Monday, October 14, 2019
Expanded blog post,
Music: current count 32212  rated (+29), 229  unrated (+0).
Cutoff was Sunday evening, after posting
Weekend Roundup. Didn't have all of the unpacking done, so unrated
count is a bit low. The two A- records came early in the week. Both
are available on Bandcamp:
Abdallah Ag Oumbadougou. There's a good chance that The Rough
Guide to the Roots of Country Music might have hit A- on a second
or third play, but not having the booklet, having to spend close to
an hour checking dates, and the suspicion that I've heard everything
there elsewhere didn't dispose me to be especially generous.
I saw a little bit (maybe 10%) of Ken Burns' Country Music
PBS series. Not much there I didn't already know, but thought what
I saw was pretty useful -- certainly didn't strike me as distorted
and deceptive, like his Jazz series. As far as I can tell,
the only product tie-ins are called The Soundtrack, available
in both a 2-CD edition and a 5-CD box. I don't like streaming boxes --
actually, I don't have the patience, in large part because it's hard
to break them up in to listenable chunks, and there's no booklet to
help you keep score -- so I probably won't bother, but the tracklists
look impeccable. Probably not as good as Classic Country Music:
A Smithsonian Collection (also 5-CD), but better than Columbia
Country Classics (from 1990, also 5-CD). Virtually no overlap with
Rough Guide, for reasons that hardly need explication.
I read about the Exbats in last week's
Robert Christgau's Consumer Guide. If the link doesn't seem to
work, maybe you should subscribe? I was pleased to find my previous
A- picks for Chance the Rapper and Tyler Childers as good or better.
Also that he found more than I did in Black Midi, Chuck Cleaver,
Rapsody, and Sleater-Kinney. Some folks have asked about
on a new schedule, fourth Wednesday of each month, and subscribers
will get it delivered to their mailboxes.
Continuing to plug things into my
metacritic files, which
is helping me keep up to date. For instance, I can tell you the
best-reviewed new records of the week (10-11):
Big Thief: Two Hands (15);
Kim Gordon: No Home Record (12);
Elbow: Giants of All Sizes (8).
Best-reviewed new records of the previous week (10-04):
Angel Olsen: All Mirrors (24) [*];
Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds: Ghosteen (22);
Danny Brown: Uknowhatimsayin¿ (16) [***];
Wilco: Ode to Joy (10);
DIIV: Deceiver (9).
New records I most want to track down:
Yazz Ahmed: Polyhymnia;
Jaimie Branch: Fly or Die II: Bird Dogs of Paradise;
Bill Frisell: Harmony;
Abdullah Ibrahim: Dream Time;
Chris Knight: Almost Daylight;
L'Orange & Jeremiah Jae: Complicate Your Life With Violence;
Kelsey Waldon: White Noise/White Lines.
New records reviewed this week:
- Rez Abbasi: A Throw of Dice by the Silent Ensemble (2017 , Whirlwind): [cd]: B+(*) [10-19]
- Mats Åleklint/Per-Åke Holmlander/Paal Nilssen-Love: Fish & Steel (2018 , PNL): [bc]: B+(***)
- Simone Baron & Arco Belo: The Space Between Disguises (2019, GenreFluid): [cd]: B- [11-08]
- Katerina Brown: Mirror (2019, Mellowtone Music): [cd]: B [10-18]
- Cashmere Cat: Princess Catgirl (2019, Mad Love/Interscope, EP): [r]: B+(*)
- Drumming Cellist [Kristijan Krajncan]: Abraxas (2019, Sazas): [cd]: A-
- David Finck: Bassically Jazz (2019, Burton Avenue Music): [r]: B+(*)
- Ras Kass: Soul on Ice 2 (2019, Mello Music Group): [r]: B+(***)
- Krokofant: Q (2019, Rune Grammofon): [r]: B
- Remy Le Boeuf: Light as a Word (2019, Outside In Music): [cdr]: B
- Little Brother: May the Lord Watch (2019, Imagine Nation Music/For Members Only/Empire): [r]: B+(**)
- Joe McPhee/Paal Nilssen-Love: Song for the Big Chief (2017 , PNL): [bc]: B+(**)
- Bernie Mora & Tangent: No Agenda (2019, Rhombus): [cd]: C+
- Poncho Sanchez: Trane's Delight (2019, Concord Picante): [r]: B
- Louis Sclavis: Characters on a Wall (2018 , ECM): [r]: B+(*)
- Mike Stern-Jeff Lorber Fusion: Eleven (2019, Concord): [r]: C+
- Tinariwen: Amadjar (2019, Anti-): [r]: B+(**)
- Kiki Valera: Vivencias En Clave Cubana (2018 , Origin): [cd]: B+(***) [10-16]
- Rodney Whitaker: All Too Soon: The Music of Duke Ellington (2017 , Origin): [cd]: B+(***) [10-16]
- Barrence Whitfield Soul Savage Arkestra: Songs From the Sun Ra Cosmos (2019, Modern Harmonic): [r]: B+(**)
- Carrie Wicks: Reverie (2019, OA2): [cd]: B+(*) [10-16]
- Young M.A: Herstory in the Making (2019, M.A Music/3D): [r]: B+(*)
Recent reissues, compilations, and vault discoveries:
- The Exbats: E Is 4 Exbats (2016-18 , Burger): [r]: B+(***)
- Abdallah Ag Oumbadougou: Anou Malane (1994 , Sahel Sounds): [r]: A-
- The Rough Guide to the Roots of Country Music: Reborn and Remastered (1926-33 , World Music Network): [r]: B+(***)
- Cecil Taylor: Mysteries: Indent: Antioch College/Yellow Springs, Ohio/March 11, 1973 (1973 , Black Sun): [r]: B+(***)
- Cecil Taylor: Mysteries: Untitled (1961-76 , Black Sun): [r]: B+(**)
- The Exbats: A Guide to the Health Issues Affecting Rescue Hens (2016, Burger): [r]: B+(**)
- The Exbats: I've Got the Hots for Charlie Watts (2018, Burger): [r]: B+(***)
- Rodney Whitaker: Ballads and Blues: The Brooklyn Sessions (1998, Criss Cross): [r]: B+(**)
- Barrence Whitfield & the Savages: Soul Flowers of Titan (2018, Bloodshot): [r]: B+(***)
Unpacking: Found in the mail last week:
- Binker Golding: Abstractions of Reality Past and Incredible Feathers (Gearbox)
- Dan McCarthy: City Abstract (Origin) [10-16]
- Mute: Mute (Fresh Sound New Talent) [12-13]
- One O'Clock Lab Band: Lab 2019 (UNT) [11-22]
- Kiki Valera: Vivencias En Clave Cubana (Origin) [10-16]
- Rodney Whitaker: All Too Soon: The Music of Duke Ellington (Origin) [10-16]
- Carrie Wicks: Reverie (OA2) [10-16]
Sunday, October 13, 2019
Trump has gotten a lot of flack this week for his decision allowing
Turkey to invade Syria. Turkey's attack is directed not at the Syrian
government or ISIS but at the Kurdish militias in norther Syria, which
Turkish strong-man Erdogan regards as a potential security threat, as
presumingly giving aid and comfort to Turkey's own Kurdish minority.
The Kurdish militias had not only opposed the Syrian government, which
hardly anyone in America has a kind word for, but also operated as
allies or proxies in America's war against ISIS. Hence, the complaints
you hear most often are that Trump has abandoned a trusted US ally,
and that the invasion is likely to head to a humanitarian disaster --
the emphasis shifting from neocons to their liberal enablers. The
only support Trump has found has come from paleocons like Rand Paul
who want the US to draw back from foreign wars, but don't much care
if the rest of the world destroys itself.
One problem is that Trump (or for that matter Obama) has never had
a coherent strategy on Syria, or for that matter anywhere else in the
Middle East. A reasonable goal would be to maintain peace among stable
governments, biased where possible toward broad-based prosperity with
power sharing and respect for human rights. Obama might have agreed
with that line at the start of Arab Spring, but he soon found that ran
against the main drivers of American Middle East policy: Israel's war
stance, the Arabian oil oligarchies, Iranian exiles, arms merchants,
and scattered pockets of Christians (except in Palestine) -- forces
that had never given more than occasional lip-service to democracy and
human rights, and were flat-out opposed to any whiff of socialism.
Obama was able to help nudge Mubarak aside in Egypt, but when the
Egyptians elected the wrong leaders, he had second thoughts, and didn't
object to the military restoring a friendly dictatorship. Obama had no
such influence in Libya and Syria, so when their leaders violently put
demonstrations down, some Americans saw an opportunity to overthrow
unfriendly regimes through armed conflict. It is fair to say that Obama
was ambivalent about this, but he wound up overseeing a bombing campaign
that killed Qaddafi in Libya, and he provided less overt support to some
of the Syrian opposition forces, and this led to many other parties
intervening in Syria, with different and often conflicting agendas.
It's worth stressing that nothing the US has attempted in the
Middle East has worked, even within the limited and often incoherent
goals that have supposedly guided American policy, let alone advancing
the more laudable goals of peace and broad-based prosperity. Iraq and
Afghanistan have shown that the US is incapable of standing up popular
government after invasion and civil war. Libya suggests that ignoring
a broken country doesn't work any better. But Syria is turning out to
be an even more complete disaster, as the ancien regime remains as the
only viable government. Assad owes his survival to Russia's staunch
support, but also to the US (and the Kurds), who defeated his most
potent opposition: ISIS.
What needs to be done now is to implement a cease fire, to halt all
foreign efforts to provide military support for anti-Assad forces, to
reassert the Assad government over all of Syria, to convince Assad not
to take reprisals against disarmed opponents, and to start rebuilding
and repatriating exiles. Trump's greenlighting of the Turkish invasion
does none of this, and makes any progress that much harder -- not that
there is any reason to think that Trump has the skills and temperament
to negotiate an end to the conflict, even without this blunder.
The only American politician who begins to have the skills to deal
with problems like Syria is Bernie Sanders, because he is the only one
to understand that America's interests -- peace, prosperity, cooperation
everywhere -- are best served when nations everywhere choose governments
that serve the best interests of all of their own peoples (socialism).
Everyone else is more/less stuck in ruts which insist on projecting the
so-called American values of crony capitalism and militarism, the goal
to make the world subservient to the interests of neoliberal capital.
In this regard, Trump differs from the pack only in his reluctance to
dress up greedy opportunism with high-minded aspirations (e.g., Bush's
feminist program for Afghanistan). Trump's freedom from cant could be
refreshing, but like all of his exercises in political incorrectness,
it mostly serves to reveal what a callous and careless creature he is.
Short of Sanders, it might be best to concede that America is not
the solution to the world's woes, that indeed it is a major problem,
so much so that in many cases the most helpful thing we could do is
to withdraw, including support for other countries' interventions.
Syria is an obvious good place to start. On the other hand, replacing
American arms and aims with Turkish ones won't help anyone (not even
PS: After writing the above, Trump ordered the last US
troops out of Syria. That in itself is good news, but everything
else is spiraling rapidly out of control. Meanwhile, Syrian Kurds
are looking for new allies, and finding Assad (see Jason Ditz:
Syrian Kurds, Damascus reach deal in Russia-backed talks).
Some scattered links on this (some of which are just examples of
what I've been complaining about):
Some scattered links this week:
High crimes and misdemeanors of the fading American Century.
The climate crisis and the failure of economics.
Why Trump's fourth Secretary of Homeland Security just resigned:
Kevin McAleenan, "acting" Secretary for six months now..
Impeachment tentacles spread throughout Trump's team.
What the BLM shake-up could mean for public lands and their climate
Trump's undeclared state of emergency: "Trump is counting on his
base to endorse his increasingly open law-breaking."
Trump signed an executive order about how much he hates Medicare-for-all:
"The order's intent is to promote Medicare Advantage but it has a lot of
vague language" -- mostly intended to undermine the Medicare Trump claims
Ellen DeGeneres, George W Bush, and the death of uncritical niceness.
US and China reach a "phase one" trade deal: "President Donald Trump
announced an agreement to delay tariffs and for China to buy agricultural
"They murdered this woman": Texans outraged after an officer shoots a
black woman in her own home.
The case for prosecuting the Sacklers and other opioid executives.
Bernie Sanders takes aim at the DNC with his new anti-corruption plan.
Charles P Pierce:
Donald Trump: xenophobe in public, international mobster in private.
This climate problem is bigger than cars and much harder to solve:
Heavy industry is responsible for around 22 percent of global CO2 emissions.
Forty-two percent of that -- about 10 percent of global emissions -- comes
from combustion to produce large amounts of high-temperature heat for
industrial products like cement, steel, and petrochemicals.
To put that in perspective, industrial heat's 10 percent is greater than
the CO2 emissions of all the world's cars (6 percent) and planes (2 percent)
combined. Yet, consider how much you hear about electric vehicles. Consider
how much you hear about flying shame. Now consider how much you hear
about . . . industrial heat.
Not much, I'm guessing. But the fact is, today, virtually all of
that combustion is fossil-fueled, and there are very few viable
low-carbon alternatives. For all kinds of reasons, industrial heat
is going to be one of the toughest nuts to crack, carbon-wise.
Dig beneath the world's far-right governments -- you'll find fossil
David K Shipler:
Punishing the poor for being hungry: "The Trump administration wages
war on food stamps."
Anti-free-speechers still aren't taking their own arguments seriously.
A critique of Andrew Marantz, author of Antisocial: Online Extremists,
Techno-Utopians, and the Hijacking of the American Conversation, as
Free speech is killing us: "Noxious language is causing real-world
violence. What can we do about it?"
We're in a permanent coup. Getting a little paranoid here, arguing
that as bad as Trump is, the "U.S. intelligence community" that seems
out to get him is actually more sinister.
The forgotten trauma of a forgotten war: "As the world looks away,
death stalks the Democratic Republic of Congo."
Anya van Wagtendonk:
Kenneth P Vogel:
Giuliani's Ukraine team: In search of influence, dirt and money.
It took decades, but the anti-New Deal crusaders have triumphed:
"A decades-long campaign by a handful of well-heeled foundations has
succeeded in laundering ideas through academia into law."
Tuesday, October 08, 2019
Update: Actual configuration, purchased 10/15:
- AMD Ryzen 7 2700X 8-Core 3.7GHz Socket AM4 PM 16976: [$199.99]
- ASRock X570 Steel Legend AM4 AMD X570 Motherboard Combo w/CPU: $379.98
- G.SKILL TridentZ 64GB (4x16GB) DDR4 3000: $289.99
- Intel 660p Series M.2 2280 1TB PCIe NVMe 3.0 x4 3D2, QLC SSD: $99.99
- Corsair RM750 750W ATX12V v2.52/EPS12V v2.92 Full Modular Power Supply: $114.99
- Lite-On DVD Burner Black SATA iHAS124-14 OEM: $16.99+$1.99
Thought I'd do a little new computer shopping (Newegg). Possible
- CPU: Compare to 2012: AMD Fx-8150 PM 8250 $199.99; top passmark
now: 32,946; best sub-$200: 16,976 (AMD Ryzen 7 2700X):
- AMD Ryzen 9 3900X 12-Core 3.8GHz Socket AM4 PM 31847: $564.99
- AMD Ryzen 7 3700X 8-Core 3.6GHz Socket AM4 PM 23883: $329.99
- [*] AMD Ryzen 7 2700X 8-Core 3.7GHz Socket AM4 PM 16976: $199.99
- AMD Ryzen 7 2700 8-Core 3.2GHz Socket AM4 PM 15080: $178.99
- AMD Ryzen 7 1700X 8-Core 3.4GHz Socket AM4 PM 14812: $169.99
- AMD Ryzen 5 2600X 6-Core 3.6GHz Socket AM4 PM 14362: $159.99
- AMD Ryzen 5 2600 6-Core 3.4GHz Socket AM4 PM ?: $119.99
- AMD Ryzen 5 1600 6-Core 3.2GHz AM4 PM 12279: $114.82
- AMD Ryzen 3 3200G 4-Core 3.6GHz AM4 PM 8016: $94.99
- AMD Ryzen 3 2200G 4-Core 3.5GHz AM4 PM 7324: $87.99
- AMD Ryzen 3 1200 4-Core 3.1GHz AM4 PM 6792: $59.99
- AMD FX-8350 Vishera 8-Core 4.0GHz Socket AM3+ PM ?: $197.29
- AMD FX-6350 PM 6954: $?
- AM4 Motherboards: All AMD4 ATX, most X570 chip set:
- ASUS ROG STRIX X570-E Gaming: 4x288 memory slots (128GB Max), 2xPCI Express 4.0x16, 1xPCI Express, 8xSATA 6GBs, Radeon Vega Graphics, multi-VGA, SupremeFX High Definition Audio, 2.5G LAN, Wireless 2x2 Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth, 7xUSB 3.2: $326.99
- ASRock X570 Taichi: $299.99
- ASRock X470 Taichi: $269.99
- [*] ASRock X570 Steel Legend WiFi: $199.99
- ASUS TUF Gaming X570-Plus: $199.59
- ASUS Prime X470-Pro: 64GB RAM max (DDR4 4x288, 2400-3600), video, audio, 1GB LAN: $149.99
- ASRock X570 Phantom Gaming 4: $148.99
- ASUS ROG STRIX B-450-F Gaming: 64GB Max, PCI Express 3.0x16, : $129.99
- AM4 Motherboards: All AMD4 Micro-ATX:
- ASUS TUF B-450M-Plus Gaming: AMD 8450 chipset, 4x288 DDR4 (64GB max), 1 PCI Express 2.0x16, 1 PCI Express 2.0x1, 2+4xSATA 6GB/s, Radeon Vega graphics, 10/100/1000 LAN: $99.36
- RAM: DDR4 SDRAM:
- Corsair Vengeance LPX 128GB (4x32GB) DDR4 2400: $579.99
- Corsair Vengeance LPX 64GB (2x32GB) DDR4 3000: $324.99
- Corsair Vengeance LPX 64GB (4x16GB) DDR4 3200: $319.99
- Corsair Vengeance LPX 64GB (4x16GB) DDR4 3000: $285.99
- G.SKILL TridentZ 64GB (4x16GB) DDR4 3600: $329.99
- [*] G.SKILL TridentZ 64GB (4x16GB) DDR4 3000: $289.99
- G.SKILL Ripjaws V 64GB (4x16GB) DDR4 3600: $289.99
- G.SKILL Ripjaws V 64GB (4x16GB) DDR4 3200: X[$249.99] $322.05
- G.SKILL Ripjaws V 64GB (4x16GB) DDR4 2666: $269.99
- G.SKILL Aegis 64GB (4x16GB) DDR4 2133: $219.99
- SSD:; SSD PCI Express 4.0 Hyper M.2 SSD is faster:
- Samsung 860 EVO 2.5" 1TB SATA III: $129.99
- Western Digital 3D NAND 2.5" 1TB SATA III: $114.99
- Intel 660p M.2 2280 1TB PCIe NVMe 3.0 x4 3D2: $109.99
- Samsung 860 EVO 2.5" 500GB SATA III: $74.99
- Cases: ATX
- Corsair Crystal 570X Glass Mid Tower: $189.97
- LIAN LI PC-011 Dynamic Razer Edition Mid Tower: $164.99
- Phanteks Eclipse P600S Antracite Gray Steel/Tempered Glass Mid Tower: $149.99+$6.99
- Thermaltake Core X71 Tempered Glass Full Tower: $142.52
- Antec Nine Hundred Black Steel Mid Tower: $132.90
- Phanteks Enthoo PH-ES614P_BK Black Steel/Plastic Full Tower: $99.99+$6.99
- Antec Performance Series P110 Luce Mid Tower: $99.99
- Antec Three Hundred Two Black Steel Mid Tower: $94.77
- Corsair Carbide SPEC-06 Black Steel/Plastic/Tempered Glass Mid Tower: $89.99
- Corsair Carbide SPEC-05 Black Steel/Plastic/Acrylic Mid Tower: $65.99
- DIYPC D480-W-RGB White Mid Tower: $58.99
- Fractal Design focus G White Mid Tower: $54.97+$7.99
- Power Supplies: ATX12V/EPS12V, full modular:
- Corsair RMx series: 1000W: $199.98; 850W: $129.99; 750W: $119.89; 650W: $114.99; 550W: $99.99
- Corsair RM series: 850W: $124.98; 750W: $114.99; 650W: $104.99
- Corsair CX series: 550W: $64.99; 450W: $59.99
- EVGA SuperNOVA: 1000W: $184.37; 850W: $139.99; 750W: $160.99, 650W: $161.98; 550W: $109.99
- Thermaltake Toughpower Grand: 850W: $124.00; 750W: $94.99; 650W: 92.99
- Thermaltake Smart Pro: 750W: $86.00
- CD/DVD Burners: SATA
Monday, October 07, 2019
Expanded blog post,
Music: current count 32183  rated (+27), 229  unrated (+10).
Slow start on the week, partly because I flushed Monday's listening
September Streamnotes, and
ended this Sunday night. Partly because the Kevin Sun 2-CD album sat
in the changer four days while I slowly made up my mind. Sun's album
never quite matched his Trio debut, nor is the George Coleman
album quite as terrific as his The Master Speaks, but in the
end both came close enough. Among the also-rans, Laurie Anderson's
spoken word over Tibetan ghost music came closest, and might deserve
further attention. Turns out Phil Overeem likes the album a lot
(number 9 on his
latest list. Also found my two good vault albums there. More to
follow next week.
I added those and a few others to my
metacritic file. In turn
I checked out several of the better-rated albums I hadn't bothered
with, but didn't find I enjoyed it much. Most I'm pretty sure of, but
artists like Angel Olsen, Bon Iver, and Jessica Pratt just make me
wonder if I'm getting too old for this shit. Also in the "don't do
it for me" category are fairly ordinary rockers like Cherry Glazerr,
Sleater-Kinney, and Girl Band.
Got a lot of mail last week (today's take is listed below but not
counted above). I'm noting future release dates as I get them, also
when I do reviews. The queue is usually sorted FIFO, as I suspect
keeping it sorted by release date would be a big hassle. Upcoming
week may be less than usual, as I have some house projects, plus a
bit of cooking coming up. Then some medical shit, before Trump takes
that away, too.
