Friday, October 24, 2008

Thanksgiving in the Kitchen

"Trina, I'm stuck with Thanksgiving, my husband's looking for a job, what am I going to do?"

That's an e-mail that came in this week. The first thing, "Rina" (I'm naming her that and choosing that name because I've been in her shoes before -- many times), is you're not going to panic. Forget panic.

First off, it's not going to help. Second off, you're early enough that this can be pulled off.

We've exchanged e-mails daily since Tuesday and, in case anyone else is in a situation similar to Rina, I'm writing about this.

Ham not turkey? That was Rina's first question.

No. Turkey. Turkey will be 49 cents a pound or lower. You may have to buy $20.00 of groceries to get that price, but immediately after Halloween, turkeys will go on sale in most areas. You will not see a ham for 49 cents a pound.

To get that $20 plus worth of groceries, Rina's put ten dollars in an envelope for Thanksgiving today and will do so next Friday and the Friday after.

So here's the basic meal planned.

1) Turkey
2) Dressing
3) Black eyed peas
4) Mashed potatoes
5) Gravy
6) Cranberry sauce
7) Rolls
8) Celery, cream cheese

You're going to buy the turkey as soon as it's on sale if you're facing Rina's economic situation. You'll put it in the freezer. Dressing is 2 boxes plus two stalks of celery. You'll slice both stalks and, in a large pan, sautee it in butter. Then you'll add the water to bring to a boil (enough for two boxes) along with the butter and follow directions on box.

Gravy? Turkey giblets. They'll be in the package in the turkey cavity. You'll grab the neck bone and giblets, put them in a medium size pan with water and bring to a boil. Allow to cool, remove the neck and giblets. Slice meat from the neck and slice the giblets. Toss these back in the pan with the water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, add a half stick of butter, stir, add flour. The flour is going to be a tablespoon at a time. You will also add a half cup of milk with the first tablespoon. On the low heat, you stir and taste. If the gravy (which will be white) tastes fine, just go with the one tablespoon of flour. If not, add another. Add no more than three and if you add three you may need to cut it with more milk. In addition to flour, you can salt and pepper as well.

The mashed potatoes you can either peel a half-pound of potatoes, bring to a boil, simmer for ten to fifteen minutes, drain water, mash potatoes, add milk, butter, salt and pepper. Or you can use a mix.

Black eyed peas? A bag of dried black eyed peas that you will cook according to direction. After you've cooked them, you will drain off all the water. You will then place them in a container in the fridge (you can store for up to two days ahead of time). When it it time to serve them, heat them in the mircowave. If you have bacon on hand, you can cook a strip (or two), crumble it up and put it in the dish with the black eyed peas. When heating (either on the stovetop or in the microwave), you will need to add water. Less for the microwave.

Rolls go on sale early but they do not keep well. I think one week is about as far as you can push rolls even kept in the fridge. I could be wrong and they could be fine much longer. Rina is expecting six adults (plus herself and her husband) and several children. So two packages of rolls is the minimum.

Let's talk celery snacks. You're going to cut the stalks up (if they're long, into two or three sections), fill the center with cream cheese, sprinkle with paprika and top with slice olives (black or green). Now you're not using the end of the stalks or the leafy tops. But you are not discarding them.

The turkey will be cooked in the oven according to the details on the bag. However, you will put the celery bits around the base of the turkey to allow for a seasoning. Before you place the bird in the oven, you will apply a light coat of butter.

Cranberry sauce will be canned.

Desserts? That's what company can bring. Rina wrote that she always burns pies so we decided why even try? Let someone else bring it. That's an important point, you do not have to cook and provide everything.

You can ask that guests bring a dessert and you can encourage them to bring a vegetable as well.

Now if one pumpkin pie is brought, as far as I'm concerned, this is all you need for a good Thanksgiving. Most people will be tightening their belts this holiday season. You've covered all the basics.

I would encourage you to make tea and make a pitcher of sweetened and unsweetened. Everyone can have tea (and water if they don't want tea). No Cokes, no energy drinks.

As we worked on the above all week, Rina realized she could pull this off and had more than enough time to plan and prepare. She also wanted a salad.

We decided a green leaf lettuce (Boston, Romaine) with white onions sliced in circles, olives (not used for the celery snacks) and one can of garbonzo beans (drained).

If you start planning now, you'll find somethings you can buy right now (such as instant potatoes or dressing mix). That will let you get started and begin the process. By purchasing a little at a time, it won't be as big an expense the week of Thanksgiving.

If you missed it, Circuit City is considering closing 150 stores. And, as C.I. and I have pointed out in Hilda's Mix, there will be no stimulus checks before the holiday shopping (or before the new year). I need to especially note two posts by Ruth: "Senator Biden needs to stop lying" and "There will be no second stimulus check this year." I asked Ruth about the reaction to the posts and she said it was similar to what I get: regular readers grasp the reality while drive-bys insist that she's wrong. I really am sick of those e-mails here, by the way. We've discussed the economy for months now and what's happening (and where we're headed) is not a surprise to regular readers and vistors to my 'kitchen'. But there are some people in serious denial. You need to grasp it's not just England that's in a recession, it's the US as well.

And it's only going to get worse because there will be no huge holiday bump as a result of sales. There's no big shopping season and to have big sales the retailers will have to slash prices big.

I'm supporting Ralph Nader and this is from his campaign:

Pass It On: Obama Brand Democracy
Posted by Ashley Sanders on Friday, October 24, 2008 at 11:03:00 PM
Ralph Nader has consistently warned about the dangers of mixing money and politics. His criticisms are particularly pointed for Obama and McCain, who have accepted millions from corporations and lobbyists alike. But the collusion between politics is more dangerous and more expansive than anyone could have imagined, and this year’s multi-billion dollar election looks more like an auction where politicians are bought and sold than a democracy. Perhaps the most insidious aspect of this financial free-for-all, however, is how much politics, media, and big business stand to gain from each other and how much the average voter stands to lose. As Obama moves to become the world’s biggest brand, brand democracy enters its final phase—what could be rightly called the political-industrial complex, where everyone benefits but the voters.
Ashley SandersThe Nader Team

Today’s Pass It On article was written by Amy Goodman and appears on You can read the original article here.

While I'm not voting for McCain -Palin, I can take pride in the speech Governor Sarah Palin gave Tuesday. C.I. included a lengthy excerpt of it in yesterday's snapshot which I wanted to share here:

