Later On

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

Archive for May 1st, 2019

“Joe Biden doesn’t owe me an apology. Clarence Thomas does.”

leave a comment »

Angela Wright-Shannon, a freelance writer and editor living in Charlotte, writes in the Washington Post:

Joe Biden doesn’t owe me an apology. Only Anita Hill can speak to what he owes her, but as “the uncalled witness” in the 1991 Senate confirmation hearings of Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas, I believe we have more pressing issues than whether Biden has sufficiently apologized for what did or did not happen almost three decades ago.

Let’s get our priorities straight. We can discuss ad nauseam whether Biden acted appropriately during those 1991 hearings, and whether he’s too touchy-feely now. But why allow those issues to derail his presidential bid when the vulgar, always inappropriate current occupant of the White House has bragged about groping women and enteringdressing rooms to ogle half-naked girls during the Miss Teen USA pageant? At stake is the 2020 presidential election, and if we don’t keep our eyes on that prize, we might find ourselves trumped again.

As chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee 28 years ago, Biden performed poorly; his lack of support for Hill was appalling. Hill says Biden promised her that she would be allowed to testify first. Everyone knows now that didn’t happen, a turn that allowed Thomas to frame the hearings to his advantage. Biden could have done more — or at least tried — to moderate the heartless grilling of Hill by his Senate colleagues. He could have called me to speak to Thomas’s behavior, thus backing Hill’s testimony. Yet he chose not to. For Hill, Biden was about as useful as an umbrella to a skydiver.

But let’s keep things in perspective. The Thomas hearings were extraordinary for any number of reasons. Hard as it might be to imagine now, there was no national conversation about sexual harassment before the hearings. Secondly, the all-white, all-male Senate Judiciary Committee in 1991 had not the first clue about how to handle the accusations of a clearly accomplished, reputable, African American female law professor against an equally accomplished, African American male appeals court judge. Sensing the senators’ unease, Thomas played his race card in his opening remarks, declaring that the hearings were nothing more than “a high-tech lynching for uppity blacks who in any way deign to think for themselves.”

And, with that, he managed to neutralize any white man on the committee who dared to oppose him, turning the debate from one of sexual harassment into one of racist politics. By linking questions about his sexual behavior to his race and labeling it a lynching, Thomas put every man on that panel on the defensive. I understand why Biden turned into a prattling, ineffectual lump of nothingness. I don’t excuse it, but I do understand.

I disagree with those who say only Biden is to blame for the way the hearing unfolded. More condemnable are Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa) and former senators Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and Alan Simpson (R-Wyo.), who interrogated Hill and challenged her credibility. But none of them are running for president, and all are members of a party that cares little about how men treat women, as evidenced by whom it nominated for the White House.

Biden’s candidacy makes him an easy target for all the feminist wrath that was unleashed in 1991, reignited in 2016 and compounded during the Brett M. Kavanaugh hearings last year. That ire is misplaced. If anyone other than Hill has cause to be furious with Biden, it would be me. I, too, was pilloried and dismissed by Thomas and never allowed a chance to defend myself. But I don’t share the wrath.

Instead of scapegoating Biden, we should take aim at the men who have been accused of sexually harassing women, who have risen to positions of power and influence, as well as the people who put them there. Thomas and Kavanaugh have lifetime appointments to the Supreme Court, and the power to affect the rights of women for decades to come. Impeaching them might be impossible, but we can remove the senators who voted them in, along with the man in the Oval Office. That is our moral imperative.

Biden is not a #MeToo villain. He wrote the Violence Against Women Act of 1994, which survives despite Republican attempts to cut funding and a Supreme Court decision gutting a key provision that allowed women the right to sue their attackers. That law was recently reauthorized by the House and awaits Senate consideration. The law was a measure of Biden’s character, and what he now proposes as a candidate should be judged just as carefully. . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

1 May 2019 at 7:49 pm

Corruption watch: How Taxpayers Covered a $1,000 Liquor Bill for Trump Staffers (and More) at Trump’s Club

leave a comment »

This report doesn’t describe anything that strikes Republicans as a problem so long as the persons benefiting are Republicans. (See, for example, how Republicans expressed outrage at Obama playing golf and how they think Trump’s repeated golf weekends at his own properties are just fine.) Derek Kravitz reports in ProPublica:

In April 2017, Chinese President Xi Jinping visited Mar-a-Lago, President Donald Trump’s Palm Beach, Florida, estate and club, for a two-day summit. While Xi and his delegation stayed at a nearby hotel, Trump and his advisers stayed at the peach-colored, waterfront resort.

That evening, Trump and a dozen of his closest advisers hosted Xi and the Chinese delegation in an ornate dining room where they ate Dover sole and New York strip steak. Those sorts of lavish, formal gatherings are expected for a major bilateral summit.

But then there are less formal events. At some point later that evening, a group repaired to Mar-a-Lago’s Library Bar, a wood-paneled study with a portrait of Trump in tennis whites (titled “The Visionary”) hanging nearby. The group asked the bartender to leave the room so it “could speak confidentially,” according to an email written by Mar-a-Lago’s catering director, Brooke Watson.

The Secret Service guarded the door, according to the email. The bartender wasn’t allowed to return. And members of the group began pouring themselves drinks. No one paid.

Six days later, on April 13, Mar-a-Lago created a bill for those drinks, tallying $838 worth of alcohol plus a 20% service charge. It covered 54 drinks (making for an average price of $18.62 each) of premium liquor: Chopin vodka, Patron and Don Julio Blanco tequilas and Woodford Reserve bourbon. Watson’s email did not specify how many people consumed the alcohol or who the participants were. (It stated that she was told the participants included then-strategist Steve Bannon and then-deputy chief of staff Joe Hagin. Bannon, who has said he stopped drinking years ago, said he didn’t drink at Mar-a-Lago and didn’t recall the episode. Hagin did not respond to requests for comment.)

The bill was sent to the State Department, which objected to covering it. It was then forwarded to the White House, which paid the tab.

The unusual cocktail hour underscores a unique push and pull in the current administration: Donald Trump’s White House pays a bill and Donald Trump’s club reaps the revenue. (It’s unclear if the White House asked any of those drinking to reimburse the government; the White House declined to comment.)

The premium liquor costs are only the beginning of government spending at Mar-a-Lago that emerges in hundreds of pages of receipts and email correspondence between Trump Organization employees and staffers for the State Department, which oversees presidential diplomatic travel and works with the Secret Service and White House. The emails show that the president’s company refused to agree to what was essentially a bulk-purchase agreement with the federal government, and that it charged the maximum allowable federal rate for hotel rooms. The Trump Organization could be obstinate when it came to rates for, say, function rooms at Mar-a-Lago, a problem that was eased when the president signed a law lifting the maximum “micro-purchase” the government can make.

The emails have been released as part of an ongoing lawsuit between the nonprofit Property of the People, a Washington-based transparency group, and the federal government. Property of the People provided the emails and receipts to ProPublica and we, in turn, have added them to our tracker of government spending at Trump-owned properties for our interactive graphic Paying the President. (The State Department is expected to release an additional 1,800 pages of records as part of the lawsuit, which was filed under the Freedom of Information Act.)

In response to questions from ProPublica, the State Department asked for and received the documents described in this article. State Department officials promised a detailed response, but then declined comment.

The documents reveal the intersection between Trump’s conflicting interests. The emails show that “Mar-a-Lago wanted to have the government money without the government rules,” said Charles Tiefer, a law professor at the University of Baltimore who served on the congressionally chartered Commission on Wartime Contracting in Iraq and Afghanistan.

A few months after Trump’s inauguration, the State Department proposed a contract that would pay $200,000 for all room costs for federal employees who stay at Mar-a-Lago over the first term of his presidency. But Mar-a-Lago rejected the government’s proposal. Instead, Trump’s resort bills the government the maximum permitted by federal rules: 300% of the government’s per diem rate, which works out to $546 per night.

Mar-a-Lago rejected the proposed flat-fee arrangement, according to the emails, because of concerns the club’s lawyers had about the Federal Acquisition Regulation, or FAR, which governs federal purchases and is overseen by contracting officers. FAR seeks to promote competition and maintain “the public’s trust.”

The emails suggest the Trump Organization was worried that the lack of competitive bidding could run afoul of federal rules, among other concerns. A State Department staffer wrote in May 2017 that Mar-a-Lago’s attorneys brought up federal “small business set-aside” requirements, which set strict rules for sole-source government bids for small businesses. The State Department staffer wrote that Mar-a-Lago’s “concerns are based on their general lack of knowledge on the applicability of the FAR regulations.” . . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

1 May 2019 at 1:24 pm

Variation on the recipe “Stir-Fried Celery with Peanuts and Bacon”

leave a comment »

I thought this recipe sounded quite interesting, and when I encountered it, I had indeed just bought a very nice head of red cabbage. I thought the bacon sounded not quite so substantial, and instead I found capicola steaks at the supermarket. A capicola steak is a cut of pork shoulder, and I like pork shoulder because, as Mark Bittman observes, it’s the one cut of pork that they have not been able to breed the fat out of. Fat is what makes a cut of meat tender and tasty, and lean pork cuts (a loin roast, for example) tend toward being dry and not so tender.

I also like to include some allium in a recipe, so I went with leek. Here’s what I made, and we liked it a lot:

1.5 lbs capicola steaks or pork shoulder, cut into bite-size pieces
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup salted roasted peanuts (without the skins)
1/2 bunch celery or 2 celery hearts (1/2 pound), sliced 1/4″ thick on diagonal
1 large or two small leeks, sliced thin (including most of the green)
1/2 head cabbage (green or red), chopped/shredded
2-3 teaspoons soy sauce
2-3 teaspoons unseasoned rice vinegar (I use Eden Foods Brown Rice Vinegar)
Chile oil, for serving

I used my 4-qt sauté pan, which had plenty of room after the vegetables cooked down a bit.

Put the pork pieces into the pan, cover, and put in 210ºF oven for about 3 hours. Long, slow cooking is what makes pork shoulder tender.

Remove pan and drain off liquid, which seems mostly to be water. (I also cleaned out the pan, but that’s not really needed). Add the extra-virgin olive oil and the peanuts to the pork and sauté over medium heat until the peanuts turn a little golden.

Add the celery, leeks, and cabbage, increase heat to medium-high, and continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables cook down and are somewhat tender but with still some crunch.

Add soy sauce and rice vinegar and serve. Let people add chile oil to their own portion as they prefer.

This was quite tasty—and with red cabbage, very colorful.

Written by Leisureguy

1 May 2019 at 10:28 am

Green Ray, Dark Limes, and Maggard V2 open-comb

leave a comment »

Yesterday’s lime aftershave reminded me of my Meißner Tremonia Dark Limes shaving soap, so I thought I’d go again with lime today. The Green Ray is a highly satisfactory brush, and the lather it made was excellent, though of course some credit for that goes to the soap.

I picked yesterday’s razor thinking I was picking this one: the Maggard V2 open-comb, here on the Maggard MR7 handle. In our discussion of matching handles to heads, I have become more aware of the number of vendors who obviously think that with three-piece razors you can use any handle with any head, and they sell them that way. Edwin Jagger, as I pointed out in a comment, makes one head and offers it with a wide range of choices for the handle. And when you look at the catalog page for Maggard’s own razors, you see a page of handles, and then you pick the head you want to get with that handle. Obviously, in this case there is no “original match” between head and handle, and no manufacturer suggested pairing. That suggests to me that handle swapping among three-piece razors is perfectly fine.

I somehow let my V2 open-comb get pushed to the back of the drawer, but I am bringing it out more often now. It really is an excellent razor, both very comfortable and very efficient. It’s the same head (so far as I can tell) that Parker uses on their 24C and 26C, two razors that have the same head but different handles. The nice thing about the Maggard version is that you have a much broader range of choices for the handle and the handles are much higher quality (being stainless steel), including some that are colored.

Three passes left as smooth a result as I could ever want, and a splash of Geo. F. Trumper West Indian Extract of Limes aftershave finished the job.

I’m still going through my Finnerty garden collection, and these delicate-looking flowers are today’s selection.

Written by Leisureguy

1 May 2019 at 7:32 am

Posted in Daily life, Shaving

%d bloggers like this: