Later On

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

Archive for March 9th, 2019

That opening shot of “LaLaLand” is spectacular

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And one continuous shot. It’s on Netflix here.

Written by Leisureguy

9 March 2019 at 2:58 pm

Posted in Movies & TV

Steve Scalise Delivers the GOP’s Most Cynical Ilhan Omar Rebuke Yet

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Hard- (but fair-)hitting column by Zack Cheney-Rice (doesn’t that look fake? I’d definitely have some suspicions about “George W. Cheney-Rice”) in New York:

Perhaps the most cynical response yet to Ilhan Omar from congressional Republicans came on Monday, when Representative Steve Scalise gave an interview to Fox News suggesting that the Minnesota Democrat is a threat to national security. “Nancy Pelosi has to remove [Omar] from the [House] Foreign Affairs Committee,” he said. “She is literally getting intelligence briefings on foreign policy of the United States, including our relationship with Israel, as she makes these kind of [anti-Semitic] comments … Why would you have her on a committee that important, that sensitive?”

Coming from Scalise — a notoriously inept judge of both national security threats and anti-Semitism — this is remarkable. In 2014, the congressman admitted to having spoken at a 2002 gathering hosted by a white supremacist group called the European-American Unity and Rights Organization, which was founded by David Duke, a former Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan — America’s original domestic terrorist organization. Characterized by the Southern Poverty Law Center as a “paper tiger” used to promote Duke’s writing, EURO’s website,, nevertheless hosts a wealth of bigoted literature from a range of sources. For example: “The Jewish media and Jews in general will attack us for wanting to restore White America. The Jews are the enemy of the White race, and they are largely responsible for the ‘browning’ of America,” explains one of the site’s contributors, Jeff Davis.

It is worth noting, now that Scalise has taken it upon himself to lecture the public about domestic security and animus against Jews, that his damage-control strategy in 2014 was to claim ignorance about what was going on. “When someone called and asked me to speak, I would go,” he said, after a Louisiana blogger broke the news of his attendance, noting that he only had one staffer in 2002 to arrange such appearances. “If I knew today what they were about, I wouldn’t go.” Yet even if one believes that Scalise was unaware of having attended an event organized by Louisiana’s most famous living white supremacist, his inability to recognize it as such casts doubt on his ability to identify related threats moving forward. Put another way: If Ilhan Omar was truly a bigot and a threat, Scalise — a man who, at best, did not realize he was attending a white supremacist event, and at worst, knew and lied about it — should be among the last people Americans trust as a plausible judge.

But dubious past aside, Scalise is really just participating in the same bad-faith smears that have dogged Omar throughout the past month. The congresswoman has been embroiled in controversy due to her remarks about the Israel lobby, which critics have alleged trafficked in anti-Semitic tropes. On February 11, she apologized for tweeting the phrase, “All about the Benjamins baby,” by way of explaining AIPAC’s sway over U.S. politicians — suggesting that American support for Israel is motivated by money. Israel is not synonymous with Judaism, but the notion that wealthy, duplicitous Jews are manipulating world events illicitly is a bigoted conspiracy theory, and a reasonable interpretation of Omar’s comments. Omar recognized this and said she was sorry. “I am grateful for Jewish allies and colleagues who are educating me on the painful history of anti-Semitic tropes,” she said in a statement. “My intention is never to offend my constituents or Jewish Americans as a whole. I unequivocally apologize.”

But whatever goodwill she accrued through this apology evaporated last week. “I want to talk about the political influence in this country that says it is okay for people to push for allegiance to a foreign country,” Omar said on February 27 at a town hall in Washington D.C., again referring to Israel. To those already put off by her previous remarks, this apparent allusion to the “dual loyalty” charge — another anti-Semitic trope that frames American Jews as having split allegiance between the U.S. and Israel — was confirmation of her nefarious intent. Much of this criticism directed at Omar is fair. Progressives and anti-Zionist Jews have defended her and joined her in condemning the Israeli government’s brutal treatment of Palestinians, even as others have affirmed her stance but condemned her deployment — whether conscious or inadvertent — of anti-Semitic tropes. But Omar’s colleagues in the House of Representatives have largely rallied against her: House Democrats are reportedly considering a vote as early as Wednesday on a resolution condemning anti-Semitism, and the “dual loyalty” charge in particular, that is clearly directed at the congresswoman.

Meanwhile, within this same Congress, much of the criticism directed at Omar has been leveled by colleagues on both sides of the aisle who, to quote New York’s Eric Levitz, “routinely say — in prepared remarks, as a matter of principle — that America should continue to abet the race-based oppression of Palestinians.” Such bigotry is deemed acceptable in U.S. politics, even as many of these same colleagues, especially on the right, remain silent regarding the Islamophobia regularly directed at Omar and her fellow Muslims. Republican resistance, to say nothing of outrage, was almost totally absent when President Trump banned immigration from several Muslim-majority countries — an undertaking that abetted his stated goal of imposing a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States.” And only a smattering of Republicans condemned the appearance at a “GOP Day” celebration in West Virginia, hosted by the state’s Republican Party on Friday, of a poster linking Omar to the September 11 terrorist attacks. “‘Never forget,’ you said … I am the proof — you have forgotten,” the caption read, beneath an image of Omar and the World Trade Center on fire.

None of this means that Omar is above critique, . . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

9 March 2019 at 1:53 pm

The full story on fish sauce and some recipes

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I use fish sauce all the time (and in fact put a dash of it in the duck soup) and have two different brands on hand. Andrea Nguyen writes in Taste:

Open my cupboard, peruse my pantry, and inspect my fridge and you’ll count at least a dozen different bottles of fish sauce. They’re all testaments to the long affair I’ve had with the flavorful condiment that’s made from fermenting seafood and salt until it breaks down into a fragrant, inky liquid.

Fish sauce, called nuoc mam in Vietnamese, is part of my culinary DNA—and my family life is peppered with great fish sauce stories. One of the most memorable took place in the early 1960s, when my dad and uncle served as the governing military officials of two places renowned for fish sauce: Phan Thiet and Phu Quoc island. As my uncle once joked, “Your father and I protected one of Vietnam’s most precious things.”

After Dad retired from the military, he tried making a fish sauce concentrate that soldiers could dilute in the field. “If you’re patrolling in the jungle for a long time,” he recalled recently of his erstwhile experiments, “what do you want for a taste of home? Nuoc mam!” The idea didn’t catch on as a business, unfortunately.

When my family fled the 1975 Communist takeover of South Vietnam and resettled in San Clemente, California, mainstream American grocers didn’t carry fish sauce. Instead, we used soy sauce until we were able to buy a used Mercury Comet to make the three-hour round-trip drive to Los Angeles’s Chinatown to stock up. With fish sauce in hand, we felt more grounded, like we could be Vietnamese in America.

An adoration of nuoc mam led to my first cookbook’s working title, Pass the Fish Sauce. Alas, America wasn’t ready for it in 2006, when fish sauce was still largely unfamiliar here. So I went with Into the Vietnamese Kitchen. Behind the scenes, though, I did my part to spread the gospel: In the cooking classes I taught, I did fish sauce tastings with cucumber slices to help people better understand and appreciate it.

My sixth cookbook, Vietnamese Food Any Day, was released this year, and boy, have things changed. Cooks in 2019 are more adventurous and intrepid. People who attend my classes readily sniff and sample fish sauce from tasting spoons. They’re curious about different brands and want to know how to choose the best and how to use it well.

Here are a few pointers to help you along the way.

Navigating the fish sauce universe
Though fish sauce was an ancient Chinese, Roman, and Greek ingredient, nowadays it’s mostly associated with Southeast Asian cuisines. Depending on where you shop (a regular supermarket, an Asian market, Whole Foods, or online), the range of options varies. At a Southeast Asian or Chinese-Vietnamese market, you’ll see Thai nam pla, Filipino patis, and Vietnamese nuoc mam. Note that Korean markets, like H Mart, stock jeotgal and nuoc mam. Look online for more obscure Japanese shottsuru.

Thailand is the source of most of the fish sauces sold in the United States. Some of them are made in a so-called Vietnamese style that results in a subtle flavor that works well with the cuisine’s relatively mellow flavors, which I often describe as rolling hills. By comparison, the lusty, gutsy flavors of Thailand (think peaks and valleys) easily shine with bolder Thai-style fish sauce.

Filipino patis tends to be heavy-ish and lacking umami depth; it works well for Filipino food, but I’ve found it hard to deploy for Viet and Thai cooking.

In my own cooking, I mainly use Viet Huong’s Three Crabs, Red Boat, and Megachef (the blue-label bottle is easier to source in America). They’re made in the Viet style and are versatile; you can use them to finesse flavors across cuisines. I know without a doubt they’ll work for Viet food. When deploying nuoc mam for Thai dishes, I compensate for the more savory nam pla by initially using less sugar than a recipe calls for; if I don’t arrive at a solid Thai flavor profile, I’ll add more sugar. Nuoc mam is also fine for fermenting kimchi and seasoning Filipino sinigang.

Sweet-savory notes make many Asian dishes rock, but fish sauce that is on the sweeter side may jet Western dishes to Southeast Asia. When I want to amplify the umami depth of marinara sauce, Caesar salad, chili con carne, salsas, and posole, I’ll add dashes of fish sauce such as Red Boat’s, which is devoid of sweeteners.

Buying and storing fish sauce
If you’re in a mainstream grocery store, like Kroger, Whole Foods, or Publix, or in an indie market, check the Asian food section for Red Boat, Three Crabs, Thai Taste, and Dynasty (this is likely Megachef in a private-label disguise). Commonly found Thai Kitchen is a bit flat-tasting but fine in a pinch. . .

Continue reading. There’s lots more, plus three recipes at the bottom.

Written by Leisureguy

9 March 2019 at 12:59 pm

Here’s Why Liz Cheney Voted Against the Anti-Semitism Resolution

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Read Kevin Drum’s column. It concludes (and it’s definitely worth reading):

Quite so. Cheney made it clear that unless the resolution was specifically aimed at a Democrat, it wasn’t worth voting for. It’s hard to see why anyone wouldn’t see this as the principled stand that it is.

Written by Leisureguy

9 March 2019 at 12:48 pm

Posted in Congress, Democrats, GOP

Debunking the myth that anti-Zionism is antisemitic

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Peter Beinart writes in the Guardian:

It is a bewildering and alarming time to be a Jew, both because antisemitism is rising and because so many politicians are responding to it not by protecting Jews but by victimising Palestinians.

On 16 February, members of France’s yellow vest protest movement hurled antisemitic insults at the distinguished French Jewish philosopher Alain Finkielkraut. On 19 February, swastikas were found on 80 gravestones in Alsace. Two days later, the French president, Emmanuel Macron, after announcing that Europe was “facing a resurgence of antisemitism unseen since World War II”, unveiled new measures to fight it.

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

9 March 2019 at 12:16 pm

A Florida Massage Parlor Owner Has Been Selling Chinese Execs Access to Trump at Mar-a-Lago

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Is this draining the swamp? or adding to it? David Corn, Dan Freeman, and Danieel Schulman report in Mother Jones:

The latest Trump political donor to draw controversy is Li Yang, a 45-year-old Florida entrepreneur from China who founded a chain of spas and massage parlors that included the one where New England Patriots owner Bob Kraft was recently busted for soliciting prostitution. She made the news this week when the Miami Herald reported that last month she had attended a Super Bowl viewing party at Donald Trump’s West Palm Beach golf club and had snapped a selfie with the president during the event. Though Yang no longer owns the spa Kraft allegedly visited, the newspaper noted that other massage parlors her family runs have “gained a reputation for offering sexual services.” (She told the newspaper she has never violated the law.) Beyond this sordid tale, there is another angle to the strange story of Yang: She runs an investment business that has offered to sell Chinese clients access to Trump and his family. And a website for the business—which includes numerous photos of Yang and her purported clients hobnobbing at Mar-a-Lago, Trump’s private club in Palm Beach—suggests she had some success in doing so.

Yang, who goes by Cindy, and her husband, Zubin Gong, started GY US Investments LLC in 2017. The company describes itself on its website, which is mostly in Chinese, as an “international business consulting firm that provides public relations services to assist businesses in America to establish and expand their brand image in the modern Chinese marketplace.” But the firm notes that its services also address clients looking to make high-level connections in the United States. On a page displaying a photo of Mar-a-Lago, Yang’s company says its “activities for clients” have included providing them “the opportunity to interact with the president, the [American] Minister of Commerce and other political figures.” The company boasts it has “arranged taking photos with the President” and suggests it can set up a “White House and Capitol Hill Dinner.” (The same day the Herald story about Yang broke, the website stopped functioning.)

The short bio of Yang on the website, identifying her as the founder and CEO of GY US Investments, shows her in a photo with Trump bearing his signature. It says she has been “settled in the United States for more than 20 years” and is a member of the “Presidential Fundraising Committee.” According to the Herald, Yang is a registered Republican, and since 2017 she and her relatives have donated more than $42,000 to a Trump political action committee and more than $16,000 to Trump’s campaign. Her Facebook page, which was taken offline on Friday, was loaded with photos of her posing with GOP notables: Donald Trump Jr., Rep. Matt Gaetz or Florida, Republican National Committee Chair Ronna McDaniel, Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, and former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, among others.

The GY US Investments website lists upcoming events at Mar-a-Lago at which Yang’s clients presumably can mingle with Trump or members of his family. This includes something called the International Leaders Elite Forum, where Trump’s sister, Elizabeth Trump Grau, will supposedly be the featured speaker. Attendees, the site says, will include “Chinese elites from various countries, including the US states, as well as elite leaders from Taiwan, Hong Kong, Macau, Australia, Europe and other countries and regions.” Another event for which Yang’s firm says it can provide access is Trump’s annual New Year’s celebration at Mar-a-Lago. Elsewhere on the website, the firm boasts that “GY Company arranged a number of guests to attend the 2019 New Year’s Eve dinner. All the guests took photos with” members of Trump’s family. This page displays photos of Chinese executives and a Chinese movie star with Donald Trump Jr., suggesting that these pics were arranged by the company, and also includes a photo of Yang with Elizabeth Trump Grau. . .

Continue reading.  There’s much more, including photos.

Written by Leisureguy

9 March 2019 at 11:11 am

Baby Smooth hits the spot

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A super shave today. I’m basically a shave-soap guy, but I Coloniali is a very nice shaving cream indeed—maybe because of the rhubarb—and my Rooney Emilion worked up a lovely lather.

The Baby Smooth is a fantastic razor, and since I just tried the RazoRock Old Type, I can see for me that, good as the Old Type is, the Baby Smooth is just a bit better: a bit more comfortable, and while it may not be more efficient, it feels more efficient.

Three passes left not a trace of stubble, and a small splash of Mickey Lee’s Italian Stallion finished the job. I really love this aftershave, and it’s a good example of a free small sample resulting in a sale. I never would have tried it from the description in their on-line catalog, but when I received a sample with another order, wow! I bought it immediately.

Great start to the weekend.

Written by Leisureguy

9 March 2019 at 8:52 am

Posted in Shaving

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