Later On

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

Archive for March 24th, 2019

“Pacific Heat”: perhaps a specific taste

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But I like it. On Netflix.

Written by Leisureguy

24 March 2019 at 8:35 pm

Posted in Movies & TV

GOP busily spinning the Mueller report

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Kevin Drum has some trenchant observations at Mother Jones. He begins:

The spin machine is in full gear today. Instead of simply releasing Mueller’s own summary of the Mueller report, Attorney General William Barr has decided to release his own summary. I can’t think of any good reason for doing this aside from the possibility that Mueller’s own summary contains some conclusions that Barr and his boss would just as soon not reach the public ear.¹ Apropos of my warning yesterday, then, you should consider Barr’s summary to be the rosiest possible interpretation of the Mueller report.

But even taken on its own terms, the Barr summary is a little odd. Here’s what he has to say about Russian interference in the 2016 election:

The Special Counsel’s investigation determined that there were two main Russian efforts to influence the 2016 election. The first involved attempts by a Russian organization, the Internet Research Agency (IRA), to conduct disinformation and social media operations in the United States designed to sow social discord….The second element involved the Russian government’s efforts to conduct computer hacking operations designed to gather and disseminate information to influence the election.

That’s it? But I don’t think anyone has ever seriously suspected that Trump (or his staff) was directly involved with the IRA disinformation campaign or the Russian hacking operations. The suspicions of coordination have mainly revolved around more personal contacts: Manafort’s friends in high places; the Trump Tower meeting with Don Jr. and others; the Carter Page weirdness; the Moscow real estate deal that went south; and so forth. It’s possible, of course, that Mueller concluded in his report that none of this amounted to collusion in any criminal sense, but surely he at least addressed this stuff? So why doesn’t Barr mention it?

On the subject of obstruction of justice, Mueller punted. “While this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime,” he says, “it also does not exonerate him.” Needless to say, this did not stop Trump from tweeting his take on “does not exonerate”: . .

Read the whole thing.

Written by Leisureguy

24 March 2019 at 4:06 pm

The Wife’s away, and I’m a little bored, so: cooking

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Asparagus was selling for $3 for a large bunch, so I got 3 bunches. I can use some up in my breakfast, but I now have more than enough for that.

So after thinking about it, I came up this idea: I put my No. 12 Field Company cast-iron skillet in the oven and turned it to 350ºF to heat. It’s too large to heat well on the burner, and the walls would not get heated at all (cast iron being a poor conductor of heat). Heating it in the oven heats it uniformly and fills its rather large heat capacity.

While it heated, I prepped the veggies:

1/2 large red onion halved lengthwise, then cut crossways into thin strips
8 cloves fresh garlic, peeled and minced
1 enormous bunch of asparagus, cut into short lengths. This asparagus is fairly thin, so there were a lot
1 yellow summer squash, diced somewhat large

When the skillet’s ready, I’ll put it on a hot burner, add

2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

and the sliced onions, along with:

a good pinch of salt and
multiple grindings of pepper.

When the onions are softened and transparent, I’ll add the garlic, cook that a minute, then the asparagus and squash and cook that, stirring occasionally, for 12-16 minutes.

I have some pitted Greek olives, and I was thinking about throwing them into the mix. Once I plate a serving, I’ll squeeze a lemon over. (Don’t want to do that in the skillet because the lemon juice on the hot skillet will strip the seasoning instantly, and I think it tastes fresher if squeezed over the dish just before eating. A Greek guy I knew in Annapolis back in the day ate dinner with a lemon half in his left hand and his fork in his right, occasionally jabbing the lemon and squeezing it over his next bite.)

Yeah, I think I’ll use the olives. What else would I do with them? And I added them with the onions to cook them. The final dish, ready to eat, looked like this:

Wish I had some grated or shaved Parmesan Reggiano or Romano Pecorino.

Note the handle cover. (It came with my ScanPan skillet, which I never use now.)

