Sister Sara, RIP

As bmaz noted, we have learned that long time commenter and my blogmate at Next Hurrah, “Sister Sara,” passed away last year. If you’re familiar with her comments and posts, you’ll remember that she was incredibly knowledgeable with long experience in progressive politics (including in Wellstone’s early career). It was a tremendous gift to have spent so much time online with her (and meet her in person last year).

There is perhaps no better testament to who she was–and the kind of impact she had on people’s lives–than this post she wrote in 2006 about her kitchen cabinets and loyalty.

The Saga of my new Stove

By Sara

Much is being made these days about the dirty old hippies.  I have a loyalty saga to tell.

About 29 years ago I remodeled my kitchen.  I bought what was then a very expensive stove, (micro on top, real oven below, and 30 inches wide cooking space. )  I’ve since done some cooking — I helped found an AIDS home delivered meals project, and to that objective I calculate I cooked at least part of 90 thousand meals.  I remember the Thanksgiving when I did up 7 donated Turkeys, and much else that would be processed into servings to be delivered.

Alas, last year my oven and broiler failed, the microwave ceased to deliver power you could count on, and two stove burners ceased to function.  Simply put, time for a new stove. The whole stove was pre digital, and 29 years later, no parts.

I went to some appliance stores, and very discouraging.  Tap my 29  year old Tappen, and it was heavy steel.  Tap the new ones, much like a can of pop.  Finally I went to the place where they discount everything and bought a 5 Star — a Commercial Stove, twice what I paid for the Tappen, but at least it could take a missed pan.  But because the micro was incorporated into the old stove, I had to buy a new micro.  (I think I have one that if I miss a step in programing will launch a rocket)

Aah but the problem of moving the 29 year old stove out, and moving the new one in.  To understand it all you have to appreciate how I got a kitchen with cabinets copied from Frank Lloyd Wright designs.

Back in the dark days when the Feds were looking for draft evaders, and worse, moms who harbored draft evaders  put posters of J Edgar Hoover as Evil Man Number One, on their front door saying he was an enemy of the people, the guy who became my master cabinet maker (dresser, stereo cabinets, book cases, file cabinets, and yes, the kitchen)  refused the Draft.  It was difficult, he almost went to the Federal Pen, but I got him the right lawyer and in the end, the lawyer got him off.  I wish I could reconstruct the several hours I spent with his dad who was a submariner during World War II, and who was detailed to film Hirshoma.  Which he did.  What I had to do was take this dad to look at the Federal Pen in our area, Sandstone, and get him to comprehend his first born inside because he would not accept the draft for vietnam.   (You want a dad to stand up for CO Status for Son — well let them look at the walls of a Fed Pen.)

Back to the saga of my stove.  The utility men pulled the old one out, and immediately the kitchen cabinets around it began to cave in.  And they caved and caved and caved.  Ten feet of cabinets up to the 10 food ceiling caved in.  You know what supermarket bags are made for — pulling out everything in cabinets that are in total collapse.

Of course I immediately asked if the stove pullers intended to repair, but then I realized they were going to call insurance and all that, and so I put in a call to my cabinet maker who had mounted the cupboards 29 years earlier, when he was actually still on the run from the FBI.  Voice mail.  But within a few hours he called me back.  Yea, he would remount, moreover he wants to do the other side of the kitchen too.  (Not many of us who have Frank Lloyd Wright copied Kitchens — well at least mostly a copy),  Anyhow within two days I got the cabinets remounted and my grand new stove and micro installed.

Now I told the installers and all why It was I could call a cabinet maker I had employed 29 years earlier, and he would come quickly and fix.  It was because of Vietnam, and how those of us who opposed, supported each other then when and how we could.  It was deeper than that.  Read more

Why Not Monopolize the Term “for Prevention”?

Eight years ago I went to a conference for young breast cancer survivors. It was pretty useful to be around a bunch of other women who, like me, had been diagnosed with breast cancer in their twenties and thirties. It was also useful to hear doctors who had actually thought about things like long term survival and fertility.

But the most memorable–and creepy–part of the conference was the way they referred to us, the survivors, as “customers.” They explained they did it to emphasize the active role we had in deciding our own treatment. But since the conference was sponsored, in part, by a bunch of drug companies selling a bunch of obscenely expensive drugs, I found the term really disturbing.

In addition to the drug companies, Susan G. Komen Foundation sponsored the conference.

And so it is with great interest that I read HuffPo’s report on Susan G. Komen foundation beating up smaller non-profits–at a price tag of almost a $1 million a year–for using the phrase “for the cure.”