New records reviewed this week:
- Laurie Anderson/Tenzin Choegyal/Jesse Paris Smith: Songs From the Bardo (2019, Smithsonian Folkways): [r]: B+(***)
- Ben Bennett/Zach Darrup/Jack Wright: Never (2018, Palliative): [bc]: B+(*)
- Bon Iver: I,I (2019, Jagjaguwar): [r]: B
- Danny Brown: Uknowhatimsayin¿ (2019, Warp): [r]: B+(***)
- Cherry Glazerr: Stuffed & Ready (2019, Secretly Canadian): [r]: B
- George Coleman: The Quartet (2019, Smoke Sessions): [r]: A-
- The Comet Is Coming: The Afterlife (2019, Impulse!): [r]: B+(*)
- Kris Davis: Diatom Ribbons (2018 , Pyroclastic): [r]: B+(***)
- Girl Band: The Talkies (2019, Rough Trade): [r]: B+(*)
- Robert Glasper: Fuck Yo Feelings (2019, Loma Vista): [r]: B+(*)
- Mika: My Name Is Michael Holbrook (2019, Republic/Virgin EMI): [r]: B+(**)
- Simon Nabatov: Readings: Red Cavalry (2018 , Leo): [r]: B+(*)
- Simon Nabatov: Readings: Gileya Revisited (2018 , Leo): [r]: B+(*)
- Angel Olsen: All Mirrors (2019, Jagjaguwar): [r]: B+(*)
- Jessica Pratt: Quiet Signs (2019, Mexican Summer): [r]: B-
- Carmen Sandim: Play Doh (2019, Ropeadope): [cd]: B+(*) [10-25]
- Sleater-Kinney: The Center Won't Hold (2019, Mom + Pop): [r]: B
- Tyshawn Sorey and Marilyn Crispell: The Adornment of Time (2018 , Pi): [cd]: B+(**)
- Kevin Sun: The Sustain of Memory (2019, Endectomorph Music, 2CD): [cd]: A- [11-15]
- Tegan and Sara: Hey, I'm Just Like You (2019, Warner Brothers): [r]: B+(**)
- Andrés Vial/Dezron Douglas/Eric McPherson: Gang of Three (2019, Chromatic Audio): [cd]: B+(***)
Recent reissues, compilations, and vault discoveries:
- Fania Goes Psychedelic (1967-71 , Craft Latino): [r]: B+(***)
- World Spirituality Classics 2: The Time for Peace Is Now (1970s , Luaka Bop): [r]: B+(***)
- Bertrand Denzler Cluster: Y? (1998 , Leo Lab): [r]: B+(***)
- Bertrand Denzler/Norbert Pfammatter: NanoCluster 02/2000 (2000, Leo Lab): [r]: B+(**)
Unpacking: Found in the mail last week:
- Rez Abbasi: A Throw of Dice by the Silent Ensemble (Whirlwind): October 19
- Katerina Brown: Mirror (Mellowtone Music): October 18
- Drumming Cellist [Kristijan Krajncan]: Abraxas (Sazas)
- Lorenzo Feliciati/Michele Rabbia: Antikythera (RareNoise): cdr, October 25
- Satoko Fujii/Joe Fonda: Four (Long Song): November 8
- Francesco Guerri: Su Mimmi Non Si Spara! (RareNoise): cdr, October 25
- Roger Kellaway: The Many Open Minds of Roger Kellaway (IPO): November 1
- Doug MacDonald & the Tarmac Ensemble: Jazz Marathon 4: Live at Hangar 18 (DMAC): October 15
- Bernie Mora & Tangent: No Agenda (Rhombus)
- The Niro Featuring Gary Lucas: The Complete Jeff Buckley and Gary Lucas Songbook (Esordisco): November 8
- Northern Ranger: Eastern Stranger (self-released, EP)
- Miles Okazaki: The Sky Below (Pi): October 25
- Anne Phillips: Live at the Jazz Bakery (Conawago)
- Chip Stephens/Stenn Wilson: Sadness & Soul (Capri): October 18
- Dave Stryker: Eight Track Christmas (Strikezone): November 1
- Esbjörn Svensson Trio: E.S.T. Live in Gothenburg (2001, ACT, 2CD): October 25
- Gebhard Ullmann/Hans Lüdemann/Oliver Potratz/Eric Schaefer: MikroPULS (Intuition): October 18
- Brahja Waldman: Brahja (RR Gems): cdr
Sunday, October 06, 2019
Once again, ran out of time before I could get around to an
introduction. The impeachment story rolls on, and Trump is getting
weirder and freakier than ever. Meanwhile, more bad shit is happening
than I can get a grip on. And what's likely to happen when the new
Supreme Court gets down to business. Once you tote up all the damage
Trump's election directly causes, you need to look up "opportunity
Some scattered links this week:
A second whistleblower on Trump and Ukraine is coming forward.
Trump wants to shoot people in the legs. The United States' closest ally
already does that. It's long been clear to me that a big part of the
love US right-wingers have for Israel is envy: they wish their own country
to become as brutal, as imperious, as militarist as Israel has proven to
Alexia Fernández Campbell:
The US border security industry could be worth $740 billion by 2023.
A shocking number, but it was already worth $305 billion in 2011.
Why Trump, facing impeachment, warns of civil war.
Just how swampy are US-Saudi arms deals?
The post-Saddam Hussein settlement in Iraq is on the brink of collapse.
How to get away with gerrymandering.
Mining the future: Climate change, migration, and militarization in
US test fires ICBM, declares it a 'visible message of national security'
("which flew 4,200 miles from California to the Marshall Islands"):
a non-story compared to North Korea test-firing smaller missiles or
China "showing off arms in a parade," despite being pointed toward
China and North Korea.
Trump's impeachment polling is historically unprecedented.
James K Galbraith:
This 50-year-old economic book helps explain the corporate republic we
live in: On James K Galbraith's The New Industrial State
Donald Trump's 'maximum pressure' campaign against Iran has backfired.
Team Trump's 2020 strategy is Clinton Cash all over again.
But wouldn't the likelihood of it working be dependent on the Democrats
nominating a candidate like Hillary Clinton?
The difference between leaking and whistle-blowing in the Trump White
House. Refers to a new book by Tom Mueller on the history of
whistle-blowing: Crisis of Conscience, and notes:
An effective whistle-blower stays below the radar while methodically
collecting information; staying power and an ability to remain
inconspicuous are key. The person who blew the whistle on Trump and
Ukraine appears to possess both of these qualities, and others: the
complaint is meticulously documented and worded with exquisite care.
By its very existence, the document blows the whistle on the Trumpian
style -- hasty, sloppy, overblown, and unsubstantiated.
Other opponents of Trumpism within the government have leaked rather
than blown the whistle. No sooner was the President inaugurated than
members of the White House staff told reporters that the President
acted like a "clueless child," had no interest in intelligence reports,
spent his time watching TV, and was largely kept out of the decision-making
process. These stories, which began in January of 2017, quickly grew
familiar, and the more bizarre the reality they described, the greater
their normalizing effect.
Tara Golshan/Ella Nilsen:
Elizabeth Warren's new remedy for corruption: a tax on lobbying.
Trump's war on California and the climate.
How the Saudi oil field attack overturned America's apple cart:
"For all their overwhelming firepower, the U.S. and its allies can
cause a lot of misery in the Middle East, but still can't govern
the course of events."
The 2 companies that place all those ads at the bottom of webpages are
combining: "Taboola is buying Outbrain."
Some impeachment-shy Democrats just fear it will backfire, as
do some impeachment-shy "progressive" pundits. One worry is no doubt
Trump campaign to drop bomb on Biden in early voting states:
Trump's reelection effort "will air over $1 million in anti-Biden
commercials in Iowa, South Carolina, New Hampshire and Nevada" --
probably the most blatant attempt to influence other party primary
voting since Nixon's "dirty tricks" campaign against Edmund Muskie
in 1972. This almost looks like Trump baited the Democrats into
impeaching him, just for the free publicity.
What will Republicans do if Trump goes down? A rather silly
exercise in handicapping the Republican bench. Trump is more likely
to die suddenly or become debilitated than to be convicted by this
Senate, in which case Republicans could scramble but would probably
figure Pence the best shot at saving Trump's legacy. The fact is
that Trump not only owns the public perception of the Party, he's
the only one with proven ability to convince a significant bloc of
far-from-wealthy voters to cut their own throats. Kilgore also
Is there any chance the GOP is about to turn on Trump?
Here we go: Supreme Court accepts first big post-Kavanaugh abortion
Will progressive Democrats 'move to the center' when facing Trump?
Could be, but Sanders and Warren have spelled out their platforms so
extensively that it will be hard for them to run on anything else --
at most, they'll concede that some things they want will be lesser
priorities as long as significant numbers of Democrats aren't on
board. Should they is another question. It looks to me like Trump's
going to try to run to the left of centrist Democrats, presenting
them as corrupt and himself as the champion of working people and as
the defender of Social Security and Medicare. Moreover, he'll make
mincemeat of any Democrat as hawkish as Hillary Clinton. Sure, it
will all be lies, but he's done it before, and it's not clear how
much credibility four years of broken promises has cost him. The
one Democrat he can't feint left of is Sanders, and in that case
he may not try, figuring red-baiting will do the trick. The big
advantage that Sanders has, even over Warren, is that no one doubts
his sincerity or his integrity, and up against Trump those are the
characteristics that matter most. Of course, compared to Trump, any
Democrat should be able to score those points, but moving to the
lame, corrupt, ineffective center won't help them. Only moving to
the left will.
Nixon's defenders claimed he was a victim of a 'coup.' So did Clinton's.
Only a story now because Trump's claiming that too -- started, in fact,
back during the Mueller inquiry.
How oceans rise and die on a warming planet: As Jane Lubchenco, a
former US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration administrator,
puts it: "The ocean today is higher, warmer, more acidic, less productive,
and it holds less oxygen."
As a result, coral reefs are bleaching a ghostly white, and, although
some can recover, others are dying at a rapid rate. Monster storms are
persistent. Marine heat waves -- projected to increase fiftyfold if
current trends continue -- are depleting fisheries. Ocean acidification
is severely harming all sorts of species, which then harms people, too,
since many of these species are critical to local economies. Glaciers
are melting faster with consequences for people in the mountains and
on the coasts alike.
A Trump hotel mystery: Giant reservations followed by empty rooms:
"The House is investigating whether groups tried to curry favor with
Trump by booking rooms at his hotels but never using them."
Snowden in the labyrinth: Review of Edward Snowden's memoir,
Why almost no one is guilty of treason, explained: "Adam Schiff isn't
guilty of treason, nor is Donald Trump, and neither is just about any
other person you can think of." Then why not just expunge the word from
The invention of the conspiracy theory on Biden and Ukraine.
Trump's DOJ just escalated the fight over whether religion is a license
This California highway boondoggle shows why we need more infrastructure
funding: And why "public-private partnerships are a poor replacement
for robust federal investment in infrastructure."
Jeremy Corbyn or no-deal Brexit? The UK might have to choose.
Democrats have subpoenaed the White House in the next phase of their
Warren and Sanders raised significantly more money than Biden in the
third quarter. Biden came in fourth, also trailing Pete Buttigieg.
Or, as ABC put it,
Warren surpasses Biden in latest fundraising haul but falls short of
Sanders. I've seen a meme (probably from the Sanders campaign, but
I can't find a viable link) which lists the "top donors by profession"
for Biden (president of company, managing partner, real estate developer,
lawyer, investor), Warren (psychologist, scientist, editor, librarian,
psychotherapist), and Sanders (teacher, nurse, farmer, truck driver,
waiter/waitress, construction). For a similar breakdown along these
lines, see Karl Evers-Hillstrom:
Sanders or Warren: Why gets more support from working-class donors?
Toluse Olorunnpia/Amy Goldstein:
Trump attacks Democrats' health care plans and pledges to protect Medicare
during political speech to Florida retirees. The big lie is on,
but note that Trump is signaling that he intends to run to the left
of Democrats on health care, even though what he means is something
President Trump blasted his potential Democratic presidential rivals
in a highly political speech here Thursday, telling a group of senior
citizens that "maniac" Democrats would rip away their health care,
decimate their retirement accounts and prioritize undocumented
immigrants over U.S. citizens.
"All of the Democrat plans would devastate our health care system,"
Trump said during a visit to The Villages, where he signed an executive
order designed to expand the private-sector version of Medicare that
Here's what Charles P Pierce wrote about the same Trump speech:
The President* is a blight, but watch what the conservative movement's
up to behind him: "They're coming for Medicare, folks." Pierce
blogs more often than I feel like citing, but some of his best
titles last week:
The real reason Amber Guyger was convicted. An off-duty white
police officer shot and killed an unarmed black man in his apartment
in Texas. Against odds, she was charged and convicted of murder.
Police officers have killed over a thousand people a year in recent
years: Of those killed by police since 2005, less than 100 officers
have been arrested, only 35 officers have been convicted -- and, as
of March, only three of them of murder. Less than 1 percent of all
officers are convicted when their victim is Black -- even though
Black people are three times more likely than white people to be
killed by police.
Packnett credits the verdict to a fully integrated jury. However,
before you start thinking that justice is starting to work in America,
note: Anya van Wagtendonk:
Joshua Brown, a key witness in the murder trial against Amber Guyger,
was fatally shot.
A new book argues that Trump is television in human form: On
James Poniewozik's Audience of One: Donald Trump, Television,
and the Fracturing of America.
Poniewozik almost wants to rate Trump as a great postmodern thinker,
but the problem is that Trump does not think. Nonetheless, Trump is a
great postmodern feeler, who intuits and responds to the stimuli of
electronic media with the dark brilliance of an idiot savant, in the
sure belief that only suckers care about objective truth. Poniewozik
calls Trump's daily performance qua Trump a manifestation of
"lizard-brain postmodernism -- the salesman's intuition that the
cartoon of a thing was more powerful to people than the thing itself."
William Rivers Pitt:
Trump is spreading fear because he fears impeachment: The one thing
about the impeachment inquiry that I find most perplexing is why Trump
has reacted with such crazed panic. Surely he knows that the Republican
Senate will never remove him from office. And given that there is zero
chance of the Republican Party denying him nomination for a second term,
the only contest that really matters is the 2020 election. Yet every day
he squirms, rants, raves, acting out in ways that not only don't offer
any practical defense against the charges but really make most people
question his competency and even sanity.
Rudy Giuliani welcomes you to Eastern Europe: "So much about the
Trump administration seems pulled from the playbook of a post-Soviet
kleptocracy." Other Putin critics, like Masha Gessen, have said much
the same thing, most likely because that's what they're used to seeing.
I doubt Trump is consciously taking Putin as a model (no matter how
sympathetic he is). Rather, cynical oligarchs don't have many options
in how to spin their corruption.
The incredibly damning Ukraine texts from State Department officials,
Richard V Reeves:
Now the rich want your pity, too: "If the wealthy are so stressed
out, whose fault is that?"
"Stupid Watergate" is worse than the original. A game effort to
make the case, anyway, not least by pointing out that both scandals
started as efforts to rig elections and as such were attacks on our
faith in democracy. But even though I don't doubt that a Trump
dictatorship would be even more malign than a Nixon one, the only
dimension where Trump is way ahead of Nixon is stupid, and I don't
see how that makes it worse. What might make it worse is that most
Republicans today are so shameless and so desperate to cling onto
power that they've lost the capacity to understand when their
president breaks bad.
The Earth just had its hottest September on record: For what little
it's worth, Wichita bucked the trend all summer long, but got with the
program for September: possibly not a record, but hottest month we've
had all year, still above 90F on 9/30 (but 49F as I write this).
How disinformation reaches Donald Trump.
Eric Schmitt/Maggie Haberman/Edward Wong:
Trump endorses Turkish military operation in Syria, shifting US
policy: What's the Kurdish word for people who are recruited,
used up, and carelessly discarded? Once "comrades-in-arms," now
more like "losers."
Jeremy Singer-Vine/Kevin Collier:
Political operatives are faking voter outrage with millions of made-up
comments to benefit the rich and powerful. Case in point: 22 million
public comments submitted to FCC on net neutrality regulations.
Impeach all presidents: Sure, it's hard to think of any recent US
president who hasn't committed high crimes along the way, especially
in using the US military to kill people in other countries. Even Nixon's
Watergate crimes paled in comparison to other things he did, like his
coup in Chile and his escalation in Indochina. Some Democrats will tell
you that Trump forced them to impeach, but it's always been a process
that has been selectively used for distinct political purposes. On the
other hand, when you can impeach, why not? The charges brought against
Clinton were bullshit, but at the time I urged convicting him, because
he had done other things that merited removing him from office (e.g.,
his bombing operations in Iraq, which his Republican foes usually
Jeff Stein/Tom Hamburger/Josh Dawsey:
IRS whistleblower said to report Treasury political appointee might have
tried to interfere in audit of Trump or Pence.
Mulvaney predicts post-impeachment landslide. "Mulvaney also
believes that the longer the impeachment process drags on, the better
it is, politically, for Trump." Impeachment also seems to be spurring
small donors, which is not a resource Trump had in 2016. I don't doubt
that Mulvaney's attitude exists, especially among Trump's inner circle
of sycophants, but I think it's more likely that less-committed voters
will get sick and tired of all the noise, especially given how erratic
Trump has been acting.
The 'whistleblower' probably isn't: "It's an insult to real
whistleblowers to use the term with the Ukrainegate protagonist."
Anton Troianovski/Chris Mooney:
Radical warming in Siberia eaves millions on unstable ground.
Anya van Wagtendonk:
Rick Perry's spent a lot of time in Ukraine. Now he's caught up in the
impeachment inquiry. For more on Perry, see: Chas Danner:
What we know about Trump's bizarre attempt to blame Rick Perry for the
Trump's close-call diplomacy with Iran's President.
How I helped hack democracy: An excerpt from the author's book,
Mindf*ck: Cambridge Analytics and the Plot to Break America.
Li Zhou/Hannah Brown:
1999 vs. 2019: Senate Republicans' attitudes on impeachment sure have
changed a lot: Many examples, first two Lindsey Graham and Mitch
Thursday, October 03, 2019
Zhanna Pataky visited Eastern Europe this summer, and came back wanting
to cook something Hungarian. We had previously collaborated on a couple of
Russian dinners, and I'm always game for a new cuisine. Did some shopping
at Amazon, and wound up buying one cookbook: Silvena Johan Lauta: The
Food & Cooking of Hungary. Here's a first stab at a possible menu:
- Hungarian Goulash: a beef stew, with onion, tomato, green
bell pepper, potatoes, spices (paprika, caraway), served with Hungarian
Dumplings. Alternative: Rabbit Goulash Stew: as above but with
rabbit instead of beef, chicken stock, potatoes or dumpling on side;
or Venison Goulash: similar, with venison shoulder instead of
beef, chicken stock, carrot and parsnip, potatoes or dumpling on side.
- Hungarian Dumplings: egg, flour, herbs; serve with bacon
and butter. Alternative: any other dumpling dish, like Oregano and
Cumin Dumplings, Transylvanian Dumplings with Olives,
Herb Semolina Dumplings, or Pinched Noodles.
- Feta and Paprika Bruschetta: ciabatta bread slices, toasted,
topped with feta, cream cheese, spices (mustard, cumin, paprika); suggest
serve with tomato salad (not in recipe; picture shows red onion garnish,
with tomatoes and cucumbers on side).
- Transylvanian Stuffed Mushrooms: button (or baby portabella?)
mushrooms, stuffed with ricotta, thyme, bacon); suggest serve with green
- Hungarian Cold Buffet Salad with Mustard: cooked and diced
ham, frankfurters, potato, carrot, peas, eggs, green beans, gherkins,
with dijon mustard, parsley, and mayonnaise (home-made).
- Pan-fried Pike with Cream and Dill Sauce: white fish fillets,
flour, fried in butter with wild mushrooms; sauce, on side, is fish stock,
white wine, cream, and fresh dill. Alternative: Trout in Horseradish
Sauce: trout, poached with root vegetables (carrot, parsnip, onion),
with sour cream, horseradish; serve with boiled potatoes and steamed
- Hungarian Chocolate Almond Torte: cake with dark chocolate,
butter, eggs, brown sugar, ground almonds, 2 tbs. flour (so not quite
flourless); topped with ganache and almond topping. Alternative:
Hungarian Pancakes with Pecan Filling: thin pancakes filled
with pecans, golden raisins, lemon zest, apricot jam, cinnamon,
sugar; and/or a fruit dessert, like Walnut Baked Prunes:
prunes, orange juice and zest, sour cream, bread crumbs, walnuts,
butter; or Roasted Pears With Honey: pears, butter, rosemary,
balsamic, honey. Other options from elsewhere (see below) include
Somloi Trifle ("Hungary's favorite dessert") and Dobos
Torte (from The Gourmet Cookbook).
Some other dishes that caught my eye, but are probably de trop:
- Chicken and Paprika Stew with Sour Cream: cubed chicken breast,
onion, tomato, green bell pepper, sour cream, paprika.
- Venison Meatballs: ground venison and veal, bread crumbs, egg,
formed into meatballs, dusted with flour, fried; sauce with chicken stock,
sour cream, paprika, herbs.
- Pancakes with Creamy Feta Cheese and Wild Garlic: crepes,
filled with feta, yogurt, sour cream, wild garlic leaves.
- Pearl Barley Salad with Grapes and Pistachio Nuts: pearl
barley (cooked), tomato, green bell pepper, cucumber, white seedless
grapes, parsley, mint, toasted pistachio nuts.
I've previously made goulash from the recipe in The Gourmet
Cookbook. It's a bit more complicated than this one, but similar.
It's one of only four Hungarian recipes in the book. Chicken Paprika
is another -- again, similar to above, but calls for thighs. The
other two are desserts: Chocolate-orange Dobostorte, and Hungarian
chocolate mousse cake bars. The former is very complex and ornate,
with eight layers of sponge cake (white, with orange zest), glazed
with orange syrup, separated by layers of chocolate buttercream,
topped by a layer of caramel, the sides covered with buttercream
and hazelnuts. The bars are also quite complex, with chocolate cake
layers, apricot jam, a chocolate mousse filling, a whipped cream
filling, and a chocolate glaze. The cake layers are baked in a
10x15 pan, then cut into bars after assembling.
Most of the goulash recipes I see on the internet call for
ground beef and elbow macaroni (some adding cheddar cheese) --
some of these are explicitly labeled American Goulash. Flat egg
noodles are sometimes used. Ones explicitly labeled "Hungarian
Goulash" start with beef cubes. The most minimal is just beef,
onion, and paprika. Others add tomato, bell pepper, carrot and/or
potato, also extra flavors (one has brown sugar and balsamic
vinegar). Most are served over separately-cooked egg noodles.
Lots of soups in the cookbook, but since it's at most practical
to serve one, and since Goulash counts (as would Chicken Paprika),
I've ignored the others.
Some other recipes I've noticed while searching for Hungarian
- Sour Cherry Soup
- Strawberry Soup
- Beef Paprikash with Fire-Roasted Tomatoes
- Hungarian Short Ribs
- Garlic Pork Rib Roast with Parsley Potatoes
- Grandma Schwartz's Rouladen: beef top round
- Meat Stew (Porkolt)
- Shepherd's Noodles (Pasztortarhonya): bacon, sausage, tarhonya (some
kind of noodle).
- Crispy Pork Belly
- Baked Garlic Paprika Chicken
- Butternut Goulash
- New World Stuffed Cabbage
- Beef & Rice Stuffed Cabbage Rolls
- Cucumber Salad: sour cream or vinegar.
- Hungarian-Style Green Beans
- Layered Potatoes (Rakott Krumpli): potatoes, eggs, sausage, sour
- Potato Pancakes (Lapcsznka)
- Pickled Sweet Peppers
- Stuffed Peppers (Toltott Paprika)
- Vegetable Stew (Lecso): a paprika stew, variations: egg, sausage.
- Fozelek: another vegetable stew (no translation).
- Cabbage & Noodles (Haluski)
- Horseradish Deviled Eggs
- Fried Dough (Langos): topped with sour cream and cheese; note this
tops several lists.
- Palacsinta (Crepes)
- Cheese Noodles (Turos Csusza)
- Fried Cheese (Rantott Sajt): Swiss or mozzarella dredged in egg and
breadcrumbs, then fried.
- Apple Strudle
- Cardamon-Blackberry Linzer Cookies
- Cookie Crust Deep-Dish Apple Pie
- Hungarian Nut Rolls
- Hungarian Walnut Cookies: more like rugelach.
- Layered Pastry (Flodni): walnut, apple, poppyseed, jam.
- Somloi Trifle (Somloi Galuska): three types of sponge cake (plain,
walnut, chocolate), raising, walnuts, drizzled with dark chocolate rum
sauce, topped with whipped cream.
- 5 Layer Cocoa Slices
- Mezes Kremes: a layered cake with glaze and filling.
- Kugler Cake: ground almond cake with chocolate filling.
- Zserbo/Gerbeaud Slice: multi-layered torte with chocolate top.
- Hungarian Decadent Chocolate Cake
PS: Talked with Zhanna today. She wants to cook two recipes:
a thick goulash, using her mother's recipe (Russian, from Kazakhstan,
I think), and something with sausages and noodles. She suggested I do
chicken paprika, a salad, and a cake. I want to do one of the dumpling
recipes, or maybe just the pinched noodles. Adding the chicken (and
sausage) leaves no room for fish or meatballs. I still like the feta
bruschetta, but think I'll pick the pearl barley salad over the cold
buffet salad (which could really be a one-dish meal). I'll probably
go with the chocolate almond torte, although the solmoi torte is
still tempting. Agreed on Friday, October 18 as the date.
Monday, September 30, 2019
Expanded blog post,
Music: current count 32156  rated (+39), 219  unrated (-10).
When I ran the numbers, they came up a bit short of the list, so I
rechecked and found 5-6 I had failed to register grades on. At least
one of those should definitely have shown up in this week's list, so
I added it, but that makes me suspect I may have slipped up elsewhere.
So a reminder: The monthly compilation (link above) is more authoritative
than the weekly ones (which are extracted from it). Also, note that
some reviews now have a date after the grade. These are records that
have future release dates. I've changed my mind several times on how
to handle those cases.
Noticed the links in my
Music index page needed some updating to
reference 2019 files, of which
Music Tracking turned out to
require the most work: there were literally dozens of dumb typos
keeping it from displaying, as well as a bunch of missing grades.
