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Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Daily Log

This meme, from "Heather Hodges," got forwarded by a cousin. It may be the stupidest one I've ever seen:

A child in America is 66,667 times more likely to be sold to human traffickers than die of COVID-19. In addition, your masks assist in them being transported undetected and unidentified by anyone.

Children (definition varies) represent 8.4% of all cases, so 288.287 cases (out of 3,416,630). Deaths among children are rare, but at least 20 children under age five have died. Have 1.3 million US children been trafficked?

Doing some spice shopping (Penzey's):

  • Cinnamon, Vietnamese ground, 2.6 oz 3/4 c bag, $9.79
  • Oregano, Turkish broken leaf, 0.8 oz 3/4 c bag, $6.69
  • Paprika, smoked Spanish, 3.6 oz 3/4 c bag, $10.95
  • Thyme, French, 1.2 oz 3/4 c bag, $6.69

Not yet in the cart:

  • Ancho chili pepper, ground, 1 oz 1/4 c jar, $3.95
  • Celery flakes, 0.3 oz 1/4 c jar, $3.49
  • Celery salt, 6.9 oz 3/4 c bag, $6.69
  • Celery seed, India ground, 0.9 oz 1/4 c jar, $3.29
  • Celery seed, India whole, 0.9 oz 1/4 c jar, $2.95
  • Chipotle, ground red, 1.2 oz 1/4 c jar, $6.29
  • Cilantro, California, 0.5 oz 3/4 c bag, $5.95
  • Epazote, Mexico, 0.2 oz 1/4 c jar, $3.69
  • Garlic, granulated powder, 4.4 oz 3/4 c bag, $8.69
  • Italian herb mix, 1.1 oz 3/4 c bag, $6.69
  • Lemon peel, California powdered, 1.0 oz 1/4 c jar, $6.29
  • Orange peel, California, 0.8 oz 1/4 c jar, $4.69
  • Rosemary, Spain powdered, 1.1 oz 1/2 c jar, $5.29
  • Savory leaves, 1.2 oz 3/4 c bag, $7.95
  • Shrimp and crab boil, 2.1 oz 3/4 c bag, $9.49: yellow and brown mustard seed, allspice, coriander, cloves, cracked bay leaf, cracked ginger, black Tellicherry peppercorns, chili pepper, dill seed, caraway seed.
  • White pepper, Indonesia fine grind, 3.6 oz 3/4 c bag, $11.69
  • Vanilla, Mexican, 8 fl oz, $46.95
  • Vanilla, double strength, 8 fl oz, $84.95

Also checking out The Great American Spice Co., which has a broader selection and is generally less expensive (at least in larger quantities).

Monday, July 27, 2020

Music Week

Expanded blog post, July archive (final).

Music: Current count 33697 [33650] rated (+47), 220 [224] unrated (-4).

I usually figure 30 records per week is a solid effort. This month I've averaged 40, which is largely attributable to streaming a lot of old jazz records: specifically, Freddy Cole (died this month), Hampton Hawes (got a question on him, Jackie McLean (ran across a complete album I hadn't heard on YouTube, and I always love listening to him), and Sam Rivers (took a look after his latest archival album just missed, and found a lot more than I expected). Of course, never leaving the house helped with the count. I think I made two grocery runs in July, and took my wife to the doctor once. Occasionally, especially after a grocery run, I try to cook something, but not often. Tried making gluten-free raisin bread today. Looks perfect, but I'm pretty sure it would taste better with wheat.

This ends a 4-week month. The link above gets you to the roll up, with 169 records. I revisited the Jessie Ware album and bumped its grade up. It's always sounded like an A- two-thirds of the way through, but took me a while to overcome my reservations over the end. Appears as a re-grade here, but just an edit in the monthly file.

Did play some records from the promo queue this week, including the last of the batch from NoBusiness. Looks like I still have 17 left in the queue, including 2 September releases and 1 October. (Also one more NoBusiness release. Really need to tidy up the mess on my desk.) Also made a late push to check off highly-rated albums in my metacritic file. Top ones I haven't heard yet are: Lianne Le Havas (22); 1975: Notes on a Conditional Form (34); Protomartyr: Ultimate Success Today (48); Paul Weller: On Sunset (51); and The Beths: Jump Rope Gazers (58); and lots more from 70 down (about half from 70-150, more after that).

I spent a lot of time with Taylor Swift's Folklore (four spins, plus some videos, plus I read a half-dozen pieces, mostly in places like Vox which don't normally review records. I liked the record fine, but wasn't blown away by anything on it. Same for the Texas girl group who decided Chicks wasn't the more offensive half of their name. For what it's worth, I always found both parts at least partly ironic, and they've lost some of that with the name change. (On the other hand, Lady Antebellum was never not offensive.) I spent a lot less time with Gaslighter, probably because I didn't sense that it had much potential to get better (as Ware did, and Swift might do).

Vocalese singer Annie Ross died last week, at 89. I'm not a big fan of her records, either with Dave Lambert and Jon Hendricks or not, but I've only sampled them lightly. I did think she was terrific in Robert Altman's The Player, basically playing herself. Another semi-famous musician who died last week was Peter Green (73), widely touted as the founder of Fleetwood Mac, despite the group being named for two other members (their first album was sometimes known as Peter Green's Fleetwood Mac). I have two Green albums in my database: In the Skies (1979), and a compilation, Man of the World: The Anthology 1968-1988, both B+. For an appreciation, see Milo Miles: The Terrifying and Lyrical Greatness of Peter Green. Greil Marcus also has some things to say about Green and Fleetwood Mac.

I answered a couple of questions last week. Please ask more.


New records reviewed this week:

  • Blaer: Yellow (2019 [2020], Ronin Rhythm): [r]: B+(**)
  • Adam Caine Quartet: Transmissions (2018 [2020], NoBusiness): [cd]: A-
  • François Carrier/Masayo Koketsu/Daisuke Fuwa/Takashi Itani: Japan Suite (2019 [2020], NoBusiness): [cd]: B+(***)
  • The Chicks: Gaslighter (2020, Columbia): [r]: B+(***)
  • Gerald Clayton: Happening: Live at the Village Vanguard (2020, Blue Note): [r]: B+(**)
  • Dena DeRose: Ode to the Road (2020, HighNote): [r]: B+(***)
  • Robert Dick & Adam Caine: The Damn Think (2017 [2019], Chant): [bc]: B+(*)
  • Gregory Dudzienski Quartet: Beautiful Moments (2019 [2020], OA2): [cd]: B+(*)
  • Extra Soul Perception: New Tangents in Kampala, London & Nairobi Vol. 1 (2019 [2020], Extra Soul Perception, EP): [r]: B+(*)
  • Asher Gamedze: Dialectic Soul (2020, On the Corner): [r]: B+(**)
  • Ricardo Grilli: 1962 (2020, Tone Rogue): [cd]: B+(**)
  • Bartosz Hadala Group: Three Short Stories (2020, Zecernia): [cd]: B+(**)
  • Jon Hassell: Seeing Through Sound (Pentimento Volume Two) (2020, Ndeya): [r]: B+(***)
  • Jarv Is: Beyond the Pale (2020, Rough Trade): [r]: A-
  • KA: Descendants of Cain (2020, Iron Works): [r]: B+(***)
  • Quin Kirchner: The Shadows and the Light (2019 [2020], Astral Spirits): [bc]: B+(***)
  • Jeremy Levy Jazz Orchestra: The Planets: Reimagined (2019 [2020], OA2): [cd]: B-
  • Lupe Fiasco/Kaelin Ellis: House (2020, 1st & 15th, EP) **
  • Lori McKenna: The Balladeer (2020, CN): [r]: A-
  • Pink Siifu/Yungmorpheus: Bag Talk (2019, Field Left): [r]: B+(**)
  • Pink Siifu: Negro (2020, Field-Left): [r]: B
  • Corey Smythe: Accelerate Every Voice (2018 [2020], Pyroclastic): [cd]: B-
  • Soft Machine: Live at the Baked Potato (2019 [2020], Moonjune): [cd]: B+(*)
  • Leni Stern: 4 (2020, LSR): [r]: B-
  • Tim Stine Trio: Fresh Demons (2018 [2020], Astral Spirits): [bc]: B+(**)
  • Taylor Swift: Folklore (2020, Republic): [r]: B+(***)
  • Marcin Wasilewski Trio/Joe Lovano: Arctic Riff (2019 [2020], ECM): [r]: B+(**)

Recent reissues, compilations, and vault discoveries:

  • Art Blakey & the Jazz Messengers: Just Coolin' (1959 [2020], Blue Note): [r]: B+(***)
  • Abraham Burton: Live at Visiones, NYC 1993 (1993 [2020], self-released, EP): [bc]: B+(***)
  • Bessie Jones and the Georgia Sea Island Singers: Get in Union (1959-66 [2020], Global Jukebox): [r]: B+(**)
  • Owl Xounds Exploding Galaxy: The Coalescence (2007 [2020], ESP-Disk): [cd]: B+(***)

Old music:

  • Sam Rivers: A New Conception (1966 (1967), Blue Note): [r]: B+(***)
  • Sam Rivers: Streams: Recorded in Performance at the Montreux Jazz Festival (1973, Impulse!): [r]: B+(**)
  • Sam Rivers: Trio Live (1973 [1998], Impulse!): [r]: A-
  • Sam Rivers: Hues (1971-73 [1975], Impulse!): [r]: B+(**)
  • Sam Rivers: Crystals (1974, Impulse!): [r]: B+(**)
  • Sam Rivers: The Quest (1976, RED): [r]: B+(**)
  • Sam Rivers: Paragon (1977, Fluid): [r]: B+(***)
  • Sam Rivers: Waves (1978 [1979], Tomato): [r]: B+(***)
  • Sam Rivers: Contrasts (1979 [1980], ECM): [r]: A-
  • Sam Rivers Quartet: Crosscurrent: Live at Jazz Unité (1981 [1982], Blue Marge): [r]: A-
  • Sam Rivers/Noël Akchote/Tony Hymas/Paul Rogers/Jacques Thollot: Configuration (1996, Nato): [r]: B+(**)
  • Sam Rivers: Concept (1995-96 [1997], RivBea): [r]: B+(**)
  • Sam Rivers & Alexander von Schlippenbach: Tangens (1997 [1998], FMP): [r]: B+(***)
  • Sam Rivers/Doug Matthews/Anthony Cole/Jonathan Powell/David Manson: Fluid Motion (2002, Isospin Labs): [r]: B+(***)
  • Sam Rivers: Celebration (2003 [2004], Posi-Tone): [r]: B+(**)
  • Sam Rivers/Adam Rudolph/Harris Eisenstadt: Vista (2003 [2004], Meta): [r]: B+(***)
  • Sam Rivers/Ben Street/Kresten Osgood + Bryan Carrott: Purple Violets (2004 [2005], Stunt): [r]: B+(**)


Grade (or other) changes:

  • Jessie Ware: What's Your Pleasure? (2020, Interscope): [r]: [was: B+(***)]: A-


Unpacking: Found in the mail last week:

  • Duotrio: In the Bright and Deep (Blujazz)
  • Kenny Kotwitz & the LA Jazz Quintet: When Lights Are Low (PMRecords) [08-01]
  • Paulette McWilliams: A Woman's Story (Blujazz)
  • Jose Rizo's Mongorama: Mariposas Cantan (Saungu) [09-16]

Sunday, July 26, 2020

Weekend Roundup

Blog link.

A good headline to sum up the week comes from Philip Rucker: Trump's week of retreat: The president reverses course as the coronavirus surges out of control. Rucker lists various things that Trump had to backpeddle on -- wearing masks, opening schools, packing his convention hall in Jacksonville, insisting Congress cut payroll taxes. You know, things that any reasonable adviser could have predicted weeks or months ago. Turns out the will doesn't always triumph over reality. And speaking of reality: Coronavirus updates: US deaths top 1,000 for fourth consecutive day. Also: Rebecca Rainey: New unemployment claims rose last week to 1.4M, ending months of declines.

Here's a meme which pretty succinctly sums up where the President's head is at these days. No idea where it originated, but Sue Katz posted it on Facebook, and Laura Tillem forwarded it.

Here's a tweet, attributed to Richard Feynman:

Schrödinger's Douchebag:

A guy who says offensive things and decides whether he was joking based on the reaction of people around him.

Or in Trump's case, since he isn't much good at judging reactions of people around him, based on subsequent polling, or less formally on how Fox's talking heads decide to spin it.


Some scattered links this week:

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Daily Log

Watched We the Animals, to be discussed by Laura's film group. Can't say as I enjoyed it much. Story of three brothers, closely spaced, maybe 9-12 years old, running wild through upstate New York, their parents troubled and sometimes estranged, the father given to violence, mother to depression, with overtones of race (mixed) and a muddled reference to "emerging homosexuality." Reminded me how little I liked boys of that age, even given the relative order and comfort of my situation. (I also found the constant shirtlessness creepy.)

I started watching The Plot Against America, but stopped after the first episode. I may go back to it, especially given that the series only ran 6 episodes, but looks like it will be a chore. Meanwhile, I watched Watchmen. We had watched the first episode when it came out, then a second a couple months later after all the rave reviews, but didn't get into either, not least because it was so confusing. Turns out that 80-90% of the series is background flashbacks, trying to tie all this confusion into a neat ball, although it still winds up with lots of incredible loose ends. The biggest unexplaind gap is still how Jon Osterman transformed into Dr. Manhattan, and how that "god" terrorized Vietnam into becoming America's 51st state. But the more basic problem is why anyone should care about this alternate world. Unless you think "never trust the white guy" is a worthwhile lesson? Even so, Laurie Blake (Jean Smart) and Wade Tillman (Tim Blake Nelson) redeem themselves by finally arresting (more like rendering) Adrian Veidt (Jeremy Irons). But more typical are the closet Klansmen, including some hiding in high places.

Trying to shop for gluten-free baking. I have America's Test Kitchen's cookbook, which mostly calls for their own flour blend:

  • 24 oz white rice flour
  • 7.5 oz brown rice flour -- Anthony's 5 lb $13.99
  • 7 oz potato starch
  • 3 oz tapioca starch -- Anthony's 2.5 lb $11.99
  • 0.75 oz nonfat milk powder

Some comparative shopping:

Ordered from Amazon:

  • White rice flour: Pure Organic, 3 lb, $17.48 (0.36)
  • Brown rice flour: Naturtonix, 3 lb, $11.95 (0.25)
  • Psyllium husk powder: Kate Naturals, 12 oz, $17.75 in bundle
  • Xanthan gum: Kate Naturals, 8 oz, in bundle
  • Nonfat milk powder: NOW Foods, 12 oz, $8.99

Ordered from Whole Foods:

  • White rice flour: Bob's Red Mill, 24 oz, $3.99 (0.17)
  • Oat flour: Arrowhead Mills, 16 oz, $3.49 (0.22)
  • Tapioca flour: Bob's Red Mill, 16 oz, $3.69 (0.23)

Monday, July 20, 2020

Music Week

Expanded blog post, July archive (in progress).

Music: Current count 33650 [33607] rated (+43), 224 [225] unrated (-1).

Seems like the summer is passing very fast. Probably a reflection of how little I get done most days. About all I can claim for this past week is:

Did nothing whatsoever on my other writing projects. and nothing on website projects. Didn't shop, or cook much, or deal with any of the few house projects I'm still contemplating. Managed just one phone call.

Have one question in the queue, a pretty general one about Europe. Ask more.

When I was writing about Hawes, it occurred to me that the one album I hadn't been able to find on Napster might be on YouTube, and indeed it was. After playing it, I did a search for whole albums on YouTube. First one I found that caught my attention was Fat Jazz by Jackie McLean, and that turned me loose on a McLean dig. Every record sounded real good, but I shut them down after one play each, with just enough reservation to keep them off the A-list. Further listening would very likely promote one or more, but the full grade list suggests better places to start.

Had some technical problems with the NoBusiness CDs, although the problem could be in my CD player. It had trouble recognizing several CDs, and got stuck on one. Wound up going to Bandcamp for a second spin of Carrier.

Michael Tatum mentioned he's planning on writing something about records from Christgau's 1985 Dean's List. I was thinking that was a year when I paid relatively little attention to new music, but not much there I didn't have rated. One was Jimmy G. and the Tackheads: Federation of Tackheads, although I'm pretty sure I did have the LP at some point. Same for Harold Budd & Brian Eno's The Pearl, and Steven Van Zandt's Sun City. Maybe I wasn't as out of it as I thought. I moved from New Jersey to Massachusetts end of 1984, so it became easier to find better record stores. Also got a nice raise with the move.


New records reviewed this week:

  • Riz Ahmed: The Long Goodbye (2020, Mongrel, EP): [r]: B+(*)
  • Conrad Bauer/Matthias Bauer/Dag Magnus Narvesen: The Gift (2018 [2020], NoBusiness): [cdr]: B+(**)
  • Bombay Bicycle Club: Everything Else Has Gone Wrong (2020, Island): [r]: B
  • Car Seat Headrest: Making a Door Less Open (2020, Matador): [r]: A-
  • Dramarama: Color TV (2020, Pasadena): [r]: B+(*)
  • Agustí Fernández/Liudas Mockunas: Improdimensions (2019 [2020], NoBusiness): [cdr]: B+(***)
  • David Guetta/Morten: New Rave (2020, Parlophone, EP): [r]: B+(**)
  • Horse Lords: The Common Task (2020, Northern Spy): [r]: B+(*)
  • Jockstrap: Wicked City (2020, Warp, EP): [r]: B
  • Camden Joy: Updated Just Now (2020, self-released, EP): [r]: B+(**)
  • Okkyung Lee: Yeo-Neun (2020, Shelter Press): [r]: B+(**)
  • Luka Productions & Kandiafa: Music From Saharan WhatsApp 06 (2020, Sahel Sounds, EP): [bc]: B+(**)
  • Brad Mehldau: Suite: April 2020 (2020, Nonesuch): [r]: A-
  • Quinsin Nachoff: Pivotal Arc (2018 [2020], Whirlwind): [cd]: B+(*) [08-07]
  • No Age: Goons Be Gone (2020, Drag City): [r]: B+(**)
  • Joshua Redman/Brad Mehldau/Christian McBride/Brian Blade: Round Again (2019 [2020], Nonesuch): [r]: B+(***)
  • Rose City Band: Summerlong (2020, Thrill Jockey): [r]: B+(*)
  • The Streets: None of Us Are Getting Out of This Life Alive (2020, Island): [r]: B+(**)
  • Threadbare [Jason Stein/Ben Cruz/Emerson Hunton]: Silver Dollar (2019 [2020], NoBusiness): [cd]: A-
  • Etuk Ubong: Africa Today (2019 [2020], Night Dreamer): [r]: B+(**)
  • Summer Walker: Life on Earth (2020, LVRN/Interscope, EP): [r]: B
  • Larry Willis: I Fall in Love Too Easily (2020, HighNote): [r]: B+(**)
  • Wire: 10:20 (2010-20 [2020], Pink Flag): [r]: B+(*)
  • Yaeji: What We Drew (2020, XL): [r]: B+(*)

Recent reissues, compilations, and vault discoveries:

  • Vincent Chancey/Wilber Morris/Warren Smith: The Spell: The Vincent Chancey Trio Live 1987 (1987 [2020], NoBusiness): [cdr]: B+(*)
  • DUX Orchestra: Duck Walks Dog (With Mixed Results) (1994 [2020], NoBusiness): [cdr]: B+(**)
  • Sam Rivers: Ricochet [Sam Rivers Archive Project, Volume 3] (1978 [2020], NoBusiness): [cd]: B+(***)

Old music:

  • Artists United Against Apartheid: Sun City (1985, Manhattan): [r]: A-
  • Harold Budd/Brian Eno: The Pearl (1984, Editions EG): [r]: B+(**)
  • Jimmy G. and the Tackheads: The Federation of Tackheads (1985, Capitol): [r]: A-
  • Hampton Hawes: The Green Leaves of Summer (1964, Contemporary): [yt]: B+(**)
  • Jackie McLean: Strange Blues (1957 [1967], Prestige): [r]: B+(**)
  • Jackie McLean: Fat Jazz (1957 [1958], Jubilee): [yt]: B+(**)
  • Jackie McLean: Vertigo (1959-63 [2000], Blue Note): [r]: B+(***)
  • Jackie McLean Quartet: Tune Up (1966 [1993], SteepleChase): [r]: B+(**)
  • Jackie McLean feat. Dexter Gordon: Vol. 2: The Source (1973 [1987], SteepleChase): [r]: B+(***)
  • Jackie McLean/Dexter Gordon: Montmartre Summit 1973 (1973 [1991], SteepleChase, 2CD): [r]: B+(***)
  • Jackie McLean: A Ghetto Lullaby (1973 [1991], SteepleChase): [r]: B+(***)
  • Jackie McLean & the Cosmic Brotherhood: New York Calling (1974 [1987], SteepleChase): [r]: B+(***)
  • Jackie McLean With The Great Jazz Trio: New Wine in Old Bottles (1978, East Wind): [yt]: B+(***)


Unpacking: Found in the mail last week:

  • Max Bessesen: Trouble (Ropeadope) [09-04]
  • John Hollenbeck: Songs You Like a Lot (Flexatonic) [08-14]
  • Simon Moullier: Spirit Song (Outside In Music) [10-09]
  • Lawrence Sieberth Quartet: An Evening in Paris (Musik Blöc [09-24]
  • Ike Sturm/Jesse Lewis: Endless Field (Biophilia)
  • Tropos: Axioms // 75 AB (Biophilia)

Sunday, July 19, 2020

Weekend Roundup

Blog link.