A couple of people I would like you to meet, a couple of my kids, three of them who are here, we have Willow and Piper and Trig Palin. So glad to have them on the trail with me. Alright, Nevada. Now John McCain and I, we take your state motto so seriously: "All for country." And let's take a moment to honor the Americans in this crowd who have put our country first those of you who have served in the past as veterans or you're serving today, if you could raise your hands, let us honor you guys, we thank you so much. Thank you. We do thank you for your service and for your sacrifice. We owe you. Thank you, sir. Thank you.
Okay, so we are here near UNLV's campus. The home of the Runnin' Rebels. It's great to be here as part of a team that has a kinship with them. And John and I, though we don't call ourselves the Runnin' Rebels, we consider ourselves a team of mavericks and we do share that unique spirit though and I hope that we can count on you to put the maverick of the Senate in the White House November 4th. We need your vote, Nevada. Are you ready to help carry your state to victory? Are you ready to make John McCain the next president of the United States of America? Are you ready to send us to Washington to shake things up? Thank you.
And today I have another question that is especially for the women in this audience and all across our great country, all you women, yes: "Are you ready to break the highest, hardest glass ceiling in America?"
Now it is such an honor for me today to have up here on stage some very independent, very courageous, very accomplished women and I am so honored to get to introduce you to these women who have broken a few glass ceilings of their own and I ask you gals to stand up here as I introduce you. First, Prameela Bartholomeusz, a small business owner and a member of the Democratic National Platform Committee. She's with us today. Thank you. It is my honor to have with us also Linda Klinge, the former Oregon president and now vice president of the National Organization of Women. She's with us here today! And Shelley Mandell, president of the Los Angeles chapter of the National Organization of Women, here with us today! And Lynn Rothschild also. You may have seen her on television a whole lot lately. She is a member of the Democratic Platform Committee. She is with us here today. And Elaine Lafferty, a former editor in chief of Ms. magazine. They are here today to endorse the McCain-Palin campaign. We're honored. We are proud. And I thank them for their confidence, for their support, especially for their courage. Thank you so much. Thank you, thank you.
Our opponents think that they have the women's vote all locked up which is a little presumptuous. Little presumptuous since only our side has a woman on the ticket. So. We won't ignore any of the men in the audience but again this is for the women in the audience here. When it came time for choosing, somehow Barack Obama just couldn't bring himself to pick the woman who got 18 million votes in his primary. And that seems to be too familiar a story, isn't it? That, uh, how it is for so many American women that the qualifications are there but for some reason the promotion never comes. There is always some long explanation for why they got passed over or some unseen barrier, some excuse and that's just one of the things that I so admire about John McCain: He is not someone who makes excuses.
You've got to ask yourself why wasn't Senator Hillary Clinton even vetted by the Obama campaign? Why did it take 24 years, an entire generation, from the time Geraldine Ferraro made her pioneering bid until the next time that a woman was asked to join a national ticket. In the long history of our country, 74 people have held the position of president or vice president and why have the major parties given America only two chances to even consider a woman for either office? 88 years after women gained the right to vote and 83 years after Nellie Tayloe Ross of Wyoming became the first woman governor in our great nation and 60 years after Margaret Chase Smith was elected to the Senate this glass ceiling it -- it is still there. But it's about time that we shattered that glass ceiling once and for all. See -- see there is a difference, there is a difference between what Barack Obama says and what he does and his primary opponent wasn't the first one to notice this.
Out on the stump he talks a good game about equal pay for equal work but, according to the Senate payroll records, women on his own staff get just 83 cents for every dollar that the men get. That's 9,000 dollars less every year that he pays the guys. And you gotta ask what is with that? Does he think that the women aren't working as hard? Does he think that they are 17 percent less productive? And Barack Obama can't say that this is just the way that its always been done around the Capitol because I know one senator who actually does pay women equal wages for equal work: Senator John McCain.
See this is just another reason why American women -- Democrat, Republican, independent -- should not let Barack Obama just take their votes for granted. And let me give you a few more reasons starting with his plan to, as he puts it, spread the wealth around. That is how our opponent defended his so-called tax cut to Joe the plumber the other day. Or Wendy the plumber's daughter, there you go. Now that spreading the wealth around really is just a scheme for income distribution. Joe didn't buy it. Joe the plumber, he would have none of that. He called him on it. In fact, he said that he sure thought that sounded like socialism. Joe the plumber.
And the rest of us shouldn't buy it either -- especially the millions of women in America who own small businesses. Women start as many new businesses as men start and they are entrepreneurs, trying to make a better life for themselves and for their families. And trying to make payroll for their employees. They're women, just like Irma Aguirre is her name. She owns a restaurant close by. She dreamed for years of owning her own restaurant and she made it just a year ago. Irma, she owns the La Madonna Mexican Restaurant, right here in Las Vegas. She employs 20 people. And she's exactly the kind of small business owner whose taxes would go way up under the Obama tax plan. And the health care fines and the mandates that our opponent would impose aren't gonna help her much either. They're gonna force her to let employees go if they are too high and they could even put her out of business. And our opponents thinks he's got problems with Joe the plumber? Well he should talk to Irma the restaurant owner because she's voting for John McCain too.
The working women of this country -- those who work inside the home and outside of the home -- they're overlooked by politicians in Washington and Barack Obama hasn't given us a single reason to believe that he would be any better. A company's balance sheet tallies up just the same whether it's a man who owns the business or a woman. And women want the same opportunities as men. And they're entitled to the same rewards. See, the point here, the point here is that women would suffer just as much from the massive tax increase that Senator Obama proposes. And, you know, there are a lot of families in this country with no father present. And when we make laws in Washington, those laws need to understand that -- they need to serve the mothers who are taking care of their families.
I've been very, very blessed to have a husband who's supported me along the way. He's a great dad who doesn't disappear at bath time or run from diaper duty and I appreciate that. But a lot of women have it much, much harder than I've had it. And they need child care -- which today can cost some families a third of their household budget. And they need reforms in labor laws that allow greater flexibility in the workplace, including more telecommuting. And they need a tax code that doesn't penalize working families. They need health care that the family can take with them when they move or change jobs. And they need better choices in retirement plans and worker retraining when things get tough. Women also need equal pay for equal work -- and not just be a 'talking point'.
Really, it is that simple. It's a matter of fundamental fairness -- fairness in this country. And to make all this happen, working mothers need an advocate and they will have one when this working mother is working for all of you in the White House.
When I was a kid, Congress passed a law that's come to be known as Title IX. And that law allowed millions of girls to play sports. And over time -- and over time, that opened more than just the doors to the gymnasium. Along with other reforms, Title IX helped us to see ourselves and our futures a different way. Women of my generation were allowed finally to make more of our own choices with education and with career, and I have never forgotten that we owe that opportunity to women, to feminists, who came before us. We were allowed to be participants instead of just spectators on the achievements of others. And I was lucky to have a lot of support at home too. Now among the many things I owe my parents is one simple lesson, and that was this is America and every woman can walk through every door of opportunity. The belief in equal opportunity is not just the cause of feminists, it's the creed of our country: equal opportunity.
And if I'm given the honor of serving you in the White House, I intend to advance that creed in our own nation and beyond because, across the world, there are still places where women are subjugated and persecuted as they were in Afghanistan, places where they're bullied and brutalized and murdered in honor killings, places where women are sold like commodities in the nightmare world of the sex trade, and places where baby girls are unwelcome as a matter of state policy and their mothers are forced to have abortions. Now no one person, no one leader, can bring an end to all of those ills, to all of the injustices inflicted upon women, but I can promise you this, if I am elected, these women, too, will have an advocate and a defender in the 47th vice president of the United States.
John McCain and I will be strong advocates for women's rights right here in the United States and around the world and we will confront the challenges that our country faces, challenges that concern all Americans.

Oklahoma community members are supporting the McCain -Palin ticket and I support their decision. My brother is planning to vote for the ticket as well. He is more comfortable with that not because he doesn't support Ralph Nader but because he is strongly opposed to Barack (due to the Bill Ayers issue -- my brother is a police officer). Regardless of whom you're voting for or why, I hope you too can take pride in the speech Governor Palin gave and the fact that as often as she is trashed and slimed, she keeps fighting.

This is C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot" for today:

Friday, October 24, 2008. Chaos and violence continue, concerns rise regarding Iraqi Christians, the "Awakening" members forgotten?, and more.

Mary Beth Sheridan (Washington Post) observes, "But the violence diminished with the creation of 'Awakening' groups, U.S.-paid patrols of mostly Sunni fighters who broke with insurgents and allied with U.S. forces." 'Awakening' members are Sunni thugs put on the US payroll in order to stop the attacks on the US. It's the "fork over your lunch money" strategy playground 'strategy' as US Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker and Gen David Petraeus made clear in their testimonies to Congress in April. For some US currency, the attacks would stop and the US would step out of the way and let the "Awakening" take over various regions providing 'security' which struck many residents as a reign of terror. October 1st, the puppet government in Iraq was supposed to take over nearly half the "Awakening" members (but even that portion remains on the US payroll). Nouri al-Maliki has never trusted the "Awakenings" and has staffed his ministries with his own Shi'ite thugs. Petraeus has repeatedly praised the "Awakenings" as providing security to Iraq. Where do things stand now? Earlier in the week, Surdarsan Raghavan (Washington Post) reported on the issue and noted it "is already touching off new conflicts that could deepen without U.S. military backing for the movement. They have stripped traditional tribal leaders of influence. They have carved up Sunni areas into fiefdoms, imposing their views on law and society and weakening the authority of the Shiite-led central government. Divisions are emerging among the new breed of tribal leaders, even as they are challenging established Sunni religious parties for political dominance." The "Awakening" presence was felt last year after repeated kick start attempts (always hailed as a 'turned corner' by the press) going back to 2005. The pay-offs were one aspect of the counter-insurgency strategies being deployed against Iraqis. Barack Obama, Democratic presidential nominee, supports counter-insurgency and has the bulk of those responsible for the assault on Iraqis on his advisory board (Sarah Sewell, Samantha Power, et al). So it's no surprise that Time quotes him insisting, "The Sunni awakening changed the dynamic in Iraq fundamentally. It could not have occured unless there were some contacts and intermediaries to peel off those who are tribal leaders, regional leaders, Sunni nationalists, from a more radical messianic brand of insurgency." [Note: Time is down for "scheduled maintenance session" -- that web address was given to me over the phone. If it does not work, Google the quote and you will find it.]

Tim King (Salem-News) observes: "At least half of them are being cut loose and Iraq is expected to take over the payments for a little more than half the program. Most members of this group believe they will not see any payments from their now country. Cutting off the payments to the Sons of Iraq is a colossal mistake. The checkpoints operated by the Sons of Iraq are exactly what has brought the peace to Iraq. Ending them is foolish, but we are doing it. These are mostly Sunni Muslims and they had a place in the Shiite government with the Sons of Iraq, but we are allowing one of the war's few success stories to end, and likely have not even begun to see the repercussions that are sure to come." The "Awakening" members fear they will be arrested or worse and on the issue of arrests,
Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reported Monday, "Police arrested three Sahwa members in Mustafa neighborhood in Baquba, according to arrest warrants." (Sahwa and Sons Of Iraq are other names for "Awakening" members.)

