Motley Moose – Archive

Since 2008 – Progress Through Politics

Archive for February 2010

(Part of) The Reason Why Blacks Vote Democratic

In 1972 Richard Nixon won 18 percent of the black vote, according to New York Times exit polling.

In 2008, John McCain won 4 percent of the black vote.

The conventional explanation for this has something to do with civil rights and Democrats and the “Southern strategy” followed by Republicans. And, to a large extent, the explanation is probably right.

But part of the reason African-Americans have been trending Democratic recently has as much to do with chance as with fundamental political shifts.

Democrats have had the good fortune of Bill Clinton and Barack Obama. The two most influential, recognized Democrats of the past two generations are incredibly popular amongst blacks. Bill Clinton was so well-regarded by African-Americans that Toni Morrison called him “the first black president”. Today Barack Obama is even more popular amongst blacks than Clinton (the fact that he actually is “the first black president” might have something to do with this).

Republicans haven’t had such luck. No Republican presidents have been relatively popular amongst blacks since Eisenhower’s time. And even he lost the black vote by a 3:2 margin.

Imagine if Republicans nominated Colin Powell in 1996. He might have cracked the black vote and won 25%; that was how well Michael Steele ran in his 2006 Senate campaign. Or he might have utterly broken the alliance between blacks and Democrats and taken more than 90% of the black vote.

That would have changed politics forever. But as luck would have it, the exact opposite happened. Barack Obama, not Colin Powell, was nominated by the Democrats and elected president. Today it looks like Democrats have locked up the black vote for another generation.


The Myth of “My Money”

What is money?

Money is imaginary to begin with.  It consists of something (credit, paper, gold, a number in a computer, etc.) chosen by a society to represent measured units of value for people to exchange goods & services.  It is not only a straight replacement for goods & services, but money itself is a commodity.  The particulars of how money works makes for good reading.

Money is in one sense, the confidence we have in this society of ours; in our ability to work together, exist together, live together for the betterment of us as individuals and as a group.

Money is trust.   Money is a membership in society.   Money is a varying measurement on how we feel we are doing as a group.   How this plan of working together is going.  Money is a report card and an assertion that we all believe in ourselves as a society.

(Posted at The National Gadfly.)

Cooking Series – Chicken Cacciatore

The origins of cooking are lost in the mists of time. What little we know comes from interpretations of the clues left by our earlier ancestors. Cooking in any form could not have existed before mankind discovered how to control fire. Deliberate use of heat to alter raw foods must have followed shortly thereafter.

What cannot be disputed is that humans have been passing down recipes since the earliest cooks developed tested ways to produce tasty meals. Cooking methods and recipes would have been passed orally from generation to generation for tens of thousands of years before humans discovered writing.

Once writing was discovered, cookbooks would seem like a natural use of the new technology. The earliest known recipes come from Mesopotamia in 1700 BCE. This is where things remained until the 20th Century and the invention of television. The new medium allowed people to learn from others without actually being in their presence. This was a big step forward in the learning process. It has reached its culmination with the creation of the Food Network, which has been a boon to serious cooks.

Progress didn’t stop there. Today we have harnessed all of the communications mediums in service to the culinary arts – writing, audio and video. And now, writing, photography, and video have been merged on the Internet. What a great time to be a foodie.

The reason I have included the little history lesson is because today’s recipe comes to you via a merger of television and Internet. I had purchased some chicken thighs and breasts with bone-in and skins and decided I wanted to make Chicken Cacciatore. Since I hadn’t made Cacciatore in a long time and didn’t have a written recipe, I decided to look for one on I came across this recipe by Giada de Laurentis and decided to try it. There is no doubt, this is a definite keeper.

I made very few adjustments to the following recipe. I didn’t have fresh basil, so I used dry. There are some family members that aren’t fond of tomatoes, so I only used about 1 cup of diced tomatoes and then added some tomato sauce instead. I thought about adding a tablespoon or so of tomato paste, but decided not to this time. After eating it, I don’t think it is necessary. The sauce was excellent. I served it with mostaccioli and green beans. Nice additions would be garlic bread, salad, cheese, and olives. I also covered everything with shredded parmesan cheese.

This is a very easy dish to make. There is a video you can watch if you have any doubts about your level of ability.


  • 4 chicken thighs

  • 2 chicken breasts with skin and backbone, halved crosswise

  • 2 teaspoons salt, plus more to taste

  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste

  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour, for dredging

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil

  • 1 large red bell pepper, chopped

  • 1 onion, chopped

  • 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped

  • 3/4 cup dry white wine

  • 1 ( 28-ounce) can diced tomatoes with juice

  • 3/4 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth

  • 3 tablespoons drained capers

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano leaves

  • 1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh basil leaves (or 1 ½ teaspoons dried)


Sprinkle the chicken pieces with 1 teaspoon of each salt and pepper. Dredge the chicken pieces in the flour to coat lightly.

In a large heavy saute pan, heat the oil over a medium-high flame. Add the chicken pieces to the pan and saute just until brown, about 5 minutes per side. If all the chicken does not fit in the pan, saute it in 2 batches. Transfer the chicken to a plate and set aside. Add the bell pepper, onion and garlic to the same pan and saute over medium heat until the onion is tender, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add the wine and simmer until reduced by half, about 3 minutes. Add the tomatoes with their juice, broth, capers and oregano. Return the chicken pieces to the pan and turn them to coat in the sauce. Bring the sauce to a simmer. Continue simmering over medium-low heat until the chicken is just cooked through, about 30 minutes for the breast pieces, and 20 minutes for the thighs.

Using tongs, transfer the chicken to a platter. If necessary, boil the sauce until it thickens slightly, about 3 minutes. Spoon off any excess fat from atop the sauce. Spoon the sauce over the chicken, then sprinkle with the basil and serve.

The Incredible Shrinking Party

After their resounding defeat in the 2008 general election there was a fairly common consensus that the Republican Party would, of necessity, remake themselves.  A new party would emerge disassociated from the opprobium of the Bush administration and its policies with a recalibrated ideological compass; with upgraded doctrine and technology for the upcoming political battles of the new millenium.

And this internal discussion commenced among Right intellectuals and pundits, including a fair bit of intramural finger-pointing over perceived failures of the Republican party apparatus in general and the McCain campaign in particular.  This debate quickly focussed on the controversial nomination of Sarah Palin as candidate for the vice-presidency, an issue which sharply polarised the respective factions.

Little did they realise that this process would be derailed and abandoned in a scramble by incumbents and aspirants alike to align themselves with a minority, populist movement which has, already, damaged the prospects of the party beyond measure.  The angry, heckling supporters evident in the later stages of the national campaign, the same ones whose shouted epithets the candidates themselves were sometimes obliged to publically disown, have somehow become the Promised Land constituency to which an increasingly broad spectrum of Republican candidates are pitching their policies and oratory.

The debate over the future of the Republican Party has hardly progressed beyond the desperate and defamatory sloganeering of the McCain campaign in its closing weeks.  Apart from the ongoing divide over the perils of Palinism the ideological battle for the ‘soul’ of the Republican party is apparently over and it was aptly summarised recently by Jonathan Rauch of the National Journal:

The history of the modern Republican Party in one sentence: Barry Goldwater and Nelson Rockefeller got into an argument and George Wallace won.

Jonathan Rauch – It’s George Wallace’s GOP Now National Journal 27 Feb 10

Instead of resetting the Republican platform to core conservative values they have allowed themselves to be co-opted into settling for a national agenda which appeals to an increasingly incoherent, marginalised and aggrieved minority.

Chilean Earthquake, 3am Today. 8.8

If the 8.8 stands this will put this shaker in the top ten in recorded history.  Chile is experienced with earthquakes and much more capable of dealing with the aftermath (Chilean teams went to Haiti to help with search and rescue), but this is nonetheless an enormous event.  The epicenter was 22 miles underground 200 miles from Concepcion, and has also caused damage in Santiago including the main terminal at the airport there.

Tsunami warnings have been issued for Hawaii, Australia, New Zealand and other Pacific nations.

The story is unfolding, I leave this diary to be updated by others.  I will be travelling most of the day.

Image courtesy

1,000 Words About Johannesburg

Cross posted from Border Jumpers, Danielle Nierenberg and Bernard Pollack.

Been scratching our heads about how to write 1,000 original, inspiring, and exciting words on one of the most written about countries in the world. Instead of trying, we want to share with you a couple of things we saw and learned while we there.

As we traveled all the way south from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia to Johannesburg, South Africa, several Africans kept telling us how dangerous J’burg is. We heard the same sort of thing before visiting Nairobi, Kenya,”don’t step out at night and “don’t go anywhere without a taxi…” Yada, Yada, Yada.

But there was no question in our minds whether would visit or not. With a dozen meetings scheduled, nothing was going to stop us from going. And after two weeks weeks, despite the hype, and without compromising our experience, we didn’t encounter a single problem (we stayed in hostels and budget B&B’s), didn’t witness any car-jackings, were never robbed at gun point at an ATM, and never felt that our safety was compromised in any way. Every visitor we met while in the city had the same experience as us (uneventful, as far as crime).  

Heath Care Summit- OPEN THREAD

Anyone see it? part of it? Had to urge to throw a brick through the television listening to the pundits declare it a Republican victory after only an hour? Did you scream when CNN cut off Steny Hoyer’s speech to run an anti-HCR commercial?

I missed the Barasso exchange because I was stuck on the Long Island Expressway in a snowstorm coming home from work.

Speak up.  

Look me in the eye…

Dear Elected Official,

I would like to remind you that you were voted into your position by the Citizens of the United States. A majority voted for you to be our voice and to act in our best interests. Your job is to make sure that all of our voices are equally represented and that the laws and policies that are put into place are good for us as a whole.

From what I have seen in my very short 14 years of adulthood, you, the elected official, act in your best interest and only your best interest. Please do not vote on laws and policies based on how it is going to benefit your re-election campaign.  

Analyzing Swing States: Ohio, Part 4

This is the last part of a series of articles examining the swing state Ohio. The previous parts can be found here.

Republican Ohio

What parts of Ohio vote Republican?

All of it, of course, except for the parts that vote Democratic.

That is a pretty facetious answer to a fairly serious question, but there is something to it. Blue Ohio has a set of defined, separate characteristics. Red Ohio does too, but not to the same degree. It is far easier to describe Democratic Ohio than Republican Ohio.

The following map is a good beginning in exploring Republican Ohio.


Continued below the fold.