See-Through Turkey

I’m going to talk a bit about where my Thanksgiving Dinner is coming from later today. But I was fascinated by this consideration of Turkey Dinner from Sunlight Foundation.

Turkey. What are the results of the latest federal safety inspection of the plant where your turkey met its end? The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) knows, but it’s hard for ordinary consumers to get their hands on that information. While the agency posts results of bacterial sampling for different type of meat and poultry, it’s not available in a format that consumers could use to compare brands or products.

Cranberry sauce. If you serve the canned kind (my husband always insists on it)—can you believe the claims on the label? The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issues warning letters to companies that violate labeling laws for offenses such as false health claims (This oatmeal can cure memory loss!) or if it fails to list information about a chemical preservative.  On the FDA’s website, you can search them by company, date, download them, all good stuff. Except that last year the U.S. General Accounting Office (GAO) criticized the agency because it had neglected to post at least 220 warning letters and had also posted some duplicates. We don’t know what the FDA doesn’t tell us.

Stuffing. Was there ever a recall on the brand of stuffing mix you are thinking of buying? While you can sign up to receive alerts on recalls of contaminated products, whether meat (USDA) or not (FDA), there’s no central searchable database where you can look up a particular brand name and research any history of safety problems associated with it. After the scare last year involving salmonella poisoning, the FDA set up such a database; however, it’s restricted to products containing peanut butter (and later one for pistachios). It’s great to have that specific information, but while my five-year-old son thrives on a diet primarily based on peanut butter, most of us like to vary our diets.

It goes on to raise questions about pesticide and Ag subsidy transparency–click through to read the rest.

I noted last night that today is a good time to remember–and support–those food banks that help ensure that families that are struggling can enjoy a Thanksgiving Dinner, too.

It’s also a good time to reflect on how big and scary our food system has become. (Indeed, the industrialization of our food system may contribute to the rising number of Americans who struggle to get enough food.)

Where did your turkey come from?

Marcy Eats Kobe at Netroots Nation

kobe.thumbnail.jpgKobe beef, that is.

This is a pic that RevDeb took last night when a bunch of us went out to dinner (that’s Gregg Levine warning me that Jane’s gonna be pissed). Between Eli and Ian and Scarecrow and Rayne, they couldn’t stop me from eating Kobe.

I’m home now from Netroots Nation, lying on the couch trying to ingratiate myself with McCaffrey the MilleniaLab (who is upset that I watched parts of about 4 football games–and met Franco Harris–without him). He also wants you to know that he never trusted Tony Dungy and that certainly hasn’t changed in the last few days.

For those who didn’t make it this year, here were some Netroots Nation highlights, from my perspective.

Of course, the most important part was hanging out with all the folks I spend my days with online, only in brick and mortar space. Key new additions (in brick and mortar space) were Alaska heros Shannyn Moore and Mudflats, down for the fun. 

As mentioned, another key highlight was meeting Franco Harris! His son is running for mayor of Pittsburgh–hoping to make the city serve its residents.

And of course, the steel tour. It’s amazing what human ingenuity can do. We’ve just got to make sure we continue to do it here in the States.

Had a very bizarre pub crawl with Trapper John, DHinMI, Kagro X, Miss Laura from DKos, Bob Fertik from Democrats.com, Phil Anderson from Albany Project, and a few others. Between the "midget bar" and the pitcher of absinthe and all the smoke, I felt like I was living a surreal Czech film. Only, we were screaming about Rahm Emanuel the whole time.

And I had two panels that I was honored to be on–one on manufacturing with (among others) Steelworker President Leo Gerard and Congresswoman Donna Edwards, and another on torture with the ACLU, CCR, and Congressman Jerry Nadler. I’ll have more to say about the latter tomorrow, I think.

I should be back to regular programming tomorrow–I’ll finally get to wade through that HJC document dump. (Incidentally, I got to meet Governor Corzine, as well, and will do a post on that.)

Thanks to bmaz for posting some great work while I was in Pittsburgh. I don’t know what we’ll do with the site next year, when bmaz will be on whatever bizarre pub crawl I’m on in Las Vegas.  I guess you’ll all have to join us in Vegas?! Read more

Woodstock: 40 Years Down The Road And A Nation Lost

Well, I came upon a child of God
He was walking along the road
And I asked him, Tell me, where are you going?
This he told me

Said, I’m going down to Yasgur’s Farm,
Gonna join in a rock and roll band.
Got to get back to the land and set my soul free.

