Saturday, May 02, 2020

First Night in Florence Spaghetti

Roy e-mailed this recipe from Food 52.  Roy notes he's had it several times since the pandemic was declared a pandemic and that he uses canned tuna packed in water.  He's right, you don't need it packed in olive oil.  Someone's being a little frou frou.  The recipe already has olive oil in it, the recipe requires that the tuna is cooked in olive oil.  Just use regular tuna that you have on hand, you don't need to be frou frou.  And you can use any pasta you like.  You don't need to use "Meyer if possible," just use a damn lemon.  It's recipes like this that should be burned and the authors of them should be mocked publicly.  I'll come back to that.

  • 1/2 package spaghetti or bucatini

  • Sea or kosher salt

  • Good olive oil, and lots of it

  • 1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes of whatever colors are to hand, halved

  • 2 or 3 good sized cloves garlic, minced

  • 1 can tuna packed in olive oil, not drained, opened, homage to Pierino who appreciates the value of very good canned tuna

  • A couple of generous handfuls of spinach leaves, stems pulled off

  • Juice of 1/2 lemon, Meyer if possible

  • Sea or kosher salt and pepper to taste

  • A good Parmesan or Romano cheese

    1. A note about the tuna: Italian tuna packed in olive oil is heavenly. There are many brands available. Ortiz is heavenly; Roland offers a decent one. That said, I live in Montana. When I want pasta, I don't want it when Amazon or anyone else can get tuna to me. I'm happy to to stop into World Market and buy Tonnino yellowfin for $2.95 a can. And a note about the cheese. No, it is not traditional to serve fishy pastas with cheese. But if you have to have Parm with your pasta, by all means go ahead. Just use it sparingly.
    2. Start heating a large pot of generously salted water (it should taste like the ocean). This comes together fast. Good for evenings when you need dinner to almost make itself.
    3. I had this over a spaghetti that was more like what we consider bucatini, so if you can find bucatini, grab it. No delicate, frail pasta allowed. The pasta has a front and center seat here. It’s not a mere conveyor of other flavors, it’s right out there with its arms around them all. Pull out about 1/2 of it from the package. Check the cook time. Set a timer for 3 minutes less than the recommended cook time. Drop the pasta into the water and begin making the sauce. Multi-tasking necessary here: keep a set of tongs to hand to gently move the pasta around so that it doesn’t sink and stick, and also to move the sauce ingredients about.
    4. Set a skillet over medium-high heat. It should be large enough to hold the sauce and pasta at the end. Force yourself to add 2 or 3 times as much good olive oil as you usually would.; we’re not “filming” any pans here. This is all about the bold flavors of delicate ingredients. Use a good 5 ounces.
    5. When the oil is hot (it’ll shimmer, or ribbon), add the halved tomatoes. They’ll cook along quickly, releasing those precious juices to concentrate in all that lovely olive oil. If the skillet is too spattery, turn the heat down a bit. As the tomatoes begin to soften, add the garlic. When it’s very fragrant, add the tuna and its oil. Break up any large chunks with a wooden spoon. Turn down the heat to a good simmer.
    6. When the timer goes off for the pasta, use tongs to lift it out of the boiling water and drop it directly into the skillet. Please trust me, it wants to be way more dente than al. It’s going to cook some more in the skillet. Dip out a couple of good ladles of pasta water and add to the skillet. Move everything around and together with your tongs. Toss in the spinach and add the lemon juice. Move everything around until spinach is just wilted. Taste the sauce before you season to taste with salt and pepper. Use your tongs to lift pasta out onto plates. Divide any remaining sauce between them. Grate some good cheese over the top. Serve with slices of focaccia or baguette so that not one drop of sauce is left behind. You’ll be a happier person for it.
    7. As noted, this all comes together very quickly, so be on your toes. Thank God I didn’t have to make anything my first night in Florence, and thank heaven the daughter took me to it. It was worth the price of the entire trip to have tasted it. With my daughter. I was in heaven. George was on his own.

    If the stupid woman who wrote this had written it at any other time, I'd just bite my tongue.  But this is being offered as an easy recipe to make during the pandemic.  So I don't need the frou frou or the humble brag about your trip to Florence.  You don't have a cooking show, we don't need chatter from you, we just need a recipe and shame on you and/or your outlet, in the midst of a pandemic, for offering this recipe as one you can just go to your pantry for the ingredients and then insisting the tuna has to be packed in olive oil.  Take the stick up out of your ass, idiot, people are sick and people are dying.  Clearly, you have no grasp on the pandemic.  (And, yes, I pulled another double last night.  I'm seeing a lot of sick people and I'm not in the mood for frou frou idiots.)

