May 2, 2019

Posted by orrinj at 9:42 PM


Stephen Moore, Trump ally, withdraws from contention for Fed seat (DON LEE, MAY 02, 2019, LA Times)

President Trump was dealt another setback in his bid to put a political ally on the Federal Reserve board as plans to appoint Stephen Moore, a conservative commentator and economist, collapsed amid a backlash sparked by Moore's past writings and statements that disparaged women and gender equity.

Posted by orrinj at 8:53 PM


Why Barr Can't Whitewash the Mueller Report: We have a system in place for our government to uncover evidence against a sitting president. And it's working (Neal K. Katyal, May 1, 2019, NY Times)

When it comes to investigating a president, the special counsel regulations I had the privilege of drafting in 1998-99 say that such inquiries have one ultimate destination: Congress. That is where this process is going, and has to go. We are in the fifth inning, and we should celebrate a system in which our own government can uncover so much evidence against a sitting president.

Some commentators have attacked the special counsel regulations as giving the attorney general the power to close a case against the president, as Mr. Barr did with the obstruction of justice investigation into Donald Trump. But the critics' complaint here is not with the regulations but with the Constitution itself. Article II gives the executive branch control over prosecutions, so there isn't an easy way to remove the attorney general from the process.

Instead, the idea behind the regulations was to say, "We recognize the constitutional reality that the attorney general controls the prosecution power, so what else can we do?" My colleagues and I (a group that included many career officials at the Justice Department as well as bipartisan leaders in the House and Senate) settled on two things. First, provide a mechanism to enable an independent investigation, and thereby generate public confidence in the outcome of that investigation. Second, design that mechanism so that if the attorney general interferes with the special counsel's inquiry, that interference would be reported to Congress and ultimately become public.

Posted by Glenn Dryfoos at 4:56 PM

Happy Birthday, Bing!

Posted by orrinj at 4:14 AM


Gospel Music as Liberation: They answer to God, not the politeness or respectability of middle-class society or popular culture. (Crispin Sartwell, 5/01/19, spliced)

Seemingly parochial, or of interest primarily to certain sorts of Christians, gospel in fact carries the main line of African-American--and hence American--popular music.

In the 1940s, some of the best acts in gospel were straightforwardly blueswomen. And often they were instrumentalists too, which is not something that women were doing on pop and swing bandstands, for the most part. Someone like Sister Rosetta Tharpe--recently inducted into the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame--was rocking the guitar as she sang her way gently or ferociously through both God-oriented and secular blues music. But she was emblematic of a cohort whose story is little told, of fiercely distinctive blues-gospel shouters, such as Willie Mae Ford Smith and Sister Cora Martin.

There were more directly beautiful and delicate approaches too, and my favorite recent re-acquaintance Edna Gallmon Cooke took her audience from a blues and jazz orientation in the 1940s to an almost Patsy-Cline-like sophistication by the early-60s, and from South Carolina to Philly, expressing her ecstatic devotion to Jesus the whole way. The great Mavis Staples and the Staple Singers never lost sight of this connection, even as they translated it to electric guitars and Civil Rights. For that matter, I don't think you get to the melismatic style of contemporary r 'n' b (Beyoncé, for example) without these singers, who developed elaborate vocabularies of ornament over their churches' stable, powerful substructure of keyboard and choir.

That these women were singing for God's glory is, I think, one element in the astonishing feeling of immediate presence and freedom that's embodied in their recordings. They answer to God, not the politeness or respectability of middle-class society or popular culture, and God lets them go, lets them believe in and affirm themselves, or demands that they do so. The congregations for which or with which they performed were often predominantly female, and are often audible on the recordings. That too was a factor in the liberation of these voices into the highest realms of spirit and art, and in the supremely confident embodied experience that was the spiritual and artistic foundation of church communities. [...]

But though the translation of the vocabulary to the theme of romantic love and its discontents awaited the secularization of gospel performers such as Sam Cooke and Aretha, many different themes and moods are struck in gospel music. It's a way of grappling with death (Albertina Walker, "If I Perish"), oppression (Davis Sisters, "Sinner Man, Where You Gonna Run To?"), and liberation (Edna Gallmon Cooke, "I've Been Redeemed"). Every mood of the religious is touched, from prophetic visions of the apocalypse (the evil groove of Shirley Caesar's "Millennial Reign"), loneliness and nostalgia for home (Caesar's "Stranger on the Road"), to mystical experiences of apotheosis (Marion Williams, "Jesus is All in All"). What emerges from a body of work such as Williams' or Dorothy Love Coates' is a rounded experience of a whole life, the biography of an individual spoken in her real voice, and of a congregation and a people, made whole and compelling as it emerges from the testimony of a particular body and spirit.

Posted by orrinj at 4:11 AM


Biden calls for end to U.S. support for Saudi war in Yemen (Josh Rogin, May 1, 2019, Washington Post)

Former vice president Joe Biden is taking his first major foreign policy stance since officially announcing his candidacy for president by calling for the United States to end its assistance to Saudi Arabia for its war in Yemen. This aligns him with Senate Democrats and against President Trump.

Biden's decision to weigh in on the Yemen issue is a clear sign he plans to rely on his long experience and record on foreign policy as he lays his claim to the role of commander in chief. That means foreign policy will indeed be featured in the Democratic primary, something Biden's opponents within the party are already preparing for.

But on the issue of U.S. involvement in Yemen, Biden is aligned with the entire Senate Democratic caucus -- and even some Republicans -- who want the president to halt U.S. support for the Saudi-led war there, which has fueled a massive humanitarian crisis.

Iran just needs to run out the clock.

Posted by orrinj at 12:48 AM


A majority of seniors now say they definitely won't back Trump in 2020 (Kathryn Krawczyk, 4/29/19, The Week)

In an earlier analysis of 2016 voter data, Pew Research Center found that Trump easily won over voters age 65 and up, with a margin of 53-44. Yet that group may now be at risk for Trump, with 53 percent saying they definitely wouldn't vote for him in 2020, a Washington Post/ABC News poll has found.

Beyond seniors, the Washington Post/ABC News poll also shows Trump's support among other groups is waning. A solid 62 percent of women now say they definitely won't vote for Trump in 2020, and 41 percent of white women without a college degree say the same. Per Pew's 2016 analysis, Trump only lost 54 percent and 34 percent of those groups to Hillary Clinton, respectively.

Trump is also seeing a significant loss of independent voters, with 42 percent voting against him in 2016 and 51 percent saying they definitely won't now, the Washington Post/ABC News poll reveals. 

Posted by orrinj at 12:17 AM


The True Story Of A Man-Eating Tiger's 'Vengeance' (NPR, September 14, 2010,  Morning Edition)

John Vaillant's The Tiger is part natural history, part Russian history and part thriller; it tells a gripping and gory story of what it's like to stalk -- and be stalked by -- the largest species of cat still walking the Earth. [...]

At the center of the story is Vladimir Markov, a poacher who met a grisly end in the winter of 1997 after he shot and wounded a tiger, and then stole part of the tiger's kill.

The injured tiger hunted Markov down in a way that appears to be chillingly premeditated. The tiger staked out Markov's cabin, systematically destroyed anything that had Markov's scent on it, and then waited by the front door for Markov to come home.

"This wasn't an impulsive response," Vaillant says. "The tiger was able to hold this idea over a period of time." The animal waited for 12 to 48 hours before attacking.

When Markov finally appeared, the tiger killed him, dragged him into the bush and ate him. "The eating may have been secondary," Vaillant explains. "I think he killed him because he had a bone to pick."