I find it hilarious that the main liberal arguments against Bachman and Perry boil down to: they're crazy. Well, I mean, okay. JFK was a warmongering brinksman who suffered from acute satyriasis; LBJ was a megalomaniac who killed two million Asians for no reason whatsoever; Nixon was a legit paranoid schizophrenic; Carter was an actual revivalist religious primitive; Reagan had Alzheimers. I mean, of course they're fucking crazy; but what's really crazy is the idea that their craziness is unique.
Friday, August 19, 2011
I had this great line about Scott Lemieux of Lawyers, Guns, and Money--I was going to say that discovering a progressive with a military hardon is like finding out that someone keeps his VHS cuckold-fetish porn in the same sock drawer as his serial-killer paperback biography collection . . . but alas, the posts that I remembered weren't authored by Lemieux but by his longtime companion, Robert Farley. So then the insult got complicated. It's like discovering that someone's husband keeps . . . well anyway, Girl, leave him! He's a weirdo and a creeper! But what was I saying? Oh, right: there is an amusing and silly tit-for-tit between Lemieux and Glenn Greenwald regarding The Obama: here is Greenwald's most recent; here is Lemieux's. I do like Glenn, for all the ragging I've given the poor guy over the ages and epochs of the internet; I account him merely naïve, and I blame it mostly on law school, which is, if degree programs are diseases, the bovine spongiform encephalopathy of what I like to call hire ed, har har. Lemieux is just a hack of the Yglesias variety, though less prone to malapropism, which perhaps counterintuitively makes him much, much more boring; you can never count on him to utter anything yawningly distant from what he was really trying to say, and as a consequence he is rarely anything but banal. He, in any event, accuses Greenwald of insufficiently grasping the multivalent powerpolitics of the institutions of American government and of forever overreading into the secret heart of Barry O. when he ought to be concentrating on the far more significant history of off-year election representative party transfer in the 3rd congressional district of Somestate, USA, wherein the real story of everything and anything is writ. To my mind Glenn is anything but a wannabe mindreader; he is more an exhaustive cataloguer of actual utterances; I do not think he is consulting a Ouija to determine that Barry wants to ritually murder Social Security or what have you; I think he is consulting the New York Times archives.
Luckily, I am here to tell you that they are both wrong. If not immediately obvious, beneath my blithe anarchism lurks the austere heart of a Calvinist, though I consider our various predestinations the prerogative of lovely Clio rather than dour Yaweh. Guys like Lemieux project an air of intellectual sophistication by calling moralists fools and claiming that they fail to grasp the delicate interplays of power that determine the policies of nations and empires; but they are the fools, and they never follow their institutional arguments to their ultimate conclusion, which is not that the system constrains Bush or Obama, but that it produces them; that although we are accustomed to crediting Caesars with the particular character of their Rome, it was in fact Rome which made each Caesar. If you take, oh, a more Tralfamadorian view of Barack Obama, then he appears not as an actor in a play, but as a detail in a picture--everything turning away quite leisurely from the disaster.
Kefta is meatalls! Actually, I think the Moroccans are more inclined to cook these en brochette over an open flame, but as longtime readers know, I actually had the vent enlarged so that I could fuck my tagine, I love it so much, and this is a modest updating of a very classic dish--rich and aromatic and, because it cooks long and slow in a relatively cool oven, a fine dinner for late summer when the nights are beginning to feel a little cooler. This recipe will serve about 6.
1.5 lbs ground lamb
1 small yellow onion, grated
1/4 cup parsley, chiffonade
pinch of fresh ground cumin
pinch of fresh ground allspice
1-2 ground whole cloves
pinch of fresh ground coriander
pinch of ground cayenne
1 tspn sweet paprika
pinch fresh grated ginger
pinch of fresh ground cinnamon
pinch of fresh ground nutmeg
generous sea salt
splash of olive oil
2 lbs sauce tomatoes (e.g. Roma), peeled and hand-crushed
1 yellow onion, grated
1 carrot, grated
several radishes, grated
parsley, basil, and a bunch of sweet garden herbs (e.g. sweet marjoram, French tarragon, fennel frond)
6 small ("large") eggs (or a dozen quail eggs)
First make the sauce. Heat oil in a heavy saucepan over medium high head and add the grated vegetables; when they've released liquid, salt generously. Add the herbs and let them pop, then add the tomatoes, stir together, reduce to a simmer, and cover. Cook for about a half hour, always covered--the cover prevents the liquid from evaporating, which is what you want. This is going to be, in effect, a braising liquid, and you want it to remain wet and not thicken.
To make the meatballs combine all of the ingredients and mash together with your hands until it forms a smooth paste. Roll into as many walnut-sized balls as you can make. (Anytime you're working in this manner, whether making meatballs or ravioli stuffing or meatloaf, keep a bowl of water handy and keep your hands wet; it will keep the meat from sticking to them.)
Pout the sauce into the base of the tagine. Add the meatballs to it. Cover and cook in a 300 degree oven for two hours. Remove from the oven and uncover. Crack the eggs into it. (Quail eggs are a little pricey--about $4-5 a dozen; I get them from a Chinese grocer. They are, however, a lot of fun for just a few extra bucks . . . and tasty.) Let the eggs firm up just slightly in the warm liquid; then give the whole thing a few vigorous swirls, then re-cover and return to the oven for another 20-30 minutes.