And tonight I think I’ll have a tipple of Red Fife. This was their very first batch of whisky—although aged in bourbon barrels, the whiskey is from barley, like Scotch, not corn (sometimes with wheat), like bourbon, and not rye, like rye whisky. It’s sold out already. Next batch will, I assume, be a year from now.

It is truly first-rate.

Update: This is the finishing salt I used on the veg, along with the lemon juice: rosemary garlic. Nice.

Written by Leisureguy

24 March 2019 at 3:14 pm

Cherry-blossom time in Victoria

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Take a look through these amazing photos. Here’s one:

And there are pink ones as well:

More at the link.

Written by Leisureguy

24 March 2019 at 12:39 pm

Posted in Daily life

Inuit ideas on child-rearing work in practice

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Of course, the Inuit already knew that. But an NPR reporter, Michaeleen Doucleff just learned it recently. I blogged earlier her report on the Inuit approach, and now she reports trying it herself.

Six months ago, I found myself preparing for battle.

I was lying in bed at 5:30 a.m., going over in my head how to handle the next encounter with my 3-year-old daughter, Rosy.

Goodness knows, I love her so much. But there’s a fire in that little belly. And to be honest, I have no idea how to handle all the anger — the tantrums, the screaming and, most of all, the hitting.

When she’s angry and I pick her up, she has a habit of slapping me across the face. Sometimes it really hurts. I’ve even started ducking like a boxer when I lift her up.

At first, I reacted as my parents did, with bluster and sternness. That only backfired. All she did was arch her back and fall on the ground.

Then I consulted Dr. Google and decided calm and firm was the “correct way.” But Rosy could tell I was still upset and trying to control her.

Slowly, a wall was rising up between Rosy and me. And I began dreading our time together. Ugh.

Then back in early December, I had an opportunity of a lifetime. I traveled to the Canadian Arctic to report on a story about the Inuit and their remarkable ability to regulate anger. During the trip, I got the chance to hear advice from arguably the calmest, coolest moms in the world: Inuit moms.

It was like these moms had handed me the manual on how to communicate with small children. And their advice completely shifted how I discipline.

She’s not ‘pushing your buttons’

For thousands of years, the Inuit have raised children in one of the harshest places on Earth. During that time, they’ve developed a suite of powerful parenting tools to teach children emotional intelligence, especially when it comes to anger.

At the center of these tools is a major tenet: Never shout at small children.

“Yelling? There was no yelling at kids [in traditional Inuit culture],” says Martha Tikivik, 83, who was born in an igloo and has six children.

In fact, there’s no reason for a parent to get angry at a small child, Tikivik says: “Anger has no purpose. It’s not going to solve your problem. It only stops communication between the child and the mom.”

When a child is misbehaving or having a tantrum, the child is too upset to learn, says 89-year-old Eenoapik Sageatook, whose family was forced to settle in a town when she was a little girl. So there’s no reason to scold or shout during these moments.

“You have to remain calm and wait for the child to calm down,” she says. “Then you can teach the child.”

In other words, cool your jets, Mama Doucleff. Stop blowing your fuse. Stop taking the toddler’s behavior personally. And stop thinking that Rosy is “pushing your buttons,” says Inuit mom and radio producer Lisa Ipeelie.

“You think little kids are mad at you,” she says. “That’s not what’s going on. They’re upset about something, and you have to figure out what it is.”

OK. I admit that following this advice was really hard. I mean really, reallyhard. It took weeks of practice (and another trick I learned about anger). At first, I just stopped saying anything to Rosy when she had a tantrum or hit me. I knew that if I opened my mouth, the words would be tinged in anger. So I would just close my eyes to calm myself down and then wait for Rosy to calm down herself.

Once I learned not to be angry with Rosy, I began trying to help her with her own anger by loving her. I’d ask if she needed a hug, or I’d hold her really tightly.

Then after she calmed down, I took inspiration from the Inuit moms and turned discipline into fantasy and theater.

Tell a story

Instead of yelling or telling kids what to do, Inuit parents traditionally discipline through storytelling, says Goota Jaw, who teaches an Inuit parenting class at Nunavut Arctic College in Iqaluit, Canada.