Featured headline this week: Griff Witte/Ben Guarino: It's not only coronavirus cases that are rising. Now covid deaths are, too. When I posted last week's headline, Florida shatters single-day infection record with 15,300 new cases, denialists responded that it wasn't a problem, because the death rate hadn't risen. That wasn't very clever. Bad as the disease is, it does take a week or two to kill, and that sort of lag time has followed the infection curve from the very start. Moreover, infections continue to rise: see Hannah Knowles/Derek Hawkins/Jacqueline Dupree: Coronavirus updates: Halfway through the year, the pandemic's only intensifying in many states.

I probably scraped the cartoon on the right from Twitter. It seemed to capture the moment and the person exceptionally well. Not sure who did it. Google shows several Pinterest lists it's on, and various Twitter threads. I didn't care for the meme that attributed Covid-19 deaths to Trump's inaction in and before March -- I figured any politician would have been blind-sided -- but it's harder to excuse him from the second peak (if that's all it is) we're going through now. But that's secondary here, to the all-important stroking of Trump's fragile ego. Of course he's incompetent: Republican orthodoxy demands that government fail whenever called on in an emergency. But why does he have to be so needy? He's an embarrassment, and that's finally, albeit still slowly, sinking in even to the people who hitched their hopes to his dumb luck.

On the other hand, I believe that there is more behind America's abysmal failure to contain the Covid-19 pandemic than just the buffoon in the White House. There's a Lincoln Project widget I've seen on Twitter that provides a running bar graph of total Covid-19 cases in OECD countries. It starts with South Korea as the highest country, then Japan and Italy have their moments, but the USA soon overtakes and buries the rest. Still, the rise of the UK to second place is as steady. For an explanation of this, Pankaj Mishra takes a more unified view of Anglo-America in: Flailing states. Writing for an English audience who hate being left out, Mishra glosses over differences which are evident even in the chart. The UK does still have a functioning, albeit not especially well funded, public health system, which even Boris Johnson showed some appreciation for after they saved his life. Still, every march to the right in America has been felt in the UK. Some samples:

Anglo-America's dingy realities -- deindustrialisation, low-wage work, underemployment, hyper-incarceration and enfeebled or exclusionary health systems -- have long been evident. Nevertheless, the moral, political and material squalor of two of the wealthiest and most powerful societies in history still comes as a shock to some. In a widely circulated essay in the Atlantic, George Packer claimed that 'every morning in the endless month of March, Americans woke up to find themselves citizens of a failed state.' In fact, the state has been AWOL for decades, and the market has been entrusted with the tasks most societies reserve almost exclusively for government: healthcare, pensions, low-income housing, education, social services and incarceration. . . .

The escalating warning signs -- that absolute cultural power provincialises, if not corrupts, by deepening ignorance about both foreign countries and political and economic realities at home -- can no longer be avoided as the US and Britain cope with mass death and the destruction of livelihoods. Covid-19 shattered what John Stuart Mill called 'the deep slumber of a decided opinion,' forcing many to realise that they live in a broken society, with a carefully dismantled state. As the Süddeutsche Zeitung put it in May, unequal and unhealthy societies are 'a good breeding ground for the pandemic.' Profit-maximising individuals and businesses, it turns out, can't be trusted to create a just and efficient healthcare system, or to extend social security to those who need it most. . . .

The pandemic, which has killed 130,000 people in the US, including a disproportionate number of African Americans, has now shown, far more explicitly than Katrina did in 2005 or the financial crisis in 2008, that the Reagan-Thatcher model, which privatised risk and shifted the state's responsibility onto the individual, condemns an unconscionable number of people to premature death or to a desperate struggle for existence. . . .

However, after the most radical upheaval of our times, even the bleakest account of the German-invented social state seems a more useful guide to the world to come than moist-eyed histories of Anglo-America's engines of universal progress. Screeching ideological U-turns have recently taken place in both countries. Adopting a German-style wage-subsidy scheme, and channelling FDR rather than Churchill, Boris Johnson now claims that 'there is such a thing as society' and promises a 'New Deal' for Britain. Biden, abandoning his Obama-lite centrism, has rushed to plagiarise Bernie Sanders's manifesto. In anticipation of his victory in November, the Democratic Party belatedly plans to forge a minimal social state in the US through robust worker-protection laws, expanded government-backed health insurance, if not single-payer healthcare, and colossal investment in public-health jobs and childcare programmes.

Mishra skips around, through quite a few countries for examples, including a bit on how democracy doesn't guarantee anything. What does work is having a government which sees its role to provide for the public welfare of all, and having a society which looks to the government for justice, security, help, and improvement, again for all. Democracy, by giving everyone an equal stake, should lead to healthier, more equal societies, but democracy can be corrupted and conned by privileging money, as we've seen. What the pandemic has done has been to split the world open according to how inequal nations are, with the most inequal ones paying the harshest price. This comes as no surprise to recent critics of inequality, such as Richard Wilkinson/Kate Pickett, The Spirit Level: Why Greater Equality Makes Societies Stronger. Even mainstream Democrats seem to have some intuitive understanding of this, as evidenced by their relief proposals. On the other hand, people who are totally oblivious to the problem of inequality have been utterly gobsmacked by the pandemic -- none more so than Trump.


Some scattered links this week:

  • David Atkins: Why is Trump sending stormtroopers into Portland?

    In one of the most alarming developments of Trump's presidency, dozens of federal agents in full camouflage seized protesters and threw them into unmarked cars, taking them to locations unknown without specifying a reason for arrest. It appears that at least some of the agents involved belonged to the US Customs and Border Protection (colloquially known as Border Patrol), an organization that obviously has no business whatsoever conducted counterinsurgency tactics against peaceful American protesters in Portland, Oregon. Neither the mayor of Portland nor the governor of Oregon wanted them there; in fact, they specifically requested that they leave.

    Atkins asks why Trump is doing this, and rolls out some theories, saving the "ridiculous" but "also likely closest to the truth" for last:

    But if Fox News were the sum of your reality, you would believe that emergency action needed to be taken before the residents started to erect a Thunderdome and the services of Snake Plissken would be required. You would send in the troops despite the potential cost out of a belief that relieved Americans would be desperately grateful for your embrace of "law and order" (even if it were heavy on the "order" and light on the "law.") You would do whatever it took to bring the situation to heel, and figure the public approval would follow from the new Pax Trumpiana. After all, Fox News declared it must be so.

    Atkins followed this post up with a more speculative one: Trump may use DHS stormtroopers to stop people from voting. I don't see how he can do this, at least on a scale that might sway the election, without generating a huge backlash. More on Portland:

  • Ryan Bort: So long, Jeff Sessions: Trump's former attorney general lost the Republican Senate primary to Tommy Tuberville, who was endorsed by Trump.

  • John Bresnahan/Ally Mutnick: Kansas Republican Rep. Steve Watkins charged with voter fraud. Watkins' father is also being investigated for campaign finance violations.

  • Philip Bump: In a pair of interviews, Trump highlights white victimhood.

  • Megan Cassella: America's hidden economic crisis: Widespread wage cuts.

  • Jane Coaston: The Lincoln Project, the rogue former Republicans trying to take down Trump, explained. More on Lincoln Project:

  • Sean Collins: Rep. John Lewis, civil rights leader and moral center of Congress, has died at 80: "He is remembered as a Freedom Rider, voting rights champion, and the 'conscience of the Congress.'" Also on Lewis:

  • Sumner Concepcion: 5 key takeaways from Trump's lengthy off-the-rails interview on Fox News:

    • Doubling down on his claim of the coronavirus "disappearing" someday
    • Defending the Confederate flag
    • Piling on more attacks against Biden
    • Griping about his inability to hold rallies amid the COVID-19 pandemic
    • Refusing to guarantee he will accept the results of the November election

    The last was the more-or-less new one. But it's worth nothing that he did the same thing in 2016, and he trapped Hillary Clinton into declaring that she would accept the results, and true to her word, she gave up meekly and vanished from sight.

  • Igor Derysh:

    • Trump Victory Committee paid nearly $400,000 to Trump's Washington hotel in second quarter. "Trump's properties have earned well over $20 million in political spending since he took office, per CPR data." I suppose his defense is "that's chump change," but the thought counts.

    • Trump says it's "terrible" to question why Black people are killed by police: "So are white people": He refers to "white people" five times in 20 seconds, per the CBS tweet. Question: "Why are African Americans still dying at the hands of law enforcement in this country?" Trump's complete answer: "So are white people. So are white people. What a terrible question to ask. So are white people. More white people by the way. More white people." Maybe he could have recovered a bit by adding, "Bottom line, police kill more people of all races than they should. And sure, statistics say they're more likely to kill a black person than a white, but the answer isn't to make them discriminate more carefully based on race. The answers is for them to kill a lot fewer people." Still, when your first thought to a question about discrimination against black is to bring up "white people," you're a racist. QED.

  • Tom Engelhardt: Donald J Trump, or Osama bin Laden's revenge. Starts with a stroll through Trump's sculpture "garden of heroes" (which Masha Gessen wrote up in sufficient detail last week, then considers the fate Osama bin Laden hoped we would have in leading America into "the graveyard of empires" in Afghanistan.

  • David S Fogelsong: With fear and favor: The Russophobia of 'The New York Times': "Disregarding all past experience, journalists, politicians, and foreign policy experts have simply assumed that the claims of Russian bounties for killing American troops are true. They -- and we -- should know better."

  • Matt Ford: The Supreme Court's unconscionable rush to kill a prisoner.

    The federal government ended its 13-year moratorium on executions on Tuesday morning by killing Daniel Lewis Lee at the federal death chamber in Terre Haute, Indiana. Lewis is the first in a series of federal prisoners slated to die in the next few days as part of a renewed push by the Trump administration to carry out death sentences at the federal level, even as the practice falls out of favor nationwide.

  • Melissa Gira Grant: The dark obsessions of QAnon are merging with mainstream conservatism: "With Republican candidates and Trump embracing the strange, child trafficking-fixated movement, it can no longer be dismissed as merely a conspiracy theory."

  • Maggie Haberman: Trump replaces Brad Parscale as campaign manager, elevating Bill Stepien. Parscale got a lot of credit for Trump's 2016 win with his Facebook operation, so naturally got promoted to head the whole campaign operation, finding himself in way over his head.

  • Jeff Hauser/Max Moran/Andrea Beaty: Better policy ideas alone won't stop monopolies. Outlines the obstacles antitrust enforcement faces, especially in the courts but also in the bureaucracy. But the conclusion I'd draw from this is that that's why better policy ideas are needed. Why not develop some policies that would prevent monopolies from forming in the first place? Ending patents, promoting open source software and research, giving employees more power on boards and as owners, making it much more difficult to acquire companies (e.g., limiting debt financing of purchase price), allowing bankrupt companies to return under employee management, publicly-sponsored non-profit cooperatives -- those are all things that would help. Certainly way better than waiting for monpolies to form and trying to prosecute the worst offenders.

  • Mara Hvistendahl: Masks off: How the brothers who fueled the reopen protests built a volatile far-right network. On Ben Dorr and brothers Aaron, Chris, and Matthew. When Trump was elected, we saw an outpouring of protests styling themselves as the Resistance. It seems inevitable that when/if Trump loses, the right will organize its own Resistance -- smaller but more menacing, much like the Dorrs here. I expect thay'll make the Tea Party look like a polite afternoon klatch.

  • Tyshia Ingram: The case for unschooling: "Why the hands off alternative to homeschooling might get parents through the Covid-19 pandemic." I was intrigued by this because my own experience with the school system was mostly negative. My impression is that schooling has become even more demanding and oppressive since then, especially with "No Child Left Behind"'s focus on testing. So my initial reaction when schools shut down this Spring was that maybe kids could use a break. On the other hand, to make this work, I don't doubt that children and adolescents need access to and support from people who do have decent educations. My parents weren't much help, but after I dropped out of high school I found my own way. Would certainly be easier today with the Internet. By the way, after I dropped out, I spent a lot of time reading about education. The term "unschooling" comes from John Holt, who was one of the pioneering writers I read back then. Teaching as a Subversive Activity, by Neil Postman and Charles Weingartner, was my favorite.

  • Elahe Izadi/Jeremy Barr: Bari Weiss resigns from New York Times, says 'Twitter has become its ultimate editor': I can't say as Weiss was even on my radar, but she was prominently mentioned in the Harper's letter controversy, and evidently decided to exploit that moment of fame by "canceling" herself. She was evidently most famous as the main pro-Zionist voice on their opinion staff, not that the Times' biases there are likely to change in the near future. Some reaction:

    • Henry Olsen: McCarthyism is back. This time, it's woke. The Weiss resignation (and/or Andrew Sullivan's resignation from New York Magazine) stirred up a hornet's nest of outrage among Washington Post opinion writers -- scroll down for links from Matt Bai, Hugh Hewitt, Kathleen Parker, Megan McArdle, and Jennifer Rubin -- but this is about as off the deep end as any. Olsen has no more grasp of McCarthyism than Clarence Thomas did of lynching when he decried having to face unflattering testimony. Although I am glad that McCarthyism is still being viewed as something bad. For a better grounded use of the term, see Peter Beinart: Trumpism is the new McCarthyism. Sullivan's farewell letter, which doubles as promo for his new subscription newsletter, is here.

    • Avi Selk: A New York Times columnist blamed a far-left 'mob' for her woes. But maybe she deserves them. In any case, the talking point will set her up for lucrative ventures further right.

    • Alex Shephard: The self-cancellation of Bari Weiss: "Like much of her writing, the New York Times editor's resignation letter is long on accusation and thin on evidence." As Shephard concludes, her resignation will "make the perfect ending for her next book."

    • Philip Weiss: Bari Weiss leaves the 'NYT' and that's bad for Zionists: "Weiss is such a gifted careerist that even this moment feels like shtik: Bari Weiss playing her own persecutino for the greater glory of Bari Weiss."

  • Jen Kirby: Israel's West Bank annexation plan and why it's stalled, explained by an expert: Interview with Brent E Sasley ("a professor at the University of Texas at Arlington and an expert on Israeli politics").

  • Ezra Klein: What a post-Trump Republican Party might look like: Interview with Oren Cass, who was a Romney consultant and author of The Once and Future Worker: A Vision for the Renewal of Work in America, on "why conservatives need to challenge free-market economic orthodoxy." He doesn't say much about the Republican party (either the financiers or the rank-and-file), but does offer a bunch of dubious economic ideas. Some such rethinking is in order (although few ideas have fared worse than supply-side focus), but even if Trump loses badly, I don't see many Republicans (either rich or poor) taking the hint to rethink economic policy. Rather, they'll try to pin their loss on media focus on Trump's gaffes, limiting them as much as possible to Covid-19. Most importantly, the real power base behind the GOP -- which is Fox News -- will pivot to attack mode, and try to gin up another Tea Party, as they did in 2009. And once again, they'll do that not for tactical reasons but because they have to fill up 24/7 of air time, and outrage sells, and it doesn't matter to them if their market is a hopeless minority -- just so it's big enough to be profitable.

  • Andy Kroll: The plot against America: The GOP's plan to suppress the vote and sabotage the election.

  • Paul Krugman: Why do the rich have so much power?

  • Nancy LeTourneau: The pandemic is making Republican lawmakers much more vulnerable:

    All of that is happening as the news of a potential landslide in the 2020 election continues to build. There's been a lot of talk about how several incumbent Republican senators are extremely vulnerable in their quest for reelection. But today, the Cook Political Report made some changes to their House ratings -- with 20 seats moving towards the Democrats. . . .

    So when Greg Dworkin's friend suggested that this wasn't so much an election as a countdown, it resonated deeply. The hope that we can turn things around in a few months is palpable. But what will happen over those months is terrifying. The clock is ticking.

    Perhaps the saddest part of all of this is that it begs the question: "Why did it have to get this bad?" I'm sure that future historians will write volumes in an attempt to answer that question. But something is deeply wrong with our democratic republic when it takes a pandemic costing the lives of hundreds of thousands of Americans to get us to wake up and smell the stench emanating from the president and his congressional enablers.

  • Dahlia Lithwick: Mary Trump's book shows how Donald Trump gets away with it: "The problem with a fraud as big as this president is that once you start collaborating with him, it's impossible to get out." I must admit I'm enjoying the reviews of niece Mary Trump's book, Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created the World's Most Dangerous Man, not least because it seems so close and personal, even if the title could apply equally to nearly every silver-spooned baby boomer in the land. Lithwick writes:

    Donald Trump ogled his own niece in a bathing suit and sought to fill one of his books with hit lists of "ugly" women who had rebuffed him; Donald Trump paid someone to take his SATs; Maryanne Trump Barry, a retired federal appeals court judge, once described her brother as a "clown" with no principles; Donald Trump was a vicious bully even as a child; Freddy Trump -- the author's father -- died alone in a hospital while Donald went to a movie. The details are new, and graphic, yes, but very little about it is surprising: The president is a lifelong liar and cheater, propped up by a father who was as relentless in his need for success as Donald Trump was to earn his approval. . . .

    But as it became clear that Donald had no real business acumen -- as his Atlantic City casinos cratered and his father unlawfully poured secret funds into saving them -- Mary realized that Fred also depended on the glittery tabloid success at which Donald excelled. Fred continued to prop up his son's smoke-and-mirrors empire because, as Mary writes, "Fred had become so invested in the fantasy of Donald's success that he and Donald were inextricably linked. Facing reality would have required acknowledging his own responsibility, which he would never do. He had gone all in, and although any rational person would have folded, Fred was determined to double down." . . .

    And as Mary Trump is quick to observe, the sheer stuck-ness of his enablers means that Trump never, ever learns his lesson. Being cosseted, lied to, defended, and puffed up means that Donald Trump knows that, "no matter what happens, no matter how much damage he leaves in his wake, he will be OK." He fails up, in other words, because everyone around him, psychologically normal beings all, ends up so enmeshed with his delusions that they must do anything necessary to protect them. Trump's superpower isn't great vision or great leadership but rather that he is so tiny. Taking him on for transactional purposes may seem like not that big a deal at first, but the moment you put him in your pocket, you become his slave. It is impossible to escape his orbit without having to admit a spectacular failure in moral and strategic judgment, which almost no one can stomach. Donald Trump's emptiness is simply a mirror of the emptiness of everyone who propped him up.

    More:

  • German Lopez: Florida now has more Covid-19 cases than any other state. Here's what went wrong. "The percentage of positive tests is now nearly 19 percent," which means they're not testing enough (recommended maximum is 5 percent), not too much. More Covid-19 stories:

  • Nick Martin: Ivanka Trump and Lockheed Martin want you to reach for the stars and stop collecting unemployment. Actually, "find something new" isn't a totally stupid idea. It seems likely that the economy will eventually adapt to Covid-19 and look different than the one before the pandemic. As such, those who can shift their trajectories toward emerging careers will benefit both for themselves and for the future society. Extended unemployment compensation and benefits could help. But companies like Lockheed Martin are just trying to scam the program for themselves.

  • Dylan Matthews: Trump reduced fines for nursing homes that put residents at risk. Then Covid-19 happened.