In addition to raising millions of dollars a year for breast cancer research, fundraising giant Susan G. Komen for the Cure has a lesser-known mission that eats up donor funds: patrolling the waters for other charities and events around the country that use any variation of “for the cure” in their names.

So far, Komen has identified and filed legal trademark oppositions against more than a hundred of these Mom and Pop charities, including Kites for a Cure, Par for The Cure, Surfing for a Cure and Cupcakes for a Cure–and many of the organizations are too small and underfunded to hold their ground.

[snip]

“It’s never our goal to shut down a nonprofit,” [Komen General Counsel Jonathan Blum] said, “and we try very hard to be reasonable, but it’s still our obligation to make sure that our trademarks are used appropriately so there’s no confusion in the marketplace over where people’s money is going.”

Blum told HuffPost that legal fees comprise a “very small part” of Komen’s budget, but according to Komen’s financial statements, such costs add up to almost a million dollars a year in donor funds.

[snip]

Michael Mercanti, an intellectual property lawyer, said he is surprised by the large number of oppositions Komen has filed against other charities–a number he would expect from a company like Toys”R”Us or McDonalds, but not a charitable fundraising organization. [my emphasis]

It’s perverse enough that Komen is wasting donor money on protecting its brand from other people trying to combat cancer.

Think about the even more perverse aspect of this: if you wanted a really superb brand, wouldn’t it be better to own “preventing” cancer rather than “curing” it? Wouldn’t the really noble goal be preventing women, people generally, from having to undergo the life-threatening “cures,” along with all the other unpleasantness, in the first place?

But I guess that wouldn’t leave open all the lucrative partnerships with drug companies. I guess that wouldn’t be compatible with selling women on the idea that to survive cancer they must be savvy customers.

A New Year

It’s been a hectic few weeks for me.

From December 11 to December 19, my life was a blur of boxes and U-Hauls and trips back and forth between People’s Republic and DeVos’ Dominion. On December 20, Mr. EW and I left our apartment still packed high with boxes and drove back to People’s Republic, this time to stay not at our house, but at a Clarion Inn that seems to be stuck in the Swinging (and I do mean swinging) Seventies about a mile away. Woke up the next morning, sold our house for about $700 more than we owed and 35% less than we paid for it, dropped Mr. EW off at the airport for a flight to a frozen Dublin, then drove 9 hours with McCaffrey the MilleniaLab as my co-pilot to PA. After a week of family and shuttling family members around to weather delayed planes–including fetching Mr. EW after his 48-hour trip back from a still frozen-over Dublin–Mr. EW and I got back in the car and drove 12 hours to return to DeVos’ Dominion. After all the driving, I was so tuckered out I fell asleep long before the New Year.

Thing is, it feels like a New Year around here. I’m going to spend the weekend cramming the contents of the boxes into our temporary apartment (though Mr. EW, in a bid to keep the box fort he’s built up around his desk–that’s it in the picture–has informed me Congress has extended the PATRIOT Act for him and with it the imperative to maintain his fort). Maybe I’ll even ask Mr. EW to put a picture or two on the wall. We’re still looking for a more permanent place to live, though in an era where banks continue to treat property rights like toilet paper, it feels good to have no home.

And finally selling the house and returning home from the holidays means I should have far more time to immerse myself in weedy documents, something I’ve been missing for the last while.

So in spite of the fact that 2011 will feature all the same challenges that 2010 did, I definitely feel like it’s a new year.

Let’s hope we find a way to make it a happy one.

Crist’s Morrison Pardon: 21st Century Fox In A Lizard King’s Henhouse

Hey, being pretty much a sentient life long Doors aficionado, I am all in with pardoning Jim Morrison, which there has been a flurry of scuttlebutt emanating, cool and slow, with a backbeat narrow and hard to master, out of the instant swamps of Florida, regarding.

Oh, and when I heard the subject brought up by the patently unhip, plodding Blue Dog, holier than thou, I’m a better Democrat than you, scold Larry O’ Donnell on his craptastic bloviathon MSNBC show, that was just too fucking much. The backdoor rumor is Charlie Crist, who may or may not have eaten more chicken that a man has eve seen, is pondering giving the Big Scooter Libby Get Out Of Jail Free card to the Most Right Reverend Snake King Jim Morrison.

