Two down, fourteen to go

I don’t need to put links up, do I? A week or so ago former Texas Governor Rick Perry withdrew from the race for the Republican Presidential nomination due to lack of public interest in him, and today current Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker did the same. He’s still in office, though, Wisconsinites, so keep your hands on your public rights and on your education system’s budgets.

Even in defeat Walker tried to self-aggrandize:

“Today I believe that I am being called to lead by helping to clear the field in this race so that a positive, conservative message can rise to the top of the field,” Mr. Walker said. “With this in mind, I will suspend my campaign immediately.

“I encourage other Republican presidential candidates to consider doing the same,” he said, “so that the voters can focus on a limited number of candidates who can offer a positive, conservative alternative to the current front-runner.”

“I am called to lead,” the man says. From behind, apparently.

Good riddance, sir. Your successful efforts to destroy labor unions in Wisconsin put the lie to any claim you might make to having the best interests of anyone but your wealthy donors at heart.

Used vinyl

My sister was in a “clean, sort and toss” mode the other day and found a box of vinyl records carefully stowed away in a plastic storage bin. Since she no longer has a turntable, she brought them over to me. Of about 20, I already owned six (Loggins and Messina On Stage, The Association’s Greatest Hits, a couple of John Denver albums and some others), which was a surprise. But there were Led Zep IV (aka Zoso, among other names), a couple of America albums, three or four contemporary 1970s Hawaiian albums (basically soft rock with steel guitar) and a dozen miscellaneous others.

After a minimal cleaning with an album dust catcher I put Side One of the Zep album on (Black Dog, Rock and Roll, The Battle of Evermore and Stairway to Heaven) and discovered it played beautifully on my 8-year-old Audio Technica turntable. I cranked up the volume to play it through my 42-year-old Pioneer 88 speakers and it’s plenty loud.

Have I got a cool sister or what?

This is Serbia?

Ever since the Balkan Wars of the 1990s I’ve been biased against Serbia because of its aggressive behavior toward its neighbors. Slobodan Miloševic and Radovan Karadžic were Serbian leaders who had no qualms about ethnically cleansing their country to be rid of all non-Serbs.

It’s a bit of a surprise to me, then, to see a Serbian leader say the following:

“What we expect from the E.U. is to tell us what the form of good European behavior is,” said Nebojsa Stefanovic, Serbia’s interior minister. “Is it what Germany is doing, where refugees are welcomed with medicine and food? Or is it where they are welcomed with fences, police and tear gas?”

The European Union, Mr. Stefanovic added, “needs to say not just what the law is, but what the European norm is, what the values are that Serbia should share.”

Granted that Miloševic is dead and Karadžic is in prison in The Hague, this sensitive approach to the problem is more than I expected from any Serb.

Contrast that to the Hungarian government which is fencing borders and tear gassing refugees. Their political leaders seem to have forgotten their history, when some 200,000 of their ancestors fled the country in 1956 when the Hungarian Uprising failed and Soviet tanks rolled into Budapest.

The Europeans are not covering themselves in glory in this crisis, but nobody else is either. Certainly the United States isn’t. One party’s leading candidate for President in next year’s elections got to the front by espousing the deportation of 11 million immigrants, legal and illegal, and only a couple of his competitors disagree. Our current President feels constrained by the rhetoric of the opposition party and has suggested we could take in 10,000 Syrian refugees. Croatia says there were 8,000 people who crossed its border from Serbia yesterday alone.

I don’t have any good solutions, but the world was able to solve a similar problem in the post-World War II era and it needs to work harder to find a solution now, 75 years later.

Al Kooper Live

This is stunning.

A gift from heaven is the only adequate way of describing this superb double-CD set, which comes in a slipcase with a neat little booklet. It is the definitive Al Kooper solo project, and a career reconsideration and retrospective, but it’s also damn close to definitive as a document of the Blues Project and the original Blood, Sweat & Tears as well. At three February 1994 gigs at New York’s Bottom Line, Kooper got together the original members of both bands (with BS&T billed as “Child Is Father to the Man”) and his own Rekooperators, including John Simon and Harvey Brooks, with John Sebastian sitting in on harmonica, to perform new versions of 33 years’ worth of repertory.

I am now on the hunt for this set. It’s titled “Soul of a Man”.


There’s no shortage of analysis trying to explain the Trump phenomenon, and I don’t think anyone’s quite got it. I certainly don’t understand why a whole slew of Republicans say they’d vote for an obnoxious bellicose dude who (cleverly) refuses to put forth any policies for people to chew on.

Sometimes I wish the media would get out of “If it bleeds it leads” mode with the guy, but other times I’m glad it’s focused on him and his behavior toward his opponents because that focus makes them all look small and inconsequential. Look at what’s happened to Scott Walker’s Iowa poll numbers. He’s down to 3% support there. He needn’t feel too badly, though: Bush has 6% while Fiorina, Kasich and Rubio each have 5% and none of the others top 4%.

This was, we were told by Republican party leaders and pundits, a super field of candidates. Apparently they meant for some office other than President of the United States.

Hawai’i kid makes good

At least in his first pro start, anyway. 2014 Heisman Trophy winner Marcus Mariota of the U of Oregon and Honolulu’s St. Louis High School threw for 209 yards and four first-half touchdowns with no interceptions as his Titans defeated the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and 2013 Heisman winner Jameis Winston 42-14.

Football’s not as stat-happy or history-minded as baseball (probably because it hasn’t been around quite as long), but here’s a name from the past: the only other quarterback to throw four touchdown passes in his first game is Fran Tarkenton. One can only hope Mariota is as much fun to watch playing football as Tarkenton was as he ran around the backfield avoiding tacklers for the Vikings and Giants in the Sixties and Seventies.

Moral victories aren’t

But still, with 9 minutes left in the game the University of Hawai’i football team is down 24-0 to Ohio State, the number one team in the country. It was 14-0 at halftime.

Considering the oddsmakers had OSU as a 40-point favorite, that’s playing them pretty hard.