Tuesday, December 06, 2016
Music: Current count 27403  rated (+17), 369  unrated (+7).
I lost track of how many days of listening I lost due to cooking last
week. In fact, I lost track of almost everything else, only remembering
that I needed to publish
column when I saw the calendar had turned to December (fortunately,
that was soon enough after the moment I was able to backdate the post).
That pattern continues here as I'm trying to finish my usual Monday
Music Week column well into Tuesday evening.
My Jazz Critics Poll ballot was due on Sunday. I gave up trying
to find new things and/or fiddle with the order sometime Saturday,
when I dashed off the following:
- Aly Keita/Jan Galega Bronnimann/Lucas Niggli: Kalo Yele (Intakt)
- Houston Person & Ron Carter: Chemistry (HighNote)
- Henry Threadgill Ensemble Double Up: Old Locks and Irregular Verbs (Pi)
- Murray, Allen & Carrington Power Trio: Perfection (Motéma)
- George Coleman: A Master Speaks (Smoke Sessions)
- Roswell Rudd/Jamie Saft/Trevor Dunn/Balasz Pandi: Strength & Power (Rare Noise)
- JD Allen: Americana (Savant)
- Gary Lucas' Fleischerei: Music From Max Fleischer Cartoons (Cuneiform)
- Dave Rempis/Joshua Abrams/Avreeayl Ra + Jim Baker: Periheleon (Aerophonic, 2CD)
- Rodrigo Amado Motion Trio: Desire & Freedom (Not Two)
Reissues or Historical albums:
- Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Orchestra: All My Yesterdays (1966, Resonance, 2CD)
- Peter Kuhn: No Coming, No Going: The Music of Peter Kuhn, 1978-1979 (NoBusiness, 2CD)
- William Hooker: Light: The Early Years 1975-1989 (NoBusiness, 4CD)
Best Vocal album:
- Gary Lucas' Fleischerei: Music From Max Fleischer Cartoons (Cuneiform)
Best Debut album:
- Damana (Dag Magnus Narvesen Octet): Cornua Copiae (Clean Feed)
Best Latin Jazz album:
- Sonic Liberation 8: Bombogenic (High Two)
This mostly follows my
EOY Jazz List -- the main
exception being that I skipped over a Coleman Hawkins compilation I had
heard on Rhapsody in favor of three comps that publicists had sent me.
On the other hand, I included no less than three records that I didn't
get physical copies of in my new releases list (Murray, Coleman, Lucas).
I don't recall ever doing that before.
My list strikes me as more mainstream, or more specifically less
avant, than usual. No idea whether that represents a mellowing of my
taste or just how the cookies crumbled this year. Thus far I haven't
gotten any of the ballots back from Francis Davis for my website,
and I've only seen two ballots posted on the net
In previous years JJA published member lists that lined up (and in
some cases expanded from) critics' lists, but I haven't yet found
I'm actually not all that curious about how the JCP turns out.
OK, I do have a hunch that Henry Threadgill's Old Locks and
Irregular Verbs (Pi) will win, but not much faith -- but not
much faith. It's more that I can't imagine what the competition
can be. (Mary Halvorson? Dave Holland? Vijay Iyer? Steve Lehman?
Sonny Rollins? Wadada Leo Smith? Those should all finish top-20,
but I don't have more confidence than that.) I've started tallying
EOY lists for my own
EOY List Aggregate
file, but at present I don't have enough
jazz to predict
anything. (I will go out on a limb and say that the current leader,
Canadian crossed-over band BadBadNotGood, won't finish top-40 in
JCP -- nor, I hope, will Snarky Puppy.)
On the other hand, the non-jazz lists are starting to take shape
(understanding that the early lists skew Anglo and miss out on
late-breaking hip-hop). Current top-ten: David Bowie, Radiohead,
Beyoncé, Frank Ocean, Nick Cave, Angel Olsen, Leonard Cohen, Bon
Iver, Anderson Paak, Car Seat Headrest. I figured Beyoncé to win,
and she still might (and probably will dominate the Village Voice
poll), but right now Bowie's lead is solid (92-61-58-53-52), and
he's regularly finished top-5 in US as well as UK lists. Cohen
has never polled especially well before, so I figure he and Bowie
are riding a rarely-tested dead legend boost. Bowie, Radiohead,
and Cave also benefit from the current UK skew, with Cave the
most likely to slip on later lists.
Second ten (11-20): Chance the Rapper, Solange, Anohni, Kanye
West, A Tribe Called Quest, Mitski, Blood Orange, Kaytranada,
Sturgill Simpson, Danny Brown. Tribe is this year's late-breaker
(released Nov. 11), rising lately but hard to project how much
more. I expected Chance to do better, maybe Brown also. Some of
the more promising names further down: Parquet Courts (24), PJ
Harvey (27), Kendrick Lamar (29), Drive-By Truckers (34), Rihanna
(38), Miranda Lambert (86, but released 11/18).
Speaking of Lambert, you'll noticed that I nudged her grade up a
notch from my Streamnotes review. I was sitting on the fence anyway,
and what pushed me over was a Greg Morton review, which I'd rather
quote here than try to link you to Facebook:
Miranda Lambert: The Weight of These Wings. I hope
Bob [Christgau] does a long form on this since the songs aren't just
consistently great, but consistently interesting as well. Worthy of
thorough track-by-track analysis. I'll give you "Good Ol' Days" as
filler and "Covered Wagon" as one road metaphor too many but other
than that it sounds to me like a 90-minute song cycle about caring,
from the perspective of a modern young women who turns out to be more
articulate, successful, and worldly than her raising taught her she
could be. Your mileage may vary dependent on how interested you are in
that perspective, but my evidence is two days of the album on
shuffle. Where no matter the sequence, an hour and a half later you're
listening to a song that was as good (and as interesting) as the one
that started it. At least an A.
Of course, before committing I did give the record(s) another spin.
Seven cuts in I was reminded how long it took me to realize Exile
on Main Street was the Stones' best. But fourteen cuts in I killed
that line of thinking and settled for a solid A-.
New records rated this week:
- BadBadNotGood: IV (2016, Innovative Leisure): [r]: B-
- François Carrier/Michel Lambert/Rafal Mazur: The Joy of Being (2015 , NoBusiness): [cd]: B+(***)
- The DKV Thing Trio: Collider (2014 , Not Two): [r]: B+(**)
- Charlie Haden/Liberation Music Orchestra: Time/Life (Song for the Whales and Other Beings) (2011-15 , Impulse): [r]: A-
- I Am Three: Mingus Mingus Mingus (2015 , Leo): [r]: B+(***)
- Ich Bin Nintendo: Lykke (2016, Shhpuma): [r]: B+(**)
- Martin Küchen/Mark Tokar/Arkadijus Gotesmanas: Live at Vilnius Jazz Festival (2016, NoBusiness): [cdr]: B+(**)
- Lambchop: FLOTUS (2016, Merge): [r]: B
- Miranda Lambert: The Weight of These Wings (2016, RCA Nashville, 2CD): [r]: A-
- Live the Spirit Residency: Presents the Young Masters 1: Coming of Age (2016, self-released): [cd]: A-
- Donny McCaslin: Beyond Now (2016, Motema): [r]: B+(*)
- Mekons: Existentialism (2015 , Bloodshot): [r]: A
- Myra Melford + Ben Goldberg: Dialogue (2014 , BAG): [r]: B
- The Monkees: Good Times! (2016, Rhino): [r]: B-
- Van Morrison: Keep Me Singing (2016, Caroline): [r]: A-
- The Nu Band: The Final Concert (2012 , NoBusiness): [cdr]: B+(**)
- Alexander von Schlippenbach: Jazz Now! (Live at Theater Gütersloh) (2015 , Intuition): [r]: B+(***)
Recent reissues, compilations, and vault discoveries rated this week:
- Miles Davis Quintet: Freedom Jazz Dance [The Bootleg Series Vol. 5] (1966-68 , Columbia/Legacy, 3CD): [r]: B+(*)
- David S. Ware & Matthew Shipp Duo: Live in Sant'Anna Arresi, 2004 (2004 , AUM Fidelity): [r]: B+(***)
Unpacking: Found in the mail last week:
- Dave Burrell and Bob Stewart: The Crave (1994, NoBusiness): cdr
- François Carrier/Michel Lambert/Rafal Mazur: The Joy of Being (NoBusiness)
- Albert Cirera/Hernâni Faustino/Gabriel Ferrandini/Agustí Fernández: Before the Silence (NoBusiness)
- John Dikeman/Luis Vicente/Hugo Antunes/Gabriel Ferrandini: Salão Brazil (NoBusiness): cdr
- The Fat Babies: Solid Gassuh (Delmark)
- Noah Haidu: Infinite Distances (Cellar Live): February 15
- Irene Kepl: Sololos (Fou)
- Martin Küchen/Mark Tokar/Arkadijus Gotesmanas: Live at Vilnius Jazz Festival (NoBusiness): cdr
- Live the Spirit Residency: Presents the Young Masters 1: Coming of Age (self-released)
- Modus Factor: The Picasso Zone (Browntasaurus)
- The Nu Band: The Final Concert (NoBusiness): cdr
- Howard Riley: Constant Change 1976-2016 (NoBusiness, 5CD)
- Randy Weston: The African Nubian Suite (African Rhythms, 2CD): January 20
Also got a batch of Clean Feeds on Monday which I'll list next week.
Monday, December 05, 2016
I ran behind in writing this, so I'll have to postpone Music Week
until tomorrow (Tuesday). Unfortunately, nobody I'm aware of thought
to take any pictures of the event below, and the evidence is now far
gone. Without such documentation, I reckon we're already entering the
realm of myth. I figure the least I can do is to write this event up,
to establish some sort of paper trail.
Friday night the
Peace and Social Justice Center
here in Wichita had its annual dinner and business meeting. My little
part in that was to plan and direct the menu, preparing food for 62
guests. I spent much of last week hashing out the menu with Janice
Bradley and Leah Dannar-Garcia. Leah and I went shopping on Wednesday.
I spent about thirteen hours on Thursday at home prepping and in some
cases finishing dishes, while Janice and Leah did their own home prep.
On Friday about 1 PM we met at Lorraine Avenue Mennonite Church, along
with several other people (Pat Cameron, Gretchen Eick, Kathy Hull,
Russ Pataki) where the dinner would be held, and started cooking. By
6 PM we had dinner ready to serve. We put small bowls of appetizers
and bread on the tables so people could start noshing. And we set
up a double-long table for people to serve themselves with the main
dishes. The menu was mostly Mediterranean, with dishes from Spain,
Italy, Greece, Turkey, Israel and the Arab countries, plus one salad
The appetizer array:
The main dishes:
Horiatiki Salad: Greek chopped salad with feta, olives, and
capers (but skipped the anchovies).
Baby Spinach Salad with Dates & Almonds.
Mast Va Khiar: Persian cucumber/yogurt salad with scallions,
golden raisins, and black walnuts.
Roots, Shoots and Squash (Roasted Winter Vegetables): sweet
potatoes, small gold potatoes, carrots, parsnips, turnips, rutabagas,
celeriac, acorn and butternut squash, leeks, garlic.
Caponata: eggplant, red bell peppers, zucchini, onions,
tomatoes, celery, capers.
Baked Fish with Capers and Olives: Pacific cod, topped with
tomato-capers-olives sauce and bread crumbs.
Chicken Cacciatore: chicken, browned, braised with shallots
and mushrooms in a tomato-wine sauce.
Mutabbaq: filo pastry sheets filled with ricotta and goat cheese.
Macedonia: mixed fruit: apples, pears, red and green grapes,
strawberries, pineapple, macerated with sugar and citrus juices.
Vanilla Cream: vanilla-flavored whipped cream.
The recipes (follow the links) were typically scaled 2 times for
the appetizers and desserts (more for the hummus and fruit), the
salads 2-3 times, the main dishes 3-4 times (8 lbs fish, 16 lbs
chicken). The main thing that limited the scaling was the size of
cooking and serving dishes, although several dishes were limited
by shopping -- I didn't buy nearly enough kalamata olives, so had
a single one pound recipe of tapenade and had to buy extra for the
salad. The salads ran out first -- possibly because they were first
in the serving line, but we could have fixed another batch of the
horiatiki and mast va khiar and served it in the same large bowls.
The root vegetables fit neatly into two deep baking dishes, the
fish into two shallow ones, and the chicken was optimally packed
into my largest pot (16-inch diameter, 6-inches deep).
I made two trays of mutabbaq, and cut them into 60 2.25 x 2.5-inch
pieces, so only a couple people missed out. We served them at the
counter, on plates, and let people add fruit and/or cream. (I was
surprised to see people dolloping the cream on top of the mutabbaq.)
The cream, which I had borrowed from a "berries and cream" recipe,
was exceptional -- we should have made a second batch. We had a
couple cups of caponata and a couple pints of cacciatore left at
the end, plus hummus and fruit -- Janice overscaled while I erred
on the low side -- but I didn't hear complaints about not cooking
I think it's safe to say that it all came out delicious -- one
could even say fabulous. Also that the mix of dishes worked and
the tastes complemented one another. (The desserts offered a mix
of sweet, tart, and creamy, none of which were overly heavy.) We
could have done a better job of pointing out which things were
vegetarian (or vegan), which dishes had dairy or gluten or nuts
or some other real or imagined hazard -- we published the menu,
but that was hardly self-explanatory.
The last few years we had the dinner catered, using various
Mexican and Middle Eastern sources, nothing especially memorable.
Further back, we tried pot lucks, and I made large main dishes
for a couple of those -- jambalaya and cacciatore are the ones
I remember -- which often produced better food, but were also
inconsistent and chancey. This year, when the board decided to
try another pot luck, I suggested that a planned and assigned
menu would work better, maybe something Mediterranean like the
Ottolenghi menu we fixed for an Alice Powell memorial dinner,
but a bit broader (and simpler). Leah, who runs a small organic
farm east of town, suggested a seasonal fall menu, which I was
fine with, but when I spelled out my proposal she embraced it,
and provided invaluable support.
Also invaluable was the kitchen and equipment provided by the
church. They had a 10-burner range (which we barely used), with
two ovens (exactly what we needed), large baking dishes and bowls,
lots of counter space, ample dishes and flatware, and a terrific
dishwasher for cleaning up. We also had about the right mix of
people helping out. If we were to do it again, the one change I
would make would be to get together in that kitchen the night
before and do the meze and prep together rather than dividing
them up and working at home (especially as I had taken on most
of that work myself -- by the end I was so exhausted that I
wound up knicking myself a couple times cleaning up a knife).
Friday had moments that seemed like chaos, but I managed to
keep everything lined up and moving along properly, so it all
came together at the appointed time (6 PM).
Also, other people (especially Leah and Russ) took over
the clean up when I wore out. I got in line after the salads
were gone, and wandered in and out of the actual meeting. The
guest speaker was Maxine Phillips, a former executive editor of
Dissent Magazine and a vice chair of Democratic Socialists
of America, who blogs at
religioussocialism.org. She spoke about "Forced Migrations
and US Immigration Policy." I didn't catch enough of this to
comment, but I will risk saying two things:
Most migration today, especially from Latin America, Africa,
the Middle East and South Asia, is the result of the US (and Europe)
exporting neoliberal economic dogmas and the tools of war which are
primarily used by complicit local elites against their own people.
It's all good and well to sympathize with the victims of economic
and military dislocation, but the root causes are embedded in our
own political system, so much under the thumb of supra-national
corporate interests. In particular, we need to guard against the
tendency to militarize our response to every crisis, especially as
that knee-jerk reaction primarily serves to avoid self-scrutiny.
Nonetheless, the fact that refugees and emigrants still come
here is a testimony to the fact that America (and Europe) still have
functioning and (relatively) humane institutions such that most of
our citizens are spared the most brutal effects of our economic and
military dogmas. And it's worth noting that immigrants generally add
to supporting those institutions, and to the economy as a whole, in
part because they're more appreciative of them than so many of our
embittered "natives" (who have mastered the knack of taking them for
granted while doing little to support). Whatever else it may be, net
immigration is a vote of confidence in our shared future, something
we should appreciate rather than curse.
Unfortuantely, the 2016 election, especially of Donald Trump to the
presidency, promises nothing constructive on this front. Indeed, if
Trump does manages to reduce immigration it will probably be more due
to making our own country less livable than to enforcing draconian laws,
and even less to making the rest of the world any less treacherous.
I'm afraid I have rather mixed views on immigration. As someone
whose most recent foreign-born ancestors came to America nearly 150
years ago, and whose family preserved not one shred of previous
ethnic identity, I've never had any sentimental attachment to the
notion that America as a melting pot of immigrants. Nor do I have
a problem with the idea that a nation has a right to control its
borders and limit immigration. I'll also note that the one period
of history when Americans seemed to exhibit the greatest care for
one another -- at least in the sense of moving furthest to the
left -- was in the 1930-40s, when immigration was largely halted.
One wonders whether loosening immigration restrictions in the 1970s
didn't contribute somehow to the nation's rightward drift since
1980. (That nearly a third of last year's Republican presidential
candidates had at least one foreign-born parent is troubling, to
say the least.)
On the other hand, I've known dozens of immigrants, most real
fine people, credits to our communities, and they've helped to
broaden and deepen our lives. One way, of course, was to share
with us the range of food we made for this Peace Dinner (plus a
great many other dishes we couldn't include -- things we can
explore further in future dinners). Admittedly, most of the
immigrants I know are professionals, many citizens, pretty much
all with their legal status in order. The only problem I see is
with those lacking proper documentation, mostly because their
lack of proper credentials leaves them open to exploitation, and
that less because I'm sympathetic to their plight than because
their vulnerability allows those in power to be more abusive --
and not just to undocumented immigrants.
But Trump's anti-immigrant tirades are not some isolated tick.
They are wrapped up in all sorts of mutually reinforcing hatreds
meant to appeal to the vanity of increasingly marginalized white
voters -- at least those sucker enough to overlook the obvious
architects of their demise: the barons of industry and finance,
whose pillage of the economy has made everyone more vulnerable.
But we need to recognize that what makes this tactic work is how
effectively mass fears have been stoked through decades of war.
The only way to break that cycle is to insist on peace, which is
why organizations like out Peace Center are so important. Please
Wednesday, November 30, 2016
Streamnotes (November 2016)
Pick up text
Tuesday, November 29, 2016
Peace Dinner Planning
Mutabbaq: cheese-filled pastry, scale x 2.
- Mixed Fruit: delegated to Janice.
Vanilla Cream: scale x 3 (3 cups cream, 1 cup sour cream)
Monday, November 28, 2016
Music: Current count 27386  rated (+24), 362  unrated (-17).
Finally, on Saturday, got my new computer build working, hooked up,
and able to stream from Napster. I'm somewhat embarrassed to finally
realize that the problem all along was a faulty monitor (a Samsung,
like most of the other faulty equipment in the house right now -- my
big complaint is a broken ice maker in the refrigerator, and by broken
I mean that the plastic tray is badly cracked on both ends, such that
the screw drive that moved the ice forward jams). The monitor actually
displays internally generated messages fine, but doesn't display the
signal coming in through the D-SUB connection. In fact, the manual
says the monitor has a self-test feature, and when I tried that the
self-test came out OK. But it took weeks for it to finally sink in
that the monitor was the problem.
Went out on Black Saturday and picked up a new LG 24-inch monitor
for about $140. The new computer works fine with it. The old computer
works fine too, so now I have a spare. It had been 5-6 years since I
built the old one, so one can argue that I was due for a new one, but
I hate to have blundered into it like that. The new one has an 8-core
AMD FX-8350 processor, ASUS motherboard and video card (not a fancy
one, but has 2GB RAM), plus I have 32GB RAM and a 2TB hard drive, a
DVD burner, and a parallel printer port board so I can still hook up
to my old HP laser printer. Loaded Xubuntu 16.04 desktop on it, and
I've had to load a couple dozen extra software packages so I have a
LAMP web server, emacs, gimp, and a few extra applications that looked
promising (including a CAD system, an alt-Adobe Illustrator, and a
database program for recipes). That's all free software. Had to jump
through some extra hoops to get non-free (but zero cost) Adobe Flash
(needed by Napster) and gstreamer drivers for playing DVDs. Probably
still need some further work, but it's basically functional now. Used
a cheap old box, so it's not the most elegant thing in the shop, but
should be a solid machine.