Meanwhile the crisis continues for Iraqi Christians.
Mark MacKinnon (Globe and Mail) speaks with Father Sabri al-Maqdessy who explains, "Christians have always been targeted by different groups in the Middle East because we are the only people without a tirbal system to protect us or that political power to give us security. The church is weak. The Vatican does not have tanks. . . . Everyone is leaving. If the situation continues the way it is for another 10 years, 20 at most, you won't see any Christians left here." Mission News Network via quotes Open Doors USA's president Carl Moeller, "I'm afraid it's actually getting worse. The Christian community continues to be terrorized by extremists and basically are being forced out of homes at gunpoint, children and elderly people being murdered. This is a real crisis. Not just a Christian crisis, but a real humanitarian crisis for the country of Iraq." UN High Comissioner for Refugees spokesperson Ron Redmond addressed the topic in Geneva today:

UNHCR is helping thousands of Iraqi Christians who have fled the northern city of Mosul over the past fortnight, most of them to villages elsewhere in Ninewa province but also about 400 who have crossed into Syria. It is still not clear who is behind the intimidation that caused them to flee. More than 2,200 families, or some 13,000 people, are estimated to have left Mosul by mid-week, mostly to safe areas to the north and east of the city. That is more than half of Mosul's Christian population. They have also fled to the neighboring governorates of Dahuk, Erbil and Kirkuk. Most have been taken in by other Christian families. The displacement now appears to be slowing, according to UNHCR staff in the region. UNHCR Iraq and its partners have delivered aid to at least 1,725 of the displaced families in about 20 ares of northern Iraq. In Syria, meanwhile, UNHCR Representative Laurens Jolles reports that many Christians from Mosul have been systematically targeted and no longer feel safe there. UNHCR will provide support for those Iraqis who seek refuge in neighborhing countries and we very much appreciate that Syria countinues to welcome refugees. Syria already hosts at least 1.2 million Iraqis.

This as
Assyrian International News Agency reports that Yonadam Kanna ("leader of the Assyrian Democratic Movement and member of Iraq's parliament") has called for the troops in Mosul to be pulled and new ones to be sent in, "We call for an exchange of the troops who failed to protect the Christians in their areas with new troops who are able to bring security to these areas." And in a new development, AINA reports, "The auxiliary bishop of the Chaldean Church of Babylon in Iraq, His eminence Shlemon Warduni, expressed support on Friday for the establishment of an administrative area for the minorities living in the Nineveh Plain. Speaking to the reporter of the webzine, the high ranking church leader made it clear his church has changed its stand on the administrative unit issue. . . . The Iraqi constitution allows for the establishment of local rule for minorities in areas where they have considerable numbers. The Assyrian Democratic Movement, the political party supported by an overwhelming majority of Assyrians from all church denominations during the last national elections, announced during a 2003 conference in Baghdad it endorses the idea of making the minority dense Nineveh Plain area into an administrative unit according to the Iraqi constitution. Since then, an increasing number of Assyrian representatives from the political and religious sphere have supported the plan."

In some of today's reported violence,
Reuters notes a Kut mortar attack that claimed the lives of 3 children (two more wounded). AndReuters notes 1 Iraqi soldier was shot dead outside Tuz Khurmato and wounded two others.

Stopping for the public airwaves (and all listed can be streamed), in public radio news,
WBAI Monday features Judy Collins. Collins and Kenny White appear on Janet Coleman and David Dozer's Cat Radio Cafe along with playwright Shem Bitterman. The program airs Monday at 2:00 p.m. EST. Public television? NOW on PBS offers a report on the nursing crisis: "According to a government study, by the year 2020, there could be a nationwide shoratge of up to one million nurses, which could result in substandard treatment for hundreds of thousands of patients. Just as alarming, fewer nurses are choosing to teach the next generation of professionals, resulting in tens of thousands of applicants being turned away from the nation's nursing schools." NOW on PBS begins airing on many PBS stations tonight (check local listings) as does Washington Week which finds Gwen joined by journalists Shailagh Murray (Washington Post), Michael Viqueira (NBC) and David Shribman (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette) and, for the child-at-heart, Gwen also provides two circus clowns on the panel.

Turning to the US race for president. Barack Obama is not a Socialist or a Communist (or a socialist or a communist). He is a Corporate War Hawk. But the confusion is understandable considering all the efforst to prop Baby Barry up throughout the Democratic Party primary by non-Democrats. It's the general election and Barack's just received his latest endorsement from a Socialist or a Communist: Howard Zinn. (Zinn is a Socialist.)
Watch him make an ass out of himself via the so-called "Real" News. Mickey Z (Dissident Voice) provides the takedown for that pathetic sort of cowardice: "This strategy of choosing an alleged 'lesser evil' because he/she might be influenced by some mythical 'popular movement' would be naive if put forth by a high school student. Professors [Noam] Chomsky and Zinn know better. If it's incremental change they want, why not encourage their many readers to vote for Ralph Nader or Cynthia McKinney? The classic (read: absurd) reply to that question is: 'Because Nader or McKinney can't win.' Of course they can't win if everyone who claims to agree with them inexplicably votes for Obama instead. Paging Alice: You're wanted down the ______ rabbit hole." And on the subject of Noam Chomsky, let's drop back to 2007 when Panhandle Media was far less concerned with propping up Weather Underground. This is Michael Alpert of ZNet (ZMag) speaking to Amy Goodman in April of 2007:

Michael Albert: One example was, Weatherman was a group that was engaged in activity at the time. It was part of SDS, not a part I was belonged to, but they wanted to recruit me. At a particular moment, I went into Noam's office, and I asked him about it, this recruitment effort by them and whether -- you know, how I should relate. Noam was loath to give people advice about what to do in their life or about strategy.

Amy Goodman: And explain what the Weathermen were.

Michael Albert: The Weathermen were a very -- they were the most militant, most violent wing of SDS. Their analysis was a bit peculiar. I don't think we need to go into details. But in any case, so I asked him about that, and he was very loath to do that, but in this particular case -- we were already pretty close, and he -- you know, he didn't want me to make an error, so he did make a suggestion. And he sort of said very quickly, he said, "They're wonderful people. They're great people. They're moved well. I mean, their motives are good. Some of them are going to die. Some of them are going to hurt others. They're going to have very little effect on the well-being of people around the world because of what they're doing." And in a phrase, right, he captured what was there, and his advice was important. I don't think it was a difinitive in my choice not to join, but it certainly would have been a big factor.

And there's actually a lot more to the above anecdote. (I know Michael, I've heard the anecdote repeately over the years in expanded form.) But Chomsky is warning Albert against the Weathermen. The Weathermen, Chomsky is arguing, is too dangerous. The Weathermen is the group that breaks off from SDS and will become Weather Underground. The Weathermen do the Days of Rage in Chicago (1969).

And let's do a book plug. Paul Street's
Barack Obama and the Future of American Politics came out last month and Street's one of the few on the left who has not embarrassed himself in 2008. And here's Street mentioning his book at ZNet: "It shows Obama and his marketers working effectively to create a false left impression among certain targeted voters. As I demonstrate, Obama posed as a left-leaning antiwar and social justice progressive, donning deceptive rebel's clothing in numerous speeches, town hall meetings, and television commericals through much of the primary campaign. He claimed falsely to be a dedicated opponent of American emprie, war and inequality, even going to the sickening point of telling Iowa voters that they could 'join the movement to stop the [Iraq] war' by Caucusing for him. For all his claims to be a nobel reformer 'above the fray' of America's plutocracy and 'ideological' politics, the real Obama excavated in my study is no special exception to -- and is in many ways an epitome of -- what the still-left Christopher Hitchens called (in his 1999 study of the Bill and Hillary Clinton phenomenon) 'the essence of American politics. This essence, when distilled,' Hitchens explained, 'consists of the manipulation of populism by elitism'." If you use the link to the article, you should check out the comments as well (Street's contributing to the comments). But to clarify something for this site: As repeatedly stated here, Barack is not a Socialist. However, as Ava and I noted -- addressing Leela's brave piece of writing:

First, thank you to Dee Dee for finding that post and e-mailing to ask that it be highlighted. Second, read what Leela's saying. We don't agree with her view of Democrats. We do, however, know where's she's coming from on that view. Her view is the sort of thing that can start a conversation. It may never bring feminists into one political party's tent (we don't think that should be a goal of the feminist movement short of a feminist party being started), but conversations can illuminate and increase our understandings.Leela is obviously upset (first hint, her title), so even though we disagree with her view of the Democratic Party (re: Socialism), we would have first registered that she was upset and then attempted to engage. That didn't really happen on the thread and we'll assume that was due to the anger/ill will her view caused others.But here's the reality: some people do see the Democratic Party as a Socialist Party. Some people see the Republican Party as an Evangelical Party. Neither belief is accurate but to understand each other, we need to understand where we are all coming from."

That is the reality of perceptions. (And of course alleged brainiac Rachel Maddow doesn't grasp that there is a difference between Socialism and Communism.) For this site, we are a left site and see no Socialism in Barack. But the right insisting Barack's a Socialist are not necessarily lying or even wrong. The terms are largely undefined in discussions today (again, allegedly educated Maddow -- from the center -- expressed on her bad MSNBC show this week that Socialism and Communism were the same thing). Leela is among the women blogging at
Citizen Girl, by the way. And the US has a Socialist in Congress, Senator Bernie Sanders. But -- as is usually the case -- 'helpers' and the 'shocked' obscure reality by referring to him as 'independent.' He is a Socialist openly and the refusal to apply that label goes a long way towards explaining how screwed up US politics are. Another sign of the sickness in the US is this country's Socialist Worker and crap like Ashley Smith's "Fighting for what we want" that wants to argue there's no difference on the wars between the McCain-Palin and Obama-Biden ticket (there isn't) but uses pejoratives for McCain-Palin ("moronic," "knuckle dragging") but not for Obama-Biden. It's not even-handed and it does imply -- by insulting only one side -- that one ticket is 'better.' There is no difference on the Iraq War between the tickets for the two major parties. One would assume an allegedly Socialist periodical would have no reason to take sides between two Corporatist candidates. There's a lot more honesty -- from their political perspective (right-wing) -- in Stanley Kurtz' most recent National Review piece: "In short, the New Party was a mid-1990s effort to build a 'progressive' coalition to the left of the Democratic party, uniting left-leaning baby boomers with minorities, relatively militant unionists, and 'idealistic' young people."

Moving over to political lies,
Mark Hosenball (Newsweek) underscores a big lie that passed with little attention, "'All the public reports suggested,' Obama said, that people shouted 'things like 'terrorist' and 'kill him'.' Making a death threat against a presidential candidate can be a crime. But even before Obama cited "reports" of the threats at the debate, the U.S. Secret Service had told media outlets, including NEWSWEEK, that it was unable to corroborate accounts of the 'kill him' remarks--and according to a law-enforcement official, who asked for anonymity when discussing a political matter, the Obama campaign knew as much. Now some officials are disgruntled that Obama gave added credence to the threat by mentioning it in front of 60 million viewers. At this point in the campaign, said one, candidates will 'say anything to make a particular point.'" [For more on that topic, see this snapshot from last week.]

On the subject of political lies, yes, people in the US do have the right not to vote. That is their decision and it can be a perfectly acceptable one despite the harping from certain quarters that insist "YOU MUST VOTE!".
Linda Averill (FSN via Information Clearing House) explains that position and also provides some history:

Outrageous rules, media censorship, private financing of campaigns, and sheer thuggery have marginalized political parties that compete with labor's fake friend, the Democratic Party. This includes even parties like the Greens, who simply want to reform capitalism.It's not people who vote socialist or Green who throw away their votes. The system does it! U.S. elections are "winner take all." If a socialist gets 20 percent of the vote, a Green gets 15 percent, and a Democrat gets 51 percent -- all votes go to the Democrat.Things weren't always so sewn up. At the start of the 20th century, socialists ran on explicitly pro-labor, anti-capitalist platforms. And they won seats -- more than 1,200 offices nationwide.To eliminate the threat this posed, the Democrats and Republicans launched a political witch-hunt. Socialist party offices were raided, pro-labor representatives were denied their seats, radicals were tossed in jail, and restrictive ballot laws were passed.

Averill closes by quoting Mother Jones: "I have never had a vote, and I have raised hell all over this country. You don't need a vote to raise hell! You need convictions and a voice!"

Those who wish to vote will have many choices to chose from (except for the state of Oklahoma whose restrictive laws allow voters to only pick the Democratic or Republican presidential ticket). Ther is the Green Party presidential candidate
Cynthia McKinney who will appear Saturday October 25 on NPR's Weekend Edition Saturday. Cynthia's running mate is Rosa Clemente and Cynthia will be in Seattle:
The Washington State Power To The People Campaign has announced that Green Party Presidential Candidate Cynthia McKinney will be visiting Seattle on Sunday, October 26th and Monday, October 27th. Scheduled activities include:Sunday, October 26, 2008* 3pm - 7pm"Vote...Then What?From The Day After The Election Onward: Strategies for Community Organizing, Greening & Reconstruction"Umojafest Peace Center24th Ave & E Spring St, SeattleThe public is invited to attend.Cynthia McKinney will be speaking in support of grassroots and institutional solutions to violence and other issues plaguing urban communities nationwide. This event is hosted by the Umojafest Peace Center and the McKinney/Clemente 2008 Power To The People Campaign. The program will include hip-hop and spoken word performances, speakers from youth and community based organizations, and a showing of the award-winning film, American Blackout.Monday, October 27, 2008* 11am - 12:30pm"The Power of Student Movements: How to Use Your Campus as a Tool to Change the World!"Broadway Performance HallBroadway at Pine Street, SeattleThe public is invited.Ms. McKinney will address the growing concerns of students, the need for student leadership, and how students can organize on campus to engage in and impact social justice struggles and make meaningful contributions to communities outside school. This event will be hosted by the Black Student Union of Seattle Central Community College.

The Republican presidential candidate is John McCain, Sarah Palin is his running mate.
McCain - Palin '08 notes:

"And as governor, I've succeeded in securing additional funding and assistance for students with special needs. By 2011, I will have tripled the funding available to these students." -- Governor Sarah Palin, 10/24/08
Governor Palin Has A Proven Record Of Commitment To Special Needs Children: Governor Palin Has Increased Funding For Special Needs Education. Overall funding for Special Needs students has increased every year since Sarah Palin entered office, from $219 million in 2007 to a projected $276 million in 2009. Breakdown below:
FY07: $219,358,041
FY08: $220,420,268
FY09: $275,827,909
On March 28, 2008, Governor Palin Signed Legislation That Will Nearly Triple
Per-Pupil Funding Over Three Years For Special Needs Students With High-
Cost Requirements. Per-pupil breakdown below:
FY08: $26,900
FY09: $49,320
FY10: $61,380
FY11: $73,840
Governor Palin Has Directed State Funds To Other Special Needs Programs.
This funding includes $500,000 for diagnostic services for autistic children and $250,000 for training in early autism intervention in her FY2009 budget. The Executive Director Of The Association Of Alaska School Boards Called
The New Funding Palin Fought For A "Historic Event." "Carl Rose, the executive director of the Association of Alaska School Boards, praised the changes in funding for rural schools and students with special needs as a 'historic event,'
and said the finance overhaul would bring more stability to district budgets."
("Alaska Legislators Overhaul Funding," Education Week, 4/30/08) Families Of Special Needs Children "Have Been Flocking To Palin Rallies ...
They Say, Because Her Story Is Theirs, Too." But in the sea of faces, nearly everywhere she goes, she encounters people who aren't really there for the politics. ... Families of children with Down syndrome have been flocking to
Palin rallies. They come to shake her hand, grab a hug or snap a picture,
drawn there, they say, because her story is theirs, too." (Savannah Guthrie,
Nightly News," 10/14/08)

Scott Conroy (CBS News) reports, "The Alaska governor, whose infant son Trig has Down syndrome, said that a McCain/Palin administration would allow more flexibility for parents to choose their children's schools, committed to fully fund the Individuals With Disabilities Education Act, and promised to reform and refocus special needs services." This was a major speech and text of it (and video) is up at McCain-Palin:

Too often, even in our own day, children with special needs have been set apart and excluded. Too often, state and federal laws add to their challenges, instead of removing barriers and opening new paths of opportunity. Too often, they are made to feel that there is no place for them in the life of our country, that they don't count or have nothing to contribute. This attitude is a grave disservice to these beautiful children, to their families, and to our country -- and I will
work to change it.One of the most wonderful experiences in this campaign has been to see all the families of children with special needs who come out to rallies and events just
like this. We have a bond there. We know that children with special needs
inspire a special love. You bring your sons and daughters with you, because
you are proud of them, as I am of my son.My little fella sleeps during most of these rallies, even when they get pretty rowdy. He would be amazed to know how many folks come out to see him instead of me. When I learned that Trig would have special needs, honestly, I had to prepare my
heart. At first I was scared, and Todd and I had to ask for strength and understanding.

I did a lot of praying for that understanding, and strength, and to see purpose. And what's been confirmed in me is every child has something to contribute to the
world, if we give them that chance. You know that there are the world's standards of perfection, and then there are God's, and these are the final measure. Every child is beautiful before God, and dear to Him for their own sake. And the truest measure of any society is how it treats those who are most vulnerable. As for our baby boy, Trig, for Todd and me he is only more precious because he is vulnerable. In some ways, I think we stand to learn more from him than he does
from us. When we hold Trig and care for him, we don't feel scared anymore. We feel blessed. Of course, many other families are much further along a similar path -- including my best friend who happens to be my sister, Heather, and her 13-year old son Karcher, who has autism. Heather and I have worked on this for over a decade. Heather is an advocate for children with autism in Alaska. And as governor, I've succeeded in securing additional funding and assistance for students with special needs. By 2011, I will have tripled the funding available to these students. Heather and I have been blessed with a large, strong family network. Our family helps make sure that Trig and Karcher have what they need. But not everyone is lucky enough to have that strong network of support. And the experiences of those millions of Americans point the way to better policy in the care of children with special needs. One of the most common experiences is the struggle of parents to find the best and earliest care for their children. The law requires our public schools to serve children with special needs, but often the results fall far short of the service they need. Even worse, parents are left with no other options, except for the few families that can afford private instruction or therapy. Many of you parents here have been through the drill: You sit down with teachers and counselors to work out the IEP -- an individual education plan for your child. The school may be trying its best, but they're overstretched. They may keep
telling you that your child is "progressing well," and no extra services are required. They keep telling you that -- but you know better. You know that your children are not getting all of the help they need, at a time when they need it most. The parents of children with special needs ask themselves every day if they are doing enough, if they are doing right by their sons and daughters. And when our public school system fails to render help and equal opportunity -- and even prevents parents from seeking it elsewhere that is unacceptable. In a McCain-Palin administration, we will put the educational choices for special needs children in the right hands their parents'. Under reforms that I will lead as vice president, the parents and caretakers of children with physical or mental disabilities will be able to send that boy or girl to the school of their choice -- public or private.