  • Jane Mayer: How Trump is helping tycoons exploit the pandemic: "The secretive titan behind one of America's largest poultry companies, who is also one of the President's top donors, is ruthlessly leveraging the coronavirus crisis -- and his vast fortune -- to strip workers of protections."

  • Sara Morrison:

    • Lawmakers are very upset about this week's massive Twitter breach: Maybe because the folks who got hacked are rich and famous?

    • Everything you need to know about Palantir, the secretive company coming for all your data.

      Palantir is also controversial because its co-founder and board chair, Peter Thiel, is controversial. Thiel, who was one of Facebook's first outside investors and maintains a position on its board of directors, has seen his share of criticism over the years, but the libertarian billionaire really came into the public eye in 2016 when he revealed himself as the money behind Hulk Hogan's privacy lawsuit against Gawker (which would ultimately kill the site) and an early Trump supporter.

      As most of liberal Silicon Valley's big names publicly came out against Trump, Thiel was one of relatively few public figures who supported his candidacy. After speaking at the Republican National Convention, he gave the Trump campaign $1.25 million, and when Trump won the election, New York magazine said he was "poised to become a national villain." Thiel has been rewarded for his support: He was chosen to be a member of the president's transition team; in the early days of the Trump presidency, Politico dubbed Thiel "Donald Trump's 'shadow president' in Silicon Valley"; and Thiel's chief of staff and protégé, Michael Kratsios, served as the White House's chief technology officer from 2017 until this month, when he was named acting undersecretary for research and engineering at the Department of Defense.

      The article notes that "Palantir even sued the US Army in 2016 to force it to consider using its intelligence software after the Army chose to go with its own," and "won the suit, and then it won an $800 million contract."

  • Elie Mystal: The Trump administration is on a capital punishment killing spree: "After 17 years, attorney general Bill Barr has resumed federal executions -- and the conservative on the Supreme Court approve."

  • Terry Nguyen: Boycotts show us what matters to Americans.

  • Tina Nguyen: Trump keeps fighting a Confederate lag battle many supporters have conceded. I thought Nikki Haley made a courageous move in ditching the Confederate flag after a mass shooting in Charlestown while she was governor, but it became merely savvy when literally no one tried to save the flag. As a northerner whose ancestors came to the US well after the Civil War, you'd expect Trump to have even less interest in the Confederacy. But some polling here shows not only that a majority of Americans view the Confederate flag as a racist symbol, there is no significant difference between North and South -- but there is one between Republicans and Democrats.

  • John Nichols: Why the hell is the Supreme Court allowing a new poll tax to disenfranchise Florida voters?

  • Anna North: America's child care problem is an economic problem. Subhed bullet list:

    • More than 41 million workers have kids under 18. Almost all of them lost child care as a result of the pandemic.
    • In normal times, inadequate child care is the equivalent of a 5 percent pay cut for parents. Now it's much worse.
    • By late June, 13 percent of parents had cut back hours or quit their jobs
    • 80 percent of moms say they're handling the majority of homeschooling responsibilities in their families
    • And about 16 percent of parents are taking care of kids alone, without a partner
    • Add to that parents needing and looking for jobs: More than 11 percent of women are unemployed right now
    • Meanwhile, 40 percent of child care programs say they will have to close permanently without outside help
    • More than 250,000 child care workers have lost their jobs
    • When it comes to schools, the news is just as grim: At least 3 of the country's biggest school districts will be partially or fully remote in the fall
    • With fewer options for child care, parents could lose hundreds of thousands of dollars over their lifetime
    • Trump has offered zero solutios to solve the problem

    All originally in bold. Thought that would be too much clutter, but kept one that seemed to stand out.

  • JC Pan: In defense of free stuff during (and after) the pandemic: "The mass expansion of public goods is long past due, so pay people to say home, give them free health care, and stop charging tuition."

  • Alex Pareene: Throw the bums out: "We are in the midst of a world-historic failure of governance. Why isn't anyone in charge acting like they are responsible for it?" Picture is Andrew Cuomo, and his "three-dimensional foam mount repreenting the pandemic's toll on the state." I'm not one inclined to defend Cuomo, but I really doubt a random reshuffling of politicians would do us any good. There may be exceptions, but in damn near all of the country, there's a big difference between Republican and Democratic "bums."

  • Heather Digby Parton: Trump's unhinged Rose Garden campaign rally: His sideshow act is getting truly pathetic: "He can't hold rallies, so he forced the press corps to sit through one. Then he said Joe Biden will ban windows."

  • Kim Phillips-Fein: Rethinking the solution to New York's fiscal crisis.

  • Abraham Ratnet: Trumpism is an aesthetic, not an ideology -- and it will survive Donald Trump. I'm half convinced: ideology involves too much thinking for Trump followers. But at least I can imagine an ideology. I'm finding it much harder to come up with a Trump aesthetic. Sure, there's no great shortage of Trump kitsch, from his Goya pandering to his gold toilets, but is that really an aesthetic? I've long been wary of efforts to ideologize and/or aestheticize politics, not least because the Nazis and Fascists put so much effort into doing just that. (I don't like lumping them, but in this regard one could also include various Communist parties -- with Korea the most comprehensive.) But with Trump's followers, what you mostly get are Trilling's "irritable mental gestures" -- well, sometimes physical gestures as well. All they have is a psychology, and sure, that will survive Trump, not because Trump invented it but because Trump was as mired in it as they are. He never was the leader of a movement. He just caught the spotlight as the guy acting out most flagrantly.

  • David Roberts:

  • Michael Scherer/Josh Dawsey: From 'Sleepy Joe' to a destroyer of the 'American way of life,' Trump's attacks on Biden make a dystopian shift.

  • Jon Schwarz: Political correctness is destroying America! (Just not how you think.) What he means is that the right, and for that matter the center, work at least as hard at patrolling use of language among their followers. You don't have to spend much time watching Fox News to see that everyone in every time slot echo the same talking points, offering the same spin on and definition of events and ideas. The modern term for this is message discipline. The exclusive association of PC with the left goes back to the Leninist Communist Parties, where approved speech was deemed to be correct, and because correct implies fidelity to a higher authority, like nature or reality (or God or Party). The use in recent America has been far more haphazard, mostly as people have sought to avoid and deplore slurs, occasionally resorting to indirect or infelicitous phrases. This is contentious because parties on all sides understand that controlling the language used to define an issue often determines the outcome. But it also becomes pedantic when debates reduce issues to terminology -- itself a common, if unappealing, debate technique. Schwarz provides many examples of Republicans dictating their followers' speech, as well as a few where mainstream Democrats have joined them (e.g., deference to God and Country, to the military and the police). Still, I'm not sure that calling this PC is helpful. For example, insisting that climate change is a hoax is more properly propaganda, its message discipline enforced as dogma. It is in no sense of the word correct.

  • Dylan Scott:

  • Alex Shephard: Donald Trump Jr wages a culture war on the publishing industry: "He evidently believes that he can make more money self-publishing -- especially if he portrays the move as a rebuke of liberal elites." Trump has a new book, to be released during the Republican convention, Liberal Privilege: Joe Biden and the Democrat's Defense of the Indefensible (sic?).

  • David Sirota: Wall Street is deeply grateful for the Supreme Court's recent little-noticed ruling.

    Chief Justice John Roberts has created the most conservative court in modern history: In just the last few weeks, his court has helped financial firms bilk pension funds, strengthened fossil fuel companies' power to fast-track pipelines, limited the power of regulatory agencies that police Wall Street, and stealthily let Donald Trump hide his tax returns. As a reward for Roberts's continued defense of the wealthy and powerful, much of the national media has obediently depicted him as a great hero of moderation, because he sort of seemed to snub Trump in a handful of other rulings.

  • Roger Sollenberger: Fox News peddled misinformation about the coronavirus 253 times in five days. Well, that's what you get for counting.

  • Emily Stewart: The PPP worked how it was supposed to. That's the problem. "America's plan to save small business in the pandemic was flawed from the start."

  • Matthew Avery Sutton: The truth about Trump's evangelical support: Review of recent books on evangelical Christians: Kristin Kobes Du Mez: Jesus and John Wayne: How White Evangelicals Corrupted a Faith and Fractured a Nation; Sarah Posner: Unholy: Why White Evangelicals Worship at the Altar of Donald Trump; and Samuel L Perry/Andrew L Whitehead: Taking America Back for God: Christian Nationalism in the United States.

  • Derek Thompson: A lot of Americans are about to lose their homes: "The current housing crisis could get messy quickly, but fixing it shouldn't be complicated, if Congress intervenes."

  • Paul Waldman: If you aren't filled with rage at Trump, you aren't paying attention.

    Before the pandemic, Trump was one of the worst presidents in our history. But now he has laid waste to our country, with his unique combination of incompetence and malevolence -- and he's not done yet. Once we finally rid ourselves of him, it will take years to recover. But as we do, we should never for a moment forget what he was and what he did to us. And we should never stop being angry about it.

    Same thing could have been said about Bush in 2008, but Obama chose not to remind people of the wars and recession and environmental and climate degradation and collapsing infrastructure and education and increasing inequality he was to no small extent responsible for. He not only let people forget the perils of electing Republicans, he let them transfer blame to his own party and self, allowing Republicans to stage a resurgence which led to Trump in 2016.

  • Alex Ward:

  • Libby Watson: The Democrats' baffling silence as millions of Americans lose their health insurance: "Five million have lost coverage amid the pandemic -- a number that's expected to triple by year's end. But the party leadership isn't reacting as though it's a crisis."

  • Moira Weigel: The pioneers of the misinformation industry: Book review of Claire Bond Potter: Political Junkies: From Talk Radio to Twitter, How Alternative Media Hooked Us on Politics and Broke Our Democracy; and Matthew Lysiak: The Drudge Revolution: The Untold Story of How Talk Radio, Fox News, and a Gift Shop Clerk with an Internet Connection Took Down the Mainstream Media. "Potter, a professor at the New School, keeps a (mostly) neutral, academic distance from her subjects, while Lysiak has written a sympathetic biography that moves at the speed of a screenplay."

  • Erik Wemple: Tucker Carlson whitewashes the racism of his show and his former top writer.

  • Erica Werner/Jeff Stein: Trump administration pushing to block new money for testing, tracing and CDC in upcoming coronavirus relief bill. This seems beyond stupid. It's part of negotiations on a follow up to the CARES act, which expires at the end of the month (more on it below). Trump is also insisting on a payroll tax cut, which seems especially dumb given the more pressing needs of the unemployed, and "another round of stimulus checks" (same problem, plus until the virus is contained there won't be much economy to stimulate).

  • Richard D Wolfe: Why government mostly helps people who need it the least . . . even during a crisis. Mostly on the stock market, which the Fed and the Trump administration have struggled mightily to re-inflate after the panic in March, even though an overvalued stock market is useless to fighting the pandemic or even re-opening the economy. Trump thinks it makes him look good, and maybe it does to people who own a lot of stocks. The re-inflated stock market is a big part of the reason the share of wealth owned by billionaires has increased dramatically while virtually everyone else has suffered.

  • Matthew Yglesias:

  • Li Zhou: Congress is running out of time to extend expanded unemployment insurance. Also on CARES:

Monday, July 13, 2020

Music Week

Expanded blog post, July archive (in progress).

Music: Current count 33607 [33567] rated (+40), 225 [212] unrated (+13).

Trumpet player Eddie Gale (78) died last week. He had a spotty recording career, but always came up with something interesting when he appeared. He achieved a measure of fame for his role on Cecil Taylor's 1966 album Unit Structures, then followed that with two excellent albums on Blue Note: Ghetto Music (1968) and Black Rhythm Happening (1969). He had a revival c. 2004 with reissue of his albums on Water and a new one, Afro Fire.

I added a lengthy midyear list by Stephen Thomas Erlewine to my metacritic file (code SE). He added first mentions of 10 new albums (mostly country), plus a bunch of reissues and vault music. He shows some favor there for lavish box sets, and also seems to get good service from Ace, Bear Family, Cherry Red, and Omnivore. I'm so jealous.

Robert Christgau published his July Consumer Guide mid-week. I was originally pleased to see that for four 2020 releases I had previously rated A- got the same grade from him (Chicago Farmer, Bob Dylan, Hinds, Waxahatchie), and that the other new records I had graded lower also got lower grades from him (Terry Allen, Jason Isbell). That also left some things I hadn't heard (or in some cases hadn't heard of), but further digging revealed that I had given the Daniele Luppi/Parquet Courts EP a B+(***) back in January 2018. I played most of the rest, still procrastinatig on the Sonic Youth bootleg (one of way too many for my purposes, although I may reconsider when I get around to formatting Joe Yanosik's Consumer Guide for his corner of my website) and Joe Levy's Uprising 2020 playlist (not my idea of a real thing, although so immediately relevant to the times I expect to listen to it).

I got to the Thiago Nassif and Moor Jewelry A- records after my cut-off, but figured why make you wait, especially given that there are other ways to find my grade. Usually takes me 8-16 hours to catch everything up after my break, so I always listen to a few records during that time. (Four more in the scratch file at present, not counting these two.)

Quite a bit of unpacking below, many from Lithuania. Also got a hard copy of Luis Lopes' Believe, Believe, which I had given a B+(***) to based on streaming. I looked for records by the late bassist Simon H. Fell. Found quite a few, but mostly Bandcamp with most tracks missing, so didn't manage to review much. Took a dive into pianist Hampton Hawes, thanks to a question. I will answer that (and whatever else comes in) later during the week. I've gotten into a rut where I start each day off by playing something classic, then when I settle down in front of the computer, find it easier to dial up something to stream. I'll make a conscious effort to catch up a bit next week.


New records reviewed this week:

  • Anteloper: Tour Beats Vol. 1 (2020, International Anthem, EP): [r]: B+(*)
  • Arca: Kick I (2020, XL): [r]: B+(*)
  • Bananagun: The True Story of Bananagun (2020, Full Time Hobby): [r]: B+(*)
  • Beauty Pill: Sorry You're Here (2020, Taffety Punk Theatre Company): [r]: B+(***)
  • Beauty Pill: Please Advise (2020, Northern Spy, EP): [r]: B+(*)
  • Clint Black: Out of Same (2020, Black Top): [r]: B+(*)
  • Clem Snide: Forever Just Beyond (2020, Ramseur): [r]: B+(**)
  • Jeff Cosgrove/John Medeski/Jeff Lederer: History Gets Ahead of the Story (2018 [2020], Grizzley Music): [cd]: B+(***) [07-17]
  • Dream Wife: So When You Gonna . . . (2020, Lucky Number): [r]: A-
  • Baxter Dury: The Night Chancers (2020, Heavenly): [r]: B+(*)
  • Field Music: Making a New World (2020, Memphis Industries): [r]: B+(*)
  • Khruangbin: Mordechai (2020, Dead Oceans): [r]: B+(*)
  • King Krule: Man Alive! (2020, True Pather): [r]: B
  • Stephen Malkmus: Groove Denied (2019, Matador): [r]: B+(**)
  • Stephen T. Malkmus: Traditional Techniques (2020, Matador): [r]: B+(*)
  • Moor Jewelry: True Opera (2020, Don Giovanni): [r]: A-*
  • Thiago Nassif: Mente (2020, Gearbox): [r]: A-
  • Carlos Niño & Miguel Atwood-Ferguson: Chicago Waves (2020, International Anthem): [r]: B+(*)
  • Pearl Jam: Gigaton (2020, Monkeywrench/Republic): [r]: B
  • Margo Price: That's How Rumors Get Started (2020, Loma Vista): [r]: B+(*)
  • Tenille Townes: The Lemonade Stand (2020, Columbia Nashville): [r]: B+(**)
  • The Weeknd: After Hours (2020, Republic): [r]: B
  • Gillian Welch & David Rawlings: All the Good Times Are Past & Gone (2020, Acony): [r]: B+(**)
  • X: Alphabetland (2020, Fat Possum): [r]: B+(*)
  • Yonic South: Wild Cobs (2019, La Tempesta, EP): [r]: B+(**)
  • Yonic South: Twix and Dive (La Tempesta, EP): [r]: B+(**)

Recent reissues, compilations, and vault discoveries:

  • Nublu Orchestra Conducted by Butch Morris: Live in Bergamo (2008 [2020], Nublu): [r]: B+(***)

Old music:

  • Simon H. Fell: The Exploding Flask of Muesli: Electroacoustic & Electronic Works 1994-2002 (1994-2002 [2013], Bruce's Fingers): [r]: B+(*)
  • Simon H. Fell: Le Bruit De La Musique (2015 [2016], Confront): [r]: B+(*)
  • Hampton Hawes: Everybody Likes Hampton Hawes: Vol. 3: The Trio (1956 [1990], Contemporary/OJC): [r]: B+(**)
  • Hampton Hawes Quartet: All Night Session! Volume 1 (1956 [1991], Contemporary/OJC): [r]: B+(***)
  • Hampton Hawes Quartet: All Night Session! Volume 2 (1956 [1992], Contemporary/OJC): [r]: B+(**)
  • Hampton Hawes Trio: The Séance (1966 [1998], Contemporary/OJC): [r]: B+(***)
  • Hampton Hawes: Trio at Montreux (1971 [1976], Jas): [r]: B+(**)
  • Hampton Hawes/Cecil McBee/Roy Haynes: Live at the Jazz Showcase in Chicago: Volume Two (1973 [1989], Enja): [r]: B+(**)
  • Hampton Hawes: Something Special (1976 [1994], Contemporary): [r]: B+(***)
  • William Parker: In Order to Survive (1993 [1995], Black Saint): [r]: A-
  • William Parker/Giorgio Dini: Temporary (2009, Silta): [r]: B+(*)
  • Jessie Ware: Glasshouse (2017, Interscope): [r]: B+(*)


Grade (or other) changes:

  • Beauty Pill: Beauty Pill Describes Things as They Are (2015, Butterscotch): [r]: [was: B] B+(*)


Unpacking: Found in the mail last week:

  • Conrad Bauer/Matthias Bauer/Dag Magnus Narvesen: The Gift (NoBusiness): cdr (lp only)
  • Adam Caine Quartet: Transmissions (NoBusiness)
  • François Carrier/Masayo Koketsu/Daisuke Fuwa/Takashi Itani: Japan Suite (NoBusiness)
  • Vincent Chancey: The Spell: The Vincent Chancey Trio Live 1987 (NoBusiness) *
  • DUX Orchestra: Duck Walks Dog (With Mixed Results) (1994, NoBusiness): cdr (lp only)
  • Falkner Evans: Marbles (CAP)
  • John Fedchock NY Sextet: Into the Shadows (Summit) [07-17]
  • Agustí Fernández/Liudas Mockunas: Improdimensions (NoBusiness): cdr (lp only)
  • Gato Libre: Kaneko (Libra) [07-10]
  • Sue Anne Gershenzon: You Must Believe in Spring (self-released) [08-01]
  • Keys & Screws [Thomas Borgmann/Jan Roder/Willi Kellers]: Some More Jazz (NoBusiness): cdr (lp only)
  • Luís Lopes Humanization 4tet: Believe, Believe (Clean Feed)
  • Sam Rivers: Richochet [Sam Rivers Archive Project, Volume 3] (1978, NoBusiness)
  • Jason Robinson & Eric Hofbauer: Two Hours Early, Ten Minutes Late: Duo Music of Ken Aldcroft (Accretions)
  • Benny Rubin Jr. Quartet: Know Say or See (Benny Jr. Music)
  • Threadbare [Jason Stein/Ben Cruz/Emerson Hunton]: Silver Dollar (NoBusiness)

Daily Log

Consumer Reports "best stick vacuums for $150 or less:"

  • Shark APEX UpLight Lift-Away Duo Clean LZ601: CR97, $275
  • Shark APEX DuoClean Corded ZS360: CR94, $220
  • Shark Rocket DuoClean Ultra-Light Corded UV380: CR94, $180
  • Bissell Pet Hair Eraser Slim 2897 (Walmart): CR85, 27 ft cord, 9 lbs
  • Dirt Devil Power Stick SD12530: CR88, $88.45
  • Dirt Devil Power Swerve BD22050: $86.40
  • Dirt Devil Reach Max Plus BD22510PC: $42.41
  • Hoover Platinum LiNX BH50010: $108.95
  • Kenmore CSV Go 10438: 5 lbs, $129.99
  • Shark Navigator Freestyle SV1106:

Amazon shopping:

  • Dyson V11 Cordless: $608.89
  • Dyson V10 Cyclone Absolute: 5.88 lbs, $599.99
  • Dyson V10 Animal Cordless: $499.99
  • Dyson V8 Animal Cordless: $412.50
  • Dyson V7 227591-01 Cordless: 5.3 lbs, $268.99
  • Shark APEX UpLIght Lift-Away Duo Clean LZ601 (Renewed): 15.32 lbs, $268.95
  • Shark APEX DuoClean ZS362 Corded: "A choice", 8 oz, $249.99
  • Shark Rocket ZS351 Corded: 9.3 lbs, $209.99
  • Shark Rocket IX141 Cordless: 7.5 lbs, $199.99
  • Shark Rocket HV301 Bagless Corded: 7.6 lbs, $149.00
  • APOSEN H251 Cordless: 5.5 lbs, $146.97
  • Eureka RapidClean Pro Cordless: "A choice $100-200", 5.26 lbs, $134.99
  • Shark Rocket ZS351 Corded [Renewed]: $134.99
  • Shark Navigator Freestyle SV1106 Cordless: 7.5 lbs, $129.99
  • Eureka Flash NES510 Corded: 6.3 lbs, $125.98
  • APOSEN H250 Cordless: $122.39
  • Bissell Adapt Ion Pet Cordless: 7.68 lbs, $119.99
  • Simplicity S60 Spiffy Bagless Corded: 7.94 lbs, $119.99
  • Hoover Platinum LiNX BH50010 Cordless: 10 lbs, $108.95
  • MOOSOO XL-618A Cordless: HEPA filters $14.99/2, $106.99
  • APOSEN Cordless: $98.99
  • Dirt Devil Power Swerve Pet BD22052 Cordless: 5.2 lbs, $86.82
  • Bissell 81L2W Hard Floor Expert Corded: "A choice under $100", 7 lbs, $54.99

Note: we could get another 30 foot hose (2-way switch, pigtail a/c power) for $145, or a 30 foot hose (1-way switch) for $109.

