Sunday, June 30, 2024

Speaking of Which

After missing last week, I knew I had a lot to catch up on here. I also got interrupted several times. It took longer than expected to wrap up my piece on bassist William Parker (see: Celebrating bassist William Parker's lifetime of achievement). I had two other internet projects that required significant amounts of attention (one was an update to Carola Dibbell's website, announcing a new printing of her novel, The Only Ones; the other was setting up a framework for a Jazz Critics Mid-Year Poll, which still needs more work). We also had trips to the ER and various doctors (including a veterinarian). So no chance of getting done on Sunday night. I'm not really done on Monday, either, but I'm dead tired and more than a little disgusted, so this will have to do for now.

That will, in turn, push Music Week back until Tuesday, which is just as well.

Before I really got started, the debate happened -- I couldn't be bothered to watch, my wife got disgusted and switched to a Steve Martin movie -- and I haven't (yet, as of noon 06-28) read any reviews, but I wanted to grab these tweets before they vanish:

Rick Perlstein: The main argument on the left was that he was a bad president. That was incorrect.

Tim Price: The left is going to be in big trouble for being right too early again.

Another scrap picked up on the fly from fleeting social media:

Greg Magarian: [06-27] Democratic Party establishment, relentlessly, for eight months: "You stupid kids need to stop criticizing Biden! If we get four more years of Trump, it's all your fault!"

Democratic Party establishment, tomorrow morning, set your clock by it: "You stupid kids need to fix this! If we get four more years of Trump, it's all your fault!"

Because of course it's never their fault.

In a comment, Magarian added:

I don't know the best process for replacing Biden. There's no playbook for this. The biggest question is whether the party should essentially try to crown Harris, either by having Biden resign the presidency or by having him stay and endorse her. But this is kind of the point of my post: the onus here shouldn't be on Biden's critics. The party is supposed to exist to win elections. They're royally screwing this one up. I want to know what they're going to do.

Initial count: 290 links, 11720 words. Updated count [07-03]: 320 links, 16021 words.

Local tags (these can be linked to directly): on music, Christgau.

Top story threads:


America's Israel (and Israel's America):

Israel vs. world opinion:

About last Thursday's debate:

When the Biden-Trump debates were announced, I jotted down the following:

Ed Kilgore: [05-24] Is Biden gambling everything on an early-debate bounce? My read is that the June debate is meant to show Democrats that he can still mount a credible campaign against Trump. If he can -- and a bounce would be nice but not necessary -- it will go a long way to quelling pressure to drop out and open the convention. If he can't, then sure, he'll have gambled and lost, and pressure will build. But at least it will give him a reference point that he has some actual control over -- unlike the polls, which still seem to have a lot of trouble taking him seriously.

I'm writing this before I go through the paces and collect whatever links I deem of interest, which will help me better understand the debate and its aftermath, but my first impression is that Biden failed to satisfy Democrats that he is really the candidate they need to fight off Trump in November. I'll also note that my expectation was to see a lot of confirmation bias in reactions. I'd expect people who dislike Biden and/or Trump, for any reason, to find faults that fortify their feelings, while people who are personally invested in their candidates will at least claim to be vindicated. Hence, the easy way to scan this section is to look for reactions that go against type.

Debate tweets:

  • Zachary D Carter: Donald Trump is delivering the second-worst presidential debate performance I've ever seen.

And more post-debate tweets:

  • Zachary D Carter: [06-30] If Biden refuses to step aside it will not be an act of high principal or strong character. He did not just have a bad night. He is not fit for the job and stayuing in the race would be the worst kind of vanity and betrayal.

  • Laura Tillem: [06-30] He did terrible in the debate because he gags when he has to pretend to support abortion rights or universal health care.

  • holly: [06-28] If you want to see Joe Biden in his prime, just go back and watch footage of him calling Anita Hill a liar and ensuring that we'd have to deal with Clarence Thomas forever.

