A Memory of Taste Part 4

As I have experienced a little depression over the last 6 months or so I have neglected that which makes me happy, partly due to a lack of inspiration (I attribute this to feelings of depression) mostly due to a lack of will power to write. Recently some of you found the blog and commented and this made me want to get back to writing because the cathartic nature of this blog helps in many ways cleanse my mind of the craziness of the everyday world. So thinking about my experiences of the last 6 months (or so) I have settled on writing about a gem I found in Portland, Oregon thanks to my brother.

Now many different diets encourage some crazy carb counting or avoidance of meat (crazy I know, but why judge when you can eat great food…even vegan food) or the total reliance on juice. Now I have never really dieted…I have cut back on things and tried new meals, I always keep myself open to new food experiences whether or not there is weirdness involved. For this kind of omnivorous diet, Portland is a great town. From food trucks to dive restaurants to upscale eats every type of food is represented here. It is one of these small places in the north Portland neighborhood of Kenton.

Kenton is deceptively enticing, you see the normal trappings of Portland…the Max, a Fred Myers, and other Portlandy sights…my favorite being a sign waver who was dancing his heart out. He was truly captivating as I waited at the red light to move again. But once you get to the “historic” portion of Kenton that changes, a lumberjack statue welcomes you to the area and you are partially transported to a small town. There are many shops lining this road, some pretty damn good restaurants, but my focus is on the Cultured Caveman.

My brother introduced me to this place, he knows I like to explore different foods and so he takes delight in introducing me to places around Portland. However, the Cultured Caveman has some of my current favorite foods. This first trip though introduced me to my favorite…bacon wrapped dates. I had no idea what I was in for when I ordered…after all this is a paleo restaurant, I have known some paleo eaters, but a restaurant? How do you set up the meal without free bread or bottomless fries? It is possible, and to do that you must begin with an offering of something so scrumptious that no one can deny its deliciousness…except non meat eaters of course. Back to the food. The dates were, in a word, amazing. Inside the dates are an almond and the entire thing is sheltered in a covering of bacon…now I am a bacon guy and this dish was amazing. Salty…sweet without a big sugar taste…and the almond at the center added a nougat taste, the entire experience eating this made me want more…my mouth was salivating and my brain cried out to eat them all, so I did. I followed the appetizer with a shepherd’s pie which included sweet potatoes and satisfied me. Now the Cultured Caveman is not your normal sit and be served restaurant, but the experience of it is distinctly Portland. There are many things on the menu from squash based pastas to Vietnamese inspired dishes, and not all are equal, but bacon wrapped dates and shepherd’s pie are worth the trip.

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Wow…no words. I have no words for the receding nature of American global leadership. President Trump embarked on a world tour where he signed an agreement for $110 billion dollars worth of arms sales with Saudi Arabia. (A nation noted for its human rights violations and that is just from 2016) Saudi Arabia, the land which helped produce 15 of the 19 9/11 hijackers and Osama Bin Laden. A nation which the U.S. has helped bring along its oil economy since at least 1938 and continue up to this day despite the questionable nature of the Saudi citizen’s attitude towards millions of foreign national living and working on their soil. (I could write pages and pages about this, but that has been done in more eloquence by better people than I)

More importantly, Saudi Arabia represents the golden age of Oil. An age which many believe must be restrained and constrained due to the role of humans in shaping the environment around them. There are various views from the skepticism of the National Review to the non-professional scientist review and ranking of the abstracts (summary to inform the reader about an academic paper’s content) of scientific papers by the Guardian. While the National Review reputes the 97% statistic that many site to show the near certainty of human AFFECTED climate change, they do make the point that there is debate regarding how much of human activity is responsible for climate change, there is acceptance that climate change is happening in the article if you read close enough.