Ultimately ordered the APOSEN H251. I liked the modular design, the the tools, the removable battery, what appears to be a relatively clean way of emptying, and the washable filters. For occasional spot work, cordless seemed the way to go. We have an Electrolux stick vac downstairs. I haven't been much impressed with its cleaning, and Laura thought it was heavy and hard to use. At 5.4 lbs. it's about the same weight as the APOSEN, but the latter has more of its weight at the top than at the bottom, and the stick connection to the floor unit is much more lexible, so it should be easier to maneuver. I'd never heard of the brand (most likely a Chinese knock-off). Shark was rated highly by Consumer Reports, but corded models were heavier and more expensive. I haven't seen any Dyson ratings, but their new models are very expensive.

Sunday, July 12, 2020

Weekend Roundup

Blog link.

Today's headline: Florida shatters single-day infection record with 15,300 new cases. I don't generally like linking to video, but here's Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis bragging about how safe Florida is (video seems to be from May 20), and how the alarmists have been disproven.


Some scattered links this week:

  • Zeeshan Aleem: The Goya Foods free speech controversy, explained: "Goya Foods' CEO says his speech is being suppressed by a boycott. It's not." I don't care much one way or the other, but when corporate spokespeople make inflammatory political comments, which is their right if not evidence of good sense, others have a right to get upset and withhold their business. For past examples, look at what right-wing pundits had to say about Nike. While I don't care much, I did include this link because I wanted to add this tweet from Charles M Blow:

    Once more: THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS CANCEL CULTURE. There is free speech. You can say and do as you pls, and others can choose never to deal this you, your company or your products EVER again. The rich and powerful are just upset that the masses can now organize their dissent.

  • Jay Ambrose: Slavery is not all that America is about: Another right-wing pundit, can't find much about him but he started appearing in the Wichita Eagle recently, sandwiched between Cal Thomas and Marc Thiessen. This piece is especially wretched. It starts:

    The New York Times last year came up with a project to debase America, to say this country is about nothing but slavery, that the institution has determined everything we are, that it instructs us to this day on the maltreatment of Black people. The Revolutionary War was fought to keep it going, and the pretenses of liberty and equality have been just that, pretenses. Slavery even fashioned a capitalism that maintains its evils and built our economy, we learn.

    Black Americans are the real purveyors of the ideas of liberty and equality, not racist whites, we are also instructed in the so-called 1619 Project that started with a bunch of essays in The Times Sunday magazine. . . .

    The really scary thing is The Times has so arranged things that a book of the project's contents will be taught in public high schools. That will help to further dislodge future generations from any understanding of how our values fought slavery instead of bowing to it, that many have understood that slavery and Jim Crow are our vilest faults without saying we have no virtues.

    It is certainly important to recognize our faults but also to acknowledge, as Black American pundit Thomas Sowell has pointed out, that Black Americans were making far more progress on their own initiative before some liberal politicians in the 1960s entered in to do misconceived things for votes and guilt atonement.

    The key word here is "debase": Ambrose thinks the only reason for writing about slavery is to make America look bad. He further surmises that if schoolchildren were exposed to this history, they'd -- well, I'm just guessing here -- grow up with some kind of guilt complex about being American. And why would that be such a bad thing? Well -- another guess, but less of a leap -- they might doubt their conservative leaders about how virtuous America has always been. Maybe 1619 Project tilts a bit too hard the other way, but their view hasn't been given much airing, and it uncovered a lot of forgotten (or ignored) history. The last part of the quote is even more scurrilous. It's true that blacks were making progress before the 1964 Civil Rights Act: that's why the Act was passed, to secure as well as to advance that progress. And if some whites voted for it for "guilt atonement," they often did have much to feel guilty about. But one should also mention that many felt anger about the extremely public violence segregationists used to deny Americans rights we supposedly all cherish. The implication that the Civil Rights Act ended that progress is ludicrous. Progress since then has been erratic and sometimes glacial, but the obstacles have always come from conservatives like Ambrose, who feel my guilt and take no responsibility for their ancestors or, indeed, their racist selves.

    Ambrose's one attempt to argue with the 1619 historiography is his citation of Gordon Wood ("who says there is not a single quote anywhere to be found of a colonist saying the war could save slavery"). Wood is my "go to" historian of the Revolution and the early republic (at least since Richard B. Morris passed), so I respect his criticism of the 1619 Project, but find that he invalidates very little of its historical contribution. See: An interview with historian Gordon Wood on the New York Times' 1619 Project.

  • Dean Baker: Is it impossible to envision a world without patent monopolies? Elisabeth Rosenthal, at the New York Times, thinks not.

    While her points are all well-taken, the amazing part is that she never considers the simplest solution, just don't give the companies patent monopolies in the first place. The story here is the government is paying for most of the research upfront. While it has to pay for it a second time by giving the companies patent monopolies.

    There is no reason that the government can't simply make it a condition of the funding that all research findings are fully open and that any patents will be in the public domain so that any vaccines will be available as a cheap generic from the day it comes on the market. Not only does this ensure that a vaccine will be affordable, it will likely mean more rapid progress since all researchers will be able to immediately learn from the success or failures of other researchers.

    I'd go further and add that even when government does not fund the research, prospective patents are not necessary to encourage research and development and are often counterproductive. Moreover, the efficiencies within any given country from publicly funding research and publishing findings others can freely build upon would be multiplied many times over if adopted everywhere. One more point is that ending patents would significantly change the dynamics of "free trade" pacts, which often are more preoccupied with forcing adherence to an international tribute system to owners of "intellectual property," even at the expense of free trade.

  • Zack Beauchamp: What the police really believe: "Inside the distinctive, largely unknown ideology of American policing -- and how it justifies racist violence."

  • Jamelle Bouie: Maybe this isn't such a good time to prosecute a culture war

  • Ronald Brownstein: Trump's America is slipping away: "He's trying to assemble a winning coalition with a dwindling number of sympathetic white voters." Nixon, with Kevin Phillips crunching the numbers, figured that if he could add Southern whites and Northern ethnics (mostly Catholics) to the Republican core he'd have a coalition capable of winning for decades. He came up with the basic pitch in 1972, and Reagan clinched the deal in the 1980s before, well, they proved basically incompetent at running the government. Since then they've mastered the mechanics of tilting elections their way, and they've repeatedly doubled down on the demagoguery, recovering quickly from the inevitable setbacks when their record came into focus. Trump is still using the Nixon/Reagan coalition plan. He won in 2016 by hitting it hard, while facing a uniquely compromised opponent running on a lacklustre record of indifference to average Americans. And no, he has no new ideas on coalition-building, even though (as the article points out) the numbers have shifted significantly away from his favor.

  • Kate Conger/Jack Healy/Lucy Tompkins: Churches were eager to reopen. Now they are confronting coronavirus cases.

  • David Dayen: Just one week to stop a calamity. Technically, two weeks until the federal "stimulus" payments expire, but the Senate is adjourned for another week, so no discussion until then.

  • Matt Ford: Fear of a Forever-Trump administration: "There doesn't seem to be much faith in the peaceful transition of power, if the burgeoning canon of postelection pulp horror is any guide." I think we've gotten carried away with projecting Trump's authoritarian tastes and temperament into a threat to end democracy. While Trump himself may be so inclined, and while his personality cult gives him some leeway to act out, I don't see any ideological or institutional support for such a change. What I do see is a Republican Party dedicated to bending the rules, trying to tailor the electorate to its taste and scheming to grab pockets of power that will allow them to survive momentary lapses. I also see many people who are willing to follow any crackpot who flatters them and promises them dominance over myriad threats. Least of all is Trump's personal cult, which while substantial is still a minority taste, and more generally an embarrassment even to his sponsors. If fascism does come to America, they'll pick a more agreeable (and more competent) front man than Trump.

  • Masha Gessen: A theme park of Donald Trump's dreams: Trump's executive order to establish a National Garden of American Heroes. It includes an initial list of people to be represented in stone. It's a peculiar list, with a judicious selection of women (Susan B Anthony, Clara Barton, Amelia Earhart, Dolley Madison, Christa McAuliffe, Betsy Ross, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Harriet Tubman) and blacks (Frederick Douglass, Martin Luther King Jr, Jackie Robinson, Tubman, Booker T Washington), without any Confederate leaders or ideologues, but the only 20th century president is Ronald Reagan, and the only Supreme Court Justice is Antonin Scalia. As Gessen notes, the only writer is Stowe, and there are no artists or scientists. Also, no Indians (but also no Andrew Jackson or George Armstrong Custer, although Davy Crockett made the list). I'll add that there are no major business figures, and the only inventors are the Wright Brothers. Also, one name I had to look up: Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain (a governor of Maine). Other relative obscurities are McAuliffe (the much touted teacher-astronaut blown up by NASA) and Audie Murphy (a WWII soldier who capitalized on his Medal of Honor to become a minor Hollywood actor). As Gessen sums up: "a skeletal, heroic history, with a lot of shooting, a lot of flying, and very little government."

  • Brittany Gibson: One billionaire vs. the mail: "A new report details Charles Koch's 50-year war on the US Postal Service."

  • David A Graham: Donald Trump's lost cause.

  • Stanley B Greenberg: The Tea Party's last stand. "The right wing's current pathetic defense of President Trump contrasts sharply with the Tea Party revolt against the election and re-election of President Barack Obama." The Tea Party only worked as an attack vehicle. They never had any program to advance. They simply meant to oppose whatever it was Democrats wanted, starting with recovery from the recession. Even today, Trump appeals to them not for any program but because Trump is the embodiment of their nihilistic worldview. Greenberg writes: "President Trump is trapped by a pandemic and protests that only magnify his insecurity and weak hold on his own party -- and by his need to provoke a Tea Party to make its last stand." But the Tea Party can't save Trump, because they can't turn their intensity into votes. On the other hand, Trump's demise won't be their end. They will find even more to hate in the next wave of Democrats. The open question is whether the media will take them seriously next time around, allowing them to magnify their impact. A big part of the reason they were able to pull that off in 2009 was Obama's efforts to "reach across the aisle" and "heal the divide" -- by their very existence they proved Obama wrong. Better to dismiss them as the whiny dead-enders they are.

  • Glenn Greenwald: How the House Armed Services Committee, in the middle of a pandemic, approved a huge military budget and more war in Afghanistan.

  • Jonathan Guyer: How Biden's foreign-policy team got rich: "Strategic consultants will define Biden's relationship to the world."

  • Jack Healy/Adam Liptak: Landmark Supreme Court ruling affirms Native American rights in Oklahoma.

  • Sean Illing: Is evangelical support for Trump a contradiction?: "A religious historian explains why Trump wasn't a trade-off for American evangelicals." Interview with Kristen Kobes Du Mez, author of Jesus and John Wayne: How White Evangelicals Corrupted a Faith and Fractured a Nation.

    According to Du Mez, evangelical leaders have spent decades using the tools of pop culture -- films, music, television, and the internet -- to grow the movement. The result, she says, is a Christianity that mirrors that culture. Instead of modeling their lives on Christ, evangelicals have made heroes of people like John Wayne and Mel Gibson, people who project a more militant and more nationalist image. In that sense, Trump's strongman shtick is a near-perfect expression of their values.

    That doesn't even sound like values to me, but I've long noted a division among Christians between those who care for and seek to help their neighbors and those who wish to consign them to hell. The prevalence of revenge fantasies in American culture certainly feeds that tendency.

  • Umair Irfan: Why extreme heat is so alarming for the fight against Covid-19. Interesting that the focus here isn't about global warming, even though the impetus is a 120F forecast for Phoenix, which would be a record high (tying the third highest temperature ever in Phoenix, the highest being 122F). On the other hand, Arizona is the worst Covid-19 hotspot in the nation, and probably the world. Remember how Trump was talking about the virus vanishing when it warms up?

  • Jen Kirby:

  • Ezra Klein: Masha Gessen on the frightening fragility of America's political institutions: Interview, based on Gessen's new book Autocracy: Rules for Survival.

  • Bonnie Kristian: The real story about Russian bounties on US troops isn't whether Trump knew about it,

  • Robert Kuttner:

    • Biden's new economic nationalism: Better than you may think: "And some of it seems to have been inspired by Elizabeth Warren." Also:

    • Privatizing our public water supply.

      The House Democrats have made a good start with HR2, the Invest in America Act -- but with one weird exception: A provision slipped into the bill by the water privatization industry and its Congressional allies would create incentives to privatize America's water supply systems, one of the few essential services that are still mostly public thanks to the heroic struggles of our Progressive Era forebears, who worked to assure clean and affordable water via public systems. . . .

      Privatized systems are typically less reliable, far more expensive, and prone to corrupt deal-making. The average community with privatized water paid 59 percent more than those with government supplied water. In New Jersey, which has more private water than most, private systems charged 79 percent more. In Illinois, they charged 95 percent more. Private water corporations have also been implicated in environmental disasters. The French multinational, Veolia, issued a report in 2015 certifying that Flint, Michigan's water system met EPA standards, but neglected to mention high lead concentrations.

  • Dave Lindorff: Why the high dudgeon over alleged Russian bounties for Taliban slaying of US troops: This was my second thought on hearing of the story, but I've been waiting for someone else to quote: "Paying for scalps has a venerable tradition in the US. Ask any Native American." My first thought was that the US did something damn similar when the Russians occupied Afghanistan. Maybe not bounties per sé, but the CIA certainly pressed its client mujahideen to focus on inflicting blood losses on Russia.

  • Martin Longman: The spiraling downward trend of Donald Trump's political life: "My best guess is that for the rest of the campaign, every day is going to be worse for Trump than the last. And that means every day will technically be the worst day of Trump's political life."

  • Annie Lowrey: The pandemic proved that cash payments work: "An extra $600 a week buys freedom from fear."

  • Farhad Manjoo: I've seen a future without cars, and it's amazing. When I was growing up, cars meant everything. Even now, when our car use as atrophied to the point I've only filled it up once since March, I can't imagine doing the things we need to do without one. On the other hand, when I was growing up, I had an aunt who didn't drive, and today I have a nephew who doesn't drive, and both managed to deal with the trade-offs. Before I could drive, I was able to get around most of Wichita on bike. And I've had a couple of stretches without a car: two years at college in St. Louis, and three years living in Manhattan. Manjoo's article actually limits itself to Manhattan, where the cost/benefit ratio of having a car is higher than anywhere else in America, and the externalities of others' cars are even greater. His idea is freshly illustrated, but I'd like to point out that it isn't new: Paul and Percival Goodman wrote it up c. 1950, and included it in Paul Goodman's Utopian Essays & Practical Proposals (1962). Even now, Manjoo concedes: "With a population that is already quite used to getting along without cars, the island is just about the only place in the country where you could even consider calling for the banishment of cars."

  • Dylan Matthews: Congress's Covid-19 rescue plan was bigger than the New Deal. It's about to end.

  • Terrence McCoy: They lost the Civil War and fled to Brazil. Their descendants refuse to take down the Confederate flag. "It's one of history's lesser-known episodes. After the Civil War, thousands of defeated Southerners came to Brazil to self-exile in a country that still practiced slavery." Somehow I missed this story, although I did know about the "loyalists" who left America for Canada during/after the Revolution, "fundamentalist" Mormons to settled in Mexico, and Nazis who made their way to Paraguay and other South American countries. I'd guess some Confederates landed in Cuba as well, given that Cuba was the last place in the America to abolish slavery, and that slaveholders in the 1850s were so anxious to annex it as a slave state.

  • John Merrick: Mike Davis tried to warn us about a virus-induced apocalypse. He did so in a book called The Monster at Our Door: The Global Threat of Avian Flu (2005). Now he returns with a "substantially expanded edition," The Monster Enters: Covid-19, Avian Flu and the Plagues of Capitalism. By the way, that last bit didn't come from nowhere. That was the subject of his 2001 book Late Victorian Holocausts: El Niño Famines and the Making of the Third World.

  • Ian Millhiser:

  • Lee Moran: GOP state lawmaker: 'I want to see more people' get coronavirus.

  • Sean Murphy: Health official: Trump rally 'likely' source of virus surge.

  • Ellen Nakashima: Trump confirms cyberattack on Russian trolls to deter them during 2018 midterms.

  • Nicole Narea:

  • Ella Nilsen: How Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders joined forces to craft a bold, progressive agenda.

  • Osita Nwanevu:

  • Ashley Parker/Philip Rucker/Josh Dawsey: Trump the victim: President complains in private about the pandemic hurting him.

    Callers on President Trump in recent weeks have come to expect what several allies and advisers describe as a "woe-is-me" preamble.

    The president rants about the deadly coronavirus destroying "the greatest economy," one he claims to have personally built. He laments the unfair "fake news" media, which he vents never gives him any credit. And he bemoans the "sick, twisted" police officers in Minneapolis, whose killing of an unarmed black man in their custody provoked the nationwide racial justice protests that have confounded the president.

    Gone, say these advisers and confidants, many speaking on the condition of anonymity to detail private conversations, are the usual pleasantries and greetings.

    Instead, Trump often launches into a monologue placing himself at the center of the nation's turmoil. The president has cast himself in the starring role of the blameless victim -- of a deadly pandemic, of a stalled economy, of deep-seated racial unrest, all of which happened to him rather than the country.

  • Andrew Prokop: The past 24 hours in Trump legal issues and controversies, explained: "Supreme Court decisions, closed-door testimony, and developments for Michael Flynn and Michael Cohen."

  • Nathan Robinson: Trump's Mount Rushmore speech was a grim preview of his re-election strategy.

  • Jeffrey Sachs: Keynes and the good life. Review of two recent books: Zachary D Carter: The Price of Peace: Money, Democracy, and the Life of John Maynard Keynes, and James Crotty: Keynes Against Capitalism: His Economic Case for Liberal Socialism.

  • Dylan Scott: Covid-19 cases are rising, but deaths are falling. What's going on?

  • Alex Shephard: Mary Trump diagnoses the president: "A dark new family history from Donald Trump's niece may be the most intimate psychological portrait of him yet." Her book is Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created the World's Most Dangerous Man. She also happens to be a clinical psychologist, so sure she goes there. After considering the pathetic demise of Trump's older brother (Fred Trump Jr., Mary's father):

    Donald was the one Trump child who lived up to Fred Sr.'s expectations (he would also be the only one Fred Sr. would remember when suffering, late in life, from dementia). While the other Trump children gained little from their extremely wealthy father for most of his life (Maryanne, who became a federal judge, at one point was reduced to begging her mother for spare change), Donald was endlessly rewarded for his mendacity and aggression in the rough-and-tumble world of New York real estate. Fred Sr. showered his son with money, allowing him to create the illusion that he was self-made, a brilliant dealmaker. This phony personal brand would be the foundation of Donald's successful presidential campaign.

    Seems like I've heard that story before: sounds a lot like spree killer Andrew Cunanan in The Assassination of Gianni Versace, although Trump's money saved him from taking such a murderous turn. The review continues:

    But Donald, in Mary's telling, was the most wounded of the Trump children. He was also the most pathetic. He became profoundly needy as a result of childhood neglect but lacked the means of processing his emotions. He got stuck in an endless feedback loop of self-aggrandizement and self-loathing, seeking out sycophants to assure him that he really was great -- even though, deep down, he knew he was unloved and incapable of executing even the most basic tasks.

    This too is a familiar story: the basis of the recurring Seth Meyers features of exclusive access to the tiny voice in the back of Trump's head.

  • David Sirota: Trump's Labor Secretary is reaching cartoonish levels of supervillainry. Eugene Scalia.

  • Bhaskar Sunkara: Stop trying to fight racism with corporate diversity consultants: "Inclusivity seminars and books like White Fragility protect power; they don't challenge it. We're being hustled."

  • Margaret Talbot: The study that debunks most anti-abortion arguments.

  • Jeffrey Toobin: Why the Mueller investigation failed: "President Trump's obstructions of justice were broader than those of Richard Nixon or Bill Clinton, and the special counsel's investigation proved it. How come the report didn't say so?" This is a substantial article covering the Mueller investigation and Attorney General William Barr's handling of the report. Presumably it's related to Toobin's new book, True Crimes and Misdemeanors: The Investigation of Donald Trump, out August 4.

    According to the Administration, Mueller and his team displayed an unseemly eagerness to uncover crimes that never existed. In fact, the opposite is true. Mueller had an abundance of legitimate targets to investigate, and his failures emerged from an excess of caution, not of zeal. Especially when it came to Trump, Mueller avoided confrontations that he should have welcomed. He never issued a grand-jury subpoena for the President's testimony, and even though his office built a compelling case for Trump's having committed obstruction of justice, Mueller came up with reasons not to say so in his report. In light of this, Trump shouldn't be denouncing Mueller -- he should be thanking him.

  • David Wallace-Wells: America is refusing to learn how to fight the coronavirus.

  • Laura Weiss: How America exports police violence around the world.

  • Philip Weiss:

  • Conor P Williams: To DeVos, the virus is an excuse to strip public money from public schools: "The policy is in line with conservative goals of converting public dollars into private K-12 scholarships." More on DeVos:

  • Robin Wright: Trump's impeachment revenge: Alexander Vindman is bullied into retiring.

  • Matthew Yglesias:


There's also this: A letter on justice and open debate. It appeared in Harper's, and was signed by 152 people, mostly authors, between a third and a half names I readily recognize. Unfortunately, half of those I recognize mostly for their support of American (and often Israeli) military ventures abroad and/or their propensity to attack the left (often including Sanders supporters within the Democratic Party). This adds an air of disingenuity to what otherwise appears to be an innocuous (albeit deliberately vague) defense of free speech. The middle paragraph could offer some clues if you could map the unnamed censorious forces seeking to punish the unnamed actors for their unspecified offenses: although Trump is the only named threat, I wouldn't be surprised to find many more worried by what the left might provoke than by what the right actually does, and some may even fear winding up on the wrong side of justice. Take Yascha Mounk's tweet, for example:

If the crazy attempts to shame and fire people for signing this reasonably anodyne letter don't convince you that our current intellectual atmosphere is deeply unhealthy, then you're more invested in parroting the propagandistic line of the moment than in acknowledging the truth.

Tom Scocca replied:

The use of "shame and fire" here is the whole damn game. Treating them as interchangeable is, in fact, a cynical attack on free discourse.

Osita Nwanevu's piece on "reactionary liberalism" (see above) fits in here, without actually making the connection. Many of the signatories fit that mold, and they're the main reason people like myself have taken exception to the letter. I actually share a wariness about overly harsh and arbitrary punishments.

Also relevant here is Alex Shephard: The problem with Yascha Mounk's Persuasion, which does discuss the Harper's letter.

Persuasion has the feel of a club of no-longer-coddled elites, banded together in an attempt to maintain their status in a rapidly changing world. At this point, it doesn't seem to be about changing minds. It may be dressed up as a new institution for promoting a free society, but so far its cause célèbre is the process by which op-eds are published. Liberalism deserves better.

Tuesday, July 07, 2020

Daily Log

Tweet in response to Maura Johnston's tweet about a Harper's Letter on Justice:

What's the point here? Complain as vaguely as possible? Cast shade on anyone who gets too worked up over injustice? With few exceptions, an imposing list of right-center intellectuals in defense of moral high ground they profit from but rarely do any good with.


Ballot from the JazzTimes poll for best album of the 1990s, with my grades (!indicates grade added after first pass):

  • Geri Allen: The Nurturer (Blue Note, 1990) [+]
  • Bob Belden: Treasure Island (Sunnyside, 1990) []
  • Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra: Groove Shop (Capri, 1990) []
  • Steve Coleman and Five Elements: Black Science (Novus, 1990) []
  • Charlie Haden: Dream Keeper (Blue Note, 1990) [A-]
  • Roy Hargrove: Diamond in the Rough (RCA, 1990) []
  • Abbey Lincoln: The World Is Falling Down (Verve, 1990) [B]
  • Pat Metheny/Dave Holland/Roy Haynes: Question and Answer (Geffen, 1990) []
  • Don Pullen: Random Thoughts (Blue Note, 1990) [A-]
  • Marcus Roberts: Deep in the Shed (RCA, 1990) []
  • Renee Rosnes: For the Moment (Blue Note, 1990) []
  • John Scofield: Time on My Hands (Blue Note, 1990) [+]
  • Various Artists: Music from Mo' Better Blues (Sony, 1990) []
  • Kenny Wheeler: Music for Large & Small Ensembles (ECM, 1990) [B]
  • Mark Whitfield: The Marksman (Warner Bros., 1990) []
  • John Zorn: Naked City (Nonesuch, 1990) [B]
  • Gerald Albright: Live at Birdland West (Atlantic, 1991) []
  • Arthur Blythe: Hipmotism (Enja, 1991) []
  • Jane Bunnett: Spirits of Havana (Denon, 1991) []
  • Harry Connick, Jr.: Blue Light, Red Light (Columbia, 1991) []
  • Miles Davis & Quincy Jones: Live at Montreux (Warner Bros., 1991) []
  • Béla Fleck & the Flecktones: Flight of the Cosmic Hippo (Warner Bros., 1991) []
  • Stan Getz/Kenny Barron: People Time (A&M, 1991) [A]
  • Julius Hemphill: Fat Man and the Hard Blues (Black Saint, 1991) [+]
  • Kenny Kirkland: Kenny Kirkland (GRP, 1991) []
  • Abbey Lincoln: You Gotta Pay the Band (Verve, 1991) [B-]
  • Jean-Luc Ponty: Tchokola (Epic, 1991) []
  • Don Pullen & the African-Brazilian Connection: Kele Mou Bana (Blue Note, 1991) [A-]
  • Dianne Reeves: I Remember (Blue Note, 1991) []
  • Wallace Roney: Obsession (Muse, 1991) [B]
  • Gonzalo Rubalcaba: The Blessing (Blue Note, 1991) [A-]
  • David Sanborn: Another Hand (Elektra, 1991) []
  • Arturo Sandoval: Flight to Freedom (GRP, 1991) []
  • Sonny Sharrock: Ask the Ages (Axiom, 1991) [A-]
  • Randy Weston: The Spirits of Our Ancestors (Verve, 1991) [A-]
  • Yellowjackets: Greenhouse (GRP, 1991) []
  • Geri Allen: Maroons (Blue Note, 1992) []
  • Tim Berne: Diminutive Mysteries (JMT, 1992) [B]
  • Terence Blanchard: The Malcolm X Suite (Columbia, 1992) [+]
  • The Brecker Brothers: Return of the Brecker Brothers (GRP, 1992) [B]
  • Don Byron: Tuskegee Experiments (Nonesuch, 1992) [+]
  • Paquito D'Rivera: Who's Smoking? (Candid, 1992) [B]
  • Kevin Eubanks: Turning Point (Blue Note, 1992) []
  • Bill Frisell: Have a Little Faith (Elektra, 1992) [B]
  • Joe Henderson: Lush Life (Verve, 1992) [+]
  • Shirley Horn: Here's to Life (Verve, 1992) []
  • Keith Jarrett: Vienna Concert (ECM, 1992) []
  • Charles Lloyd: Notes From Big Sur (ECM, 1992) [*]
  • Joe Lovano: Universal Language (Blue Note, 1992) [B]
  • Russell Malone: Russell Malone (Columbia, 1992) []
  • Medeski Martin & Wood: Notes from the Underground (Accurate, 1992) []
  • Gerry Mulligan: Rebirth of the Cool (GRP, 1992) []
  • Courtney Pine: To the Eyes of Creation (Island, 1992) []
  • John Scofield: Grace Under Pressure (Blue Note, 1992) [+]
  • Mike Stern: Standards and Other Songs (Atlantic, 1992) [+]
  • Dr. Billy Taylor: Mr. T (GRP, 1992) []
  • Gary Thomas: Till We Have Faces (JMT, 1992) [B]
  • David S. Ware: The Flight of I (Columbia, 1992) [A-]
  • Kenny Wheeler: Kayak (Ah Um, 1992) []
  • Tony Williams: The Story of Neptune (Blue Note, 1992) []
  • Steve Coleman and Five Elements: The Tao of Mad Phat: Fringe Zones (RCA Novus, 1993) [A-]
  • Dave Douglas: Parallel Worlds (Soul Note, 1993) [B]
  • Marty Ehrlich: Can You Hear a Motion? (Enja, 1993) [B]
  • Charles Gayle/William Parker/Rashied Ali: Touchin' on Trane (FMP, 1993) [A-]
  • Benny Green: That's Right (Blue Note, 1993) []
  • Antonio Hart: For Cannonball & Woody (RCA Novus, 1993) []
  • Joe Henderson: So Near, So Far (Musings for Miles) (Verve, 1993) [B]
  • Fred Hersch Trio: Dancing in the Dark (Chesky, 1993) [**]
  • Charlie Hunter Trio: Charlie Hunter Trio (Prawn Song, 1993) []
  • Keith Jarrett: Bye Bye Blackbird (ECM, 1993) []
  • Joe Lovano: Tenor Legacy (Blue Note, 1993) [A-]
  • Kevin Mahogany: Double Rainbow (Enja, 1993) []
  • Medeski Martin & Wood: It's a Jungle in Here (Gramavision, 1993) []
  • Marcus Miller: The Sun Don't Lie (PRA, 1993) []
  • Greg Osby: 3D Lifestyles (Blue Note, 1993) []
  • Joshua Redman: Wish (Warner Bros., 1993) [A-]
  • Sonny Rollins: Old Flames (Milestone, 1993) [**]
  • Renee Rosnes: Without Words (Blue Note, 1993) []
  • Henry Threadgill: Too Much Sugar for a Dime (Axiom, 1993) [B]
  • David S. Ware: Third Ear Recitation (DIW, 1993) [A-]
  • Bobby Watson: Tailor Made (Columbia, 1993) [B]
  • Randy Weston: Volcano Blues (Antilles, 1993) [+]
  • Cassandra Wilson: Blue Light 'Til Dawn (Blue Note, 1993) [B]
  • Toshiko Akiyoshi Jazz Orchestra: Desert Lady/Fantasy (Columbia, 1994) []
  • Geri Allen Trio: Twenty One (Blue Note, 1994) [+]
  • Ginger Baker Trio: Going Back Home (Atlantic, 1994) [+]
  • Black/Note: Jungle Music (Columbia, 1994) []
  • Peter Brötzmann/Toshinori Kondo/William Parker/Hamid Drake: Die Like a Dog (FMP, 1994) [B]
  • Ray Brown Trio: Don't Get Sassy (Telarc, 1994) []
  • James Carter: JC On the Set (DIW/Columbia, 1994) [A-]
  • Dave Douglas: In Our Lifetime (New World, 1994) [A-]
  • Sonny Fortune: Four in One (Blue Note, 1994) [A-]
  • Bill Frisell: This Land (Nonesuch, 1994) [+]
  • Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter, Ron Carter, Tony Williams and Wallace Roney: A Tribute to Miles (Qwest, 1994) []
  • Roy Hargrove: With the Tenors of Our Time (Verve, 1994) [A-]
  • Franklin Kiermyer: Solomon's Daughter (Evidence, 1994) [B]
  • Danilo Pérez: The Journey (RCA, 1994) []
  • Joshua Redman Quartet: MoodSwing (Warner Bros., 1994) [+]
  • Pharoah Sanders: Crescent With Love (Evidence, 1994) [A-]
  • Maria Schneider: Evanescence (Enja, 1994) []
  • John Scofield: Hand Jive (Blue Note, 1994) [***]
  • Sonny Simmons: Ancient Ritual (Qwest, 1994) [+]
  • Henry Threadgill: Carry the Day (Columbia, 1994) [+]
  • Ernie Watts: Reaching Up (JVC, 1994) [+]
  • Eric Alexander/Lin Halliday: Stablemates (Delmark, 1995) []
  • Dee Dee Bridgewater: Love and Peace: A Tribute to Horace Silver (Verve, 1995) [A-]
  • Don Byron: Music for Six Musicians (Nonesuch, 1995) [A-]
  • Holly Cole: Temptation (Alert, 1995) []
  • Ornette Coleman: Tone Dialing (Harmolodic/Verve, 1995) [+]
  • Al Di Meola, Stanley Clarke and Jean-Luc Ponty: The Rite of Strings (Gai Saber, 1995) []
  • Kurt Elling: Close Your Eyes (Blue Note, 1995) [B]
  • Gateway: Homecoming (ECM, 1995) []
  • Joe Lovano: Rush Hour (Blue Note, 1995) [B]
  • Jim Hall: Dialogues (Telarc, 1995) []
  • Hannibal (Marvin Peterson): African Portraits (Teldec, 1995) [B-]
  • Tom Harrell: The Art of Rhythm (RCA, 1995) [A-]
  • Joe Henderson: Double Rainbow: The Music of Antonio Carlos Jobim (Verve, 1995) [+]
  • Jon Hendricks: Boppin' at the Blue Note (Telarc, 1995) []
  • Dave Holland Quartet: Dream of the Elders (ECM, 1995) [+]
  • Charlie Hunter: Bing, Bing, Bing! (Blue Note, 1995) []
  • Abbey Lincoln: A Turtle's Dream (Verve, 1995) [+]
  • Kevin Mahogany: You Got What It Takes (Enja, 1995) []
  • Christian McBride: Gettin' To It (Verve, 1995) [A-]
  • John McLaughlin: The Promise (Verve, 1995) [B]
  • Greg Osby: Black Book (Blue Note, 1995) []
  • Sun Ra: Second Star to the Right: A Salute to Walt Disney (Leo, 1995) [***]
  • Renee Rosnes: Ancestors (Blue Note, 1995) [+]
  • David Sanchez: Sketches of Dreams (Columbia, 1995) [+]
  • Wayne Shorter: High Life (Verve, 1995) [C+]
  • Henry Threadgill: Makin' a Move (Columbia, 1995) [+]
  • Ralph Towner: Lost and Found (ECM, 1995) []
  • Cassandra Wilson: New Moon Daughter (Blue Note, 1995) [B]
  • Michael Brecker: Tales From the Hudson (GRP, 1996) []
  • Don Byron: Bug Music (Nonesuch, 1996) [+]
  • James Carter: Conversin' with the Elders (Atlantic, 1996) [A]
  • Herbie Hancock: The New Standard (Verve, 1996) [B]
  • Branford Marsalis: The Dark Keys (Columbia, 1996) []
  • William Parker: In Order to Survive (Black Saint, 1996) [A-] !
  • Danilo Pérez: Panamonk (Impulse!, 1996) [**]
  • Dianne Reeves: The Grand Encounter (Blue Note, 1996) []
  • Kenny Wheeler: Angel Song (ECM, 1996) [B]
  • Tony Williams: Wilderness (Ark 21, 1996) []
  • Joe Zawinul: My People (Escapade, 1996) []
  • Geri Allen: Some Aspects of Water (Storyville, 1997) []
  • Ray Brown/John Clayton/Christian McBride: SuperBass: Live at Scullers (Telarc, 1997) []
  • Charlie Haden and Pat Metheny: Beyond the Missouri Sky (Short Stories) (Verve, 1997) [+]
  • Holly Cole: Dark Dear Heart (Alert, 1997) []
  • Steve Coleman: The Sign and the Seal: Transmissions of the Metaphysics of a Culture (RCA, 1997) []
  • Chick Corea: Remembering Bud Powell (Stretch, 1997) [B]
  • Dave Douglas: Sanctuary (Avant, 1997) []
  • Kurt Elling: The Messenger (Blue Note, 1997) [*]
  • Kenny Garrett: Songbook (Warner Bros., 1997) [B]
  • Herbie Hancock and Wayne Shorter: 1+1 (Verve, 1997) []
  • Diana Krall: Love Scenes (GRP/Impulse!, 1997) [A-]
  • Wynton Marsalis: Blood on the Fields (Columbia, 1997) [B]
  • Pat Martino: All Sides Now (Blue Note, 1997) []
  • Pat Metheny Group: Imaginary Day (Warner Bros., 1997) [B-]
  • Greg Osby: Further Ado (Blue Note, 1997) [B]
  • William Parker & the Little Huey Creative Music Orchestra: Sunrise in the Tone World (AUM Fidelity, 1997) [B]
  • Courtney Pine: Underground (Verve, 1997) []
  • John Pizzarelli: Our Love Is Here to Stay (RCA, 1997) []
  • Renee Rosnes: As We Are Now (Blue Note, 1997) [A-]
  • Matthew Shipp Trio with Joe Morris: Thesis (Hatology, 1997) [B]
  • Tomasz Stanko Septet: Litania: Music of Krzysztof Komeda (ECM, 1997) [A-]
  • Jane Ira Bloom: The Red Quartets (Arabesque, 1999) [***]
  • Michael Brecker: Two Blocks from the Edge (Impulse!, 1998) [B]
  • Don Byron: Nu Blaxploitation (Blue Note, 1998) [+]
  • Dave Douglas: Convergence (Soul Note, 1998) [+]
  • Charlie Haden and Kenny Barron: Night and the City (Verve, 1998) [A-]
  • Herbie Hancock: Gershwin's World (Verve, 1998) [B]
  • Shirley Horn: I Remember Miles (Verve, 1998) []
  • Joe Lovano: Trio Fascination: Edition One (Blue Note, 1998) [A-]
  • Russell Malone: Sweet Georgia Peach (Impulse!, 1998) []
  • Brad Mehldau: Songs: The Art of the Trio, Vol. 3 (Warner Bros., 1998) [+]
  • Greg Osby: Banned in New York (Blue Note, 1998) [+]
  • William Parker: The Peach Orchard (AUM Fidelity, 1998) [A]
  • Michel Petrucciani: Solo Live (Dreyfus, 1998) [+]
  • Joshua Redman: Timeless Tales (for Changing Times) (Warner Bros., 1998) [+]
  • Amon Tobin: Permutation (Ninja Tune, 1998) []
  • Kenny Wheeler: All the More (Soul Note, 1998) []
  • Matt Wilson: Going Once, Going Twice (Palmetto, 1998) [A-]
  • Denny Zeitlin Trio: As Long as There's Music (Venus, 1998) []
  • John Zorn: The Circle Maker (Tzadik, 1998) []
  • John Abercrombie: Open Land (ECM, 1999) []
  • Bablicon: In a Different City (Misra, 1999) []
  • The Cinematic Orchestra: Motion (Ninja Tune, 1999) []
  • Steve Coleman and Five Elements: The Sonic Language of Myth: Believing, Learning, Knowing (RCA, 1999) []
  • Charlie Haden Quartet West: The Art of the Song (PolyGram, 1999) [B-]
  • Jim Hall & Pat Metheny: Jim Hall & Pat Metheny (Telarc, 1999) []
  • Dave Holland Quintet: Prime Directive (ECM, 1999) [A-]
  • Keith Jarrett: The Melody at Night, With You (ECM, 1999) [+]
  • Diana Krall: When I Look in Your Eyes (Verve, 1999) []
  • Brad Mehldau: Elegiac Cycle (Warner Bros., 1999) [+]
  • Jason Moran: Soundtrack to Human Motion (Blue Note, 1999) [A-]
  • William Parker: Posium Pendasem (FMP, 1999) []
  • Renee Rosnes: Art & Soul (Blue Note, 1999) []
  • Bobby Watson: Quiet as It's Kept (RED, 1999) [A-]
  • Cassandra Wilson Traveling Miles (Blue Note, 1999) [+]

Total 198 records. Grade breakdown: A: 3; A-: 30; B+: 42 (including ***: 3, **: 3; *: 2), B: 32, B-: 4, C+: 1, unheard: 86 (43.4%).

[Moved the following here from a previous entry back in May.] Ballot from the JazzTimes poll above for best album of the 1980s, with my grades (!indicates grade added after first pass):

  • George Adams/Don Pullen Quartet: Earthbeams (Timeless, 1980) [A-]
  • The Art Ensemble of Chicago: Full Force (ECM, 1980) [***] !
  • George Benson: Give Me the Night (Warner Bros., 1980) []
  • Carla Bley: Social Studies (ECM, 1980) [*]
  • Herb Ellis: Trio (Concord, 1980) []
  • Joe Henderson: Mirror Mirror (MPS, 1980) [+]
  • Irakere: Irakere II (Columbia, 1980) []
  • Steve Kuhn: Playground (ECM, 1980) [***]
  • Pat Metheny: 80/81 (ECM, 1980) []
  • Mingus Dynasty: Chair in the Sky (Elektra, 1980) []
  • David Murray: Ming (Black Saint, 1980) [A]
  • Old and New Dreams: Playing (ECM, 1980) [***]
  • McCoy Tyner: Quartets 4 X 4 (Milestone, 1980) []
  • James Blood Ulmer: Are You Glad to Be in America? (Rough Trade, 1980) [+]
  • Grover Washington, Jr.: Winelight (Elektra, 1980) [B]
  • Art Blakey: Album of the Year (Timeless, 1981) [B]
  • Arthur Blythe: Blythe Spirit (Columbia, 1981) [***]
  • Lester Bowie: The Great Pretender (ECM, 1981) [+]
  • Chick Corea: Three Quartets (Stretch, 1981) []
  • Chick Corea Trio: Music (ECM, 1981) []
  • Al Jarreau: Breakin' Away (Warner Bros., 1981) []
  • John McLaughlin: Belo Horizonte (Warner Music Group, 1981) []
  • John McLaughlin/Al Di Meola/Paco DeLucia: Friday Night in San Francisco (Philips, 1981) [+]
  • Jaco Pastorius: Word of Mouth (Warner Bros., 1981) []
  • Oscar Peterson: Nigerian Marketplace (Pablo, 1981) []
  • Pharoah Sanders: Rejoice (Theresa, 1981) []
  • John Scofield: Shinola (Enja, 1981) []
  • Phil Woods: Birds of a Feather (Antilles, 1981) []
  • Monty Alexander: Triple Threat (Concord, 1982) []
  • The Art Ensemble of Chicago: Urban Bushmen (ECM, 1982) [+]
  • Ornette Coleman: Of Human Feelings (Antilles, 1982) [A]
  • Miles Davis: We Want Miles (CBS, 1982) []
  • Chico Freeman: Tradition in Transition (Elektra, 1982) [*]
  • Paquito D'Rivera: Mariel (Columbia, 1982) []
  • Herbie Hancock: Quartet (Columbia, 1982) []
  • Ronald Shannon Jackson: Mandance (Antilles, 1982) [+]
  • Paul Motian: Psalm (ECM, 1982) [***] !
  • Dewey Redman: The Struggle Continues (ECM, 1982) [*]
  • Woody Shaw: Master of the Art (Elektra, 1982) []
  • Sphere: Four in One (Elektra, 1982) []
  • Tim Berne: Mutant Variations (Soul Note, 1983) [***] !
  • Tommy Flanagan: Thelonica (Enja, 1983) [**] !
  • Herbie Hancock: Future Shock (Columbia, 1983) []
  • Freddie Hubbard: Sweet Return (Atlantic, 1983) []
  • Abdullah Ibrahim: Ekaya (Ekapa RPM, 1983) [A]
  • Keith Jarrett: Standards, Vol. 1 (ECM, 1983) [+]
  • Steve Lacy: The Door (RCA Novus, 1983) [U]
  • Wynton Marsalis: Think of One (Columbia, 1983) []
  • Oregon: Oregon (ECM, 1983) [B] !
  • Jamaaladeen Tacuma: Show Stopper (Gramavision, 1983) [+]
  • Kenny Wheeler: Double, Double You (ECM, 1983) [A-] !
  • Muhal Richard Abrams: Rejoicing With the Light (Black Saint, 1984) []
  • Geri Allen: The Printmakers (Minor Music, 1984) [***]
  • Jack DeJohnette's Special Edition: Album Album (ECM, 1984) [B]
  • The Heath Brothers: Brothers & Others (Antilles, 1984) []
  • Dave Holland Quintet: Jumpin' In (ECM, 1984) [B]
  • Wynton Marsalis: Hot House Flowers (Columbia, 1984) [B-]
  • Bobby McFerrin: The Voice (Elektra/Musician, 1984) []
  • Pat Metheny Group: First Circle (ECM, 1984) []
  • Tito Puente: El Rey (Concord Picante, 1984) []
  • James Williams: Alter Ego (Sunnyside, 1984) []
  • George Adams/Don Pullen Quartet: Live at the Village Vanguard, Vols. 1 & 2 (Soul Note, 1985) [A-] [+]
  • Ray Anderson: Old Bottles, New Wine (Enja, 1985) [A-]
  • Lester Bowie's Brass Fantasy: The Great Pretender (ECM, 1985) [***] ! -- probably I Only Have Eyes for You; The Great Pretender was a 1981 album, also on ECM
  • Larry Coryell and Emily Remler: Together (Concord, 1985) []
  • James Newton: The African Flower (Blue Note, 1985) []
  • Bill Frisell: Rambler (ECM, 1985) []
  • Dave Holland Quintet: Seeds (ECM, 1985) []
  • Sheila Jordan: The Crossing (Black Hawk, 1985) [+]
  • The Mel Lewis Orchestra: 20 Years at the Village Vanguard (Atlantic, 1985) []
  • Carmen Lundy: Good Morning Kiss (Black Hawk, 1985) []
  • Manhattan Transfer: Vocalese (Atlantic, 1985) []
  • Wynton Marsalis: Black Codes (From the Underground) (Columbia, 1985) [+]
  • Frank Morgan: Easy Living (OJC, 1985) [***] !
  • Odean Pope: The Saxophone Shop (Soul Note, 1985) [***] !
  • Wayne Shorter: Atlantis (Columbia, 1985) []
  • Cedar Walton: The Trio, Vols. 1-3 (Soul Note, 1985) []
  • Tony Williams: Foreign Intrigue (Blue Note, 1985) []
  • George Adams/Don Pullen Quartet: Breakthrough (Blue Note, 1986) [A+]
  • Kenny Barron: What If? (Enja, 1986) []
  • Tim Berne: Fulton Street Maul (Columbia, 1986) []
  • Joanne Brackeen: Fifi Goes to Heaven (Concord, 1986) [B]
  • Chick Corea: Elektric Band (GRP, 1986) []
  • Hank Crawford: Soul Survivors (Milestone, 1986) []
  • Miles Davis: Tutu (Warner Bros., 1986) [B]
  • Kenny G: Duotones (Arista, 1986) []
  • Joe Henderson: State of the Tenor, Vols. 1 & 2 (Blue Note, 1986) [A-]
  • Bob James and David Sanborn: Double Vision (Warner Bros., 1986) []
  • Marc Johnson: Bass Desires (ECM, 1986) []
  • The Leaders: Mudfoot (Black Hawk, 1986) [A-]
  • Bobby McFerrin: Spontaneous Inventions (Elektra/Musician, 1986) []
  • Pat Metheny/Ornette Coleman: Song X (Geffen, 1986) [A]
  • Mulgrew Miller: Work (Landmark, 1986) []
  • Michel Petrucciani: Pianism (Blue Note, 1986) [+]
  • Michel Petrucciani: Power of Three (Blue Note, 1986) [+]
  • Max Roach: Bright Moments (Soul Note, 1986) [B]
  • Poncho Sanchez: Papa Gato (Concord, 1986) []
  • John Scofield: Blue Matter (Gramavision, 1986) [*]
  • Wayne Shorter: Phantom Navigator (Columbia, 1986) []
  • Jimmy Smith: Go for Whatcha Know (Blue Note, 1986) []
  • Cecil Taylor: For Olim (Soul Note, 1986) [B]
  • Tony Williams: Civilization (Blue Note, 1986) []
  • World Saxophone Quartet: Plays Duke Ellington (Elektra, 1986) [C+]
  • Michael Brecker: Michael Brecker (MCA/Impulse!, 1987) [B]
  • Bill Bruford's Earthworks: Earthworks (EG, 1987) [+]
  • Ornette Coleman: In All Languages (Caravan of Dreams, 1987) [A]
  • Jack DeJohnette's Special Edition: Irresistible Forces (MCA, 1987) [U]
  • Charlie Haden: Quartet West (Verve, 1987) [**]
  • Charlie Haden/Geri Allen/Paul Motian: Etudes (Soul Note, 1987) [A-] !
  • Dave Holland: Razor's Edge (ECM, 1987) []
  • Dave Liebman: Homage to John Coltrane (Owl, 1987) []
  • Branford Marsalis: Random Abstract (Columbia, 1987) []
  • Carmen McRae and Betty Carter: Duets (Great American Music Hall, 1987) [**]
  • Pat Metheny Group: Still Life (Talking) (Geffen, 1987) []
  • Greg Osby: Sound Theater (JMT, 1987) []
  • Oscar Peterson: With Harry Edison and Eddie Vinson (Pablo, 1987) []
  • Courtney Pine: Journey to the Urge Within (Verve, 1987) [B]
  • Power Tools: Strange Meeting (Antilles, 1987) []
  • Sonny Rollins: G-Man (Milestone, 1987) [A+]
  • Marvin "Smitty" Smith: Keeper of the Drums (Concord, 1987) []
  • David Torn: Cloud About Mercury (ECM, 1987) []
  • McCoy Tyner: Blues for Coltrane (Impulse!, 1987) []
  • Joe Williams: Every Night (Verve, 1987) []
  • John Blake: New Beginnings (Gramavision, 1988) []
  • Michael Brecker: Don't Try This at Home (Impulse!, 1988) []
  • Betty Carter: Look What I Got (Bet-Car/Verve, 1988) []
  • Don Cherry: Art Deco (A&M, 1988) [A-]
  • Stanley Clarke: If This Bass Could Talk (Portrait, 1988) []
  • Jerry Gonzalez: Rumba Para Monk (Sunnyside, 1988) [+]
  • Julius Hemphill: Big Band (Elektra/Musician, 1988) [**]
  • Joe Lovano: Village Rhythm (Soul Note, 1988) []
  • Jackie McLean: Dynasty (Triloka, 1988) [A-]
  • Carmen McRae: Carmen Sings Monk (RCA, 1988) [A-]
  • David Murray: Ming's Samba (Portrait, 1988) [+]
  • Music Revelation Ensemble: Music Revelation Ensemble (DIW, 1988) []
  • Don Pullen: New Beginnings (Blue Note, 1988) [A]
  • Wayne Shorter: Joy Ryder (Columbia, 1988) []
  • Take 6: Take 6 (Reprise, 1988) []
  • Toots Thielemans: Only Trust Your Heart (Concord, 1988) []
  • McCoy Tyner Revelations (Blue Note, 1988) [+]
  • Grover Washington, Jr.: Then and Now (Columbia, 1988) []
  • Bobby Watson: No Question About It (Blue Note, 1988) []
  • Cassandra Wilson: Blue Skies (JMT, 1988) [**]
  • World Saxophone Quartet: Rhythm and Blues (Elektra, 1988) [B-]
  • George Adams: America (Blue Note, 1989) []
  • Geri Allen: In the Year of the Dragon (JMT, 1989) []
  • George Benson: Tenderly (Warner Bros., 1989) []
  • Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra: Grooves Up (Capri, 1989) []
  • Harry Connick, Jr.: When Harry Met Sally . . . (Columbia, 1989) []
  • Chick Corea: Akoustic Band (GRP, 1989) []
  • Miles Davis: Amandla (Warner Bros., 1989) [+]
  • Gene Harris: Listen Here! (Concord, 1989) []
  • Andrew Hill: Eternal Spirit (Blue Note, 1989) [A-]
  • Christopher Hollyday: Christopher Hollyday (RCA, 1989) []
  • Shirley Horn: Close Enough for Love (Verve, 1989) []
  • Branford Marsalis: Trio Jeepy (Columbia, 1989) []
  • Jean-Luc Ponty: Storytelling (Columbia, 1989) []
  • Sun Ra & His Intergalaxtic Arkestra: Second Star to the Right (Salute to Walt Disney) (Leo, 1989) [***]
  • Marcus Roberts: The Truth Is Spoken Here (RCA/Novus, 1989) []
  • Gary Thomas: By Any Means Necessary (JMT, 1989) []
  • Tony Williams: Native Heart (Blue Note, 1989) []
  • Yellowjackets: The Spin (MCA, 1989) []

Their 1970s poll ballot has vanished, but I managed to scrape the results from Google's cache (ordered by votes, my grades in brackets):

  1. Miles Davis: Bitches Brew (Columbia, 1970) [A-]
  2. Herbie Hancock: Head Hunters (Columbia, 1973) [+]
  3. Chick Corea: Return to Forever (ECM, 1972) [A-]
  4. Keith Jarrett: The Köln Concert (ECM, 1975) [A-]
  5. Weather Report: Heavy Weather (Columbia, 1977) [B-]
  6. Pat Metheny: Bright Size Life (ECM, 1976) []
  7. Freddie Hubbard: Red Clay (CTI, 1970) [A-]
  8. Jaco Pastorius: Jaco Pastorius (Epic, 1976) [+]
  9. Miles Davis: A Tribute to Jack Johnson (Columbia, 1971) [A+]
  10. Weather Report: Weather Report (Columbia, 1971) [B]
  11. George Benson: Breezin' (Warner Bros., 1976) [B]
  12. The Mahavishnu Orchestra: The Inner Mounting Flame (Columbia, 1971) [A]
  13. Dave Holland: Conference of the Birds (ECM, 1973) [A]
  14. Charlie Haden: Liberation Music Orchestra (Impulse!, 1970) [+]
  15. The Mahavishnu Orchestra: Birds of Fire (Columbia, 1973) [+]
  16. Return to Forever: Light as a Feather (Polydor, 1973) [B]
  17. Wayne Shorter: Native Dancer (Columbia, 1975) [B-]
  18. Miles Davis: On the Corner (Columbia, 1972) [***]
  19. Weather Report: Black Market (Columbia, 1976) []
  20. Grover Washington Jr.: Mister Magic (Kudu, 1975) [B]
  21. Bill Evans: The Bill Evans Album (Columbia, 1971) []
  22. Weather Report: Mysterious Traveller (Columbia, 1974) [B]
  23. Joe Pass: Virtuoso (Pablo, 1973) [+]
  24. Charles Mingus: Changes One & Two (Atlantic, 1974) [A] [A-]
  25. Dexter Gordon: Homecoming (Columbia, 1976) [A-]
  26. Ornette Coleman: Science Fiction (Columbia, 1971) [A-] -- expanded reissue
  27. Return to Forever: Romantic Warrior (Columbia, 1976) [C+]
  28. Bill Evans/Tony Bennett: The Bill Evans/Tony Bennett Album (Fantasy, 1975) [+]
  29. Charles Mingus: Let My Children Hear Music (Columbia, 1972) [C+]
  30. Stanley Turrentine: Sugar (CTI, 1970) [A-]
  31. Herbie Hancock: Mwandishi (Columbia, 1971) [B] -- expanded reissue
  32. Ella Fitzgerald and Oscar Peterson: Ella and Oscar (Pablo, 1975) [*]
  33. Keith Jarrett: Belonging (ECM, 1974) [A]
  34. Keith Jarrett: My Song (ECM, 1978) [A-]
  35. Oscar Peterson/Joe Pass/Niels-Henning Ørsted Pedersen: The Trio (Pablo, 1974) []
  36. V.S.O.P.: The Quintet (Columbia, 1977) []
  37. Stan Getz: Captain Marvel (Columbia, 1972) []
  38. Old and New Dreams: Old and New Dreams (ECM, 1979) [**]
  39. Al Jarreau: Look to the Rainbow (Warner Bros., 1977) [C+]
  40. Woody Shaw: Rosewood (Columbia, 1978) [**]
  41. John McLaughlin & Carlos Santana: Love Devotion Surrender (Columbia, 1973) []
  42. Stanley Clarke: School Days (Nemperor, 1976) [C+]
  43. Carla Bley: Escalator Over the Hill (JCOA, 1971) [B]
  44. Jack DeJohnette: New Directions (ECM, 1978) [*]
  45. Grover Washington Jr.: Inner City Blues (Kudu, 1972) [*]
  46. Freddie Hubbard: Straight Life (CTI, 1971) [***]
  47. Paul Desmond: Pure Desmond (CTI, 1974) [B]
  48. Julius Hemphill: Dogon A.D. (Mbari, 1972) [A-]
  49. McCoy Tyner: Trident (Milestone, 1975) []
  50. Sarah Vaughan: The Duke Ellington Songbook, Vols. 1 & 2 (Pablo, 1979) [***] [**]
  51. George Benson: Beyond the Blue Horizon (CTI, 1971) [*]
  52. John McLaughlin: My Goal's Beyond (Douglas, 1971) []
  53. Shakti: Shakti With John McLaughlin (Columbia, 1976) [***]
  54. Betty Carter: The Audience with Betty Carter (Bet-Car, 1979) [B-]
  55. The Art Ensemble of Chicago: Nice Guys (ECM, 1978) [***] !
  56. Bill Evans: Alone Again (Fantasy, 1975) []
  57. Weather Report: 8:30 (Columbia, 1979) []
  58. The Art Ensemble of Chicago: Les Stances a Sophie (Nessa, 1970) []
  59. McCoy Tyner: Echoes of a Friend (Milestone, 1972) []
  60. Cecil Taylor: Silent Tongues (Arista, 1974) [A-]
  61. Sarah Vaughan: Send in the Clowns (Mainstream, 1974) []
  62. Art Pepper: The Trip (Contemporary, 1976) [+]
  63. Lee Ritenour: Captain Fingers (Epic, 1977) []
  64. Joe Henderson: In Pursuit of Blackness (Milestone, 1971) []
  65. Ella Fitzgerald and Joe Pass: Fitzgerald & Pass . . . Again (Pablo, 1976) []
  66. McCoy Tyner: Supertrios (Milestone, 1977) []
  67. Stanley Clarke: Journey to Love (Nemperor, 1975) []
  68. Air: Air Lore (Arista Novus, 1979) [A]
  69. Sonny Rollins: Next Album (Milestone, 1972) [+]
  70. Sonny Rollins: Don't Stop the Carnival (Milestone, 1978) []
  71. Herbie Hancock: Herbie Hancock Trio (CBS, 1977) []
  72. Dexter Gordon: Bouncin' with Dex (SteepleChase, 1975) []
  73. The Art Ensemble of Chicago: Fanfare for the Warriors (Atlantic, 1973) [B-]
  74. Ornette Coleman/Charlie Haden: Soapsuds, Soapsuds (Horizon, 1977) [+]
  75. George Benson: Good King Bad (CTI, 1976) []
  76. Charlie Haden: Closeness (Horizon, 1976) [+]
  77. Tony Williams: The Joy of Flying (Columbia, 1979) []
  78. Ron Carter: Piccolo (Milestone, 1977) []
  79. Sonny Rollins: Easy Living (Milestone, 1977) []
  80. The Heath Brothers: Passin' Through (Columbia, 1978) []
  81. Bill Evans with the George Russell Orchestra: Living Time (Columbia, 1972) []
  82. Ron Carter: Peg Leg (Milestone, 1978) []

Monday, July 06, 2020

Music Week

Expanded blog post, July archive (in progress).