For example, she says, to get kids to stay away from the dangerous ocean, parents tell them about a sea monster that lives in the water. If you go too close to the water, the parents say, the monster will put you in his pouch, drag you down to the ocean and adopt you out to another family.

There are stories to get kids to listen to adults, wear hats in the winter, not take food without asking and go to bed on time.

At first, these types of stories sounded too scary for a 3-year-old. Then a few weeks after returning from the Arctic, I flipped my opinion 180 degrees.

One afternoon, Rosy and I were in the kitchen, preparing dinner. I was trying to get her to close the refrigerator door. I deployed my typical strategy: adult logic followed by nagging. I explained several times how she is wasting energy.

It was like I was talking to a wall.

After a few minutes, I found myself in the all-too common predicament of arguing with a proto-human. I was ready to blow a fuse when my thoughts turned to Goota Jaw and the sea monster. So I said, with a half-serious, half-playful tone, “You know? There’s a monster inside the refrigerator, and if he warms up, he’s going to get bigger and bigger and come get you.”

Then I pointed into the refrigerator and exclaimed, “Oh my goodness. There he is!”

Holy moly! You should have seen the look on Rosy’s face. She closed the door lightning fast, turned around and said, “Mama, tell me more about the monster in there.”

Since that moment, storytelling has become a go-to parenting tool in our home. Rosy can’t get enough of these stories and even asks me to make them scarier.

Here are a few popular ones right now:

1. Sharing Monster: Living up in a tree outside the kitchen window, the sharing monster grows bigger and bigger when little kids aren’t sharing. At some point, he could come up, snatch you and take you up in the tree.

2. Yelling Monster: He lives in the ceiling and comes down to snatch little kids who yell and are demanding.

3. Shoe Monster: She makes sure kids get their shoes on in the morning — quickly — or else she’ll take you down into the heating vent.

4. Dress Spiders: Back in January, Rosy wore the same pink dress day and night for about five days. I couldn’t get her to take it off. I tried talking logically: “Rosy, if we wash it tonight, it won’t have stains on it for school tomorrow.” She looked at me as if I were speaking French.

Finally, I got close to her and whispered, “If the dress gets too dirty, spiders will start to grow in it.”

Rosy didn’t say a word and slowly slipped the dress off. When I pulled the dress out of the dryer, I held it up and exclaimed, “See? So nice and clean!”

Rosy didn’t miss a beat. “And no spiders,” she emphasized.

Overall, storytelling has opened up a huge communication channel between Rosy and me. I feel like I’m finally speaking her language. She couldn’t care less about kilowatts of power or stains on the dress. But a monster that grows and spiders that crawl — those ideas she can wrap her head around.

Put on a play

Storytelling has definitely decreased the yelling, nagging and blown fuses in our home. But the stories didn’t stop the hitting. For that, I needed inspiration from another Inuit strategy, which anthropologist Jean Briggs studied for more than 30 years ago.

In a nutshell, here’s how the approach works:

When . . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

24 March 2019 at 12:35 pm

Posted in Daily life, Education, Memes

With its ties in Washington, Boeing has taken over more and more of the FAA’s job

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And it turns out that Boeing is terrible at the FAA’s job—no surprise, given the obvious conflict of interest. Indeed, as the NY Times article “Boeing Was ‘Go, Go, Go’ to Beat Airbus With the 737 Max,” by David Gelles, Natalie Kitroeff, Jack Nicas, and Rebecca R. Ruiz, clearly shows, Boeing cut corners left and right because they were trying to rush the aircraft to market. From the article:

. . . Months behind Airbus, Boeing had to play catch-up. The pace of the work on the 737 Max was frenetic, according to current and former employees who spoke with The New York Times. Some spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter. . .

“They weren’t going to stand by and let Airbus steal market share,” said Mike Renzelmann, an engineer who retired in 2016 from Boeing’s flight control team on the 737 Max. [I find this statement peculiar. It seems to embody the idea that airplane sales rightfully belong to Boeing, and if a competitor offers a better plane at a better price, Boeing is somehow wronged by that. That seems very anti-capitalist to me, capitalism being always promoted on the virtues of competition. Boeing sees competition as theft. The mindset reminds me of Detroit before the American Big Three car companies crumbled. – LG]

. . .  In 2008, Airbus delivered 483 airplanes, while Boeing delivered just 375. Three years later at the Paris Air Show, Airbus took orders for 730 aircraft, worth some $72.2 billion, with its new fuel-efficient version dominating.

“Boeing was just completely arrogant in dismissing the viability of the A320,” said Scott Hamilton, managing director of the Leeham Company, an aviation consulting firm. [Another echo of Detroit before its fall. – LG]

. . .  One former designer on the team working on flight controls for the Max said the group had at times produced 16 technical drawings a week, double the normal rate. “They basically said, ‘We need something now,’” the designer said.

A technician who assembles wiring on the Max said that in the first months of development, rushed designers were delivering sloppy blueprints to him. He was told that the instructions for the wiring would be cleaned up later in the process, he said.

His internal assembly designs for the Max, he said, still include omissions today, like not specifying which tools to use to install a certain wire, a situation that could lead to a faulty connection. Normally such blueprints include intricate instructions. . .

The story includes a ludicrous statement from Boeing that indicates Boeing is still in denial about its problems:

The company added, “A multiyear process could hardly be considered rushed.”

But it was rushed, as the report makes clear.

In the Washington Post, Michael Laris points out how corner-cutting is now built into the process, due to the underfunding of the Federal government so that the wealthy will become wealthier by cutting (or simply not paying) taxes. He writes:

Four weeks before a Lion Air jet plunged into the Java Sea in October, Congress passed little noticed provisions that gave the plane’s maker, Boeing, even more power to oversee itself, demonstrating the company’s sway in Washington.

It was another win in Boeing’s long-running, highly effective campaign to get the federal government to delegate more and more of the Federal Aviation Administration’s safety responsibilities to the company. It also was a reflection of the inherent difficulties of having a government workforce oversee the design and production of some of the world’s most sophisticated machines.

Federal investigators are scrutinizing whether the FAA failed to properly watch over Boeing, which has scrambled to make software fixes after two of its 737 Max 8 jets crashed within five months of each other. But the obscure provisions in the new law show how advocates in Congress considered the process that certified the planes to be too cumbersome.

The U.S. manufacturing giant has spent decades building deep ties across Washington. President Ronald Reagan’s chief of staff, Kenneth M. Duberstein, sits on Boeing’s board of directors. So does Caroline B. Kennedy, President John F. Kennedy’s daughter and the former ambassador to Japan.

Boeing reported spending $15 million to lobby Congress, the FAA and other federal agencies last year, and it has hired outside lobbyists to push the oversight delegation issue, according to disclosures filed with the Senate.

The provisions were part of a broader FAA funding and disaster relief bill, which passed by wide margins and was signed by President Trump in October.

The law gives private firms more power over the rule books that describe what role the FAA has in approving designs. It also sets up an “advisory committee,” with industry representation, that establishes metrics the FAA must “apply and track.”

The debate over such changes has gone on for years. It offers a window into a controversial oversight system that some critics say may have contributed to Boeing — and the federal government — missing potential software and hardware flaws in the Max jets, and failing to mandate sufficient training information.

Proponents say distributing more oversight work to Boeing was necessary to increase efficiency at the FAA. But the trend may have unintended consequences for safety. The deaths of 346 people in crashes of 737 Max 8 jets in Ethi­o­pia and Indonesia have created a crisis for Boeing and the FAA, even as investigators continue delving into the disasters’ causes, and it remains unclear how the federal government will respond.

“In recent successive acts, Congress directed FAA to streamline certification, including increased delegation,” an FAA spokesman said. “With strict FAA oversight, delegation extends the rigor of the FAA certification process to other recognized professionals, thereby multiplying the technical expertise focused on assuring an aircraft meets FAA standards.”

Congress will hold a hearing Wednesday on federal aviation oversight with acting FAA administrator Daniel K. Elwell, who Trump recently said will be replaced with Stephen M. Dickson, a former Delta Air Lines pilot and executive. . .

Continue reading. And do read the whole thing. The US government is now failing at its job.

Written by Leisureguy

24 March 2019 at 12:04 pm

Excellent summary chart of Mueller investigation

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This is from a column by Philip Bump in the Washington Post:

Written by Leisureguy

24 March 2019 at 9:35 am

Every report on past presidential scandal was a warning. Why didn’t we listen?

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Carlos Lozada writes in the Washington Post:

“No group of prosecutors and supporting personnel ever have labored under greater public scrutiny,” the special counsel report declares on its opening page. “Every decision seemed to be a delicate one and previously uncharted courses frequently had to be faced. Each action occurred in the midst of a national turmoil.”

It was 1975, and the Watergate Special Prosecution Force had just issued a lengthy report after 28 months investigating Richard Nixon’s administration and his campaign. Let it not be said we’ve never been here before.

They form an odd American literary genre: reports by special counsels and select congressional committees on presidential wrongdoing. They carry the weight of official history yet are contested on arrival, even before. Their authors are prosecutors and lawmakers, so the texts can veer from dense to prosaic to dramatic. The documents identify possible crimes and other misdeeds at the highest level, yet their political implications tend to overpower all else.

Robert S. Mueller’s report on Russian interference in the 2016 election — which he delivered to Attorney General William P. Barr on Friday — does not just complete two years of investigation, indictment, prosecution, and, of course, nonstop speculation and anticipation. It will also take its place alongside works on presidential scandals past. And Mueller will join the ranks of Sam Ervin, Archibald Cox, Leon Jaworski, Lawrence Walsh and Kenneth Starr.

The Watergate, Iran-contra and Clinton-Lewinsky special investigations reflect the struggles of our government to hold itself accountable; they exist because normal checks and balances failed. Yet, beyond their marshaling of facts and revelations of malfeasance, particularly striking are these reports’ warnings to future generations on how to avert the kinds of scandals they examined and, more prophetically, why they recur. Embedded in all of these reports are strident calls for reform, urgent pleas for citizens to defend their democracy, grudging conclusions that new laws or old guardrails alone will not protect us, and, above all, the simple exhortation to elect leaders of integrity.

These documents speak to our moment. If they feel at times like they were written for us, that’s because they were. Mueller’s inquest exists not just because we have failed to police ourselves. It exists because we have failed to listen.


Sam Ervin, the North Carolina Democrat and chairman-turned-hero of the Senate Select Committee on Presidential Campaign Activities, wanted readers to know that Watergate wasn’t fake news. “Watergate was not invented by enemies of the Nixon Administration or even by the news media,” he wrote in his opening statement to the committee’s massive 1974 report. “On the contrary, Watergate was perpetrated upon America by White House and political aides, whom President Nixon himself had entrusted with the management of his campaign for reelection.” Such aides, Ervin noted in a dry aside, often lacked the credentials or experience befitting their posts, save for their loyalty to the president — a malady that has struck the current White House in concentrated form.

The report of the Ervin committee, appearing just weeks before Nixon’s resignation, detailed the offenses of the Watergate era: the broad effort to destroy the integrity of the electoral process, the hush-money payments and assurances of clemency for some of the original break-in defendants, the use of federal agencies as instruments of political revenge and electoral machination, and so much more.

In his lengthy and eloquent coda to the report, Sen. Lowell P. Weicker (R-Conn.) lamented the way Nixon’s allies tolerated such abuses. “A Constitutional stillness was over the land,” he wrote. The Nixon-era misdeeds matter not only “because they contain sensational crimes, but because they confirm a misuse of the intended functions of important institutions.” Watergate, he explained, “reflects a departure from legitimate government that if allowed to persist would be of far greater significance, over time, than any short-term criminal event.” Similarly, today, the popular fixation on “collusion” as the burden of proof for the Mueller report — a view President Trump has done much to encourage — could lead the public to overlook the insidious erosion of standards of official behavior, inadvertently legitimizing what was once considered illegitimate or inappropriate, even if not illegal.

The report on the Iran-contra scandal by special counsel Lawrence E. Walsh is instructive here. Though Walsh concluded that President Ronald Reagan’s personal conduct “fell well short of criminality which could be successfully prosecuted,” the president nonetheless “created the conditions which made possible the crimes committed by others.” Reagan made clear to his subordinates that he wanted the contras sustained “body and soul,” as he put it, despite a congressional ban on U.S. aid to the Nicaraguan rebels. Reagan officials who were convicted or pleaded guilty later saw their verdicts overturned on what Walsh considered technicalities, while others received preemptive presidential pardons. “The failure to punish governmental lawbreakers feeds the perception that public officials are not wholly accountable for their actions,” Walsh complained. “It also may lead the public to believe that no real wrongdoing took place.” The general haziness with which the Iran-contra scandal is often recalled — unlike the historical consensus around Watergate and the partisan divide enveloping the Clinton impeachment — suggests that Walsh was right.

It is precisely the actions of such subordinates, at all levels, that determine the impact of a president’s worst impulses. During Watergate, the Nixon White House pressured executive agencies to fund projects, promote initiatives and fill jobs with an eye toward the president’s reelection needs; the effort was known internally as the Responsiveness Program. But the White House encountered “considerable resistance in the Federal establishment to bending the system to fit reelection purposes,” the Senate Watergate report explained approvingly. (Behold the “deep state,” slow-walking the 1970s!) Two decades later, Walsh would encourage that reaction. “When a President, even with good motive and intent, chooses to skirt the laws or to circumvent them, it is incumbent upon his subordinates to resist, not join in,” Walsh wrote. Their oath is to the Constitution, “not to the man temporarily occupying the Oval Office.”

The main instruments of special counsels are indictments and prosecutions, but their reports also call for bold, innovative reforms of government. After wrestling with whether it could indict a sitting president, the Watergate Special Prosecution Force — yes, that was the stone-cold name of the special prosecutor’s team — suggested a constitutional amendment to resolve the matter. Its report also recommended that presidents not nominate, and the Senate not confirm, any candidates for attorney general who had held senior roles in the president’s campaign. The memory of John Mitchell, who had served as Nixon’s campaign manager in 1968 and who later as attorney general was implicated in the Watergate scandal, loomed large, no doubt, but the dueling imperatives of an attorney general — as both a key Cabinet member serving the president and as the nation’s top law enforcement officer — would trouble other special counsels, too.

Walsh, for instance, noted the “irreconcilable conflict” an attorney general faced in the case of high-level wrongdoing in the executive branch. He complained that Attorney General Edwin Meese, who appointed the Iran-contra special counsel in 1986, “had already become, in effect, the President’s defense lawyer,” whereas Meese’s successor, Richard Thornburgh, engaged in “unprecedented and unwarranted intrusion” into Walsh’s prosecution efforts. Trump, for his part, has at times expressed his desire for loyalty from law enforcement officials, and he never seemed to forgive his first attorney general, Jeff Sessions, who had also been a high-profile Trump campaign surrogate and adviser, for recusing himself from the Russia investigation.

The Senate report on Watergate also called for a number of reforms, or “remedial legislation,” as its mandate required, including the creation of a Public Attorney’s Office, a sort of permanent special prosecutor appointed by the judiciary and confirmed by the Senate, with the mandate to prosecute criminal cases involving a conflict of interest in the executive branch. (Other authorities, including the Watergate Special Prosecution Force, were less than enthused about the proposal, and it eventually died.) And the committee’s vice chairman, Sen. Howard Baker (R-Tenn.) — who uttered the immortal “What did the president know, and when did he know it?” query during the Watergate hearings — suggested the abolition of the electoral college as well as the repeal of the 22nd Amendment, so that second-term presidents could stand for reelection and thus face accountability from voters.

Whatever their merits, the proliferating reform proposals flowed from a conclusion common to many of these reports: that the normal checks and balances of the American system were no longer sufficient. In the Senate Watergate report, Sen. Weicker hailed the separation of powers as “one of our foremost Constitutional doctrines” but acknowledged that the system’s success is not automatic, since it “depends to a large degree on self-adherence and restraint by those in a position to upset the balance.” Such restraint was in short supply in the Watergate era — and in others, too. Walsh was particularly blunt at the conclusion of his Iran-contra report. In finding that the president, various aides and major Cabinet officers had skirted or broken the law and attempted to hide that fact, Walsh asked: “What protection do the people of the United States have against such a concerted action by such powerful officers?” When the executive branch provides false, incomplete or misleading information to Congress, “the rightly celebrated constitutional checks and balances are inadequate, alone, to preserve the rule of law.”

How then, to prevent such actions? “Law is not self-executing,” Ervin admitted. “Unfortunately, at times its execution rests in the hands of those who are faithless to it.” To deserve public office, then, individuals must “understand and be dedicated to the true purpose of government, which is to promote the good of the people, and entertain the abiding conviction that a public office is a public trust, which must never be abused to secure private advantage,” Ervin wrote. They must also possess intellectual and moral rectitude. “The only sure antidote for future Watergates is understanding of fundamental principles and intellectual and moral integrity in the men and women who achieve or are entrusted with governmental or political power.”

In periods of intense partisan and cultural division, traditional safeguards break down because traditional representation is lacking. Political parties, for instance, usually serve as a mediating force between constituencies and those who govern, but “when the parties do not function well, individual citizens feel a loss of control over politics and Government,” Weicker wrote. “They find themselves powerless to influence events. Voting seems futile; politics seems pointless. The political process crosses the line . . . and things go badly for America.” That seems as true in the late 2010s as it did in the early 1970s.


The Starr report on the Clinton-Lewinsky saga of the late 1990s reads like the most overtly partisan of these tomes, even making the case for impeaching Clinton in its first sentence. Yet it unexpectedly offers one of the most optimistic passages. In an otherwise gross conversation it recounts between the president and political adviser Dick Morris, Clinton fesses up to his relationship with Monica Lewinsky — “I’ve tried to shut my body down, sexually, I mean . . . with this girl I just slipped up” — and worries about independent counsel Ken Starr and the whole “legal thing.” Morris, hardly an exemplar of virtue, nonetheless assures him that there is “a great capacity for forgiveness in this country and you should consider tapping into it.”

Such belief in the virtue of the people emerges throughout these reports — an unexpected epilogue to . . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

24 March 2019 at 5:45 am

Two recommendations from Kevin Kelly

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Via a newsletter:

Two notable Bollywood films give you that special dose of outlandish song, dance and rom-com drama that you expect with a Bollywood extravaganza, plus they advance a vital social cause. And they will give you deep insight into today’s India. Both films are about a maverick who takes it upon himself to undo an entrenched detrimental Indian custom. Interestingly, the same Bollywood super-star, Akshay Kumar, plays the protagonist in both films, which are based on true stories. Toilet: A Love Story is the movie version of a real guy who tried to put toilets in his home against the wishes of the village, and his wife is pressured to divorce him for this affront, and how this became a national campaign. Padman is the true story of a guy trying to get Indian village women to use sanitary pads instead of being quarantined outside during menstruation. He invents a way to make the pads cheaply, which he tests on himself. (!!!) His wife also divorces him. But all ends well in both films — it’s Bollywood! There is a third film, a straight documentary about the real Padman, called Period. End of Sentence. This won an Oscar this year for a documentary short. Quite inspirational. All three films can be streamed on Netflix with English subtitles. The first two are painless entryways into Bollywood.

When researching a product online, type in the item in Google and then add “vs”. Google will auto-complete with the most popular, and highly rated, alternatives, and the top link will educate you quickly. Then “vs” autocomplete the new item and you’ll have a good sense of the field.

Written by Leisureguy

24 March 2019 at 5:38 am

Posted in Daily life, Movies & TV

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