Only three Napster streams among the records listed below. I also
played the new A Tribe Called Quest (given an A+
last week by Christgau) but didn't get into it enough to pass any
sort of judgment. (Two-thirds sounds pretty good, but nothing sounds
as great as that grade implies. And it's two discs, and I'm often slow
getting into hip-hop records, so I figured it best to return later).l
The three rated below only got a single play. Could be that a second
play might nudge Common up a notch, but Bruno Mars was disappointing
and Pink Martini clearly not their best work. Playing the latest Miles
Davis bootleg as I write this, but at 3-CD it's going to take a while.
Besides, I needed to make a serious dent in the incoming jazz queue,
which I did. The 2016 pending list is currently down to six albums: no
one I've heard of (although I filed one under Ernest Dawkins, whose
last three albums came in at A-, so I need to check that one out soon).
Jazz Critics Poll ballot due next week, and Francis Davis is already
getting anxious about that. I did a preliminary sort on my
jazz list a couple weeks ago, but I still expect to fiddle with
the order quite a bit (depending on time and whether I can find things,
so possibly not before I have to turn a ballot in).
I'm afraid I have no sense whatsoever how that poll is going to go.
I currently list 61 A- (or better) new jazz albums. The only one in
my top-ten I'm reasonably sure will finish top-ten (probably top-three)
is Henry Threadgill's Old Locks and Irregular Verbs. I suppose
JD Allen (Americana) and David Murray (Perfection) are
possibles; further down my list Steve Lehman, Sonny Rollins, Greg
Ward, Jack DeJohnette, Dave Holland, and Fred Hersch seem likely to
get a few votes, but I'll be surprised if anything else cracks the
top forty. (George Coleman maybe? Rich Halley? Jane Ira Bloom?)
Rather seems more likely that some of my HM records will poll
well -- Michael Formanek, Mary Halvorson, Wadada Leo Smith, Tyshawn
Sorey -- or records I listed lower -- Darcy James Argue, Kenny
Barron, Vijay Iyer, Charles Lloyd -- not much else I've noticed
other critics liking, but I'm sure I've missed some things. As for
records I've heard of but haven't heard, I scanned through my
checklist file and added 13
records to the "estimated to have a 2% chance of A-" list in the
EOY Jazz file cited above (also added 19 to the
EOY Non-Jazz file).
I'll add more as I see some actual EOY lists.
Speaking of EOY lists, the first few have appeared (starting, as
usual, in the UK with NME, Mojo, Uncut, and a
few record store lists). I put a lot of work into tracking these
things last year, and doubted that I would again, but the last few
weeks have been so stressful to me that I thought it might be calming
to waste some time on them this year. After eight (or so) lists this
year looks like
this. (Note that I'm
already counting my grades, although I've only included those on
other lists.) My initial guess
was that Beyoncé would win going away, with Chance the Rapper in
second, and then, well, I don't know --
AOTY has Nick Cave top-rated based on review averages (a B- as far
as I'm concerned), followed by Bon Iver (*), Beyonce (?), Solange (**),
Radiohead (B), Frank Ocean (?), Leonard Cohen (A-), A Tribe Called
Quest (probably A-), Mitski (*), and Angel Olsen (***). But at least
in the UK, David Bowie jumped into a clear lead, followed by Cave,
Radiohead, Olsen, Thee Oh Sees, and Iggy Pop, with Beyoncé and Chance
back in the 30-40 range.
However, the first American list to appear, from
Consequence of Sound, is closer to what I expect: Beyoncé, Chance,
Bowie, Ocean, Anohni, Cave, Olsen, Anderson .Paak, Bon Iver, Cohen,
Mitski, A Tribe Called Quest (first list appearance for a late release),
Radiohead, Blood Orange, Schoolboy Q, Wilco, Tim Hecker, Car Seat
Headrest, Solange; plus some further down records that may do better:
Kaytranada, Danny Brown, Savages, Kevin Gates, Young Thug, White Lung.
One list that's out that I haven't bothered with is Decibel's.
Last year I faithfully tracked all the metal lists, but wound up
listening to fewer than five albums, so that much doesn't seem to be
worth the effort this year. I suppose that makes my tally a bit less
objective, but I'd rather spend my time on things I consider worthy.
I made a mistake last week in listing Heroes Are Gang Leader's new
album Flukum, so corrected that and repeated it this week. I
liked their previous album this year (Highest Engines Near/Near
Higher Engineers) a bit more, but both should be of interest if
you're interested in jazz-rap fusion. The two A- records this week
are from Ivo Perelman's six-volume set, only marginally better than
the others because bass seems to fit in better than piano (or viola
or guitar). Could be I downgraded the one with Shipp only because
I expected more (it was the one volume I singled out to listen to
in the car). Perelman finishes the year with 4 A-, 4 ***, 1 **, 2 *
PS: Monday's mail brought a nice package from NoBusiness
in Lithuania, and a new Randy Weston 2-CD that officially drops on
January 20 (so I can ignore it for a couple weeks). Also email from
Steve Swell offering me a couple CDs, so they'll be coming soon.
Also, that new Dawkins album is pretty good.
New records rated this week:
- Aguankó: Latin Jazz Christmas in Havana (2016, Aguankó): [cd]: B
- Eraldo Bernocchi/Prakash Sontakke: Invisible Strings (2016, RareNoise): [cdr]: B+(***)
- Karl Blau: Introducing Karl Blau (2016, Raven Marching Band): [r]: B
- Common: Black America Again (2016, Def Jam): [r]: B+(**)
- The Delegation: Evergreen (Canceled World) (2014-15 , ESP-Disk, 2CD): [cd]: B+(*)
- The Fat Babies: Solid Gassuh (2016, Delmark): [cd]: B+(**)
- Jari Haapalainen Trio: Fusion Machine (2016, Moserobie): [cd]: B+(*)
- Stu Harrison: Volume I (2016, One Nightstand): [cd]: B+(**)
- Heroes Are Gang Leaders: Flukum (2016, Flat Langston's Arkeyes): [cd]: B+(**)
- Jerome Jennings: The Beast (2016, Iola): [cd]: B+(**)
- MAST: Love and War_ (2016, Alpha Pup): [cdr]: B+(*)
- Ivo Perelman/Karl Berger/Gerald Cleaver: The Art of the Improv Trio Volume 1 (2016, Leo): [cd]: B+(***)
- Ivo Perelman/Mat Maneri/Whit Dickey: The Art of the Improv Trio Volume 2 (2016, Leo): [cd]: B+(***)
- Ivo Perelman/Matthew Shipp/Gerald Cleaver: The Art of the Improv Trio Volume 3 (2015 , Leo): [cd]: B+(**)
- Ivo Perelman/William Parker/Gerald Cleaver: The Art of the Improv Trio Volume 4 (2016, Leo): [cd]: A-
- Ivo Perelman/Joe Morris/Gerald Cleaver: The Art of the Improv Trio Volume 5 (2016, Leo): [cd]: B+(***)
- Ivo Perelman/Joe Morris/Gerald Cleaver: The Art of the Improv Trio Volume 6 (2016, Leo): [cd]: A-
- Pink Martini: Je Dis Oui (2016, Heinz): [r]: B+(*)
- Bobby Previte: Mass (2016, RareNoise): [cdr]: B-
- Rudy Royston Trio: RisEofOrion (2016, Greenleaf Music): [cd]: B+(***)
- Enoch Smith Jr.: The Quest: Live at APC (2016, Misfitme Music): [cd]: C
- Snaggle: The Long Slog (2016, Browntasaurus): [cd]: B-
- Basak Yavuz: A Little Red Bug (2016, Things&): [cd]: B+(**)
- Zarabande: El Toro (2016, AFlo): [cd]: B+(*)
Old music rated this week:
- Ella Fitzgerald & Duke Ellington: The Stockholm Concert (1966 , Jazz World): [cd]: B+(***)
Sunday, November 27, 2016
I didn't really plan on posting a Roundup this week, but when I
looked at Salon's politics section way too may red flags jumped out
at me. I'm generally inclined to give Trump a little rope to hang
himself, but I'm surprised by the speed with which he's set about
the task. I realized that Trump was a guy who spent every waking
moment conniving to make money (well, aside from the time spent
plotting sexual conquests), and thought it unlikely that he'd
change for a moment. But these pieces are mostly self-explanatory,
so at least I don't have to annotate them.
Some scattered links this week on all things Trump:
Donald Trump's Caldron of Conflicts
Yoni Appelbaum: Donald Trump's Revival of 'Honest Graft'
Dan Bacher: Trump Appoints Big Oil Think Tank Director to Lead Interior
Thor Benson: Donald Trump's surveillance state: All the tools to suppress
dissent and kill free speech are already in place: Thanks to 9/11 and
the permanent state of war.
Jamelle Bouie: Government by the Worst Men: Bannon, Flynn, Sessions --
but isn't that only the beginning?
Donald Brownstein: Donald Trump's Fragile Hold on America
Matthew Daly: Donald Trump's stock in Dakota Access oil pipeline company
Amy Davidson: The Real Concerns of the Trump Transition
Joe Emersberger: How the Rich Are Getting Richer: Interview with
Garrett Epps: Donald Trump Has Broken the Constitution
Henry Farrell: Kissing the Ring: After considering Trump as Cosimo
de Medici, a prediction:
If this is right, the key qualities of presidential politics over the
next four years will be instability, frequent policy change, palace
intrigues, and Trump looking to reign triumphant above it all, not
particularly caring (a la Padgett and Ansell's Cosimo) about attaining
specific goals, but instead looking to preserve his position at the
center of an ever shifting spider web of political relations, no matter
what consequences this has for the integrity of the web.
Dana Goldstein: How Trump Could Gut Public Education: First clue
is his pick of fellow billionaire Betsy DeVos as Secretary of
Education. Also note that Trump has some previous experience in
the business of education.
William Hartung: Trump for the Defense
Joshua Holland: Struggling White Voters Who Helped Elect Trump Are Headed
for Some Serious Pain
Paul Krugman: Infrastructure Build or Privatization Scam?
Gary Legum: Peak "crony captialism": Donald Trump indulging in corrupt
favoritism isn't surprising -- but so much of it so soon?!
Simon Maloy: The Trump sleaze factor: Let the GOP own the new, expanded
"culture of corruption" Trump promises
Josh Marshall: Must Reads on the Coming Privatization of Everything and
The Historic Cash-In Continues. Marshall has also been on top of Paul
Ryan's scheme to wreck Medicare -- for all the world it sounds like he's
trying to replace the popular and effective program with something similar
to but a bit shadier than Obamacare -- including this piece on the politics:
Medicare for the Win.
Richard C Paddock, et al: Potential Conflicts Around the Globe for
Trump, the Businessman President
Phil Plait: Trump's Plan to Eliminate NASA Climate Research Is Ill-Informed
Joy-Ann Reid: Already Happening: Media Normalization of Trumpism
Matthew Rozsa: This week in Donald Trump's conflicts of interest: What
was the president-elect doing this week to possibly make himself
David Swanson: Michael Flynn Should Remember Truths He Blurted Out Last
Year: like criticizing Obama for his obsession with death-by-drone.
Jim Tankersley: Trump can't revive industry. But his voters might still
get raises. Unfortunately, that depends on Trump sustaining growth
rates comparable to Clinton in the 1990s, and assuming that the labor
market hasn't deteriorated in the meantime -- I'm pretty doubtful on
both counts. On the other hand, if Trump succeeds in deporting virtually
all undocumented workers, that could tighten labor markets a bit (but
probably not enough).
Jeremy Venook: Donald Trump's Conflicts of Interest: A Crib Sheet
Matthew Yglesias: Don't let Donald Trump's antics distract you from what's
really important, following up on
We have 100 days to stop Donald Trump from systemically corrupting our
Also a couple things not exactly on the incoming disaster, although
not exactly unrelated either:
I don't have much to say about Fidel Castro. I've never held any
romantic attachment for Cuba's communist regime, and I don't doubt
that it has sometimes been repressive and that its planned economy
could have been more dynamic. However, I can't begrudge their early
expropriation of foreign (mostly American) assets, and must admit
that they've built a literate, highly educated, and for the most
part egalitarian society, while maintaining a vibrant culture, all
despite cruel economic hardships imposed variously by America and
Russia. It's worth remembering that Cuba was the last slaveholder
society in the Americas, and the last of Spain's colonial outposts,
and after the US seized it in America's 1898 imperialist expansion
was only granted "independence" because it was thought easier to
run it through local puppet strongmen -- a scandalous series that
was only ended by Castro's revolution.
I've long thought that the vitriolic reaction of American politicos
to Cuba's real independence and defiance reflected a deep-seated guilt
(and embarrassment) about how badly we had mishandled our power there.
But it manifested itself as sheer spite, ranging from the CIA's Bay of
Pigs invasion and numerous assassination plots the CIA tried to mount
against Castro to the long-running blockade -- all of which reinforced
Castro's anti-Americanism and made him a hero for underdogs all around
the world. Obama's recent normalization of US-Cuban relations finally
gives us a chance to be less of an ogre -- although the reflexive
instinct is still apparent in recent comments by
Trump, Rubio, and others. Hopefully they'll blow this jingoistic
thinking out of their systems.
Here are a few scattered comments on Castro from:
Tony Karon (2008);
Stephen Gibbs/Jonathan Watts: Havana in mourning: 'We Cubans are Fidelista
even if we are not communist';
Kathy Gilsinan: How Did Fidel Castro Hold On to Cuba for So Long?.
One quote, from the Karon piece above:
There's been predictably little interesting discussion in the United
States of Fidel Castro's retirement as Cuba's commandante en jefe,
maximo etc. That's because in the U.S. political mainstream,
Cuba policy has for a generation been grotesquely disfigured by a
collective kow-towing -- yes, collective, it was that craven Mr.
Clinton who signed into law the Draconian Helms-Burton act that made
it infinitely more difficult for any U.S. president to actually lift
the embargo, and the equally craven Mrs. Clinton appears to pandering
to the same crowd -- to the Cuban-American Ahmed Chalabi figures of
Miami, still fantasizing about a day when they'll regain their
plantations and poor people of color will once again know their place.
[ . . . ]
What fascinates me, however, is the guilty pleasure with which so
many millions of people around the world revere Fidel Castro -- revere
him, but wouldn't dream of emulating his approach to economics or
governance. People, in other words, who would not be comfortable
actually living in Castro's Cuba, much as they like the idea of him
sticking it the arrogant yanqui, his physical and political
survival a sure sign that Washington's awesome power has limits --
and can therefore be challenged.
Tuesday, November 22, 2016
Fielding a request for a possible Mediterranean-themed menu for this
year's annual Peace Center dinner:
Appetizer course: What I see here is a platter served to each table
(about 6-8 guests per table). We'll need to figure out a way to present
this (the ideal solution would be a large lazy susan, but we'd need to
replicate it 8-10 times; easier would be to use small disposable bowls,
to be passed around within the table).
- Tapenade (black olive puree) or Garum (same plus capers and anchovies)
- Melitzanoslata (eggplant dip) or Escalivada (add peppers and tomato)
- Hummus: chick peas and tahini
- Butternut squash & tahini spread
- Chopped liver (or crostini di fegatini): chicken liver
- Spiced olives
- Spiced feta cheese (or maybe use a mix of gorgonzola and goat cheese?)
- Harissa: Tunisian hot sauce
- Bread: toasted and/or plain pita, and/or crostini
- Harira: chicken stock, lentils, chickpeas, with beef or lamb
- Minestrone: vegetable stock with small white beans, cabbage, onion,
zucchini, potatoes, tomatoes (most of my recipes call for meat stock,
some for pancetta and prosciutto); or could go with gazpacho (cold
tomato-cucumber-onion soup) or some other vegetable soup (your sweet
potato soup might fit here)
- Your "fresh greens" salad
- Greek (horiatiki) salad: some recipes call for lettuce, but in
Greece this is a chopped salad with feta cheese
- Orange-onion-olive salad (Turkish)
- Carrot salad (Moroccan)
- Mast va khiar: Persian yogurt-cucumber-scallion-mint with sultanas
and black walnuts
Main dishes and vegetables:
- Maqluba ("upside down"): chicken, eggplant, cauliflower, tomato, rice
- Baked fish with capers and olives, or baked fish with chermoula
- Ratatouille or caponata: eggplant, zucchini, etc.
- Roasted sweet potatoes with dates (recipe calls for figs, but
dates are better): with scallions, goat cheese, balsamic reduction
- Roasted root vegetables: potatoes, carrots, turnips, rutabaga,
parsnips, onion, leeks, winter squash
- Mutabbaq: phyllo sheets around a goat cheese filling, drenched
- Macedonia: macerated mixed fresh fruit
- Egg custard gelato
Monday, November 21, 2016
Music: Current count 27362  rated (+24), 379  unrated (-16).
I expected my computer problems would be solved by now, but seems
like they've multiplied. I basically work on three computers. I built
my main one close to a decade ago, then upgraded most of it four or
so years ago: new motherboard, 8-core AMD cpu, 32GB RAM, kept the old
mirrored hard drives. I write on it, and maintain master copies of a
half-dozen websites. It's great, but I fell off the update track some
while back, so it's still running Ubuntu 12.04, which includes one
I avoid it (NoScript helps) but even so it crashes a couple times a
week. Ubuntu is now up to 16.04, and at some point I need to break
down and do the upgrade(s).
Meanwhile, I've had a second, less powerful Ubuntu computer --
I bought the components there on a pretty limited budget (probably
something like $500, maybe five years ago), and I've kept it up
to date. I hooked up some Klipsch speakers to it, and used it for
monsters that kills my main computer). However, a couple months ago
I started noticing loud clicks in the audio, and occasional freezes
when I would look at DVDs. I tried replacing the power supply, which
got rid of the clicks. But then something happened: the video went
blank (a deep screensaver option), but wouldn't wake up. I could
still log into the machine remotely, and I've been tracking down
similar issues and possible fixes, but none have worked. Knowing
the computer was old and weak, I decided to buy new components --
AMD 8-core FX cpu, motherboard, 32GB RAM, 2TB hard drive, a fairly
cheap ATI Radeon video card. I figured I'd use the recently purchased
power supply (a 650W Corsair) and an old box (which previously hosted
my wife's computer; when I rebuilt I got her a new mini-tower box).
The old box had a 550W Thermaltake power supply which looked quite
viable, so I decided to try an experiment: I swapped power supplies,
then stuck my new video card into the old computer. I rebooted, and
it came up with proper graphics. I finally was able to listen to a
record on Napster (Erroll Garner, below, and got about half-way through
the new Miles Davis bootleg before I went to bed). Anyhow, that seemed
to work well enough I ordered yet another video card. Then next morning
I got up and the video was blanked, and nothing I did made could wake
it up. The blackout is so bad not even the BIOS splash screen appears.
The monitor, however, displays diagnostic info (analog, digital, no
cable). I just remotely did a software update, then reboot. Still no
screen. Very frustrating, very perplexing.
Meanwhile, I've built the new computer, except for the new video
card I expect to arrive tomorrow. Then I'll plug it in, do a fresh
Xubuntu desktop install, and try to patch up the various things I
need (emacs, mysql, apache, php, etc.). Should take the better part
of a day, if all goes well. Not that anything's gone well in the
last month or so. At some point all this frustration threatens to
turn into depression.
So, all but one of this week's records were reviewed from CDs,
so all are jazz. (I don't think I've bought a single CD all year.)
At least I've drained about half of the queue that built up in
September and October. Main thing left is six Ivo Perelman discs,
giving him ten on the year. All are titled The Art of the Improv
Trio then a volume number. First one is pretty good, and most
likely they're all like that, so I'll be struggling with marginal
distinctions for a couple days -- at least that beats the Xmas CDs,
which I figure I'll suffer through sometime closer to the holiday.
