Worthy of Recognition and Praise – Jose Andres

Why is the media so focused on the most despicable, vile, self-serving garbage in society (rhymes with Melon Husk) when humble, dedicated people like Jose Andres actually works to help people in need?

Before chef José Andrés became famous for World Central Kitchen, he had already scaled the heights of his profession. His new cookbook celebrates the group’s humanitarian impact.

“I remember this Spanish guy screaming,” said chef-volunteer Karla Hoyos, describing the first time she met chef José Andrés. “He had just come from a meeting with FEMA [the US emergency management agency], and he was furious. And I thought, ‘Oh, no, no, nooo…’.” She shakes her head emphatically. “I am not going to deal with this person. I don’t care who he is.”

It was September 2017, shortly after Hoyos had arrived in Puerto Rico following Hurricane Maria, the deadly storm that devastated the island, killing nearly 3,000 people, making most roads impassable and knocking out 80% of the power grid. Several days earlier, Andrés had touched down with a team from his non-profit, World Central Kitchen (WCK), which he founded in 2010 after returning from Haiti where he fed survivors of a catastrophic earthquake. The organisation originally emphasised longer-term programmes – such as supporting nutritional training for young mothers – but after Maria, its efforts now focus on deploying an army of culinary first responders to feed people during and after the world’s worst disasters, natural or otherwise.


A Decade After 9/11

Sitting here on the tenth anniversary of 9/11, I am trying to collect my thoughts on the event and what followed. In summary, the sentiment seems to be somewhere between disgust and disappointment.

As for the events of the day I’ll leave it at vile and pointless. What followed is equally disturbing and even more damaging to America.

Except for the, what was it?, five or seven days after 9/11 when it felt like the entire country changed; people were looking out for each other; palpably kinder and more polite; the pace of things sort of felt like they even slowed down a bit.

Then, before too long, we were in a race to the bottom that continues to this day. The repugnant right wing predictably used the event to drive their agenda to destroy America. Fueled by their own 24 hour propaganda TV channel and countless shout radio outlets, they began to get the dim witted ‘educated’ on their agenda. A sickening 8 years was spent watching a budget surplus turned into a huge deficit. Several trillion dollar wars, hundreds of billions of dollars unaccounted for in the process, hundreds of billions more dollars wasted on ‘security theater’, Abu Graib, Black Water running rough shod over what was once a sovereign country, the overt racism of the Katrina response, tax cuts for the ultra wealthy while the middle class and poor shoulder more of the tax burden, deregulation turning Wall Street into a casino leading to another bout of corporate welfare, the religious-right’s war on science and education, the right openly advocating assassinating political figures simply because they have a different point of view (and nearly succeeding in the case of Gabby Giffords) and the list goes on and on.

Now we are at the point that the Tea Baggers, backed by the aforementioned propaganda machine, leap from one canard to another to try to disassemble the social security net, collective bargaining and medical reforms. The latest misdirection swirling around a suddenly urgent need to cut the deficit. No one calls them out for being in favor for all of the Bush regime policies that created the deficit – such is the state of ‘journalism’ in this country.

So instead of continuing with that post-9/11 sentiment of caring about and for each other and trying to make the best of every situation, America has chosen instead to become a banana republic where the ultra wealthy become more rich and the rest of us can just fend for ourselves. You don’t have to squint too hard to see that the Tea Baggers are nothing but the stooges of the likes of the Koch brothers, with the stooges willfully acting against their own best interests, screwing the middle class and the poor – the very people who account for 70% of the US economy; that is, the people who actually spend their money.

And what about those wars? I saw a bumper sticker recently that read “My country invaded Iraq and all I got was this expensive gasoline”. Indeed. And with the changes coming from the ‘Arab Spring’ they seem to be making the changes for themselves fairly successfully. One might even wonder if those Arab countries value Democracy more than right-wing America does?

If you have read this far and lean to the right (hard to imagine), I can almost hear you shouting ‘you hate America!’, ‘communist!’, ‘socialist!’ or whatever is in vogue on shout radio these days. No, it is more like watching a good friend become addicted to drink or drugs – you recognize the good person they were before while watching them slip further and further down. It is painful and unsettling.

