Thursday, January 31, 2008

Not Seen, Not Heard

Here is a Kos diary from Joy Busey that needs some air. It echoes a lot of the things I think are or were missing from the media in what the John Edwards campaign was all about. No, it doesn't really apply to me because I am in much better shape than Joy and I was able to send some money to John. It does reflect how I feel about the message of populism and progressive action that John was trying to get out. I am not poor but I did come from such roots as did John. My father's family were railroad people and my mother's were coal miners. Many of my relatives are still battling the conditions of poverty and joblessness in Southern Appalachia but my reasons for supporting John and his message are not personal because they affect my family but personal because they affect my world. The following post from Joy is important because it is from the heart and it is important because it is true and painful for anyone with any sense of right and wrong to read.

John Edwards found his voice and his mission this time around, going for his own heartfelt vision. He gave me a little hope that maybe I could finally have a voice and a vote that counts. But I’m poor, like most of the people he’s championed. I kept meaning to send $10 when I got paid, but every time I got paid I had to keep the electricity on or the phone on or the car running or the farm out of foreclosure. I just never had a single extra cent, always behind. So I couldn’t help him, no matter how much he needed my help. All I could do was talk - stand by him in real life and on the internet…

I failed. That’s nothing new.

This is the inevitable result in a skewed system that was ramped forward to extend the season so long as to effectively forbid anyone who couldn’t raise bazillions from staying in. John championed the poor - like me - and we couldn’t give him what he needed. This result is no surprise.

They don’t see us, they don’t hear us. We get platitudes and lip service when they want to play to the cheap seats, but we don’t count . They talk about a ‘maybe’ recession coming for their millionaire and billionaire friends - we’ve been in a full-fledged depression for years, but nobody cares. This is Southern Appalachia.

It’s not our country, it’s just the place we happen to be and we’ve no way out. We’ve no health care, no way to keep up with inflation, our jobs have gone to India and China. 3 of 5 people in this region qualifies for Medicaid and food stamps, but only 1 of 5 gets them because there’s not enough to go around. Our children go to war because they’ve no hope to go to college. We hope they can do better somewhere else, because we’ve nothing here to offer them. Hope… we hope a lot, it’s about all we’ve got. Our hopes are always dashed in the end.

When whatever faceless, interchangeable Dem takes over next year, they will try to force me to buy worthless health insurance and pretend that somehow solved the “health care crisis” they won’t admit exists. But I can’t afford worthless insurance and can’t beat the cap on Medicaid, so they’ll fine me if I show up at the ER. All that does is force me not to seek medical care - I’ll have to die at home unattended. Already told grandson to bury me on the mountain where they buried the nameless, faceless prisoners who died building this railroad as slave labor back in 1908. Told him not to mark it or tell the gub’ment. They didn’t care when I was alive, they’ve no business pretending to care when I die. Then hopefully he’ll let the farm go, move somewhere where he’s got half a chance at life.

Economic Eugenics. Apparently the Democratic Party has no problem with that, the only voice I ever hoped to have just quit because - as James McMurtry sings so poignantly - we can’t make it here anymore. The first song following the hourly news on my regional NPR. We’re all in the same boat here.

So here’s my not earth-shattering announcement: I quit too.


h/t to Susie

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

John Edwards Out?

Several media outlets are reporting that John Edwards is going to drop out of the race for the Democratic nomination today. I think it is a tragedy that Edward's progressive voice won't be with us at least through Super Tuesday. The media has gotten what it wanted. Big business and the politics as usual crowd was/are very afraid of John's message of changing the way things work in Washington. The big money in the country did not and do not want the small guy to have a voice or a place at the table.
If in fact John leaves the race I am hard pressed to be enthusiastic about either Hillary or Obama. Hillary is really just Republican light I'm afraid.

Matt Taibbi on Hillary Clinton:

What people forget about Clinton is that she is basically a Republican at heart. She campaigned for Barry Goldwater once upon a time and even canvassed poor neighborhoods in Chicago looking for “vote fraud” by Democrats. She was president of the College Republicans at Wellesley. In 1968, at the height of America’s most intense cultural debate in a century, she only abandoned the Republican Party because it backed Dick Nixon instead of her favorite, Nelson Rockefeller.

Which is ironic, because as a presidential candidate herself, Hillary has basically run exactly Nixon’s 1968 campaign. Her stump speech from the get-go was all about the “invisible Americans,” a nearly word-for-word echo of Nixon’s revolutionary “forgotten Americans” strategy of that year. Like Nixon, she was targeting a slice of the electorate that had chosen to stay on the sidelines during a cultural war and secretly yearned for someone in the political center to restore order; it’s no accident that Hillary was on the opposite side of every issue that sent lefties to the streets in the Bush years, from the war to free trade to the Patriot Act.

Her much-reported line about Martin Luther King needing LBJ to complete his “dream” was just another salvo in that effort, a subtle message to the public that the “change” she talks about so incessantly is only legitimate when it comes from the inside. Lest anyone think this is a fanciful analysis, listen to what Hillary wrote back in the day, in her senior thesis at Wellesley, which looked at the work of a Chicago community organizer named Saul Alinsky, who had offered her a job. “I agreed with some of Alinsky’s ideas,” she wrote, “but we had a fundamental disagreement. He believed you could change the system only from the outside. I didn’t.”

Obama's "let's reach across the table" message seems naive and from the evidence of the last 10 or 12 years...the GOP is not going to do the "bipartisan" thing. I am convinced that we are in need of revolutionary change if we are going to turn the country around. I don't see that change coming from Clinton or Obama and am afraid it will be the same old politics again. Big business and the wealthy will win and the little guys will lose. I'll vote Democratic in November but I don't have to be excited about it.

Mud Pies All Around

I have to be careful what I read or I stumble across things like you will find below. I'm no "head in the sky" hippie yippie who thinks you can change the world just by holding hands and singing Kunbayah...well at least not anymore, but I do feel that the billion dollars a week or so we are spending in Iraq could find some better uses closer to home. Just a tiny fraction of it could resolve the following problem and I guess it just really makes me mad to see it not doing so.

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti — It was lunchtime in one of Haiti’s worst slums, and Charlene Dumas was eating mud. With food prices rising, Haiti’s poorest can’t afford even a daily plate of rice, and some take desperate measures to fill their bellies. Charlene, 16 with a 1-month-old son, has come to rely on a traditional Haitian remedy for hunger pangs: cookies made of dried yellow dirt from the country’s central plateau.

The mud has long been prized by pregnant women and children here as an antacid and source of calcium. But in places like Cite Soleil, the oceanside slum where Charlene shares a two-room house with her baby, five siblings and two unemployed parents, cookies made of dirt, salt and vegetable shortening have become a regular meal.
(snip)

Food prices around the world have spiked because of higher oil prices, needed for fertilizer, irrigation and transportation. Prices for basic ingredients such as corn and wheat are also up sharply, and the increasing global demand for biofuels is pressuring food markets as well.

The problem is particularly dire in the Caribbean, where island nations depend on imports and food prices are up 40 percent in places.

Knowing and stewing over this stuff subtly takes a toll on one. I pick on the money we are spending on Iraq just because it is so obviously money down a sinkhole and the cause of much pain but that is just one source of anquish. How about the fact that a 30 second commercial on the Superbowl broadcast is costing $2.7 million. Maybe one of the 30 second advertisers would skip a commercial and send the equivalent in rice and beans to Haiti...pipe dream.

h/t to Susie

More Stimulus

If the Congress is going to try and stimulate the economy which I am seriously questioning the need for BTW, then they really need to rethink how they are going to go about it. This study shows that extending unemployment benefits and food stamps are the most effective way to immediately produce additional spending and really is a good value when you are already deficit spending.

In findings echoed by other economists and studies, he said the study shows the fastest way to infuse money into the economy is through expanding the food-stamp program. For every dollar spent on that program $1.73 is generated throughout the economy, he said.

