Watching the Detectives

Brian Oliver at the Guardian has an interesting piece about Norwegian authors whose protagonists face neo-Nazi hate groups in their fiction, starting with Norwegian Jo Nesbø’s The Redbreast. Oliver concentrates on Norwegian authors, but also mentions Swedes like Henning Mankell, who wove far-right extremism into Return of the Dancing Master, as well as some of his Wallander books.

Oliver mentions other Norwegians like Karin Fossum, KO Dahl and Gunnar Staalesen. The only one I’ve read is Nesbø, whose Harry Hole is a morose and conflicted alcoholic, and an interesting protagonist, like Mankell’s Wallander. Maybe some of you have read the others and can offer an evaluation in the comments.

Scandinavian detective fiction is interesting because it deals with broader social issues, and if you’ve been reading it, the notion that a right wing extremist would do something violent in those countries isn’t much of a surprise.

Death Match: Constitutionalist v Partisan

I think this paragraph by Alex Knapp at OTB gets Obama’s attitude towards policy making about right:

I think this [the Treasury deciding whom to pay] is worrisome. But on the other hand, it goes to a trend in our politics that has been escalating since the 1960s. More and more, Congress has been willing to simply forego its role in making policy to the President. This trend has only been highlighted during the Obama Administration, because Obama, more than any President in recent memory, has been deferential to Congress’ role as policymaker. We saw that in the Health Care Bill and Stimulus Packages, and we’re seeing it now in the debt ceiling fiasco. The result is an almost desperate flailing by Congress to get the President to do something. That’s a bad thing for Constitutional governance.

This is true as far as it goes, though I don’t know how Obama could “do something” when even routine votes like the debt ceiling are seized upon as part of a hostage crisis.

The other side of this dysfunctional relationship is Boehner, who realized that the only way for a semi-moderate Republican (by current standards) to become Speaker was to genuflect in front of his teatard caucus. Steve Benen:

It’s as if Boehner, desperate and afraid, temporarily forgot not only what he was doing, but why he was doing it. The point, after all, is to work towards a solution that would prevent a disaster the Speaker himself says he’s eager to avoid.

Instead, Boehner has spent at least two weeks tending to the self-esteem of right-wing lawmakers, telling them how great and important they are, and reinforcing their belief that they’ll never have to compromise with anyone on anything.

That’s all true, but the hard-core crazy in his caucus makes it hard to lead. Is there any better Republican leader who could get that herd of cats to compromise? Certainly Cantor couldn’t.

Open Thread: Sunday Garden Chat

From commentor Raven (formerly Stuckinred):

Here’s a close up of the raised beds with flowers, herbs and vegetables. The fencing is “Double Loop Ornamental” fence. You can see the shape at the top, at the bottom it is looped twice to make a very secure barrier against critters. You can also see the rose arbor over the blue gate that I recently built.
Here are the roses this spring:

Here’s a view from the side today. The pines range from 20 to 35 feet, crape myrtles, peaches, figs, apple and magnolias.

Garden and yard 11 years ago when we had the entire area plowed and graded. We terraced just above this section and this is where the pines were planted:


North of Boston, the good news is that I’ve finally harvested half a dozen ripe Black Prince tomatoes. The bad news is that both Black Prince vines seem to be dying back now, for no reason I can figure (they are in different planters & the plants next to each are fine). Last year, the Black Krim ripened ahead of all the rest and promptly withered, but by then the Black Prince was producing, and when the Black Prince collapsed in late August the Japanese Black Trifele were finally ripening. This year, all the tomatoes are behind schedule, but the Krim and Trifele green fruit seem to be setting and ripening neck-and-neck. I’ve decided that 15 years of experience in this particular locale is just not long enough, and also, AGCC suxx. (Speaking of which, here’s hoping TS Don grants Texas bountiful rain and no destruction.)
What’s it like in your gardens, this summer Sunday morning?

Late Night Open Thread.

I’m off to bed, but I thought I would leave you all with a picture of the new and improved Rosie. All I have to say is “who is ready for bed time,” and she runs to her crate. She gets her treat, I go to bed, and no one bites me in my sleep. She’s a different dog since I crate trained her, and we both have our own separate peace.

It took her a year, but I think I am starting to be trained and am no longer a bad owner. As such, she is a better dog and I like having her around. Funny, that.

And for the love of fucking christ, can you other front pagers stop making stupid fucking categories you only use once?

Saturday Night Open Thread

Since I have had the reply button fixed, I feel comfortable showing my face again. My friend Brian is in town for a visit (better known to you all as husband of Tammy and father of Sam), and we did our usual cook and drink and gorge routine. every couple of months we get together and make a boatload of food and drink a ton and eat until we are ready to fall over.

We spent the better part of the afternoon making homemade pasta. We made a Bechamel and added a bunch of crab meat, let that cool, and stuffed a ton of ravioli. We froze most of it, but ate a serving with a butter/olive oil sauce with fresh basil. Then we took some Aussie range Tenderloins, and grilled those and ate them. Very good, and with a much more complex flavor than regular tenderloins. At first you get a beefy juice, then it has a gamey, almost mutton-like finish. Finally, we cook veal scallopini with some of the linguini we made, and a sauce with cream and fire-roasted tomatoes and onions and garlic.

We briefly discussed a vegetable course earlier, then giggled and had a scotch.

For dessert I made Irish coffees, and made a nice topping with Frangelico, sugar, and heavy whipping cream. Man, was that good. I could just drink the whipped cream by itself.

At any rate, that is how my day went. It was awesome. Fuck the Republicans, fuck politics.

This song has been running through my head:

Have at it. You do know I love you all even though I have been distracted lately, don’t you? I only beat you because I care.

Elizabeth Warren, Still Fighting the Good Fight(s)

NYMag‘s Daily Intel has the text of Professor Warren’s “classy” exit note to her colleagues at the newborn Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (” … I leave this agency, but not this fight. The issues we deal with — a middle class that has been squeezed and business models built on tricks and traps — are deeply personal to me, and they always will be. I will cheer as you open a new chapter in our ongoing push for a strong and independent CFPB. You can realize the vision of a 21st century government that holds law-breakers accountable and that enforces basic rules that make markets work honestly… “).

A one-page interview, “38 Minutes with.. Elizabeth Warren” is in NYMag‘s August 1 print edition:

… One problem is that the CFPB is not likely to get a director anytime soon. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has announced that he’ll filibuster any nominee until the agency is given a board designed to veto anything the CFPB might want to do. When I ask for her reaction to McConnell’s demand that it be made “more accountable and transparent to the American people,” Warren whips her head around, incredulous.
“Oh, excuse me? Accountable?” she scoffs. “He wants this agency to be more accountable to the banks. He wants us to have a funding stream that will give the banks lobbying power over this agency. And the second thing he wants with this five-person board, he wants bankers running this place.”
This is the kind of biting, no-apologies criticism that has so endeared Warren to her supporters, who have in turn fanned speculation that she may soon run for Senate, against Republican Scott Brown of Massachusetts. But she is circumspect when asked directly about a potential run, as all Washington stars learn to be, telling me only, “I need to get back to Massachusetts”—a line she’s been using a lot the past few days. When pressed again, she repeats, “I need to go home.”
Instead, Warren points to a shallow vase full of stones given to her this morning at Nancy Pelosi’s regular breakfast for new congressional Democrats, who would love to see her live to fight another day. “On Monday, when someone asked what I was going to do,” Warren explains, “I said, ‘Look, I’ve always done three things: I’ve taught school. I’ve worked on middle-class economic issues. And I’ve thrown rocks.’ ”
And now? She smiles, nudging her new ammunition. “I plan to go back, teach school, work on middle-class economic issues, and throw rocks.”

Keep throwing those rocks, Ms. Warren!

It really is a war on workers. All workers. Of any kind.

ProPublica has a good comprehensive piece on why parts of the FAA are shut down:

While lawmakers deadlock over long-term deficit reduction plans tied to the raising of the debt ceiling, one federal agency—the Federal Aviation Administration—has been in partial shutdown for nearly a week. Last week, Congress adjourned on Friday without reaching an agreement to extend the operating authority of the FAA, meaning the agency currently doesn’t have the authority to collect taxes on ticket sales, which it uses to pay some 4,000 employees’ salaries. The lost revenue amounts to about $200 million a week.

Initial reports suggested that minus the ticket taxes,consumers could reap some savings on air travel—and some may have at first. But some airlines soon changed their minds and raised their prices so tickets now cost about as much as if the tax were still there. In other words, money that would have gone to funding the FAA has gone straight into the pockets of some major U.S. airlines.

As a result, thousands of workers have been furloughed and may not get paid for days missed. And without FAA officials to oversee airport construction projects, the agency has issued stop-work orders to more than 150 projects across the country, putting thousands more private-sector construction workers temporarily out of work as well.

Several minor disputes have led to this impasse. The first is an industry-backed provision by House Republicans that would make it harder for aviation and railroad workers to unionize, essentially by counting workers who didn’t vote in a union election as having voted against the union. President Obama has threatened to veto any FAA bill containing this measure, but it’s included in the House version of the bill anyway. The second dispute is over a program—called the Essential Air Service Program—that provides subsidies to airlines that fly into tiny airports servicing more than 100 rural communities. House Republicans have tried to reduce those subsidies and phase them out in all states except for Alaska and Hawaii. The move has been opposed by some lawmakers whose states’ subsidies will be ended.

It’s worth noting that the Government Accountability Office has recommended that Congress reexamine whether funds for the Essential Air Service Program are being used efficiently. But it’s also unclear whether the lawmakers who’ve proposed cutting the program care much about it one way or the other. Rep. John Mica, a Florida Republican and chairman of the House Transportation committee, assured a conference of airport executives earlier this month that the House added the provision as a bargaining chip to win concessions on the unionization issue, reported Aviation Week. “It’s just a tool,” Mica told the executives.

Thousands of public sector workers on furlough, thousands of private-sector construction workers laid off, and this congressional campaign to destroy labor unions is costing us all 30 million dollars a day.