But what to do? If an event as world shaking as 9/11 can’t move Americans to turn away from greed, thugishness and carelessness, what can? I hope that, as a nation, we can find that thing. And soon.

Palin’s Jihad (And The Shamelessness Of The Right)

Ok, so I am going to exaggerate things a bit to make a point.

So basically what happened this weekend is that fundamentalist, right wing extremist mufti Palin (with help from fellow radical clerics Beck and O’Reilly) saw their fatwa against Democrats acted upon by a domestic terrorist from the radicalized province of Arizona. Six people dead (including a young child)and around a dozen more injured because mufti Palin’s utter contempt for how the Democratic process works in this country and the conviction that political differences must be dealt with by threats of violence and ultimately murder.

Funny how things don’t get characterized this way when a white Christian commits the terrorist act. In fact, I am convinced that had there been a shadow of a connection with the Middle East or Islam, the above description is exactly how it would be characterized on shout radio and Fox News. No proof would be necessary beyond the posits of the uninformed pundits. The muftis and clerics would be under arrest. There would be 24 hours news cycles with cries for justice (more blood, more violence).

Instead, we reliably hear the right practically defending the actions of this murderous lunatic and blovating about how ‘it isn’t hate speech’ and that putting targets on named Congress members districts and using the term ‘take them out’ wasn’t a call to violence. We hear them distancing themselves from the terrorist’s political views by saying ‘he’s not one of us, he’s just a crazy person’. And of course the clinging to the gun culture that feeble minds find important: ‘gun’s didn’t kill those people in Arizona, a person did’. Yes, a person with a gun. A person with a gun that (ironically enough) was banned as an assault weapon until 2004 because of it’s high capacity clip. Oh, and suck on this NRA: who stopped the shooter? Not some ‘patriotic’, high minded, gun toting, shout radio regurgitater, but two men with their bare hands.

Amongst the calls to attenuate the vitriol in political discourse, Fox and others are taking this as an opportunity for further fear mongering and political attacks. The comment sections on the local media outlets are filled with the kind of ignorant, right wing parroting that I have commented on before (and come to expect from the backwater thinking that characterizes much of Cincinnati).

I can only hope that the nation learns a lesson from this. Perhaps it will, but post 9/11 memories lead me to believe it will not be a lasting one. Which makes me ask, what will it take for America to become de-radicalized, where disagreements in principle or thought are dealt with in a civil manner rather than at the point of a gun?

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Media Fail

One of the things I find most annoying in the run up to the elections is the constant polls foisted by the media. They don’t seem to realize that the only poll that counts is the one that happens in the voting booth. The rest of it is the media trying to influence the outcome of the election rather than reporting on the issues and candidates.

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Anniversary Irony

Today is the 7th anniversary of the invasion of Iraq. Bet you won’t hear the Tea Tantrum people raving about how many trillions and trillions of dollars have been spent there. Well, at least in Iraq and Afghanistan they have free, universal health care paid for by US tax payer dollars. The irony is, there it is called ‘Democracy’ here the right condemns it as ‘Socialism’ (without understanding what either of those words mean).

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‘Snow Means No Global Warming’ – Idiots

For all the right wing idiots who keep banging on about how the snow storms of late are ‘proof’ that Global Warming doesn’t exist, here is a bit of science.

All this frenzied pointing to snowfall as proof that global warming is a hoax has only, if anything, demonstrated the slight, one-dimensional thinking being done by the parties who are desperate to discredit climate change and/or exploit for political gain its apparent nonexistence in the face of cold weather events.

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What If Obama Was President During the 9/11 Attacks?

I have been reflecting recently on all of the manufactured outrage, fanned on by the right wing press and shout radio: gun toting jackasses at town hall meetings, scripted shouting at same, the ‘controversy’ over the President of the United States addressing school children and impressing on them the value of getting an education and working hard (subversive, I know).

Friday was the eighth anniversary of 9/11 and I remember where I was and what I was doing when that horror unfolded (a cliche I know, but true, nonetheless). The intersection of these two thoughts jarred me to a frightening realization — what if Obama had been President when the 9/11 attacks happened?

