Art Pottery, Politics and Food
Saturday, December 18, 2004
Mmm, mmm, good!

Cannibalism in Autumn, 65 X 65.2 cm, 1936 Salvador Dali

Could this be the crock-potted fate of Bernie's housekeeper?
A bit of odd news from

A Mexican accused of killing, cooking and eating his companion...said the victim “tasted like lamb.”“If they’d let me, I would have eaten it all,” said Gumaro de Dios Arias, following a court appearance...He said he killed the victim – identified only as El Guacho – because the man had failed to buy Arias drugs with money he had given him for that purpose.

El Guacho translates as The Orphan or The Bastard.


Friday, December 17, 2004
Protet & Defend

Modified Image: Reuters


There's the apartment, Rudy.

Friday Funny

From the Philosophy page on the Giuliani Partners website:

Giuliani Partners LLC is dedicated to helping leaders…enhance the reputation and brand of their organizations in the context of strongly held values.

From the Daily News:

There's a nanny. I swear there's a nanny.
--Kerik attorney Joseph Tacopina

Image: Giuliani Associates, AP

Thursday, December 16, 2004

At today's White House Spelling Summit the President is shown reacting to his word:

Photo: Reuters

War's Cost

Pfc. Alan Jermaine Lewis, 23, a machine-gunner,
3rd Infantry Division, wounded July 16, 2003, (C) Nina Berman

This morning, as we find ourselves nine days from Christmas, I want to consider our courageous soldiers and the men who have, so casually, thrust them into a harm’s way unlike any other in American history.
Rummy, in his shameful temporizing and cowardly effort to blunt Army Specialist Thomas Wilson and other brave soldier’s forthright questions and thundering applause, said:

You go to war with the Army you have…

At the time, this flip and too-cute remark only seemed a callous attempt at bureaucratic ass covering and, in what has become a stand-by for this denial-rich administration, shifting blame to a previous presidency.
In the cold light of a not-unexpected report in this morning’s New York Times and in a series of excellent but extremely troubling articles and photo essays on the always superior Digital Journalist site, one can see that Rumsfeld’s flippancy, in addition to crass cowardice, tears another grievous psychological wound into the collective flesh of the already suffering American soldier by, in essence, blaming the soldier.
After all, they are the Army we have; the Army not quite up to breathing life into Rummy’s light and lean fantasy.
The Times article details the soon to arrive flood of soldiers suffering from mental as well as physical wounds and the already-stressed veteran healthcare system so poorly maintained through the glorious offices of our current “war president”:

An Army study shows that about one in six soldiers in Iraq report symptoms of major depression, serious anxiety or post-traumatic stress disorder, a proportion that some experts believe could eventually climb to one in three, the rate ultimately found in Vietnam veterans…Psychiatrists say the kind of fighting seen in the recent retaking of Falluja …is tailored to produce the adrenaline-gone-haywire reactions that leave lasting emotional scars…the Government Accountability Office found that officials at six of seven Veterans Affairs medical facilities surveyed said they "may not be able to meet" increased demand.

The article goes on to give several examples of the long-term suffering our young people and their families have only begun to experience.
The Times report is important and is a must read, most specially, in this holy Christmas season.

Marine Lance Cpl. James Miller

The superb Digital Journalist site, updated monthly, contains several excellent reports and photo essays that lend further support to the material presented by the New York Times.
In the Thousand Mile Stare, Luis Sinco, the photojournalist who snapped, perhaps, this Iraq war’s most personally searing image of battle, provides insight into the travails of modern battlefield soldiery by describing his participation with Charlie Company of the First Marine Battalion, Eighth Regiment and the events that lead to his taking the now world famous photo of Marine Lance Cpl. James Miller.
In Disposable Heroes, Peter Howe describes how this image of the battle weary Lance Corporal was manipulated into a completely different context.
The Purple Hearts Gallery will break your heart with images of the ghastly physical wounds now suffered by returned veterans.
Please visit the Digital Journalist site and, if you are able, toss them a few coins for journalism as God intended.
The politics found within the various articles ranges across the wide American and global spectrum within material that can be quite painful to read.

A New Cookie for Christmas

Around this time of the year I begin to crave dates.
Pillsbury used to distribute a wonderful date bread mix that, sadly, for myself and the store managers I’ve pestered, is no longer available.
My grandmother, who annually created hundreds of wonderful Christmas cookies, made a rolled date cookie that was wonderful.
While her possessions were prized, no one must have considered her vast trove of recipes worthwhile for they along with her wonderful cookie tins vanished following her death.
Because of her, I associate the fruit of the Phoenix dactylifera with the Christmas season.
Last evening, my date craving at a fever pitch and having several unhappy encounters with date quick bread recipes, I began to experiment with a new date cookie.
My result, while different from my grandmother’s cookie, is a chewy success filled with one of my favorite Christmas flavors.
Be kind to yourself and make this cookie!

