Friday, April 17, 2009
Judith Warner discovers that gay-baiting in adolescence has to do with gender identity rather than actual sexual practices. Hilarious mulling of the obvious ensues. It's almost as if the object of disgust isn't homosexual activity per se, but rather women and girls. It's almost as if denigration of the very same feminine qualities it demands from its women is a standard function of the patriarchy. It's almost as if the perceptual bias against male homosexuality in our culture has less to do with biblical injunctions, moral precepts, or even the icky-ick factor of same-gender intimacy than it does with hatred of women, whose characteristics gay men are taken to be aping. There's a reason Ronald Reagan couldn't say AIDS until Rock Hudson. There's a reason that in certain segments of the so-called gay community, especially among "professional" men, such emphasis is placed on traditional symbols of masculinity and masculine virility and such opprobrium heaped on queens and fairies. That high school boys call each other faggot not because anyone's actually been sucking cock, but because someone is perceived as acting "like a girl" should surprise exactly no one.
In honor of Glenn Beck's hilarious decision to have his tax protest at the fucking Alamo, here is Frankie Lane singing his classic, "Bowie Knife."
Glenn Greenwald is not exactly wrong when he suggests that, taken as discrete acts, the release of additional so-called torture memos was modestly praiseworthy, even as the high officials releasing them continue to claim immunity for any and all criminal acts. On the other hand, Greenwald's contention that "as a matter of political reality, Obama had to incur significant wrath from powerful factions by releasing these memos, and he did that," is totally over the top and thoroughly baseless. Significant political wrath? Oh, Nancy. Because a few man-bimbos frothed in impotent gimp-anger on the internet-doomed pages of a few reactionary newspapers? Because some Republican congresscreature accused him of perfidy? Because of FOX News? Bitch, please. Superjesus Black Reagan polls almost as well as Clinton did at his Dow-hardened peak, and he's not even into fat chicks. He suffers nothing from letting everyone know that they already know what they already know.
The people who believe that Obama is a Muzlin negro terrorist from outer space will believe it regardless. Meanwhile, Obama gets praise from liberal quarters even as they grumble that he's not sending Doughboy Gonzales for a little taste of his own medicine at Bagram, all the while affirming the central and far more important principle here, which is the principle that the President is the sovereign that the sovereign immunity of the federal government, the executive branch in particular, is essentially absolute, that the Nixonian principle holds: if the President does it, it isn't illegal. The king can do no wrong.
Regardless of the reasons, it is clear that Obama will not single-handedly eliminate the immunity from the rule of law which the political class and other elites have arrogated unto themselves. If anything, as his comments yesterday reflect, he is likely to affirm and defend that immunity (and, obviously, he personally benefits from its ongoing vitality). Demanding that political leaders be subjected to the rule of law -- and finding ways to force the appointment of a Special Prosecutor -- is what citizens ought to be doing. Either we care about the rule of law or we don't -- and if we do, we'll find the ways to demand its application to the politically powerful criminals who broke multiple laws over the last eight years. Obama's release of those torture memos yesterday makes that choice unambiguously clear and enables the right to choice to be made.With due respect, no we won't. Either the inchoate political and economic upheavals in the world will fundamentally alter the American imperium or they will not. Through no bullshit democracy, however, no procedural prestidigitation, will we force our rulers to accounts.
Another excellent use for that versatile cut, the pork tenderloin:
Pork "scaloppini" alla nonna
Every Italian grandmother, even my own self-confessed culinary disaster of one, has got a recipe for veal scaloppini, thin cutlets of veal pounded out, dredged in flower, browned, and served with some kind of Marsala sauce. My grandmother favored canned mushrooms and jars of store-brand, sliced, pitted black olives. Anyway, I have never been a great fan of veal. I find it texturally uninteresting and lacking in flavor. It also seems to me that while fois gras is so transcendent as to merit a little animal cruelty, a lousy cut of baby beef is not. Fortunately, a nice pork tenderloin makes a cheap, flavorful substitution. I cut mine crosswise and pound the medallions a few times with the flat side of my cleaver. For the sauce, I replace salty Marsala cooking wine with a little sweet vermouth, and instead of mushrooms use olives and artichoke hearts. This is a deceptively simple recipe with the most basic of seasonings, and it will surprise you with its finished depth and complexity.
