Best singles of 2018, third quarter edition

I’m not ranking these yet, but these are the singles that have driven me mad in 2018.

Jessie Ware – Overtime
Cassie – Don’t Play it Safe
Laura Jean – Girls on the TV
Rae Sremmurd, Swae Lee, Slim Jxmmi ft. Juicy J – Powerglide
Lana Del Rey – Mariners Apartment Complex
Ariana Grande – Thank You Next
Tamia – Leave It Smokin’
Doja Cat – Mooo!
Dierks Bentley ft. Brothers Osborne – Burning Man
Aya Nakamura – Copines
Ravyn Lenae – Sticky
Let’s Eat Grandma – Hot Pink
Arctic Monkeys – Four Out of Five
Kacey Musgraves – Space Cowboy
Roselia – R
K. Michelle – Crazy Like You
Ella Mai – Boo’d U
Hayley Kiyoko ft. Kehlani – What I Need
Ariana Grande – Breathin
Travis Scott ft. Drake – Sicko Mode
Shaun – Way Back Home
Red Velvet – Power Up

Uptight ‘Boy Erased’ can’t loosen its own collar

In his adaptation of a memoir about a male college student who survives gay conversion therapy, Joel Edgerton directs like he acts: solidly, stolidly, without imagination. Boy Erased is not a waste; its vaunted care makes heaving noises at every step. But as the minutes accumulate its cloddishness becomes wearing. A movie depicting social conservative horror of sex, it turns out, is also deathly afraid of gay sex. Continue reading

Nancy Pelosi should stay

Instinctively obsessed with parity, the Washington press corps turns to classic boilerplate both-sidesism when covering what it thinks is a internecine bloodbath between House Democrats who ran against Nancy Pelosi as speaker and senescent reactionaries. Josh Marshall has the stakes exactly right:

First, I’m ambivalent about Nancy Pelosi becoming Speaker again. Turnovers in leadership are good. The dozens of new House Democrats converging on Capitol Hill this week visibly shows the power of generational succession. The Democrats’ current House leadership has been in place for more than 15 years, an extraordinary length of time by historical standards.

 

There’s a separate matter. Somewhat like Hillary Clinton, Nancy Pelosi has been so consistently vilified and caricatured by national Republicans that she has become, objectively, a highly charged figure as the face of national Democrats. We can lament that, think it’s the product of things that are vicious and unfair. I do. But that doesn’t make it not true.

 

At the same time, there are very few people who understand the inner workings of the House, what caucus leaders do and what she managed to get done between 2007 and 2011 who don’t think she’s a legislative leader of extraordinary ability. She also has critical support from a broad array of the parties different factions, in and out of Congress. As important as anything, Pelosi is tough, something particularly important facing Donald Trump for the next two years.

From my vantage point in a moneyed suburb in unincorporated Miami-Dade County, it’s the fault of Pelosi, Hoyer, et. al. for not promoting a new generation of leaders who’ll replace their septuagenarian asses,a point also raised in Marshall’s essay. Otherwise the argument that Pelosi Must Go makes no sense. At this moment she’s irreplaceable. The smarter young guns who ran on replacing her should follow the lead of Alexandra Ocasio-Sanchez, who staged a protest at the minority leader’s office that strengthened her young-fresh cred.

So keep Nancy Pelosi. The most effective speaker since John W. McCormack is the only person tactically shrewd enough to exploit the awed contempt in which she’s held by the GOP (Paul Ryan and the rest attack her precisely because they understand how good she is at her job), not to mention the skills to pass legislation and reduce talking points to essentials. Let her serve one term as speaker with the promise of letting a younger replacement shadow her — I don’t care. But the moment requires a leader who understands the stakes.

The best albums of 2018 — we’re almost there!

In no order. My dedicated team of interns is still sorting through data.

