Best Damn Chili This Side of...Wuhan

My Magnificient Mister won Second Prize in a Chili Cookoff contest at his office yesterday. It was quite good, and spicy. Garnish the story with this: it was the first time he's ever made chili! It was a vegetarian base, with lots of good and novel stuff one doesn't ordinarily find in chili. Like zuchinni. And then he added some spicy little meatballs that he called "bombs." Lots of ground szechuan peppercorn, minced jalapenos, tobasco, etc.

Looks like we're going to have to start a little trophy corner in our new kitchen, mister.

Newsclipping of the Day :: Fox News Hosting a Democratic Debate??

I'm sure many of you are MoveOn.org participants like me, and may have gotten this email earlier today. Check this out, and go sign the petition, if you don't like the idea of Fox News sponsoring a Democratic Presidential forum and debate this summer. What a stupid idea, and I have no idea how the Dems thought it could ever be a good thing. Barack Obama certainly doesn't.


Newsclipping du Jour :: Trains are for Tracks, not Highways

Really people, can there be any more of a void of common sense these days? Everybody and their brother thinks now is the time to strike, and take advantage of a stupid, asleep, and otherwise disengaged public. Where is Ralph Nader just now when we need him? Apparently, in lieu of the old-fashioned train, someone has had the bright idea of putting trains on our freeways, in essence. Brilliant. Introducing the "saddlemount vehicle transporter combinations." We all need to write our congress people about this one. Read all about it here.


Newsclipping of the Day :: Drinking the "Neocon Cool Aid?"

I'm copying this from today's TomPaine.com post. After hearing a couple of incoherent and inchoate sound bites of Bush's press conference yesterday, I think this is pretty sound analysis. Bush and Cheney are increasingly isolated and out of touch. But they still have their fingers on the triggers.
Breakdown At The Iraq Lie Factory
Robert Dreyfuss
February 15, 2007

Robert Dreyfuss is an Alexandria, Va.-based writer specializing in politics and national security issues. He is the author of Devil's Game: How the United States Helped Unleash Fundamentalist Islam (Henry Holt/Metropolitan Books, 2005), a contributing editor at The Nation and a writer for Mother Jones, The American Prospect and Rolling Stone. He can be reached through his website, www.robertdreyfuss.com.

It was, President Bush must have been thinking, a heck of a lot easier five years ago. Back in 2002, the president had a smoothly running lie factory humming along in the Pentagon, producing reams of fake intelligence about Iraq, led by Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Doug Feith and his Office of Special Plans. Back then, he had a tightly knit cabal of neoconservatives, led by I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, based in Vice President Dick Cheney’s office, to carry out a coordinated effort to distribute the lies to the media. And he had a chorus of yes-men in the Republican-controlled Congress ready to echo the party line.

In 2007, Bush stands nearly alone, and he never looked lonelier than during a bumbling, awkward news conference on the Iraq-Iran tangle Wednesday.

Feith is long gone, and last week his lie factory was exposed by the Pentagon’s own inspector general, who told Congress that Feith had pretty much made up everything that his rogue intelligence unit manufactured. Libby is long gone, apparently about to be sentenced to jail for lying about Cheney’s frantic effort to cover up the lie factory’s work. And the congressional echo chamber is gone: In six weeks, the Democrats have held more than four dozen hearings to investigate the White House’s catastrophic Middle East policy, and even Hillary Clinton is warning that Bush had better keep his hands off Iran, saying: “It would be a mistake of historical proportions if the administration thought that the 2002 resolution authorizing force against Iraq was a blank check for the use of force against Iran.”

Without his Orwellian apparatus behind him, the president spent most of his hour-long news conference yesterday shrugging and smirking, jutting his jaw out with false bravado, joshing inappropriately with reporters asking deadly serious questions and stumbling over his words. It was painful to listen to him trying to justify the nonsensical claims that Iran and its paramilitary “Quds Force” are somehow responsible for the chaos in Iraq:

What we do know is that the Quds force was instrumental in providing these deadly IEDs to networks inside of Iraq. We know that. And we also know that the Quds force is a part of the Iranian government. That's a known. What we don't know is whether or not the head leaders of Iran ordered the Quds force to do what they did.