I did finally flesh out my first pass at EOY lists: one for
Jazz, and the other for
Non-Jazz. The former
is much larger (61 A-list, 120 HM, 385 other, so 566 total, 8-6-11=25
for reissues/compilations, vs. non-jazz: 41 A-list, 36 HM, 105 other,
so 182 total, 11-9-6=26 for reissues/compilations). At this time last
year the Jazz A-list was well ahead of the Non-Jazz, but eventually
they evened out. That seems less likely this year, but is still possible.
Assuming I get Napster up and running again, the ratio of Jazz/Non-Jazz
further down the grade scale should reduce somewhat, but hard to see
that ever balancing out. Reissues and compilations remain especially
hard to get hold of.
No Thanksgiving plans. My wife never wants me to cook on that day,
and all the usual friends and family have their own plans, so most
likely we'll be home alone. Maybe I'll get some listening done.
Still scanning through the notebooks for stray record reviews. Up
to December 2006, where I noticed that I had in fact made Thanksgiving
dinner that year. Went Japanese that year:
- miso soup
- pan-fried gyoza
- salmon teriyaki
- tiny roast potatoes
- french-cut green beans with peanut sauce
- grilled Japanese eggplant with spicy peanut sauce
- agedashi (fried bean curd)
- pineapple upside down cake
Also planned on sushi rice with grilled unagi (eel), but evidently
didn't get that done until the next day. I hardly ever cook Japanese
(except for the salmon, one of the easiest really good recipes I know),
so this mostly seems unfamiliar (aside from the ringers: the eggplant
is one of Barbara Tropp's Chinese fusion recipes, and the cake is my
Mom's recipe, an old family standard -- in fact, one of the cakes I
made for her funeral reception).
New records rated this week:
- Sophie Agnel/Daunik Lazro: Marguerite D'Or Pâle (2016, Fou): [cd]: B+(**)
- Tom Collier: Impulsive Illuminations (2014-15 , Origin): [cd]: B
- Dim Lighting: Your Miniature Motion (2014 , Off): [cdr]: B+(*)
- David Friesen Circle 3 Trio: Triple Exposure (2015 , Origin): [cd]: B+(*)
- Clay Giberson: Pastures (2015 , Origin): [cd]: B+(***)
- Heroes Are Gang Leaders: Flukum (2016, Flat Langston's Arkeyes): [cd]: B+(**)
- Erik Jekabson: A Brand New Take (2015 , OA2): [cd]: B+(*)
- Walter Kemp 3oh!: Dark Continent (2015 , Blujazz): [cd]: B+(*)
- Frank Kimbrough: Solstice (2016, Pirouet): [cd]: B+(**)
- Jerry Leake: Crafty Hands (2016, Rhombus Publishing): [cd]: B+(**)
- Allen Lowe: In the Diaspora of the Diaspora: A Day in Brooklyn: At Ibeam (2015 , Constant Sorrow, 2CD): [cd]: B+(***)
- Allen Lowe: In the Diaspora of the Diaspora: Hell With an Ocean View (2016, Constant Sorrow): [cd]: A-
- Thierry Maillard Trio: Ethnic Sounds (2016, Blujazz): [cd]: B-
- Mamutrio [Lieven Cambré/Piet Verbist/Jesse Dockx]: Primal Existence (2015 , Origin): [cd]: B+(***)
- Tom Marko: Inner Light (2016, Summit): [cd]: B
- Melanie Marod: I'll Go Mad (2016, ITI): [cd]: B+(*)
- John Moulder: Earthborn Tales of Soul and Spirit (2014-16, Origin): [cd]: B
- Moutin Factory Quintet: Deep (2016, Blujazz): [cd]: B+(*)
- Fredrik Nordström: Gentle Fire/Restless Dreams (2016, Moserobie, 2CD): [cd]: A-
- Phil Parisot: Lingo (2016, OA2): [cd]: B+(*)
- Ken Schaphorst Big Band: How to Say Goodbye (2014 , JCA): [cd]: B+(*)
- Steve Slagle: Alto Manhattan (2016 , Panorama): [cd]: B+(***)
- Anna Webber's Simple Trio: Binary (2016, Skirl): [cd]: B+(***)
- Scott Whitfield: New Jazz Standards (Volume 2) (2016, Summit): [cd]: B+(*)
Recent reissues, compilations, and vault discoveries rated this week:
- Erroll Garner: Ready Take One (1967-71 , Legacy): [r]: B+(*)
Unpacking: Found in the mail last week:
- Dr. Mint: Voices in the Void (Orenda): January 21
- Live Human: Scratch Bop (Cosmic)
- Mast: Love and War (Alpha Pup): advance, October 7
- Rudy Royston Trio: RisEofOrion (Greenleaf Music)
- David Wise: Till They Lay Me Down (self-released): January 6
- Basak Yavuz: A Little Red Bug (Things&Records): December 15
Saturday, November 19, 2016
First, a few summary points, many drawing on my previous
Hillary Clinton still has a popular vote margin over Donald
Trump, one that currently stands at 1,322,095 votes, up nearly one
million votes since I checked earlier, and up about 100,000 votes
since I started this post. (I've seen a tweet that has Clinton's
lead at 1.65 million votes.)
Still, that's less than Clinton's margin
in New York state alone (1,507,241), a mere 45% of her margin in
California (2,904,526). In fact, California topped Hawaii as her
best percentage state (61.78%; she won 90.4% in DC). By contrast,
Trump's biggest popular win, in Texas, was 813,774, followed by
Tennessee (651,073), Alabama (588,841), Kentucky (574,108), Missouri
(530,864), Indiana (520,429). Trump topped 60% in 9 states (AL, AR,
KY, NB, ND, OK, SD, WV, WY), but most were small.
Clinton lost three states that she was heavily favored in
by very slim margins: Michigan (0.27%), Wisconsin (0.93%), and
Pennsylvania (1.24%). Had she hung on to those three states she
would have won the electoral college. It's easy to imagine various
technical shifts in her campaign strategy that might have secured
those states and won her the election, even without any substantive
adjustments to her platform. She was not a hopeless candidate, but
was a flawed and for many people uninspiring one, and was not well
served by a staff and organization built to flatter her.
Voter turnout was down 1.2 points, to 53.7%. Trump was elected
president with about 25% of the vote, and Clinton lost with just a
hair more. As was widely reported, they were the two least approved
candidates in history. Clinton maintained a polling lead throughout
the campaign, but was never able to top 50%, her leads varying widely
as Trump's numbers waxed and waned. Trump caught a break a week before
the election when FBI Director James Comey re-opened Clinton's email
troubles, and Trump avoided major blunders in his last week, so his
win can be attributed to a lucky break.
The Democrats gained two Senate seats and seven House seats,
so the party as a whole was not swept up in a Republican tide. More
likely she was a drag on down-ticket Democrats. I believe that one
of the biggest tactical errors was Clinton's failure to run against
what Harry Truman once called "the do-nothing Congress" (Democrats
lost control of Congress in 1946, but recovered in 1948 with Truman's
come-from-behind campaign). Ultimately we'll see that most of the
bad things that happen in the next four years will originate in the
Republican Congress, and most of Trump's own disasters will be tied
to his forming an extremist Republican administration. The election
would have been very different if Clinton had run not on Obama's
"successes" but by blaming Republicans for his shortcomings.
I think it's safe to say that Bernie Sanders would have been
a more formidable candidate for the Democrats. What is certain is
that we didn't have any of Clinton's sleazy vulnerabilities. Also
that he was far enough removed from the Clinton-Obama mainstream
he could have run as a credible change, and that he has shown the
ability to rally large and enthusiastic crowds (which Trump did
and Clinton did not). Maybe the Republicans could have come up with
an effective set of slanders to undo him, but they wouldn't have
had the benefits of 24 years of target practice against Clinton.
Sanders' real vulnerability was that the Clinton-Obama Democrats
would sandbag him (much as previous generations of Democrats did
to Bryan and McGovern), but perhaps fear of Trump would have held
them in check.
Whatever divisions were thought to exist in the Republican
party have vanished. The only thing Republicans really care about
is winning and ruling, and they really don't care how ugly it
looks. And while their current margins are extremely thin, that
didn't impose any scruples on Bush and Cheney in 2000 -- another
time when the presidential victor lost the popular vote -- and
Republicans have only become more vicious and unscrupulous since
then. (Trump, for one, never had to feign compassion.)
One thing that we should bear in mind is that many disasters take
a long time to fully reveal themselves. That Republican Congress
elected in 1946 has had an especially long-lasting impact. George
Brockway, for instance, cited a banking "reform" bill that they
passed as the first chink in the deregulation that finally sunk the
economy in 2008. More obvious was the Taft-Hartley Act, which made
it significantly harder to form and maintain labor unions. After
that act was passed, the CIO gave up on organizing unions in the
South, which left American businesses with an alternative to union
labor in the North. That, more than anything else, gradually ate
away at the Rust Belt, leading to this year's Democratic debacle.
But then the Democrats haven't been passive observers to the
destruction of their party's base. Harry Truman was so militantly
opposed to worker strikes after WWII that he inadvertently validated
the public opinion behind Taft-Hartley (a bill he vetoed, but his
veto was overridden). And one can argue that the Clinton-sponsored
NAFTA was the straw that broke the camel's back -- he's certainly
the one who gets blamed, even though it was mostly Republicans who
voted for the agreement.
On the other hand, the half-life of disasters certainly seems
to be quickening, especially as public institutions become more and
more corrupt, as wealth and income are distributed ever more inequally,
as decades of bad choices slowly add up into harder ones. A lot of
the links below concern the destruction of the middle class, especially
in the Rust Belt, and raise the question of why even people who are
still doing OK have become anxious about the economy. This can only
remind me of a book published back in 1989, Barbara Ehrenreich's
Fear of Falling: The Inner Life of the Middle Class. And
really, she wasn't way ahead of the learning curve. She was merely
more perceptive than most people were. Recent books, such as the
six recommended in the list below, focus more on those who have
fallen, and who can't get up. But fear came first, and Democrats
would have been better served had they recognized that, instead
of blundering on and pushing more and more people down and out.
Here are a mess of links I've collected, thinking they may be of
some interest (more or less alphabetical by author).
Scott Alexander: You Are Still Crying Wolf: Title refers to a piece,
Frank Bruni: Crying Wolf, Then Confronting Trump, which complains
that Democratic denunciations of "honorable and decent men" like McCain
and Romney have inoculated many Americans against even more strident
warnings about Trump (he cites an essay by Jonah Greenberg, "How the
Media's History of Smearing Republicans Now Helps Trump"). Alexander
argues that Trump did better than Romney among blacks, Latinos and
Asians, then concludes: "The only major racial group where he didn't
get a gain or greater than 5% was white people." He then goes on to
argue that Trump isn't nearly as racist (i.e., no more than "any other
70 year old white guy") as people think, and that white supremacists --
at least as represented by people like David Duke (who got 3% in his
Louisiana Senate campaign) or groups like the KKK (national membership
in the 3000-6000 range) are extremely marginal. I think he goes too
far in making excuses for Trump, but it does raise the question: given
that Republicans have spent forty-some years "dog-whistling" race-charged
themes, isn't it possible that Democrats have become hyper-sensitive to
that veiled rhetoric? (And conversely, isn't it possible that much of
the Republican target audience have grown so accustomed to it they no
longer pay it any mind?) On the other hand, Alexander does stress how
bizarre he finds Trump:
16. But didn't Trump . . .
Whatever bizarre, divisive, ill-advised, and revolting thing you're
about to mention, the answer is probably yes.
This is equally true on race-related and non-race-related issues.
People ask "How could Trump believe the wacky conspiracy theory that
Obama was born in Kenya, if he wasn't racist?" I don't know. How could
Trump believe the wacky conspiracy theory that vaccines cause autism?
How could Trump believe the wacky conspiracy theory that the Clintons
killed Vince Foster? How could Trump believe the wacky conspiracy
theory that Ted Cruz's father shot JFK?
Trump will apparently believe anything for any reason, especially
about his political opponents. If Clinton had been black but Obama
white, we'd be hearing that the Vince Foster conspiracy theory proves
Trump's bigotry, and the birtherism was just harmless wackiness.
Likewise, how could Trump insult a Mexican judge just for being
Mexican? I don't know. How could Trump insult a disabled reporter
just for being disabled? How could Trump insult John McCain just
for being a beloved war hero? Every single person who's opposed him,
Trump has insulted in various offensive ways, including 140 separate
incidents of him calling someone "dopey" or "dummy" on Twitter, and
you expect him to hold his mouth just because the guy is a Mexican?
I don't think people appreciate how weird this guy is. His
weird way of speaking. His catchphrases like "haters and losers!" or
"Sad!" His tendency to avoid perfectly reasonable questions in favor
of meandering tangents about Mar-a-Lago. The ability to bait him into
saying basically anything just by telling him people who don't like
him think he shouldn't.
Krishnadev Calamur: Donald Trump's CIA Pick Made His Name on the Benghazi
Committee: That's Mike Pompeo, currently 4th district congressman from
Canada, a district which includes Wichita and a half-dozen rural counties.
Pompeo was first elected in 2010 when Todd Tiahrt ran for Senate (and lost
to Jerry Moran). Tiahrt, who I had long regarded as the worst congressman
in America, tried to take back his House seat in 2012, and lost to Pompeo --
at the time I characterized them as R(Boeing) and R(Koch), respectively.
Indeed, the Wichita Eagle has an article today titled "Koch Industries,
Pompeo's biggest backer, cheers his CIA nomination." In Congress, Pompeo
has been a faithful defender of the Koch's brand of laissez-faire, but
far more than that he's emerged as one of the House's most rabid neocons --
a fact that was recognized by Bill Kristol when he put Pompeo's name on
his short list of vice presidential candidates. At this article points
out, Pompeo's was one of the Benghazi Committee's most forceful foes
of Hillary Clinton. Indeed, as CIA Director it wouldn't surprise me if
he forgoes the Special Prosecutor and just "renders" her to a black site
to be tortured until she confesses all. At least, nothing in that sentence
violates his understanding of law or morality.
Martin Longman has more on Pompeo (as well as Flynn and Sessions) here:
Trump Makes Three Catastrophic Picks. I do have a bone to pick with
one line: "What unites [Pompeo] with Mike Flynn is his outrage about
Obama's firing of Gen. Stanley McChrystal for disloyalty." Uh, McChrystal
was fired for incompetence. If you go back to the Rolling Stone
article where all this dirty laundry was aired, you'll find that Flynn
was even more outspoken in berating and belittling Obama, yet somehow
Obama looked past that to nominate Flynn to be head of the DIA. Sure,
that may rank as the worst appointment Obama ever made, but you can't
say it was because he was thin-skinned about criticism.
Robert Christgau on the End of the World
David Dayen: Beware Donald Trump's Infrastructure Plan:
Does this sound familiar? It's the common justification for privatization,
and it's been a disaster virtually everywhere it's been tried. First of
all, this specifically ties infrastructure -- designed for the common
good -- to a grab for profits. Private operators will only undertake
projects if they promise a revenue stream. You may end up with another
bridge in New York City or another road in Los Angeles, which can be
monetized. But someplace that actually needs infrastructure investment
is more dicey without user fees.
So the only way to entice private-sector actors into rebuilding
Flint, Michigan's water system, for example, is to give them a cut of
the profits in perpetuity. That's what Chicago did when it sold off
36,000 parking meters to a Wall Street-led investor group. Users now
pay exorbitant fees to park in Chicago, and city government is helpless
to alter the rates.
Elizabeth Drew: How It Happened: Some fairly dumb things here,
including a metric comparing votes in counties that have Cracker
Barrel vs. Whole Foods stores, and an assertion that the third
party vote cost Clinton the election. Also includes this quote
from J.D. Vance (author of Hillbilly Elegy):
"People who are drawn to Trump are drawn to him because he's a little
outrageous, he's a little relatable, and fundamentally he is angry
and spiteful and critical of the things that people feel anger and
spite toward," Vance has said. "It's people who are perceived to be
powerful. It's the Hillary Clintons of the world, the Barack Obamas
of the world, the Wall Street executives of the world. There just
isn't anyone out there who will talk about the system like it's
completely rigged like Donald Trump does. It's certainly not
something you're going to hear from Hillary Clinton."
Jason Easley: It Was a Union Contract, Not Trump, That Kept a Ford Plant
From Leaving the US
Barbara Ehrenreich: Forget fear and loathing. The US election inspires
projectile vomiting: Pre-election piece (sorry I didn't link to
it earlier). Still, this works fairly well as a post-mortem:
[Trump's] supporters -- generally portrayed as laid-off blue-collar
workers who, in the absence of unions, have devoted themselves to the
cause of whiteness -- cheer on each of his macro-aggressions. To them,
he is a giant middle finger in the face of the bipartisan political
elite, and the crazier he acts, the more resounding this fuck-you gets.
It doesn't matter that most of Trump's assertions can't stand up to
fact-checking; ignorance has been enshrined by an entire alternative
media, stretching from Fox News to Stormfront on the Nazi-leaning right.
On the liberal left, tragically, we do not have Bernie Sanders, who
would have dispatched Trump's populist pretensions with a wrist flick.
But no, representing the side of tolerance, good government and
cosmopolitanism, we have the very epitome of Democratic party elitism,
a woman who labeled half of Trump's supporters "deplorables," a politician
who is so robotic that any efforts to analyze her motives risk the charge
Liza Featherstone: Elite, White Feminism Gave Us Trump
Matt Feeney: The Book That Predicted Trump: The book touted here
is Corey Robin's The Reactionary Mind: Conservatism From Edmund
Burke to Sarah Palin (2012) -- I'm pretty sure those names are
just historical bookends and not meant to imply a general vector of
declining intelligence and coherence, as Robin's central thesis is
that conservatism, whether you're talking about Burke or John Calhoun
or Ronald Reagan or Trump is always pretty much the same thing, for
the same reasons: to defend the privileged few against anything that
might make us more equal.
Speaking of books, the New York Times recommends
6 Books to Help Understand Trump's Win:
- George Packer, The Unwinding: An Inner History of the New America
(Farrar, Straus and Giroux)
- Arlie Russell Hochschild, Strangers in Their Own Land: Anger and
Mourning on the American Right (The New Press)
- J.D. Vance, Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in
- Thomas Frank, Listen, Liberal: Or, What Ever Happened to the Party
of the People? (Metropolitan Books/Henry Holt & Company)
- John B. Judis, The Populist Explosion: How the Great Recession
Transformed American and European Politics (Columbia Global Reports)
- Nancy Isenberg, White Trash: The 400-Year Untold History of Class
in America (Viking)
I've only read one of these -- Thomas Frank's critique of Clinton's
Democrats, a legacy which needs to be critically reviewed by anyone
who wants to rebuild the Democratic Party -- but the common theme here
is the economic and social stresses felt by the vanishing middle class
of white people.
Kathleen Frydl: The Oxy Electorate:
The number of people who cast a ballot in the 2016 presidential race
was greater than in 2012, even though, as a state, Ohio recorded a net
loss in turnout from the previous election. This pattern holds for
nearly all opioid-ravaged counties. And not just in Ohio -- in
Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Michigan as well, all of them crucial
to the presidential election's outcome. In 9 of the Ohio counties
that Trump successfully turned from Democrat to Republican, six log
overdose rates well above the national norm. All of the Pennsylvania
counties that chose Obama in 2012 and Trump in 2016 have exceptionally
high overdose rates, averaging 25 people per 100,000; in none of these
counties did vote totals fall.
Kathleen Geier: Inequality Among Women Is Crucial to Understanding
In these white working-class communities, it is the women who have
experienced some of the worst hardships. You may have heard of that
famous study that showed that showed an unprecedented decline in
longevity among white Americans who lack college degrees. But most
media reports missed a crucial point: As the statistician Andrew
Gelman pointed out, "Since 2005, mortality rates have increased
among women in this group but not men." And in addition to economic
insecurity and rising mortality rates, working-class women have
suffered from another indignity: invisibility. During the campaign,
there was a blizzard of articles about the concerns of elite
Republican women and white working-class men, but practically
nothing about female members of the working class.
