How Much Do You Have to Hate Someone Not to Proselytize?

Francis Schaeffer on the Origins of Relativism in the Church

One of My Favorite Songs

An Inspiring Song


Tuesday, July 27, 2010

"Wingnuts" and "Zanies" and Proof Positive of Darn Near Total Ignorance

You know, I can handle the local lib blog crowing over Randy Brogdon's loss to Mary Fallin. They crow because they see it as a defeat of "Tea Party" ideas, including what they call "tentherism."

I think they've totally misread the results. I never expected Mr. Brogdon to win, but that's because I have known very well who Mary Fallin was for several years, and Randy Brogdon only appeared on my radar screen within the last eighteen months. Considering the amount of time I spend reading and listening to things political, I really don't think it's too much of a stretch to conclude that Mr. Brogdon was at too much of a disadvantage in terms of name recognition to stand a chance.

Also, I've heard all the Republican candidates' ads--over and over and over again. They all ran on Tea Party ideas, every single mother's son and father's daughter of 'em. Kind of hard to determine that mainstream Republican voters don't like Tea Party ideas in a situation like that, I would think.

But you know, there is something about their crowing that bugs me. Bugs me every single time they bring it up. It's their persistent characterization of Mr. Brogdon's ideas on the Tenth amendment as those of a--conflating their terms slightly here--"zany wingnut."

It just astounds me that anyone could be so fantastically ignorant. Mr. Brogdon's ideas on the subject are perfectly in line with those of the Founding Fathers, as anyone can see by reading The Federalist Papers. They are perfectly in line with those of Thomas Jefferson and the Democratic-Republicans that ruled American politics for a very substantial part of the nineteenth century. They were, in fact, very common currency right up until the New Deal. Those same bloggers once linked to a piece that complained of how the High Court consistently ruled--at least at first--against Roosevelt on specifically "tenther" grounds--that is, they inadvertently admitted that those ideas were widely-enough held prior to the Roosevelt administration to secure the appointment of several Supreme Court justices who shared them.

They missed that, of course. They miss everything that might shatter the wonderful little spun-glass world in which they live.

Look, here's Jefferson on the Tenth Amendment:
I consider the foundation of the Constitution as laid on this ground that "all powers not delegated to the U.S. by the Constitution, not prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states or to the people". To take a single step beyond the boundaries thus specially drawn around the powers of Congress, is to take possession of a boundless field of power, no longer susceptible of any definition.
And here he is on the General Welfare clause (since leftists always run immediately to the General Welfare clause when you bring up the Tenth Amendment):
...our tenet ever was, and, indeed, it is almost the only landmark which now divides the federalists from the republicans, that Congress had not unlimited powers to provide for the general welfare, but were restrained to those specifically enumerated; and that, as it was never meant they should provide for that welfare but by the exercise of the enumerated powers, so it could not have been meant they should raise money for purposes which the enumeration did not place under their action; consequently, that the specification of powers is a limitation of the purposes for which they may raise money. I think the passage and rejection of this bill a fortunate incident. Every State will certainly concede the power; and this will be a national confirmation of the grounds of appeal to them, and will settle forever the meaning of this phrase, which, by a mere grammatical quibble, has countenanced the General Government in a claim of universal power. For in the phrase, “to lay taxes, to pay the debts and provide for the general welfare,” it is a mere question of syntax, whether the two last infinitives are governed by the first or are distinct and co-ordinate powers; a question unequivocally decided by the exact definition of powers immediately following.
Not an iota of difference exists between Jefferson's views and Mr. Brogdon's views. Mr. Brogdon's views aren't those of a zany wingnut; FDR's were. But since, to rather an awful lot of American liberals, history only starts with the New Deal, the local lib-bloggers most likely don't know that. They most likely don't know that they've inadvertently characterized Jefferson's, and many other prominent Americans', views of the Constitution, as those of zany wingnuts. They most likely don't know that they've branded themselves, for anyone who's done the reading to see, as grossly ignorant.

And frankly, it bugs me to see the grossly ignorant act as though they were intellectually superior to the likes of Randy Brogdon.