    Is the coronavirus threat over?  No.  The pandemic continues.  This move to 'return to normal' is nonsense and risking a huge number of lives.  Patrick Martin (WSWS) reports:

    Friday, May 1 marked a new stage in the social crime being perpetrated against the American people, as President Trump allowed federal guidelines recommending “sheltering in place” during the coronavirus pandemic to expire. Dozens of state governments, with Washington’s blessing, have lifted lockdown orders, allowing stores, restaurants and even movie theaters to reopen, and ordering workers to go back to their jobs on pain of having their unemployment benefits cut off.
    The loosening of restrictions is being justified with claims that the COVID-19 pandemic is waning and people can now begin to work, shop, dine out, travel and go to church as they once did, without undue risk. But that is not actually the expectation of the Trump administration. On the contrary, press inquiries have found that the federal government expects an enormous spike in the death toll and is making preparations accordingly.
    NBC News reports that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) last month “placed orders for well over 100,000 new body bags to hold victims of COVID-19.” The Department of Homeland Security, of which FEMA is part, placed a $5.1 million purchase order with a California company.
    The report continues: “Around the same time it wrote the contract for the body bags, FEMA opened up bidding to provide about 200 rented refrigerated trailers for locations around the country. The request for proposals specifies a preference for 53-foot trailers, which, at 3,600 cubic feet, are the largest in their class.”
    FEMA is not the only agency preparing for death on a scale that dwarfs what has already transpired in the past two months. The Veterans Administration, according to multiple reports and documents, paid a supply distributor nearly $300,000 for body bags to be delivered April 30, the last of eight contracts awarded to the same company totaling $12.1 million. Assuming the VA paid a price similar to FEMA’s, $12.1 million would buy it nearly 240,000 bags. For the nine million patients seen by the VA in a typical year, that assumes a death rate of about 2.7 percent.
    Even these staggering figures could turn out to be gross underestimates of the wave of death that is coming. The Center for Disease Research and Policy in Minnesota projected Thursday that COVID-19 would likely spread in a series of outbreaks over the next year, until 60 to 70 percent of the population is infected. This would drive the death toll into the millions.
    NBC News added that an unnamed “senior White House official” had confirmed in an email that the Trump administration is “taking into account the dangers associated with loosening stay-at-home restrictions.” The likelihood of a greatly increased death toll was discussed at a meeting April 25 attended by FEMA Director Pete Gaynor; Brett Giroir, a retired admiral who is assistant secretary of health and human services for health; Rear Adm. John Polowczyk, vice director for logistics of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who is the supply-chain lead for the coronavirus task force; and staff from the White House National Security Council.

    Lastly, I saw the Joe Biden interview.  I had an hour between finishing at the clinic and going to the hospital for the second shift.  I ate, read C.I.'s snapshot (below) and watched the Biden segment.

    He looked like a liar.

    I believe Tara Reade.

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

    Friday, May 1, 2020.  Joe Biden speaks . . . unconvincingly.

    Starting with this from Alexis McGill Johnson, Acting President of Planned Parenthood Action Fund:

    “At Planned Parenthood Action Fund, we believe women. We know how important it is that survivors be supported and listened to – survivors of sexual violence not only seek care at Planned Parenthood health centers every day, they are also dedicated staff members and supporters.
    “We believe that survivors should be heard, listened to, taken seriously, and treated with respect and dignity. 
    “Saying we believe survivors doesn’t mean only when it’s politically convenient. This isn’t a fringe issue, it’s one that affects all of us. This crosses political party, race, gender, income level, and sexual orientation.
    Any person seeking elected office — and especially the highest office in the land — needs to address allegations of sexual assault and harassment seriously, both as a systemic problem and with a sense of personal responsibility. We all have much work to do to make our country a safer place, free of sexual violence. 

    “Vice President Biden must address this allegation directly. Our country is hungry for leadership on this issue. Now is the time to give it to them.”  