Now, President Trump has withdrawn the United States from the Paris Accords. Many of you have just cheered him…most likely because this is supposed, according to President Trump, to save American coal jobs. Because according to him, the agreement will lead to the United States having to reduce its coal production…wording which does not even exist within the agreement, CHECK THIS. Coal jobs won’t disappear due to this climate agreement, no. In fact I would guess (THIS IS MY EDITORIAL SECTION) that those jobs would be reduced as the energy sector shifts to automation and renewable energy. We would still need coal, so some would remain. But the nature of coal mining will change as technology changes. Automation is a greater threat to coal, much as it is to the automobile industry and every other industry. This is because industry seeks to be more efficient, and by and large efficiency is greater when machines perform the work with humans servicing and repairing the machines. Think I am off base? Check out the factory system now, most industrial facilities that are more efficient tend to be automated. So the very nature of coal mining jobs will change in the coming years and decades. (EDITORIAL OVER)

Another claim is that the Accord will lead to lower wages…bullshit.(THIS IS MY EDITORIAL SECTION) Technology sector jobs pay more due to specialization and a higher educated work force. Do they talk about how in tech industry areas or areas which generate jobs, such as some places in and around San Francisco, the cost of living is so high that a higher wage level is still considered “low-income“. No, instead they focus on depressed areas which are still determining how to develop to attract newer, higher wage jobs. Manufacturing just is not what it used to be in the early and mid 20th century. Part of this is education, and now that Betsy Devos is taking American education in a direction that many educators are skeptical about by reducing American investment in public schools and introducing a vague voucher system. All I know is that it seems that there is a desire by the government to reduce education spending in many ways…which seems counter-productive. If we want to lead the world we should educate our populace on world changing technologies. If you look at education spending graphs, statistics, and what not, you see that at this time Federal education spending is down and it has trended down since the mid-2000′s, and it is a fairly low part of the federal budget. (US Department of Ed statistics page was down so I settled for this web page) And some states have cut as much as 50% of their spending on higher education in recent years. My own state is down 43.6%. When you look at Federal spending as a whole, education is below health care, defense, pensions, welfare, and interest payments. Where am I going with this, didn’t I start with the idea of American leadership? Yes, here is the crux of my argument: If the United States wants to lead the world, and President Trump wants to “Make America Great Again”, shouldn’t we be investing in education to refocus education to begin leading in those technology industries? I know China is doing that, they are emphasizing engineering and science degrees and are turning away from coal to renewable energy source. And shouldn’t we be engaging the rest of the world in a forum that they agree upon in order to provide leadership? By removing our presence from the Paris Accords, President Trump (In my OPINION) is signaling an unwillingness to continue to provide leadership forward which America is reputed to have done since World War II. And with an increasingly interconnected world this will be disastrous. Look at the other nations which have cut themselves off from the world…North Korea comes to mind, China during the Ming Dynasty, Japan up until the mid 1800’s. Historically they have not fared well. And as the world continues to draw closer together, we will be left behind, and the struggles of what has been described as the greatest generation will have been for naught.

So what is my ultimate point? I feel that President Trump has pulled us out of the Paris Accords as a means of supporting an agenda pressed by people who do not understand the true nature of  sovereignty. This Accord did not seek to impose any sanction or punishment. It was a commitment to preserve our planet for our posterity…oh, a little bit of our Constitution snuck in here? Yes, I believe that part of securing the “…blessings of liberty for our posterity…” is ensuring that the planet is habitable. And I feel (EDITORIAL) that removing us from the Paris Accords, endangering our environment in the favor of business we are proving that this nation is not built upon those ideals. No, anymore that foundation has been usurped to support the almighty dollar. Our government is now in the hands of billionaires who have steered us into a place where workers’ wages are down, health care is un-affordable, and the interests of the people are often co-opted for those of corporate profits which enrich a small portion of the population. And for those who are religious, are we not supposed to be the stewards (or shepherds) of this earth? Does this not mean protecting it? Nurturing it? Ensuring that it will exist as a place of refuge and life for us? In short…*Sigh* Shit, we seemed to have our own heads up our collective asses.

Violation of Civil Rights

So, last week was interesting. All the talking heads got fodder from the President and the nomination of a Special Investigator. I won’t comment on this for various reasons, mostly because I feel that an investigator is warranted and I will wait to see what his investigation brings. No matter the outcome I will evaluate that finding in order to comment then.