Addition to the Blogroll

Let me introduce "Mike" of The Old Way. If you're interested in RyuTe, check it out.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Basic Corn Bread

La Shawn Barber published some food pictures, and since I was a-makin' beans an' cornbread ennyhoo, I let the pictures inspire me to type up my recipe for basic cornbread. It will make enough for five or six more-or-less normal people to each have a good-sized hunk.

First, preheat your oven to 425 degrees. Also, take a cast iron skillet about ten inches in diameter--what? You don't have one? Then go get one, my friend, and don't whine to me about the weight. This is real he-man cookin' we're doin' here...

At any rate, put that skillet on the stove and let it heat up to about medium.

Then, mix together (I just use a whisk):

2 cups yellow corn meal
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups buttermilk (you can use regular milk, but it won't be quite as good)
2 eggs
2 tablespoons of some kind of melted shortening or oil. You can use vegetable oil, and it is okay. You can use olive oil, and it is good. You can use melted butter, and things really start to perk up. But if you want real people-will-kill-for-it cornbread taste, nothing can beat melted bacon fat! Oh, mercy, it's good...

Quit gripin'. It's better for you than butter or margarine. Seriously.

Now, pour a little more of that melted bacon fat in the skillet and swirl it around to coat the pan. Put the batter in the pan, and the pan in the oven for, oh, about 25-30 minutes. It's done when you can stick a knife in the middle and it comes out clean, without any uncooked batter on it. You will quickly learn just how long your oven takes to do this and it won't need to be tested.

It will come out golden-brown with the most heavenly crust imaginable. You will be in love with corn bread the rest of your days, I assure you.

You can gild the lily, if you like, by adding about a third of a cup of corn kernels, or a little bit of chopped onion, or maybe a small can of chopped green chiles.

This goes good with a lot of things, but it is divine with pork ribs and pinto beans.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Big Bob Gibson's White Sauce

Not so long ago, I finished perusing Peace, Love, and Barbecue by Mike Mills. It's an entertaining book. I certainly don't regret the time spent reading it, but I don't think I'll be buying a copy. It's largely Mike Mills' recollections and discussions with some of the country's best pitmasters, and as entertaining as it was, I just don't see myself making use of it multiple times. Oh, there are recipes. Not an enormous amount, but enough to get your attention. But I've got so many books full of recipes already that I don't think I'll have tried them all before I die.

But there is one recipe that I'm keepin' out of that book. It's Big Bob Gibson's recipe for the white barbecue sauce they use on their chickens. Apparently, Big Bob gave the recipe out to whoever asked, so I guess it ain't copyrighted. Here 'tis, if you're interested, quoted from the book:
1 cup mayonnaise
1 cup apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 1/2 tablespoons cracked black pepper
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, finely ground
1/4 teaspoon cayenne

Combine all the ingredients in a large bowl and mix thoroughly. Place in an airtight container or bottle and refrigerate until you're ready to use. Keeps up to 4 days.
I had to alter it a bit. I have a family member that definitely can't handle the black pepper, and I have serious doubts about that individual being able to handle the smidgeon of cayenne. Instead, I tossed in a bit of garlic powder. On water smoker chicken, the result was unbelievable, so good that I was, like, "Where have you been all my life?"

Friday, July 16, 2010

Water Smoker Chicken Leg Quarters

Relax. This is even easier than Water Smoker Brisket.

Chicken leg quarters are cool. I know; a lot of people are all into white meat, and I get that. A lot of people like chicken breasts partly because they absorb other flavors so readily. I get that. I've done that, too, and will probably do it again. However, as time has gone on, I have come to recognize that in addition to being about the cheapest cut of chicken you can buy, leg quarters are probably the most flavorful cut of chicken you can buy, with the exception, I guess, of livers. I make a mean batch of chicken livers, too. Maybe I'll tell you about it someday.

