Political Animal


April 30, 2013 6:16 PM Day’s End and Night Watch

By Ed Kilgore

Clearly, the American political world (other than the president) decided not to make actual news today. So us gabbers are pretty much bickering among ourselves. It happens.

Here are some final items of the day:

* Fournier thumb-sucker on Obama’s “juice” does raise a valid point: When Bill Clinton was protesting his “relevance” in 1995, his goal was to stop GOP initiatives, not enact his own.

* Nate Silver does his own analysis of potential impact on electorate of immigration reform, and concludes population growth and party share of immigrant vote more important than “legalization.”

* Turnout abysmal in Massachusetts special Senate primary.

* At Ten Miles Square, Aaron Carroll argues for paying more attention to the underinsured, and notes Medicaid offers particularly strong protections against that ailment.

* At College Guide, Daniel Luzer reports that Students First, the group founded by Michelle Rhee, named “Don’t Say Gay” legislator from Tennessee its “reformer of the year.”

And in non-political news:

* The Atlantic’s Jessica Luther suggests the NBA doesn’t have to look too far for an example of how to deal with gay athletes coming out: the WNBA handles it just fine.

We’ll end the day with another classic by Captain Beefheart and the Magic Band, “Circumstances,” though this particular performance, on Swedish TV, took place long after the Captain’s retirement and just a few years before his death. Beefheart’s vocals are performed, however, by John French, an early Magic Band member. The original album this song was on, Clear Spot, was recorded back in ‘72, and is one of my favorite albums by anybody, ever. It got me through many a law school bout of depression.


Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.


  • esaud on April 30, 2013 6:55 PM:

    I never got Captain Beefheart. I saw this band once live and couldn't believe how bad they were. Every number ended the same way: After riffing off a few chords, Beefheart stopped singing, then the band members slowly noticed,and stopped playing one by one, until someone had to nudge the drummer to tell him to stop.

  • godoggo on April 30, 2013 7:58 PM:

    Suggest checking out Clear Spot if you want to give him one more chance. Specifically, suggest checking out the studio version of this song. Also Big-eyed Beans from Venus.. Tight, kickass rock'n'roll, quite unlike the chaotic stuff he's better known for.

  • Raoul on April 30, 2013 11:28 PM:

    Michelle Rhee is a total disaster and a fraud. Why are you guys paying any attention to her at all??

  • MuddyLee on May 01, 2013 8:36 AM:

    There were various Beefheart bands - some are loved by Beefheart fans, some not, and Beefheart was inconsistent when doing concerts, apparently. After hearing one song in about 1970, I ignored this band for almost 40 years until some friends did some "missionary work" with me. Some of his music is quite interesting, and the history of the band is fascinating. John French was sort of the musical director of the group, and has done a lot of writing about the band. The band was always more popular in England thanks to John Peel of the BBC. John "Drumbo" French's album City of Refuge is worth a listen. It's interesting to me that Zappa and Beefheart were friends as teenagers in Lancaster CA. I like the "two for one" CD of Beefheart's Spotlight Kid/Clear Spot.

  • joyzeeboy on May 01, 2013 11:11 AM:

    Trout Mask Replica and Clear Spot are his best albums.
    But Mirror Man is my favorite. When I hear Candy Corn I still want to roll around on the floor as if I am having a seizure like I did when I was 18!!!