Instead today I find myself at a loss for words. Last week American citizens were assaulted by foreign protective services. As the Guardian states, Turkic Presidential security team members assaulted members of what seems to have been a peaceful protest that is protected under the Constitution of the United States. Many different news sites have commented on this. My favorite quote about this right now comes from the pages of the conservativereview.com which quoted Florida Congressman Ron DeSantos as saying –

“It’s bad enough Turkish President Recep Erdogan refuses to recognize freedom of speech and religion at home and has suppressed political opposition to his rule,” DeSanitis said. “It’s worse that he stands at the nexus of support for nefarious jihadist groups. That his security detail has now engaged in such behavior on our own soil against American protesters is unconscionable.”

With so many members of Congress, the media, and the citizenry of the United States speaking out, I wonder why nothing has been mention regarding this event by President Trump. No tweet, nothing said in a prepared statement, no news release. That is unconscionable, for the President of the United States to welcome a world leader, no matter his reputation, into his house. And then not even ask for explanation, deliver admonishment, or take action to display concern for the American people is indicative of the type of man who has been elevated to represent the people of the United States of America. As time goes on, in this is more concerning than anything. I know that I differ in opinion with my father. But my father would speak out on my behalf if my rights were violated.

How can we trust President Trump if he will not even represent us? Already the legality of some of his decisions have been called into account. He has bombed Syria without asking Congress as he warned President Obama not to do. And now he remains quiet as foreign nationals assault American citizens on U.S. soil. When I took the oath of enlistment I swore to defend the nation against all enemies, foreign and domestic. Furthermore President Trump swore to “preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States”. His inability to address the violation of American citizen’s civil rights by a foreign power on U.S. soil goes directly against his oath. That is indicative of the man, indicative of his concerns for Americans, indicative of his lack of commitment to the people of this country. Say what you will about our former presidents, whether it is Obama, Bush, Clinton, Bush, Reagan, Carter, Ford, Nixon, Johnson, Kennedy, Eisenhower, Truman, Roosevelt, or beyond, but I like to think that they would have spoken up.

 

Please comment or start a conversation. As always, this is editorial, not news.

Those who suspected…

From the Washington Post, Republicans possibly suspected President Trump was being financed in some way by Russian leader Vladimir Putin. If this is true, those who suspected and did nothing are just as guilty as those who took money from a foreign power. Endorsing a candidate whom you believe takes money from a foreign power as your candidate for President is unconscionable. Whoever does/did this should be viewed as collaborators…enough on my editorial.

Two things:

  1. Special prosecutor, good. Now the partisan and political use of this case can be hopefully hashed out by a man who both side seem to believe can get to the root of President Trump’s possible connection to Russia and his possible attempt to obstruct the FBI’s investigation in regards to his actions with and towards Mr. James Comey.
  2. The Washington Post…wow…Just read this and watch other sources to see what comes of this. Of course, the Washington Post and President Trump have been at odds during the entirety of his candidacy and his Presidency. This may amount to nothing, but if it does…wow.

Again, comment to start a conversation or show me someplace else to look.

The Plague known as “Fake News”

If any of you have been conscious during the last, oh shall we say 6 months, you are aware in some way of the 2016 Presidential election, our current President and his adventures in office, and the conflict between different news sources that sounds like the neighbors in 7B arguing again even though you’ve made them aware that you can hear them and they know that the arguments that they have are over stupid, trival things. The anxiety over what is real and what is not in the news media has continued to build, has it reached a fever pitch? We won’t know until the deafening, antagonizing reporting ends.

The idea of fake news has taken off, especially in regards to the recent elections, so why do we see this proliferation now? The role of the news media has been evident in American history, from the pamphlets circulated during the Revolutionary period, to war reporting in the Civil War, and beyond. American opinion has often been shaped by the apparatus that claims to keep the public informed. One of the most infamous times the media is the period at the end of the 19th century where the news media gained the moniker of “yellow journalism”

Yellow journalism of this period was seen as sensationalist and profit motivated dishonesty which led in many parts to the Spanish American War. In many different places the conflict between William Randolph Hearst and Joseph Pulitzer has been recorded as one which increased anxiety in the nation, and helped to shape politics. The important thing here is to remember that these stories were profit motivated. The Spanish American War and the annexation of Hawaii during this period were business motivated actions which saw the death of American servicemen, the death of native peoples who were attempting to achieve their popular sovereignty, and a continuation of American interventionism now beyond the Western hemisphere.

How does this relate to our plague of Fake News today? First; we now have a news media that appeals to one side of a story in many ways. In this the news has helped to divide the nation into opposing camps and it has encouraged the conflict between the two sides by requiring strict adherence to the policy beliefs in which each side represents. Secondly the media has been altered completely by the advent of social media news, now a nice group of people from foreign nations with social media skills can generate web pages that look like news and post them on people’s web pages to sway opinion, yet those stories are filled with advertisements which generate a large amount of wealth for those people.  And what I see as my final assessment is that the large media corporations are just that, corporations. They have their own business interests which are profit motivated so that their programming is devised in such a way to enhance their profits.

FOX News is owned by Fox Entertainment Group. This corporation, founded by William Fox’s 1904 purchase of a nickelodeon in New York, has grown to a billion dollar business. They finance, make, and distribute films all over the world. They own parts of the Dodgers, Knicks, and Texas Rangers. And their primary business is in television broadcasting as they present on several different media outlets from the FOX network to FOX Sports and FOX News. Each of these entities is a business which represents the business desires of one Rupert Murdoch.

NBC is owned by Comcast Corporation. Anyone who has waited hours for comcast service technicians or been a victim of this company’s “customer service” knows why this is all I have to say. Their CEO is Brian Roberts who is worth an estimated 1.75 billion

And there are other news sources…but I am to depressed about the state of media to explain the outrage that I feel that such a group constitutes the majority of news we consume every day. For it is my belief, here is the editorial, that these corporations and men seek to shape the way that we consume everything. So that not only do our news habits enrich them, so do our buying habits. One thing to think about is that the owner of the Washington Post is Jeff Bezos…a company who knows how you shop and what you shop for so much that they can tailor advertisements to you as a person while on their web site. If they can do this with products, they can do this with news…effectively isolating you from an opinion you might not like or disagree with. Become aware of this and seek multiple media sources for consumption. I am including some of the ones I like at the bottom here. A mixture of traditional and non-traditional outlets are need to be informed and realize that your crazy (insert political ideology identifier here)_______________________ neighbor/friend/family member/parent isn’t crazy, they just read news that is tailored to their establish point of view.

  1. http://www.theamericanconservative.com/   – Conservatinve
  2. https://tytnetwork.com/                                      – Liberal/Progressive
  3. https://www.theguardian.com/us                     – Foreign Media
  4. http://www.chronicle.com/                                – Educator News
  5. http://www.npr.org/                                            – Publicly funded
  6. http://factcheck.org/                                            – A great fact checking site

Read them all, be informed, and realize that partisan issues shouldn’t divide us.

Comment below to let others find alternative news sites, not blogs! This site itself is editorial, not news.

Equal Under the Law

All my life I have been taught that all Americans are equal under the law. This was taught in my Civics class, Social Studies, History, and a multitude of other classes as I was indoctrinated into American society as a child, then teen, a member of the U.S. Navy, and then finally in college. The idea is one which permeates throughout most courses dealing with the description of American society. There are classes I took, people I engaged with, and even events in the nation which have made me question this idea of equality under the law.

From a relatively few number of people who aided (directly and indirectly) in the 2008 financial crisis (CNN, NYTimes, and TheAtlantic) have been held accountable. In fact, several of these leaders were given raises, or ended up being able to advise the current administration at some point, men like Steve Mnuchin. All of this is old information, so where is this thought process going?

Well on May 8, 2017 Donald Trump did something unthinkable. He fired the Director of the FBI James Comey. This comes as the FBI is investigating ties of the administration to Russia. Even though Director Comey had been supported by President Trump when investigating Hillary Clinton:

Oct 28, 2016 08:30:55 PM “@piersmorgan: BOMBSHELL: FBI reopening its investigation into HillaryClinton’s email server after new discovery! [Twitter for Android]

Oct 30, 2016 09:04:06 AM Hillary and the Dems loved and praised FBI Director Comey just a few days ago. Original evidence was overwhelming, should not have delayed! [Twitter for Android]

Oct 30, 2016 09:26:30 AM Wow, Twitter, Google and Facebook are burying the FBI criminal investigation of Clinton. Very dishonest media! [Twitter for Android]

He eventually would slam the former Director for his investigation when he was being investigated.

May 2, 2017 09:51:07 PM FBI Director Comey was the best thing that ever happened to Hillary Clinton in that he gave her a free pass for many bad deeds! The phony… [Twitter for iPhone]

May 9, 2017 09:42:52 PM Cryin’ Chuck Schumer stated recently, “I do not have confidence in him (James Comey) any longer.” Then acts so indignant. #draintheswamp

Since the investigation of Trump’s advisers, both during the election and since his election win Trump’s tone on the former Director changed. The question is why. According to this NBC News timeline, there is an appearance of correlation between President Trump’s change in attitude with the former Director and his public announcement of an investigation into Trump’s campaign and its connections to Russia. And then he fires him. In my mind this is suspicious. In 1974 then President Nixon fired a special prosecutor who had submitted a subpoena for the audio tapes that would eventually lead to Nixon’s resignation…does something like this exist in this case for President Trump? Especially seeing who the President has fired to this point, less than 5 months into his presidency; Sally Yates, many of the State Department’s officials, former US Attorney Preet Bharara, and now James Comey. All Senators should look into what is happening in regards to this firing as all who investigate Trump seem to be fired. An independent investigator should be designated, after all a resignation occurred around the same time as the Census director resigned over a funding issue. Are the two related? I doubt it, but the timing will become suspect as the Senate goes forward if there are more resignations or firings.

If the President is not held to account for his firing of the man who is investigating him, then I am ashamed to be a US Navy veteran…the values I served as a young man would no longer be in effect in my country if there is no inquiry at the least, special prosecutor and legal charges at the most. The rule of law would be fractured in my mind as would be my confidence that the US could exist as the beacon of fairness in government. And if President Trump, or someone from his team is found guilty of collusion, conspiracy, or another crime in relation to this Russian investigation they deserve to go to jail. Without this prosecution the faith many have in our system of governance and its checks and balances system will be forever shaken. The core of what it is to be American will no longer hold confidence in a world where we need confidence in our systems of government more than ever. We must progress past our inability to hold those in positions of power and wealth accountable. We cheered the Bernie Madoff conviction in 2009, now the Senate must send the message to the American people that if a government official is involved in something illicit, they will answer for their actions. We must become a nation where people in positions of great power are held to account for the usage of said privilege regardless of where that power comes from.

Please leave thoughtful comments. Let me know what discussion you would like to start.

Where do the Tempest Tossed go now?

As everyone surely knows, immigration is a big deal these days in politics. As someone who considers himself a centrist who leans in the direction of sensibility, I feel that some type of reform is needed. Whether that reform is a complete overhaul on how we determine the who, what, when, where, and whys of our immigration policies, or a simple creation of a short term work VISA program for migrant or seasonal workers to work in the agricultural labor field where many Americans do not want to work in the labor intensive, back-breaking profession of large-scale farming.

My writing today is addressing a specific case, one which I only know what I have read in the news media. I have done my due diligence, I have looked on various different media platforms from NPR to Politico to Fox News online. The story involves Senator Bob Casey of Pennsylvania. On Wednesday of last week, May 3rd, the honorable Senator let out a flurry of posts on Twitter aimed at the White House in regards to an immigration case that apparently has been ongoing since December of 2015.