At any rate, the other day I bought a ten-pound bag of leg quarters (for less than six bucks!). To fix 'em, I first brined them for about an hour. If you've never brined anything before, it's simple. In this case, I first put all the meat into a big pot. Then I dissolved a bunch of kosher salt--that was my unit of measure: "a bunch"--in another pan, poured it over the chicken, and repeated until all the chicken was submerged. You could also do this and leave it in the fridge for a few hours, but I knew I was going to be cooking soon and just left them out on the counter. Whilst the chicken was soaking, I fired up the coals and soaked hickory chunks for the water smoker. When the coals were ready, I dumped them into the firepan, filled the water pan, and put half the chicken on the bottom grill and half the chicken on the top grill. Ten pounds of leg quarters fits quite nicely that way. Then I shook some more kosher salt over the chicken. You could, of course, add other seasonings. If I thought I could get away with it, I would certainly have added about a cup of Tabasco to the brine and fresh-cracked black pepper to the salt that I shook over the chicken.

I kept it smoking for about four hours at a fairly consistent 200 degrees, and then I pulled it out of the grill. Served it with a variant of Big Bob Gibson's White Sauce, which I will be publishing shortly, and a bottle of honey barbecue sauce for the family members whom I suspected might not care for the white sauce. The meat was very tender with excellent smoke flavor. The skin was a bit chewy, but not that big a deal.

Leftovers--unless your family is enormous, you will very likely have leftovers--can be used to make marvelous sandwiches. Just pull the meat off the bones and chop it.

This has to be one of the cheapest ways to experience authentic barbecue.

Found Whilst Surfin'

... the party is going to be awesome! I need to figure out a way to get in.

Well, I decide to sneak in through the kitchen. Got lucky, no one noticed me. This is GREAT! I can't believe I am actually in this crazy fun party now. This place is amazing! The lights & sound are killer, the women are gorgeous... is this Heaven?

The best part is, people seem to be assuming I belong. They are saying "hello". The waiter offered me a glass of champagne. Hors d'oeuvres are offered from a silver tray. I accept, graciously.

I am loving this! Oh, here comes my favorite recording artist. I actually get to chat for a minute and get a photo taken! Awesome!

Whew, a few more glasses of the bubbly, and I'm a little tipsy. I guess I had a bit too much, and as this beautiful lady walks past, I grab her butt. Just a little. No harm, no foul. But NooOOooo. She turns around, glares at me, slaps me in the face, and yells for security.

Oh great. Now three thick-necked, earpiece-wearing goons are grabbing me and asking to see my invitation. What the...? How DARE they! I'm IN THE PARTY, YOU IDIOTS! You have SOME nerve asking for my invitation! I'm HERE, am I not? Of course I had an invitation. I just... err... misplaced it. What's that? How much did I contribute to the cause? Umm... err... well NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS!! Hey, LET GO OF ME! You can't throw me out! I have a glass of champagne to finish! OW! Stop dragging me! JEEZ, you guys are out of line. All I did was come in for some food and fun! I'm not hurting anything!! OUCH! Thanks for opening the door with my head, you fascist pigs! UGH (thump). (Slam). Great. In the alley looking like a loser.

Who do those snobs think they are? I've got as much a right to be in that party as any of those so-called donors!

...and that, my friends, is the illegal immigration problem faced by Arizona in a nutshell.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Nice Commercial

James White had this on his blog several days ago. Turns out he's a United States Chess Federation member. I like to play chess, but I don't belong to any organizations and my highest chess ambition is to be able to make it down to one of the local chess club meetings a couple of times a month--and even that's likely to be a year or more away.

At any rate, enjoy the commercial.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Michael Bates Quotes Sproul about Schaeffer, Christianity, and Statism

Couldn't resist quoting this. I know not all of my readers are familiar with the inimitable Michael Bates and might have otherwise missed this gem:
R. C. Sproul, writing in 2008, recalled asking Francis Schaeffer what was the greatest threat to the church in America. Schaeffer's one word answer: "Statism."
Schaeffer's biggest concern at that point in his life was that the citizens of the United States were beginning to invest their country with supreme authority, such that the free nation of America would become one that would be dominated by a philosophy of the supremacy of the state.

In statism, we see the suffix "ism," which indicates a philosophy or worldview. A decline from statehood to statism happens when the government is perceived as or claims to be the ultimate reality. This reality then replaces God as the supreme entity upon which human existence depends....

Throughout the history of the Christian church, Christianity has always stood over against all forms of statism. Statism is the natural and ultimate enemy to Christianity because it involves a usurpation of the reign of God. If Francis Schaeffer was right -- and each year that passes makes his prognosis seem all the more accurate -- it means that the church and the nation face a serious crisis in our day. In the final analysis, if statism prevails in America, it will mean not only the death of our religious freedom, but also the death of the state itself. We face perilous times where Christians and all people need to be vigilant about the rapidly
encroaching elevation of the state to supremacy.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Government, Food, and Libel

Mrs. MOTW brought home Food, Inc from the library. Now, actually, I've wanted to see that film for some little time. I am not unaware of how the food business has changed over the decades. Dreher talked about it quite a bit in Crunchy Cons (highly recommended reading, see my review here).

Mostly, I didn't see too much different from what I expected to see, having read about many of these issues before. I will say that I was mildly aggravated by the persistent tone that so many of the people in the film had, an undercurrent of "these companies will do anything, including make you sick, for a profit." I, of course, am:

A) Goin' "DUH! Read Genesis, people are fallen!" Real conservatives are never surprised at crappy human behavior, including their own.

B) Wondering how the fact that it is government interference in the marketplace that makes this stuff possible could have had so little impact on so many of the people being interviewed. People being interviewed for the film repeatedly noted that the food market is skewed because of government subsidies--government subsidies which have been lobbied for by people in the fast-food business, agribusiness, and so forth. It was government distortion of the marketplace, albeit brought on by powerful, moneyed interests, that caused the problem, but everybody seemed to be concerned with how they could get government to fix the problem.

Get the government the heck out of the way, anyone? As the film's director was quoted as saying in the Wikipedia article, emphasis mine:
...the whole system is made possible by government subsidies to a few huge crops like corn. It's a form of socialism that's making us sick.

Now, just how you gonna get government out of the way? An educated population, that's how.

Pity we ain't got one o' those.

But that's not what I started out to write about. The film made a few references to "veggie libel laws." Having never heard of such a thing, I went and googled it. I will be monkey's fershlugginer uncle, there is such a thing. 13 states (including Oklahoma), apparently, have special laws that make it much easier to sue people who make disparaging comments about an agricultural product. Apparently, if you've got a negative opinion about certain foods, unless you have the Oprah's deep pockets, you had better keep it to yourself.


Go watch the film. Your time won't be wasted.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

"Rot You, Vorga"

The title is, if I remember correctly, the opening line of what is likely one of the three best science fiction novels ever penned, Bester's The Stars, My Destination. I remember it because, in my mind, it is inextricably connected to the strongest expressions of annoyance.
I think I've finally discovered something that can reliably torque me off.

Believe it or not, I don't always get torqued off when somebody preaches socialism.

I don't always get torqued off when someone cuts me off in traffic.

I don't always get torqued off when someone is rude to me as an individual.

Actually, generally speaking, I'm a pretty patient guy!

But there's this thing...

...this one thing...





When somebody starts talking absolute twaddle about the Tenth Amendment and its interpretation!

Great googly moogly, they did it again! Talked about "Tenthers" and their "incorrect" understanding of the Tenth Amendment and the rest of the Constitution! Talked about "Tenthers" like they are idiots!

Every time they do that...

...EVERY stinkin' time...'s all I can do to keep from erupting at my monitor:


But I don't do that. Instead, I write posts like this one. Who knows, maybe they'll read it some day.

But I ain't holdin' my breath.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Water-Smoker Brisket

Anyone who knows me even tolerably well knows that I share the common male passion for grilled and smoked foods. I love barbecue and would happily eat one variety or another of it seven days a week if I could get away with it. However, when it comes to home cookin', for the most part, I am limited to what I can accomplish with a thirty-year-old (or more!) Weber kettle grill (with a rickety leg) and an old Brinkman water smoker.

That still covers an awfully wide range of foods, so I am not in absolutely awful shape. The water smoker is excellent for chicken, especially things like what most people call "beer-can chicken," and it does a good job on country-style ribs and bratwurst and the like. The grill--well, the grill works just fine, in spite of the rickety leg. If you really want to know about grilling, I think one of the best books going is Chris Schlesinger's License to Grill, and he uses a Weber. But I digress.

Neither of those two pieces of equipment is really suited to brisket. It has been years since I attempted brisket at home. I tried it three or four times when I first bought the water-smoker, but it was never quite right. Usually, the problem was that it would be of acceptable tenderness, but not tender to the degree I am accustomed to encountering at, say, Massey's Bar-B-Que in Okmulgee (on the rare occasions when I happen to pass it and have money to spend). It was only a few years ago that I read that the secret to perfect brisket is to cook it "low and slow" as they say--and when they say, "slow," they mean really slow, say about ten hours or so, somewhere between 200 and 250 degrees fahrenheit.

It's darn hard to do that with a water smoker, especially if the weather outside is less than, like, 85 or 90. You don't have any vents that you can adjust, and the temperature varies a little bit with how much water is in the water pan. And you need water in the water pan, or at least you need the water pan: you need it to keep fat from dripping on the coals, where it might catch fire and cause the temperature to soar to, say, 700 degrees. Not that I'd know from experience or anything.

At any rate, what you really need to produce first-class brisket--or pork shoulder, for that matter--is a pit. Not necessarily a literal pit dug in the ground, but one of those barrel-lookin' things with the firebox hangin' off the side. Those things, if they're of reasonably good quality, have all the vents and so forth needed to properly control temperatures for hours and hours. And since the meat isn't directly over the coals, you don't have to worry about setting your fat on fire. Problem is, I can't afford one. Oh, I could probably afford one of the lowest-end models, some time when I had an extra-good paycheck, but it would only make me mad every time I used it, 'cause what I really want is one of the nice ones made of heavy-gauge steel, one of the ones where the firebox is so heavy-duty that it will hold up to years and years of burning logs--'cause you do want to burn logs eventually, and not just chunks, y'know?

Maybe someday.

In the meantime, I'd read a couple of times that you can get decent brisket by water-smoking your brisket for four or five hours and then finishing it off in the oven. I most recently read a variation of this method in The El Paso Chile Company's Burning Desires, and I finally thought I'd give it a try.

First--actually, I did this part back in the early Spring--I knew I needed a better thermometer. The Brinkman water smoker thermometers ain't worth diddly even when new, and mine was years old. You can get a very decent thermometer down at Lowe's for less than ten bucks. All I needed to do was drill about a 3/8-inch hole near the top of the smoker's dome and use the nut to affix the thermometer. Voila, I had a much better temperature gauge. Still no reliable way of controlling temperature other than adding fuel, but at least I'd know if the fire was too cold, right?

Then, I got my coals going--I use hardwood lump charcoal, of course, being a total and complete traditionalist-- which was no easy trick, 'cause it was raining. I had my brisket ready to go--and the size of the brisket is important, I could only fit about an eight or nine pound brisket on one of the smoker's racks--and I dropped the coals in the firepan, plopped the water pan in place, put the grill on the top set of grill holders, poured a pitcher of water into the water pan, plopped the brisket onto the grill (Fat side up! Don't trim the fat, it carries flavor, and it ain't near as bad for you as you've been led to believe.), popped on the lid, and then opened the side door and added yet more charcoal and some well-soaked hickory chunks.

The first couple of hours, it was still raining and it was difficult to get the temperature above 150-160. I'm sure the temperature would have climbed right up there on a sunny day. But after a while, it stopped raining, the temperature came up to about 200-225, and I determined that I would leave the meat in the smoker as long as I could keep it fairly close to that range. That turned out to be about four hours. After that, some of the hickory actually caught fire (this would likely not have happened had I had vents to fuss with), the water evaporated, and the rain resumed, which I took to be a sign from the Almighty that it was time to move my meat indoors. I had already preheated my oven to 230 degrees--chosen somewhat arbitrarily--and I put the now very-handsomely-browned brisket onto a large sheet of aluminum foil, threw a cup of water in there with it, and sealed the brisket up in foil. I then threw the brisket in the oven--in a roasting pan--for another five hours.

It came out...well, it came out...

Okay, it wasn't that good, but it did come out tender--surprisingly tender--juicy, with very good smoke flavor. Well worth the time spent tending the fire.

So, to recap: if all you've got is a water smoker, and you want to try this, it's:

1) Use whatever sort of marinade or rub on the brisket you want ahead of time.

