020, Glitterbeat): [r]: B
- Mike: Weight of the World (2020, 10k): [bc]: B+(*)
- Aaron Parks: Little Big II: Dreams of a Mechanical Man (2019 , Ropeadope): [r]: B+(**)
- Perfume Genius: Set My Heart on Fire Immediately (2020, Matador): [r]: B+(*)
- Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever: Sideways to New Italy (2020, Sub Pop): [r]: B+(**)
Recent reissues, compilations, and vault discoveries:
- Misha Mengelberg/Peter Brötzmann/Evan Parker/Peter Bennink/Paul Rutherford/Derek Bailey/Han Bennink: Groupcomposing (1970 , Corbett vs. Dempsey): [bc]: B+(*)
- Gary Bartz Ntu Troop: Juju Street Songs (1972-73 , Prestige): [r]: B+(**)
- Gary Bartz Ntu Troop: I've Known Rivers and Other Bodies (1973, Prestige): [r]: B+(***)
- Gary Bartz: Shadows (1991 , Timeless): [r]: B+(**)
- Gary Bartz: ?The Red and Orange Poems (1994, Atlantic): [r]: B+(**)
- Joe Harriott Quintet: Swings High (1967 , Cadillac): [bc]: B+(**)
- Dudu Pukwana & Bob Stuckey: Night Time Is the Right Time: 60s Soho Sounds (1967-68 , Cadillac): [r]: B
- Keith Tippett Tapestry Orchestra: Live at Le Mans (1998 , Edition, 2CD): [r]: B
- Stan Tracey: Showcase (1958, Vogue): [r]: B+(*)
- The Stan Tracey Quartet: Jazz Suite: Inspired by Dylan Thomas's Under Milk Wood (1965, Columbia): [r]: A
- Stan Tracey/Keith Tippett: Supernova (1977 , Resteamed): [r]: B+(**)
- The New Stan Tracey Quartet: For Heaven's Sake (1995 , Cadillac): [r]: B+(***)
- Stan Tracey: Solo : Trio (1997 , Cadillac): [r]: B+(***)
- Stan Tracey & Danny Moss: Just You, Just Me (2003 , Avid): [r]: B+(***)
- Stan Tracey Quartet: Senior Moment (2008 , Resteamed): [r]: B+(**)
- Stan Tracey Quintet: The Flying Pig (2013 , Resteamed): [r]: B+(***)
- Ben Webster/Stan Tracey: Soho Nights Vol. 2 (1964 , Resteamed): [r]: A-
- Ben Webster/Stan Tracey: Soho Nights Vol. 1 (1968 , Resteamed): [r]: B+(***)
- World Saxophone Quartet: Steppin' With the World Saxophone Quartet (1978 , Black Saint): [r]: B
- World Saxophone Quartet: W.S.Q. (1980 , Black Saint): [r]: B+(*)
- World Saxophone Quartet: Revue (1980 , Black Saint): [r]: B+(*)
- World Saxophone Quartet: Live in Zürich (1981 , Black Saint): [r]: B+(*)
- World Saxophone Quartet: Live at Brooklyn Academy of Music (1985 , Black Saint): [r]: B
- World Saxophone Quartet: Four Now (1995 , Justin Time): [r]: B+(**)
- World Saxophone Quartet: Takin' It 2 the Next Level (1996, Justin Time): [r]: B
- World Saxophone Quartet: 25th Anniversary: The New Chapter (2000 , Justin Time): [r]: B
Unpacking: Found in the mail last week:
- Jeff Cosgrove/John Medeski/Jeff Lederer: History Gets Ahead of the Story (Grizzley Music) [07-17]
- Dan Willis and Velvet Gentlemen: The Monk Project (Belle Avenue) [07-17]
Sunday, June 21, 2020
All in all, not a very good week for Donald Trump. It started off
with Supreme Court rulings that the 1965 Civil Rights Act prohibits
discrimination against LGBTQ people, and that Trump's revocation of
the DACA program was invalid because the Trump administration failed
to explain why. The marches continued, as did the police outrages
provoking more demonstrations, but also a few reform stories, and
even some indictments and/or dismissals that show that, despite the
fury of Trump and the right, protest is getting somewhere. Trump
spent much of the week threatening and/or suing his former national
security director and his niece for writing books showing some of
the many ways he is incompetent and/or vile. And just as we're still
processing his recent purge of federal inspectors for trying to do
their jobs, he goes off and fires a US attorney who had opened
investigations of some of his cronies. He's finding Covid-19
infection rates still on the rise in nearly half of the states,
including virtually all of the "red" ones in the South. He expected
to finish the week on a high after resuming his campaign rallies in
one of those states, only to find the Tulsa arena half-empty (and
considerably less than half-masked). It's hard to see how that turns
into a win.
Even before the rally, most polls show Trump losing badly to Joe
Biden. See Nate Silver:
Our new polling averages show Biden leads Trump by 9 points nationally,
which shows a bunch of 2016 Trump states flipping: Michigan, Florida,
Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Arizona, North Carolina, Ohio, Georgia, but
not quite Iowa (where Biden is -0.6) or Texas (-0.7). Trump's approval
rating is 41.4% (vs. 55.2% disapprove). The generic congressional ballot
is at 48.4% Democrats, 40.4% Republicans. Of course, too early to count
your chickens. The one thing I'm most certain of is that the rest of the
2020 campaign season is going to be the nastiest in American history.
Quite a few sublists below, usually starting with the first piece
I found on a subject, so you'll have to scour around to find ones of
personal interest. In fact, quite a lot of everything.
Some scattered links this week:
Seattle's newly police-free neighborhood, explained.
Marc Caputo/Matthew Choi:
Klobuchar shuts down VP speculation, urges Biden to pick woman of
color. Article describes this as "a blow to the chances of
Massachusetts' Sen Elizabeth Warren," but that assumes that someone
who didn't rate high enough to still be a contender has somehow
gained influence by pissing in the punch bowl on the way out.
Leaves me with the feeling that not only does she want to torpedo
the much more progressive Warren, she also can't bear losing to
her fellow midwestern prospects (most often mentioned are Gretchen
Whitmer, Tammy Baldwin, and Tammy Duckworth).
Trump claims his niece signed an NDA, threatens to sue her over tell-all
book: report. The niece is Mary L Trump, PhD, the book Too Much
and Never Enough: How My Family Created the World's Most Dangerous
The disappearance and death of activist Oluwatoyin Salau, explained.
Police killings can be captured in data. The terror police create
Jesselyn Cook/Nick Robins-Early:
Inside the dangerous online fever swamps of American police: "Cops
have a far-right media ecosystem of their own, where they post racist
memes, spread disinformation and call for violence against antifa."
Donald Trump is a menace to American democracy. But he didn't come out
of nowhere. "His rise was only possible because of a Republican and
Democratic political consensus that has ravaged American politics and
society for a generation." Long article, touches on a lot of things.
It's certainly true that politics have become more polarized, especially
on the very ideological and aggressive right, and Trump in many ways is
a logical extension of where the right was already going. Still, I wonder
if it might be more fruitful to look at how businessmen have become more
imperious and arrogant (and, no coincidence, much richer) over the last
30-40 years. Trump may seem like a major break with previous politicians,
but how different is he from the last few generations of CEOs/financiers?
(Insert long list of names here, like Jack Welch, Carl Icahn, Charles Koch,
Sheldon Adelson, etc.) Trump's instincts are certainly authoritarian, but
they strike me as more like despotic monarchs, who grew up in worlds where
everyone deferred to them, and fascist (or mafia) strongmen, who came to
power by snatching it, and kept it by intimidation.
The age of disappointment? Or how the American century ends. These
TomDispatch articles get reproduced on various websites, often with
slightly different titles. AlterNet calls this
The American century is ending decisively with a pyromaniac in the
Why was a grim report on police-involved deaths never released?
Who really was Roy Cohn?: Interview with Ivy Meeropol, who directed
a new documentary on Trump's mentor, including his role in getting her
grandparents executed, in what Alan Dershowitz thinks "was one of the
greatest miscarriages of justice ever in this country."
Black authors are on all the bestseller lists right now. But publishing
doesn't pay them enough.
Israelizing the American police, Palestinianizing the American people.
Elahe Izadi/Paul Farhi:
The standoff between owners and journalists that's eviscerating Pittsburgh's
biggest newspaper. Newspapers are businesses, owned by rich people, who
are often tempted to impose their political views on their reporters -- here
the signal is the charge of "bias." Free press is a nice concept, but doesn't
exist in America -- least of all, evidently, in Pittsburgh.
Letting private equity billionaires rob worker retirement funds: "A
new Department of Labor rule allows private equity to get into 401(k)
plans. One expert estimates a $13.7 billion annual wealth transfer from
workers to Wall Street tycoons."
The government can afford anything it wants: Review of Stephanie
Kelton: The Deficit Myth: Modern Monetary Theory and the Birth of
the People's Economy. I must admit that I've never understood
MMT, although I have noticed that the predictions of "deficit scolds"
have rarely (if ever) come true -- so it wouldn't surprise me if
there is more flexibility for deficit spending than is commonly
assumed (e.g., by those bemoaning how Bernie Sanders could ever pay
for his proposals). Consider:
"The problem we have today," Kelton writes, "is that economic policy
is often prescribed by people who, despite holding advanced degrees
in economics, possess no real understanding of how our monetary system
works." The idea is that a basic understanding of how money works, of
MMT precepts, could empower any citizen to fight for a better world.
But this will only happen once we reconcile what the country is capable
of and what the people are willing to do. "Austerity," Kelton writes,
"is a failure of imagination." So what kind of society do we want to
imagine, if we unshackle ourselves from the language of taxpayer-funded,
deficit-diminishing government? Are we willing to stop shoveling resources
into the military (and its domestic paramilitary offshoot, police
departments) and start diverting them to working-class communities?
If everyone deserves to be safe, housed, and prosperous, let's instruct
the Federal Reserve to start marking up some different accounts.
Seung Min Kim:
Top State Department official resigns in protest of Trump's response to
racial tensions in the country: Mary Elizabeth Taylor, assistant
secretary of state for legislative affairs..
Remember Brexit? It's still not over.
The 7 most disturbing allegations about Trump in John Bolton's forthcoming
book. Bolton didn't get to start any major wars during his brief tenure
as Trump's national security adviser, but at least he got a book out of it,
The Room Where It Happened, and enough publicity that it's likely
to be a bestseller (assuming a
Trump administration lawsuit fails to quash it), setting himself up
for a return to the limelight should Tom Cotton or Marco Rubio or some
similar reptile become president. Subheds (which really aren't more
disturbing than what you already know):
- Trump asked Xi for help with his electoral prospects -- as
if he ever thought about anything else.
- Trump told Xi to go ahead with the internment of Muslims in
China -- as if Xi cares what he thinks.
- Trump learns about nukes . . . Trump didn't know that the UK
has nuclear weapons, but (unlike the US) they've never used them.
- . . . and about geography -- well, Finland used to be part of
Russia, and the US actually did land marines in Venezuela, and later
effectively owned its oil industry.
- Trump wanted to withdraw from NATO with a dramatic made-for-TV
- Trump had some issues with the Constitution -- like wanting
to execute "scumbags" who rat him out; this is a polite way of saying
he doesn't understand why a president shouldn't be able to do things
any self-respecting mob boss would.
- Meddling in Ukraine, yes, but so many other things
More reaction to Bolton:
John Bolton didn't tell the truth when it mattered most: "Instead,
he kept his mouth shut until he could cash in on a book deal." This is
the popular line among people who are eager to grasp at any cudgel to
attack Trump, but we should be clear that Bolton always had his own
private agenda, and it always included concern for his bottom line.
Even before his book deal, Bolton has long made an unseemly amount of
money by consistently hewing to the most hawkish line allowed at any
given moment, even as each of his arguments has proven disastrous.
That he occasionally finds Trump insufficiently belligerent is more
of an indictment of him than of Trump. That he occasionally finds
Trump to be stupid, vain and petty just shows that he can marshal
ordinary perceptions into passages that make himself look smarter
and more principled, if only by comparison.
Theodore J Boutrous Jr:
Why Trump's lawsuit against John Bolton will fail.
Trump: I didn't realize Bolton supported Iraq War until after I hired
him: "A small slip-up in the vetting process"? What vetting process?
Did Trump ever make his own concerns known? Bolton not only supported
the Iraq War, he never stopped defending it. It's impossible to imagine
a job interview, even by someone as inattentive and uncurious as Trump,
failing to raise red flags.
Trump is determined to get John Bolton jailed.
John Bolton: American coward.
There are no heroes in the John Bolton v Donald Trump story.
Josh Gerstein/Kyle Cheney:
'The damage is done': Judge denies Trump administration request to block
Bolton book: "but he warned the former national security adviser
could face criminal charges."
Bolton book exposes rare fissures between Trump and Pompeo.