And McCain picks up another endorsement today,
South Carolina's The State which asserts that "we prefer Sen. McCain. First and foremost, he is far better prepared not only to be commander in chief, but to lead the nation as it deals with a complex array of global challenges, from Iran to North Korea, from Russia to Venezuela. Consider two widely different areas of foreign policy, Iraq and Colombia. Sen. McCain has often led the charge against the Bush administration when it was wrong on national security, from the 9/11 Commission (working with Joe Biden to make that happen) to the use of torture. But the most dramatic case regards Iraq. For years, he insisted we needed to send more troops. When Mr. Bush finally agreed to the "surge," Sen. McCain was Gen. David Petraeus' most conspicuous supporter. The surge worked. Sen. McCain was for it, and Sen. Obama was against. That's no accident. Sen. McCain's support arose from his superior understanding of the situation and how to approach it."

Ralph Nader is the independent presidential candidate and Matt Gonzalez is his running mate. The campaign has toured all fifty states and this Saturday? "
Nader to Attempt Guinness World Record on Saturday: Massachusetts Marathon, Most Speeches in 24-Hours:"This Saturday, Ralph Nader will hold campaign events in 21 cities across Massachusetts in an attempt to set a sanctioned Guinness World Record
to give the most speeches in a 24-hour time period. The minimum threshold
he must meet is 15. He is scheduled to deliver over 315 minutes of speeches
and drive over 365 miles. Each speech will last at least 10 minutes and will
tackle a separate issue.Nader/Gonzalez campaign events are scheduled to be held in the
following cities:Boston, Cambridge, Belmont, Somerville, Medford, Arlington, Lexington,
Concord, Waltham, Watertown, Newton, Worcester, Auburn, Springfield, Chicopee, Holyoke, Northampton, West Springfield, Westfield, Stockbridge
and Sheffield.There is an additional van for intrepid journalists who want to chronicle the adventure from start to finish.For a full itinerary or other related inquires, please contact Ryan Mehta at
408-348-0681, or Rob Socket at 202-471-5833.

And events are lined out throughout the final days of the race.
One just announced will take place November 2nd:
PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE RALPH NADER TO SPEAK IN ALLENTOWNWHO: Ralph NaderWHAT: Campaign rally/speech on the Wall Street bailout and other current
issuesWHEN: Sunday November 2 at 7:30pmWHERE: Scottish Rite Cathedral, 1533 Hamilton Street, Allentown, PA 18102On Sunday, November 2 at 7:30pm, consumer advocate and Presidential candidate
Ralph Nader will hold a press conference followed by a rally in Scottish Rite Cathedral.
He will speak about the Wall St. Bailout, single-payer health care, the Iraq
War, the environment, and the state of the Presidential debates from which
he was excluded.Ralph Nader is the only Presidential candidate who recommends jail time,
not bail time for Wall Street fat cats (and the only one who has been pointing
out the risks of deregulation for the last 20 years). He is the number three contender for the Presidency, America's number one consumer advocate,
and he has real solutions to our economic woes.

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the new york timeskatherine zoepfthe washington postmary beth sheridan
mcclatchy newspapers
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scott conroycbs news

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Mushroom Green Beans in the Kitchen

First up, Kat's friend Maggie had an idea for a recipe to share; however, Kat had to talk her into doing so. After Kat did that, Maggie e-mailed it to me.

Maggie did exactly what I was hoping for. Let's look at her recipe and then I'll talk about it.

Mushroom Green Beans
1 can of green beans
1 small can of mushrooms
1 cup of cheese for topping
1 cup of chili cheese Fritos

In a microwaveable container, empty the (drained) can of green beans and the can of mushrooms (drained or not -- your choice). Cook on normal temperature for five minutes. After five minutes, stir the ingredients and add 1 cup (or more, your choice) of crumbled Fritos (chili cheeses is Maggie's personal favorite). Stir and microwave for three minutes. Stir, top with cheese and microwave for two minutes.

Here's how Maggie came up with the recipe. A next door neighbor had to run to the hospital for a family emergency and her kids would be getting home shortly. Could Maggie watch them for what should be an hour? Maggie said sure and explained to the kids that they were hanging out with her. They were hungry. Maggie looked for snacks and had a ton of sugary stuff. She didn't know if their mother let them have that, so she kept digging in her cabinet. She was actually hoping to find the ingredients to make Green Bean Casserole but she didn't have the mushroom soup. So she went with what she had. And that was the entire point of the requests regarding recipes. Most of you grasped that. All of the recipes I shared here and at Hilda's Mix did. But some of you thought this was the time to offer up your recipe for pot roast.

The point of the recipes we're going for for the rest of the month here is that you're utilizing inexpensive ingredients in a way that's simple and will produce something you can set on your table that is tasty. I will assume, for example, that a pot roast is always tasteful. I will also assume that at the current price per pound, most people struggling are not cooking with a pot roast.

What I love about Maggie's recipe is that she's improvised and she's come up with a recipe that does offer nutrients and that is tasty. You need to crumble the Fritos to really enjoy the recipe. You don't have to mash them in a bag. If your hands are clean, you can crumble them in one hands. But it really is tasty. It's simple. It's a way to serve green beans that children will eat (you've got the cheese and the Fritos).

And that's the sort of thing I was looking for which most of you got. But either I wasn't clear about what I was looking for or some people really do not get how much struggling is currently going on.

Maybe it's me? Maybe I'm not getting the problem across? If so, let's just note some headlines. On consumer confidence:

US Economy: Sentiment Drops by Record; Starts Fall (Update1)
Bloomberg - 23 hours ago
By Shobhana Chandra and Bob Willis Oct. 17 (Bloomberg) -- Confidence among Americans fell by the most on record and single-family housing starts hit a ...
Futures suggest lower North American market open
Financial Post, Canada - Oct 17, 2008
North American stock futures fell in spite of a European market rally on Friday on concerns that new data on US consumer confidence and housing will show ...

On unemployment:

State data show more than 143000 jobs lost in past year
San Diego Union Tribune, United States - 7 hours ago
Retailers – hard hit by economic jitters and a sharp decline in consumers'spending power – have cut thousands of jobs over the past year, according to data ...
California unemployment rate steady at 7.7 percent BusinessWeek
California unemployment steady at 7.7 pct in Sept Reuters
Jobless rate holds steady Daily Breeze

Feel free to click on any link, but if you're not getting how bad the economy is and how this is not a temporary thing, I don't know what else to tell you.

US Economy: Manufacturing Slumps by Most in Decades (Update2)
Bloomberg - Oct 16, 2008
Frozen credit markets and higher borrowing costs will force consumers and companies to further trim purchases of expensive items such as cars and machinery. ...
Consumer prices flat in September The Associated Press
Hurricanes battered US factory output Toronto Star
US consumer prices flat in September International Herald Tribune
Bloomberg - The Associated Press

The housing bubble was the only thing holding the economy up and it has popped. But it hasn't really -- that's the scariest part. It's still ongoing in the South. That's not to suggest they aren't suffering (they are) it's just noting that the south is actually experiencing what the north did in 2006.. My point being that it will most likely get even worse for the South. In 2006, we started really seeing the air coming out of the housing bubble. But many states were actually immune to that at the time. Now those states are catching up with the rest of the country but they haven't yet reached the really bad that the northern states went through.

What the south's experiencing is the 2006 slump the north had. The slump came before the crash.

Thank you to Maggie for sharing her recipes. Be sure and check out my son's Mike's "Interview with C.I.".

Here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot" for Friday:

Friday, October 17, 2008. Chaos and violence continue, talk of the treaty between the White House and the puppet government continues, the UNHCR notes the Mosul crisis and more.

Starting with the treaty attempting to masquerade as a Status Of Forces Agreement.
Karen DeYoung (Washington Post) reminds that what's being talked about now is a draft and explains the process for Iraq: "presented today to Iraq's political and national security council, which is made up of top government officials and the leaders of major political groups. If it survives challenges there and among other government ministers, it will move to the Council of Representatives, or parliament, where Maliki has pledged to put it to an up-or-down vote. Far less controversial matters have taken months to move through the Iraqi legislative provess, if they moved at all." BBC's Jim Muir reports: "Rejection of any agreement with the Americans is spearheaded by the group led by the militant Shia cleric Moqtada Sadr, who has strong grassroots support and also 30 seats in parliament. The Sadrists have called for a mass demonstration in Baghdad on Saturday to denounce the accord. At least one other big Shia faction is believed to have reservations about the agreement, and some Sunnis have also voiced dissent." Also noting the anticipated Shi'ite split is the Minneapolis Star Tribune which adds, "Although passage would require only a majority of the 275-member parliament, Al-Maliki will submit the draft only if he is convinced it will receive two-thirds support. To reach two-thirds, the draft would need the 30 votes from the Supreme Council." US Senator Carl Levin has issued the following statement:

"I have not yet seen the proposed Strategic Framework Agreement nor the Status of Forces Agreement between the United States and Iraq. The Administration committed to provide the text of these agreements to Congress before they are finalized, and I look forward to reviewing the text. I am skeptical of any agreement that would subject U.S. servicemen and women to the jurisdiction of Iraqi courts in the middle of a chaotic war and in the absence of a judicial system that has been proven to be fair and protective of the rights of individuals."