Pressed about what the “head leaders” are doing, he went on:

Either they knew or didn't know, and what matters is, is that they're there. What's worse, that the government knew or that the government didn't know? … What’s worse, them ordering it and it happening, or them not ordering it and it happening?

If that makes no sense to you, well, that’s because the whole thing makes no sense. It’s a farcical replay of Iraq 2002, when the White House demonized Saddam Hussein with fake intelligence, turning him into a menacing al-Qaida backer armed with weapons of mass destruction. This time, however, the lie factory has been dismantled. All by himself, the president is trying to turn Iran into a scary, al-Qaida-allied, nuke-wielding menace. But he’s not fooling anyone. The potent “war president” of 2002-2003 is now an incoherent, mewling Wizard of Oz-like figure, and people are paying attention to the man behind the curtain.

Unlike 2002, when the White House fired salvo after salvo of fake intelligence about Iraq, today it can’t even stage its lies properly. Like the incompetents who couldn’t organize a two-car funeral, the remaining Iran war hawks in the administration held a briefing in Baghdad on Sunday to present alleged evidence that Iran is masterminding the insurgency in Iraq. But it was a comedy of errors that convinced no one. Twice, at least, the administration had earlier postponed or canceled the much-promoted event, designed to reveal the supposed secrets behind Iran’s actions in Iraq. When it was finally held, it was not in Washington, but in Baghdad, with not a single White House official, no U.S. diplomat, no State Department official, no CIA official and no one from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. Instead, a couple of anonymous military officers held a background-only briefing, barring cameras and tape recorders, to present some blurry photographs of bomb-looking things—and not a shred of evidence of Iranian government involvement.

It was as if Adlai Stevenson had gotten up at the United Nations during the missile crisis in Cuba and, rather than showing detailed U-2 photographs of missile emplacements, had simply said, “Ladies and gentleman, some Cuban guy we talked to said the Russians are putting missiles in Cuba.”

According to The Washington Times, the effort to blame Iran was directly torpedoed by the U.S. intelligence community, through the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. The ODNI, said the Times , “sought to play down the intelligence on Iranian involvement, fearing that the report will be used as a basis to launch an attack on Iran.” Many earlier reports noted that both the State Department and the U.S. intelligence community were strongly opposed to any attempt to demonize Iran. There’s nothing like a bureaucracy scorned to conduct passive-aggressive sabotage of misguided policies, and in this case the bureaucracy apparently succeeded. The dog-and-pony show on Iranian meddling in Iraq not only didn’t scare anyone, it caused guffaws of laughter and ridicule.

And then there was the hilarious presidential press conference yesterday, to top it off.

There is, of course, no basis for arguing that the civil war in Iraq is caused by Iran. And there is no basis—“not supported by underlying intelligence,” as the Pentagon I.G. said about Doug Feith’s 2002 work—to argue that Iran is responsible for a significant part of American deaths in Iraq. Nearly all of the U.S. casualties in Iraq are caused by the secular-Baathist Sunni-led resistance and religious Sunni extremists fighting the occupation, and none of the forces allied with the resistance have ties to Iran. Even the anonymous briefers at the dog-and-camel show in Baghdad admitted that Iran is helping the Shiite militias, not the Sunnis; in other words, Iran is helping the self-same militias that are being trained and armed by the United States.

And the spurious claim that 170 Americans have died in attacks using Iranian-supplied super-IED’s since 2004 can only mean one thing: that the Pentagon is counting the numbers of U.S. soldiers and Marines who died in April and August, 2004. That was when the United States waged two mini-wars against Muqtada al-Sadr’s Mahdi Army. It was the only time in the past four years when the United States suffered significant casualties fighting the Shiites—though the administration presented zero evidence that Sadr’s Mahdi Army gets weapons from Iran, or needs to. But if they’re counting as far back as 2004—and, according to the Pentagon, the super-IED’s started showing up in 2004—then the whole issue is absurd, since what happened three years ago has little or no relevance to current conditions.

Those prone to believe, along with the president, that Iran is fomenting the violence in Iraq have already drunk deep of the neocon Kool-Aid. The rest of us can only shake our heads in wonder that the president thinks he can get away with this.


Mister, You're Gonna Love This!