Trump: I should have fired John Bolton for botching North Korea nuclear
talks. Yes you should have. No you didn't. Moreover, it was totally
obvious when you appointed him that he would do everything he possibly
could to make sure no agreement was reached. Same could be said of your
boy Mike Pompeo, although he did a slightly better job of pretending he
was with the program. Trump should rifle back through what remains of
his memory and identify all the people who recommended Bolton to him,
and fire them too. By the way, I wouldn't say that Trump's own words
were especially eloquent or insightful, but for once their pith finds
a deserving target:
"When Wacko John Bolton went on Deface the Nation and so stupidly said
that he looked at the 'Libyan Model' for North Korea, all hell broke
out," Trump tweeted Thursday. "Kim Jong Un, who we were getting along
with very well, went 'ballistic,' just like his missiles -- and
Trump added that Kim "didn't want Bolton anywhere near him."
"Bolton's dumbest of all statements set us back very badly with
North Korea, even now. I asked him, 'what the hell were you thinking'"
He had no answer and just apologized. That was early on, I should
have fired him right then & there!" Trump wrote.
William Rivers Pitt:
It's Trump vs Bolton, and I'm rooting for a meteor.
The folly of Trump's Bolton lawsuit.
WH trade adviser slams Bolton book as 'deep swamp revenge porn':
John Bolton is a weasel in a party of weasels.
Trump's Bolton problem is nothing compared with Senate Republicans'
woes: "We knew Trump violated his oath. Now we're certain Senate
Republicans did, too."
John Bolton is telling the truth, but let's not forget his horrible,
DOJ goes all in on trying to block release of Bolton book.
US drops planned limit for toxin that damages infant brains.
Another General wants forever war in Iraq: Meet CENTCOM Commander
Gen. Kenneth F McKenzie Jr.
The history of the "riot" report: "How government commissions became
alibis for inaction."
The ongoing struggle between two American ideals: liberty and equality:
"Inside the biggest fault line between the two parties in American politics
today." The conservative mind-trick here is defining liberty as something
that only a few people can enjoy because it's taken at the expense of
others. But you never can get to "liberty and justice for all" that way,
which makes me wonder if it isn't better to think of liberty as something
equality makes possible. Even conservatives should be satisfied defining
liberty as the ability to choose one's course of action without being
compelled by economic constraints. Why can't everyone enjoy such freedom?
The real "fault line" has nothing to do with liberty, which all pursue,
but with equality, which conservatives deny and despise. Sure, they have
their rationalizations, but even if true -- and I'd argue they are not --
why would a democracy prostrate itself to their vanity?
Why are conservatives so threatened by equality? Subhed says "It's
the toxic and irrational fear that more freedom for LGBTQ Americans
infringes on their own," but isn't that just a way of admitting that
they believe that their freedom comes at the expense of other people?
And not just LGBTQ -- there's also race, class, sex. They believe that
unions are picking their pockets. Each plank is rooted in a sense of
privilege, and a belief that force can safeguard their privileges.
After all, we might all agree to be equal, but there can never be
agreement (hence there can never be peace) that one class is entitled
to rule over all others.
How Republicans convinced themselves that Trump will win in a landslide:
"Delusional thinking often goes unchallenged when you're living inside
a cocoon." Also:
The landslide of 2020? Someone recommended this link as the funniest
thing he had read in quite some time. Doesn't quite qualify as a review of David
Horowitz's Blitz: Trump Will Smash the Left and Win because he
admits that he hasn't read the book, but he believes Horowitz ("one of
the most perceptive observers of the current scene") blindly.
The current environment reminds me of 1972, and a conversation I had
then with a friend who was, like me at that time, on the left. The
contest then was between Nixon and McGovern, and my friend said,
"Nixon will win because he is for America, and McGovern is against
America." He and I didn't see it that way, but we knew that was how
the race was coming across to most voters. That is true in spades
this year: McGovern was wrong about a lot of things, but he was a
sincere patriot. Today's Democrats, in contrast, really are
The cognitive disconnect in the last sentence is so hard to
process that the simplest explanation is that people who utter it
are stark raving insane. Yet we hear this line repeated endlessly
on the far right, especially since Obama won the presidency in
2008. (Sometimes at book length, as in David Limbaugh's The
Great Destroyer: Barack Obama's War on the Republic -- the
most explicit title from a long list I compiled in 2012, which
I summed up as "uninspired and empty.") The thing is, there's
never been a shred of evidence that Obama or any other mainstream
Democrat wanted to harm America. Maybe you can accuse a few fringe
leftists (maybe even myself) with being insufficiently obeisant
to the militarized symbols of American power, but Obama, Biden,
the Clintons, Pelosi, Shumer, et al., have become the last true
believers in American exceptionalism: the steadfast belief that
this country remains a beacon of light, of hope and opportunity
for the rest of the world. Even those of us who have become
thoroughly disenchanted with America's long history of racism,
militarism, colonialism, corruption, and economic plunder, tend
to express our concerns by referring to the historical moments
when Americans seemed to aspire to something better, and we can
frame our solutions in terms which promise to help the majority
of Americans. But while we believe that further left solutions
would be better for Americans than what mainstream Democrats
have done, the fact is that when given the power, Democrats have
made the economy more prosperous, have reduced the harm done to
less fortunate Americans, have blundered into fewer wars, have
treated the environment better, and have responded to disasters
more effectively, than Republicans have done. So how can people
like the author here say such things? I considered the possibility
that their definition of America was just so exclusive -- as Todd
Snider put it, "conservative Christian, right-wing Republican,
straight, white, American males" -- that maybe their paranoia was
grounded in something real. But I know many such people, and I've
never seen them actually hurt by things Democrats have done (even
where they've felt outraged). So, I have to conclude, the depths
of their delusion far exceeds my ability to explain.
'We're thinking landslide': Beyond DC, GOP officials see Trump on glide
path to reelection: Quotes Phillip Stephens, a GOP county chairman
in NC: "The more bad things happen in the country, it just solidifies
support for Trump. We're calling him 'Teflon Trump.' Nothing's going to
stick, because if anything, it's getting more exciting than it was in
2016. We're thinking landslide."
Trump supporters already know he will definitely win by a landslide.
Two stories that show why Trump's unfit for office.
The are two lightly reported stories in the news that really highlight
the norm-breaking and criminality of the Trump administration. One
involves the nation's inspectors general and the other the administration's
treatment of science. Anyone who might care about these subjects is most
likely already in Biden's camp, but they should get wider circulation
because they ought to inform how people will vote.
The stories Longman cites (though neither are isolated incidents):
The 'Caesar Act' has no teeth and is not about Assad. Evidently
"Caesar" is an anonymous photographer who documented human rights
abuses by the Syrian military police, providing the basis for a
report (known as "The Caesar Report") written by ICC prosecutors,
and hence a law which allows the US (sworn enemies of the ICC) to
levy sanctions on Syria, adding fuel to America's psychotic love/hate
relationship with Syria. While I would have been pleased if the
Assad regime had fallen and disappeared in Syria, at this point
continued war is far worse for all concerned. Instead of figuring
out ways to inflict further pain, the US would be well advised to
make peace with Assad, and use whatever good will that produces to
help the Syrian people recover from the war the US (and its nominal
allies) did so much to protract. Related: Shahed Ghoreishi:
The next US administration must fix our broken Syria policy.
Notice that at this point no one has any hopes the present
administration can fix anything.
A new paper finds stimulus checks, small business aid, and "reopening"
can't rescue the economy.
How public opinion changes for the better.
Policing or occupation? Crowd control practices in the US and Palestine.
Trump wants to create election chaos by killing the Post Office:
On March 30, Trump spilled the beans himself when he said, if it were
easier to vote in the U.S., Republicans would never get elected. The
president made the comments as he dismissed a congressional Democrat-led
push for reforms such as vote-by-mail, same-day voter registration and
early voting to help states run elections safely during the COVID-19
pandemic. "They had things, levels of voting that if you'd ever agreed
to it, you'd never have a Republican elected in this country again,"
Trump said. "We don't want anyone to do mail-in ballots," the president
said in May.
The Trump administration's flawed plan to destroy the Internet as we know
it: "Following the president's lead, Republicans are trying to chip
away at Section 230."
Is Donald Trump a danger to democracy? Review of new books by Masha
Gessen (Surviving Autocracy) and Eric A Posner (The Demagogue's
Playbook: The Battle for American Democracy From the Founders to Trump),
by the author of The People Vs. Democracy: Why Our Freedom Is in Danger
& How to Save It (2018). All concerned are fond of analogies, so
their books run the gamut. I think it's important to make a distinction
between Trump with his authoritarian impulses and the Republican Party's
greedy schemes to subvert democracy. Trump is reprehensible but dangerous
only to the extent that the Party supports and defends him. The real
threat is the Party, but I suspect that the authors would rather indict
individuals than look into the profoundly anti-democratic beliefs of
modern (or, indeed, any) conservatism.
Ellen Nakashima/Shane Harris:
Elite CIA unit that developed hacking tools failed to secure its own
systems, allowing massive leak, an internal report found.
Trump fires the US attorney investigating his allies: "Attorney
General William Barr tried to fire Geoffrey Berman on Friday, but
he refused to step down. So the president stepped in."
Barr trying to purge the last prosecutor who can still investigate
A remarkable turn of events:
The Trump administration, with its most effective enforcer, Bill Barr,
is looking at an uphill reelection campaign, a range of still unfolding
civic catastrophes, and trying to make the most of its executive power
while it still holds it. Abusing the powers of office look like the
clearest path to retaining those powers past next January. But since
the rampant abuses are now adding to the marked deterioration of support
for Trump's presidency the incentives for bad acting only grow more
perverse, the need to keep doubling down or upping the ante only grows.
As I noted above, Berman's public refusal is itself a sign of Trump's
ebbing power. It all points to a perilous six months of mounting
instability, wrongdoing and criminality in which Trump, his lieutenants
and toadies see the need to keep rolling the dice, fomenting chaos in
the hopes some version of it works in his favor.
Trump's pick to run Manhattan US attorney's office defended prominent
Wall Street firms for years: Jay Clayton, previously SEC chairman,
another obvious perch for serving his past (and future?) clients.
Aunt Jemima and the long-overdue rebrand of racist stereotypes.
Morgan Palumbo/Jessica Draper:
Knockout in Washington: "A monumental lobbying battle over American
foreign policy -- How the Saudis, the Qataris, and the Emiratis took
Washington." I'm tempted to argue that the US hasn't had a coherent
foreign policy since the end of the Cold War. Maybe GW Bush thought
he had one with his Global War on Terrorism. Maybe Obama thought his
"Pivot to Asia" would fill the void left by abandoning the hapless
GWOT. But really, US foreign policy just reverted to what it had been
before rabid anti-communism added its ideologial veneer: favors for
interest groups with business abroad. Before WWII, those favors were
for US companies, especially in Latin America. More recently, the
companies became multinationals, and sovereign nations got into the
act, all working through the usual lobbyists. Trump's innovation was
to drop the pretense that foreign policy was ever about anything but
money. So if Saudi Arabia, for instance, wants to bomb a neighboring
country, or kill an American journalist, all they really have to do
is to make sure the checks clear, and America will be their ally.
The Fed is addicted to propping up the markets, even without a need.
Why, exactly, the Fed feels it necessary to inject more dollars into
the corporate credit market is hard to fathom. The interest rate at
which investment-grade companies can borrow on the bond market is now
below 4 percent, about as low as anyone can remember. And the pace of
bond issuance so far this year, at over $1.2 trillion, has been double
that of last year's torrid pace. Indeed, there's so much capital
sloshing around that investors are lining up to lend money to companies
such as Boeing and Macy's and the cruise-line operator Carnival, although
these companies' revenue has plummeted with along revenue in much of
the travel and retail sectors. . . .
The best explanation for this confidence is the widespread belief
on Wall Street that the Fed will do "whatever it takes" -- that is,
print money to buy as many bonds as necessary -- to keep credit flowing
to the business sector, no matter the risk. By placing a floor under
bond prices, the Fed makes it possible for over-indebted, sales-starved
companies to borrow even more to cover operating losses, or refinance
existing loans, allowing them to avoid, or at least delay, the day when
they cannot pay their bills.
Trump's executive order on police reform, explained.
Brad Plumer/Nadja Popovich:
Emissions are surging back as countries and states reopen.
Mitt Romney is not your friend.
Adam K Raymond:
One of the officers who shot Breonna Taylor is getting fired.
Feds dismiss incitement charge against Michael Avery. As near as
I can tell, Avery (a "Ferguson activist") was charged for making posts
on Facebook criticizing St. Louis police. Greg Magarian commented,
"Winning malicious prosecution suits is nearly impossible, but Avery
should go for it, and [prosecutor Michael] Reilly should have this
abomination hung around his reputational neck for the rest of his
professional life." Another piece from the St. Louis American that
Magarian pointed me to: Chris King:
New video shows Florissant cop swerve to hit fleeing man with SUV.
King's follow up story:
Florissant cop charged with felony assault, armed criminal action.
A national US power grid would make electricity cheaper and cleaner.
David K Shipler:
The racial stereotypes infecting American police departments.
Republicans are hypocrites. They happily 'de-funded' the police we
One of America's worst acts of racial violence was in Tulsa. Now, it's
the site of Trump's first rally in months. More pieces on Tulsa,
past and present (some before and some after Trump's event):
Trump falsely suggests wearing a mask at his Tulsa rally could be
harmful: "He anticipated a 'wild evening' where 'people do what
The 'Silent Majority' didn't show up for Trump.
"Pitiful turnout": Trump mocked for "hilariously weak" attendance at
Tulsa comeback rally.
Six Trump campaign staffers in Tulsa test positive for COVID-19 ahead
of indoor rally.
Trump campaign blames protesters for disappointing turnout at Tulsa
Trump's rally looked like his vision of America. Limited and pitiless.
It was a long, rambling performance with the president lamenting that
he surely must have saluted some 600 times and by God, it was so hot
that day and the ramp was like an ice-skating rink and he was wearing
leather sole shoes. As far as he was concerned, he really should have
been cheered for making it down that ramp unscathed instead of being
mocked in the media. So perhaps it made him feel better when the Tulsa
crowd -- his crowd -- applauded after he theatrically drank a
glass of water onstage with only one hand and didn't dribble any of it
on his tie.
It was Trump's crowd. Everything is his. Everything is because of
him. "We -- I -- have done a phenomenal job," he said about
the federal government's response to the pandemic. "I saved hundreds
of thousands of lives."
Trump's Tulsa rally is shaping up to be a coronavirus petri dish inside
a wrecking ball.
Astead W Herndon:
Black Tulsans, with a defiant Juneteenth celebration, send a message to
Annie Karni/Maggie Haberman/Reid J Epstein:
How the Trump campaign's plans for a triumphant rally went awry:
"Instead of offering President Trump a glide path back into the campaign
season, Saturday's rally in Tulsa has become yet another flash point
for a candidate who has repeatedly displayed insensitivity about race."
Tulsa and the many sins of racism: "The ugly story didn't end with
the abolition of slavery."
Donald Trump's empty campaign rally in Tulsa.
Taylor Lorenz/Kellen Browning/Sheera Frenkel:
TikTok teens and K-Pop stans say they sank Trump rally: "Did a successful
prank inflate attendance expectations for President Trump's rally in Tulsa,
This is how Trump plans to beat Biden: "In his latest campaign kick-off
rally, the president maps his desperate plan to overcome the national crisis
he enabled and win re-election."
Trump accuses critics of attempting to 'Covid Shame' upcoming rally.
Dr Anthony Fauci warned White House that Tulsa rally would be dangerous.
5 takeaways from Trump's Tulsa rally:
- Trump elevates violent rhetoric against protesters
- 'Kung Flu,' a testing slowdown and other flippant comments
about the coronavirus
- No attempt to salve racial tensions
- Explaining 'the ramp and the water'
- Weaving old with the new for a 2020 campaign pitch
Randy R Potts/Victor Luckerson:
A Trump visit lays bare two Tulsas, a mile and a universe apart.
How Tulsa's Republican mayor found himself at the center of America's
debate on race.
Trump is terrorizing America: "His reelection campaign is going to be
all about one thing: fear. The Tulsa rally was just the beginning."
The burning of Black Wall Street, revisited: "Nearly a century after the
Tulsa Race Massacre, the search for the dead continues."
Marc A Thiessen:
Trump must reach out to black voters. His Tulsa rally is the place to
start. I don't normally read him, even given that his columns
inevitably appear in my home town paper. In fact, he strikes me as
the single most reprehensible political pundit in America. So I can't
tell you whether this is more tone-deaf than usual. But I can assure
you that Trump didn't deliver the hoped-for breakthrough message in
Facebook removes Trump ads with Nazi symbol used to identify political
prisoners. This story is so weird on many levels that I skipped over
it many times before noting it.
Why policing is broken: "Years of research on brutality cases shows
that bad incentives in politics and city bureaucracies are major drivers
of police violence."
A new group of leftist primary challengers campaign through protests
and the coronavirus.
Zephyr Teachout/Shaoul Sussman:
Amazon's private government: "A new patent cements the company's
aims to use its power over sellers to consolidate control." Hard to
tell right now how big a deal this is, but several questions leap to
mind: Should this technology even be patentable? If so, isn't it
dangerous to assign it to an unregulated private company? If the
service is really valuable, wouldn't it be much better to build
it as a public utility? Many parts of Amazon (e.g., Marketplace),
already raise this question.
The patent, for a form of blockchain ledgering technology, will
allow Amazon to oversee the collection of an unprecedented amount
of data about the business operations of its sellers, including
their entire supply chain. In essence, the patent fulfills Amazon's
plans to create a private regulatory regime, where it uses proprietary
information to create a "certification" bureaucracy: a private,
for-profit alternative to the Food and Drug Administration, the
Environmental Protection Agency, and the Federal Trade Commission.
Unlike governmental agencies, however, it will have no public
oversight, and can use its certifying power to squeeze sellers
and consolidate control.
Brands and companies that use Amazon's technology would have
to list the manufacturers, couriers, and distributors they use.
Those entities will have to corroborate that they indeed sell to
the brand. Amazon will know where and when every single sweater,
earplug, and frying pan sold on its platform was made, and by
whom. The patent states: To certify an item, a verifiable record
for the item indicating, for example, what materials were used
to make the item, where the item was made, who made the item,
when the item was made, and so forth, is needed.
Kris Kobach's guns stolen from truck at Wichita hotel. Kobach is
running for US Senate. He says he always carries a gun for protection,
and he left a few more in his car, planning on campaigning at some
shooting event. "There were 255 guns reported stolen from vehicles in
Wichita in 2019." Kobach may be the dumbest person running for Congress
in Kansas this year, but don't sell his main rival, Roger Marshall,
short. See Abigail Abrams:
GOP Congressman says the poor 'just don't want health care.'
Alright, he was quoted out of context. The full quote was: "Just like
Jesus said, 'The poor will always be with us.' There is a group of
people that just don't want health care and aren't going to take care
of themselves." Marshall, by the way, is a M.D., whose recent publicity
stunt was to prescribe hydroxychloroquine for himself and his family.
Latest piece on his is:
Roger Marshall was convicted of reckless driving in 2008. Here's how
it was erased. Turns out it helps to have the son of a business
partner in the prosecutor's office.
As Trump warns of leftist violence, a dangerous threat emerges from
the right-wing boogaloo movement.
Florida man leads his state to the morgue: "Ron DeSantis is the
latest in a long line of Republicans who made the state a plutocratic
dystopia. Now he's letting its residents die to save the plutocrats."
Trump is pushing annexation as political tool to cast Dems as anti-Israel,
says J Street expert: Interview with Neri Zilber.
It sure looks like Trump and Adelson have cut a deal on annexation.
Sheldon Adelson, the Israel-loving, Iran-war-craving casino baron,
talks to Donald Trump all the time, and for good reason, he and wife
Miriam are the biggest Republican donors, poised to give as much as
$200 million this year. Now that the White House appears to be lying
down for the Israeli government as it moves to annex portions of the
West Bank despite a growing chorus of international condemnation,
the focus should be on Adelson. He has always been a strong supporter
of Israeli expansion, a man who says, "There's no such thing as a
So far, the Adelsons have gotten everything they've wanted from
our transactional president: tearing up the Iran deal, moving the
embassy to Jerusalem, defunding Palestinians, recognizing the Golan
annexation, treating settlement expansion as legitimate, even a
presidential medal of freedom for Miriam, etc. Right up to yesterday --
a Trump attack on the ICC in the name of Israel. As Trump once said
when a Republican rival was getting Adelson's money, Adelson wanted
a "perfect little puppet."
The disgrace of Donald Trump: "Was the battle of Lafayette Square
the beginning of the end of his presidency?" Why call it a battle?
Doesn't that imply two sides were fighting? (As opposed to one side
using excessive force to drive people who were legally and peaceably
assembled away.) As a historian, Wilentz can think of past events
like Herbert Hoover's routing of the "Bonus Marchers" during the
Great Depression, which was one of many things that led to Hoover's
The fight for transparency in police misconduct, explained: "New
York's repeal of section 50-a -- which allowed police to shield misconduct
records -- is a big win for activists, but there is more work to be
The End of Policing left me convinced we still need policing:
Critique of Alex Vitale's book. I've cited several Vitale pieces and
interviews recently. I agree, although (as with ICE) I also think that
some organizations are so rotten it might make sense to restart from
scratch. The best thing I see coming out of the "defund" argument is
a rethinking about what police should (and should not) be doing. But
we're still stuck the the trials of the modern world. We need laws,
and we need order, and we need a system to enforce that as fairly and
as charitably as possible. In short, we need reform, but we still need
to come out the other end with something, even if it too is imperfect.
Donald Trump is defunding the police: "He's proposed cuts in budget
after budget, and is holding up needed fiscal aid." Meanwhile, it's the
Democrats who are pushing federal aid to cities and states hit hard by
But the larger and more significant budgetary context is that the HEROES
Act passed by House Democrats and stalled by Senate Republicans appropriates
$900 billion to state and local governments.
With that kind of fiscal support, cities that don't want to defund
their police departments wouldn't have to. And cities that do want to
experiment with shifting funding out of law enforcement and into mental
health, drug treatment, and youth services will have the opportunity
to do that.
Republicans, meanwhile, have characterized this idea as a "blue state
bailout" and say Congress should instead consider changes to bankruptcy
law that might allow states to shed their pension obligations in bankruptcy.
Tuesday, June 16, 2020
Expanded blog post,
Music: Current count 33449  rated (+31), 215  unrated (+1).
died last week, at 72. He was a major figure, although having never
sorted out his scattered discography, I can't say how major. I can
say that on occasion he rivaled Cecil Taylor for explosive invention.
One issue is that while he recorded several albums with Mujician
as a title, he also led a group (with Paul Dunmall, Paul Rogers, and
Tony Levin) by that name through seven 1990-2006 albums. Another is
that he dabbled in a wide range of music, especially along the prog
rock fringe. He married pop singer/actress Julie Driscoll in 1970,
and she changed her name to Julie Tippetts (meanwhile, her husband
dropped the 's'), continuing a long career that veered far from the
pop charts. She survives him. Also on Tippett:
I'll look into Tippett a bit more next week, but as I'm writing
this I've headed off on a Stan Tracey (1926-2013) detour.
One other death last week I should note somewhere is
Brewer, a former two-term mayor of Wichita. He was a moderate
black Democrat, always seemed to be in tune with local business
leaders but always seemed like a decent guy, never had a whiff of
scandal, and never embarrassed us. (I'd like to say never did
anything blatantly stupid, but I have to question his support for
Lyndy Wells in the latest mayoral election.) People I know who
knew him liked him a lot. None of those traits were common among
the recent run of Wichita mayors.
Robert Christgau published his
Consumer Guide: June, 2020, with an A+ for Run the Jewels RTJ4
(an A- here last week); an A for the Wussy album below; A- for Princess
Nokia's Everything Is Beautiful, Serengeti's Ajai, and a
Fats Domino live album I previously gave good but somewhat lower grades
to; an A- for a Malian record I haven't found; a B+ for the Hamell on
Trial album below; and a few more things -- I tried Westside Gunn, and
even went back two previous releases, but nothing really stuck with me.
I'm not conceding that I screwed up, but I've often had trouble catching
rap lyrics (especially given limited plays), and that may be at work
Christgau asked me for some info on David Murray (occasioned by an
Xgau Sez question), so I
pasted a chunk of my
Jazz Guides into an email. It occurred
to me that I could add that to my Village Voice
David Murray Guide (2006).
The file turned out to be a mess, so I cleaned it up from "unpublished
draft" and notes to incorporating the
published edits. But rather than appending the more extensive
reviews, I created a
separate file. I also used
the occasion to pick up a few records I had missed, as well as Kahil
El'Zabar's new one, just out. Started a list of "other records" as a
self-check, but haven't gotten very far with it.
After all my pleading, I only have
one question answered
this week. More, please.
I did get one more piece of mail via
the form: Piotr wrote in to inform me
that he's created a Wikipedia page for
Tom Hull (critic). It's a very substantial page, with a lot of
biographical detail, all properly footnoted (most based on my
RockCritics.com interview). I've written him with a few corrections
and clarifications, so no need to itemize them here. Besides, most make
for slightly better myth than reality.
Two of the three new jazz A-list records this week were reviewed the
old-fashioned way, from CDs. Probably helped get them the attention they
deserve. I missed the A- Murray album because it was a mere Penguin
Guide ***, but turns out it features El'Zabar as the magic beans.
Found the old Joe Harriott records after noting the new vault release.
