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Archive for October 11th, 2019

The Humiliation of Lindsey Graham

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Very interesting take on how a Faustian bargain tends to end. Charles Sykes writes in Politico:

It was a cri de cœur from Lindsey Graham, the lament of the sycophant scorned.

President Donald Trump’s decision to abandon our Kurdish allies in Syria by leaving them undefended against a Turkish invasion was, Graham tweeted, “a disaster” and a “nightmare.”

As Monday morning wore on, he expanded his indictment. Betraying the Kurds would force them to align with the Assad regime and Iran and would ensure the comeback of ISIS. It would be, he tweeted, “a stain on America’s honor,” and a virtual surrender to the terrorists.

“President Trump may be tired of fighting radical Islam,” he wrote pointedly of his good friend. “They are NOT tired of fighting us.” And he commented on the signal Trump’s decision sent to the world: “By abandoning the Kurds we have sent the most dangerous signal possible — America is an unreliable ally and it’s just a matter of time before China, Russia, Iran, and North Korea act out in dangerous ways.“

In his cruelest cut of all, he compared Trump with Barack Obama. “No matter what President Trump is saying about his decision,” wrote Graham on Twitter, “it is EXACTLY what President Obama did in Iraq with even more disastrous consequences for our national security.”

Graham’s disappointment was palpable, but understandable, given all that he has given up to avoid this moment.

For the past several years, Graham has transformed himself from one of Trump’s fiercest critics, into one of his most reflexive defenders. Even by the cynical and shape-shifting standards of Washington, Graham’s metamorphosis has been a thing of wonder. The senator once known as John McCain’s best friend in the Senate, transformed himself into Trump’s shinebox, willing to ingratiate himself with rationalizations and praise even as Trump became increasingly erratic.

At first, it was a mere curiosity. During the 2016 campaign, Graham had called Trump a “nutjob” and a loser,” as well as a “race-baiting, xenophobic, religious bigot.” He predicted that if the GOP nominated him, “we will get destroyed … and we will deserve it.”

But as McCain faded from the scene, Graham seemed to shift his affections to the man who so publicly insulted McCain.

Graham and Trump became a thing. They played golf. They talked on the phone. And an alliance of the oddest imaginable bedfellows was born.

In moments of candor, Graham tried to explain the deal he thought he was making. When Mark Leibovich asked him earlier this year what had happened to him, Graham explained:

“Well, OK, from my point of view, if you know anything about me, it’d be odd not to do this,” he said.

I asked what “this” was.

“ ‘This,’ ” Graham said, “is to try to be relevant.” Politics, he explained, was the art of what works and what brings desired outcomes. “I’ve got an opportunity up here working with the president to get some really good outcomes for the country,” he told me.

Like many others in his party, staying “relevant” was central to their political calculations. Capitulating to Trump meant that Graham would become a rock star in the increasingly Trumpist party and virtually assured of reelection in South Carolina next year.

He would also have the president’s ear. And this was at the heart of Graham’s Bargain.

Graham told himself: by staying close to Trump, he could influence him and prevent horribly bad decisions. Others made the same calculation, but Graham made the uber-tradeoff, because the stakes were so high. What did it matter if he had to endure temporary embarrassments, abase himself on cable television, or even become a political punchline, if he could stop Trump from impulsive decisions regarding Russia or North Korea? Or Syria?

The world saw Graham as a craven, cringing Uriah Heep. Graham saw himself as someone who could save the world, or at least the Kurds.

Graham calculated: If he didn’t play golf with Trump and indulge his penchant for pillow talk, Trump would be putting and chatting with Rand Paul, listening to the counsels of isolationism, appeasement and international amorality. He was not simply the adult in the room; he was the adult BFF in the room, who would temper Trump’s worst instincts.

And then came Trump’s decision. . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

11 October 2019 at 6:16 pm


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Written by Leisureguy

11 October 2019 at 5:23 pm

Posted in Science, Video

Lemon pulp and macadamia-nut oil salad dressing

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In the beaker that comes with an immersion blender, put:

1 lemon, peel cut off, cut into slabs, seeds removed
1 tablespoon macadamia-nut oil
1 tablespoon honey mustard (I used Kozlik’s Sweet & Smokey) or less, to taste
ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika

Use immersion blender to blend ingredients, pour into a small jar, and refrigerate.

Sodium is always a concern, but the only sodium in this is from the mustard, and that has only 75mg sodium per tablespoon. (5 ml ≈ 1 teaspoon.) Kozlik has an amazing range of mustards (pictured here) and this one is excellent, but you can substitute any honey mustard.

I used some on steamed broccoli I had refrigerated.  Tasty.

Written by Leisureguy

11 October 2019 at 8:20 am

Mennen shave stick and Fendrihan Mk II

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Another fantastic lather with a very light but pleasant fragrance. I’m starting to wonder whether shave sticks simply produce better lather than tub soaps. I doubt it—why would that be?—but certainly every lather from this shave-stick sequence has been excellent. This morning’s lather was created with my Yaqi Target Shot, which has a somewhat different feel from my other synthetics—a bit softer.

The Fendrihan Mk II is really a fine razor. Here it is in the limited edition bronze, now past, but the stainless model is the same razor (and at a lower cost). Three comfortable passes produced perfect smoothness.

A splash of Vitos Tobacco finished the job—a “splash” being multiple sprays into the palm of my hand, then hands rubbed together and against my shaven face.

And it’s Friday before a long weekend.


Written by Leisureguy

11 October 2019 at 7:42 am

Posted in Shaving

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