Archive for March 2009
Some leftover duck fat from braising the duck legs.
Heated that, added:
1 chopped yellow onion
1/2 chopped celery root
4 minced garlic cloves
I sautéed that for a bit, then added:
1 bunch of greens: looks like young red chard, more leaves than stalk
1 glug of pepper sauce
hickory smoked salt
1/2 cup white wine
juice and zest of a Meyer lemon
some shredded cooked pork shoulder—about a cup
I put the lid on, and I’m letting it simmer for 25 minutes.
UPDATE: Delicious! The celeriac was a nice touch.
This graph is from an interesting post by Paul Krugman, but I was fascinated to see that you can tell when FDR took office. He was elected, as you know, at the end of 1932, and he took office in late January of on March 4,1933. [Correction from comment. - LG] Can you find that spot on the graph?
But of course, Right Wingers will tell you that FDR made the Depression worse. Some will even say that FDR started the Great Depression.
There’s a growing notion that companies that are too big to fail should not be allowed: if they’re too big to fail, they’re too big to exist. Kevin Drum explores specifically the idea of limiting the size of banks. Very interesting—read it all.
In February, Gov. Bobby Jindal (R-LA) criticized the fact that the stimulus package provided funding for “volcano monitoring.” Ironically, last week, Mt. Redoubt in Alaska erupted, spewing gas 11 miles into the air and sending ash toward Anchorage. In an impassioned floor speech yesterday discussing the “importance of volcano monitoring,” Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) — who introduced legislation funding volcano monitoring — took a minute to criticize Jindal’s ignorant remarks:
MURKOWSKI: I think we’re all aware that there has been some recent comments made about federal spending for volcano monitoring and the suggestion perhaps that this might be wasteful money — that we don’t have any need to be monitoring volcanoes. And I can assure you, Mr. President, that monitoring volcanoes is critically important to the nation, to the world, and particularly to Alaska right now where we are being held hostage by a volcano.
Curiously, Murkowski voted against the stimulus package that provided funding for volcano monitoring.
ThinkProgress story by Satyam Khanna:
Last week, a Spanish court said it would consider opening a criminal case against six Bush administration officials “over allegations they gave legal cover for torture at Guantanamo.” Yesterday, former Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Doug Feith, one of the officials implicated in the complaint, went on Fox News to defend himself in front of torture advocate Bill O’Reilly.
Feith argued that the charges that he helped approve torture are completely bogus. “I’m being criticized for a position that I never advocated. And so the facts are just wrong,” he said. Feith said he was simply giving “advice” to President Bush and had no role in “directing” torture policy:
FEITH But there’s also a broader point of principle here, which is what the Spanish authorities are considering doing is indicting people, former U.S. government officials for giving advice to the president. And the idea that a foreign official can disagree with advice given to the president, they’re not talking about action. And they’re not even talking about directing people to take action. They’re talking about people who were advising the president on policy and legal questions.
“This is an effort to intimidate U.S. government officials,” Feith alleged. Watch it:
But last year, Feith himself bragged in an interview with British law professor Phillippe Sands that he played a pivotal role in ensuring that Geneva protections against “outrages upon personal dignity” did not apply to detainees:
I asked Feith, just to be clear: Didn’t the administration’s approach mean that Geneva’s constraints on interrogation couldn’t be invoked by anyone at Guantánamo? “Oh yes, sure,” he shot back. Was that the intended result?, I asked. “Absolutely,” he replied. I asked again: Under the Geneva Conventions, no one at Guantánamo was entitled to any protection? “That’s the point,” Feith reiterated. … “This year I was really a player,” Feith said, thinking back on 2002 and relishing the memory.
Indeed, Feith’s arguments became official U.S. policy with the signing of a presidential memorandum on February 7, 2002.
