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Who Could Have Guessed Saturday Night Live Would Play a Leading Role in Resisting Trump?

[ 204 ] February 6, 2017 |

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Donald Trump reacts to Melissa McCarthy’s portrayal of Sean Spicer in the most Trump way possible.

More than being lampooned as a press secretary who makes up facts, it was Spicer’s portrayal by a woman that was most problematic in the president’s eyes, according to sources close to him. And the unflattering send-up by a female comedian was not considered helpful for Spicer’s longevity in the grueling, high-profile job, where he has struggled to strike the right balance between representing an administration that considers the media the “opposition party,” and developing a functional relationship with the press.

“Trump doesn’t like his people to look weak,” added a top Trump donor.

Trump’s uncharacteristic Twitter silence over the weekend about the “Saturday Night Live” sketch was seen internally as a sign of how uncomfortable it made the White House feel. Sources said the caricature of Spicer by McCarthy struck a nerve and was upsetting to the press secretary and to his allies, who immediately saw how damaging it could be in Trumpworld.

Since SNL has so much power, how about portraying Bannon as a puppetmaster controlling everything Trump says. Or portray Trump as a dog who Bannon pets on the head when he says something properly racist. Even better, Trump can be played by a woman, evidently the most outrageous insult ever imagined.

4 years of this. 4 years.

….Now this is a good idea.

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Who Uses the ACA? Trump Voters.

[ 216 ] February 6, 2017 |

1in4WA

As this story on Washington demonstrates, one of the many sad ironies of the election is that the counties most reliant upon the ACA for health care are also the counties most likely to vote for the fascist Trump.

Why Protest Works, Part the Infinity

[ 52 ] February 6, 2017 |
TOPSHOT - People rally as they take part in a protest against Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump in New York on March 19,2016. / AFP / KENA BETANCUR        (Photo credit should read KENA BETANCUR/AFP/Getty Images)

TOPSHOT – People rally as they take part in a protest against Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump in New York on March 19,2016. / AFP / KENA BETANCUR (Photo credit should read KENA BETANCUR/AFP/Getty Images)

I confess a bit of amusement at Yglesias embracing protest politics, but that’s petty on my part. He’s absolutely right that protesting Trump has worked in some really concrete ways.

It is telling that in most of these cases, the Trump administration is committed to pretending that resistance isn’t the cause of the reversals. Trump has attempted to argue that he — rather than public outcry — is responsible for the OGE reversal. And the administration has tried to sell the public on the idea that his orders were never meant to apply to green card holders, and that the “confusion” around this and other subjects is the fault of the media.

Those of us who lived through these events owe it to ourselves and to others to remember them correctly. In all cases, Trump acted in response to public outcry, not in advance of it. Things changed because people paid attention, spoke up, and made a difference.

A flood of telephone calls to members’ offices has suddenly imperiled Betsy DeVos’s confirmation as secretary of education. More important than her personal fate, the fight over DeVos has gotten multiple Republican senators — including very conservative ones like Jerry Moran of Kansas — to come out swinging against the idea of a federal school voucher program, a key Trump administration promise.

Also:

The other is the fate of the DREAMers, undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States as children and were granted relief from deportation under Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) initiative. The Sessions/Bannon/Miller faction of the Trump administration has written a draft executive order rescinding this protection, but Trump seems cautious about actually promulgating it, fearing the massive blowback that would surely result from deporting a large, visible, sympathetic, and well-integrated group of immigrants.

If opposition to Trump is demobilized and demoralized, these initiatives will be vulnerable. If it is sustained and active, they can be preserved.

If the ACA and the DREAMer program are preserved, then substantial chunks of the Obama legacy will remain in place, and the momentum of Trumpism will be blunted. If they are rescinded, the opposite is the case, and the door is open to things like Paul Ryan’s broader “war on the poor” or Bannon’s broad-brush attack on all forms of immigration.

Democrats do not have the power, on their own, to win either of these key battles. But citizens do have the power to win them, by making Republicans scared. All the evidence of 2017 thus far is that Republicans are, in fact, scared. The question is whether people will stay mobilized and ensure that the GOP stays nervous.

Yglesias also notes that the impact of protest is to make people more comfortable doing it, meaning that they will do it again and it will become fun and part of their lives. That’s why garbage posts by Capital One executives arguing that protesting the Muslim ban need to be ridiculed and their authors shunned. They are wrong, they are damaging, and if people take them seriously, the one thing we can do to resist Trump will disappear. And that cannot happen.