Music: Current count 33567 [33526] rated (+41), 212 [211] unrated (+1).

I've been ambivalent about adding mid-year lists to the metacritic file. Last couple years I actually started with those lists, but this year I've been collecting ratings pretty extensively, so the current file should provide you with a fairly accurate account of critical consensus on records so far. More importantly, the method should continue to work week in, week out through the end of the year. Right now, the ratings (with points in braces, and, where available, my grades in brackets):

  1. Run the Jewels: RTJ4 (Jewel Runners/RBC/BMG) {58} [A-]
  2. Fiona Apple: Fetch the Bolt Cutters (Epic) {54} [A-]
  3. Waxahatchee: Saint Cloud (Merge) {46} [A-]
  4. Bob Dylan: Rough and Rowdy Ways (Columbia) {40} [A-]
  5. Phoebe Bridgers: Punisher (Dead Oceans) {38} [**]
  6. Dua Lipa: Future Nostalgia (Warner) {34} [A-]
  7. Lucinda Williams: Good Souls Better Angels (Highway 20) {34} [A-]
  8. Haim: Women in Music Pt III (Columbia) {33} [**]
  9. Perfume Genius: Set My Heart on Fire Immediately (Matador) {31} [*]
  10. Caribou: Suddenly (Merge) {30} [**]
  11. Tame Impala: The Slow Rush (Interscope) {28} [*]
  12. Drive-By Truckers: The Unraveling (ATO) {27} [A-]
  13. Thundercat: It Is What It Is (Brainfeeder) {27} [B]
  14. Jessie Ware: What's Your Pleasure? (Interscope) {26} [***]
  15. Shabaka and the Ancestors: We Are Sent Here by History (Impulse!) {25} [A-]
  16. Soccer Mommy: Color Theory (Loma Vista) {25} [***]
  17. Yves Tumor: Heaven to a Tortured Mind(Warp) {25} [**]
  18. Charli XCX: How I'm Feeling Now (Asylum) {25} [***]
  19. Moses Sumney: Grae (Jagjaguwar) {23} [B]
  20. Gil Scott-Heron: We're New Again: A Reimagining by Makaya McCraven (XL) {22} [**]
  21. Grimes: Miss Anthropocene (4AD) {22} [***]
  22. Lady Gaga: Chromatica (Interscope) {21} [***]
  23. Pearl Jam: Gigaton (Monkeywrench/Republic) {20} []
  24. Jehnny Beth: To Love Is to Live (Caroline) {19} [*]
  25. Cornershop: England Is a Garden (Ample Play) {19} [A-]
  26. Destroyer: Have We Met (Merge) {19} [*]
  27. Halsey: Manic (Capitol) {19} [***]
  28. Laura Marling: Song for Our Daughter (Chrysalis/Partisan) {19} [**]
  29. Mac Miller: Circles (Warner) {19} [A-]
  30. Rina Sawayama: Sawayama (Dirty Hit) {19} [B-]
  31. US Girls: Heavy Light (4AD) {19} [B-]
  32. Hayley Williams: Petals of Armor (Atlantic) {19} [*]

Well, it's skewed somewhat. Some of the lists I monitor are from friendly sources, and that moves the consensus a bit toward things that are more likely to interest me. Also, I don't skip sources that focus exclusively on metal or classical, though I occasionally pick up samples of each from elsewhere. The idea is less to sample public opinion than it is to sift through it to find things that might be interesting to review. And while this top-32 (despite the numbers, everything from 24-32 are tied). But I also feel entitled to add in some points myself (matching the points for Robert Christgau's grades; all other sources are treated as one point each mention as noted in the legend).

I skewed the results further by adding in mid-year lists scraped from the Expert Witness Facebook group, comments to a July 2 post. I picked up lists from: Steve Alter, Kevin Bozelka, Jeffrey D. Callahan, Joey Daniewicz, Chris Gray, Paul Hayden, Eric Johnson, Tom Lane, Brad Luen, Eric Marcus, Greg Morton, Stan Piccirilli, Harden Smith, John Speranza, Thomas Walker, plus a few bits from others I had already been following (especially Chris Monsen). In compiling these lists, I've omitted records that didn't qualify by my relaxed 2020 standards (which include all December 2019 releases and any other 2019 releases that didn't appear in my 2019 EOY aggregate). Also note that the lists almost always identify records by artist name only, so I had to guess here and there. (Old releases I didn't tally were: Constantinople & Ablaye Cissoko, Kefaya + Elaha Soroor, Jeffrey Lewis & the Voltage, Post Malone, Red Velvet, Matana Roberts, Kalie Shorr.)

All this skewing probably contributed to me grading 10 (of 32) records A-, 6 more B+(***). If you subtract my points, Christgau's, the Expert Witness lists, Monsen, Phil Overeem, and Tim Niland, the list would run: Phoebe Bridgers {33}, Run the Jewels {32}, Fiona Apple/Haim {31}, Perfume Genius/Waxahatchie {30}, Caribou {28}, Bob Dylan/Tame Impala {27}, Thundercat {25}, Dua Lipa {24}, Yves Tumor/Charli XCX {22}, Moses Sumney {21}, Pearl Jam/Soccer Mommy {20}, US Girls/Jessie Ware {19}.

The new records below mostly came from the Expert Witness lists -- expecially from Monsen (6). The other big block is a bunch of records by the late Freddy Cole. I've long recommended two later records -- The Dreamer in Me (2009) and Freddy Cole Sings Mr. B (2010) -- so I was especially surprised to find my favorite among the rest was his 1964 debut. Milt Hinton and Osie Johnson are names I know well, but this also made me want to explore saxophonist Sam "The Man" Taylor. He recorded quite a bit, but only has one compilation on Napster, and I passed on it due to lack of discography.

Ennio Morricone (91) has died. He was possibly the most famous soundtrack composer of the last 50-60 years. I've always harbored an active dislike for soundtrack albums, which is probably why I've never delved into his, despite much enjoying his music in the context of the movies. I can recommend his 1987 compilation on Virgin, Film Music, Volume 1.

Another recent death was English bassist Simon H. Fell (61), another musician I've heard very little from. I dutifully listed 12 of his titles, all highly touted by Penguin Guide, in my shopping list/database, but never found a one of them, so I've only heard one more recent album -- SFE (2011, Clean Feed) [B+(***)]. That's not likely to change much. I see that selections from most of his albums are available on Bandcamp, but none complete enough for me to review.

I am toying with the idea of taking notes on fractional albums, since that would seem to offer a way to glimpse much of the work that I find currently inaccessible. I currently use U to designate records that I possess a copy of but haven't graded yet. I'm tempted to add a new U+ for records I've only heard part of but would like to hear more, and U- for records I've heard enough of to doubt any further interest. One reason I haven't done this is that I'm not sure how the programs would deal with the introduction of a new grade. I wouldn't want to count U+ or U- albums as graded, or as ungraded (a number I've been trying to whittle down, without much success lately).

One question in the queue, which I'll probably get to this week. By all means, please ask more.


New records reviewed this week:

  • 6lack: 6pc Hot EP (2020, Interscope, EP): [r]: B+(*)
  • Juhani Aaltonen/Jonas Kullhammar/Christian Meaas Svendsen/Ilmari Heikinheimo: The Father, the Sons & the Junnu (2019 [2020], Moserobie): [cd]: A-
  • Aardvark Jazz Orchestra: Faces of Souls (2015-19 [2020], Leo): [r]: B+(*)
  • Aksak Maboul: Figures (2020, Crammed Discs): [r]: B+(**)
  • James Carney Sextet: Pure Heart (2020, Sunnyside): [r]: B+(***)
  • Drakeo the Ruler: Thank You for Using GTL (2020, Stinc Team): [r]: B+(**)
  • Hegge: Feeling (2020, Particular): [r]: B+(***)
  • Derrick Hodge: Color of Noize (2020, Blue Note): [r]: B
  • John Pål Inderberg Trio: Radio Inderberg (2019 [2020], AMP Music): [r]: B+(***)
  • Edward "Kidd" Jordan/Joel Futterman/William Parker/Hamid Drake: A Tribute to Alvin Fielder: Live at Vision Festival XXIV (2019 [2020], Mahakala Music): [r]: B+(***)
  • Machine Girl: U-Void Synthesizer (2020, 1818199 DK2): [r]: B-
  • Nicole Mitchell/Lisa E. Harris: Earthseed (2017 [2020], FPE): [r]: C-
  • Noshir Mody: An Idealist's Handbook: Identity, Love and Hope in America 2020 (2020, self-released): [cd]: B
  • Hedvig Mollestad: Ekhidna (2020, Rune Grammofon): [r]: A-
  • Willie Nelson: First Rose of Spring (2020, Legacy): [r]: B+(***)
  • Pere Ubu: By Order of Mayor Pawlicki: Live in Jarocin (2017 [2020], Cherry Red): [r]: B+(**)
  • Francis Quinlan: Likewise (2020, Saddle Creek): [r]: B+(*)
  • Jorge Roeder: El Suelo Mio (2020, T-Town): [r]: B+(*)
  • Randy Rogers & Wade Bowen: Hold My Beer, Vol. 2 (2020, Lil' Buddy Toons): [r]: B+(*)
  • Claire Rousay: A Heavenly Touch (2020, Already Dead): [r]: B
  • Sault: Untitled (Black Is) (2020, Forever Living Originals): [bc]: B+(***)
  • Øyvind Skarbø/Fredrik Ljungkvist/Kris Davis/Ole Morten Vågan: Inland Empire (2016 [2020], Clean Feed): [r]: B+(**)
  • Stephane Spira/Giovanni Mirabassi: Improkofiev (2020, Jazzmax): [cd]: B+(**)
  • Grant Stewart Quartet: Rise and Shine (2019 [2020], Cellar Live): [r]: B+(**)
  • Jessie Ware: What's Your Pleasure? (2020, Interscope): [r]: B+(***)
  • Bobby Watson: Keepin' It Real (2020, Smoke Sessions): [r]: B
  • Westside Gunn: Flygod Is an Awesome God II (2020, Griselda): [r]: B+(*)
  • Hailey Whitters: The Dream (2020, Pigasus): [r]: B+(**)

Recent reissues, compilations, and vault discoveries:

  • The Mark Harvey Group: A Rite for All Souls (1971 [2020], Americas Musicworks, 2CD): [cd]: B+(***) [07-17]

Old music:

  • Freddy Cole: "Waiter, Ask the Man to Play the Blues": Freddy Cole Plays & Sings Some Lonely Ballads (1964, Dot): [r]: A-
  • Freddy Cole: The Cole Nobody Knows (1973, First Shot): [r]: B
  • Freddy Cole: One More Love Song (1978, Poker): [r]: B
  • Freddy Cole: I'm Not My Brother, I'm Me (1990 [2004], High Note): [r]: B+(***)
  • Freddy Cole: This Is the Life (1993 [2003], Savoy Jazz): [r]: B+(**)
  • Freddy Cole: To the Ends of the Earth (1997, Fantasy): [r]: B+(**)
  • Freddy Cole: Love Makes the Changes (1998, Fantasy): [r]: B+(***)
  • Freddy Cole: Le Grand Freddy: Freddy Cole Sings the Music of Michel Legrand (1994-99 [1999], Fantasy): [r]: B+(**)
  • Freddy Cole: This Love of Mine (2005, High Note): [r]: B+(***)
  • Freddy Cole: He Was the King (2016, High Note): [r]: B+(*)


Unpacking: Found in the mail last week:

  • Gregory Dudzienski Quartet: Beautiful Moments (OA2) [07-17]
  • Bartosz Hadala Group: Three Short Stories (Zecernia)
  • Jeremy Levy Jazz Orchestra: The Planets: Reimagined (OA2) [07-17]
  • Quinsin Nachoff: Pivotal Arc (Whirlwind) [08-07]
  • Owl Xounds Exploding Galaxy: The Coalescence (ESP-Disk)
  • Soft Machine: Live at the Baked Potato (Moonjune)

Sunday, July 05, 2020

Weekend Roundup

Blog link.

The Wichita Eagle doesn't publish a paper edition on Saturdays any more, so I had to scrounge around for something to read with breakfast. Picked up the 4 June 2020 London Review of Books, and started reading Eliot Weinberg's lead article, "The American Virus":

As confirmed American coronavirus deaths pass 67,000, the president declares, in an interview with Fox News held inside the Lincoln Memorial, where events are traditionally banned: "They always said nobody got treated worse than Lincoln. I believe I am treated worse." A Twitter wit writes that, for the massive marble sculpture looming above, "It was the second worst thing Lincoln ever watched."

Internal White House documents predict three thousand American deaths a day by the end off May. The president weeets: "Getting great reviews, finally, for how well we are handling the pandemic." He retweets that the Trump Turnberry golf course has been named by Golf World magazine as the best golf course in the UK and Ireland for 2020. . . .

Republicans continue the fight against voting by mail. (The president has said that if this were universally allowed, "you'd never have a Republican elected in this country again," though he himself mails in his ballot.) In Wisconsin in April, the Republican-majority Supreme Court had demanded that voters appear in person, leading to a spike in infections. In Texas, which permits voting by mail for the ill, the attorney general rules that fear of Covid-19 is an "emotional reaction . . . and does not, by itself, amount to a 'sickness.'"

Signs at the many protests at state capitols against the lockdown, where crowds wave Confederate and "Don't Tread on Me" flags and (legally) carry assault riffles:

  • FAKE CRISIS
  • COVID-19 IS A LIE
  • MY RIGHTS DON'T END WHERE YOUR FEAR BEGINS
  • FAUCI IS NOT OUR PRESIDENT
  • MY BODY MY CHOICE
  • JESUS IS MY VACCINE
  • KEEP TEXAS FREE FROM TYRANNY
  • GIVE ME LIBERTY OR GIVE ME COVID-19
  • SOCIALISM SUCKS
  • SACRIFICE THE WEAK: REOPEN
  • ARBEIT MACHT FREI
  • A WANT A HAIRCUT

In the ten days after the Republican governor of Georgia, Brian Kemp, reopens gyms, spas, hair salons, tattoo parlours and other essential services, confirmed coronavirus cases in the state rise by 42 per cent.

Of course, this is one news, but not very old. The death count has nearly doubled since this was written (132,000 on Saturday; the 67,000 figure dates to April 25). The anti-lockdown demonstrations receded as all states followed Georgia in re-opening non-essential businesses, mostly with the same increase in infections. One thing that hasn't changed is Trump's fetish for large statues, once again selecting a large stone Lincoln for his July 4 spectacle. (See: Jordan Muller: Trump seeks to claim the mantle of history in fiery Mount Rushmore address.)

But the Fourth of July celebrations were a side show. The big article this week is Derek Hawkins/Marisa Iati/Jacqueline Dupree: Seven-day average case total in the US sets record for 27th straight day.


Some scattered links this week:

  • Kate Aronoff:

  • David Atkins:

    • Universal basic income continues to gain mainstream support due to COVID-19. By the way, I just finished Rutger Bregman's Utopia for Realists: How We Can Build the Ideal World, which starts with UBI, which pointed out that the idea was widely considered in the early 1970s: he cites Nixon's interest, but my recollection is more McGovern. I recall reading several books on it back then, especially by Robert Theobald (1929-99), best known for Free Men and Free Markets (1963). For a new piece on UBI: Luke Savage: Want to fight poverty? Give poor people money.

    • Why a movement like Trumpism doesn't have a future. The takeaway from the Mt. Rushmore speech:

      It is no accident that the same president who delivered this revanchist, defensive Fourth of July message also could not articulate a single second-term policy priority in front of a friendly interviewer. The gauzy haze of nostalgia that it activates in the conservative mind can be good at whipping up certain kinds of votes, but it cannot serve as the basis for a coherent policy platform. It can encode certain sentiments -- that America should be primarily for white evangelical Christians and run primarily by older white men -- but those sentiments are not only deeply unpopular, they run contrary to the actual words of most of the country's founding documents and the majority of the last century's constitutional jurisprudence.

      Trump has failed on policy at every level because his vision is difficult to translate into legislation, and when articulated almost impossible to enact democratically. As a substitute for literally Making America White Again, building a big wall, enacting travel bans on certain countries or putting migrant children into cages is not only unpopular and villainous, it's also difficult to do legislatively and simply ineffectual in accomplishing the task. That's why these sorts of right-wing populist jabs have historically been culture war red meat designed to keep the bigots distracted while the rich people in charge made off the loot in the form of subsidies and tax cuts. So has it been also with Trump: his base gets to feel like they owned the "libs," but in actuality the only structurally significant outcomes have been tax cuts and giveaways for rich corporate executives and a raft of corporate-friendly judges. Meanwhile, everyone else gets the shaft economically -- including his own downwardly-mobile supporters. . . .

      Trump's vision has no future at all and cannot be negotiated or compromised with. Even if it weren't morally repulsive, it would still be a dead-end for what politics is supposed to be all about: solving problems. During more frivolous times that might not be seem like such a big deal: after all, in 2016 many people voted for Trump out of a sense of "let's see what happens" bored amusement. Many thought that the country essentially ran itself, so why not put a showman in charge? Well, we've now seen what happens.

    • The Trump administration is giving up on fighting the pandemic: The term narrowly considered, meaning the political operatives in and near the White House: the conscious, political direction. But the term is more often used to refer to the whole executive branch, which still harbors countless anonymous bureaucrats who are merely doing their jobs, or trying to (despite political obstacles).

  • Mike Baker/Jennifer Valentino-DeVries/Manny Fernandez/Michael LaForgia: Three words. 70 cases. The tragic history of 'I can't breathe.'

  • Dan Balz: Trump turned July Fourth into a partisan event. The damage could be long-lasting.

  • William J Barber/Phyllis Bennis: The police and the pentagon are bringing our wars home.

  • Medea Benjamin/Nicolas JS Davies: Trump's record on foreign policy: Lost wars, new conflicts, and broken promises.

  • Matt Bruenig: The racial wealth gap is about the upper classes.

  • James Bruno: Netanyahu wants to annex the West Bank. Will Joe Biden stop him? Argues: "The Democratic nominee needs to be clear: the move would come with real consequences if he's elected." I doubt that: annexation will be baked into "the facts on the ground" by the time Biden can take office, and he has never shown any evidence of standing up to (or even questioning) Israel. Moreover, while the US has given lip service to a "two-state solution" for a long time, the US has never really done anything to make it happen. The problem Netanyahu faces most immediately is losing European support to BDS -- that would be a "real consequence." Longer term, Israel risks losing its bedrock Democratic Party base -- not Biden directly, but people Biden will ultimately depend on, and who will eventually follow him. Netanyahu may think annexation will be the great finale of his career, but it will leave his successors in an impossible situation, as a pariah nation with an unassimilable and rebellious underclass. On some level, he must realize that every Black Lives Matter placcard that's appeared all around the world the last few months can easily be repurposed to point a finger at him.

  • Jonathan Chait: Trump blames losing campaign on listening to 'woke Jared': "Trump decides to ignore his son-in-law and focus on voters who fear he isn't racist enough."

  • Jane Coaston: Social conservatives feel betrayed by the Supreme Court -- and the GOP that appointed it.

  • EJ Dionne Jr: A vicious culture war is all Trump has left. Also: Zeeshan Aleem: Trump is going all in on divisive culture wars. That might not work this time.

    In his speeches this weekend, Trump positioned himself as a guardian of American identity, depicting protests against police brutality and racism -- which have slowed significantly in recent weeks, and have been largely peaceful -- in paranoid and cartoonish terms as a "fascist" threat to the republic.

    It should be noted that Trump's claims of the existence of "far-left fascism" are fundamentally incoherent: fascism is a right-wing form of ultranationalism calling for a rebirth of a nation or race, and that has nothing to do with liberal and left-wing calls for an end to police brutality and racism. But that didn't stop Trump from making it the central message of his speeches, which aimed to sensationalize the issue of protests and statue-toppling.

    Speaking at Mount Rushmore, amid peaceful protests led by members of the Sioux Nation meant to underscore the fact the monument was built on stolen and sacred land, Trump promised that the South Dakota monument "will never be desecrated." And he went on to describe the ongoing re-evaluation of public symbols of racism in American life as a threat to civilization.

  • W Ralph Eubanks: The Confederate flag finally falls in Mississippi.

  • M Steven Fish/Neil A Abrams/Laila M Aghaie: Make liberalism great again: "Liberals around the world have let right-wing authoritarians claim patriotism as their own, with disastrous consequences. It's time to take it back." This is a long article, only given a cursory glance, partly because while I'm not unsympathetic to those who would like to present a progressive agenda in the context of America's oft-stated, rarely-realized ideals -- cf. Jill Lepore's This America: The Case for the Nation, backed by her longer These Truths: A History of the United States, or (much better) Ganesh Sitaraman's The Crisis of the Middle-Class Constitution -- I don't find it very satisfactory to go to all that trouble only to end up with another paean to old-fashioned, left-hating liberalism. But also, deep down, I just don't care much for the idea of patriotism, which has been left to the right to debase as knee-jerk militarist idolatry precisely because both liberals and the left (who are really just liberals who emphasize that universal rights means everyone, not just individuals) feel any real need to limit their horizons to a single nation. Consequently, much of the framing pushed here sounds like bullshit, more or less on the same level as the right-wing's patriotic claims.

  • Nima Gerami: To defeat systemic racism, America must end endless war. Well, America's systemic racism predates "endless war," even the sporadic imperial wars against Mexico (1848) and Cuba/Philippines (1898), which it colored and conditioned -- one can trace it back to the Indian wars of the 17th century. Still, every new war gins up yet another wave of racism, as we've seen clearly in Korea, Vietnam, and the Middle East (despite the efforts of Bush et seq. to exempt "our allies" in and around Saudi Arabia). By the way, "endless war" perpetuates much more than racism. Most obviously, there's gun violence. Also see:

  • Amy Goldstein: Voters in deep-red Oklahoma approve Medicaid expansion. I have no doubt this would pass in Kansas if the voters are given the chance. Almost passed in the legislature this year, spoiled only by Senate majority leader Susan Wagle refusing to schedule a vote.

  • Graig Graziosi: Trump ally Herman Cain who attended Tulsa rally hospitalized with coronavirus. Of course, he didn't necessary get the virus there. He also traveled to "a lot of places" that week, including hotspot Arizona. Related?

  • Miranda Green: It will take years to undo the damage from Trump's environmental rollback: "Even if Democrats win back the White House and the Senate, it will be a long struggle to restore the regulations the Republican-controlled EPA has erased."

  • Glenn Greenwald: House Democrats, working with Liz Cheney, restrict Trump's planned withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan and Germany. Jason Crow (D-CO) co-sponsored the amendment with Cheney. This particular amendment was approved 45-11, opposed by 8 Republicans and 3 Democrats.

  • Ryan Grim: National Review is trying to rewrite its own racist history. One thing I've long been struck by is how virulently racist 1950s conservatives were, especially William F Buckley. (Nancy McLean's Democracy in Chains: The Deep History of the Radical Right's Stealth Plan for America has many examples.) Barry Goldwater denied that he was a racist when opposing civil rights laws -- something I could never square with his supposedly principled positions on individual freedom, but which made sense given how inextricably the 1950s conservative project was bound up with the support of segregation and white supremacy.

  • Gabrielle Gurley: This time, it's the Democrats' infrastructure week: "House Democrats steered an ambitious transportation and infrastructure plan through the chamber. Structured more like a wish list, it's dead on arrival in the Senate."

  • Bob Harris/Jon Schwarz: Carl Reiner's life should remind us: If you like laughing, thank FDR and the New Deal. The comedian died at 94 last week. He got his start in a WPA class for would-be actors. The New Deal had a number of programs to support the arts in the 1930s. A similar effort would be a great idea today, but doesn't seem to be on anyone's agenda. It is currently impossible for most musicians to make their usual living performing, but they could be paid to record music and make it freely available over the Internet.

  • Jeet Heer: Trolling Trump, the Lincoln Project also peddles militarism: "The Never Trump super PAC makes entertaining ads that get under the president's skin -- but progressives should take a closer look at their agenda." When asked about the maxim that "the enemy of my enemy is my friend," Richard Stallman noted that was, at best, an heuristic. I doubt it's even that useful. It's easy to get seduced by people who hate Trump for totally wrong reasons, like for making conservatives look bad, or for failing to be a monomaniacal hawk like John Bolton.

    Writing in The Atlantic, conservative writer Andrew Ferguson, no fan of the president, criticized the Lincoln Project for fighting Trump with Trumpian means. He described the ads as "personally abusive, overwrought, pointlessly salacious, and trip-wired with non sequiturs."

    This ethical critique has merit, but the real problem with the Lincoln Project is political. To the extent that the ads articulate any political vision, it is a desire to return to the hard-line military aggression of the George W. Bush era.

    On Tuesday, the Lincoln Project released an ad addressing accusations that Trump hasn't protected American troops in Afghanistan from a bounty on their lives supposedly placed by the Russian government. The ad, titled "Betrayed," features Dr. Dan Barkhuff, a physician and former Navy SEAL. "Months ago, Donald Trump learned the Russians were paying a bounty for dead American soldiers in Afghanistan and chose to do nothing about it," Barkhuff said. "Any commander in chief with a spine would be stomping the living shit out of some Russians right now -- diplomatically, economically, or, if necessary, with the sort of asymmetric warfare they're using to send our kids home in body bags." He added, "Mr. Trump, you're either a coward who can't stand up to an ex-KGB goon, or you're complicit. Which is it?"

    The article cites a bunch of liberals who applauded this ad. On some level, I don't care why people decide to oppose Trump, but I do worry about people who encourage Biden to be even more hawkish than Trump, both because it's the wrong stance to take and because I'm convinced that Hillary Clinton's commander-in-chief posturing and long history of applauding belligerence cost her the 2016 election. Biden's record is little better, which is all the more reason to downplay his past mistakes. For some better advise, see: John Nichols: Anti-war groups push Biden and the Democrats to rethink foreign policy.

  • Sean Illing: How Black Lives Matter fits into the long history of American radicalism: Interview with Michael Kazin.

  • Umair Irfan: The "Godzilla" Saharan dust cloud over the US, explained: "The giant dust cloud is part of a system that feeds the ocean, fertilizes the rainforest, and suppresses hurricanes."

  • Mugambi Jouet: The Trump cult is loyal to an ideology, not the man: "A rise in extreme polarization culminated in Trump -- and likely won't be vanquished by Biden." This is an idea that's going around, but it doesn't make much sense to me. Although some of Trump's followers -- someone like Steve Bannon -- could conjure up something that looks like an ideology, Trump couldn't begin to articulate it. He's just a rich guy who likes being in front of the camera, spouting the received prejudices and irritable mental gestures he's picked up watching Fox. His fans share those prejudices, and appreciate that he's able to say what they can't -- they may even think that he's fighting for them, but he's really just stroking his own ego. Once he's gone, others will try to pick up the mantle, but I don't see how anyone else can keep his movement together. On the other hand, I doubt Trump will fade away like GW Bush did. He's going to rule right-wing media until he dies or is incapacitated, so, sure, his cult will be with us for a while. But it won't be an ideology.

  • Jen Kirby:

  • Ezra Klein:

  • Natasha Korecki/Marc Caputo: A Sun Belt time bomb threatens Trump's reelection: "Rising Covid-19 caseloads in Florida, Arizona and Texas raise fresh doubts about the president's reelection prospects." Favorite line here: "Trump's campaign accuses Democrats of exploiting tragedy."

  • Josh Kovensky: Trump admin scales back mandate that health insurers cover Covid tests.

  • Michael Kranish: New York court sides with publisher of explosive book by President Trump's niece. Kranish previously wrote about the book: Mary Trump once stood up to her uncle Donald. Now her book describes a 'nightmare' of family dysfunction.

  • Martin Longman: What if Trump decides not to seek a second term? "It's not as crazy of an idea as it sounds" -- but, really it is. Trump filed for reëlection the day after his inauguration. Running for a second term is the only thing he's actually wanted to do as president. He lets his underlings run everything else, at least until they become too embarrassing, in which case he makes them find more pliable and less competent replacements. So what if he's going to lose? He stayed true to his blindest and dumbest followers, and he certainly knows how to monetize whatever treachery undid him. As for the Republicans, it's too late for them to find a credible replacement. Sure, they could go with Mitt Romney, and piss off his base. Or they could elevate Mike Pence, and bore them to death. In any case, they're stuck with Trump's record, which is arguably worse than the man himself (not that such distinctions matter to most of us). Longman also wrote: What happens when Trump stops believing he can win reelection? Problem there is that the "chaos and malevolence" is coming anyway. Trump can't help himself (not that he would if he could). Related:

    • Robert Kuttner: Trump to Trump: You're fired!. Also not going to happen. Although I did imagine that he might resign after getting reëlected, to get a jump on cashing in. Or maybe after getting trounced, to give Pence a presidential legacy, although he'd really just be running out the clock, like a third-string quarterback.

  • German Lopez: Just 2 states meet these basic criteria to reopen and stay safe: New York and Rhode Island meet 4 (of 5) criteria; 21 states and DC meet 2 or 3; 27 states 0 or 1. Only 2 states and DC have "a sustained two-week drop in coronavirus cases": Massachusetts and Rhode Island.

  • Eric Margolis: The coming ecosystem collapse is already here for coral.

  • Alan MacLeod: In 'Russia bounty' story, evidence-free claims from nameless spies became fact overnight. A story claiming "Russia secret offered Afghan militants bounties to kill U.S. troops" was planted in the New York Times and picked up everywhere, including among liberals who figured they could spin it into their favored story lines: that Trump is a Putin puppet, or (more plausibly) incompetent and indifferent. My initial reaction was that the story was a crock, meant purely to sabotage the US withdrawal from Afghanistan and/or to ratchet up cold war tensions with Russia, and nothing since then -- an investigation that found one soldier who might have been affected, or a "confirmation" from the Taliban -- has changed my mind. There are lots of good reasons for being critical of Russia, but this one makes no sense. For more:

  • Louis Menand: This fourth of July, consider Trump's lobster fib.

    It's not hard to understand Trump. It is hard to understand the people in his Administration who enable the blather and the misinformation, who spin-cycle it to bleach out the most offensive or dangerous implications, and who parrot it dutifully. For the first two years of Trump's Presidency, some of these people were known as "the adults in the room." To an admittedly remote observer, those people looked indistinguishable from opportunists willing to suppress their opinions in the hopes of becoming Presidential puppet masters. They were dreaming. All of them have departed with their reputations scarred.

  • Stephen Miles: It's bad politics for Democrats to be hawkish on foreign policy. Cites Elliot Engel ("one of only two dozen House Democrats out of 1888 who ultimately voted against the Iran deal"), defeated in last week's primary, as a cautionary example, but the point should be made much more generally. Hawkish Democrats are especially suspect, not least because they usually frame their interventionist appeals as acts of humanitarianism, and such crises are numerous and inevitable. Besides, there's nothing many Americans hate more than "helping" unappreciative others. Republicans may be more supportive of funding America's imperial overreach, but they usually withhold actual war until they can gin up a popular desire for spite and revenge -- something Americans do believe in.

  • Ian Millhiser:

  • Jeanne Morefield: 'Never in my country': COVID-19 and American Exceptionalism.

    Senator Bernie Sanders' reasonable suggestion that the U.S., like Denmark, should nationalize its healthcare system is dismissed as the fanciful pipe dream of an aging socialist rather than an obvious solution to a human problem embraced by nearly every other nation in the world. The Seattle healthcare professional who expressed shock that even "Third World countries" are "better equipped" than we are to confront COVID-19 betrays a stunning ignorance of the diversity of healthcare systems within developing countries. Cuba, for instance, has responded to this crisis with an efficiency and humanity that puts the U.S. to shame.

    Indeed, the U.S. is only beginning to feel the full impact of COVID-19's explosive confrontation with our exceptionalism: if the unemployment rate really does reach 32 percent, as has been predicted, millions of people will not only lose their jobs but their health insurance as well. In the middle of a pandemic.

    Over 150 years apart, political commentators Edmund Burke and Aimé Césaire referred to this blindness as the byproduct of imperialism. Both used the exact same language to describe it; as a "gangrene" that "poisons" the colonizing body politic. From their different historical perspectives, Burke and Césaire observed how colonization boomerangs back on colonial society itself, causing irreversible damage to nations that consider themselves humane and enlightened, drawing them deeper into denial and self-delusion.

  • Anna North: Roe v. Wade isn't safe: "The Supreme Court just struck down an anti-abortion law. Here's why access is still at risk."

  • JC Pan: Democrats can't quit their addiction to big-money donors: "The urgency of beating Trump in November has once again set campaign finance reform on the back burner." After 2008 would have been an ideal time for Democrats to clamp down on money in campaigning, but Obama had raised significantly more money than McCain, and was looking forward to repeating his dominance in 2012, and members of Congress in both parties were united in their ability to raise more funds than their opponents. Further complication comes from a Supreme Court firmly committed to protecting corruption in at least two ways: equating money with free speech, and making it virtually impossible to convict anyone of taking bribes.

  • Daniel Politi: Washington NFL team launches review of racist nickname: You mean the Redskins? I remember that name being questioned fifty years ago. On the other hand, the proposed replacements, starting with Warriors, are often worse.

  • John Quiggin: Trumpism after Trump. More notes and conjecture than an argument. Quiggin has also signed up to write a book on The Economic Consequences of the Pandemic. If, as he assumes, Biden will be the next president, with a workable majority in Congress, the real question has less to do with rump Trumpism than his third assumption: whether "mainstream Democrats recognize the need for radical change, and Biden will align with the mainstream position as he always has done." Quiggin's book will presumably argue for "radical change" under those conditions.

  • David Roberts: House Democrats just put out the most detailed climate plan in US political history: "A new select committee report is perfectly in tune with the growing climate policy alignment on the left around standards, investments, and justice."

  • Paul Rosenberg: The secret of his success: Donald Trump's six weird tricks for authoritarian rule: Interview with Jennifer Mercieca, author of: Demagogue for President: The Rhetorical Genius of Donald Trump.

  • Daid Rothkopf: 'The most ignorant and unfit': What made America's worst ever leader? Starts with a convenient quote from Michelle Obama: "Being president doesn't change who you are, it reveals who you are." Rothkopf sifts through various historian surveys of the worst presidents ever -- poor lists, if you ask me, prejudiced against the mediocrities of the 19th century while omitting Nixon and the Bushes, whose only saving graces were to be followed by even worse Republicans -- but ultimately settles on a past leader more temperamentally (and cognitively) suited for comparing Trump to: George III.

  • Theodore Schleifer: America has almost 800 billionaires, a record high. Well, 788, up 12% from a year before, or 27% (from 620) in 2016. That's 0.0002409% of the US population (328.2 million). Maybe it would be fairer to divide by US households (128.58 million): 0.00061284%, or 1 in every 163,174 households. That's an unimaginably tiny fraction of the total -- about 2 people in Wichita (who happen to be Charles Koch and Phil Ruffin, something you may know even if you're not from here). But those 788 billionaires control $3.4 trillion in assets, up 14% since the end of 2018.

  • Andrea K Scott: The removal of a Theodore Roosevelt statue is a good first step in rethinking America's monuments.

  • Melody Schreiber: The climate crisis will be just as shockingly abrupt.

  • Dylan Scott:

    • How Trump gave insurance companies free rein to sell bad health plans. "Obamacare wasn't repealed. Trump's deregulation is eroding it anyway." I an think of few things that are more injurious than insurance plans that don't actually protect you from unexpected health care expenses. One thing Obamacare did so was establish minimum standards of coverage -- although they also allowed huge deductibles and co-payments, so a great many people wound up paying more out of pocket, but at least they had some coverage for major expenses. Trump is just a co-conspirator to fraud.

    • Why a Covid-19 drug costs $3,100. This piece doesn't provide a very good explanation -- it mostly muddies the water with insurance variations like deductibles -- and the section "is this a fair price for remdesivir as a Covid-19 therapy?" is mostly nonsense. (For instance, Gilead figures that if their drug reduces hospital stays 3-4 days, their "value proposition" should reap a significant percentage of the saved hospital costs.) Bottom line is that Big Pharma is built on patents and extortion pricing. This is an example, not an exception.

      • David Dayen: Time to seize drug patents.

        The entire pharmaceutical sector has been raising prices during the pandemic: 245 drugs hiked up between January and June according to Patients for Affordable Drugs, including 61 being used for COVID-19 treatment and another 30 in use in clinical trials. . . . Hilariously, Gilead's stock fell in Monday trading because investors thought they should charge more.

        If remdesivir were sold at the cost of production, it would cost $10, not $3,120. The "value" of the drug comes with the reduction in admission length, and the savings to hospitals and patients. But even that value, based on the known science, shouldn't go too far past $400, according to the Institute for Clinical and Economic Review. You could say that Gilead needs to recoup its research and development costs, but of course the U.S. government financed much of that research.

      • Donald Shaw: Biden sides with Big Pharma against affordable coronavirus vaccine plan [Marh 19].

      • David Sirota: The US public paid to develop this COVID-19 drug. It will cost $3,000 a dose. Title seems to have the price wrong ($3,100 for a 5-day course of treatment, not per dose).

        Similarly, bipartisan legislation passed in 1980 created so-called march-in rights that empower the government to authorize another company -- or the government itself -- to produce a lower-priced generic version of a high-priced medicine.

        The problem, of course, is that the government's health care apparatus is controlled by former pharmaceutical industry executive Alex Azar.

  • Robert J Shapiro: Trump's bungled pandemic response is crushing American incomes: "New data shows the costs of the administration's failure to stem the coronavirus outbreak."

    The only force staving off desperate conditions for many households was the one-time checks the government sent most Americans and the temporary expansion of jobless benefits.

    Now with the resurgence of COVID-19 infections, Congress has little choice but to approve another round of checks and extend the generous unemployment benefits. If Congress does approve a lot more help, millions of American households will still face financial peril -- and if Congress fails to step up again, tens of millions of Americans could confront financial ruin.

    As a dose of reality, the new income data show that our current conditions are roughly three times as severe as the Great Recession. All personal income fell 4.2 percent in May and 3.0 percent over the three months from March through May. It took nine months for personal income to fall that much during the Great Recession. Wage and salary income actually increased by 3.3 percent in May, as the payroll grants under the CARES program kicked in and businesses began to reopen. Even so, wage and salary income fell 7.9 percent from March through May, again more than during the entire Great Recession.

    The reason that total personal income fell "only" 3.0 percent over the three months -- the steepest drop on record -- while total wage and salary income fell an astounding 7.9 percent in three months was due almost entirely to those government checks and jobless benefits. After setting aside government transfers, the BEA reports that total personal income fell 7.5 percent in three months.

  • Apa Sherpa (as told to Emily Atkin): I've climbed Everest 21 times. It's not the mountain it used to be.

  • Matt Shuham: "Nothing is normal here": Trump campaign claims its NDA applies to Omarosa's WH work.

  • Jeffrey Toobin: John Roberts distances himself from the Trump-McConnell legal project: But (see Millhiser above) he still strikes me as a team player, casting the deciding vote to uphold Republican voting restrictions. Occasional votes that seem independent could just as well be calculated to retain a shred of integrity for a Court that will increasingly curtail democracy, especially if people don't panic and stop the flow of Federalist Society judges.

  • Nahal Toosi: Human rights groups turn their sights on Trump's America.

  • Sina Toosi: How John Bolton and Mike Pompeo thwarted Trump's plan to get a deal with Iran. More Bolton (not that you need any):

  • Alex Ward: Donald Trump is vulnerable on China. So is Joe Biden. They're both wrong, too, although that's not what they perceive as each other's faults.

  • Liz Essley Whyte: Trump's favorite weapon in the coronavirus fight: Deregulation: Well, his favorite weapon in every fight, regardless of aptness. "Instead of addressing this crisis head-on, the Trump administration appears to be exploiting the chaos of the pandemic by rolling back critics civil rights regulatory protections and environmental safeguards." Appears?

  • Colin Woodard: Woodrow Wilson was even worse than you think.

  • Robin Wright: To the world, we're now America the racist and pitiful.

  • Matthew Yglesias:


Jun 2020 Aug 2020