Saturday, December 30, 2006

Ham and Potato Casserole in the Kitchen

Hilary and her husband Jack e-mailed me to note that, although they know I don't like leftovers, they have a large amount of ham left over from their Christmas dinner. Actually, I love leftovers. We didn't often have them in my kitchen because I have so many children and we never had turkey leftovers on any holiday. But I do like leftovers and ham is one of my favorites. When the children would grab a bit here and a bit there, I'd have to remind them that if they didn't leave at least a little, I couldn't make the casserole we all love.

Ham and Potato Casserole
4 medium potatoes, peeled and sliced thin
left over ham (about two cups worth, dice it)
1 white onion chopped
1 1/4 cup of milk
1 cup of grated chees
Salt and pepper

Grease a casserole dish and you're going to use the ingredients to build layers. Start with potatoes, sprinkle them with salt and pepper, add a layer of ham, then a layer of onion, then a layer of potatoes and salt and pepper them . . . You want to end with a top layer of potatoes. Salt and pepper the top layer of potatoes as you have with all potato layers. Once you've done that and used up the ingredients, pour the milk over the casserole. Sprinkle with cheese and bake in the oven for 1 hour.

I love this casserole. So much so, that I'm worried I've probably given the recipe to it before but I'm not seeing it. If I have, it's good enough to note twice.

C.I.'s "2006: The Year of Living Dumbly (Year in Review)" was wonderful and I'd urge you tread it but I know most of you have. Kyle e-mailed to say he hadn't checked out my site because he really wasn't interested in cooking but when he saw me quoted in it, he had to read that entry. That was very nice of C.I. to quote me. Totally unexpected because C.I. had said the year-in-review this year would be brief (C.I.'s been sick all week). I knew Cedric was being included because I'd heard about that from Mike (Cedric's point was made in a feature at The Third Estate Sunday Review but got removed when Dona and Jim were attempting to edit the feature and couldn't figure out how to include the point). My husband and I were reading it together, crowded around the computer here (in the kitchen) and drinking our morning coffee. We were laughing and nodding along and it was a pleasant surprise to get the section about the "Mommy Manifesto" or whatever that nonsense was called. That really was an insulting article because it was written as though the second wave of feminism never happened.

Later that day, during dinner, my husband asked how many e-mails I'd gotten today and I hadn't thought to check. When I did, there were many e-mails like Kyle's. I just post on Saturday and there's no real reason to 'visit' the Kitchen if you're not interested in recipes (and I don't take offense if anyone's not). So let me say thank you to C.I. for noting me in the year in review.

Now that I've taken care of that, let me say that was my favorite piece all year. I loved the piece on Dexy as sob sister but I don't think I even laughed as much at that as I did with the year in review. It perfectly captured 2006.

I was also trying to figure out, all week, what I could say about 2006 myself? Dona and Jim visited on Tuesday after they'd gone to see Rebecca with Mike and Dona and I were talking about C.I.'s "Correction to Barbara Ehrenreich on Democracy Now! today" and how Democracy Now needs to think before broadcasting a speech with errors. Jane Fonda, Gloria Steinem and
GreenStone Media got slammed by Ehrenreich who didn't seem to know the first thing about
GreenStone Media. They do discuss and debate and I can remember the discussion on abortion
The Radio Ritas to give just one example. Ehrenreich was getting chuckles and applause until she went off on the media project (that she wrongly called a "radio station"). There was just silence when she thought she was being funny there. That should have told Goodman something but Amy Goodman felt it was 'funny,' I guess. Which shows that intelligence and humor don't necessarily come as a package.

But I started thinking about that and thought that, to me, 2006 was about women. Women voted in greater numbers than did men. Women voted for Democrats more than men in the November elections. Women were real leaders in 2006. Ray McGovern pointed that out in a speech he gave that got noted in one of the snapshots this year and it's true. Cindy Sheehan, Media Benjamin, Diane Wilson, Ann Wright, and many more were fasting for peace, speaking out, making their voices heard for peace and doing so all year. Medea was challenging War Hawk Hillary Clinton. Which was why I still hate Katha Pollitt's piece where she went after CODEPINK for bird dogging Hillary Clinton -- I like Pollitt but that piece was disappointing as was her defense of it to a reader who complained.