I wanted to make sure there was a link to my
EOY [Mid-Year] List
Aggregate, where I started collecting mid-year best-of list
info but have more recently supplemented that with review grades
(usually 80+ at AOTY, but I'm tracking other sources as well,
I added several fan lists from an Expert Witness Facebook post,
and that (well, plus adding in Michael Tatum's
latest grades) was enough to tilt first place from Sharon Van
Etten to Billie Eilish. There's still a structural problem that
favors records released before July -- Lana Del Rey ranks highest
among later releases at 28, and the highest June release is at 21
(Freddie Gibbs & Madlib; highest September release is Charli
XCX at 68, followed by Brittany Howard at 73). By the way, one of
those fan lists led me to Oompa, another to Octo Octa, and others
to most of the African comps below, so they've earned their keep.
Revisited several albums while trying to wrap this up, and wound
up promoting Oompa, Andrew Lamb, and Taylor Swift. Possible that Kwi
Bamba and Alefa Madasgascar could have benefited from more
New records reviewed this week:
- Karl Berger/Jason Kao Hwang: Conjure (2014 , True Sound): [cd]: B [10-01]
- Randy Brecker/Ada Rovatti: Brecker Plays Rovatti: Sacred Bond (2019, Piloo): [cd]: B+(**) [10-25]
- Zack Clarke Trio: Vertical Shores (2017 , Clean Feed): [r]: B+(*)
- DaBaby: Kirk (2019, Interscope): [r]: B+(***)
- Sam Dillon: Out in the Open (2018, Cellar Live): [r]: B+(**)
- Sam Dillon: Force Field (2018 , Posi-Tone): [r]: B+(*)
- Harris Eisenstadt: Canada Day Quartet Live (2018 , Clean Feed): [r]: B+(**)
- Gabriel Ferrandini: Volúpias (2017 , Clean Feed): [r]: B+(**)
- Vyacheslav Ganelin/Deniss Pashkevich/Arkady Gotesman: Variations (2018 , Jersika): [r]: B+(*)
- The Garifuna Collective: Aban (2019, Stonetree Music): [r]: B+(**)
- Kano: Hoodies All Summer (2019, Parlophone): [r]: B+(*)
- Petros Klampanis: Irrationalities (2017 , Enja): [cd]: B+(**) [10-18]
- The Baba Andrew Lamb Trio: The Night of the 13th' Moon (2018 , LFDS): [bc]: A-
- Landline: Landline (2019, Loyal Label): [cd]: B+(**) [11-01]
- Guillaume Muller: Sketches of Sound (2019, self-released): [cd]: B+(*)
- Laura Noejovich: Laura Has New Standards (2018 , Enchanted Meadow): [cd]: C+ [11-02]
- Octo Octa: Resonant Body (2019, T4T LUV NRG): [bc]: B+(***)
- Oompa: Cleo (2019, OompOutLoud): [r]: A-
- Miles Perkin Quartet: The Point in Question (2018 , Clean Feed): [r]: B+(*)
- Cene Resnik Trio 'Watch for Dogs': Shades of Colors (2016 , Not Two): [r]: B+(**)
- Kendrick Scott Oracle: A Wall Becomes a Bridge (2019, Blue Note): [r]: B+(*)
- Matthew Snow: Iridescence (2018 , self-released): [cd]: B+(***) [11-29]
- Something Blue [Alexa Tarantino/Nick Finzer/Sam Dillon/Art Hirahara/Boris Kozlov/Rudy Royston]: Maximum Enjoyment (2018 , Posi-Tone): [r]: B+(*)
- The Souljazz Orchestra: Chaos Theories (2019, Strut): [r]: B+(*)
- STL GLD: The New Normal (2019, AR Classic): [r]: B+(**)
- Alexa Tarantino: Winds of Change (2019, Posi-Tone): [r]: B+(**)
- Ben Van Gelder/Tony Tixier/Tom Berkmann/Mathias Ruppnig: Scopes (2019, Whirlwind): [r]: B+(**)
- Mareike Wiening: Metropolist Paradise (2018 , Greenleaf Music): [cd]: B+(*) [11-01]
- Eri Yamamoto Trio & Choral Chameleon: Goshu Ondo Suite (2018 , AUM Fidelity): [cd]: A- [11-15]
Recent reissues, compilations, and vault discoveries:
- Alefa Madagascar (1970s-80s , Strut): [bc]: B+(***)
- Louis Armstrong: Live in Europe (1948-52 , Dot Time): [r]: B+(**)
- Kwi Bamba: Kwi Bamba & L'Orchestre De Gama Berema (1997 , Ouch!): [bc]: B+(***)
- John Coltrane: Blue World (1964 , Impulse!): [r]: A-
- Nâ Hawa Doumbia: La Grande Cantatrice Malienne Vol. 1: Decouverte 81 a Dakar (1981 , Awesome Tapes From Africa): [r]: B+(***)
- Nâ Hawa Doumbia: La Grande Cantatrice Malienne Vol. 3: Korodia (1982 , Awesome Tapes From Africa): [bc]: B+(**)
Unpacking: Found in the mail last week:
- Randy Brecker/Ada Rovatti: Brecker Plays Rovatti: Sacred Bond (Piloo): October 25
- Tyshawn Sorey and Marilyn Crispell: The Adornment of Time (Pi)
- Andrés Vial/Dezron Douglas/Eric McPherson: Gang of Three (Chromatic Audio): October 4
Sunday, September 29, 2019
this image somewhere recently, and was reminded that I had used it every
Weekend Roundup for several months early in the Trump regnum. While I
eventually put the image aside, I have in fact done this every weekend
since the reign of terror started, so figured I'm entitled to resurrect
the image. You can find it in the notebook starting on
February 5, 2017, and scroll
up from there (the entries are last-in/first-out).
Last week's "whistleblower" story has, like a tropical depression
growing into a hurricane entering warm Carribbean waters, mushroomed
into this week's (and the rest of this year's, and most of 2020's)
Many links follow:
The impeachment probe should include all of Trump's crimes: I'm
sympathetic to this point of view, thinking it important to recognize
and challenge all of Trump's crimes and misdeeds, but that's a tall
order -- a lot of effort where you only need one conviction to send
the miscreant packing. Others, below, argue for keeping it simple
and moving fast, and I can't say they're wrong. On the other hand,
you could do that, advancing the most universally agreed upon charge,
then follow that up with additional articles of impeachment. Also
should be possible to identify additional targets (e.g., Pence,
Barr, Mnuchin). Related to Atkins, see Peter Certo:
The case for impeachment goes way beyond Ukraine. A bigger list,
still far from complete.
Julian E Barnes/Michael S Schmidt/Adam Goldman/Katie Benner:
White House knew of whistleblower's allegations soon after Trump's call
with Ukraine leader: "The whistle-blower, a C.I.A. officer detailed
to the White House at one point, first expressed his concerns anonymously
to the agency's top lawyer."
The whistleblower memo details Trump's systematic attack on American
Hunter Biden's perfectly legal, socially acceptable corruption:
"Donald Trump committed an impeachable offense, but prominent Americans
also shouldn't be leveraging their names for payoffs from shady clients
abroad." Why not add "or from shady clients at home"? Eugene Scalia is
a pretty good example of the latter. On Biden, see: Michael Birnbaum/David
L Stern/Natalie Gryvynak:
Former Ukraine prosecutor says Hunter Biden 'did not violate anything'.
"This is about Trump": 2020 GOP primary challengers endorse impeachment
in their first debate.
Gabriel Debenedetti/Benjamin Hart:
How bad might impeachment be for Joe Biden's prospects?
Daniel W Drezner:
The strategic case for impeaching President Trump.
So why impeach Trump? Because he will obsess about it. The moment it
becomes a live option, the moment a trial in the Senate seems conceivable,
he will talk about nothing else. He will rant to his staff and bore foreign
leaders about it. He loves a fight. And every moment Trump thinks about
impeachment is a moment he is not thinking about doing even more reckless
Eleanor Eagan/Jeff Hauser:
House Dems must ramp up other oversight: "House Democrats' oversight
of President Trump has not been vigorous enough, and now is their opportunity
to hold the entire administration accountable."
A special counsel must investigate Rudy Giuliani and Bill Barr:
Safe to say, that isn't going to happen.
Susan B Glasser:
"Do us a favor": The forty-eight hours that sealed Trump's impeachment.
Stop comparing Trump's impeachment case to Johnson's . . . or Nixon's . . .
John F Harris:
Trump killed the seriousness of impeachment: "Impeachment proceedings
used to be news of unquestionable gravity. The week showed it's just
more fodder for the ideological and culture wars." Actually, by this
logic, it was the Clinton impeachment that led us to see the process
as nothing more than partisan treachery. I could argue that the charges
this time are graver and more urgent, and that the risks of letting
those charges slide unchallenged are greater, but probably not enough
to convince Republicans to disown their leader.
Shane Harris/Josh Dawsey/Ellen Nakashima:
Trump told Russian officials in 2017 he wasn't concerned about Moscow's
interference in US election.
Turns out that impeachment might not scare voters after all.
6 key takeaways from the Ukraine whistleblower complaint.
Top takeaways from the Trump-Ukraine whistleblower complaint.
Republicans only pretend to be patriots: One aspect of this particular
line of impeachment that I'm not looking for is how many Democrats will
try to frame themselves as the true defenders of American security, while
casting Trump and his Republican cronies not just as crass opportunists
and hypocrites only really concerned with their own power and money, but
as fools indebted to foreign powers:
The irony is that in the past few years this paranoid fantasy, in which
a major U.S. political party is de facto allied with an international
movement hostile to American values, has actually become true. But the
party in question is the G.O.P., which under Trump has effectively become
part of a cross-national coalition of authoritarian white nationalists.
Republicans were never the patriots they pretended to be, but at this
point they've pretty much crossed the line into being foreign agents. . . .
What an impeachment process would do now is get the truth about who
really cares about defending America and its values -- and who doesn't --
out into the open. By forcing Republicans to explicitly condone behavior
they would have called treason if a Democrat did it, Nancy Pelosi and
her colleagues can finally put an end to the G.O.P.'s long pretense of
being more patriotic than its opponents.
It's easy (often downright demagogic) to smear Russia and Saudi Arabia
for their associations with old enemies of America, but the real reason
Trump does their bidding is because they represent the global oligarchy,
a class that Trump belongs to and does regular business with.
The winners and losers of the latest Trump scandal.
Impeaching Trump is good for the economy: "It will slow down the
administration's war on competence."
'If he's not in a fight, he looks for one.': "Trump's Ukraine scandal
reflects his lifelong craving for a fresh enemy." Coincidence that the
Ukraine phone call occurred a mere 24 hours after Mueller's Congressional
testimony brought his special investigation story to a supposed close?
Steve M. comments
Trump Want to Be Impeached?):
Kruse's story has its share of macho quotes:
"Trump is a predator," Republican strategist Alex Castellanos asserted
last spring. "When something enters his world, he either eats it, kills
it or mates with it."
But although Kruse doesn't emphasize this point, a pattern emerges:
Trump fights until he loses. Then he moves on to another arena
and resumes fighting, until he loses again.
The problem for Trump is that now he can't move to a more important
arena. He's in the championship match. If he loses now -- if he has a
compulsion to fight until he loses -- then he has nowhere to go but down.
Health permitting, I'm sure he sees lots of money-raking opportunities
after his presidency ends, even by impeachment (and none beneath his
dignity). As a commenter notes:
I'm not convinced Trump sees his current job as the pinnacle of possible
jobs. First off, it requires a shit ton more work (and travel) than he
wants to give. Second, although he is certainly using it for some nice
grifting, there are way too many required activities that he can't
monetize. I can see him being happy to capitalize on 'having been president'
to sell his usual lines of crap (and charge directly for those rallies he
will keep doing, without having to funnel bits of that cash stream through
annoying campaign rules). Plus he'd like a big figure cash deal to call in
to whatever show/podcast, something he can do from his golden toilet.
GOP divided over how enthusiastically to cover for Trump's corruption
How a whistleblower accomplished what Mueller could not.
The Trump-Ukraine scandal just got its Watergate-tapes moment.
The 4 possible crimes in the Trump-Ukraine whistleblower scandal,
explained: Seems to me like a stretch to make a case that Trump
violated the letter of these laws, although he has certainly run
afoul of the ethical norms these laws are intended to embody. In
particular, I cannot disagree that the transcript
"reads more like a mafia shakedown".
- Did Trump or his associates violate campaign finance law?
- Does Trump's act constitute bribery?
- Did he commit extortion?
- Did he obstruct justice?
Ella Nilsen/Li Zhou/Matthew Yglesias:
9 things everyone should know about the impeachment process.
Generally Useful primer, but I have one bone to pick: When asking
"how many presidents have been impeached?" they answer: "The House
has initiated an impeachment inquiry for three presidents, through
it has only charged two with articles of impeachment." They're right
that the House only voted to impeach two presidents: Andrew Johnson
and Bill Clinton, with neither ultimately removed from office by the
Senate ("convicted" seems to be the favored term, but I'd say you're
not impeached until the Senate does so). But while remembering Nixon,
who dodged impeachment by resigning, and avoided jail by having his
successor pardon him, they forgot another prominent impeachment target.
See: Ronald G Shafer:
'He lies like a dog': The first effort to impeach a president was led
by his own party. Like Johnson, Tyler was given the VP nomination
by a party that wanted to broaden its appeal, was elevated after the
death of a popular president, and turned out to be anathema to that
party. If you know Tyler's name at all, it's probably via William
Henry Harrison's catchy campaign slogan, "Tippecanoe, and Tyler too."
On the other hand, see David Greenberg's argument above that historical
impeachment analogies aren't very useful. Still, they offer a typology:
Tyler and Johnson are cases where Congressional majorities tried to
impose their will on obstructionist presidents; Nixon was a cases where
a presidents overstepped his normal powers, with criminal contempt for
legal norms; Clinton was a case a thin House majority thought it would
be a good PR stunt to impeach with no chance of success. At this point,
impeaching Trump is like Nixon (if you're a Democrat) or like Clinton
(if you are a Republican).
Jonathan O'Connell/David A Farehthold:
Trump's other Ukraine problem: New concern about his business.
Here are the most damning parts of the whistleblower report against
President Donald Trump.
Nancy Pelosi: An extremely stable genius. Lousy title, but one a
weak mind might find hard to resist. There's an old Gandhi quote about
having to change his mind to stay aligned with his followers ("after
all, I am their leader"). Had Pelosi not flipped on impeachment, she
would have been lost as a leader. Now she's back in control of a much
more unified party.
The case for a fast, focused Trump impeachment.
Donald Trump's call with Ukrainian leader, one day after Robert Mueller's
Congressional testimony, shows the president is a brazen criminal.
The whistle-blower complaint is democracy at work, not the Deep State.
Steve Mnuchin's efforts to spin Trump's Ukraine scandal were a disaster.
Darren Samuelsohn/Quint Forgey:
How Mitch McConnell could give impeachment the Merrick Garland treatment.
8 takeaways from the whistle-blower complaint.
If this is Trump's best case, the Ukraine scandal is looking really bad
Mark Joseph Stern:
William Barr hit a new low in his crusade to bury the whistleblower
The moment of truth for Brexit and Trump: Far from my favorite pundit,
but it's worth pointing out that Brexit and Trump are allied projects,
built on self-delusion, and fated for disaster -- something some of us
recognized full well at the time, while many of those who bought into
the fantasies have only buried their heads further. Plus this:
But I bet Trump does not even understand the high crime he committed --
leveraging national-security policy to get a foreign government to smear
a political opponent. Trump admires mafiosi, and always has. He has done
his best to emulate them his entire life. Why would he not continue to
do so? And a narcissist of Trump's proportions is simply unable to act
in the interest of something other than himself, or see his personal
interests as different than or subordinate to his public duties. So his
psyche is stopping him from seeing what a big deal this is, while his
eyes and ears see potential catastrophe. This will not end well. And it
didn't help that Rudy Giuliani kept popping up on cable news, like a
whirling dervish in a skull mask, digging his client into a deeper and
deeper political grave.
Another writer who has noted this US-UK crisis alignment: Amy
Donald Trump and Boris Johnson: A tale of two crises.
Trump, the TV president, finally meets a media story he can't control.
Trump, Giuliani, and Manafort; The Ukrainian scheme.
How the security Democrats came around to impeachment.
As an intro to everything, see Vox's
The 10 biggest stories you missed while you were glued to the Trump
- A new report finds humans have caused irreversible changes to the
Earth's oceans and places
- The UK's Supreme Court thwarts Prime Minister Boris Johnson's
- The Trump administration slams the door on refugees
- The WeWork implosion is sending shockwaves across Silicon Valley
- The fight over Joker rages on -- before the movie has even
arrived in theaters
- GM workers strike for second week
- Protesters in Egypt rise up against President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi
- Greta Thunberg versus Trump and some right-wing trolls
- Hate speech online is apparently fine, so long as it's only from
- Spider-Man returns to the Marvel Cinematic Universe
My own link picks on some of these stories (but adding a few more):
Jon Lee Anderson:
At the UN, Jair Bolsonaro presents a surreal defense of his Amazon
Netanyahu gets a dubious presidential mandate. What happens next? Four
Southern state energy officials celebrate fossil fuels as world raises
State Dept escalates investigation into Clinton emails amid Trump's Ukraine
Alexia Fernández Campbell:
Yemen's Houthis say they invaded Saudi Arabia, captured thousands of troops
in Najran. But they also said they blew up Saudi Arabia's oil depot,
something the US would rather blame Iran for. Beginning to look like the
Saudis are getting some blowback for their savage intervention in Yemen.
The very soul of the republic: "Equality's vexed meaning in Gilded
Age America." Review of Charles Postel's book, Equality: An American
Suzanne Gordon/Jasper Craven:
The Trump Administration is sabotaging veterans' access to health care:
"In its push toward privatization, the VA is actively thwarting Congressional
Honor student is struck in head by stray bullet while sitting at computer,
dies on her 12th birthday.
America's income inequality is reaching a tipping point.
How 2020 Democrats are a missing the message on the economy: "The
candidates have yet to tackle the growing problem of regional inequality."
When President Obama took office in 2008, Republican and Democratic
districts enjoyed roughly the same median household income: $55,000
and $54,000, respectively. . . .
Since then, median household income in Democratic districts soared
to $61,000 in 2018, according to Muro and Whiton, while incomes in
Republican districts fell to $53,000. The annual economic output of
Democratic districts likewise skyrocketed, from $35.7 billion to $48.5
billion on average per district, while the economies of Republican
districts shrank. The average Republican district's GDP is now just
two-thirds that of the average Democratic district's GDP.
Related: Claire Kelloway:
How to close the Democrats' rural gap: "Forget Trump's tariffs.
Big Ag is driving a new farm crisis."
The Green New Deal: A fight for our lives.
Edward Snowden and the rise of whistle-blower culture: A review
of Snowden's memoir, Permanent Record.
Senate again rebukes Trump on national emergency declaration.
More researh finds "stand your ground" laws lead to more homicides.
For the sake of life on Earth, we must put a limit on wealth.
America's abortion debate is being defind by Fox News.
The failed political promise of Silicon Valley. Reviews Margaret
O'Mara's book, The Code: Silicon Valley and the Remaking of America.
How many future terrorists did we create yesterday? "The United States
bombed 30 farm laborers sitting around a campfire Wednesday. They surely
have brothers and sons and friends who will not forget."
Scientists: humans are rapidly turning oceans into warm, acidifying basins
hostile to life: "A new UN report warns changes to the oceans this
century will be "unprecedented." Related: Brad Plumer:
The world's oceans are in danger, major climate change report warns.
"Liddle', not Liddle": Trump's latest tweets are among his most bizarre
yet. Reminiscent of the
snipe hunt my Boy Scout camp leaders roped us into, I tried looking
up the unrecognized word. All I found was
which (apostrophe or not) is probably not what Trump was thinking. More
serious is the one where he suggests that the whistleblower should be
drawn and quartered.
Robert J Shapiro:
Trump's economic program has left most Americans worse off.
David K Shipler:
Interpreting Joe Biden is more complicated than you think.
Wichita's mayor steered multi-million-dollar water plant contract to
friends. The mayor is Jeff Longwell, who's also responsible for a
shady deal to tear down Wichita's venerable minor league ballpark and
practically give away adjacent city land, including a stretch of river
front. Deep within Longwell's water plant scheme is a plan to privatize
operation of Wichita's water supply. We fought against the first step
a couple years ago, and were unable to stop funding of a company to
do initial planning. Longwell's corruption built on that.
'The Enigma of Clarence Thomas' makes a strong case for its provocative
thesis. Review of Corey Robin's new book on Thomas. For an excerpt
from the book, see: Corey Robin:
Clarence Thomas's radical vision of race.
Income inequality in America is the highest it's been since Census
Bureau started tracking it, data shows.
Crash Course: How Boeing's managerial revolution created the 737 Max
disaster. I've been ranting about Boeing's management for decades
now. This cites a 2002 report, and before that the 1997 merger with
McDonnell-Douglas, and those indeed appear to be turning points. My
father, my brother, and many others I knew worked there, and what may
have passed as good jobs when I was young (I was never so sure) grew
steadily more troubled. One turning point was when Boeing moved their
headquarters from Seattle to Chicago, a city they had no presence in,
so management would never have to directly face the workers and the
communities they were screwing. Still, for a long time, they managed
to build planes that flew and landed safely. Then, even that changed:
And indeed, that would appear to be the real moral of this story: Airplane
manufacturing is no different from mortgage lending or insulin distribution
or make-believe blood analyzing software -- another cash cow for the one
percent, bound inexorably for the slaughterhouse. In the now infamous
debacle of the Boeing 737 MAX, the company produced a plane outfitted
with a half-assed bit of software programmed to override all pilot input
and nosedive when a little vane on the side of the fuselage told it the
nose was pitching up. The vane was also not terribly reliable, possibly
due to assembly line lapses reported by a whistle-blower, and when the
plane processed the bad data it received, it promptly dove into the sea.
The culmination of Republican decay: Review of Tim Alberta's book,
American Carnage: On the Front Lines of the Republican Civil War
and the Rise of President Trump. Also see: Eric Alterman:
Making sense of Trump's rise, where he also reviews Alberta's book,
along with Brian Rosenwald: Talk Radio's America: How an Industry
Took Over a Political Party That Took Over the United States and
James Poniewozik: Audience of One: Donald Trump, Television, and
the Fracturing of America. I've been reading Alberta's book, finding
it a useful historical framework, although (as Wilentz points out) stuck
in a very narrow tunnel, where resistance to Trump never extends beyond
Jeff Flake, Bob Corker, and Paul Ryan (well, aside from quoting GW Bush's
"that was some weird shit" inauguration line). As such, he doesn't offer
any real insight into why many Republicans loved Trump before the election,
and still more embraced him since.
The Zelensky call also shines light on Trump's financial corruption.
The strange career of Rudy Giuliani, from US attorney to Trump bagman,
New claims that Trump failed to proect American journalists in Egypt
To beat Trump, try running an outsider: "A veteran like Joe Biden
risks letting Trump off the hook for corruption."
Let me be clear: If you are a single-issue "don't let the president's
son do shady stuff" voter, and the choice on Election Day comes down
to Donald Trump or Joe Biden, the correct choice is still Biden. . . .
Specifically with regard to Hunter Biden and Ukraine, Trump was not
conducting some kind of good government audit, he was holding core US
foreign policy objectives hostage to his narrow self-interest. And this
is something he does not just on extraordinary occasions but routinely.
From Israel to India to Venezuela and beyond, Trump seems utterly
incapable of viewing the public interest as having any standing or
independent weight beyond his narrow politics. He quite openly believes
that the entire Justice Department should serve his personal interests,
rather than the interests of impartial justice, and his continued
presence in office is a national scandal. . . .
But by the same token, there's something perverse about moderate
and allegedly electability-minded Democrats lining up behind a guy
who was first elected to the Senate in 1972.
If "experienced Washington hand" were the best formula for winning
elections, then Hillary Clinton would have won in 2016, and veteran
senators would outnumber young governors among successful presidential
candidates. Voters don't like "the system," and the baggage that comes
with it. The best way, by far, to make Trump own his corruption is to
pick someone from outside the swamp to run against him, rather than
letting him continue to position himself as the scourge of the
Democrats are stuck in a doom loop of premature polling.