    As GOOGLE notes, that was issued at 8:40 EST last night.  In other words, after the story broke that Joe Biden would be addressing the topic on this morning's MORNING JOE on MSNBC.  In other words, after they know Joe is going to address it in twelve or so hours, they can take a position that Joe should address it.  They can't pressure him before that.  They can't publicly call for him to do anything before that.

    If Johnson had issued that call yesterday morning, it might mean something.  As it is, it was already known that Joe planned to address it this morning.  And, as it is, Tara's been trashed for about six weeks now while Planned Parenthood has never said a word.

    MSNBC teased out the Joe interview like it was going to be the Gettysburg Declaration [Address] while at the same time trying to make it clear that MORNING JOE was a frat house.  Their on airs are also explaining, ahead of time, that Joe needs to explain (their word) "that it never happened" and say that he doesn't have anything to add and move on.  That's what passes for 'news.'

    It's great that MSNBC is so impartial, right?  It's wonderful that this garbage passes for news.

    Why did Joe choose MORNING JOE?  What other talk show has a host who had a dead intern turn up in his office and got to pretend like he didn't need to answer questions about it?

    If you've assaulted a woman, Joe Scarborough is in your corner.

    Leading up to the interview, Joe and Little Willie had to talk football because, well, of course they had to.  It's all one big locker room for those pigs.  They let Mika provide the skirt ("It's just gonna be you and me") to hide behind.

    She asked him at the start "would you please go on the record" and he pretended to.  Not since Ronald Reagan hid behind "to the best of my recollection" has anyone repeatedly offered supposedly firm statements repeatedly couched in "that I'm aware of" and similar wording.

    At one point, he offered, "No, it is not true.  I am saying unequivocally it never, ever happened and it didn't."  Moments later?  "I don't remember any type of complaint that she may have made, it was 27 years ago. . . . And the fact is that I don't remember."

    Which is it?  It unequivocally never happened or to the best of your memory and recall -- your memory and recall -- that you don't believe it happened?  He was so reliant on weasel words that Mika wondered "are you preparing us for a complaint" to emerge?  No he insisted.  And "I-I-I-I'm not worried about it at all."  I-I-I-I?  That speech pattern in that reply would indicate otherwise.

    At another point, Mika asked if he had reached out to Tara Reade?  He snapped, "No, I have not reached out to her.  It was 27 years ago, this never happened."

    Mika noted the belief that an assault claim Tara may have filed could be in his papers stored at the University of Delaware.  Joe rejected that insisting that the a complaint would only be in the national archives.

    Mika falsely claimed NYT had conducted a thorough investigation.  No, they didn't.  It was Rich McHugh who broke the news on two women coming forward who remember Tara telling them of the assault in the 90s.  It was Ryan Grimm who reported on the call Tara's mother made in 1993 to LARRY KING LIVE.  There is so much that NYT did not cover.  Mika brought up Big Stacey Abrams but failed to note that Stacey was using the campaign's written talking points -- which BUZZFEED published earlier this week.  Mika failed to note that Big Stacey also insisted that NYT cleared Joe which even the paper has called a lie.

    Joe replied, "To the best of my knowledge, there have been no complaints made against me."

    To the best of my knowledge.  That's interesting phrasing.

    Mika asked if anyone has signed an NDA?  Joe replied, "There's no NDA signed -- I've never asked anyone to sign an NDA."  He later added, "Period. None."

    As he got more short tempered it was hilarious to watch Mika start crouching.  She hunched over to plead with him.   Joe just got more bellicose, "First of all, let's get this straight."

    He also insisted he wasn't going to attack Tara and "I'm not going to question this."  He immediately then declared,  "I don't know why after 27 years this is being raised."

    He growled, "I'm not suggesting she had no right to come forward" but that's exactly what you're saying.

    He insisted, "These claims are not true.  There's no corroborative -- they're not true."

    He stopped on corroborative evidence.  He didn't finish that.  And he didn't finish it because there is corroborative evidence.  That's what her brother, her friend she told when it happened, that's what they're offering.  That's what the two women who came forward this week to say Tara told them in the 90s are offering.  That's what the video of the phone call Tara's mother made in 1993 is.

    No woman in a he-said/she-said has ever had this much to offer.

    "There's so many inconsistencies in what has been said in this case," he insisted.

    Yes, but most of those inconsistencies are coming out of the mouth of Big Stacey.