DPA reports an increase in opposition to the treaty today "among Iraqi religious leaders," quoted Imam Sadr Eddin al-Qabani telling a large gatherin in Najaf ("crowd of hundreds"), "The Shiite clergy is very worried about this security agreement with the USA" and noted the protest by Moqtada al-Sadr supporters scheduled for tomorrow in Baghdad has already resulted in many people beginning "to arrive in Baghdad to participate in the demonstration". Mohammad Akef Jamal (Gulf News) explores the treaty's meaning beyond the US and Iraq:

The US has extended its influence throughout the world with treaties and agreements, thereby securing its status as a major military and political power. And irrespective of the wording of the treaties or accords, the US has categorised its partners into two groups -- friends, ans subordinates.
Basically, treaties and accords are partnership contracts signed between two countries or more, to mutually safeguard the interests and security of all the parties to the agreement.
In most treaties, there is one powerful partner. There is also provisions for such agreements to include financial, scientific and cultural aid, which is usually availed by the weaker partner in the pact.
The security treaty between the US and Iraq has become a popular political topic for discussion in Iraq and the Middle East, as its signing is round the corner.

Dr. Mohammad Akef Jamal goes on to explore the region and notes Iran's opposition to the treaty. We'll come back to that later in the snapshot. As noted in
yesterday's snapshot, Congress is not in session. In fact, let's quote White House spokesperson Dana Perino on that: "So Congress isn't even going to be back here until about November 17th." That's the situation that worried many included Senator Jim Webb who introduced legislation September 12, 2008 about this very possibility. Speaking on the floor (link has text and video) of the US Senate, Webb explained:

We are at an odd situation in the business of government at the moment in that the international authority for the United States to be operating in Iraq will expire at the end of this year. The UN Mandate through the UN Security Council will expire at that time.
Since last November, the Administration has been negotiating what they call a "strategic framework agreement," that is intended to replace the international authority of the UN Mandate. There have been two questions that have come up with respect to what the Administration is doing. The first is the timeline. The Iraqi government negotiators have some serious questions that weren't anticipated before. But the larger question, really, is what entity of the federal government has the authority to enter the United States into a long-term relationship with another government?
These are serious issues. I would submit that the conditions under which we will continue to operate in Iraq -- military, diplomatically, economically, and even culturally -- are not the sole business of any adminsitration. We have questions about the legal justifications under domestic and international law for the United States to operate militarily and quasi-militarily, by the way, given the hundreds of thousands of independent contractors that now are performing essentially military functions in that country.
There are questions about the process by which the United States government decides upon and enters into long-term relationships with another nation -- any nation. And in that regard we have serious questions here about the very workings of our constitutional system of government.
This Administration has claimed repeatedly since last November that it has the right to negotiate and enter into an agreement that will set the future course of our relations with Iraq without the agreement or even the ratification of the United States Congress. The Administration claims that the justification for this authority is the 2002 congressional authorization for the use of force in Iraq and as a fallback position, the President's inherent authority from the perspective of this Administration as Commander in Chief.
Both of these justifications are patnetly wrong. The 2002 congressional authorization to use force in Iraq has nothing to do with negotiation with a government that replaced the Saddam Hussein government as to the future relations -- culturally, economically, diplomatically, and militarily -- between our two countries.
On the other hand, we are now faced with the reality that the United Nations mandate will expire at the end of this year and that expiration will terminate the authority under international law for the United States to be operating in Iraq at a time when we have hundreds of thousands of Americans on the ground in that country. And I and other colleagues have been warning of this serious disconnect for ten months.
Many of us were trying to say last November that the intention of this Administration was to proceed purely with an executive agreement, to drag this out until the Congress was going to go out of session, as we are about to do; then to present essentially a fait accompli in the sense that with the expiration of the international mandate from the UN at the end of the year, something would have to be done and that something would be an executive agreement that to this point the United States Congress has not even been allowed to examine. We haven't been able to see one word of this agreement.
We've tried to energize the congress about this. We've met with all the appropriate administration officials. There have been hearings. There have been assurances from the administration that they will "consult" at the appropriate time. But we haven't seen anything. So we're faced with a situation that is something of a constitutional coup d'etat by this Adminstration. At risk is a further expansion of the powers of the presidency, the results of this is to affirm in many minds that the president -- any president -- no longer needs approval of congress to enter into long-term relations with another country.
In effect, that is committing us to obligations that involve our national security, our economic well-being, our diplomatic posture around the world, without the direct involvement of the United States Congress. This is not what the Constitution intended. It's not in the best interests of the country.
This amendment which I introduce today is designed to prevent this sort of an imbalance from occuring at the same time that it recognizes the realities of the timelines that are now involved with respect to the loss of international authority for our presence in Iraq at the end of this year.
This amendment is a sense of the congress. On the one hand, it states that it is a sense of the Congress that we work with the UN to extend the United Nations mandate for up to an additional year, giving us some addition international authority for being in Iraq, taking away the pressure of this timeline that could be used to justify an agreement that the Congress has not had the ability to examine. It also says that an extension of the United Nations mandate would end at such time as a strategic framework agreement and a status of forces agreement between the United States and Iraq are mutually agreed upon.
The amendment also makes the point that the strategic framework agreement now being negotiated between the United States and Iraq poses significant long-term national security implications for this country. We need a sense of the Congress. We need to be saying that. The Iraqis need to hear it. The amendment also puts the Congress on record, and the Administration on record, to the reality that the Bush Administration has fully agreed to consult with the Congress regarding all the details of the strategic framework agreement and the status of forces agreement and that there will be copies of the full text of these agreements provided to the chiarman and ranking minority members of the approriate committees in the house and senate prior to the entry into either of those agreements.
Importantly, it also says that any strategic framework agreement that has been mutally agreed upon by negotiators from our executive branch and the Iraqi government officials will cease to have effect unless it is approved by the Congress within 180 days of the entry into force of that agreement.
So, Mr. President, on the one hand this amendment recognizes the realities of where we are in terms of time lines. But, on the other, it protects the constituational process by which we are entering into long-term relationships with other countries, whether it is Iraq or Cameroon or Burudni, pick a country. We need to preserve the process. And it does it in a way that would not disrupt our operations in Iraq. I would urge my colleagues to join me on this amendment and protect the prerogatives under the Constitution of the United States Congress. With that, I yield the floor.

The White House continues its attempt to circumvent the Constitution while pretending that (a) it's not a treaty and (b) they share, they really, really share with Congress. Which explains Sean McCormack's song and dance before the press today at the US State Dept which included saying that Secretary of State Condi Rice is reaching out to various Senators and Reps and so is Secretary of Defense Robert Gates. Asked what she told them, McCormak responded, "Talked about the text of the agreement and -- [asked if "agreement" was Rice's word] -- I don't know if she used that word. That's my word." He decided to stick with text and not agreement: "I'm sticking with text. I like the word text. And she also talked about the process, where we stand in the process. The process is ongoing. The Iraqis are considering the text. We are talking to the Iraqis. No news to announce in that regard. The process continues." By her phone calls, McCormack stated, we can surmise Rice supports the text. She wouldn't make phone calls if she didn't support it! Pressed on that, McCormack finally said, "Sure, sure. She supports the text, yes."

McCormack, in the same press confrence, made a badly worded statement when asked about Governor Sarah Palin, GOP vice presidential nominee, not being briefed when Senators Barack Obama, Joe Bide and John McCain have: "She -- if you hadn't noticed, she's a governor, not a sentor or congressman." I don't see how Palin could ever be a Congressman. She could be a Congress woman. She could be a member of Congress. She could be a US House Rep. But there was so much in that press conference. McCormack was asked didn't the Senate have approval and he responded, "Well, my understanding -- and you can check with the White House on this -- is this is not, it's not a treaty, so it doesn't require Congressional approval. And I think if you look back on the history of SOFA agreements, they are not traditionally things that have required Congressional approval. Of course, since this is a, you know, foreign policy, national security issues are issues of concern to all branches of government. And importantly, in this case, to the Legislative and the Executive Branches, there is a briefing process that's going on." After declaring that, he was asked six questions -- and answered none -- about complaints from members of Congress which led him to state, "I've -- you know, again, I've said what I'm going to say on the matter." At the White House, Dana Perino addressed the press and took questions and maintained that Congress is being briefed. Over and over, she maintained that. That's not advise and consent. As
Karen DeYoung noted, "None of the actuald raft wording has yet been made public or unveiled to Congress".