Trump claims he wants to lower drug prices. He'll have to convince his
own party to do it. But he won't convince his party, because they'll
always defend moneyed interests against people, and because he won't
really try, because he does too. But talk about it? Sure, he'll talk
Monday, September 23, 2019
Expanded blog post,
Music: current count 32117  rated (+37), 229  unrated (+2).
Didn't get my unpacking done until late Monday afternoon, so that
became the cutoff -- adding 2 rated albums from Sunday night, and
flipping the unrated count from -9 to +2. Before unpacking, I had
managed to empty the new jazz queue, but it's up to 12 now. And it
turns out that most of the new records don't drop until November,
so I probably shouldn't rush on them.
Robert Christgau's first post-Noisey Consumer Guide was mailed
out last week. As he promised in his introduction
a Start), "the first one is free," so
here it is. Follow one of the
"Subscribe now" buttons to make get the second and subsequent
consumer guides, plus any additional missives, delivered straight
to your mailbox.
Probably because he was working off a backlog, but I had heard all
but two albums from this month's offering (both various artists comps):
The Daisy Age (Ace) and Lost in China (Riverboat). And
I only found one of those streamable, so it's in this week's haul.
This won't be a regular feature, but I thought I'd table up our grades
- Charlotte Adigéry: Zandozi (Deewee) [***, **]
- Hayes Carll: What It Is (Dualtone) [B+, A-]
- The Daisy Age (Ace) [A+, ?]
- Lana Del Rey: Norman Fucking Rockwell! (Interscope) [***, A-]
- Lost in China (Riverboat) [B+, **] *
- Madonna: Madame X (Interscope) [A-, A-]
- The National: I Am Easy to Find (4AD) [A-, **]
- The Paranoid Style: A Goddamn Impossible Way of Life (Bar/None) [A, ***]
- Pink: Hurts 2 B Human (RCA) [**, ***]
- 75 Dollar Bill: I Was Real (Glitterbeat/Tak:til) [A-, ***]
- Bruce Springsteen: Western Stars (Columbia) [*, B-]
- Taylor Swift: Lover (Republic) [A-, ***]
Presumably some of these differences can be chalked up to reports
that he plays these records at least twice as many times as I do, plus
has the benefit of working from physical copies. (I own none of them,
although on his word I've ordered The Daisy Age, which Amazon
informs me should arrive by Xmas.) The one I most likely shortchanged
was probably the National, which I recall only gaving one spin. The
only non-trivial differences are on Paranoid Style (I'm not nearly as
impressed by Elizabeth Nelson as he is) and Springsteen (perhaps there
is some redeeming social merit there, but I doubt it's worth digging
out). Nelson, by the way, has a
much-praised recent essay on The Mekons Rock 'N' Roll.
I could do the same thing with Michael Tatum's latest
A Downloader's Diary (51), which doesn't have much more I hadn't
heard. Again, his grades first, mine after, '*' for ones I got to
after the fact:
- Carsie Blanton: Buck Up (self-released) [A, A-]
- Blarf: Cease and Desist (Stones Throw) [A-, B-] *
- Car Seat Headrest: Commit Yourself Completely (Matador) [A-, **] *
- Stef Chura: Midnight (Saddle Creek) [A-, **]
- GoldLink: Diaspora (RCA) [A-, ***]
- Jambú (E Os Míticos Sons da Amazônia) (Analog Africa) [B+, ***]
- Kokoko!: Fongola (Transgressive) [A-, **] *
- Madonna: Madame X (Interscope) [A, A-]
- Purple Mountains: Purple Mountains (Drag City) [A+, ***]
- Sleater-Kinney: The Center Won't Hold (Mom + Pop) [B+, ?]
- Spoon: Everything Hits at Once: The Best of Spoon [B+, ?]
- Freddie Gibbs & Madlib: Bandana (ESGN/Keep Cool/Madlib Invasion/RCA) [***, A-]
- Mekons: Deserted (Glitterbeat) [***, ***]
- The Hold Steady: Thrashing Through the Passion (Frenchkiss) [***, A-]
- Imperial Teen: Now We Are Timeless (Merge) [**, ?]
- Ibibio Sound Machine: Doko Mien (Merge) [**, ?]
- Kate Tempest: The Book of Traps and Lessons (American) [**, *]
- Digital Kabar: Electronic Maloya from La Réunion Since 1980 (Infiné) [**, ?]
- Nilüfer Yanya: Miss Universe (ATO) [*, A-]
- Nigeria 70: No Wahala: Highlife, Afro-Funk & Juju 1973-1987 (Strut) [*, A-]
- Beyoncé: Homecoming: The Live Album (Parkwood/Columbia) [C+, *]
- Bruce Springsteen: Western Stars (Columbia) [B-, B-]
- Weyes Blood: Titanic Rising (Sub Pop) [B-, B-]
- Anderson .Paak: Ventura (12 Tone/Aftermath) [B-, ***]
- Marvin Gaye: You're the Man (Motown) [B-, **]
- Hama: Houmeissa (Sahel Sounds) [B-, *]
- Sebadoh: Act Surprised (Dangerbird) [B-, ?]
- Kim Petras: Clarity (Bunhead) [C+, ?]
- Offset: Father of 4 (Motown/Quality Control) [C+, ?]
So not much there I didn't know about and went on to find brilliant
(and sure, I still have some listening to do), but the reviews themselves
were way beyond anything I could have written (one reason, I'm afraid,
I rarely bother anymore).
Took a dive into Teddy Edwards this week. Idea came up when I saw
Out of This World as a new reissue, but given that it's digital
only, I used the hard-copy dates. His best record remains Together
Again!, with Howard McGhee (1961). I might also note that the Art
Pepper box isn't quite up to many of his period recordings, including
most of The Complete Galaxy Recordings, or a lot of the live
bootlegs Laurie Pepper has been reissuing. Still remarkable.
September has five Mondays, one more after today, so I can wait
until then to index
New records reviewed this week:
- Reid Anderson/Dave King/Craig Taborn: Golden Valley Is Now (2018 , Intakt): [r]: B-
- AP6C [Alberto Pinton Sestetto Contemporaneo]: Layers (2017 , Clear Now): [cd]: B+(**)
- Terrence Brewer & Pamela Rose: Don't Worry 'Bout Me (Strong Brew Music, EP): [cd]: B+(*)
- Taylor Ho Bynum 9-tette: The Ambiguity Manifesto (2019, Firehouse 12): [r]: B+(**)
- Jimmy Cobb: Remembering U (2016 , Jimmy Cobb World): [r]: B+(*)
- Jimmy Cobb: This I Dig of You (2019, Smoke Sessions): [r]: B+(**)
- The Raymond De Felitta Trio: Pre-War Charm (2019, Blujazz): [cd]: B+(***)
- Laszlo Gardony: La Marseillaise (2019, Sunnyside): [cd]: B+(**) [10-24]
- Ghostface Killah: Ghostface Killahs (2019, Now Generation): [r]: B+(***)
- Gordon Grdina Quartet: Cooper's Park (2019, Songlines): [r]: B+(***)
- Keiji Haino/Merzbow/Balasz Pandi: Become the Discovered, Not the Discoverer (2019, RareNoise): [cdr]; B+(*) [09-27]
- Chrissie Hynde With the Valve Bone Woe Ensemble: Valve Bone Woe (2019, BMG): [r]: B
- Indoor Pets: Be Content (2019, Wichita): [r]: B+(*)
- Ethan Iverson Quartet With Tom Harrell: Common Practice (2017 , ECM): [r]: B+(*)
- Jpegmafia: All My Heroes Are Cornballs (2019, EQT): [r]: B+(**)
- Led Bib: It's Morning (2018 , RareNoise): [cdr]: B [09-27]
- Ben Markley Quartet Featuring Joel Frahm: Slow Play (2019, OA2): [cd]: B+(**)
- Monoswezi: A Je (2017, Riverboat): [r]: B+(*)
- Tish Oney With the John Chlodini Trio: The Best Part (2019, Blujazz): [cd]: B-
- Ivo Perelman/Matthew Shipp: Efflorescence: Volume 1 (2018 , Leo, 4CD): [cd]: B+(***)
- Peterson Kohler Collective: Winter Colors (2018 , Origin): [cd]: B+(**)
- Alberto Pinton Trio: Röd (2018, Clear Now): [bc]: B+(***)
- Noah Preminger Group: Zigsaw: Music of Steve Lampert (2018 , self-released): [cd]: A- [10-04]
- Preservation Hall Jazz Band: A Tuba to Cuba (2019, Sub Pop): [r]: B+(*)
- Kojey Radical: Cashmere Tears (2019, Asylum/Atlantic): [r]: B+(*)
- Markus Rutz: Blueprints Figure One: Frameworks (2018 , OA2): [cd]: B+(**)
- Rachid Taha: Je Suis Africain (, Naïve): [r]: A-
Recent reissues, compilations, and vault discoveries:
- Lost in China: Off the Beaten Track From Beijing to Xinjiang (, Riverboat): [r]: B+(**)
- Art Pepper: Promise Kept: The Complete Artists House Recordings (1979 , Omnivore, 5CD): [r]: A-
- Teddy Edwards Quartet: Good Gravy! (1961, Contemporary): [r]: B+(**)
- Teddy Edwards: Heart & Soul (1962, Contemporary): [r]: B+(*)
- Teddy Edwards: Nothin' but the Truth (1966 , Prestige): [r]: B+(*)
- Teddy Edwards Quartet: Out of This World (1980 , SteepleChase): [r]: B+(**)
- Teddy Edwards/Houston Person: Close Encounters (1996 , HighNote): [r]: B+(**)
- Teddy Edwards: Smooth Sailing (2001 , HighNote): [r]: B+(**)
- Steve Lampert: Venus Perplexed (2000 , SteepleChase): [r]: B+(***)
- Steve Lampert: Music From There (2006 , Bridge): [r]: B+(**)
- Alberto Pinton: Nascent (2012 , Redhorn): [r]: B+(**)
Unpacking: Found in the mail last week:
- Simone Baron & Arco Belo: The Space Between Disguises (GenreFluid) November 8
- Karl Berger/Jason Kao Hwang: Conjure (True Sound): October 1
- Petros Klampanis: Irrationalities (Enja): October 18
- Landline: Landline (Loyal Label): November 1
- Remy Le Boeuf: Assembly of Shadows (SoundSpore): November 1
- Guillaume Muller: Sketches of Sound (self-released): October 1
- Laura Noejovich: Laura Has New Standards (Enchanted Meadow): November 2
- Carmen Sandim: Play Doh (Ropeadope): October 25
- Matthew Snow: Iridescence (self-released): November 29
- Kevin Sun: The Sustain of Memory (Endectomorph Music): November 15
- Mareike Wiening: Metropolist Paradise (Greenleaf Music): November 1
- Eri Yamamoto Trio & Choral Chameleon: Goshu Ondo Suite (AUM Fidelity): November 15
Sunday, September 22, 2019
I had an idea for an introduction based on the book I've been reading:
Tim Alberta's American Carnage: On the Front Lines of the Republican
Civil War and the Rise of President Trump. I never really got the
title until it appeared in the text 400+ pages in, and it wasn't anything
like what I would have guessed. The line comes from Trump's inaugural
address, where it climaxes a series of assertions that have virtually
no connection to reality. I'd need to find the quote and unpack it a
bit, but it basically confirms my suspicion that the Republican campaign
in 2016 was basically an extortion racket. They had remarkable success
at spoiling eight years of Obama, and they clearly intended to treat
Hillary Clinton even worse should she win. The only way Americans could
save themselves from the wrath of the Republicans was to elect one --
in which case, the downside was limited to incompetence and corruption.
Of course, a better solution would have been to beat the Republicans
so badly they couldn't do any real damage, but that was too much to
hope for -- especially with Hillary as your standard bearer.
Some scattered links this week:
Israel's election results show Netanyahu is in serious trouble:
"No one outright won. But Netanyahu did worse than he hoped and may
lose office because of it." More on this:
Alexia Fernández Campbell:
The house just passed a bill that would give millions of workers the right
to sue their boss.
Defending Kavanaugh has become personal for conservatives, not
Rather, the idea of Brett Kavanaugh is that he is a stand-in for
conservative men, a blank slate upon which fears of liberal overreach
ruining the lives and reputations of right-leaning heterosexual men can
be projected. He's not Brett Kavanaugh -- he's your son, or your brother,
or even you. . . . For many on the right, particularly those increasingly
concerned about the potential weaponization of accusations of sexual
assault against conservatives, that's enough.
The challenges of constructing New York's tallest apartment building:
Interview with architect Gordon Gill.
Letting go: "What should medicine do when it can't save your life?"
Bernie Sanders wants to put credit reporting companies like Equifax out
Greta Thunberg is leading kids and adults from 150 countries in a massive
Friday climate strike. Other links:
The future is ours for the taking: Interview with Ann Pettifor,
author of The Case for the Green New Deal.
Boris Johnson had a really bad day in Luxembourg. The Incredible Hulk was
Edward Snowden and the rise of whistle-blower culture: Review of
Snowden's memoir, Permanent Record.
Steven Levitsky/Daniel Ziblatt:
Why Republicans play dirty: You probably recall their examples,
and it wouldn't take much head-scratching to come up with their two
analogues (post-Reconstruction southern Democrats, pre-WWI German
conservatives -- although post-WWI were arguably even worse). I'd
quibble with this claim: "Republicans leaders are not driven by an
intrinsic or ideological contempt for democracy. They are driven by
fear." But they wouldn't fear losing so much if they hadn't started
out with their belief in a rightful socioeconomic hierarchy (with
themselves at the top), a belief that starts with fear and loathing
of what they take to be the lower orders. There may be cases where
conservatives are willing to respect democracy, but doing so is not
something that come naturally to those accustomed to ruling.
Actually, there are other things to quibble with here. "As the
collapse of democracy in Germany and Spain in the 1930s and Chile
in the 1970s makes clear, these escalating conflicts can end in
tragedy." Democracy didn't "collapse" in Spain or Chile: it was
murdered by right-wingers who refused to accept popular election
results, aided by malign foreign powers (Nazi Germany in Spain,
the US in Chile). Germany was a local affair, where the traditional
conservative powers backed the Nazis, not least because Hitler
promised an end to what they really feared: a government of, by,
and for the people. With their "dirty tricks," Republicans have
revealed that they're no better nor even different from reviled
conservative regimes of the past. Also, like their predecessors,
they won't stop until they're stopped. Hopefully, we can do that
with a peaceful election, before they manage to bring us all to
Related, with many of the same examples, expressed more pointedly:
Republicans don't believe in democracy.
David Brooks: Politics is too uncivil -- and anyone to my left is
un-American. You might think that someone stepping forward to
read and expose Brooks' inanity is a good thing because it saves us
from having to do so, but does anyone really care anymore whatever
Brooks is thinking (or in this case fantasizing) about?
Nancy Pelosi's drug plan pits Trump's base against GOP orthodoxy:
Two problems I see: one is that in trying to balance off competing
business interests, this still leaves a fair amount of slop as the
various parties try to game the system; the other is that Trump's
base has voted against its own best interests so regularly it's hard
to imagine they'll punish Republicans for protecting drug monopoly
Imagine Jair Bolsonaro standing trial for ecocide at The Hague.
Sure. I've often thought that the ICC was poorly designed, mostly
because it's more important to expose world-class criminals than
it is to actually incarcerate them. Also, any system of justice
needs to be fair, even-handed, and consistently and universally
applied. To do the latter, you need to be able to indict and trial
people in absentia, but to do the former, you need to provide them
with a defense, whether they participate in it or not. One way to
do this would be to build up a list of certified judges, prosecutors,
defenders, and expert investigators. Anyone can approach the court
to bring a case, which would then be developed through stages, each
with aimed at a degree of certainty in its verdict, mitigated by
defense arguments, including limits to information and extenuating
circumstances. All verdicts would remain tentative, subject to
further litigation as more evidence is made available. The court
would in theory be able to order punishment, but few trials are
likely to get to that stage (as, indeed, few are now). But the court
proceedings would also be publicly available, so other jurisdictions
can build their own cases on them. But the key thing is that you
would have a common standard and process for charging individuals
with crimes against humanity (including war crimes), and we'd know
just where any given culprit stands. This article shows how a case
against Bolsonaro in such a court might proceed. You can probably
think of a few dozen more such obvious candidates. Henry Kissinger
would probably top my list, followed by GW Bush and Dick Cheney,
with Donald Trump rising fast.
How a wealth tax could totally remake charity in the United States.
The astounding advantage the Electoral College gives to Republicans, in
Mitch McConnell: The man who sold America.
The US just signed a deal that could send asylum seekers back to El
The 51st state? Interview with Sean Rameswaram, Derek Musgrove, and
Eleanor Holmes Norton on the movement for DC statehood. Related:
House Democrats held the first hearing on DC statehood in 25 years:
"Republicans are unified in their opposition."
Pence took an eight-car motorcade to a Michigan island where vehicles
are banned: Another little something to add to that list of norms
being trashed by the Republican administration. Related: Erica L
US orders Duke and UNC to recast tone in Mideast Studies.
More than a quartet of all birds have disappeared from North America
since 1970. Related: Jeff Sparrow:
This isn't extinction, it's extermination: the people killing nature know
what they're doing.
The imperial debris of war: "Why ending the Afghan War won't end
the killing." Literally, as untold tons of unexploded munitions still
wait their destiny. Other TomDispatch links:
Bernie Sanders's plan to eliminate medical debt, explained.
Mark Joseph Stern:
The right's latest attack on academic freedom might actually work.
"Corruption is breaking our democracy": Elizaeth Warren's case for the
When the ideologues come for the kids: Looks like a rant about
"woke" people attempting to imposing their beliefs on impressionable
children, I expected this piece to be borderline-awful, and it comes
close. Still, reminded me that I've long thought that, while I fully
support the rights of adults to adopt any religious beliefs they
like, it's long struck me as cruel to impose those beliefs on their
children. I don't see a way to prevent that from happening, although
recognition that such harm is inevitable might spur us to providing
helpful counselors, as well as practicing more tolerance. Still,
in my experience, it's rarely the people who respect diversity who
are the problem.
Emily Todd VanDerWerff:
The West Wing is 20 years old. Too many Democrats still think it's a
great model for politics. My wife was a fan, but I never got into
it, usually getting irritated and leaving the room after a few minutes.
Two things stand out in my memory: how President Bartlett always had
an appropriate Bible verse to quote for every occasion, and how often
he went to his default distraction strategem (bombing Iraq). I found
those trait horrifying, but some Democrats regard them as the magic
recipe for political success. West Wing showrunner Aaron Sorkin
went on to produce The Newsroom, which we rather quickly gave
up on -- unfortunately watching a whole episode on the good cheer and
excitement of everyone on hearing the news of Seal Team 6 killing
Osama Bin Laden. PS: From
Wikipedia on The West Wing:
The show's ratings waned in later years following the departure of
series creator Sorkin after the fourth season (Sorkin wrote or co-wrote
85 of the first 88 episodes), yet it remained popular among high-income
viewers, a key demographic for the show and its advertisers, with around
16 million viewers.
The week in US-Saudi Arabia-Iran tensions, explained. More links
Peter Baker/EricSchmitt/Michael Crowley:
An abrupt move that stunned aides: Inside Trump's aborted attack on
The Saudi Arabia drone attacks have changed global warfare.
If the attacks proved anything, it's that Saudi Arabia, despite all its
super-expensive American firepower, is remarkably vulnerable to relatively
cheap weapons. Cockburn usually writes on the Middle East, but applies
some of what he's learned there to his homeland here:
Boris Johnson's coup is eerily reminiscent of Erdogan's rise to power.
Karen DeYoung/Missy Ryan/Paul Sonne:
US to send additional troops to Saudi Arabia after attacks on oil
Threatening new war for oil, Donald Trump calls his own offer of Iran
talks "fake news".
On Iran, Trump is all talk, and thank God: "For whatever reason,
Donald Trump seems reluctant to go to war -- and in moments like the
Iran crisis, we should be glad."
Trump's deference to Saudi Arabia infuriates much of DC. Probably
because much of DC is insufferably arrogant and conceited, a combo
trait known as hubris. Still, Trump couldn't very well retaliate
for Saudi Arabia without Saudi Arabia's approval, could he? And as
much as you might want to slam Trump for showing weakness by backing
off from his initial deranged lunatic posture, it's just possible
that Saudi Arabia is the one getting cold feet, as they have the most
to lose if larger-scale war breaks out.
Anya van Wagtendonk:
US officials say their pressure on Iran is working -- and that's why
tensions are getting worse: Pompeo and Mnuchin try to claim that
the poisoned chalice is half full.
Robert F Worth:
The end of Saudi Arabia's illusion: "Time to face reality: The United
States doesn't want to go to war with Iran to protect its Arab allies."
In Saudi Arabia, world oil supplies are in flames; also:
Iran entrenches its "axis of resistance" across the Middle East.
Wright gets most of her info here from Israel, a source with its own
reasons for projecting Iran as a long-term "strategic" foe. Still,
even this view suggests that would be to try to normalize relations
with Iran, reducing Iran's supposed need for proxy conflicts, while
giving Iran a positive stake in the world economy.
Tuesday, September 17, 2019
Expanded blog post,
Music: current count 32080  rated (+33), 227  unrated (-2).
Held this back an extra day, as I couldn't quite get it together
on time. Cutoff was late Sunday evening, after posting
Weekend Roundup, so I've already got a jump on next week.
My listening was even more scattered than usual last week. My
A-list finds all came so early that by weekend I forgot that I
had any. I hoped Michael Tatum's new
A Downloader's Diary -- his third this year after a prolonged
lean patch, and his first since moving to Seattle -- would offer
some major discoveries, but started with Blarf's Cease &
Desist and found it really wasn't for me. Several other records
impressed but didn't wow me. Two I had dismissed earlier got new
spins, and minor grade upticks. Tatum's review of Purple
Mountains is especially insightful, but describing the album
as a "suicide note" doesn't do much to draw me in.
Tatum started writing his column in August, 2010, intent on
filling in the void left by the second sacking of
Christgau's Consumer Guide (by MSN Music). Christgau rebooted
at MSN in
2010 with his Expert Witness blog, while Tatum continued his
monthly columns into 2014 (skipping a couple along the way). I
tried to help out by
publishing (and archiving) his columns.
In April 2014, he moved to
later that year with a piece called
The Pause Button. Since then, he's self-published (most recently
at Medium), while I've intermittently updated the archive. After a
couple thin years, he's made a strong return to form this year, with
three columns so far. He's one of the sharpest and most lucid critics
around, and deserves your readership and support.
Meanwhile, Christgau has been publishing his Expert Witness blog at
Noisey, but that ended in
With no new publisher forthcoming, Tatum might have had another
hole to fill. But Christgau has come up with a new scheme to keep
publishing new Consumer Guide capsule reviews. He's launching a
subscriber newsletter, based on Substack, called
And It Don't
Stop. It will cost you $5/month to get a once-monthly batch
of new reviews sent to your e-mailbox, plus there will be various
extras -- he explains his plans here, in
It's a Start. Subscribers will get their first batch of
reviews delivered on Wednesday, September 18.
As you probably know, I built and maintain
with its database of 17,271 albums and 1,372 articles (or more,
as that easy-to-find number is actually a subset). At some point
(undecided at present) I'll add those new reviews and pieces to
the website. This isn't fundamentally different from the various
timelocks we've been using for years, where publishers insist
that their payments merit a period of exclusivity. I don't have
any real solutions here, but I do believe that we're all fortunate
to have Christgau continuing to write for us. Subscribing helps.