1 pork tenderloin, 1 1/2 - 2 lbs., cut crosswise, medallions pounded flat with the flat side of a knife
several cups white whole wheat flour
1 red onion, diced
1 1/2 cups gaeta olives, blanched for a few minutes, drained, pitted, and then rough chopped
1 8oz. can of high quality, water-packed artichoke hearts, drained and rough chopped
1 cup sweet vermouth
extra virgin olive oil
fine sea salt
black pepper, freshly ground
In a large, heavy-bottomed pan, a generous pour of olive oil (the bottom should be well-covered) over high heat. In a bowl, mix a few cups of flower with a tablespoon or so of salt. In batches, making sure not to crowd the pan, dredge the pieces of pork in the flour mixture and brown on either side, probably no more than a minute per side, adding more oil as necessary. Set aside the browned pieces on a separate plate.
After all the meat has been browned, pour off the oil and wipe out the bottom of the pan. Return the pan to the flame, add more oil, and, when it is hot, add the onion. Sauté until rosy and tender. Add the olives and artichoke hearts. Toss together. Add the vermouth and the juice of half the lemon. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to medium or medium low.
Return the meat to the pan, piling it on top of the sauce ingredients, and cover. Let it steam together for a few more minutes, which transfers some flavor directly into the meat and also ensures that it is tender, moist, and cooked all the way through.
Uncover. Remove the meat to a serving dish. Bring up the heat and boil off most of the remaining liquid until the sauce begins to thicken. Pour it directly over the meat. Garnish with cracked peppercorn and slices of lemon. Serve immediately.
Thursday, April 16, 2009
Just to be clear, though: Liberals outraged that GOPsters are calling Obama a fascist should for real check themselves.
I don't want to see this country turn into a welfare, nanny state, where we stand in line for groceries, and we're in welfare lines, and in socialized medicine lines.Like Atrios, at whose site I found the link, I'm not entirely certain what to make of poor people protesting marginal increases on taxes for rich people, or whatever it is, precisely, that they're protesting. America's underclasses are increasingly displaced and marginal--maybe cultural resentment is all that's left available to them. It is, nonetheless, pretty incredible that a bunch of underemployed, overindebted losers form the main public face of anti-Obama, anti-tax, and anti-stimulus animus in this country.
-Joanne Wilder, Welfare Queen
Of course, there is nothing inherently wrong with availing oneself of the provisions of the welfare state while railing against its political and economic underpinnings. I have not renounced my own first-world lifestyle to protest the fact that it is secured on the backs of the oppressed around the globe.
But on the other hand the participants in this whole preposterous and hilarious teabag business are clearly motivated by the long-simmering need to maintain some vestiges of the tenuous class distinction they imagine exists between themselves and their darker imagined other, so that being down on your luck and collecting food stamps for a while does not make you one of those people, with their
Wednesday, April 15, 2009
I've certainly given Glenn G. shit, but I'll certainly join him as he rolls in the cool, wonderful mud of goofball GOPsters crying Waco! and letting slip the dogs of blawg. This being America, we can congratulate ourselves once more on the "peaceful transition of power," a feat which occurs nowhere else on earth, ever, and which, when power changes factional hands, invariably features the newly ousted discovering the necessary limits on government power lest we surrender to tyranny &c., while the newly empowered embrace the wise and necessary employ of maximum destruction, lest we succumb to terror or instability or whatever. I mean, Rick Perry, guvnir ah Taxis, has discovered the 10th Amendment, and Donks discover Ohmahgawd terrizm! Wuddawurldwelivein!