Serve over Bulgar or a nutty long-grained rice with sides of grilled or roasted vegetables and an herb salad.
Thursday, August 18, 2011
The real world heaps me, it taxes me today, so I'll just mention in passing that Egypt is now a military dictatorship and we are still fucking bombing Libya.
Wednesday, August 17, 2011
Watching the organs of American state media discover that foreign oligarchs and autocrats have constituencies is like watching a baby discover its own hands, but not cute.
As strange as it may sound to outsiders, the people who run Russia are obsessed with approval ratings.Democracy, such as it is, really does seem to consider itself not only unique but endlessly novel; not merely a different breed, nor simply another species, nor a separate genus, nor the same family, order, class, or phylum, but wholly its own distinct kingdom. A fungus amongst the animals and vegetables. I recently heard an almost identical story on NPR, though in that case it was the Chinese Government which was shockingly concerned with what its subjects thought and desired, or at least with what certain portions of its citizenry thought and desired.
One of the complaints about the anarchist analysis is that its obsession with The State obliterates all distinction; it treats apples like oranges and objects like women, man. There is actually some validity to this; the mechanisms through which states exert control over their peoples and polities do differ, sometimes dramatically, but in almost every instance the distinctions are the disparate symptoms of the same underlying disorder. Even in the simple palace economies of the earliest eras of human civilization, the sentiments of the ruled had to be considered and accounted for. The Pharoanic godhead wasn't just a quirky religious trick; it was also a public relations strategy. The Roman rulers of the imperial era were, but for a few genuine crazies, more concerned with the mob than even their Republican predecessors; divine right monarchs were not obsessed with appearance because they hoped to make Sunday Styles.
In the immortal words of Mitt Romney: My friends. Gather round. One conceit you'll often encounter is that the Republican Party in America uses its wild-eyed, far-right, wingnut faction to move the ol' Overton Window ever rightward, forcing the well-meaning but naive, spineless, and ever-self-negotiating Democratic Party and thus the whole of American politics rightward. This presumes that the Democratic Party is some or other species of The Left, whatever that is and that the crackpot Christian pseudopopulism of flyover Republicanland is some or other species of The Right, uh, likewise. But I says unto yinz, I says: this thesis is bogus. There is no left and right in American politics. There are Democrats and Republicans inasmuch as there are Montagues and Capulets. The drama in which we find ourselves is called the neoliberal consensus. Neoliberal is inelegant, of course. As is neoconservative. By the way, have you noticed that neoliberalism and neoconservativism are the same? And doesn't that suggest something about the suffixless root words? Anyway, I wonder if there's a more elegant term.
Tuesday, August 16, 2011
It goes without saying that Ron Paul and I have equal chances of becoming the next president of the United States; this is why no one is covering his campaign. Now I like Ron Paul, but I also admit and understand that Ron Paul is a patsy, or a reliable stooge--the Denny Kuciny of the Republican Right, a convenient sheepdog to herd the slouches and stragglers back into the sheepfold. Asking why these people are included in debates and campaigns even as they are accorded the most seemingly disdainful treatment by the apparati of propaganda is to perceive a wrong note in what is really a skillfully modulated key. YOU'RE NOT DEALING WITH MORONS HERE! They reinforce the loyalty of the more ideological fringes of the parties while also ensuring that many marginal types hear some hint of hope, honor, decency . . . reform within the system. Well Ron Paul might not win, some libertarian somewhere is telling himself, but if he can at least run a campaign . . . You fool; you rube! Ron Paul is tolerated by the system he ostensibly opposes because his opposition is merely incidental; its effect is to strengthen the system by making it ever more inevitable. Ersatz intellectual diversity superimposed on the public facade of the ruling class is an affect overlying an underlying unanimity among the actually powerful.
Monday, August 15, 2011
I am probably unduly crediting a stock phrase with a philosophy, but the dimly mechanistic worldview enclosed in the notion that “society is broken” is worth laughing at. Harhar, if only we adjust the B-tension on the rear derailleur, society will stop rattling! If only we replace that last bit of ball-and-tube wiring in the basement, society will stop flickering when the compressor in the fridge turns on! What this society needs is a lube-and-fluids job, ahem, so to speak. Here comes David Cameron with the monkey wrench. Let’s get you bent over, er, up on the lift.
Western liberalism—and please, spare me the comment that Cameron is a conservative; conservatism is also Western liberalism—is a computer virus in the human operating system; it is one of the fake security scam programs that tells you that you’re infected with a bunch of other viruses that do not exist; it promises to inoculate you against these threats. Just send your credit card info, date of birth, astrological sign, passwords, bank account transfer numbers, vial of the blood of your firstborn. Soon none of your executable files run; you are stuck in a self-inflected cycle of rebooting; your money is gone; your registry logs are corrupt; your mind-file indexes destroyed; you are slaved to an evil network, your sole active purpose to choicelessly spam other minds with the very disease that you mistook for a cure.