I can't stop laughing! It's your favorite song Steven! I love Ellen. Why aren't we Tivoing her show?


diner du jour

On Valentine's Eve, and we might be having an ice day tomorrow. Today, I was one of 2 who made it into the office, left by noon as we had a level 2 snow emergency. Later, it started raining, but the temp will fall well below freezing quick tonight... so, i bet we will have an icy VD. Bealzebug slipped around a tiny bit today on the ice, but nothing too serious. I think before next winter comes, we will have one AWD vehicle.

We are waiting for the meat pie to rest (so we won't burn our palates). Earlier, I made that cheesecake. Yum yum. I'm lovin the Thermador! I told Steven the smell of the vanilla and lemon and cream cheese so enveloped the refrigerator all afternoon, I could turn into a wild animal and down that entire cheesecake in a flash. He kept me away.

Ding! Rest time is over... time to devour!


Devour we did. That meat pie was YUMMY!

And the Cheesecake! It's from a Nigella Lawson recipe, and it was really good. Can't wait to have more of that tomorrow.


Newsclipping of the Day :: This is Really Wierd

But very interesting. And it has a gratiutous flash of Doris Day. And Aunt Jemima. Oh, and some boobs. I told you it was wierd. But, it is very relevant to today's times. I propose we pass a moratorium in Congress on all Bellicose Freaks from Texas. No more of them. Only Pacifists from Texas are henceforth allowed to run for the office of President.

I'm so sickened by the growing drumbeat surrounding Iran. Can you believe these Freaks actually think they can get us into another war? Amazing how similar 1968 and 2007 can be.

While we're at it, better ban all Bellicose Freaks from Wyoming too. He's the more dangerous half of our doppelganger-in-chief.


Details :: Kitchen Day 50

This weekend we've been working on all the little stuff. Tiny pieces of moulding, painting, getting the door casings and heads and the rail up. If you check Steven's blog, you'll see that we now have a complete, functioning kitchen. We still haven't baked anything yet, but I will soon. But we've cooked all kinds of things... a seafood bisque yesterday, grilled cheeses, a Chinese tofu dish with bacon and mushrooms, lots of vegetables, some seared, breaded chicken, Chinese spaghetti and meatballs. Tonight we'll have daikon with pork ribs and ginger and who knows what else.

I'm really liking this blue we've chosen for the casings, rail, and base mould. It works well with the greeny glass of the cabinets, and everything else too. There's still alot of detail work to do, some painting, a bit of caulking and a final coat on the moulds. But, all in all, i'd say we are 85% complete. Our to do list for the next couple of weeks:

*pickup new glass shelves for china
cabinet. This is the only terrible mistake that
has happened with the ikea stuff: 12 tempered
glass shelves don't fit, and we have reordered
locally, rather than asking IKEA to fix
the problem.

*door, window casings, chair rail and wall base need
to be finished (i'd say we are 75% done with this now).

*toe kick at cabinet bottoms needs to be cut and
installed (EASY!).

*red skirt board at bottom of upper cabinets needs to
be cut and installed (EASY!).

*counters need to be installed (they are on order; 4 -
6 weeks, hopefully sooner).

*backsplash of pebbles will go in last.

Not much of a punch list. Thank goodness nothing huge like plumbing is on the list.


Driving in the Snow

Today--even though I have been here now for more than a year--was my first day of seriously scary wintry driving. I volunteered to go out at lunchtime and pickup lunch for 10 of us, and as I got near the top of the hill at the dividing ridge that separates the country of my office from the precinct of the town, my ESP (electronic stability program) went haywire, the wheels slipped, the car slowed to nothing, and i started sliding sideways. Thankfully, I did not plunge into a ditch or anything, rather, just gently coasted backward down the hill where a big line of cars were stuck also, and a giant Pepsi truck was parked. I had to turn around, go back to the office, and get someone with a Volvo to take me on my errand. After lunch, the road crew came through and scraped the road, making it completely clear, so I felt like an idiot. Temperatures here will plunge to about -5 tomorrow, so I wonder if everything will become iced over. I think i need to get home before dark, just in case. Steven or I--one of us at least--needs to get an AWD or 4WD vehicle.
Fight the H8 in Your State