Archive for January 2016
Several days ago I inadvertently revealed my dinner plans by including the link for a Mississippi Roast recipe in a post about a razor I’m selling. I thought that, since I mentioned it, I should close the loop by reporting on how it turned out.
It’s an extremely good cold-weather dish—rich and savory—and it reheats very well indeed, one of those dishes that seem to get better with reheating.
I did a 4.6-lb roast, and the dozen pepperoncini really didn’t seem enough. I plan next time to use 1/4-1/2 c of sliced pepperoncini. I’ll decide based on how it looks.
The floured surface does indeed form a kind of crust in the browning, but the crust is subsumed into the liquid that develops in the cooking, so it’s not all that critical. The main thing is that the flour is cooked in the oil to make a roux, in effect, thus thickening the liquid.
For the neutral oil, I used avocado oil: very high (500ºF) smoke point, better than most other oils.
The recipe calls for 1 tsp of buttermilk. It is to laugh: buy a quart of buttermilk to use 1 tsp? I used a tsp of sour cream, not that it would make any noticeable difference. I also could not really taste the dill in the dressing.
I definitely plan to repeat it. Small servings are called for, but even small servings are quite satisfying: 6 Tbsp of butter help that along.
Ryan Lizza has a good report on a sleazy campaign fraud perpetrated by the Cruz campaign—more or less the sort of thing one would expect from a guy like Ted Cruz. The entire column is worth reading, but here’s the response of the Cruz campaign:
After looking at several mailers posted online, I was more curious about how the Cruz campaign came up with its scores. On all the mailers I saw, every voter listed had only one of three possible scores: fifty-five per cent, sixty-five per cent, or seventy-five per cent, which translate to F, D, and C grades, respectively. Iowans take voting pretty seriously. Why was it that nobody had a higher grade?
In Iowa, although voter registration information is free and available to the public, voter history is not. That information is maintained by the secretary of state, which licenses it to campaigns, super PACs, polling firms, and any other entity that might want it. So was the Cruz campaign accurately portraying the voter histories of Iowans? Or did it simply make up the numbers?
It seems to have made them up. Dave Peterson, who happens to be a political scientist at Iowa State University and is well-acquainted with the research on “social pressure” turnout techniques, received a mailer last week. The Cruz campaign pegged his voting percentage at fifty-five per cent, which seems to be the most common score that the campaign gives out. (All of the neighbors listed on Peterson’s mailer also received a score of fifty-five per cent.)
Peterson, who is actually a Hillary Clinton supporter, moved to Iowa in 2009. He told me that he has voted in three out of the last three general elections and in two out of the last three primaries.
“There are other people listed on my mailer who live in my neighborhood that are all different ages, but everyone on this sheet has the same score of fifty-five per cent,” he said. “Some are significantly younger and would have not been eligible to vote in these elections, and others are older and have voted consistently going back years. There is no way to get to us all having the same score.” (Peterson also spoke with Mother Jones.)
If the Cruz campaign based its score on local elections, Peterson said, the number also wouldn’t make sense, based on his participation in those elections as well. A source with access to the Iowa voter file told me that he checked several other names on Cruz mailers and that the voting histories of those individuals did not match the scores that the Cruz campaign assigned them in the mailer.
I e-mailed Catherine Frazier, a spokeswoman for the Cruz campaign, and asked her what the campaign’s methodology was for arriving at its voting scores and whether the scores were fraudulent or not. “This was a mailer designed from public information and modeled on past successful mailers used by the Iowa GOP to turn out voters, so that we can have as high of a turnout as possible on caucus day,” she said. “I’ll leave it at that.” She did not explain the methodology used nor did she answer my question about whether the numbers were made up.
The scores are obviously fraudulent. This is not a person one should trust.
Very cool collection of literary maps, with the example being The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. I don’t agree, BTW, that The Adventures of Tom Sawyer is purely a children’s book: it does repay a careful and thoughtful reading.
Liliana Segura writes in The Intercept:
The first time Michael Marcum saw the byline “Brandon Astor Jones,” he was working as a jail commander in San Francisco. It was 1993; Marcum can’t recall what the article was about. But he remembers it made an impression — and when he saw the author’s bio, he was taken aback. Jones was a man on Georgia’s death row.
Jones sent his articles everywhere, from newspapers in Atlanta to Australian political journals. His musings on politics and prison life found a particularly receptive audience abroad, where he had a number of devoted pen pals. Marcum wrote to Jones at the Georgia Diagnostic and Classification State Prison, asking permission to reprint the piece in his jail newsletter.
It was an unusual publication, produced by prisoners and staff alike. But then County Jail #7 was an unusual jail. In the era of “three strikes” and the 1994 crime bill, it was an experiment in corrections, where prisoners raised plants in a greenhouse and tended to buffalo. Marcum had helped design it, firm in his belief that if the state of California was going to build new jails, they should be places for education and vocational training. Instead, Marcum saw the country going in the other direction.
Jones wrote back to Marcum, granting his permission to reprint the article. The two soon began exchanging letters. “We wrote a lot about our childhoods,” Marcum recalled. They found unexpected overlaps in their lives: Jones had grown up on the South Side of Chicago, where his favorite pizza joint belonged to Marcum’s father-in-law. Marcum continued to publish Jones’ writing in the newsletter; he saw it have a positive influence on inmates and staff alike. “Some of the prisoners saw Brandon as a role model,” he said.
But what really connected Marcum and Jones was the search for redemption. In 1966, when Marcum was 19 years old, he had shot and killed his own father with a hunting rifle — the violent culmination of years of domestic abuse against Marcum and his mother. It was Marcum who called the police; later he pleaded guilty and got a sentence of five years to life. When he was released in 1972, he said, “I felt I had to prove my value as a human being.” He was lucky. His parole officer helped him get into college and Marcum began an unlikely career in law enforcement, determined to use his experiences in prison to reform the system from within.
Now a retired assistant sheriff, Marcum acknowledges his journey is unique. But “this was California, not Georgia,” he said. “And I wasn’t black.”
Indeed, for his friend and pen pal across the country, the future held a very different fate. In 1979, Jones and an accomplice, Van Roosevelt Solomon, had killed a white man named Roger Tackett, the manager of a convenience store in Cobb County, Georgia. Jones and Solomon, who was also black, robbed the store, then shot Tackett to death, only to be apprehended immediately by a cop on patrol. The forensic evidence showed that both men had recently fired a gun — both denied shooting the fatal bullet. Both were convicted and sentenced to die.
Jones remained on death row — today he is 72. He no longer publishes articles, and some years back, Marcum stopped receiving letters from him. Then, earlier this month, Marcum came home to a message I left on his landline. Georgia had set an execution date for Jones — the state planned to kill him on February 2.
Marcum was shaken. “I had no idea,” he wrote in an email, agreeing to an interview. He then wrote two letters — one to his old friend, and one to the Georgia Board of Pardons and Parole in Atlanta, asking it to stop the execution.
If Jones dies by lethal injection on Tuesday, less than two weeks from his 73rd birthday, he will be the oldest prisoner ever executed by the state of Georgia. After more than 35 years facing execution, he embodies what Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer last year called the “unconscionably long” time prisoners spend on death row, many of them elderly and infirm. But Jones is also a relic of an earlier era of the death penalty in Georgia, the roots of which remain impossible to ignore.
To date, the oldest prisoner executed in Georgia was Andrew Brannan, a 66-year-old Vietnam veteran with PTSD, who was killed last January. His was the first of five people executed by the state in 2015 — among them, an intellectually disabled man, a man with claims of innocence, and a woman sent to die for a murder her boyfriend carried out and who had became a poster child for rehabilitation.
If 2015 reaffirmed Georgia’s reputation for controversial executions, it also quietly revealed an opposite trend. “Despite the relative flurry of executions,” a Georgia legal website, the Daily Report, noted last December, “the other end of the death penalty process has slowed significantly.” Georgia did not send a single person to death row in 2015 — a development the Report called the “newsmaker of the year.” The turn away from capital punishment is part of a larger nationwide trend, even across the most active death penalty states. “The same thing that is happening in Georgia is also happening in Texas and Virginia,” Robert Dunham, executive director of the Death Penalty Information Center, told the Report.
Bridging the disconnect between the “new Georgia,” as Dunham put it, and the state’s recent spate of troubling executions are people like Jones. “We have this very strange situation now in which these people sentenced to death a long time ago — and who managed to get through all the stages of review — are now being executed,” said Stephen Bright, president of the 40-year-old Southern Center for Human Rights in Atlanta. “They almost certainly would not be sentenced to death today.” (In court filings, lawyers for Jones point out that death sentences for killings carried out in the course of a robbery have “fallen into complete extinction.”) Bright describes them as “zombie cases” — convictions that “remind us of just how unfair” the system used to be.
Indeed, it was not until 2005 that the state opened the office of the Georgia Capital Defender, seeking to remedy a decades-old problem: defendants on trial for their lives with grossly inadequate representation. “At the time of Jones’ case and so many others,” Bright said, “any lawyer who was a member of the Georgia bar could be appointed to represent someone in a death penalty case.” With no meaningful funding for indigent defense — and a sloppy, ad hoc network of public defender offices throughout the state — death sentences were often handed out “not for the worst crime, but for the worst lawyer,” as Bright wrote in a 1994 article for the Yale Law Journal.
The problem was especially pronounced when it came to race. In 1974, five years before Jones landed on death row, a Georgia man named Wilburn Wiley Dobbs was sent to die for a murder carried out during a robbery. His court-appointed lawyer made no effort to save his life — in fact, he referred to his black client as “boy” during trial, later admitting that, as the grandson of a slaveholder, he believed African-Americans to be “inferior to whites morally and intellectually.” Dobbs’ death sentence was overturned in 1997, yet he has never had a resentencing hearing. At 66 and sick with prostate cancer, he will almost certainly die behind bars.
In a different 1974 case, a Georgia man named John Young was ineptly represented by an attorney who not only was later disbarred, but encountered his former client on the prison yard at the county jail, where the lawyer had been sent on drug charges. “Being born black in America was against me,” Young said before dying in the electric chair in 1985. “Y’all cry out that America was built on Christianity. I say it was built on slavery.”
Evidence that the state’s death penalty was racially biased was a major contributing factor that led to Furman v. Georgia, the landmark Supreme Court case that in 1972 suspended the death penalty across the country. (The plaintiff, William Henry Furman, was a black man deemed “mentally impaired” by a state psychiatrist, who had been convicted in a one-day trial in Savannah.) Furman forced states to amend their death penalty statutes to avoid the “arbitrary and discriminatory” imposition of capital punishment.
Just four years later, the Supreme Court upheld Georgia’s new death penalty law in Gregg v. Georgia. Yet the law showed clear continuity with decades past: Of the first dozen people to die in the electric chair following Gregg, nine were black.
Bright still bristles at the “arrogance of that; to think that all of the problems identified in Furman — the racism, the consequences of poverty — to think that you could have that fixed in four years was just so incredibly preposterous.”
Jones was sent to Georgia’s death row three years after Gregg. . .
Continue reading. There’s lots more.
Glenn Greenwald writes in The Intercept:
The concoction of the “Bernie Bro” narrative by pro-Clinton journalists has been a potent political tactic – and a journalistic disgrace. It’s intended to imply two equally false claims: (1) a refusal to march enthusiastically behind the Wall-Street-enriched, multiple-war-advocating, despot-embracing Hillary Clinton is explainable not by ideology or political conviction, but largely if not exclusively by sexism: demonstrated by the fact that men, not women, support Sanders (his supporters are “bros”); and (2) Sanders supporters are uniquely abusive and misogynistic in their online behavior. Needless to say, a crucial tactical prong of this innuendo is that any attempt to refute it is itself proof of insensitivity to sexism if not sexism itself (as the accusatory reactions to this article will instantly illustrate).
It’s become such an all-purpose, handy pro-Clinton smear that even consummate, actual “bros” for which the term was originally coined – straight guys who act with entitlement and aggression, such as Paul Krugman – are now reflexively (and unironically) applying it to anyone who speaks ill of Hillary Clinton, even when they know nothing else about the people they’re smearing, including their gender, age or sexual orientation. Thus, a male policy analyst who criticized Sanders’ health care plan “is getting the Bernie Bro treatment,” sneered Krugman. Unfortunately for The New York Times Bro, that analyst, Charles Gaba, said in response that he’s “really not comfortable with [Krugman’s] referring to die-hard Bernie Sanders supporters as ‘Bernie Bros’” because it “implies that only college-age men support Sen. Sanders, which obviously isn’t the case.”
It is indeed “obviously not the case.” There are literally millions of women who support Sanders over Clinton. A new Iowa poll yesterday shows Sanders with a 15-point lead over Clinton among women under 45, while 1/3 of Iowa women over 45 support him. A USA Today/Rock-the-Vote poll from two weeks ago found Sanders nationally “with a 19-point lead over front-runner Hillary Clinton, 50% to 31%, among Democratic and independent women ages 18 to 34.” One has to be willing to belittle the views and erase the existence of a huge number of American women to wield this “Bernie Bro” smear. . .
Pam Martens and Russ Martens report in Wall Street on Parade:
Today’s digital edition of The New York Times captures the essence of the cancer eating away at our democracy: a leading newspaper is endorsing a deeply tarnished candidate for the highest office in America while a major Wall Street bank that has played a key role in her conflicted candidacy runs a banner ad as if to salute the endorsement. The slogan on Citigroup’s ad, “cash back once just isn’t enough,” perfectly epitomizes the frequency with which the Clintons have gone to the Citigroup well.
According to the Center for Responsive Politics, among the top five largest lifetime donors to Hillary’s campaigns, Citigroup tops the list, with three other Wall Street banks also making the cut: Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase and Morgan Stanley. (The monies come from employees and/or family members or PACs of the firms, not the corporation itself.)
Hillary Clinton famously told ABC’s Diane Sawyer in 2014 that she and Bill Clinton left the White House after his second term “dead broke.” But apparently, Citigroup felt they were a good investment. According to PolitiFact, Citigroup provided a $1.995 million mortgage to allow the Clintons to buy their Washington, D.C. residence in 2000. That liability does not pop up on the Clinton disclosure documents until 2011, showing a 30-year mortgage at 5.375 percent ranging in face amount from $1 million to $5 million from CitiMortgage. The disclosure says the mortgage was taken out in 2001.
Citigroup has also committed $5.5 million to the Clinton Global Initiative, a charity run by the Clintons. It has also paid enormous speaking fees to Bill Clinton.
What has Citigroup gotten from its outsized support of the Clintons? Bill Clinton is the President who repealed the most important investor protection legislation of the past century, the Glass-Steagall Act, an outcome heavily lobbied for by Citigroup. Hillary Clinton has signaled to Wall Street that she will not push to have the Glass-Steagall Act restored while her leading opponent, Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, vows to restore it and return sanity to America’s financial system.
Just nine years after Bill Clinton signed this massive deregulation of Wall Street and gave Citigroup’s Sandy Weill a souvenir pen from the signing, the U.S. financial system collapsed in the greatest implosion since the Great Depression. Two years before the collapse, Sandy Weill had exited Wall Street as a billionaire as a result of this deregulation, while Citigroup became a penny stock in the crash and a ward of the government in the greatest taxpayer bailout in U.S. history.
In March of 2014, during the Senate confirmation hearing to install Stanley Fischer, a former executive of Citigroup, as Vice Chairman of the Federal Reserve, Senator Elizabeth Warren summed up what Citigroup’s money can buy in Washington:
Senator Warren: “Many big banks are well represented in Washington but the connection between Citigroup and Democratic administrations really sticks out. Three of the last four Democratic Treasury secretaries have Citigroup ties; the fourth was offered but turned down the CEO position at Citigroup. Former Directors of the National Economic Council and the Office of Management and Budget at the White House and our current U.S. Trade Representative also have Citigroup ties. You once served as President of Citigroup International and are now in line to be number two at the Federal Reserve…”
Fischer said he thought his Citigroup experience would help him.
Senator Warren countered: “I also think it’s dangerous if our government falls under the grip of a tight knit group connected to one institution. Former colleagues get access through calls and meetings; economic policy can be dominated by group think; other qualified and innovative people can be crowded out of top government positions.”
One of Hillary’s strengths according to the Times’ endorsement is that she has engaged in a “lifelong fight for women,” a statement that only resonates in some Orwellian universe intractably mired in Newspeak.
Hillary Clinton is the woman who stood by her man as multiple women came forward to accuse him of adultery or sexual assaults. Hillary Clinton is the woman who served as First Lady as Bill Clinton eviscerated the lives of poor children and single mothers by enacting welfare reform, a program so draconian that Senator Edward Kennedy called it “legislative child abuse” and voted against it.
As a result of Bill Clinton’s handiwork in the repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act, millions more women and children and families were thrown into poverty during the financial crash; 10 million people were forced from their homes through foreclosures, while Bill and Hillary’s rich campaign supporters became even richer – right along with the Clintons.
According to the Washington Post, in less than a year and a half, Hillary and Bill Clinton earned over $25 million in speaking fees, a significant portion of which came from Wall Street firms. In 2012, Hillary’s last full year as Secretary of State, Bill Clinton socked away an astonishing $16.3 million in speaking fees. . .