Saturday, February 9, 2008

Food & Politics

I bet the title made you think I was going to write some Michael-Pollan-ish thing about commercial farms or something....well, that post is coming as soon as I collect my thoughts from reading Omnivore's Dilemma, but its really about this Super Week and the fa

Why is it that there's so little reporting in the media about the final Super Tuesday tally? Despite the fact that the networks kept saying that Hillary won, Obama is actually ahead by 2 delegates. Is that a surprise to anyone else? I know I had a busy week at work and all, but how is it that I've been listening to the news avidly all week and only now found out the tally?

We just watched the Will I Am video setting Obama's speech to spoken word performance and song. Very very exciting.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Obama's Super Tuesday speech

Here's the full text of Obama's speech last night, 2/5/08 in Chicago:

BARACK OBAMA: Thank you. Thank you so much. Well, first of all, let me just say I could not have a better senior senator than our great senator from the State of Illinois, Dick Durbin.

I have too many friends to mention each one of them individually, but it is good to be back home. It is good to be home. It is good to be home. It is good to have Michelle home. The girls are with us tonight, but we asked them did you want to come on stage, and Malia, our nine-year-old said, “Daddy, you know that’s not my thing.”
So they’re upstairs, doing what they do.

Before I begin, I just want to send my condolences to the victims of the storms that hit Tennessee and Arkansas today. They are in our thoughts and in our prayers, and we hope that our federal government will respond quickly and rapidly to make sure that they get all the help that they need.

The polls are just closing in California.

And the votes are still being counted in cities and towns across America. But there is one thing.


OBAMA: You know I love you back.

But there is one thing on this February night that we do not need the final results to know. Our time has come.

Our time has come. Our movement is real, and change is coming to America.
Only a few hundred miles from here, almost one year ago to the day, as Dick said, we stood on the steps of the old state capitol to reaffirm a truth that was spoken there so many generations ago, that a house divided cannot stand…

That we are more than a collection of red states and blue states. We are and always will be the United States of America.

What began as a whisper in Springfield soon carried across the cornfields of Iowa, where farmers and factory workers, students and seniors stood up in numbers we have never seen before.

They stood up to say that maybe this year we don’t have to settle for politics where scoring points is more important than solving problems.

Maybe this year we can finally start doing something about health care we can’t afford.

Maybe this year we can start doing a thing about mortgages we can’t pay. Maybe this year, this time can be different.

Their voices echoed from the hills of New Hampshire to the deserts of Nevada, where teachers and cooks and kitchen workers stood up to say that maybe Washington doesn’t have to be run by lobbyists anymore.

Maybe the voices of the American people can finally be heard again.

They reached the coast of South Carolina, when people said that maybe we don’t have to be divided by race and regions and gender…

… that the crumbling schools are stealing the future of black children and white children…

… that we can come together and build an America that gives every child everywhere the opportunity to live out their dreams. This time can be different.

And today, on this Tuesday in February, in states north and south, east and west, what began as a whisper in Springfield has swelled to a chorus of millions calling for change.

It’s a course that cannot be ignored, a course that cannot be deterred. This time can be different, because this campaign for the presidency of the United States of America is different.

It’s different not because of me. It’s different because of you…

… because you are tired of being disappointed…

… and you’re tired of being let down.

You’re tired of hearing promises made and plans proposed in the heat of a campaign, only to have nothing change when everyone goes back to Washington.

Nothing changes because lobbyists just write another check or politicians start worrying about how to win the next election instead of why they should or because they focus on who’s up and who’s down instead of who matters.

And while Washington is consumed with the same drama and divisions and distractions, another family puts up a “for sale” sign in their front yard, another factory shuts its doors, another soldiers waves goodbye as he leaves on another tour of duty in a war that should have never been authorized and should have never been waged…
… and goes on and on and on.

But in this election, at this moment, you are standing up all across this country to say “not this time, not this year.” The stakes are too high and the challenges too great to play the same Washington game with the same Washington players and somehow expect a different result.

This time must be different. This time we have to turn the page. This time we have to write a new chapter in American history. This time we have to seize the moment.
This isn’t about me and it’s not about Senator Clinton. As I’ve said before, she was a friend before this campaign, she’ll be a friend after it’s over. I respect her. I respect her as a colleague. I congratulate her on her victories tonight. She’s been running an outstanding race.

But this fall — this fall, we owe the American people a real choice.

