Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Archive for April 2008

Voter suppression in North Carolina?

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Mark Kleiman has this post:

Women’s Voices, Women’s Votes is a 501 c(3) nonprofit devoted to registering unmarried women to vote. It has lots of connections to the Clinton campaign; as of a year ago, the “leadership team” included Maggie Williams, her business partner Pat Griffin, and Hal Malchow, now the direct-mail honcho of the Clinton campaign.

WVWV paid for a bunch of robo-calls to black voters in North Carolina — men as well as women — in which someone identified only as “Lamont Williams” said that a voter registration packet was on its way to them and that they should sign it and mail it back to be registered to vote. The calls went out after the mail-in registration deadline, but before the deadline for one-stop registration and early voting; any voter who relied on the information in the call would wind up being disenfranchised for the upcoming primary. In addition, many of the recipients were already registered, and the calls were well-designed to cause them to doubt whether they could vote before receiving the promised package in the mail.

The calls came from an “ID blocked” number and included no reference to WVWV, which makes them illegal in North Carolina. WVWV has been caught doing similar things in black neighborhoods just before other primaries this year, including in Virginia.

So: Was this an amazing set of good-faith mistakes, or was it a series of attempts by people friendly to the Clinton campaign to suppress the black vote in order to benefit HRC against Obama?

Considering the illegal anonymity (“Lamont Williams” does not exist), the targeting of black neighborhoods rather than women (and the use of a streotypically “black” name for the caller), the unlikelihood that a well-funded, highly professional voter-registration group would not know about the registration deadlines and be unable to restrict its mailings to people not yet registered, the national pattern, and the amazingly lame response by WVWC after they were caught, what do you think?

UPDATE: Looks as though the Clinton-conspiracy idea is wrong. See this post.

Written by LeisureGuy

30 April 2008 at 4:59 pm

Posted in Democrats, Election

Interesting article on Obama-Wright

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Good analysis of the conflict by David Dante Troutt:

Sen. Barack Obama’s emphatic denunciation of his former pastor, Jeremiah A. Wright Jr., for a series of comments the reverend made during a sort of media tour last week involves far more than politics. Wright had reveled in a bewildering litany of racial differences and repeated his most charged political beliefs. He had characterized this tempest in the racial trope as an attack on black faith and all black churches before Obama finally cut him loose. But this spectacle is more personal than political, more universal than racial.

The nation watched this play out, riveted by the lasting mythology about human bonds — the age-old struggle between fathers and sons. The Obama-Wright breach is intriguing for its psychological familiarity — every son and every father deals with this on some level. It is as compelling as a car crash. If cultures and religions invent eternal myths as narrations of life, where does this story fit and what could it mean for Obama?

The obvious analogy is an inversion of the Oedipal struggle, where the enraged father seeks the death of his son, but accomplishes only their mutual destruction.

Try Roman mythology. Look at Wright as Saturn, the ruler of the universe, whose children were prophesied to depose him. As each child is born, he devours it. Yet, the myth goes, one gets away, Jupiter. And, as predicted, he ultimately defeats his father. This myth even reaches into astrology, where Saturn is associated with old age, melancholy and the domineering father. Jupiter — the son — represents goodness.

Then there is the Old Testament tale of Saul and David. The Lord tears the kingdom of Israel from a disobedient Saul and gives it to one better than he, David, the son of a servant. David remains loyal to Saul, fighting his battles, and becomes his son-in-law. Yet Saul’s jealousy leads him to pursue David and, in plots motivated by evil spirits, tries several times to kill him. Fleeing for his safety, David twice spares Saul’s life. Defeated in battle, Saul falls on his own sword and dies.

Finally, in Ralph Ellison’s novel “Invisible Man”— which Wright quotes regularly —there is a metaphor of crabs in a barrel pulling each other down from the sides. This famously describes the fratricidal jealousy of some blacks for the ascension of others.

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Written by LeisureGuy

30 April 2008 at 4:12 pm

The anti-Hallmark

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Cool e-cards. Take a look.

Written by LeisureGuy

30 April 2008 at 3:47 pm

Posted in Daily life

Wright’s talks arranged by Clinton supporter

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This is quite interesting. Andrew Malcolm of the LA Times reports:

Well, here’s a most interesting connection we just came across.

Everybody is talking today about how much the Rev. Jeremiah Wright’s latest unrepentant militant remarks hurt his most prominent parishoner, Sen. Barack Obama, and his chances to win the Democratic presidential nomination and the general election. So much so that the Obama camp realized the latent danger overnight and the candidate was forced to speak out publicly a second time today, as The Ticket noted here earlier today.

There was little doubt left in today’s remarks by Obama, who recently said he could no more disown Wright than he could the black community. He pretty much disowned Wright today. Obama described himself as “outraged” and “saddened” by “the spectacle of what we saw yesterday.”

But now, it turns out, we should have been paying a little less attention to Wright’s speech and the histrionics of his ensuing news conference and taken a peek at….  who was sitting next to him at the head table for the National Press Club event.

It was the Rev. Dr. Barbara Reynolds, a former editorial board member of USA Today who teaches at the Howard University School of Divinity. An ordained minister, as New York Daily News writer Errol Louis points out in today’s column, she was introduced at the press club event as the person “who organized” it.