So keep calling, keep marching, keep embarrassing Trump. It’s up to you to stop fascism. And up to me too. So let’s do it!

Are Factory Jobs Good Jobs?

[ 105 ] February 6, 2017 |

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No, not unless they are backed up with worker power that ensures a safe workplace, good working conditions, and a decent wage and benefits. It took a century of struggle to make that happen in the United States. Even though industrial unions have been largely crushed in this country, the residual effects of those unions are not reversed overnight. So we talk about good factory jobs today, even in nonunion southern states, because they do tend to pay better than a job in Walmart or McDonald’s. But that’s because unions made them that way and the employers can’t completely reverse that overnight. However, they can slowly reverse it and that brings us to this horrible story out of Alabama, where a dead worker is a window into how everything that made those jobs good is disappearing.

On June 18 2016 — a Saturday — a robot that Elsea was overseeing at the Ajin USA auto parts plant in Cusseta, Alabama, stopped moving. She and three colleagues tried to get it going, stepping inside the cage designed to protect workers from the machine, according to the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration. When the robot restarted abruptly, Elsea was crushed. She died the next day when she was taken off a life-support machine, with her mother, Angel Ogle, at her side. After an investigation, Osha concluded that the accident that killed Elsea was preventable.

The life and death of Regina Elsea points to a national predicament as President Trump seeks to “make America great again” by increasing industrial employment. With automation on the rise and unionisation on the decline, manufacturing jobs no longer guarantee a secure middle-class life as they often did in the past. Much of the new work is low paid and temporary. Staffing agencies sometimes supply factories with workers who have little training or experience — and who can quickly find themselves in harm’s way.

Elsea’s factory status was indicated by the colour of her clothing. Although she worked at Ajin, a Korean parts maker that supplies Hyundai and Kia and is Chambers County’s largest private employer, Elsea was not an Ajin employee. She wore the blue shirt of Alliance Total Solutions, which along with another labour agency, Joynus Staffing, provides roughly 250 of the nearly 800 workers at the plant.

Starting in early 2016, Elsea worked Mondays to Fridays, her family says. But the demands increased. In her last weeks, she worked 12-hour shifts, seven days a week, hoping to qualify for a full-time position and an hourly wage of about $12. The only respites were a half-hour for lunch and sometimes an eight-hour shift on Sundays. Otherwise, she was on her feet all day. “She was always tired,” says her mother, who lives near the parts plant. “She would come over here and take her shoes off and I would rub her feet. She said her feet hurt.”

Elsea’s death came less than a year after David Michaels, the assistant US labour secretary for Osha, warned Hyundai and Kia officials during a 2015 visit to Korea about hazardous conditions at their suppliers. Osha records show that accidents at Hyundai and Kia parts makers in Alabama and Georgia in 2015 and 2016 resulted in 12 amputations — one of a worker’s foot, the rest involving all or parts of fingers.

In December, Osha levied a $2.5m penalty against Ajin, accusing it of 23 violations of federal safety rules, most of them “wilful”, in Elsea’s accident. Osha alleged that Ajin failed to put in place the proper controls to prevent machinery from starting up while being serviced or when workers entered robotic cells. Elsea’s family has also filed suit, seeking damages from Ajin and Joynus.

This is the type of job that Trump talks about when he goes MAGA. These aren’t good jobs. They are terrible jobs. They are also the only even halfway decent jobs in the rural South. Because of capital mobility and the inability of unions to organize southern industrial plants (which may be changing but we will see), these jobs are unsafe and they are getting worse, not better. The lack of any real industrial policy in the United States for a half-century combined with the desperation of American blue-collar workers to take anything they can get these days contributes to this situation. There aren’t any easy answers either except to fine the living hell out the suppliers, the subcontractors, and the auto plants who buy supplies from these factories. Of course, that’s not going to Make America Great Again so you can forget that for the next 4 years.

But we need to remember is that there is nothing inherently good about a factory job. What makes any job a “good” job is a union or at least competition with unionized workplaces. Whether it is McDonald’s or Kia suppliers, only a union can protect workers. Promoting union workplaces needs to be the left’s primary goal, not creating specific types of jobs except in areas that already having a union presence that would make their creation automatically a pretty good job.

A General Strike?

[ 55 ] February 6, 2017 |

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There’s been a lot of talk on the left about a general strike in the last 2 weeks. Color me extremely skeptical. It has seemed to me that this is being pushed by people who want to shut shit down and, well, that’s kind of it. I haven’t seen any convincing discussion of tactics or goals and it seems completely disconnected from where the actual working class is in this country. Given where we are at and what we are facing, I am open to the possibility of nearly any tactics, but this doesn’t make much sense to me. If by general strike we mean a bunch of protestors shutting down American’s transportation network and forcing mass arrests, then that’s one thing. If we mean actual workers walking off their jobs, then I think this is totally disconnected from reality. So let me wholeheartedly endorse this Alex Gourevitch essay debunking the idea. As he points out, the history of massive worker resistance in this country has led to arrests, deaths, and repression much more than it has liberation. In fact, that’s really the story of why the American labor movement is so tepid compared to other similar nations–employers and the state generally haven’t combined to bust heads in Europe to nearly the extent as in the U.S. If this is an actual goal, there needs to be A LOT of work done ahead of time. Gourevitch:

In the past, workers stayed out on those strikes, even fighting the state, in part because of dense, historically developed, cultures of solidarity; established traditions of militancy; organized, if not always recognized, unions; and long connections with left-wing organizers. These days, the appetite for fighting the state is next to nil, there is no tested public sympathy for labor actions, and there are no clear organizations standing ready to lead.

If you’re going to ask people not just to risk losing their jobs but potentially face the armed apparatus of the state, there had better be preparation, leadership, and some evident readiness for mass labor actions.

Not to mention, there had better be a recognizable goal. But what is the point of the proposed general strike? To say down with Trump? What, so we can have Pence?

Or is the point just a generalized ‘No’? A massive expression of discontent? None of the significant costs of a general strike are worth it if it’s just a grand gesture of refusal.

On one version, the point of the strike is to affirm a grab-bag of demands: no to the immigration ban, yes to universal health care, no to pipelines, no to global gag rule and, inexplicably, a final demand that Trump reveal his tax returns. These demands show no evidence of thinking about what the immediate interests of workers might actually be – no mention of proposed national right-to-work legislation, $15 minimum wage demands, or even Trump’s terrible Labor Secretary pick. Trump’s nationalist and deeply inegalitarian economic ‘plan’ at least acknowledges the need to address bad employment prospects and stagnant wages.

It would be reasonable for workers to dismiss the call for a general strike. It looks like they are being asked to be actors in someone else’s drama, by people who just cottoned on to the fact that things are shitty out there.

Moreover, even moderately effective general strikes don’t emerge, willy-nilly, like miraculous interventions into national life. They are intensifications and radicalizations of already existing patterns of resistance by the working class. This demand for a general strike looks less like that intensification and more like an attempt to leapfrog all the hard, long-term political work that goes before.

At least some of those arguing for the general strike seem to sense that there is an element of bad faith here. For instance, Francine Prose added the qualification, which I have seen repeated in a number of places, that only those “who can do so without being fired” should go on strike. This must be the first time someone called for a general strike but exempted most of the working class.

Believe me, I’d love to see a real general strike, a serious attempt at restructuring society, not just lopping the head off the Republican hydra. But there is no royal road to revolution, or even to a true mass movement for social change.

Yes. Also, yes.

The Building Trades

[ 60 ] February 6, 2017 |

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I was very unhappy when the building trades met with Trump and then gloated about the reopening of the Dakota Access and Keystone pipelines. So I wrote about it in The New Republic. Basically, the building trades are aligning with the wrong side on issues for the millionth time and their hostility to the rest of the left means no one will care when Trump signs off on eliminating the Davis-Bacon Act. I also place this in the context of how the rise of industrial unions was how the labor movement came to represent the real interests of all working people and how their decimation due to capital mobility means that the building trades once again have outsized power in the labor movement. An excerpt.

Corporations regained their hold over the nation’s politics by decimating the industrial unions. They closed factories, busted unions, and moved jobs overseas.The United Auto Workers is a shell of its former self. The United Steelworkers has tried organizing in different fields, but its numbers have also fallen precipitously. The United Food and Commercial Workers, the descendant of the CIO-affiliated United Packinghouse Workers, has decent clout with some grocery chains, but has been unable to penetrate Walmart and the other retailers that have transformed the food industry. Most of the old industrial unions—the United Rubber Workers, the Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America, and so many others—are gone, along with the jobs.

The broad-based social policies these unions fought for are now in the process of being repealed by an emboldened Republican Party. Public sector unions such as SEIU and AFSCME have filled some of that political vacuum, fighting for health care, higher minimum wages, and other economic justice programs. But the public sector unions are incredibly diverse, ranging from professors to home health care workers. They lack the common working class culture that would be needed to replicate the mass movements of the New Deal era.

As a result, the building trades once again hold an outsized amount of power within the labor movement. AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka is the most politically progressive labor federation leader in American history, with the possible exception of Reuther, but he is beholden to his constituent unions when shaping policy. He cannot take a strong stand in support of protesters stopping the Dakota Access Pipeline without alienating powerful people like McGarvey and O’Sullivan.

In Rhode Island, where I live, there is currently a major political battle over the siting of a power plant that is to use fracked natural gas and diesel oil. The state’s environmental community has come out in force against this project, urging the state to adopt a clean energy future. LIUNA has not only vigorously supported the project, but its members have also stood outside meetings and openly jeered environmentalists. After the meeting with Trump, labor journalist Cole Stangler recalled a previous conversation in which he asked McGarvey if he was concerned about the environmental impact of fracking. McGarvey said no, and Stangler could hear laughter in the background at the question.

But the trade unions seem incapable of realizing that the Trump administration is not their friend. In the meeting with Trump, they asked him to pledge not to repeal the 1931 Davis-Bacon Act. This law requires the federal government to pay contractors a “locally prevailing wage,” as determined by the Department of Labor. It serves to ensure that those workers building American infrastructure are paid a fair wage. Republicans dislike it and Senator Jeff Flake of Arizona has introduced a bill to overturn the law. Trump will almost certainly sign this bill. Trump has routinely refused to pay the contractors he has hired, and has never supported unions except when they can help him. Sadly, the building trades believe that supporting Trump’s projects will pay off for them.

The repeal of Davis-Bacon will be sad. It will hurt workers and hurt unions. On the other hand, what have the building trades ever done for any other progressive group? With some exceptions, the trades have failed to understand the value of solidarity. In doing so, they are facing a situation in which they will have few allies in the fight to keep Davis-Bacon in place. Their short-sightedness is even greater considering the Muslim ban the Trump administration imposed last week. Any organization not fighting for our most vulnerable residents will not receive support from the left for its own goals.

And yes, it is nice to be at the point in my life where something can make me mad and then I can write about it in a magazine. Perhaps I can start writing New York Times op-eds about ketchup next.

The Government Workers’ Revolt

[ 60 ] February 5, 2017 |

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It’s not only State Department workers revolting against Herr Trump. Labor Department workers are doing the same.

You can now add the Labor Department to the growing list of US government agencies where workers are speaking out against their new leadership.

Politico’s “Morning Shift” newsletter reports today that “current and former” Labor Department employees are circulating and adding their names to an open letter asking the Senate not to confirm Andrew Puzder as Labor Secretary. (It’s unclear how many signatures the letter has at this point.) Puzder, you may recall, is coming directly from a position as the CEO of Hardees and Carl’s Jr., where he became famous for speaking out against wage increases and hailing the coming of automation that would reduce his own human work force. Now, the very people he would supervise if he gets confirmed are speaking out against his business practices, his treatment of his own employees, and even his personal conduct.

Puzder is a truly reprehensible human being, whose nomination may legitimately be in doubt given how slow he has gone in preparing even basic records to pass on to Congress and his reputed dissatisfaction with having to go through a confirmation procedure. But if he is confirmed, I’m sure he and the rest of this New Gilded Age crew will seek to sweep out the Labor Department and replace these people with cronies and hacks. Of course, the people signing the letter see the writing on the wall and evidently are going to go out with principles instead of meekly. And this kind of internal pushback is great and a critical part of the larger protest over the rise of fascism.

That’s an open act of insubordination that will likely get all these people fired, as the Trump administration joins the rest of the Republican Party in legalizing corruption and turning the Pendleton Civil Service Act moot.

A Hideous Lie

[ 30 ] February 5, 2017 |
Children playing in the DDT fog left behind by the TIFA truck.  (Photo by George Silk//Time Life Pictures/Getty Images)

Children playing in the DDT fog left behind by the TIFA truck. (Photo by George Silk//Time Life Pictures/Getty Images)

I see people are once again going down the “Rachel Carson is a mass murderer” road. The idea is that because Carson sought to ban DDT, cases of malaria exploded and thus millions of people died. Pravda recently went down this road too.

In 2014, Google honored Carson on the 50th anniversary of her death, prompting this commentary from Breitbart News: “Will Google be paying tribute to any of the other mass killers of the 20th century? Hitler? Stalin? Mao? Pol Pot? Probably not. But then, none of the others have had the benefit of having their images burnished by a thousand and one starry-eyed greenies.” Breitbart in 2014 was led by Stephen K. Bannon, now chief strategist and senior counselor in the Trump White House.

I am not going to debunk the whole thing because this has been discussed many times. But the short version of it is that a) Carson did not call for the complete ban of DDT when it could save people’s lives, b) The U.S. ban on DDT in 1972 did not include other nations, where malaria was actually killing people, many of which never did ban DDT, c) her actual argument was not that chemicals should not be used to kill insects, but rather that the unregulated spraying of them everywhere all of the time had massive ecological consequences that would affect humans negatively too, d) mosquitoes were becoming resistant to DDT by its ban in 1972, e) much of the rise in malaria in the developing world in the 1970s had to do with decreased anti-malaria expenditures by governments, and f) DDT is still frequently used in the developing world.

This is a right-wing lie meant to discredit not only one of the finest Americans ever to live but the entire environmental movement. Never, ever believe it. Tell people who say it that they are grossly wrong and should never speak again about anything until they learn how to decipher truth from right-wing lie.

Richard Conniff has a more complete debunking here if you need it.

Erik Visits an American Grave, Part 69

[ 8 ] February 5, 2017 |

This is the grave of Ely Parker.

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Born in 1828 on the Seneca Reservation in western New York, Ha-sa-no-an-da, or as he was known in English, Ely Parker, grew up within the declining Seneca elite, with his father a prominent Baptist minister. Parker went to a missionary school and became fluent in English as well as his native Seneca. He grew up in the larger reform world of New York at that time, with people such as John Wesley Powell and Lewis Henry Morgan visiting his parents. He originally attempted to become a lawyer, studying for three years, but then was denied because as an indigenous person, he was not considered to be a U.S. citizen. Instead, he went to Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy and then became a civil engineer. He also took a major role in Seneca affairs, serving as an effective diplomat between his people and the U.S. government.

As an engineer, Parker traveled about a good bit. Working in Galena, Illinois before the Civil War, he met Ulysses S. Grant. When the Civil War began, Parker wanted to fight for the Union. He tried to raise a unit of Iroquois but was turned down. He then volunteered as an engineer, but Secretary of War Simon Cameron refused because he was an Indian. But he then contacted Grant, who managed to get him a commission as an engineer. He rose rapidly. He became Grant’s adjutant in late 1863 as he was moving on Chattanooga. He served closely with Grant for the rest of the war, writing much of the general’s correspondence and becoming his military secretary as a rank of lieutenant colonel. The documents the traitor Robert E. Lee signed at Appomattox are in Parker’s handwriting.

Parker continued to work for Grant after the war, not leaving the military until 1869. When Grant became president, he named Parker his Commissioner for Indian Affairs, the first Native American to hold the office. He instituted Grant’s “Peace Policy” toward Native Americans in the West, attempting to reduce the violent conflict in that genocidal march of white Americans that had already so reduced Parker’s own Seneca people before his birth. He left government in 1871, invested in the stock market and lost most of it in the Panic of 1873. But his social connections got him a position as a New York police commissioner. He became close friends with the reformer Jacob Riis and provided him with a lot of the police reports that helped him write How the Other Half Lives.

But Parker’s continued poor financial decisions led him toward poverty. He died poor in Fairfield, Connecticut in 1895.

Parker has been featured in a few pieces of popular entertainment. He was played by Asa-Luke Twocrow in Spielberg’s Lincoln. He was also portrayed by Gregory Sierra in two episodes of Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman.

Ely Parker is buried in Forest Lawn Cemetery, Buffalo, New York.

Music Notes

[ 100 ] February 4, 2017 |

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A brief music notes, just to get our mind off politics.

Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours just turned 40. Here’s a ranking of the songs on the album. Putting “Don’t Stop” last is the correct call. The whole ranking is basically right.

Pop Matters ranked the best post-punk albums. Have it with your thoughts.

Album Reviews:

Dale Watson, Live at the Big T Roadhouse: Chicken S#!+ Bingo Sunday

Watson is one of the finest practitioners of old-school country music in the land. He’s a man right out of the 1960s and 1970s style, with electric guitar and outlaw feel, with lots of songs about trucking, heartbreak, drinking, and the other classic topics of that era. He’s an excellent vocalist and a solid guitarist. He’s also an Austin institution who I used to see quite a bit when I lived there. His Live in London album is an outstanding live country album. So I was excited by this follow up. But, well, it has an interesting theme. See, Watson hosts these occasional gatherings called Chicken Shit Bingo Sunday. He plays a show. And he has a chicken. The chicken walks around on a wooden board with numbered squares. The audience puts in guesses on the square where the chicken will take a shit. And if they win, they win some money.

So the album is pretty typical of a Dale Watson show, with the additional of this oddity. But the oddity is pretty odd. And it does distract from the album. The songs themselves are of his usual classic quality, both his own songs, a couple of Haggard covers, and a couple of other covers. But it’s not exactly something you are going to listen to very often. And that limits its appeal.

B-

Gary Lucas’ Fleischerei (Featuring Sarah Stiles), Music from Max Fleischer’s Cartoons.

Gary Lucas, who became known as Captain Beefheart’s guitarist and who has went on to have a fascinating career of noise, jazz, and soundtrack albums, created a band to recreate Max Fleischer’s Betty Boop soundtrack. Sarah Stiles, a Broadway singer, plays the Betty Boop character. The arrangements are appropriately Jazz Age but with a modern tinge. This might sound kind of uninteresting to many of you, but it actually works pretty well. Stiles’ voice is appropriately childlike for the part, which might annoy me usually, but she’s really good at it. Plus one forgets that these lyrics were all about sex, making them pretty fun. The musicians are pretty fantastic. Plus “Barnacle Bill” in context of a Popeye cartoon is pretty tough to beat.

B+

Julianna Barwick, Will

This is a lovely listen. And yet “lovely” isn’t quite the unfettered compliment that it might seem. It does share the same problem as a lot of ambient music, which is that I get sleepy listening to it. Yet her voice is great and the arrangements, well, lovely. How much you like this depends on your genre preferences.

B

Venezuela 70: Cosmic Visions of a Latin American Earth

This is an absolutely outstanding compilation of Venezuelan rock from the 70s. Containing a huge variety of music in its 16 songs with sounds I have never heard before, this was some extremely original work. Some of it is propulsive Latin sounds, some of it is weird electronic stuff, all of it is fantastic.

A

Wadada Leo Smith, America’s National Parks

The legendary trumpeter and AACM founder decided to rethink the meaning of a national park as the National Park Service turned 100. After watching the Ken Burns series, he was dissatisfied.

The idea that Ken Burns explored in that documentary was that the grandeur of nature was like a religion or a cathedral,” Smith says. “I reject that image because the natural phenomenon in creation, just like man and stars and light and water, is all one thing, just a diffusion of energy. My focus is on the spiritual and psychological dimensions of the idea of setting aside reserves for common property of the American citizens.”

This doesn’t per se make very much sense to the average reader, but then the spirituality of jazz musicians is often this way. With Anthony Davis on piano, Ashley Walters on cello, John Lindberg on bass, and Pheeroan akLaff on drums and recorded at the absolutely lovely Firehouse 12 in New Haven (I travel there to see a couple of shows a year and it’s a great space), this is a fascinating concept and a very good album. Taking traditional national parks like Yosemite and Yellowstone, but also what Smith thinks a national park could be (song titles include “The Mississippi River: Dark and Deep Dreams Flow the River – a National Memorial Park c. 5000 BC”), he makes his own contribute to the intellectual and cultural product of the American landscape. His work tends to combine experimental jazz with a deep immersion in the classical tradition, creating soundscapes that are both heavily compositional and envelope-pushing. A very interesting work.

A-

As always, an open thread for all things music, or whatever so long as there are no politics.