I don't have the memory C.I. does -- I swear it's photographic. So I just called C.I. to ask what issue that was in because I do want to write about that. It's the December 4, 2006 issue of The Nation and a woman named Zillah Eisenstein wrote in to complain about Pollitt's piece. Pollitt's response is one long dance with comments that are supposed to defend Hillary Clinton but really don't. Example: "Clinton voted against a constitutional amendment to ban flag-burning (unfortunately she supported an anti-flag-burning bill." So she was against flag burning, Pollitt. Clinton just grasped, as any former lawyer should, that a Constitutional amendment is a near impossible thing. (She's old enough to remember attempts to pass the ERA as am I.) So she was against free speech, she was just crafty enough to grasp that it wouldn't fly as a Consitutional amendment. Example: "On gay marriage, she has said she isn't for it, but she wasn't in office to vote on DOMA (1996)." Eisenstein wrote Clinton says "no to gay marriage." Pollitt writes "she has said she isn't for it". That proves Eisenstein's point.

And I'll go further on that because Hillary was one of the main reasons I supported Bill in 1992.
They were the two-for-one and Pollitt can pretend otherwise all she wants but Hillary had a lot more power as First Lady than Pollitt conceeds. Bill Clinton supported DOMA, Hillary didn't speak out. That was shameful and that goes down for both of them. (Bill Clinton wasn't in Congress before Pollitt wants to say "Bill didn't vote for DOMA!") On abortion, Clinton has repeatedly signaled in speeches a weakening of abortion rights. I lost all respect for NARAL when they tried to defend her on that in January 2005 (when her shift really begins) and considering what Pollitt's written about NARAL (as well as a comment she left at their blog that NARAL deleted), I think Pollitt's quite aware of the shift that's going on for many.

But my biggest problem with the column was the going after CODEPINK who, unlike Katha Pollitt, were addressing Iraq in 2006. What did Pollitt do? Seriously, she did nothing. She never wrote about Abeer. She never wrote about the ever worsening conditions for women in Iraq. She didn't write about any war resisters.

She didn't even include anything on her charity list that indicated the nation was at war. And quite honestly, she needs to kill that yearly column. It comes out too late for anyone who's thinking, "It's almost Christmas, I need to make a charitable donation" but, more importantly, it's not worth reading. You know she's going to pick X number of charities (as she does every year) and since the charities don't even have to reflect what's going on in the country or in the world, what's the point? The women in Iraq are losing -- no, have lost their rights. And Pollitt's telling you to subscribe to In These Times? What does that awful magazine (which doesn't know the first thing about free speech as evidenced by the way they treated David Lindorff at the end of 2005) have to do with anything?

It has nothing to do with anything and it's why that column irritates me more and more each year. It's Katha standing outside a store with a kettle ringing a bell. I don't give to the Salvation Army because they're anti-gay and I'll no longer read Katha's Ho-Ho columns because when she included In These Times she demonstrated that free speech doesn't matter. If you don't know how that trashy magazine attacked Dave Lindorff and free speech, read "R.I.P. In These Times" (CounterPunch). I'd say the magazine deserves to die but I've noticed it already has -- few stores that used to carry it do so anymore. It had been a fairly good magazine up until their publisher died (and my father read each and every issue) but now it's just a joke. Christopher Hayes is an awful writer who seems challenged by facts (AND THE NATION HAS STILL NOT CORRECTED HIS LIE THAT JOHN KERRY SAID SOMETHING IN HIS DNC CONVENTION SPEECH THAT HE JOHN KERRY, IN FACT, DID NOT SAY IN THAT SPEECH). Hayes and others at In These Times are just a joke and the magazine is now as well. It used to read like a socialist magazine and now it reads like faxes from the DNC (as my father repeatedly points out).

So when I saw Pollitt giving it a shout out, asking people to donate money to that piece of fluff, I thought, "She's really lost it this year." She needs to drop that nonsense. No one needs her showing up at the end of the year ringing a bell especially when her idea of 'causes' have little to do with the year that's passing.

When I was reading the year in review and came across the reference to Robin Morgan's wonderful article on Abeer it just reminded that Pollitt never wrote about her. A fourteen-year-old girl is raped and murded by US soldiers, in her own living room, her sister and her parents are murdered and Pollitt can't even write about it? That's disgusting and wasting your space in the magazine.

She was AWOL most of 2006 (working on her book collection and who knows what personally) and what she owed readers was a real column not let-me-string-together-ten-charities-that-demonstrate-how-little-I've-paid-attention-this-year. I wasn't that crazy about the book, a collection of past columns, because of the one, as Betty pointed out, where Pollitt goes after the NAACP for addressing the very real harm from TV portrayals (and the absence of people of color). That was the column where White Katha Pollitt lectured the NAACP about what African-Americans should be concerned with. That really ticked me off. I don't think it's a White person's role to tell the NAACP what the concerns of African-Americans are. It's the same sort of I-Know-Everything attitude that I saw in both her column on Hillary and her laughable 'rebuttal' to Zillah Eisenstein.

2006 wasn't a good writing year for Pollitt or for The Nation for that matter.

But it was a good year for women who used their power and I'll note the following women who did just that: Medea Benjamin, Cindy Sheehan, Ann Wright, Diane Wilson, Robin Morgan, Gloria Steinem, Jane Fonda, Missy Comley Beattie, Leslie Cagan, Eleanor Smeal, Kim Gandy, Alice Walker, Maxine Hong Kingston, all the women working on Ms. Magazine and Off Our Backs, NOW, CODEPINK, Barbara Lee, Maxine Waters, Lynn Woolesy and Cynthia McKinney who may have lost her Congressional seat but didn't lose her self-respect. (And McKinney would have been a better topic to write about than Clinton but The Nation didn't seem interested in McKinney -- anyone there other than Alexander Cockburn.)

Right now, I'm reading Alice Walker's We Are the Ones We Have Been Waiting For: Inner Light In A Time Of Darkness and I strongly recommend this book. It's a really beautiful book (I'm up to the speech she gives on grief). I didn't vote for in the poll Martha and Shirley ran because I hadn't read it but I'm glad enough community members had that it made the top ten. You can read the community's picks for the ten best of the year in "2006 in books (Martha & Shirley)."

In terms of music, Kat's picks in "Kat's Korner: 2006 in music" were strong ones and I think she did capture the year in music both with her selections as well as with her commentary.

On a personal note, two pregnancies. My daughter-in-law is pregnant and this will be our first grandchild so I'm very excited about that. I'm also very happy for Rebecca. I called her this morning to make sure everything was still fine (she's almost through the three critical weeks) and she sounded very happy. I'm still nervous because that's my way but she says she's not worrying so I won't either.

Now here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot" for Friday:

Friday, December 29, 2006. Chaos and violence continue in Iraq, Decemeber is now the deadliest month this year for US troops, Ehren Watada finally appears in print in The Nation, is Sabrina Tavernise angling to be the new joke of the New York Times, and the US military reveals how little heart and compassion they have as they move to court-martial a soldier suffering from PTSD -- one they did nothing to help.
Starting with fatality news. Today the
US military announced: "Three Marines assigned to Regimental Combat Team 5 died Thursday from wounds sustained due to enemy action while operating in Al Anbar Province." Watch for the New York Times to ignore that or Little Man Marcs to report "One marine died" if the pattern this month holds true. The Times can't say they weren't warned when they decided to ignore fatalities and minimize the few that they covered but readers of the paper who depend on it to provide reality (no chuckles) may end up shocked when they discover that today December became the deadliest month for US troops. The three deaths up the total for the month to 107. Prior to this announcement, October had been the deadliest month with 106.
Some outlets report 105 and that has to do with the fact that the US military tends to hold the deaths a bit, and has the since the start of the war, waiting for those first of the month look back press accounts to be published and then noting a death or two afterwards.
106 is the number ICCC uses, 106 is the one we'll go with here. 107 is now the total number of US troops who have died in Iraq this month. The total number of US troops who have died since the start of the illegal war stands at 2996 -- four shy of the 3,000 mark.
US troops have not been the only military fatalities and England's
Ministry of Defense notes:"It is with deep regret that the Ministry of Defence must confirm that a UK serviceman was killed yesterday, Thursday 28 December 2006, in Basrah, southern Iraq. The soldier, from 2nd Battalion, The Duke of Lancaster's Regiment, was taking part in a routine patrol in Basra City when the Warrior Armoured Fighting Vehicle he was travelling in was targeted by a roadside bomb. He was very seriously injured and airlifted to the Field Hospital at Shaibah Logistics Base, but unfortunately died later as a result of his injuries." That death brought the total number of British troops killed in Iraq since the start of the illegal war to 127.
Turning to the issue of war resistance and starting with The Nation magazine. On page 14 of the January 8/15 2007 issue (a double issue) Marc Cooper has an article entitled "Lt. Ehren Watada: Resister." The Nation makes the article
availble online to subscribrs only for whatever reasons but seems unaware that they've published it for all (subscribers and non-subscribers) on Yahoo -- click here. Cooper describes Ehren Watada as "the lighning rod case of resistance" (Watada is the first officer to publicly refuse to deploy to Iraq); and notes the speech he gave in August at the Veterans for Peace conference in Seattle (click here for text at CounterPunch and here at Truthout which offers both text and video of the speech) where Watada declared, "The idea is this: that to stop an illegal and unjust war, the soldiers can choose to stop fighting it."; and notes that, in January, "a 'Citizen's Hearing on the Legality of U.S. Actions in Iraq,' featuring Daniel Ellsberg and Princeton professor emeritus Richard Falk will be convened in Tacoma, Washinginton, in support of Watada".
January 4th is the date scheduled for the military's pre-trial hearing and Feb. 5th is when the court-martial is scheduled to begin. The US military is attempting to force journalists to testify at the pre-trial hearing (see
yesterday's snapshot).
Watada is part of a movement of resistance within the military that includes
Kyle Snyder, Darrell Anderson, Ricky Clousing (who was released from the military brig on Satuday) Mark Wilkerson, Agustin Aguayo, Joshua Key, Ivan Brobeck, Camilo Meija, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Stephen Funk, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Jeremy Hinzman, Corey Glass, Patrick Hart, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Katherine Jashinski, and Kevin Benderman. In total, thirty-eight US war resisters in Canada have applied for asylum.
Information on war resistance within the military can be found at
Center on Conscience & War, The Objector, The G.I. Rights Hotline, and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters. Appeal for Redress is collecting signatures of active duty service members calling on Congress to bring the troops home -- the petition will be delivered to Congress next month.
Resistance takes many forms in the peace movement. As noted in yesterday's snapshot,
Cindy Sheehan was arrested in Crawford, Texas outside Bully Boy's ranchette along with four other activists. Sheehan called the action a "peace surge" to combat Bully Boy's notions of escalating the number of US troops in Iraq. The AP reports that Sheehan's attorney Robert Gottlieb believes the arrest will have no impact on the conditional verdict the judge issued this month in Manhattan. The Smoking Gun reports that, were Sheehan convicted, the maximum sentence is six months in prison and the maximum fine is $2,000.
In another mother for peace news,
Theresa Hogue (Corvallis Gazette-Times) reported last week on Michelle Darr, a mother of six, who was arrested December 12th for attempting to get US Senator Gordon Smith to sign the Declaration of Peace (her third arrest this year for attempting to lobby Smith, she was arrested twice in September) and will face a tril in January. Darr told Hogue, "What they (her children) see me doing is as important as what they don't see me doing. If Im not using my voice and efforts in the cause of the common good, how can I expect them to take initiative when the need arises? I don’t want them to ever think oppression and genocide are acceptable, or that war is a way to solve problems."
Along with courageous acts of resistance like Sheehan's and Darr's, demonstrations will take part around the United States to note the 3,000 mark for US fatalities in Iraq.
United for Peace and Justice notes:
Another Grim Milestone -- 3,000 Deaths Too Many
More than 2,990 U.S. troops have died in Iraq. By the time you read this, the death toll may have reached 3,000. We must bear witness to this tragic milestone, even though many people are already beginning their celebrations of the new year. And when we do take action on this occasion, we must remind others that hundreds of thousands of Iraqi children, women and men have also died in this outrageous war and occupation. Our call to end this war and to bring all the troops home now must be heard in every corner of the country! The killing must stop. Click here for some suggested ways to bear witness.
Military Families Speak Out notes:
MILITARY FAMILIES MOURN 3,000TH TROOP DEATH, PARTICIPATE IN NATIONWIDE VIGILS AND CALL ON CONGRESS TO END THE IRAQ WAR Family Members of Fallen Soldiers and Families of Troops Currently Deployed in Iraq Available for Interview Dec 29, 06 On the eve of the 3,000th troop death, the next horrific milestone in the Iraq war, Military Families Speak Out (MFSO), an organization of over 3,100 military families opposed to the war in Iraq, calls on the 110th Congress to honor the fallen and prevent further deaths by taking action to end the Iraq war. read more »
3000 Deaths Too Many As Bush considers sending thousands of additional troops to Iraq to control the violence, our troop death toll nears the 3,000 mark. It is crucial that we commemorate this grim milestone in Bush's disastrous war by pressuring Congress to bring the troops home NOW, and to stop this insanity NOW! Click here for CODEPINK suggested actions you can take.
Also refer to
World Can't Wait's Protests & Vigils Planned the Day After the Number of US Troops Killed in Iraq Reaches 3,000
As the press continues to note that Bully Boy is seriously considering escalating the number of US troops on the ground in Iraq,
Warren P. Strobel and Nancy A. Youssef (McClatchy Newspapers) note: "Two attempts last summer to stabilize Baghdad by sending in more troops failed. The increased U.S. presence led to a brief drop in violence, but as soon as the troops left the neighborhoods where they'd deployed, the violence skyrocketed." That was the crackdown that cracked up and accomplished nothing. It began in June and by August, the US military was noting that, in July, attacks on US forces were up (double the January amount) and bombing attacks on civilians were up 10%. And last week Ann Scott Tyson (Washington Post) reported on the US Pentagon's findings "that the violence in Iraq soared this fall to its highest level on record" and this during the continued increase of US troops in Iraq. But like a greedy tele-evangilist, Bully Boy can just cry out, "Send more! Send more!"
CNN reports a bomber "waited near the house of Sheik Kadhim Hameed Qassim" in northern Bagdad and then detonated the bomb "when the clearic, his security and family members arrived after Friday prayers" leaving the Shi'ite cleric dead and also killing "his brother and severn others" and leaving 15 wounded.
Reuters reports two police officers were shot dead in Jurf al-Sakhar and seven more wounded. AFP reports a police officer and "a bystander" were shot dead in Hindiya while, in Mussayib, a police officer was shot dead and five more wounded. KUNA reports four Iraqi soldiers were shot dead "southwest of Kirkuk" and a fifth Iraqi soldier was injured while, in nothern Iraq, "two employees who . . . worked for the Petroleum State Company" were shot dead.
KUNA reports that the corpse of a kidnapped police officer was discovered in Kirkuk.
AFP reports on the increasing demise of communal baths in Baghdad from violence and financial costs: "In its glory days when Iraq was one of the most developed Arab countries in the Middle East, the hammam used to employ 16 people. Today only four permanent staff remains on the payroll as massive inflation takes hold." and quotes the owner of the bathhouse explaining, "The electricity is often down. Gas for heating has become too expensive. We pay 20,000 dinars ($14) for a bottle compared to 1,000 just two or three years ago. How do you expect me to carry on? There are days when it costs me more to open than doing nothing. I love my profession but it's disappearing."
In I-Schilled-for-the-U.S.-military-and-all-I-got-was-a-red-face news,
Sabrina Tavernise's 'scoop' in the New York Times had holes blown through it earlier this week and has now fallen apart completely. The US military announced (to her and James Glanz of the New York Times) that they had been holding Iranian 'terrorists' and 'insurgents' since the 12th of December. In the latest development to rip the story of Iranian 'terrorists' to shreds, the BBC reports that the two diplomats who were held by US forces but in the country of Iraq at the invitation of Iraq's president, Jalal Talabani, were released. On the detention of the two diplomats, AFP quotes the Iranian ambassador to Iraq, Hasan Kazemi Qomi, stating: "Fortunately with the effort exerted by the Iraqi officials, the US forces who firstly denied their arrest were obliged to admit it and under pressure from the Iraqi government to release them. The arrest of these diplomats was carried out contrary to international laws and the Geneva convention."
In the US, the
AP reports: "Sgt. Edward W. Shaffer, 24, of Mont Alto, died Wednesday afternoon at Brooke Army Medical Center in Texas" after being injured in November 13th bombing in Ramadi and quotes his grandfather, Edward Shaffer, stating that "All they could do was try to keep him comfortable. They couldn't do any more for him." 24 year-old Shaffer is among many troops who die from physical injuries recieved in Iraq but, due to dying after they are shipped out of Iraq, do not get included in the official body count.
Another war related death not included in the count is
covered by Megan Greenwell (Washington Post), 29-year-old James E. Dean, who had served in Afghanistan and recently recieved orders to deploy to Iraq, barricaded himself in his father's house on Christmas day, and was killed in an exchange with police officers.
NPR's Daniel Zwerdling reported that the US army's crappy record on addressing PTSD within the ranks just got worse: the army is moving to court-martial Tyler Jennings who suffers from PTSD and was diagnosed with "Crying spells... hopelessness... helplessness... worthlessness" five months ago and received no assistance.
ehren watada