My new “Think Again” column is called “Israeli/U.S. Right-Wing Conspire to Undermine Israeli/U.S. Security in the Middle East” and you can find it here.

Grateful Dead: Europe ’72 Volume 2

I wanted this cd just for the artwork. Yes it’s the same guy as last time. As for the cd, a) it’s a little disappointing; only two cds and b) it has too much Pigpen for my taste, but perhaps not yours. It’s drawn from Europe ’72: The Complete Recordings, a 73-disc collection which I did not buy, though I almost did, but I really don’t like Pigpen. Three of the songs, “Beat It on Down the Line”, “Next Time You See Me” and “Sing Me Back Home” were supposed to be on the original. Highlights are “Dark Star” and “The Other One” in an hour-long jam from the Bickershaw Festival in Wigan, England, both of which only appeared once on the tour. Also, “Sugaree” is great whenever and wherever it appears—the only time those tracks were performed during the entire ’72 outing. Keith and Donna are on it too.

Miles Davis: LIVE in Europe 1967: The Bootleg Series Vol. 1
This is pretty great. Recorded shortly afther the death of John Coltrane, this is Miles’s second quintet, featuring young Tony Williams, Wayne Shorter, Herbie Hancock and Ron Carter and the music was turning up on E.S.P., Miles Smiles, Sorcerer, Nefertit, Miles in the Sky and Filles de Kilimanjaro. Much of it is reworking of the old stuff like “Round Midnight” and “On Green Dolphin Street.” You can hear Jazz being reinvented here over and over as it also keeps its foot planted in the past (a past Coltrane appeared to want to repudiate at the end of his life). The included DVD contains footage from performances in Germany and Sweden on the same tour. It’s a wonderful find both historic and entertaining. There really can’t be too much Miles because the word “Miles” implies so much music and so many people.

Marsalis and Clapton Play the Blues Live From Jazz at Lincoln Center [CD+DVD]
I reviewed one of these shows when I saw it. It’s very buttoned down but kind of thrilling just for the anticipation and satisfaction of it happening at all. The two guys spent a lot of time figuring out wht to play and the band was clearly thrilled to be involved as well. Victor Goines, Don Vappie Dan Nimmer, Chris Stainton, Marcus Printup all show off a bit.

New Nick Lowe
I listened to a wonderful Terry Gross interview with Nick Lowe yesterday. The man really does exude a kind of Cary Grant charm. The new album is much like the last few smart, clean, thoughtful and almost classical country-influenced pop tunes. It’s called “The Old Magic,” and there’s nothing not to like.

New (and old) Live Hendrix
If you find yourself needing a fix of live Hendrix these days, you have two choices, the new, remixed and expanded, “Hendrix in the West,” a single disc culled from a bunch of 1970 performances and its pretty good and pretty cheap. If that’s not enough, and of course, for gazillions of people, it won’t be, there’s the box set “Live at Winterland,” which is taken from six Jimi Hendrix Experience shows at Winterland in October, 1968. Lotta the same songs, none of them played the same way. Many of them incredible, though I’m guessing, drugs probably help. Not so expensive either, when you consider how much music is here. And hey, “Dear Mr. Fantasy…” I didn’t know he played that.

By the way, last week I was raving about a jazz band I saw with a terrific vocalist. They were Lola Baxter and the Django trio. And I hope to see them again soon. You might want to as well, if you get the chance.

One last thing: Last night I went to parents’ night and when they asked for questions I said something to the effect of, “Isn’t this reading list a bit left wing? Where are the conservatives?” I would just like that on record.

Now here’s Reed:
Set Phrases To Stun

Within our language, some words have, over time, developed an almost impossibly narrow gravitational pull toward others. Sometimes this linguistic pair bonding manifests itself in rather exotic ways, like when certain infrequently heard adjectives only appear to attach themselves to similarly rarefied nouns. One is rarely “attired” anymore if not “nattily” so, for example. Or, in some quarters, all it takes is the right lexical cue to trigger an almost Pavlovian word response, even if the latter word in the pair is rather mundane. Play a word association game with any football fan, for instance, and “tenacious” will prompt the reply “defense” almost as assuredly as an extra point follows a touchdown. And occasionally, this powerful attraction works in reverse, like when a particularly notable root word seems to require that the same few modifiers always precede it.

All of journalism has its unnecessary and bad linguistic habits, of course, but spend just a little time perusing our Beltway media and you’ll quickly encounter a particularly annoying specimen—the proverbial “stunning rebuke.” As it rolls off the tongue, this phrase, with its hard-consonant entry and exit points, has always seemed to me like it would be better suited to describe action on a basketball court than, say, in the well of the Senate. (In my head, I can even hear Marv Albert half-yelling it, in his inimitable style.) Do a little digging, though, and you’ll find that despite its scarcity elsewhere in our society, there looks to be a near epidemic of rebukes occurring within our political culture based on its prevalence in Capitol Hill and campaign reporting. Not all of these rebukes, it’s true, are of the “stunning” flavor—like cheddar cheese, rebukes also tend to come in “mild” and “sharp” versions as well.

But just this week, this most pungent variety again reared its ugly head, this time in the lead sentence of what became a front-page New York Times story. There, it was used to characterize Speaker John Boehner’s failure to pass the stopgap spending bill in the Republican-controlled House. If you happen to read that story now, however, the term is nowhere to be found, replaced instead with the much better phrase “surprising setback.” (The first few sentences of the original web version of the Times story still can be seen here.) And that’s to the good, as the use (or misuse) of “stunning rebuke” in this case was sloppy and ill-advised, since there were competing political and philosophical objections from both parties that led to the bill’s downfall. Unfortunately, this phenomenon is all too common, as many times other “stunning rebukes” are either not stunning or not really rebukes in the first place.

Case in point, the recent Congressional kerfuffle over Obama’s use of the War Powers Act to engage our military in Libya’s civil war. Whether one agrees or disagrees with our involvement there (and count me among the former), this past summer’s mealy-mouthed Congressional resolution of disapproval—which had no power to rescind funds or compel a withdrawal of forces—was certainly not the “stunning rebuke” that right-wing news media breathlessly reported it was, since Obama basically ignored it. And when the press artificially pumps up the drama of what did happen, the more important details of what didn’t often get missed. Here at The Nation, John Nichols, who more accurately described the Libyan resolution Kabuki event as a “mild rebuke,” avoided getting caught up in the histrionics and instead gave readers a much more insightful sense of what backroom strategies were at work.

This is, of course, the larger and more important point. By unconsciously grasping for these readymade, yet flawed clichés and memes, the media runs the risk of distorting the true impact of the events they’re “objectively” covering. And that’s deserving of a real stunning rebuke from the people the press is ostensibly serving.

By Reed Richardson

The mail:
Fred Fittin


Your blog on the reason Keller and liberals initially supported Bush’s Iraq war are as dishonest as they are misleading.

For years, Congressional liberals under the direction of AIPAC and their desire to pander to Jewish power, instigated a war against Saddam Hussein. Their prayers were answered when the rube G.W. Bush did their bidding. After Saddam was toppled, it was easy to tar Bush as a war-monger, which they did. This is the typical Jewish thank-you people get for doing Jewish bidding….Just ask Al D’Amato…his reward for gettting Jewish monetary recompense was the election of the slimy Chuck Schumer, who has impeccable credentials as a super-Jew.

As a graduate of Brooklyn College, I can see how well you fit into that pit of left-wing pathology.

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