Feith’s knee-jerk denial that he pushed for torture is nothing new. “We took an extremely strongly pro-Geneva Convention position in the Pentagon,” he said last April. Speaking with O’Reilly, Feith also made sure to go after Sands. “What’s going on in Spain is implementing, essentially, an, idea that a British lawyer has been proposing, a guy named Phillippe Sands, who wrote an extremely dishonest book on the subject,” he said.
Lawmakers are making another push to strengthen protections for credit card holders, hoping they will have a better chance of success this year because the economic crisis has put the financial industry on the defensive.
While the House passed legislation last year putting restrictions on the credit card industry, a similar measure in the Senate proposed by Sen. Christopher Dodd, D-Conn., never even made it out of the Banking Committee, where he is chairman.
Dodd already has made more progress this time around.
The Banking Committee on Tuesday voted 12-11 to approve a bill (S 414) that takes aim at several practices that consumer advocates consider predatory — and that the industry defends as necessary to ensure the wide availability of credit.
The bill would do the following: …
ThinkProgress story by Satyam Khanna:
Earlier this month, after the AIG bonuses controversy broke, Charles Krauthammer advocated unusual capital punishment for AIG executives, suggesting “an exemplary hanging or two” in Times Square and even a guillotine “party.” But today, after President Obama compelled GM CEO Rick Wagoner to resign, Krauthammer regained his sense of civility, criticizing the administration for “demanding” Wagoner’s “head on a pike”:
KRAUTHAMMER: What this is is the President giving in to populist pressure, demanding a head on a pike, which is the titular head of the company, whether or not it makes any economic sense at all. And that makes you worry.
Note also that Krauthammer blames unions for management decisions (the kinds of cars to build, how to market them, how to meet competition), and also seems to overlook the fact that the unions have already made concessions. Altogether, not a person to pay much attention to.
Interesting idea: five sites devoted to publishing good news. (Of course, "good news" is subjective: if EFCA passed, I would consider it "good news," but YMMV.)
Very good article by Bruce Schneier. It begins:
In the United States, the concept of "expectation of privacy" matters because it’s the constitutional test, based on the Fourth Amendment, that governs when and how the government can invade your privacy.
Based on the 1967 Katz v. United States Supreme Court decision, this test actually has two parts. First, the government’s action can’t contravene an individual’s subjective expectation of privacy; and second, that expectation of privacy must be one that society in general recognizes as reasonable. That second part isn’t based on anything like polling data; it is more of a normative idea of what level of privacy people should be allowed to expect, given the competing importance of personal privacy on one hand and the government’s interest in public safety on the other.
The problem is, in today’s information society, that definition test will rapidly leave us with no privacy at all.
In Katz, the Court ruled that the police could not eavesdrop on a phone call without a warrant: Katz expected his phone conversations to be private and this expectation resulted from a reasonable balance between personal privacy and societal security. Given NSA’s large-scale warrantless eavesdropping, and the previous administration’s continual insistence that it was necessary to keep America safe from terrorism, is it still reasonable to expect that our phone conversations are private?
Between the NSA’s massive internet eavesdropping program and Gmail’s content-dependent advertising, does anyone actually expect their e-mail to be private? Between calls for ISPs to retain user data and companies serving content-dependent web ads, does anyone expect their web browsing to be private? Between the various computer-infecting malware, and world governments increasingly demanding to see laptop data at borders, hard drives are barely private. I certainly don’t believe that my SMSes, any of my telephone data, or anything I say on LiveJournal or Facebook — regardless of the privacy settings — is private.
Aerial surveillance, data mining, automatic face recognition, terahertz radar that can "see" through walls, wholesale surveillance, brain scans, RFID, "life recorders" that save everything: Even if society still has some small expectation of digital privacy, that will change as these and other technologies become ubiquitous. In short, the problem with a normative expectation of privacy is that it changes with perceived threats, technology and large-scale abuses.
Clearly, something has to change if …
Cut down the size of the history from 90 days (default) to more like 14. More info here.
I’m not sure that the outcome in the title is what I want, but it’s what we’re getting with Geithner. Dean Baker writes:
The new consensus among the experts who missed the housing bubble (EMHB) is that Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner’s plan to subsidize the purchase of junk mortgages and their derivatives will help alleviate the stress on the banking system. That’s good news.
These geniuses have devised a plan that for $1 trillion (approximately equal to 300 million kid-years of SCHIP, the State Child Health Insurance Program) can alleviate the stress on the banking system. Note that no one claims that $1 trillion spent on the Geithner plan will actually clean up the banking system – that would be asking too much. The EMHB only assure us that this $1 trillion (more than enough to have energy conserving retrofits for every building in the country) will make things better. Isn’t that enough?
Oh, by the way, some people will get very rich off the Geithner plan. Some hedge and equity fund managers could make hundreds of millions or even billions off the Geithner plan. And, under current law, they will pay a lower tax rate on this money than a schoolteacher or firefighter. Are you sold yet?
One other outcome of the Geithner plan is that the folks who bankrupted their banks and wrecked the economy will be able to continue to earn multi-million dollar salaries. Of course this is necessary, because who else has the skills to run these banks, other than the people who drove them into bankruptcy?
For some reason, every plan the EMHB have developed so far involves using taxpayer dollars to subsidize the bankrupt banks and keep them breathing a little bit longer, while …
Just received this:
I’m not telling you anything you don’t know when I say that “money talks” in Washington, D.C.
MPP’s Medical Marijuana Political Action Committee (PAC) was formed in order to gain access to politicians and their staffs, and — as you can tell from the avalanche of new, serious interest in marijuana policy reform just in the last few months — the plan is working. MPP is driving that discussion in the news and among lawmakers, and part of what’s behind it is our PAC.
MPP’s PAC gives us direct contact with members of Congress who we might not otherwise be able to reach. A donation of just $500 from our PAC gets us into almost any fundraising reception on Capitol Hill, where we can talk to multiple members of Congress directly — not just their staffers. While MPP’s congressional lobbyist has regular meetings in Capitol Hill offices, he now also attends about five or six congressional networking events each week — events that he can only gain entry to through these PAC donations.
Yet under federal election law, I’m only allowed to ask people who have donated money to MPP in the last year to donate to our PAC — not past MPP donors, not past or current MPP Foundation donors, and not the 300 million other people in the U.S. who have never donated to MPP or MPP Foundation.
To say the least, this greatly limits my ability to raise money for the PAC. Thankfully, you have donated to MPP within the past 12 months, which is why I’m allowed to write to you about this. (Thank you very, very much for keeping your MPP membership current!) Since you are part of a relatively small group of people who can fund this effort, would you please consider making a donation to MPP’s PAC today?
MPP’s PAC — which is nonpartisan and works to tip the balance in closely contested elections in which one candidate has demonstrated his or her support for medical marijuana — is allowing us to achieve some major successes in Congress. Not only has it helped us help to elect medical marijuana supporters to office (including every single member of the U.S. House of Representatives we donated to in the last election), but it also gives us direct contact with members of Congress on a regular basis.
If you have not yet given to the MPP Medical Marijuana Political Action Committee (PAC), please consider donating $10 or more today. We’re getting close to the tipping point, and we need your help to continue to elect pro-medical-marijuana candidates to public office.
I did donate, and it made me feel really good. Try it.
First of all, “gizzard” is a wonderful word. Gizzards are also a great food, and inexpensive to boot. I often get a pack of chicken gizzards and hearts. (Once I could buy a pack of hearts only or gizzards only, but those days seem to be gone. Chicken hearts are wonderful little bite-sized morsels.) I usually sauté them in olive oil after sautéing some onion and garlic, then I add a can of diced tomatoes and simmer gently until everything’s tender. But Edward Schneider has a terrific idea:
At a recent Saturday farmers’ market I was rooting around in a cooler to choose a chicken and saw some little plastic bags of gizzards down at the bottom. Oh, I thought, I’ll take one of those. I bought a few things, so I have no idea how much it cost me; surely it couldn’t have been much.