John Judis: Why Trump Won - and Clinton Lost - and What It Could Mean for
the Country and the Parties: Quickie post-mortem, including some things
that don't make much sense to me (like the anti-third term pendulum), but
one thing I'm struck by is that immigration has different regional effects,
and appears particularly threatening when used to break or undermine unions --
meatpackers in Iowa is a case in point. One conclusion I'd draw is that
Democrats need to come up with better ways of talking about immigration,
because the way this campaign played out they came off as reflexively pro,
which raised legitimate questions of how much they cared about people who
were born here.
Theda Skocpol wrote a rejoinder which pokes a few holes without doing
much to fill them in (partly because she feels the need to defend Clinton
and to denigrate Sanders).
Mike Konczal: Preparing for the Worst: How Conservatives Will Govern
Unlike 2009, the conservative policy agenda is designed to not require
any Democratic votes. The idea that a conservative policy agenda would
create a dysfunctional system is a feature, not a bug. And the hope
that conflicting factions of the GOP will provide opportunities to
break them apart are not likely to pan out. But there's some reason
for hope, because their overreach and lack of preparedness will give
us opportunities. [ . . . ]
They aren't ready with a replacement for Obamacare. They aren't
ready for the heat of privatizing Medicare, or weakening Medicaid.
There are constituencies for both, and town halls can be flooded and
people organized. Those who desperately wanted a change towards
economic security are going to be surprised that the factories aren't
coming back and that they signed up for a libertarian kleptocracy
instead. But we should also be clear on the challenges of their
policy agenda, and that the cracks won't appear by themselves.
Konczal recommends a book (as do I): Thomas Frank's The Wrecking
Crew: How Conservatives Rule (2009) -- no mention of Trump, but lots
of things you're going to be seeing. And back on Sept. 21, Konczal wrote
a piece that provides useful background here:
Trump Is Actually Full of Policy.
Michael Kruse: What Trump Voters Want Now: Talking to blue collar
Trump voters in Pennsylvania:
"Your government betrayed you, and I'm going to make it right," Trump
told a boisterous crowd at the Cambria County War Memorial Arena less
than three weeks before Election Day. "Your jobs will come back under
a Trump administration," he said. "Your steel will come back," he said.
"We're putting your miners back to work," he said.
The people here who voted for Trump want all that. They want him
to loosen environmental regulations. They want their taxes to go down
and their incomes to go up. They want to see fewer drugs on their
streets and more control of the Mexican border. They want him to
"run the country like a business." And they want this fast. So now
comes the hard part for Trump -- turning rhetoric into results. Four
years ago, the largely Democratic voters in Cambria County flipped
on President Obama, disgusted that he had not made good on his
promise of change. What's clear from a series of interviews with
Trump supporters here is that they will turn on Trump, too, if he
doesn't deliver. [ . . . ]
But beyond flared tempers in the immediate aftermath of this
ugly election, said Rininger and Daloni, the larger point is that
this isn't going to work. There's next to no way, they believe,
that Trump can deliver on his promises.
"The infrastructure for the steel is all gone," Daloni said.
"It just doesn't exist anymore in Johnstown. It did used to be a
steel boomtown, but it was long before Obama was elected. It was
decimated, really, before Bill Clinton was elected. The mills
were going down in the '70s and '80s."
The Trump voters say they want change, but Daloni and Rininger
say the change has happened already. And despite what Trump promised
at the downtown arena a month ago, they believe there's a real chance
that Trump's solutions could make things worse. Incomes won't go up --
they'll go down. "I make $32 an hour, with good benefits, and that's
because I'm union," Rininger said. "I wouldn't even be f--king close
to that if I wasn't union."
And jobs, they worry, won't come back -- they'll disappear faster.
And before long, they said, the only work in Cambria County will be
minimum-wage counter jobs at the familiar collection of ring-road
fast food-joints. "The service industry, I'm afraid," Daloni said.
"If Trump starts trade wars," Rininger said, "you hurt us. You hurt
our plant" -- which is owned by Swedes, with a CEO from India. And the
steel the workers do still make, Rininger said, is sold to Brazil.
It's sold around the world.
Charles Pierce comments:
You Can Keep Studying White Working Class Voters, But We Know the
David Leonhardt: The Democrats' Real Turnout Problem: Cites a study
by Douglas Rivers of five east-to-midwest swing states that switched
from Obama to Trump (plus Minnesota, which was very close):
In counties where Trump won at least 70 percent of the vote, the number
of votes cast rose 2.9 percent versus 2012. Trump's pugnacious message
evidently stirred people who hadn't voted in the past. By comparison,
in counties where Clinton won at least 70 percent, the vote count was
1.7 percent lower this year.
Eric Lichtblau: US Hate Crimes Surge 6%, Fueled by Attacks on Muslims:
I wouldn't call 6% a surge, but it turns out that's a gross "hate crime"
count. The real bottom line:
There were 257 reports of assaults, attacks on mosques
and other hate crimes against Muslims last year, a jump of about 67
percent over 2014. It was the highest total since 2001, when more than
480 attacks occurred in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks.
Ryan Lizza: Donald Trump's First, Alarming Week as President-Elect:
Old history, now eclipsed by an even more disturbing second week
(e.g., Michael Flynn, Mike Pompeo).
Amanda Marcotte: Voter suppression helped make Donald Trump president --
now he'll make it worse
Sophia A McClennen: Like a double dose of Dubya: Donald Trump's presidency
will be like the George W. Bush disaster -- only worse
Michael Moore: 5 Reasons Why Trump Will Win: This piece dates
from July 21, 2016, so it counts now as prophetic, but was meant
more as a warning, from someone who grew up in an industrial Great
Lakes state and has spent much of his career chronicling the hard
times his people have suffered. Here's the first point:
I believe Trump is going to focus much of his attention on the four
blue states in the rustbelt of the upper Great Lakes -- Michigan,
Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. Four traditionally Democratic
states -- but each of them have elected a Republican governor since
2010 (only Pennsylvania has now finally elected a Democrat). In the
Michigan primary in March, more Michiganders came out to vote for
the Republicans (1.32 million) that the Democrats (1.19 million).
Trump is ahead of Hillary in the latest polls in Pennsylvania and
tied with her in Ohio. Tied? How can the race be this close after
everything Trump has said and done? Well maybe it's because he's
said (correctly) that the Clintons' support of NAFTA helped to
destroy the industrial states of the Upper Midwest. Trump is going
to hammer Clinton on this and her support of TPP and other trade
policies that have royally screwed the people of these four states.
When Trump stood in the shadow of a Ford Motor factory during the
Michigan primary, he threatened the corporation that if they did
indeed go ahead with their planned closure of that factory and move
it to Mexico, he would slap a 35% tariff on any Mexican-built cars
shipped back to the United States. It was sweet, sweet music to the
ears of the working class of Michigan, and when he tossed in his
threat to Apple that he would force them to stop making their iPhones
in China and build them here in America, well, hearts swooned and
Trump walked away with a big victory that should have gone to the
governor next-door, John Kasich. . . .
And this is where the math comes in. In 2012, Mitt Romney lost
by 64 electoral votes. Add up the electoral votes cast by Michigan,
Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. It's 64. All Trump needs to do to
win is to carry, as he's expected to do, the swath of traditional
red states from Idaho to Georgia (states that'll never vote
for Hillary Clinton), and then he just needs these four rust belt
states. He doesn't need Florida. He doesn't need Colorado or Virginia.
Just Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. And that will put
him over the top. This is how it will happen in November.
And that was exactly what happened -- had Clinton held the
line in the three closest states (Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania;
forget Ohio) she would have been elected. She is, of course, one of
the other four points, but more interesting is what Moore calls "the
Jesse Ventura Effect":
Finally, do not discount the electorate's ability to be mischievous
or underestimate how any millions fancy themselves as closet anarchists
once they draw the curtain and are all alone in the voting booth. It's
one of the few places left in society where there are no security
cameras, no listening devices, no spouses, no kids, no boss, no cops,
there's not even a friggin' time limit. You can take as long as you
need in there and no one can make you do anything. You can push the
button and vote a straight party line, or you can write in Mickey
Mouse and Donald Duck. There are no rules. And because of that, and
the anger that so many have toward a broken political system, millions
are going to vote for Trump not because they agree with him,
not because they like his bigotry or ego, but just because
they can. Just because it will upset the apple cart and make mommy
and daddy mad. And in the same way like when you're standing on the
edge of Niagara Falls and your mind wonders for a moment what would
that feel like to go over that thing, a lot of people are going to
love being in the position of puppetmaster and plunking down for
Trump just to see what that might look like.
Of course, the polls told them that Trump didn't have a chance,
that someone sane would catch them when they jumped. Moore also
wrote another pre-election piece called
5 Ways to Make Sure Trump Loses, which included this bit:
So many people have given up on our system and that's because the
system has given up on them. They know it's all bullshit: politics,
politicians, elections. The middle class in tatters, the American
Dream a nightmare for the 47 million living in poverty. Get this
straight: HALF of America is planning NOT to vote November 8th.
Hillary's approval rating is at 36%. CNN said it last night: No one
running for office with an approval rating of 36% has ever been
elected president (Trump's is at 30%). Even in these newer polls,
60% still say that Hillary is "untrustworthy to be president."
Disillusioned young people stop me every day to tell me they're not
voting (or they're voting 3rd Party). This is a problem, folks. Stop
ignoring it. You need to listen to them. Chastising them, shaming
them, will not work. Acknowledging to them that they have a point,
that Hillary Clinton is maybe not the best candidate, . . .
The rest of the paragraph doesn't make a lot of sense, and maybe
acknowledging your candidate's flaws won't convince many people to
overlook them, but one way to approach this would be to refocus the
campaign on electing Democrats to Congress, both to help her and to
keep her honest. And the easiest thing in the world should have been
running against our current batch of Congressional Republicans. Of
course, it didn't happen, perhaps because the Clintons rarely concern
themselves with any but the first person.
Toni Morrison: Making America White Again: This is one of sixteen
pieces the New Yorker commissioned as
Aftermath: Sixteen Writers on Trump's America. See especially
Jane Mayer on Trump and the Koch network. Also this from Jill Leopre:
The rupture in the American republic, the division of the American
people whose outcome is the election of Donald Trump, cannot be
attributed to Donald Trump. Nor can it be attributed to James Comey
and the F.B.I. or to the white men who voted in very high numbers
for Trump or to the majority of white women who did, too, unexpectedly,
or to the African-American and Latino voters who did not give Hillary
Clinton the edge they gave Barack Obama. It can't be attributed to the
Republican Party's unwillingness to disavow Trump or to the Democratic
Party's willingness to promote Clinton or to a media that has careened
into a state of chaos. There are many reasons for our troubles. But
the deepest reason is inequality: the forms of political, cultural,
and economic polarization that have been widening, not narrowing, for
decades. Inequality, like slavery, is a chain that binds at both ends.
[ . . . ]
Many Americans, having lost faith in a government that has failed
to address widening inequality, and in the policymakers and academics
and journalists who have barely noticed it, see Trump as their deliverer.
They cast their votes with purpose. A lot of Trump voters I met during
this election season compared Trump to Lincoln: an emancipator. What
Trump can and cannot deliver, by way of policy, remains to be seen; my
own doubts are grave. Meanwhile, though, he has added weight to the
burden that we, each of us, carry on our backs, the burden of old hatreds.
I agree that inequality infects everything, but would also have
blamed war: it's impossible to spend fifteen years at war, even if
it only rarely touches us personally (as has oddly been the case
with this one), without it coarsening and brutalizing us, and that
shows up in an increasingly bitter and violent campaign. Trump
evinced by far the more popularly resonant stance, on the one
hand disowning misguided conflicts like Bush's Iraq war yet on
the other hand showing an unflinching will to inflict violence
whenever threatened. Clinton, on the other hand, seemed to follow
Obama in thinking that war can be compartmentalized and managed,
something that can continue indefinitely without changing us.
For more on this point, see:
Tom Engelhardt: Through the Gates of Hell: How Empire Ushered in
a Trump Presidency.
Charles P Pierce: I Am Sure of Nothing Now: Concludes with this
quote from Hunter S. Thompson on the 1972 election, the first time
I was as grossly disappointed by American voters as this time (not
that there haven't been a couple more times sandwiched between):
This may be the year when we finally come face to face with ourselves;
finally just lay back and say it -- that we are really just a nation
of 220 million used car salesmen with all the money we need to buy
guns, and no qualms at all about killing anybody else in the world
who tries to make us uncomfortable. The tragedy of all this is that
George McGovern, for all his mistakes . . . understands what a
fantastic monument to all the best instincts of the human race this
country might have been, if we could have kept it out of the hands
of greedy little hustlers like Richard Nixon. McGovern made some
stupid mistakes, but in context they seem almost frivolous compared
to the things Richard Nixon does every day of his life, on purpose . . .
Jesus! Where will it end? How low do you have to stoop in this country
to be President?
Sean T Posey: How Democrats lost the Rust Belt in 2016:
In 1964, 37 percent of Ohio workers belonged to a union; that number
fell to 12 percent by 2016, and incomes for the working class tumbled
in tandem. It's a similar story in Pennsylvania, Michigan, Indiana,
West Virginia and Wisconsin. Republican policies are largely responsible,
but Democrats have done little to address the precipitous decline of
the working class.
When Hillary Clinton famously referred to half of Trump's supporters
as a "basket of deplorables," it rang hollow for voters who had waited
in vain for her to acknowledge their economic plight. Ohio, Pennsylvania
and Michigan helped elect Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012. However, for
working families, the economic hangover of the post-industrial era never
went away. Clinton's campaign failed to fully appreciate their pain.
A couple years into the "recovery" it was reported that 97% of the
gains had been reaped by the 1%. Maybe that number has inched down a
bit since then, but that translates as a windfall for the very rich
and no recovery for most people.
John Quiggin: The dog that didn't bark: One of the most glaring
results from the election is that virtually none of the Republicans
who had been so critical of Trump early on failed to vote for him
in the end. Perhaps that's because socially liberal, economically
moderate, or libertarian Republicans have become urban myths --
even though Clinton wasted a lot of time courting them (she did
seem to be doing better among the neocons, but it looks like they'll
do quite nicely under Trump).
Sam Stein: The Clinton Campaign Was Undone by Its Own Neglect and a
Touch of Arrogance, Staffers Say
Steven Waldman: Did the Decline of Labor Finally Kill the Democrats?
Gary Younge: How Trump took middle America: Lead-in: "After a month
in a midwestern town, the story of this election is clear -- when people
feel the system is broken, they vote for whoever promises to smash it."
Steve Bannon: 'we'll govern for 50 years': A boast that only seems
modest next to "Thousand Year Reich." From the cited
interview (more of a profile piece than tete-a-tete):
When Bannon took over the campaign from Paul Manafort, there were many
in the Trump circle who had resigned themselves to the inevitability of
the candidate listening to no one. But here too was a Bannon insight:
When the campaign seemed most in free fall or disarray, it was perhaps
most on target. While Clinton was largely absent from the campaign trail
and concentrating on courting her donors, Trump -- even after the leak
of the grab-them-by-the-pussy audio -- was speaking to ever-growing
crowds of 35,000 or 40,000. "He gets it; he gets it intuitively," says
Bannon, perhaps still surprised he has found such an ideal vessel. "You
have probably the greatest orator since William Jennings Bryan, coupled
with an economic populist message and two political parties that are so
owned by the donors that they don't speak to their audience. But he
speaks in a non-political vernacular, he communicates with these people
in a very visceral way. Nobody in the Democratic party listened to his
speeches, so they had no idea he was delivering such a compelling and
powerful economic message. He shows up 3.5 hours late in Michigan at 1
in the morning and has 35,000 people waiting in the cold. When they got
[Clinton] off the donor circuit she went to Temple University and they
drew 300 or 400 kids."
Oh, then there's this final quote: "I am Thomas Cromwell in the court
of the Tudors."
As I was putting this post together, I started reading Corey Robin's
Conservatism From Edmund Burke to Sarah Palin (2011), and noted
this quote (p. 59) on the asymmetry between left and right, on how
hard change is for the former, and how easy reaction is for the
Where the left's program of redistribution raises the questions of
whether its beneficiaries are truly prepared to wield the powers they
seek, the conservative prospect of restoration suffers from no such
challenge. Unlike the reformer or the revolutionary, moreover, who
faces the nearly impossible task of empowering the powerless -- that
is, of turning people from what they are into what they are not -- the
conservative merely asks his followers to do more of what they always
have done (albeit, better and differently). As a result, his
counterrevolution will not require the same disruption that the
revolution has visited upon the country.
My main worry about the Sanders campaign wasn't that he might get
slandered and lose his appeal, but that there wasn't a strong enough
movement under him to deliver on his promises. And that mattered, of
course, because his promises mattered. By contrast, all Trump voters
had to do was to put their guy in power. After that, go back to work,
and let their new right-thinking leader do what needs to be done.
I've never had any inkling why they would trust him with that power,
but then I don't think like they do: I learned early to question all
authority, and found that when you give a greedy monster more power
he only becomes greedier and more monstrous. But in a way, the great
appeal of the right is that it offers simplistic solutions, wrapped
in a little virus of paranoia which allows them to be used again and
again, regardless of their repeated failures.
Wednesday, November 16, 2016
Golden Oldies (5)
A few more posts as I'm sifting through the old
online notebook for a few stray record reviews, and finding a world
that looks and sounds eerily familiar, marked by six years of corrupt
Republican rule (following eight years of corrupt Clinton and twelve
years of even more corrupt Reagan-Bush). This shows that ten years ago
I was starting to doubt that some of the damage could ever be reversed.
Clearly, eight years of Obama has had little effect -- one statistic
is that 97% of the gains of the recovery have been captured by the top
1%, which implies that the overwhelming majority of Americans haven't
seen anything vaguely resembling a recovery, no matter what the stock
markets say -- and now we're poised for another plunge into disaster.
From February 1, 2006, when "the Liar in Chief gave his State of the
Of course, not everything Bush has tried has worked out exactly
according to plan. But it's hard to tell given that the real plans
have always been secret, and that the administration and its pliant,
co-opted media have consistently been able to put their spin over.
Maybe Iraq was intended to be a cakewalk that would deliver us a
steady source of cheap oil, but the worst case scenario -- that
Iraqi oil falls off the market, constricting supplies and driving
prices up -- works just as well for Bush, and better still for
Exxon-Mobil. Maybe John ("no carrot") Bolton's non-proliferation
diplomacy was intended to pacify Kim Jong Il, but a nuclear-armed
North Korea is just the sort of threat that keeps Japan in line
and helps sell anti-missile defense systems. Maybe Bush actually
wanted to capture or kill Osama Bin Laden, but the latter's taunts
are always good for a bump in the polls. Win-win scenarios like
those encourage boldness by insulating Bush from the consequences
of screwing up. If Herbert Hoover had been able to spin like Bush,
America wouldn't have had that New Deal for the Republicans to try
The fact is that most Americans are worse off than they were
five years ago. Real wages are down. The real cost of living is
up, with energy and health care, education and housing leading
the way. Fewer people have jobs; those who do work longer hours
for less benefits. Productivity is up, but all of the benefits
have gone to management. More people live in poverty. Fewer have
health insurance, so more skip non-emergency care. Many people
have compensated for their declining incomes by borrowing more,
so savings is down and debt is up. The federal budget has gone
from a surplus to record deficits. Trade deficits have also hit
new record levels. This has been temporarily covered by foreign
funds, which own more and more of America's capital and debt.
The portion of federal spending on such non-productive expenses
as defense, security, and prisons has grown considerably, in
turn starving social services and infrastructure investments.
Where state and local governments have tried to compensate for
loss of federal funds, their tax increases have often swallowed
up the federal cuts. Meanwhile, safety nets have been reduced,
not least under the guise of tort reform and bankruptcy reform.
Environmental protections have been slashed, and the Super Fund
clean-up system is defunct. Much of the federal government has
been turned into a super-police agency, the Dept. of Homeland
Security -- the domestic equivalent of the Dept. of Imperial
Security (formerly the Dept. of Defense). The right to privacy
(i.e., the right to be secure in one's home and person) has
been attacked from every angle: through new laws like the USA
PATRIOT Act, through blatantly extralegal acts like NSA spying,
through Bush's packing of the courts with right-wing extremists.
