What happened basically is that Crowley accused Gates, whether for good reason or not, of breaking into his own home. Gates, pissed off, offended Crowley. At which point Crowley, even though he was now perfectly aware that Gates was not guilty of anything, decided to exact revenge by manipulating the situation to create a trumped-up disorderly conduct charge. That’s not professional policing, and it’s not a good use of the City of Cambridge’s law enforcement resources.Okay, right, sure, uh-huh, except that . . . that is professional policing. Oh, I know, that isn't precisely how Yglesias is using the word, but let's be real. It's like saying that "using performance-enhancing drugs isn't professional cycling." It's like saying, "the United States military greatly regrets the loss of innocent life." It's like saying, "the Department of Justice should be immune to political pressure." So, fine, but.
Saturday, July 25, 2009
Friday, July 24, 2009
I love newspaper comments sections. Where do these people come from? Remarkable.
Personally I was amazed by the number of people who claimed in those comments that they were "always taught" to genuflect before cops. Me, I was always taught that cops were servants, below my station in life, like the guys who mowed our lawn or fetched our golf carts. I have since revised my opinion of landscapers and become a supporter of La Reconquista, and I was once in love with a caddy.
In the realm of bad cooking, there are few things as awful as the boiled chicken as practiced by Greek and Jewish grandmothers everywhere, a wet and rubbery thing that's long since given up its flavor to the roiling medium in which it was cooked. But those clever Chinese long ago figured out a method involving a short, swift boil, long rest, and quick reheat just before service by pouring a hot sauce or hot oil over the butchered bird. The seasoning in recipe below is imitative of the boiled chicken recipe they serve at my favorite Cantonese joint, but just as is the case with roasted poultry, once you master the simple technique, you can flavor and season in almost infinite combination.
Boiled whole chicken
1 whole chicken, approximately 4 lbs, giblets reserved
several tablespoons Chinese five-spice mix (available at any Asian grocer)
1 tablespoon honey
2 lemons, chopped
about 2" of ginger root, unpeeled, roughly chopped
2 tablespoons loose green tea
5-6 whole green onions
5-6 garlic cloves, crushed
2-3 shallots, finely diced
1/4 cup chives, finely diced (or substitute more green onion)
1 cup rice wine
arrowroot powder (or corn starch, though it is less ideal)
a light, mild oil such as canola
Early in the day, mix the five-spice mix and honey with water to create a syrupy consistency. Remove the chicken wings and reserve with the giblets and organs. Rub the chicken thoroughly inside and out with the seasoning. Stuff the cavity with the chopped lemon. Sew the cavity shut with a poultry needle and cotton twine, and truss the drumsticks tightly together. Cover and let rest, refrigerated, until you are ready to cook. The actual cooking time once you begin is a bit over an hour.
When you are ready to cook, place the chicken, breast-side-up in a very large pot. Fill the pot with warm water. Add the ginger, tea, whole green onions, and garlic cloves. Place on your largest burner on highest heat. Bring to a rolling boil, covered, and maintain at that boil for ten minutes. After ten minutes, turn off the heat entirely and let the whole thing rest for one hour, still covered.
After one hour, heat the canola oil in a sauce pan and gently sauté the shallots until soft. Add the chives. Sauté for another minute or so. Add the rice wine. Take 2 cups of the cooking liquid from your chicken, pour into the sauce pan through your finest mesh sieve. Whisk together thoroughly and allow it to reduce by about a quarter.
While it reduces, remove the chicken from the water. Using a large butcher knife, halve the breast. Cut out the backbone and discard. Now lay each half flat and chop into serving pieces perpendicular to its length--you should be able to get 8-10 larger-than-bite-sized pieces per half. Arrange on a platter. (I often garnish the platter with a side-dish of wilted greens or some other green vegetable.)
Return to your sauce. Whisk in perhaps a teaspoon of sesame oil. Now add your starch to thicken. If you use arrowroot, you can add the powder in small shakes directly to the sauce. If you use corn starch, you must first dissolve it in a little bowl of cool water and pour it into the sauce in a thin stream. In either case, continue whisking briskly. You will need no more than a teaspoon of starch. The sauce will quickly begin to thicken, and when it is very hot and thick enough that you can see small bubbles forming and bursting like lava on the top of the sauce, remove from heat and pour over the chicken.
Watching the centrist Democrats in Congress create more and more reasons why health care can't be fixed, I've been struck by a disquieting thought: Suppose our collective lack of response to Hurricane Katrina wasn't exceptional but, rather, the new normal in America. Suppose we can no longer address the major challenges confronting the nation. Suppose America is now the world's leading can't-do country.Myerson recalls a great nation, or some such, building bridges and creating social security. Well, we all look back at the Augustan age, every emperor a god. Our present hemidemideities are less divine, and we are a bankrupt empire in decline. The problem is not so much that we cannot "address the major challenges confronting the nation," but that we have so far refused to accept that we are hamstrung by the challenges of maintaining the global military and financial hegemon. This is a lesson every empire, from Rome to the Soviets, eventually learned. There are upper limits to bloblike growth. Eventually the machinery starts to creak. History, for all his hoary attributes, grows swiftly bored and does not care.