No to Federal Land Transfers

[ 24 ] February 4, 2017 |

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For most of you, the issue of western public lands is probably not as important as the other horrors that is the Republican policy agenda. But for a westerner, this stuff is exceedingly important, whether you are a hiker or you are Cliven Bundy. Jason Chaffetz, the most principled man in Washington except for all the others, and his buddies want to transfer millions of acres of western lands over to the states, which would lead to both far more limited public access and vastly more industrial development. But this was a bridge too far for westerners and Chaffetz has been forced to shelve it, for now at least.

Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) withdrew legislation Thursday that would have transferred 3 million acres of land from federal to state ownership, citing objections from constituents who complained that the move would limit access to public hunting and fishing grounds.

The Disposal of Excess Federal Lands Act, which would have shifted federal holdings to state governments in Utah, Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon and Wyoming, prompted an outcry among hunters and anglers’ groups. Introduced three weeks after House Republicans enacted a rule change to make it easier to sell off federal land, the measure prompted two separate rallies in Santa Fe, N.M., and Helena, Mont., this week that drew hundreds of people opposed to the measure.

A wide array of outdoors groups praised the move.

Aaron Kindle, Western sportsmen’s campaign manager for the National Wildlife Federation, said in a statement that his group appreciates “that Mr. Chaffetz listened” to those opposed to the bill.

“This loss would have forever robbed the American people of the amazing bounty these and all public lands provide,” Kindle said. “Another good move would be to withdraw the recently approved House rule that devalues public lands and makes them easier to dispose of.”

Katie McKalip, communications director for the Montana-based Backcountry Hunters and Anglers, said in an email that its members and others “have sent a clear message, in no uncertain terms, that Americans greatly value our nation’s public lands and waters and that we will not tolerate actions by our elected officials that diminish them.”

Not sure I would praise him at all, although I get the need to do that publicly. It’s going to take continued pressure from westerners to stop this because Chaffetz and his merry band of Bundyites want this really bad.

Good win for now though.

The Benevolent NFL Plutocrats

[ 37 ] February 4, 2017 |

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This is the NFL’s most self-congratulating weekend, which is quite considerable given the other 51 weeks of the year. But between the Super Bowl (is there a single American rooting for Team Trump outside of New England and the White House?) and the Hall of Fame announcement tonight, this is the peak of the year for the NFL. So I was surprised to hear of this attack on the Chicago Bears’ players in the Illinois state legislature.

NFL Players Association executive director DeMaurice Smith says he will tell potential free agents not to sign with the Chicago Bears should new Illinois Senate Bill 12 SA #2 pass.

The bill would adjust the Workers’ Compensation Act as it applies to professional athletes, who potentially are entitled to a wage differential award. The new bill would look to eliminate those athletes from being eligible for wage differential awards after age 35.

The law currently allows players to get paid for the term of their natural life which is set at 67 years old. Those wanting change contend pro athletes seldom play beyond age 35 so paying them until 67 because of injury is unfair and expensive.

“I will tell you from the bottom of my heart that this union will tell every potential free-agent player, if this bill passes, to not come to the Bears,” Smith told 670 The Score in Chicago. “Because, think about it, if you’re a free-agent player and you have an opportunity to go play somewhere else where you can get lifetime medical for the injury you’re going to have, isn’t a smarter financial decision to go to a team where a bill like this hasn’t passed?”

If I was a Bears fan (and thank the higher powers that be that I am not), I would be freaking out right now. All of a sudden, Cleveland and Buffalo would be more attractive destinations for players than Chicago. What the heck is behind this?

Smith told the Spiegel & Parkins Show on Friday that the bill is being pushed by the McCaskey family which owns the Bears.

“We join the four other major professional Chicago teams in monitoring and supporting changes to the system that protect athletes’ rights under the workers’ compensation system while acknowledging athletes are not competing professionally until age 67,” the Bears responded in a statement released to 670 The Score. “Nothing in the wage differential language under consideration impacts the right for any athlete to receive just compensation for partial or permanent injury, medical benefits or to file a claim itself.”

Ah, the McCaskey family. Virginia McCaskey’s personal wealth was $1.3 billion in 2014. The team itself was worth $1.7 billion in that same year. So you can see why the family would intervene to destroy the health care of their players. There’s always another ivory backscratcher to purchase. I’m sure Roger Goodell will be intervening to say the NFL completely opposes this horrible bill right away. Because if there’s one thing about Goodell, he truly cares about the safety of the players….

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