Agreed. I know the temptation, for whatever reason, is to treat this all as Stalingrad-at-Sea, but this shit is starting to sound like Napoleon claiming the emperorship of the universe because a couple of his soliders nabbed a few highwaymen.
The Donk, of course, will read every minor kill in the Obama age as further evidence of competence, just as your basic GOPster read every large explosion under Bush as evidence of vision. We are nothing if not a nation full of adolescent enthusiasms. I would like to believe that, should we survive as a people we will one day look back on our first few centuries with the chagrin and abashed embarrassment that I look back on Cure lyrics, but somehow I suspect not.
Levers, carpets, who ever knows what Friedman is yapping about. But look, the triumph of the Westphalian model of the nation was never really a triumph, was temporary, and was in any case an historic outlier. The ideal of a world full of stable borders and nations "united by language and culture" never actually obtained. It originated in a very particular European environment, and by the time it truly began to resemble a truly global system a few centuries later in the aftermath of the Second World War it was already passé. Did the client states of the United States or the buffer states of the Eastern Bloc enjoy national sovereignty, free from external influence in internal affairs?
But this is increasingly an age of pirates, failed states, nonstate actors and nation-building — the stuff of snipers, drones and generals, not diplomats.Excising the technophilic fondling of "drones," Friedman is identifying as exceptional a mere reversion to the mean. As for the dismissal of diplomacy, every principality had an ambassador in every other duchy's court. The idea that only monolithic megamillions-populated states are capable of negotiating is nuts, totally backwards.
Tuesday, April 14, 2009
At Videogum, there's a laugh at the new trailer for Lars von Trier's Antichrist
which appears to be a laugh riot.
Anyway, the score, which cuts in and out softly, is a version of "Lascia ch'io pianga," an aria from Handel's opera Rinaldo, which is in turn just a lyrical resetting of the earlier "Lascia la spina," from Handel's oratorio Il trionfo del tempo e della verità, here sung by Cecilia Bartoli:
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad gives off the air of mad self-importance and benighted self-pity common to almost all powerful men, but he does give a good interview. He often obfuscates, but in doings so gives his interviewers just enough room to hang themselves, and they oblige, coming off as merely hectoring. Iran must do this. Iran must do that. Iran must show a sign. While the Iranian President responds plainly, speaking on the nuclear question:
If a technology is beneficial, everyone should have it. If it is not, no one should have it. Can it be ... [that] we are not even permitted to pursue the peaceful use of nuclear energy? Our logic is completely clear: equal rights for all. The composition of the Security Council and the veto of its five permanent members are consequences of World War II, which ended 60 years ago. Must the victorious powers dominate mankind for evermore, and must they constitute the world government? The composition of the Security Council must be changed.Which is hard to quibble with.
Predictably, Ahmedinejad dissembles on on his position on the scale of the Holocaust, speaking with deliberate ambivalence. This is callous and condemnable, but as the American President (and his predecessors) perform the same rhetorical dance regarding the Armenian genocide, one can hardly call Ahmedinejad uniquely callous or disingenuous regarding the legacy of mass killing in the 20th century.
Monday, April 13, 2009
“I have to admit,” he said, “that I’m one of those people that still thinks the dishwasher is a miracle. What a device! And I have to admit that because I think that way, I like to load it. I like to look in and see how that dishes were magically cleaned.”Now, a dishwasher is not such a complicated device, and it is certainly not a miracle. A pan fills with water. A heating element heats it. A pump attached to a rotating nozzle arm sprays it. A catch releases detergent into it. Rinse. Wash. Rinse again. A heating element heats the air to speed drying. Bada-boom. These days they're fancy and computerized, but inexpensive models and older models function just fine on a mechanical timer. The home dishwasher was invented in 1924. By the mid seventies they were commonplace in private kitchens.
-Clarence "Not the Angel" Thomas
You may read the linked article and think it far more shocking that a Supreme Court Justice confesses to suspicion about the notion of rights, but I find the confession totally banal: it reveals a man who's never grappled, not even superficially, with what rights are or aren't, but rather shows an atavistic grouch who doesn't like the fact that each freedom isn't counterbalanced by an equal and opposite constraint or obligation.
I am, however, driven absolutely nuts by the tendency--and it is a common one--to mystify things that aren't in the least bit mysterious and then treat this same post hoc obfuscatory nonsense as the basis for an argument about how wonderful it is that we have what we have, and shouldn't we all be that much more grateful? I mean, if you're curious about how something works, find out how it works.
Thomas is famously a self-described "originalist," forever seeking to divine the precise meaning of America's founding documents as they would have been understood at the time that they were authored, thereby, in his understanding, strictly circumscribing their meaning and application. That an extraordinarily voluminous record of contemporaneous primary-source correspondence, commentary, explication, debate, opinion, oratory, etc. exists seems largely not to occur to him, or, if it does, not to interest him. He views the Constitution as a sort of Revelation which helps explains why his commentary is shifting and his reasoning inconsistently applied. The Constitution is a workaday document, and it reads like one. The Bill of Rights is deliberately expansive, meanwhile. I know there's not a Tenth Amendment anymore, but you know, the Tenth Amendment.
There's philosophical room for debate on rights and their universality, but in the United States of America there is indeed supposed to be a supersessionary legal category of protected acts, actions, and states called "Rights" within the founding document itself.
The Stiftung gets at a point we've been mulling for a while now, which is the "Warlord-lite"ism of the Hopester, natch:
For all of that, Obama is Warlord-lite once again. Agitprop spinners and gullible U.S.-we-canners aside, the defense industry quite rightfully breathes a sigh of relief — as their stocks soar on the news.As Superjesus Black Reagan pronounces to his poodle-skirted fan club that he sees a "glimmer of hope" and sends human paraquat Larry Summers out to explain that we are aallllllmost at the bottom, MosSecDef Gates pitches increases as decreases for spending on so-called Defense. The Bailout remains stage magic at best as Obama's thirtysomething forensics team seeks to prove the power of words, mere words to inspire "confidence," a word that should give any observer pause, even when not immediately followed by game. Still struggling to recapitalize and reinvigorate "legacy" (read: failed, bankrupt in all but name) institutions by monetizing fictitious assets in the mobius-strip logic of late Late Capitalism, they're clearly out of their depth, none more so than the President himself, who would in a more realistic world have been hired by his predecessor to be the American Ambassador to America, a glorious reified symbol with a knockout wife and excellent table manners.
The alleged Gates “cutbacks” are merely a piece with the Potemkin nature of Obama’s budget and TARP/financial rescue plan. Essentially to anyone not still drunk from the Inaugural buzz, the Obama Administration’s claim to fame so far is ‘hey we’re slightly less whacked than those other guys’. Change yes, but less than meets the eye. The ‘vital’ Obama federal budget delivered less than a month ago is blown into vapor by their sudden admission (DOH! - as everyone outside the Administration knew) that the economy in fact wouldn’t grow and begin recovery this June as they claimed. Much less reachg 3.3. GDP next year.
Youth, teen-girl appeal, Ivy-League background, hawkishness, and a hopelessly mediocre intellect, Obama really is the second coming of Kennedy assassiné. What did Joe Biden call him: nice, young, clean, and articulate? Seen at the time as regrettably racist condescension, it seems in hindsight a perfect and prophetic estimation of a candidate-in-permanence who's plainly not up to the task.
What is it with the times and its down-and-out billionaire sob sister beat?
We gape at Bernie Madoff’s unclaimed $2,000 trousers and we think: Could there be a better symbol of all that has gone wrong, so suddenly, in the last six months? One day the Money Men were brilliant; the next day, they were thieves. One day, cash flowed; the next day, credit vanished. One day, it seemed extravagant to buy a garment for the same price as a low-end used car; the next day, it seemed insane.Yes, yes there could be better symbols, such as: the entire article preceding that paragraph.