From the Constitutional crisis to the Mosul crisis. Christians have been forced to flee from the Iraqi city as a result of attacks on them.
Ed West (UK's Catholic Herald via Catholic Online) explains, "The refugees now face a bleak winter without any food or shelter in what aid workers are calling a 'desperate' situation." The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees issued the following this morning, attributed to spokesperson Ron Redmond:UNHCR is concerned about the displacement of Christian Iraqis from Mosul which started last week. We have received information from the Ministry of Displacement and Migration (MoDM) in Mosul that approximately 1,560 families (some 9,360 people) have been displaced so far, although UNHCR cannot confirm this number. The displaced population would represent about half of the Christians in the Mosul area. In recent days, we have sent at least 10 field assessment missions to areas surrounding Mosul, including Telesquf, Batnaya, Bartilla, Baashiqa, Akre, Shekhan. We've also had UNHCR teams in areas of Dahuk and Erbil, where Christians have sought refuge. According to initial reports, most Christian Iraqis decided to leave Mosul following direct as well as indirect threats and intimidation. One of those interviewed witnessed the killing of a Christian Iraqi on the street, while several of the displaced told us they had received printed threats at the university campus, in their homes and through text messages on their mobiles. Several others told our teams that they left when they heard news of 11 reported killings of Christians in Mosul. Others were warned by family members, friends and neighbours of potential threats and decided to leave before it was too late. Most of the families who fled are staying with extended family members, friends within the host community or in collective community buildings, including church facilities. There is an urgent need for food, clothes, non-food items (such as blankets, mattresses, and stoves), health facilities, hygiene kits, clean water and access to school. Over the past week, UNHCR and our partner, International Medical Corps (IMC), have distributed non-food items to a total of 802 families (about 4,800 people). We expect to have reached over 1,500 families by early next week, both new arrivals as well as those displaced people we have not been able to reach yet. Food and kerosene and additional assistance have been distributed by other UN agencies, non-governmental organisations and local authorities. A decision was also taken on Wednesday by the Ministers of Displacement and Migration and Defence to make available an immediate cash grant of 300,000 -- 500,000 Iraqi dinars ( $250-$425 ) to the displaced families, and another 1.5 million dinars ($1,250) to those who decide to return. For now, most of the displaced we spoke to do not envisage return to their homes as an immediate option, as they fear for their lives. A few told us that they will only return if and when their safety and security can be assured by the local authorities. UNHCR's led protection and assistant centres in Kirkuk and Mosul will continue to closely monitor the situation on the ground.

Gulf Daily News reports, "Lebanese political figure Amin Gemayel on Friday warned against attacks targeting Christians in Iraq, according to media reports. Gemayel was quoted by media as saying that a campaign targeting Iraqi Christians was 'part of a campaign to displace them, similar to displacing of Palestinians' by Israel'." Lebanon's Naharnet Newsdesk quotes Gemayel calling it "racial cleansing" and stating, "What sparks suspicion is that the campaign of racial cleansing targeting Iraqi Christians is underway as the security situation in Iraq is achieving progress. It is regretful that this campaign is underway while the new Iraqi regime and the American forces are watching." Fatih Abdulsalam (Azzaman) provides a unflinching look at the current state of Iraq which includes asking about the alleged 'strength' of Iraq: "Is it our political stability and security? The hundreds of thousands of Iraqi troops and police as well as 150,00 U.S. Marines cannot stop the persecution of Iraqi Christians in the city of Mosul." Also refusing to blink is Sami Moubayed (Asia Times):

Ever since the occupation of Iraq in 2003, Iraqi Christians have complained that they are being persecuted by Islamic militias. In some cases, many Christians were killed, churches attacked and women raped for walking outdoors without wearing headscarves. Over the past 10 days, 12 Iraqi Christians have been found dead in Iraq, angering the prime minister, who created a senior ministerial delegation to investigate the crimes. The group is composed of the ministers of defense, industry, planning and refugees. The depiction of Maliki's Iraq as a theocracy where freedom of religion is not tolerated is a terrible setback for Maliki, and is tarnishing his image in the United States and Europe. Ordinary Iraqis - mainly Christian - cannot but compare him with Saddam Hussein, who despite all the faults of his dictatorship, upheld religious diversity in Iraq and protected Iraqi Christians from fundamentalist threats.

Prior to the most recent outbreak of violence in Mosul, Iraqi Christians and other minorities were publicly demonstrating against the decision to strip Article 50 out of the legislation for provincial elections. Article 50 provided minority representation.
Newsday reports, "The president of the semiautonomous Kurdish region in northern Iraq, Massoud Barzani, said the omission of a minority quota in a recently passed elections law was a 'big mistake.' Barzani also promised to help the federal government in its 'efforts to provide the equivalent protection for our Christian brothers.' Kurdistan borders Nineveh province, which includes Mosul. More than 1,400 families have fled Mosul to nearby villages and towns, the Iraqi Ministry of Displacement and Migration said." Add Barzani to the long list -- which includes puppet of the occupation Nouri al-Maliki and Iraqi president Jalal Talabani -- of people calling the elimination of Article 50 out . . . after the bill was signed into law. Saad Abedine (CNN) reports 4 males have been arrested today under suspicion of taking part in the attacks on Iraqi Christians and quotes Maj Gen Mohammed al-Askari stating, "We know that they are part of a criminal gang that has been committing criminal acts in Mosul and we will do our best to arrest the rest."

Today the
United Nations HCR noted a new report: "A UN refugee agency report released on Friday shows that the number of Iraqis seeking asylum in industrialized countries dropped in the first six months of this year, but they were still by far the top nationality seeking asylum in these destinations. According to the asylum trends report, the number of claims made by Iraqis (19,500) during the first six months of 2008, was higher than the combined number of asylum claims submitted by citizens of the Russian Federation (9,400) and China (8,700), the second and third most important source countries. Other important countries of origin of asylum seekers were Somalia (7,400), Pakistan and Afghanistan (6,300 each)." The report [PDF format warning] is entitled "Asylum Levels and Trends in Industrialized Countries" and it examines the statistics on "asylum claims submitted in Europe and selected non-European countries during the first six months of 2008." The US and Canada rank first for asylum claims (not asylum granted, applications). France and the UK are third and fourth. The report notes that Iraq was the country of origin for most aslyum-seekers as it has been since 2006. For all of 2007, there were 45,000 asylum claims by Iraqis. For the first half of this year, there were 19,500 claims. The report is 25 pages and the bulk of it is tables.

While Iraq remains the number one refugee crisis in the world (and figures above were on external refugees making claims), tension remain between Iraq and it's northern neighbor Turkey.
CNN reports that Turkish military planes again bombing northern Iraq today and notes that there are no known/confirmed deaths from the bombing. Reuters adds, "The general staff said on its website that the Turkish jets hit PKK bases in northern Iraq's Qandil mountains on Friday and that all planes had returned to their bases. Military sources, who declined to be named, earlier told Reuters that four PKK guerrillas were killed and several wounded in the bombardment of Qandil mountains."

In other reported violence . . .


Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad roadside bombing which claimed 1 life and wounded four people and a Falluja bombing at the home of Sheikh Suleiman Ahmed al-Jumaili claimed the Sheikh's life as well as a man suspected of being the bomber. Reuters reports a Mosul roadside bombing that claimed 1 life and left one person injured, 2 more Mosul roadside bombing that resulted in 1 Iraqi soldier losing his life, four more wounded, two police officers and three civilians being injured and a roadside bombing outside Falluja that left three police officers injured.


Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports "Qadir Aziz, a guard in a driver training establishment" was shot dead in Kirkuk.


Reuters notes the corpse of 1 "pregnant woman" was found in Kut ("gunshot wounds").

Turning to the US presidential race.
Yesterday's snapshot mentions a debate at Columbia. Maria Recio's "Third-party debate's only confirmed participant: the moderator" (McClatchy Newspapers) informs that it's iffy with Cynthia McKinney saying she's doing another debate, Ralph Nader hedging and apparently no real desire for it. Ralph Nader is the independent presidential candidate, Matt Gonzalez is his running mate. Today Nader writes "In the Public Interest: Closing the Courthouse Door:"

"Real change comes from the bottom up, not the top down. The genius of the American system has been to let that change flow upward, from neighborhoods to cities to states and then to the federal government." George W. Bush February 26, 2001.
Unfortunately, the difference between words and deeds in Washington is often shocking even to those who think they have seen it all. Alicia Mundy in the October 15, 2008 edition of the Wall Street Journal reports: "Bush administration officials, in their last weeks in office, are pushing to rewrite a wide array of federal rules with changes or additions that could block product-safety lawsuits by consumers and states."
What President George W. Bush should have said is that he believes in states rights when they are in the interest of Big Business and their lobbyists in Washington. Mr. Bush and his cronies would like to forget about those harmed by dangerous products or reckless conduct. Indeed, Bush & Company seem to regard the civil justice system as a nuisance that threatens to destroy our economy and way of life. In reality, America's civil justice system plays an indispensable role in our democracy. When the rights of injured consumers are vindicated in court, our society benefits in countless ways: compensating victims and their families for shattering losses (with the cost borne by the wrongdoers rather than taxpayers); preventing future injuries by deterring dangerous products and practices and spurring safety innovation; stimulating enforceable safety standards; educating the public to risks associated with certain products and services; and providing society with its moral and ethical fiber by defining appropriate norms of conduct.
The Center for Progressive Reform has in painstaking detail chronicled the attack on the civil Justice system by the Bush Administration. In "The Truth about Torts: Using Agency Preemption to Undercut Consumer Health and Safety" legal scholars William Funk, Sidney Shapiro, David Vladeck and Karen Sokol write: "In recent years, the Bush administration has launched an unprecedented aggressive campaign to persuade the courts to preempt state tort actions…. Widespread preemption of state tort law would significantly undermine, if not eliminate, the rights of individuals to seek redress for injuries caused by irresponsible and dangerous business practices and to hold manufacturers and others accountable for such socially unreasonable conduct." (See:
And, Les Weisbrod, the President of the American Association for Justice (formerly known as the Association of Trial Lawyers of America) hit the nail on the head when he said: "In effect the Bush administration made the safety of Americans secondary to corporate profits." Mr. Weisbrod added: "Big business lobbyists have been on a crusade to destroy state consumer protection laws, and further stack the deck against American consumers." The American Association for Justice has just published a report titled: "Get Out of Jail Free: A Historical Perspective of How the Bush Administration Helps Corporations Escape Accountability" – this report is available at:
Tort deform comes in many shapes and sizes – but the common theme is that tort deform severely damages Americans' cherished constitutional right to trial by jury. It ties the hands of jurors, preventing them from doing justice as the case before them requires. Only the judges and juries see, hear, and evaluate the evidence in these cases. But it is the politicians, absent from the courtrooms, who push bills greased by campaign cash that send a perverse message to judge and jury.
Tort law has produced decades of slow but steady progress in state after state respecting the physical integrity of human beings against harm and recognition that even the weak and defenseless deserve justice. Instead of seeing this evolution as a source of national and global pride, a coalition of insurance companies, corporate defendants' lobbies, and craven politicians, led by George W. Bush, want to destroy our civil justice system.
When Georgetown Law School Professor David Vladeck testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee on September 12, 2007, he noted that the Bush Administration has "seized on regulatory preemption as a way to cut back dramatically on State law remedies for those injured by products and services Americans depend on every day for their health and well-being: medicines, medical devices, motor vehicles, the mattress on which we and our children sleep, and the commuter trains millions of us take to work every day."
Let us hope that Congress and the Supreme Court stop Mr. Bush from once again trampling the Constitutional rights of citizens throughout the land and preventing victims of corporate violence from obtaining justice in a court of law.