I rinsed them and dried them and stripped off the superfluous fat, then added salt and pepper and garlic and thyme and let them sit in the fridge for twenty-four hours. Note that I did not painstakingly remove the gizzards’ tough lining, figuring that it would soften (or at least be easier to remove) after cooking, but I did rinse away the odd bits of corn that remained from the chickens’ last supper. This done, I put them in a saucepan with a mixture of melted duck fat and pork lard to cover. This went into a 250-degree oven for two hours, by which time the gizzards were nice and tender when poked with a thin-bladed knife. They were now what a Frenchman would call gésiers confits.
When my gésiers have rested in the fridge for a few weeks, enveloped in congealed fat, there will be lovely springtime salads in the Greenmarket, and I can slice and quickly sauté the gizzards for one of those delicious savory garnishes that are the real point of eating raw greens.
I had occasion to refer to this post in corresponding with someone who was bemoaning our consumerist society. As noted at the link, consumerism was a deliberate strategy created by companies to increase their profits.
FWIW, the Army Corps of Engineers has done incredible damage to the environment, and they are constantly looking for new projects to justify their existence. Abolish them. The story, by Mike Lillis in the Washington Independent:
For environmentalists in the Appalachians, it was a roller-coaster week.
Just one day after the Environmental Protection Agency announced plans to reassert its powers to protect mountain streams from the ravages of mountaintop coal mining, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers approved the broad expansion of such a project without EPA input.
Many environmentalists are scratching their heads over the seemingly contradictory events. On the one hand, they are cheering the promise of a newly empowered EPA under the Obama White House, while also wondering when that vow will surface as policy. At stake are hundreds of miles of Appalachian streams that could be buried with pollutant-laden debris if scores of pending mining permits are approved as is.
The episode presents tough choices for the young administration, pressured to deliver the environmental protections it’s promised while taking care not to hobble the powerful coal industry — an important economic engine in the Appalachian states — in the middle of a deepening recession. It also highlights the tensions between environmentalists trying to wean the country from a reliance on coal, which generates more than half the country’s electricity, and industry defenders who hope to maintain its importance.
The recent saga began last Monday, when the EPA sent letters to the Army Corps of Engineers in Huntington, W.Va., recommending that the Corps either deny or alter proposed projects in West Virginia and Kentucky because agency studies show that the two mountaintop mines would have serious water-quality consequences. A day later, the EPA vowed to review hundreds more backlogged permit requests to assess their effect on streams.
Environmental groups embraced the developments as a sharp break from the hands-off EPA policies of the Bush administration, which left mine-permit decisions almost exclusively to the discretion of the Army Corps.
“What EPA is doing is reasserting the primacy of science,” said Jim Hecker, environmental enforcement director at Public Justice, a public interest group. “The Corps has never cared about science.”
On Wednesday, however, the Corps’ Louisville district approved a 1.5-square-mile expansion of a mountaintop mine in Southeast Kentucky with no input from the EPA. The expansion of the International Coal Group’s Thunder Ridge mine allows the company to fill four valleys with debris, burying nearly two miles of streams that drain into the Middle Fork of the Kentucky River. That river supplies drinking water to more than 700,000 people — roughly one-sixth of the state’s population.
The permit approval, according to many environmentalists, directly contradicts the EPA’s vow to play a larger role in the permit process.
“It’s just completely outrageous, especially in light of the EPA’s announcement just 24 hours before,” said Judy Peterson, executive director of the Kentucky Waterways Alliance, which filed suit in December 2007 to block the Thunder Ridge expansion. “It’s basically a slap in the face for the EPA. They said they were going to be reengaged in this issue, and they were nowhere in sight.”
EPA spokeswoman Enesta Jones gave a terse “no comment” when asked about the Thunder Ridge permit approval. But Ron Elliott, spokesman for the Corps’ Louisville district, was happy to talk. Elliott said the Corps presented the EPA with Thunder Ridge’s expansion proposal several years ago when the application was submitted, and again in January of this year when approval was imminent. The new administration “had plenty of time” to weigh in on the permit, he said, but didn’t do so.
“They chose not to comment,” Elliott said. “That’s why we thought there wasn’t any need to coordinate. The silence is interpreted as concurrence.”
The episode could prove to be a wakeup call for the EPA, which, despite its vow to review pending permits, has also emphasized that it’s “not halting, holding or placing a moratorium on any of the mining permit applications. Plain and simple.”
Some environmentalists maintain that last week’s announcement will effectively delay the permit process. Matthew Wasson, director of programs at Appalachian Voices, an environmental group, said the EPA is not only reviewing the permits, but also working on new standards to govern the process. “There won’t be any new permits until that’s resolved,” he said.
Some others, however, worry that the EPA reviews will do little good if the Corps begins approving controversial permits before the EPA can weigh in. “If the Corps is going to take these kinds of egregious actions,” Peterson said, referring to the Thunder Ridge decision, “maybe EPA does need to put holds on these permits.” …
- If spread across the U.S. the aquifer would cover all 50 states with 1.5 feet of water
- If drained, it would take more than 6,000 years to refill naturally
- More than 90 percent of the water pumped is used to irrigate crops
- $20 billion a year in food and fiber depend on the aquifer
On America’s high plains, crops in early summer stretch to the horizon: field after verdant field of corn, sorghum, soybeans, wheat and cotton. Framed by immense skies now blue, now scarlet-streaked, this 800-mile expanse of agriculture looks like it could go on forever.
The Ogallala Aquifer, the vast underground reservoir that gives life to these fields, is disappearing. In some places, the groundwater is already gone. This is the breadbasket of America—the region that supplies at least one fifth of the total annual U.S. agricultural harvest. If the aquifer goes dry, more than $20 billion worth of food and fiber will vanish from the world’s markets. And scientists say it will take natural processes 6,000 years to refill the reservoir.
The challenge of the Ogallala is how to manage human demands on the layer of water that sprawls underneath parts of eight states from South Dakota to Texas. As landowners strive to conserve what’s left, they face a tug-of-war between economic growth and declining natural resources. What is happening here—the problems and solutions—is a bellwether for the rest of the planet.
High Plains farmers were blissfully unaware a generation ago that a dilemma was already unfolding. In the early 1950s, when Rodger Funk started farming near Garden City, Kan., everyone believed the water was inexhaustible. “People were drilling wells,” he says. “You could pump all the water you wanted to pump.”
And they did. What changed everything for Funk, now age 81, was a public meeting in the late 1960s at Garden City Community College. State and federal geologists, who had been studying where all that water was coming from, announced grim findings. “They said it’s geologic water. When it’s gone, it’s gone,” Funk says. “I remember coming home and feeling so depressed.”
Today his community in southern Kansas, 180 miles west of Wichita, is one of the High Plains areas hardest hit by the aquifer’s decline. Groundwater level has dropped 150 feet or more, forcing many …
And about time. If we’re going to war against emotions, I suggest that a "War on Sadness" or a "War on Loneliness" might be more productive—and while we’re at it, a more comprehensive campaign, a "War on Anger", might solve the terrorism problem as well. From the Center for American Progress:
Throughout his tenure in office, President Bush routinely lambasted critics of the phrase "war on terror," a term his administration coined in the wake of the 9/11 attacks. "This notion about how this isn’t a war on terror in my view is naive. It doesn’t reflect the true nature of the world in which we live," he said in 2007. Earlier this month, the Washington Post reported that the Obama administration "appears to be backing away from the phrase ‘global war on terror,’ a signature rhetorical legacy of its predecessor." An Office of Management and Budget (OMB) directive reportedly said that the term "Overseas Contingency Operation" should be used instead. However, OMB Director Peter Orszag later distanced himself from the report, saying, "I’m not aware of any communication I’ve had on that issue. It was a communication by a mid-level career civil service." Similarly, Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell said he "never received such a directive. … Perhaps somebody within OMB may have been a little over-exuberant." Today, however, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton firmly said that the Obama administration has fully broken with the Bush administration’s use of the phrase. "It’s just not being used," Clinton said en route to the Hague to talk about Afghanistan policy. "The administration has stopped using the phrase and I think that speaks for itself. Obviously."
I’ve not lived in a boarding house, having been born in a small town long after the boarding house heyday. But I found this article interesting, and particularly the book referenced (available on-line here: full text and illustrations). The article begins:
As mortgages and rent become harder to pay, readers may be taking Balzac and Isherwood down from the shelf, eyeing the sleeper-sofa in the TV nook appraisingly, and wondering: Would it be un-American to take in boarders? Or is boarding the sort of thing that happens only in European novels?
In fact, once upon a time, the boardinghouse thrived in America, especially in New York. In 1856, Walt Whitman claimed that almost three-quarters of Manhattanites lived in one. He may have been exaggerating slightly, but the historian Wendy Gamber has estimated that “up to 30 percent of all 19th-century households took in boarders,” and the 1860 census counted 2,651 boardinghouse keepers in New York State alone. In 1857, foreseeing that the phenomenon might not last forever, Thomas Butler Gunn undertook to record it for posterity in The Physiology of New York Boarding-Houses, which is available in an opportunely reprinted edition from Rutgers University Press ($23.95) as well as a facsimile edition from Cornell University Library ($23.99). “I wonder what they were!” Gunn imagines a future researcher asking, and for an answer, he provides chapters on the Hand-to-Mouth Boardinghouse, the Fashionable Boardinghouse Where You Don’t Get Enough to Eat and the Boardinghouse Where the Landlady Drinks, among other representative types. New Yorkers of the 21st century will probably recognize the 8-by-6-foot rooms and the walls soiled where mosquitoes “have encountered Destiny in the shape of the slippers or boot-soles of former occupants.” But the unceasing drama of boardinghouse life — the flirtations, drunkenness, mutual irritation, backbiting, whining, eccentricity, conspiracy, chiseling and deceit — may come as a surprise. The closest modern parallel may be the comments section of a blog.
As David Faflik, an assistant professor at South Dakota State University, explains in an introduction to the Rutgers edition, Gunn was an Englishman with genteel manners who abandoned a career in architecture to draw comic illustrations. In 1849, he immigrated to New York, where he first lodged at 132 Bleecker Street and then progressed through many more addresses. Though he wrote his “Physiology” from the safe harbor of a home of his own in Brooklyn, its piquancy derives from firsthand experience. He recalls, for instance, that in the Cheap Boardinghouse on a Large Scale, the sitting room had “a spectral old sofa” that looked plump but had been disemboweled of its springs and stuffing and was “especially startling to fat old gentlemen.” He remembers that the lodgers of the Dirty Boardinghouse mounted to its roof on summer nights, from which vantage they interrupted the amours of local cats with gunfire. At the Theatrical Boardinghouse he once participated in an incremental, acrobatic singalong game — a sort of 19th-century hokeypokey — at 2 in the morning. And at the Tip-Top Boardinghouse, the only one he unambiguously liked living in, one of the landladies delicately referred to a turkey leg as a “stepper.” Adding to the book’s charm are illustrations by Gunn and by his friends Frank Bellew and Alfred R. Waud, in which readers may see for themselves the collapsing sofa, the Victorian hokeypokey and the bushy-whiskered glassblower who spent three days in bed with a bottle of rum. Unfortunately Rutgers has reprinted only a sample, but all the images appear, at a higher resolution, in Cornell University Library’s edition, which is also readable online at Cornell’s Making of America Web site.
Boardinghouses in Victorian America served three meals a day, and …