  • Moshik Temkin: [06-28] Worth recalling that the only reason Biden is President now is because, after he finished 5th in NH Dem primary in 2020, Obama persuaded all the other candidates to drop out and endorse Biden in order to stop Bernie Sanders, who was in 1st place (and crushing Trump in the polls)

  • John Ganz: Dude they just gotta roll the dice with Harris.

Plus I scraped this from Facebook:

  • Allen Lowe [07-02]: Cold medicine my a##. On my worst day during chemo and radiation I made more sense than Biden did at that debate; coming out of the anaesthetic after a 12 hour surgery with half of my nose removed I could have debated Trump more coherently; after they pulled a tube out of of my arm at 4 in the morning after another (8 hour) surgery, causing me to scream in the worst pain of my life and curse like a sailor, I would have remembered more accurately what I last said and organized my thoughts more clearly. The night I was born and ripped from my mother's womb I was better prepared than Biden was (my first words were "Henry Wallace!").

    This guy must go. Go. Go.

    This whole thing has, honestly, made me lose all respect for Biden, as he continues to place his personal ego and "legacy" ahead of the country. As Carl Bernstein reports [on YouTube], aides have privately reported a Biden loss of coherence and noticeable cognitive slippage occurring "15 to 20 times" in the last year.

Election notes:


And other Republicans:

Biden and/or the Democrats:

  • Jonathan Alter: [06-28] How the Democrats should replace Biden: This seems ok to me, aside from the snootiness of dismissing Sanders and Warren out of hand and seeking to ban "anyone from the Squad." That they've already limited the electorate to Biden's hand-picked supporters is rigged enough without having to rub it in.

  • Aaron Blake:

  • Abdallah Fayyad: [06-29] LBJ and Truman knew when to quit. Will Biden? "Some lessons from the two presidents who walked away."

  • Margaret Hartmann: [07-01] All the gossip on the Biden family's postdebate blame game.

  • David Klion: [06-19] The lifelong incoherence of Biden's Israel strategy: "The president's muddled policy course in the Middle East is angering voters across the political spectrum -- and it could usher Trump back into the White House."

  • Eric Levitz:

    • [06-19] Biden's ads haven't been working. Now, he's trying something new. Written before the debate: "President Joe Biden's odds of reelection may be worse than they look. And they don't look great."

    • [06-28] How Democrats got here: "Democrats really need to choose electable vice presidents." This might have gone deep into the sorry history of vice presidents and vice-presidential candidates, few of whom could be described as "electable" -- at least as Levitz defines it to exclude Biden and Harris, which is the point of his article.

      Unfortunately, the last two Democratic presidents did not prioritize political chops when selecting their veeps.

      Barack Obama didn't choose Joe Biden because he thought that the then-Delaware senator would make a great Democratic nominee in 2016. To the contrary, by most accounts, Obama thought that Biden would be a totally nonviable candidate by the time his own hypothetical presidency ended. And he reportedly selected Biden precisely for that reason. . . .

      Biden's choice of Kamala Harris in 2020 was even more misguided. When he made that choice in August 2020, there was little basis for believing that Harris was one of the most politically formidable Democrats in the country.

      There's a lot that could be said about this, most of which comes back to the poor conception of the office (both in the Constitution and when revised after the emergence of political parties led to the 1800 fiasco and the 12th Amendment). The VP has to do three things, which require three very different skill sets, especially since the presidency has grown into this ridiculous imperial perch: they have to add something to the campaign (e.g., "Tippecanoe and Tyler too"); once elected, they have to behave themselves innocuously, for which they are sometimes given busy work (LBJ's Space Race, Pence's Space Force, Gore's Reinventing Government) or sometimes just locked in a closet (remember John Nance Garner?); and if the president dies, they're thrust into a role they were rarely prepared for, with no real, personal political mandate (some, like Tyler and Andrew Johnson, were wretched; a few, like Teddy Roosevelt and Lyndon Johnson, thrived; but most were just mediocre, including the two others who went on to win full terms: Calvin Coolidge and Harry Truman).