Back to my list this week, aside from Tatum's picks, most of this
week's records are things I became aware of feeding data into my
metacritic list. I
started this year's list by collecting mid-year lists, but then I
made two discoveries/decisions: rank info in the lists wasn't very
useful (most lists were unranked, and many were shorter than EOY
lists so the scales didn't quite fit), so I just started counting
references without any weighting; also, I found that I could rather
easily supplement the lists with AOTY's ratings lists organized by
publication, so I started adding those in (first for publications
that didn't offer mid-year lists, eventually for nearly all non-metal
sources), usually using 80+ as my standard (90+ for AMG and Exclaim!,
where 80s are ultra-common). Thus, I've been able to pick up new
records as they're released. The sampling is not as good for post-July
records, but it gives newer records some recognition. Thus far, the
top-rated August/September releases (points in front, my grades in
brackets at end, just before that is the AOTY score and review count):
-  Lana Del Rey: Norman Fucking Rockwell (Polydor/Interscope) 85/28 [A-]
-  Sleater-Kinney: The Center Won't Hold (Mom + Pop) 76/29 [-]
-  Bon Iver: i,i (Jagjaguwar) 80/31 [-]
-  Ezra Furman: Twelve Nudes (Bella Union) 79/24 [A-]
-  Marika Hackman: Any Human Friend (AMF) 84/19 [-]
-  The Hold Steady: Thrashing Thru the Passion (Frenchkiss) 75/20 [A-]
-  Charli XCX: Charli (Asylum) 79/20 [**]
-  Clairo: Immunity (Fader) 74/21 [***]
-  Blanck Mass: Animated Violence Mild (Sacred Bones) 79/20 [-]
-  The Murder Capital: When I Have Fears (Human Season) 86/14 [-]
-  (Sandy) Alex G: House of Sugar (Domino) 83/14 [-]
-  Rapsody: Eve (Roc Nation) 86/7 [***]
-  Kano: Hoodies All Summer (Parlophone) 86/12 [-]
-  Shura: Forevher (Secretly Canadian) 79/18 [-]
-  Jay Som: Anak Ko (Polyvinyl) 79/20 [-]
-  Taylor Swift: Lover (Republic) 71/22 [***]
-  Tropical Fuck Storm: Braindrops (Joyful Noise) 77/14 [-]
-  Raphael Saadiq: Jimmy Lee (Columbia) 85/4 [A-]
-  Sheer Mag: A Distant Call (Wilsuns) 76/11 [**]
-  Tool: Fear Inoculum (Volcano/RCA) 79/20 [-]
I'm most surprised that Saadiq has gotten so few reviews. I'm less
bothered that Lana Del Rey's point total only places her album at 31.
That's a structural problem due to the fact that more mid-year lists
were counted than ratings. AOTY's 85 score for the album rates it at
17, with 28 reviews topped only in the top 100 by Sharon Van Etten's
Remind Me Tomorrow (84/35), Thom Yorke's Anima (82/29),
Bon Iver's i,i (80/31).
I'll note that two 1970s rockers died last week: Eddie Money and
Rick Ocasek. The former never interested me much, but I had one of
his compilations on my unrated list, so figured I should check it
off. Tried looking on Napster before going to my shelves, and found
a later 2-CD 35-song edition in place of my 1-CD 15-cut item, so I
wound up reviewing both. Ocasek, of the Cars, was more important,
but I didn't have any unfinished business with them, so didn't
bother. Last one of their records I played was the Cars' 1985
Greatest Hits, giving it B+(**), which is about where I
pegged their first two albums (both B+ in my database).
I did some work on the Jazz Guides last week. I still have some
group albums to fold in -- I left them out of the first pass because
they involve more cross-referencing -- but otherwise am up to date
(through August). Current page counts: 1791 + 829.
One thing that slowed me down in getting this out was that I
started writing up a postscript to Sunday's
Weekend Roundup. Despite vowing not to slip down any rabbit
holes, I had trouble doing that. Spent much of today figuring
I would polish this up a bit, but didn't manage that either.
For what it's worth, I wrote these further notes on Monday:
- There was a breaking story that I barely touched on, but which may
prove to be the week's most important. Start with:
Everything we know about the Saudi oil attacks and the escalating crisis
in the Gulf. The first problem here is that "everything we know"
isn't very much, especially when you discount what various parties with
their own ulterior motives have tried to claim (a list that starts with
Mike Pompeo). Several sources noted that the Houthis in Yemen had claimed
responsibility. Saudi Arabia has been bombing them for years now, so they
have motive, but Pompeo doesn't see how they could pull such an attack
off. The only other claim I've seen is here:
Iranian drones launched from Iraq carried out attacks on Saudi oil
plants. That would still involve flying drones 500-600 km, so I
have to wonder whether it wouldn't have been easier to smuggle much
smaller drones into the area, especially given that you don't need
a lot of firepower when you're shooting at something as flamable as
an oil refinery. Still, the real problem here isn't a "whodunit" or
even its contextualization -- Saudi hostility and aggression against
their neighbors (both direct, as in Yemen, and through proxies) is
clearly at the root of this incident -- but a question of what the
real powers will do next. Trump almost immediately tweeted that an
American retalliation was "locked and loaded," awaiting only the
Saudi government's direction. The implication is not only that Trump
has subordinated American interests to the Saudis (as he has even
more emphatically to the Israelis) with scant care for whatever the
consequences may be. On the other hand, maybe the Saudis are coming
to recognize how vulnerable they are to blowback from their wars.
Too early to tell how this dangerous story sorts out.
There is something very unsatisfying about the various Bolton
links. While Bolton was well understood and his views roundly opposed,
it isn't clear what he actually did while in the Trump administration,
or whether he actually had any effect beyond adding to the chaos. A
fly-on-the-wall insider account might help, although it's equally
likely that no one will ever make any sense out of US foreign policy
during the Bolton year-plus. A couple of odd data points: Bolton was
fired after the Taliban deal was scuttled; before Bolton was
fired, Trump seemed to be more open to meeting with Iran than after,
as exemplified by his post-Bolton "locked and loaded" tweet. I've
never had any doubt that Bolton was pure evil, but the first week
without him has already brought into question Jeet Heer's title,
John Bolton's ouster makes the world safer. Yet another piece
I should have linked to: Robert Mackey:
Threatening new war for oil, Donald Trump calls his own offer of
Iran talks "fake news".
I wasn't very happy with the Bacevich and Walt pieces on
Afghanistan, or for that matter with Ward's piece on how the Democrats
debated Afghanistan. Lots of things in US politics make it very
difficult to extricate ourselves from wars that are going badly,
and it seems like everyone falls into one such trap or another.
On Samantha Power, also see: Jon Schwarz:
A memoir from hell: Samantha Power will do anything for human rights
unless it hurts her career.
What bothers me most about the Jonathan Franzen fracas is how
fervently his critics cling to stark and simplistic either-or dichotomies,
when the actual problem is complex, with complicated tradeoffs that can
be very hard to get at, let alone discuss rationally. It could take a
book to unpack that line, especially as I've come at it through old
problems in philosophy. But really, climate change has been happening
for decades now -- Bill McKibben's first (1989) book on the subject was
The End of Nature, and he wasn't talking about some hypothetical
future. That leaves us with two obvious problems: how to adapt to
the world we have altered (and will continue to), and how to limit
further damage. Recognizing the already-occurring changes in no way
excuses us from trying to keep the situation from worsening (Franzen
says as much, although you'd have to read him to find out, as his
critics' cariacature lose such details).
Also thought I'd note why I didn't link to anything on Tuesday's
election in Israel: I basically didn't find anything very interesting
on the subject. Still, if you're curious, you might read Zack Beauchamp's
Israel's election, and how Benjamin Netanyahu might lose, explained.
Nearly everything I read predicted a Netanyahu win -- as did everything
before the previous election, even though it ended with Netanyahu unable
to form a government. Latest results I've seen are "too close to call,"
with Netanyahu/Likud trailing Blue and White by a very slim margin (25.7%
to 26.3%), which probably means another hung election.
New records reviewed this week:
- Franco Ambrosetti Quintet: Long Waves (2019, Unit): [cd]: B+(***)
- Blarf: Cease & Desist (2019, Stones Throw): [bc]: B-
- Peter Brötzmann/Alexander von Schlippenbach/Han Bennink: Fifty Years After . . . Live at the Lila Eule 2018 (2018 , Trost): [r]: A-
- Bill Callahan: Shepherd in a Sheepskin Vest (2019, Drag City): [r]: B+(*)
- Car Seat Headrest: Commit Yourself Completely (2019, Matador): [r]: B+(**)
- Frankie Cosmos: Close It Quietly (2019, Sub Pop): [r]: B+(**)
- Deerhunter: Why Hasn't Everything Already Disappeared? (2019, 4AD): [r]: B
- DSC [Leon Lee Dorsey/Greg Skaff/Mike Clark]: Monktime (2019, Jazz Avenue 1): [cd]: B+(*)
- Dump Him: Dykes to Watch Out For (2019, Musical Fanzine/Get Better): [r]: B+(*)
- Avram Fefer Quartet: Testament (2018 , Clean Feed): [cd]: B+(***) [11-08]
- Ezra Furman: Twelve Nudes (2019, Bella Union): [r]: A-
- Jayda G: Significant Changes (2019, Ninja Tune): [r]: B+(*)
- Tim Hecker: Anoyo (2019, Kranky): [r]: B
- The Hold Steady: Thrashing Thru the Passion (2019, Frenchkiss): [r]: A-
- Cate Le Bon: Reward (2019, Mexican Summer): [r]: B
- Derel Monteith: Connemara: Solo Piano Improvisations (2017 , self-released): [cd]: B+(**) [10-18]
- Derel Monteith Trio: Quantity of Life (2019, self-released): [cd]: B+(*) [10-18]
- Muna: Saves the World (2019, RCA): [r]: B+(**)
- Bruce Robison & Kelly Willis: Beautiful Lie (2019, Next Waltz): [r]: B+(**)
- Sheer Mag: A Distant Call (2019, Wilsuns): [r]: B+(**)
- Elza Soares: Planeta Fome (2019, Deck): [r]: B+(**)
- Colin Stranahan/Glenn Zaleski/Rick Rosato: Live at Jazz Standard (2018 , Capri): [cd]: B+(*) [09-30]
- Taylor Swift: Lover (2019, Republic): [r]: B+(***)
- Emi Takada: Why Did I Choose You? (2018 , self-released): [cd]: B+(*)
- Wilma Vritra: Burd (2019, Bad Taste): [r]: B+(*)
- Charli XCX: Charli (2019, Asylum): [r]: B+(**)
- Thom Yorke: Anima (2019, XL): [r]: B-
Recent reissues, compilations, and vault discoveries:
- Creedence Clearwater Revival: Live at Woodstock (1969 , Craft): [r]: B+(***)
- Jambú E Os Míticos Sons Da Amazônia (1974-86 , Analog Africa): [r]: B+(***)
- Eddie Money: The Essential Eddie Money (1977-95 , Columbia/Legacy): [cd]: B-
- Eddie Money: The Essential Eddie Money (1977-91 , Columbia/Legacy): [r]: C+
Grade (or other) changes:
- Stef Chura: Midnight (2019, Saddle Creek): [r]: [was: B+(*)] B+(**)
- Purple Mountains: Purple Mountains (2019, Drag City): [r]: [was: B+(**)] B+(***)
Unpacking: Found in the mail last week:
- The Raymond De Felitta Trio: Pre-War Charm (Blujazz)
- Laszlo Gardony: La Marseillaise (Sunnyside): October 24
- Ben Markley Quartet Featuring Joel Frahm: Slow Play (OA2): September 20
- Tish Oney With the John Chlodini Trio: The Best Part (Blujazz)
- Peterson Kohler Collective: Winter Colors (Origin): September 20
- Markus Rutz: Blueprints Figure One: Frameworks (OA2): September 20
Sunday, September 15, 2019
No time (or stomach?) for an introduction.
Some scattered links this week:
Andrew J Bacevich:
What to know what's next for Afghanistan? Ask Vietnam. I have my
doubts about the analogy, but the final point about carelessness is
well taken. Related: Stephen M Walt:
We lost the war in Afghanistan. Get over it.
A generation of economists helped get us into this mess. A new generation
can get us out. Refers to Binyamin Appelbaum's book, The Economist's
Hour, for the first assertion.
A shared place: "Wendell Berry's lifelong dissent."
Alexia Fernández Campbell:
Trump wants to cut the safety net. It kept 47 million people out of poverty
What if the only Democrat who isn't too radical to win is too old?
Perhaps the reason neoliberals argue for Biden on electability grounds
is that they recognize their positive program has no real appeal beyond
the wealthy liberal donor class. At least with Biden, you get a cipher
who signifies no big changes without even trying to explain why.
Watch Liz Cheney and Rand Paul fight over who Trump loves more:
As befitting his very large ego and power and very tiny brain, Donald
Trump is constantly surrounded by people trying to manipulate him. . . .
On most issues, Trump does not know what to think, so he gravitates
toward whatever position is expressed more sycophantically. The
"debates" within the party therefore play out in the form of competitive
groveling for his favor. . . . The secret here is that Paul and Cheney,
while anchoring opposite sides of an intellectual debate within their
party, both consider Trump a moron, but each thinks he or she can gain
influence with him and his supporters by presenting the other one as
John Bolton era ends with no casualties except Bolton's dignity:
Talk about lowering the bar: "The fact we made it through Bolton's
17-month-long tenure without killing tens of millions of people
counts as a major win." More on Bolton:
How Trump learned to make 9/11 a racket. Related: Zak Cheney-Rice:
The uses of 9/11.
Trump has figured out how to corrupt the entire government. Given
what he had to start with, it couldn't have been that hard. Trump's
contribution was his venality and utter shamelessness, along with his
implicit guarantee that none of his minions would bear any risk for
doing business. (Note that Tom Price, Scott Pruit, and Ryan Zinke
managed to lose their jobs anyway. But nobody's holding their breath
waiting for Bill Barr to prosecute them.)
None of these stories by itself has the singular drama of a Teapot
Dome or a Watergate. Indeed, the mere fact that there is so much
corruption prevents any single episode from capturing the imagination
of the media and the public. But it is the totality of dynamic that
matters. A corrupt miasma has slowly enveloped Washington. For
generations, both parties generally upheld an assumption that the
government would abide rules and norms dividing its proper functioning
from the president's personal and political interests.
The norm of bureaucratic professionalism and fairness is a pillar
of the political legitimacy and economic strength of the American system,
the thing that separates countries like the U.S. from countries like
Russia. The decay of that culture is difficult to quantify, but the
signs are everywhere. Trump's stench is slowly seeping into every
corner of government.
Wilbur Ross's threat to fire NOAA officials over a tweet turns Sharpiegate
into a real scandal.
Manny Fernandez/Miriam Jordan/Zolan Kanno-Youngs/Caitlin Dickinson:
'People actively hate us': Inside the Border Patrol's morale crisis.
The moral logic of humanitarian intervention: A writer I never expect
much from takes on a subject I'm not interested in (Samantha Power), least
of all by him. Still, this raises real questions, like what gives her the
right to decide who to "protect"? And how "humanitarian" is it really to
intervene with anything from Seal Team 6 to full infantry divisions? And
once you've done it so badly, what makes you think the next time will be
any different? As Filkins notes, "during her years in the White House, it
became clear that benevolent motives can have calamitous results."
What went down in the Third Democratic Debate: The "live blog"
transcript, followed by
Who won the Third Democratic Debate?. More links:
Lisa Friedman/Coral Davenport:
Trump administration rolls back clean water protections.
President Trump wages war on government and expertise, and our institutions
Did Brett Kavanaugh perjure himself during his confirmation hearing?
"New allegations are raising questions about whether he met the very
high bar for perjury." Not the only Kavanaugh piece this week:
Saudi oil attack prompts more incoherence from Trump administration.
The best case for and against a fracking ban.
Israel and the decline of the liberal order.
The forces that are killing the American dream: Review of Nicholas
Lemann's Transaction Man: The Rise of the Deal and the Decline of
the American Dream. For another review, see Robert Christgau:
To bust you shall return.
The Republican Party is (probably) not doomed. Refers to, and argues
with, Stanley B Greenberg:
The Republican Party is doomed, which starts:
The 2020 election will be transformative like few in our history. It will
end with the death of the Republican Party as we know it, leaving the
survivors to begin the struggle to renew the party of Lincoln and make
it relevant for our times. It will liberate the Democratic Party from
the country's suffocating polarization and allow it to use government
to address the vast array of problems facing the nation.
It's possible the GOP is on the cusp of maxing out its appeal with
rural voters and its capacity to bend election law to its own ends.
But any persuasive case for the party's imminent demise must explain
why the party's structural advantages will fail it. Establishing that
Republicans have alienated a majority of Americans is insufficient.
If this country were governed by popular sovereignty, the GOP would
already be dead.
Greenberg expands on his argument his new book: R.I.P. G.O.P.:
How the New America Is Dooming the Republicans. Also on Greenberg:
Dare we dream of the end of the GOP? Goldberg, by the way, also
Mazel tov, Trump. You've revived the Jewish left.
Jonathan Franzen's climate pessimism is justified. His fatalism is not.
I cited Franzen's article,
What if we stopped pretending, favorably last week, so I was surprised
to find the article widely attacked from the "left" -- I've lost track of
the tweets (Roxanne Gay is the one name I recall), but this riposte by
Jeet Heer seems typical:
Jonathan Franzen pens another environmental disaster story ("the famed
novelist is resigned to a global ecological catastrophe because his
imagination can't move beyond the status quo"). I'm generally dismissive
of complaints about "leftist thought police," but that pegs Heer pretty
well.has little more
to offer. Levitz is only marginally more sensible, conceding the facts
if not the attitude. Other articles (mostly against) Franzen:
Biden camp thinks the media just doesn't get it: "The vice president's
allies say neither detractors in the media, nor his rivals on the stump,
understand the root of his appeal."
The Supreme Court has delivered a devastating blow to the US asylum
US has spent six trillion dollars on wars that killed half a million
people since 9/11, report says: George Bush effectively responded
to Osama Bin Laden's 9/11 taunt with: "You think that's terror. I'll
show you terror." Bush and the political class brought America down
to Al Qaeda's level within weeks, and kept digging for 18 years and
counting. While Bush is gone, the politicians and pundits who backed
and blessed him have continued his path of destruction.
Anya van Wagtendonk:
Congress has only three weeks to avert another government shutdown.
Tweeted this along the way:
Bush effectively responded to Bin Laden's 9/11 taunt with: "You think
that's terror. I'll show you terror." Bush and the political class
brought America down to Al Qaeda's level within weeks, and kept digging,
18+ years: [Link:
U.S. has spent $6 trillion on wars that killed 500,000 people since
Monday, September 09, 2019
Expanded blog post,
Music: current count 32047  rated (+27), 229  unrated (+2).
I've had a couple weeks of nagging technology problems. Got up and
found both computers dead, resembling an overnight power shutdown but
no indications of that anywhere else in the house. Both are on UPS's.
One definitely has a bad battery, so turns out to be very interruptible.
The other (my main computer) remains a mystery, and repeated a few days
later, but second time was easier to power cycle. No data loss, but a
bit unnerving. Main computer developed a speaker glitch after that,
introducing a lot of static into music I was streaming. Haven't figured
that out either, but switched to secondary computer for streaming (but
speakers are inferior). It's old and I'm finding it extremely slow. The
thing that bothers me most is how slow it is to wake up: closer to a
minute than the 2-3 seconds of the main computer. Monitor has something
to do with that, but slow as it is, it still displays connect status
5-10 seconds before getting a screen image. Tempts me to build a new
one, especially as some newer and faster technology has become
Synology backup server appears to be working, although I've only
set up two machines to backup so far, and I haven't checked them for
updates carefully. More things I need to learn about it. One source
of frustration is that I'm using an appliance router/firewall that I
don't totally understand. In particular, I have it providing DHCP
addresses, but it doesn't seem to provide DNS, so my computers have
no way (other than fixed /etc/hosts addresses, not necessarily right
with DHCP) to find my other computers. Looking at the router manual
now, and don't see anything about DNS (although it does have stuff
on DHCP and DDNS).
Most disconcerting glitch of the week was not being able to log
into my dedicated server last night to post my
Weekend Roundup. I've been informed that CPanel (the web server
management gui interface software) has been bought up by the same
vulture capitalists who own Plesk (their competitor). CPanel's
management is celebrating their newfound monopoly by raising their
prices, and enforcing this by requiring new licenses, breaking my
server. Took several hours to get the hosting company to fix it,
and will cost me more bucks in the future (CPanel is already almost
a third of my monthly charge). Things like this make me wonder if
the server's worth the cost and trouble -- or perhaps remind me
that it isn't.
Lots of other things made life difficult. I could begin to enumerate
them, but may not come out the other end. Some of the just boil down
to being old and decrepit, which no one wants to hear about. Much pain
the day I tried to cook dinner for friends, ending with two planned
dishes abandoned, my kitchen stool crashed to the ground, and the front
door handle falling off. On the other hand, the dishes I did manage to
finish were magnificent:
duck à l'orange; a
salad with grilled asparagus, zucchini, and bread cheese, over arugula
with roasted tomatoes and basil pesto; a
sweet potato gratin, and spiced carrots;
with triple chocolate mousse cake for dessert (Laura has a pic on Instagram,
but I can't find it).
Some of these things cut into my listening time, which was pretty
scattered anyway. Two records I had held back from last week managed
to slip over the A- cusp. After making a dent in my new jazz queue,
I got stuck on Avram Fefer's Testament, which I've played at
least five times without writing up a grade. Release date isn't until
November 8, so I'm tempted to put it aside until then. At some point
I started looking for country music, and was struck at how the first
four albums I sampled -- Tanya Tucker, Molly Tuttle, Dee White, Matt
Carson -- wound up at the same B+(**) with different virtues and flaws.
Four more records were easier to spread out (Mercury Rev, Highwomen,
Weldon Henson). Checked out a couple of old Bobbie Gentry albums
after listening to Mercury Rev, and was surprised to find that the
"classic" was a much bigger mess than the revival.
Thought I'd work on a Book Roundup mid-week, then got confused by
some sloppy bookkeeping. I managed to clean that up, and will try to
have a post ready mid-week (but the way things are going, could be
months). I'm slowly trudging my way through Tim
Alberta's American Carnage: On the Front Lines of the Republican
Civil War and the Rise of President Trump, which is a useful map
of the various schisms on the Republican side since 2008, although
it falls short of exploring the deeper roots of their cravenness and
corruption. That's kept me from reading a couple of promising books
I picked up at the library: Joseph Stiglitz's People, Power, and
Profits: Progressive Capitalism for an Age of Discontent, and
Astra Taylor's Democracy May Not Exist, but We'll Miss It When
Also got a third book at the library, which I'm definitely not going
to read but should at least crib some notes from: Mining the Social
Web: Data Mining Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Github, and
More (3rd edition). The one thing I want to do with it is to copy
down a list of on-line resources, especially the APIs. On the other
hand, I'm not finding many things I want to do in the examples. Maybe
I should build a tech resources link page, if only for my own use. (I
had several long ago, didn't update it, and finally disconnected them
to stop getting mail from wannabe adds.)
New records reviewed this week:
- Matt Carson: No Regrets (2019, Bunba): [r]: B+(**)
- James Carter Organ Trio: Live From Newport Jazz (2018 , Blue Note): [r]: B+(***)
- Avishai Cohen/Yonathan Avishai: Playing the Room (2018 , ECM): [r]: B+(*)
- Marco Colonna/Agustí Fernandez/Zlatko Kaucic: Agrakal (2017 , Not Two): [r]: B+(**)
- Lana Del Rey: Norman Fucking Rockwell (2019, Polydor/Interscope): [r]: A-
- Jeff Denson/Romain Pilon/Brian Blade: Between Two Worlds (2019, Ridgeway): [cd]: B+(*)
- Eliane Elias: Love Stories (2019, Concord): [r]: B+(*)
- Frode Gjerstad/Fred Lonberg-Holm/Matthew Shipp: Season of Sadness (2018 , Iluso): [bc]: B
- Weldon Henson: Texas Made Honky Tonk (2018 , Hillbilly Renegade): [os]: A-
- The Highwomen: The Highwomen (2019, Elektra): [r]: B
- Florian Hoefner Trio: First Spring (2018 , ALMA): [cd]: B+(***)
- Urs Leimgruber/Jacques Demierre/Barre Phillips/Thomas Lehn: Willisau (2017 , Jazzwerkstatt): [r]: B
- Mercury Rev: Bobbie Gentry's the Delta Sweete Revisited (2019, Partisan): [r]: B
- Ian Noe: Between the Country (2019, National Treasury): [r]: B+(***)
- Purple Mountains: Purple Mountains (2019, Drag City): [r]: B+(**)
- Michele Rabbia/Gianluca Petrella/Eivind Aarset: Lost River (2018 , ECM): [r]: B
- Rapsody: Eve (2019, Roc Nation): [r]: B+(***)
- Enrico Rava/Joe Lovano: Roma (2018 , ECM): [r]: B+(*)
- Raphael Saadiq: Jimmy Lee (2019, Columbia): [r]: A-
- Leo Sherman: Tonewheel (2019, Outside In Music): [cd]: B+(*)
- Tanya Tucker: While I'm Livin' (2019, Fantasy): [r]: B+(**)
- Molly Tuttle: When You're Ready (2019, Compass): [bc]: B+(**)
- Dee White: Southern Gentleman (2018, Easy Eye Sound/Warner Music Nashville): [r]: B+(**)
- Young Thug: So Much Fun (2019, 300/Atlantic/YSL): [r]: B+(***)
Recent reissues, compilations, and vault discoveries:
- The Vaughn Nark Quintet: Back in the Day (1982-83 , Summit): [cd]: B
- Bobby Gentry: Ode to Billie Joe (1967, Capitol): [r]: B
- Bobby Gentry: The Delta Sweete (1968, Capitol): [r]: C+
- Weldon Henson: One Heart's Gone (2011, self-released): [r]: B+(**)
- Weldon Henson: Weldon Henson's Honky Tonk Frontier (2015, Hillbilly Renegade): [r]: B+(***)
Unpacking: Found in the mail last week:
- Franco Ambrosetti Quintet: Long Waves (Unit)
- AP6C [Alberto Pinton Sestetto Contemporaneo]: Layers (Clear Now)
- Terrence Brewer & Pamela Rose: Don't Worry 'Bout Me (Strong Brew Music)
- Ivo Perelman/Matthew Shipp: Efflorescence: Volume 1 (Leo, 4CD)
- Noah Preminger Group: Zigsaw: Music of Steve Lampert (self-released): October 4
Sunday, September 08, 2019
Hurricane Dorian, which last weekend was still wreaking
unimaginable damage in the Bahamas while trudging slowly toward the
Florida coast (or, for one poor soul with a rigidly linear flat-Earth
imagination, Alabama), and a week later still exists, albeit downgraded
to to post-tropical cyclone status, as it threads the strait between
Newfoundland and Labrador, expected some time Monday to pass off the
south coast of Greenland. The eye never crossed land on the east coast
of the US, but came close enough to produce hurricane-force winds,
storm surges, and scattered tornadoes from Florida to North Carolina.
When it finally made landfall in Nova Scotia, it was still producing
Category 2 winds, and Category 1 as far north as Newfoundland. It is
officially tied with a 1935 "Labor Day" hurricane as the strongest
ever recorded in the Atlantic.
Since Dorian formed in the tropical Atlantic on
August 23, three more named storms have come and gone: Erin, which
formed over the Bahamas ahead of Dorian, proceeded northeast to Florida
then out into the Atlantic, eventually producing heavy rains in Nova
Scotia and New Brunswick; Fernand, which formed in the Gulf of Mexico
and landed in Mexico; and Gabrielle, which formed in the mid-Atlantic
and is now headed toward Ireland and Scotland. The Atlantic hurricane
season continues to November 30, with Humberto the next name.
The Atlantic put a paywall on their website this week, limiting
readers to 5 "free" articles per month, so I probably won't bother
with them any more. They've moved to the right over the past year
(although not especially toward Trump -- David Frum and Conor
Friedersdorf are regulars), which cuts down on their utility. My
wife subscribes to a bunch of things, and I take advantage of that,
but haven't added to her list myself. Back when we bought a lot of
magazines, I recall liking
Harper's more than Atlantic (at
least when Lewis Lapham was editor), but I haven't read them in ages.
Looks like they offer a better subscription deal than Atlantic.
My own website remains free in every sense of the word (including
free of advertising and pitches for money), so I feel entitled to my
high horse. Of course, I realize the need publications have to raise
money to continue operations, and I understand that it's generally
good for writers to get paid, especially for serious work. But I
also recognize that few people have the wherewithal (much less the
interest) to read everything of likely interest. In this world,
paywalls help balkanize public discourse, helping to herd us into
isolated, self-selected hives. This isn't a good system. Nor is
advertising a good answer. Nor do we have the political will to
support a development system that would make public goods (like,
but not limited to, news) universally accessible. But that's the
sort of solution we should be thinking about.
Some scattered links this week:
The Trump administration's sustained attack on the rights of immigrant
Dorian one of the strongest, longest-lasting hurricanes on record in
the Atlantic. Related: Bob Berwyn:
Why are hurricanes like Dorian stalling, and is global warming involved?
The secret files of the master of modern Republican gerrymandering:
Thomas Hofeller, who died in August 2018. Daley wrote Ratf**ked: The
True Story Behind the Secret Plan to Steal America's Democracy
The Electoral College was terrible from the start: "It's doubtful
even Alexander Hamilton believed what he was selling in "Federalist
The lost promise of Reconstruction: "Can we reanimate the dream of
freedom That Congress tried to enact in the wake of the Civil War?"
Foner has written much about the Civil War and Reconstruction over the
years. He has a new book: The Second Founding: How the Civil War
and Reconstruction Remade the Constitution.
What if we stopped pretending: "The climate apocalypse is coming.
To prepare for it, we need to admit that we can't prevent it." I've
been thinking along these lines for a long time now (despite being
on the slow side in picking up on global warming). As an engineer,
I've always understood that it's a lot cheaper to prevent problems
than to have to fix them later, but I've also seen so much breakage
that I've had to put even more thought into repair, not least in
planning for future repairs. So while I've been reading about how
important it is to cut back greenhouse gas emissions, it's long
been clear to me that we need a parallel effort to cope with the
disasters we can't manage to prevent. One thing I had to give
Clinton credit for was elevating FEMA to cabinet level and making
sure it was well-managed and effective -- gains Bush's cronyism
reversed, most visibly with Katrina, a combination of ineptness
and corruption that Trump has only added to. There is much to be
said for competent, responsive government, even if it's not
competent enough to prevent problems from arising in the first
All-out war on climate change made sense only as long as it was
winnable. Once you accept that we've lost it, other kinds of action
take on greater meaning. Preparing for fires and floods and refugees
is a directly pertinent example. But the impending catastrophe
heightens the urgency of almost any world-improving action. In
times of increasing chaos, people seek protection in tribalism
and armed force, rather than in the rule of law, and our best
defense against this kind of dystopia is to maintain functioning
democracies, functioning legal systems, functioning communities.
In this respect, any movement toward a more just and civil society
can now be considered a meaningful climate action. Securing fair
elections is a climate action. Combatting extreme wealth inequality
is a climate action. Shutting down the hate machines on social media
is a climate action. Instituting humane immigration policy, advocating
for racial and gender equality, promoting respect for laws and their
enforcement, supporting a free and independent press, ridding the
country of assault weapons -- these are all meaningful climate actions.
To survive rising temperatures, every system, whether of the natural
world or of the human world, will need to be as strong and healthy as
we can make it.
Other links at the bottom of the article: a 2015 piece by Franzen:
Climate change vs. conservation (original title: "Carbon Capture");
also Rachel Riederer:
The other kind of climate denialism. In December, 2018, she also wrote:
The not-so-uplifting year in the animal kingdom.
Why Steve King's supporters are staying loyal: "The Iowa Republican's
racist comments have made him a pariah among Democrats and Republicans
alike. Buth is voters may be more devoted to him than ever."
Julie Hirschfeld Davis/Michael D Shear:
Trump Administration considers a drastic cut in refugees allowed to
A summer of unprecedented brutality in Moscow. I don't doubt that
the repression has been severe, but "unprecedented"?
Trump campaign manager sees President's family as political 'dynasty'.
Alaska's sea ice completely melted for first time in recorded history.
The week in Brexit drama, explained. Related: Mark Landler:
Boris Johnson finds his party loyalists aren't as loyal as Trump's.
Eric Lipton/Annie Karni:
Checking in at Trump Hotels, for kinship (and maybe some sway): "To
ethics lawyers, the most extraordinary aspect of the daily merging of
President Trump's official duties and his commercial interests is that
it has now become almost routine."
Michael Mann/Andrew E Dessler:
Global heating made Hurricane Dorian bigger, wetter -- and more deadly.
"Unions for all": the new plan to save the American labor movement.
Sticks and stones break bones, but words hurt McConnell's feelings.
Follow-up to Milbank's
Mitch McConnell is a Russian asset. I don't doubt that he's someone's
asset, but I doubt you'd have to look as far as Moscow. More on
Pompeo says US 'delivered' on mission in Afghanistan. As the tweet
that directed me to this exclaimed: "Unbelievably good news! We won!
Who knew?" For more on Pompeo, see: Richard Silverstein:
Pompeo: Israel's errand boy.
Charles P Pierce:
William Rivers Pitt:
Donald Trump is a category 5 liar.
Almost everything bad that Trump did this summer. Subhed says "Here's
what you missed," as opposed to what she missed -- that "almost" covers a
lot of ground. Related: Philip Rucker/Ashley Parker:
Trump's lost summer: Aides claim victory, but others see incompetence
A beginner's guide to the debate over nuclear power and climate change.
When is America going to end its shadow war on Somalia?
The problem of medical det, and the wonky fight behind Bernie Sanders's
plan to eliminate it, explained.
Lawmakers must empower unions to combat growing inequality in US.
The incredibly absurd Trump/CNN SharpieGate feud, explained. This
may be the ultimate preaching-to-the-choir story, a fairly minor gaffe
which developed legs only because Trump tripled down, reinforcing the
easiest of all Trump critiques: that he's a moron. Other Sharpiegate
Trump's plan to host the G-7 revives the issue of emoluments.
The Supreme Court has become just another arm of the GOP.
The White Power movement from Reagan to Trump: Interview with Kathleen
Belew, who "explains the links among 'lone wolf' white supremacist attacks
like those in Charleston, Christchurch, and El Paso."
Robert Mugabe died too late: "Mugabe died yesterday in Singapore
at the age of 95, far from the country he first liberated from
white-minority rule, then laid waste to over a 37-year rule that
began brutally and ended in pathetic squalor." Related: Steven Gruzd:
Robert Mugabe's journey from freedom fighter to oppressor.
Elizabeth Warren blasts the plastic straw debate as a fossil fuel industry
Tuesday, September 03, 2019
When I published my last
back on June 1, I speculated that I would have another one "ready in a
few weeks." I used to average 4-5 of these per year, and at one point
collected enough material for 4 within a couple of weeks. But I only
one in 2018,
so I had quite a bit of catching up to do. My first effort in 2019 came
had a lot of leftovers then, but didn't get around to publishing them
until June, and forgot to file them in my
archive, so I got confused
last night, and started to edit June's post as new.
Other recent books also noted without comment:
Gretchen Bakke: The Grid: The Fraying Wires Between Americans
and Our Energy Future (paperback, 2017, Bloomsbury USA).
David W Blight: Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom
(2018, Simon & Schuster).
Ian Bremmer: Us vs Them: The Failure of Globalism
Steve Brusatte: The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs: A New
History of a Lost World (2018, William Morrow).
Steve Deace: Truth Bombs: Confronting the Lies Conservatives
Believe (to Our Own Demise) (2019, Post Hill Press).
John Duffy/Ray Nowosielski: The Watchdogs Didn't Bark: The
CIA, NSA, and the Crimes of the War on Terror (2018, Hot Books).
Ryan D Enos: The Space Between Us: Social Geography and
Politics (2017; paperback, 2019, Cambridge University Press).
Brooke Gladstone: The Influencing Machine: Brooke Gladstone
on the Media (2011; paperback, 2012, WW Norton).
Michael Hudson: . . . And Forgive Them Their Debts: Lending,
Foreclosure and Redemption From Bronze Age Finance to the Jubilee
Year (paperback, 2018, Islet).
Chris Hughes: Fair Shot: Rethinking Inequality and How We
Earn (2018, St Martin's Press).
Michael Ignatieff: The Ordinary Virtues: Moral Order in a
Divided World (2017; paperback, 2019, Harvard University
Alan Jacobs: How to Think: A Survival Guide for a World at
Odds (2017, Currency).
Robert Jervis/Francis J Gavin/Joshua Rovner/Diane Labrosse, eds:
Chaos in the Liberal Order: The Trump Presidency and International
Politics in the Twenty-First Century (paperback, 2018, Columbia
Eric Kaufmann: White Shift: Populism, Immigration, and the
Future of White Majorities (2019, Henry N Abrams).
James Mahaffey: Atomic Adventures: Secret Islands, Forgotten
N-Rays, and Isotopic Murder: A Journey Into the Wild World of Nuclear
Science (2017, Pegasus Books).
Samuel Moyn: Not Enough: Human Rights in an Unequal World
(2018, Belknap Press).
Jennifer Palmieri: Dear Madam President: An Open Letter to
the Women Who Will Run the World (2018, Grand Central).
Jennifer Ratner-Rosenhagen: The Ideas That Made America: A
Brief History (2019, Oxford University Press).
Ruth Reichl: Save Me the Plums: My Gourmet Memoir (2019,
David Selbourne: The Free Society in Crisis: A History of Our
Times (2019, Prometheus Books).
Jeanne Theoharis: A More Beautiful and Terrible History: The
Uses and Misuses of Civil Rights History (2018; paperback, 2019,
Monday, September 02, 2019
Expanded blog post,
Music: current count 32020  rated (+36), 227  unrated (-9).
Rated count topped 32,000 this week. I'd count that as a milestone,
if not exactly news, as the accumulation has been as steady as time
since I posted my first rated count of 8,080 in January 2003. That
was about the time I started writing
Recycled Goods plus the occasional
Village Voice review, leading up to
Jazz Consumer Guide, and a bit of
Seattle Weekly, and
F5. Those outlets opened up a stream
of promo copies that continues (somewhat abated, often just a trickle)
to this day. But as the mail thinned out, I resorted increasingly to
streaming to make up the difference and expand my horizons. Since
2003, I've averaged a bit less than 30 per week (28.75), a bit less
than 1,500 per year (1495). If I made a chart of that, I imagine it
would show an upward slant from 2003-11 (when Jazz CG ended, then a
plateau, tailing off a bit the last couple years).
Before 2003, that 8,080 came from close to 30 years of record
buying (with a few promos in the late-1970s). That averages out
to about 5 records per week, 270 per year, but a graph wouldn't
be flat: you'd find an initial bulge peaking around 1977-78, a
long trough, and a marked increase from 1995 on. I listened to
music in my teens, but never bought much until I got my first
steady job around 1973. My
early music writings start in 1974,
including a few reviews for the Village Voice in 1975-79. I gave
them up around 1980, when I landed an engineering job and moved
to New Jersey. I cut way back on my record buying there, and it's
possible that some years I bought less than 100, maybe as few as
50. I moved to Boston in 1985, and found myself spending more time
in record stores. I started buying CDs relatively late, and my
pace picked up around 1995 when I got into a big jazz/roots kick.
That continued when I returned to Kansas in 1999, as I built up
the level of expertise that allowed me to write Recycled Goods and
Jazz Consumer Guide.
But what really got me back into writing, aside from losing my
software engineering job and finding few suitable opportunities, was
encouragement from Michael Tatum, Bob Christgau, and (decisively)
Laura Tillem. Still, I never planned on making music my central (let
alone exclusive) writing focus, and I've sometimes wondered whether
it hasn't just been a zero-sum game. I could have spent the last 20
years writing free software (as I had started in the 1990s with
Ftwalk. I put a fair
amount of effort into an
open source business plan for home
automation, and could have returned to that, or developed any
number of tangential ideas. I also had a scheme for writer-oriented
websites, of which
Robert Christgau's was
intended as a prototype. (One more I built was for
Carol Cooper.) Several things
distracted me from those paths (although I still maintain those two
The other path I considered was writing political philosophy, which
had been my main interest before getting sidetracked into music critique
in the mid-1970s. I had soured on politics by 1975, and as I turned away
from music around 1980 I wound up reading mostly science (making up for
turning away from my early interest), engineering, and business. Laura
reminded me that I still knew quite a bit about politics and history,
and I toyed with the idea of writing a political book in the late 1990s.
September 11, 2001 got me to reading history, politics, and economics
again. (You can peruse my reading list -- the data file for my "Recent
Reading" blog widget, newly formatted --
here.) I wound up writing
several tons of political commentary -- not quite what I envisioned,
but scattered with a fair number of serious ideas (some much more
distinctive than the grunt work I've cranked out on music).
Seems like I've always been a notoriously slow reader and a poky,
easily distracted writer, so for a good while I just took some comfort
in getting any writing done at all. The
on-line notebook has about 6.5 million
words since 2000, and I've compiled much of that into nine ODT files
averaging 1500 pages each (4 on music, 4 on politics, 1 personal).
I can't claim they're very good, but when I dip into them I often
find things worth remembering and even repeating. Still, these days
I'm more likely to think of them as opportunity costs: if only I
had focused on one thing or the other, maybe I'd have something much
better to show for all the effort. Rating (and more/less reviewing)
32,000 records has been a pretty ridiculous thing to do -- as proven
by the fact that no one else has been so foolish to do something that
required nothing more than a lot of disposable hours. The only thing
that would have been a bigger waste of time was not bothering to take
As I wrote the above, I listened to three more albums, including
a rather nice one by Florian Hoefner that is certain to remain below
damn near everyone's interest threshold. I have little more to add
on the records listed below. One thing is that there's only one
non-jazz album among the new releases (but three in the recent
compilations). Partly, I played quite a few new albums from the
promo queue. I also added the 4.5/5.0 star reviewed records from
The Free Jazz Collective
2019 metacritic file,
and that pointed me to more new jazz (including several 2018 releases
I had missed). But partly it was just one of those weeks when I felt
much more certain about the jazz I heard than the non-jazz. The
non-jazz exceptions this week came from
Phil Overeem's latest list update (ok, Two Niles was on his
2018 list, but I found it on the Bandcamp page for Star Band De Dakar).
I listened to two other non-jazz records from this list, but couldn't
make up my mind and held them back: Lana Del Rey's Norman Fucking
Rockwell (number 5) and Raphael Saadiq's Jimmy Lee (18).
I'm attracted to and resistant to both, which means they'll probably
wind up high B+, but I'm not certain enough to say. Thanks to working
on the metacritic file, I'm probably more aware of new non-jazz right
now than any time this year, but less sure of my ears. On the other
hand, this is definitely a good year for jazz.
New records reviewed this week:
- Sophie Agnel/John Edwards/Steve Noble: Aqisseq (2016 , ONJazz): [r]: B+(**)
- The Kenyatta Beasley Septet: The Frank Foster Songbook (2019, Art Vs Transit, 2CD): [r]: B+(**)
- Ray Blue: Work (2019, Jazzheads): [cd]: B+(**)
- Cat in a Bag: Cat in a Bag (2019, Clean Feed): [r]: B+(***)
- Corey Christiansen: La Proxima (2019, Origin): [cd]: B+(*)
- Peter Eldridge/Kenny Werner: Somewhere (2019, Rosebud Music): [cd]: C-
- Haruna Fukazawa: Departure (2019, Summit): [cd]: B+(*)
- Olli Hirvonen: Displace (2019, Ropeadope): [cd]: B+(**)
- I Jahbar and Friends: Inna Duppy SKRS Soundclash (2019, Bokeh Versions): [bc]: B-
- Michael Gregory Jackson Clarity Quartet: Whenufindituwillknow (2019, Golden): [bc]: B+(**)
- Roberto Magris Sextet: Sun Stone (2019, JMood): [cd]: B+(***)
- Todd Marcus: Trio+ (2019, Stricker Street): [cd]: B+(**)
- Joe McPhee/John Edwards/Klaus Kugel: Journey to Parazzar (2017 , Not Two): [r]: B+(***)
- Dave Miller Trio: Just Imagine (2019, Summit): [cd]: B+(**)
- Nérija: Blume (2019, Domino): [r]: B+(*)
- Bill O'Connell and the Afro Caribbean Ensemble: Wind Off the Hudson (2019, Savant): [cd]: B+(**)
- The Ogún Meji Duo: Spirits of the Egungun (2019, CFG Multimedia): [r]: A-
- Mike Pachelli: High Standards (2019, Fullblast): [cd]: B+(*)
- Jason Palmer: Rhyme and Reason (2018 , Giant Step Arts): [r]: B+(***)
- Jeff Parker/Jeb Bishop/Pandelis Karayorgis/Nate McBride/Devin Gray: The Diagonal Filter (2018, Not Two): [r]: B+(**)
- Pearring Sound: Nothing but Time (2018 , self-released): [cd]: B+(***)
- David Sanchez: Carib (2018 , Ropeadope): [r]: B+(***)
- Dana Saul: Ceiling (2018 , Endectomorph): [cd]: A-
- Rob Scheps: Comencio (2019, SteepleChase): [r]: B+(**)
- Harvey Sorgen/Joe Fonda/Marilyn Crispell: Dreamstruck (2018, Not Two): [r]: A-
- Lyn Stanley: London With a Twist: Live at Bernie's (2019, A.T. Music): [cd]: B+(**)
- The Clifford Thornton Memorial Quartet: Sweet Oranges (2017 -2018], Not Two): [r]: B+(*)
- Tucker Brothers: Two Parts (2019, self-released): [cd]: B
- Ken Vandermark/Klaus Kugel/Mark Tokar: No-Exit Corner (2016 , Not Two): [r]: B+(***)
- Luis Vicente/Vasco Trilla: A Brighter Side of Darkness (2018 , Clean Feed): [r]: B+(*)
- John Yao's Triceratops: How We Do (2018 , See Tao): [cd], B+(**)
- Jason Yeager: New Songs of Resistance (2018 , Outside In Music): [cd]: B+(*)
- Miguel Zenón: Sonero: The Music of Ismael Rivera (2019, Miel Music): [cd]: A-
Recent reissues, compilations, and vault discoveries:
- Prince: Originals (1981-91 , Rhino/Warner Bros.): [r]: B-
- Sounds of Liberation: Unreleased (Columbia University 1973) (1973 , Dogtown): [r]: B+(*)
- Star Band De Dakar: Psicodelia Afro-Cubana De Senegal (1960s-70s , Ostinato): [r]: B+(***)
- Two Niles to Sing a Melody: The Violins & Synths of Sudan (Ostinato): [bc]: A-
- Louis Moholo-Moholo: Duets With Marilyn Crispell: Sibanye (We Are One) (2007 , Intakt): [r]: B+(***)
Grade (or other) changes:
- Taylor Swift: Lover (2019, Republic): [r]: [was: B+(***)] A-
Unpacking: Found in the mail last week:
- Keiji Haino/Merzbow/Balasz Pandi: Become the Discovered, Not the Discoverer (RareNoise): advance, September 27
- Led Bib: It's Morning (RareNoise): advance, September 27
- Colin Stranahan/Glenn Zaleski/Rick Rosato: Live at Jazz Standard (Capri): September 20
Sunday, September 01, 2019
The lead story for most of next week will be
Hurricane Dorian, which as I write this (see
here) is a Category 5 Hurricane moving slowly through the
Bahamas toward the coast of Florida. It is expected to turn north and
follow the coast (possibly without the eye making landfall) up to North
Carolina, where it will most likely head back into the Atlantic. The
current tracking forecast puts it off the coast of Palm Beach around
2PM Tuesday, Jacksonville 2PM Wednesday, close to the SC/NC border 2PM
Thursday, and straight east of the NC/Va border 2PM Friday. Presumably
the storm will lose intensity as it drifts north, but not as quickly
as it would if it landed. Rain forecasts are relatively mild, but the
coast will see storm surges and a lot of wind.
Dorian was still a tropical storm when it passed over the Windward
Islands last Monday (55 mph winds in Barbados, 4.1 inches of rain in
Martinique). It wasn't much stronger when it crossed Puerto Rico, but
was predicted to intensify to Category 3 or 4 as it headed through
the Bahamas to Florida. It did more than that, reaching sustained
winds of 185 mph and gusts to 225 mph. The
2019 Atlantic hurricane season has been relatively mild so far,
even compared to the forecasts (12 named storms, 5 hurricanes, 2 major).
With the season about half over, there have been 5 named storms (TS
Erin was named after Dorian, but has already dissipated), 2 hurricanes,
1 major (Dorian). The season continues through the end of November,
so we're not much below expectations.
Some scattered links this week:
Anya van Wagtendonk: This week in mass shootings:
If you'd like to keep score, see Neil Vigdor:
53 people died in mass shootings in August alone in the US.