As you may have heard, we are on the precipice of the 40th anniversary of Woodstock. The famous, and infamous, cultural milestone took place down on Max Yasgur’s dairy farm outside of Bethel New York between August 15 and August 18, 1969. Thirty-two acts performed, during a sometimes rainy weekend, in front of nearly half a million concertgoers. The history and lore of Woodstock began immediately, it was clear to both those who loved it, and those who hated it, that it was a uniquely seminal moment.

Well, then can I roam beside you?
I have come to lose the smog,
And I feel myself a cog in somethin’ turning.
And maybe it’s the time of year,
Yes and maybe it’s the time of man.
And I don’t know who I am,
But life is for learning.

We are stardust, we are golden,
We are billion year old carbon,
And we got to get ourselves back to the garden.

Something had happened. Something big and transformational. But what? The prevailing view seems to be that it was a symbol of the discord and unrest of the 60’s, the antiwar movement and the counterculture generation. It is also viewed as the ultimate example of the peace and love motif of "the hippies". I wonder about all that; in fact, I am more inclined to the view expressed by Jon Pareles in a great article in the New York Times:

Yet for all the benign memories, Woodstock also set in motion other, more crass impulses. While its immediate aftermath was amazement and relief, the festival’s full legacy had as much to do with excess as with idealism. As the decades roll by, the festival seems more than ever like a fluke: a moment of muddy, disheveled, incredulous grace. It was as much an endpoint as a beginning, a holiday of naïveté and dumb luck before the realities of capitalism resumed. Woodstock’s young, left-of-center crowd — nice kids, including students, artists, workers and politicos, as well as full-fledged L.S.D.-popping hippies — was quickly recognized as a potential army of consumers that mainstream merchants would not underestimate Read more

Burning Down the House Lawn

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Today, in between reading torture memos, I burned my front lawn. (Click on the pix to enlarge.)

The first year we moved into our house, mr. ew and I replaced most of the front lawn with native plants. We’ve got some oaks in our side yard which pretty much prevented lawn from actually growing. By replacing the grass with native species, we figured we could have flowers and interesting sedges that didn’t need much care that would thrive under the oaks.

Thing is, you’re supposed to burn native plants every five years or so. The idea is that the burn kills off non-native species and refreshes the natives that are left over. We were overdue. Plus, we had a bunch of ash saplings grow in last year (which is sort of odd, since almost all the ash trees in MI have died off after being infested with the Emerald Ash Borer), which were taking over.

how-to-burn.thumbnail.JPGSo today we burned our lawn.  Or rather, we had some guys who know what they’re doing come and burn the lawn. There were three of them, dressed like firemen, with backpacks of either gasoline/diesel or water. They’d light the fire, let it burn for a while, then put it out before our house (or, more importantly, the neighbor’s house) went up in flames. The whole process took about a half hour.

after-burn-1.thumbnail.JPGYes, some of the neighbors came out trying to figure out why the heck we were setting our lawn on fire. And, since we live on a fairly busy road, there were plenty of people rubbernecking, trying to figure out what was up. (School’s out today, so the kids weren’t in the elementary school down the street, and we did it during a fairly low traffic hour.)

We burned the actual non-native lawn too. Apparently, it’s buffalo grass, and will come back stronger after the burn, as well. 

So now we’re left with a scorched front lawn!!

The woodsier parks in our town do these burns all the time. It’s amazing to see the fresh new plants growing out of the burn, coming in healthier than before. In a few weeks, that’s what my lawn is going to look like.

Thanks to Peterr and bmaz, a selection of music to accompany this post:

Disco Inferno

Smoke on the Water

Burn

Burning Down the House

Great Balls of Fire

Oops! They Pissed Off Judge Walker Before He Finalizes Immunity

I just finished reading Vaughn Walker’s opinion explaining that the government will have to give him the document that–the lawyers for al Haramain claim–shows they were wiretapped without a warrant under Bush’s illegal wiretap program, so he can determine whether it really does show what the lawyers claim it shows. If it does, you see, then someone will finally be able to sue Bush and his cronies for violating FISA.

If you don’t have time to read the entire opinion, I recommend you pick it up around page 16–where Walker includes a short summary of how the al Haramain lawyers proved they were surveilled under the illegal program–and then go to page 21–where Walker starts getting really cranky with the government. 

Defendants simply continue to insist that § 1806(f) discovery may not be used to litigate the issue of standing; rather, they argue, plaintiffs have failed to establish their “Article III standing” and their case must now be dismissed. But defendants’ contention that plaintiffs must prove more than they have in order to avail themselves of section 1806(f) conflicts with the express primary purpose of in camera review under § 1806(f): “to determine whether the surveillance of the aggrieved person was lawfully authorized and conducted.” § 1806(f).

In reply, plaintiffs call attention to the circular nature of the government’s position on their motion:

Do defendants mean to assert their theory of unfettered presidential power over matters of national security —— the very theory plaintiffs seek to challenge in this case —— as a basis for disregarding this court’s FISA preemption ruling and defying the current access proceedings under section 1806(f)? So it seems.

So it seems to the court also.

It appears from defendants’ response to plaintiffs’ motion that defendants believe they can prevent the court from taking any action under 1806(f) by simply declining to act.

But the statute is more logically susceptible to another, plainer reading: the occurrence of the action by the Attorney General described in the clause beginning with “if” makes mandatory on the district court (as signaled by the verb “shall”) the in camera/ex parte review provided for in the rest of the sentence. The non-occurrence of the Attorney General’s action does not necessarily stop the process in its tracks as defendants seem to contend. Read more

Road Trip: Arrival in Denver

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This is the view from Harney Peak in the Black Hills.

By far the most peaceful spot in the US was Lac Qui Parle in western Minnesota–there were almost no people in the park, just us and the birds.

The border guard coming back in from Canada gave mr. emptywheel all sorts of misinformation (told him he was eligible for a passport, which he’s not, and told him his Irish passport–which he doesn’t need to enter the country–was invalid). You can tell I was on vacation, because I just sat there and bit my lip and didn’t object to the BS.

So what did I miss? Obama even waited till I arrived to announce Biden. No one from the Bush Administration seems to have resigned in disgrace. I guess I wasn’t the only on vacation?

Thanks to bmaz (and William Ockham) for filling in this week. bmaz will continue to monitor the wide world while I get into Convention mindset and visit with my family here in Denver. 

President Haney Loads Up And Fixes To Move Back to Hooterville

There are a 183 or so days left in the magnificent George W. Bush Administration. Remember the condescending caterwauling by the Republicans when the Clintons were winding down and leaving office? Of course you do. Heavens to Betsy, they were going to plunder the country right down to stealing the "W"s off all the keyboards and typewriters. So, what is George Bush up to as the sun sets on his catastrophic presidency? What kind of Payne will he cause?

Glad you asked. Here is one example, rapacious influence peddling to fund his Presidential Crayon Workshop Library. From the Mid-East Times:

The Justice Department says it has no record that it told a GOP lobbyist accused of influence-peddling that he did not have to register his activities arranging visits to the United States and meetings with Bush administration officials for Central Asian politicians.

The lobbyist, a major GOP fundraiser called Stephen Payne, this week was asked to resign from a Department of Homeland Security advisory panel after he was surreptitiously videotaped by the London Sunday Times. In excerpts of the tape posted by the newspaper, Payne offers to arrange meetings for an exiled former president of Kazakhstan with senior U.S. administration officials in return for a six-figure fee, including a quarter-million-dollar donation to the $200 million fundraising effort for the George W. Bush presidential library and museum.

Here is a video of Payne in the act; it is pretty damning.

We have been seeing all sorts of instances of the final grab for the country’s treasure by the Bush-Cheney gang as they prepare to flee with their tail between their legs and ill begotten booty on their backs. Doling out of no bid deals. Multi-million dollar gift contracts to Ashcroft by the DOJ. Federal land giveaways. Trashing of environmental regulations for favorite friends and industries. Seeding of the civil service corps with Regent clones. You name it, it has been cropping up. So I though it would be a fun exercise to have a working thread to list out all the instances of this plundering.

So, as Mr. Haney (Bush) and Fred Sanford (Cheney – It’s the big one Lynne, it’s the big one!) perpetrate their parting scams and thefts and move back to the scrubbrush of Texas, let’s make a list of what they are doing. And any other necessary discussion too.

UPDATE: Read more

Mourning The Loss Of A Giant Recently Passed – Sunset Musings II

PrickyDespite the wall to wall coverage, not just on NBC and MSNBC, but all the networks, the hand wringing, the eulogizing, the lionization, the body lying in state at the Kennedy Center, and the funeral worthy of royalty, not enough has been said about the recent passing of a giant. Probably because all that bleating was about Saint Tim of Russert. I am talking about a different giant. A giant in my own family has passed. Granpa Pricky.

Granpa Pricky was our 24 foot tall saguaro cactus that majestically guarded the east entrance to Casa de bmaz since at least several decades before Casa de bmaz was built, and our house is almost fifty years old. Just woke up one morning and there it was, keeled over into the road. Saguaros are truly Pricky 1grand and majestic entities, standing tall as the guardians of the Sonoran desert. Granpa Pricky was not just a centurion, he was a home as well. There are now a couple of homeless woodpeckers. Actually these peckars don’t even peck wood that much. They like to perch on my chimney and wail on the metal vent cover on the top. Sounds like a freaking machine gun or jackhammer in the house. Very annoying. Metalpeckers.

At any rate, an autopsy was conducted. Any and all of these photos can be enlarged by clicking on them.

The whitish material in the center is very squishy. There is simply a ton of moisture in saguaros. And we don’t even have the cacti on drip systems; all they get is rain water, and it does not rain that much here. It is kind of fibrousPricky 3 pulp like stuff. People trying to survive in the desert desperate for water cut up that pulp and put chunks in their mouth to suck the water (and there is a lot) out. The cactus does produce a red, bulbous, pretty sweet fruit that is fully edible and not bad. Granpa Pricky died on June 5. Here is a photo just taken of the same cross section depicted above.

Note how the pulp is shrinking as opposed to the outer shell and especially the spine. The spine is the circle of dowel like looking things in the middle. When you tap on the outer surface of the pulp, which has hardened, you can tell from the sound that Read more

WiFi Turkey

As I’ve mentioned a couple of times, I’m about to go to Kentucky for a week–and will have no WiFi (get it–WiFi Turkey?). Long time readers know that every time I go off-grid, something crazy happens–the last time, Alberto Gonzales resigned.

My predictions are one or more of the following will happen:

  • At 1:20 today, a letter from Henry Waxman to Condi Rice, inquiring what State is going to do about three people apparently doing oppo research on Obama’s passport file
  • Sometime next week, Wall Street will have another meltdown; this may or may not be the one that has folks hiding cash in their mattresses
  • The long-awaited DOJ IG report, finding that BushCo badly politicized DOJ and that Alberto Gonzales broke several laws in doing so (I’ve asked bmaz to call me if this does, in fact, happen)

Enter your own predictions in the thread. 

Speaking of bmaz, he’s in charge. The good news for you is that you’ll no doubt talk about baseball a lot more than I would. If you’re persuasive with the poor ASU fan, he might even allow a couple of March Madness trash threads. 

But it also means I will ask you to be on your very best behavior. Please please please, nothing about the primary. There are plenty of other things to keep yourselves busy with without tearing each other’s throats out, and plenty of other places where tearing other Democrats’ throats out is standard behavior. Thanks in advance for playing nice.

Have a nice week!

Beer and Turkey Thirty

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I just turned in the paper I’ve been working on. Luckily I’ve got a couple of these stashed away in the basement.

So I’m off to clean the house–I’ve got house guests coming in five hours. And then, tomorrow is Turkey Day for me–an odd little custom some friends and I have adopted that makes the whole process less stressful. We got the full Heritage Turkey thing this year; I’ll let you know if it’s worth its considerable price tag.

All of which means there’ll be light posting until Sunday (rumor has it the football has already started for the weekend, but you wouldn’t know it by what’s on the TV).

But keep track of the site anyway. I’ve got an announcement or two in the next couple of days that may be of some interest. And Monday, I get to start my blog and bill paying frenzy I’ve been warning you all about.

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