ALBUMS

Cupcakke – Ephorize
U.S. Girls – In a Poem Unlimited
Mr. Fingers – Cerebral Hemispheres
Toni Braxton – Sex & Cigarettes
tUnE-yArDs – I Can Feel You Creep Into My Private Life
Ravyn Lenae – Crush
Tracy Thorn – Record
Migos – Culture II
The Breeders – All Nerve
Ashley Monroe – Sparrow
Tal National – Tantabara
Courtney Barnett – Tell Me How You Really Feel
Bali Baby – Baylor Swift
Amen Nunes – Freedom
Speedy Ortiz – Twerp Verse
Cardi B – Invasion of Privacy
Parquet Courts – Wide Awake!
Janelle Monae – Dirty Computer
Pusha T – Daytona
Meshell Ndegeocello – Ventriloquism
John Prine – The Tree of Forgiveness
Rae Sremmurd – SR3MM
Belly – Dove
Superchunk – What a Time to Be Alive
Troye Sivan – Bloom
The Chills – Snowbound
Mitski – Be the Cowboy
Noname – Room 25
Eric Church – Desperate Man
Pistol Annies – Interstate Gospel
Vince Staples – FM!
Alex Anwantder – Latinoamericana
Cloud Nothings – Last Building Burning

The president’s disgust with people of color

“Florida recount” inspires more grins than “Frank Drebin, Police Squad,” but if the results hold I expect Ron DeSantis and Rick Scott to triumph, thanks to a campaign cycle marked by demagoguery and chicanery. They will owe their support in some measure to the Cuban vote, which remains intransigent despite the steady accumulation of tombstones at Caballero Rivero Woodlawn North:

Miami communications strategist Giancarlo Sopo, himself a Cuban-American, looked at Miami-Dade’s most Cuban precincts. He found DeSantis won twice as many votes as Democratic candidate Andrew Gillum did in those enclaves: 66 percent to 33 percent.

That’s a difference of more than 160,000 votes – far more than the shrinking statewide advantage DeSantis has held since election night. The governor’s race will probably go to a recount now because less than half a percentage point separates DeSantis and Gillum.

A Telemundo poll taken the week before elections showed, guess what, that sixty-four percent of the Cuban Americans polled supported DeSantis. Not a surprise. Gillum, black and socialist, never had a chance.

Now the president, refreshed after staying in from the wet French rain, went on his morning Twitter constitutional. As reported by his faithful amanuensis Jonathan Swan of Axios, he wants to end federal Hurricane Maria aid to Puerto Rico:

More than $6 billion has been allocated to help aid storm recovery, but hundreds of thousands of people are still waiting for help, living in homes that are in desperate need of repair, according to The New York Times. The island’s leadership has said it needs billions more to rebuild, and in February said that it would cost at least $17 billion just to fix its beleaguered power grid.

 

Swan reported Sunday that Trump has even proposed demanding some of the money already allocated to relief back.

Swan is the fellow who acted as Trump’s errand boy when the president suggested changes to the Fourteenth Amendment that, were he alive, would have inspired Thaddeus Stevens to smother him to death with a toupee, therefore take a deep breath. But it’s a reminder of the president’s loathing for brown skinned people unless they’re supine like Cubans, who, I’ll remind readers, don’t consider themselves people of color and whom American immigration policy has considered white.

‘The pallor of girls’ brows shall be their pall’

Killed a century ago a week before the warring powers signed the armistice, Wilfred Owen emerged from the Great War as its foremost poet, a versifier of great suppleness. His sexuality remains a matter of conjecture, fueled by his appearance in the Sitwell-Robert Ross literary circle. As anthologized as “Anthem for a Doomed Youth” is, it hasn’t aged a comma.

What passing-bells for these who die as cattle?
— Only the monstrous anger of the guns.
Only the stuttering rifles’ rapid rattle
Can patter out their hasty orisons.
No mockeries now for them; no prayers nor bells;
Nor any voice of mourning save the choirs,—
The shrill, demented choirs of wailing shells;
And bugles calling for them from sad shires.