"If someone who is literally living paycheck to paycheck gets an extra dollar, it's very likely that they will spend that dollar immediately on whatever they need - groceries, to pay the telephone bill, to pay the electric bill," he said.

Better Dying Through Chemistry

If you haven't convinced yourself or found a good enough reason to make the extra effort to eat organic food and just swallow the cost , then maybe this will work for you?
Government promises to rid the nation's food supply of brain-damaging pesticides aren't doing the job, according to the results of a yearlong study that carefully monitored the diets of a group of local children.

The peer-reviewed study found that the urine and saliva of children eating a variety of conventional foods from area groceries contained biological markers of organophosphates, the family of pesticides spawned by the creation of nerve gas agents in World War II.

When the same children ate organic fruits, vegetables and juices, signs of pesticides were not found.
We have been told for years and years by the chemical and food industries as well as by the government that chemicals can't pass on through the food chain. The fact is that this is simply not true. One of the major elements of good health is prevention and eating poison is not good prevention. How long are we going to allow Congress to continue to allow Monsanto, Dow and all the other chemical companies to sell their poisons regardless of impact on humans?

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

It Gets In the Way

Life that is. Another day battling the Atlanta traffic and meetings in the office. Everyone play nice and enjoy what you have.

Last SOTU from Shrub

One thing you didn't hear Shrub point out last night in his SOTU was that under his watch the former most powerful and wonderful country in the world slipped to second place in the standings.
As Grace points out in an excellent post over at Scriptoids ...
That’s right. The world's richest political entity, according to the Central Intelligence Agency's World Factbook, is now the European Union. China is a close third. Japan is fourth.
That's right boys and girls we are now living in a post American world. Enjoy the ride as we slip, not so graciously, into third.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

The Story of Stuff


Over at DKOS today Devilstower has a post up about Annie Leonard's The Story of Stuff. It is a 20 minute video that is really worth taking to the time to watch.

The first part of Annie's film is devoted to describing the problems of our current unsustainable culture of disposable goods but it's the final part that deserves special attention. Rather than stopping with the bad news, Annie shoots straight on into the good -- we can change. The most engaging part of her description of our society is that everyone can find their place in the flow, and the same dynamic means that everyone is positioned to help change how things work. Environmental issues, social justice, and economics all play into making the change toward a fair, sustainable society. There are as many ways to insert yourself into the process as there are products on the shelves of the local big box store.

Take a few minutes and go on over and watch the video. Just click the image above or go to The Story of Stuff website at www.storyofstuff.com

Friday, January 25, 2008

Who Needs Stimulating

Updated below:

Krugman is not happy with the current proposed economic stimulus plan and it is clear from the two graphs he has posted why. Why can't these people just admit that they have screwed up the economy and take the appropriate steps to fix it? Because they have no gumption we will probably have a much longer and painful downturn. As far as I can see there are not enough bullets in the Fed's pistol to make a difference.

Update: Krugman has more with help from the Tax Policy center.

Here is the breakdown of how the tax rebates will be distributed:
Quintile Share
Lowest 6.5
Second 14.3
Third 21.0
Fourth 31.0
Highest 27.1
"I’d guess that the top two quintiles are unlikely to be liquidity-constrained, so the rebate will have little effect on their spending. But they get 58% of the money. The bottom two quintiles, which are the place you’d most expect to have an impact, get only 21% of the money. Split the difference on the middle quintile, and you’ve got a plan where around 2/3 of the outlay is likely to be ineffective."
I am inclined to think that maybe we would be better off if they just scrapped the whole idea if this is anything like its final form. This is not going to help and just adds to an already crippling deficit.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Still Here

Don't give up on me. I am still here. I am just so consumed with job related stuff that all I can do is make a quick check of the headlines and then think about bed.
Consuming 2 hours a day commuting to the office is not helping either.

From what I can gather in a few minutes of quick reading...the Dems traded extending jobless benefits and food stamp expansion in exchange for not giving wealthy folks a permanent tax break and including the working poor in the people to get some temporary relief...good job...enjoy your majority...when you receive praise from Shrub you know you are doing a good job.

No firm action on the FISA bill today but the signals are ...bye bye 1st Amendment.

The market responded favorably again today on the Fed's aggressive interest rate cuts. It is really nice that the Fed acted so quickly to prevent all those millionaire investors from losing too much money.

I am still catching up.

Filibuster Time

Now he gets a little starch in his shorts! After a year of allowing Republicans to filibuster every bill offered by merely declaring their intent, Harry Reid has now decided that he's going to demand real filibusters from obstructionist senators. How disappointing is this? Especially so when you see that the target of this new rule is none other than Chris Dodd. I sure would like to see Mr. Reid explain how this makes sense for the goals of the Democrats.

What I would really like to see would be Clinton and Obama make an appearance in the Senate and stand together with Dodd on his filibuster of the FISA bill. Not that I think these two will leave the campaign trail but it would be nice. It would be great to see one or both of them showing some real leadership on this.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Is it Negative?

With the prime rate now at 3.5% and the inflation rate at 4.5% does that make the "real" interest rate negative? I am not an economist but that would be the conclusion I would come to. You can actually increase the purchasing power of your money by borrowing. Just wondering.

935 Lies

Everyone with any grasp of reality knows that the White House in the persons of Shrub, Condi, Cheney and Powell and others lied us into the war with Iraq. DKos has the whole story.

Now, thanks to the Center for Public Integrity and the Fund for Independence in Journalism, everybody can check out those lies for themselves at The War Card: Orchestrated Deception on the Path to War.

Charles Lewis and Mark Reading-Smith at CPI write:

President George W. Bush and seven of his administration's top officials, including Vice President Dick Cheney, National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice, and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, made at least 935 false statements in the two years following September 11, 2001, about the national security threat posed by Saddam Hussein's Iraq. Nearly five years after the U.S. invasion of Iraq, an exhaustive examination of the record shows that the statements were part of an orchestrated campaign that effectively galvanized public opinion and, in the process, led the nation to war under decidedly false pretenses.

On at least 532 separate occasions (in speeches, briefings, interviews, testimony, and the like), Bush and these three key officials, along with Secretary of State Colin Powell, Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, and White House press secretaries Ari Fleischer and Scott McClellan, stated unequivocally that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction (or was trying to produce or obtain them), links to Al Qaeda, or both. This concerted effort was the underpinning of the Bush administration's case for war.

It is now beyond dispute that Iraq did not possess any weapons of mass destruction or have meaningful ties to Al Qaeda. ...

In short, the Bush administration led the nation to war on the basis of erroneous information that it methodically propagated and that culminated in military action against Iraq on March 19, 2003. Not surprisingly, the officials with the most opportunities to make speeches, grant media interviews, and otherwise frame the public debate also made the most false statements, according to this first-ever analysis of the entire body of prewar rhetoric.

Those 935 lies, by the way, do not include "indirect false statements" such as that Iraq had possession of "dangerous weapons."

I guess my biggest question is why there is not more outrage over this. Surely this constitutes at least an impeachable offense. I just seems that no one cares enough that thousands and thousands have died and countless other thousands have been disabled all based on a pack of lies.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Fried Comments

The comments seem to be fried. I know there are comments to some posts that say there are none and I can see that there are comments where none are listed. Come back to bed and we'll work on this in the morning.

Mystery

In the short time I have had to peruse the economic news I haven't been able to grasp all of the ramifications but I do have some observations.

A 3/4 point cut in the key interest rate is an indication that the Fed is in panic mode which means that the White House is also in panic mode. When in danger, when in doubt, run in circles, scream and shout.

We are running out of room with respect to how much the Fed can do to affect the economy and are very rapidly approaching what Krugman calls a "liquidity trap" where there is not enough slack for the Fed to do anything positive.

We are in "deep kimchee" economically and there is basically nothing that will stop the American economy from going into a recession that will probably not be short and will most assuredly be painful for the average Joe and Jill.

