Hits and Misses

Hits and Misses

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Duly Noted: Philip Roth on Donald Trump

In The New Yorker issue of January 30, 2017, Phillip Roth was interviewed about his 2004 novel The Plot Against America and its possible relevance to our new president.  Roth suggested that a more relevant book about Trump's presidency would be Melville's "The Confidence Man," which, Roth observed, could just have well been called "The Art of the Scam."

"I was born in 1933," Roth continued, "the year that F.D.R. was inaugurated.  He was President until I was twelve years old.  I've been a Roosevelt Democrat ever since.  I found much that was alarming about being a citizen during the tenures of Richard Nixon and George W. Bush.  But, whatever I may have seen as their limitations of character or intellect, neither was anything like as humanly impoverished as Trump is:  ignorant of government, of history, of science, of philosophy, of art, incapable of expressing or recognizing subtlety or nuance, destitute of all decency, and wielding a vocabulary of seventy-seven words that is better called Jerkish than English."

What is most terrifying about Trump, Roth concluded, "is that he makes any and everything possible, including, of course, the nuclear catastrophe."  That throw-away "of course" is the more chilling because it's so matter of fact.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Spinach Pasta with Fresh Spinach and Gorgonzola Sauce

I live in the Northeast, and when the temperature goes below freezing, I start to think about pasta with gorgonzola sauce. This is not a dish for dieters, but hey--you need calories to keep warm in the winter, right? Rationalizations aside, if you try this please spend a bit more money for imported gorgonzola (preferably piccante) and imported pasta. Otherwise, I don't see why you'd bother.


1 16 oz. package of spinach pasta (if you can't find this, substitute fettuccine)
2  cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1 cup of heavy cream
1/2 pound Italian gorgonzola, cut into bits
4 generous handfuls of baby spinach, washed and spun dry (a tip of the hat here to Rachel Ray)
2 tablespoons of butter, ditto of olive oil

Bring pasta water to a boil, add a teaspoon of salt, then cook pasta al dente.

While that is cooking, heat butter and olive oil in a large sauté pan. Add chopped garlic, cook briefly but do not brown (which makes it bitter).

Add cream. When it bubbles, add the gorgonzola and lower heat. If it looks too thick, add some pasta water.

Drain pasta and add to the pan. Stir, then add baby spinach leaves until they have wilted, stir again, and serve. If your pasta pot has a strainer, a faster way to wilt the spinach leaves is to dump them in the hot pasta water and then add them to the pasta. Lashings of black pepper are in order. Parmesan could be added, but I typically don't. Salt to taste.

If you don't care for spinach, toast some chopped walnuts in peanut or walnut oil, then sprinkle on the pasta after serving.


Thursday, January 12, 2017

How Long, O Lord? Trump's Delay in Releasing His Tax Returns

Gail Collins has a good comment in her January 11, 2017, Op-Ed piece in the New York Times, "Trump, Sex and Lots of Whining."

Referring to his press conference the day before, Collins notes wryly that President Elect Trump declared that "he'll release his taxes once the audit is finished.  (You remember that audit.  Its friends call it Godot.)"

Jan. 23, 2017, Postscript:  Today's NY Times reports that Kellyanne Conway declared on ABC's "This Week" yesterday that Trump "is not going to release his tax returns."

That puts our new president in the dubious position of being the first president since the early 1970's to decline to release information on his taxes.

Why is this important?  Two reasons.  Only by releasing his taxes can we assess how much he owes to whom.  Only through examining his returns can we see whether he's separated himself enough from his businesses and therefore will not be subject to conflicts of interest.  Nothing about the audit would have prevented him releasing this information earlier; nothing prevents him releasing it now.

So three questions emerge.  First, what is President Trump determined to hide?

Second, What alternative universe is he living in that he thinks he can get away with this?

Third, Just how stupid does he think we are?