Been wanting to hear them for a long time, but none match Free
By the way, I've been keeping the
metacritic file reasonably
up to date. Run the Jewels' RTJ4 made a strong run for the top
spot, but is still one point behind Fiona Apple's Fetch the Bolt
Cutters. At AOTY and Metacritic, the latter has slightly higher
scores, but fewer reviews. Waxahatchie's Saint Cloud is third,
then there's a substantial point gap before you get to Caribou, Dua
Lipa, Perfume Genius, Tame Impala, Thundercat, Yves Tumor, Lucinda
Williams, Charlie XCX, Shabaka and the Ancestors, and Soccer Mommy.
New records reviewed this week:
- AuB: AuB (2019 , Edition): [r]: B+(*)
- César Cardoso: Dice of Tenors (2020, self-released): [r]: B+(*)
- Elysia Crampton: Orcorara 2010 (2020, Pan): [r]: B-
- Whit Dickey: Morph (2019 , ESP-Disk, 2CD): [cd]: A-
- Dion: Blues With Friends (2020, Keeping the Blues Alive): [r]: B+(*)
- Kahil El'Zabar: Kahil El'Zabar's Spirit Groove (2019 , Spiritmuse): [r]: A-
- Hamell on Trial: The Pandemic Songs (2020, self-released): [bc]: A-
- Daniel Hersog: Night Devoid of Stars (2019 , Cellar Live): [cd]: B+(**)
- Norah Jones: Pick Me Up Off the Floor (2020, Blue Note): [r]: B+(*)
- Ute Lemper: Rendezvous With Marlene (2020, Jazzhaus): [r]: B+(***)
- Madre Vaca: Winterreise (2020, Madre Vaca): [cd]: B
- Rudresh Mahanthappa: Hero Trio (2020, Whirlwind): [cd]: A-
- Stephen Riley: Friday the 13th (2018 , SteepleChase): [r]: B+(***)
- Dua Saleh: Rosetta (2020, Against Giants, EP): [r]: B+(*)
- John Scofield: Swallow Tales (2019 , ECM): [r]: B+(***)
- Sara Serpa: Recognition (2019 , Biophilia): [cd]: B+(**)
- Walter Smith III/Matthew Stevens/Micah Thomas/Linda May Han Oh/Nate Smith: In Common 2 (2019 , Whirlwind): [r]: B+(*)
- Westside Gunn: Flygod Is an Awesome God (2019, Griselda): [r]: B+(*)
- Westside Gunn: Hitler Wears Hermes VII (2019, Griselda): [r]: B+(*)
- Westside Gunn: Pray for Paris (2020, Griselda): [r]: B+(*)
Recent reissues, compilations, and vault discoveries:
- Joe Harriott Quintet: Jazz for Moderns (1962 , Gearbox, EP): [r]: B+(**)
- Wussy: Ghosts (2006-19 , self-released): [bc]: B+(***)
- The Channels Featuring Earl Lewis: Golden Oldies (1956-59 , Essential Music Group): [r]: B+(*)
- Joe Harriott & Co. Feat John Dankworth & Tubby Hayes: Helter Skelter: Live, Rare and Previously Unreleased Recordings 1955-1963 (1955-63 , Acrobat): [r]: B+(**)
- Joe Harriott Quintet: Abstract (1961-62 , J. Joes J. Edizioni Musicali): [r]: B+(***)
- The Joe Harriott Double Quintet: Indo-Jazz Suite (1966, Atlantic): [r]: B+(***)
- Ranee Lee: Seasons of Love (1997, Justin Time): [r]: B+(*)
- David Murray: Let the Music Take You (1978, Marge): [r]: B+(***)
- David Murray: Interboogieology (1978, Black Saint): [r]: B+(**)
- David Murray: The London Concert (1978 , Cadillac, 2CD): [r]: B+(***)
- David Murray Quartet: A Sanctuary Within (1991 , Black Saint): [r]: A-
Unpacking: Found in the mail last week:
- Juhani Aaltonen/Jonas Kullhammar/Christian Meaas Svendsen/Ilmari Heikinheimo: The Father, the Sons & the Junnu (Moserobie)
- Beth Duncan: I'm All Yours (Saccat) [07-24]
- Jason Kao Hwang: Human Rites Trio (True Sound) [07-01]
- Noshir Mody: An Idealist's Handbook: Identity, Love and Hope in America 2020 (self-released) [07-03]
- Corey Smythe: Accelerate Every Voice (Pyroclastic)
- Stephane Spira/Giovanni Mirabassi: Improkofiev (Jazzmax) [06-19]
- Lou Volpe: Before & After (Jazz Guitar)
Sunday, June 14, 2020
No intro this week.
Tweet of the week, from paulo. (@itskingapollo):
If the police did their jobs, everyone would trust them. Ain't no song
called "Fuck the Fire Department."
Also, from Rhys Blakely (@rhysblakely):
A 70-year-old man in Seattle survived the coronavirus, got applauded by
staff when he left the hospital after 62 days -- and then got a $1.1
million, 181-page hospital bill.
Some scattered links this week:
Georgia primary sends us a warning -- November could be a voting rights
disaster. On the other hand, interest in voting seems to be record
high. See Dareh Gregorian:
Voter turnout soared in Georgia despite massive primary day problems.
Bocar Abdoulaye Ba/Roman Rivera:
Police think they can get away with anything. That's because they usually
Trump: "The concept of chokehold sounds so innocent, so perfect".
Iowa quietly passes its third ag-gag bill after constitutional
Economic reality bites Wall Street and Trump.
Michael Flynn writes op-ed confirming he's definitely insane.
Trump postpones his MAGA rally planned for Juneteenth. Trump's
first rally in months was scheduled in Tulsa on the anniversary of
the 1921 massacre, where "a white mob destroyed the affluent Greenwood
District of the city, known as Black Wall Street, burning down 35
blocks, including 1,200 homes, and killing 300 black people in the
process." This was long referred to as a "race riot," but like all
similar events of the period, it was white people "rioting," much
like the pogroms Czarist Russian authorities organized against Jews.
Tulsa stands out in memory because of the sheer size of the massacre,
but also because it was the first instance of using airplanes to
firebomb an American neighborhood. Speaking of Trump in Tulsa:
Trump's new recovery plan resists sweeping police reforms.
The police shooting of Maurice Gordon, a black man killed during a traffic
The sexual assault allegations against an officer involved in Breonna
Taylor's killing say a lot about police abuse of power. Also note:
"the Louisville Metro Council banned no-knock warrants with new
legislation called Breonna's Law." Obviously, a few months too late
Aaron Ross Coleman:
Aaron C Davis/Carol D Leonnig/Josh Dawsey:
Officials familiar with Lafayette Square confrontation challenge Trump
administration claim of what drove aggressive expulsion of protesters.
Melania Trump delayed move to White House as "leverage" to renegotiate
a better prenup: report. Dish from Mary Jordan's upcoming book,
The Art of Her Deal: The Untold Story of Melania Trump. Also:
CNN rejects Trump campaign's demand for apology over polls showing him
losing to Biden by 14 points. But CNN's actual response was pretty
clueless: "[authoritarian demands] have typically come from countries
like Venezuela." But authoritarians (regardless of whether Venezuela
qualifies as an example) typically understand the limits of their
authority, which they'd undermine by demanding something they're in
no position to enforce. Trump's demand is pure PR: rejecting the poll
results so emphatically his supporters will hear and believe him, but
expecting nothing further to come of it. Normally, the next step is
to threaten a frivolous lawsuit, but CNN's pockets are deep enough to
get that dismissed, and their own PR department would spin such a
thing into an attack on free press.
White House goes quiet on coronavirus as outbreak spikes again across
the US: "It's been more than a month since the White House halted
its daily coronavirus task force briefings."
How 70 years of cop shows taught us to valorize the police:
I've watched a lot of them, starting (as this article does) with
Dragnet (and from that era I'd add Andy Griffith and
Gunsmoke, which rounds out the picture considerably), and
while I appreciate the positive image most shows attempt to project,
I'm pretty doubtful that I've learned much if anything about the
real world of police work. Nor have they made me any less fearful
of interactions with the police, or the "justice system" more
Trump's halting walk down ramp raises new health questions. Also
see Philip Rucker:
Trump tries to explain his slow and unsteady walk down a ramp at West
Point: "Elements of Trump's explanation strained credulity."
Why the Republicans' 2020 strategy is to keep as many people as possible
from voting. I'm not very worried that a fair election will give
Trump a second term. And I think that efforts to suppress the vote tend
to backfire, at least up to a point. Still, the Republicans have been
working hard to trim and shape the electorate to their tastes, and it's
not unreasonable to worry that they may ultimately be successful -- for
one thing, look at how they've managed to gerrymander districts.
What does it say about a political party when its chief strategy is
to prevent as many people as possible from voting -- and its leader
admits as much?
That is where Republicans find themselves heading into the 2020
For the latest, breathtaking example of this pathology, look at
Iowa. On June 2, Iowa held a highly successful primary, with record
turnout -- and Republicans in the state legislature immediately
initiated action to ensure the success is not repeated in the fall.
Trump poised to accept GOP nod in Jacksonville, Fla., on 60th anniversary
of 'Ax Handle Saturday': After schedule Trump's Juneteenth rally in
Tulsa, of course this comes next:
On Aug. 27, 1960, a mob of 200 white people in Jacksonville, Fla. --
organized by the Ku Klux Klan and joined by some of the city's police
officers -- chased and beat peaceful civil rights protesters who were
trying to integrate downtown lunch counters. The bloody carnage that
followed -- in which ax handles and baseball bats were used to club
African Americans, who sought sanctuary in a church -- is remembered
as "Ax Handle Saturday."
2 new studies show shutdowns were astonishingly effective.
Buffalo cops -- and all the other cops.
The generals are turning on Trump: "Mark Milley's apology for the
church photo-op is a major escalation."
West Pointless: "Trump made cadets return to campus during a pandemic
to listen to his dull platitudes." First line in article is "It could
have been worse." Hard to imagine the next paragraph ever being written
about any other president:
President Trump's Saturday morning commencement speech at West Point
was merely dull rather than abhorrent, incendiary, or flagrantly
self-aggrandizing, except for a couple of passages and -- significantly --
the fact of the speech itself, which was designed entirely as a video
clip for an upcoming reelection campaign commercial.
Sure, they'll cut out the bit where he waddles down the ramp. And
to think how annoying I found it that every time GW Bush spoke you
first had to watch him walk up to the podium. (OK, it was kind of
sick-funny the time he made Ariel Sharon do the same.) But at least
then we had a president who could walk -- not to mention read a
teleprompter without his eyes glazing over. Who imagine those would
some day be skills we could fondly reminisce over? (Even when
performed by a major war criminal?)
Trump's support for Confederate base names has nothing to do with
respecting the military.
Why this moment demands radical politics: Interview with Eddie Glaude
Jr., author of Democracy in Black: How Race Still Enslaves the American
Soul and Begin Again: James Baldwin's America and Its Urgent Lessons
for Our Own.
The fatal arrest of Manuel Ellis, another black man who yelled "I can't
The "kettling" of protesters, explained.
Aline Kominsky-Crumb/R Crumb:
Bad diet & bad hair destroy human civilization.
About those improved unemployment numbers:
As the Economic Policy Institute's Elise Gould explains in
this indispensable short piece, if you add to the officially unemployed
statistic those workers who were staying home for health or family reasons
but reported themselves as employed, and workers who reported that they
had left the labor force but would seek work if it were available, the
adjusted unemployment rate for May is 19.7 percent.
The clincher is the number of workers still drawing unemployment
compensation, which was just under 30 million the week of May 16,
according to the same BLS report.
Trump's use of the military does not create the "appearance" of abuse.
It is abuse.
David J Lynch:
Ripple effects of downturn show pandemic's early economic toll was
just the beginning.
"Defenders of democracy" aren't bothered by its end in Bolivia.
If you don't believe systemic racism is real, explain these statistics.
Pandemic unemployment insurance is expiring soon. This economist has
a fix for it. "Ioana Marinescu would allow people who've lost jobs
to keep collecting $600 a week even after getting a new job."
Ivanka Trump and Charles Koch fuel a cancel-culture clash at Wichita
Trump loses 2 pivotal allies in his anti-kneeling crusade: NASCAR and
The black wage gap matters: "The grim state of racial economic inequality
should sicken our consciences."
White Americans are finally talking about racism. Will it translate
The preachers of the austerity gospel are back: "Though we're in the
midst of an unprecedented economic crisis, calls for budget-tightening
have reliably restarted."
"Totally predictable": State reopenings have backfired.
Donald Trump is an autocrat. It's up to all of us to stop him.
Yeah, sure: not a position I'm going to argue with, or get bent out
of shape over.
Dictatorships are built on denial. Dictators take over gradually;
each incremental step that erodes civil liberties and the rule of
law can be justified and explained away. Sometimes a would-be dictator
is laughed off as a political buffoon who shouldn't be taken seriously.
While it is happening, no one can quite believe that they are on the
road to serfdom.