Just for the record, the only options on health care in America are to adopt a French-style system, which is basically good and sensible, probably the best in the world, or to continue doing what we're doing, which is more or less what the Obama plan amounts to, after all the bait's been cast and switches made. As for supposed advocates of the free market, there is none. There has never been one in the modern era. The "free market" in health care is just the government subcontracting out additional layers of bureaucracy to semi-private entities in order to do what the government does: to effect the ongoing, massive redistribution of wealth from the majority of the population to the richest few percent.
Thursday, July 23, 2009
The Prof. Gates thing. What I enjoy about the post hoc arguments from law enforcement officials and their various interlocutors is this: they protest that their prerogative to arrest people for no reason (i.e., drunk and disorderly, disturbing the peace) must be preserved, lest they lose the ability to arrest people for no reason.
You know, if you're going to write a lazy column about American anti-intellectualism, you might try not to misuse "begs the question" quite so egregiously.
"Let me be clear."
-President Barack Obama
To clarify: the question that you asked
goes to the heart of what we hope to see
in metrics promulgated by the task-
force that we tasked to separate degree
from kind and type from sort and manner paid
from method spent; we do expect a test
report of progress when the working group
convenes to redefine what is the best
worst case result; we’ll keep you in the loop
regarding moving forward as we grow
capacities that heretofore were not
beyond development; we hope to show
a clear outline of what we knew and thought
in order that you see a concrete end
product in planning as we start to spend . . .
Wednesday, July 22, 2009
Garrulous bony lungfish Joseph Biden from the great state of Let Me Just Take a Moment to Tell You All about this One Time was towed into the Ukraine on a length of twine by a flock of squaking marsh birds. His mind made a series of promises that his body was unable to fill. Then he fled.
MICHELE KELEMAN: Did you manage to persuade India that it's time to get tough on Iran?So. The US is going to try to enlist India, a nuclear-armed non-signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty in an effort to "get tough" on Iran, a non-nuclear-armed signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. We are, in other words, going to enlist an egregious nuclear proliferater in an effort to convince a non-proliferator not to proliferate.
HILLARY CLINTON: India shares our concerns about Iran persuing nuclear weapons. India . . . shares a lot of information with us . . . we're going to continue to deepen our intelligence cooperation. I think India understands the threat of nuclear proliferation to and by both countries and non-state actors like al Qaeda and others . . . So, I'm very much looking forward to, in the course of this strategic partnership that we announced when I was there, really delving into depths with India about there ideas about to how to try to dissuade Iran.
-On NPR's Morning Addition
This is sure to succeed.
Tuesday, July 21, 2009
As I have occassionally noted in the past, there is nothing in fiction or film quite so awful as the conviction of certain inferior authors that the only way to move a story forward is to cause characters to make exactly the wrong choice at every fork in the road, hurtling from one climax to the next on the hurricane winds of poor decision making. A minor mutation of this particular genus of viral ineptitude is the story in which some or other Chosen One, no matter the fact that he is known high and low, far and wide, upwards and downwards, leftways and rightways as exactly such, no matter how preternatural his Jeezitude, cannot for the life or death of him get anyone to believe him when he declares the the skulking, plainly evil villain is skulking, plainly evil, a villain.
The conceit can work if no one knows that Joe Messiah is actually the Christ, especially if he himself doesn't yet know it, and children's literature is obviously full of stories reflecting that greatest of childhood frustrations, adults really refusing to listen to you because you're just a kid. In the first dozen or so volumes of Rowling's billion-word centology, we are nearly in such territory, as the stories both feature and are written for younger kids, and the hero, though known to some as the übermensch of the master race, is as yet enough of an unknown quantity in the "Wizarding World" to be treated as a . . . well, a mixed-race arriviste. By now, however, in the series' penultimate volume and next-to-penultimate movie, the child has had his bar mitzvah, can be considered a man, and in any case has featured prominently in the magical gossip columns. J.K. Rowling also took great care to emblazon his forehead with the messianic mark, and why it is, at long last, that the young man cannot simply march into his kindly headmaster's office and lay bare his suspicions never becomes clear. Harry Potter, the Pubescent Prince, likewise makes liberal use of the related conceit: characters who withhold crucial information from other characters To Protect Them. Remarkably, this tactic does not appear to work out very well for anyone.