Cynthia McKinney is the Green Party presidential candidate and Rosa Clemente is her running mate.

Green Party presidential nominee Cynthia McKinney will participate in a webcast forum for presidential candidates on Sunday, October 19, to be aired 7 to 9 pm on
Cynthia McKinney will join other candidates who've been invited to the online
forum, which has been organized by's Trevor Lyman.
Ms. McKinney will not appear at a candidates' forum at Columbia University on
the evening of October 19. The news of Ms. McKinney's participation in the Columbia event was released to the media in error by persons who are unassociated with the McKinney campaign, and who had not confirmed such
an appearance with Ms. McKinney or her staff.
"We invite everyone to go online, tune in to, and listen to
Cynthia McKinney and the other candidates debate real issues. We'll hear Ms. McKinney offer ideas that have been censored from the McCain-Obama debates -- ideas that most Americans support, like bringing our troops home now, health care for everyone, and help for working Americans facing financial difficulty instead of a $700 billion bailout package for Wall Street," said John Judge, media secretary for the McKinney/Clemente Power to the People Committee.
Cynthia McKinney and running mate Rosa Clemente were nominated by the Green Party at the Green National Convention in Chicago this past July.
"A vote for Cynthia McKinney and Rosa Clemente is an investment in a growing progressive antiwar party that accepts no corporate contributions. No other candidate in the 2008 election offers the hope of a permanent alternative to the Democrats and Republicans and the corporate interests that the two established parties serve. The Green Party isn't an alternative, it's an imperative," said Ms. Clemente.
Greens and other Americans have objected to the format of the McCain-Obama debates, which were sponsored by the Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD), and which excluded all candidates except the Democratic and Republican nominee.
The CPD, which sets rules for candidate participation, is owned and run by the Democratic and Republican parties, which have an interest in excluding all candidates except their own. Greens noted that the CPD is funded through contributions from corporations, which have their own interests in limiting the candidates who participate in the debates.

Democracy Now! -- no link to trash -- had Ralph Nader and Cynthia McKinney on yesterday.
Cynthia is the Green Party presidential candidate and wisely refused to take part in defending a White man who instigated more serious acts of violence than have the still persecuted Black Panthers (much to Goody's regret, Cynthia refused to rush to defend Bill Ayers). Ignoring Goody's need to for White privilege, McKinney responded:CYNTHIA McKINNEY: First of all, I think I should say that I believe that the people in this country need a political party and a movement that places our values on the political agenda. Obviously, with that exchange, that's not the case. There's something else that's a bit more troubling. I've also been talking about election integrity as I've gone across this country. But, you know, I really don't like the idea that the face of election fraud, given the past two presidential elections, is now a face of color and one of poor people. In 2000, when people went to the polls, when the voters went to the polls, they were met with confusing ballots, manipulation of the voter lists, electronic voting machines that didn't work, inappropriately or ineffectively or poorly trained officials who weren't familiar with the workings of those machines, and we know what the problems with those machines have been and are. We still have those problems that have been with us since 2000. In 2004, they added to these problems with the electronic poll books, the sleepovers that were discovered, where the machines weren't even secured, even intensifying the failures of the machines with the vote flipping, and usually in only one direction. The battery freezes in the midst of voters actually trying to cast their votes. And now we've got voter ID laws across the country, and we've got voter caging, which is a fancy way of purging people from the voter files. So, now, what kind of election is it when neither of the political parties is addressing the issue, the fundamental issue, of whether or not our votes are even going to be counted? McKinney's running mate is Rosa Clemente. Ralph Nader is the independent presidential candidate. Ralph took the bait so we won't note his exchange on that issue. Instead, we'll note this from him: RALPH NADER: There's no such thing as free trade with dictators and oligarchs in these countries, because the market doesn't determine the costs. There's no free collective bargaining for workers. That's a crime, de facto, in many countries, to try to form an independent trade union. There's no rule of law, bribery. These companies can go there and pollute at will. There's no judicial independence to make these companies accountable, and they abuse workers and consumers and communities, as the oil companies and the timber companies have on many occasions. Second, these-NAFTA and WTO have to be scrapped. Under those treaties, we can withdraw in six months and give notice of withdrawal and renegotiate these agreements for the following purpose: no more trade agreements that subordinate consumer, union, worker and environmental rights. These are pull-down trade agreements that are allowing fascist and corporate dictators to pull down our standards of living, because they know how to keep their workers in their place at fifty cents an hour. So, any new trade agreements should stick to trade. Any other treaty should be labor, environment and consumer on a level playing field. These trade agreements also have to be open, democratic. They cannot undermine our courts, our regulatory agencies and our legislature. That's what we've got to do. And our website,, has ample information on this process. If you're in the mood to wade through garbage, you know where to go find the audio and video. Cynthia McKinney has the transcript posted at her campaign website. Ralph Nader is the independent presidential candidate, Matt Gonzalez is his running mate. In terms of the 'questions' Goody came up with, Ava and I will address that garbage on Sunday at Third.
Meghan McCain ( offers her evaluation today on the debate Wednesday between her father, GOP presidential candidate John McCain, and Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama: "My father nothing short of ROCKED Wednesday night's debate and I have never been more proud. He got up and showed this country why he is the right person to lead it into the future, and open the door to reinvention of the Republican Party. I am always proud of my Dad but even more so when he lets his maverick tendencies show so clearly. Eighteen more days to go and this election is nowhere near over!!!" McCain's running mate is Governor Sarah Palin. The McCain-Palin campaign has issued a press release that there's not room for in full. We'll quote from the top and include as much as possible (ues the link to read in full):

OBAMA MEDICARE MALPRACTICE #1: The Very Same Reforms That Barack Obama Calls "Cuts" Under John McCain, He Says Will "Strengthen" Medicare Under His Program
THE MALPRACTICE: While Saying Today That John McCain's Reforms Will "Cut" Medicare Spending, Barack Obama Says He Will "Strengthen" Medicare With His Reforms. OBAMA: "So what would Senator McCain's cuts mean for Medicare at a time when more and more Americans are relying on it? It would mean a cut of more than 20 percent in Medicare benefits next year. ... I think every single American has a right to affordable accessible health care. We can strengthen Medicare by eliminating wasteful subsidies to big HMOs in Medicare, and making sure seniors can access home-based care, and letting Medicare negotiate with drug companies for better prices. That's the kind of change we need." (Barack Obama, Remarks As Prepared For Delivery, Roanoke, VA, 10/17/08)
THE TRUTH: Just Two Days Ago, Barack Obama Highlighted His Own "Cut" To Medicare Spending. OBAMA: "And some of the cuts, just to give you an example, we spend $15 billion a year on subsidies to insurance companies. It doesn't -- under the Medicare plan -- it doesn't help seniors get any better. It's not improving our health care system. It's just a giveaway." (CNN, Presidential Candidate Debate, Hempstead, NY, 10/15/08)
THE TRUTH: One Such "Cut" That John McCain Must Support Under Barack Obama's Logic Is A Reform That Today, Barack Obama Said Would "Strengthen" Medicare. MCCAIN: "Government programs such as Medicare and Medicaid should lead the way in health care reforms that improve quality and lower costs. Medicare reimbursement now rewards institutions and clinicians who provide more and more complex services. We need to change the way providers are paid to focus their attention more on chronic disease and managing their treatment. This is the most important care for an aging population. There have been a variety of state-based experiments such as Cash and Counseling or The Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly, called PACE, that are different from the inflexible approaches for delivering care to people in the home setting. Seniors are given a monthly allowance that they can use to hire workers and purchase care- related services and goods. They can get help managing their care by designating representatives, such as relatives or friends, to help make decisions. It also offers counseling and bookkeeping services to assist consumers in handling their programmatic responsibilities. In these approaches, participants were much more likely to have their needs met and be satisfied with their care. Moreover, any concerns about consumers' safety appeared to be misplaced. For every age group in every state, participants were no more likely to suffer care-related health problems." (John McCain, Remarks, Tampa, FL, 4/29/08)

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