Chewy Date Pecan Cookies
Oven 375

1 cup (2 sticks) Butter, softened
¾ cup Light Brown Sugar
¾ cup Granulated Sugar
2 Eggs
1 Tsp Mexican or South American Vanilla
2 ½ cups All-purpose Flour
1 Tsp Baking Soda
¼ Tsp Salt
1 cup Dried Dates, chopped
1 cup Pecans, chopped

Sift Flour, Baking Soda and Salt in a medium bowl and set aside.
Combine Butter and Sugars in a large bowl and beat until creamy and doubled in volume.
Add Eggs and Vanilla until combined with mixture.
Slowly add Flour mixture to Egg, Butter and Sugar Mixture and beat until thoroughly blended.
Add Dates and Pecans.
Scoop batter with a table or teaspoon and drop onto an ungreased cookie sheet…if you dip the spoon into a small bowl of warm water between drops the mixture will, more easily, drop onto the cookie sheet.
Bake cookies on the center rack of a 375-degree oven for 10 minutes or until lightly browned.
Allow cookies to rest, once they are removed from the oven, for about 30 seconds before moving them to a wire rack to cool.
Depending upon the size, this recipe makes about 25 to 40 cookies.

Photos: Nina Berman, Luis Sinco,

Wednesday, December 15, 2004
Not At Our White House!

A juicy nugget from today's New York Daily News:

Publishing titan Judith Regan...paid an awkward visit to the White House yesterday...when she accompanied former Gen. Tommy Franks - whose book Regan published - and his family as he accepted a Presidential Medal of Freedom, she got icy stares...Regan...even posed for a photo with Bush and the First Lady at the East Room ceremony, according to a source who saw the uncomfortable meeting.

Who wants to bet this photo won't appear in the White House web site.

Images: Google, New York Post

Maybe, in what now appears to be my apt long-form 3 Stooge metaphor for Bernie Kerik’s peccadilloes (or maybe dicc-apelloes), there is now the likely possibility of, who else, certain members of the national press as a 4th Stooge in this messy pie fight.

First, I must confess to watching, last evening, a few seconds of the normally unwatchable Hardball hosted by short-fingered vulgarian (to use Spy magazine’s old phrase) Tweety Matthews.
Shockingly, Tweety was almost endurable.
And, perhaps, not so shockingly if one reads her sometimes-curious work, it was Washington Post reporter Dana Priest who embarrassed herself with her laughable and enabling defense of the administration’s indefensible actions in the nominating process for a head of Homeland Security.
Sadly, Tweety’s crack staff, no doubt emulating their presidential masters over-reaching slip-shoddery, hasn’t uploaded last evening’s transcript.
No matter, for the always entertaining Elizabeth Bumiller has penned another in her long series of schizophrenic ramblings about things hubristically Bush in this morning’s New York Times.
Despite Ms. Bumiller’s best efforts, anyone marginally skilled at reading the English language cannot be anything other than appalled by the antics of supremely powerful men who appear to be most dangerously beset by their own self-important bravado.
This morning, within the Kerik fallout, it appears the President and, of course, we the American people simply cannot afford major Kerik vetter Alberto R. Gonzales as the next Attorney General overseeing the federal government’s vast and troubled investigative bureaucracy.
Beginning with the Times’ lead sentence:

Despite hours of confrontational interviews by the White House counsel, Alberto R. Gonzales, the Bush administration failed to get a full picture of the legal and ethical problems of Bernard B. Kerik…the White House did not consult with the one person in the West Wing who knew the most about Mr. Kerik's background, Frances Townsend…the White House did not have the benefit of any F.B.I. investigation into Mr. Kerik's past…Kerik also failed to complete a required federal financial disclosure form in May 2003.

To any American ever having any direct contact with the vast, grinding and normally impersonal federal machinery, these excerpts from Burmiller’s reporting are simply stunning!
According to Burmiller, though Gonzales “spent hours grilling Mr. Kerik…everyone at the White House knew that Mr. Bush liked Mr. Kerik, placing him in the special category of ‘this guy's our guy.’”
This Keric fiasco and its wide swath of collateral damage along with Rumsfeld’s slow meltdown, the obvious unrest among the ranks of our bravely soldiering sons and daughters and the media’s deceptive and enabling game of 3 Card Monty along with far too many other critical global issues does not bode well for America’s security.
Friends and the truly loyal don’t let Presidents drive drunk on the heady wine of limitless power no matter the consequences.
I’ve had some fun with this Keric story due to the convenient Christianity of Bush priggery, but, the game is far more serious one than the one, seemingly, these boys are playing...enough is enough.
America's well-being is at stake.

Photo: Dith Pran-The New York Times

Tuesday, December 14, 2004
If Wishes Were Dictators

Bush awards medal to one of the men intimately involved with the decision to invade Iraq.