I don’t think I can fully comprehend or imagine the overdrive that the media hate machine would shift into – however, I am confident that these would be the foundations of the ‘coverage’:
Accusations that ‘obviously’ the closet Muslim/Socialist/Communist/etc was in cahoots with the terrorists and allowed this to happen. I mean, his middle hame is Hussein after all!
The searing depths that racist extremist would go to blame all minorities and hold this up as proof of their ‘inferiority’ (‘cuz it never would have happened with a white man in office’).
The howls from the roof tops that this is proof that Democrats can’t protect the country and that they are to blame for the attack. Contrast this with the free pass that the chickenhawk Republicans received.
The cries that would accompany any follow up action he would take: if he acted aggressively, it would be labeled as a ‘wag the dog’ effort to deflect attention; if he chose a diplomatic response, ha!, further proof that he is just protecting his ‘friends’ the terrorists. And it would just spiral down from there.

I am sickened just thinking of how divisive an issue this would be hyped into; I am fairly confident that there would be open violence and destruction as the right wing hate machine would fan and even encourage that people take to the street and do their thuggish bidding for them.

So, yes, I am fairly confident that the softball whitewash that Bush got from the media would be turned on it’s head and amplified beyond control had a Democrat been in office. Even more so, if it was the first mixed-race president. Sad that this is the state of the ‘media’ in the US.

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Attack of the 1-Percenters

What a brilliant article. Someone is finally pointing out that, in America, the rich are more wealthy that they have ever been, and paying less taxes on top of it. And all of this over the top spin that the richest one percent are unduly having to support health care is just a load of bollocks — the figure in question is not even nine tenths of one percent of the Bush tax cuts. And we have all witnessed the job (mythical) job creation that goes on when you give more money to the ultra wealthy during the Bush regime (ie NONE).

According to government figures, 1-percenters’ share of America’s total income is the highest it’s been since 1929, and their tax rates are the lowest they’ve faced in two decades. Through bonuses, many 1-percenters will profit from the $23 trillion in bailout largesse the Treasury Department now says could be headed to financial firms. And, most of them benefit from IRS decisions to reduce millionaire audits and collect zero taxes from the majority of major corporations.

[Emphasis added]

The article concludes with a simple message that I have found is completely lost on the right (particularly those who profess to be very religious):

For his part, Obama has responded with characteristic coolness — and a powerful counterstrike. “No, it’s not punishing the rich,” he said. “If I can afford to do a little bit more so that a whole bunch of families out there have a little more security, when I already have security, that’s part of being a community.”

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Delete-able Diebold e-Voting Audit Logs

Why would any reputable company put an easily accessible button to delete audit logs from an electronic voting machine? I think I just answered my own question by assuming that they are reputable.

I am fairly certain that this function doesn’t exist on the ATM machines that they manufacture. It would seem that Diebold considers cash more important than votes. I guess it also helped the head of Diebold, Walden O’Dell, deliver on his (in)famous promise to “helping Ohio deliver its electoral votes to the president [Bush] next year.”

“Deletion of the records in either log would make it impossible to monitor operator access to GEMS or to reconstruct the sequence of operator access, defeating the purpose of [federal guidelines] that GEMS version 1.18.19 was required to adhere to.”

Under guidelines established by the Federal Election Commission in 1990, tabulation software used in all US elections must automatically create and permanently retain electronic audit logs of important system events while tallying votes. The guidelines state they are intended to provide a “concrete, indestructible archival record of all system activity” and are “essential for public confidence in the accuracy of the tally.”

I think that the proposed truth and reconciliation commission has a lot of work ahead of it.

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Political Lapse

Trying to keep these forays into politics to a minimum but this is one that really struck me last night watching McCain and Obama debate:

Someone needs to sit John McCain down and explain to him that no matter what he does, he can’t ‘win’ the Vietnam War by fighting in Iraq/Iran. It just isn’t going to happen.

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News: Water Is Still Wet and Fox Still Right Wing Propaganda Machine

Who is surprised that the Bush Regime was feeding political talking points to Fox News? No one who was paying the least bit of attention.

And thanks to our impotent press in the US, they are only now (7+ years after the fact) starting to report on the growing, festering pit of scandal and illegal activity of the W regime.

Still to come: the swift-boating of Barack Obama and whatever October surprise the republicans have planned (martial law? attack on Iran?).

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