C I V I L    M A R R I A G E    I S    A    C I V I L    R I G H T.

A N D N O W I T ' S T H E L A W O F T H E L A N D.

Sunday, August 29, 2021

Sunday Drive: It Is Well with My Soul

The familiar hymn, written in 1873.

Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.

Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.

Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.

Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.

Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.

Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.


Wednesday, August 25, 2021

Kudos to Moulton and Meijer

Read the joint statement by Moulton and Meijer about their trip to Kabul.

Your Head Trucker generally believes in obeying the law and following the rules - but there is an exception to every rule, especially when the exception clearly serves the greater good - especially if there's a chance of saving lives.  It seems to me that the secret trip to Kabul by Representatives Seth Moulton (D-Mass.) and Pete Meijer (R-Mich.) is just such a praiseworthy exception, and deserves high commendation.  (It should be remembered that Meijer is one of only ten Republicans who voted to impeach Trump last January - a very brave act, indeed.)  And as far as I can tell, no law was broken.

Moulton and Meijer are both army veterans who already served a number of years in Afghanistan and Iraq; they know the situation over there from the perspective of the soldier on the ground, not a fat cat lolling around in a cushy Washington office.  They undertook this trip into deadly chaos at their own risk, and not at the taxpayer's expense.  They stayed at the Kabul airport only 14 hours, and flew out on a plane that had empty seats.  No one was deprived of a chance to get out of Afghanistan, and they gained valuable first-hand views of the crisis, which ought to be appreciated by their fellow lawmakers.

The idea that this was some kind of "ego trip" is patently ridiculous - I wonder if the reporter who wrote that glib phrase has ever put his or her pretty little ass on the line for anyone.  And the other inane claim that their visit "diverted resources" from the evacuation effort is equally laughable - what exactly is that phrase supposed to mean, anyway?  Does anyone think these combat veterans were being chauffeured around in a gold-plated limo, and banqueted with champagne and caviar and dancing girls?  Inside an armed compound at the airport - essentially, a fort under siege?  Seriously, people.

It's a bullshit phrase, meaningless and patently false.  As experienced soldiers, they surely blended right in with the rest of the troops, who were no doubt glad that at least two of our elected representatives actually came to see with their own eyes exactly what is happening - instead of just mouthing about it back home for the TV cameras, spewing empty words and promises, and generally just making shit up. 

And Congressmen have visited war zones many, many times before in our history - it's really part of the checks and balances of our system of government - the legislative branch checking up on the executive, often with good reason.  Cf. Vietnam.  Now we have what is about to become a humanitarian disaster of the first magnitude - shouldn't somebody check it out, and not just take the Administration's word for it? If the story checks out, okay, no harm done.  If not - Congress has a duty to act in the best interests of the nation.

Also ridiculous is the idea that their secret visit "put our troops and diplomats at higher risk."  What fucking moron wrote that propaganda?  HOW can anybody in Kabul airport be at any greater risk than they already are??  Where the enemy controls the entire government, other terrorists are at large in the country, and everyone at the airport could be shot up or blown up at any moment?  This journey to the most dangerous spot in the world was a selfless act, not a selfish one.

I say, Good job, guys.  You are real patriots.  Thank you for your service.


Sunday, August 22, 2021

Sunday Drive: Sleep Walk

Once upon a time . . . 

The beautiful tune that calls to mind long-ago summer dreams, as performed by the great Chet Atkins and Leo Kottke in 1987:


Friday, August 20, 2021

The Pork Boys Do Chicken Fricassee

M. P. took a break from Sunday dinner duty last weekend and handed me the job.  I decided to try a dish known across the South under one name or another, but that I had never made myself.  I consulted a lot of cookbooks, ancient and modern, before embarking on this adventure - at the bottom of this post you will find the hundred-year-old recipe that was my starting point.  The essence of it is, you first lightly brown your chicken pieces in some oil, then simmer them in a dark gravy (roux + chicken bouillon) until they are very tender:  an hour and a half to two hours will do.

Then you serve the chicken and gravy over rice, and there you go.  We didn't take any pictures, but it so happens that the fellow in this video - which I found the day after I cooked my chick frick - does it almost exactly the way I did, so you can get a good idea of what we ate.  M.P. licked his plate clean, which tells you all you need to know.


From the Picayune Creole Cookbook, New Orleans, 1921:

Caution: Unfortunately, this recipe omits the roux, which is essential; the dish will not be nearly as brown or as tasty without it.


Sunday, August 15, 2021

History Repeats Itself

Is it just me, or does anyone else think the chaotic fall of Kabul is a monumental fuck-up?

And the blame for whatever is happening there right now is squarely on Biden's shoulders.  Though the last three presidents also bear responsibility for this long, ghastly misadventure on the other side of the world.

I am proud of our troops, who by all accounts have done an excellent job in a bad situation - but I am deeply ashamed of the waste of lives and money and goodwill in Afghanistan these twenty years.

I remember the pictures of the fall of Saigon, and today's events seem to be a rerun of that debacle.

Not that I ever wanted us to be in Vietnam OR in Afghanistan; but there's a good way to leave and a bad way.  Again we see the same lies, the same denials, the same "alternate facts" that clearly are at odds with the images on the TV screen.

I remember very clearly sending off a hot email to George Bush when he sent the troops to Afghanistan, reminding him that the Russians had tried for twenty years to pacify those people without a shred of success, ditto the British before them, and what made him think we could do any better?

Alas, my words, like many others', fell on deaf ears, apparently.  Now, for all we expended in that far-off wasteland, there is only blood and sorrow and shame to show for it.

I am completely disgusted.  Nauseated.  Mortified.  What a black day for America.  Again.

When will they ever learn? 

Update, 8/16/21:
  President Biden spoke from the White House this afternoon on the situation in Afghanistan, putting the best face possible on a colossal 20-year mistake. He states plainly that it is hopeless to pour men, machines, and money into a faraway country whose own government is corrupt, divided, and unwilling to defend its own people in a civil war that the United States has no business meddling in. These are the glaringly obvious truths it took American leaders 20 long years to admit in the Vietnam debacle. 


At least Biden is stating them plainly here and now, saying at the 4:45 mark, "I stand squarely behind my decision." And at 6:30, "We gave [the Afghans] every opportunity to fight for their future. We could not give them the the will to fight for that future."  No, of course not - it wasn't their dream of the future, only an outsider's idea.  You simply can't live someone else's life for him - whether speaking of individuals or nations.  It goes deeply against the grain of human nature to be reduced to a mere puppet, even if it is for his own good.  That 's not liberty, is it?

Vietnam, Vietnam, Vietnam! If I foresaw this, living in obscurity far out on the Texas prairie twenty years ago, why did no one in Washington?  What the hell is wrong with people?

When will they ever learn?

Update, 8/17/21:  Jonathan Steele has written a fine opinion piece in the Guardian on the lessons of history in Afghanistan that is worth reading.

Also noteworthy:  The Guardian's editorial on the manifest unfitness of Boris Johnson for his office:  "When events demand stature, Mr Johnson always shrinks to the occasion, and the vacuum where leadership should be diminishes Britain in the eyes of the world."  Quite.


Sunday Drive: Belle Nuit

The beloved aria, sung by Marilyn Horne and Montserrat Caballé in Munich, 1990:


Tuesday, August 10, 2021

Beach Weather

It's August.  Time to head for the coast, strip down, and cool off!  Or is it?  Don't worry - a lifeguard is always handy.

Click the captions to see full-size photos at Shorpy.com

Ocean Grove, New Jersey, 1905

Atlantic City, New Jersey, 1904

"Been expecting you."

Friday, August 6, 2021

Just for Laughs: Jack Benny at the Supermarket

We all love Lucy, of course, and her comic genius will live on as long as there is some kind of machinery to play her reruns.  But it seems to me that a number of other great comedians are most undeservedly forgotten in the modern world, and Jack Benny is one of the all-time funniest.  If you are in need of a laugh or two, this should do the trick; the best part is the second half, where Jack runs afoul of sarcastic store clerk Frank Nelson.


For the record, this episode of the Jack Benny Program was broadcast on January 22, 1961. 


Sunday, August 1, 2021

Sunday Drive: Sweet Marie

The Andrews Sisters put some swing into the 1893 song, featured in Life with Father.  Famed bandleader Carmen Cavallaro is at the piano for this 1948 recording.


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