2) Smoke your brisket for as long as you can keep the temperature somewhere between 200 and 250 degrees.

3) When you can no longer do that, wrap the brisket in foil with a cup of some kind of liquid--Burning Desires suggested beer--and throw it in a roasting pan, and then in an oven preheated to about 230 degrees, so that the total cooking time is about 9-10 hours, depending on the size of the brisket (I had about an 8 1/2-pound brisket, about four hours in the smoker and about five hours in the oven.)

4) Pull the brisket and let it rest ten or fifteen minutes before slicing or chopping. You did know to slice brisket perpendicular to the grain, didn't you? Thought so.

5) Serve with whatever sort of sauce and other spicy perversions and side dishes you're partial to.

6) Don't throw anything away. The smallest scraps can be saved and frozen and used to flavor a pot of beans or somethin'.

No, it ain't as good as Massey's. But it ain't half-bad, not at all. If'n I weren't a model o' self-discipline, I'm sure I woulda hurt m'self on it (For non-Oklahomans: that means I would've eaten too much at one sitting.)

Friday, July 2, 2010

Listen, All Ye Peoples...Free Trade Doesn't Actually Exist

First, let's define the term "free trade" in a nutshell for those not familiar with it: it is the policy of maintaining low or non-existent tariffs on imported goods. It is a shibboleth of mammoth proportions among certain segments of the American body politic, including, aggravatingly, a number of libertarians running under the colors of conservatism. Part of the theory involves a hoped-for utopia wherein if we lower our trade barriers, other countries lower theirs, and everybody enjoys the results of goods being produced where and by whom they can be made best and cheapest.

It doesn't work. It has never worked. Other countries always find ways to protect their markets. Pat Buchanan's column today is a short education in that fact.
How has China vaulted to the forefront in manufacturing, trade and technology? Export-driven economic nationalism. Beijing cut the value of its currency in half in 1994, doubling the price of imports, slashing the price of exports and making Chinese labor the best bargain in Asia. Foreign firms were invited to relocate their plants in China and told this was the price of access to the Chinese market. Beijing began looting these firms of technology, as she sent her sons to study in America. Industrial espionage and intellectual property theft became Chinese specialties.

And how has America fared in the new century?

One in every three manufacturing jobs we had in 2000, nearly 6 million, vanished. Some 50,000 U.S. factories shut down. We have run trade deficits totaling $5 trillion since NAFTA passed. The real wages of working Americans have been stagnant for a decade.

While China has resumed her 12 percent growth rate, the United States, with 25 million unemployed or underemployed, appears headed for a double-dip recession.


For decades, America’s leaders have followed the Wall Street Journal ideology. We put a mythical world economy before our own economy. We put “global prosperity” before national interest. We forced our workers to compete, in their own country, against the products of foreign laborers earning a tenth of their pay. And we let in tens of millions of semi-skilled and unskilled immigrants, legal and illegal, to take the jobs of our countrymen.

And the Chinese? They put China first, second and third.

And who won the decade? And who is winning the future?

Inside the July 1 Washington Post is a small story about how the World Trade Organization finally ruled that European nations have been unfairly subsidizing Airbus — for 40 years.

While welcome, what good will it do now for scores of thousands of U.S. workers who built commercial jets for Lockheed and McDonnell Douglas, which Airbus took down, or Boeing, which was outsourcing jobs even before Airbus dethroned it as the world’s No. 1 aircraft manufacturer.
Read the whole thing. Really. You need to. I know you don't want to. Economics is booooooring, right?

But knowledge of such things is part of the price you pay to maintain your liberty and prosperity. You've avoided learning about it for decades, and look where the country is now...

Having trouble finding a job? This long-standing policy ought to be aggravating the livin' snot out of you.

"Real wages," by the way, means "adjusted for inflation." You keep hearing that aggravating line about the gap between the rich and the poor increasing? A big part of that has to do with stagnant real wages.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Most Meaningful Songs

Some of these are in the sidebar, but I fell to thinking this evening about songs that are particularly meaningful to me. I couldn't narrow it down past four songs, and even those were a tough call. So, herewith, if you're interested, are probably the four most meaningful songs to me.

Probably you're not interested. Shoot, I wouldn't be, if I were you...