 

What candles may be held to speed them all?
Not in the hands of boys, but in their eyes
Shall shine the holy glimmers of goodbyes.
The pallor of girls’ brows shall be their pall;
Their flowers the tenderness of patient minds,
And each slow dusk a drawing-down of blinds.

Happy Armistice Day.

Born in a small town: ‘Monrovia, Indiana’

Late into Monrovia, Indiana, the local chapter of the Freemasons recognizes a man named Bauer for fifty years of service, the reward for which is the Grand Lodge Award of Gold. The pride on the man’s face strips at least twenty years of age off his face. As the qualifications get read, every man present seems to swell. Minute after minute in this meeting room the impact of this award settles over the audience. Continue reading

2018’s first worst political clichés

The ending of a political cycle doesn’t mean that reporters and pundits have retired the old clothes they’ve worn for two years and longer. At the cost of my health I exposed myself to four hours straight of cable news television because I’m compulsive about blogging as MSNBC’s Steve Kornacki is about correctly pronouncing county names.

Here are five of the worst political clichés this season:

1. Soccer moms

2. “Alienating women.” Because women get alienated. Men get…angry?

3. “Not appealing to the middle.” Voters’ positions are a sour mishmash because unlike politicians they can’t pay the rent and for a focus group out of one check.

4. “Race to the bottom”

5. The quiet mourning of pundits, mostly white, for the death of the rural white Democratic voter. White voters will not leave Trump, and we should stop hoping so because they’re racists and our coalition doesn’t need them. Plus, they’re old and will die of emphysema and eating processed cheese. Fuck’em. I mean, why on earth would you want them leaving Trump? You think the separation will stop their racism? Many those racists voted for Obama. They were still racists.

Midterm 2018: Is America ready for me?

11:17 p.m. I’ll repeat: as a Floridian, it’s weird to live in a county where the Republican incumbent and the open seat held by a Republican since 1989 went down yet the governor and Senate races went to a Democrat. Meanwhile Nancy Pelosi will be speaker, it looks like. My state will live with more red tide, more gutting of environmental regulation, and more gutting of the state treasury.

11:00 p.m. Hello. Been eating chocolate. Gillum concedes, but Antonio Delgado in Illinois, Kendra Horn of Oklahoma, Abby Finkenauer of Iowa, and Jeff Van Drew of New Jersey will win.

10:29 p.m. I can’t stress how weird this is that the evening is going in our direction but Florida is not.

10:23 p.m. Democrats will take the house, NBC declares.

10:12 p.m. What a weird night. Florida may fall to the GOP, but so far the last thirty minutes has seen race after race fall to the Democrats. Texas has seen perhaps ten state race pickups despite what I just heard was a O’Rourke loss. At last the Dems are competitive in Texas.

9:59 p.m. Although the competition for Worst Governor in the United States is fierce, what Sam Brownback did to Kansas has no precedent. At last a Democratic governor can pick up the mess.

9:53. Sharice Davids picks up a race in Kansas. She’s Native American and gay.

9:47 p.m. Democrat Debbie Mucarsel-Powell defeats Republican Carlos Curbelo. HOLY FUCK.

9:45 p.m. Look, I can’t lie: the Florida news has been enervating. What will perk me up if news doesn’t improve from Broward County makeup votes is the series of House races that remain to be called.

9:41 p.m. Conor Lamb wins in Pennsylvania.

9:33 p.m. I’m having a martini. Because why not?

9:28 p.m. Jason Crow beats Mike Coffmann in Colorado Sixth District. Another pickup.

9:23 p.m. Carlos Curbelo still clinging by his teeth, behind by a point and a half.

9:15 p.m. I can’t escape the gloom at my blogging station. But no more House races have been called yet.

9:05 p.m. Amendment 4 in Florida, restoring felon voting rights, has passed by a comfortable margin.

