Friday, February 12, 2010

Oven problems in the Kitchen

Okay, a reader has a question and didn't want her name mentioned because she thinks this is "a stupid question." It's not.

It's important and we'll start with it and make it our cooking thing for tonight.

I'll call her Tarina. (Since I'm Trina.) Tarina has a problem in that her oven (electric) has a thermostat that is way off. She knows how to cook what she usually does in it but has trouble adapting other things, specific complaint: potatoes.

If you are adapting, you can cook several baked potatoes -- as many as you have room for -- in the same time (and same temp) you would cook a meatloaf or an oven casserole in. Pierce the skins of the potato with a knife (straight through), wrap in foil and place in oven.

You can buy an oven thermometer -- a good one -- for less than $15.00. But I do know that these days, $15 is more than a lot of people have to spare.

I would also remind, if you're someone eating more potatoes these days because you can buy a sack of potatoes for relatively little money, that there are other ways to cook them besides baking.

You can boil them (with skins on or off) on the stove, for example.

On the topic of the economy, I want to turn to Stan who covered Barack's do-nothing approach:

Exactly when does he plan to work on the economy?

Neil Irwin (Washington Post) reports, "The economy is projected to add jobs this year at a pace too sluggish to make much of a dent in unemployment, according to a new White House forecast that suggests President Obama's advisers expect the jobless problem to be a fact of life throughout his term."

A fact of life?

A fact of whose life?

Not Barry O's. He's so Men's Vogue in his dress and though Michelle can't pull off fashionable (she slouches, pooches and looks ridiculous), that garbage she wears isn't cheap. And they have their 'Friday night dates.'

But the rest of us?

We're suffering.

And now this is from Liz Peek's latest column at wowOwow:

President Obama has invited Republicans to join him on February 25 to discuss health care. Let’s hope something comes out of that. Democrat Chris Dodd and Republican Bob Corker have pledged to find common ground on overhauling financial industry regulation. Another sign of progress. And – for a moment – we had consensus on a bipartisan jobs bill. Wonder of wonders, Republicans and Democrats in the Senate Finance Committee joined together to produce an $85 billion bill that would give employers tax breaks for hiring and also provide for the immediate write-off of equipment purchases of up to $250,000.

Astoundingly, having pushed for just such a package, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid then scuttled the bill, proposing instead a much smaller $15 billion program. Reid is on script: A successful bipartisan effort would dent accusations that the Republicans are the party of "No" – a story line the Democrats need to explain their lack of progress over the past year. As ever, Reid may be out of step.

Surely, we can do better than this. Our country is exhausted – from real financial anxiety and from the constant bickering among our political leaders. The monumental storms, which smothered the eastern seaboard this week, produced a near-total shutdown of the U.S. government; the stillness of a heavy snow extended mercifully to Congress, and even to the media. It brought home just how jarring the warfare on Capitol Hill has become.

Which only underscores how there is no movement on the economic front. For those who have forgotten, the economy allowed Barry O to squeak by. If the economy tanking hadn't been big news in the fall of 2008, Barry and John McCain would have fought it out but the economy gave Barry the bump. And he came into office knowing this problem. And he's done what? Nothing.
That's the reality.