      I accept that Obama's pick of Biden was part of a deal to give the 2016 nomination to Hillary Clinton. The Clintons had turned the Democratic Party into a personality cult. Obama rode a popular backlash against that, but Obama was no revolutionary: he wanted to lead, but was willing to leave the Party to the Clintons. We now know that wasn't such a good idea, but after a very divisive primary, in the midst of economic and military disaster, it was at least understandable.

      The Harris nomination made at least as much sense in 2024. The "little basis" line is unfair and inaccurate. She won statewide elections in the most populous and most expensive state in the country. Her resume entering 2016 was similar to and every bit as strong as Obama's in 2008. She had enough financial backing to organize a top-tier presidential campaign. She floundered, because (unlike Obama) she was outflanked on the left (Sanders and Warren), while hemmed in on the right (Klobuchar, Buttigieg, Bloomberg, and Biden). But she wasn't incompetent (like Biden already was), and her position and standing made her the logical choice to unite the party. And sure, her affirmative action points may have helped a bit with the left -- at least she wasn't another Tim Kaine, or Al Gore -- without the tokenism raising any hackles with the donors.

      Sure, Harris polls poorly now, but that's largely because Biden never put her to good use: she could have taken a more prominent role in cajoling Congress, which would have given her opportunities to show her mettle fighting Republicans, and she could have spelled Biden on some of those high-profile foreign trips (especially confabs like G7 and NATO); instead, they stuck her with the tarbaby border issue. Having wasted those opportunities, I can see wanting to go with some other candidate, one with a bit more distance from Biden. But I'm not convinced that she would be a weak, let alone losing, candidate. And while I give her zero credit for those affirmative action tick boxes, I can't see holding them against her, either. And as for the people who would, well, they were going to vote for Trump anyway, so why appease them?

  • Nicole Narea:

  • Evan Osnos: [06-29] Biden gets up after his debate meltdown: Good. But are people talking about that, or the meltdown? Even if they could flip the message back to "Biden's really ok," that would still be a huge deficit. We need people talking about how awful Trump is. Even if you can't impress on many people how bad his policies are, he gives you lots of other things you can fixate on.

  • Christian Paz:

    • [06-26] We rewatched the 2020 Trump-Biden debates. There's so much we didn't see coming. "The five most telling moments and what they foreshadow ahead of this week's rematch."

      1. Trump calls the 2020 election rigged and doesn't commit to accepting the results
      2. Roe v. Wade is nearly forgotten
      3. Trump gets defensive on immigration
      4. No one is worried about inflation
      5. Everyone is worried about Russia, Ukraine, or China, but for the wrong reasons
    • [06-26] What about Kamala? "The vice president has taken on an expanded role in the last few months. Now Biden needs her more than ever."

  • Rick Perlstein: [07-03] Say it ain't so, Joe: "With democracy itself on the ballot, a statesman with charactger would know when to let go of power."

  • Andrew Prokop: [06-28] Will Biden be the nominee? 3 scenarios for what's next.

  • Bryan Walsh: [07-01] Democrats say Trump is an existential threat. They're not acting like it. "If the stakes of the 2024 election are as great as the party says, there's no excuse for inaction."

Legal matters and other crimes:

Climate and environment:

Economic matters:

  • Dean Baker:

    • [06-17] We can't have a new paradigm as long as people think the old one was free-market fundamentalism. He's on solid ground pointing out that most profits in our current economy are effectively rigged by monopolies (either government-minted, like patents, facilitated through favors, or just tolerated with lax enforcement), it's less clear to me what this is about:

      • Farah Stockman: [06-17] The queen bee of Bidenomics: On Jennifer Harris. Back when Trump started flirting with tariffs, I tried to make the point that tariffs only make sense if they are exercised in concert with a coherent economic development plan. Biden has, somewhat fitfully, moved in that direction, so that, for instance, tariffs and content rules can be seen as nurturing domestic production of EVs, helping the US develop them into world-class exports, as opposed to simply providing shelter for high prices (which was the net effect of Trump's corrupt favoritism). Whether this amounts to a paradigm shift is arguable, as government sponsorship of private industry has always been part of the neoliberal position (most obviously in arms and oil).