We have to choose between change and more of the same. We have to choose between looking backwards and looking forwards. We have to choose between our future and our past.

It’s a choice between going into this election with Republicans and independents already united against us or going against their nominee with a campaign that has united Americans of all parties, from all backgrounds, from all races, from all religions, around a common purpose.

It’s a choice between having a debate with the other party about who has the most experience in Washington or having one about who is most likely to change Washington, because that’s a debate that we can win.

It’s a choice between a candidate who’s taken more money from Washington lobbyists from either Republican in this race and a campaign that has not taken a dime of their money, because we have been funded by you. You have funded this campaign.

And if I am your nominee, my opponent will not be able to say that I voted for the war in Iraq, because I didn’t, or that I gave George Bush the benefit of the doubt on Iran, because I haven’t, or that I support the Bush-Cheney doctrine of not talking to leaders we don’t like, because I profoundly disagree with that approach.

And he will not be able to say that I wavered on something as fundamental as whether or not it’s OK for America to use torture, because it’s never OK.
That is the choice in this election.

The Republicans running for president have already tied themselves to the past. The speak of 100-year war in Iraq. They talk about billions more in tax breaks for the wealthiest few, who don’t need them and didn’t even ask them, tax breaks that mortgage our children’s future on a mountain of debt, at a time when there are families who can’t pay their medical bills and students who can’t pay their tuition.
Those Republicans are running on the politics of yesterday and that is why our party must be the party of tomorrow, and that is the party that I intend to lead as president of the United States of America.

I’ll be the president who ends the tax breaks to companies that ship our jobs overseas and start putting them in the pockets of hardworking Americans who deserve them and struggling homeowners who deserve them and seniors who should retire with dignity and respect and deserve them.

I’ll be the president who finally brings Democrats and Republicans together to make health care affordable and available for every single American.

We will put a college education within the reach of anyone who wants to go. And instead of just talking about how great our teachers are, we will reward them for their greatness with more pay and better support.

And we will harness the ingenuity of farmers and scientists and entrepreneurs to free this nation from the tyranny of oil once and for all and we will invest in solar and wind and biodiesel, clean energy, green energy that can fuel economic development for generations to come.

That’s what we’re going to do when I’m president of the United States.

When I’m president, we will put an end to the politics of fear, a politics that uses 9/11 as a way to scare up votes. We’re going to start seeing 9/11 as a challenge that should unite America and the world against the common threats of the 21st century, terrorism and nuclear weapons, climate change and poverty, genocide and disease.

We can do this. We can do this. But it will not be easy. It will require a struggle and it will require sacrifice. There will be setbacks and we will make mistakes.

And that is why we need all the help we can get. So tonight, I want to speak directly to all those Americans who have yet to join this movement, but still hunger for change.

They know it in their gut. They know we can do better than we’re doing. They know that we can take our politics to a higher level.

But they’re afraid. They’ve been taught to be cynical. They’re doubtful that it can be done. But I’m here to say tonight to all of you who still harbor those doubts, we need you.

We need you to stand with us. We need you to work with us. We need you to help us prove that together ordinary people can still do extraordinary things in the United States of America.

I am blessed to be standing in the city where my own extraordinary journey of service began. You know, just a few miles from here, down in the Southside, in the shadow of a shuttered steel plant, it was there that I learned what it takes to make change happen.

I was a young organizer then. In fact, there are some folks here who I organized with. A young organizer intent on fighting joblessness and poverty on the Southside, and I still remember one of the very first meetings I put together.

We had worked on it for days. We had made phone calls, we had knocked on doors, we had put out flyers. But on that night, nobody showed up. Our volunteers, who had worked so hard, felt so defeated, they wanted to quit. And to be honest, so did I.
But at that moment, I happened to look outside and I saw some young boys tossing stones at a boarded-up apartment building across the street.

They were like the boys in so many cities across the country. Little boys, but without prospects, without guidance, without hope for the future.

And I turned to the volunteers and I asked them, “Before you quit, before you give up, I want you to answer one question. What will happen to those boys if we don’t stand up for them?”

And those volunteers, they looked out that window and they saw those boys and they decided that night to keep going, to keep organizing, keep fighting for better schools, fighting for better jobs, fighting for better health care, and I did, too.
And slowly, but surely, in the weeks and months to come, the community began to change.

You see, the challenges we face will not be solved with one meeting in one night. It will not be resolved on even a super-duper Tuesday.

Change will not come if we wait for some other person or if we wait for some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for.

We are the change that we seek. We are the hope of those boys who have so little, who’ve been told that they cannot have what they dreamed, that they cannot be what they imagine.

Yes, they can.

We are the hope of the father who goes to work before dawn and lies awake with doubt that tells him he cannot give his children the same opportunities that someone gave him.

Yes, he can.

We are the hope of the woman who hears that her city will not be rebuilt, that she cannot somehow claim the life that was swept away in a terrible storm.

Yes, she can.

We are the hope of the future, the answer to the cynics who tell us our house must stand divided, that we cannot come together, that we cannot remake this world as it should be.

We know that we have seen something happen over the last several weeks, over the past several months. We know that what began as a whisper has now swelled to a chorus that cannot be ignored, that will not be deterred, that will ring out across this land as a hymn that will heal this nation, repair this world, make this time different than all the rest.

Yes, we can. Let’s go to work. Yes, we can. Yes, we can. Yes, we can.

Thank you, Chicago. Let’s go get to work. I love you.

Barack Obama, vintage 2004

Incredible. We just listened to Obama's speech in Chicago at the conclusion of Super Tuesday. I've never felt this hope before. You look at the people who were standing behind him during his speech: black, white, man, woman, young, older...(but mostly young)...the energy in their voices; they were actually chanting: "U.S.A.!" When was the last time you heard a group of diverse young people shouting out pride in their country? Obama talked about the issues that matter to so many of us, he was the only candidate who spoke to real issues.

I immediately started googling the text (I didn't really think it would be up yet), and found this:

Full text of Barack Obama’s convention speech at the Democratic National Convention
July 28, 2004

On behalf of the great state of Illinois, crossroads of a nation, land of Lincoln, let me express my deep gratitude for the privilege of addressing this convention. Tonight is a particular honor for me because, let’s face it, my presence on this stage is pretty unlikely. My father was a foreign student, born and raised in a small village in Kenya. He grew up herding goats, went to school in a tin-roof shack. His father, my grandfather, was a cook, a domestic servant.

But my grandfather had larger dreams for his son. Through hard work and perseverance my father got a scholarship to study in a magical place; America which stood as a beacon of freedom and opportunity to so many who had come before. While studying here, my father met my mother. She was born in a town on the other side of the world, in Kansas. Her father worked on oil rigs and farms through most of the Depression. The day after Pearl Harbor he signed up for duty, joined Patton’s army and marched across Europe. Back home, my grandmother raised their baby and went to work on a bomber assembly line. After the war, they studied on the GI Bill, bought a house through FHA, and moved west in search of opportunity.

And they, too, had big dreams for their daughter, a common dream, born of two continents. My parents shared not only an improbable love; they shared an abiding faith in the possibilities of this nation. They would give me an African name, Barack, or “blessed,” believing that in a tolerant America your name is no barrier to success. They imagined me going to the best schools in the land, even though they weren’t rich, because in a generous America you don’t have to be rich to achieve your potential. They are both passed away now. Yet, I know that, on this night, they look down on me with pride.

I stand here today, grateful for the diversity of my heritage, aware that my parents’ dreams live on in my precious daughters. I stand here knowing that my story is part of the larger American story, that I owe a debt to all of those who came before me, and that, in no other country on earth, is my story even possible. Tonight, we gather to affirm the greatness of our nation, not because of the height of our skyscrapers, or the power of our military, or the size of our economy. Our pride is based on a very simple premise, summed up in a declaration made over two hundred years ago, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal. That they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights. That among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

That is the true genius of America, a faith in the simple dreams of its people, the insistence on small miracles. That we can tuck in our children at night and know they are fed and clothed and safe from harm. That we can say what we think, write what we think, without hearing a sudden knock on the door. That we can have an idea and start our own business without paying a bribe or hiring somebody’s son. That we can participate in the political process without fear of retribution, and that our votes will be counted — or at least, most of the time.

This year, in this election, we are called to reaffirm our values and commitments, to hold them against a hard reality and see how we are measuring up, to the legacy of our forbearers, and the promise of future generations. And fellow Americans — Democrats, Republicans, Independents — I say to you tonight: we have more work to do. More to do for the workers I met in Galesburg, Illinois, who are losing their union jobs at the Maytag plant that’s moving to Mexico, and now are having to compete with their own children for jobs that pay seven bucks an hour. More to do for the father I met who was losing his job and choking back tears, wondering how he would pay $4,500 a month for the drugs his son needs without the health benefits he counted on. More to do for the young woman in East St. Louis, and thousands more like her, who has the grades, has the drive, has the will, but doesn’t have the money to go to college.

Don’t get me wrong. The people I meet in small towns and big cities, in diners and office parks, they don’t expect government to solve all their problems. They know they have to work hard to get ahead and they want to. Go into the collar counties around Chicago, and people will tell you they don’t want their tax money wasted by a welfare agency or the Pentagon. Go into any inner city neighborhood, and folks will tell you that government alone can’t teach kids to learn. They know that parents have to parent, that children can’t achieve unless we raise their expectations and turn off the television sets and eradicate the slander that says a black youth with a book is acting white. No, people don’t expect government to solve all their problems. But they sense, deep in their bones, that with just a change in priorities, we can make sure that every child in America has a decent shot at life, and that the doors of opportunity remain open to all. They know we can do better. And they want that choice.

In this election, we offer that choice. Our party has chosen a man to lead us who embodies the best this country has to offer. That man is John Kerry. John Kerry understands the ideals of community, faith, and sacrifice, because they’ve defined his life. From his heroic service in Vietnam to his years as prosecutor and lieutenant governor, through two decades in the United States Senate, he has devoted himself to this country. Again and again, we’ve seen him make tough choices when easier ones were available. His values and his record affirm what is best in us.

John Kerry believes in an America where hard work is rewarded. So instead of offering tax breaks to companies shipping jobs overseas, he’ll offer them to companies creating jobs here at home. John Kerry believes in an America where all Americans can afford the same health coverage our politicians in Washington have for themselves. John Kerry believes in energy independence, so we aren’t held hostage to the profits of oil companies or the sabotage of foreign oil fields. John Kerry believes in the constitutional freedoms that have made our country the envy of the world, and he will never sacrifice our basic liberties nor use faith as a wedge to divide us. And John Kerry believes that in a dangerous world, war must be an option, but it should never be the first option.

A while back, I met a young man named Shamus at the VFW Hall in East Moline, Illinois. He was a good-looking kid, six-two or six-three, clear eyed, with an easy smile. He told me he’d joined the Marines and was heading to Iraq the following week. As I listened to him explain why he’d enlisted, his absolute faith in our country and its leaders, his devotion to duty and service, I thought this young man was all any of us might hope for in a child. But then I asked myself: Are we serving Shamus as well as he was serving us? I thought of more than 900 service men and women, sons and daughters, husbands and wives, friends and neighbors, who will not be returning to their hometowns. I thought of families I had met who were struggling to get by without a loved one’s full income, or whose loved ones had returned with a limb missing or with nerves shattered, but who still lacked long-term health benefits because they were reservists. When we send our young men and women into harm’s way, we have a solemn obligation not to fudge the numbers or shade the truth about why they’re going, to care for their families while they’re gone, to tend to the soldiers upon their return, and to never ever go to war without enough troops to win the war, secure the peace, and earn the respect of the world.

Now let me be clear. We have real enemies in the world. These enemies must be found. They must be pursued and they must be defeated. John Kerry knows this. And just as Lieutenant Kerry did not hesitate to risk his life to protect the men who served with him in Vietnam, President Kerry will not hesitate one moment to use our military might to keep America safe and secure. John Kerry believes in America. And he knows it’s not enough for just some of us to prosper. For alongside our famous individualism, there’s another ingredient in the American saga.

A belief that we are connected as one people. If there’s a child on the south side of Chicago who can’t read, that matters to me, even if it’s not my child. If there’s a senior citizen somewhere who can’t pay for her prescription and has to choose between medicine and the rent, that makes my life poorer, even if it’s not my grandmother. If there’s an Arab American family being rounded up without benefit of an attorney or due process, that threatens my civil liberties. It’s that fundamental belief — I am my brother’s keeper, I am my sisters’ keeper — that makes this country work. It’s what allows us to pursue our individual dreams, yet still come together as a single American family. “E pluribus unum.” Out of many, one.

Yet even as we speak, there are those who are preparing to divide us, the spin masters and negative ad peddlers who embrace the politics of anything goes. Well, I say to them tonight, there’s not a liberal America and a conservative America — there’s the United States of America. There’s not a black America and white America and Latino America and Asian America; there’s the United States of America. The pundits like to slice-and-dice our country into Red States and Blue States; Red States for Republicans, Blue States for Democrats. But I’ve got news for them, too. We worship an awesome God in the Blue States, and we don’t like federal agents poking around our libraries in the Red States. We coach Little League in the Blue States and have gay friends in the Red States. There are patriots who opposed the war in Iraq and patriots who supported it. We are one people, all of us pledging allegiance to the stars and stripes, all of us defending the United States of America.

In the end, that’s what this election is about. Do we participate in a politics of cynicism or a politics of hope? John Kerry calls on us to hope. John Edwards calls on us to hope. I’m not talking about blind optimism here — the almost willful ignorance that thinks unemployment will go away if we just don’t talk about it, or the health care crisis will solve itself if we just ignore it. No, I’m talking about something more substantial. It’s the hope of slaves sitting around a fire singing freedom songs; the hope of immigrants setting out for distant shores; the hope of a young naval lieutenant bravely patrolling the Mekong Delta; the hope of a millworker’s son who dares to defy the odds; the hope of a skinny kid with a funny name who believes that America has a place for him, too. The audacity of hope!

In the end, that is God’s greatest gift to us, the bedrock of this nation; the belief in things not seen; the belief that there are better days ahead. I believe we can give our middle class relief and provide working families with a road to opportunity. I believe we can provide jobs to the jobless, homes to the homeless, and reclaim young people in cities across America from violence and despair. I believe that as we stand on the crossroads of history, we can make the right choices, and meet the challenges that face us. America!

Tonight, if you feel the same energy I do, the same urgency I do, the same passion I do, the same hopefulness I do — if we do what we must do, then I have no doubt that all across the country, from Florida to Oregon, from Washington to Maine, the people will rise up in November, and John Kerry will be sworn in as president, and John Edwards will be sworn in as vice president, and this country will reclaim its promise, and out of this long political darkness a brighter day will come. Thank you and God bless you.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Pre-Superbowl Snack

We were going to have a Superbowl party, but some of our guests cancelled because D's nephew bought a huge flat screen TV. I could tell that D wanted to go to, so I offered to cancel our shindig and when I did, his eyes lit up like a 7-year old boy looking at a red firetruck under a Christmas tree--in 1950.

That meant our menu went out the window, and we had to decide what to bring. We were going to make chicken wings, chili, edamame, the requisite tortilla chips and salsa, and cookies. We had to this is what happened:

I'm 3/4 of the way through with Michael Pollan's Omnivore's Dilemma, and I feel like I want to (have to) commit myself to only buying free-range, grass fed beef and happy, cage-free chickens. This is very expensive. I went to the Farmers' Market at Grand Army Plaza on Saturday morning and bought $20 worth of locally-raised, free-range ground beef (about 2 lbs), a $12 ham hock, and a $12 packet of ground lamb. I fretted for the next few hours about using the expensive beef for a Superbowl chili, so we went to Fairway to see if we could find some cheaper meat. Unfortunately, both the chicken wings (they just had organic, not free range--definitely not the same thing), and the ground beef were expensive, so we compromised: we'd bring just chili to the party, but no free-range beef this time around. (Recipe for the Black Bean chili that we made to come in the next entry).

Now, I spent some serious time in Buffalo watching many a Superbowl, so I insisted that we buy just a few organic chicken wings (6) for a pre-Superbowl party at home.

This is what we did with the chicken wings:

Honey Ginger and BBQ Wings


6 whole chicken wings
a piece of ginger
a few cloves of garlic
olive oil
soy sauce
black pepper
ground coriander
homemade chipotle BBQ sauce


Cut the chicken wings into pieces (flats and drums). Toss them in a pot full of boiling water and blanch 'em for about 3 minutes, until they were just almost cooked. Chop the garlic and ginger into small pieces. Whisk together the honey, soy sauce, chopped ginger and garlic, and seasonings (black pepper, salt, and coriander). Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil so that you can cook the gingered wings and the BBQ wings separately. Toss 3 flats and 3 drums in the mixture and place on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil. Toss 3 flats and 3 drums in the BBQ sauce, lay them on another side of the pan. Cook until crispy at about 450. Serve with celery and bleu cheese dip.

Bleu Cheese dip

Bleu Cheese
Labne cheese
salt and pepper
squeeze of lemon juice
splash of cream to thin it out
dash of cayenne pepper