Modified Image: Reuters, Google

Bernie We Hardly Knew Ye

Kerik and wife Hala

Golly gosh and Bush on a Cracker, the Bernie Kerik sex-housekeeper-mob hijinks seem to be getting the most media play in the New York tabloids.
Well, ahem, that is, aside from those of us in the more, again ahem, spirited Blogosphere.
This morning Rupie’s Daily News plates fresh dish in a story that should be headlined, Hala Hath No Fury, Yet.
It seems old randy Bernie’s young wife Hala Mali, a Syrian immigrant who the then New York City Corrections official married in 1998, has, according to the Daily News, “kept a stoic silence” regarding news of Kerik’s multi-love nest wanderings.
While silence cannot be golden for the Daily News’ circulation, the paper, from a fresh read of Kerik’s lover-published and ghost-written autobiography, appears to be offering a certain comely young wife, or her likely old-school Syrian family, a paper and ink shoulder to cry on.
The paper begins with the ever-more-timely story of their first meetings at a New York dentist’s office:

"We despised each other," Kerik wrote in his autobiography, "The Lost Son." "It was a running battle between us, me skipping appointments, her pointing out how inconsiderate I was."

And, as we all now know, appointments are not the only things our once and future Bush Cabinet appointee enjoys skipping.
The News also suggests, again from the Judith Regan-published autobiography, that Hala’s Syrian uncles may have also glimpsed the Bernster’s difficulty with promises:

Kerik, 49, wrote that one of the toughest grillings he has seen was the grilling he took from Hala's uncles, anxious to determine if he was the right man for her.

Oh, Bernie, I kind of feel even the President understands that Senate Democrats may have given those Syrian uncles a run for their dinars!

Photo: Schwartz for the Daily News

Sunday, December 12, 2004
Security Stooge

Call me an aging liberal cynic or, perhaps, chalk it up to one too many fabulous spicy meatballs consumed during a wonderfully festive Christmas party Saturday evening, but, in reading this morning’s Washington Post story headlined White House Puts Blame on Kerik, I can’t help but visualize 3 hapless Stooges madly chasing after one another in a chaos of noise and blame-shifting finger-pointing.
In this madcap three-reeler, Larry and Mo retain the Presidency and Vice-Presidency while Curley Joe, head dripping with pie meringue, fails to secure Homeland Security in a zany Whack-a-Mole played to the signature Stooge 3 Blind Mice theme.
Is there any other way to interpret a story that has the White House baldly stating that the Homeland Security candidate failed “to disclose potential legal problems” involving immigration, tax evasion and an arrest warrant resulting from a 1998 dispute over $5,000 in delinquent condo fees to a slip-shod investigation headed by the administration's candidate for Attorney General?
With the subtlety of a Mo Howard finger jab to the eye and with tongues firmly in cheek, Washington Post reporters Jim VandeHei and Mike Allen display the comic slapstick with a simple turn of phrase:

It is unclear why White House lawyers could not uncover a warrant that Newsweek discovered after a few days of research…

Can’t you just hear a bug-eyed Curley Joe make that nyuk, nyuk, nyuk sound?
A story with more holes than Dick Cheney’s heart continues with nominee Kerik repeatedly lying to an FBI investigation hampered by “political pressure to get appointments done quickly”.
In ludicrous fact, adds a chatty but zigzagging White House official:

A candidate can be so eager for appointment that he shades the truth.

Not truth shading at our White House, horrors and in pie-wielding justification, because our innocent Leader in kind of Chief “makes the announcement -- often before the FBI has conducted a background check”.
Isn't, dear readers, benign neglect exactly what multimillion dollar agency advice is for?
Stop, you're killin' me!
Hold on, it gets better with our yakky punchline-stricken White House official delivering the sharp shiv of a very Washingtonian coup de grâce:

The efficacy of Bush's process is in the results…

Do you feel the eardrum screwdriver wound yet, Mr. President?
Should we kiss our asses goodbye now or wait until after the Holy-er Joe is sworn in?
But relentless comedic hijinks continue apace as, in Stooge fashion, the sloppy pratfalls grow ever sloppier as our pie-strewn finger-pointers toss discretion even further into the gale force wind:

White House officials quoted anonymously in this story are in a position to know details of the controversy, and refused to speak on the record because they are not authorized to discuss the secretive selection and vetting process.

Have you fully grasped this meringuey morsel?
The guy who is talking knows what he’s talking about but refuses to identify himself because he’s not allowed to talk about what he is talking about.
Feeling tazed, I wondering if I’m tasting pie or just the lingering reflux from a tad too many spicy political and Christmas party meatballs.
Maybe VandeHei and Allen will strive for further comic clarity in tomorrow’s exciting Security Stooge three-reeler, The Housekeeper Returns!

Modified Image: Reuters,

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