    • [06-20] NAFTA: The great success story: Compares Mexican-to-American GDP figures since 1980, showing that the gap has increased since NAFTA, putting Mexicans even more behind. What would be helpful here is another chart showing income inequality in both countries. It has certainly increased in the US since NAFTA, and probably in Mexico as well.

  • Kevin T Dugan: [06-18] Nvidia is worth as much as all real estate in NYC -- and 9 other wild comparisons.

  • Corey Robin: [06-29] Hayek, the accidental Freudian: "The economist was fixated on subconscious knowledge and dreamlike enchantment -- even if he denied their part in this relationships."

Ukraine War and Russia:

America's empire and the world:

Other stories:

Noam Chomsky: Briefly in the news after false reports that he had died at 95 -- see Brett Wilkins: [06-18] Manufacturing Obituaries: Media falsely reports Noam Chomsky's death -- which led to a quick burst of posts, including a couple of his own, still vibrant and still relevant:

William Hartung: [06-25] An AI Hell on Earth? Silicon Valley and the rush toward automated warfare.

Sean Illing: [06-23] What nuclear annihilation could look like: "The survivors would envy the dead." Interview with Annie Jacobsen, author of Nuclear War: A Scenario.

Joshua Keating: [06-16] The world is running out of soldiers: Good. Soldiering is a losing proposition, no matter what side you think you are on. I'm not sure that Keating is right that "wars are getting more common and militaries are building up." I'll grant that war business is booming, and that the costs -- both to wage and to suffer war -- are way up, but aren't costs supposed to be self-limiting? One cost, which is finding people dumb and/or desperate enough to enlist, certainly is, and that's a good thing. Somehow some related pieces popped up:

  • Jack Hunter: [06-18] Congress moves to make Selective Service automatic: "Raising the specter of the draft, this NDAA amendment seems ill-timed." Actually, no one's advocating to bring back the draft. All the amendment does is simplifying the paperwork by leaving it to the government to sign people up, giving people one less awful thing to do. Simpler still would be to eliminate registration, and the whole useless bureaucracy behind it.

  • Edward Hasbrouck: [06-29] A war draft today can't work. Let us count the ways.

Jacob Kushner: [06-23] The best plan to help refugees might also be the simplest: "More refugees live in cities. Could cash help them rebuild their lives?"

Dave Lindorff: [06-28] Assange is finally free as America, Britain, Sweden and Australia are shamed.

Also, some writing on music:

Robert Christgau: [06-26] Xgau Sez: June, 2024: Several things of possible interest here, but I wanted to comment on this interchange:

[Q] On October 18, you tweeted a defense of Israel citing a well written piece which postulated that the hospital bombing committed one week after 10/7 was actually not committed by Israel. You stated that prior to this evidence, you were "profoundly disturbed" that such a thing could happen. So now here we are, over half a year later, after tens of thousands of deaths and countless hospital bombings which have all undeniably been committed by Israel--and you haven't said a single word? It's one thing for you to have stayed quiet on the issue completely, but you only speak up when Israel can be protected? Bob, what is wrong with you? How are you not profoundly disturbed as the death toll of innocent civilians reaches nearly 40,000 with no clear end in sight? The last thing I ever expected from my decades of following your works was for you to be so spineless. I refuse to believe you only actively stand for something when the narrative suits your desires. -- Brandon Sparks, America

[A] Anyone but a genuine expert who writes about the appalling Gaza war risks being incomplete and probably wrong. I cited that hospital bombing story because that early there seemed some reason for hope that the war would resolve itself with a modicum of sanity. It wasn't yet clear just how appalling Netanyahu would prove to be--or, I will add with my hands shaking, Hamas either. The "lots" I know is too little and in public at least I intend to say as little as possible. I've long believed in a two-state solution and this war is easily the cruelest and most gruesome international conflict of my adulthood. But it hasn't yet turned me into a full-bore anti-Zionist, because as an American of German extraction with many dozens of Jewish friends, I've spent too much of my life taking anti-Semitism seriously to put it on any sort of back burner now.

