Monthly Archives: June 2017

The Shadow of Grenfell Towers

Today’s New York Times long read on the Grenfell Towers tragedy is heartbreaking, maddening, and frightening.

Heartbreaking because those who lived and died there trusted government to have  their safety as the paramount objective; maddening because both Tory and Labour governments put the profits of business ahead of the safety of their citizens; frightening because Tr**p and his  rapacious Randian Cabinet are gleefully taking a machete to all manner of  regulations.

Nearly every time he opens his mouth—after reminding everyone of his glorious electoral victories and executive order signings—he crows about how many regulations he has manfully stricken from the books. Scott Pruitt has turned the EPA into the “Excessive Polluters Association,” the mentally ill have their inalienable right to buy firearms restored, and every federal agency has been directed to look at regulations with an eye on meeting his campaign promise of cutting 75%.  At the moment, United States housing codes are strict enough that a Grenfell-type tragedy is unlikely here.

But safety rules are already in Tr**p’s sights. He’s already rescinded The Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces rules put in under President Obama.  As Brian Martin, the top UK civil servant in change of drafting building safety guidelines said, requiring that builders make sure the exterior of a building non-combustible “limits your choice of materials.” And when Il Douché laughed at the size of the scroll charting the rules and regulations he says builders have to follow “just to build a road, “how many of those have to do with safety? I mean, building a highway that can withstand earthquakes, storms, droughts, and the wear and tear of gas guzzling SUVs riding over them also limits your choice of materials.

So it can’t happen here…yet. But in the world that Il Douché and other “free marketers” imagine, Howard Roark wouldn’t have to blow up a housing project to protect the purity of his design; he’d just have to make sure they use the cheapest, most flammable materials  possible, and wait.


Fox & Friend-ly Fire?

Of all the odd statements, verbal tics, word salads, and tweets coming from Il Douché, the ones that strike my ear most clangorously are the ones like this:

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It’s that overly proud “Enjoy!” (also used in the covfefe kerfuffle) that grates. He’s the President, I don’t need to “Enjoy!” his televised appearances; I just want to be assured that there’s an adult at the wheel. That “Enjoy!” makes him sound less like a world leader than a Chef explaining the dish he’s prepared: “Today, we’ll be having a foreign policy pigeon a la Russe, with ketchup and mayonnaise. And on the side: spaghetti Putin-esca dusted with a secret Spicer blend. Enjoy!”

As for the interview itself, it was just as you’d expect. Of course they sent Ainsley Earhardt, because, other than bragging about how much he knows to military strongmen, Tr**p likes nothing more than bragging about how much he knows to a blonde woman.

(But first—he’d never heard the word “unmasking” before?)

And he wants to make sure she knows the reason he didn’t tape Comey had something  to do with government surveillance (and, of course Obama), which makes you wonder: he didn’t record them because he’s worried that the government might record them. He’s been in office for six months. You’d think he’s realize he is the government.

It would appear, though, that his lawyers have gotten to him. He had the phrase “I didn’t tape” set on repeat.  But even with Earhardt lobbing him softball questions and stroking him with compliments, managed to incriminate himself.  When she gushed that pretending to have tapes “was a smart way to keep [Comey] honest,” you could see his chest inflate and his eye brows rise as he leaned in conspiratorially. “It wasn’t stupid,” he told her (although admitting he made a threat to influence a witness’ testimony probably was), proud that he got Comey to change his story and admit that he wasn’t under investigation.  (It may have been the case when he met with Comey but, to quote Ron Ziegler, “that statement is no longer operative.”)

But before he could get himself in too deep, Earhardt threw him a line and asked about Mueller. Returning to his lawyers advice, he put “there was no obstruction, there was no collusion” on auto-repeat, adding “virtually everyone agrees to that,” notwithstanding the fact that probably everyone in that room didn’t agree to that.

If enjoyment was the objective here, I’ll have to take it for later, when interviews like this could be used as evidence in an impeachment trial.


Dan Auerbach at KCRW’s Apogee Sessions

 On stage at Apogee Studios, playing songs from his new album, “Waiting On A Song” (Nonesuch/Easy Eye) for a future broadcast on KCRW’s Morning Becomes Eclectic,  Dan Auerbach certainly looks relaxed. Hair a trifle shaggy, his eyes a little sleepy-looking, he appears to be a man without a trouble in the world.

It’s an attitude matched by the music; the album is breezy collection of pop-country tunes, like a summer afternoon playlist from an imagined AM-radio station. As he told KCRW’s Jason Bentley, the songs were the result of a period of enforced leisure, the first time in eight years he had nothing on his calendar. It allowed him, he said, to explore  his adopted hometown  of Nashville, and hang out with local musicians and songwriters; the album is the result of those collaborations. They’d spend the first part of the week working on songs, the second half recording them.   It’s also something of a calling card for his studio, Easy Eye Sound, and the musicians he’s gathered around him: Nashville legends Dave Roe and David Ferguson (who co-produced); Bobby Wood and Gene Christman, part of the house band of  Memphis’ American Studios; and guitarists Mark Knopfler and Duane Eddy.

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              Pat McLaughlin (l) and Dan Auerbach performing for KCRW’s Apogee Sessions                         (photo: Brian Lowe)

But at Apogee, it was just Auerbach and Pat McLaughlin on acoustic guitar and mandolin. Seated on stage, they could have jut as easily been playing at the Nashville’s Bluebird Cafe as in Santa Monica. Loose and intimate, it’s an approach that showed off the songs’ craftsmanship, but also exposed their limitations. They’re catchy, but insubstantial; the less attention you pay to the them, the better they sound. The lyrics show off a puckish, Roger Miller styled humor, but like most jokes, you only need to hear them once. “You only got a couple of miles to go/if you’re trying to drive me insane,” he warns on the kicky “Shine On Me” (which misses Knopfler’s springy guitar), the chorus of the sprightly psychedelic stomp “Stand By My Girl,” admits “because she’ll kill me if I don’t.” But they’re performed with a sidelong charm and affection that makes it hard to dislike. It’s best to see Waiting on A Song as Auerbach’s busman’s holiday. 

 

https://open.spotify.com/embed/album/0OSYZ7EMRs14RPvwowd13F

 

 

 


So It Is Written….

 

Watching Il Douché give his Miami rant today, it hit me. His entire agenda is to undo everything the man he still believes to be the Great Kenyan Usurper accomplished. He probably imagines himself to be Pharaoh Seti in DeMille’s The Ten Commandments: “Let his name be stricken from every book and tablet, from all pylons and all obelisks….”
Healthcare, Foreign policy, Cuba—just knock them all down. Do they have anything to put in their place? You’ve got to be kidding. Doing anything other than try and whitewash the last eight years away…why, that would mean legislating, which is something actual governing parties do. Can’t have that.
But, as he does in so many things, he doesn’t know when to stop. Scandals were unheard of during the eight years of the Obama Administration.  Tr**p will do the exact opposite, and couldn’t even go eight weeks before instigating a Constitutional Crisis.

 


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