The rich can't get richer forever, can they?: "Inequality comes in
waves. The question is when this one will break." Reviews several books,
including Binyamin Applebaum's The Economist's Hour: False Prophets,
Free Markets, and the Fracture of Society (on Milton Friedman and
his "Chicago school" of free market fundamentalists) and Branko Milanovic's
Capitalism, Alone: The Future of the System That Rules the World.
Do conservatives believe there are more bad people in America than
elsewhere? Well, sure they do. For starters, they believe there
are more conservatives in America than elsewhere.
The conservative pundit problem in the Age of Trump. Well, part
of the problem, as he limits himself to conservative pundits cultivated
to dialogue with centrist readers of the New York Times and Washington
Post (David Brooks, George Will, Bret Stephens), most of which recognize
that their brand as sane voices would be jeopardized by following Trump
into the fever swamps of the alt-right. That skips over other pundits
who've had no qualms about embracing Trump wholeheartedly (e.g., the
ones syndicated in my hometown paper: Marc Thiessen and Cal Thomas).
Here are 14 reasons I'll vote for any Democrat over Trump: He starts
off by chastising Michael Bloomberg (whom "I have the utmost respect for")
for stopping short if the Democratic nominee is Sanders or Warren, then
goes on to list his 14 issues. A couple items here I actually lean toward
Trump on, but nothing I would vote for him for. Boot and Bloomberg remain
narrow ideologues, their differences reflect that the Democratic Left is
more of a threat to oligarchs (like Bloomberg) than to neoconservatives
(like Boot). But also that Boot still thinks that the Republican Party
can be recover from Trump's heresies, corruption and bullshit, and must
to keep the empire from collapsing.
Quoctrung Bui/Karl Russell:
How much will the trade war cost you by the end of the year?
"About $460 over a year for the average family."
The problem with primarying Trump. I would have guess it has something
to do with money. Sixteen Republicans ran for president in 2016, because
that many billionaires felt they had a chance backing whoever best fit
their pocket. Regardless of how shaky Trump might look in the general
election, running against him is a waste of money: he's consolidated his
base within the Republican Party, and his brand and the Party's are now
effectively synonymous. The article reads more like the problem is that
the challengers are all idiots and cranks, which is the only sort you'd
figure to bet against the smart money.
Trump doesn't think he's 'ever even heard of a Category 5' hurricane.
Four such storms hit the US since he took office. "Trump has
previously indicated several other times that Category 5 hurricanes
are unprecedented weather events that either he or others had never
heard of or witnessed."
Gillibrand campaign insiders felt Franken resignation foiled her bid:
New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand gave up on her presidential campaign
after failing to qualify for the September debates. This is one of the
few reports I've seen that tries to assign blame, probably because they
interviewed "Hillary Clinton's former communications director" --
obviously someone who knows a thing or two about deflecting blame
elsewhere. Gillibrand was the first Senator to call for Franken's
resignation, and I doubt she did so without considering how doing so
would reflect on campaign. I thought that was unfair and unwise, but
I wouldn't reject her for that. She's moved smartly to the left, and
I would have easily picked her over Harris and Klobuchar (or Franken,
even before the taint). But she's been a less effective advocate for
progressive issues than Sanders and Warren, and her special focus on
"women's issues" isn't very distinct. For more:
David Koch's most significant legacy is the election of Donald Trump.
Peter S Goodman:
Trump can battle China or expand the economy. He can't do both.
A top financier of Trump and McConnell is a driving force behind
Amazon deforestation: Stephen Schwarzman, of Blackstone, owner
"in large part" of Hidrovias do Brasil.
Jazz is a music of perseverance against racism and capitalism.
Horne has a book: Jazz and Justice: Racism and the Political Economy
of Music. Related (interview with Horne): Anton Woronczuk:
White supremacy tried to kill jazz. The music triumphed.
John Hudson/Josh Dawsey:
Bolton sidelined from Afghanistan policy as his standing with Trump
Bret Stephens, Donald Trump and the epidemic of male fragility.
Yes, Trump does terrible things constantly. Does that mean we shouldn't
cover Biden's gaffes? Refers to Peter Hamby's "rant":
"Are we really going to have a gaffe-fest over Joe Biden?": How clickbait
and outrage porn are hurting readers -- and elevating Trump. Well,
it's not as if Trump's gaffes have been underreported. One problem is
that his gaffes don't seem to have much downside for Trump. Reporting
them makes it look like he's being picked on by liberal media elites,
endearing him to his base. On the other hand, Biden's gaffes undermine
his central message, which is that he intends to restore competent and
responsible leadership to the presidency. So, yeah, reporting on them
hurts him, and is probably unfair. On the other hand, few in the media
are up to reporting on substantive issues. Gaffes are more their speed,
which winds up selecting for candidates who make lots of them (actually,
good for Biden) and who can slough them off (better for Trump).
If the Democrats take the Senate, they plan to fix Obamacare, not pass
Medicare for All. Sure. Some Democrats will balk at Medicare for All,
especially in the expansive formulation that Bernie Sanders has proposed,
but everyone agrees that the ACA framework can be tuned to work better,
so that's where the initial focus will (and should) be. On the other hand,
Democrats who want Medicare for All are likely to support better fixes
to ACA, because they understand that single-payer is the preferred longer
term solution, and because they're not the sort of people who will break
an inadequate system in hopes of replacing it with a better one. Would-be
saboteurs mostly belong to the other Party.
Boris Johnson just suspended Parliament over Brexit. Here's what's going
on. More on Brexit:
The Trumpiest week ever: "Donald Trump's re-election strategy couldn't
be clearer: chaos covering up cruelty."
Trial of high-powered lawyer Gregory Craig exposes seamy side of
The next recession will destroy millennials: "Millennials are already
in debt and without savings. After the next downturn, they will be in even
bigger trouble." Related (Dec. 6, 2018): Derek Thompson:
Millennials didn't kill the economy. The economy killed millennials.
"The American system has thrown them into debt, depressed their wages,
kept them from buying homes -- and then blamed them for everything."
Trump wants to cut taxes for rich people yet again: "Indexing capital
gains to inflation, as Trump is considering, would overwhelmingly benefit
the top 1 percent."
The inspector general report on James Comey's memos, explained.
Related: Josh Marshall:
Of course Comey was right to share the memos. Marshall, with his
instinct for big stories, also weighed in on a previously unknown White
House staffer getting fired:
Getting fired ain't the story. Not clear whether "Ms. Westerhout" has
a first name.
Many businesses oppose Trump's deregulatory agenda. Here's why.
The anatomy of the coming recession: posits three possible "negative
supply shocks that could trigger a global recession" -- two involving
Trump and China, the third oil. Roubini was pretty sharp on the coming
of the 2008 recession. Related: Robert J Shiller:
The Trump narrative and the next recession.
The fake feud between Trump and Fox. More on the "feud":
To rescue democracy, we must revive the reforms of the Progressive Era.
John Hickenlooper is the new Joe Lieberman: "What Lieberman was to
antiwar Democrats, Colorado's Hickenlooper is to environmentalists."
Related: Aida Chavez/Akela Lacy:
Senate Democrats' campaign arm is pressuring consultants not to work
with leading progressive candidate in Colorado. Chavez previously
National Democrats endorse John Hickenlooper, a proponent of fracking,
in competitive Colorado primary.
Trump will greenlight West Bank annexation to force Israeli pols to keep
Netanyahu as PM, observers say. Other pieces on Israel and the war
flare-ups that seem to be part of Netanyahu's reelection campaign:
Political commentary can be both caustic and incisive. Molly Ivins showed
America how. Interview with Janice Engel, director of the documentary
Raise Hell: The Life and Times of Molly Ivins.
It's time to talk about James Mattis's involvement with the Theranos
scandal: "He's selling a book, not saving the country from Trump."
I've seen several articles on Mattis this week, mostly about him being
coy about what he will and will not say about his differences with
Trump, when and if he will say anything, but this is the one piece
that reflects directly on his character:
But Mattis isn't out babysitting Trump anymore. He's trying to sell books.
And while his thoughts and reflections on his time in the Trump cabinet
are certainly somewhat interesting at this point we hardly need another
person to tell us that the president is erratic, uninformed, impulsive
and all the rest. This stuff isn't highly guarded state secrets, it's
out in public on Twitter for everyone to see. Rather than dwelling on
this stuff that's out there and obvious, it would be nice for journalists
granted access to the retired general to ask some questions about Theranos.
Fundamentally, Trump's rise to power is part of a broader epidemic of
elite impunity in the United States. And Mattis's ability to dabble in
questionable activity, cash a few checks, and then skate away with his
reputation intact is very much part of the problem.
Donald Trump's escalating war of words with Fed Chair Jay Powell,
The most dangerous idea in central banking, explained. Someone named
William Dudley has suggested that the Fed sandbag the economy to hurt
Donald Trump's reelection prospects -- or, to put a finer point on it,
that the Fed shouldn't attempt to stimulate the economy when Trump's
trade wars drag it down. Article points out that some Fed chairs have
used their power over the economy to dictate political concessions --
e.g., Alan Greenspan vs. Bill Clinton. I'd add Ben Bernanke vs. Barack
Obama, but in that case Republicans were livid that the Fed was doing
anything at all to salvage the economy. According to law, the Fed is
responsible for balancing competing demands for full employment and
low inflation, but in practice the Fed has always kowtowed to the
banking interests it is supposed to regulate.
The past 3 wild days in Trump's trade war with China, explained.
Dropped this item after finding myself going down a rathole:
What should progressives be willing to sacrifice on the altar of civility?Eve Fairbanks:
The 'reasonable rebels', putting not undeserved emphasis on the links
between conservatives who defended slavery 150 years ago and conservatives
today. The point seems to be that treating others with civility implies
tacit deference and compromise. I don't see why that should be the case.
Within my fairly long life I've hardly ever felt the need to resort to
verbal (much less physical) violence when confronted with someone I've
disagreed with profoundly. I've long felt it important to try to respect
others -- although some people do manage to make that difficult, usually
when they show no respect to you.
Tuesday, August 27, 2019
Starting to do some badly needed housecleaning, both in my physical and
virtual worlds. As I do things, I'll add notes to this list.
- I thought it would be nice to have a permanent link to the latest
Streamnotes column, so wrote
reads my list file, picks out the latest monthly column, then writes
a header "Location" directive to redirect to that column. First time
I've written code like that, although I've needed it in the past, and
will much more in the future.
- Made minor changes to /arch/rhap menu. Renamed
rhwish.php "Search List,"
and added it and "Latest," while dropping "Missing."
- Looked at sitemap.php and found it's really out of date (file date
Sept. 8, 2006). I need to go through this and make a number of changes,
and also update the link menus to better reflect reality.
Monday, August 26, 2019
Expanded blog post,
Music: current count 31984  rated (+40), 236  unrated (-7).
Spent most of last week listening to old records from my "unrated"
list. Most, I think, are used CDs I bought between 1999, when we moved
back to Wichita, and 2003-04, when I started getting a lot of promos
for Recycled Goods and Jazz Consumer Guide. During that period I used
to make regular trips to Oklahoma City (sometimes Tulsa, once even
to Kansas City) where I'd pile up 30-50 CDs at a time. Also made a
few cross-country trips in those years, where I would spend whole
days traipsing around cities like Denver and Phoenix, scrounging
around. In several cases I cleaned up on store closeouts. Actually,
I did that for a few more years, but stopped buying locally after
Yesterdays and Wherehouse went out of business, and that did much
to break the pattern. (Wichita still has a number of CD Tradepost
stores, but I've never liked them. Google also lists a Spektrum
Muzik, which I should probably look into -- although at this point
I'd be more tempted to sell than to buy.) Of course, the other
thing that broke my shopping habit was Rhapsody. I started doing
Streamnotes in late 2007, and my
purchases plummeted after that.
Some unrated records are older LPs. Not sure when I started
keeping a ratings list. I've had personal computers since about
Ithaca Intersystems DPS-1 with a Z-80, 64K RAM, S-100 bus,
two 8-inch floppy discs, ran CP/M, ran me close to $5,000, not
counting the Heathkit terminal I soldered together; I actually
had an Apple II before that, but decided it was crap and never
bought from Apple again), so I could have started any time after
that, but I certainly had one by the mid-1990s. That list didn't
always have grades -- I assigned them mostly from memory, which
had already begun to fail on many older/less played LPs. I sold
off most of my LPs in 1999 before moving to Wichita, so may no
longer have some items logged as unrated. (On the other hand, I
recall dozens of early albums not on the records list, so it was
never perfectly accurate.)
I started counting up unrated records in
March 2003, when my rated
count was 8,067 and the unrateds totalled 821. The unrated count
jumped to 899 the next week after a bout of shopping. It went down
for a few weeks, then shot up again, finally peaking at 1,157 in
July 2004. I've gradually
whittled it down since then, dropping under 1,000 in December 2004,
under 800 in July 2007 (although it climbed back to 888 in April
2011), under 600 in December 2012, under 400 in April 2015, and
under 300 in September 2018, and 243 last week. I thought I'd try
to knock it down further this week. I gathered up a bunch of CDs
from the list, and streamed a few I didn't bother hunting down.
That explains both why I have so much "old music" this week, and
why it seems so abritrarily selected. Still, my efforts were
undone by a sudden burst of incoming mail (bringing the recent
queue up to 26 albums, although most of their release dates are
well into Fall).
Working off my unrated list results in some curious choices
below. For instance, the Lenny Breau/Brad Terry album is only
about a third of the one you'd probably buy these days, 2003's
The Complete Living Room Tapes, but I cut that down to
match the one I owned (didn't find it, but I remember the cover).
Similarly, you'd buy the Michael Mantler twofer, where I only
had the Silence half (probably on vinyl, but in this case
I did bother to stream the other half. I listened to extra albums
where they struck my fancy: by Arrow, Hackberry Ramblers, Jasper
Van't Hof, Papa Wemba, and Jack DeJohnette (and threw in an average
grade for the latter's box, since I've heard all the pieces and
that's how they're available on Napster). But I didn't bother with
the first Songhai album, or the earlier and later volumes
by the Bluegrass Album Band, to mention a couple of obvious series.
I imagine I'll keep nibbling away at the unrated list, but already
I'm seeing diminishing returns.
Expect a new edition of
XgauSez by the time you read this. I should also have an update
to the Consumer Guide database real soon now. I've added the last
batch of Expert Witness reviews to my local copy so I should be
able to do an update any time. I'll send mail to the tech email
list when I do, and go into more detail about redesign plans.
I reckon I can pass on a link that Joe Yanosik sent me: a piece
by Geoff Edgers called
The summer of 1969, when Elvis made his true comeback, which
includes some bits of interview with Christgau.
Tried to get my new Synology backup server running last week,
and ultimately failed. I'll take another shot at it this week.
The machine also has potential as a media server -- something I
have a clear need for, but never put enough time into to really
figure out. Also made another Friday dinner for Max Stewart.
Thought I'd do something easy/lazy this time, so made pastisio,
a green bean ragout, and horiatiki salad: basic Greek country
cooking. I felt good enough about it I might try something a
bit more challenging next time.
New records reviewed this week:
- Clairo: Immunity (2019, Fader): [r]: B+(***)
- CP Unit: Riding Photon Time (2019, Eleatic): [r]: A-
- G-Eazy: The Beautiful & Damned (2017, BPG/RVG/RCA): [r]: B+(***)
- Steve Lehman Trio/Craig Taborn: The People I Love (2018-19 , Pi): [cd]: A
- Nils Lofgren: Blue With Lou (2019, Castle Track Road): [r]: B+(*)
- Paal Nilssen-Love/Ken Vandermark: Screen Off (2008-18 , PNL): [bc]: B+(**)
Recent reissues, compilations, and vault discoveries:
- Cannonball Adderley: Swingin' in Seattle: Live at the Penthouse 1966-1967 (1966-67 , Real to Reel): [r]: B+(***)
- Big Stick: Some of the Best of Big Stick (1985-91 , Drag Racing Underground, EP): [r]: B+(**)
- Marvin Gaye: You're the Man (1972 , Motown): [r]: B+(*)
- Arrow: Soca Savage (1984, Arrow): [r]: B+(*)
- Arrow: Knock Dem Dead (1987 , Mango: [r]: B+(**)
- The Bluegrass Album Band: The Bluegrass Album, Vol. 3: California Connection (1983, Rounder): [r]: B+(**)
- Lenny Breau & Brad Terry: The Living Room Tapes (1978 , Dos): [r]: B+(*)
- Jack DeJohnette: Sorcery (1974, Prestige): [r]: B+(*)
- Jack DeJohnette's Special Edition: Tin Can Alley (1980 , ECM): [r]: B+(**)
- Jack DeJohnette's Special Edition: Inflation Blues (1982 , ECM): [r]: B+(*)
- Jack DeJohnette: Parallel Realities (1990, MCA): [r]: B+(*)
- Jack DeJohnette: Special Edition (1979-84 , ECM, 4CD): [r]: B+(*)
- Manu Dibango: Wakafrika (1994, Giant): [r]: B+(**)
- Luderin Darbone's Hackberry Ramblers: Early Recordings: 1935-1950 (1935-50 , Arhoolie): [r]: B+(***)
- Luderin Darbone's Hackberry Ramblers: Jole Blonde (1963-65 , Arhoolie): [r]: B+(**)
- The Hackberry Ramblers: Cajun Boogie (1992, Flying Fish): [cd]: A-
- The Johnson Mountain Boys: At the Old Schoolhouse (1988 , Rounder): [r]: B+(***)
- Ketama/Toumani Diabate/José Soto: Songhai 2 (1994, Hannibal): [r]: B+(*)
- Shoukichi Kina: Peppermint Tea House: The Best of Shoukichi Kina (1980-91 , Luaka Bop): [r]: B+(**)
- Tony Lakatos/Rick Margitza/Gábor Bolla: Gypsy Tenors (2017, Skip): [r]: B+(**)
- Yo-Yo Ma: The Soul of the Tango: The Music of Astor Piazzolla (1998, Sony Classical): [r]: B+(**)
- Michael Mantler: No Answer (1973 , Watt): [r]: B-
- Michael Mantler: Silence (1976 , Watt): [r]: B
- Michael Mantler: No Answer/Silence (1973-76 , Watt, 2CD): [r]: B
- Oujda-Casablanca Introspections, Vol. 1 (1988-93 , Barbarity): [cd]: A-
- Romeo Must Die: The Album (2000, Virgin): [cd]: B+(***)
- Wallace Roney: The Wallace Roney Quintet (1995 , Warner Bros.): [cd]: B
- Archie Shepp/Jasper Van't Hof: Live in Concert: Mama Rose (1982, SteepleChase): [r]: B+(*)
- Third World Cop [Original Motion Picture Soundtrack] (1999 , Palm Pictures): [cd]: A-
- McCoy Tyner Big Band: Journey (1993, Birdology): [cd]: B+(**)
- Jasper Van't Hof/Ernie Watts/Bo Stieff Face to Face: Canossa (1998, Intuition): [cd]: B+(*)
- Viva La Musica & Papa Wemba: Pôle Position (1995, Sonodisc): [r]: A-
- Papa Wemba: Papa Wemba [Destin Ya Moto] (1988, Disques Espérance): [r]: B+(**)
- Papa Wemba: Papa Wemba [M'Fono Yami] (1988 , Stern's Africa): [r]: B+(**)
- Papa Wemba: M'zée Fula-Ngenge (1999, Sonodisco): [r]: B+(***)
- Steve Williamson: A Waltz for Grace (1990, Verve): [cd]: B+(**)
- Yosuke Yamashita/Bill Laswell/Ryuichi Sakamoto: Asian Games (1988 , Verve Forecast): [cd]: B
Grade (or other) changes:
- Viva La Musica/Papa Wemba: Nouvelle Écriture: Dans L' (1998, Sonodisc): [cd]: [was: B] B+(***)
Unpacking: Found in the mail last week:
- Ray Blue: Work (Jazzheads): October 12
- Jeff Denson/Romain Pilon/Brian Blade: Between Two Worlds (Ridgeway): October 25
- DSC [Leon Lee Dorsey/Greg Skaff/Mike Clark]: Monktime (Jazz Avenue 1): September 13
- Avram Fefer Quartet: Testament (Clean Feed): November 8
- Haruna Fukazawa: Departure (Summit)
- Olli Hirvonen: Displace (Ropeadope): August 30
- Florian Hoefner Trio: First Spring (ALMA): September 27
- Todd Marcus: Trio+ (Stricker Street): November 15
- Derel Monteith: Connemara: Solo Piano Improvisations (self-released): October 18
- Derel Monteith Trio: Quantity of Life (self-released): October 18
- Vaughn Nark: Back in the Day (Summit)
- Dana Saul: Ceiling (Endectomorph): September 13
- Leo Sherman: Tonewheel (Outside In Music): October 25
- Emi Takada: Why Did I Choose You? (self-released): September 1
Sunday, August 25, 2019
There are more than a few "Trump's gone nuts" moments below. Not the
first time this has happened, but the count is definitely rising (and
continuing as the G-7 articles arrive). The Fallows links below offer
an extended opportunity to plot Trump's decline. Also see Steve M:
Even if Trump is impaired, he won't go quietly. He cites Charles
Pierce recalling the 1984 Reagan-Mondale debate as the occasion when
he realized that Reagan exhibited clear signs of Alzheimer's. I recall
watching that debate, and thinking I've never seen a more one-sided
drubbing, yet Reagan went on to a landslide victory that November.
On the other hand, I also came away very annoyed with Mondale, who
scored many of his points by being more resolutely (recklessly even)
anti-communist than Reagan -- whose own Cold War ardor was undoubted
but, at least in person, tempered by his genial incoherence.
Trump's incoherence is less benign, partly because he projects a
degree of menace (resentment and vitriol) Reagan never projected.
But also Reagan was never his own man. He was the front guy, hired
as the face and mouth, reading from prepared scripts, happy to be
playing a role, while his evil "kitchen cabinet" called the shots.
Trump has always been a one-man show, with few (if any) competent
advisers, but with great faith in his ability to wing it. Early on,
all presidents are dazed and overwhelmed at first, allowing their
staffs to hold sway over the administration. However, deference and
ego eventually favor the president, who eventually take charge of
what matters most. It took GW Bush well into his second term to get
out from under Cheney's thumb. Obama and Clinton evolved faster
because they knew more, but in both of those cases early staff
decisions did a lot of damage. Trump got saddled with a lot of
hardcore GOP regulars early on, but most of them have been purged,
allowing Trump to replace them with flunkies distinguished mostly
by their sycophancy. The result is that when Trump wigs out, we
no longer have the comfort of "adults in the room" to contain
I imagine you could plot two curves here. One shows the increased
fragility of the administration (and really the whole country) as
competent people are replaced with ones who are less so (and/or are
too crooked to know better). The other would is the increasing
likelihood that Trump himself will break down and blow something
up. (Too early to call his performance at G-7, but it should be
enough to give you a fright.)
The Democratic presidential campaign thinned out a bit, with
Jay Inslee, and
John Hickenlooper ending their campaigns. Meanwhile,
Joe Walsh will offer Trump some token ultra-conservative opposition.
Some scattered links this week:
Trump advisers are scrambling to sell the idea that a recession isn't
going to happen. I've heard that the "yield curve inversion" has a
perfect record of predicting recessions (10 for 10, no false positives),
but in some ways Larry Kudlow's assurance that there won't be a recession
Dear Democrats, the mainstream media are not your friends: "Misplaced
trust in the media has repeatedly led to disastrous debates."
Blame economists for the mess we're in: "Why did America listen to
the people who thought we needed 'more millionaires and more bankrupts?'"
Peter Baker/Aurelien Breeden:
Iranian official makes surprise appearance on sidelines of G7 summit.
This is how Trump will tank the economy and his presidency.
Trump and the fragile belonging of American Jews: "The president's
spree of anti-Semitic comments reveals why Jews can't feel truly safe
in his America." Related: Jack Mirkinson:
Trump is reportedly being a raging anti-Semite because he's mad Jews
don't like him more:
It gives me a stress headache to have to repeat this basic fact, but
thinking that Jews will support you because you do some (terrible)
stuff in Israel is . . . wait for it . . . really anti-Semitic! Not
every Jew thinks that aligning with the far-right in Israel is a
great plan. Not every Jew is (gasp!) even a Zionist or a supporter
of Israel in the first place! It's almost as if Israel and Jewishness
are two different things.