Christgau has been a good friend for close to fifty years, and a friend of my wife's even longer (he introduced us), and we're generally pretty simpatico politically, drawing on similar class and cultural backgrounds and experiences -- although he's eight years older than I am, which is enough for him to look up to other people as mentors (especially Greil Marcus, whose view of Israel and Gaza I wrote about here, and probably the late Ellen Willis, who was left of Marcus but still a devoted Zionist) and to look down on me as a protégé (not that he doesn't respect what I have to say; he's often a very astute reader, but still doggedly fixed in his beliefs).

After what Marcus wrote, we gave him credit for publishing this letter, and not for simply shirking it off. But while his cautious and self-effacing tone evaded our worst expectations, nearly every line in his answer is wrong in some fundamental sense, just not in the manner of Marcus (ridiculous, hypocritical accusations cloaked in a storm of overwrought emotion and self-pity), but mostly by pleading ignorance and accepting it as bliss. To wit:

  1. "Anyone but a genuine expert . . . risks being incomplete and probably wrong." If you know any history at all, you must know that in 1948 Israel expelled 700,000 Palestinians, driving many of them into Gaza (more than the previous population of Gaza), leaving them under Egyptian rule until Israel invaded and occupied Gaza in and ever since 1967, and that under Israeli rule, they were denied human rights and subject to multiple waves of violent repression, a dire situation that only got worse when Israel left Gaza to the circumscribed gang rule of Hamas. Under such circumstances, and having repeatedly failed to appeal to Israel's and the world's sense of justice, it was only a matter of time before Hamas resorted to its own violence, since nothing less could move Israel.

    If you don't know the history, you might not have understood the Hamas revolt on Oct. 7, but you would have observed that the revolt was limited and unsustainable, because Hamas had nothing resembling a real army, few modern arms, no arms industry, no safe haven, no allies. It may have come as a shock, but it was no threat. Israel killed or repelled the attackers within a couple days. After that, virtually all of the violence was committed by Israel, not just against people who had desperately fought back but against everyone in Gaza, against their homes, their farms, their utilities, their hospitals. Since Hamas was powerless to stop Israel, even to make Israel pay a further price for their war, the only decent choice Americans had was to inhibit Israel, to back them down from the genocide their leaders openly avowed. There was nothing subtle or complex about this.

  2. "There seemed some reason for hope that the war would resolve itself with a modicum of sanity": Really? Israel, following the example of the British before them, has always punished Palestinian violence with disproportionate collective punishment. The Zionist leadership embraced what is now commonly called "ethnic cleansing" in 1937, as they embraced the Peel Commission plan to forcibly "transfer" Palestinians from lands that Britain would offer for Israel. From that point on, genocide was woven into the DNA of Zionism. The only question was whether they could afford to discredit themselves to the world (which, by 2023, really just meant the US). When Biden vowed unlimited, uncritical support, Israel was free to do whatever they wanted, sane or not, with no fear of reprisal, isolation, and sanctions.

  3. "It wasn't yet clear just how appalling Netanyahu would prove to be": Granted, few Americans have any real appreciation for Israeli politics, especially given the extent to which most Israeli politicians misrepresent themselves to Americans. Still, you have to be awful naïve not to understand where Netanyahu came from (he was born royalty on the fascist right: his father was Jabotinsky's secretary) and where he would go any time he got the chance (ever farther to the right). Sure, he was more circumspect than his partners Smotrich and Ben-Gvir, who were free to say what he actually wanted to do. Even before the Oct. 7 revolt, their coalition was curtailing Palestinian rights within Israel, and was encouraging and excusing a campaign of terror against Palestinians in the West Bank, while Gaza was being strangled, and the only relatively liberal courts were being neutered. Outrage over Oct. 7 was immediately turned into license to intensify operations that were already ongoing.

  4. "I've long believed in a two-state solution": "Two states" isn't a belief. It's just something people talk about to keep people separated into rival, hostile blocs. Give them equal power and they would be at each other's throats, but with unequal power you have one standing on the other's neck. "Two states" started out as a British idea, tried disastrously first in Ireland then in India. Israelis endorsed the idea in 1937 (Peel Commission) and in 1947 (UN Partition Plan), but when they had the chance to actually build a state, they went with one powerful state of their own, and prevented even a weak Palestinian state from emerging: Jordan and Egypt were given temporary control of chunks of Palestine, their population swelled with refugees from ethnic cleansing in Israel's captured territories, then even those chunks were regained in 1967, when Israel was finally strong enough to keep their people confined to impoverished stans.

    True, the "two state" idea recovered a bit in the 1990s, as bait to lure corrupt "nationalists" into policing their own people, but few Israelis took the idea seriously, and after Sharon in 2000, most stopped pretending -- only the Americans were gullible enough to keep up the charade. You can dice up territories arbitrary to provide multiple states with different ethnic mixes allowing multiple tyrannies, but that kind of injustice only leads to more conflict. The only decent solution is, as always, equal rights for everyone, however space is allocated. Imagining othewise only shows how little you know about human nature.

  5. "Easily the cruelest and most gruesome international conflict of my adulthood": The American wars in Indochina and Korea were worse by almost any metric. The oft-genocidal wars in and around India and the eastern Congo certainly killed more people. Even the CIA-backed "white terror" in Indonesia killed more people. Israel's wars are more protracted, because they feed into a self-perpetuating culture of militarism, but while the latest episode in Gaza is off the charts compared to any of these catastrophes, but averaged out over the century since British imperialism gave force to the Balfour Declaration, Israel's forever war has been fairly well regulated to minimize its inconvenience for Israelis. It persists only because Israelis like it that way, and could be ended easily if they had any desire to do so.

  6. "But it hasn't yet turned me into a full-bore anti-Zionist": You don't have to be an anti-Zionist to oppose genocide, or to oppose a caste system where given or denied rights because of their birth and parents. Admittedly, those behaviors are deeply embedded in the fabric of actually-existing Zionism, but there have been alternative concepts of Zionism that do not encourage them, and even actual Zionists have resisted the temptation to such barbarism more often than not. You can be Israeli, or you can love Israel and Israelis and wish nothing more than to keep them safe and respected and still oppose the racist and genocidal policies of the current regime. Indeed, if you are, you really must oppose those policies, because they do nothing but bring shame on the people you profess to love and cherish. And you can do this without ever describing yourself as pro-Palestinian, or in any way associating yourself with Palestinian nationalists -- who, quite frankly, have made a lot of missteps over the years, in the worst cases acting exactly like the Israelis they claim to oppose.

  7. "Because as an American of German extraction with many dozens of Jewish friends, I've spent too much of my life taking anti-Semitism seriously to put it on any sort of back burner now." Again, you can be Jewish, or you can love and respect Jews, and still oppose Israel's policies of racism and genocide. You can find ample reason within Judaism, or Christianity, or any other religion, or secular humanism, socialist solidarity, or simple human decency, to do so. And you can and should be clear that if the roles were reversed you would still oppose racism and genocide, and seek to protect and sustain victims of those policies.

    This is actually quite easy for people of the left to do, because the definition that identifies us on the left is that we believe that all people deserve equal political, economic, and human rights. It is harder for people on the right, who again by definition believe that some people are chosen to rule and that others are commanded to serve, or at least not annoy or inconvenience their betters by their presence. They are likely to be divided, depending on whether they identify with the people on top or on the bottom, and they are likely to be the worst offenders, because they also believe that the use of force is legitimate to promote their caste and to subdue all others.

    There is a form of gravity involved in this: if you're under or excluded from the dominant hierarchy, you tend to move left, because your self-interest is better served by universal rights and tolerance than by the slim odds that you can revolt and seize power. This is why almost all Jews in America lean left -- as do most members of most excluded and/or disparaged minorities, pretty much everywhere. Israel is different, because right-wing Jews did manage to seize power there, and as such have become a glaring example of why the right is wrong.

    Zionists have worked very hard to obscure the inevitable divide between rightist power in Israel and left leanings in the diaspora, and for a long time, especially in America, they've been remarkably successful. I'm not going to try to explain how and why, as the key point right now is that it's breaking down, as it is becoming obvious that Israel acts are contrary to the political and moral beliefs of most Jews in America -- that there is any significant support for Israel at all can only be attributed to denial, lies, and the rote repetition of carefully crafted talking points.

    One of those talking points is that opposition to Israel's wars and racism reflects and encourages anti-semitism, thus triggering deep-seated fears tied back to the very real history of racism and genocide targeting Jews -- fears that, while hard to totally dismiss, have been systematically cultivated to Israel's advantage by what Norman Finkelstein calls "the holocaust industry." Some people (and Marcus presents as an example) grew up so traumatized that they are completely unreachable (which is to say, disconnected from reality) on Israel. Others, like Christgau, are just enmeshed in sympathy and guilt -- although in his case, I don't see what other than his name binds him to German, much less Nazi, history and culture (for instance, the Christian church he often refers to was Presbyterian, not Lutheran, not that Lutheranism is all that Teutonic either; in music about all I can think of is that he likes Kraftwerk and Kurt Weill, but who among us doesn't?).

    That Zionists should be accusing leftists, including many Jews, of being anti-semitic is pretty ripe. Zionism was a minority response to the rising tide of anti-semitism in 19th century Europe, which insisted that anti-semitism was endemic and permanent -- something so ingrained in Euopean culture that could never be reformed by socialist political movements or tolerated by liberalism, a curse that could only be escaped from, by retreating to and fortifying an exclusively Jewish nation-state, isolated by an Iron Wall.

    But along the way, Zionists learned to play anti-semitism to their advantage. They pleaded with imperialists to give them land and to expel their unwanted Jews. They pointed Christians to the prophecy in Revelations that sees the return of Jews to the Holy Land as a prerequisite for the Second Coming. (David Lloyd George was one who bought that line. In America today, Postmillennial Dispensationalists are the staunchest supporters of Zionism, and every last one of them relishes the Final Solution that eluded Hitler.) They negotiated with Nazis. They lobbied to keep Jews from emigrating to America. They organized pogroms to stampede Arabic Jews to ascend to Israel. They stole the shameful legacy of the Holocaust and turned it into a propaganda industry, which plies guilt to obtain deferrence and support, even as Israel does unto others the same horrors that others had done to Jews.

    Opposition to anti-semitism is a core belief of liberals and the left in America. This is because such forms of prejudice and discrimination are inimical to our principles, but it's gained extra resonance because Jews tend to be active in liberal/left circles, so non-Jews (like Christgau and myself) know and treasure many of them. Nearly all of us are careful, sometimes to the point of tedium, to make clear that our criticisms of Israel are not to be generalized against Jews. In this, we are helped by the many Jews who share our criticisms, and often, like the group Jewish Voice for Peace, lead the way. But not everyone who criticizes Israel exercises such care, and not everyone does so from left principles, and those are the ones who are most likely to fall back on anti-semitic tropes and popularize them, increasing the chances of an anti-semitic resurgence. That would be bad, both politically and morally, but no form of opposition to tyranny justifies the tyranny. We need to understand that the offense is responsible for its opposition, and to seek its solution at the source: Israel's racist and genocidal behavior.

    So if you're really concerned that this war may make anti-semitism more common, the only solution is to stop the war: in practical terms, to demand a ceasefire, to halt arms deliveries to Israel, to insist that Israel give up its claims to Gaza (if anything is clear by now, it's that Israel is not competent to administer Gaza), to organize aid and relief, and to open a dialogue with Israel to come to some sort of agreeable solution where everyone can live in peace, security, and hopefully prosperity with full and equal rights. The main reason for doing this is that it's the right thing to do, for pretty much everyone, but if you're primarily concerned about anti-semitism, that is one more reason to sue for peace.

    In this age where kill ratios exceed 100-to-1, and the starvation ratio is infinite, I'm not going to pretend that the psychic trauma the war is causing for Israelis, for Jews, and for philo-semitic Americans somehow balances off against the pain and suffering that is being inflicted on Palestinians, but that traums is real, and needs to be addressed and relieved, and only peace can do that. And in this particular conflict, only Israel can grant peace. Until they choose to do so, all focus should be directed on those who are responsible for this war: for fighting it, for supporting it, for excusing it, and for letting them get away with it.

I guess that last point ran away from me a bit, while still leaving much more to be said. More succinctly: to whatever extent Israel is able to identify its war with Jews in general, and to equate opposition to its war with anti-semitism, the prevalence and threat of anti-semitism will grow. To stop this, stop the war. If anti-semitism is the issue you really care about, stopping the war is the only thing that will help you.

People on the left, by definition, are opposed to the war, and are opposed to anti-semitism, and see their opposition to both as part of the same fight. People on the right are often confused, crazy, and/or sick. You may or may not be able to help them, but know that they are much less dangerous in times of peace and good will than in times of war and turmoil, so again the imperative is to stop the war. And if you, like Christgau (and even Marcus) hate and fear Donald Trump (who's firmly on the right for all three reasons), same prescription: stop the war.

One last point: you don't have to specifically care about Jews on this matter. I'm addressing these points to people who do. While I think it would be more helpful to protest in ways that help gain support from people who are initially sympathetic to Israelis -- e.g., I think a lot of Palestinian flag waving isn't very helpful -- I understand that people can come to the right conclusion from all sorts of reasoning. What matters most is that we all demand a ceasefire, and an end to Israel's mistreatment of Palestinians.

David A Graham: Doug Emhoff, first jazz fan: "The second gentleman gets the beauty and meaning of the genre."

Chris Monsen:

  • [06-19] Midweek pick, June 19th, 2024: Okka Disk: A reminder of Bruno Johnson's Milwaukee-based avant-jazz label, noting that "perhaps a deep dive into their output would be in order at a later date." For what little it's worth, I started working on Ken Vandermark & Friends: A Consumer Guide back around 2004, as it seemed like a good follow up to my A Consumer Guide to William Parker, Matthew Shipp, et al., but I didn't get very far. My database does contain 66 albums released by Okka Disk, 55 with grades, of which the following rated A- or higher:

    • Jim Baker/Steve Hunt/Brian Sandstrom/Mars Williams: Extraordinary Popular Delusions (2005 [2007])
    • Peter Brötzmann/Toshinori Kondo/Massimo Pupillo/Paal Nilssen-Love: Hairy Bones (2008 [2009])
    • Caffeine [Ken Vandermark]: Caffeine (1993 [1994])
    • FME [Vandermark]: Underground (2004)
    • FME: Cuts (2004 [2005])
    • Triage [Dave Rempis]: Twenty Minute Cliff (2003)
    • Triage: American Mythology (2004) [A]
    • School Days [Vandermark]: Crossing Division (2000)
    • School Days: In Our Times (2001 [2002])
    • Steelwool Trio [Vandermark]: International Front (1994 [1998])
    • Ken Vandermark/Kent Kessler/Ingebrigt Håker Flaten/Nate McBride/Wilbert De Joode: Collected Fiction (2008 [2009])
  • [06-26] Midweek pick, June 26th, 2024: Gayle, Graves and Parker's WEBO: What I'm listening to to calm my nerves while writing about Gaza and Biden.

Phil Overeem: June 2024: Halfway there + "old reggae albums I'd never heard before were my June salvation."

Robert Sullivan: [06-24] The Sun Ra Arkestra's maestro hits one hundred: "Marshall Allen, the musical collective's sax-playing leader, is celebrating with a deep-spacey video installation during the Venice Biennale."

Werner Trieschmann: [06-20] Fox Green score hat trick with excellent third album, Light Over Darkness.

Midyear Lists:

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