Outstanding. And long over due. Because if some fucking little germ boy, bear cage child threatening, functionally traitorous subservient to Cheney blank like I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby can get a walk from a complicit President of the United States in order to mask apparent criminal behavior, then why not a posthumous hall pass for James Douglas Morrison? Seriously.

If you are comparing and contrasting facts and circumstances, one was an entertainer who may or may not have, for a fleeting moment, exposed himself in 1969 to a Miami audience at the end of a Doors concert that truly could not only have cared less, but were bummed they had not done so earlier. The other, Cheney’s toy Scooter, conspired to expose and out a classified top CIA clandestine agent working on the most critical issue of the day, the existence of nuclear and/or weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and/or Iran. You know, the fraudulent reason the very same Mr. Cheney and wooden operated mouthed George Bush relied on to affirmatively, aggressively and illegally start a war against Iraq for the sins of 9/11 that Iraq not only did not commit, but had actual avarice for the people who did.

That Scooter Libby.

So, if Scooter Libby can skate and, in the process, serve as a firewall for the immorality and illegality of the Bush/Cheney Administration, there is no reason the Lizard King should not be posthumously exculpated.

No tears, no fears, but a lot of ruined years. Charlie Crist made clear intimations he wanted to do this when he took office. Being a gutless politician at heart he, of course, never did it as Governor of the rockin state of Florida. Instead he cowered to the perceived sensabilities of the people in rockin chairs. And lost his ass, soul and electability in the process. Douchebag. Crist is toast. But if he wants to belatedly clean up the halls of the Morrison Hotel, well then I am all for that. Mr. Mojo is rising; Charlie Crist is not. Lizard Kings rule; political blanks drool.

We have constructed pyramids in honor of this escaping. Let the spirit of Mr. Mojo fly Mr. Charlie Crist. It is about the only thing of merit, morals and guts you can do at this point. Get on with it you ineffectual political chameleon stale fish.

Special Trash Talk Rubbish Row: Scotch

I realize some of you who, like me, are sitting right across the pond from Soldier Field might imagine this is just a special NFC North Edition of Monday Night Football Trash Talk.

But this is different.

I need your help.

You see, on Wednesday I leave for a little trip to Scotland with my mom. The highlight of the trip will be a train trip through the West Highlands.

Now, I’m telling you this now not just so you can plan the party you’re going to throw once bmaz takes over Wednesday night or Thursday morning (if we’re all lucky Mary may do a post or two, too). And to warn you all, in case bmaz continues the Sharktopus kick he’s been on.

But also because I’m going to drink some Scotch.

I don’t actually drink Scotch–haven’t drank it since college, when one of the rich kids bought a case of Dewars. But I’m going to do so this week because–well, I’d be stupid to pass up this opportunity. And since a few of you often delve into trash talking argy bargy over Scotch in normal trash talk threads, I thought I’d put this one up so you can all offer your best advice about what I should try. And what I need to know about proper Scotch drinking (because this is the sort of train where one drinks Scotch properly, I think).

Oh, and as for football? When it concerns any NFC North game, I only care about rooting against the old Geezer! Even if he’s not playing. May Urlacher and Woodson have superb games.

(Image credit: Chris huh under Creative Commons)

Sharktopus Live Extravaganza!

It’s Sharktopus time! Yes, we are taking the Emptywheel blog to new and fantastic heights tonight, all with you, our dear readers, commenters and friends in mind! Watch the world premier of a sure fir Oscar winner, Sharktopus, with us. All you have to do is tune your TeeVee to SyFy Channel at 9:00 pm Eastern, 8:00 pm Central and join us in comments as you watch and imbibe. For those on the west coast, we will be repeating the festivities when you can play at 9:00 pm Pacific, Arizona and FDL time.

The festivities will be led by Eli from FDL, Marcy Wheeler and some special guests, including the very disturbing, yet intriguing, “Mystery Dub”. Since the west coast will not get to see Sharktopus until 9 pm PST/FDL time, the whole event will be repeated with bmaz and, hopefully, some other special guests, celebrities and you!

With no further adieu:

Sharktopus is a killing machine, half shark and half octopus. From the Sharktopus entry in Uncyclopedia:

The sharktopus is tough, but fair. Actually, it’s not fair at all, it’s absolutely merciless and it will just fuck you up! It is also sophisticated, a gourmand and a member of MENSA Elite!!!It is a creature so evil that it was cast from the pits of hell and sent to kill all those who enter the sea. Combining the many rows of serrated teeth found in sharks and the awesome suction cup power of the octopus.

When you venture too close to the ocean, or make the critical error of stumbling into the ocean, you are fucked! The sharktopus will latch on with its tentacles, violate you and then start eating you feet first. It’s believed that it wants you to feel pain, hence the feet first. Man it’s painful, just ask Satan. After it eats you, it then goes after your family.

The sharktopus has three amazing abilities to make its killing arsenal very deadly. Ability the first: it can smell bloodlines. This ability has lead to the extermination of copious amounts of families. And has torn others apart based on bastard children. Nobody is safe. Ability the second: it can go on land when the bloodline vendetta has been announced. Once it has a target it can hunt you down no matter where you are, unless you live in the cloud city of Bespin. Ability the third: it is high skilled in a variety of…skills. Such as its proficiency in Southern Mantis style kung-fu, being adept at handling a variety of firearms, satisfaction of women, (much more after jump) Read more

Huge Brass Balls and A Burn In The Bay: BART Shooting Verdict

Sundown will be bouncing in off the water soon. There is probably a false lull except on the arterials leaving. But there is talk of a burn by the bay tonight. A city on flame from the ill will between the black and the blue. The verdict is, inexplicably, involuntary manslaughter in the Oakland Bay Area Rapid Transit subway execution of young Oscar Grant by cop:

A jury found former BART police Officer Johannes Mehserle guilty today of involuntary manslaughter in connection with the New Year’s Day 2009 shooting of an unarmed train rider, finding that he had acted with criminal negligence when he fired a single shot into Oscar Grant’s back at the Fruitvale Station in Oakland.

Within minutes of the verdict being read, the city was preparing for the the slow burn to lead to explosion:

3:30 p.m. City asks residents/merchants to prepare for possible violence

Police are advising residents to park cars in garages or a secure location if possible. Many streets in downtown are being closed off.

Residents and merchants should remove or secure large trash cans that are on the street. To report crimes in process, call 911 or 510-777-3211 from a cell phone.

There is reason for concern. The facts are incendiary. Kevin Drum hit it pitch perfect:

Of course, this understates the case a wee bit. Mehserle, along with several other BART cops, had Grant pinned face first on the ground when he very deliberately pulled out his gun and shot Grant in the back. Mehserle’s defense is that he meant to pull out his taser but mistakenly pulled out his gun instead. This is, needless to say, pretty hard to accept, and there’s little question that there’s a jury anywhere in the country that would have bought this story from anyone who wasn’t a police officer. You can judge for yourself in the cell phone video taken by a witness (the clearest view starts around the 1:45 mark).

I hardly even know what to say about this. I wasn’t in court and I wasn’t on the jury, so I didn’t hear all the evidence. But for chrissake. Look at the video. Mehserle didn’t look confused and modern tasers don’t feel much like service revolvers. And it’s not as if he was acting under extreme duress. At most there was a brief and perfunctory struggle, after which Mehserle calmly raised himself up while Grant was pinned to the ground, drew his revolver, and shot him.

It really is pretty much exactly that. Oakland knew. They knew from the first second. Now their justice has been taken by a jury with no blacks. Down south in Hollywood. Taken as blatantly as Oscar Grant’s life.

On a corollary, you have got to admire the balls on Mehserle’s attorney, Michael Rains, who talked his client into trying to pull back the manslaughter lesser included charges from consideration by the jury and send them to deliberate up or down on second degree murder.

Legal experts called the ruling a victory for the prosecution. The defense had sought to rule out the manslaughter counts, but Judge Robert Perry said jurors – who are scheduled to hear closing arguments today – had enough evidence to consider them in connection with the shooting of unarmed train rider Oscar Grant.

“The defense wanted all or nothing, betting that the jury would not find him guilty of murder,” said Laurie Levenson, a former federal prosecutor who teaches at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles. “This gives the jury a compromise position.”

Yeah, that is the play, but it is a tad more bare knuckles hairy than that sterile explanation. See, a client doesn’t make that decision without some, um, input from his lead defense lawyer.

That’s a big time play. Because if you misread the jury (and whoo boy is that easy to do; juries are fucking loopy), and if they don’t like your guy or you case as well as you thought, you just walked your client head first into a top count conviction for second degree. Probably a lot less tense when your client is a cop. Being tried in LA for shooting a black kid in Oakland. But still…

Guess the prosecution didn’t think the jury would return on second either, because they fought tooth and nail to keep the lesser includeds in the jury verdict set. And that is what the court did, so Mike Rains did not have to stand in the well of the court next to his client and wait. Wait for the jury to come in. Wait to see if your move to put your client’s ass on the big line for the top count, all or nothing, was genius or wanton malpractice. Wait for the jury to get seated. They don’t look at you as they file by on their way to the jury box when returning with the verdict. They know and you don’t. And they will not risk giving it away by making eye contact. A procession of twelve druids. It is eery silent.

Then you wait as the judge and clerk go through the formalities for the reading of the verdict. It takes forever. It is absolute hell. But today was a good day for Michael Rains and his client Mehserle. But a bad day for the City of Oakland. Now the night comes.

New Year's Resolution Music Jam

Back when President Lieberman and President Bad Nelson vetoed real health care reform and instead insisted on a mandated giveaway to the insurance industry, I sat down and listened to the entire box set, Aretha Franklin, Queen of Soul, the Atlantic Recordings, from start to finish. As you can imagine, it helped my mood immensely.

It made me realize that I haven’t been taking enough time to just sit down and listen to music of late.

I resolved to change that this year–to take more time for both recorded and live music.

So help me keep my New Year’s resolution. What have you been listening to of late–both new and old–that has really rocked your soul? What new bands have been busy making great music while I’ve been buried in a sometimes futile fight against DC culture?

And Happy New Year!

Road Trip Open Thread

Mr. EW and I decided today was the day to drive to Philadelphia. I hear they have Elves there…

If bmaz has recovered from watching his beloved Old Man River North, Brett Favre, get shellacked the other night, he’s likely to come in and post something interesting … or at least open the liquor cabinet.

If anything really exciting happens, email me–I’ll check in a few times from the road.

In the meantime, behave yourselves!

Giving Thanks for the Richness of Michigan

Picture 155Michigan is, economically, the nation’s basket case.

But because of our agricultural diversity, it is incredibly rich in fresh and local food–perhaps not a bread basket, but definitely a healthy food basket. Which–should you ever decide to limit yourself to local ingredients for Thanksgiving dinner–makes it a wonderfully rich state.

Which is just what the friends I share Thanksgiving with and I decided to do.

We came very close to eating all local last year–except for the wine and flour and random oranges. So I suggested we make a concerted effort to buy Michigan this year. With the exception of spices and olive oil and a few items from the vicinity of our out-of-town guest, everything came from MI.

Some of this food is stuff we eat year-round (several of us had a Tantre Farm CSA share this year, Bells Beer is one of the local standards in these parts, and I’ve grown spoiled with Calder’s Dairy butter). Some of this will require some substitutions (while I found local chestnuts last year, I was unable to this year, so will substitute Jerusalem artichoke in the stuffing). And including wine among the local products pushed us to try wines we otherwise wouldn’t have (special thanks to Mary from Everyday Wines, who went out of her way to help me replace the Bowers Harbor Pinot Grigio mr. emptywheel and I tested on Monday night).

Picture 158Among all the other reasons I appreciate Thanksgiving, taking the opportunity to recognize local farmers and food producers is one of them. Even in a time when the state is suffering, they sure exemplify the richness of Michigan.

Here’s what we’ll be eating–all of which should be marked in the map above–along with some of the local shops that stock these products:

Harnois heritage turkey, Whitmore Lake, MI

Michigan bacon, from Sparrow Meat Market

Stock from Ernst Farm chicken, Ann Arbor, MI

Tantre Farm veggies and pumpkin, Chelsea, MI

Needle Lane Farm Jerusalem artichokes, Tipton, MI

Picture 159Shetlers Farm potatoes, Homer, MI

Garden Works Organic Farm onions, Ann Arbor, MI

Kapnick Orchards apples, Britton, MI

Cranberries, Grass Lake, MI from People’s Food Co-Op

Wasem’s Fruit Farm rhubarb, Milan, MI

Zingerman’s Creamery cheese, Ann Arbor, MI

Calder Dairy butter and ice cream, Lincoln Park, MI

Guernsey Dairy milk and cream, Northville, MI

Sunrise Poultry Eggs, Homer, MI

Pioneer Sugar (beet sugar) from “the Thumb,” MI

Westwind Milling Company flour, Linden, MI, from By the Pound

JK Scrumpy’s organic hard cider from Almar Orchards, Flushing MI

Bells Brewery beer, Kalamazoo, MI

Michigan wine from Everyday Wines:

With other home-grown veggies, sage, thyme, home made bread and sourdough starter, and vinegar

I may update this later with pictures–or maybe to proselytize about putting bacon on your turkey. Until then, may you all have a happy and healthy Thanksgiving.

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