    "I'm not aware" was a phrase Joe invoked often along with "to the best of my knowledge."  These are weasel words.

    Mika asked about the records at the University of Delaware and he pretended to be confused.  Why can't he call for those records to be released?  Why can't he ask that they be searched for any reference to Tara?

    Joe Biden: I don't understand the point you're trying to make.

    I loved the long silence during this discussion by the way, as both waited to see who would blink first.

     Joe Biden: Who-who does that search?

    Mika: The University of Delaware?

    While insisting that nothing at the University would support Tara, Joe refused to release those reports or to allow anyone to search them.

    Winding down, Mika asked, "If you could speak directly to Tara Reade about her claims," what would you say?

    What would he say to Tara?  "This never happened.  I don't know what's motivating her."

    That's what he would say.

    It was unconvincing and he came off guilty repeatedly.

    Jon Allsop (CJR) offers this on the interview:

    This morning, we finally heard from Biden, when he appeared on MSNBC’s Morning Joe. To set him up, Mika Brzezinski, the cohost, outlined Reade’s allegation and addressed critiques that the press had botched coverage of it. She focused on the criticism that the immediate, vociferous coverage of assault claims against Brett Kavanaugh, when he was nominated to the Supreme Court, was evidence of a double standard, compared to the recent reporting on Biden. Brzezinski then played a lengthy reel of the show’s hosts insisting, in past episodes, that Kavanaugh was denied due process by the media. “We were strong on this,” she said afterward. “And honestly, very few others were.” Brzezinski also spent several minutes recounting, in detail, the many sexual-misconduct allegations against Trump.
    Shortly before coming on, Biden released a statement strongly refuting Reade’s allegation. “This never happened,” he said. He appeared on air shortly after 8am Eastern. “Did you sexually assault Tara Reade?,” Brzezinski asked. Biden reiterated his strong denial. Brzezinski then asked Biden whether any other staffer had ever complained about his behavior, and whether any such complaint had been hidden by a nondisclosure agreement. Biden said no on both counts. Brzezinski also pressed him repeatedly on remarks he made, during the Kavanaugh hearings, that women’s voices should be taken seriously. “Women have a right to be heard, and the press should rigorously investigate,” he replied. “Why is it real for Dr. Ford and not for Tara Reade?” Brzezinski asked, referring to Christine Blasey Ford, a survivor of one of Kavanaugh’s alleged attacks. Biden said that he wouldn’t question an accuser’s motives, but that the facts were on his side. When Brzezinski pushed him on what the facts were—and where they might be found—he spoke over her, then apologized. “The truth matters,” Biden said.
    What about Reade’s side of the story? We can now expect to hear from her on TV soon; BuzzFeed’s Rosie Gray and Ruby Cramer reported yesterday that she’s been contacted by every major network. As far as Reade is concerned, though, the damage is already done. “I used to think that a Republican talking point was to call the mainstream media biased. So I used to think, Oh, that’s just a talking point for them,” Reade told BuzzFeed. “But now I’m living it [in] real time, and I see it—like, I see it for what it is.”

    The appearance comes as many start to find some sort of voice.  There was Planned Parenthood noted above.  Daniel Villarreal (NEWSWEEK) notes:

    Representative Hakeem Jeffries of New York, chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, said in a Wednesday radio interview that he believes Tara Reade's 1993 sexual assault allegation against presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden should be "investigated seriously" and that he thinks Biden will have to directly address the matter.
    Reade, who was a former aide for Biden when he served as Delaware's senator during the 1990s, claimed that he pushed her against a wall and penetrated her with his fingers in 1993. She has also filed a criminal complaint with the Washington Metropolitan Police Department over the matter.
    "It's got to be taken seriously because this is a serious allegation raised by a serious individual and needs to be investigated seriously. We've probably got to hear from him [Biden] at some point directly," Jeffries said Wednesday on WNYC when asked about Reade's allegations.

    Another latecomer to the party?  The editorial board of THE LOS ANGELES TIMES who offered this yesterday evening:

    Unpleasant as it must be, the former vice president must be willing to answer questions about Reade’s accusations posed by reporters or members of the public. (He is expected to speak about the allegations in a television interview on Friday.)
    More important, his campaign should commission an independent investigation of Reade’s allegations by a lawyer or law firm without clear partisan leanings. Investigators should be given access to papers from his career that Biden donated to the University of Delaware, a potential source that journalists haven’t been allowed to inspect. And their report should be made public. It’s not guaranteed that such an investigation will resolve the contradictions, but it could dispel suspicions that important documents were being concealed.

