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Standing athwart.

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader is always seeing signs of the impeding doom of the United States (specifically) and the West (in general). Please file this bit from Professor Mondo into the “impending doom” folder: Teacups Against the Ocean.

Economics is the dismal science indeed. Made more dismal by the realization that so few people in the world “get it.”

Carry on.

Food fail.

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader considers himself a better than average cook. This is not to say a chef, but a cook. A chef is an appellation he gives to professionals. A cook is a person who, well, cooks; but not for money.

This weekend has been full of cooking failures for your Maximum Leader. He is none too happy to report this fact, but it is what it is. In the spirit of humiliating himself, he’ll briefly describe his three cooking failures of the weekend.

The first is a rather minor failure. Your Maximum Leader burned rice. This may not seem like a big deal, but it was to him. He’s not burned rice that he was cooking in a saucepan, on the range, that he “supervised” the entirety of the cook time. Basically, your Maximum Leader was cooking and kept the heat on the rice for too long and it burned. He didn’t leave the kitchen. He just disregarded the rice while he did other things. It was embarrassing. It was also a pain in the arse to clean up.

The second failure is a half-failure. For those of you who follow your Maximum Leader on Twitter (@maximumleader) you will know that he had a craving for Swedish meatballs yesterday. Rather than buying some at the Ikea he was near yesterday, he determined to make his own. He pulled out his trusty Joy of Cooking and looked up the recipe. As it turned out, he had everything he needed to make them, and make them he did.

Now, allow your Maximum Leader to say that his Swedish meatballs had the correct flavor. They did taste exactly as they should. But there was a consistency problem. They were a little stringy. What? A stringy meatball you say? Indeed. You see, to make a Swedish meatball you take your ground pork and ground beef and mix them together with the spices, breadcrumbs and water. According to the recipe, you do this in an electric mixer for approximately 10 minutes. That seemed a bit long to me, and in retrospect it likely was too long. If your Maximum Leader had mixed less he believes he would have avoided the stringiness to the texture. Everyone liked the meatballs - which were dinner. But your Maximum Leader was dissatisfied. He’ll chalk this failure up to trying a recipe for the first time. He’ll reduce the mixing next time to see if it works out better.

The third cooking failure is the one about which he’s most upset. A little over a week ago your Maximum Leader set approximately 16 pounds of pork belly to cure into bacon. He did 5 pounds of regular salt cure. He did 5 pounds of garlic and herb cure. And the remaining was maple syrup and bourbon cure. Today he took 2 pounds of the regular cure and froze it to use more as lardon than as bacon. Then the rest of the bacon went into the grill/smoker.

Well, your Maximum Leader had more flare-ups and problems controlling the temperature in the smoker than he can remember ever having in the past. Basically, much of his bacon had to be trimmed to removed burned areas. The maple syrup/bourbon cure was the worst - as you can imagine due to the sugars in the cure mix.

No, he didn’t completely lose any slab of bacon. But he’s never had to trim his bacon like he did today. It was very sad. Very disappointing. He’ll have to sample a pound to make sure that it doesn’t have a burned taste. If it does then he’ll really be pissed off…

Needless to say, your Maximum Leader has decided to cut his loses and declare that he is not cooking anything else this weekend.

Carry on.

Thoughtlessness

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader must have the issues where there is a difficult confluence of religious and political debates on the mind. Perhaps it is that Lent is upon us. Perhaps it is just because these issues seem to be front and center in our current political dialogue. Thanks to the GOP Presidential primaries and HHS mandates there is a lot of Church/State discussion. But it is another area of the Church/State discussion on which your Maximum Leader would like to expound.

If you have been following news about Virginia recently you will know that the General Assembly has been moving on a bill that would require women to get an ultrasound before getting an abortion. That bill has come under heavy scrutiny because the language of the bill can be interpreted (rightfully one can argue) as possibly requiring a vaginal ultrasound before a woman can get an abortion. (The story of the moment is that VA Governor Bob McDonnell has gone from strong supporter of the bill to a man uncommitted to sign it.)

Now, your Maximum Leader is not going to comment on abortion or abortion restrictions in this post. What he would like to comment upon is his long-standing disgust at thoughtlessness in lawmaking.

Long-time readers will know that your Maximum Leader is not a fan of the Patriot Act. He has never been a supporter of the Patriot Act. He felt it was rushed through Congress without consideration paid to unintended consequences. What is happening in Virginia is a more glaring example of this same situation.

For those of you who do not know, and your Maximum Leader suspects that might be many of you, the Virginia legislature is a part-time legislature. The legislators serve for 60 or 90 days a year (depending on the year). They have a full-time staff, the Office of Legislative Services. The job of the staff is to help write laws, research existing laws that might be affected by new laws, and generally to think through consequences of potential legislation if it were to be enacted.

This abortion law under debate in Richmond appears to have been a) poorly drafted; b) poorly researched; or c) incompletely thought through. A combination of those three failings is also possible.

This drives your Maximum Leader nuts. As he sees it, either the sponsors of the bill ignored the (non-partisan) staff and went ahead with the bill in the form it was introduced; or the staff did a crappy job of vetting the bill. Your Maximum Leader isn’t sure which it is; but either of these scenarios is bad.

Your Maximum Leader doesn’t care that legislatures are (in general) slow to act. But he does care that they aren’t (generally) deliberative any more. This lack of deliberativeness (or perhaps the inability of most elected officials to actually deliberate) is as much a danger to our nation as any enemy - foreign or domestic.

Carry on.

Church/State and health care

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader and Mrs Villain had a big blow-up the other day. The root cause of this tiff? The President’s health care mandate that Catholic employers provide (by hook or by crook) insurance coverage for contraception, abortion inducing drugs and sterilization.

Your Maximum Leader’s position is rather close to that of his friend FLG (who’s post you should read). This is to say that Catholic employers should be given a broad exemption based on their long-held beliefs. The number of individual Catholics who disagree with church teachings on these matters is largely immaterial.

Mrs Villain’s point is that having insurance coverage for a particular drug or procedure doesn’t mean you have to take advantage of a potentially offensive drug or procedure and therefore the mandate is really harmless to those who care and a boon to those that don’t.

Your Maximum Leader attempted to make a favorite point of his, namely that if his money is going to pay for a thing he would like input into how that money is spent. This argument most often comes up when he and Mrs Villain are discussing school curricula and how it is made. (Your Maximum Leader arguing that if public dollars are spend on education, then the political process must be involved in making the curricula. That doesn’t make the process neat, efficient or even sensible; but it is a requirement.) Anyhow, our conversation deteriorated quickly and we broke to our own corners and tabled the discussion indefinitely.

The point that your Maximum Leader would have liked to make as well, but didn’t have the chance to, was that the Catholic Church will eventually lose out on this argument all together and will wind up having to pay for insurance coverage that offends their moral teachings. Furthermore, in the foreseeable future when there is a single payer system in place in the United States, Catholic hospitals will be forced to close, be sold to other entities, or will just have to knuckle under and actually perform abortions and sterilizations because the government will require them to do so. The Catholic Church (and most any other civil institution) cannot, in the long run, stand up to the power of the government leviathan.

Carry on.

Oiling the glove

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader wanted to note that this past Sunday was that glorious first sign of spring. The day pitchers and catchers report for spring training. That means that baseball season will soon be upon us.

Now, in your Maximum Leader’s mind it is still hockey season. But since the hockey season hasn’t been going well for your Maximum Leader’s beloved Washington Capitals; he is already beginning to idly speculate about his equally beloved Washington Nationals and how they will do this season.

Your Maximum Leader is feeling good about the Nats this season. So good that he thinks that they will win between 85-90 games. They will likely finish 2nd or 3rd in the NL East. (NB: your Maximum Leader’s NL East prediction: Philly, Washington, Florida, Atlanta, NY Mets.) He predicts that the Nats will win 85-90 games. They may contend for a playoff spot (wild card of course).

It should be a good summer for baseball in DC.

Carry on.

For lovers of Ice & Fire & Mother Goose

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader has been writing, but not yet publishing, some political blog posts. They will likely be a letdown to those of you who care once they appear here; but that will have to be what it is when it is.

Anyhoo…

For lovers of George RR Martin’s “Song of Ice and Fire” books (courtesy of Pajiba) here is the man himself reading some of your favorite Mother Goose nursery rhymes:

Your Maximum Leader is going to have to go back and re-read all these books… He is afraid that in his rush to “catch up” with Martin’s publications he might have missed a lot of good stuff.

Carry on.

Bonjour

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maxmum Leader thinks that he’ll be writing a political tract for this space sometime this week. It looks like he might have some time to blog in the evenings this week. That is unless he is overtaken by events and has to change plans.

Today is a somewhat bittersweet day. Your Maximum Leader’s friend, Frank, who has been in a stroke-induced coma since December 23 is going to be transported today. Frank was in a hospital in Arlington, VA from the time of his stroke on. Today his parents (who reside in California) have managed to have him transported by air ambulance from DC to the Bay Area. The day is bittersweet because it means that he will be further away and hard to visit; but at the same time his care will be easier to manage for his parents. He remains in a coma with stable vital signs. Your Maximum Leader and Mrs Villain visited Frank on Saturday to wish him safe travels. Your Maximum Leader and Mrs Villain may, depending on time and finances, travel to California this summer to visit Frank and his family. We hope for a recovery of some sort, although signs continue to not be promising.

Did you watch the Super Bowl? Your Maximum Leader did. Indeed your Maximum Leader tried to get a Twitter meme going about #falsesuperbowlfacts. It didn’t catch on. By the way, you can follow your Maximum Leader on Twitter: @maximumleader. Your Maximum Leader thought the game was boring until the thrilling ending. And the crop of ads wasn’t all that. In fact there were only two ads that he’d not seen before and remembered. The first was this ad that made him want to run out and buy a Fiat:

In addition to making him want to buy a Fiat, the ad also illustrated the continued coarsining of American society… The second ad was the Clint Eastwood ad for Chrysler.

This ad, as great as it was, doesn’t make him want to buy a Chrysler. Perhaps it is the dearth of hot Italian women dripping foam on their decolage.

And on a final note, the article that gives this post its title. From the Wall Street Journal, “Why French Parents are Superior.” A great (and very important) quotation:

[Yet] the French have managed to be involved with their families without becoming obsessive. They assume that even good parents aren’t at the constant service of their children, and that there is no need to feel guilty about this. “For me, the evenings are for the parents,” one Parisian mother told me. “My daughter can be with us if she wants, but it’s adult time.” French parents want their kids to be stimulated, but not all the time. While some American toddlers are getting Mandarin tutors and preliteracy training, French kids are—by design—toddling around by themselves.

Your Maximum Leader believes he and Mrs Villain have done a pretty good job with our kids. They behave well in public and we’ve never had a problem taking them anywhere. They also are well behaved in the company of others. They act out at home and in private - which one would imagine is a universal condition. But the key idea of the whole article is that parents are at the “constant service of their children.” That is a concept with which many American parents seem unfamiliar.

Carry on.

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