Not that this sort of nuance is ever going to make it through the
Fort Knox-like vault of stupidity surrounding Trump's brain.
Bipartisan support for Israel is dead. That's a good thing. Related:
Did Netanyahu just kill Washington's 'Pro-Israel' consensus? I doubt
it, at least beyond repair, but Netanyahu's alignment of his right-wing
policies with Trump and the Republican is increasingly bothering Democrats
who otherwise wouldn't give Israel a moment's critical thought. And this
is a case where the rank-and-file are miles ahead of the political class,
as it's become blindingly obvious that the Israeli right is treating
their minorities with the same contempt America's right threatens.
Peter Blake/Keith Bradsher:
Trump asserts he can force US companies to leave China. But they
haven't been "US companies" for ages now. Most are multinationals, with
significant non-American ownership stakes, but I doubt if many of the
nominal US citizens would put their patriotism above their bottom-line
interests, even if they thought Trump represents patriotism in some
peculiar way. As for American equity stakes in China, most of them are
in joint ventures they don't have this sort of control over.
'American Carnage' exposes the Republican slide into Trumpism:
Review of Tim Alberta's book (subtitle: On the Front Lines of the
Republican Civil War and the Rise of President Trump), which is
on my reading list, probably next up.
The Republican Party's political elite is obsessed with cutting taxes
for the wealthy, but it recognizes the lack of popular support for its
objectives and is forced to divert attention away from its main agenda
by emphasizing cultural-war themes. The disconnect between the Republican
Party's plutocratic agenda and the desires of the electorate is a tension
it has never been able to resolve, and as it has moved steadily rightward,
it has been evolving into an authoritarian party.
The party's embrace of Trump is a natural, if not inevitable, step
in this evolution. This is why the conservatives who presented Trump as
an enemy of conservative-movement ideals have so badly misdiagnosed the
party's response to Trump. The most fervently ideological conservatives
in the party have also been the most sycophantic: Ryan, Mike Pence, Ted
Cruz, Mick Mulvaney, the entire House Freedom Caucus. They embraced Trump
because Trumpism is their avenue to carry out their unpopular agenda.
Trump is melting down because China won't give in on trade.
Trump says Jews should love him because he's almost literally Jesus.
After carefully parsing the tweet, all Trump's really saying is that he
loves being praised by an idiot ("Wayne Allyn Root is a Christian who
converted from Judaism as well as a notorious conspiracy theorist and,
naturally, a huge Trump fan"), which doesn't necessarily mean Trump's
an idiot too (although it's no argument against, either). For more on
Root, see Zachary Pleat/Courtney Hadle:
The extremism of Wayne Allyn Root, who was promoted by Trump.
'A deep and boiling anger': NBC/WSJ poll finds a pessimistic America
despite current economic satisfaction.
US confirms Israel behind recent attacks in Iraq. Also:
Israel attacked Syria 'to prevent Iranian strike on Northern Israel; and:
Israel planning to attack Houthis in Yemen. Clearly, Netanyahu's
reëlection campaign is in full swing. Also, he clearly has no worries
that Trump will allow the UN or any major Western power to condemn
such flagrant acts of war, let alone impose sanctions or any other
form of punishment.
Andrea Dutton/Michael E Mann:
A dangerous new form of climate denialism is making the rounds.
If Trump were an airline pilot: The latest in a circular file of
notes posted when Trump does something dismaying (following his 152
installments on the 2016 campaign, written as
Time Capsules), plus I don't know how many since Trump took office.
I imagine that the only reason Fallows hasn't turned these into book
form is that he hasn't figured out how deep the hole is. He explains:
The one thing I avoided in that Time Capsule series was "medicalizing"
Trump's personality and behavior. That is, moving from description of
his behavior to speculation about its cause. Was Trump's abysmal
ignorance -- "Most people don't know President Lincoln was a Republican!" --
a sign of dementia, or of some other cognitive decline? Or was it just
more evidence that he had never read a book? Was his braggadocio and
self-centeredness a textbook case of narcissistic personality disorder?
(Whose symptoms include "an exaggerated sense of self-importance" and
"a sense of entitlement and require[s] constant, excessive admiration.")
Or just that he is an entitled jerk? On these and other points I didn't,
and don't, know.
However, the last couple weeks seem to warrant further consideration:
But now we've had something we didn't see so clearly during the campaign.
These are episodes of what would be called outright lunacy, if they
occurred in any other setting: An actually consequential rift with a
small but important NATO ally, arising from the idea that the U.S.
would "buy Greenland." Trump's self-description as "the Chosen One,"
and his embrace of a supporter's description of him as the "second
coming of God" and the "King of Israel." His logorrhea, drift, and
fantastical claims in public rallies, and his flashes of belligerence
at the slightest challenge in question sessions on the White House
lawn. His utter lack of affect or empathy when personally meeting
the most recent shooting victims, in Dayton and El Paso. His reduction
of any event, whatsoever, into what people are saying about him.
When W.E.B. Du Bois made a laughingstock of a white supremacist:
"Why the Jim Crow-era debate between the African-American leader and
a ridiculous, Nazi-loving racist isn't as famous as Lincoln-Douglas."
The latter was Lothrop Stoddard, a "versatile popularizer of certain
theories on race problems" -- especially those of Madison Grant, head
of the Bronx Zoo (where he exhibited an African Pygmy), also of the
American Eugenics Society (which 'thought 'worthless' individuals
should be sterilized"), lobbyist for the Johnson-Reed Immigration
Act of 1924 ("which shut down most immigration to the US"), and
author of The Passing of the Great Race (Hitler called the
book "my Bible"). The debate question was "shall the Negro be
encouraged to seek cultural equality," and, well, you can guess
the rest. Well, maybe not: the first thing that popped into my
mind, which was "why stop there?" Du Bois was too erudite and
refined, too much of a gentleman, to belittle his sorry opponent.
Stoddard went on to become a major Nazi apologist, and died in
ignominy. Du Bois survived him, became a Communist, eventually
giving up on the nation he had spent most of his life most so
eloquently trying to integrate and save.
When Kamala was a top cop: "If elected, can the candidate be trusted
to hold government officials accountable and oversee a progressive
criminal-justice system? Her past says no."
Susan B Glasser:
Mike Pompeo, the secretary of Trump: "How he became a heartland
evangelical -- and the President's most loyal soldier."
Pompeo, an evangelical Christian who keeps an open Bible on his desk,
now says it's possible that God raised up Trump as a modern Queen Esther,
the Biblical figure who convinced the King of Persia to spare the Jewish
people. He defines his own job as serving the President, whatever the
President asks of him. "A Secretary of State has to know what the President
wants," he said, at a recent appearance in Washington. "To the extent you
get out of synch with that leader, then you're just out shooting the
breeze." No matter what Trump has said or done, Pompeo has stood by him.
As a former senior White House official told me, "There will never be any
daylight publicly between him and Trump." The former official said that,
in private, too, Pompeo is "among the most sycophantic and obsequious
people around Trump." Even more bluntly, a former American ambassador
told me, "He's like a heat-seeking missile for Trump's ass."
Long piece with a lot of biographical detail: things I knew, like
his relationship to the Kochs, but with more details and clarification.
In particular, he's always touted himself as this great entrepreneur,
but if he was so great, how come he quit to become a political toady
for a bunch of rich guys? Even in the latter capacity, you'd expect
more money to stick to his fingers.
The prophetic pragmatism of Frederick Douglass. The subject of
a recent biography, David W Blight: Frederick Douglass: Prophet
After ICE: "On Aug. 7, immigration agents arrested 680 factory workers
in Mississippi. Here's what happened next."
David A Graham:
Why the $1.45 trillion F-35 still can't get off the ground.
Our democracy's founding ideals were false when they were written. Black
Americans have fought to make them true. Introduction to a series of
articles published last week as
The 1619 project in The New York Times Magazine. Other essays
in the series:
Needless to say, this series hasn't been warmly received by pundits
on the right, who may have given up on defending slavery and/or Jim
Crow but would much prefer that no one else dredge such subjects up,
let alone suggest that they have any persistent effects.
Trump's contradictions dominate and disrupt another G-7.
Today's Republicas use the filibuster just like the segregationists did.
Well, not exactly. Most segregationists could credibly claim that they
only used the filibuster on the one issue that mattered most to them,
whereas Republicans since 2008 use it for literally everything (aside
from their occasional "nuclear option" exceptions used to confirm
racist judges). The key thing to understand about the filibuster is
that it's designed to keep a political majority from doing things
they were elected to do. That was why segregationists embraced it,
and why Republicans have lately adopted it. It should be why Democrats
finally move to get rid of it -- unless, that is, they're not really
serious about changing things.
What if Obama had dropped Biden in 2012? Well, obviously, we wouldn't
have Biden as a serious candidate right now. But Obama's only alternatives
would have been to pick Hillary Clinton (who could have demanded the job
in 2008, but didn't object to Biden) or someone younger designated as his
successor. But Obama never gave any evidence of trying to build a legacy,
or even a party beyond what he needed for his own reëlection. I doubt he
ever thought Biden was a brilliant choice, but he was a safe one, and
hadn't done anything especially scandalous as VP, so caution argued
against making a switch. And if Democrats are so nostalgic for Obama
they're willing to pick Biden over such obvious clones as Booker and
Harris (or for that matter Castro), he's probably better off to remain
When Trump talks about Jews, he's really talking to evangelical
Trump was just being sarcastic about thinking he's the 'chosen one,'
okay? Sure, there are cases where one should admit that Trump was
just trying to crack a joke. We shouldn't take those too seriously,
or risk being charged as humorless scolds ourselves. (Trump's plead
to Russia to hack Hillary's emails is one such case, although the
evident fact that Russia went straight to work and hacked Hillary's
campaign's emails makes the clip awfully tempting.) But surely part
of the problem is that Trump isn't very funny, or more precisely:
he's unable to establish the human bond that clues us in to when
he's being flippant, as opposed to his array of other speech modes.
He brags a lot, alternately praises or disses others, and speaks
in vague and/or confusing terms about all matters of substance.
It's tempting to dismiss all of his utterances as lies, because
further taxonomy isn't worth the trouble (e.g.: is he serious or
ironic? is his untruth ignorance or deceit? are his lies deliberate
Factory woes grip swing states that flipped for Trump in 2016.
Trump is prioritizing the climate's destruction over his own reelection.
How Britain came to accept a 'no-deal Brexit': "The debate over Britain
leaving the European Union has polarized the country and normalized what
was previously unthinkable."
How the religious right transformed Israeli education. I submit
that it's impossible for an American to read this and not be reminded
of the rationalizations for Jim Crow laws, or to not detect the fond
desires of America's Christianist right. No wonder those are Israel's
staunchest supporters in the US. They are full of envy. (Needless to
say, so are the mad bombers; see the Ditz links above.)
Unlike the United States, which enshrined separation of church and state
in its Constitution, Israel is defined, in its basic law, as a "Jewish
and democratic state" -- a muddled term that breeds near-constant battle
over its meaning. Since its founding, Israel has had to rely on a series
of fragile compromises between its secular leadership and its religious
community. . . .
In the past decade, since Netanyahu came into power, Israeli society
has undergone a process so transformative that a new Hebrew word had to
be brought into use for it: "hadata," or "religionization." Manifestations
of hadata appear throughout civic life. On some public buses that pass
through ultra-Orthodox neighborhoods, women have been forced to sit in
the back, for reasons of "modesty." In the military, female soldiers are
officially given the same opportunities as males, but the presence of
just one religious male soldier in a unit can prevent female soldiers
from serving there. Such discrimination is often done in the name of
supposed inclusiveness: in order to accommodate the strictures of
observant Jews, certain adjustments have to be made. Yet those called
on to "adjust" are almost always women or members of the L.G.B.T.
community. Just this week, Israel's attorney general said that cities
could enforce gender segregation at public events, adding that "the
justification for the separation is greater if the events are attended
by a public that desires to be separated."
How life became an endless, terrible competition: "Meritocracy prizes
achievement above all else, making everyone -- even the rich -- miserable.
Maybe there's a way out." Author of the book, The Meritocracy Trap: How
America's Foundational Myth Feeds Inequality, Dismantles the Middle Class,
and Devours the Elite. Could be that this book has come too late,
appearing as it is after Chris Hayes: Twilight of the Elites: America
After Meritocracy, which argues that "meritocracy" is a sham argument
intent on justifying inequality in a rigged oligarchy, and Robert H Frank:
Success and Luck: Good Fortune and the Myth of Meritocracy, which
which shows that success hardly ever has anything to do with merit. Still,
ever since I read Hegel's "master-slave dialectic," I've enjoyed the
argument that slavery destroys the master as well as the slave (maybe
not as quickly, but as surely).
Today's meritocrats still claim to get ahead through talent and effort,
using means open to anyone. In practice, however, meritocracy now excludes
everyone outside of a narrow elite. Harvard, Princeton, Stanford, and Yale
collectively enroll more students from households in the top 1 percent of
the income distribution than from households in the bottom 60 percent.
Legacy preferences, nepotism, and outright fraud continue to give rich
applicants corrupt advantages.
Group of top CEOs says maximizing shareholder profits no longer can be
the primary goal of corporations: A new statement from the Business
Roundtable says "business leaders hould commit to balancing the needs of
shareholders with customers, employees, suppliers and local communities."
I'll believe it when/if I see it (in particular, when I CEO salaries
dip back toward pre-1980 levels). But by this point, anyone should be
able to see that the exclusive fetish for short-term profit leads to
the looting and pillage of companies, shortchanging both customers and
employees, and any communities foolish enough to grant or lend them
Everything you think you know about 'free speech' is a lie: "How
far-right operatives manufactured the 'crisis' of free speech with
books, think tanks -- and billions of dollars."
Ella Nilsen/Li Zhou:
Why Steve Bullock is refusing to help Democrats win a Senate majority.
Real Americans: Review of two books: Jill Lepore: This America:
The Case for the Nation, and Suketu Mehta: This Land Is Our Land:
An Immigrant's Manifesto.
Damian Paletta/Jeff Stein:
Trump's wild week of tax ideas continues with new promise if GOP sweeps
The surprisingly great idea in Bernie Sanders's Green New Deal: electric
David Koch has died at 79. Here's how he changed American politics.
Not much temptation to cut the recently dead some slack in this case,
although I suspect the following writers are giving him too much credit.
It's always been Charles Koch who called the shots, both in business and
in politics, and David's role has always been to support his older brother.
I don't know what David's heirs are likely to do with all that money, but
I'd be real surprised if any of them (unlike the other two Koch brothers)
ever tried to buck Charles. I guess I have a certain grudging admiration
for Charles and what he's accomplished -- not that he ever would have
done so in a fairer and more just society. But David was just a bloke
who was given enormous riches and used them to fortify his ego while
making the world that much poorer.
For more on Koch (and the Kochs):
How David Koch changed the world: Interview with Christopher Leonard,
author of Kochland: The Secret History of Koch Industries and Corporate
Power in America. Here's Leonard's reply when asked "what does David's
death mean for everything he worked for on climate change?":
David Koch's tragic passing will have no impact whatsoever on the political
strategies of the Koch network or the operation of the corporation. Charles
Koch has always been the center of gravity for that, not David.
The machine will continue to go forward as it has, even without David
Koch at the forefront.
"David Koch walked the walk": a libertarian on the Koch brother's
legacy: Interview with Nick Gillespie former editor-in-chief of
How the Koch brothers and other family capitalists are ruining America
(title courtesy of
David Koch's monstrous legacy: This is about right:
David Koch died before he could reap the full bounty of his works.
We will not be so lucky. His legacy is poisoned water and dirty air,
decimated unions, and Donald Trump. No amount of arts patronage can
purify that stain. It is likely not coincidental that the small
government the Kochs desire would leave artists and scientists at
the mercy of billionaires' largesse. It's as if he and his brother
wanted to pitch us all on their vision for the world: If we let
their companies gobble as much as they could, they would throw us
a scrap or two. Never enough to live on; just enough to hold us
until the next handout. They would allow us a glimpse of beauty,
a mirage of progress, so that we would readily accept a cage.
Billionaire David Koch, who reshaped American politics and paved the
way for Trump, has died.
David Koch escaped the climate hell he helped create. By the way,
Kahn also wrote:
Bernie Sanders' $16 trillion climate plan is nothing short of a
David Koch, a bad man, has died.
David Koch's death reminds us that billionaires are the black holes of
Charles P Pierce:
The Koch money was a primary vector for the prion disease that's infected
the Republican Party: "David Koch's worst legacy, however, will be on
The Koch network replaced the Republican Party.
Want to reduce the power of the finance sector? Start by looking at
Adam K Raymond:
Sarah Sanders passes through the revolving door, joins Fox News.
Also: Matt Gertz:
Of course Fox News hired Sarah Huckabee Sanders.
The 6 things you most need to know about Trump's new climate plan:
"It could actually increase air pollution, and it's a pretty bad deal."
Trump keeps pushing anti-Semitic stereotypes. But he thinks he's praising
Jews. Well, he also thinks he's the "least racist person in America."
He's also a "stable genius." I'm struck by how matter-of-factly Trump's
statements are identified as a racist, and even more so as anti-Semitic.
Trump's new favorite poll inflates his approval rating by about 10 points.
The bizarre-even-by-Trump-standards past 72 hours, explained.
President Donald Trump repeatedly threatened to release ISIS fighters
in Europe as a form of punishment for countries like Germany and France;
said he's strongly considering trying to change the Constitution by
executive order (it doesn't work that way); indicated he hasn't ruled
out trying to illegally serve more than two terms; rewrote history
during comments about Russia's expulsion from the G8 that framed the
situation in the most pro-Kremlin manner possible; and, despite five
draft deferments, joked about giving himself the Medal of Honor.
That was Wednesday. And that's an incomplete list of all the outlandish
stuff Trump said on that day alone. . . .
Some of it is laughable. Some of it -- the anti-Semitic tropes, for
example -- is not. All of it is evidence that more than two and a half
years in the role haven't helped Trump settle into his job. In fact, if
the past 72 hours are any indication, things in the White House are
less settled than ever.
Trump echoes NRA talking points, showing that "background checks" talk
was all a charade.
Martin Selsoe Sorensen:
In Denmark, bewilderment and anger over Trump's canceled visit. Also:
Rick Noack/John Wagner/Felicia Sonmez:
Trump attacks Danish prime minister for her 'nasty' comments about his
interest in US purchase of Greenland.
Amy Davidson Sorkin:
The failure to see what Jeffrey Epstein was doing: "Money offers one
explanation for why people seemed to ignore the obvious. But money, here,
is really shorthand for a range of ways to exert influence."
Jonathan Swan/Margaret Talev:
Trump suggested nuking hurricanes to stop them from hitting US. Also
Trump wanted to nuke hurricanes to stop them from hitting US coast.
Slightly different subject, but Stieb also wrote:
In war on the press, Trump allies weaponize bad posts.
Trump 2020: Be very afraid. Reporter goes to Cincinnati, immerses
himself in a Trump rally, loses his bearings and part of his mind.
Hopefully, he'll detox and recover -- if not fully, at least enough
to earn his keep.
Socialism never? and
The seduction of socialism. Thomas is worried about the youth of
America being seduced by the aura of socialism, an allure he aids by
spreading the net wide enough to include George McGovern (pictured
at the top of one article) and Che Guevara. He offers McGovern and
Walter Mondale as proof that Americans will never elect a socialist,
while complaining that "people who wear Che Guevara T-shirts are
ingorant of history and of the number of people Guevara killed
during and after the Cuban revolution." I guess I don't know that
number either, or how many people Bautista killed trying to put
the revolution down, but one figure I'm pretty certain of is that
life expectancy in Cuba is much higher now than it was before the
revolution -- despite all the hardships imposed by the US embargo
(you know, the one Obama ended, and Trump restored). Thomas thinks
"socialism has long needed pushback in America from those opposed
to it," as if red scares, smears and McCarthyite witch hunts never
occurred to anyone before. I mention this because I was skimming
through Bhaskar Sunkara's The Socialist Manifesto: The Case for
Radical Politics in an Era of Extreme Inequality when I noticed
Thomas' rant. After a rather silly introduction, well over half of
the book sketches out a rather comprehensive history of socialist
(well, mostly communist) political movements, including a frank
disclosure of purges, gulags, and starvation in Russia and China --
the sort of history Thomas wants us shocked with. I knew nearly
all of this, but by the time it was done I found myself wondering:
does anyone really need to know this history? Why not just start
from scratch with current conditions and trends and known and well
reasoned solutions, ditching the historical baggage (not least the
term "socialism")? I had a cousin ask me recently whether I'm a
Republican or a Democrat, so I said Socialist -- not normally how
I identify myself, but my political identity was forged in response
to the Vietnam War, and I've never forgiven the liberals/Democrats
for their authorship of that. My cousin immediately translated
Socialist to Democrat, much to my chagrin but for all practical
purposes she was right, as my socialism and their liberal democracy
are converging these days. On the other hand, the side that really
works hard to bury its history is the one Thomas and his ilk belong
Anya van Wagtendonk:
Evoking 1968 at town hall, Bidenasks: What would have happened if Obama
had been assassinated?
Kenneth P Vogel/Jeremy W Peters:
Trump allies target journalists over coverage deemed hostile to White
Trump quotes conspiracy theorist claiming Israelis 'love him like he is
the second coming of God'.
The political status quo is no match for climate change.
Burning down the house: Review of two recent books on climate change:
David Wallace Wells: The Uninhabitable Earth: Life After Warming,
and Bill McKibben: Falter: Has the Human Game Begun to Play Itself
Thirty-two short stories about death in prison: "These stories don't
mention Jeffrey Epstein, but they are about him."
Fed Chair Jerome Powell says he can't fix trade war's damage to the
Michael Bennet's plan to prevent and end recessions, explained.
Yglesias is right that there are a lot of good ideas in here. In
particular, this shows that someone has learned from the mistakes
Obama's crew made in crafting their 2009 "stimulus" bill. The fact
is that the main thing that kept 2008-09 from plunging us as deep
as the Great Depression was "automatic stabilizers" -- and thanks
to Republican austerity policies, they've been weakened since. One
idea that hasn't been discussed enough is:
Create a "fast track infrastructure fund" -- a special pool of money
that state and local governments could tap during a downturn if they
do the advance planning needed to get projects off the ground quickly.
Extended low interest rates, the Fed's main tool, should have led
to a major (and much needed) infrastructure project, but the misguided
expectation of a quick recovery and the insistence that public works
projects be "shovel-ready" for immediate impact kept them from being
included. A ready-to-go project list would be a big help in filling
demand gaps, as well as paving the way for wise investmentss. I'd go
even further: since every recession recovery since the late 1980s has
been week, it might be a good thing to plan on a constant long-term
level of stimulus. Even more certain that we need more and better
America has a million fewer jobs than we thought.
Trump's failed plan to buy Greenland, explained. Minor update to
the previous week's explainer, the main change being the insertion of
"failed" into the title.
Brandy Zadrozny/Ben Collins:
Trump, QAnon and the impending judgment day: Behind the Facebook-fueled
rise of The Epoch Times.
Trump escalates the US-China trade war by announcing tariff hikes -- on
How bad would a recession be for Trump in 2020? 8 experts weigh in.
One thing no one mentions here is that a recession starting near
election time could be bad for Democratic chances of implementing
programs based on higher tax rates and more spending. The argument
would be that higher taxes would further shrink the economy, and
more spending would lead to unsustainable levels of debt. (Sure,
feel free to gag when your hear Republicans saying this, but what
matters is whether the Democrats' econ team caves in, which they
did in 2009.) It's an irony (or perhaps a tragedy) of history that
practically the only times when left-democratic parties gain power
are when they have to set their agenda aside to salvage failing
capitalist systems. As for election results, conventional wisdom
may not be infallible. In 2008, McCain had no effective answers
to the collapse, but the Tea Party turned out to be very effective
politically in 2010. What they offered was total crap, but enough
people bought into it to render Obama and the Democrats impotent,
which is a big part of why the long recovery didn't help Hillary
in 2016. A new recession will regenerate the Tea Party, and Trump
will jump right on that bandwagon.
Mitch McConnell is calling on Democrats to keep the filibuster. He
ignores just how much he's done to blow up Senate rules.