The Pennsylvania Gazette provides a good description of the plight of a mother and her son attempting to escape possible death at the hands of Honduran gangs. The article states that the mother and child had been picked up shortly after crossing the US border illegally and were sent to be detained at an immigration detainment center in Berks County in Pennsylvania. Then, over the next 17 months an apparent legal battle ensued to determine whether or not these two would be granted asylum. The article and every other article based on this case mentions that the mother and son had been targeted by Honduran gangs after the mother had witnessed a murder according to NPR.

NPR, the Pennsylvania Gazette, Fox News online, and Politico all mention that the legal appeals on behalf of the mother had all been exhausted. What I feel is important is to note that the deportation of the two came as Senator Casey live tweeted his attempt to get Homeland Security, White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, and the POTUS himself Donald Trump to intervene on behalf of the young child and his mother. For as the two were being out on a plane to Honduras by Immigration Customs and Enforcement agents, direct or with layovers no one is sure, lawyers were advocating for the boy under the Special Immigrants Juvenile Status as outlined by US Customs and Immigration Services.

If you do not want to read the text at the site or at the American Immigration Council’s site, it boils down that the mother had run out of options, the boy had not. Yet they were still deported. As of right now I do not know their fate, I hope for the best. Why the article if it has been covered by all of these news outlets. To advocate for sensible immigration reform. Our lawmakers in Congress have kicked around Immigration Reform for decades. From the Hart-Celler Act of 1965 which retired the national origin quota system, to the 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act which increased the crack down on those who employ immigrants in the US unlawfully, to the immigration reform of the 1990’s which increased immigration ceilings and created new categories of immigrants. Most of this increased the difficulty of coming to the US to work if you are an unskilled laborer. Because those who come to work seasonally on farms are a threat to American Jobs.

As an American who was, at one point, a young teenager. I worked in a cannery as a teen. I worked along several Latino men and women. We all worked, yet there seems to be a lack of illegal immigrants in white collar positions (my personal observations). Many do work in the restaurant business and have contributed to communities in very positive ways as with the case of Roberto Beristain. All tend to have valuable contributions to the economy. Our fruit and vegetable businesses are able to keep cost low because of low-cost labor, immigrants (illegal and legal) like Mr. Beristain provide for us cultural delights that we all enjoy. (Your local, small business burrito shack/truck would not exist without said immigrants. And I DARE you to say that food is not delicious) They purchase American goods, create diverse communities which integrate good ideas and people into them, and participate in the corporate economy in ways we cannot even fully describe.

Yes there are criminal immigrants. Those who engage in illegal drug trafficking, human trafficking, and other types of criminal behaviors. Those do exist, I do not deny that. And they must be dealt with appropriately, I do not know how. But I feel that some sort of threshold has to be reached where we admit that we need the low-cost, unskilled (yet skilled [have you ever worked on a farm] in many ways) laborers for very specific reasons. We must advocate to our Senators and Representatives to produce legislation that recognizes this and allows for the legal transit of these workers to those who require their labor.

For as the Statue of Liberty so eloquently states:

“Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
MOTHER OF EXILES. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.

“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

So I ask you, no I beseech you, if the tale of a mother and 5 year old sent to the possibility of violence moves you. If it makes you wonder what does it take for a person to be accepted as an immigrant in need of shelter, if it makes you pause and think about the possibility of other deportations of similar people under this new presidency which seems to advocate increased action by our US ICE offices regardless of the situation or standing of said possible immigrants, or if you just sit and worry slightly at the plight of others and sympathize with those caught up in violent situations who have been made part of the huddled masses cast out of the nation which has offered up its shores before. Advocate for sensible immigration reform to your Senators and Representatives. Offer ideas and suggestions. Perhaps one of you will come up with the idea that in some way allows a 5 year old boy to continue to live in a place where he and his mother will be safe, safe from gangs who commit violent crimes against those who inadvertently witness their violent actions. Become involved, speak out, and resist the actions of our government which threatens to turn us into a nation of unfeeling, elitists who do not remember that all of us, except the member of Native American tribes, come from immigrants.

Please leave any comments or suggestions.