I might have skipped mention of this piece but wanted to save this
paragraph-plus (more explicitly blood-thirsty than Tom Cotton's famous
op-ed) for posterity:
On Monday, Rep. Matt Gaetz, a Florida Republican and Trump acolyte,
offered a typical Republican response to the protests when he called
for all the lethal tools of the global war on terror to be brought
home and turned on American protesters. "Now that we clearly see
Antifa as terrorists, can we hunt them down like we do those in the
Middle East?" Gaetz tweeted Monday. Twitter restricted access to the
Gaetz tweet, labeling it a glorification of violence.
By advocating for an end to the rule of law, Republicans like
Gaetz will find themselves surviving at the whim of Trump. That's
when the jokes about drones and Gitmo won't seem so funny to them.
The Tom Cotton op-ed affair shows why the media must defend America's
values: America has values? The New York Times should decide what
they are? I agree that Cotton's proposal to flood American cities with
the same troops that tried so fitfully to quell protests in Baghdad
is something one should oppose, but by recent evidence it's hard to
say what he's proposing is un-American. For a couple more general
pieces that take off from the Cotton op-ed:
Do baseball's labor fights drive away fans? Well, Well, I used to
read box scores every day, but haven't followed MLB at all since the
1994 lockout. That's just one data point, but it's a pretty hard one.
The article refers to "the 1994-95 strike," but all I remember is the
owners' lockout, and that's where I put all the blame.
Walter M Shaub Jr:
Ransacking the Republic.
Fox News removes manipulated images from coverage of Seattle protests.
Trump's actions rattle the military world: 'I can't support the man':
"The president's threat to use troops against largely peaceful protesters,
as well as other attempts to politicize the military, have unsettled a
number of current and former members and their families."
Mark Joseph Stern:
Republicans attack Republican official for expanding voting access.
Democrat accuses OSHA of being 'invisible' while infections rise among
essential workers. One would think that OSHA would be the key agency
consulted on all questions having to do with re-opening businesses.
As of Thursday, infections tied to meat plants had surpassed 18,500 and
worker deaths were approaching 70, according to the Midwest Center for
Investigative Reporting, which is tracking industry outbreaks through
local news reports. Grocery workers have been similarly hit hard, with
more than 5,500 testing positive for the coronavirus and more than 100
dying of covid-19, the disease the virus causes, The Washington Post
has reported. Front-line health-care workers have gotten sick in even
greater numbers, with more than 60,000 infected and more than 300 dying
of covid-19, according to new CDC data.
Alex S Vitale:
"Policing is fundamentally a tool of social control to facilitate our
exploitation": An interview by Mike Uetricht with Vitale, who wrote
The End of Policing back in 2017.
Forgive Tucker Carlson for his panicky desperation. His world is
collapsing. I don't watch his show, but clips I've seen recently
are extremely unhinged. Also see:
Study: Police killings traumatize high school students and hurt academic
Study suggests Democrats should be running more ads about Biden, fewer
about Trump. What I'd rather see is more ads that work for the whole
party, not just Biden vs. Trump. The Democratic majority in the House,
for instance, has passed a lot of bills that Republicans killed in the
Senate, so those are good opportunities to compare parties. You can
also point out differences between states with Democrats in power vs.
Republican-run states, especially on metrics like how many people don't
have health insurance. I don't see that running a lot of ads on how
Biden's going to lead us to the promised land will have much traction,
although you do want to suggest that you're not embarrassed by him as
nominee (although I rather am).
Joe Biden has a really big lead in the polls. Compares his recent
polls to Clinton's in 2016. The thing that always struck me about 2016
was that no matter how low Trump sunk, Clinton never could hit, let
along top, 50%. ("Even on October 18, Clinton was only at 46 percent
in the polls with Trump doing terribly at 39 and plenty of undecided
and third-party voters.") The CNN poll not only gives Biden a 14 point
margin, his actual figure is 55%.
"The protesters had to deescalate the police": Demonstrators are the
ones defusing violence at protests.
Tuesday, June 09, 2020
Expanded blog post,
Music: Current count 33418  rated (+40), 214  unrated (+5).
Cutoff was Monday evening, after I wrapped up
Roundup, so that has a bit to do with the above-average count.
Shifted back to new music last week, starting with some
Phil Overeem recommendations, and ended with rummaging through my
tracking file (jazz subset),
with a few asides along the way. (One of Cliff Ocheltree's Facebook
posts mentioned If Deejay Was Your Trade and Hyphy Hitz.
Couldn't find the latter, but the Blood & Fire compilation was so
good I wanted to hear more from Big Joe.) Still, didn't bother with
my promo queue at all. It had been near-empty, but has recovered to
the extent I need to pay it some attention.
I reviewed Thank Your Lucky Stars' Girl in Her 29s last week,
noting that I couldn't find anything via Google on the CD. I'm told that
this website will help. I also received a hand-written letter from
Ben Barnes, which reads in part (or I think it does, as my eyes and
his handlettering don't always mesh; I also spared you the all-caps,
and added a link I'm almost 100% sure of and italics for the album
As for the mysterious online presence I vowed long ago to only spend
time and money on the things I love and never try to profit from
them. Whenever someone asks about buying a disc I ask them to
Mikey's Chance Canine Rescue
and then I happily mail them Girl in Her 29s.
Looking back at last week's "review," I realize I didn't finish it --
by, like, saying something about the record. Meant to, but ran out of
time and decided to run what I had anyway, and still haven't gotten
back to it, so sorry. I will re-run the album cover.
On June 3, Robert Christgau
I try to be shrewd about this stuff, not show my hand before I publish
my review, but it would be just wrong to deny that it's been A LONG
TIME since I felt like a new album was just what I'd been needing the
way the new Run the Jewels does.
I had the same reaction to RTJ4, although I didn't explain
it very coherently below -- written after two plays before I saw the
tweet -- no doubt because I always have trouble following rap lyrics.
But even I caught enough to realize that this was the time. (Link
above is to the whole feed. Even now the tweet in question is well
down, but it won't hurt you to scroll for it.)
The Ogún Meji Duo album was reviewed by Karl Ackermann as a new
All About Jazz. Ackerman wrote: "The album makes a powerful statement
that could have been a response to Emmett Till in 1955 or George Floyd
in 2020." True enough, but it actually dates from the Michael Brown era.
I might have graded it higher, but tired of the lecture, and got annoyed
by the Soundcloud-like website streaming. But drummer Mark Lomax and
saxophonist Edwin Bayard are awesome as usual. I should note that Lomax's
400 Years Suite is currently number one on my
2020 list, and his 12-CD 400:
An Afrikan Epic was number three on the
In non-musical matters,
suggested a Weekend Roudup link: Jack Rasmus:
Confronting Institutional Racism. Rasmus is an economist in
California, subtitles his blog "Predicting the Global Eonomic Crisis,"
has a bunch of books on economics (keyword: neoliberalism), as well
as some stage plays and DVDs. I
noticed one of his books in 2010 -- Epic Recession: Prelude to
Global Depression -- but missed six since then. Most evocative
title was Obama's Economy: Recovery for the Few (paperback,
2012, Pluto Press). First book was a big one: The War at Home:
The Corporate Offensive From Ronald Reagan to George W Bush
I got one question following last week's
Questions and Answers post. I'll take a stab at answering it
later this week. Meanwhile,
ask me more.
New records reviewed this week:
- 79rs Gang: Expect the Unexpected (2020, Sinking City): [r]: B+(***)
- Sebastien Ammann: Resilience (2018 , Skirl): [bc]: B+(**)
- Lucian Ban/John Surman/Mat Maneri: Transylvanian Folk Songs (2020, Sunnyside): [r]: B+(**)
- Will Bernard: Freelance Subversives (2020, Ropeadope): [r]: B
- Body Count: Carnivore (2020, Century Media): [r]: B+(**)
- Daniel Carter/Patrick Holmes/Matthew Putman: Whoadie (2018-19 , 577): [r]: C+
- Emmet Cohen Featuring Benny Golson & Albert "Tootie" Heath: Masters Legacy Series Volume 3 (2019, self-released): [r]: B+(**)
- Emmet Cohen Featuring George Coleman: Masters Legacy Series Volume 4 (2019, self-released): [r]: B+(***)
- Dinosaur: To the Earth (2019 , Edition): [r]: B+(**)
- Dave Douglas: Dizzy Atmosphere: Dizzy Gillespie at Zero Gravity (2019 , Greenleaf Music): [r]: B+(**)
- Lajos Dudas: The Lake and the Music (2019 , JazzSick): [r]: B+(***)
- Freddie Gibbs & the Alchemist: Alfredo (2020, ESGN/ALC/Empire): [r]: B+(*)
- GoGo Penguin: GoGo Penguin (2020, Blue Note): [r]: B+(***)
- Human Feel: The Tower Tapes #5 (2019 , Jazz Club Ferrara): [bc]: B+(**)
- Anne Mette Iversen Quartet + 1: Racing a Butterfly (2020, Bjurecords): [bc]: A-
- KeiyaA: Forever, Ya Girl (2020, Keiya): [r]: B+(**)
- Lady Gaga: Chromatica (2020, Interscope): [r]: B+(***)
- John Law's Congregation: Configuration (2018 , Ubuntu Music): [r]: B+(***)
- Little Simz: Drop 6 (2020, Age 101, EP): [r]: B+(*)
- Sabir Mateen/Patrick Holmes/Federico Ughi: Survival Situation (2018 , 577): [r]: B+(**)
- Medhane: Full Circle (2020, TBHG, EP): [bc]: B
- Medhane: Cold Water (2020, TBHG): [bc]: B+(*)
- Mike and the Moonpies: Touch of You: The Lost Songs of Gary Stewart (2020, Prairie Rose): [r]: B+(**)
- Eva Novoa: Satellite Quartet (2017 , Fresh Sound New Talent): [r]: B+(*)
- Kurt Rosenwinkel Trio: Angels Around (2020, Heartcore): [r]: B+(**)
- Run the Jewels: RTJ4 (2020, Jewel Runners/RBC/BMG): [r]: A-
- Matthew Shipp: The Piano Equation (2020, Tao Forms): [r]: B+(**)
- Sunwatchers: Oh Yeah? (2020, Trouble in Mind): [r]: B
- Chad Taylor Trio: The Daily Biological (2019 , Cuneiform): [dl]: A-
Recent reissues, compilations, and vault discoveries:
- Bobby Shew/Bill Mays: Telepathy (1978 , Fresh Sound): [r]: B+(**)
- Big Joe: Keep Rocking and Swinging (1977, Live and Love): [r]: B+(***)
- Dave Burrell: Black Spring (1977, Marge): [r]: B+(**)
- Emmet Cohen Featuring Jimmy Cobb: Masters Legacy Series Volume 1 (2017, Cellar Live): [r]: B+(***)
- Emmet Cohen Featuring Ron Carter: Masters Legacy Series Volume 2 (2017 , Cellar Live): [r]: B+(**)
- Emmet Cohen: Dirty in Detroit (2017 , self-released): [r]: B+(**)
- Lajos Dudas: Radio Days: Birthday Edition 75 (2016, JazzSick): [r]: B+(***)
- Lajos Dudas: Some Great Songs Vol. 2 (2017, JazzSick): [r]: B+(**)
- If Deejay Was Your Trade: The Dreads at King Tubby's 1974-1977 (1974-77 , Blood & Fire): [r]: A-
- Mister Charlie's Blues (1926-1938) (1926-38 , Yazoo): [dl]: B+(**)
- Ogún Meji Duo: #BlackLivesMatter (2014, CFG Multimedia): [os]: B+(***)
Unpacking: Found in the mail last week:
- Caterpillar Quartet: Threads (ESP-Disk) [06-26]
- Whit Dickey: Morph (ESP-Disk, 2CD)
- Jean-Marc Foussat/Daunik Lazro/Evan Parker: Café Oto 2020 (Fou)
- The Mark Harvey Group: A Rite for All Souls (1971, Americas Musicworks, 2CD) [07-17]
- Alister Spence: Whirlpool: Solo Piano (Alister Spence Music, 2CD) [07-24]
Monday, June 08, 2020
While this week was unfolding, I've been reading a book by Sarah
Kendzior: Hiding in Plain Sight: The Invention of Donald Trump and
the Erosion of America. She is a journalist based in St. Louis,
with a Ph.D. in anthropology and a specialty in post-Soviet Central
Asia and its descent into mafia capitalism and oligarchy. She sees
Trump as part of a vast criminal enterprise, anchored in Russia,
which she insists on describing as "hostile to America." I think
she has that analysis ass-backwards. Capitalism's driving force
everywhere is greed, which constantly pushes the limits of custom
and law. The only thing that separates capitalists from criminals
is a democratic state that regulates business and enforces limits
on destructive greed. The former Soviet Union failed to do that,
but the United States has a checkered history as well, with the
major entrepreneurs of the 19th century known as Robber Barons,
and a sustained conservative assault on the regulatory state at
least since 1980. Trump may be closer to the Russian oligarchs
than most American capitalists because of his constant need to
raise capital abroad, but he is hardly Putin's stooge. Rather,
they share a common desire to suppress democratic regulation of
capital everywhere, as well as an itch for suppressing dissent.
Arguing that the latter is anti-American (treason even) ignores
the fact that that's a big part of the program of the reigning
political party in the US.
Kendzior's arguments in this regard annoy me so much I could go
on, explaining why the supposed US-Russia rivalry is based on false
assumptions, and why Democrats are hurting themselves by obsessing
on the Trump/Russia connection. I was, after all, tempted at several
points to give up on the book. But I stuck with it: it's short, and
anyone who despises Trump that much is bound to have some points.
Also, I lived in St. Louis a few years myself, so was curious what
she had to say about her battleground state. My interest paid off
with her discussion of the 2014 protests against police brutality
in Ferguson, a majority-black suburb just north of St. Louis with
a predominantly white police force that was largely self-funded by
arrests and fines. This is history, but it's also today in microcosm
Understanding Ferguson is not only a product of principle but of
proximity. The narrative changes depending on where you live, what
media you consume, who you talk to, and who you believe. In St. Louis,
we still live in the Ferguson aftermath. There is no real beginning,
because [Michael] Brown's death is part of a continuum of criminal
impunity by the police toward St. Louis black residents. There is no
real end, because there are always new victims to mourn. In St. Louis,
there is no justice, only sequels.
Outside of St. Louis, Ferguson is shorthand for violence and
dysfunction. When I go to foreign countries that do not know what
St. Louis is, I sometimes joke, darkly, that I'm from a "suburb of
Ferguson." People respond like they are meting a witness of a war
zone, because that is what they saw on TV and on the internet. What
they missed is that Ferguson was the longest sustained civil rights
protest since the 1960s. The protest was fought on principle because
in St. Louis County, law had long ago divorced itself from justice,
and when lawmakers abandon justice, principle is all that remains. The
criminal impunity many Americans are only discovering now -- through
the Trump administration -- had always structured the system for black
residents of St. Louis County, who had learned to expect a rigged and
brutal system but refused to accept it.
In the beginning, there was hope that police would restrain
themselves because of the volume of witnesses. But there was no
incentive for them to do so: no punishment locally, and no
repercussions nationally. Militarized police aggression happened
nearly every night, transforming an already traumatic situation into a
showcase of abuse. The police routinely used tear gas and rubber
bullets. They arrested local officials, clergy, and journalists for
things like stepping off the sidewalk. They did not care who witnessed
their behavior, even though they knew the world was
watching. Livestream videographers filmed the chaos minute by minute
for an audience of millions. #Ferguson, the hashtag, was born, and the
Twitter followings of those covering the chaos rose into the tens of
thousands. But the documentation did not stop the brutality. Instead,
clips were used by opponents of the protesters to try to create an
impression of constant "riots" that in reality did not occur. The
vandalism and arson shown on cable news in an endless loop were
limited to a few nights and took place on only a few streets.
National media had pounced on St. Louis, parachuting in when a
camera-ready crisis was rumored to be impending, leaving when the
protests were peaceful and tame. Some TV crews did not bother to hide
their glee at the prospect of what I heard one deem a real-life Hunger
Games, among other flippant and cruel comments. The original protests,
which were focused on the particularities of the abusive St. Louis
system, became buried by out-of-town journalists who found out-of-town
activists and portrayed them as local leaders. The intent was not
necessarily malicious, but the lack of familiarity with the region led
to disorienting and insulting coverage. Tabloid hype began to
overshadow the tragedy. Spectators arrived from so many points of
origins that the St. Louis Arch felt like a magnet pulling in fringe
groups from around the country: Anonymous and the Oath Keepers and the
Nation of Islam and the Ku Klux Klan and the Revolutionary Communist
Party and celebrities who claimed they were out of deep concern and
not to get on television. Almost none of the celebrities ever
In fall 2014, the world saw chaos and violence, but St. Louis saw
grief. Ask a stranger in those days how they were doing and their
eyes, already red from late nights glued to the TV or internet, would
well up with tears. Some grieved stability, others grieved community,
others simply grieved the loss of a teenage boy, unique and complex as
any other, to a system that designated him a menace on sight. But it
was hard to find someone who was not grieving something, even if it
was a peace born of ignorance. It was a loss that was hard to convey
to people living outside of the region. I covered the Ferguson
protests as a journalist, but I lived it as a St. Louisan. Those are
two different things. It is one thing to watch a region implode on
TV. It is another to live within the slow-motion implosion. When I
would share what I witnessed, people kept urging me to call my
representative, and I would explain: "But they gassed my
By the way, here are the latest section heads (as of 7:37 PM CDT
Sunday) in The New York Times'
Live Updates on George Floyd Protests:
- Majority of the Minneapolis City Council pledges to dismantle the
- Trump sends National Guard troops home
- New York's mayor pledges to cut police funding and spend more on
- Democratic lawmakers push for accountability, but shy away from
calls to defund the police
- Barr says he sees no systemic racism in law enforcement
- Romney joins protesters in Washington.
- Protesters march through Manhattan, calling for an end to police
- Thousands turn out in Spokane, Wa., to protest "a virus that's
been going on for 400 years."
- Biden will meet with the family of George Floyd in Houston.
- The view from above: aerial images of protests across the
- A Confederate status is pulled down during a protest in Virginia
- Global protests against racism gain momentum.
- An officer shot an anti-bias expert who was trying to end a clash
at a protest in San Jose, Calif.
A couple items there look like major breaks with the past. While
the "progressive" mayors of Minneapolis and New York seems to have
spent much of the last week being intimidated by the police forces
that supposedly work for them, the balance of political forces in
both cities may have shifted to viewing the police as the problem,
not the solution. I started off being pretty skeptical of the
protests, and indeed haven't been tempted to join them. But it
does appear that they're making remarkable progress. And while I
abhor any violence associated with the protests, one should never
allow such noise to distract from the core issue of the protests.
Indeed, given that so much of the violence the media likes to
dwell on is directly caused by the police and the government's
other paramilitary forces, it's hard not to see that the only
way this ever gets resolved is by restoring trust and justice --
which is to say, by radically reforming how policing is done in
I expected such sprawl at the start of the week that I decided not
to bother organizing sublists. Still, some fell out during the process,
but I haven't gone back and organized as many as might make sense.
In particular, there are several scattered pieces on the "jobs
report": the one by Robert J Shapiro is the most important, but I
got to it after several others.
This wound up running a day late. Only a couple links below came
out on Monday, and I tried to only pick ones that added to stories
I already had (e.g., I added Yglesias' piece on economic reporting,
but didn't pick up the one on Biden's polling).
Here's a piece of artwork from
Ram Lama Hull occasioned
by the recent demonstrations. I pulled this particular one (out of
many) from his
Some are also on
Qualified immunity is a legal doctrine that has come up a lot
recently, as it makes it very difficult to hold police officers
liable for their acts, even the use of excessive or deadly force.
Parting tweet (from Angela Belcamino):
Who else but Trump could bring back the 1918 pandemic, the 1929 Great
Depression, and the 1968 race riots all in one year?
Some scattered links this week:
History will judge the complicit: "Why have Republican leaders
abandoned their principles in support of an immoral and dangerous
president?" Why does she think "Republican leaders" have principles
any different from their president? Applebaum is especially concerned
about Lindsay Graham. I can't find the reference, but have a clear
memory of Graham, when he was in the House in the 1990s, explaining
that Republicans have to secure as many long-term posts of power as
possible, before demographic changes make it impossible for R's to
win fair elections. So he was always a practical, anti-democratic
schemer. Back in 2016, Trump may have offended his sense of what's
possible, but by winning he sealed his case, and won Graham over.
Applebaum asks, "what would it take for Republican leaders to admit
to themselves that Trump's loyalty cult is destroying the country
they claim to love?" The answer is catastrophic defeat at the polls,
so bad it sweeps all of them out of office. Losing the Senate seats
of Graham and McConnell in 2020 would be a good start.
David Atkins/Dante Atkins:
Trump thought brutalizing protesters would save him. He was wrong.
"His gamble on creating a militarized culture war has done the opposite
of what he hoped for."
Even before the brutal killing of George Floyd by officers of the
Minneapolis Police Department, Trump knew that he would need to
maximize his culture war appeal to non-college whites to make up
ground lost to the faltering economy. There can be little doubt
that Trump saw opportunity in the protests that followed to dust
off the Nixon playbook, vowing to restore "law and order" in a
country furious that the law seemed to protect only some, while
enforcing a brutal order on others. If Trump's actions threatened
to turn the culture war into an active shooting war, that would
just be collateral damage on the road to his political recovery.
The Trump orbit considers the iconography of jingoistic militarism
and the violent suppression of protest to be a political winner. . . .
Trump, like Nixon before him, uses "law and order" as a way of "talking
about race without talking about race." In this narrative, a president
who supports American "traditional culture" and stands strong against
people who agitate for racial justice will win over a "silent majority"
of people who just don't want to be disturbed and want to have some
peace and quiet from their politics. . . .
In one sense, [Trump]'s right: people are exhausted with chaos, and
they do want a respect for law and order. The problem for Trump? The
chaos is in large part of his own making, and insofar as it isn't,
he's in the way of solving the problems created by institutional
racism and overlapping hierarchies of oppression. The massive wave
of police brutality has woken even many previously disengaged white
people up to the need for true equality under the law, and an order
in which everyone, including police and the president, are held to
account. And many of the same people Trump is trying to persuade now
believe that kicking him out of the White House is a necessary
prerequisite for making that vision a reality.
The jobs report was good, but the economy is still bad. But see
Peter Baker/Maggie Haberman/Katie Rogers/Zolan Kanno-Youngs/Katie
How Trump's idea for a photo op led to havoc in a park.
Trump finally gets the war he wanted.
Trump represents a bigger threat than ever to US democracy.
Tray Connor/Lisa Khoury:
Every Buffalo cop in elite unit quits to back officers who shoved
elderly man to ground. Two officers were suspended for attacking
a 75-year-old protester, cracking his head against the ground and
leaving him bleeding. Fifty-seven quit to protest the suspensions.
Moving backward: Hypocrisy and human rights.
Derek Davison/Alex Thurston:
Expect more military "liberal interventionism" under a Joe Biden
presidency: My first instinct was to play this down, but the sheer
number of likely foreign policy mandarins mentioned, as well as Biden's
alleged desire to hire anti-Trump Republicans, makes me nervous. One
reason I doubt we'll see more interventionism is that I think the
current generation of military leaders, many burned from Afghanistan
and Iraq (and Syria and Libya), are likely to resist -- especially
pleas on "humanitarian" grounds. Also, as I recall, Biden pushed for
a more minimal policy in Afghanistan under Obama. On the other hand,
his career in Congress always supported the hawks. People do tend
to get more cautious with age, so there's that. But I do agree there
is reason to fret over his personnel decisions.
Elizabeth Dwoskin/Nitasha Tiku:
Facebook employees said they were 'caught in an abusive relationship'
with Trump as internal debates raged.
Trump isn't a dictator. But he has a dictator's sense of impunity.
What the old Jewish radical taught me about George Floyd: Our friend,
The foundations of the Trump regime are starting to crumble.
Over the course of his presidency, Donald Trump has indulged his
authoritarian instincts -- and now he's meeting the common fate of
autocrats whose people turn against them. What the United States is
witnessing is less like the chaos of 1968, which further divided a
nation, and more like the nonviolent movements that earned broad
societal support in places such as Serbia, Ukraine, and Tunisia,
and swept away the dictatorial likes of Milosevic, Yanukovych,
and Ben Ali.
The police were a mistake: "Law enforcement agencies have become the
standing armies that the Founders feared."
Donald Trump's fascist performance.
Donald Trump thinks power looks like masked men in combat uniforms lined
up in front of the marble columns of the Lincoln Memorial. He thinks it
looks like Black Hawk helicopters hovering so low over protesters that
they chop off the tops of trees. He thinks it looks like troops using
tear gas to clear a plaza for a photo op. He thinks it looks like him
hoisting a Bible in his raised right hand.
Trump thinks power sounds like this: "Our country always wins. That
is why I am taking immediate Presidential action to stop the violence
and restore security and safety in America . . . dominate the streets . . .
establish an overwhelming law-enforcement presence. . . . If a city or
state refuses . . . I will deploy the United States military and quickly
solve the problem for them. . . . We are putting everybody on warning. . . .
One law and order and that is what it is. One law -- we have one beautiful
law." To Trump, power sounds like the word "dominate," repeated over and
over on a leaked call with governors.
Donald Trump's "Antifa" hysteria is absurd. But it's also very dangerous.
I have a lot of trouble with "antifa": I'm not sure they exist, but if
they do, I'm pretty sure they aren't part of the left -- which I'd define
as the movement to universalize equal rights, secure peace, and enhance
community through cooperation. Fascists hate the left for just these
reasons, but more often than not they also hate other people, often for
very arbitrary reasons (like race, religion, or favorite football teams).
So it stands to reason that there are people who don't have any particular
commitment to the left but still hate fascists -- because, well, hate
begets more hate. After all, we live in a society that still puts a lot
of stock in violence.
Susan B Glasser:
#Bunkerboy's photo-op war.
A reading list to understand police brutality in America.
Garrett M Graff:
The story behind Bill Barr's unmarked federal agents. Also see:
Washington DC now controlled by gunmen under William Barr's command, and
William Barr's unaccountable nameless army suppresses dissent and
threatens democracy, which starts off with Chris Murphy tweeting
"We cannot tolerate an American secret police."
Alisha Haridasani Gupta:
Why aren't we all talking about Breonna Taylor? Could be that this
particular case is complicated by the "war on drugs," which allowed
police to "serve a no-knock warrant" in the middle of the night, and
guns: she was killed after her boyfriend shot at a suspected intruder,
which turned out to be armed police who returned fire massively and
blindly (or at least that's how I understand it went down). As both
the reason for the break in and the firefight were deliberate choices
made by police, it's hard not to think that this could have been
handled differently, in a way where no one got shot, and it's hard
to dismiss the idea that racism didn't factor into those choices,
even if the police never saw the person they were killing. But doesn't
this also raise a key question about guns? A big part of the common
rationale for owning a gun is the idea that you can use it to defend
your home from invasion -- but clearly that doesn't work in cases
where the police are the invaders. Maybe that rationale isn't as
smart as its advocates think?
Will he go? "A law professor fears a meltdown this November."
Interview with Lawrence Douglas, who has a book on this: Will He
Go? Trump and the Looming Election Meltdown in 2020. This strikes
me as something not worth worrying about now, although that anyone
can raise such questions reminds us that Trump has no regard for the
Constitution and the rule of law. I can't imagine that anyone in a
position of power would support Trump in spite of a clear electoral
Why the policing problem isn't about "a few bad apples": "A former
prosecutor on the fundamental problem with law enforcement: 'The system
was designed this way.'" Interview with Paul Butler, Georgetown law
professor, former federal prosecutor, author of Chokehold: Policing
Quinta Jurecic/Benjamin Wittes:
The law-enforcement abuses that don't bother Trump: "The president
believes that those who oppose him should be punished, but that those
who support him should be free to do as they please."
Chris Hayes on how police treat black Americans like colonial subjects:
Interview with Hayes, who wrote a very clear book on the subject,
A Colony in a Nation.
We're seeing tactics of policing that are usually used on people that
are outside of view: pressure, harassment, and ultimately domination.
I think the word domination is so remarkable. The president has been
explicit on this: The goal is domination. And what does domination look
like? It looks like a knee on the neck. In fact, a boot to the neck is
like the oldest trope we have to represent domination and represent
tyranny. What is the flag of the colonies? It's a snake that reads,
"Don't tread on me." Do not step on me. Do not place your foot on me.
That is domination. And if you do, I will react.
Annie Karni/Maggie Haberman:
How Trump's demands for a full house in Charlotte derailed a
Sweden's coronavirus experiment has well and truly failed.
The dystopian Lincoln Memorial photo raises a grim question: Will they
protect us, or will they shoot us?
The disturbing history of how tear gas became the weapon of choice against
protesters: "The chemical weapon was originally marketed to police as
a way to turn protesters 'into a screaming mob.'" Interview with Anna
Feigenbaum, author of Tear Gas: From the Battlefields of World War I
to the Streets of Today.
America at the breaking point: "The social upheaval of the 1960s
meets the political polarization and institutional dysfunction of the
present." I don't have time to write about this piece, but probably
should refer to it at some point when I finally try to sum up what's
going on. I've always hated the notion that the 1960s divided and
broke America. Rather, events exposed hypocrisies and weaknesses,
but rather than heal them, political reaction took over and turned
us into fantasists. That the same fractures have returned -- sure,
plus some new ones -- should remind us that failure to heal can only
be ignored for so long.
How Iceland beat the coronavirus.
Donald Trump is no Richard Nixon: "He -- and his party -- is much,
much worse." The subhed is critical, because is less the leader of his
party than the vessel into which fifty years of megalomania and cynicism
has been poured, the creature grown out of such vile soil. The first
comparison I recall between Trump and Nixon concerned their respective
convention acceptance speeches in 1968 and 2016: Nixon's was much more
concise, and much more cunning, a carefully constructed pitch to the
American people that exploited their feelings while betraying little of
Nixon's real ambitions, whereas Trump's was, despite being scripted, an
incoherent mess. Their presidencies have followed from those initial
premises, but they started out from different places, and to my mind
that makes Nixon more culpable for the ensuing disaster. In fact, when
Trump apes Nixon's law-and-order rants, he's not just repeating past
mistakes but testifying to Nixon's continued legacy. So I really don't
have much patience when liberals like Krugman point out that Nixon
put his signature to some pieces of progressive legislation (like the
Clean Air Act) that Trump has sought to trash. Nixon was smart enough
to bend with the wind, but he was also devious enough to put Donald
Rumsfeld in charge of the Office of Economic Opportunity, and subvert
LBJ's "Great Society" programs from the inside.
Trump takes us to the brink: "Will weaponized racism destroy
Heather Long/Andrew Van Dam:
The black-white economic divide is as wide as it was in 1968: "14
charts show how deep the economic gap is and how little it has changed
in decades. The covid-19 recession is also hitting black families and
business owners far harder than whites."
How violent protests against police brutality in the '60s and '90s
changed public opinion: "The backlash to unrest in the '60s gave
the country Richard Nixon, one study found. But we don't know if that
will apply today." One thing not noted here is that we tend to conflate
two different things when we remember "violence in the '60s": "race
riots" which flared up in various cities from 1965-68, most often in
response to local police acts; and the police riot against anti-war
demonstrators at the 1968 Democratic Convention in Chicago. Neither
of these should be framed as "protests against police brutality" --
sure, they were occasioned by and exemplified by police brutality,
but they weren't organized as protests. I've long felt that the
former were pent-up explosions of anger, a release of pressures
that had built up over decades of racism and impoverishment, as
I noted that it was very rare for any city to "riot" more than
once. Repeated experiences were prevented not by police dominance
but by community leaders organizing bases of political power.
(Also helpful were cases where white political leaders responded
by getting out into the streets and making their concerns visible,
as John Lindsay did in New York. RFK, campaigning in Indianapolis
when Martin Luther King was killed, was also effective as keeping
anger from turning into riot.) It is true that Nixon cultivated
a backlash against blacks and anti-war protesters, but one thing
that helped him was that he was out of office when the "violence"
happened, unlike Trump. Of course, Nixon was responsible for much
of the violence after he became president in 1969 -- in America,
and much, much more around the world.
How to reform American police, according to experts.
- Police need to apologize for centuries of abuse
- Police should be trained to address their racial biases
- Police should avoid situations that lead them to use force
- Officers must be held accountable in a very transparent way
- On-the-job incentives for police officers need to change
- We need higher standards -- and better pay -- for police
- Police need to focus on the few people in communities causing chaos and violence
- We need better data to evaluate police and crime
Viktor Orbán's masterplan to make Hungary greater again.
The Christian martyrdom movement ascends to the White House: "A
former professor of Kayleigh McEnany, Trump's new press secretary,
explores her enduring obsession with religious persecution and death."
American authoritarianism runs deeper than Trump.
How today's protests compare to 1968, explained by a historian.
Interview with Heather Ann Thompson, author of Blood in the Water:
The Attica Prison Uprising of 1971 and Its Legacy.
There isn't a simple story about looting.
Donald Trump is celebrating the wrong economic accomplishment: "The
president wants credit for a largely illusory blip of improvement in the
job market. He should be going all-in on the $600 sweeteners."
Anna North/Catherine Kim:
These videos show the police aren't neutral. They're counterprotesters.
Tom Cotton and the elite media's dalliance with illiberalism. The
New York Times published an op-ed by the Arkansas Republican called
Send in the troops, demanding that the US military "restore order" --
a task that same military has repeatedly failed to do in Afghanistan
and Iraq (indeed, a sober analysis would recognize that the US military
only made those situations worse, and not for lack of arms or brutality).
The Times justified printing Cotton with its commitment to airing "all"
voices (meaning conservative ones)
Alice Miranda Ollstein/Dan Goldberg:
Mass arrests jeopardizing the health of protesters, police.
Richard A Oppel Jr/Lazaro Gamio:
Minneapolis police use force against black people at 7 times the rate
The police take the side of white vigilantes: "Over the past week,
cops have shown that they share a coherent ideology."
Trump's false claim that 'nobody has ever done' more for the black
community than he has: "The records of Abraham Lincoln and Lyndon
B Johnson, among others, beg to differ." Assuming pre-Lincoln presidents
are ineligible, I thought it might be easier to list the ones who had
done less (or who had done more harm). Andrew Johnson was more blatantly
racist than practically anyone. And Woodrow Wilson did major harm in
segregating the federal government. But beyond that just makes my head
An American uprising: "Who, really, is the agitator here?"
Rubber bullets may be "nonlethal," but they can still maim and kill:
"The dangers of 'nonlethal' police weapons -- like rubber bullets,
flash-bangs, and tear gas -- explained." As I recall, Israeli soldiers,
who use a lot of rubber bullets on Palestinians, like to aim for eyes.
The group found 26 studies on the use of rubber bullets around the world,
documenting a total of 1,984 injuries. Fifteen percent of the injuries
resulted in permanent disability; 3 percent resulted in death. When the
injuries were to the eyes, they overwhelmingly (84.2 percent) resulted
The coronavirus crisis has revealed what Americans need most: Universal
basic services. Interview with Andrew Percy, co-author with Anna
Coote of The Case for Universal Basic Services.
Ivanka Trump blames 'cancel culture' after college pulls her commencement
speech: She was scheduled to address graduates of Wichita State
University "Tech." (What is this "Tech"? Looks like the former Wichita
Area Technical College [WATC], which is to say it it's not even the
real third-tier state college in Kansas. I attended WSU for a year
back when my only credential was a GED, and parlayed that into a
scholarship at a much fancier college. WATC was originally an adult
extension of the Wichita East High vocational program.) I'd like to
know more about how this got contracted (and what the kill fee is).
If Ivanka wanted to look for a prestige spot to speak, she settled
pretty low. On the other hand, I can't imagine anyone there thinking
she's just what WSU Tech needed to burnish its image -- unless, of
course, one of the Kochs (who have a lot of pull at WSU) whispered
in their ears. How it got canceled is no mystery. It was such a
patently stupid idea, all it took was for one of the faculty to
circulate a petition, which damn near everyone signed. "Cancel
culture" is another new one for me (although evidently not for
Vox). Controversial figures often get scheduled for events
then canceled, but it's almost never due to a vogue for canceling.
Usually, some hidden power (like the Kochs) stomps on the autonomy
of some student group. Or sometimes, as in this case, a popular
uprising spoils some shady insider deal. For more, see Daniel
WSU Tech reverses course; Ivanka Trump will not be a commencement
speaker. Main additional piece of news here is that WSU Tech
President Sheree Utash "serves on the American Workforce Policy
Advisory board," giving her a connection to Ivanka, probably via
Mike Pompeo (Trump's Secretary of State, formerly US Representative
for Wichita area).
Philip Rucker/Ashley Parker/Matt Zapotosky/Josh Dawsey:
With White House effectively a fortress, some see Trump's strength --
but others see weakness. Also by Dawsey, with David Nakamura/Fenit
'Vicious dogs' versus 'a scared man': Trump's feud with Bowser
escalates amid police brutality protests.
Noam Scheiber/Farah Stockman/J David Goodman:
How police unions became such powerful opponents to reform efforts.
How police became paramilitaries.
That beat cops so often look like troops is not just a problem of
"optics." There is, in fact, a "positive and statistically significant
relationship between 1033 transfers and fatalities from officer-involved
shootings," according to recent research. In other words, the more
militarized we allow law enforcement agents to become, the more likely
officers are to use lethal violence against citizens: civilian deaths
have been found to increase by about 130 percent when police forces
acquire significantly more military equipment. . . .
Law enforcement has, in fact, been training for a moment like this --
specifically by learning techniques and tactics from Israeli military
services. As Amnesty International has documented, law enforcement
officials from as far afield as Florida, New Jersey, Pennsylvania,
California, Arizona, Connecticut, New York, Maryland, Massachusetts,
North Carolina, Georgia, Washington state, and the D.C. Capitol have
traveled to Israel for such training. These programs, according to
research backed by Jewish Voice for Peace, focus on exchanging methods
of "mass surveillance, racial profiling, and suppression of protest
Robert J Shapiro:
No, the unemployment rate didn't really drop in May: "Donald Trump
bragged about a bogus jobs number and defiled George Floyd's name in
the process." This strongly suggests that the BLS cooked the books to
give Trump a number (13.3% unemployment) he could brag about. This did
this by not counting 9 million people who weren't working but could be
construed as still having jobs (e.g., unpaid furloughed workers). The
true number is closer to 19.0%.
As the George Floyd protests continue, let's be clear where the violence
is coming from: "Using damage to property as cover, US police have
meted out shocking, indiscriminate brutality in the wake of the
Jeffrey St Clair:
Roaming charges: Mad bull, lost its way: I don't particularly like
him, and rarely read him, but some weeks deserve one of his laundry
lists, and he notices somethings that few other people do. For instance,
he dug up a headline from 2003: "Rumsfeld: Looting is transition to
freedom," adding: "Perhaps Rumsfeld will write an amicus brief on
behalf of the more than 10,000 protesters arrested for rioting,
looting and just pissing off cops."
New Trump appointee to foreign aid agency has denounced liberal democracy
and 'our homo-empire': Meet "Merritt Corrigan, USAID's new deputy
White House liaison."
America's contradictions are breaking wide open: "On Donald Trump,
standing outside a church, pretending to be strong." Vox's TV critic,
but isn't it all TV these days?
This is fascism: "Trump is sending an unambiguous message to a country
in turmoil -- and his armed supporters, from cops to vigilantes, hear it
loud and clear."
Here's what happens if Republicans let those $600 unemployment benefits
Is American becoming a banana republic?
What Black America means to Europe. The size of the protests has
surprised me everywhere, but especially in Europe. Still, as a placard
in a photo here says, "The UK is not innocent."
George Floyd's killing comes at a moment when America's standing has
never been lower in Europe. With his bigotry, misogyny, xenophobia,
ignorance, vanity, venality, bullishness, and bluster, Donald Trump
epitomizes everything most Europeans loathe about the worst aspects
of American power. . . .Although police killings are a constant, gruesome feature of
American life, to many Europeans this particular murder stands as
confirmation of the injustices of this broader political period.
It illustrates a resurgence of white, nativist violence blessed
with the power of the state and emboldened from the highest office.
It exemplifies a democracy in crisis, with security forces running
amok and terrorizing their own citizens. The killing of George
Floyd stands not just as a murder but as a metaphor.
Friday, June 05, 2020
Questions and Answers
Expanded blog post.
I asked Michael Tatum to take a look at my first batch of
Questions and Answers.
He helped flag some necessary edits before I posted them early this
week. He also suggested that instead of just linking to them (as I
did again above), I should have included them directly in the blog.
I don't plan on doing that as a matter of course, but this time I
reckon they could use a little more exposure. For one thing I got
zero new questions (here's the
form) since they went up.
I imagine there are hundreds (if not thousands) of similar offers
scattered around the web. I've felt a need for some kind of feedback
for a long time, but found that comment systems were more work to
maintain than they're worth. Two features are direct antecedents to
mine: Greil Marcus's
Ask Greil), and Robert Christgau's
Joe Levy suggested the latter as a way of generating some public
interest in Christgau's then-new Duke University Press essay collections,
Is It Still
Good to Ya? Fifty Years of Rock Criticism 1967-2017 and
A Music Critic on His First Love, Which Was Reading.
Joe suggested "Ask Greil" as a model, but when I looked at the
implementation, I had some second thoughts. I adapted the news
roll code to display the Q&A in 15-unit chunks, most recent
first, stringing earlier pages together. ("Ask Greil" is in flat
files, one per year.) I added tags to the data file, thinking
that someday I could support more search options. (I'd like to
eventually put them into the database, but didn't want to have
to update it more often than I do.) I also added a
captcha to cut down on spam questions. I recently adapted
the Christgau code for my own site, adding a few more tags (but
still not making good use of them).
My main change was to add a "keywords" field. I expected (or
hoped) to get a broader range of questions than the music queries
that predominate for Christgau and Marcus, and thought it would
be a good idea to be able to easily sort my answers into topics.
Still, four of the first five questions were on music, including
one of those potentially tedious requests to elaborate on grades.
A sixth question, which I didn't answer here, was really more of
a tip (Whitney Rose) -- more properly answered in last week's
email is elsewhere on the site
(and still works best if you want a direct answer),
feel free to use the form for tips, comments, or occasional kind
I rather hope to see wide-ranging questions, one that provoke
me to think, maybe even do a little research, although I'd be
happy enough with ones where I can just rattle off experiences
and opinions. I like to keep an open mind about where this is
going. And I'd like some feedback to prod me along. Thanks, in
Pick up questions and answers
Tuesday, June 02, 2020
Expanded blog post,
Music: Current count 33378  rated (+45), 209  unrated (+0).
Post delayed a day because, well, a lot of things kept me from
working on it on Monday. Frozen Sunday night, aside from adding
A few weeks ago, I set up a
form for asking questions. I finally
decided I had enough to do the extra work of setting up
an answer page, so Q&A is now a
going concern. I've added a couple fields beyond what I did for
but I'm not really using them yet. At some point, it should be possible
to get selective lists based on keywords, or possibly other search
One question I didn't answer was actually a tip, Jeopardy-style
phrased as a question. Mongo asked if I had heard Whitney Rose's We
Still Go to Rodeos ("the best country album I've heard so far this
year"). No, I hadn't, but the obvious response was to listen to it, so
it's in this week's list. I disagree, but my initial reaction was pretty
similar to my initial underrating of Kalie Shorr's Open Book in
2019. Still, have major doubts it will ever catch up with the Lucinda
Williams and Brandy Clark records (or Chicago Farmer, if he qualifies).
I went on and sampled a few more recent alt-country albums, but didn't
find anything really better.
Until those, most of what I listened to last week were old jazz
albums. The first few were unheard items from the JazzTimes
ballots I mentioned recently, at least until I got carried away
Paul Motian. Then
I got into
Max Roach, partly
in response to one of the questions.
Got a rare rock record in the mail recently, with a hand-printed
note explaining that Robert Christgau reviewed Thank Your Lucky
Stars' debut album,
Spinning Out of Orbit, in my one shot
2013 Black Friday Special, and hoping I might like the new one.
I do. The CD is actually very nicely packaged, but has no presence
on the web, and the note didn't even include an email address, so
I have no idea how you'd go about buying a copy. (The old CD, which
I haven't heard, is listed on Amazon, at $30.08, 1 copy left, with
other vendor offers from $29.09.) Without an album cover available,
I thought I'd try my old scanner -- an "all-in-one" Epson Stylus
Photo RX580 -- only to find it doesn't work. (I replaced the 6 ink
cartridges a while back, and now it's stuck in a mode where it
insists on me first installing new ink cartridges before it does
anything else. Two Ubuntu scanner programs fail to recognize it.)
What I wound up doing was taking a picture with my cell phone,
then running it through a bunch of rotate/shear/crop commands in
Gimp. Very little margin on top to work with, but I managed to
keep it even though I chopped off the other three edges. I'm real
surprised it looks as good as it does.
I should mention that Joe Yanosik has written up
Sonic Youth: A Consumer Guide to their live albums. They've
released a bunch of them on
Bandcamp. I had seen mention of a couple of them recently, but
didn't realize there were this many, and after last year's release
of Battery Park NYC, July 4th 2008 -- which Joe also includes,
as an A+ -- I wasn't in a big hurry to go there. Nice that Joe has
illuminated the way.
(90) died last week. He's probably best known as the director of many
Clint Eastwood soundtracks, but he was an important "West Coast cool jazz"
musician, played for Stan Kenton 1952-59 (minus a stretch in the Army),
and recorded a number of well-regarded (albeit a bit fancy for my taste)
albums, especially in the 1950s, before focusing on soundtracks. I've
heard a couple of his albums, and need to check out more.
English tenor saxophonist
Weller (79) also died. I can't say that I know his work. I also
heard that Sun Ra bassist Bill Davis died, but haven't found an
obituary yet. Other recent musician deaths:
(57, Nigerian reggae singer),
(80, Kenyan guitarist),
(91, MPB singer-songwriter).
Horrors enough on Monday and Tuesday to get me to open Weekend
Roundup as soon as I post this.
New records reviewed this week:
- Caitlin Cannon: The TrashCannon Album (2020, Caitlin Cannon): [r]: B+(**)
- Jason Isbell & the 400 Unit: Reunions (2020, Southeastern): [r]: B+(*)
- Carly Rae Jepsen: Dedicated Side B (2020, School Boy): [r]: B+(**)
- Rent Romus/Heikki Koskinen/Life's Blood Ensemble: Manala (2019 , Edgetone): [cd]: B+(***)
- Whitney Rose: We Still Go to Rodeos (2020, MCG): [r]: B+(**)
- Thank Your Lucky Stars: Girl in Her 29s (2020, Sounds Deevine): [r]: A-
- Pam Tillis: Looking for a Feeling (2020, Stellar Cat): [r]: B+(*)
- Bill Warfield and the Hell's Kitchen Funk Orchestra: Smile (2020, Planet Arts/43 Street): [cd]: B
- Jaime Wyatt: Neon Cross (2020, New West): [r]: B+(*)
- Paul Bley/Paul Motian: Notes (1987 , Soul Note): [r]: B+(***)
- Paul Bley: Reality Check (1994 , SteepleChase): [r]: B+(**)
- Paul Bley: Notes on Ornette (1996 , SteepleChase): [r]: B+(***)
- Paul Bley/Evan Parker/Barre Phillips: Sankt Gerold (1996 , ECM): [r]: B+(***)
- Paul Bley: Play Blue: Oslo Concert (2008 , ECM): [r]: B+(*)
- Clifford Brown/Max Roach: Clifford Brown and Max Roach at Basin Street (1956 , Verve): [r]: A-
- Miles Davis: Big Fun (1969-72 , Columbia/Legacy, 2CD): [r]: B+(***)
- Booker Little: Booker Little 4 & Max Roach (1958 , United Artists): [r]: B+(**)
- Paul Motian: Conception Vessel (1972 , ECM): [r]: B+(**)
- Paul Motian: Tribute (1974 , ECM): [r]: B+(***)
- Paul Motian Trio: Le Voyage (1979, ECM): [r]: B+(**)
- Paul Motian: Psalm (1981 , ECM): [r]: B+(***)
- Paul Motian: It Should've Happened a Long Time Ago (1984 , ECM): [r]: B+(*)
- Paul Motian Trio: Sound of Love: At the Village Vanguard (1995 , Winter & Winter): [r]: A-
- Paul Motian and the Electric Bebop Band: Flight of the Blue Jay (1996 , Winter & Winter): [r]: B+(**)
- Paul Motian: Trio 2000 + One (1997 , Winter & Winter): [r]: B+(**)
- Paul Motian and the E.B.B.B.: Europe (2000 , Winter & Winter): [r]: B+(*)
- Paul Motian and the E.B.B.B.: Holiday for Strings (2001 , Winter & Winter): [r]: B+(**)
- Paul Motian Trio 2000 + Two: Live at the Village Vanguard Volume III (2006 , Winter & Winter): [r]: B+(***)
- Paul Motian Trio 2000 + Two: On Broadway Volume 5 (2008 , Winter & Winter): [r]: A-
- The Odean Pope Saxophone Choir: The Saxophone Shop (1985 , Soul Note): [r]: B+(***)
- Buddy Rich/Max Roach: Rich Versus Roach (1959 , Mercury): [r]: B+(**)
- Max Roach/Clifford Brown: The Best of Max Roach and Clifford Brown in Concert (1954 , GNP): [r]: B+(***)
- Max Roach: Max Roach + 4 (1956-57 , Emarcy): [r]: A-
- Max Roach: Jazz in 3/4 Time (1956-57 , Emarcy): [r]: B+(*)
- Max Roach: The Max Roach 4 Plays Charlie Parker (1957-58 , Verve): [r]: B+(***)
- Max Roach: Award-Winning Drummer (1958 , Time): [r]: B+(**)
- Max Roach: Percussion Bitter Sweet (1961, Impulse!): [r]: B+(***)
- Max Roach: It's Time (1962, Impulse!): [r]: B+(***)
- Max Roach Quartet: Speak, Brother, Speak! (1962 , Fantasy): [r]: A-
- Max Roach: The Max Roach Trio Featuring the Legendary Hasaan (1964 , Atlantic): [r]: B+(***)
- Max Roach: Drums Unlimited (1965-66 , Atlantic): [r]: B+(**)
- Max Roach: Members, Don't Git Weary (1968, Atlantic): [r]: B+(***)
- Max Roach Quartet: Pictures in a Frame (1979, Soul Note): [r]: B+(**)
- Max Roach: M'Boom (1979 , Columbia): [r]: B+(***)
- Max Roach: Live in Berlin (1984 , Jazzwerkstatt): [r]: B+(***)
Unpacking: Found in the mail last week:
- John Finbury: Quatro (Green Flash Music)
- Madre Vaca: Winterreise (Madre Vaca) [06-04]
- Rudresh Mahanthappa: Hero Trio (Whirlwind) [06-19]