And on all fronts, whatever competency government once had has
diminished as the civil service system has been turned into a
major new system of political patronage.
The key idea here is not just that the Republicans are crooks
(cf. Jack Abramoff) or scoundrels (cf. Scooter Libby) or both (cf.
Tom DeLay): it's that they're building a political machine to
perpetuate their control, a brutally efficient Tamany Hall that
straddles the entire globe. It's a spectacular vision, but it's
already -- long before such new space weapons as the Rods from
God come on-line -- showing signs of overreach. The Iraq war may
be good for Exxon-Mobil, maybe even for Halliburton, but it's been
rough on the US Army, stretched now to the breaking point. And the
longer a few thousand insurgents in Iraq are able to tie the US
down, the more defiant others become. The Muslim world is still
mostly tied down in crony dictatorships, but when democratization
comes they won't be so easy to push around. For an example of how
this works, cf. Latin America, where anti-US politicos have won
every election recently. Moreover, Bush's domestic programs weaken
the US economy in nearly every way, making any number of economic
disasters possible, on top of the long term rot caused by the
right's political attacks on science and education, the closing
of opportunities, and the increasing tolerance of graft.
That was written a couple years before the predicted economic
disaster got out of hand.
From February 15, 2006, when Dick Cheney went hunting:
The sea change in the media coverage of Dick Cheney's little hunting
accident just proves that what goes around comes around. Cheney was the
guy who insisted on going full bore ahead on the Republicans' agenda
after they squeaked through the tainted 2000 presidential election. His
cynical exploitation of ill-gotten power was unprecedented in its scope
and depravity. (Not only had Bush taken office under a cloud, compare
what he said during the campaign to what they did afterwards to get a
glimpse of how disengenuous they were before power corrupted them
further. And just as secrets and lies got them into office, secrets
and lies followed them everywhere.) Although Cheney hasn't exactly
gotten a free ride for all he's done, he's gotten a lot of slack --
the media's customary deference to the powerful, who are often (and
this is important) the ones who feed them the spin they report as
news. I'm tempted to suggest that the real reason they've turned on
Cheney so hard is that he denied them the scoop, but at least part
of their bite comes from resentment at having been lied to over and
over. The media has a bad case of "kiss up, kick down" (to borrow
a phrase used to describe John Bolton), so now that Cheney has
gotten himself into a pickle, they can finally show their love.
On March 3, 2006, I wrote a comment about a quote from Robert D.
Kaplan, an American journalist who served in the IDF and went on to
be a major neocon cheerleader in books about Afghanistan, the Balkans,
and The Arabists. I read a lot of his work after 9/11, but had
largely given up on him by the time I wrote this:
One thing to remember about Kaplan is that he's consistently argued
that democracy is not a viable goal for US (or any imperial) foreign
policy. His prescription for Iraq was that the US install an
authoritarian regime -- possibly another Baathist, another Saddam but
on a tighter leash. Allawi would have suited Kaplan fine had it
worked, but by the time the US brought Allawi in it was already too
late. The US lost the re-use Saddam's systems of control -- the
"decapitation" option -- when Bremer dissolved the Iraq army, or you
can go further back to the decision to short-staff the invasion
force. This meant that the US depended on the Kurds and Shiites to
stabilize Iraq after the invasion, and the price of their
participation was de-Baathification. Bush also tied his shoelaces
together with his liberation/democracy spiel -- while the US actually
did very little very slowly to promote democracy (the two-thirds rule
is an especially clever poison pill) the idea is still a dangling
sword over the head of the occupation.
Kaplan's books are very readable and quite useful, except when he
starts "thinking". Even then his "pragmatism" is rigorous and
consistent -- to the point that he insists that imperialism needs a
"pagan ethos". His big problem is that his ideals and preferred
practices are rooted in some other century. That strikes me as a fatal
debilitation in a "pragmatist."
On the other hand, recent news does make the rather sobering case
that bad as Saddam was, removing him has led to worse. One thing we
need to give some serious consideration to is how it might be possible
to ameliorate conditions under Saddam-like dictators without plunging
entire countries into the hell of war. As far as I can tell, since
1991 all the US ever did viz. Iraq, and for purely domestic political
reasons of the basest sort, was try to make conditions there
By the way, has anyone noticed that in Saddam's show trial, he's
being charged with ordering fewer executions than Bush signed off on
while governor of Texas?
On May 12, 2006, I wrote a post around quotes about Berlusconi
and Nixon that seemed to fit the election results so well I went
ahead and posted them
On June 22, 2006, I wrote a post called "Clintonistas for
Armageddon" -- it's one of those things you forget about because
it led to nothing, but it was about an op-ed written by two
Clinton war guys, William Perry (Clinton's Secretary of Defense)
and Ashton Carter (a Clinton under-secretary, who later became
Obama's Secretary of Defense). They were upset about North Korea
testing one of its missiles, and urged Bush to pre-emptively fire
cruise missiles at the site. While North Korea's missiles (and
most likely a couple fission bombs) were works-in-progress, this
overlooked that North Korea has thousands of pieces of heavy
artillery capable of raining destruction on Seoul. That's not
a very smart deterrent to test. I spent some time researching
North Korea at that point. Today I'm more struck by the Clinton
connection. I led off the post with this line:
One reason we're always stuck in a hopeless, hapless mess in foreign
policy is that the people the Democrats hire to staff those positions
are for all intents and purposes the same pinheaded warrior wannabes
as the ones the Republicans hire.
On June 23, 2006, I wrote a post based on an Eagle article
reporting that sociologists are finding that Americans have fewer
and fewer close friends (the average dropped from 3 in 1985 to
2). I quoted the piece, then added:
This trend has been going on all my life. It's easy to think back
to the '50s and '60s when people actually worried about this -- you
don't hear much about alienation any more, but it was so much on the
mind that existentialism was invented to salve it. The arch trends
all date back to the '50s: the move to the suburbs, the envelopment
of passive entertainment, the time demands of careerism. More recent
is the notion of Quality Time, another time encroachment that has
come about as parenting has been shaped by the career ethic. Another
factor is fear: the threat of nuclear destruction dates back to the
'50s, but everyday fear of your neighbors has built up slowly over
time. (The current obsession with tracking "sex offenders" is a good
example.) But then fear may also be a consequence of having fewer
friends: as you lose the knack of making friends the rest of the
world becomes unapproachable.
The consequences of this for politics are almost too obvious to
point out. The more isolated and self-contained people's lives are,
the less appreciation people have for others not like them. Passive
intake of news and information leaves you vulnerable to manipulation --
especially the sort of manipulation that's become the stock and trade
of the new right in America. Most of this nonsense would fall apart at
the first dissent, but if you avoid anyone who might think differently,
you can wind up convincing yourself of any fool thing.
July 8 I wrote an untitled
piece, a bit of autobiography trying to explain why I write this shit.
Interesting to read it a decade later, because sometimes I forget.
I've written a lot on Israel ever since 2001 but haven't quoted
much in this series. However, in July 2006 Israel opened a brutal
assault on Lebanon, an event Condoleezza Rice memorably dubbed "the
birthpangs of a new Middle East." On July 25, I wrote:
The irony in all this is that the neocons
got snookered worse than anyone in thinking of Israel as the model the
American military should aspire to. The fact is that Israel hasn't had
anything resembling a clean military victory since 1967. The War of
Attrition with Egypt was exactly that. 1973 was a draw perceived as
a psychological defeat. Lebanon was a bloody, pointless mess from the
very start, dragged out to 18 years only to give Hezbollah training.
The counter-intifadas were like trying to fight roaches by pummelling
them with garbage.
To be fair, America hasn't done any better, unless you're still
excited by Grenada. Korea was a draw. Vietnam was a flat-out loss.
The Cuba invasion never got off the beach. Panama was good for one
kidnapping then a hasty retreat. Kuwait left Iraq as an open sore,
then you know what happened when they opened that one up again.
Afghanistan is a slow burn. The War on Terrorism has left its Most
Wanteds at large. The War on Drugs hasn't made a dent. The War on
Poverty was quietly abandoned, at least until Bush revised the
semantics. The last winner we had was WWII, and that was won by
manufacturing, logistics and engineering -- as Billmon points out,
not by the will to fight, which the Germans and Russians were far
more effective at mustering.
The neocons, both American and Israeli, don't understand a lot
of things, but at the top of their list is that, while we like
everyone else will fight for our homes, we don't really want to
go somewhere else and fight to take or crush someone else's homes,
especially when they're willing to fight back, and we might get
killed or maimed. The only way the US can staff its military is
by promising folks that their tours will be virtually riskless --
which thanks to the neocons is getting tougher and tougher, and it
shows. Israel still has universal military draft -- well, nearly
universal, except for the Arabs they don't trust and the ultra
orthodox who get a pass -- but even they are so used to riskless
conflict that the real thing is shocking. The fact is, very few
people these days want anything to do with war. The destruction
is extraordinary and mutual, the chances of gain are negligible.
Why do these war mongers even exist?
Finally (for now, anyway), on September 13, 2006 -- two years before
"The Great Recession" became official -- I called this post "The Great
Yesterday I mentioned a long list of problems the Bush administration
has at best ignored, more commonly exacerbated, and in some cases flat
out caused. I didn't bother with the tiresome task of enumerating, but
Billmon has come
up with a reasonable summary, occasioned by the 5th anniversary of the
You can learn a lot about a country in five years.
What I've learned (from 9/11, the corporate scandals, the fiasco in
Iraq, Katrina, the Cheney Administration's insane economic and
environmental policies and the relentless dumbing down of the
corporate media -- plus the repeated electoral triumphs of the Rovian
brand of "reality management") is that the United States is moving
down the curve of imperial decay at an amazingly rapid clip. If
anything, the speed of our descent appears to be accelerating.
The physical symptoms -- a lost war, a derelict city, a Potemkin
memorial hastily erected in a vacant lot [the still-empty hole where
the WTC used to be] -- aren't nearly as alarming as the moral and
intellectual paralysis that seems to have taken hold of the
system. The old feedback mechanisms are broken or in deep disrepair,
leaving America with an opposition party that doesn't know how (or
what) to oppose, a military run by uniformed yes men, intelligence
czars who couldn't find their way through a garden gate with a GPS
locator, TV networks that don't even pretend to cover the news unless
there's a missing white woman or a suspected child rapist involved,
and talk radio hosts who think nuking Mecca is the solution to all our
problems in the Middle East. We've got think tanks that can't think,
security agencies that can't secure and accounting firms that can't
count (except when their clients ask them to make 2+2=5). Our churches
are either annexes to shopping malls, halfway homes for pederasts, or
GOP precinct headquarters in disguise. Our economy is based on asset
bubbles, defense contracts and an open-ended line of credit from the
People's Bank of China, and we still can't push the poverty rate down
or the median wage up.
I could happily go on, but I imagine you get my point. It's hard to
think of a major American institution, tradition or cultural value
that has not, at some point over the past five years, been shown to be
a) totally out of touch, b) criminally negligent, c) hopelessly
corrupt, d) insanely hypocritical or e) all of the above.
The next line is: "It's getting hard to see how these trends can
be reversed." Then Billmon starts comparing the US to the Soviet
Union in the '80s. He recommends a book by David Satter: Age of
Delirium: The Decline and Fall of the Soviet Union. I have some
other reading planned on the post-fall depression. The thing I find
most interesting about Russia isn't the stupidity of the (especially
late) Communist years -- it's the absolute collapse of living
standards following the fall. We're so used to the idea of progress
that we have trouble seeing decline even when the facts are hard to
read otherwise. This collapse hit Russia so the hard life expectancy
metrics declined. A quarter or more of Russia's GDP vanished. There
are other examples scattered around the world, especially war-induced
losses like in Iraq, and war-inducing ones in parts of Africa.
In some measures living standards in the US have been declining
since roughly 1970. This has been masked by technological progress,
by debt accumulation, by scapegoating, and by political delusion.
Take medicine, for instance: science and technology have advanced,
but insurance and delivery of basic health care has in some cases
actually regressed, such that US life expectancy has finally begun
to decline, especially compared to other wealthy nations. But the
new stuff gets the press and sets the perception. Only when you
need it do you find out you can't get it, or it doesn't really
work, or something else goes wrong.
Immigration is another source of cover-up. Undocumenteds provide
low skill labor that compensates for demotivating our own unskilled
labor. There's a lot of scapegoating over that, but more important
is legal immigration, which is needed to compensate for our failures
to educate and develop knowledge workers -- everyone from school
teachers to computer programmers to doctors. Immigration stimulates
the economy, but it also levels the world. It's not necessarily a
problem per se, but what it covers up is.
Beyond the obvious declines, there's a steady build up of risk
and liability, as well as plain old depreciation. I've been reading
complaints about not putting enough money into infrastructure for
decades now. It's like, if you have a house with termites, it may
look fine for years, especially if you don't look very close. Then
one day a gust of wind, or just gravity, will bring it down. That's
basically what happened to the Alaska pipeline. That's what happened
to the New Orleans levees. Katrina wasn't the big storm everyone had
so feared, but it was big enough anyway, because we didn't realize
how vulnerable we had become.
That sort of rot has been accumulating for a long time -- George
Brockway dated a lot of recent economic problems to the Republicans'
first attempts to dismantle the New Deal when they took over Congress
in the 1946 elections. Laws they passed like Taft-Hartley had little
immediate effect, but over time undermined labor unions and working
wages and the very principle of equal opportunity. Banking laws, as
well as later deregulations, have had similar long-term effects. The
long-term dip in growth rates occurred during the Vietnam War, which
had many other corrosive effects -- especially as the politicos have
dug themselves ever deeper in duplicity and cover-ups.
By now they have to keep denying, they have to keep runing from
the truth. Acknowledgment is failure, and as long as they keep from
failing they can pretend they're succeeding, which is what keeps
the whole scam going. But sometimes failure strikes too suddenly
and/or unshakeably to spin. The last five years have shown us some
examples like that.
Tuesday, November 15, 2016
First pass on EOY lists. The breakdown for
59 A-list, 116 HM, 370 other (545 total); for Jazz Reissues/Comps:
8 A-list, 6 HM, 10 other (21). The breakdown for
41 A-list, 36 HM, 104 other (181 total); for Non-Jazz Reissues/Comps:
10 A-list, 9 HM, 6 other (25). The jazz/non-jazz split is 75.06% for
new records, 48.97% for reissues/compilations.
For comparison, in last year's lists, the
Jazz breakdown is:
81 A-list, 147 HM, 448 other (676 total); for Jazz Reissues/Comps:
11 A-list, 11 HM, 15 other (37). The breakdown for
83 A-list, 87 HM, 280 other (450 total); for Non-Jazz Reissues/Comps:
13 A-list, 12 HM, 23 other (48). The jazz/non-jazz split was 60.03% for
new records, 43.52% for reissues/compilations.
Compared to last year, we currently have the following shares: New Jazz:
72.83%, 78.91%, 82.58% (80.62% total); Jazz Reissues/Compilations:
72.72%, 54.54%, 66.66% (56.75% total); New Non-Jazz:
49.39%, 41.37%, 37.14% (40.22% total); Non-Jazz Reissues/Compilations:
76.92%, 75.00%, 26.08% (52.08% total).
Monday, November 14, 2016
Music: Current count 27338  rated (+9), 395  unrated (+1).
I spent Tuesday evening following the election results on a pair
of computers -- my main writing (work) computer and a Chromebook I
use for travel. I mostly used two websites: I followed 538's
2016 Election Night "live coverage and results," and I used the
New York Times'
Presidential Election Results page, which was the first one I
found that gave me a map with red/blue states I could scroll over
to see that state's vote totals. My first hint that anything was
amiss was early in the evening when I saw that Trump was winning
Indiana and Kentucky with 60-61% -- like everyone else, I expected
those states to go to Trump, but those margins struck me as a bit
on the high side. Still, at that point 538's monitor was still
showing Clinton with a 75% chance of winning, and even when her
chances started slipping it wasn't very obvious to me what was
happening. I thought the Republicans were projected to hold the
House way too early, and the Democrats' chances of taking over
the Senate collapsed pretty early in the evening, as Indiana and
Florida were called quite early. However, by the time I went to
bed (about 4AM CST) I was shocked and rather sick.
I remained in a daze for several days (or maybe I'm still in
one). I finally sat down and wrote up my analysis on Friday, then
sat on it a day, edited some, and finally posted it on
Sunday. I figure I'll follow up with a "Roundup" post some
time this week (not necessarily waiting until my usual Sunday
column -- a practice I'm thinking of discontinuing, unsure as
I am of how much "reality" I can stand anymore). You might
consider prodding me with questions and/or helping by pointing
out particularly interesting links (I've grown rather weary of
my usual sources).
Music should be a salve in times like this, but my first
reaction was to favor silence -- there seemed to be too much
noise, too much stimulus, from an Umwelt that suddenly seemed
alien, hostile, and more than a little deranged. Since the
election I've watched no conventional television news, nor
have I returned to the late-night shows we followed regularly
during the campaign. I still get stuff from the web, but
aside from the numbers I used in Sunday's list, I haven't
gone looking for much -- least of all opinions. Nor have I
in any way been tempted to go out and protest -- I gather
there have been anti-Trump protests, but have no idea how
common they are. More generally, I don't see much point in
getting worked up over what bad thing Trump and the Republicans
might do (e.g.,
Ryan Plans to Phase Out Medicare in 2017). There will be
plenty of opportunity in the future when we'll have tangible
threats to try to stop, so you might as well save your energy
for that, or prepare quietly out of sight (better to appear
genuinely shocked than blanketly obstructionist).
When I did finally play some music, it was Leonard Cohen's
Live in London. Partly I wanted to only hear real good
stuff, partly I didn't want to be critical, and partly I had
thought of "Democracy Is Coming to the USA" during a fairly
optimistic Tuesday afternoon. I didn't know at the time that
he had died (although I played it a couple more time after the
news broke). After Cohen, I started playing some old jazz I
liked, especially Coleman Hawkins. I mostly relied on my travel
cases before I started picking things I hadn't heard in years
from a nearby shelf. That's where I found the Sonny Criss set
below: I had noticed it when looking for ungraded records in
the database, so with it I finally returned to grading.
Only late in the week did I give the new jazz queue a chance.
The Terrel Stafford looked old-fashioned, and turned out to be a
good deal better than his Lee Morgan tribute (not coincidentally
because it sounds more like prime Morgan). Rodrigo Amado's album
came in the mail during the week, and jumped the queue. I wasn't
sure I wanted to hear anything avant -- I had been considering
Allen Lowe's latest when the cataclysm disoriented me -- but I
have him down for four previous A- records, so he seemed like a
pretty good prospect.
Still, only nine records rated this past week. Again, everything
here comes from CDs. The computer I normally stream music on is
unusable (well, it still prints, and I haven't tried workarounds
like setting up an X-server or moving the speakers to a machine
that still works, so I guess I haven't been trying very hard).
I should remedy that some time this week: I've ordered new parts,
so I'm pretty much building a whole new computer. The new one
should actually be slightly more powerful than my work machine,
so that opens up some possibilities for rebalancing my work.
I'll get to more new jazz next week -- I've gone through five
records today since I started work on this post (none very good) --
and when I get the new machine running I should be able to check
out some promising things on Napster or elsewhere. Still would
be a good idea to drain the new jazz queue, as the Jazz Critics
Poll deadline is December 4 -- well before anything else I'm
likely to be invited for. (If you're a critic who hasn't gotten
an invite and should, let me know and I'll pass you on to Francis
Davis -- or you can contact him directly.)
I had rather hoped I'd get my
EOY lists set up by the time I posted this, but it now looks like
all you're going to get if you follow the links is stubs. Also,
at this point I have to stress that order is very preliminary.
I'll get them fleshed out later this week, and will be updating
them through the end of the year (and maybe next year as well --
as I've done so far for the 2015
I should point out that Robert Christgau has a piece on Leonard
Our Man, the Sophisticate. Christgau also
tweeted a recommendation for another Noisey piece on Cohen:
Rajeev Balasubramanyam: An American State of Grace: Darkness and Light
in Leonard Cohen's Political Imagination. Most likely there are
many other worthy pieces on Cohen: e.g., see
Comparatively little has been written about another music death
last week: Leon Russell. For a few years in the 1970s I thought he
was one of the greats (especially his eponymous debut album, plus
his work on Joe Cocker's Mad Dogs & Englishmen), and with
Hank Wilson's Back it looked like he could be a credible
country singer. A couple of really awful albums followed (Stop
All That Jazz and Will o' the Wisp) and I quickly lost
interest, so I can't say much about his last forty years. I reckon
I could say he was the Mac Rebennack of Tulsa, but Tulsa doesn't
give a brilliant pianist and outrageous singer much to work with.
Still, something else to mourn in one helluva awful week.
New records rated this week:
- Rodrigo Amado Motion Trio: Desire & Freedom (2016, Not Two): [cd]: A-
- Buselli-Wallarab Jazz Orchestra: Basically Baker Vol. 2: The Big Band Music of David Baker (2016, Patois, 2CD): [cd]: B+(*)
- Earth Tongues: Ohio (2015 , Neither/Nor, 2CD): [cd]: B
- Jason Hainsworth: Third Ward Stories (2015 , Origin): [cd]: B+(***)
- Ingrid Laubrock: Serpentines (2016, Intakt): [cd]: B+(*)
- Jasmine Lovell-Smith's Towering Poppies: Yellow Red Blue (2015 , Paint Box): [cd]: B+(**)
- Felix Peikli & Joe Doubleday: It's Showtime! (2016, self-released): [cdr]: B+(*)
- Carol Robbins: Taylor Street (2016 , Jazzcats): [cd]: B+(*)
- Terell Stafford: Forgive and Forget (2016, Herb Harris Music): [cd]: A-
- Andrew Van Tassel: It's Where You Are (2016, Tone Rogue): [cd]: B+(*)
Old music rated this week:
- Sonny Criss: The Complete Imperial Sessions (1956 , Blue Note, 2CD): [cd]: A-
Unpacking: Found in the mail last week:
- Rodrigo Amado Motion Trio: Desire & Freedom (Not Two)
- Jari Haapalainen Trio: Fusion Machine (Moserobie)
- Fredrik Nordström: Restless Dreams (Moserobie)
- Ivo Perelman/Karl Berger/Gerald Cleaver: The Art of the Improv Trio Volume 1 (Leo)
- Ivo Perelman/Mat Maneri/Whit Dickey: The Art of the Improv Trio Volume 2 (Leo)
- Ivo Perelman/Matthew Shipp/Gerald Cleaver: The Art of the Improv Trio Volume 3 (Leo)
- Ivo Perelman/William Parker/Gerald Cleaver: The Art of the Improv Trio Volume 4 (Leo)
- Ivo Perelman/Joe Morris/Gerald Cleaver: The Art of the Improv Trio Volume 5 (Leo)
- Ivo Perelman/Joe Morris/Gerald Cleaver: The Art of the Improv Trio Volume 6 (Leo)
- Enoch Smith Jr.: The Quest: Live at APC (Misfitme Music)
- Zarabande: El Toro (AFlo)
Saturday, November 12, 2016
I suppose I should write something about last week's election.
I've been sick to my stomach all week, feeling chronic maladies that
make me wonder how many of the ill consequences I will actually hang
on to experience. Admittedly, this reasoned forbiding was made more
personal by the death and funeral of a friend and the sufferings of
another. It probably didn't help that I've spent so much of my time
re-reading old notebooks and blog posts going back to
2001, where I offer a strongly worded
and reasoned accounting of the ongoing disaster Billmon liked to refer
to as the Cheney Administration. (I haven't gotten up to the Obama era
yet -- itself a lengthy chronicle of growing dismay, especially at
the mental illness that so many Republicans have fallen into, but
also at the haplessness of Democrats, especially Obama.)
Since 2001, I've written some five million words in the notebook.
The majority of them have been on music, and I've occasionally mentioned
movies, television, books, and more personal matters, but at least one
million of those words have been addressed to clearly political topics
A few people do appreciate what I've had to say, but I've never managed
to attract any attention beyond old friends and folks who initially
tuned in for music reviews. So when confronted with results like last
week's, I can't help but feel that I've wasted fifteen years of my life.
I've never been, nor ever will be, a political activist, let alone a nuts
and bolts political strategist. I'm starting to feel like I should hang
it up, focus on other projects, and let others carry on.
Still, I guess I do have a few things to say. I haven't read many
of the post-mortems, least of all the efforts of the usual suspects to
shift blame (but for some examples, see
Annie Karni: Clinton aides blame loss on everything but themselves).
Rather, I did what I usually do, and looked at some numbers. (I mostly
got these from Wikipedia and Google, perhaps not the most authoritative
sources, but likely to be close to accurate.) First,
they show that there was no groundswell of support for Trump. He
got 817 thousand votes less than Romney did in 2012 (while losing
by 5 million votes), and he only got 168 thousand more votes
than McCain in 2008 (while losing by 9.5 million votes). In total
votes, the Republican share has been effectively flat over the last
three presidential elections. If the voter base has grown (which
would be expected given that the population has grown), you could
even argue that the Republican share has been declining. They didn't
win this time because they gained ground. They merely lost less than
Clinton did: she finished with 5.4 million fewer votes than Obama
got in 2012, and even so was only done in by a quirk in where those
votes were distributed, a bias rigged into the electoral system.
You might wonder about the effect third parties had, but it was
negligible. After polling close to 9% for most of the season, Gary
Johnson collapsed at the end, receiving 3.22% of the vote. Jill
Stein suffered a comparable collapse, dropping from 3% peak polls
to less than 1% (0.96%). Both of those candidates ran in 2008, and
both did better this time (Johnson was up 2.23%, Stein 0.60%), but
their 2.83% increase was a tiny fraction of the increased unfavorable
ratings of this year's major party candidates. If
Clinton could have magically counted all of Stein's votes, her
plurality would have been larger -- as it was, Clinton received
439 thousand more votes nationwide than Trump did -- but even a
1.3% popular vote margin wouldn't have been enough to flip the
electoral college in
her favor (she would have picked up Michigan and Wisconsin, but
not Pennsylvania -- Stein got 48,912 votes in Pennsylvania, but
Trump led Clinton by 67,636). At most Stein accounts for one-sixth
of Clinton's deficit.
In the end, it's hard to see anyone other than Clinton to blame
for that 5.5 million vote drop off. Indeed, one can argue that her
deficit was even larger against reasonable expectations.
Economic indicators have generally
been favorable, and Obama was enjoying his highest approval numbers
in a many years. Moreover, Trump was a glaringly deficient, utterly
ridiculous opponent: Clinton's
poll numbers surged after each of three debates when viewers could
see them side-by-side, even more so after
the party conventions. She appeared to have the more unified party
behind her. And she had more money than Trump (although Trump had
pulled ahead of her in "dark money" and benefited from millions the
Kochs and others plowed into down-ballot races). So you have to ask:
why didn't enough people come out and vote for her?
In some cases they did: she ran ahead of her polls in Nevada,
where the "get out the vote" campaign was focused on Latinos (and
Democrats feared losing a critical Senate seat). But I have to
wonder if she had any effective "ground game" at all in states where
polls showed her leading, especially the states that ultimately sunk
her: Pennsylvania, Michigan, and
Wisconsin. Could be that Democrats were over-confident there, or
just lackadaisical: how many people there didn't vote because they
assumed their votes weren't needed? (And how many were turned away
by nasty voter suppression laws?) As I understand it, Clinton
didn't appear in Wisconsin after the primary. And while she did
campaign in Pennsylvania, the big push there was to win over
suburban Republicans, not to fortify the party base.
On the other hand, the Koch network seems to have put most of
their money into down-ticket races, notably in defending endangered
Senate seats in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, North Carolina, Florida --
all successfully, coincidentally tilting those states for Trump.
(Also Iowa, Indiana, Missouri, and Ohio, where Trump was expected
to win -- Clinton didn't even contest Indiana or Missouri, although
both states should be competitive. The Democrats did win three close
Senate races, all in states Clinton won: Illinois, Nevada, and New
All along, I basically felt that if Clinton could run a "get out
the vote" operation comparable to Obama's in 2008-12, she would win
handily. If any lesson has become a commonplace over the last 10-20
years, it's that you win elections by motivating your base and getting
them out to vote. The bottom line is that Trump did that, and despite
her advantages Clinton did not do an adequate job. What was unusual
this year was that the primary motivator
was fear and loathing of the other side, and that in turn led voters
to excuse a lot of deficiencies in their own candidate. Of the two,
Clinton's failure is far more spectacular, and far more damning,
than Trump's success.
For starters, Clinton had a lot more to work with than Trump did.
No major party candidate had ever had anything like the disapproval
ratings of Trump. Moreover, he could be attacked on numerous fronts,
starting with the gross dysfunctionality of his party's agenda and
their obstruction against any constructive attempts to solve proven
problems (e.g., health care, finance regulation, climate change). I
think it was a tactical error on Clinton's part to focus instead on
personal issues -- a tactic that Trump made irresistibly easy, but
doing so exposed her own personality faults to greater scrutiny,
and she could go overboard, especially with that "nuclear codes"
thing which also reminded voters that the notoriously hawkish and
anti-Russian Clinton could just as easily get them blown up. (From
Karni's article above: "They explained that internal polling from
May showed that attacking Trump on the issue of temperament was a
more effective message." Internal? From May?)
Just before the election, Trump rolled out an ad that was quickly
anti-semitic: the problem was that aside from Clinton, all the
"bad" people in the ad were Jewish (although they weren't identified
as such); and since what made them "bad" was that they "control the
levers of power in Washington," favor "global special interests," and
"put money into the pockets of a handful of large corporations," that
evokes the old anti-semitic trope of a secretive global Jewish cabal
pulling strings all around the world. On the other hand, the thrust
of the ad was plainly true (as far as it went): for several
decades now, Washington has molded public policy to benefit special
interests, especially large financial organizations, and Hillary
Clinton was very much a cog in this process. I hadn't heard about the
ad when I first saw it, so I was focusing on the explicit message,
and for a while I thought it would have made a terrific Jill Stein
spot. Then Trump came on, and of course it's ridiculous to think that
he'll change any of this -- if ever there was a guy angling to get
his share of the graft, it's Trump -- but his final pitch turned out
to be prophetic: he proclaimed the election the last chance Americans
had to stop Crooked Hillary, and that was one simple, concrete task
they could carry out. And so, just enough people voted for Trump (and
just not quite enough voted for Clinton) to make that much happen.
After one of the most annoying and frustrating campaign seasons in
American history, at least some people emerged feeling they had
accomplished something. (On the other hand, had Clinton won, most
Democrats would merely have been relieved, feeling they had dodged
a deadly bullet, but aware that the next four years would be sheer
The one clear result from this election is that Clinton is done.
Having lost one nomination to Obama, having nearly lost another to
Sanders, and now having blown a huge lead against Trump, she is a
three-time loser, and at her age there's no way she's going to
bounce back. And that's not only good riddance, it's a reprieve --
a chance for the Democratic Party to regroup and rebuild free of
the dead weight of the Clinton legacy. Back in
1992 Bill Clinton came to Washington thinking he would show the
Democrats a way to win in the post-Reagan oligarchy. All they had
to do was to prove to the corporate masters that Democrats would be
better for business than the Republicans were. As governor of Arkansas,
Clinton had pioneered that formula, helping boost local outfits like
Walmart and Tyson
grew to become international giants. In Washington, one of the first
things he did was to push NAFTA through -- over the protests of labor
unions, but pointedly to subdue those unions, to weaken them and thereby
proove his loyalty to his business friends. Even though Clinton managed
to get reelected in 1996, his strategy could hardly be called a
success: he cost the Democrats Congress in 1994, and all of his
subsequent legislative accomplishments were compromises that
Republicans agreed to because they understood that they only
served to undercut the Democratic Party's base.
That was followed by eight years of Bush, which started with
budget-busting tax cuts and ended with a complete financial meltdown
and the worst depression since the 1930s -- conditions which, along
with a similar loss of Congress in 2010, conspired to keep Obama
from doing virtually anything significant to help his voters out.
(His donors, of course, made out like bandits.) With Obama we
effectively got eight more years of Clintonism, most obviously
through a raft of Clinton-linked appointments, notably his hawkish
secretary of state. What's happened in the 24 years since Clinton
came to Washington is that inequality has blown up to unprecedented
(nearly unimaginable) levels, we've been plagued by near-permanent
war, and the Republicans have somehow convinced most Americans that
government-by-Democrats can never work to their benefit. And they've
een able to do that largely because Democrats like Hillary Clinton
have played along. Her long history of complicity and collusion in
all of this is the root of her problems, and it's why roughly a third
of the country despises her so much they're willing to risk a fool
like Donald Trump as president. (And in a country where 40% of the
people have been turned off and never bother to vote, that's all it
I still find it almost impossible to imagine Trump as president,
but I'm even more disturbed by what happened in the Congressional
elections. The Republican Congress since 2010 has been nothing
short of a public embarrassment. Most Republicans have been
inveterate obstructionists, with nearly all adhering to extreme
(and dysfunctional) ideological positions. The Democrats should
have made Congress the central issue this election, much as Harry
Truman won the 1948 election by campaigning against a Republican
"do nothing" Congress. And if most Americans had clearly understood
that message, they surely would have flipped both the House and
Senate to the Democrats. But none of that happened. Sure, Democrats
made modest gain: two Senate seats and seven House seats, but that
left the Republicans in control of both chambers, with fat chance
that Trump use the presidential veto will to tamper down their
insanity (as Obama, at least, could do).
The only upside is that presumably Congressional Republicans
won't feel compelled to wreck their own president's administration.
They'll let him do that himself, although I full well expect them
The Republicans have been playing a weird game where they never
get blamed for their obstruction or inaction. That's been going
on since 1994, minus a respite when Bush was president. In effect,
they've extorted the American people into giving them complete
power this time -- recall that Republicans were promising to
hound Clinton even if she won the election, and had vowed never
to confirm any of her judicial nominees. A Trump presidency
spares us that kind of discord (although he could still order
prosecutors to go after Clinton -- something that would smack
of petty vindictiveness, not that that's beneath him).
What the Democrats have long needed to do was to rebuild a
real, effective party that squarely defends and promotes the
interests of the majority of their voters. They haven't done
this because the Clintons (and Obama) have been so remarkably
successful at raising money from well-heeled donors, notably
in finance and high-tech. The Republicans have a long head
start building their party from the ground up, recruiting
compliant apparatchiki to run for precinct and entry-level
offices, giving them a coherent ready-built program and
talking points, and
promoting those who toe the line most effectively. This has
resulted in Republican domination of state and local offices,
and their gerrymandering has given the Republicans an edge
in the House (even when Democrats get more votes). They have
organizations like ALEC crafting pet legislation, plus think
tanks and their extraordinary media network.
The Democrats have nothing like this, not least because they
don't have a coherent program. They merely promise not to be as
awful as Republicans, without even fully explaining why that
might be, or what it might entail. If there's a silver lining
in this election, it's that the DNC will abandon its "cult of
personality" that only supports the person at the top (Clinton
or Obama) and start to work toward rebuilding the party from
the bottom up, formulating a coherent challenge to Republican
right-wing dominance. This election debacle will cost us dearly:
most obviously, the era when the courts would use constitutional
rights to protect us from oppressive government will come to a
How bad it might all get is hard to forecast. Trump started his
campaign by occasionally straying from conservative orthodoxy, but
wound up pledging allegiance to nearly every wretched idea the
Republican Party has embraced. As president, the main question
will be whether he succumbs to ideologues like Mike Pence and/or
Paul Ryan, or whether he resists and takes a less self-destructive
course. (He has, for instance, already backtracked on Obamacare.)
Same for foreign policy: does he provoke more war, or back away
from destructive confrontations? I don't expect in any way that
he'll become "Putin's puppet" but there are several areas where
a closer relationship with Russia could reduce world tensions. On
the other hand, no prospective Trump underling fills me with more
dread than Michael Flynn -- I find him far more worrying than
Trump's notorious "temperament."
Beyond that I don't really care to speculate. Like Reagan and
Bush, his fetish for "free enterprise" and contempt for government
will foster unimaginable corruption. Meanwhile, the usual Republican
nostrums will fail, often catastrophically. We in Kansas have gotten
more than a taste of how bad Republican fantasies can turn out. Now
it's your turn. This isn't the first time I've been so sorely
disappointed by the American people -- the Nixon landslide in 1972
and the Reagan landslide in 1984, both in spite of overwhelming
evidence of malfeasance and sociopathy, were especially terrible,
although Bush's narrow win in 2004 was even more painful. But we've
grown up in a nation that's been warped by perpetual war with the
world, a nation that has come to celebrate inequality and inequity,
that has grown vicious and surly even while thinking itself beyond
reproach. Trump has finally given America a face as ugly as the
reputation we've garnered over decades. It still feels like a bad
dream, but some day we must wake up and face ourselves. Hopefully
that will be sobering.
Friday, November 11, 2016
My brother and his wife visited this week, and I fixed dinner for them,
my sister, and her son on Friday. Menu was Greek, but cut way back from
the Birthday Dinner: baked shrimp with feta, lamb/eggplant pastitsio,
horiatiki salad, mast va khiar (my Iranian cucumber-yogurt salad). I
made New York cheesecake for dessert, which was the meal's undoing. It
tasted off, probably because the oven was dirty and I was greeted with
a puff of black smoke when I pulled it out. Worse, I put it back into
the same oven to set the sour cream topping. I scrubbed the oven down
before baking the pastitsio and shrimp, so they weren't affected. The
cheesecake actually looked fine, but as Ruhlman keeps insisting, cooks
need to taste what they're doing.
They were in town to attend Tony Jenkins' funeral. Steve spoke at
the funeral. Gave a nice, somewhat rambling recount of the sixty years
we had known Tony. He knew him much better, having lived here all but
the last ten years, whereas I lived on the east coast 25 years, so only
occasionally saw Tony on visits until we moved here. Fairly large crowd
at the funeral. Last couple I had been to were nonagenarians who had
outlived most of their friends, so those turnouts had seemed low.
Thursday, November 10, 2016
Might as well start with two letters from the Wichita Eagle, published
on Friday (November 11). First expresses a reaction I've heard from
The day after the 2016 election I felt the way I felt the day after Sept.
11, 2001: shocked, helpless and terrified. The haters just struck a
cataclysmic blow against our country, but this time the haters were our
own people. God help us all.
My reaction to 9/11 contained the same emotions, but even at the time
I recognized the event as a self-inflicted wound -- the sort of blowback
you get when you do the sort of things the US had been doing in the Middle
East for decades. And I wouldn't have said the attack was "cataclysmic":
watching the event from nearby Brooklyn, I saw it as finite, isolated in
time and space. Had we simply treated it as a natural disaster, mourned
and rebuilt, we'd be over it by now. But that's not the sort of people
we are. We're vain and ignorant, traits that allowed us to be marshalled
by a politically opportunistic Fearless Leader into a senseless war of
spite and vengeance which multipled the original crime a hundred (maybe
by the time we're done a thousand) fold.
The haters who gave us Donald Trump as our new Fearless Leader weren't
born that way. They learned their hatred from growing up and living in a
near-constant state of war.
The election affirms the free enterprise system vs. socialism.
Here are a couple items from the Eagle's Opinion Line:
Government health care, as with anything federally funded, magically
gives the almighty government the power to dictate the terms. They
dictate, and you comply, or no federal moola. Obamacare was never
about anyone's health; it was always about control.
But here a person with actual health problems begs to differ:
I'm a type 1 diabetic, and my wife is a heart patient. Prior to the
Affordable Care Act, no insurer would consider us for health insurance.
To all the people who elected the con artist who plans to repeal my
insurance: thanks for murdering me. My blood is on your hands.
Wednesday, November 09, 2016
TPM's "election scoreboards" still (2:42 am) reads: "Clinton 48.8%,
Trump 43.5% Spread +5.3%" above the headline "Trump Wins in Stunner."
FiveThirtyEight's final "Chance of winning" was 71.4% for Clinton,
including Clinton win chances in Wisconsin (83.5%), Michigan (78.9%),
Pennsylvania (77.0%), North Carolina (55.5%), and Florida (55.1%) --
all went for Trump. (Michigan currently less than 15,000 votes; New
Hampshire, with its 69.8% chance, is currently 1,500 for Clinton.)
Popular vote is currently 1.3% for Clinton (later figures dropped
this to 0.3%, Clinton still ahead: 439,902 votes).
I actually clicked "like" on Kathleen Geier's tweet: "Good fucking
riddance to the Clintons & may they never darken the door of
American political life again. How did they manage to blow this?"
Robert Christgau tweeted: "As per NYT at this moment, Jill Stein drew
more votes than Trump's margin of victory in Wisconsin."
I responded: "When are Clinton's supporters (or Gore's way back in
2000) going to take responsibility for their own candidate's shortcomings?"
Geier retweeted Alec MacGillis, who pointed out: "Hillary Clinton gave
80 paid speeches in 2013-14, for a total of $18 million. Hillary Clinton
did not visit Wisconsin once since April."
I knocked off two tweets:
When Clinton came to Washington in 1992, he showed Democrats how to win
in the age of oligarchy, by serving the rich more, his voters less.
That strategy barely worked for him then, and has haunted the Democratic
Party ever since, leading to this ultimate rebuke.
Turnout in 2012: 54.9% (down 3.3% from 2008). Obama got 65,915,795 votes,
Romney 60,933,504. In 2016, Donald Trump got 60,116,240 votes (-817,256
from Romney). Clinton got 60,556,142 (-5,359,114 from Obama). Wikipedia
pegs turnout as 56.9%, up 2.0% from 2012, but I don't see how that adds
up. Gary Johnson got 4,058,500 votes (3.22%), Jill Stein 1,213,103 (0.96%),
Evan McMullin 448,339 (0.36%), Darrell Castle 172,500 (0.14%).
McCain got 59,948,323 votes in 2008, so only 167,917 less than Trump
this year, yet lost by 9,550,193 votes (7.28%). Ralph Nader and Cynthia
McKinney (the Green Party candidate) had 900,831 votes combined (0.68%)
that year, more than Stein in 2012 but less (-0.32%) than Stein this
Stein's 2012 vote was 469,628 (0.36%), so she's up 0.60%, where Clinton
is down 3.63% from Obama, so one can argue that Stein captured 1 out of
6 of the missing Obama voters. Johnson was up 2.23%, so arguably he took
more votes away. By the way, Obama's drop from 2008 to 2012 was almost
totally explained by lower turnout.
As of Sept. 30, Clinton had raised $460M, Trump $224M. As of October
14, Trump had an edge in outside groups, $214M to $171M.
Trump's margin of victory in Michigan currently 13,107 (0.27%); in
Wisconsin 27,506 (0.93%); in Pennsylvania 73,224 (1.24%). Clinton won
New Hampshire by 2,687 (0.37%).
Tuesday, November 08, 2016
Ten Years After
While looking for jazz reviews tonight, I ran across a post I had
written on May 12, 2006 -- that's ten-and-a-half years ago -- titled
"Mobsters in Suits." At the moment it appears as though the 2016
election is ending in the ugliest way ever: with the Democratic Party
nominee winning a clear plurality of the popular (democratic) vote,
but the Anti-Democratic Party capturing the quintessentially Republican
Electoral College, and thereby electing yet another minority president --
a rich guy with media savvy but no political experience, traits that
early in the primaries reminded me of his fellow billionaire and kindred
spirit, Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi. I might as well just
quote it here, and leave it to you to figure out the relevance:
Speaking about the erosion of public trust under right-wing --
dare we say Fascist? -- politicians, I was struck by a couple of
quotes in Alexander Stille's New York Review of Books piece, "The
Berlusconi Show" (May 25, 2006):
If Berlusconi initially entered politics to save his television and
financial empire and to defend himself against criminal prosecution,
then his political career can only be judged a complete success. But
he has achieved much more than that: he almost single-handedly
derailed the national corruption investigation known as Operation
Clean Hands. He greatly weakened the war against the Mafia. He made it
possible for politicians to openly mix public affairs with their
private interests, and created a politically slanted television that
in many ways anticipated developments in the United States and
It is difficult to exaggerate the degree of popular support for the
investigations of public corruption that took place in 1994 when
Berlusconi first "entered the playing field." The magistrates who
conducted the investigations were highly trusted; and Antonio Di
Pietro, the most prominent of the prosecutors, was literally the most
popular person in the country -- far more so than Berlusconi
himself. Similarly, between 1992 and 1995, prosecutors in Sicily and
elsewhere accomplished the semingly impssible by arresting thousands
of mafiosi, including the boss of bosses, and helped bring the
murder rate in a country of nearly 60 million people down by 50
percent. The Mafia seemed on the verge of defeat. The entry into
politics of a billionaire who owned TV stations and the country's
leading soccer team and whose company was already under investigation
changed the atmosphere; it had the immediate effect of making criminal
justice a political issue: any further effort to prosecute Berlusconi
or his associates would automatically be seen as a political
[ . . . ]
Berlusconi's prolonged presence in politics has made the entirely
abnormal appear normal. Some Italians have accepted that the owner of
the largest media company has become prime minister without divesting
himself of his interests; no one seems surprised that the parliament
contains dozens of his employees, or that they pass laws that help his
company. Since a businessman who was already under investigation when
he entered politics could become prime minister, hardly anyone seems
appalled that he should get his co-defendants and their lawyers
elected to parliament so as to give them parliamentary immunity. Nor
has there been any serious complaint when these lawyers in parliament
write laws to help their clients escape prosecution in cases they
might lose at trial.
Other sections of the article talk about how Berlusconi's media
empire was able to effectively slander Di Pietro, and how Italy's
economy has declined under Berlusconi's rule. In some ways this
story is peculiar to Italy. No US media tycoon, despite all the
corporate concentration of recent years, has a comparable degree
of dominance. Moreover, in the US corporate titans still prefer
to rent their politicians rather than taking on the dirty job
themselves. Hence, Ken Lay was satisfied backing George Bush --
although in retrospect he might have been better off following
in Berlusconi's footsteps.
Clearly, politics in the US is a calling that has lost its appeal
to anyone with a sense of self-respect, much less a shred of honesty
and integrity. Matt Taibbi (Rolling Stone, May 18-June 1, 2006) traces
this back to Richard Nixon:
In the Forties or Fifties, in the age of FDR or Ike, you grew up
thinking the president was like your dad. If you grew up with Kennedy,
he was a handsome young prince living in a castle. Nixon was the first
to rule in an era when the president was something gross your parents
whispered about at night, like ethnic neighbors or anal sex. These
days, the idea of the president as a sort of hideous, power-crazed
monster with a lizard brain and a ten-foot erection is almost
universal. In fact, we choose our presidents now solely on the basis
of their ability to survive a grueling two-year process designed to
beat out of a man everything but his most nakedly criminal urges. We
ritually assault his friends and family, make him perform acts that
would shame a Thai whore -- and if he's still smiling at the end of it
all, we pick him. Only a monster, a Nixon, is capable of that
We know that, and we choose him anyway. Why? Because that's who we
are. We get off on that sort of thing. The fascination runs very
deep. And it's far too late to do anything about it.
The piece concluded with some quotes and comments on Stephen Colbert's
White House Correspondents Dinner keynote, which you can
look up. As for the relevance
of Berlusconi, here's what Kathleen Geier tweeted tonight:
This is an awful night, but keep it in perspective: the relevant
comparison to Trump is not Hitler, but Berlusconi. Which is bad enough.
My only additional comment at this time is that while ten years ago
I thought America was relatively immune to the sort of criminality that
Berlusconi practiced in Italy, it is less so now. How much less remains
to be seen, but we have witnessed and suffered through eight years of
relentless obstruction and sabotage against Obama's presidency, with
essentially no efforts to -- indeed no conception of -- constructively
address the nation's myriad problems. And now it seems like the voters
have handed two branches of government over to a party hell bent on
Monday, November 07, 2016
Music: Current count 27329  rated (+42), 394  unrated (-29).
Actual rated count is probably 19 records -- at least that's how many
are listed below. Counts for previous weeks are 15-9-19, so I'm in some
kind of protracted rut. When I originally computed this week's count I
came up with 18, but noticed that was less than I had listed, so I knew
that I had failed to record some grade in the database. So I wound up
listing all of the unrated records, and compared them to several other
sources, and found a couple dozen records I hadn't counted correctly.
Almost everything below was listened to on actual CDs -- I see three
exceptions, two from Napster and one from Bandcamp. Reason there is that
the computer I use for streaming effectively died last Monday/Tuesday,
so I haven't been able to do any of that almost all week. (It's also
kept me off Facebook.) The computer isn't actually dead. I can remotely
log into it, but either the screen is permanently locked or the display
circuitry is dead. I replaced the power supply in that computer a couple
weeks ago, and it did seem to resolve a clicking/popping problem in the
audio. Also could be that a software "upgrade" triggered the problem --
screen lockouts are not unreported, although the fixes I've seen haven't
solved the problem.
My current plan is to order new guts and rebuild the computer, pretty
much from scratch (salvaging my new power supply and old hard drive, and
re-using an old tower case, but not much else). I've started to shop for
components, and have had a tough time settling on anything beyond an AMD
FX-8350 AM3+ eight-core processor (for some reason Intel doesn't offer
anything cost/performance-competitive). Anyhow, that CPU and comparable
components might persuade me to consolidate my writing work on the new
listening machine, at which point I can finally upgrade software on my
"main" machine. Upgrade the network too. Important things I've been
procrastinating on for way too long.
Second time in last three weeks I have no A- (or better) records to
report. BassDrumBone was my big hope, and I have both discs three spins,
finding much to like but not enough to get excited about. The Richie
Cole album is really lovely, Eric Hofbauer strikes a fine balance for
Ives-in-jazz, and Nat Birchall adds another worthy chapter to the St.
John Coltrane gospel. So, some good records here -- just none cracking
the 97 A-list albums already on my
2016 list. I figure I'll format
this list into best-of-year format sometime in the next two weeks --
EOY lists traditionally start appearing around Thanksgiving, and it
turns out I never ever froze last year's lists (split for
Also heard that NPR will once again support Francis Davis's Jazz
Critics Poll, so I'll help out some there.
Making slow progress collecting jazz reviews. I haven't made any
changes to the
21st Century book -- everything
I'm scraping up is going into a scratch file for future processing --
but I have continued to add directly to the
20th Century non-book, which
recently inched over the 300-page mark. I'm still thinking that what
I've written there is far patchier than is needed for a real record
guide, but it's getting to where I may have to take it seriously. I
have, by the way, continued to use the high grade scale (A- = 9, B =
5) as I've been updating, as opposed to the low scale (A- = 8, B = 4)
I used in the first pass at the Jazz CG data. When I get back to the
latter, I'm pretty sure I'll switch to the high scale. Pretty much
everyone I consulted preferred the low scale, but I haven't made any
meaningful distinctions between A+ and A in decades, and it doesn't
seem either fair or reasonable to downgrade everything else because
I want to insist on some concept of perfection.
I don't expect to get much work done this coming week. For one thing,
I'm sad to report that one of my oldest friends, Tony Jenkins, has died.
He was 60, has struggled with liver cancer over the past year. He grew
up next door, and wound up owning that house -- he was living there when
we moved to Wichita in 1999, although he also had another house about a
mile northeast, that he and his wife bought when they married. It was
one of those tiny houses built for aircraft workers during WWII, and he
transformed it into something special, tearing the roof off and building
a second story with a master bedroom and bath that spanned the whole
house. I spent a lot of time with him while he was doing that, trying
to be helpful (but wasn't really), and he inspired much of the work I've
done on our own house ever since. Haven't seen him much in the last few
years, so his illness really came as shock and regret.
He is survived by his wife Kathy and a rather large dog -- when they
got married nearly four decades ago they told us they were going to
practice with dogs, and they stuck to that story. Tony once told me
he had been surrounded with death all his life, which struck me as
excessively morose. But his brother Bobby, who was a couple years older
than me (so about eight years older than Tony), was killed in Vietnam --
more than any single thing his senseless death turned me against that
atrocious war. He also had a much older brother, Wayne, who died in a
car crash before he turned sixty, but I don't think they were close. (I
barely knew Wayne, mostly by reputation as a legendary local athlete
who turned down a chance to play pro baseball to pursue a lucrative
business career.) I don't know when Tony's parents died, but they've
been long gone -- certainly before Tony got through his 20s, though
probably not while he was still in his teens.
He was a tremendous talker, the sort of guy you might be tempted to
wind up a bit just to see where he takes it. He had low expectations
in school -- I once prepared a very nice poetry notebook for him (not
at all like the blasphemous one I prepped for my brother, the one that
got him kicked out of school), and Tony declined to use it because he
figured no one would believe it to be his own work. You could call that
integrity -- he certainly had that. He worked in construction, doing
siding for a while, then mostly ironwork for cement. Hard work, took
a toll. But what he did learn, he could be downright perfectionist
about. Early on I probably looked down on him as not very smart, but
eventually I came to admire him, to respect his very real talents,
and to appreciate his steady friendship. He was unique. He is missed,
his absence an unfillable void.
New records rated this week:
- Amendola vs. Blades: Greatest Hits (2015 , Sazi): [cd]: B+(**)
- BassDrumBone: The Long Road (2013-16 , Auricle, 2CD): [cd]: B+(***)
- Martin Bejerano: Trio Miami (2016, Figgland): [cd]: B+(*)
- Nat Birchall: Creation (2016, Sound Soul & Spirit): [bc]: B+(***)
- Boi Akih: Liquid Songs (2016, TryTone): [cd]: B+(*)
- Christiane Bopp/Jean-Luc Petit: L'Écorce et la Salive (2015 , Fou): [cd]: B+(*)
- Oguz Buyukberber and Simon Nabatov: Wobbly Strata (2014 , TryTone): [cd]: B+(**)
- Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds: Skeleton Tree (2016, Bad Seed): [r]: B-
- Richie Cole: Plays Ballads & Love Songs (2015 , Mark Perna Music): [cd]: B+(***)
- Andrew Downing: Otterville (2016, self-released): [cd]: B
- Rebecca DuMaine and the Dave Miller Trio With Friends: Happy Madness (2016, Summit): [cd]: B-
- Clare Fischer Latin Jazz Big Band: ¡Intenso! (2016, Clavo): [cd]: B+(**)
- Eric Hofbauer Quintet: Prehistoric Jazz - Volume 3: Three Places in New England (2016, Creative Nation Music): [cd]: B+(***)
- Roger Ingram: Skylark (2015, One Too Tree): [r]: B
- Nate Lepine Quartet: Vortices (2016, Eyes & Ears): [cd]: B+(*)
- Delfeayo Marsalis presents the Uptown Jazz Orchestra: Make America Great Again! (2016, Troubadour Jass): [cd]: B+(**)
- Matt Mayhall: Tropes (2015 , Skirl): [cd]: B+(*)
- Adam Schneit Band: Light Shines In (2016, Fresh Sound New Talent): [cdr]: B+(**)
- Soul Basement feat. Jay Nemor: What We Leave Behind (2016, ITI): [cd]: B+(*)
Unpacking: Found in the mail last week:
- Amendola vs. Blades: Greatest Hits (Sazi)
- Tom Collier: Impulsive Illuminations (Origin)
- David Friesen Circle 3 Trio: Triple Exposure (Origin): November 18
- Clay Giberson: Pastures (Origin): November 18
- Stu Harrison: Volume I (One Nightstand): November 18
- Heroes Are Gang Leaders: Flukum (Flat Langston's Arkeyes)
- Erik Jekabson: A Brand New Take (OA2): November 18
- Jerome Jennings: The Beast (Iola): November 18
- Nate Lepine Quartet: Vortices (Eyes & Ears)
- Mamutrio [Lieven Cambré/Piet Verbist/Jesse Dockx]: Primal Existence (Origin): November 18
- Melanie Marod: I'll Go Mad (ITI)
- Matt Mayhall: Tropes (Skirl)
- Phil Parisot: Lingo (OA2): November 18
- Adam Schneit Band: Light Shines In (Fresh Sound New Talent) *
- Steve Slagle: Alto Manhattan (Panorama): January 6
Sunday, November 06, 2016
I was sorely tempted to write nothing more about the election until
it's all over. I doubt I'll write much below, but when I start out I
never know. Part of this is just plain disgust at how the last couple
weeks have played out. Part is that I've been sick, and that hasn't
helped my mood one bit. A big part of the disgust is simply that
Hillary Clinton seems to have blown a huge lead:
FiveThirtyEight gave her an 88.1% chance of victory on October 17,
81.5% as late as October 28. Today that's down to 64.5%. In terms of
states that posits her as losing six states she was previously leading
in: Arizona (her odds there are now down to only 25.8%), Iowa (27.1%),
Ohio (32.9%), Florida (47.4%), Nevada (48.0%), and North Carolina (48.4%).
That's still based on a 2.8% popular vote margin. Some polls are closer
than that, with at least one showing Trump ahead.
TPM had a narrower spread yesterday (2.4%) but a larger one today
(3.9%, despite Clinton dropping to 45.9% of the vote).
Throughout most of the election, the median state (as far as the
electoral college is concerned) has been New Hampshire: if Clinton
wins New Hampshire and every other state she's been polling better
in, she gets 272 electoral votes and wins the election. She's still
given a 61.2% chance in New Hampshire. Trump could win the election
by capturing New Hampshire, unless he loses a larger state he holds
a slim lead in (Nevada, North Carolina, and Florida are all very
early voting looks especially good for Clinton in Nevada). On
the other hand, Trump could lose New Hampshire and still win if he
pulls an upset in Colorado (where he's currently givens a 26.9%
chance) or Pennsylvania (25.9%).
At this stage, the presidential race has been reduced to these nine
"battleground" states. Kansas (97.5% R) isn't one of them. In fact, I
don't think I've seen a single street sign for either Trump or Clinton.
I did see two Trump advertisements last week, and thought they hit an
effective note: it is, after all, easy to tag Clinton as the candidate
of the status quo, without suggesting how attractive more status quo
would be compared to Trumpian change. I haven't seen any Clinton ads,
but am haunted by at least one of her soundbytes, where she warns us
of the danger of entrusting "America's nuclear codes" to someone as
"thin-skinned and impulsive" as Trump. That's probably as carefully
phrased as could be, but it mostly reminded me that she is decidedly
hawkish, someone who believes strongly in flaunting America's military
power, and someone who views the presidency as almost a secondary role
to being Commander-in-Chief. Isn't it odd that the numerous "checks
and balances" that limit what a president can do aren't sufficient to
keep a mad person from blowing up the world? I've said all along that
the surest way Clinton could lose would be to remind us of her appetite
for war, and she's found an inadvertent way of doing that. I figure
that must be part of her blown lead, even though the emails and her
linkage to Anthony Weiner (perhaps the most universally reviled man
in America right now) have gotten more attention.
By the way, as I was preparing this,
FBI Director Comey says agency won't recommend charges over Clinton
email, admitting, in his usual backhanded way, that his previous
letter about re-opening the Clinton email investigation -- the event
that precipitated Clinton's polling losses -- had come to nothing.
Too bad we can't inspect the internal FBI emails discussing why he
exposed this baseless innuendo in the first place. The FBI has a
terrible legacy of politically-minded "investigations" but they've
rarely set their sights on someone as mainstream as Hillary Clinton.
Once again they've embarrassed themselves.
More I could write about here, but let's wind up this intro with
Seth Meyers' "closer look" at the
Major Clinton and Trump scandals:
That's a problem for a lot of Americans: They just don't love the two
choices. Do you pick someone who's under federal investigation for using
a private email server?
Or do you pick someone who called Mexicans rapists, claimed the
president was born in Kenya, proposed banning an entire religion from
entering the US, mocked a disabled reporter, said John McCain wasn't
a war hero because he was captured, attacked the parents of a fallen
soldier, bragged about committing sexual assault, was accused by 12
women of committing sexual assault, said some of those women weren't
attractive for him to sexually assault, said more countries should get
nukes, said that he would force the military to commit war crimes,
said a judge was biased because his parents were Mexicans, said women
should be punished for having abortions, incited violence at his
rallies, called global warming a hoax perpetrated by the Chinese,
called for his opponent to be jailed, declared bankruptcy six times,
bragged about not paying income taxes, stiffed his contractors and
employees, lost a billion dollars in one year, scammed customers at
his fake university, bought a six-foot-tall painting of himself with
money from his fake foundation, has a trial for fraud coming up in
November, insulted an opponent's looks, insulted an opponent's wife's
looks, and bragged about grabbing women by the pussy?
How do you choose?
Problem here is that Meyers is still reducing the election to a
choice between two celebrity personalities, as opposed to the real
differences between the parties and interests they represent. Not
that there are no real issues buried in the Trump litany, nor that
some of the personal traits (like his seething contempt for women
and non-whites, and for that matter workers) don't portend policy
dangers, but one thing this campaign has spared (or cheated) us
was an opportunity to debate and vote on two radically different
political visions. Imagine how much different this election might
be if the choice was Bernie Sanders vs. Ted Cruz? One might learn
something there, and emerge from the election with a mandate and
a direction. But with Clinton vs. Trump we're stuck with muddled
results -- both candidates are widely viewed as crooked, greedy,
deceitful, treacherous, untrustworthy, pompous, arrogant, and
full of ungrounded bluster -- their few differences attributable
to irreconcilable identity allegiances. And even if Clinton wins,
her margin isn't going to be nearly large enough to win Congress
as well and to force a rethinking of those divisions. Republicans
running for Congress have pledged to block her every appointment,
to stalemate government and disable her administration from day
one. Trump has already convinced most of his supporters that the
only way he can lose is if the system is rigged against them.
It's fair to say that America is more divided now than at any
election since 1860, which precipitated the Civil War. In terms
of ideas and policies, those divisions have been growing since
the Goldwater and Reagan campaigns, with conservatives demanding
ever more complete domination of government and business, making
the state a tool of the rich while eliminating any countervailing
support government might provide for working people. Of course,
conservatives rarely argue their agenda coherently -- they prefer
to describe clear-cutting as their "healthy forests" initiative --
because they're aware that they'd lose. What Trump adds here is
an unprecedented degree of paranoia, and a demagogic style that
insists on degrading and dehumanizing his opponent and all of her
supporters, and that's what's made him so vile and dangerous.
Some scattered (election) links this week:
Nate Silver: Election Update: The Campaign Is Almost Over, and Here's
Where We Stand
Spencer Ackerman: 'The FBI is Trumpland': anti-Clinton atmosphere
spurred leaks, sources say:
This atmosphere raises major questions about how Comey and the bureau
he is slated to run for the next seven years can work with Clinton
should she win the White House.
The currently serving FBI agent said Clinton is "the antichrist
personified to a large swath of FBI personnel," and that "the reason
why they're leaking is they're pro-Trump."
The agent called the bureau "Trumplandia," with some colleagues
openly discussing voting for a GOP nominee who has garnered unprecedented
condemnation from the party's national security wing and who has pledged
to jail Clinton if elected.
David Atkins: Trump Would Be a Radical Policy Disaster:
This dyspeptic election is finally coming to an end in just a few days
amid ugliness the likes of which has not been seen in modern American
history. This nastiness has focused on the personal and the irrelevant,
from the ridiculous non-scandal of Clinton's emails to the revolting
but ultimately superficial fact that Donald Trump apparently carried
on an affair for years that we're only just learning about.
Follow the article if you want the affair link. Read everything
else. Still, he missed the policy proposal that bothers me most: one
that would make it easier for rich guys like Trump to sue anyone and
everyone who said anything negative about them.
Jonathan Blitzer: A Scholar of Fascism Sees a Lot That's Familiar With
[Ruth] Ben-Ghiat has been broadening her studies ever since the primaries,
and is now considering a book-length examination of strongmen, from
Mussolini to Trump, with stops in Franco's Spain, Erdogan's Turkey, and
Qaddafi's Libya. In the speech of Mussolini, Putin, Trump, and also
Berlusconi, Ben-Ghiat notes a pattern: they are at once transparent
about their intentions and masters of innuendo. "Trump trails off. He
uses ellipses and coded language. He lets his listeners fill in what
they want." When Trump seemed to suggest that gun owners should deal
with Hillary Clinton themselves, or when he talked about needing to
"watch" certain communities out to steal the vote on Election Day, his
statements were more powerful for their ambiguity. "It's all about
letting listeners convince and mislead themselves," she said.
Amy Davidson: Bernie Sanders's Hard Fight for Hillary Clinton:
Seems like the Obamas and Joe Biden get all the media notice, but
did you know?
The truth is that Bernie Sanders is very, very angry -- at Donald Trump.
He is angry enough to have spent weeks traveling on behalf of Hillary
Clinton, speaking for her in union halls and arenas, to students and
activists. When he talks, he is entirely Bernie -- "We are going to
fight for that democracy; we are not going to become an oligarchy" --
and he hints strongly that he has done some negotiating with her before
getting on the stage, and will continue to do so after, as he hopes,
she is elected. When praising her positions, he often says "Secretary
Clinton has told me" or "Secretary Clinton has promised," as though he
knows that it might not work, with the sort of swing audiences he is
dispatched to persuade (students, working-class voters), simply to
declare that taking these stands is in her nature. But he knows what
he wants: for her to win. [ . . . ]
"There are many, many differences between Secretary Clinton and Mr.
Trump," Sanders told the crowd. "But there is one that is very, very
profound. Are you ready for a very radical thought right now? I don't
want anyone to faint! I think we have some paramedics here" -- "paramedics
here" is, it turns out, an excellent phrase for demonstrating a Brooklyn
accent -- "but I do want to make this announcement. Are you ready for
it?" The crowd indicated that it was. "All right. Madam Secretary, you
correct me if I'm wrong here; I don't want to misspeak for you --
Secretary Clinton believes in science!" [ . . . ]
A few hours later, Sanders was off on his own to Iowa. Trump is ahead
in that state, in the latest average of polls, by about two and a half
points. Sanders had three events scheduled for Friday -- Cedar Falls,
Iowa City, Davenport. On Saturday, there would be more.
Kerry Eleveld: Latino electorate both on track for historic turnout and
routinely undercounted in polls: One tidbit: in 2010, polls showed
Republican Sharon Angle leading Harry Reid by 3-5 points, but Reid wound
up winning 50.3-44.5%, largely due to a huge 90-10 Latino vote split.
Ron Fournier: Hillary Has No One to Blame but Herself: Concerns
itself with trivial pursuits like that email server. For insight into
the deeper Clinton problem, see:
Matt Stoller: How Democrats Killed Their Populist Soul. Or Thomas
Frank's latest book, Listen, Liberal: Or, What Ever Happened to the
Party of the People? -- although I don't recommend reading the
latter until Wednesday (either way).
Charles Franklin: Party Loyalty and Defection, Trump v Clinton:
Chart tracking polls so both parties with identically high (86.8%)
support for their candidates, after Republicans had trailed all year.
Defection rates similarly low, although Democrats (6.8%) more so than
Republicans (5.2%), the margin growing lately. Billmon's conclusion:
"The November non-surprise. The zombies came home."
Neil Irwin: A New Movement in Liberal Economics That Could Shape
Hillary Clinton's Agenda: The concept is "labor market monopsony,"
which has to do with how monopoly businesses are not only able to
charge rents (fix prices), they're able to use their power to depress
labor markets (wages). Ways to ameliorate this problem include higher
(and more comprehensive) minimum wages and stronger antitrust action
(something Democrats have not been good at, while Republicans have
abandoned any pretense of enforcement).
Ann Jones: Nasty Women:
In his own telling, he, not the women he's demeaned or assaulted, is
the abused one and he's taking it for us, for America. It's quite a
self-portrait when you think about it and should make us appreciate
all the more those women who stepped before the cameras, reported his
sexual assaults, and left themselves open to further abuse from Trump
and his supporters. They have done something rare and brave.
[ . . . ]
On the dark side, you never know what a sore loser and his loyal,
bullying, misogynist followers might do. Say, for example, followers
of the type who show up outside Hillary rallies with banners reading
"Trump that Bitch!"
Paul Krugman: Conservative Intellectuals: Follow the Money:
We're supposed to think back nostalgically to the era when serious
conservative intellectuals like Irving Kristol tried to understand
the world, rather than treating everything as a political exercise
in which ideas were just there to help their team win.
But it was never like that. Don't take my word for it; take the
word of Irving Kristol himself, in his book Neoconservatism: The
Autobiography of an Idea. Kristol explained his embrace of
supply-side economics in the 1970s: "I was not certain of its economic
merits but quickly saw its political possibilities." This justified a
"cavalier attitude toward the budget deficit and other monetary or
financial problems," because "political effectiveness was the priority,
not the accounting deficiencies of government."
In short, never mind whether it's right, as long as it's politically
useful. When David [Brooks] complains that "conservative opinion-meisters
began to value politics over everything else," he's describing something
that happened well before Reagan.
Paul Lewis/Tom Silverstone: Trump rally protester: I was beaten for a
'Republicans against Trump' sign
Martin Longman: Chris Christie Convicted By Proxy in Federal Court:
Would be a bigger story if Trump had picked Christie as his running
mate, but still . . . for anyone who wants to talk about locking people
up, we can start with "two of Chris Christie's 'loyal lieutenants' who
were taken down by Section 666 of Title 18 of the United States Code,"
who now "each theoretically face 20 years in prison (although nothing
close to that will be imposed)."
Caitlin MacNeal: With the End in Sight, Trump Goes All In on Criminalizing
John Nichols: Republicans Won't Stop Talking About Impeaching
Clinton: Specifically, Sen. Ron Johnson, likely to be defeated in
his reelection bid in Wisconsin. But that's only one example.
Amir Oren: Comey's Revenge: The Real Reason the FBI Intervened in the
The large spoke [Comey] put into the Hillary Clinton's wheels of victory
won't be enough to stop her but could well reduce her coattails enough to
keep the Democrats from regaining control of Congress, leaving Washington
paralyzed by the warring branches of government. His motive was a personal
grudge that Comey has held against Bill Clinton for a decade and a half,
along with fresh residue from the investigation he closed this summer
Oren dates that grudge from Bill Clinton's pardon of Marc Rich and
Pinchas Green, financiers who "fled the country as they were about to
be indicted for tax evasion and doing business with Iran during the
hostage crisis," but who found advocates in Israel's government. But
Oren also points out that Comey is a Republican, a deputy attorney
general under Bush, but he supported Obama's nomination of Eric Holder
as attorney general, and was himself nominated by Obama to be FBI
Yochi Dreazen: The anti-Clinton insurgency at the FBI, explained.
Daniel Politi: Key to Trump's More Disciplined Campaign? He No Longer
Controls His Twitter Account:
Although Trump may be keeping some of his thoughts away from the public
spotlight, the Times also paints a scary picture of a candidate
who is obsessed with getting revenge from those he feels have wronged
him. "Offline, Mr. Trump still privately muses about all of the ways he
will punish his enemies after Election Day, including a threat to fund
a 'super PAC' with vengeance as its core mission," notes the Times.
The Times piece:
Inside Donald Trump's Last Stand: An Anxious Nominee Seeks
John Quiggin: Trump voters are (mostly) Romney voters: Who in turn
were mostly Bush voters:
Trump is getting overwhelming support from self-described Republicans
and Republican-leaning independents, and almost none from Democrats
and Democrat-leaning independents. The same was true for Romney four
years ago, and for Bush before him. [ . . . ]
This makes nonsense of much of the discussion of Trump voters as
the dispossessed, protesting against globalisation, predatory capitalism
and the destruction of American manufacturing. Conversely, it turns out
that the discussion of Romney's "dog whistle" appeals to racism was
misconceived. Replacing the dog whistle with a bullhorn has turned out
to be no problem for the great majority of those who voted for Romney.
[ . . . ]
Corey [Robin] here at CT and elsewhere has probably been the most
consistent exponent of the view that Trump is a traditional Republican,
in the line of
Reagan. I broadly agree, though I'd put more stress on new developments
over the past 20 years or so. Trump's complete disregard for truth, norms
of decency and so on, is an extrapolation of a process that's been going on
for quite a while, at the popular level with Fox News, birtherism and so on
and in the Republican intellectual apparatus with climate denial, zombie
economics and attacks on "political correctness."
The links are to pieces in Jacobin by Corey Robin. They're both worthwhile,
but an even better title is Robin's
The Conservative Movement Has No Decency. This piece, of course,
is mostly about Joseph Welch's 1954 rebuke of Joe McCarthy, but ties
in to Trump's denunciation of Khizr Khan after his speech at the
Democratic Convention. Still, Trump's outburst wasn't isolated or
even uniquely his own. Robin offers many other examples without ever
mentioning the abuse conservatives have heaped on Hillary Clinton --
a subject for whole books, likely to sprawl into multiple volumes
if she wins.
Robin titled his latest thoughts on the election
Viva Las Vegas! In it he includes a Brecht quote from 1942:
. . . to present Hitler as particularly incompetent,
as an aberration, a perversion, humbug, a pecuilar pathological case,
while setting up other bourgeois politicians as models, models of
something he has failed to attain, seems to me no way to combat Hitler.
Joe Romm: Trump just proposed ending all federal clean energy
Alexis Sottile: The Trump Effect: How Hateful Rhetoric Is Affecting
America's Children: Solar, wind, efficiency, batteries, clean
cars, and climate science, too.
Matt Taibbi: The Fury and Failure of Donald Trump:
The best argument for a Clinton presidency is that she's virtually
guaranteed to be a capable steward of the status quo, at a time of
relative stability and safety. There are criticisms to make of Hillary
Clinton, but the grid isn't going to collapse while she's in office,
something no one can say with even mild confidence about Donald Trump.
But nearly two-thirds of the population was unhappy with the direction
of the country entering the general-election season, and nothing has been
more associated with the political inside than the Clinton name.
[ . . . ]
The "scandal" of the Wiki papers, if you can call it that, is that
it captured how at ease Clinton was talking to bankers and industrialists
about the options for the organization of a global society. Even in
transcript form, it's hard not to realize that the people in these
rooms are all stakeholders in this vast historical transformation.
Left out of the discussion over the years have been people like
Trump's voters, who coincidentally took the first hit along the way in
the form of lowered middle-class wages and benefits. They were also
never told that things they cared about, like their national identity
as Americans, were to have diluted meaning in the more borderless future.
This is why the "basket of deplorables" comment rankled so badly. It's
not like it was anywhere near as demeaning or vicious as any of 10,000
Trump insults. But it spoke to a factual disconnnect.
Matthew Yglesias: The real Clinton email scandal is that a bullshit
story has dominated the campaign
Matthew Yglesias: Melania's illegal immigration problem reminds us what
Trump's campaign has always been about: OK, now we have proof that
she entered the country to work illegally. American nativists should be
up in arms: isn't a big part of their spiel how we shouldn't offer amnesty
to people who don't follow the rules? Yet if they're so devoted to deep
American roots, why are they backing a guy who has only one native-born
American ancestor? Unless it matters what kind of immigrants we're talking
Indeed, going back to when the Nixon administration sued Trump for
discriminating against black and Latino tenants, Trump's long record
of racism isn't really disputable.
So there's really nothing so surprising about the Melania story.
Trump doesn't like immigrants who change the American cultural and
ethnic mix in a way he finds threatening and neither do his fans.
Europeans like Melania (or before her, Ivana) are fine. I get it,
David Duke gets it, the frog meme people get it, everyone gets it.
But it does raise the question of why mainstream press coverage
has spent so much time pretending not to get it. Why have we been
treated to so many lectures about the "populist appeal" of a man
running on regressive tax cuts and financial deregulation and the
"economic anxiety" of his fans?
PS: Just shook up by a 5.3 earthquake centered 3 miles west of
Cushing, Oklahoma. Fairly sharp for about 15 second here, unsettled for
another 20-30 seconds, but I doubt we suffered any damage. On the other
hand, Cushing bills itself as the "pipeline capital" of America, so they
have a lot of dangerously fragile infrastructure real close to the
epicenter. Happened at 7:44:25 local time.
Tuesday, November 01, 2016
Music computer on the fritz: seems to have permanently locked display
out, which makes it pretty damn useless. Time to upgrade? Components:
- CPU: AMD FX-0350 Eight-Core Socket AM3+ w/Wraith Cooler: $164.99
- Motherboard: ASUS 970 Pro Gaming/Aura AM3+ AMD 970 + SB950 ATX (4xDDR3 2133(OC)/1866, 2xPCI 2.0x16, 2xPCI 2.0x1, 2xPCI, 6xSATA 6Gb/s, 1xPS/2, 2xUSB 3.1[Type-A, Red], 8xUSB 2.0, S/PDIF, 8 channel audio, no video): $109.99+2.99
- RAM: G.SKILL Ares Series 32GB (4x8GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM 1866 (PC3 14900) Model F3-1866C10Q-32GAB: $191.99
- Video Card: ASUS Radeon HD 6450 HD6450-SL-2GD3-L 2GB PCI Express 2.1x16: $54.99
- Hard Drive: Seagate BarraCuda ST2000DM006 2TB 64MB Cache SATA 6.0Gb/s 3.5-inch bare: $69.99
- DVD Burner: ASUS 24X Black SATA Model DRW-24B1ST/BLK/B/AS: $19.99
- Parallel Port: SYBA PCI-Express 1-Port Parallel/Printer Card RoHS SD-PEX10005: $15.99
Total: $642.93 + $5.81 shipping - $0.02 = $648.74.
Some other components I considered:
SYBA PCI-Express 1-Port Parallel/Printer Card RoHS SD-PEX10005: $15.99
- AMD FX-8300 Eight-Core Socket AM3+ (Passmark 7605): $114.99
- AMD FX-8350 Eight-Core Socket AM3+ (Passmark 8940): $149.99
- AMD FX-8370 Eight-Core Socket AM3+ (Passmark 8912): $189.99+$1.99
- AMD FX-9370 Eight-Core (Passmark 9489): $189.99
- AMD FX-9590 Eight-Core Socket AM3+ (Passmark 10232): $229.99+1.99
- AM3+ Motherboard:
- ASUS MSA78L-M/USB3 uATX AMD 760G (ATI Radeon 3000): $54.99
- ASUS MSA78L-M Plus/USB3 uATX AMD 760G (ATI Radeon 3000): $65.72
- ASUS M5A97 PLUS AM3+ AMD 970/SB950 ATX (4xDDR3[2133/1866], 6xSATA 6Gbs, 1xPCIe2.0x16[blue], 2xPCIe2.0x1, 3xPCI, 2xPS2, 1xLAN, 8xUSB2.0, 3xAudio): $70.99
- ASUS M5A97 LE R2.0 AM3+ AMD 970/SB950 ATX: $74.99
- ASUS M5A99X EVO ATX R2.0 AM3+ AMD 990X + SB950 ATX (DDR3 2133/1866 32GB, 2xPCIe2.0x16[x16,x4], 2xPCIe2.0x1, 1 PCI, 6xSATA 6Gbs, 1xPS2, 2xUSB 3.0, 8xUSB 2.0, 2xeSATA, S/PDIF, 6 Audio, no video): $124.99+3.99
- Gigabyte GA-990FX-Gaming AM3+ AMD 990FX SATA USB 3.1(2x) USB 3.0(2x) ATX (6xUSB 2.0, 1PS/2, S/PDIF, 5xAudio, 4xDDR3 [2000/1866], 3xPCIx16, 3xPCIx1): $109.99+2.99
- MSI Gaming 970 ATX AMD 970: $79.99
- Video Cards:
- ASUS Radeon HD 6450 DirectX 11 EAH6450 1GB 64-Bit PCI Express 2.1 HDCP: $42.99; 2GB $54.99
- ASUS Radeon R7 240 DirectX 11.2 R7240-2GD3-L 2GB PCI Express 3.0 HDCP: $73.99
(what about Radeon RX 460, RX 480, HD 7950?)
- Parallel Printer Port: