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maintain' and keep silent, make note, an observation

November 24, 2018—Issue #141

For the Americans out there-which is most of you-I hope you had a warm, happy, and tasty Thanksgiving.

To celebrate the holiday, this newsletter is going out to all subscribers, free and paid!

That said, I don't have a particular take this week, although there is one brewing, related to a previous discussion on politics and social cohesion. Until then, I hope you enjoy the links and recipes for this weekend, and if you are new to The Newsletter™, welcome! I'm happy to have you.

As always, I want your thoughts and feedback. Shoot me an email, or leave a comment below. Are you liking The Newsletter™? Click here to say so on Twitter! And if you know someone who might enjoy this email, forward to a friend!

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The Work

The only work I did this week was an advice column! I stepped in for Daniel Ortberg to handle food questions for Thanksgiving. I think it went well!

Q. Mashed Potatoes: Say the future of liberal democracy depended on the mission impossible of convincing your dinner guests that there is a better potato way than mashed. What spud-based dish do you serve instead?

A: I don’t serve potatoes at Thanksgiving. There’s already enough starch and butter in the meal, but if I did, it would be a pommes anna or potato and leek gratin.

The Reading

Amanda Arnold on the end of Stacey Abrams' campaign for Georgia governor. Edward-Isaac Dovere on how Democrats won back Michigan. Parker Richards on the Electoral College. Helen Rosner on Thanksgiving. Lutivini Majanja on Thanksgiving. Allen Salway on Thanksgiving. Rajan Menon on the collapse of American foreign policy-making. April Glaser on the California fires. Max Read on the decline (and potential fall) of Facebook. Dayna Evans on the return of bread.

The Movies

The return to work after parental leave left me with only a little time to watch movies. But I've recently gotten back into the habit, and even went to an actual theater to watch a film on the big screen. (Shoutout to the in-laws for babysitting.)

We saw Widows, director Steve McQueen's latest and his first foray into genre film-making. It was fantastic.

A Michael Mann-ish heist thriller that is also the somewhat literal story of a woman burying her grief after the death of her husband that is also a sharp look at politics, capitalism, crime, and racism in an American city.

Basically, Michael Mann’s Thief + Season 3 of The Wire + all the Chicago scenery from The Fugitive with a sprinkle of Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy. 

As I think about it, the comparison to The Fugitive is apt. Steve McQueen and co-writer Gillian Flynn have taken what could have been a formulaic genre story and produced a tense, imaginative, artful yet crowd-pleasing thriller that moves so smoothly you hardly notice the seams and weak points (the big one: there is entirely too much plot, such that you could almost imagine this as a mini-series).

Additional notes: Viola Davis is a titan who dominates every scene she’s in. Elizabeth Debicki is truly excellent in what should be a star-making role. Daniel Kaluuya has incredible range, an amazingly expressive face, and in this film is genuinely terrifying, with a particular scene that is my new high point for “extremely villainous shit.” The third act is perfect.

The Photos

Kodak released its new Ektachrome transparency film this fall and I immediately bought a few rolls. These photos are from the first roll. At the top is a picture of Carter, obviously. And at the bottom is a photo I took just down the street from my apartment. 

I was struck by the deep blues, deep shadows (which I emphasized with slight underexposure) and sharp geometry. If you are interested, I shot this on my Leica M5 using a 35mm Zeiss lens. As always, you can follow me on Instagram for more photography.

The Recipes

Leftovers aren't actually the best thing about Thanksgiving, but they can be very useful. These recipes should use up the foods that typically make the most leftovers (or at least I’ve never experienced a Thanksgiving where people finished all of the turkey). The turkey soup is inspired by a turmeric-heavy soup from the Zahav cookbook. It's fragrant with cumin and garlic, and gets a blast of lemon flavor. (you should also use your turkey carcass to make stock for this recipe.) I didn’t have mashed potatoes at my Thanksgiving but if you had them at yours, you should make these waffles, which are outrageously delicious.

Turkey and Lemon Soup

Ingredients!

  • 3 Tbsp olive oil

  • 1 large onion, minced

  • 3 garlic cloves, minced

  • 1 large carrot, diced

  • 1 large celery stock, diced

  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric

  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin

  • 1-inch fresh ginger, grated

  • salt and pepper to taste

  • 6 cups turkey stock or chicken stock, preferably homemade

  • zest of one lemon

  • 2 to 3 cups chopped cooked turkey

  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

  • 1/4 cup chopped parsley

  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro (can sub with more parsley)

  • cooked basmati rice for serving

Directions!

Heat olive oil over medium-high heat in a heavy pot or Dutch oven. Add the onion, carrot, and celery and cook for 5 to 7 minutes, until onions are translucent. Stir in the garlic and ginger and cook another minute, then mix in the turmeric, cumin, and a generous pinch of salt.

Add turkey or chicken stock and along with lemon zest. Bring to a boil and then simmer gently for 20 minutes. During this time, make your rice. After 20 minutes, add the chopped turkey, lemon juice, parsley and cilantro, as well as more salt and pepper to taste taste. Cook gently just until the turkey is warmed through, about 10 minutes. Serve soup with basmati rice and more cilantro or parsley for garnish.

Mashed Potato Waffles

via Joy the Baker

Ingredients!

  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter

  • 1/4 cup buttermilk

  • 2 large eggs

  • 2 cups mashed potatoes

  • 3 tablespoons chopped chives

  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour

  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder

  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper

  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

  • 1 cup grated cheddar cheese

Directions!

Melt butter in a small saucepan over medium-low heat. As the butter melts it will begin to crackle and pop. That’s the water evaporating out of the butter. Continue to cook the butter until the crackling subsides and the butter begins to brown a bit. The butter will smell nutty. Immediately transfer the browned butter into a medium bowl. Whisk in buttermilk and eggs until thoroughly combined. Add the mashed potatoes and 2 tablespoons chives and gently stir to combine.

In a small bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients. Use a spoon to mix until all of the flour is thoroughly combined. Try not to overmix the batter. Just stir it until the flour is combined.

Heat a waffle iron and grease if necessary.

Dollop batter (about 1/4 cup per waffle) into the waffle iron. Cook until golden on each side. The amount of time depends on your waffle iron. Remove waffles from the iron and place on a cooling rack to rest. The cooling rack will keep the waffles from getting soggy on the bottom as they cool.

Just before serving the waffles, turn oven to the broiler setting. Place waffles on a baking sheet and top with cheddar cheese. Place waffles under the broiler until cheese is melted, about 30 seconds to 1 minute. Remove from the oven, sprinkle with remaining chives and serve warm with fried eggs and salsa.


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but you know that a king is only a man

November 2, 2018—Issue #138

Hope you had an acceptably spooky Halloween!

I wrote about youth turnout this week, apropos of New York magazine’s interviews with twelve young people who say they probably won't vote in the upcoming elections. It is very easy to read the piece and come away disgusted with many of the interviewees, who appear self-absorbed, apathetic, and in a few cases just lazy. But if you can ignore those visceral feelings, I think the interviews provide a lot of insight about the obstacles to higher turnout and greater political participation.

My column won’t hit the internet until Monday, but it’s focused on the way our voting system discouraged people who have any amount of instability in their lives, from college students and other young adults to the poor and working-class. But I make an aside in the piece that’s worth a little elaboration, if not a separate column altogether.

One of the hand-me-downs from our history of political exclusion is the idea that only the knowledgeable should vote. Today, that means a focus on “the issues.” If you don’t know the issues, if you are uncertain about your political knowledge, there's an often open belief that you shouldn’t vote. This isn't partisan. Liberals are as guilty as conservatives of bemoaning “ignorant” voters who presumably don’t know the issues well-enough to “vote their interests.”

But this is wrong. Self-government doesn’t require knowledge of arbitrary political facts or some kind of formalized understanding of policy. As a citizen, all you need to make an intelligent choice is knowledge of yourself as a political actor, with interests connected to your life, livelihood, and community. It doesn’t hurt to know the issues, but in a democracy structured by political parties—which is to say, a modern democracy—you can gather enough cues from each party to make a decent decision about who should represent you in government.

To make this point by analogy, the freedmen who elected representatives, wrote Reconstruction state constitutions, and effectively governed the South for ten years had little formal education, much less traditional political knowledge. But they understood themselves as people with interests worth defending, citizens with voices worth hearing, and political actors with legitimate claims on the state. And that is all they needed.

In addition to building institutions and procedures more conducive to voting and political participation, we might also need a dedicated campaign of political education , to show young voters—and anyone else who might feel “unqualified” that knowing “the issues” is overrated. To participate in democracy, to engage in self-government, all you need is a little knowledge of self.

As always, I want your thoughts and feedback. Shoot me an email, or leave a comment below. Are you liking The Newsletter™? Please say so on Twitter, and be sure to tag me! I’m @jbouie. And if you know someone who might enjoy this email, forward to a friend!

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The Work

I did a lot of writing about the president’s rhetoric.

First, on how his demagogic politics have encouraged people who occupy the more violent end of the racist ideological spectrum:

Seen as part of a continuum, the relationship between bigoted rhetoric and bigoted action becomes clearer. The former can facilitate the latter. A society permissive of rhetorical dehumanization is necessarily more vulnerable to actual dehumanization. Allow racial contempt to spread unchallenged, and racist violence will eventually follow. 

Second, on how his jeremiads against birthright citizenship will shape our national politics, reopening previously settled concerns, and asking questions we, as a society, had opted not to ask:

Trump’s argument is radical, and his proposal is plainly unconstitutional; the president can’t simply nullify the meaning of a constitutional amendment. Trump’s rhetoric is just that—rhetoric with little bearing on actual policymaking. But he is the president. His words matter. And attacking birthright citizenship as part of a racist hysteria campaign is as close as we will likely get to Trump openly stating his driving belief: that America is a white nation for white people.

The Reading

Marcia Chatelain interviews author Carol Anderson about her new book One Person, No Vote: How Voter Suppression is Destroying Our DemocracyMartha S. Jones on the origins of birthright citizenship. Jelani Cobb on the Pittsburgh shooting. Josie Duffy Rice on a new, insidious form of voter suppression. Ryan Broderick on how Silicon Valley radicalized the world. Göran Therborn on the decline of Swedish social democracy. Mike Konczal and Nell Abernathy on how Democrats must become the party of freedom. Irin Carmon on Heidi Heitkamp. Jennifer Victor on elections. From 2008, Jill Lepore on how Americans used to vote.

The Photos

I did another round of night photography, going to some spots around town with great ambient light. Here are the results! I’m in New York City all week next week and I’m thinking of bringing a tripod to do the same there, at the risk of looking like a weirdo.

The Recipes

One more recipe from The Rancho Gordo Vegetarian Kitchen, and a side-dish for this or any other seasonal meal you decide to make this weekend. Both recipes are vegetarian and can be easily made vegan by omitting the cheese.

White Bean Gratin

Slightly modified from the original recipe.

Ingredients!

  • 5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil (divided)

  • 2 medium fennel bulbs, outer layers removed, cored and thinly sliced

  • 1 medium yellow onion, cut in half and thinly sliced (I used a mandoline for this)

  • 3 garlic cloves, minced

  • 3 cups cooked Rancho Gordo white beans in their broth (I used Alubia Blancas)

  • ¾ cup fresh bread crumbs

  • ¼ cup freshly grated parmesan cheese

Directions!

In a large skillet, warm 3 tablespoons of the olive oil over medium heat. Add the fennel, onion, and garlic; sauté until soft and well-cooked, 15-20 minutes. Gently stir in the beans and remove from heat.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

In a small bowl, mix the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil, bread crumbs, parmesan, and thyme.

In a 9-inch gratin dish (or comparable-sized baking dish), add the onion-bean mixture. Add enough of the reserved bean-cooking liquid so that the liquid rises just halfway up the beans. Top with the breadcrumb mixture.

Bake until the bread crumbs are brown and the liquid is bubbling, about 20 minutes.

Alice Waters’ Long-Cooked Broccoli

Ingredients!

  • 1 1/2 pounds broccoli

  • 1/4 cup olive oil

  • 6 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped

  • Pinch of dried chili flakes

  • A few good pinches of salt

  • 1 cup water

  • Juice and zest of 1 lemon

  • 4 tablespoons grated parmesan or pecorino cheese

Directions!

To prepare the broccoli, cut the florets into small pieces. Trim the ends off the stems. Peel the stems with a paring knife and thinly slice.

In a medium pot with a heavy bottom, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the broccoli, garlic, chili flakes and salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, for a few minutes, until the garlic is very fragrant. Add the water and bring to a boil.

Reduce the heat to maintain a bare simmer, cover the pot, and cook, stirring occasionally until the broccoli is very tender and falling apart, about an hour. You may need to add more water if the broccoli starts to dry out. After an hour or so, stir vigorously with a spoon to create the texture of a coarse purée. Stir in the lemon juice and zest and the cheese if using.


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