The book, which I attempted to skim at the library, is broadly expository. The film necessarily condenses, but can't quite account for the total lack of plot, the series of largely unconnected MacGuffins that occupy time between infodumps the length of Atlas Shrugged. In order to signal that the kids are growing up, the moments between magical chases are in the movie mostly occupied by moments of uncomfortable cryptopederasty and something the British call "snogging," evidently kissing, most memorably a few extras in a bizarre nighttime hallway makeout scene like something composed by Richard Linklater and set off in the shadowy corner of the field beyond the keg party. There is also the obligatory sports competition, an invented contest called Quidditch, a sort of cross between jai alai, lacrosse, Go-Kart, and a Bel Ami flick, in which boy fly around on long, thin, uncircumcised penises, chasing a ball.
The run time is just under five days, and in the end the school's headmaster is killed by Alan Rickman, who by never hiding how much he despises acting in this movie or how preposterous he finds the lines he is obliged to speak perfectly captures his pseudoviallainous character, whose uncolored sourness telegraphs his ultimate redemption from this grand distance of two films and a thousand light years. The cast of these movies is remarkable. Kill all the children and you would have Kenneth Branagh's Shakespeare's Whatever standing around on coffee break. Poor Maggie Smith seems to have misplaced her Demerol, and in the midst of it all, there is a funeral for a spider, which unaccountably moves some other professor to get drunk, which inexplicably causes him to instantly sober up and yet still spill the beans: the villain, Voldemort, has found a way to make himself immortal. Yes, I was not surprised.
If George Lucas was able to concoct his fictional universe by imagining Joseph Campbell as a moron, J.K. Rowling has done it by imagining him as an attention-deficient child, a wall-banging Ritalin addict who doesn't want to draw, he wants to catch, doesn't want to catch, he wants to eat, doesn't want to eat, he wants to play with blocks. Like Odysseus, her hero is forever bumbling into an interminable digression, but unlike Odysseus, he has no wits to keep about him. Confronted by Scylla and Charybdis, he would find himself simply borne aloft and away from danger by some hippobirdiphant who happened to be winging by; Tiresius would be his algebra teacher, whom he'd just follow into the world of the dead, perhaps hiding behind some trees along the way; held in amorous captivity by Circe, he might do a bit of snogging, but in the end, dream only of returning to his dormitory garret, to the tender embrace of his strapping redheaded roommate, or the fey, tattooed, emogoth Draco, last seen crying in the restroom because They Just Don't Understand.
Monday, July 20, 2009
Walter Cronkite, a man who was old, is now dead. America looks on and asks, "How could we allow this to happen?"
I think we can all admit that while the boys at Reason are good on SWAT excesses and legalizing the devil weed, their, uh, libertarian economics leaves a lot to be desired. A miasma of hands-off, "market economy" platitudes, it confuses corporate state capitalism with the free exchange of goods and labor as surely as MSNBC confuses the Dow with "the economy." This leads to some curious analytical exercises, such as this WaPo op-ed in which Welch and Gillespie argue rightly that Barack Obama is a spendthrift who has aped his immediate predecessor in creating a state of incessant national crisis to justify a series of hastily constructed, ill-considered emergency measures, even as they yearn, like a pair of swear-to-god, gen-you-whine Democratic bloggers, for a return to the baller days of America under "the man from Hope," that priapic demiurge, William Jefferson Clinton, the first Black president, himself.
Well, I am overstating, but in praising Clinton's "generally free-market economic policies," they are intent on overlooking the central role of Clinton and Alan Greenspan in our current economic woes, the creditization and bubbleization of the American economy, the exponential growth of "financial services," the creation of the subprime industry, the recasting of private real estate as little more than a twice-held gambling chit, with which homeowners could buy ever more junk for the ever-growing houses in which they ever-more-temporarily resided, with which mortgage-backers and -holders could leverage ever-more-preposterous Ponzi-scheme investment strategies, to the tune of billions, hundreds of billions, trillions of dollars. Of course, at Reason Magazine you can still read John Stossel on how the government forced banks to lend money to poor niggers, thus destroying the universe. Which is a measure of something or other, but not economic acumen, not common sense.
Many self-professed libertarians, like Welch and Gillespie, praise the so-called deregulatory actions of Bill Clinton as his saving grace, when of course his government did what all recent American governments have done. If "deregulation" meant embracing a studied neutrality in matters of production, exchange, and trade, then it would be praisworthy. Instead, it simply means corporate favoritism, acting to lower the costs and responsibilities of the ownership class that they might still make their bonuses at the end of the fiscal year. Obama's zillion dollar subsidy to the financial sector that Bill Clinton created from the dust of the earth and one of Michael Milken's ribs is no break from the "free-market" instincts of his Democratic ancestor. It's just . . . America can't get high from a key bump anymore, and needs the dealer-in-chief to lay out some fatter rails.