But guess what? She’s also an ardent longtime booster of Obama’s sole remaining competitor for the Democratic nomination, none other than Sen. Hillary Clinton of New York. It won’t take very much at all for Obama supporters to see in Wright’s carefully arranged Washington event that was so damaging to Obama the strategic, nefarious manipulation of the Clintons.

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Written by LeisureGuy

30 April 2008 at 3:21 pm

Posted in Democrats, Election

More than 16,000 downloads of WYM

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The Excel workbook Within Your Means (free) has now had 16,126 downloads. I wonder whether the downloads will accelerate as the economy sours. I certainly hope that it’s helping a substantial fraction of the 16,000 who have tried it.

Written by LeisureGuy

30 April 2008 at 12:37 pm

Posted in Daily life

Soy-poached roast chicken

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Doesn’t this Mark Bittman recipe sound good?

Soy-Poached Roast Chicken
Yield 4 servings Time 40 minutes

You can serve the chicken straight out of the stockpot with the liquid as a sauce, but I like to finish it in a hot oven, where it develops a crisp, dark brown crust that takes roast chicken to another level.

  • 3 cups mushroom-flavored soy sauce, or any dark soy sauce
  • 3 cups mei kuei lu chiew or any floral off-dry white wine, like gewurztraminer or muscat
  • 2 star anise
  • 1 14-ounce box yellow rock sugar, crushed, or 1 cup white sugar
  • 3 ounces ginger (about a 5-inch knob), cut into slices and bruised with side of knife
  • 10 scallions
  • 1 chicken, 2 1/2 to 3 pounds

In stockpot or narrow 6-quart pot, combine soy sauce, rice wine, 2 cups water, star anise, sugar and ginger. Bring to rolling boil. Add 6 scallions. Lower chicken gently and slowly into liquid, breast side down.

Bring back to boil, and cook steadily for 10 minutes. Turn off heat, and turn chicken over. Let sit in hot liquid 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, trim and mince remaining scallions and preheat oven to 500 degrees.

Carefully remove chicken from liquid, and put in skillet or roasting pan. Roast 5 minutes, or until nicely browned; keep an eye on it — it can burn easily. Meanwhile, reheat liquid. When chicken is ready, carve and serve with a few spoonfuls of sauce over it. Put minced scallions into a cup of sauce; pass at table to go over white rice.

Note: You can reuse the liquid — it improves with each use — although I would strain it and replace the ginger, scallions and star anise each time, adding extra liquid. I also recommend freezing it between uses, or refrigerating it and bringing it to a rolling boil every few days.

Written by LeisureGuy

30 April 2008 at 12:29 pm

Posted in Daily life, Food, Recipes

Best films to see Paris

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Susan Spano in the LA Times lists the best films to see Paris. I ask The Wife: what films that should be in the list were omitted?

If springtime in Paris isn’t going to work for you this year, rent a movie and pretend — until you can book a flight and go. Here are my Top 10 picks for films that best show off the French capital.

For scenes from these memorable films, go to latimes.com/reelparis.

1. “Ratatouille“: Last year’s animated hit about a rat named Remy who has a talent for cooking; directed by Brad Bird of “The Incredibles.” The Paris backdrop is almost as good as the real thing, all air brushed and rose colored.

2. “An American in Paris”: The 1951 classic starring Gene Kelly as a struggling American artist and Leslie Caron as a pretty young parisienne; their “American in Paris Ballet,” set to the music of George Gershwin, makes you want to go to Paris and fall in love, even if the scenery is right off the back lot.

3. “Love in the Afternoon”: Director Billy Wilder’s 1957 bittersweet romantic comedy about an American playboy (Gary Cooper) and the mischievous Paris gamin (Audrey Hepburn) who attempts to entrap him; lots of the action takes place at the Ritz, with views of the Place Vendôme out the window.

4. “Le Divorce”: A 2003 movie based on a sly comedy of manners, by novelist Diane Johnson, about the fundamental incompatibility of a French family and an American family; scenes of contemporary Paris, plus French actor Thierry Lhermitte as sexy Uncle Edgar.

5. “Funny Face”: Released the same year as “Love in the Afternoon,” with Hepburn again, this time opposite Fred Astaire, dancing their way through 1950s Paris from beatnik cafes in Montmartre to the couture ateliers on the Rue du Faubourg St.-Honoré.

6. “Gigi“: From a 1944 novel by Colette and 1951 musical comedy, this 1958 Leslie Caron vehicle won nine Oscars, with songs by Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe; set in a glorious Belle Époque Paris, with costumes right out of Georges Seurat’s “A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte.”

7. “Breathless”: The landmark 1960 French New Wave film with a too-cool-to-be-real Jean-Paul Belmondo and heartbreakingly young Jean Seberg running from the cops on the mean streets of Paris.

8. “The Day of the Jackal”: 1973 thriller based on a Frederick Forsyth novel about a hired assassin gunning for French President Charles de Gaulle.

9. “Is Paris Burning?”: A 1966 psuedo-documentary-style re-creation of the liberation of Paris during World War II with a platoon of stars, including Belmondo, Kirk Douglas, Orson Welles and Simone Signoret.

10. “Amélie”: From 2001, an eccentric romantic comedy about a shy young waitress looking for love, chiefly in Montmartre; a popular debut for Audrey Tautou, who went on to star with Tom Hanks and Paris in 2006’s “The Da Vinci Code.”

Written by LeisureGuy

30 April 2008 at 12:09 pm

Posted in Movies

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