    The message of the #MeToo movement was that an accusation of sexual impropriety by a powerful man should be taken seriously — including by the subject of the complaint. Even as he protests his innocence, Biden needs to honor that principle.

    Related, Chris Hayes is being attacked for covering the Tara Reade Story.  Branko Marcetic (JACOBIAN) reports:

    After being studiously ignored for weeks, Tara Reade’s sexual assault allegation against presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden is finally breaking through in earnest into mainstream news coverage. On cable news, her accusation got one of its most extended and sympathetic airings last night thanks to MSNBC anchor Chris Hayes’s brave decision to cover it.
    “There have been moments I think for many of us, all of us, where we have heard about accusations against someone that we find ourselves desperately wanting not to believe,” he said, opening the segment.
    But part of the difficult lesson of the MeToo era is not that every accusation is true and everything should be believed on its face, but that you do have to fight yourself when you feel that impulse. You have to do that in order to take seriously what is being alleged and what the evidence is and to evaluate it. And that is the case with the accusation by a woman named Tara Reade against Joe Biden.
    Hayes’s treatment wasn’t exhaustive. He left out that two people close to Reade had told reporters who broke her story that they recalled her telling them about it at the time; he didn’t mention the phone call her mother made to Larry King Live at the time about unnamed problems her daughter was having in a senator’s office; and he mentioned that Reade’s official paper complaint can’t be located, but didn’t explain that one potential location — Biden’s senatorial papers — will be locked to the public for years by the University of Delaware. (The Washington Post and others have called on Biden to release them).
    Nonetheless, Hayes informed MSNBC viewers about a pivotal new development in the case: that Reade’s former neighbor, a Biden supporter, has come forward to say Reade told her about the allegation in the mid-1990s. 

    Hayes invited on journalist Rebecca Traister, the author of an important new piece on what the allegations mean, who affirmed the story’s rising credibility and called on Biden himself to personally address it. And he pushed viewers to move past their own unconscious biases and to take the story seriously. The segment is worth watching — though as MSNBC mystifyingly hasn’t put clips of it up on either its official website or YouTube channel and a transcript isn’t yet available, you’ll have to do so in pieces.

    Why was this brave? After all, this is Hayes’s job. And if anything, coverage of Reade is still falling short of the woefully underplayed accusation last year against Trump by columnist E. Jean Carroll, who was quickly personally invited onto MSNBC then CNN in the days after her allegation went public. (At the time, Carroll’s allegation had the same level of corroboration as Reade’s; it now has far less. Reade has only appeared on TV on Hill.TV’s Rising and on Democracy Now!).

    We'll note this from DEMOCRACY NOW! today -- this interview aired this morning.

    Tara Reade's former neighbor says she clearly remembers Reade telling her about an alleged sexual assault by Joe Biden. "We were talking about violence, because I had experienced violence myself," says Lynda LaCasse. "She started telling me about Joe Biden and what he had done."

    Full screen
    1:23 / 1:24



    That video was from the Tweet.  Here's the video clip from YOUTUBE.

    Click here for it at the DEMOCRACY NOW! website and here for Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez' interview with Tara Reade.


    Turning to Iraq, Margaret Griffis (ANTIWAR.COM) looks at violence in Iraq for the month of April.  Among other things, she notes:

    During April, at least 208 people were killed, and 185 were wounded. Last month, 128 people were killed, and 180 were wounded. The number of civilian casualties remained low, probably due to the coronavirus lockdowns. However, casualties among security personnel and militants ticked higher.
    At least 20 civilians, 48 security members, and 98 militants were killed. Another 38 civilians, 103 security personnel, and three militants were wounded. At least two protesters were killed, and 34 were wounded despite quarantine orders.

    Along the northern border, in the long-running conflict between the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (P.K.K) and Turkey, at least 33 PKK members of the were killed, and four more were wounded. Two Turkish soldiers were killed, and three more were wounded. Three Iraqi civilians and two Iranian civilians were also killed. These casualties all occurred within Iraqi territory. 

    But remember, we're all supposed to believe that the war ended long ago.  And that all US troops came home.

    The following sites updated: