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Sunday, July 31, 2022

Speaking of Which

Blog link.

Mostly just noting things this week, although I couldn't help but make the occasional comment.


Louis Anslow: [07-31] Peter Thiel's Candidates Are More Unabomber Than Tech Bro.

Emily Badger/Margot Sanger-Katz/Claire Cain Miller: [07-28] States With Abortion Bans Are Aong the Least Supportive for Mothers and Children. No surprises here.

Dean Baker: [07-29] The Semi-Conductor Bill and the Moderna Billionaires. Unlike Republicans, Democrats at least try to do good things. But they seem incapable of doing them in ways that don't create windfalls for the already-rich. Baker doesn't draw this conclusion, but has examples that point that way (e.g., the "chips" bill).

Ben Burgis:

Zachary D Carter: [07-29] On Economics and Democracy. A good, general lesson about the New Deal, Keynes, and now. He also suggests that Republicans today are no worse than Democrats were in 1931, so if they could just come up with their own FDR, they could conquer all. But he doesn't nominate any candidates.

Rachel M Cohen: [07-27] The big upcoming vote on abortion rights in Kansas, explained. Also Peter Slevin: [07-30] The first post-Roe vote on abortion.

David Dayen: [07-28] Cut Off Private Equity's Money Spigot. "It is genuinely hard to find a more destructive economic force in America today than the private equity industry."

Andrew Desiderio: [07-28] Pelosi and China: The making of a progressive hawk. An oxymoron? Or just a moron? Related: [07-25] US Officials Grow More Concerned About Potential Action by China on Taiwan. These soto voce concerns are exactly what the Biden administration was doing with Russia prior to the invasion. They can be viewed as taunting or goading, daring China to verify their predictions. Seems especially foolish as long as the war with Russia is going on. Haven't the armchair generals learned that two-front wars are something to avoid?

David Friedlander: [07-25] Why Republicans Stopped Talking to the Press.

Lisa Friedman/Jonathan Wiseman: [07-27] Delay as the New Denial: The Latest Republican Tactic to Block Climate Action.

Jonathan Guyer: [07-29] What think tank drama tells us about the US response to Russia's war: Also see Politico's report: Atlantic Council cuts ties to Koch-funded foreign policy initiative. Koch has his fingers in a number of foreign policy initiatives -- the only one I'm familiar with is the Quincy Institute, which is headed by conservative anti-war historian Andrew Bacevich, and has published many articles I have cited over the years -- including Stand Together, and the Stimson Center, which will take over the Koch-financed NAEI (New American Engagement Initiative). NAEI's previous home was the Atlantic Council, which is largely funded by European governments and "is pro-NATO by design." What seems to be happening is that the think tanks are under increasing pressure to line up behind Ukraine and against Russia. Two related notes: Matthew Rojansky ("director of the Kennan Institute at the Woodrow Wilson Center") was blackballed from possible appointment to Biden's NSC because he wasn't hawkish enough on Russia (see Biden won't bring on board controversial Russia expert); Joseph Cirincione, a leading expert on nuclear proliferation, charging the Quincy Institute with pro-Russian bias (see America's Top Anti-War Think Tank Is Fracturing Over Ukraine). Robert Wright has written a detailed review of Cirincione's charges: Anti-war think tank attacked.

Michael Hudson: [07-29] American Diplomacy as a Tragic Drama.

Dhruv Khullar: [07-25] Living Through India's Next-Level Heat Wave.

Paul Krugman:

  • [07-26] Recession: What Does It Mean? I've been under the impression that the overly-technical definition of a recession is two consecutive quarters of negative GDP growth, which we've just had, but evidently it isn't as simple as that. Krugman followed up with the optimistic How Goes the War on Inflation? and the pessimistic Much Ado About Wages. Also related: Timothy Noah: [07-27] The Economy Is Doing Amazingly Well for One That's Possibly in a Recession.
  • [07-25] The Dystopian Myths of Red America. He means the widespread belief among the Republican base that Dems are evil and intent on destroying America, even though there's no real evidence. The belief is pervasive enough that it can be invoked to explain anything. Centrists like to think that Blue America harbors comparable views, and indeed many of us have concluded that the Repugs are indeed evil, but first we demand evidence showing a logical connection, and we're willing to consider alternative theories, like ignorance, stupidity, or a callous disregard for others (which, sure, is a kind of evil). We're also more likely to regard people as complex and nuanced.

Robert Kuttner: [07-29] Another Airline Merger That Would Worsen Inflation: JetBlue buys Spirit Airlines.

Sharon Lerner: [06-30] How Charles Koch purchased the Supreme Court's EPA decision.

Ron Lieber: [07-26] The Case of the $5,000 Springsteen Tickets: Welcome to "dynamic pricing."

Ian Millhiser: [07-25] Gavin Newsom's plan to save the Constitution by trolling the Supreme Court.

Judith Newman: [07-26] The Power of Negative Thinking: Quotes Whitney Goodman: "Positivity lingo lacks nuance, compassion and curiosity."

Rick Perlstein: [07-22] They Want Your Child: "How right-wing school panics seek to repeal modernity and progress." Or, more pointedly: "What they're after is crushing the power of their children -- and all of ours -- to choose their own life: to, in other words, acquire the ability to become free." As Perlstein explains, conservative panics over education are a perennial: he cites instances back to 1923, but could have noted the prohibitions against teaching slaves to read and write. The flip side of this fear that liberals are training students to think for themselves is the belief that good, conservative education can train students who will grow up to respect social hierarchies. (Michael B Katz's The Irony of Early School Reform explains how mid-19th century Massachusetts proponents of mandatory universal education sold their program as a way to "socialize" Irish immigrants.) I've personally found that coercive education is as likely to produce rebellion as obedience, but maybe that's just me. One thing it's not capable of doing is stopping the clock.

Jeremy W Peters: [07-29] Fox News, Once Home to Trump, Now Often Ignores Him: It's been more than 100 days since Fox last interviewed Trump. Given that Fox is the real power in Republican politics, this may mean that Rupert Murdoch has decided to move on. However, Fox was cool on Trump early in the 2016 campaign, so I'm reluctant to read much into this.

Jake Pitre: [07-29] The Internet Doesn't Have to Be This Bad. Review of Jonathan Crary: Scorched Earth: Beyond the Digital Age to a Post-Capitalist World.

Mitchell Plitnick: [07-28] AIPAC declares war on any support of Palestinian human rights.

Alexander Sammon: [07-25] It's Time for Public Pharma: Not the worst idea, but better still would be to end drug patents. Development and testing would be funded through public sources (which could be pooled across nations, as the benefits should be shared by all nations), with funding targeted to medical needs, and all information publicly shared. Approved drugs could then be manufactured competitively, with strict limits on marketing.

Jeffrey St Clair: [07-29] Roaming Charges: Tell Tom Joad the News.

Peter Wade: Trump Sides With Russia Over Brittney Griner.

David Wallace-Wells:

Robert Wright: A couple pieces from his archive:


Note that Bill Russell (88) and Nichelle Nichols (89) died this week. Both made indelible impressions on this teenager growing up in 1960s Wichita.

Monday, July 25, 2022

Music Week

Expanded blog post, July archive (in progress).

Tweet: Music Week: 53 albums, 7(+2) A-list,

Music: Current count 38383 [38330] rated (+53), 77 [78] unrated (-1).


New records reviewed this week:

  • Bedouin/DakhaBrakha: The Bedouin Reworks of DakhaBrakha (2022, Human by Default, EP): [sp]: B+(**)
  • Tony Bennett & Lady Gaga: Love for Sale (2021, Columbia/Interscope): [sp]: B+(**)
  • Cyrus Chestnut: My Father's Hands (2021 [2022], HighNote): [cd]: B+(*)
  • Mark De Clive-Lowe & Friends: Freedom: Celebrating the Music of Pharoah Sanders (2022, Soul Bank): [bc]: B+(**)
  • Elucid: I Told Bessie (2022, Backwoodz Studioz): [sp]: B+(**)
  • Yuko Fujiyama/Graham Haynes/Ikue Mori: Quiet Passion (2019 [2022], Intakt): [sp]: B+(**)
  • Vinny Golia/Bernard Santacruz/Cristiano Calcagnile: To Live and Breathe (2017 [2022], Dark Tree): [cd]: A-
  • David Greenberger & the Waldameer Players: Today! (Pel Pel): [cd]: A-
  • Tom Harrell: Oak Tree (2020 [2022], HighNote): [cd]: B+(**)
  • Colin James: Open Road (2021, Stony Plain): [sp]: B+(*)
  • EG Kight: The Trio Sessions (2021, Blue South): [sp]: B+(**)
  • Travis Laplante: Wild Tapestry (2021 [2022], Out of Your Head): [cd]: B+(**)
  • Lisbeth Quartett: Release (2021 [2022], Intakt): [sp]: B+(***)
  • Mammoth Penguins: There's No Fight We Can't Both Win (2019, Fika): [sp]: B+(**)
  • Tumi Mogorosi: Group Theory: Black Music (2021 [2022], Mushroom Hour Half Hour/New Soil) **
  • PJ Morton: Watch the Sun (2022, Morton/Empire): [sp]: B+(**)
  • Gard Nilssen Acoustic Unity: Elastic Wave (2021 [2022], ECM): [sp]: B+(***)
  • Matt North: Bullies in the Backyard (2022, self-released): [sp]: B+(***)
  • Tyshawn Sorey Trio: Mesmerism (2021 [2022], Pi): [bc]: B+(***)
  • Elias Stemeseder: Piano Solo (2021 [2022], Intakt): [sp]: B+(**)
  • Laura Veirs: Found Light (2022, Bella Union): [sp]: B+(**)
  • Adrian Younge & Ali Shaheed Muhammad: Jazz Is Dead 13: Katalyst (2022, Jazz Is Dead): [sp]: B+(*)

Recent reissues, compilations, and vault discoveries:

  • Orchestre Massako: Orchestre Massako (1979-86 [2022], Analog Africa, EP): [bc]: B+(*)
  • Horace Tapscott Quintet: Legacies of Our Grandchildren (1995 [2022], Dark Tree): [cd]: A-
  • The Trypes: Music for Neighbors (1984 [2022], Pravda): [sp]: B+(**)

Old music:

  • Lotte Anker/Craig Taborn/Gerald Cleaver: Triptych (2003 [2005], Leo): [sp]: B+(***)
  • Lotte Anker/Sylvie Courvoisier/Ikue Mori: Alien Huddle (2006 [2009], Intakt): [sp]: B+(**)
  • Marion Brown: Duets (1970-73 [1975], Arista/Freedom): [lp]: B+(*)
  • Eliane Elias: Cross Currents (1987 [1988], Blue Note): [lp]: B+(*)
  • Pierre Favre: Window Steps (1995 [1996], ECM): [sp]: B+(*)
  • Pierre Favre: Saxophones (2003 [2004], Intakt): [sp]: B+(*)
  • Pierre Favre Ensemble: Le Voyage (2010, Intakt): [sp]: B+(**)
  • Pierre Favre: Drums and Dreams (1970-78 [2012], Intakt): [sp]: B+(**)
  • Gabriela Friedli Trio: Started (2010 [2012], Intakt): [sp]: B+(**)
  • David Greenberger/Glenn Jones/Chris Corsano: An Idea in Everything (2013 [2016], Okraïna/Pel Pel): [bc]: A-
  • Barry Guy/Howard Riley/John Stevens/Trevor Watts: Endgame (1979, Japo): [sp]: B+(**)
  • Barry Guy/Marilyn Crispell/Paul Lytton: Odyssey (1999 [2001], Intakt): [sp]: B+(***)
  • Barry Guy/Marilyn Crispell/Paul Lytton: Ithaca (2003 [2004], Intakt): [sp]: A-
  • Michael Jaeger Kerouac: Outdoors (2009 [2010], Intakt): [sp]: B+(**)
  • Michael Jaeger Kerouac: Dance Around in Your Bones (2013, Intakt): [sp]: B+(**)
  • The Jazz Singers (1919-94 [1998], Smithsonian, 5CD): [cd]: B+(**)
  • Hans Koch/Martin Schütz/Marco Käppeli: Accélération (1987 [1988], ECM): [r]: B+(***)
  • Hans Koch: Uluru (1989, Intakt): [sp]: B+(**)
  • Hans Koch/Sephan Wittwer/Martin Schütz/Jacques Demierre/Andreas Marti/Fredy Studer: Chockshut (1991 [1992], Intakt): [sp]: B+(**)
  • Oliver Lake/Christian Weber/Dieter Ulrich: For a Little Dancin' (2009 [2010], Intakt): [sp]: B+(***)
  • Urs Leimgruber/Christy Doran/Bobby Burri/Fredy Studer: OM Willisau (2008 [2010], Intakt): [sp]: B+(***)
  • Les Diaboliques [Irène Schweizer/Maggie Nicols/Joëlle Léandre]: Splitting Image (1994 [1997], Intakt): [sp]: B
  • Ernst-Ludwig Petrowsky/Michael Griener: The Salmon (2005 [2007], Intakt): [sp]: A-
  • Barbara Thompson: Heavenly Bodies (1986, VeraBra): [sp]: B+(*)
  • Barbara Thompson: Songs From the Center of the Earth (1991, Black Sun): [sp]: B+(*)
  • Wildflowers: The New York Loft Jazz Sessions: Complete (1976 [1999], Knitting Factory, 3CD): [cd]: A-


Grade (or other) changes:

  • Tommy Womack: I Thought I Was Fine (2021, Schoolkids): [sp]: [was: B+(***)] A-
  • Tom Zé: Língua Brasileira (2022, Sesc): [sp]: [was: B+(**)] A-


Unpacking: Found in the mail last week:

  • Quentin Baxter Quintet: Art Moves Jazz (BME) [08-12]
  • Cyrus Chestnut: My Father's Hands (HighNote) [05-22]
  • Caleb Wheeler Curtis: Heat Map (Imani) [07-15]
  • Tom Harrell: Oak Tree (HighNote) [05-22]
  • Raymond Byron: Bond Wire Cur (ESP-Disk) [06-17]
  • Charlton Singleton: Crossroads (BME) [08-12]
  • Josh Sinton: Steve Lacy's Book of Practitioners, Vol. 1 "H" (FIP) [08-12]
  • Spinifex: Beats the Plague (Trytone -21)
  • Trio Xolo: In Flower, in Song (577) [08-19]
  • Bo Van De Graaf: Eccentric Music for Audio Hunters (Icdisc -21)

Sunday, July 24, 2022

Speaking of Which

Blog link.

Started to jot down a few links with even fewer comments more than a week ago, and added some more (with longer comments, but not always) over the weekend.

PS: Added link and notes to Jeffrey St Clair piece below.


Andrew Bacevich: [07-14] Imperial Detritus: After the American Century: Cites, and responds to, Daniel Bessner: Empire Burlesque: What comes after the American Century? Both start with Henry Luce's 1941 coinage of "the American Century," from shortly before the US entered WWII. Luce's essay, rooted in his own peculiar history as a child of missionaries growing up in China, has become emblematic of a major shift in American thinking about the world, as initial fretting over German and Japanese encroachments in Africa and Asia would limit American interests gave way to the realization that by winning WWII (and bankrupting the UK and France) the US could have it all (cf. Stephen Wertheim: Tomorrow the World: The Birth of U.S. Global Supremacy). That left the problem of Communist-led national liberation movements, which is what the Cold War was fought against. We can debate how successful it was, and why it wasn't, but 80 years later it's increasingly clear that the U.S. is a spent force, still ominous but incapable of deciding much less imposing its will. Bessner wants to revive the pre-Luce tradition of restraint, citing Washington and JQ Adams as founding "restrainers." (As Wertheim points out, the term "isolationist" was invented as a pejorative for those who still adhered to traditional American norms, which favored "open door" trade over the colonial prerogatives claimed by European imperial powers. "Isolationists" didn't want to hide from the world; they simply wanted to deal with the world on its own terms, not through the barrel of a gun.)

Dean Baker:

Zack Beauchamp: [07-23] CPAC goes to Israel: Well, Ben Shapiro anyway. "Who is really learning from whom?" The far-right loves Israel's ethnocracy, its cruel repression of the Palestinians, and its quasi-random violence against its neighbors (e.g., [07-21] Israeli Airstrikes Kill Five Syrian Soldiers Near Damascus), and Israelis like American money with no strings attached and veto protection in the UN, but while Israel has picked up some of the artifacts of neoliberalism, no one's in a big hurry to dismantle their welfare state. So it's hard to see someone like Shapiro as doing anything more than stroking their egos. Speaking of which, J.D. Vance took his Ohio Senate campaign to Israel: [07-24] Inside the GOP Freakout Over JD Vance's Senate Campaign.

Bonnie S Benwick: [07-24] Diana Kennedy, cookbook author who promoted Mexican cuisine, dies at 99. I'm not much for Mexican cuisine, but when I decided to buy a serious book on the subject, I picked out Kennedy's The Art of Mexican Cooking.

Matthew Cappucci: [07-22] Why the Dust Bowl was hotter than this heat wave, despite global warming. I've long known that a lot of high temperature records here in Wichita were set in 1936. We've had a couple years in the last 20 that have come close. In 2011, we had 53 days of 100F+. In 2012, we had 36, and in 2000, we had 33. The median since 2000 is 9. We've had 11 through July 23, so we're above average, but not on a record-setting pace. (Forecast is for 100F+ the next 4 days, which will make it 15.) The big difference between now and the 1930s is that so far we've been spared the drought that's struck most points further west -- although most climate models point to a dryer Kansas, which combined with the depletion of the Ogalalla Aquifer could turn western Kansas back into a dust bowl. The article explains "why the Dust Bowl doesn't disprove climate change," lest you be tempted to draw that inference.

David Dayen: [07-18] The Impossible, Inevitable Survival of the Trump Tax Cuts: "How Democrats went from unanimous opposition to an unpopular policy to doing nothing about it in the five years since it became law."

Eleanor Eagan: [07-20] Democrats Need to Fight for a Government That Works: Given that Republicans are always out to cripple government (at least the part that actually works for people), the Democrats' future depends on two things: convincing people that the government can be a blessing, and that Democrats are the only ones who can run government for the benefit of the people. I wouldn't define this, as the author does, strictly on the basis of money appropriated, but that may suffice as a first approximation. Meanwhile, Ryan Cooper: [07-20] Republicans Have Created a Pro-Life Dystopia.

Catie Edmondson: [07-14] Republicans Oppose Measure to Root Out White Supremacy in the Military.

Henry Giroux: [07-22] The Nazification of American Education: Inflammatory title, but then you see the picture of Ron DeSantis and remember, oh yeah, him: indeed, the apple doesn't fall far from the tree. Then comes a Theodor Adorno quote from 1959: "I consider the survival of National Socialism within democracy to be potentially more menacing than the survival of fascist tendencies against democracy." Of course, DeSantis doesn't call his program "nazification." His term is "patriotic education." He views the schools first and foremost as "propaganda factories" (Giroux's apt term). Second half of the article reviews how Hitler changed education in Nazi Germany. See if you can spot the common threads.

Mark Hannah: [07-18] It's time for a US push to end the war in Ukraine: Well, it's way past time, but the situation is bad and only going to get worse.

Michael Holtz: [07-22] Harvesting Wheat in Drought-Parched Kansas. One caveat here is that Wichita, which is the center of the state's wheat belt, we're actually about +3 inches of rain above normal this year. Still, the U.S. Drought Monitor map shows us "D0 (Abnormally Dry)." There is more severe drought in western Kansas, but without irrigation not much wheat is grown there.

Sarah Jones:

Fred Kaplan: [07-10] Boris Johnson Diminished Britain on the World Stage: "He promised to make the UK great again. Instead, he left it as just another US sidekick." One thing about former empires is how they preserve the conceit that they should still exercise sway over their former dominions, as if the countries they plundered still owe them deference. You see this in places like Iran and Turkey. You see this with France and Russia poking their noses into former colonies. You see this in Japan and Germany, even though they've explicitly renounced empire-building. You saw this in fascist Italy and Germany, even though the empires they aimed to revive were more than a thousand years removed. But no country exceeds Britain for self-delusion. Ever since Churchill, British leaders seem convinced that they haven't lost an empire, just conned the US into doing their heavy lifting.

Ed Kilgore:

Meryl Kornfield: [07-22] Rio Grande runs dry in Albuquerque for the first time in 40 years.

Kelly McClure: [07-24] Gaetz on ugly women and abortion rights: "The people are just disgusting." In a similar vein, [07-22] Ted Cruz says his pronoun is "kiss my ass".

Ian Millhiser: [07-21] The Supreme Court just let a Trump judge seize control of ICE, at least for now: "Apparently President Biden isn't in charge of the executive branch anymore." This is very bad.

Sara Morrison: [07-22] Amazon wants to be your doctor now, too: "The e-commerce giant is buying One Medical for $4 billion."

Steven Mufson: [07-12] Republicans threaten Wall Street over climate positions.

Olivia Nuzzi: [07-14] Donald Trump on 2024: 'I've Already Made That Decision': "The only question left in the former president's mind is when he'll announce."

Evan Osnos: [07-18] The Haves and the Have-Yachts.

Fintan O'Toole: [07-08] Boris Johnson has vandalised the political architecture of Britain, Ireland and Europe.

Kasha Patel: [07-12] Second glacier avalanche in a week shows dangers of a warming climate. Meanwhile: [07-13] Temperatures soar to 115 in Europe as heat wave expands. Also: [07-14] Unforgiving heat wave in Texas and Southern Plains to worsen next week.

Yumna Patel: [07-23] Israeli Supreme Court rules citizens can be stripped of status for 'breach of loyalty'.

Dave Philipps: [07-14] With Few Able and Fewer Willing, US Military Can't Find Recruits: "Fighting headwinds from the pandemic, the tight labor market and demographic shifts, the armed forces may fall further short of enlistment quotas this year than they have in decades."

Charles P Pierce: [07-22] The Secret of the Jan. 6 Hearings Is That None of It Changes What the GOP Is Now: "Or what it's been for a very long time now." The hearings often play like a lifeline to sane Republicans, but real Republicans know that everyone coöperating with the Committee and/or expressing reservations about Trump is traitorous RINO scum.

John Quiggin:

Brian Resnick: [07-12] Why the new James Webb Space Telescope images are such a big deal. Also: Farhad Manjoo: [07-14] The Web Telescope Restored (Some of) My Faith in Humanity.

Ingrid Robeyns: [07-04] How to write a good public philosophy book. Author is working on one provisionally titled Limitarianism: The Case Against Extreme Wealth.

Bernie Sanders: [07-14] The Great Microchip Corporate Giveaway.

Jonathan Schell: [07-24] A Niagara Falls of Post-9/11 Violence: Reprint, with new introduction by Tom Engelhardt, of a 2014 post, which itself was a posthumous reprint of a piece from Schell's 2003 book, The Unconquerable World. I read the book when it first came out, and found it somewhat wanting: a great (indeed, prophetic) title, but the book itself got lost in arcane discussions of sovereignty, and failed to detail the many reasons the world is unconquerable. Still, the analogy to 1914 is again worth pondering. That war officially started with Austria-Hungary invading Serbia, supposedly in response to the assassination of its Archduke, but the key decision that made the war possible, and that caused it to spread so rapidly across Europe, was the "blank check" Germany incited Austria-Hungary with. So far, Biden has stopped short of acceding to Zelensky's demand for his own "blank check," but he's coming close (see White House Approves 16th Weapons Transfer to Ukraine, Total Security Aid Now Over $8 Billion; meanwhile, the recipient of such largesse is more focused on keeping the arms coming than on ending the war: Zelensky Rejects Any Ceasefire With Russia).

Robert J Shapiro: [07-21] The Case for Bill Clinton's Economic Record: "No, progressives, the former president wasn't some neoliberal corporatist helping the rich. Clinton delivered the strongest economy of the past half century and helped working families." Second bit is mostly true, but by weakening unions (remember NAFTA? Shapiro doesn't) and unraveling the safety net (remember "welfare reform"?) the gains that working families made in the late 1990s were easily wiped out in the Bush recessions. The first bit is bullshit. The whole New Democrat concept was the conceit that they could grow the economy more than Republicans, and in doing so they could make the rich even more so. And they were right: the rich never had it so good as under Clinton. He made them tons of money, and left a legacy -- Greenspan, ending Carter-Glass, tax-exempting internet commerce -- that continued to make them money (especially after the Bush tax cuts let them keep more of it). Neoliberalism may not be the ideal term to describe what Clinton did, but what he did was very much within the broader neoliberal game plan. And the epithet sticks because it reminds us that liberals like Clinton (and Obama) did as much to rig the economy for the rich as their Republican opponents ever did.

Alex Shephard: [07-22] The Right-Wing Media Celebrated Biden's Covid Diagnosis. Also: Abdul El-Sayed: [07-21] Biden's Covid Diagnosis and the GOP's Endless Cynicism. By the way, Covid cases are up 19% over 14 days, (129,136), and deaths are up 38% (444).

Katie Shepherd: [07-14] Texas sues Biden administration for requiring abortions in medical emergencies. I read an op-ed last week about how we should stop talking about the possibility that abortion bans could interfere with women getting treatment for ectopic pregnancies and miscarriages, assuring us that none of the bans would interfere with life-saving medical care. Biden tried to codify that reassurance in an executive order. So Texas is suing Biden, in a case that will ultimately be decided by the Federalist Society judges. Panic now?

Jeffrey St Clair: [07-22] Roaming Charges: The Sky Is Frying: If you only follow one link here, make it this one. The introduction on global warming is superb (at least until he veers off with "this was the week Joe Manchin performed a late-term abortion on the fetal remains of Biden's already grossly inadequate climate plan"). After he gets to other subjects, note this: "In 2008, before the Citizens United ruling (another Alito opinion), billionaires contributed $31 million to federal political campaigns. In 2020, billionaires contributed $1.2 billion." Can we really claim to have "freedom of speech" when it's impossible to get a word heard over the megaphones of billionaires? PS: I missed this one from the previous week: Roaming Charges: The Screams of the Children Have Been Edited Out. Quite a bit there on the 10-year-old rape victim who had to go out of Ohio to get an abortion. Much more, of course. One item I was struck by was: "The state of Arizona spends only 6% of its welfare budget on helping poor families, and 61% of it on harassing and punishing poor families through Child Protective Services." Arizona also has a law that "requires 'civilian' oversight boards to be composed of 100% police or former police." Then there's this chart on "Life expectancy vs. health expenditure." Caption: "The Genius of the American Health Care System: Spending more to die younger."

Michael Stavola: [09-21] Toddler grabs gun and shoots self in the leg in east Wichita. Also (from 2017): Boy, 5, shoots himself to death, the KC area's 11th such shooting since 2013. Isn't the NRA mantra "if guns were outlawed, only outlaws would have guns"? Wouldn't that be better?

Matt Stieb: [07-12] John Bolton Admitted on National TV That He Helped Plan Coups. Just none that were even temporarily successful.

Veronica Stracqualursi: [07-22] Newsom signs California gun bill modeled after Texas abortion law: I can't deny that the same idea occurred to me moments after I read about the Texas law, but after a bit of reflection I realized that's a dumb idea. Note that the ACLU is already on the case.

Lena H Sun/Mark Johnson: [07-21] Unvaccinated man in Rockland County, NY, diagnosed with polio: "This is the first US case of polio in nearly a decade." Meanwhile: WHO declares monkeypox a global health emergency as infections soar.

David Weigel: [07-23] On the campaign trail, many Republicans talk of violence. Shortly after adding this, I ran across an à propos meme which said: "Stay away from people who act like a victim in a problem they created."

Philip Weiss:


Tweet from Barbara Res on the late Ivana Trump:

I saw Trump humiliate Ivana. I listened to him put her down in front of others, once to the point of tears. I listened to him complaining about her, to the extent of cursing her out. In my opinion, of course, he raped her. I watched Ivana fall apart in her office. I liked her.

Daily Log

Greg Magarian post on Facebook:

I recently attended an academic conference on the Second Amendment. I presented a draft of the Introduction to a book I'm writing about clashes and interactions between free speech and gun rights. The Introduction makes clear that the book will take a strong position against Second Amendment rights. I'm at an early stage, and when I distributed my draft, I noted several thorny structural issues that I needed help with.

The conference included participants with a diverse range of views. Most of the people who offered comments on my draft were gun rights advocates. Here's the high-level scholarly feedback they gave me:

-- Kyle Rittenhouse (whose story I use to frame the interaction between political protest and gun violence) was the real victim in Kenosha.

-- The cops who killed Breonna Taylor (whose story I mention in framing the Rittenhouse frame) were justified.

-- Gun rights advocates are thoughtful and reasonable, and my suggestion that a substantial number of them are comfortable with political violence is scurrilous. (The commenter, alas, didn't use the word "scurrilous.") However . . .

-- My dismissing the likelihood that our armed populace could legitimately and successfully identify and overthrow a tyrannical U.S. government in the 21st century is absurd.

From this dubious experience I take two apt lessons -- one about speech and the other about guns:

(1) Presenting your work to people who adamantly oppose your worldview isn't nearly as useful as free speech truisms hold, because generally those people just find as many ways as the schedule permits to tell you that they adamantly oppose your worldview, which you already knew.

(2) Gun rights advocates are entitled snowflakes who think the world owes them respect, by which they mean unquestioning solicitude.

(I know -- these "lessons" should have been obvious to me already. I'm slow sometimes.)

Tuesday, July 12, 2022

Daily Log

After catching up with a couple recent releases on Intakt, I wondered what else I had missed. I copied off their Bandcamp listing, and compared it to my database. (Unfortunately, the Bandcamp is of limited value, as they only make public a small slice of the music on each album. But most of their records can be streamed on Napster and/or Spotify, so having a list could be useful. These are (at the moment) unheard albums (grades added when I play one; -- indicates not found, - found but incomplete):

  • Melinda Nadj Abonji/Balts Nill: Verhören (2014)
  • Lotte Anker/Sylvie Courvoisier/Ikue Mori: Alien Huddle (2006 [2009]) [**]
  • Luciano Biondini/Michel Godard/Lucas Niggli: Mavì (2013) --
  • Eugene Chadbourne: Strings (1992 [1993])
  • Eugene Chadbourne: Songs (1993)
  • Eugene Chadbourne: Hellington County: The Hellingtunes (1997)
  • Eugene Chadbourne: End to Slavery (1996 [19997])
  • Lindsay Cooper: Sahara Dust (1992 [1993])
  • Cosa Brava [Fred Frith]: Ragged Atlas (2008 [2010])
  • Cosa Brava [Fred Frith]: The Letter (2011 [2012])
  • Sylvie Courvoisier/Jacques Demierre: Deux Pianos (2000)
  • Sylvie Courvoisier/Joëlle Léandre/Susie Ibarra: Passaggio (2001 [2002])
  • Sylvie Courvoisier: Lonelyville (2006 [2007])
  • Sylvie Courvoisier-Mark Feldman Quartet: To Fly to Steal (2009 [2010])
  • Sylvie Courvoisier-Mark Feldman Quartet: Hôtel du Nord (2011)
  • Sylvie Courvoisier-Mark Feldman Duo: Live at Théâtre Vidy-Lausanne (2012 [2013])
  • Stephan Crump/Steve Lehman: Kaleidoscope and Collage (2011)
  • Andrew Cyrille/Anthony Braxton: Duo Palindrome 2002: Volume 1 (2002 [2004])
  • Andrew Cyrille/Anthony Braxton: Duo Palindrome 2002: Volume 2 (2002 [2004])
  • Jacques Demierre/Barry Guy/Lucas Niggli: Brainforest (2004 [2005])
  • Die Enttäuschung: Die Enttäuschung 5 (2009) --
  • Dietmar Diesner/Sven-Åke Johansson: Konsumdelikatessware (1990)
  • Doppelmoppel [Conrad Bauer/Johannes Bauer/Uwe Kropinski/Joe Sachse]: Outside This Area (2007 [2008])
  • Daniel Erdmann/Samuel Rohrer: How to Catch a Cloud (2011)
  • Pierre Favre: Saxophones (2003 [2004]) [*]
  • Pierre Favre/Samuel Blaser: Vol à Voile (2009 [2010])
  • Pierre Favre/Philipp Schaufelberger: Albatros (2009 [2010]
  • Pierre Favre Ensemble: Le Voyage (2010) [**]
  • Pierre Favre: Drums and Dreams (2012) [**]
  • Xu Fengxia/Lucas Niggli: Black Lotos (2007 [2009])
  • Gabriela Friedli/Co Streiff/Jan Schlegel/Dieter Ulrich: This Side Up (2008 [2009])
  • Gabriela Friedli Trio: Started (2010 [2012]) [**]
  • Fred Frith/Chris Brown: Cutter Heads (2002-04 [2007])
  • Fred Frith and Arte Quartett: Still Urban (2008 [2009])
  • Fred Frith and Arte Quartett: The Big Picture (2008 [2009])
  • Fred Frith: Clearing Customs (2011)
  • Fred Frith/Barry Guy: Backscatter Bright Blue (2007 [2014])
  • Xavier Garcia/Gianni Gebbia/Nils Wogram: Pronto! (2001 [2002])
  • Ulrich Gumpert/Gunter Baby Sommer: Das Donnernde Leben (2009)
  • Barry Guy/Anthony Braxton/The London Jazz Composers' Orchestra: Zurich Concerts (1987 [1988], 2CD)
  • Barry Guy & the London Jazz Composers Orchestra: Harmos (1989)
  • Barry Guy & the London Jazz Composers Orchestra: Double Trouble (1989 [1990])
  • Barry Guy/The London Jazz Composers Orchestra: Portraits (1993 [1994])
  • Barry Guy/London Jazz Composers Orchestra: Double Trouble Two (1995 [1998])
  • Barry Guy/Marilyn Crispell/Paul Lytton: Odyssey (1999 [2001])
  • Barry Guy New Orchestra: Iscape-Tableaux (2000 [2001])
  • Barry Guy/Marilyn Crispell/Paul Lytton: Ithaca (2003 [2004])
  • Barry Guy/London Jazz Composers Orchestra: Studio II, Stringer (1980-81 [2006])
  • Barry Guy: Portrait ([2007], 2CD)
  • Wädi Gysi & Hans Reichel: Show Down: In Zürich and ? (1991)
  • Hans Hassler Akkordeon: Sehr Schnee Sehr Wald Sehr (2007 [2009])
  • Maya Homburger/Barry Guy: Tales of Enlightenment (2011 [2012])
  • Michael Jaeger Kerouac: Outdoors (2009 [2010]) [**]
  • Michael Jaeger Kerouac: Dance Around in Your Bones (2013) [**]
  • Hans Koch: Uluru (1989) [**]
  • Hans Koch/Stephan Wittwer/Martin Schütz/Jacques Demierre/Andreas Marti/Fredy Studer: Chockshut (1991 [1992]) [**]
  • Hans Koch/Martin Schütz/Fredy Studer & Christian Uetz: Hardcore Chambermusic (1994 [1995])
  • Hans Koch/Martin Schütz/Fredy Studer & Musicos Cubanos: Fidel (1999)
  • Hans Koch/Martin Schütz/Fredy Studer Plus DJ M. Sing and DJ I-Sound: Roots and Wires (1998 [2000])
  • Hans Koch/Martin Schütz/Fredy Studer & Christian Uetz: Live im Schiffbau (2000 [2002])
  • Hans Koch: London Duos and Trios (2000 [2004])
  • Hans Koch/Martin Schütz/Fredy Studer: Life Tied (2001-02 [2004])
  • Hans Koch/Martin Schütz/Fredy Studer: Tales From 30 Unintentional Nights (2005 [2006])
  • Oliver Lake/ChristianWeber/Dieter Ulrich: For a Little Dancin' (2009 [2010])
  • Ingrid Laubrock: Sleepthief (2007 [2009])
  • Ingrid Laubrock/Mary Halvorson/John Hébert/Tom Rainey/Kris Davis: Ingrid Laubrock Anti-House (2010)
  • Ingrid Laubrock Sleepthief: The Madness of Crowds (2011)
  • Root Leeb/Xu Fengxia: So Stark (2012)
  • Urs Leimgruber/Christy Doran/Bobby Durri/Fredy Studer: OM Willisau (2008 [2010]) [***]
  • Les Diaboliques [Irène Schweizer/Maggie Nicols/Joëlle Léandre]: Splitting Image (1994 [1997]) [B]
  • Les Diaboliques [Irène Schweizer/Maggie Nicols/Joëlle Léandre]: Live at the Rhinefalls (1997 [2000])
  • Les Diaboliques [Irène Schweizer/Maggie Nicols/Joëlle Léandre]: Jubilee Concert (2009)
  • Werner Lüdi: Ki (1996 [1998])
  • Christian Marclay/Elliott Sharp: High Noon (2000)
  • Tommy Meier: Root Down (2004-07 [2008])
  • Tommy Meier Root Down: The Master and the Rain (2007-09 [2010])
  • Phil Minton/Veryan Weston: Ways Out East, Ways Out West (1999-2002 [2005])
  • Frank Möbus/Rudi Mahall/Oliver Steidle: Der Rote Bereich 7 (2008-09 [2010])
  • Thurston Moore/William Winant/Tom Surgal: Lost to the City: Noise to Nowhere (1997 [2000])
  • David Moss and Direct Sound: Five Voices (1989)
  • David Moss: My Favorite Things (1991)
  • David Moss Dense Band: Texture Time (1994)
  • David Moss: Time Stories (1997-98 [1999])
  • David Moss: Vocal Village Project: Live at the Rote Fabrik (1998 [2002])
  • Lucas Niggli/Sylvie Courvoisier: Lavin (1999)
  • Lucas Niggli Zoom: Spawn of Speed (2000 [2001])
  • Lucas Niggli Big Zoom: Big Ball (2002 [2003])
  • Lucas Niggli Zoom Ensemble: Sweat (2003 [2004])
  • Lucas Niggli Big Zoom: Celebrate Diversity (2006)
  • Lucas Niggli Zoom Meets Arte Quartett: Crash Cruise (2006 [2007])
  • Lucas Niggli Drum Quartet: Beat Bag Bohemia (2007 [2008])
  • Lucas Niggli Big Zoom: Polisation (2010)
  • Objets Trouvés: Fragile (2003 [2005]) -
  • Objets Trouvés: Fresh Juice (2011 [2013]) --
  • Larry Ochs/Joan Jeanrenaud/Miya Masaoka: Fly Fly Fly (2001-02 [2004])
  • Palinckx: Border: Live in Zürich (1995 [1996])
  • Evan Parker/Matthew Wright: Crepuscle in Nickelsdorf (2017 [2019])
  • Ernest-Ludwig Petrowsky/Michael Griener: The Salmon (2005 [2009]) [A-]
  • Simon Picard/Paul Rogers/Tony Marsh: News From the North (1993)
  • Jon Rose: Violin Music in the Age of Shopping (1994 [1995])
  • Sten Sandell Trio: Oval (2005 [2007])
  • Julian Sartorius: Zatter (2014)
  • Andreas Schaerer/Lucas Niggli: Arcanum (2014)
  • Rafik Schami/Günter Baby Sommer: Abbara: Von Damaskus Nach Dresden (2007 [2008])
  • Irène Schweizer/George Lewis/Maggie Nicols/Joëlle Léandre/Günter Sommer: The Storming of the Winter Palace (1986 [1988])
  • Elliott Sharp + Guitarists: 'Dyners Club (1993 [1994])
  • Elliott Sharp/Melvin Gibbs/Lance Carter: Raw Meet (2003 [2004])
  • Elliott Sharp: Concert in Dachau (2009)
  • Elliott Sharp/Carbon: Void Coordinates (2009 [2010])
  • Elliott Sharp: The Age of Carbon (1984-91 [2011], 3CD)
  • Elliott Sharp/Melvin Gibbs/Lucas Niggli: Crossing the Waters (2012 [2014])
  • Dorothea Schürch: Interni Pensieri (1997)
  • Martin Schütz/Hans Koch: Approximations (1990 [1991])
  • Slawterhaus [Dietmar Diesner/Jon Rose/Johannes Bauer/Peter Hollinger]: Monumental (1993)
  • Wadada Leo Smith/Günter Baby Sommer: Wisdom in Time (2006 [20087])
  • Günter Sommer: Hörmusik III: Sächsische Schatulle (1988 [1993])
  • Gunter Baby Sommer/Saving Yannatou/Floros Floridis/Evgenios Voulgaris/Spilios Kastanis: Songs for Kommeno (2011-12 [2012])
  • Gunter Baby Sommer: Dedications (2013)
  • Co Streiff Sextet: Qattara (2002 [2003])
  • Co Streiff Sextet: Loops, Holes & Angles (2006 [2007])
  • Co Streiff-Russ Johnson Quartet: In Circles (2011)
  • Aki Takase/Alexander von Schlippenbach: Iron Wedding: Piano Duets (2008 [2009])
  • Aki Takase/Rudi Mahall: Everygreen (2008 [2009])
  • Saadet Türköz: Marmara Sea (1998 [1999])
  • Urs Voerkel: Propinquity Zwischenzeitstück Aria (1997 [1999], 2CD)
  • Priska Walss/Gabriela Friedli: Intervista (2000 [2002])
  • Katharina Weber/Barry Guy/Balts Nill: Games and Improvisations: Hommages à György Kurtàg (2011 [2012])
  • Jürg Wickihalder/Chris Wiesendanger: A Feeling for Someone (2007 [2008])
  • Jürg Wickihalder Overseas Quartet: Furioso (2009)
  • Jürg Wickihalder European Quartet: Jump! (2011)
  • Jürg Wickihalder Orchestra: Narziss Und Echo (2011 [2012])
  • Urs Widmer/Michael Riessler: Das Buch Der Albträume (2010)
  • Stephan Wittwer: World of Strings (1990)
  • Stephan Wittwer/Martin Schütz/Paul Lovens: Choice-Chase (1991-92 [1995])

Monday, July 11, 2022

Music Week

Expanded blog post, July archive (in progress).

Tweet: Music Week: 48 albums, 4 A-list,

Music: Current count 38330 [38282] rated (+48), 78 [78] unrated (+0).

I wrote up a short Speaking of Which, mostly on Friday and Saturday, then on Sunday added a "brain dump" of my latest thinking on the political book I've been thinking about for 20+ years. After I tweeted about it, I got some much appreciated "write that book" feedback, and even a title suggestion (What Is to Be Done, which someone else pointed out was a Tolstoy title -- I'm pretty sure the copyright has run out on it, unless Disney somehow obtained it). Much easier said than done. I'm considering how it might be possible, but I'm pretty pessimistic at the moment. I can plod through routine work like this week's review haul easily enough, but don't seem to have the ability to discipline myself for major projects.

I was also pleased to see one Twitter follower pull a line out to retweet, on the Republican right:

They were corrupt from the start. Trump's only innovation was that he was utterly shameless about it, which came off to his followers as authenticity and candor. The right has always wanted to speak for the freedom to be cruel.

You probably know the story about how the old-line conservatives in Germany appointed Hitler chancellor because they thought they could control him. They couldn't, and Hitler immediately went on a terror spree, in which several of those conservatives were killed. In retrospect, the guy they really wanted wasn't Hitler. It was Trump, a charismatic buffoon who would entertain the riff-raff while he rubber-stamped their agenda. That Trump lacks the verve and cunning to be Hitler may make him less dangerous, but it doesn't make him the better person.

Meanwhile, the other two components of the Nazi takeover are still intact: the rich right-wingers who tried to pick their puppet-leader, and the ordinary folk who so desperately seek a charismatic champion to follow, in vain hope of vanquishing their imagined enemies. The 2024 primary will be an audition for the grim men with the money, but realistically any Republican would carry their water equally well. The real contest will be to see who can stir the most followers, and that's one where Trump will always beat the Romneys and Ryans, and where a real Hitler will beat Trump. The race to the bottom has begun.

By the way, I've started reading Four Threats: The Recurring Crises of American Democracy, by Suzanne Mettler and Robert C Lieberman. It covers six decades when American politics seemed to be going off the rails (1790s, 1850s, 1890s, 1930s, 1970s, 2010s), and discerns four recurrent threats that appear in many of those crises: political polarization, "who belongs?" (who can or should vote or count), economic inequality, and executive aggrandizement. The time framework has a slightly too pat 40-year periodicity -- although as I noted, the 1990s can be viewed as the revolution that didn't succeed, although it still had repercussions -- and I find the framing of the 1930s troubling (maybe the 1970s also, but the resolution there was clearly for Reagan). As for the threats, some are more like causes, others like consequences, and "executive aggrandizement" is mostly a side effect of complexity (unless it means something else, like war, which is widely, though perhaps wrongly, viewed as a unifying force). So I have reservations, but it is obviously relevant to my book.


I expected the rated count to slip this week, and it did a bit, but recovered when Clifford Ocheltree recommended some blues albums, then pointed out that he got many of his picks from Living Blues annual charts, like this one for 2021. I like classic blues as much as anyone, but I'm not easily impressed by newcomers, so I tend to miss them. Blues is still a category at DownBeat, so I often don't even hear about blues albums until they turn up in their Critics Poll, by which point I find myself having heard only 10-20% of the nominees. I will note that from this particular list, I already had a couple albums listed:

  1. Selwyn Birchwood: Living in a Burning House (Alligator) [*]
  2. Sue Foley: Pinky's Blues (Stony Plain) [A-]
  3. GA-20: GA-20 Does Hound Dog Taylor: Try It . . . You Might Like It! (Karma Chief/Alligator) [**]
  4. Crystal Thomas: Now Dig This! (Dialtone) [***]
  5. Carolyn Wonderland: Tempting Fate (Alligator) [**]
  6. New Moon Jelly Roll Freedom Rockers: Volume 2 (2007, Stony Plain) [**]
  7. Robert Finley: Sharecropper's Son (Easy Eye Sound) [***]
  8. Maria Muldaur With Tuba Skinny: Let's Get Happy Together (Stony Plain) [A-]
  9. Rev. Peyton's Big Damn Band: Dance Songs for Hard Times (Family Owned) [A-]
  10. Ghalia Volt: One Woman Band (Ruf) [**]
  11. The Black Keys: Delta Kream (Nonesuch) [**]

I voted for the Muldaur album in the DownBeat poll. I've also rated 2021 blues albums not on this list (more than I would have expected; I didn't keep stats or the nominee list this year, as I have done some while back):

  • Eric Bibb: Dear America (Provogue) [**]
  • Big Chief Monk Boudreux: Bloodstains & Teardrops (Whiskey Bayou) [*]
  • Cedric Burnside: I Be Trying (Single Lock) [**]
  • Steve Cropper: Fire It Up (Provogue) [**]
  • Corey Harris: Insurrection Blues (CRS) [**]
  • Queen Esther: Gild the Black Lily (EL) [A-]

I've almost completely switched over to Spotify this week from Napster. Main reason is I still get a lot of hangs and interruptions from Napster, plus their new interface makes it no easier to browse than Spotify, and maybe a bit worse (which is pretty bad). I went to Napster six times below, especially for the Neil Young album. More disturbing are reports of Napster getting into crypto, which I regard as a terminal mark of stupidity if not (yet) much worse.

I had to deal with a "denial of service" attack at the Robert Christgau website last week. As a result, most people saw "out of resource" errors for about 12 hours. They exploited a security hole I was aware of but had been slow to fix. I've plugged the most obvious one, but still have more programming to do to clean up the rest. Meanwhile, I'm monitoring the situation, and blocking IP addresses that look malicious. I sent out a more detailed explanation to the tech mail list.

Following up, I took a look at several nagging problems with my own server. It's mostly been a slow and painstaking learning process, with one issue resolved and another I may just continue to live with.

Thought I was making some progress on the unrated count, but that was wiped out by an unusually large mail haul. Still, I've found a few things I've been wondering about, so I'll get to them next week.


New records reviewed this week:

  • Caterina Barbieri: Spirit Exit (2022, Light-Years): [sp]: B+(**)
  • Sarah Bernstein: Veer Quartet (2022, New Focus): [cd]: B [09-02]
  • Burna Boy: Love, Damini (2022, Atlantic): [sp]: B+(**)
  • Tia Carroll: You Gotta Have It (2021, Little Village Foundation): [sp]: B+(**)
  • Columbia Icefield: Ancient Songs of Burlap Heroes (2021 [2022], Pyroclastic): [cd]: B+(**) [07-29]
  • Bob Corritore & Friends: Spider in My Stew (2021, SWMAF/VizzTone): [sp]: B+(**)
  • Guy Davis: Be Ready When I Call You (2021, M.C.): [sp]: B+(***)
  • Randal Despommier: A Midsummer Odyssey (2021 [2022], Sunnyside): [cd]: B+(***) [07-15]
  • Sonny Green: Found! One Soul Singer (2020, Little Village Foundation): [r]: B+(***)
  • Gwenno: Tresor (2022, Heavenly): [r]: B+(**)
  • Joshua Hedley: Neon Blue (2022, New West): [sp]: B+(**)
  • Christone Kingfish Ingram: 662 (2021, Alligator): [sp]: B+(*)
  • Eva Kess: Inter-Musical Love Letter (2021 [2022], Unit): [cd]: B+(*) [07-22]
  • Kirk Knuffke Trio: Gravity Without Airs (2022, Tao Forms, 2CD): [r]: A-
  • Joy Lapps: Girl in the Yard (2022, self-released): [cd]: B+(**)
  • Veronica Lewis: You Ain't Unlucky (2021, Blue Heart): [sp]: B+(***)
  • Yaroslav Likhachev Quartet: Occasional Sketches (2021 [2022], Clean Feed): [bc]: B+(***)
  • Janiva Magness: Hard to Kill (2022, Fathead): [sp]: B
  • Metric: Formentera (Metric Music International): [sp]: B+(**)
  • John Minnock: Simplicity (2022, Dot Time): [cd]: B+(*)
  • Moor Mother: Jazz Codes (2022, Anti-): [sp]: A-
  • Ian Noe: River Fools & Mountain Saints (2022, Thirty Tigers): [sp]: A-
  • North Mississippi Allstars: Set Sail (2022, New West): [sp]: B+(*)
  • Ol' Savannah: They Lie in Wait (2022, Anticapital): [bc]: B+(**)
  • Katy J Pearson: Sound of the Morning (2022, Heavenly): [sp]: B+(*)
  • John Primer & Bob Corritore: The Gypsy Woman Told Me (2020, SWMAF/VizzTone): [r]: A-
  • The Duke Robillard Band: They Called It Rhythm & Blues (2022, Stoney Plain): [sp]: B+(**)
  • Curtis Salgado: Damage Control (2021, Alligator): [sp]: B+(*)
  • Space Quartet: Freedom of Tomorrow (2019-21 [2022], Clean Feed): [bc]: B+(**)
  • Ziv Taubenfeld's Full Sun: Out of the Beast Came Honey (2020 [2022], Clean Feed): [bc]: B+(**)
  • Joanne Shaw Taylor: Blues From the Heart: Live (2022, KTBA): [sp]: B+(*)
  • There Be Monsters: Rubikon (2021 [2022], Klopotec): [bc]: B+(*)
  • Toro Y Moi: Mahal (2022, Dead Oceans): [sp]: B
  • Viagra Boys: Cave World (2022, Year0001): [sp]: B+(*)
  • Wee Willie Walker and the Anthony Paule Soul Orchestra: Not in My Lifetime (2021, Blue Dot): [sp]: B+(***)
  • Steve Washington: Just a Matter of Time (2020, JSP): [sp]: B+(**)
  • Hank Williams Jr.: Rich White Honky Blues (2022, Easy Eye Sound): [sp]: B+(***)
  • Wu-Lu: Loggerhead (2022, Warp): [sp]: B+(*)
  • Zola Jesus: Arkhon (2022, Sacred Bones): [sp]: B+(**)

Recent reissues, compilations, and vault discoveries:

  • Bob Corritore & Friends: Down Home Blues Revue (1995-2012 [2022], SWMAF/VizzTone): [sp]: B+(**)
  • Bob Dowe: Build Me Up (1973-78 [2021], Trojan-Sanctuary): [sp]: B+(**)
  • Madonna: Finally Enough Love (1982-2019 [2022], Warner): [r]: B+(***)
  • The Melodians: Pre-Meditation (1968-78 [2021], Trojan/Sanctuary): [sp]: B+(***)
  • Bob Dowe/The Melodians: Build Me Up/Pre-Meditation (1968-78, Doctor Bird, 2CD): [sp]: B+(***)
  • Orchestre Volta-Jazz: Air Volta (1974-77 [2022], Numero Group): [sp]: B+(**)
  • Neil Young With Crazy Horse: Toast (2001 [2022], Reprise): [r]: B+(**)

Old music:

  • Francis Bebey: Nandola/With Love: Works: 1963-1994 (1963-94 [1995], Original Music): [cd]: B+(***)
  • Sathima Bea Benjamin: Memories and Dreams (1983 [1986], Ekapa/Blackhawk): [lp]: B+(***)
  • Jack DeJohnette's Special Edition: Audio-Visualscapes (1988, Impulse): [cd]: B-
  • Paul Rutherford/Derek Bailey/Barry Guy: ISKRA 1903: Chapter One (1970-72 [2000], Emanem, 3CD): [cd]: B+(***)


Unpacking: Found in the mail last week:

  • Dan Ex Machina: My Wife (2020, self-released)
  • Dan Ex Machina: Bail Shag (2021, self-released, EP)
  • Dan Ex Machina: All Is Ours, Nothing Is Theirs (self-released)
  • Do'a: Higher Grounds (Outside In Music) [07-15]
  • Vinny Golia/Bernard Santacruz/Cristiano Calcagnile: To Live and Breathe (Dark Tree) [06-17]
  • David Greenberger & the Waldameer Players: Today! (Pel Pel) [07-22]
  • Geoffrey Keezer & Friends: Playdate (MarKeez) [08-12]
  • Frank Kimbrough: 2003-2006: Lullabluebye/Play (Palmetto, 2CD) [08-12]
  • Travis Laplante: Wild Tapestry (Out of Your Head) [05-27]
  • Joy Lapps: Girl in the Yard (self-released) [078-08]
  • John Minnock: Simplicity (Dot Time) [05-20]
  • Horace Tapscott Quintet: Legacies of Our Grandchildren (1995, Dark Tree) [06-17]
  • Walt Weiskopf European Quartet: Diamonds and Other Jewels (AMM) [08-19]

Sunday, July 10, 2022

Speaking of Which

Blog link.

Just a few scattered links this week, then I spent a whole day writing an afterword that tripled the length.

One small note from Twitter, where Marc Masters created a meme from three Kathleen Parker headlines:

  • Calm down. We'll be fine no matter who wins. [2016, picture of Trump and Clinton debate]
  • Calm down. Roe v. Wade isn't going anywhere. [July 3, 2018]
  • How could so many have missed what is now so obvious? [July 8, 2022]

Back during WWII, the OSS (the predecessor of the CIA), came up with a term to describe American leftists who warned about the growing threat of Nazi Germany, some of whom were so bothered they volunteered to fight for Spain against Franco and his German and Italian allies. They were called "premature anti-fascists," as if sensible people should hold up and wait until some line-crossing moment when anti-fascism suddenly became fashionable. I always thought that the earlier people recognized problems, the better, but Parker clearly isn't that perceptive. So how come she's a widely syndicated columnist?


Zack Beauchamp: [07-06] How conservatism conquered America -- and corrupted itself: Reviews three books, but the author seems to be working toward a book of his own. The books are: Matthew Rose, A World After Liberalism; Matthew Continetti, The Right; and Tim Miller, Why We Did It. The problem with Rose's illiberal "thinkers" is that hardly anyone on the right understands them, or cares about maintaining ideological continuity between Nazis and today's Republicans. To the extent that people on the right have any ideology, it's closer to the "classic liberalism" of Hayek, Rand and Koch than the völkish romance of Spengler. It's true that the right never had a problem with libertinage-for-us and the-jackboot-for-you. But they didn't become corrupt with Trump. They were corrupt from the start. Trump's only innovation was that he was utterly shameless about it, which came off to his followers as authenticity and candor. The right has always wanted to speak for the freedom to be cruel.

Lindsay M Chervinsky: [07-07] Garland Has to Prosecute Trump for January 6 to Restore Faith in the Justice Department: Problem is it won't work, and more likely will backfire. It will inevitably look political, and Trump is very unlikely to be convicted, so while it may be fun to watch him squirm, it would be a waste of effort. Moreover, even if successful, it's way short of what it would take to "restore faith." Part of the problem is that the obvious charges like seditious conspiracy are bullshit political laws, even if you define them narrowly and document them rigorously. What I would like to see is a Special Prosecutor charged with investigating a wide range of corruption charges, ranging from the scandals that sunk Pruitt and Zinke to the hundreds of millions Jared Kushner got from the Saudis. Even where charges can't be filed, it would open some eyes to get a thorough accounting of the most thoroughly corrupt administration in American history.

Fabiola Cineas: [07-07] What we know about the deadly police shooting of Jayland Walker: "Akron police officers released body camera footage of the killing that raises questions about excessive force." Excessive? Walker was unarmed. Police shot 90 rounds, and hit Walker 60 times.

Ryan Cooper: [07-07] President Biden Is Not Cutting the Mustard: "Young people are abandoning him in droves because he won't fight for their rights and freedo."

Michelle Goldberg: [07-07] The Delightful Implosion of Boris Johnson. She admits to Schadenfreude, but bad as Johnson was, hard to avoid a bit of jealousy that UK Conservatives could put down a dysfunctional leader, while Republicans don't dare touch Trump. The following pieces often return to this theme:

Jonathan Guyer: [07-05] Inside Ukraine's lobbying blitz in Washington: It's inconceivable running a war in Washington without greasing some palms.

Margaret Hartmann: [07-08] Shinzo Abe, Former Prime Miniser of Japan, Is Assassinated. But isn't it kind of strange that 80% of the article are reproductions of tweets from world leaders, as if any of them have anything at all interesting to say? It's hard to convey how exceptional any shooting is in Japan, where there was only one murder-by-gun in all of 2021. More info:

Ellen Ioanes: [07-09] Protests force Sri Lanka's leaders to resign: "Entrenched corruption and a political dynasty may keep them in power, though."

Paul Krugman: [07-08] Wonking Out: Rockets, Feathers and Prices at the Pump: Finally admits that, "yes, market power can worsen inflation." A paper by Mike Konczal and Niko Lusiani seems to have finally convinced him. Krugman also wrote That Was the Stagflation That Was, where he notes that: "The wholesale price of gasoline has fallen about 80 cents a gallon since its peak a month ago. Only a little of this plunge has been passed on to consumers so far." You still believe all of those articles about how greed has nothing to with gas prices?

Ian Millhiser: [07-09] The post-legal Supreme Court: "The highest Court in the most powerful nation in the world appears to have decided that it only needs to follow the law when it feels like it."

Kate Riga: [07-06] Kansas Republicans Scheduled Big Abortion Vote for Low-Turnout Primaries. Will It Backfire? If Republicans thought their amendment would be popular, they wouldn't have scheduled it on a typically low-turnout primary day, and they wouldn't be lying so much about what it means.

Corey Robin: [07-09] The Self-Fulfilling Prophecies of Clarence Thomas: "For decades, Thomas has had a deeply pessimistic view of the country, rooted in his reading of the Fourteenth Amendment. After the Supreme Court's recent opinions, his dystopia is becoming our reality." Robin has written several books on the reactionary right, including a whole one on The Enigma of Clarence Thomas.

Jeffrey St Clair: [07-08] Roaming Charges: Knocked Out and Re-Loaded. Some of the gun violence statistics actually managed to take me aback. One is that "124 people die every day in the US in acts of gun violence." That works out to 45,260 per year, which is about what I knew, but breaking it down per day makes it seem more inexorably relentless. The other is that we've had "320 mass shootings, putting 2022 on track to finish as one of the deadliest years in US history." But that works out to about 2 per day, which may be par, but feels like less than we hear about many days. St Clair also linked to the following:


The possible political book keeps evolving in my mind. Last week I was debating between writing a Speaking of Which and working on an outline. I decided I could do the former then maybe tack the outline on at the end, but didn't get to it. This week, well, I had a bit of time, so did a quick brain dump on my latest thinking. Titles aren't great, but here's what the structure looks like:

  1. Introduction
  2. American History in Four Eras
  3. What Republicans Have Done
  4. How the World Breaks
  5. Can Democrats Restore Democracy?
  6. The Way Things Ought to Be
  7. Afterword

I've written outlines of American History in Four Eras several times (e.g., at some length on Jan. 27, 2019, but also on June 10, 2018, June 2, 2019, Jan. 19, 2000, March 9, 2020, May 31, 2020. The original insight was that US history could be broken up into four long eras of partisan dominance, each starting with a major two-term president and each ending with a disastrous one-termer: Jefferson-to-Buchanan, Lincoln-to-Hoover, Roosevelt-to-Carter, and Reagan-to-Trump. (Washington-to-Adams also fits that criteria, except for length.) In each of these, the dominant party's long rule was interrupted by loss to two opponents: in the Jefferson-Buchanan period, Whigs won by running ex-generals (Harrison and Taylor), but they died in office, having little effect; the other eras were interrupted by two-term each (Cleveland and Wilson, Eisenhower and Nixon, Clinton and Obama; note that none were consecutive, unlike Roosevelt-Truman and Reagan-Bush).

Several things are interesting about all this. One is that the exceptions tried to maneuver under and around the hegemony of the dominant party. Eisenhower and Nixon accepted the "big government" New Deal paradigm, although they sought to undermine it at the edges. Clinton and Obama bought into the pro-business, militarist, "end-of-big-government" Reagan mythology, even if they tried to soften its harsh prescriptions. The earlier periods are messier to map, and one might be tempted to split them. Jackson marks a pretty clean break in the first era; McKinley is the right time to divide the second, but Bryan's takeover of the Democratic Party may have been the more important shift, producing progressive movements in both parties, reflected variously by T. Roosevelt and Wilson. The point I want to draw out here is how operating under the hegemony of a dominant party may be practical politics, it doesn't help you prepare for the crisis that occurs when the dominant party fails.

Another thing is that each era starts with a crisis resulting in a massive shift of power -- in terms of Congress, Reagan is anomalous, but by 1980 the presidency had become so powerful that gave him a lot of leeway. The first three of those eras were marked by initial shifts to the left -- Reagan, again, is the exception, and the Reagan era is again anomalous in that it along represented a turn against a broader and more inclusive democracy. We have to ask how that was even possible.

The answer would appear to be that in all eras, as politics returns to normal, people are less engaged, and special interests worm their way in, exploiting a deeply ingrained (even if very unpopular) tendency toward corruption. After all, getting rich has been a common aspiration and a matter of national pride since colonial days. The Grant and Harding administrations were perhaps the most famously corrupt, and while it's easy to blame them on inattentive leaders, they occurred at points when business was finding government favor especially lucrative (railroads and oil, respectively). But the Republican Party has always looked to government as a source of private riches (in 1860, the campaign slogan urged farmers to vote themselves free land, and manufacturers to vote for tariffs). By the time you get to Reagan and the "greed is good" decade, this penchant for corruption was baked into their DNA. Every Republican administration from Nixon on has been wracked by corruption scandals. We'll return to this frequently throughout the book.

The second section follows the Republicans from the freak election of 1946 (which among other things passed Taft-Hartley) on. We can talk a bit about the Goldwater right, but Richard Nixon is the key figure, because he's the one who taught the party to do whatever it takes, no matter how deceitful, unscrupulous, or plain illegal, to win. We'll look at Kevin Phillips' The Emerging Republican Majority, and how Republicans welded several reactionary factions into a solid base. We'll look at how that base allowed them to recover from defeats when their policies blew up disastrously. And we'll show how those decisions, while allowing them to claim and hang onto considerable power, despite repeated proof of their inability to govern wisely or even competently. Indeed, each time they lose, they bounce back more vicious and insane than ever.

Another thing we need to talk about here is the structure of the Republican Party: particularly, the donor networks, their think tanks and university alliances, the lobbies, allied groups like the NRA, their propaganda organs, and their influence on "mainstream media."

The third section introduces the Republicans' most intractable enemy: reality. Republicans are masters at crafting rhetoric that flatters their supporters and excoriates their imagined enemies (the "radical left"), but their deeply ingrained corruption keeps them from facing their real problems (especially problems they themselves created). In this section, we take a handful of sample subjects, explain briefly how they work, how they eventually break down, and why the Republicans have no solution for them. This chapter could grow into a massive book of its own, so it is important to pick relatively obvious cases. Some possibilities: health care, climate, trade, immigration, civil service, information, education, public welfare, war, justice.

These are all big subjects, so I'm inclined to start with some common threads. First, I'd emphasize how much the world has changed in my lifetime, especially since my grandfather's before me (he was born in 1895). This new world is much more complex, and much harder to understand, especially in its complex interdependency. As a practical matter, we have to delegate large parts of responsibility to experts, and they have to be trustworthy. That's hard in any case, but all the more difficult in a hyper-individualistic society largely driven by the profit motive, with its consequent levels of inequality and injustice.

The individual topics are big and deep, and risk swallowing up our available attention. One approach that may help is to limit analysis to Republican approaches. We don't have to solve health care or climate; just show that Republicans won't, can't, and are only likely to make the situation worse. Chapters two and three should demolish any hope that Republicans might face up to and overcome the problems of the modern world.

The fourth chapter is about and for the Democrats. It starts with some history, a survey of how Democrats have reacted to Republican attacks, probably going back (briefly) to 1946, but mostly we have to deal with the Reagan-Bush-Trump era. That involves spending some time with the New Democrats, to make two important points: one is that their concessions to the Republicans failed politically, both to gain ground in the center and to hold their own base; the other is that they failed to solve major problems, or even to help us understand why such problems matter and persist. Clinton and Obama may have made the world a little better than they found it, but they did not prepare the voters to keep it better, and to keep on working to make it better. Otherwise they would not have lost their Congressional majorities after two years, nor been succeeded by such manifestly incompetent and disastrous presidents as Bush and Trump.

The rest of this chapter is meant to help Democrats campaign more effectively. After all, they are the only alternative to Republicans, who are hopelessly compromised. (Third-party prospects can be easily dismissed.) If we look at real interests, we should be able to show that Republicans favor a vanishingly small minority, which in a democracy should quickly be rendered powerless. We can even point out that Republicans understand this, as they've as much as admitted by their anti-democratic efforts (voter suppression, gerrymandering, unlimited money, etc.; these points may fit just as well in the 2nd chapter). The main way they get away with it is due to their ability to convince voters (who are notoriously ill-informed, and rarely able to grasp complex problems and policies) not to trust Democrats. The only way out of this is for Democrats to show voters that they care about their voters, that they are open and honest and not beholden to special interests. They need to be seen as approachable and sincere. They need to be regarded as fair and just. While this may seem like a high bar, in practice they only need to be seen as clearly better than the Republicans, so by all means point out when Republicans betray public trust, or otherwise attempt to deceive and manipulate voters, such as by appealing to their prejudices.

This chapter is likely to turn into a hodge-podge of political advice, ranging from how to counter stereotypes about Democrats to how to avoid overreacting to problem issues. I won't try to sketch out a list here, but every day I read the paper I run across cases that could be handled better. As critical as I am of businesses, we need them and they need to be profitable, so any policy that hits them needs to be considered carefully. Most policy questions involve tradeoffs, and one needs to be sensitive to all concerned. But "all concerned" needs to include the public, and (even harder to factor in) the future. We need to recognize what we don't (or can't) know, and we need the flexibility to adjust when things don't work out as expected. We need to avoid getting too caught up in our own rhetoric and logic. We need to understand that it's impossible to change things immediately, and that changing things too fast is disruptive and upsetting. On the other hand, that's no excuse for doing nothing.

The fourth chapter will avoid discussions of policy specifics, but it may get into philosophical principles. Democrats need to align themselves more firmly in favor of individual freedom and responsibility, but they also need to be more sensitive to the corrosive effect of power imbalances. Inequality would be less of a problem if it were possible to mitigate the differences in power. Often the easiest way to do this is to create countervailing power forces.

The fifth chapter is reserved for policy matters. I expect that this will eventually be cut from the book, possibly to be spun off into another, but for the time being, it is a place to move policy thoughts out into. I have a lot of policy ideas that I think would be good for Democrats and for the country and the world, but they are outside of the present Overton Window, so they have no value in a book of practical politics. Ending intellectual property and replacing it with a system of public grants and free licenses is a relatively clear example. (Even so, it involves some fairly deep changes in how we think about creativity, incentive, and the public interest.)

The "Introduction" and/or "Afterword" are needed to fit the body of the book into a particular political context. At this point, it's impossible to write this and release it before the November 2022 election, which is likely to significantly alter the landscape.


I've been kicking around ideas for a political book as far back as the late 1990s. I even took some time off then to work on a draft. I had studied philosophy and sociology in college, but made a career out of software engineering. It occurred to me that one could apply engineering discipline to many political issues without succumbing to the hack mechanistic simplifications common to the genre. Perhaps my personal background would help figure out what might and might not work. But I wasn't satisfied with what I came up with, and shelved it. After 9/11/2001, I took a renewed, more urgent interest in politics, and started blogging. I was dead set against the War on Terror from the very start. By 2004, I saw the need for a narrowly-focused polemic Case Against the Republicans, but missed the election window. Still, I kept turning the ideas around my mind, mostly thinking of a longer time frame. I've been fond of utopian writing since my late teens, so I found the title The Way Things Ought to Be very appealing. (Unfortunately, Rush Limbaugh used it, in a 1992 book that turned out to mostly be an insane rant against Anita Hill.) I've long been struck by the extent of change over the last 150 years, and felt that people everywhere had done a poor job of adjusting their thinking to cope with the times. But while bad ideas were everywhere, really dangerous ones were concentrated in the Republican Party, so I tended to vacillate between focus on urgent vs. important matters. While Obama was president, it seemed more important to think long, but when Trump lucked out, an urgent sense of impending doom took over. In early 2020, I again narrowed the focus and opened a file for A Letter to the Democrats, which I started by copying the "four eras" outline. I hoped to close the door on the Reagan-to-Trump era, and open a new one -- sure Biden didn't rise to the standards of Jefferson, Lincoln, and Roosevelt, but history has never been a mechanical cycle. I imagined a short book, with the four eras for historical background, and a second part closer to chapter four above. I had a short window, and blew it. After the election, it took some time for me to think through the second and third chapters, which again return the focus onto the Republican threat. For a while, the third was "The Way the World Works," but while reading Vaclav Smil's similar title it occurred to me that "Breaks" would be better than "Works." Republicans break things.

It's not that I have had writer's block. I have millions of words written in my various notebook/blog files (collected in 4 huge volumes here), but at this stage I have no confidence in my ability to pull an actual book together. Perhaps it's just a psychotic "will to fail"? But I do think this outline makes sense, and there's no shortage of material to flesh it out -- once you get going, the harder thing is to decide where to stop. The target audience would be active Democrats, who by now fear Republicans as much as I do, but are hard-pressed to formulate effective tactics to oppose them. I have no experience in doing so, but can draw on a lifetime of observing Democrats fuck up and sell out short. The 2016 debacle was not because America was too conservative, but because a critical sliver of the public so distrusted Hillary that they were willing to take a chance on Trump. Incredibly stupid that was, but that's why we need smarter critics.

Wednesday, July 06, 2022

Daily Log

Filed a ticket at Hostings & Designs to get some help installing a SSL certificate, and they blew me off, saying I have to go to cPanel for support. They did this once before, and all I found at cPanel was that I'd have to spend hundreds of dollars to get per-incident support. I'm livid, and there's a real chance I'll tell them to stuff the server if they can't provide me elementary support on it.

One way I blew off some steam was by writing up this Facebook comment:

I saw a tweet saying that tomorrow is National Fried Chicken Day. With it was a map that purported to show the most popular fried chicken chains in 48 states. We grew up on fried chicken. It was what Mom fixed for company, and what virtually all of our relatives fixed when we visited. On the road, we almost always ordered it at restaurants -- which is how I learned that restaurants almost always fix inferior fried chicken. The difference was obvious: pan-fried vs. deep fried (pan-fried takes more time). Over the years I've eaten in a lot of chicken restaurants, including chains (which have the advantage of specialization but usually serve you chicken that's been sitting in the warmer). Still, I had to do some research to decipher the map's logos, especially Chickfilla, which led in 22 states (including KS). After that was KFC (11), Raising Cane's (9), Church's (3), Bojangles, Popeye's, and Zaxby's (1 each). I hadn't even heard of 3 of those, and would have disqualified Chickfilla, which only serves sandwiches and tenders (same for Cane's). Even recently (last 10 years) I've been known to pick up KFC (their original process is comparable to partially covered pan-fried, and I liked the spice combination) or Popeye's (I like the red beans & rice), but more often I pick up Dillons. As for restaurants, we've been to a couple that actually do pan-fried: Brookville Hotel (it closed down during the pandemic), and Strouds (not bad, but Mom & I agreed we could do better. In my research, I found a piece (link below) that surveys both some (but not all of the) chains, plus some scattered restaurants. Popeye's nearly topped their list (2), and Strouds came in last, but at least made the cut. Some others look promising: Charles is probably the most old-school (I usually use a lot less fat, but did it that way for my last birthday dinner); if I could order any right now, it'd be Pollo Campero. I haven't tried Jollibee (top-ranked), but I've had Filipino fried chicken, and it's one of the best. I've fried chicken at least a dozen ways, ranging as far from home as Szechuan, Bali, and Spain (whole head of garlic in that one).

Monday, July 04, 2022

Music Week

Expanded blog post, July archive (in progress).

Tweet: Music Week: 55 albums, 3 (+2) A-list,

Music: Current count 38282 [38227] rated (+55), 78 [87] unrated (-9).

Posted a rather substantial Speaking of Which yesterday. (Added one more link today, after finding a tab I had opened but missed.) After complaining about no Facebook reaction last week, I finally got a like, a comment, and a message from an old Boston friend, so let's dedicate this one to her. I was torn at first between writing one and starting to jot down my latest book thinking. I decided I could do the latter in the end section of the post, but it turns out I never got that far. I had two things I wanted to write about: first was Robert Christgau's Hillary Clinton Lookback; second was further correspondence with Crocodile Chuck, following my last week Q&A. After that it was mostly a matter of filling in the sections on Ukraine, SCOTUS, and the January 6 Committee. As I went through my paces, I found a few more topics to note, and wound up including a couple pages I didn't have much to say about, but felt like bookmarking anyway (e.g., Elizabeth Nelson on Anthony Bourdain, Annie Proulx on swamps).

By the way, I ordered the two Tariq Ali books (on Churchill and Afghanistan). I'm also through the first section of the Millhiser book (Injustices). I was already familiar with a number of the 19th century cases in that section from reading Jack Beatty's Age of Betrayal: The Triumph of Money in America, 1865-1900, but Millhiser's description of the conditions is remarkably good. Millhiser also has a more recent (2021) but shorter (143 pp) book: The Agenda: How a Republican Supreme Court Is Reshaping America, and has written a lot more since then in Vox. Another promising book on the recent Supreme Court is Adam Cohen's Supreme Inequalilty: The Supreme Court's Fifty-Year Battle for a More Unjust America. (Cohen previously wrote a whole book on the Carrie Buck case, which Millhiser presents in 4-5 pages.)

Another valuable critic of the right-wing takeover of the Court is Erwin Chemerinsky, who has a number of books on the subject. The only one I've read so far fits into a slightly different genre: books that offer close readings of America's founding documents and find them compatible with progressive reform. Chemerinsky's is We the People: A Progressive Reading of the Constitution for the Twenty-First Century. A similar book is Danielle S Allen's Our Declaration: A Reading of the Declaration of Independence in Defense of Equality. I recommend them both (Allen's is especially appropriate on this 4th of July), and even more so Ganesh Sitaraman's The Crisis of the Middle-Class Constitution. I'll also note that two of our greatest historians have found progressive kernels in the Constitution: Gordon S Wood, in The Radicalism of the American Revolution, and Eric Foner, in The Second Founding: How the Civil War and Reconstruction Remade the Constitution. I'm fully aware that every step forward is met with vitriol and retrenchment from self-proclaimed conservatives, and that they have often been successful, but when we look back on our history, the moments we're proudest of, and most inspired by, have always aspired toward more universal justice.

I suppose I should note that I started out as a devout believer in what I saw as American ideals, the consistent application of which led me toward a peculiarly individualized understanding of the left. One early step for me was reading Staughton Lynd's Intellectual Origins of American Radicalism (1968). I was so taken by the book that I wrote a defensive letter to Eugene Genovese, who had written a brutal review of Lind's book in The New York Review of Books. Genovese kindly replied, and suggested I read some of his work (which aside from papers at the time was just The Political Economy of Slavery). I did, and that was my introduction to Marxism. I came to understand Genovese's critique, but doubt I ever lost my initial sympathy for Lind -- or for the idea that a better America could draw on the ideals of the Revolution and Reconstruction.

I wrote the above last night, without particularly realizing that today is the 4th of July. We have no holiday plans. I probably won't even bother walking down the block to where the big fireworks show should be visible. I don't mind celebrating the holiday so much -- as I said above, the Declaration of Independence still resonates for me -- but I've come to hate the idea of celebrating by blowing things up.


I don't have much to say about music this week. I'm still trying to track down my long-time unrated list, which is the only reason I bothered with two Christmas albums this week. The top "old music" find this week was an LP I noticed while looking for something else. It turned out to be unrated but not in my unrated list, so finding it was dumb luck. Makes me wonder how many more there are. Otherwise, I've been following tips from more lists than I can keep track of. Some came from mid-year lists, links here.

As we've hit mid-year, I suppose I could offer you a list. The usual full one is here, but to focus a bit, let's omit the jazz (about half of the A-list, more like two-thirds of the overall list), and also omit records Robert Christgau has already reviewed/graded (since you probably know them already). That leaves us with this:

  1. Gonora Sounds: Hard Times Never Kill (The Vital Record)
  2. The Regrettes: Further Joy (Warner)
  3. Charlotte Adigéry & Bolis Pupul: Topical Dancer (Deewee/Because Music)
  4. Saba: Few Good Things (Saba Pivot)
  5. Bob Vylan: Bob Vylan Presents the Price of Life (Ghost Theatre)
  6. Nilüfer Yanya: Painless (ATO)
  7. Regina Spektor: Home, Before and After (Sire)
  8. Rosalía: Motomami (Columbia)
  9. Hailey Whitters: Raised (Big Loud/Pigasus)
  10. Craig Finn: A Legacy of Rentals (Positive Jams)
  11. Camila Cabello: Familia (Epic)
  12. Etran de L'Aïr: Agadez (Sahel Sounds)
  13. Wiz Khalifa/Big KRIT/Smoke DZA/Girl Talk: Full Court Press (Asylum/Taylor Gang)
  14. Mxmtoon: Rising (AWAL)
  15. Lady Wray: Piece of Me (Big Crown)
  16. Lyrics Born: Mobile Homies Season 1 (Mobile Home)
  17. Charli XCX: Crash (Asylum)
  18. Kae Tempest: The Line Is a Curve (Republic)
  19. Corb Lund: Songs My Friends Wrote (New West)
  20. Lalalar: Bi Cinnete Bakar (Bongo Joe)
  21. Elza Soares: Elza Ao Vivo No Municipal (Deck)
  22. Freakons: Freakons (Fluff & Gravy)
  23. Nova Twins: Supernova (333 Wreckords Crew)
  24. Pastor Champion: I Just Want to Be a Good Man (Luaka Bop)
  25. Ian Noe: River Fools & Mountain Saints (Thirty Tigers)
  26. Buck 65: King of Drums (self-released)
  27. Moor Mother: Jazz Codes (Anti-)
  28. Fulu Miziki: Ngbaka EP (Moshi Moshi, EP)
  29. Bob Vylan: We Live Here (Deluxe) (Venn, EP -21)

I imagine a couple of those will appear in July's Consumer Guide, but don't dare guess which. Two are items I only wrote up today, too late for this post, so they'll be part of next week's (but I'll give you the album covers anyway).


New records reviewed this week:

  • Angles: A Muted Reality (2021 [2022], Clean Feed): [bc]: B+(***)
  • Avalanche Kaito: Avalanche Kaito (2022, Glitterbeat): [bc]: B+(*)
  • Camille Bertault & David Helbock: Playground (2021 [2022], ACT): [sp]: B+(**)
  • Daniel Carter/Matthew Shipp/William Parker/Gerald Cleaver: Welcome Adventure! Vol. 2 (2019 [2022], 577): [dl]: B+(**)
  • Daniel Carter/Patrick Holmes/Matthew Putnam/Hilliard Greene/Federico Ughi: Telepatica (2018 [2022], 577): [dl]: B+(*)
  • Roxy Coss: Disparate Parts (2022, Outside In Music): [sp]: B+(**)
  • Amalie Dahl: Dafnie (2022, Sonic Transmissions): [bc]: B+(**)
  • Glenn Dickson: Wider Than the Sky (2021 [2022], Naftule's Dream): [cd]: B+(**) [07-08]
  • Signe Emmeluth/Dag Erik Knedal Andersen/Magnus Skavhaug Nergaard: The A-Z of Microwave Cookery (2020 [2022], Astral Spirits): [bc]: B+(***)
  • David Francis: Sings Songs of the Twenties (2022, Blujazz, EP): [cd]: B
  • GoGo Penguin: Between Two Waves (2022, XXIM, EP): [sp]: B+(**)
  • Hard Bop Messengers: Live at the Last Hotel (2022, Pacific Coast Jazz): [sp]: B+(*)
  • Landaeus Trio: A Crisis of Perception (2019 [2022], Clean Feed): [bc]: B+(***)
  • Magnus Lindgren/Georg Breinschmid: Jazz at Berlin Philharmonic XIII: Celebrating Mingus 100 (2022, ACT): [sp]: B+(***)
  • Jeremy Manasia Trio: Butcher Block Ballet (2021 [2022], Blujazz): [cd]: B+(*)
  • Moskus: Papirfuglen (2020 [2022], Hubro): [bc]: B+(**)
  • OK:KO: Liesu (2022, We Jazz): [bc]: B+(**)
  • Samo Salamon/Arild Andersen/Ra Kalam Bob Moses: Pure and Simple (2021 [2022], Samo): [cd]: A-
  • Samo Salamon/Sabir Mateen: Joy and Sorrow (2022, Klopotec): [bc]: B+(***)
  • Samo Salamon/Cene Resnik/Urban Kusar: Takt Ars Sessions Vol. 3 (2022, Samo): [bc]: B+(***)
  • Linda Sikhakhane: Isambulo (2022, Ropeadope): [r]: B+(**)
  • Soccer Mommy: Sometimes Forever (2022, Loma Vista): [r]: B+(*)
  • Günter Baby Sommer & the Lucaciu 3: Karawane (2022, Intakt): [sp]: B+(***)
  • Regina Spektor: Home, Before and After (2022, Sire): [r]: A-
  • The Sun Sawed in 1/2: Before the Fall (2022, self-released, EP): [bc]: B
  • Tarbaby Feat. Oliver Lake: Dance of the Evil Toys (2022, Clean Feed): [bc]: B+(**)
  • TEIP Trio: TEIP Trio (2020 [2022], Sonic Transmissions): [bc]: B+(*)
  • Crystal Thomas: Now Dig This! (2021, Dialtone): [sp]: B+(***)
  • Kobe Van Cauwenberghe: Ghost Trance Septet Plays Anthony Braxton (2021 [2022], El Negocito): [dl]: B+(***)
  • Bugge Wesseltoft: Be Am (2021 [2022], Jazzland): [sp]: B+(*)
  • Wild Up: Julius Eastman Vol. 2: Joy Boy (2022, New Amsterdam): [r]: B+(**)
  • Tom Zé: Língua Brasileira (2022, Sesc): [sp]: B+(**)

Recent reissues, compilations, and vault discoveries:

  • A Chant About the Beauty of the Moon at Night: Hawaiian Steel Guitar Masters: Lost + Rare Performances 1913-1921 (1913-21 [2022], Magnificent Sounds): [bc]: B
  • Ingebrigt Håker Flaten/Rolf-Erik Nystrøm: El Sistema (2000 [2021], Sonic Transmissions): [bc]: B+(***)
  • Malik's Emerging Force Art Trio: Time and Condition (1982 [2022], Moved-by-Sound): [bc]: B+(***)
  • Asha Puthli: The Essential Asha Puthi (1968-80 [2022], Mr. Bongo): [bc]: B+(***)
  • Sirone: Artistry (1978 [2022], Moved-by-Sound): [bc]: B+(*)

Old music:

  • Ray Charles: True to Life (1977, Atlantic): [yt]: B+(**)
  • Jason Paul Curtis: These Christmas Days 2017, self-released): [cd]: B-
  • Jack DeJohnette's Special Edition: Irresistible Forces (1987, MCA/Impulse): [lp]: B+(**)
  • Johnny Dyani Quartet: Song for Biko (1978 [1979], SteepleChase): [lp]: A-
  • Kansas: Miracles Out of Nowhere (2015, Epic): [r]: C+
  • Steve Lacy: The Door (1988 [1989], Novus): [lp]: B+(***)
  • Michael Mantler/Carla Bley: 13 & 3/4 (1975, Watt): [lp]: B+(**)
  • Motohiro Nakashima: And I Went to Sleep (2004, Lo): [cd]: B+(*)
  • Sun Ra and His Intergalactic Solar Arkestra: Soundtrack to the Film Space Is the Place (1972 [1993], Evidence): [cd]: B+(**)
  • The U.S. Army Blues: Swinging in the Holidays (2017, self-released): [cd]: C
  • Cedar Walton: Spectrum (1968, Prestige): [r]: B+(**)
  • Cedar Walton: The Electric Boogaloo Song (1969, Prestige): [r]: B
  • Cedar Walton: Spectrum (1968-69 [1994], Prestige): [r]: B+(*)
  • Cedar Walton: Soul Cycle (1970, Prestige): [r]: B+(*)
  • Cedar Walton Quartet: Third Set (1977 [1983], SteepleChase): [r]: B+(***)
  • Cedar Walton: Among Friends (1982 [1992], Evidence): [cd]: B+(**)
  • Cedar Walton Trio: Cedar (1985 [1990], Timeless): [sp]: B+(***)
  • The Phil Woods Quintet: Heaven (1984 [1996], Evidence): [cd]: B+(***)
  • Tom Zé: Grande Liquidação (1968 [2011], Mr. Bongo): [bc]: B+(**)
  • Tom Zé: Tom Zé (1970 [2014], Mr. Bongo): [bc]: B+(***)


Unpacking: Found in the mail last week:

  • Kevin Cerovich: Aging Millennial (CVJ)
  • William Flynn: Seaside (OA2) [07-15]
  • Meridian Odyssey: Earthshine (Origin) [07-15]
  • Tobin Mueller: Prestidigitation (self-released) [06-22]
  • Samo Salamon/Arild Andersen/Ra Kalam Bob Moses: Pure and Simple (Samo) [06-01]

Sunday, July 03, 2022

Speaking of Which

Blog link.

PS: Added the Demillo paragraph, which I had intended to include in this post.

I tried answering Crocodile Chuck's letter last week, but I focused on the big question of inflation, but skipped past his "We didn't vote for WWIII" line. He wrote back, ominously:

Get your affairs in order

WWIII is baked in (Blinken, Nuland must have paid off Erdogan, too)

ps the US will never defend tiddlers like the Baltic States, FIN. They're using them as tripwires, plus, as market expansion for the US's hideously expensive and complex weapons systems. The USA's endgame is to break up RUS into statelets, as a prelude to the Main Event: to do the same to CHI

Chuck is a longtime reader and correspondent, an American familiar with my old St. Louis stomping ground, who sensing doom moved across the Pacific -- and not the only one I know who did that. I doubt I'd be identified as an optimist, but this is a bit too paranoid for me. I seriously doubt that there is any cloistered segment of the American deep state that has anything approaching a serious plan to dismantle China or the Russian Federation. And yeah, I believe there is some kind of "deep state," which ensures continuity of American imperial strategy regardless of changes in elected officials. I just don't think they're that smart or competent. They strike me as more like some bundle of conditioned reflexes, which always return to the old mantras of strength, control, dominance, and hegemony. That said, one of their core beliefs is any degradation of supposed enemies is a zero-sum win for America. So they always see prying former Soviet Republic into the American orbit as desirable, regardless of how Russia may react. They'd love to break Xinjiang and Tibet off China, too, but China doesn't seem to be as fragile as Russia, so for that they have to be contented with Taiwan and jockeying over South China Sea islands. Needless to say, such people are dangerous, and given a free hand they could well start WWIII. But, thus far at least, the system has constrained them. Is anything different now?

Well, a couple things are. The Cold War was built around Kennan's notion of containment, where the US never directly threatened the Soviet Union itself, and generally left it a free hand in dealing with recognized satellites. There were some disputes on the margins (Korea, Cuba, Vietnam, later Afghanistan), but both sides kept them to the margins. This worked partly because although Russia sympathized with anti-colonial liberation movement, they didn't control or depend on them; meanwhile, the US was primarily concerned with continuing the western exploitation of the colonial world (replacing the old powers with globalized companies and local cronies), and didn't need to get too greedy. (Indeed, western companies were quite delighted with the business deals China offered them.) But when the Soviet Union disbanded, America's Cold Warrior got even more greedy and arrogant, with Russia in particular getting the short end of the stick. And with every US effort to nibble a bit more on Russia's borders, the American threat to and contempt for Russia grows more existential. The administration is not completely unaware of this, and seems to be trying to draw a fine line between protecting Ukraine and provoking Russia, and the Americans monitoring that line aren't necessarily the most prudent people possible. Many things they've approved have crossed lines Russia has proclaimed. While none of them have yet led to a really catastrophic response (ranging from Russian attacks outside Ukraine -- e.g., Putin ally says Moscow could torpedo Dutch ports: 'Europe is not invincible' -- to nuclear weapons). On the other hand, other NATO countries, and Ukraine itself, seem less circumspect.

Another thing that I find especially disturbing is how conflict with Russia has become ideologized, especially among Democrats, who have become unusually hawkish. The tendency here is to treat Putin as an aggressively anti-democratic force, both within and beyond Russia, which puts a premium on stopping him sooner rather than later. There is some evidence for this -- the 2016 election interference looms especially large for Democrats -- but beyond ethnic Russians and a few allied groups (as in Transnistria and Abkhazia) it's hard to see Russian nationalism having much appeal. But by taking Putinism as ideology, you're imagining much higher stakes than there are, and that's dangerous.

Chuck wrote me again, making four points which I'll try to condense:

  1. There is no "diplomatic progress"; "Biden, Blinken, Nuland" are happy to "fight to the last Ukrainian."
  2. Zelensky is just another oligarch ("worth $200M before Feb. 24"), likely to be a billionaire soon from skimming off US aid.
  3. The "whole thing" is "USA's 'Last Gasp Grasp' to remain a hyperpower," it "has blown up in its/their face[s]," but covered by by "the greatest PsyOp in history," as reported by a brainwashed media ("NYT, WaPo").
  4. The "spike in energy prices is a net transfer of wealth" to "Exxon et al." Then he notes that "50-100M ppl on Earth are starving as a result," and dares call it "genocide."

The third point is the most contentious one here. It's true that Biden and Blinken wanted to reëstablish the US as a world leader -- their slogan was "America's back" -- after Trump's "America first" agenda damaged relationships with Europe while surrendering large chunks of US foreign policy to Israel and Saudi Arabia. Defense of Ukraine was one way to do that, especially in Europe (though not so much elsewhere). I'm not totally clear on the facts, but suppose for the sake of argument the US and Zelensky goaded Putin into his invasion of Ukraine, and therefore deserves some share of blame for the war (although it was Putin who took the bait). How has the war blown up in America's face. Sure, it's cost America a lot of money -- both the state in terms of aid, and the private sector in various kinds of losses and inflation -- but why shouldn't Biden consider that a price worth paying for democracy in Ukraine? (Or for greatly increased US arms sales, and all the other dividends that accrue to America's increased stature among its "allies"?) Granted, it's cost other people and nations more, but since when has the US factored that sort of thing into its calculation? Maybe in the long run those costs will catch up and be regretted, but the zero-summers in the war departments think Russia's losing, so musn't the US be winning?

The other points I've made variants of myself, but I saved the last line for separate treatment: "We all would have been better off under Trump [under whom this never would have happened]." What wouldn't have happened? The invasion? Trump applauded Putin when he did it, so hard to see that as a deterrent. Maybe had Trump not promised support to Ukraine, Zelensky would have been more accommodating, and that might have satisfied Putin, but not according to the logic Putin has given for his decision. Then there's the scenario where Trump vacillates, suggesting Putin has a clear hand to invade, but the Deep State then bullies Trump into fighting, at which point Trump tries to show how tough he is, and blows everything up. Trump's entire foreign policy repertoire is a mix of the worst of Nixon ("mad man" theory) and Agnew ("bag man" corruption). You really don't know what you're going to get, but you can be sure it won't be thought out, and no one will have the slightest idea what the consequences will be.

Still, even if Trump had somehow avoided the war, a second term would have left us so much worse off in so many other areas, it's just mind-boggling to contemplate. By the way, I ran across this Trump quote, a response to Fox News asking him what he'd do differently from Biden in Ukraine:

Well, what I would do, is I would, we would, we have tremendous military capability and what we can do without planes, to be honest with you, without 44-year-old jets, what we can do is enormous, and we should be doing it and we should be helping them to survive and they're doing an amazing job.

If this isn't a simple endorsement of Biden's "amazing job," the only thing it suggests he'd do differently is to send US planes in to enforce some kind of "no-fly zone" -- something Biden has ruled out, because he realizes it doesn't just risk but amounts to direct war with Russia, with all the attendant risks of further escalation to nuclear war. Trump may have been personally inclined to let Putin roll over Ukraine, but when Putin invaded Trump's whole security team would have goaded him to action, and because he wants to be seen as a tough guy, he would have wussed out and went with the flow, projecting his contradictions ever more incoherently.

More on Ukraine, Russia, and Biden's foreign policy:

  • New York Times: [07-03] As City Falls, Ukraine's Last Hope in Luhansk Falls With It: Lysychansk, captured a week after Sievierodonetsk. On the other hand, Ukraine has made some progress in the southeast, recovering Snake Island, and some land between Mykolaiv and Kherson.
  • Connor Echols: [06-24] Diplomacy Watch: How much is the US focused on it? Not much, but nobody's ruling out; they're just no acting as if they expect anything to happen. Echols also has a piece on MEAD: [06-29] Wait, is there really a new US-led air defense alliance in the Middle East?
  • Robin Wright: [07-01] The West Debuts a New Strategy to Confront a Historic "Inflection Point" NATO met in Madrid last week, and used the occasion to condemn and to taunt Russia, and China too. To a large extent, this was Putin's fault: for invading Ukraine, which demonstrated graphically that Russia did not respect boundaries, making its threats much more ominous, but also for demanding that NATO back down and away, as if he was afraid of them. The result was that NATO gave him much more to worry about: alliance with Sweden and Finland, a massive military buildup in countries like Estonia and Poland. Putin gave NATO something it long lacked: a reason to exist. Meanwhile, NATO has given Putin even more reason to panic. One should add that in the heat of the moment, NATO is aso setting its eyes on China, engaging South Korea and Japan to join as some kind of affiliated members. There also seems to be a NATO-like deal brewing around the Persian Gulf, combining the Arab monarchs with their new buddies in Israel to confront Iran. While all of this could be view as a massive revival of the Cold War Pax Americana, it seems just as likely that the US could lose control of its more rambunctious allies (as with the Saudis in Yemen, a war that America is inextricably bound to but seemingly has no say over). Similarly, while Ukraine has no obligations to NATO, Zelensky seems to be in the more powerful position: assured nearly unlimited support, without any strings attached, free to fight at long as he wants. Given how NATO has grown during the war, expect no pressure from there: they're acting as if they expect to war to go on forever.


The Supreme Court term came to an end last week, with a stunning series of rulings as the Bush-Bush-Trump-appointed 6-3 majority is flexing its muscles. The January 6 Committee is demonstrating in increasing detail how Trump tried to end democracy by fraud and, failing that, by force, but these Court rulings finally prove that the poison was administered earlier, in the form of those three (and hundreds of lesser) Court appointments, even if the killing stretches out over the years. As bad as this year's rulings were, it's almost certain that worse are still to come.

How bad was this term? Mark Joseph Stern explains: [06-30] Why Today Felt Like the Most Hopeless Day of the SCOTUS Term gives us a quick rundown of what the Court ruled:

Consider the issues that SCOTUS has resolved this term -- the first full term with a 6-3 conservative supermajority. The constitutional right to abortion: gone. States' ability to limit guns in public: gone. Tribal sovereignty against state intrusion: gone. Effective constraints around separation of church and state: gone. The bar on prayer in public schools: gone. Effective enforcement of Miranda warnings: gone. The ability to sue violent border agents: gone. The Environmental Protection Agency's authority to regulate greenhouse gases at power plants: gone. Vast areas of the law, established over the course of decades, washed away by a court over a few months.

Stern continues:

There is no serious risk of another branch overriding these decisions. The squabbling among our elected representatives is, increasingly, a sideshow, with the court nudging along the decline of voters' ability to shape their democracy. One-third of the court was appointed by a president who lost the popular vote, yet the majority evinces not a shred of caution about overriding the democratic branches or its own predecessors on the bench. It imposes Republican policies far more effectively than the Republican Party ever could. Real power in this country no longer lies in the people. It resides at the Supreme Court.

There is much more worth reading in this piece. For instance, he concedes that Roberts "split the baby" in Biden v. Texas, reversing an egregious lower court ruling that prevent Biden from rescinding Trump's executive order of his "Remain in Mexico" policy. This "looks like a victory for the President. And it is, but only in the sense that five justices took one small step back from the abyss of total judicial lawlessness." He goes on, noting that "texturalism" and "originalism" are guiding ideologies for the right-wing justices only when they can be twisted to support their political prejudices. He concludes:

At the end of her West Virginia dissent, Kagan wrote that the court "appoints itself -- instead of Congress or the expert agency -- the decisionmaker on climate policy." She added: "I cannot think of many things more frightening." The limits of Kagan's imagination, though, are no match for this supermajority. The Supreme Court will give us many, many more reasons to fear it in the coming years. In one sense, this term marked the culmination of multiple decadeslong crusades against liberal precedent. But this was not the grand finale of the conservative revolution. It was the opening act.

More on the Supreme Court and its recent rulines, including abortion:


January 6 Committee: The surprise hearing with Cassidy Hutchinson, who was Mark Meadows' Chief of Staff, provided the best view yet into the White House on the day. The title that sums it up most succinctly is Walter Shapiro: [06-28] President Trump Was a Violent Maniac Behind Closed Doors. Other pieces of note:

Jonathan Chait: [07-01] The Democratic Party Needs Better Moderates: "The centrists have lot of complaints but no solution." Isn't that mostly because they're usually carrying water for business interests? I've said many times they have to move left, because that's where the solutions are. But it's not impossible to imagine moderate programs that make tangible progress on major problems but also respect established business interests and/or cultural concerns. There's little doubt that the left would support serious, practical compromises. (Medicare-for-All advocates in Congress all voted for ACA.) There's also a category that should be very popular among moderates, as it's especially strong among independents and laps into both political parties, but strangely gets no attention (at least among the elected, regardless of party): the political influence of money. Won't someone run with that? Chait cites a piece by Jason Zengerle: [06-29] The Vanishing Moderate Democrat, which argues "their positions are popular," but two 1990s presidential wins for Bill Clinton, while losing decades-long control of Congress, doesn't seem like much proof. For another take on Zengerle see: Ryan Cooper: [06-30] 'Moderate' Democrats Are Anything But.

Robert Christgau: [06-29] The Big Lookback: Hillary Clinton. New introduction for a piece published on October 11, 2016, when it still looked like the nomination of Hillary Clinton for president might work out. It didn't, and that's probably the source of the moment's temptation to say "I told you so" (but for many of us it just underscores her failure). I never doubted that we would have been better off had Hillary won (although it's easy now to overlook that given how she most happily ran on her superior Commander-in-Chief cojones, she could have turned truly awful). Much of the piece focuses on excoriating third parties -- Democrats expect to own the left's votes without doing anything to earn them -- combined with a snide dismissal of Bernie Sanders that only comes up short of a vicious attack because he appreciates Sanders campaigning not just against Trump but for Clinton. Like Christgau, I soured on third parties after 2000, but that was less because I saw Gore's loss as a huge step back (which it turned out to be) than because I realized then that the only path to power for the left would be through the Democratic Party, if simply for the reason that's where the voters most interested in joining us are stuck. (That was clearest here in Kansas, where Gore got over 10 times as many votes as Nader [37.2% to 3.4%], despite the DP not raising a finger to help Gore.) Still, I've never felt the slightest temptation to blame anyone on the left for the Democratic Party's failures, especially when you have candidates like Gore, Kerry, and the Clintons veering to the right figuring that's where they'll find more votes (or at least more donor money). I understand the logic that says "lesser evils are still evil," even if I don't think that's a maxim to live by. (I don't doubt for a moment that Gore would have responded to 9/11 by unleashing the War on Terror, and I rather doubt that he would have stopped short of invading Iraq -- remember, he voted for the 1990-91 war on Iraq, supported Clinton's repeated bombing, and had überhawk Joe Lieberman as his VP. I also doubt he would have fared any better at war. On the other hand, he wouldn't have eviscerated FEMA before Katrina, and he wouldn't have appointed Alito or Roberts to the Supreme Court. In between, there's a lot of iffy policies, not least his sometimes principled, sometimes compromised concern about global warming.) More importantly, I know that when the Democrats sell out or go crazy -- which happened a lot under Clinton, and again under Obama -- the tiny fragment of the left that refused to vote for them will be among the first to stand up for what's right. Still, everyone mourns in their own way -- even those of us who foresaw the Supreme Court threat as far back as the Bork nomination.

Ryan Cooper: [07-01] Mitch McConell Once Again Takes Advantage of Democratic Fecklessness: Examples of how the Democrats are hamstrung by Senate rules and maneuvers, which they don't have the numbers to overcome (and in two particular cases don't seem to have any desire to get anything done). Meanwhile, McConnell can hold out offers of very limited bipartisan support for extortionate prices. And in the end, Democrats will get blamed (and in many cases will blame themselves) for such failures.

Dexter Filkins: [06-20] Can Ron DeSantis Displace Donald Trump as the G.O.P.'s Combatant-in-Chief? The Florida governor has gotten a lot of press, much touting him as the Trumpiest of all the contenders who could pick up the Republican torch should Trump himself falter. Sample:

In a twenty-minute speech, he described an America under assault by left-wing élites, who "want to delegitimize our founding institutions." His job as governor, he said, was to fight the horsemen of the left: critical race theory, "Faucian dystopia," uncontrolled immigration, Big Tech, "left-wing oligarchs," "Soros-funded prosecutors," transgender athletes, and the "corporate media." In Florida, he said, he had created a "citadel of freedom" that had become a beacon for people "chafing under authoritarian rule";

Margaret Hartmann: [07-03] Read the Nastiest Lines From Trump's $75 Burn Book: It's called Our Journey Together, a bunch of pictures with captions evidently written by Trump himself (you can tell because they're stupid and nasty). By the way, Hartmann's The Drama-Lover's Guide to the New Trump Books has been updated [06-29].

Robert Hitt: [06-30] Robocallers Still Have Your Number: "The FCC has implemented new rules, but the decades-old problem requires stronger tactics." This seems like the sort of nuisance problem it should be relatively easy to solve. We get 30+ unwanted phone calls per day on the land line, or presumably unwanted as we don't pick up unrecognized caller ids. Why not automatically kick those calls to a monitoring service, and when a caller's count rises above some modest threshhold, kick off an investigation aimed at shutting them down? Sure, only some of those calls are clearly aimed at fraud, but solicitations for funds are every bit as intrusive, and can feel like harassment. I'd like to see a crackdown on all forms of intrusive advertising, but this is a good place to start (and unlike radio and TV, doesn't require a rethinking of how those industries can be financed). Advertising isn't free speech. Even when it isn't intended fraud, it's much more akin to assault. (Hacking is a similar problem, which isn't taken seriously by the people who could put a stop to it. My server has to fend off hundreds of attacks every day.)

Paul Krugman: Interesting but varied set of pieces here, some in response to books he's been reading:

  • [06-27] Why Did Republicans Become So Extreme? He dates this to the 1990s, when Republicans went to such extremes to paint Bill Clinton as some kind of monster, even though he barely split hairs with them on policy, and often reinforced their arguments by adopting their logic. I think what happened was that after Bush won so easily in 1988, they couldn't imagine ever losing the presidency again, and were shocked when they did next time out. Of all the memes, the most telling was how they regarded him as an usurper, someone who took what was rightfully their. Then they discovered that getting nastier somehow got them more votes, enough to flip Congress in 1994, and the die was cast from that point on. Of course, in this they were egged on by the billionaires that funded the "vast right-wing conspiracy" and their Fox propaganda organ. Every time they won again, they doubled down on their most reactionary policies, which invariably blew up in their faces, but not without moving the country significantly to the right. And every time they lost (usually after horrendous wars and recessions), they doubled down again and got even nastier, and bounced right back. That worked in 2010, and it's clearly what they're trying to do this year. Whether it works again depends on how dumb the voters really are. The jury's out on that question.
  • [06-28] Technology and the Triumph of Pessimism: That's a big and interesting question, and he has the advantage of an advance copy of Brad De Long's book, due in September, Slouching Towards Utopia (one I'm almost certain to order; De Long is an economist very close to Krugman), which covers the years 1870-1920: two lifetimes end-to-end (5 generations?), during which our understanding of nature and society was totally upended, the result being that we're increasingly estranged and befuddled by it all, in most cases clinging to older ideas ill fit to the modern world, a mismatch that has led to all sorts of anomalies. So I've mostly thought about this question in terms of philosophy (or religion and psychology), but economics may work too, just with more numbers. Krugman provides a link to a profile of Robert J Gordon, who thinks the age of extreme change is winding down. (His big book is The Rise and Fall of American Growth, which I bought but never got around to reading.) I've imagined this same idea configured as an S-curve, with a steep upward slope from 1900-2000, tapered off on both ends.
  • [06-30] Crazies, Cowards and the Trump Coup: This one was snatched from last week's headlinse, concluding "Republicans are now a coalition of crazies and cowards. And it's hard to say which Republicans present the greater danger."
  • [07-01] Wonking Out: Taking the 'Flation" Out of Stagflation: Key line here is "most economists believe expected inflation is an important determinant of actual inflation." The Fed believed this, and raised interest rates rather sharply. But while prices are still rising, expectations of future price increases appear to be slacking, so we may be quickly torn between the desire to stop inflation and the need to keep the economy from stagnating (a play on the 1970s term stagflation).

Daniel Larison: [07-01] Another round of talks fail as the Iran nuclear deal appears to be slipping away: "JCPOA opponents planted political poison pills to prevent reentering the deal and Biden is letting them get away with it." You'd think that restoring JCPOA would be a no-brainer. It was a key diplomatic achievement for Obama. Trump violated it for no good reason. While Obama (wrongly, I think) took pains to provide a smooth continuity in foreign policy when taking over from Bush, there's no reason for Biden to follow suit. (He certainly hasn't with Ukraine and NATO.) Coming to an understanding with Iran would not only solve one problem, it would make America look more capable of reason elsewhere. Besides, with Russian oil off the world market, the easiest fix to drive prices back down would be to let Iran back in. On the other hand, Biden is heading off to Israel and Saudi Arabia, no doubt to supplicate like Trump did. Also see:

Rebecca Leber: [06-27] The biggest myths about gas prices: Six of them, generally useful but I'd quibble with "Myth 2: Oil companies are price-gouging American consumers." Oil companies are always greedy, always price-gouging, at least within the limits of competition (which is still healthier than it is in most industries). If they weren't, they'd lower their margins to cushion the price shocks, but if they can keep their margins as costs increase, their profits go way up, and that's what we're seeing. I also think that it's likely that there is a massive behind-the-scenes lobbying effort to get articles (like this one) to counter the intuitive idea that oil companies are making out like bandits. I've seen dozens of such articles, which given the push from Bernie Sanders and others for a "windfall profits tax" (as was implemented in the 1970s) is something they'd have a serious interest in promoting. By the way, for a broader review of the role of greed in capitalism, see Nathan J Robinson: [06-20] Is Capitalism Built on Greed? (Executive summary: yes.)

Andrew Marantz: [06-27] Does Hungary Offer a Glimpse of Our Authoritarian Future? Viktor Orbán is certainly popular among elements of the US right that are in any way aware of their fellow fascists around the world -- Steve Bannon and Tucker Carlson are obvious examples, but the author also mentions J.D. Vance and Rod Dreher as admirers, and Ron DeSantis as someone who could fit the bill. Orbán came to my attention quite a while ago, and what struck me most was how he used the power of a freak landslide election to consolidate long-term control of the nation, including passing an extensive legal framework that could only be undone by a super-majority: the use of such gimmicks to guarantee right-minority control struck me as very Republican -- although viewed as Orbánist it should seem even more un-American. Choice lines:

Even Trump's putative allies will admit, in private, that he was a lazy, feckless leader. They wanted Augustus; they got a Caligula. . . . What would happen if the Republican Party were led by an American Orbán, someone with the patience to envision a semi-authoritarian future and the diligence and ruthlessness to achieve it?

Elizabeth Nelson: [07-14] Difficult Man: 'Kitchen Confidential' and the Early Days of Anthony Bourdain's Legacy.

Tory Newmyer: [07-03] Bill to grant crypto firms access to Federal Reserve alarms experts: Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand is in on this graft (along with a Republican from Wyoming; looks like Wyoming already as some sweetheart deals with crypto grifters). I'm not sure what all the ramifications are, but making crypto "too big to fail" sounds like an awful idea, especially given that it's not actually good for anything (legal, anyway).

Andre Pagliarini: [07-01] Live From Brazil: A Clueless Tucker Carlson: "Fox News's chief wingnut has spent all week fawning over authoritarian President Jair Bolsonaro and making absurd, ignorant statements about the country." Worth remembering here that Carlson is also infatuated with Hungary's Viktor Orbán: see Viktória Serdült: [02-01] Tucker Carlson Has Become Obsessed With Hungary. Here's What He Doesn't Understand.

Annie Proulx: [06-27] Swamps Can Protect Against Climate Change, if We Only Let Them. "Wetlands absorb carbon dioxide and buffer the excesses of drought and flood, yet we've drained much of this land."

Nathan J Robinson: ]07-01] The Incredibly Disturbing Texas GOP Agenda Is a Vision for a Theocratic Dystopia. Too much here to even start getting into, but make sure to check out the contrasting pictures of car-free downtown Ljubljana, Slovenia, and "fucking Houston." And while most of the planks reduce to variants on complete-lawless-freedom-for-me and prohibition-on-you, sometimes it just gets weird, like "enshrining a right to cryptocurrency in the Texas Bill of Rights." Evidently, someone told them crypto is "a right-wing hypercapitalistic technology built primarily to amplify the wealth of its proponents through a combination of tax avoiance, diminished regulatory oversight and artificially enforced scarcity," and they said, "wow, give me some of that."

Walter Shapiro: [06-27] 1989-2001: America's Long Lost Weekend: "From the fall of the Berlin Wall to 9/11, we had relative peace and prosperity. It was an opportunity to salve some festering national wounds. We squandered it completely -- and helped give rise to the crises we're dealing with today." One nugget here is that in his speech accepting the 2000 Democratic presidential nomination, Al Gore spent all of one sentence talking about climate change -- a problem that Gore understood well enough to write a book about in 1992 (Earth in the Balance), but didn't seriously return to until 2006 (An Inconvenient Truth). Shapiro previously covered this territory in [2019-04-29] The Lasting Disappointment of the Clinton Presidency.

Alex Skopic: [04-20] Winston Churchill, Imperial Monstrosity: Not sure how I missed this before, but Tariq Ali has finally released a book we always knew he was uniquely qualified to write, Winston Churchill: His Times, His Crimes. Few people realize this, but Churchill was a uniquely malign force in 20th century politics (he actually got his start at the end of the 19th, his first taste of war -- which he relished -- in the Sudan at the most lop-sided massacre European imperialists ever engineered, followed by a tour of the Boer War in South Africa, where he learned to love concentration camps). During WWI he dreamed of starving all of Germany to death, while he was more directly responsible for the disastrous attack on Gallipoli. He was a diehard defender of the British Empire, yet largely responsible for the most tragic decisions of its retreat: the religious division of Ireland, Palestine, and India, creating conflicts that killed millions and more or less persist to this day. He can even claim credit for starting the Cold War (with his "iron curtain" speech -- he did have a knack for rhetoric). And that's just the broad outline. Ali adds more details, including Churchill's role in the Bengal Famine during WWII. Also a discussion of the mythbuilding that kept elevating Churchill from one disaster after another. By the way, Ali has another recent book: The Forty-Year War in Afghanistan: A Chronicle Foretold, compiled from concurrent writings and wrapped up with a new introduction (probably a well-deserved "I told you so").

Jeffrey St Clair: [07-01] Roaming Charges: Whatd'Ya Expect Us to Do About It? Argues that Democrats, given advance notice of Alito's ruling overturning Roe v. Wade, should have spent that time coming up with a coherent response, including executive orders, to fight back, but instead seem to have spent the time formulating fundraising letters. I've seen a lot of similar recriminations, especially against the "gerontocracy." Not entirely fair, but a predisposition to compromise with an opposite side that can never be satisfied does lead to a lot of backpedaling (and frequent falls on one's ass). Much more, of course, including a line suggesting that maybe the intent, which the Court couldn't discern, of the Clean Air Act was in its title. St Clair also reprinted a 2005 column co-written with Alexander Cockburn on the author of Roe v. Wade's demise: Holy Alito!

Jennifer Szalai: [06-29] 'Why We Did It' Is a Dark Ride on the 'Republican Road to Hell': Review of Republican political operator Tim Miller's book, about why Republicans more or less enthusiastically lined up behind Trump after his 2016 election win. Pretty much as I suspected: they were so desperate to win they abandoned all scruples. Reviewer suggests pairing this with another book by a Republican operative, Stuart Stevens: It Was All a Lie: How the Republican Party Became Donald Trump.


By the way, Covid new cases topped 100,000/day on May 17, and have remained at or above that level ever since, making the last six weeks the fourth highest peak period on record. The number of cases had dropped under 30,000 on March 21. Deaths are up 24% over 14 days ago.

Closing tweet, seems to be related to Jeff Bezos: "If the Biden administration is out of touch with Billionaires, imagine how the average American worker feels."

Friday, July 01, 2022

Daily Log

I commented on Facebook:

The fourth season of "Fargo" (2020) doesn't offer much emotional satisfaction, but there is a lot to unpack there, and a number of terrific performances (although Chris Rock isn't high on that list). I think the main difference (other than losing those Minnesota accents) is that in the first three seasons the mobsters just blew through rustic Minnesota/North Dakota like a hurricane, leaving all sorts of damage behind for decent folk to try to recover from, but here the mobsters, with their tribal and internal conflicts, are the whole story, the only innocent the teenage girl (played by E'myri Crutchfield), and even she isn't that central to the story. Still amazing by any standards other than its own. I see a 5th season is coming, with Jon Hamm, Jennifer Jason Leigh, and Juno Temple (Keeley Jones in Ted Lasso).

Chris Monsen posted his Favorite new music releases, January through June, 2022. List is exclusively jazz (20 new + 5 old music). I thought it might be interesting to comb through my 2022 list and pick out top jazz not in Monsen's list:

  1. Omri Ziegele Where's Africa: That Hat (Intakt) **
  2. Marta Sanchez: SAAM (Spanish American Art Museum) (Whirlwind)
  3. Dave Rempis/Avreeayl Ra Duo: Bennu (Aerophonic) **
  4. Manel Fortiá: Despertar (Segell Microscopi)
  5. Darren Johnston: Life in Time (Origin)
  6. Jeremiah Chiu & Marta Sofia Honer: Recordings From the Åland Islands (International Anthem) **
  7. Dave Sewelson: Smooth Free Jazz (Mahakala Music -21) **
  8. Fred Hersch: Breath by Breath (Palmetto)
  9. Tomas Fujiwara's Triple Double: March (Firehouse 12)
  10. Mostly Other People Do the Killing: Disasters Vol. 1 (Hot Cup)
  11. David Murray/Brad Jones/Hamid Drake Brand New World Trio: Seriana Promethea (Intakt) **
  12. Julieta Eugenio: Jump (Greenleaf Music)
  13. Nat Birchall: Afro Trane (Ancient Archive of Sound) **
  14. Jessica Pavone/Lukas Koenig/Matt Mottel: Spam Likely (577)
  15. Whit Dickey Quartet: Astral Long Form/Staircase in Space (Tao Forms)
  16. Felipe Salles/Zaccai Curtis/Avery Sharpe/Jonathan Barber: Tiyo's Songs of Life (Tapestry)
  17. Louis Sclavis: Les Cadences Du Monde (JMS Productions) **
  18. Wadada Leo Smith: The Emerald Duets (TUM, 5CD)
  19. Dave Rempis/Joshua Abrams/Avreeayl Ra + Jim Baker: Scylla (Aerophonic)
  20. Dave Rempis/Elisabeth Harnik/Michael Zerang: Astragaloi (Aerophonic)
  21. Will Bernard: Pond Life (Dreck to Disk)
  22. Kalí Rodríguez-Peña: Mélange (Truth Revolution)
  23. Jacob Sacks/David Ambrosio/Vinnie Sperrazza: Trio Trio Meets Sheila Jordan (SteepleChase) **

My comment:

Only 5 of those 20 on my A-list (currently 28 long), although 7 more I haven't heard yet. Tops on my list missing here (loosely ordered): Omri Ziegele: That Hat; Marta Sanchez: SAAM; Dave Rempis: Bennu; Manel Fortia: Despertar; Darren Johnston: Life in Time; Jeremiah Chiu: Recordings From the Aland Islands; Dave Sewelson: Smooth Free Jazz (12/2021); Fred Hersch: Breath by Breath.


Jun 2022