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

Friday, February 12, 2010. Chaos and violence continue, so-called 'elections' appear to be on for March 7th, the BBC trusts Ahmed Chalabi, the appalling silence of peace 'leaders' in the US, and more.
Yesterday, the US military announced a death. The fallen has been identified as 20-year-old Adriana Alvarez. KRGV reports, "CHANNEL 5 NEWS spoke to her family. They tell us they didn't want her to enlist and they're having a tough time dealing with her loss." The Brownsville Herald quotes her sister Alma Alvarez saying, "We are devasted" and noes that Adriana Alvarez' survivors include Alma, mother Alicia "and two other younger sisters."
What did she die for? What was she there for? No one can answer that question and note how they run from it. You're 'lefty' gas bags will, from time to time, point out that there was no reason for the illegal war to start but they've all moved on and never grapple with the fact that there is no reason for it to continue. The Iraq War has not ended. Why are US troops still there? What happened to the cry of "Troops Out Now!"? As Chicago Mayor Richard Daley pointed out (see yesterday's snapshot), "Where are they? They've disappeared. What happened? I thought was was evil. Where are the people who believed in their heart against George W. Bush? 'We have to organize and walk down Michigan AVenue and Clark Street.' What happened? I thought they believed in their heart. Oh! It became a political isse. 'Barack won the election, now we go home.' What happened to America?"
And what happened to the peace movement? Betrayed by it's so-called leaders -- bad writers, bad actors, closeted Communists posing as 'independents,' -- a lot of a fakes and a lot of failures but somebody went along with the notion that they were leaders and all they 'led' was the death of the peace movement. They tried to co-opt into the Kerry campaign in 2004 and that didn't work out as well but in 2008 they turned it into the Barack electoral effort and they destroyed it. Tom Hayden, Leslie Cagan, all the failures (including closeted lesbian pretending to be heartbroken over her recent 'breakup' with a man -- that's a double play, by the way, closeted politically and sexually) who got put in charge and led the movement to nowhere.
Tom Hayden, the ultimate "Nowhere Man."
He's a real nowhere man
Sitting in his nowhere land
Making all his nowhere plans for nobody
-- "Nowhere Man," written by John Lennon and Paul McCartney
In a non-think piece for Huff & Post (which only demonstrated the lack of standards at Arianna's site), Tom-Tom opened with, "Barack Obama has faced peril before, particularly during the controversy over Rev. Jeremiah Wright last year, but the crisis he faces now is more systemic." It's 2010 and Tom-Tom. What Jeremiah Wright crisis did Barack faced in 2009? Hmm?
The skin's shot to hell with bumps and lesions now sprouting over the pock marks and the nose is even more bulbous making for a frightening appearance but the truly scary part may be just how far the mind's gone. The mindless whore quickly moves to his next series of 'sentences': "The wars in Afghanistan and Pakistan cost at least 541 American lives in the past year, and the overall total will pass 1,000 this month and likely double before 2012. The unfunded taxpayer cost of Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan during Obama's first year was $119.1 billion, and Afghanistan alone will become another trillion-dollar war under his administration." I don't know many that take Scripps College all that seriously but shouldn't someone teaching there know a few basics about writing? For example, if you're going to mention the deaths in one area, you mention in the other. Tom Tom's too busy to be bothered with looking up basic facts and figures. Besides, a shout out to Iraq is more than enough, right? It's not as if he ever grandstanded on Iraq and . . . Oh, wait, he did. Remember his dopey book about the 'pillars' to ending the war in Iraq? Remember all that nonsense? Looking back it was nothing but roadblocks to keep Americans from making real demands on Democratic politicians.
Tom-Tom now wants to write bad columns where we're supposed to believe he's appealing to a politician's higher nature. This is the same Tom-Tom who, in 2006, revealed that he was a tool of the Zionist lobby -- see "I Was Israel's Dupe" at CounterPunch, July 20, 2006. I don't know how else to word that. When you claim, as he did, that you silenced yourself and did so to curry favor with the Israeli government, I'm not sure what else we're supposed to call you. (Other than "Liar!") So Tom was a state legislator -- he never made it higher despite presidential dreams he bored all of us with in the 70s and 80s -- and as a comparatively lowly state legislator, he insists he was controlled. But somehow he wants people to believe they can 'fight the power' and appeal to members of the US Congress and White House's better nature? According to Tom-Tom, as an elected Democrat, he did what he had to do for 'the lobby' and the Democratic Party. And he's still doing what he has to for the Democratic Party which, incidentally, never includes actual work that would end an ongoing war.
Maybe in 20 years he'll scribble "I Was Barack's Dupe"?
In the meantime, Iraqis continue dying, US service members continue dying and Tom continues pontificating in the mistaken belief that one day he'll find someone who mistakes him for a thinker. Tom Hayden was part of the "Out of Iraq now!" brigade . . . when a Republican occupied the Oval Office. Now he's in no rush for the Iraq War to end, it can go on and on and that's okay with him. Gone are the cries to end the war now. Gone is the insistance and the only thing that's changed is the political party of the War Hawk running the illegal war.
What he should be asking is: Why is the US still in Iraq? Barack Obama didn't keep his campaign promises, Barack Obama decided George W. Bush was the person to follow on Iraq. That's what Tom Hayden should be addressing if he had any integrity -- which of course he doesn't. He'll go to his grave providing distractions and excuses for the Democratic Party all the while insisting that he's going to change the party from within. Let's see, we've been hearing that from him since the 60s. Let's see there's been the Campaign for Economic Democracy, Campaign California and now Progressive Democrats for America -- and nothing changed. Not one of those organizations from within as he always insisted they would while hitting up people to fund his pet projects. Over 40 years of his 'changing the party from within' b.s. with nothing to show for it. Nothing.
Tom-Tom hopes everyone can tricked and fooled the way the self-admitted dupe alleges he once was. But people aren't as stupid as Tom-Tom likes to hope they are. Jonathan Katz' "Why ending the occupation of Iraq will take more than Obama's Promises" (The Mac Weekly) notes the realities Hayden hopes everyone is blinded to:

I don't believe Obama when he says we'll be done occupying Iraq and killing and being killed there by 2011 because that's not what we do. He'll withdraw some of the "combat troops" and "re-mission" the rest as "non-combat troops" (these operations include the physical protection "Americans and U.S. assets in Iraq" and "counterterrorism operations in which Iraqi forces would take the lead." That's all to say, they will still be killing and being killed.) We'll get a "lease" from the Iraqi government on some nice plots of land situated between some oil fields, kick up our feet, and have our "non-combat" frogs, our Blackwater toads, and our intelligence snakes go right on violently occupying foreign populations.
Xiong Tong (Xinhua) reports campaigning is underway in Iraq . . . for those not banned in the witch hunt, of course. Of the bannings, Jane Arraf (Christian Science Monitor) quotes Falluja college worker Saria Jassam stating, "It is all politically motivated. Why they didn't revoke their parliamentary immunity one year or two years ago? It is obvious, they know that [Saleh] Al Mutlak is a patriot." Jiang Yuxia adds, "The upcoming parliamentary election is crucial to Iraq's national reconciliation process after a peak of sectarian violence in 2006 and 2007 which left tens of thousands dead in the war-torn country." Yes and, as noted in Wednesday's snapshot, that slaughter followed the last parliamentary election in which . . . candidates campaigned via hatred -- a match lit and tossed on the oil fields. Marc Lynch (Foreign Policy) offers some insight into this week's developments:

The legitimacy of the electoral process and the independence of Iraqi institutions have been thrown into serious question among both Iraqis and the international community. Sunni-Shia resentments have been rekindled, with such polarization evidently being seen as a winning electoral strategy in certain quarters. Sunni participation may well be depressed, though a full-out boycott is unlikely. The damage is likely to me measured in increments, not in a single apocalyptic collapse.

Layla Anwar (An Arab Woman Blues) offers this view:

As expected and as mentioned in the lines below, the latest news state that Salih Al-Mutlag of the Iraqiiya Alliance has been banned from participating in the elections. I really hope he gets out of Iraq before being murdered.

He and Dhafir Al-Aini both Sunnis have been barred from the elections on charges of Baathism.

That is most strange really because Al Mutlaq left the Baath party back in the 70's. And Iyad Alllawi, a secular Shiite who served as PM during Bremer's time and who is also running on the Iraqiiya list was also a Baathist in the 70's and left the party. How come he was allowed to stay ?

Furthermore, Salih Al-Mutlag ran for the first round of elections in 2005, and ran in the provincial elections. I even remember in 2005, someone approached me and asked me to vote for his list. Of course, I refused to vote for anyone since I do not believe in the electoral process under US/Iranian occupation.

I really believe that the Arab Sunnis and secular forces of Iraq are really in a tight spot now, in particular the Sunnis. If they don't participate in the elections, the sectarian Shiite parties of Iran will have it all for themselves along with the Kurds and this is exactly what is asked for and wanted.

Some say that this may trigger another round of serious sectarian violence and I say this is exactly what is also aimed at because only then can the Americans stay on a little longer and the full partition plan of Iraq into 3 statelets can be turned into an official reality.

BBC News notes, "As posters appeared across Iraq for Friday's start, the fate of more than 170 candidates is still undecided." Will anyone vote? Mohammed Abbas and Samia Nakhoul (Reuters) report that "[. . .] Iraqis living with only a few hours of power a day amid mounds of rubbish and pools of sewage are wondering whether to bother voting in a March election." Reuters also offers a look at some of the political parties vying for votes. BBC News' Gabriel Gatehouse decides today to report on the Sunday protest in Baghdad and he still can't get it right. It was an "angry crowd," he tells us and that's supposed to inform? From Monday's snapshot:
As one of the many chicken exiles who pulled the world into a war they were too cowardly to fight on their own, Nouri knows a thing or two about perception management even if Reuters doesn't. Helen Long (Reuters) plays fool or whore -- you decide in a video 'report' on 'thousands' of Shi'ite protesters 'offended' that suspected Ba'athists were running. Helen hopes you don't get your information from anywhere else. Especially not Germany's DPA which tells you what Helen refused to: "Thousands of supporters of Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's Dawaa Party demonstrated outside the house of parliament in Baghdad on Sunday, to call for the exclusion of 'Baathist' candidates from the March polls." Who were these 'typical' protestors? The governor of Baghdad was among them. Helen whores it and prays the whole world is stupid and doesn't catch on. Steven Lee Myers (New York Times) reports, "Tensions over the dispute flared elswhere, as thousand of protesters attended anti-Baathist rallies in Baghdad and Basra organized by Mr. Maliki's political oranization, the Dawa Party. The Baghdad rally was broadcast at length on state television, showing Mr. Maliki's aides denoucning those sympathetic to the Baath Party".

You get the idea that, given the chance, Helen Long would insist to you that the April 2003 US PSY-OPS operation in Firdos Square where the US military brought down the statue of Hussein amidst a small group of exiles just brought back into the country (by the US) (as well as marines and 'reporters') was a 'legitimate' and 'real' protest by Iraqis. Helen really hopes you're as stupid as she believes you are and that you don't notice -- in the video she narrates!, for example, that these 'average Iraqi protestors' are carrying handmade flags . . . Iraqi flags? No, like any 'normal' and 'average' Iraq, they're carrying home made US flags. Yeah, that's believable. (Also note that the women are covered from head to toe but the men were track suits, dress suits, pullover shirts, etc. while few sport any kind of a bear let alone one would that would demonstrate devout religious beliefs -- translation, Nouri stands for more even more suppression of women's rights.) For those who have miss and long for the combined 'reporting' of Michael Gordon and Judith Miller, breathe easy, Helen Long is on the scene.
Nouri staged the protest and Gabriel can't tell you that but he does make time to interview Ahmed Chalabi -- as if anyone should trust that liar, as if that liar hasn't burned the press enough -- but there's Ahmed as a "trusted source." Layla Anwar (An Arab Woman Blues) calls out Gabriel:
And it seems that their Gabriel Gatehouse in the heart of Baghdad is unaware of people being gunned down in broad day light on bogus charges of Baathism nor is he aware that scores of Iraqis are already fleeing the capital and heading towards Syria and Jordan....

That shameless disgusting BBC so reminiscent of the colonial days of the British empire, still uses that same perfidious language and word twisting. BBC you hate Saddam Hussein because he would not bend over for your politicians. You only approve of those whom you can bugger. And some of us Iraqis will not be buggered.

And it seems to me despite all the information in your possession, you still hold that Ahmed Chalabi, the crook, the embezzler and the spy for Iran as a reference and a credible source of information. and that, despite the fact that your f**ked up nation is still inquiring into the " legality " of your going to "war" in Iraq.

You truly have ZERO shame and ZERO ethics.

Earlier this week, Sam Dagher (New York Times) blogged on the KRG gearing up for elections. Also zooming in on that region is "Iraq's dangerous trigger line, Too late to keep the peace?" (The Economist):

FROM the market town of Khanaqin, on the Iranian border, all the way to Sinjar, near the border with Syria, a fortified line snakes across northern Iraq. To the east and north stand Kurdish forces, known as the Peshmerga, keen to reclaim land taken from them by Saddam Hussein more than two decades ago. On the other side of the line, to the west and south, are Iraqi regular-army troops sent by the central government in Baghdad to stop ancient cities along the Tigris river falling into what it fears may become a purely Kurdish sphere.
The two forces have come close to flat-out fighting several times, usually outside the cities where commanders act off their own bat. Last year an Iraqi army unit drove into the disputed, though mainly Kurdish, town of Altun Kupri and took up sniper positions on rooftops. When residents, supported by armed Peshmerga, started demonstrating against their presence, the Arab soldiers were told to shoot to kill. Bloodshed was avoided at the last minute by American troops stationed nearby.
Turning to some of today's reported violence . . .
Aref Mohammed and Jack Kimball (Retuers) report that a village near Iraq's border with Iran was stormed by US and Iraqi forces with Maysan Province council member Maitham Laftah stating 10 people are dead and five injured while another count offers 8 dead and three injured: "A Reuters photographer who arrived after the firefight saw bloodstains on the ground and bullet holes in the walls."
Press TV reports Kufa roadside bombings resulted in the deaths of 6 people with thirty-five more injured. Reuters notes a Buhriz car bombing which claimed 2 lives (a father and son).

Meanwhile Jane Arraf (Christian Science Monitor) reports on the US military beliefs concerning the kidnapping of American citizen Issa T. Salomi by the League of Righteous:

But a senior US military leader, speaking on condition of anonymity, says the kidnapping appears to be a one-off incident possibly sparked by the Iraqi government's recent arrest of two mid-level members of the AAH, which US officials say is backed by Iran.
He said the group, which broke away from the movement of militant Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr after Sadr agreed to a ceasefire in 2008, appears to have further splintered after its leader Sheikh Qais al-Khazali renounced attacks on Iraqi forces and was released from US and Iraqi custody. The release was an apparent exchange for a British hostage and the bodies of three of his bodyguards and seen as key to reconciliation between the Iraqi government and Shiite militant groups.
"What I think has happened…is that there are elements within AAH that are not following any orders from Qais…. We believe it is that element out of that group that is pursuing their kidnapping campaign," says the senior U.S. official.

It's always interesting to watch the US military and US officials -- named and unnamed -- offer takes on what this or that group is in doing in Iraq -- you know, as opposed to what Iraqis think the groups doing in Iraq. For example, many don't buy the idea of a 'splinter group' -- or that al-Sadr 'ridded' his organization of the militias.

To stick with the US position presented in the article, so the League of Righteous allegedly felt shut out of the 'political process' and, in their anger/depression/rage, decided that they could best have a 'voice' and get their way via violence? Well wherever could they have learned that? From a US administration that ordered the US military to release the ringleaders of the organization despite the League's claims of responsibility (bragging, actually) for the death of 5 US service members in a raid on a base?

3 dead British citizens and 1 alive also proved to be very beneficial for the League.

Maybe that's why you have to be very careful about entering into negotiations with those who resort to violence? Concerned because of the message you send and the message the current US administration sent by releasing the ringleaders and others starting in June of last year was: Violence means you get your way.

In England, the Iraq Inquiry is in recess but Simon Vezey (Epoch Times) notes John Chilcot, Chair of the Committee, and others' statements to offer:

One exchange hinted that the panel had access to secret documents revealing that George Bush planned to attack Iraq even if Iraq complied with inspectors and was in compliance with the crucial UN resolution 1441.
Sir Lawrence Freedman had asked Mr Straw: "Was there any point where Powell said to you that, even if Iraq complied, President Bush had already made a decision that he intended to go to war?"
When Mr Straw said this was not the case, "to the best of my recollection", and talked more broadly around the question, Sir Lawrence pressed him a few times on the issue.
Sir Lawrence Freedman said: "I was going to suggest you might want to look through your conversations and check."
"I will go through the records, because I think you are trying to tell me something," said Mr Straw.
TV notes. NOW on PBS begins airing Friday on most PBS stations (check local listings):
Even with the recent outpouring of support for earthquake victims in
Haiti, Americans' attention span for global crises is usually very
short. But is there a way to keep American audiences from tuning out
important global issues of violence, poverty, and catastrophe far beyond
their backyards? On Friday, February 12 at 8:30 pm (check local
listings), NOW talks with filmmaker Eric Metzgar about "Reporter," his
documentary about the international reporting trips of New York Times
columnist Nicholas Kristof. In the film, Metzgar provides fascinating
insight into how Kristof breaks through and gets us to think deeply
about people and issues half a world away.

Staying with TV notes, Washington Week begins airing on many PBS stations tonight (and throughout the weekend, check local listings) and joining Gwen are Dan Balz (Washington Post), Naftali Bendavid (Wall St. Journal), Janet Hook (Los Angeles Times) and David Sanger (New York Times). Meanwhile Bonnie Erbe will sit down with Melinda Henneberger, Eleanor Holmes Norton and Genevieve Wood to discuss the week's events on PBS' To The Contrary. Check local listings, on many stations, it begins airing tonight. And turning to broadcast TV, Sunday CBS' 60 Minutes:

Nowhere in the world can such a concentration of power be found than at the World Economic Forum's meeting in Davos, Switzerland, where the world's most powerful and influential people gather yearly to try to solve the world's most pressing problems. Scott Pelley reports.

Made In The USA
Could crucial parts of the equipment Iran is using in its uranium enrichment facility have come from the U.S.? American law enforcement authorities say sensitive devices and electronics that could be used in weapons of mass destruction are being smuggled into Iran. Lesley Stahl reports. | Watch Video

Pigeon Fever
It's been just over a year since Bernard Madoff's multi-billion dollar Ponzi scheme fell apart. But, as Morley Safer reports, despite all the news about the Madoff scandal, similar Ponzi scams are still thriving. | Watch Video

60 Minutes, Sunday, Feb. 14, at 7 p.m. ET/PT.