Saturday, March 17, 2007

Steamed Fish and Green Apples in the Kitchen

I spent this week in Texas and that was a blast. I always hear about the speaking events and this one was a whole week in Texas with an emphasis on meeting the community members so I really did not want to miss out.

Here's who was speaking: The Third Estate Sunday Review's Dona, Jess, Ty, Ava and Jim, Rebecca of Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude, Betty of Thomas Friedman Is a Great Man, C.I. of The Common Ills and The Third Estate Sunday Review, Kat of Kat's Korner (of The Common Ills), Cedric of Cedric's Big Mix, Mike of Mikey Likes It!, Elaine of Like Maria Said Paz, Wally of The Daily Jot, and Ruth of Ruth's Report. In addition, Ruth's friend from way back, Treva, was with us. (I say from "way back" because I always am impressed with longterm friendships. Treva and Ruth met in college in the early 60s and have been best friends ever since.) Betty's three kids were with us, Elijah (Ruth's grandson) and Rebecca's husband were with us. There was a lot of great food and, in fact, I have a recipe by Texas community member Billie.

Steamed Fish and Green Apples
White fish (catfish is probably the easiest to find)
Green apples
White onions

How much of the above? Salt (you can skip salt if you're low sodium) and pepper are just used to taste. The rest depends upon how much fish you are using. If you're using a single filet (fresh fish is best, then frozen filet -- nothing breaded) you need one green apple, one half of a lemon and one onion. If you love apples, you could up that two. Let's assume you're using four fish filets to start. You'll need one large white onion, three green apples, one lemon and an 8 ounce package of shredded Mozzarella cheese. Slice the apple into wedges or slices, leaving the skin on. (Always wash fresh fruits before you begin cooking with them.) With the onion, you will slice it into thin rings or half rings. You'll leave the fish as is but the steam will break it into smaller pieces.

How do you steam it? I have a steamer but Billie has her own versions. Because there were so many of us that she was cooking this for, she had two "steamers" going. She uses collanders, like you'd drain pasta in. They're large. She has a plastic one and a metal one. She sets the metal one in a large pot and the plastic one in a large stock pot. If she puts it in a large pot it can melt a little over time. If she uses it in the stock pot, she doesn't have that problem. She pours water in to each pot and will then place the collander on top -- the collander's handles keep it from the boiling water. She then puts the fish, apple and onion into the collander as the water comes to a boil, squeezes half a lemon over it and covers the pots with lids for six minutes.

First version: After the six minutes is up, using a large slotted spoon, you spoon fish, apples and onions onto plates and then sprinkle with cheese (which will begin to melt because the steamed portions are hot). Sprinkle with ground pepper and salt.

Second version: You cook some rice. Billie prefers white rice. You spoon as in the first version but instead of directly onto an empty plate, you spoon it ontop of a bed of rice.

Billie said she'd always wanted to e-mail this recipe to me but was afraid I'd think, "There's no way this tastes good." I don't know if I would've thought that but I probably would have wondered what it tasted like until I made it.

While Billie was cooking, I was wondering just that: What's it going to taste like?

When she lifted the top off the first pot and the scent of the fish, apples and onions was released, I had no questions. Just from the aroma, I knew it was going to be something to taste.

The apples (and onions) give the fish a nice contrasting taste. Since it's green apples (or granny smiths) and you use the lemmon as seasoning, it's not too sweet (the way it would be with red apples). It's a really great taste.

Billie came up with the recipe when, like many parents, she was thinking, "My kids are not eating enough fruits and vegetables." So one Friday, they wanted fish and she'd bought green apples two days before, set them in the fruit bowl and watched as the kids never touched them.
The first time she made it, she used a skillet. You can do the above in a skillet. Use butter for cooking oil and remember you're cooking the fish, not frying it. She had onions on hand, so she sliced some of those and threw them in. If she makes it in the skillet, she usually uses the spice lemmon pepper (as well as fresh lemon -- but the lemmon pepper is in place of ground pepper and salt). For steaming, the lemmon pepper seems to sharp for her.

So the first time she made it, her kids were staring at it (as opposed to eating it) so she grabbed cheese from the fridge and sprinkled their plates with that. At which point, they dove in. She's played around with the recipe and really prefers the taste of it when it's steamed. But if you have concerns about steaming (if you haven't steamed anything before, it may make you nervous), you can cook it on the stove top in a skillet. We did that with two filets. I also had it with and without rice. Either way, it makes for a filling meal. If you like rice or are trying to stretch out the portions, you can have it over rice.

I was surprised at the flavors and intend to cook this dish as soon as I get home.

I'll talk a little about foods we had in Texas and that may be it. We came to DC late Friday to participate in the march today and we all overslept (compounded by no one remembering the time change). So we're all running behind today (I can't say "this morning" because morning ended some time ago).

I have never had a Chess Pie before but that's a very tasty pie. Devona is sending me the recipe and I'll share that as it gets warmer. (I think it would be perfect dessert for a summer picnic or gathering.) In East Texas, we not only had a wonderful pecan pie, I also got two large grocery sacks of pecans. Those were from Andre and his wife who have pecan trees on their property and gather pecans. The pecans fall from the tree onto the ground and ripen. October through December are the real harvesting time and Andre said they had more than they could use. Treva was kind enough to offer to bring them back in her RV. So I'll let her have on bag and we'll take the other.

Tex-Mex is very popular in Texas. If you don't know you're geography, Texas borders Mexico. If you don't know your history, Texas was part of Mexico. Cedric thought he could handle it with no problems because he loves Mexican foods and was only a little taken aback by some of the 'heat' when he ate it in California last summer. In Texas, 'heat' is a big thing if you're eating in a real Tex-Mex or Mexican place. If you're having it at a Luby's (there were a lot of those throughout Texas), you're getting a blander version. So, if you ever visit Texas and you're not from the area or the south, just be prepared that "hot" means "hot." Cedric got used to it quickly but the first time was drinking iced water and tea nonstop to cool his tongue off. (He'd told them he could handle everything as hot as they could make it.) This is true of the meal and the sauce with chips. It's not always what those of us outside would consider "salsa," so I used "sauce." If it's a dark red, it's going to be very hot. Pico de gallo is more along the lines of what most people outside the south will think of as salsa ("salsa" just means sauce in Spanish) -- that's the tomatoes, cilantro, onions and peppers uncooked. Mole or salsa ranchero (the latter is what really had Cedric grabbing for the iced water) are generally cooked. Miranda explained that to us in Houston and I thank her for patience because I know she must have thought, "How many questions does this woman have?"

Both because of the area's history and because of it's population makeup, Tex-Mex and Mexican foods are very popular. There are chains in the state (El Chico, Taco Bueno, etc.) but mainly there are many non-chains. In addition, there were Spanish places that served something other than Mexican. We were going into one place because Cedric wanted Mexican and Ava stopped us and told us the food would be fine but it was either Guatamalan or Honduran. This was in Dallas and I can't remember which she said it was. She said the food would taste very good but Cedric might feel it was more "watery" than what he was looking for. So there are a whole host of places to eat Latin American food in Texas.

Tex-Mex and Mexican aren't the only kinds of foods served in Texas. One of my favorites, in Dallas, was a place that community member In Dallas took us to, Thai Lotus Kitchen. Everything looked wonderful but I had the see through noodles and highly recommend those (as well as the spring rolls that come with every dish, I believe). I had mine with chicken pieces and just thinking about it now, my mouth is watering.

Another place I enjoyed eating at was Mercados in Tyler, Texas. Their food is Tex-Mex but it's less spicy. Which wasn't why I enjoyed it. I enjoyed it because their chicken is cooked in such a way that it has a smoky quality to the taste. I had the chicken fajitas. The sauce they serve with chips is a pico de galla that's been processed and is more sweet than hot. If you're ever in Tyler and you consume alcohol, they made the best margaritas I believe I've ever had. I also enjoyed the space in Mercados. I was told it's very packed at night and I can picture kids running around. In the pre-dinner time, you notice how much space there is between tables and how they keep it dark and cool inside. You come in from the hot, Texas, blazing sun, and it's just refreshing to sit down at a table or booth. The lighting there is like you're sitting in your living rooom mid-day with the lights off. If I'm remembering right, there's a lot of bricks inside the building and the bathrooms were hard for me to find. Finding the bathrooms would be my only complaint. I had to walk from one section and take a turn, which I missed the first time, and then finally discovered the ladies' room next to the kitchen. If you're a regular, you probably know right where to head but I honestly felt like I should have asked for a guide. (Maybe that was due to the very strong margarita? They really do make incredible margaritas.)

Dona filled me in on what she'd noticed going around to various states with C.I. which is C.I. emphasizes the fruits and vegetables. Monday night, we were staying with a friend's of C.I.'s who had an authentic Texas cookout. C.I. sampled a little of everything (samples means a bite, exactly one) but stuck to the corn on the cob. Throughout the week, all the food was so wonderful that it was hard not to pig out. Wally and Mike would often feel stuffed hours after eating which can you slow you down when you've got to be here and right after somewhere else and right after . . . (At Mercados in Tyler, Texas, C.I. and Kat both had the spinach enchiladas and shared some of that with me so let me also recommend the spinach enchiladas.) If you're going to the area for a leisurally trip, there is much to savor. If you're going there on a tight schedule, you will probably want to eat light throughout the day. (Mike and Wally's most constant remark was, "I am stuffed." With "am" drawn out.)

This may have been due to the weather (which changed throughout the week) but my impressions are that East Texas is generally cooler than South Texas or North Texas. (We didn't go to West Texas.) Dallas was hot.

Betty's oldest son was taking pictures for a school project he's doing. His only problem was running out film (we quickly got more) because there was so much to take photos of. I really think you could spend weeks traveling through Texas and have a very enjoyable vacation. Treva said we really needed to see Galveston, Texas if we came through again. She's retired and widowed so she spends a lot of time traveling around the United States in her RV. If Betty's son had a question, it didn't seem like there was ever a time when Treva couldn't field it. She told me that she had been lousy at geography and didn't even know the northern most states' layout until she got the RV. Now she could probably teach geography.

We didn't just speak with college students but, with all the myths out there, I feel it's important to note that this idea that students aren't paying attention to Iraq is a myth. I know that's true at home but it's also true in Texas. The Senate's weak measure didn't pass this week and there was a great deal of talk about the measure before it even came to a vote. The House measure? I learned that the requirement that Bully Boy get authorization from Congress before attacking Iran was stripped from the measure from students. They were very on top of it and know not only the names of their own members of Congress but can also tell you about Barbara Lee, Lynn Woolsey, Maxine Waters and Dennis Kucinich. I think Kucinich might have a strong base of support from Texas college students based on the conversations.

He is elevated far above the rest of the candidates in general. Clinton and Obama? They didn't fair well. Both are saying "no options are off the table" re: Iran and that's not playing well. It's also true that they both weaseled out of the issue of gays in the military following General Peter Pace's homophobic comments. The fact that it took them a full day to issue statements in support of gays was seen as even more evidence of their weakness.

Betty has made the point to refer to Obama as bi-racial and, among African-Americans in Texas, I heard that term repeatedly. The strongest critiques I heard of him came from African-Americans and though this was reported by the mainstream early on, it seems to have faded in the reporting. I'm not sure it's faded among voters.

With Clinton, I would hear a variation of "I would like to vote her" but couldn't because of her pro-war stance. There's a residual of good will about Bill Clinton and people we spoke with would like to be able to transfer that to Hillary but they are just appalled by her stand on Iraq. It's not even an issue of her stating plainly: "I made a mistake." It's an issue that she comes off as though she continues to support the illegal war. I believe it was mid-week when she told the New York Times that, if she were elected president, she would continue to keep some troops in Iraq. Between that and her noting the oil in the interview, it went from wanting to like her but not being able to straight to flat out disgust.

If I were to rank the support for the primary based on the discussions this week, Kucinich would be far ahead of the rest (not just among students), and then there would be solid layer of Clinton, Obama and Edwards. None appears to have pulled ahead of the others for a solid second place. Joe Biden was the only other name that ever came up and that was very rare -- also it came up with eye rolls.

If people running for office still don't get how important Iraq is to voters, I don't think they will grasp it anytime soon. The 2006 elections should have sent them a message. There's a feeling that Clinton thinks she can get Republican support by continuing to support the illegal war but if that's what she's thinking, she needs to hire better pollsters.

It was a wonderful trip. It was educational and fun. I thank everyone who shared food or recipes with me. A woman whose son is in the military shared a number of things with C.I. and that may get noted in "And the war drags on . . ." on Sunday. We met a lot of people whose children were in the military -- and they were against the illegal war. The country has turned against the war and politicians would do well to grasp that.

Be sure to check out Betty's "Couching with a Potato Head." Here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot" from Friday:

Friday, March 16, 2007. Chaos and violence continues in Iraq; US Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid proclaims "The war has gone on too long. We must change direction in Iraq" but apparently can't control senators in his own party; protests rock Sadr City in Baghdad; Vicky Toejam will have to think of a new falsehood now that Valerie Plame has testified to the US Congress that she was a covert CIA agent; and the health 'care' for veterans remains a scandal.

Starting with war resistance, today on
KPFA's Making Contact, Aaron Glantz addressed the topic of Ehren Watada, the first commissioned officer to publicly refuse to deploy to Iraq (June 2006) and the first to be court-martialed (last month). Glantz noted that before the court-martial began, on a rainy Sunday night, people gathered to show their support. Among those speaking were retired Lt. Col. and retired State Department Ann Wright, "
I have been here so many times and so many times for justice and principle." Glantz noted how the presiding judge, Lt. Col. John Head (aka Judge Toilet) refused to allow Watada to put foward his best defense -- explaining why he refused to deploy. A review of the court-martial's second day included Geoffrey Millard's observations (
Millard reported on the court-martial for Truthout) that the prosecutions' own witnesses backed up Watada under cross examination. This point was echoed by Jeff Paterson who told Glantz, "All the prosecution's witnesses stood up there and said miltary service are important oaths are important but on cross examination they explained how Ehren Watada was trying to fulfill his oath." (Paterson covered the court-martial for Courage to Resist.) Glantz noted that the prosecution witnesses had stated that intent was important as the second day ended so there was a belief that Watada might be able to present his motivations when he took the stand the following day.

"On Wednseday morning the court room was filled with anticipation," Glantz noted. But that quickly changed as Judge Toilet zeroed in on a stipulation where Watada agreed to making public statements. Judge Toilet had seen the stipulation the week prior, on Monday he had instructed the jury on the stipulation. On Wednesday, it was suddenly an issue. Judge Toilet declared a mistrail (over the defense's objections). Eric Seitz, Watada's civilian attorney, notes that double-jeopardy should prevent Watada from being court-martialed again; however, the military has scheduled Juyl 16th for the start of his second court-martial.

US war resister Joshua Key has told his story in the new book
The Deserter's Tale. In addition, he is also one of the war resisters profiled in Peter Laufer's Mission Rejected: U.S. Soldiers Who Say No to Iraq, from page 14:

Joshua still does not understand what he was doing in Iraq in the first place. "I still couldn't tell you why I was there. What purpose was it for? Whose gain was it for? I don't know the truth to it. Like I tell my wife, that's the problem with war -- your president, your generals, they send you off to go fight these battles. And all the way down to your commanding officers, they don't go out there with you. They send you out there to fight and do the crazy sh*t and do the dirty stuff. You're the one who has to live with the nightmares from it. You come back, you're nothing, you know? Guys are living on the streets that fought in Iraq just as well as I did. I mean it's horrific."

Ehren Watada and Joshua Key are part of a movement of resistance within the military that also includes Darrell Anderson, Agustin Aguayo, Kyle Snyder, Mark Wilkerson, Camilo Mejia, Patrick Hart, Ivan Brobeck, Ricky Clousing, Aidan Delgado, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Jeremy Hinzman, Stephen Funk, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Corey Glass, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Katherine Jashinski, Chris Teske, Matt Lowell, Jimmy Massey, Tim Richard, Hart Viges, Michael Blake 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.

Joshua Key's statements ("You come back, you're nothing, you know? Guys are living on the streets that fought in Iraq just as well as I did. I mean it's horrific.") are the jumping off point to the realities now more openly addressed: what passes for 'care' that many returning receive (or 'receive'). In light of the recent scandals about Walter Reed Army Medical Center,
Gregg Zoroya (USA Today) establishes the point that not all have to deal with mold, rats and roaches -- some quarters are very nice such as the Esienhower Executive Nursing Suite (Ward 72) which "features heightened security, including bullet-proof windows and secure telephone lines. Among the other touches are flat-panel television and curio cabinets filled with gifts from foreign leaders." This is the VIP suite but US Rep John Tierney feels "the true VIPs" are the returning service members and not the ones who get the Esienhower Executive Nursing Suite: "the presidents, the vice president, federal judges, members of Congress and the Cabinet, high-ranking military officials and even foreign dignitaries and their spouse. The only enlisted members of the military who are eligible to stay there are receipients of the Medal of Honor." Conn Hallinan (Berkeley Daily Planet) observes that the problems with Walter Reed require more than show firings, "'addressing' the problem will require jettisoning former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's high-tech subsidies to the nation's arms makers at the expense of the grunts, as well as the White House's mania for privitaziation. [Francis] Harvey [Army Secretary until recently] was brought in by Rumsfeld specifically to reduce the federal work force and, as he said in a speech last year, 'improve efficiency.' A former executive for one of the nation's leading arms producers, Westinghouse, Harvey hired IAP Worldwide Services -- run by two former Halliburton executives -- which promptly reduced the number of people providing service at Walter Reed from 300 to 60. The cutback and resulting increase in workloads kicked off an exodus of trained personnel, which an in-hospital study just released by the House Committee on Oversight and Governance found could lead to 'mission failure'."

One person who has been fighting for better service and for an end to the illegal war is Tina Richards whose son Cloy Richards has served two tours of duty in Iraq and now suffers from PTSD.
Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez (Democracy Now!) spoke with Richards today and she explained what was next for her son in the Veterans Affairs system: "On March 24th, he's supposed to report in with documentation from Veterans Affairs as to his disabilities. The problem is, is that he doesn't have that documentation, because we've ben fighting with the VA system for close to a year now, just trying to get him treatment. Recently, I've been sitting in on the hearings, and I was interviewed by a Veterans Affairs Committee on the House. And it appears that a lot symptoms that my son has is actually from traumatic brain injury, which can sometimbes be confused with PTSD, or it can be a combination of both. You know, he definitely has undiagnosed traumatic brain injury."

On today's Democracy Now!,
Gonzalez and Goodman also spoke with Jean Stentz whose husband, Vietnam vet Willie Dougherty, died last year in a series of injustices that began when he was denied a VA hospital in his area -- Jean Stenz: "Because the VA hospital was full, and they wanted him to go to another one. And so, Beaumont's two hours away from us, and Houston's an hour away, but they sent him to Beaumont. And then, when they released him, I took him down by ambulance to the VA hospital emergency room, who refused him at that time, because they said he wasn't sick enough. He had an infection. He was perspiring profusely. I mean, the pillows were wet. He had fever. He had trouble breathing. But he wasn't sick enough. So we came home. We called on the phone -- in fact, my daughter and I had two phones going, the cell and the home phone -- trying to find help for him. Finally, the VA doctor in Lufkin decided that he should be put in a nursing home. He was in a nursing home in Huntsville less than two days and was very sick, was transferred to the Huntsville emergency room, who transferred him finally to the VA hospital in Houston, where he was in ICU -- very ill -- and transferred to their hospice room and died."

And though the US administration shows no genuine efforts at caring for those injured in combat, they're more than prepared to send even more over to Iraq.
Bryan Bender (Boston Globe) reports the escalation goes on, the escalation goes on: "The top US commander in Iraq has requested another Army brigade . . . . The appeal -- not yet made public -- by General David Petraeus for a combat aviation unti would involved between 2,500 and 3,000 more soldiers and dozens of transport helicopters and powerful gunships, said the Pentagon sources. That would bring the planned expansion of US forces to close to 30,000 troops." Meanwhile, Pauline Jelinek (AP) reports that an additional 2,600 troops "from a combat aviation unit" are going to Iraq "45 days earlier than planned" and that the excuse for not including it in Bully Boy's January numbers was because, Col. Steven Boylan, "This was requested over a month ago as part of the surge." For those who've forgotten, in January Bully Boy announced his intentions to send 21,500 more US service members into Iraq. The response from the American people was "NO!" The US Congress couldn't find it's spine and now that number is not threatened so Bully Boy's upped it. Bender reports that it's about to be upped again and Jelinek reports that in addition to those numbers made public, the White House has numbers they have not made public -- apparently to the people or the Congress.

Edward Wong and Damien Cave (New York Times) and Sudarsan Raghavan (Washington Post) reported, yesterday Rahim al-Daraji was attacked (mayor of Sadr City) and Tina Susman (Los Angeles Times) reports that, today, Moqtada al Sadr "denounced the presences of U.S. troops in his Baghdad stronghold of Sadr City, and thousands of his followers waved banners and marched through the neighborhood to back his call for a withdrawal of foreign forces." Prior to the attack, al-Sadr was widely reported to have instructed his militia to lay low during the US sweeps of Sadr City.

In violence today . . .


Reuters notes a mortar attack in Baghdad that killed one and wounded five "in southern Baghdad" and a Kirkuk roadside bomb the resulted in the deaths of two police officers and left three wounded. Qassim Abdul-Zahra (AP) notes the Baghdad mortar attack was on a Sunni mosque. Tina Susman (Los Angeles Times) reports that the mortar attack on the mosque found two mortars landing behind the structure and an third landing in front and Susman also notes another mortar in Hillah which killed one person. Mohammed al Dulainy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a roadside bombing in Baghdad damaged a US military vehicle, a mortar attack on a home "in Al Muasllat neighborhood" killed three members of one family, and three police officers were wounded id Diyala when a man with a "vest bomb" staged an attack.


Qassim Abdul-Zahra (AP) notes the shooting death of "a member of the governmental facilities protection service in Suwayrah, 25 miles south of Baghdad." Mohammed al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a fake checkpoint was set up in Diyala and "3 Kurd brothers" were shot dead -- "two of them were less than 10 years old" -- and that, in Kirkuk, an attack on police officers that started with a roadside bomb ended in gunfire with two police officers being killed, and 10 people wounded (6 of whom were police officers).


Mohammed al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) notes that 9 corpses were found in Baghdad and 2 corpses were discovered in Kirkuk today.

Also today, the US military made announcements: First,
they announce: "A Marine assigned to Multi National Force-West died March 14 in a noncombat related incident in Al Anbar Province." Then they announce: "One Soldier died as a result of injuries sustained from an explosion when Task Force Lightning Soldiers were attacked while conducting combat operations in Salah ad Din Province, Thursday."

