Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Como Mexico No Hay Dos

Adios Mexico! You are always so dear to my heart (and stomach), and so kind to me. I sincerely wish we were a better neighbor. As a goodbye, I leave this wonderful note from Anthony Bourdain about Mexico (Gracias Isaac):

"Americans love Mexican food. We consume nachos, tacos, burritos, tortas, enchiladas, tamales and anything resembling Mexican in enormous quantities. We love Mexican beverages, happily knocking back huge amounts of tequila, mezcal, and Mexican beer every year.

We love Mexican people—we sure employ a lot of them. Despite our ridiculously hypocritical attitudes towards immigration, we demand that Mexicans cook a large percentage of the food we eat, grow the ingredients we need to make that food, clean our houses, mow our lawns, wash our dishes, and look after our children. As any chef will tell you, our entire service economy—the restaurant business as we know it—in most American cities, would collapse overnight without Mexican workers. Some, of course, like to claim that Mexicans are “stealing American jobs.” But in two decades as a chef and employer, I never had ONE American kid walk in my door and apply for a dishwashing job, a porter’s position—or even a job as a prep cook. Mexicans do much of the work in this country that Americans, probably, simply won’t do.

We love Mexican drugs. Maybe not you personally, but “we”, as a nation, certainly consume titanic amounts of them—and go to extraordinary lengths and expense to acquire them. We love Mexican music, Mexican beaches, Mexican architecture, interior design, Mexican films.

So, why don’t we love Mexico?

We throw up our hands and shrug at what happens and what is happening just across the border. Maybe we are embarrassed. Mexico, after all, has always been there for us, to service our darkest needs and desires. Whether it’s dress up like fools and get passed-out drunk and sunburned on spring break in Cancun, throw pesos at strippers in Tijuana, or get toasted on Mexican drugs, we are seldom on our best behavior in Mexico. They have seen many of us at our worst. They know our darkest desires.

In the service of our appetites, we spend billions and billions of dollars each year on Mexican drugs—while at the same time spending billions and billions more trying to prevent those drugs from reaching us. The effect on our society is everywhere to be seen. Whether it’s kids nodding off and overdosing in small town Vermont, gang violence in L.A., burned out neighborhoods in Detroit—it’s there to see. What we don’t see, however, haven’t really noticed, and don’t seem to much care about, is the 80,000 dead in Mexico, just in the past few years—mostly innocent victims. Eighty thousand families who’ve been touched directly by the so-called “War On Drugs”.

Mexico. Our brother from another mother. A country, with whom, like it or not, we are inexorably, deeply involved, in a close but often uncomfortable embrace. Look at it. It’s beautiful. It has some of the most ravishingly beautiful beaches on earth. Mountains, desert, jungle. Beautiful colonial architecture, a tragic, elegant, violent, ludicrous, heroic, lamentable, heartbreaking history. Mexican wine country rivals Tuscany for gorgeousness. Its archaeological sites—the remnants of great empires, unrivaled anywhere.

And as much as we think we know and love it, we have barely scratched the surface of what Mexican food really is. It is NOT melted cheese over tortilla chips. It is not simple, or easy. It is not simply “bro food” at halftime. It is in fact, old—older even than the great cuisines of Europe, and often deeply complex, refined, subtle, and sophisticated. A true mole sauce, for instance, can take DAYS to make, a balance of freshly (always fresh) ingredients painstakingly prepared by hand. It could be, should be, one of the most exciting cuisines on the planet, if we paid attention. The old school cooks of Oaxaca make some of the more difficult and nuanced sauces in gastronomy. And some of the new generation—many of whom have trained in the kitchens of America and Europe—have returned home to take Mexican food to new and thrilling heights.

It’s a country I feel particularly attached to and grateful for. In nearly 30 years of cooking professionally, just about every time I walked into a new kitchen, it was a Mexican guy who looked after me, had my back, showed me what was what, and was there—and on the case—when the cooks like me, with backgrounds like mine, ran away to go skiing or surfing or simply flaked. I have been fortunate to track where some of those cooks come from, to go back home with them. To small towns populated mostly by women—where in the evening, families gather at the town’s phone kiosk, waiting for calls from their husbands, sons and brothers who have left to work in our kitchens in the cities of the North. I have been fortunate enough to see where that affinity for cooking comes from, to experience moms and grandmothers preparing many delicious things, with pride and real love, passing that food made by hand from their hands to mine.

In years of making television in Mexico, it’s one of the places we, as a crew, are happiest when the day’s work is over. We’ll gather around a street stall and order soft tacos with fresh, bright, delicious salsas, drink cold Mexican beer, sip smoky mezcals, and listen with moist eyes to sentimental songs from street musicians. We will look around and remark, for the hundredth time, what an extraordinary place this is.

The received wisdom is that Mexico will never change. That is hopelessly corrupt, from top to bottom. That it is useless to resist—to care, to hope for a happier future. But there are heroes out there who refuse to go along. On this episode of “Parts Unknown,” we meet a few of them. People who are standing up against overwhelming odds, demanding accountability, demanding change—at great, even horrifying personal cost."

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Pelosi

"The hatred against Nancy Pelosi is due to her never getting the memo that women in leadership a) aren't supposed to succeed at the top and b) aren't supposed to be confident and unapologetic while doing it.

One can kill a woman's career. She does both. And survives.

Bless her."
-Charlotte Clymer

The Tipping Point

The surprisingly effecting use of carrots over sticks to help curb inner-city gun violence in Sacramento.

Baltkans

Apparently our Dear Leader doesn't know the difference between the Baltics and the Balkans.  For f-cks sake, his WIFE is from the former Yugoslavia!

The Great War

"All of the 20th century is a footnote to the Great War"
-Prof. John Brown

Two great pieces on remembering the end of the Great War.

-Remembering WWI, 100 years later.  Some good historical lessons from the Great War by my friend Matthew Wallin

-The war that never ended

PS: Let's not remember Wilson well as we recount WWI

Thursday, November 08, 2018

The war on...

"if I'd told you on 9/12/2001 that we'd eventually be a country where mass terror attacks were happening almost every day you'd think we lost the war on terror.

We did lose the war on terror. Because we never did anything about the real people terrorizing this country."
-David Dennis, Jr 

Tuesday, November 06, 2018

Making the world safe for...

"The country that starts wars to spread democracy sure sucks at helping people vote."
-Cody Johnston

VOTE!!!!!

"It votes or else it gets the hose"

VOTE!

Related image

Please

Please can we now vote these dumb, corrupt motherfuckers out of office? Please? Let's not fuck this up again. Please.

And please don't get eaten by Orcs.


Monday, November 05, 2018

Bullying Jr.

Amazing campaign by Burger King to focus on bullying.  I don't usually eat fast food but I will go buy a whopper jr in support.



PS: I was so inspired that I broke up a street fight in Puebla, Mexico just outside my apartment where three dudes were trying to jump another guy. Thankfully I didn't get shivved, although I think that should have earned me free whoppers for life if I did. 

Sunday, November 04, 2018

Vale

At local Puebla hole-in-the-wall fav restaurant El Patio. Plate of cecina de res (salted, marinated and sun-dried then roasted beef) with cebollas cambray (roasted green onions), guacamole and refried beans. Rolled into hot and slathered with green salsa. Plus a beer for 99 pesos ($5).

I will take a fantastic cheap hole-in-the-wall dive restaurant with stellar local food that will cost me $5 for a great plate of marinated steak (including beer) over any Michelin-rated four star restaurant any day.

Apres Moi...

"When Trump is gone, we are going to need a whole new raft of laws to protect us from all the shit we never imagined a President would do."
-Elliot Lusztig

Grab them by the ballot

"Oh, I voted all right. I moved on that ballot like a bitch. I got there, w/ blood coming out of my wherever! I’m auto attracted to polling stations—I just start filling in ovals. It’s like a magnet. And when ur registered, they let u do it. U can do anything.#Grabthembytheballot"
-DeeDeeFlagg

Sunday News Roundup

-Jim Crow 2.0, or how we know today's Republican Party would have supported Jim Crow

-Americans are succumbing to fascism because they don't know what fascism really is.  And how American journalists covered the rise of Hitler and Mussolini.  Fwiw, the WSJ would probably endorse Mussolini these days.

-After fanning the flames of anti-Semitism, Trump is hiding behind the pro-Israel defense.  And the Bibi administration is more-than-happy to offers its support.  For shame.

And more importantly, gastrodiplomacy roundup:

-Under a siege in 1590, Parisians started grinding bones into bread meal

-Cats guarding the cream: how Big Food sponsored academic research on its products

-How Cornish pastries became Mexican pastes

-How the Portuguese masalada came to be Hawaii's favorite sweet.

-Green shakshuka, and how it became Israeli gastrodiplomacy

Saturday, November 03, 2018

Climate Change

"The relationship between Trumpism and crazed right-wing killers is like the relationship between climate change and extreme weather events. You can't necessarily prove causation in an individual case, but the changing climate makes these events more likely"
-Paul Krugman

Vote Against; What Texas may soon be for

Max Boot has a great piece in WaPo arguing to vote against every Republican.  Echoing Joe Biden, and Fannie Lou Hamer, he writes about all the things he is sick and tired over from the Trump administration.

Meanwhile, a great piece by Richard Parker in the NYTimes about the changes in Texas, and how even if Beto loses the Dems might be winning Texas again:
Real Texas has the largest Muslim population in the country. Vietnamese is our third language; Chinese is our fourth. Missouri City, near Houston, may be one of the most ethnically and racially diverse spot in America. It’s also one of the most densely populated. People are crammed in at nearly 2,600 per square mile — over twice that of New Jersey. The surrounding county was bedrock Republican but flipped for Hillary Clinton in 2016.

Plus a good piece by Andrew Sullivan: "Can the Republic strike back?"

And finally, little shock but Bibi sides with the Saudis and argues that they deserve a pass because they are the his key to stability in the Middle East.  So in short, Bibi sides with the Saudi Ramsey Bolton.  Bibi, you always were a Frey. 

PS

Friday, November 02, 2018

Tlaxcala

I had to vacate Puebla for two days on Tuesday onward.  The place where I am staying had a long-standing reservation on AirBNB so I took the opportunity to explore around the area.  I had narrowed it down to Tlaxcala on the basis that it was close yet a different Mexican state, and sounded interesting.  I had read a good review of Tlaxcala on this site, so I decided to give it a try.

So I packed up my stuff from my room, and headed on to exile from exile for a couple of days.  Since I was returning shortly, I left the majority of my things at the apartment so I could travel lightly.  I headed out on Tuesday morning, catching a bus to the bus station and then got a ticket (31 pesos, ~$1.50) on the Verde company's bus to Tlaxcala--which was leaving in five minutes.

The ride to Tlaxcala was lovely, past wide green fields dotted with yellow patches of flowers and through the verdant valley with dotted cacti.  It was also short, and we were there in probably 35-40 minutes.

I hopped off the bus and wandered down hill into the city center.  I hadn't made any travel plans because I had read on some site that there were cheap hotels in the city center.  So I arrived and started asking around.  Apparently the advice was quite wrong, and there was nothing affordable in the center.  The lowest I found was a place that wanted 500 pesos a night (~$25), which might not sound so expensive in the real world but compared to hostels that are usually around 200 pesos (~$10) and cheap hotels in the city center of Puebla for as low as 150 pesos, it was more than I had planned to spend.

So I asked a younger clerk at the last hotel in the city center where there where hostels.  She knew of only one, a Hostel Mago a bit away from the city center and up the hill.  I didn't mind trudging so I followed her directions up.  I stopped along a few hotels en route but the cheapest I could find was 450 pesos a night (~$23).  At the top of the hill, I stopped at a coffee shop for further directions which was got me closer but still lost.  I wandered around a bit further before stopping in a little restaurant up a further hill.  The guys in the restaurant were quite helpful and pulled out their ipad to help me look.  One of the fellows had lived a long-time in New Haven, Connecticut so we chatted about New Haven-style pizza and New England in the Autumn.  Eventually I located the hostel, which was only two blocks away.  I thanked my new friends and was on my way.

I did find the hostel, but it wasn't so much so.  I wandered in, until I found the proprietor.  He explained that they really just rented rooms via AirBNB.  I looked him cross-eyed and said that we could cut out the middle man since I was already here.  But he wanted 290 pesos (~$15) a night for a room that was quite small and smelled funny.  So I said no thanks and figured I would punt my way.  As I wandered back down the hill, I did calculations over making it a day trip and returning to Puebla or splurging a bit on a hotel room I didn't really want or need.

I decided that all would be fixed over some coffee and internet at a cafe in the square, so I posted up at a cafe and started searching.  After a lil search, I found the only hostel in the city center, a place called Hostel Maiz Prieto.  I found my way over and was let in.  The hostal proprietor Arlette explained that hostal wasn't quite open but wasn't closed either.  I could have a place for 190 pesos a night, and I just needed to come back a little later.  Done.  I dropped off my bag, and went to go explore the city.

Photo not mine, see link to mural
I wandered though the ornate portals in the city center before visiting the Palacio de Gobierno with its gorgeous facade, to see a stellar mural.   The mural, "La Historia de Tlaxcala y Su Contribucion a lo Mexicano" by Deisderio Hernandez Xochitiotzin.

When I arrived, a young guide asked if I wanted a tour.  I said no, but as I examined the huge mural across different walls I realized I would be better served with some insights to the work.  I negotiated a fair price with the guide, and got myself a tour of the magnificent work.  The mural told the history of the Tlaxcaltecas, and their world.  It vibrantly showed their culture, history and beliefs as well as their wars against the Aztecs.  The mural was stunning, and benefited with some further explanation.  The mural continued on with the coming of the Spanish conquistadors and their connection in the region on through a giant wall of Mexican more-modern history.  It was worth the trip alone just to see this magnificent work.

After my tour, I wandered over to a square for a late afternoon pulque.  The viscous maguey drink is not my favorite, but I find it an interesting taste.  I headed back to the hostel to check in further.  I was shown to my room, and since I was the only hostel guest there I had a room to myself with a big queen size bed.  So it all worked out well.  The hostel was great, filled with beautiful murals and a little courtyard.  While not hosting hostelers, there were a few students and others on foreign exchange projects staying at the hostel.  I met a bit of Arlette's family, who lived in the house as well (including the aunt's dog Weny, who looked like a Mexican Scruff).  Turns out she was of Jewish origin.  Her family, including her grandfather who was a Rabbi, fled Europe for the Yucatan with WWII.

I settled in a bit, before seeking some advice about heading out from Arlette, when one of the fellows staying at the place was heading out past a good bar so he took me.  We walked through town and climbed up a long staircase up to Mr. Hoppy, a bar that brewed its own beer.  Unfortunately, their taps were down but they had a special on Tuesday night for a big mug of 1 liter of beer for 45 pesos ($2.10).  I sat in the funky spot reading Outlander and sipping my big mug.

After the mug, I wandered back down to forage for dinner.  I found a bustling taco place that had good, cheap tacos and I chatted with the taco staff about being a good neighbor.

I returned for the night, and slept well.

I woke up the next morning and received some coffee and a pastry from Arlette.  I chatted with her father about dangers here and there as we sipped our coffee.

I wandered back into the city center to visit the Museo de Arte of Tlaxcala.  The museum had a small salon of Frida Kahlo's works and some other good exhibits.  It was not huge, but for 20 pesos, it was worth the price of admission.

I wandered around a bit further, heading back up the hill to the Tlaxcala cathedral and its impressive altar.  Then hiked my way up further to a higher church, before wandering back down and through town until I reached the market. 

It was around lunch time at that point, so I decided to get a comida corrida meal deal in the market at one of the little comedores.  The little market restaurant had a lunch deal of soup, stew, tortillas and agua de tamarindo for 35 pesos ($1.75).  It was excellent.  First came a tasty potato soup in a clear broth, then a stewed chicken leg with chayote.  The chayote tasted like a mix between a potato and a pear, and went nicely in the stewed chicken gravy.  It all went wonderfully well into the warm homemade tortilla and chipotle salsa.

After lunch, I wandered back through the market.  The market was alive with flowers and candies for Day of the Dead, and the smell of fresh flowers and incense filled the air.  I always love markets for their energy and bounty.  This market was extra ripe with colors and rich life. 

An afternoon nap was in order, and I returned for a little siesta.  After the siesta I returned to the city center to check out an art exhibition opening.  I grabbed a candied sweet potato, one of the local specialties, to get my blood sugar back up.  I headed over to a nice art exhibition opening for an artist whose name escapes me, but his work was quite interesting. 

After, I wandered around the plaza to check out the various offering sites that had sprung up for Halloween/Dia de Muertos.  People had build offriendas, giant diorama structures as altars for the various celebrated dead.  The altars were filled with yellow flower petals, and various things that the person enjoyed, like plates of mole or packets of cigarettes or bottles of mezcal.  The altars were colorfully decorated with the flowers, and salt crosses.  The air was thick with incense, and the city was getting ready for the evening festivities.

I wandered through the various altars until the night had fallen.  Already the costumed and decorated were beginning to appear.

I returned for a little rest before I hit up a dinner spot, a place I read about in the aforementioned blog that helped convince me to come to Tlaxcala.  The restaurant was called Pulqueria La Tia Yola.  Since it received such rave reviews, I hit it up and found that the praise was not mislaid.  I had a mixiote de carnero, a local specialty of lamb marinated in vinegar and maguey honey, then cooked in a cooking paper and inside aluminum.  The dish came wrapped up in a double layer of aluminum and paper, but when opened revealed some delicious rich fall-off-the-bone meat that fit nicely into warm tortillas.  The rich spicy red marinade coated the rice on the side and helped fill my handmade tacos.  I washed it down with a Bohemia obscura and read for a bit before venturing back out to take in all the costumes and beautifully painted faces for the Halloween festivities.

The next morning I woke up early.  I chatted with Arlette about running the hostel, and hosting various folks.  After some fresh-squeezed oj, I started making my way back up the hill towards the bus station, and caught the 11am bus back to Puebla.  I love the ride more than most, and enjoyed the green rolling hills of the countryside.  Returning to Puebla felt like coming back to an old friend, and I was happy to be home.

Day of the Dead

"La Muerte Es Un Sueño"

Feliz Dia De Muertos!


Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Threats, foreign and domestic

"The shrinking caravan of refugees isn't a threat to the country or the constitutional order. A president who tries to end birthright citizenship by executive order is."
-Woke Bill Kristol

I look forward to the day when Trump's citizenship is stripped for his collusion with Russia, and he is tossed in a brig.

Monday, October 29, 2018

Beto '20

Ya know, it wouldn't be the worst thing if Beto loses.

Don't get me wrong, it would be wonderful if he wins. But it is still ruby red Texas.

If he doesn't win this gunfight, it sure frees up a lot of time for '20.

Îf he can visit every county in Texas, I am sure he could manage Iowa's counties.

Wake

Like the old saying
about places where 
books burn, 
people shortly follow, 
well...
societies that are so warped
they can't discern false 
from fact, 
that they can't tell real 
from fake, 
don't last long 
don't lead long
and bring blood
in their wake.

The Nation's Finest News Source.....

From The Onion: "Trump Slams Worldwide Jewish Conspiracy For Not Doing More To Prevent Synagogue Shooting"

"In the aftermath of a shooting at a Pittsburgh synagogue that left 11 people dead, President Donald Trump reportedly slammed the worldwide Jewish conspiracy Monday for not doing more to prevent the violent attack. “I condemn in the strongest possible terms the shadowy global cabal of Jewish people who, despite the fact that they control everything on Earth, weren’t even able to stop a single shooter,” said Trump in a press conference, adding that he didn’t understand why the worldwide Jewish conspiracy didn’t simply hypnotize the killer through the television or create a massive storm that would have stopped him from leaving his house.

“This entire tragedy could have been avoided if the Jews had simply manipulated the global economy and the banks to ensure that the shooter didn’t have enough money to afford a gun or ammunition. It is an absolute shame that the worldwide Jewish plot failed to telepathically communicate the imminent danger to the people in the building, or use their minds to erect an invisible, impenetrable barrier around the entire synagogue.” Trump ended his speech by calling for unity in the worldwide Jewish conspiracy to prevent future anti-Semitic hate crimes with their mystical powers."

Ordinarily

"Ordinarily, a politician can’t be held responsible for the actions of a deranged follower. But ordinarily, they don’t goad them on."
-Patrick Chovanec


"A balanced treatment of an unbalanced phenomenon distorts reality."
-Norman Ornstein

Sem Ordem e Sem Progresso



"Brazil is the country of the future...and always will be..."
-Charles De Gaulle

Oy, Brazil.  Have a good read on Bolsonaro, the would-be dictator of Brazil and his longing for the military dictatorship of the past.

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Here's how a handful of American tech companies radicalized the world

Sunday News roundup

A lot to unpack from a shitty week, starting most recently from Pittsburgh and working backwards:

-From Dalia Lithwick, "Stop Trying to Understand What Trump Says and Look at What His Followers Do":

Perhaps the one thing we can agree upon after today is that we need to ditch that oft-brandished Maya Angelou quote, the one that holds that “when someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.” We keep repeating it because for some reason it makes us feel better, but the deployment of the quote going forward should be: “When someone shows you who they want their followers to be, believe them.” It’s a better fit for an age in which reality is impossible to pin down and everything is a posture or a pose rather than a statement for which the issuer could be held accountable. It is a better fit for an age when allegedly thoughtful sober men claim this president was just being “playful” when he celebrated assaulting journalists, or claim that he’s just using rhetoric when he says that he is indeed a nationalist, with all that word implies.

 We have been told over and over that we are not to take this President literally, or seriously, or jokingly, or truthfully, even though he daily shows his supporters who he is, and they not only believe in him, they quite literally believe him. For too long we have been trapped in a cycle of figuring out how to talk about a president who is neither truthful nor presidential, who cheerfully labels Democrats as “evil” and gleefully leads chants about locking up the very people who were the recipients of bombs at their homes. How does one even begin to explain to one’s children what it means that the president denounces violence and division as he foments both, on an hourly basis? Perhaps we can look to Florida for a tip. Last week the state’s gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum said that because Neo Nazis and white supremacists were supporting and campaigning for and contributing to his opponent Ron DeSantis, perhaps it was time to stop talking about causation entirely. “I’m not calling Mr. DeSantis a racist,” he said. “I’m simply saying the racists believe he’s a racist.”

 The formulation is useful because it reframes a pointless debate about what leaders’ dog whistles really mean into a debate about what their followers end up believing. If what is said no longer matters, we can perhaps still evaluate what is heard. In the current ontological meltdown, there is no point in debating what leaders actually mean—they are affirmatively telling us that they lie constantly—but what we can and should focus on is what kind of people they ask their followers to be. Do they ask their adherents and admirers to see the best in others? Do they ask them to find common ground?"

-And a good compendium from Yascha Mounk on the culpability of Trump to all this.

-Alex Soros, the son of George Soros, on the hate consuming us:

"My family is no stranger to the hostilities of those who reject our philosophy, our politics and our very identity. My father grew up in the shadow of the Nazi regime in Hungary. My grandfather secured papers with false names so that they could survive the onslaught against Budapest’s Jews; he helped many others do the same. After the war, as the Communists took power, my father escaped to London, where he studied at the London School of Economics before embarking on what ultimately became a hugely successful career in finance.

But the lessons of his early life never left him. His biggest philanthropic endeavor, the Open Society Foundations, played a leading role in supporting the transition from Communism to more democratic societies in parts of the former Soviet Union and then expanded to protect democratic practices in existing democracies. My father acknowledges that his philanthropic work, while nonpartisan, is “political” in a broad sense: It seeks to support those who promote societies where everyone has a voice. There is a long list of people who find that proposition unacceptable, and my father has faced plenty of attacks along the way, many dripping with the poison of anti-Semitism.

But something changed in 2016. Before that, the vitriol he faced was largely confined to the extremist fringes, among white supremacists and nationalists who sought to undermine the very foundations of democracy."

-Trumpism is identity politics for white people.

-A century of US intervention in Central America created the migrant crisis

-How slavery contributed to modern notions of management.

-Why it was faster to build the NY subway in 1900 (hint, no labor regulations....)

-We're headed for a Brexit crashout

And finally, to end on some positive notes:

-A baseball bat dies, chopsticks are born.

-Little Baghdad, San Diego's thriving Iraqi immigrant enclave

PS: and some gastrodiplomacy tidbits:

-New England's chow mein sandwiches.

-How curry became a tradition of the Japanese Navy

-We need to call American breakfast what it really is: dessert

-A profile on the Nicoboli master 

What is happening to our country

"Except now the horror show has arrived on our shores.
The fault does not lie, as President Trump insists, with those in the media (e.g., “lowly rated CNN”) who have the temerity to question and criticize him. It is the job of the press to hold those in power to account, and the press has recently done a magnificent job of discharging its constitutional responsibility. Has the media gotten everything right? Of course not. But it has gotten a lot more right than a president who lies with impunity and abandon.
Nor does the fault lie, as Trump’s supposedly reasonable supporters insist, with “both sides.” For example, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), tweeted: “Why is it so hard to accept that a clearly deranged man carried out deranged acts? The ‘false flag’ conspiracy theories on one side & the ‘it’s Trump’s fault’ on the other shows how unhinged politics has become. This isn’t incivility. It’s a society that has lost common sense.”
I, too, have criticized the incivility of Democrats. Hounding officials in restaurants is a mistake. Comparing Trump to Hitler is wrong. But those errors cannot be spoken of in the same breath with terrible crimes such as sending pipe bombs or opening fire in a synagogue.
To be clear, the investigation into Saturday’s attack on the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh is only just beginning, and there is more to learn about Sayoc’s apparent infatuation with Trump. But it also should be clear to all that holding the president of the United States to account for his hateful rhetoric is not the same thing as subscribing to lunatic “false flag” conspiracy theories that ricochet around the right-wing world. In their eagerness to protect their leader, Republicans are guilty of the very sin they have spent years decrying — false moral equivalence.
Extremism has been present in America for a long time. But Trump is applying a match to the kindling.
Trump calls Democrats “evil” and “crazy.” He accuses them of being “treasonous” and “un-American.” He claims they are in league with MS-13 gang members. He says they are trying to open our borders to criminals and to turn America into Venezuela — a bankrupt socialist dictatorship. He denounces the media as “the enemy of the people.” He applauds a congressman who assaulted a reporter and calls for his political opponent to be locked up. He singles out minorities such as Waters for opprobrium, and he promotes anti-Semitic conspiracy theories that hold George Soros responsible for everything from the Central American caravan to protests against Brett M. Kavanaugh.
When Trump talks about “globalists,” the far right hears “Jews.” When Trump says there were “fine people” on both sides in Charlottesville, the far right hears official approval. There is so much anti-Semitic filth online now. I see it every day on Twitter and in my email inbox. Normally I tune it out. Just background noise. But others are listening."
-Max Boot, "What is happening to our country"

At the table

"As we say in Germany, if there's a Nazi at the table and 10 other people sitting there talking to him, you got a table with 11 Nazis."
-Dr Jen Foelloween

Saturday, October 27, 2018

Here

"And a word to my fellow American Jews: This president makes this possible. Here. Where you live. I hope the embassy move over there, where you don’t live was worth it."
-Julia Ioffe

U.S. Jews’ Despair Over Pittsburgh Atrocity Is Compounded by Trump’s Complicity and Netanyahu’s Hypocrisy

"When Trump said on Saturday that the attack in Pittsburgh might not have been as bloody if the synagogue had hired armed guards, he was essentially blaming the Jewish victims for their own death; proving, in the process, how detached he is from the sentiments of the liberal Jewish majority, which abhors the unflinching Republican support for guns and their owners.

Trump’s insensitive assertion proved to anyone who still harbored doubt that he is eminently unqualified to reassure liberal Jews in their hour of darkness. Even if the suspected killer Robert Bowers was disappointed with what he perceived as Trump’s failure to safeguard white supremacy, the President’s critics will draw a direct line between the attack and the President’s consistent incitement against immigrants - who, in the killer's eyes, are backed by Jews and their representatives....

In the immediate maelstrom of emotion it’s hard to project how the letter bombs and the synagogue attack will influence the upcoming Congressional elections. The reflex effort by Trump and GOP leaders to disown the perpetrators of both crimes should be familiar to Israelis who witnessed the similar campaign by the Israeli right to shirk off responsibility for the hate-filled atmosphere that incited Yigal Amir to assassinate Yitzhak Rabin in 1995.

GOP and conservative pundits say that Sayoc is a deranged criminal while Bowers is a Trump-hating Nazi lowlife. Trump’s GOP base will be easily persuaded that Democrats are inflating the incidents for political gain, but for many Americans, Trump’s complicity is now proven beyond a reasonable doubt.

And if the support of their own foul-mouthed, race-baiting President wasn’t enough of a burden, the hypocritical expressions of support emanating from Jerusalem - welcome as they may be - add insult to the American Jewish injury.

Most American Jews abhor Netanyahu’s overenthusiastic adulation of Trump from the outset. Naftali Bennett, who, as Diaspora Affairs Minister, quickly announced his trip to the scene of the crime, represents a government and a party that dispute the legitimacy of the Reform and Conservative movements, to which the majority of practicing American Jews adhere. It takes an attack perceived as terror for the Israeli government to embrace American Jewry. Suddenly, the Jewish people are one.

But contrary to the Pavlovian Israeli reaction to terror, the Jews in Pittsburgh were not attacked because of their sympathy for Israel. They weren’t murdered just because they were Jews.
Bowers made clear on social media that he identifies the Jews with HIAS, the refugee-relief organization. Once known for aiding Jewish immigrants from Russia to the U.S. and then for assisting Jewish refugees after the Holocaust, HIAS has recently stood on the front lines of the campaign for refugees from the civil war in Syria, who, in Bower’s demented mind, are about to erase the white race of America. In Israel, HIAS has been a vocal critic of the Netanyahu government’s policies towards African refugees.

So, in their time of need and despair, American Jews in general and Pittsburgh’s in particular are condemned to being comforted by a President whose rhetoric and conduct appalls them and consoled by an Israeli government that rejects them and their values. In their eyes, and in the eyes of the world, the worldviews of both are closer to those of their Nazi assailant than to the values of the Jews who were murdered in cold blood in their sacred house of prayer."
-Chemi Shalev, "U.S. Jews’ Despair Over Pittsburgh Atrocity Is Compounded by Trump’s Complicity and Netanyahu’s Hypocrisy"

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Iberia

Every once in a while, when I look at a Spaniard, I can see a Jewish face.  As if your great-great-great-great soandso stuck around Spain and converted rather than flee.  I can see it in the face just enough to have a good hunch,

Lil Brother

I can't be the only one who finds it creepy that gmail has planned responses for my emails. Umm...thanks Google, but I would just assume you not read my emails.

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Those he commands move only in command, nothing in love.

"Live to be the show and gaze o’ th’ time.
We’ll have thee, as our rarer monsters are,
Painted upon a pole, and underwrit
'Here may you see the tyrant'”
-Macduff

How this will end, sayeth Eliot Cohen.

The “Reverse Racism Is A Real Thing” Bingo Card


Zombie Election Observers

"But [Cameroon's] state media want you to know that the elections went just fine, and they can cite “outside monitors” to prove it.

On Oct. 8, state-run outlet Cameroon Radio Television (CRTV) interviewed a group of international observers who praised the country’s elections as credible and fair. One election observer, filmed by CRTV and identified as Nurit Greenger, a Transparency International observer, called Cameroon’s elections “extremely good.” She added, “I don’t think there is a way you can cheat.”

There was just one hitch: Transparency International has no election observers in Cameroon, and the organization has no ties to the group that appeared on CRTV.

“It’s still a bit of a mystery as to who decided to say that they were a Transparency International group,” Michael Hornsby, a spokesperson for the organization, told Foreign Policy. “But I think it’s very telling that one of the individuals kept repeating that they were trained by us—long after we had said we had nothing to do with them.”

The strange spectacle reflects what has become a growing trend of autocrats using new methods to add a gloss of legitimacy to elections that are deeply flawed. This particular tactic of using outsiders as props has cropped up with such frequency around the world—from Azerbaijan to Equatorial Guinea—that real election experts even have a name for them: “zombie observers.”
-Jeffcoate Daniel & Robbie Gramer, "Cameroon's Paul Biya Gives a Masterclass in Fake Democracy"

Sunday, October 21, 2018

3 things

"The last 2 years have taught us 3 things: 1) Just about everyone who was dismissed as an alarmist after the 2016 election was right. 2) A political party reveals what it really is when it thinks it can't be stopped. 3) Things move faster than you fear they will."
-Mark Harris

Blue

I dare say that the best quesadillas are blue.  My hand-made blue corn quesadilla came complete with grilled flor de calabazas y champignons (zucchini flower and mushrooms), covered in melted stringy quesilla and salsa roja.

At 30 pesos (~$1.50), it's also a stellar deal.

Saturday, October 20, 2018

On Sears

-How Sears subverted racism and Jim Crow through its mail-order catalogues:

"A lesser-known aspect of Sears’s 125-year history, however, is how the company revolutionized rural black Southerners’ shopping patterns in the late 19th century, subverting racial hierarchies by allowing them to make purchases by mail or over the phone and avoid the blatant racism that they faced at small country stores.

'What most people don’t know is just how radical the catalogue was in the era of Jim Crow,” Louis Hyman, an associate professor of history at Cornell University, wrote in a Twitter thread that was shared more than 7,000 times Monday in the wake of the news of Sears’s demise. By allowing African Americans in Southern states to avoid price gouging and condescending treatment at their local stores, he wrote, the catalogue “undermined white supremacy in the rural South.'"

-How Sears was brought down--not by Amazon or the internet, but by Vulture Capitalism:

"If you’ve been following the impending bankruptcy of America’s iconic retailer, as covered by print, broadcast, and digital media, you’ve probably encountered lots of nostalgia, and sad clucking about how dinosaurs like Sears can’t compete in the age of Amazon and specialty retail.

But most of the coverage has failed to stress the deeper story. Namely, Sears is a prime example of how hedge funds and private-equity companies take over retailers, encumber them with debt in order to pay themselves massive windfall profits, and then leave the retailer without adequate operating capital to compete.

Part of the strategy is to sell off valuable real estate, the better to enrich the hedge fund, and stick the retail company with costly rental payments to occupy the space that it once owned."
-Robert Kuttner, The American Prospect

Thursday, October 18, 2018

On Imperialism

"I was in the Indian Police five years, and by the end of that time I hated the imperialism I was serving with a bitterness which I probably cannot make clear. In the free air of England that kind of thing is not fully intelligible. [. . .] From the most unexpected people, from ginpickled old scoundrels high up in the Government service, I have heard some such remark as: ‘Of course we’ve no right in this blasted country at all. Only now we’re here for God’s sake let’s stay here.’ The truth is that no modern man, in his heart of hearts, believes that it is right to invade a foreign country and hold the population down by force. Foreign oppression is a much more obvious, understandable evil than economic oppression. Thus in England we tamely admit to being robbed in order to keep half a million worthless idlers in luxury, but we would fight to the last man sooner than be ruled by Chinamen; similarly, people who live on unearned dividends without a single qualm of conscience, see clearly enough that it is wrong to go and lord it in a foreign country where you are not wanted.

The result is that every Anglo-Indian is haunted by a sense of guilt which he usually conceals as best he can, because there is no freedom of speech, and merely to be overheard making a seditious remark may damage his career. All over India there are Englishmen who secretly loathe the system of which they are part; and just occasionally, when they are quite certain of being in the right company, their hidden bitterness overflows. I remember a night I spent on the train with a man in the Educational Service, a stranger to myself whose name I never discovered. It was too hot to sleep and we spent the night in talking. Half an hour’s cautious questioning decided each of us that the other was ‘safe’; and then for hours, while the train jolted slowly through the pitch-black night, sitting up in our bunks with bottles of beer handy, we damned the British Empire—damned it from the inside, intelligently and intimately. It did us both good. But we had been speaking forbidden things, and in the haggard morning light when the train crawled into Mandalay, we parted as guiltily as any adulterous couple."
-George Orwell