8:59 p.m. Joe Manchin holds. Now he can feel better about voting for Brett Kavanaugh.

8:55: Mike Braun beats Joe Donnelly in Indiana.

8:48 p.m. https://twitter.com/jerryiannelli/status/1059984539915878400

8:45 p.m. Beto O’Rourke at 66 percent at the early vote in Texas.

8:41 p.m. I’m back.

8:26 p.m. Still waiting for Florida.

8:17 p.m. Nelson and Scott are at 50.0 each, according to MSNBC. More wine!

8:13 p.m. Rick Scott up by 10,000 votes in Florida.

8:10 p.m. Jerry Iannelli of Miami New Times: Miami-Dade’s vote-by-mail and early-voting results just came in, Democrats cleaned up in Dade County early voting, which is typical for early votes but still could be a sign of more blue votes to come 1/x

8:04 p.m. Impressively, Debbie Mucarsel-Powell is ahead of Carlos Curbelo, one of the few GOP congressman who won in a Clinton district in 2016.

7:59 p.m. Donna Shalala wins! A huge sigh of relief. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen’s former district, a GOP moderate stronghold, is now firmly Democratic.

7:57 p.m. Steve Schmidt, while I appreciate your betrayal of conservative values, theoretically, “fidelitous” is a word one uses the way I use “rebarbative.”

7:55 p.m. From 538:

CLARE MALONE 7:54 PM
An interesting little tidbit from the preliminary exit polls out of Indiana, where Democratic Sen. Joe Donnelly is fighting for his seat: 53 percent said that Donnelly’s vote against Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation was important in deciding their midterm vote.

7:53 p.m. MSNBC projects Sherrod Brown as winner in Ohio. No one much discussed this race. What matters is Richard Cordray, former head of the former Consumer Finance Protection Bureau, beating his challenger.

7:50 p.m. I may accept a piece of dark chocolate. Help me.

7:48 p.m. Second refill. Right ring finger still throbbing. I am a martyr for blogging, though.

7:45 p.m. If Gillum and Nelson win — more full disclosure — you will have seen a transformation of Florida the likes of which I haven’t seen in my lifetime. The only comparison: if Beto wins his race in Texas and Abrams in Georgia.

7:41 p.m. Full disclosure: friend Alan Gomez gets interviewed on MSNBC on Hispanic voter trends in Florida.

7:40 p.m. Nelson and Gillum still doing very well, the latter clobbering in Miami-Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach counties.

7:38 p.m. Barbara Comstock gone, Jennifer Wexton wins VA-10. First sip of red wine.

7:36 p.m. Amy McGrath jumping to a lead in the unfortunately named KY-6 60-39 against Andy Barr.

7:35 p.m. What you want, dear readers, is to follow a Negroni with red wine. What an acerbic taste combo!

7:31 p.m. Spanberger leads Brat in VA-7. Comstock behind by double digits in VA-10.

7:26 pm. Nelson 52, Gillum 51. Please, powers that be. Chuck Todd, that Miami native son, has acknowledged that Gillum and Stacey Abrams victories “have transformed” how Democrats run in the South. Well, yeah.

7:24 p.m. My posts will accumulate as the returns do.

7:23 p.m. My right ring finger, damaged by falling blender last night, is throbbing. Bear with me.

7:21 p.m. Andrew Gillum well above Hilary Clinton levels in Miami-Dade County and Broward.

6:23 p.m. MSNBC, whose coverage I will watch for a couple hours, has unleashed Steve Kornacki, a thirtysomething already mocked for his almost pneumatic enthusiasm. He wears a blue longsleeved shirt. I suspect he wears several undershirts for the sweat.

6:17 p.m. I ate leftover fricase de pollo I cooked yesterday, accompanied by a side arugula salad, the latter as comforting as a cup of coffee. My laptop is charged. I’ve read the requisite number of pages of the Olivier bio I checked out last week. I’ve graded thirty essays submitted in three classes. Is America ready for me?