Noting yesterday's US Congressional news,
Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) summarized today: "On Thursday, Democrats advanced an Iraq withdrawal resolution in the House but failed to pass a similar measure in the Senate. The House Appropriations Committee voted to send the military spending bill to the House floor. The vote was thirty-six to twenty-eight. The bill would link war funding in part to the withdrawal of combat troops by September of 2008. Democratic Congressmember Barbara Lee of California broke party ranks to vote against the measure. Lee says the resolution doesn't go far enough to end the war. Lee said: 'I believe the American people sent a mandate to us to bring home our men and women before the end of the year.' Meanwhile, the Senate voted down a measure to withdraw troops by April of 2008. The final vote was fifty to forty-eight. Before voting, Senate Majority leader Harry Reid hailed the measure as an opportunity to change course. . . . Two Democratic Senators -- Mark Pryor of Arkansas and Ben Nelson of Nebraska -- joined Republicans in voting against the proposal. Independent Senator Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut also sided with Republicans." As noted on page A8 of today's New York Times (AP box, lower left hand corner), Republican Gordon Smith (Oregon) voted in favote of the measure and was the only Republican to do so. In addition, Socialist Bernie Sanders (Vermont) voted for the measure. AFP reports that Senator and 2008 presidential hopeful Joe Biden stated those who voted against the measure would hear from their constituents on the vote; therefore, "It is ony a matter of time before our Republican colleagues come to that conclusion . . . In the meantime a lot of innocent lives are going to be lost."

The day prior, US House Rep and 2008 presidential hopeful
Dennis Kucinich proposed an amendment to the supplemental which would address the Iraqi oil law: "The United States should not be requiring Iraq to open their oil fields to private foreign companies as a condition of ending our occupation. The Administration's strong push to enact a hydrocarbon law has little to do with the needs of the Iraqi people. Instead it is a concerted effort to ensure that American oil companies are granted access to Iraqi oil fields. By adopting this benchmark in the supplemental, and requiring the enactment of this law by the Iraqi government, Democrats will be instrumental in privatizing Iraqi oil. We must remove this benchmark from the supplemental and work to ensure any hydrocarbon law put in place is truly the best interests of all Iraqi people."

The House bill that passed the committee vote yesterday does not include any statement regarding the Bully Boy to get Congressional authorization should he decide to go to war on Iran next. Kucinich: "
The House Appropriates Committee removed language from the Iraq war funding bill requiring the Administration, under Article 1, Section 8, Clause 11 of the Constitution, to see permission before it launched an attack against Iran. Since war with Iran is an option of this Administration, and since such war is patently illegal, then impeachment may well be the only remedy which remainst to stop a war of aggression against Iran."

CNN reports that Valerie Plame testifed to Congress today (a) that she was a covert agent and that (b) the outing of her for political reasons was harmful not only to her but to other (and that it hurt morale). In addition, CNN reports that she "testified her work involved gathering intelligence on weapons of mass destruction." Plame is married to former ambassador Joe Wilson who went to Niger to determine whether or not Iraq had attempted to obtain yellow cake uranium from that country. Wilson found no evidence of an attempt. Despite that fact (which was reported back, through channels, up to the administration), Bully Boy elected to include the false claim (known false) in his 2003 State of the Union address as part of his attempt to scare a nation into war. Wilson would speak privately to Nicholas Kristof (New York Times) about the falsehood and then write his own New York Times op-ed entitled "What I Didn't Find In Africa." The result was the White House conspired to out a CIA covert agent. The Vicky Toejam brigade has long tried to obscure the realities with false claims and the press has often helped them playing fast and loose with the facts -- such as Darlene Superville (AP) -- see Wally and Cedric's entry from yesterday.

kpfaaaron glantz
joshua key