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Is Aretha The Equal Of Michelangelo?

Is Aretha The Equal Of Michelangelo?

In the Washington Post of August 17, Chris Richards declared that the performance by Aretha Franklin of the title cut on her 1972 gospel-soul album, “Amazing Grace” “deserves to be compared to everything Michelangelo ever painted.”  Now  I am not prepared to go that far, but  when I learned she had died, it as this particular song by her on that album (which I have in vinyl from when it first came out) that I wanted to hear and played prior to seeing this over-thee-top remark by Richards.

Nevertheless, it is an incredible performance. She has been underappreciated for some time partly because she has been so widely imitated for so long. Her basic sound has become simply what most singers, especially female ones, do all the time, with even the cheesy pop Idol shows turning what has become a cliche into a joke.

So her great innovation was to introduce  into US pop music melisma, the making multiple notes out of a single syllable of text. This has become an overdone cliche.  But it was Aretha who moved this standard of gospel music with its African origins into pop music, with possibly only southern Indian Carnatic vocal music matching this tradition.

In any case, Aretha’s 1972 album version of  “Amazing Grace” is the ultimate expression of gospel Melisma, far beyond what anybody else has ever done, even if it does not quite match “everything Michelangelo painted.”

Barkley Rosser

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Cuomo: America ‘was never that great’

Gov. Andrew Cuomo at an event, where he signed anti sex-trafficking bills into law. “We’re not gonna make America great again. It was never that great. We have not reached greatness and we will reach greatness when every American is fully engaged.

We will reach greatness when discrimination and stereotyping against women, 51 percent of our population, is gone and every woman’s full potential is realized and unleashed. When every woman is making her full contribution . . . when that happens, this nation is going to be taken even higher.”

A Republican response? “America, with its imperfections, has always been great, our people, our principles, and our promises have been a beacon light to the world for 242 years and counting.”

Wow, reflections of Ronald Reagan.

“Governor Mario Cuomo (father) challenged President Reagan’s shining city metaphor and offered one of his own. He asserted that America is more a ‘Tale of Two Cities’ than it is a ‘Shining City on a Hill,’ and Republican policies such as trickle down economics ‘divide the nation into the lucky and the left-out.’”

The Hill, America Was Never that Great

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In Defence of Comrade D’Souza

David Frum does not have a favorable view of Dinesh D’Souza and his latest movie, “Death of a Nation.” He argues sthat D’Souza’s alleged history is fiction, and that D’Souza is governed almost entirely by resentment of all of the experts in all of the fields in which he dabbles, who note that he is dishonest, partisan, and unoriginal.

It is alarming that D’Souza has become prominent again and is praised by the President.
However, I do agree with D’Souza and disagree with Frum on one critical point. D’Souza claims to have remained loyal to the movement he had joined by the the time he went to college. Frum argues that D’Souza has changed ( I admit he ends with a question). Frum can’t claim that D’Souza changed because he decided to hitch his wagon to Trump or Trumpism — D’Souza is the guy who wrote that the left is responsible for 9-11 because we provoked Islamic terrorists with our liberalism (see the quote in Frum’s essay). He hasn’t declined since then, there is no place lower to go.

Frum argues that conservatism used to be about something other than D’Souza’s mixture of racism and resentment. He notes that the old debates are forgotten. He gives one (1) example

Many of the disputes of the 1980s that excited me as a young conservative have subsided into forgetfulness. Who recalls now that it was once controversial that telephone services should be competitive rather than a regulated monopoly?

I am old enough to remember the breakup of ATT and I do not remember any such debate. ATT argued against the career prosecutors at the Justice Department, but I never read anyone else who agreed with them. The decision was made by a judge applying the Sherman antitrust act. It was an example of strict regulation, a state intervention n the economy. There were people who argued that the Sherman Antitrust Act should be reinterpreted so that it was toothless. Tney won the argument. They were and are Republicans. Frum’s one example of good policy by Reagan was a decision to not interfere with an ongoing case, but rather to allow career prosecutors (bureacrats) to continue as if there weren’t a new President.

Frum is not ignorant. He knows that the ATT breakup is conflated with deregulation (even though it was regulation not deregulation) because if followed soon after the deregulation of airlines, interstate trucking and beer brewing. He knows he can’t ascribe that actual deregulation to conservatives, Republicans or Reagan because the bills were passed by congresses with huge Democratic majorities and signed into law by Jimmy Carter. Those werenì’t the “disputes of the 80s” because they were resolved by 1980 at the latest.

In contrast Republicans brought us “voluntary” import quotas on Japanese made cars and steel tariffs (not just Trump — Bush imposed them too). Somehow Frum managed not to notice that the pro-market party’s symbol was and is a donkey not an elephant.

Yes the ATT breakup was caused by the political struggle of a Republican politician — named John Sherman. Critiquing D’Souza, Kevin Kruse wrote that if one has to go back to the 1860s to argue that the GOP is the party of civil rights, one has a weak case. Similarly, if one goes back to 1890 to argue that the GOP is the pro-competition party, one has a weak case.

Aside from the fact that the alleged controversy with anti-capitalist supporters of ATT is not just forgotten, but was udetectable at the time, Frum does not mention foreign policy. There the key debate was about the alleged clear and present danger. Conservatives were sure that the CIA under-estimated the power of the USSR and the world communist movement. They (Kissinger, Kilpatrick not minor figures) argued that we had to work with right wing dictators to face the terrrible threat. Then the USSR collapsed. Frum doesn’t discuss the debate over the need to overlook human rights violations in El Salvador, because it was vitally necessary to keep the FMLN out of power (remind me which party nominated the current president of El Salvador ?). It is necessary to Frum that the military and foreign policy debates of the 1980s be forgotten, because he was totally wrong.

He also doesn’t mention voodoo economics.

I’d say D’Souza is at least consistent. He is a racist just as he was in 1981. He is consistent in his single minded hatred of liberals and Democrats. Frum, in constrast, has changed completely since he was fired by the AEI.

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Sunday Morning News Clips

Manual Transmission Foils Car Theft

“A press release from the Nashville police department said they arrested two teenagers last Wednesday aftr they attempted to carjack two women that day and failed. The teens ultimately failed both times, with the second being because the car had a manual transmission. They had to run away on foot.”

We Reserve the Right to Refuse Service . . .

A British woman tried to place an order at her local McDonald’s while on horseback, but was turned away.

Louise Carter, who lives in Powick, England, made the three-and-a-half-mile journey to nearby Malvern last month, but was rejected by staff citing a strict drive-thru policy.

According to McDonald’s UK, drive-thru lanes are reserved solely for motor vehicles, meaning that horses are out. Bicycles are also prohibited.

The Impact of Higher Temperatures on Economic Growth

“What happens to the economy when it gets hot outside? Despite long-standing assumptions that economic damage from rising global temperatures would be limited to the agricultural sector or developing economies, this Economic Brief presents evidence that higher summer temperatures hurt a variety of business sectors in the United States.”

Congressman Chris Collins arrested

Rep. Chris Collins, R-N.Y. was arrested Wednesday morning on federal insider trading charges, law enforcement officials said.

Why You Should Care About Unions

The average person in the United States has essentially zero power in society. That’s why millions have organized into unions over the years. But the slow decline of unionism in the United States should concern you even if you’re not in one.

Busting the Myth of Immigrant Crime

“My national analysis last year detailed the startling fact that Whites living in suburban, small-town, and rural areas surrounded by other Whites are in much more danger of violent and premature death, including suicide, homicide, gun fatality, drug overdose, and related “deaths of despair” than Whites living in or around multiracial cities. Whites show worse social trends than non-Whites, and Whites in remote exurban and rural areas show by far the worst trends and highest violent death rates of all. Despite Trump’s and Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ baseless condemnations, “sanctuary cities” that adopt pro-immigrant protections are especially safe for Whites.”

The Nastiest Feud in Science

“According to the fossil record, creatures were dying en masse. Mystery solved: An asteroid had crashed into the Earth, spewing iridium and pulverized rock dust around the globe and wiping out most life forms.

Gerta Keller argues that the mass extinction was caused not by a wrong-place-wrong-time asteroid collision but by a series of colossal volcanic eruptions in a part of western India known as the Deccan Traps—a theory that was first proposed in 1978 and then abandoned by all but a small number of scientists. Her research, undertaken with specialists around the world and featured in leading scientific journals, has forced other scientists to take a second look at their data. “Gerta uncovered many things through the years that just don’t sit with the nice, simple impact story that Alvarez put together,’ Andrew Kerr, a geochemist at Cardiff University, told me. ‘She’s made people think about a previously near-uniformly accepted model.’”

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“as a”

“as a”

Kwame Anthony Appiah has an op-ed in Sunday’s New York Times dissecting the “as a” locution, in which one first announces one’s gender, race, sexual orientation, or class position before making an argument during a public discussion.  He interprets it as a claim to represent the entire group defined in the preparatory clause, and explains why this claim is invalid; better you should begin with “speaking for myself”.  But I disagree with his interpretation of what “as a” means; I think it communicates speaking from rather than speaking for.

From my experience, “as a” is an acknowledgment that one’s view of the world is limited by one’s background and identity.  It’s a way to anticipate the criticism that what is being said is not universal or “true” in some objective but unattainable sense.  Of course, that limitation can be valorized in different ways.  If an oppressed identity is being invoked—or even better, an intersectionality of multiple oppressed identities—the partiality of perspective is even a strength, because it brings to the fore experiences and ideas that have historically been marginalized.  By the same token, if one is speaking “as a” member of a dominant identity, the limitations are pernicious because they reinforce what has been unfairly imposed over the same long duration.

From an epistemological perspective, the immediate problem is that the “as a” formulation conflates two different consequences of the speaker being positioned in the world rather than above or outside it.  One has to do with differences of experience, the other with proclivity to believe.

 

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Mid Week Clips

Sleepers in Hong Kong McDonalds

I have eaten at the McDonalds in Hong Kong over the years. Just smaller portions and only after I grew tired of fish and veggies. I think I told the story of coming off The Wall, making my way down a road with my Chinese associates towards a Chinese restaurant, and turning the corner to eat at a KFC (their choice). It back upped to The Wall. They loved it.

According to a survey, in just five years there has been a six-fold increase in so-called McRefugees in Hong Kong or residents who spend their nights sleeping in the 24-hour McDonald’s outlets across the city.

People Keep Shooting Up the Emmet Till Sign

Hate and bigotry dies hard in some places.

Shot-up Emmett Till Memorial

Kroger To Stop Accepting Visa

A California subsidiary of Kroger will stop accepting Visa credit cards next month in a dispute over swipe fees.

“Foods Co. Supermarkets said it would no longer take Visa credit cards beginning Aug. 14. The ban will cover 21 stores and five fueling centers in central and northern California. Shoppers will still be able to use Visa debit cards, as well as cards from other networks such as Mastercard, Discover and American Express.”

The cost of swiping using a debit card and computerized systems are getting out of hand. In 2014, Walmart filed suit against Visa alleging it cost $350 million in fees from 2004 to 2012.

Trump Admits to Meeting

“President Trump said on Sunday that a Trump Tower meeting between top campaign aides and a Kremlin-connected lawyer was designed to “get information on an opponent” — the starkest acknowledgment yet that a statement he dictated last year about the encounter was misleading.”

Too Little Too Late’: Bankruptcy Booms Among Older Americans

For a growing number of older Americans, traditional ideas about life in retirement are being upended by a dismal reality . . . bankruptcy.
The signs of potential trouble such as vanishing pensions, soaring medical expenses, inadequate savings have been building for years. Now, new research sheds light on the scope of the problem. The study found the rate of people 65 and older filing for bankruptcy is three times what it was in 1991 and the same group accounts for a far greater share of all filers.

Steel Giants With Ties to Trump Officials Block Tariff Relief for Hundreds of Firms

“Charlotte-based Nucor, which financed a documentary film made by a top trade adviser to Mr. Trump and Pittsburgh-based United States Steel which has previously employed several top administration officials have both objected to the 1,600 exemption requests filed with the Commerce Department.

To date, their efforts have not failed and resulted in denials for companies based in the United States but rely on imported pipes, screws, wire and other foreign steel products for their supply chains.

The ability of a single industry to exert so much influence on the exclusion process is striking even in Mr. Trump’s business-friendly White House, given the high stakes for thousands of American companies that depend on foreign metals. The boundaries of trade policy are being tested by the scope of Mr. Trump’s multifront trade war with allies and adversaries alike, which includes tariffs on up to $200 billion worth of goods from China and possible tariffs on automobiles and auto parts.”

Commerce Department: 59% of the denials come in cases where United States Steel, Nucor, or a third large steel maker AK Steel Holding Corporation have filed an objection. Nearly all of the rest were in cases where the company applying for an exclusion erred in its submission.

Economy Adds 157,000 Jobs in July, Little Evidence of Pick-up in Wage Growth Mark Thoma cites Dean Baker’s Report

“In spite of the healthy pace of job growth and the low unemployment rate, there continues to be little evidence of accelerating wage growth. Over the last year, the average hourly wage has risen by 2.7 percent. There is a very small uptick to 2.87 percent if we annualize the rate of wage growth for the last three months (May, June, and July) compared with the prior three months (February, March, and April).

Interestingly, there was a modest fall in hours in July, which led to a decline in the index of aggregate weekly hours from 110.0 to 109.8. As a result, the average weekly wage actually declined slightly in July.

The leading sector for job gains in July was manufacturing, which added 37,000 jobs, all but 5,000 of which were in the durable goods sector. Employment in the sector is up by 327,000 over the last year, an increase of 2.6 percent.”

NDD has covered similar in his posts at Angry Bear.

Notes On A Butter Republic

Paul Krugman: Denmark, where tax receipts are 46 percent of GDP compared with 26 percent in the U.S., is arguably the most social-democratic country in the world. According to conservative doctrine, the combination of high taxes and aid to “takers” must really destroy incentives both to create jobs and to take them in any case. So, Denmark must suffer from mass unemployment, right?

Yep, Danish adults are more likely to be employed than their U.S. counterparts. They work somewhat shorter hours, although that may well be a welfare-improving choice. But what Denmark shows is that you can run a welfare state far more generous than we do – beyond the wildest dreams of U.S. progressives – and still have a highly successful economy.

Indeed, while GDP per capita in Denmark is lower than in the U.S. – basically because of shorter work hours – life satisfaction is notably higher.

Short Term Healthcare Policies

Good Discussion at Kaiser on Trump/Republican Compliant Short Term Policies and what they will and will not cover.

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) exempted short-term policies from market rules that apply to most major medical health insurance policies sold to individuals in the non-group market: rules that prohibit medical underwriting, pre-existing condition exclusions, and lifetime and annual limits, and that require minimum coverage standards. By contrast, short-term policies:

• are often underwritten with pre-existing medical conditions in mind. Applicants with health conditions can be turned down or charged higher premiums, without limit, based on health status, gender, “age,” and other factors;
• exclude coverage for people with pre-existing conditions – policyholders who get sick may be investigated by the insurer to determine whether the newly-diagnosed condition can be considered pre-existing and excluded from coverage;
• do not have to cover essential health benefits – typical short-term policies do not cover maternity care, prescription drugs, mental health care, preventive care, and other essential benefits, and may limit coverage in other ways;
• can impose lifetime and annual limits – for example, many policies cap covered benefits at $2 million or less;
• are not subject to cost sharing limits – some short term policies may require cost sharing in excess of $20,000 per person per policy period, compared to the ACA-required annual cap on cost sharing of $7,350 in 2018 ; and
• are not subject to other ACA market requirements – such as rate review or minimum medical loss ratios.

In comparison, an ACA Catastrophic plan covers all essential benefits, allows 3 PCP visits per year, and will cover certain preventative services at no cost for people under 30. If your income is that low for either Trump’s plan or the ACA plan, you are better off to get a Bronze or Silver plan as you will be eligible for a subsidy. The new version by Trump and Azar is a ripoff.

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The Birth of a Bomb and the Rebirth of a City

1945 and 2018

On August 6, 1945; The US dropped an atomic bomb (Little Boy) on Hiroshima destroying much of the city and instantly killing 80,000 of its citizens. 60,000 more would die later

On August 6, 1945; The Enola Gay dropped the first atomic bomb ever used in military combat on Hiroshima. A second atomic bomb was dropped on Nagasaki August 9, 1945.

On August 6, 2018; On the 73rd anniversary of dropping of the first atomic bomb, the residents of Hiroshima will pause to remember the 80,000 residents and the destruction which changed the course of history. Church bells will ring at 8:15 AM, the moment the bomb was dropped from the Enola Gay.

Later on August 6, 2018 and in the evening, Toro Nagashi Lanterns will be floated down the Motoyasu river and past The Atomic Dome (Prefuctural Industrial Promotion Hall). First held in 1946, the Toro Nagashi (literally, “flowing lanterns”) ceremony was first held in Tokyo. Participants Float glowing paper lanterns down a river to commemorate the souls of the dead.

Today, Hiroshima is a prosperous manufacturing city.

Hiroshima Today, Laura McCamy, “Business Insider,” August 6, 2018

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Saturday Night News Clips

Rude Tipping

How to torment the wait staff for their tip. A fun game to play on a night out with your wife or friends. The diner shared the experience on Facebook claiming his methods resulted in “the best service experienced.”

Explaining at the beginning of the meal, he would place five single dollar bills on the table for the server to see and not say anything to them. If they messed up, he would take a dollar away and so on. At the end of the dinner, whatever was left was their tip.”

Wait staff would keep looking at the money with a puzzled look on their face. Once he took away a dollar because of forgotten table bread. He replaced the dollar when the waiter brought extra bread later. “Ha ha all in all a great evening of fun with my love and a good dinner experiment we both wanted to see play out. Try it, you will be surprised!” he wrote.

One waiter’s comment: “I served for years putting myself through college – i would have ignored you most of the night for the satisfaction of letting you know your condescending $5 means absolutely nothing to me while i racked up $10-$20 tips from people that can actually afford to go out to eat.”

NRA alleges financial difficulties

The National Rifle Association (NRA) is alleging it is facing financial danger after the state of New York pressured financial institutions to cut ties with the gun group.

Obtained and first reported by Rolling Stone, the NRA claims in a lawsuit, the state of New York sought to hurt the organization by urging financial institutions and insurers not to work with the gun group.

The organization is suing New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D), the state’s Department of Financial Services (DFS), and Maria Vullo, New York’s superintendent of financial services. An amended version of the complaint was filed in U.S. District Court in New York last month.

The lawsuit stems from a May decision by New York financial regulators over “Carry Guard,” a-NRA marketed insurance policy for members who face legal costs after firing a gun legally. The DFS determined that the policy was illegal under New York state law, and the insurers who provided it must stop selling the policies and paid a $7 million fine.

Trump commission did not find widespread voter fraud
Republican President Donald Trump convened a commission to investigate the 2016 presidential election after he made unsubstantiated claims of 3 million to 5 million ballots were illegally cast. Maine Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap and other critics rejected Trump’s claims of widespread voter fraud.

The Trump administration last month complied with a court order to turn over documents from the voting integrity commission to Matthew Dunlap. The commission met just twice and had not issued a report.

Dunlap’s findings received immediate pushback Friday from Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, who acted as the vice chair of the commission with VP Mike Pence serving as the chair.

“For some people, no matter how many cases of voter fraud you show them, there will never be enough for them to admit that there’s a problem,” said Kobach, who is running for Kansas governor and has a good chance of unseating the incumbent, Jeff Colyer, in the Republican primary Tuesday.

“It appears that Secretary Dunlap is willfully blind to the voter fraud in front of his nose,” Kobach said in a statement released by his spokesman.

Kobach said there have been more than 1,000 convictions for voter fraud since 2000, and that the commission presented 8,400 instances of double voting in the 2016 election in 20 states.

“Had the commission done the same analysis of all 50 states, the number would have been exponentially higher,” Kobach said.

In response, Dunlap said those figures were never brought before the commission, and Kobach has not presented any evidence for his claims of double voting. He said the commission was presented with a report claiming over 1,000 convictions for various forms of voter misconduct since 1948.

“The plural of anecdote is not data,” Dunlap said in his Friday letter to the shuttered commission’s leaders.

Federal judge says Trump must fully restore DACA

A federal judge ruled Friday that the Trump administration must fully restore the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.

In his 25-page opinion, Judge John Bates said the Trump White House had “again” failed to provide justification for its proposal to end the Obama-era program, under which nearly 800,000 people brought to the country illegally as children, known as “Dreamers,” have received work permits and deferral from deportation.
The judge also said in his opinion that he has agreed to delay his ruling to give the Trump administration 20 days “to determine whether it intends to appeal the Court’s decision and, if so, to seek a stay pending appeal.”

There Are Still a Lot of Men Without Jobs

The prime-age employment-population ratio which is the most straightforward of job market measures hit a new post-recession high of 79.5 percent in the U.S. in July, according to today’s jobs report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. However when looking at a separate analysis for men and women, the measurement for men still falls short for men.

For prime-age women, the employment-population ratio is back to its peak from the previous business cycle, and within 2 percentage points of its all-time high in March 2000.

For U.S. prime-age men, meanwhile, the employment-population ratio is still almost 2 percentage points below its peak from the last business cycle, and nearly 10 points below its all-time high (the data series goes back to 1948) in March 1953. Countless studies have addressed the possible causes of this disappearance of prime-age men from the workforce, and I’m not going to go into them here. It just seems worth noting that, even with the unemployment rate dipping to levels last seen on a sustained basis in the 1960s, there are still a lot of prime-age men out there without jobs (8.6 million in total, according to the BLS) who could conceivably be put to work.

Colbert “Daddy’s Little Contradictor” Perhaps, feckless is too weak a term to describe the lady?

To Close Saturday Night . . . Dan Rather on Trump’s attack on Lebron

“This is apparently what the President of the United States feels the need to share with the world at what should be long past his bedtime?

It’s a disgrace. It’s racist.

And it’s the product of petty but dangerous hatreds. I repeat this is the PRESIDENT??!?”

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