The rest of the world senses the danger of an American recession and is acting accordingly.

The incoming Democratic President (hopefully) will inherit a monumental mess both domestically and internationally and will be hard pressed financially to do anything about it in the near term and the strong possibility exists that the Democrats will inherit ownership of this mess.

The Shrub will stand out in the brush on his ranch in Texas as say "Who Me?".

30 of seconds advertising during the Super Bowl will cost $2.7 million. How about that for setting priorities? Anheuser-Busch will spend about $17 million for ads this year or six minutes worth. How many more people will switch from real beer to Bud as a result?

Offfice Today

I get to tackle the Atlanta traffic today and for the next few. I have training to do in the office for the next couple of days. I am not used to having to roll out, get dressed and hit the streets this early. Yuch! Don't know how much free time I'll have...just have to see how it goes.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Lucky It's A Holiday

Updated below at Noon.

I guess we are lucky it's a holiday today and Wall Street is closed. Last week was bad enough and the outlook for this week doesn't look good. The rest of the world is responding to the U.S. economy and more than likely to Shrub's idiot proposal for fixing it. I am still unclear what he thinks dipping into the Chinese Visa once again and handling out a few hundred bucks is going to do for the long term fiscal health of the county. Today, the Nikkei lost 3.9% and Hong Kong's Hang Seng has dropped 3.5%. China, who has to be worried about a failing US economy, shed a whopping 5.1% on the Shanghai Composite.

It is going to be a bumpy ride folks so hold on...this from the Agonist.
Somewhere in all this mess the U.S. stock market will collapse. At the moment the stock market is already in a correction, worrying about an economic recession. What it really should be worrying about is something much worse – a complete collapse of the credit markets globally, leading to a depression that will last 3 – 5 years. Once that is understood, the Dow will be trading well below 8,000.

So hold on to your job, whatever that may be. Pay down your debt and watch your expenses. Monitor the credit and market risks in your investment portfolio, and if you have any real concerns, U.S. Treasuries earning 2% will be a lot better than stocks or bonds that might collapse in value. As of now, the four horsemen of the apocalypse are mowing down the big players, but the little guy will be in their sights eventually.


Update: Not looking to good right now..
LONDON (MarketWatch) -- If futures contracts traded on a day when U.S. stocks weren't even due to open are anything near accurate, then markets will be in for a major decline on Tuesday, with concerns about bond insurers and the health of financial institutions dragging markets lower.
March contracts on the Dow Jones Industrial Average traded 482 points lower to 11,624.


It is not just the Asian markets either look at what is happening in Europe.

Holiday Monday

Hello Monday morning. Big holiday here in Atlanta the home of Martin Luther King. A good day to contemplate Peace and Love.

How was your weekend? Quiet around around old Monk Manor. Went on some errands Saturday morning before the snow started but otherwise stayed right here and watched it snow. A friend loaned Madam her CD set of Lonesome Dove so that ate Saturday afternoon and early evening. Can't say I loved it but Madam did. When Madam's friend discovered we had never seen it she insisted we do so right away.

Sunday was spent catching up on some way overdue genealogy stuff. A relative had done some research on part of my mother's family and written about a 20 page narrative. Some good stuff that I needed to capture. I don't know if I have ever mentioned it but my mother was part of the Hatfield clan from West Virginia(the ones famous for feuding with the McCoy's of Kentucky) and this research started with my 2nd GGrandfather Andrew Toler married my 2nd GGrandmother Martha Hatfield in 1858. Martha's father Ali was a brother to the infamous "Devil Anse" Hatfield who played a large part in the feud. Yeah, I come from a long line of hillbillies. Anyhow, got all that sorted out and input into the genealogy. Still have a lot of catching up to do as I am still missing a lot of birth dates and marriage dates. Most of my research has been on my paternal line and I have neglected the maternal side a little. Funny coincidence, but Andante of Collective Sigh mentioned this weekend in comments here that her husband was from the McCoy line.

Still pretty cold for Atlanta (24 right now) but it is supposed to get up into the middle forties later. I might even venture out later.

Everyone have a nice holiday.

Friday, January 18, 2008

More Snow?

Believe it or not they are predicting more snow and winter weather for Atlanta and northern Georgia for tonight and tomorrow morning. Very odd. Don't have anywhere to go so I'm good. Got food, wine, and everything else that might be needed. Stocked up on seeds for the birds as well. Bring it on.

Update: Sat.1/19 at noon: It rained a bit overnight, then some sleet and at about 11 am it started snowing. Temperature is right at freezing and expected to continue to fall into the high teens. At the rate it is snowing their prediction for up to 3 " is looking pretty reasonable. Doesn't appear to be sticking on the roads yet...probably needs to fall another couple of degrees. Had to run out for a couple of things and the grocery store was a predictable mad house. I noticed a lot of people with a half dozen or more frozen pizzas in their baskets it must be the new snow food. I have a pizza dough resting in the fridge that might turn out to be a pizza this weekend but it might also just be breadsticks or even a calzone.

Going for Gold

Updated below:

gold.jpg

Click here to make a donation.

Even if you are not sure or even if you support one of the other candidates currently you should consider a donation to the Edwards campaign. John Edwards is being sidelined by the media and their big corporate owners because they are scared to death of his progressive message.
If you want the media to choose your candidates then ignore this fact. If you want to have a say in who runs for President in this country then you should seriously consider helping John's campaign stay alive. We want what's best for America not what he media tells us. Don't forget that they were the ones who told us that George W. Bush was what America needed. Enough said.

H/T to Susie for reminding me

Update: I finally remembered where I saw this. This tells the whole story. You can click on the image to make it larger.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Ban High Power Active Sonar

Steve at YDD has a post up about Bush waiving the restrictions on the Navy from using High Power Active Sonar in coastal waters. You can read about it there. I am just going to repost my comment to his post here more or less.

The big issue here is with the high power active sonar and why the Navy thinks it is necessary. It is used to do long range scans and depending on water conditions can reach out hundreds of miles. To the marine mammals who have acute sensitivity to sound it can have disastrous effects by basically deafening them to the low level sound they use for survival. In addition to the deafening they may upset the balance mechanisms in the inner ear and cause them to be unable to determine up from down when they are on a deep dive that doesn't have visual clues.
I spent quite a bit of time in the passive sonar world just listening to ocean sounds and with our equipment, that was probably not as sensitive as a whale's, we could "whale talk" from hundreds of miles away.
The high power sonar needs to be banned completely.

Info: There are two kinds of sonar Passive and Active.

Passive sonar just listens with sensitive underwater microphones to whatever noise is running around underwater. The U.S. has "listening" posts strategically placed around the world that listen in on the underwater world, mostly listening for submarines. You had a bit of exposure in the "Hunt for Red October". The tools used are very sophisticated and by breaking down the sound produced by a propeller (cavitations) using what is known as a "Fast Fourier Transform" you can readily identify a specific propeller and hence the ship it is mounted on.

Active sonar is where you "ping" and then listen for the reflection or echo as the emitted "ping" bounces off underwater objects. Normal sonar only has a range of about 10 - 20 miles depending on ocean conditions. High Power Active Sonar uses tremendously loud "pings" to look out hundreds of miles or deep into the ocean.

One Of My Favorite Things

And now to apologize for the previous post here is another recipe from Crescent Dragonwagon. This is a little different from most Southern cornbread recipes in the amount of white flour called for. It makes a little "cakier" cornbread than a traditional mostly cornmeal recipe. Of course, it also calls for some sugar which is a "travesty" according to some Southern cooks. Still, this makes a fine cornbread with nice texture. Don't ignore the instructions about getting the pan nice and hot before putting in the batter as this is the true secret of any good cornbread. Give it a try.
P.S. I also understand that "CD" is coming out with a new cookbook on nothing but cornbread.
P.P.S. You really should have a cast iron skillet for cornbread to be its best. You can use a regular skillet just make sure it has an oven proof handle.

Dairy Hollow House
Skillet-Sizzled Cornbread

Makes 1 Skillet, or 8 large wedges

The cornbread we served at the inn and its single most requested recipe, this is the first Southern food Crescent ever learned to fix. It's the recipe used in the inn’s very first Moos Letter, and it has been in many, many magazines and newspapers.

If you find the amount of butter melted in the bottom of the skillet truly unconscionable, you can cut it back to a tablespoon, and it'll still be very good.

Yellow cornmeal was used here in the Ozarks. In the Deep South, and to the East, white cornmeal was more frequently the choice. Of course, whichever one you first encountered is the right one. (Our cornbread was ready for its close-up in this 1990 inn photograph of Thanksgiving side-dishes).

Ingredients:

1 cup stone ground yellow cornmeal.

1 cup unbleached white flour

1 tablespoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1 to 3 tablespoons sugar

1 1/4 cup buttermilk (or 1 cup plain yogurt mixed with 1/4 cup water)

1 large egg

1/4 cup mild vegetable oil, such as corn, canola, or peanut

Pam

2 to 4 tablespoons butter

1. Preheat oven to 375. Make sure your oven's accurate, too; it really needs to be up to temperature to get perfect results.

2. In a large bowl, combine cornmeal, flour, baking powder, salt, baking soda, and sugar. (If baking powder or soda appear at all lumpy, sift them in). Stir well to combine.

3. In a small bowl, whisk together buttermilk, egg, and oil.

4. Spray a 9 to 10 ¼ -inch cast iron skillet with Pam (our skillets are 10 1/4 inch; this size is called a Number 7). Put the skillet on over medium heat, add the butter, and heat until the butter melts and is sizzling seriously. Tilt the pan to coat the sides of the skillet.

5. As the butter's melting, quickly pour the wet ingredients into the dry, and, using a wooden spoon, stir the wet and dry together with as few strokes as possible --- only as many as are needed to combine the two. Don't beat it; don't smooth it out. Scrape the batter into the hot, buttery skillet --- if you've gotten it hot enough it will sizzle as it goes in --- and pop it in the oven immediately.

6. Bake until golden brown on top, about 25 to 30 minutes. Serve, hot, cut in wedges
Update: I retested this recipe tonight and it is still a very nice cornbread.

Soup Cheat

I hesitated before posting this as I have a reputation as a "gourmet cook" or whatever to preserve, but I will anyway. I work at home a lot between traveling gigs and at some point have to have some lunch. One of my favorite things is soup, especially on cold and rainy days like this, and I have a "cheat" that lets me have a nice hot cup of soup without opening a can (blech!) in just about 3 minutes from start to finish and as a bonus it is only 65 calories.

I always have a few boxes of broth on hand (I prefer the Swanson's Organic) beef, chicken or vegetable and I always have V-8 or tomato juice in the fridge. In a two cup measuring cup or other microwave safe container put a cup of juice and a cup of broth. Add a dash of onion powder and a dash of garlic powder and a shake or two of Worcestershire Sauce and maybe a teaspoon of dried basil and/or oregano along with a grind of black pepper. Microwave on high for about 2 minutes(depends on the microwave) until it is nice a hot. Voila! Hot soup that is pretty good and with only 65 calories total for the two cups of soup you have some slack for a few crackers as well. You aren't restricted as to seasoning either...if you like chili powder then go for it.

I know it sounds a little like the old "ketchup and hot water" gag but it is actually tasty and best of all warming. Ok, there is your "white trash" recipe for the day. I don't know if you realize it(well if you are a southerner like me you do) but there is a whole "school" of Southern cooking that is classed as "white trash" and I actually have several cookbooks that cover the whole genre.

Here a couple of "white trash" sandwich ideas:

Spread 2 slices if white bread spread with lots of mayo then pile potato chips on one slice as high as you can. Put the other slice of bread on top and then mash down until the chips are crushed. Great with a cold Pepsi. If you are adventurous it try BBQ chips.

How about a "Kiss Me Not"
Spread 2 slices of white bread with peanut butter then put on a couple of slices of Bermuda onion. You'll need to wash this one down with some sweet tea.

I know this sounds funny but I still remember my mother eating pork&bean and onion sandwiches and yes, I consider my upbringing as somewhat "white trash".

Enjoy!

I Didn't Panic

Yes we had a fraction of an inch of snow last night here in the Northern Atlanta burbs though none stuck to the roads and it turned to rain/sleet sometime in the wee morning hours. That didn't stop the panic though. As always there was a run on bread and milk and the stores were stripped bare. Home Depot even sold out of kerosene heaters and yes there were some school closings. Insanity!
It is almost funny to watch.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

More Veges, Less Meat

You might have noticed that I posted a vegetarian recipe yesterday and yes, that is what was for dinner at Casa Monk last night. It was very nice and I have already decided that I can use some of the fundamentals and make quite a few different dishes within the same general concept. Beans instead zucchini or maybe something like canned artichoke hearts or even fresh spinach. I am not typically a casserole kind of cook but there could be hundreds of possibilities maybe even some with a little meat of some kind. Regardless, that's not the reason for this post.

There was a 2006 UN report entitled ""Livestock's Long Shadow: Environmental Issues and Options." which talked about factory farms, overgrazing, and water pollution.

The report found that 18 percent of global warming emissions come from raising cows, chickens, pigs, turkeys and the other animals we eat. Let's put that in perspective. We all worry and fret over all the cars, SUVs, airplanes, and other types of fossil fuel based transportation but the reality is that combined they only account for about 13 percent of global emissions. The raising of meat for food accounts for 40% more. Do you think all the houses and office buildings in the world accounts for a big chink of the total emissions...well they do but it is only 8 percent.

The UN report also details how 70 percent of the Amazon rain forests have been cut down for grazing, and fully one-third of the planet's arable land is now used for growing feed for livestock. The UN predicts that global meat production will need to more than double by 2050 to keep pace with increasing demand.

Now I am the first to admit that I like meat, though I don't insist on it for every meal. I will probably never give up my insane love for crisp bacon, or pork BBQ or even the occasional really good steak. I am however making a commitment to reducing the amount of meat in my diet. I am trying hard to reduce my "carbon footprint" and one obvious and also healthy way is to further reduce meat consumption. It is already taken hold in Europe where "meat reducers" are adding an additional day or two a week where they are foregoing meat. I might even reduce my grocery bill a bit and it might also help me lose some weight. We shall see.

To that end I am going to post some tested vegetarian recipes here occasionally that I try and like or invent and like. Madam was a vegetarian for a few years and I kind of dabbled. We also have vegetarian friends that I cook for on a regular basis so I am not a novice at it. I also have a pretty good collection of vegetarian cookbooks to draw from so surely I will stumble across something that will tickle a taste bud and maybe let you skip a meal or two with meat.

Oh and don't look for pure vegan from me unless it is accidental. Meat is one thing but eggs, cheese and milk are another thing altogether.

Seeds of Destruction

I just came back from Birdwatcher's Supply where I buy the tons of seeds, suet, peanuts and corn for all the wild critters. Seeds have gone up 25% in the last couple of weeks since my last visit. A year ago I could buy 50# of oil sunflower for $22 and now they are $33. Ouch...I go through 50# a month in the winter. In the dead of winter I also put out sunflower meats for the bluebirds whose natural food (insects) is in short supply and those are now $11.5o for a 5# bag. I know it is a lot of money just for birds(and squirrels) but I really enjoy being able to see all the activity in the back yard. I think, however, that I am going to have to become a little more penurious with the bird snacks.

I have put a cup on the deck with a little sign asking the birds for any loose change they come across but nothing yet. I hope they don't think I am being "cheep".

We Need to Know

I wish I could say that I am surprised but I'm not. This is just another example of how useless the FDA has become under Shrub and company. Once again industry wins and the consumer loses. Consumers in America and the EU have rejected the idea of cloned meat but that apparently doesn't matter. The food industry lobbyists want to shove this down our throats and we don't have a say. Don't like it? Tough. I don't want to eat meat from cloned animals just the same way I don't want to eat vegetables and grains from GMO sources. I reject out of hand what the political idiots at the FDA say. I say they are lying.
But it will be hard to tell which foods do contain ingredients originating from cloned animals. The Food and Drug Administration ruled that labels won't have to reveal whether the food comes from cloned cows, pigs or goats, or the clones' offspring, because those ingredients are no different than meat or milk from livestock bred the old-fashioned way.

"We found nothing in the food that could potentially be hazardous. The food in every respect is indistinguishable from food from any other animal," FDA food safety chief Dr. Stephen Sundlof said. "It is beyond our imagination to even find a theory that would cause the food to be unsafe."
It is absolutely amazing... 70% of the economy is based on consumer spending and yet the whole system is rigged against them. I think this is a case where Congress needs to step in and tell the FDA to pack sand and require proper labeling and while they are at it we should enforce the country of origin labeling laws already on the books.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Dragonwagon Zona Rosa Chilequiles

Need something for dinner tonight? Here is what is going down in the Monk's house tonight.

There is a wonderful lady named Crescent Dragonwagon (yes, that's her name but that is another story) who is an award winning cookbook author, children's book author, vegetarian cook and much more.
She has several cookbooks The Passionate Vegetarian , The Dairy Hollow House Cookbook and The Dairy Hollow House Soup & Bread. She and her late husband Ned ran a much acclaimed Ozark country inn called the Dairy Hollow House. She now lives in Vermont.

I have taken the liberty of borrowing one of her best recipes. If this one doesn't sound like what you want tonight then there are a bunch more at her website.

Zona Rosa Chilequiles
CD's winning recipe in the the Food Professional Division of the Newman's Own Recipe Contest, Co-Sponsored with Good Housekeeping Magazine, 1997

This is a luscious layered vegetarian casserole --- imagine a lasagne, but with corn tortillas instead of noodle strips, and with salsa instead of tomato sauce. The cheese filling is quite light as these things go, both because it's made with Neufchatel (a low-fat equivalent of cream cheese), and because it's scattered with loads of fresh vegetables: zucchini, corn cut off the cob.

The origins of the dish lie in Mexico, where chilequiles was actually developed as a way to use up stale corn tortillas. This is not a dish we serve at the inn, but at home and at casual parties: a favorite and a crowd-pleaser.

Ingredients:
1 package corn tortillas ( 8 to 10 )
Cooking spray, such as Pam
1 1/2 cups commercial salsa, preferably Newman's Own Bandito Salsa, Medium Hot
2 8-ounces packages Neufchatel cheese
2 eggs
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 1/2 to 2 cups sliced fresh zucchini ( in 1/4 inch rounds) or string beans (stems removed, sliced in 1/2 inch lengths
2/3 cup fresh corn, cut from the cob
4 ounces grated sharp cheddar or Monterrey Jack cheese

1. Tear tortillas roughly into quarters. Let sit out, uncovered, at least an hour , so they get a bit stale.

2. Spray a 10X14 rectangular baking dish (preferably Le Creuset) with cooking spray. Spoon about 1/4 cup salsa over the bottom of dish, and smear it. Scatter over this 1/3 of the torn tortillas.

3. Make cheese filling: in food processor fitted with S-blade, place 1/2 cup salsa, cheese, eggs, and cornstarch. Process till well blended. Set aside.

4. Preheat oven to 350.

5. Bring a medium saucepan or water to a boil. Drop in prepare zucchini or green beans and blanch (3 minutes for zucchini, 5 for green beans) . Drain vegetables well rinse with cold water, and toss with raw corn. Set aside.

6. Spoon half the cheese filling over tortillas in baking dish. Scatter vegetables over filling, drizzle with another 1/2 cup salsa, and top with another third of the torn tortillas. Cover with remaining cheese filling. Top with last third of tortillas and pour over remaining salsa.

7. Cover baking dish, and bake for 40 minutes. Remover cover, sprinkle with shredded cheese, raise heat to 375, and bake another 10 to 12 minutes longer, or until cheese is melted and slightly browned.

Serves 8.

On Supporting Hillary or Obama

Susie Madrak at Suburban Guerrilla gives us a little reminder from the late, great Molly Ivins:

AUSTIN, Texas — I’d like to make it clear to the people who run the Democratic Party that I will not support Hillary Clinton for president.

Enough. Enough triangulation, calculation and equivocation. Enough clever straddling, enough not offending anyone This is not a Dick Morris election. Sen. Clinton is apparently incapable of taking a clear stand on the war in Iraq, and that alone is enough to disqualify her. Her failure to speak out on Terri Schiavo, not to mention that gross pandering on flag-burning, are just contemptible little dodges.

The recent death of Gene McCarthy reminded me of a lesson I spent a long, long time unlearning, so now I have to re-learn it. It’s about political courage and heroes, and when a country is desperate for leadership. There are times when regular politics will not do, and this is one of those times. There are times a country is so tired of bull that only the truth can provide relief.

If no one in conventional-wisdom politics has the courage to speak up and say what needs to be said, then you go out and find some obscure junior senator from Minnesota with the guts to do it. In 1968, Gene McCarthy was the little boy who said out loud, “Look, the emperor isn’t wearing any clothes.” Bobby Kennedy — rough, tough Bobby Kennedy — didn’t do it. Just this quiet man trained by Benedictines who liked to quote poetry.

What kind of courage does it take, for mercy’s sake? The majority of the American people (55 percent) think the war in Iraq is a mistake and that we should get out. The majority (65 percent) of the American people want single-payer health care and are willing to pay more taxes to get it. The majority (86 percent) of the American people favor raising the minimum wage. The majority of the American people (60 percent) favor repealing Bush’s tax cuts, or at least those that go only to the rich. The majority (66 percent) wants to reduce the deficit not by cutting domestic spending, but by reducing Pentagon spending or raising taxes.

The majority (77 percent) thinks we should do “whatever it takes” to protect the environment. The majority (87 percent) thinks big oil companies are gouging consumers and would support a windfall profits tax. That is the center, you fools. WHO ARE YOU AFRAID OF?


While she specifically mentions Hillary I would presume that at this point she would include Obama in this group. If you have a doubt stop over and see what Krugman has to say about it as well.

Don't Look Now

From Huffpo the headline reads..."For First Time Obama Takes Narrow Lead in Nevada Poll" but the real story is...

Barack Obama: 32 percent
Hillary Clinton: 30 percent
John Edwards: 27 percent

John Edwards is within the margin of error at 27% and has not even campaigned in Nevada. This has got to make the media crazy. They are doing everything they can to keep the lid on the Edwards campaign but cannot.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Getting Sour

I think I am getting sour on this whole Presidential politics thing. Maybe I am just thinking about it too much. The thing is that the more I stew on it the more I begin to question any reason to get excited about the potential for radical and true progressive change.

Really, how much can a new Democratic candidate do? The hard truth is that Congress is still owned lock, stock and Armani by the big corporations. They owe their positions of wealth and power to big industry, big med, big food and all the rest. How much is the President able to, even if he or she truly want to change things, do against the power of the corporations?

The other harsh reality is that America is flat broke and in hock up to her freedom loving eyeballs and it takes money to make change happen in this country. You can't make the changes we need in this country when there is nothing in the pocket book to pay for it. Depressingly, we probably could have overcome many of the obstacles we are facing today 25 or 30 years ago before we destroyed the middle(working) class in the country by shipping all the jobs overseas and overloaded all our credit cards for foreign made landfill fodder. I read somewhere recently about how the Native Americans sold their America to the Europeans for cheap trinkets and that, in effect, we are doing the same thing with China. Not a perfect analogy but it does make one pause.

Finally, the politics in this country as it is currently played is not for nice people. In order to get into a position to run for President today(and win) you have to sell your soul and come to the game with a fake smile and knives in each boot. I am just not sure that any President whether Democrat or Republican can effectively manage against the big corporations, especially when their pockets are so full of IOU's.

Don't get me wrong...I am still going to avidly watch the process and I will have my favorite and I will vote in the primary and general elections but it is becoming increasingly clear that I am probably going to be disappointed with the results.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Hard Fact

It is late Sunday night and I am not cold sober but I did want to post one little thought before I hit the sack. Unless something really, really strange happens between now and November this Democratic primary season is picking the next President of the United States. This is serious.

The next President of the United States is/will walk into a shit storm of a magnitude that has never before existed. On every front there needs to be massive change. It will be a tough job or even an impossible job. If you are a Democrat and vote in the primary and then the general election in November please remember what you are doing. There are myriad issues more important than good looks or the ability to imitate the rhythm of a MLK speech. Look at the candidate's history and beyond what he or she tells you. Use your damn brain.

Last Year Was Hottest Ever, Almost

This is damned serious. Seven of the eight warmest years ever recorded have occurred since 2001.

Data collected from around the globe indicate that 2007 ranks as the second-warmest year on record, according to a new analysis from climatologists at NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies.

A second team of scientists, at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, has come up with slightly different results using the same raw data -- suggesting that last year was the fifth-warmest on record -- but the groups reached the same conclusion on where Earth's climate has been headed for the past quarter-century. Taking into account the new data, they said, seven of the eight warmest years on record have occurred since 2001.
Bold mine.

No Frankenfood Please

It looks like the EU is thinking about allowing meat from cloned animals into the marketplace like the U.S. I don't think it is such a hot idea but it looks to be inevitable. I do think it needs to be clearly marked as from cloned animals and there should be severe and costly penalties for not doing so. If it is clearly marked then we can let the market decide. Currently, more than 60% of American consumers polled are uncomfortable with the idea of meat from cloned animals.

The real root problem though, like with genetically modified corn and soy and whatever else, is that it takes mother nature and natural selection out of the process. Animals cloned and selected for "food desirables" may be furthering the unnatural selection of undesirable traits. If we become dependent on the cloned animals and haven't allowed natural selection to continue a species then we are setting ourselves up for catastrophic failures when conditions change. If you have ever seen the movie "No Blade of Grass" then you know what I am talking about.

I just hope the movement to organic and sustainable agriculture continues to flourish and makes the market for "frankenfood" impossible sustain. We don't need it.

BYOB

Good for China.

BEIJING - Declaring war on the "white pollution" choking its cities, farms and waterways, is banning free plastic shopping bags and calling for a return to the cloth bags of old — steps largely welcomed by merchants and shoppers on Wednesday.

The measure eliminates the flimsiest bags and forces stores to charge for others, making China the latest nation to target plastic bags in a bid to cut waste and conserve resources.

Beijing residents appeared to take the ban in stride, reflecting rising environmental consciousness and concern over skyrocketing oil prices.

I have been bringing my reusable bags to the market for a while now. I just leave them in the car and have them when I need them. I see more and more(thought not a lot) people doing the same and all the grocery stores are now carrying they're own reusable bags. Whole Foods evens takes a nickel off your bill for every reusable bag you use while Trader Joe's puts your name in the weekly drawing for a $25 gift certificate if you use your own bags. More of the stores should use some incentives this way.

It has always been fairly common in Europe. I know in the UK you see the shoppers with their little wheeled bags filling them in the aisles of the markets. I have two nice bags from the British store Marks&Spencer which are very nice and strong.

The movement seems slow to catch on here in the U.S. and as far as I know San Francisco is the first city to ban plastic bags altogether. Let's hope more people get the message. Seems a shame we have wait for the government to pass another law for us to do the sensible thing. It might even help lower some of our food costs. If you aren't using reusable shopping bags, why not?

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Time for Bulwer-Lytton

Always an annual treat. Below is the winner of the 2007 Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest at San Jose State. As always there is some stellar literary parody.
Gerald began--but was interrupted by a piercing whistle which cost him ten percent of his hearing permanently, as it did everyone else in a ten-mile radius of the eruption, not that it mattered much because for them "permanently" meant the next ten minutes or so until buried by searing lava or suffocated by choking ash--to pee.


Go on over and read some of winners. Good stuff!

Friday, January 11, 2008

Barack at Kerry dot com

I just got my first email from Obama and it was sent from Kerry dot com. I guess this means that Kerry has turned over his list of voters and their email addresses.

I am not really sure getting an endorsement from John Kerry is going to be such a hot deal for Obama. Yes, Kerry has maintained a fairly large organization and has his giant email list but what else is Obama going to get?

I, for one, still resent the emotional investment I made in Kerry and I fully believe he wasted an awful lot of it. He never called Bush out over Iraq, tax cuts or the environment and I believe he lost because of it.

Late Start

Getting a late start here today. I had the annual "state of the company" meeting this morning. All the news from last year and all the forecasts for next. We have been doing well and growing by over 50% per year since we started back in 1999 and they are forecasting that we will do it again next. We shall see as I have my doubts about the economy next year. The good thing is our software can save a company money once implemented but you have to have the money to buy it and then implement it which can be pretty expensive.

Anyhow, just sitting down to see what is happening out here in the world.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

A Terrible Thing

via Krugman

The Republicans and their owners big business, big pharma and big insurance keep telling us how bad "socialized" medicine is and how we have the best healthcare system in the world and how awful it would be if we had to suffer under the British, Canadian or Goddess forbid the French systems and how it would be be a terrible thing:

In “Measuring the Health of Nations: Updating an Earlier Analysis” (Health Affairs, Jan./Feb. 2008), Ellen Nolte, Ph.D., and C. Martin McKee, M.D., D.Sc., both of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, compared international rates of “amenable mortality”—that is, deaths from certain causes before age 75 that are potentially preventable with timely and effective health care.

And you see what that tells us:

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Wearing of the Orange

The ACLU is organizing a nationwide protest this Friday, January 11, to protest the ongoing shame that is Guantanamo Bay. They are encouraging everyone to wear orange that day. It's an interesting idea and a novel approach for protesting the disgusting behavior of Bush/Cheney in creating and maintaining this huge black mark on our country's reputation. Find out more via the ACLU's Web site here.

I don't know how well this will go over with staunch Irish Catholics but maybe for such a good cause they will overlook it for just the one day.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

First Flight

In case your interested today is the anniversary of the first New World flight. In 1793 Frenchman Jean Pierre Blanchard took off from Philadelphia's Walnut Street Prison with George Washington and other dignitaries watching. The balloon flight lasted 46 minutes with Blanchard landing across the Delaware River at the outskirts of Woodbury, NJ.

The word for today from my new desk calendar is Aeroflation which means passing through the air in balloons according to Webster's Compendious Dictionary, 1806.

Cool Stuff

Thanks to the weekly email from Mark Morford I have discovered a really fascinating site.

It is Edge.org's annual question. This year the question is pretty deep: "What have you changed your mind about, and why?"

To quote Mark...

"One hundred sixty-three of the world's finest scientists of all kinds and caliber respond with some of the most insightful, humbling, fascinating confessions and anecdotes, an intellectual treasure trove of proofs that flip-flopping is a very good thing indeed, especially when informed/inspired by facts and shot through with personal experience and laced with mystery and even a little divine insight. Best three or four hours of intense, enlightening reading you can do for the new year."

I have only read the first two pages and it is truly worthy. I am bookmarking this for sure and when I have a few minutes to do so I will continue on through the rest. There are hours of reading here and all of it so far has been enlightening. Your welcome.

What Happened?

It sure is interesting reading all the analysis and CYA this morning on what happened in NH yesterday. Everyone has a slightly different take but the balance seems to be leaning toward a backlash at the misogynistic media which is somehow a comforting thought.

I am just glad we still have a campaign and that a possibility exists that an actual majority of the country will have some say in who the Democratic nominee will be. I am also pleased to see that the progressive message of John Edwards is becoming more prevalent in the messages of the other two.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Justified

I don't know if that is the right word or not but Hillary was just declared the winner in NH. While I am not a HRC supporter I think this justification of her presence in the race is good. The media is scared to death of Edwards and will shove him under the rug every chance. What they really want is Obama so that they can play all the religious and race hot buttons. They think whatever Republican idiot they select can win over a black man in 2007. HRC is their second worse nightmare. She has experience and has the "Big Dog" at her back. She is smart and worst of all she is a hardened tool. She has already endured years of GOP and wingnut vitriol and is still standing proud.
I am not currently an HRC supporter but if she is the nominee then I am her man. I can't afford a lot but I will be there.

Happy Birthday to the King


Today is Elvis Presley's birthday and Madam Monk would not forgive me if it was not mentioned here. Jim DeRosa has done it correctly and has a video of "Heartbreak Hotel" posted.

If you ever go to Memphis and go to the Tennessee Welcome Center by the Mississippi River bridge you too can see this statue and one of B.B. King as well.

No Slack for HRC

I's pretty disgusting how Hillary is being treated in the media. Yesterday the entire bunch of them were all aghast at the fact that she got a little emotional at a campaign stop. Hello, I would like to see anyone of these breathless cretins do what she has been doing nonstop for the last year or so. Nothing she does is right. She is either too cold and calculating or too "girlie" emotional to be President. I was very distressed to see John Edwards take the opportunity to imply that she was not strong enough to be president.

Even The Huffington Post, a supposed liberal outlet, is reflecting Arianna's hate of anything Hillary and trashing her at every opportunity. Here is the first graph of Arianna's current post...
Hillary Clinton has apparently decided on which lines of attack to use against Barack Obama in New Hampshire: all of them. When it started, Clinton's poll-tested candidacy came down to telling voters, "Whatever you like, that's what I am." But it turns out that, so far, what voters like is Obama. So now her sputtering campaign strategy has shifted to telling voters, "Whatever you don't like, that's what Obama is." Clinton and her surrogates are attacking from every direction, hoping something will stick. The attacks are as varied as they are contemptible. Let's take a look at the dirty laundry list. Put on your galoshes, the mud is mighty thick.

I am no HRC supporter as you know, but even she deserves an even break and some balanced coverage. I sure as hell don't want the media selecting my candidate and that is what is happening once again. All Obama gets is positive press and all Hillary gets is negative press while Edwards gets ignored completely. Don't put it past the press to follow the will of their corporate masters and encourage the nomination of Obama because that is who the GOP has decided is their best chance of beating. The GOP wins elections by divisiveness and hate. What better target to generate hate than a black man with a cloud of Muslim over his head and a middle name of Hussein and whose last name is just one letter away from the great bogeyman himself? Just saying.

It will very interesting to see how Obama handles the onslaught from the press and the right wing when and if he succeeds in defeating Hillary for the nomination. Once the Hillary hate has no target then the press and the wingnuts will have nothing to stop them from turning their pent up rage on Obama. Does anyone want to make a small wager on how many times you see Obama's middle name Hussein used in the media? How about how many times there is a hint about being a closet Muslim or turning the White House into a madrassa? How many "typos" about Osama(I mean Obama) do you think you will see. I am not even going to mention what they will do concerning his race. If you think about how they right wing noise machine turned war hero John Kerry's war record and Purple Hearts into a liability then you ain't seen nothing yet.

How about we get some coverage of each candidate's actual voting records and accomplishments as Senators? Too much trouble and might make people think. Not going to happen.

Beans and Cornbread Anyone?

Bryan over at Why Now, who isn't an economist, has come to the conclusion that we are in a recession and that due to secret guild rules real economists won't be able to tell us that this is so until after we have suffered through several months of pain. I think Bryan is an optimist but that is another story and there is at least one economist that lost his copy of the guild rules...

The US has entered its first full-blown economic recession in 16 years, according to investment bank Merrill Lynch.

Merrill, itself one of Wall Street’s biggest casualties of the sub-prime crisis, is the first major bank to declare that a recession in the world’s biggest economy is now underway.

David Rosenberg, the bank’s chief North American economist, argues that a weakening employment picture and declining retail sales signal the economy has tipped into its first month of recession.

Mr Rosenberg, who is well-respected on Wall Street, argues: “According to our analysis, this (recession) isn’t even a forecast any more but is a present day reality.”

[…] Mr Rosenberg points to a whole batch of negative data to support his analysis, including the four key barometers used by the National Bureau of Economic Research (NEBR) - employment, real personal income, industrial production, and real sales activity in retail and manufacturing.

Mr Rosenberg notes that although the NEBR will be the final arbiter of any recession, such confirmation may be two years away as it typically waits for conclusive evidence including benchmark revisions.

Have a nice recession. If you are an optimist like me you might consider putting some extra flour, corn meal, salt, beans, dry milk, peanut butter and maybe some spam back for a rainy day.

Monday, January 07, 2008

More Good News

I am glad for my friends in the UK but not so glad for us.

For the first time in more than 100 years, British living standards have risen above those of Americans, a report has declared.

Increasing incomes, longer holidays and "free" healthcare have all contributed to making Britons better off than our friends across the Atlantic, according to the respected Oxford Economics consultancy.

The feel-rich factor is calculated using the gross domestic product (GDP) per citizen - an indicator of average incomes - which in Britain will be £23,500 this year, compared with £23,250 in America,

Not a Good Omen

Now "he" is saying recession is likely.

Krugman:

You see, for 30 years American politics has been dominated by a political movement practicing Robin-Hood-in-reverse, giving unto those that hath while taking from those who don’t. And one secret of that long domination has been a remarkable flexibility in economic debate. The policies never change — but the arguments for these policies turn on a dime.

When the economy is doing reasonably well, the debate is dominated by hype — by the claim that America’s prosperity is truly wondrous, and that conservative economic policies deserve all the credit.

But when things turn down, there is a seamless transition from “It’s morning in America! Hurray for tax cuts!” to “The economy is slumping! Raising taxes would be a disaster!”

Thus, until just the other day Bush administration officials were in denial about the economy’s problems. They were still insisting that the economy was strong, and touting the “Bush boom” — the improvement in the job situation that took place between the summer of 2003 and the end of 2006 — as proof of the efficacy of tax cuts.

But now, without ever acknowledging that maybe things weren’t that great after all, President Bush is warning that given the economy’s problems, “the worst thing the Congress could do is raise taxes on the American people and on American businesses.”

And even more dire warnings are coming from some of the Republican presidential candidates. For example, John McCain’s campaign Web site cautions darkly that “Entrepreneurs should not be taxed into submission. John McCain will make the Bush income and investment tax cuts permanent, keeping income tax rates at their current level and fighting the Democrats’ plans for a crippling tax increase in 2011.”

Friday, January 04, 2008

Want a Good Cry?

Andy Olmsted left a posthumous message for Hilzoy to post at Obsidian Wings. I wasn't a regular reader of his Rocky Mountain News blog and regret it immensely. Andy was killed in an ambush in Iraq yesterday. RIP Andy.

Lambs-Wool

"The pulpe of the roasted apples, In number foure or five, according to the greatness of the apples, mixed in a quart of faire water, laboured together untill it come to be as apples and ale, which we call "lambes-wooll". -Thomas Johnson's Gerard's Herball, 1633

I received a desk calendar for Christmas from an English friend "Forgotten English" which each day reveals the roots of a forgotten English word. Today is "lambs-wool" which is evidently a mixture of roasted apples and ale.

December Jobs

What a disastrous report! The latest report says only 18,000 new jobs we created in December. That's incredibly bad. Worse still, unemployment jumped from 4.7% to 5%.
The "experts" were already predicting a low number, many thinking it would be between 40,000 - 70,000 with unemployment moving up slightly to 4.8%.
The Shrub economy in action.

Oh, and did I mention that oil is hanging at $100 a barrel, gold is at $860, milk is at $5 a gallon and bread at $2.50 a loaf?

Don't think about your investments if they are in the stock market and ignore all your neighbors losing their homes. Please, for Goddess sake, medicate yourself before you go to fill up the car.

Bad Night for the GOP

It was a good night for the Democrats. A huge voter turnout gave the nod to Obama but Edwards and Clinton still had a good night and go forward to New Hampshire with nothing to be ashamed about.
The final numbers say it all when it comes to a national view.

Total Voter Turnout (approximate)

356,000

Percentage of total vote

24.5% Obama
20.5% Edwards
19.8% Clinton
11.4% Huckabee (R)

The majority of the GOP in this country must be having kittens this morning after seeing the results. If Huckabee is the best they can offer and all three of the leading Dems can trounce him then what is the rest of the year going to look like?
We had a term for signal intelligence targets back when I was spying that couldn't be found on the air. I think it applies very appropriately to a potential presidential candidate like Huckabee. It was "nil-heard".

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Baby It's Cold Outside

18 frigid degrees here in the North Atlanta burbs...which is much too cold. My trip out to replenish the bird feeders was very "refreshing". How cold is it where you are this morning? Mustang Bobby reports 39 in Miami which might be a record.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

What Next?

Holy shit! It is getting so that everything our doctors and nutritionists tell us to do to stay healthy is not true. I have been drinking crap low fat/nonfat milk for years since I was told by the doctors that whole milk was just slow suicide.

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - The amount of calcium and vitamin D in the diet appears to have little or no impact on the risk of prostate cancer, but the consumption of low-fat or nonfat milk may increase the risk of the malignancy, according to the results of two studies published in the American Journal of Epidemiology.

Dietary calcium and dairy products have been thought to increase the risk of prostate cancer by affecting vitamin D metabolism. Data from several prospective studies have supported an association, but many other studies have failed to establish a link.

Remember all the crap about butter? How about eggs? Now we know both are good foods and that butter is much better for you than margarine with all of its trans fat. I am rapidly coming to the conclusion that anything that we process when it comes to food does some harm. If it is not natural then it is probably suboptimal. Chances are if man messes with it he will mess it up. Now that I think of it..that will be my new watchword...Messed with = Messed up = Not Food.

Waxing Politic

Here on the eve of the Iowa caucuses I figured it was time to wax a little politic. As I mentioned the day before yesterday, John Edwards increasingly looks like the only Democratic candidate I can wholeheartedly support. I believe he will do well in Iowa and New Hampshire and will carry forward with enough momentum so that the rest of the country has a chance to vote for him. Several people have said that he is just another rich white guy, but I trust him more to fight the good fight against the wealthy and powerful that are currently running this country into the ground than I do the other two leading candidates.

Edward's vision of "Two Americas" really resonates with me. I know that we have too many in this rich country who go to bed hungry, too many who can't afford health insurance, too many lacking the education and the opportunities to have a reasonable chance at the "American Dream" whatever it really is. I can see in my own life as a "middle-class" American that my purchasing power and the money I have put away for retirement is being leached away by the corporation driven economy. I see the longer lines at community food banks and talk almost daily with people who are falling further and further behind the "comfort" curve.

I trust Edwards to do what he says he will. His experience as a trial lawyer in confronting the powerful on behalf of the powerless, is an excellent qualification for the work that has to be done if we are going to rescue this country from the path it is following. As he has said, you don't solve some of these problems by making deals with those who stand to profit from the status quo.

I think he really means what he says when he says that he will work to dis-empower the lobbyists. He sees the poisonous effect they have on our lawmakers and he has demonstrated this commitment by not taking any of the big PAC money and is instead relying on public matching funds.

I think part of why I lean toward him is his background, his personal experience of poverty and lack of privilege. He, like me, spent a large part of his growing up in a Southern cotton town. He He, like me, watched the insidious effect of the cotton mills keeping the workers under their thumbs with low wages and making the workers rely on the mill for everything from housing to medical care. Before the unions ("Norma Rae") began to have an impact, working for a southern cotton mill was paramount to indentured slavery. My mother's family were coal miners in West Virginia and experienced the same kind of "slavery" before the unions arrived. Most of all he has demonstrated that he can speak truth to power and win against the corporations that are strangling this country. He has experienced the success of winning against them and knows in his heart the power that returns to the people in doing so.

There is some concern that with his wife's cancer hanging in the background that he will not be able to focus on the job but I think that underestimates him and his wife. Compared with what we have had in the White House for the last 7 years if someone like Edwards can spend two hours a day at the job we will be ahead of the game...seriously.

The media don't like him and we can be absolutely sure their corporate masters don't like him and we'll just have to see if he can overcome that huge handicap in our media obsessed political arena. We have demonstrated with the election of Shrub that we can let the media drive us into electing a complete idiot to the most powerful position in the world. I guess I can hope we have learned a lesson.

Finally, as for HRC and Obama. Hillary I would vote for if left no choice but I sincerely think she is too much in the current game and owes too much to the corporations to be the kind of change agent we need at this point in our country's woes. I think it would be more of the same bullshit politics and we need a revolution. Obama has two strikes against him in my book. He is too committed to reaching out to the GOP and finding a middle ground and I don't think there is a middle ground or in other words, he is naive. Secondly, and sadly there is still a lot of deeply embedded racism in this country and I don't think his "charisma" can overcome the fact that he is black. I don't think a lot of the people in this country will pull the lever for a black president.

As for the GOP side of the game...I don't really care but I think it would be a hoot if we saw Huckabee in the lead coming out of Iowa just so we could watch the rest of the GOP and the Washington elite shit themselves.

Cold Snap

I didn't mention it in my first post but it really, really turned cold here last night. It was twenty three this morning at 7am and now at 930 it has warmed a half degree.

I don't need a thermometer to tell when it is cold as the critters in the back yard give you a clue. The squirrels use their tails as little parkas and keep them tightly curled against their backs and up over their heads. The bluebirds begin to visit the feeders when it gets into the low twenties as their normal diet of bugs and stuff is all nestled deep away from the cold. I put extra sunflower meats in the mix for them since they aren't that efficient at getting the seeds cracked like the cardinals, titmice and chickadees. Of course, the suet feeder gets a queue when it gets this cold as well. Woodpeckers of every type line up to get some fuel loaded suet...hairy, red-bellied, red-headed, and downy have all been visitors this morning. In between the woodpeckers the nuthatches, wrens and blue jays all try and get a little fat in their diets as well.

Tonight the forecast is for the upper teens which will be the lowest we have had this year and it is likely my little bed of swiss chard won't survive that cold so that might be part of dinner tonight. The broccoli and cabbage might get through it ok. Looks like another good day to stay inside in my warm sweats.

First Post

I resisted the urge to blog yesterday and just relaxed. Finished up "The Tenth Muse" by Judith Jones about her life in food as the editor responsible for Julia Child, Edna Lewis and a slew of others. Nice little read for a "foodie" like me. The end of the book even has some recipes.
If the old saw about what you do on New Year's Day is a prediction for the rest of the year then 2008 will be the year of the sweats as that is a dressed as I got yesterday. Maybe 2008 will be quiet too.

I am officially off vacation today and back to work. Nothing really to do but I am back to work. I just have to wait for the dust to settle from the year end and then we can divide up the upcoming projects and I can earn my keep. One project that I wouldn't mind would be based in Palermo, Italy. I could stand 3 to 6 months there though I would have to ask for extra money so I could be a complete set of larger clothes but it would be fun. One I am trying to avoid is based in Brazil which I would not relish spending 6 months to a year in. Might be nice for a visit but an extended stay has no appeal, whatsoever. The rest are all domestic jobs...a couple in the Midwest (IL and MN) and even one here in Atlanta. We'll see what falls out.

Everyone get a great start on the New Year and we'll be back as soon as we figure out what is going on.