The Truth Shall Set You Free…It might piss you off first, but it will set you free.

Magic Monkey Mix

Posted by politicalmonkey2010 on January 4, 2012

Okay, it’s not my invention, it is my mother in laws….it starts out like this:

What’s in there?  What isn’t?  What I could identify ..ginger, bay leaves, peppercorns, capers, red peppers, mustard seed, dried cilantro, cumin, cloves, anise, cinnamon  and about 100 other spices that I can’t identify…including those twig things.

Grind it all up and it looks like this:

When you grind it up, the entire house gets this heady, exotic aroma floating thru it…a mixture of a “Christmas” aroma and that certain something that you just can’t  identify.  I love going to Khan Khalili and walking thru the spice market….amazing experience, your senses are just assaulted.  Each shop has their own version of mama’s magic spice mix.

Use:  chicken and beef as a rub…and excellent when used in mashi – stuffed grape leaves, or cabbage, or bell peppers or squash..you see where I am going with this?  If it can be hollowed out or rolled and stuffed with rice, it is mashi!




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Cookin’ with the Munky: Lentil Salad – A Meal in Itself

Posted by politicalmonkey2010 on January 4, 2012

  A Tribute to the Bean

Beans! Beans! Beans! You’re just full of beans!  Time to spill the beans! “It doesn’t take much to see that the problems of three little people doesn’t add up to a hill of beans in this crazy world. Someday you’ll understand that. Now, now… Here’s looking at you kid.” “Take thou also unto thee wheat, and barley, and beans, and lentiles, and millet, and fitches, and put them in one vessel, and make thee bread thereof, according to the number of the days that thou shalt lie upon thy side, three hundred and ninety days shalt thou eat thereof.”

Ok..you see where I am going here.  Now let’s get down to business..first a disclaimer:   unless it is a baking recipe, baking is more science than anything so I do give exact measurements,  for most other recipes I won’t..it is a matter of taste.  I used to get frustrated when I would watch my mom cook and ask her exactly how much is that mom?  She would say..Munky just do it to taste, I would complain, Mom I don’t have any taste, my taste is YOUR taste.  I got over that idea, and so will you.  We will begin this recipe in the spirit of the great Julia Childs…“This is my invariable advice to people: Learn how to cook- try new recipes, learn from your mistakes, be fearless, and above all have fun!”


Brown Lentils Dry – wash and soak them over night, they will swell.  Rinse well, and pour into a big pot of boiling salted water.  Depending on the lentil itself this may take 20 to 30 minutes, periodically check make sure it does not boil dry and to see if it is done.  Do not over cook, you do not want mush, you want a completely cooked the bean, these are not big beans by the way, not like pinto beans for example, they are much smaller, thinner.  When cooked, drain the water off, rinse again and let it sit in a strainer for a bit to get rid of excess water.  If you discover that you have cooked way too many beans, once the water has drained, simply put into a freezer bag and tuck into your freezer for a future salad in minutes.  If you do not drain off the excess water and freeze them, you will end up with a block of ice and icky mushy beans later.

Fresh cilantro chopped – this is a pungent herb so don’t over do it, unless you really like cilantro then knock yourself out.

Fresh parsley chopped – be generous, and besides that it’s good for you.  Did you know parsley is a natural diuretic?

Green Onion chopped – use the green chive like parts and the actual onion – waste not want not.

Diced tomatoes.

Ground Cumin to taste.  Cumin is a wonderful spice..there is evidence of cumin seeds 2,000 BC.  Depending on the grade of spice start out sparingly, you can always add more, but you can’t take it away.

And of course if you hate onions, well then don’t add them..or if you hate cilantro, don’t use it..this is optional cooking, not mandatory.

Combine everything together…and then add the secret ingredient..

Munky’s Magical Elixir

Step 1.

Crushed Garlic – be brave, be bold, there is no such thing as too much garlic in the Munky’s world.  It is a natural antibiotic, and a blood thinner.  It is by the way a true character flaw if you do not like garlic.  There is no hope for you to lead a truly inspired culinary life if you banish garlic from your cooking.

For the sake of argument let’s say 2 Tablespoons, which you are going to then add a heaping teaspoon of salt, mix it all together.   Your eyes should be watering now if you are doing it right.

Step 2.

Fresh squeezed lemon – you can probably use that stuff from a plastic lemon, but I prefer not to know about it ok?

Extra Virgin Olive Oil (yes you could use some other vegetable oil and I really don’t want to know about that at all)  I cannot tell you how much of a difference olive oil makes, not only in the flavour, but also for your health.

The ratio is approximately 1 part lemon juice to 1.25 to 1.5 parts of olive oil.

Add the garlic salt mixture from step one and shake it all up to combine.

Pour over the lentil salad mixture…and gently mix it all up..and taste..you may need more salt, you may need more lemon?

I love serving this over a bed of greens, anything will work, different lettuces,  arugula, spinach..whatever you want..


This salad seems to get better the longer it sits, and will stay perky in the frig for a few days..if you don’t eat it all on the first day.  Of course lettuce does not store well once it is dressed…so don’t try that one.

Bon Appetite!



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Cooking with the Munky Breakfast for a Month – Egyptian Wheat Porridge (Beleela)

Posted by politicalmonkey2010 on October 16, 2011

Mama used to say breakfast was the most important meal of the day…and she was/is right! This afternoon I made breakfast for the month.

Studies have study has shown a link between nutrition and cognitive development in children.   Children who participated in the School Breakfast Program were shown to have significantly higher standardized achievement test scores than eligible non-participants.  (Of course keep electing those people from the Tea Party and GOP and we won’t have Breakfast Programs for children…but I digress).  For those of us who are not children Researchers from the National Weight Control Registry, a database of more than 3,000 people who have lost at least 60 pounds and kept it off for an average of 6 years, found that eating breakfast every day was a weight control strategy for 78% of the people in the registry. People who kept off weight long-term also reported eating a low-fat diet and exercising for an hour or more each day.

Overnight the body’s motor slows down so you can sleep. Breakfast gets it going again. By not eating breakfast, you run your motor on empty, because you haven’t switched on the motor correctly. The body trying to conserve the energy it has – and as far as the body knows, it is entering starvation mode, and needs to conserve all the spare energy it has in store. It doesn’t have the mechanism to understand that you chose to start your engines without topping up the fuel tank. By not eating breakfast regularly, the reduction in metabolism can cause an increase of 3kg / year.

I am also a believer in Dr. Oz’s idea if what you are eating doesn’t look like it did in nature then don’t eat it. (Of course there are exceptions…like cheesecake for example, cupcakes, snicker’s bars – do you see where I am going with this?)

Wheat looks like this:

Not like this:

Long before Kellogg’s Cereals  and others perverted wheat it used to be good for us.  The body needs carbohydrates.  The body also needs fiber.  Wheat is perfect.

Munky’s Wheaty Breakfast

Ingredients:  Wheat – that’s it, just wheat.  Here is the tricky part for those of you in the US, I don’t know if I have ever seen just wheat kernals sold in the store.  I imagine some place like Whole Foods would have it.  In Egypt you can buy just wheat, not processed at all, or you can buy Beleela which the outshell is removed.  Either wheat is perfectly acceptable for breakfast.   If the out hull is removed it has a creamier texture when cooked, it comes down to a personal preference.

Method:  Rinse the wheat removing any little stones etc and soak over night, the wheat will swell in size.  Rinse again until the water runs clear, cover the wheat with water  and boil until the kernels are tender.  Do NOT let it boil dry.  Depending on the type of wheat, with or without the out shell/hull it will take any where from 45 minutes to an hour or more.  Periodically pull out a kernel and taste it, it should be soft, not mushy, but soft, cooked.  When cooked pour the wheat thru a strainer to and rinse with water.  Give it 15 or 20 minutes to sit in the strainer so all the water is drained off, this way when you freeze them they are not one solid ice block.  Put in freezer bags and toss into the freezer.  I pull one out a week, let it thaw over night in the refrigerator ( or if you forget and are in a hurry you can just run water over them in a strainer and in about 2 minutes you have cereal)

Dressing Up Your Wheat

I’m all for natural wholesome food, but I need a little zip too!

In the mood for something warm on a brisk morning?  Heat up your beleela with milk.  (By the way if you have never had or don’t remember the last time you had milk from a real live cow and not from the plastic bottles in the grocery store, you don’t know what milk is…)

My favorite?  A big dollop of yogurt, preferably the thick Greek style yogurt, you can add honey or sugar to sweeten it.  Cut up an apple and banana, or drop in a handful of berries, cherries…it’s up to you.

Beleela with cherries and yogurt

Warning – if you are not used to alot of fiber in  your diet this is a 5 out of 5 rating 

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Herman Cain Should Stick to Selling Pizza for 9-9-9

Posted by politicalmonkey2010 on October 12, 2011

999 it’s catchy, it’s easy to remember and it just begs for the next line that says “but WAIT there’s more, for 999  you also get …”   I realize the political field is a dynamic place, always changing, reinventing itself,  but with each passing day it becomes more and more like a carnival complete with freak shows, and hustles.  This week it is Herman Cain’s time to shine on the board walk.  Step on up ladies and gentlemen and let’s see what Zoltar  Herman Cain has to offer with his magical 999 elixir, sure to cure the economy and tired listless people. Uh, huh.

Looking at Cain’s plan is like a trip to the fun house complete with the mirrors that distort the true image.   But first let’s look at who designed the plan.  Numerous times Mr. Cain has been asked about his economic advisors, so far only one name has been mentioned.  He assures us that he has had his economic advisors he won’t compromise their confidentiality, except for one:  Rich Lowrie, who by the way is NOT an economist. He is however,  a wealth manager for a division of Wells Fargo and according to his LinkedIn page holds an accountancy degree from Case Western Reserve University.  Lowrie also spent three years on the advisory board of the conservative third-party group Americans For Prosperity.  Are you starting to feel uncomfortable  yet?

So let’s look at the nuts and bolts of this simple plan:   9 percent flat tax on household income, a 9 percent corporate tax, and a 9 percent national sales tax. There are no deductions except for charity.  Seems straight forward doesn’t it?

What about the Value Added Tax (VAT)?  Eventually under Cain’s 999 plan income tax would be eliminated and replaced with sales tax – called ironically Fair Tax by Cain fans, to the rest of the world it is call VAT.  This did not come up in the debate last night for good reason.   Let’s take a brief look at VAT in Europe.  When imposed in 1967, Denmark’s VAT was 10 percent; it is now 25 percent, in addition to a top income tax rate of over 50 percent.   In 1968, Germany levied a 10 percent VAT.  Germans are more fortunate; their VAT has risen “only” to 19 percent, and their highest income tax rate is “only” 45 percent.  The notion that a country can impose a small  single-digit sales tax is not supported by other countries’ experience.  In many countries the VAT is the largest source of revenue.

Cain likes to claim his plan is revenue neutral.  That’s not exactly true.  An analysis by Bloomberg last week found that Cain’s plan would actually have brought in $200 billion less in 2010 than the current tax system — $2 trillion instead of $2.2 trillion.  In short, it would take a 25% VAT tax to maintain current revenue levels.  That’s a 16% margin of error.  Are you getting uncomfortable yet?  Tax policy experts go on to say it is  unrealistic in part because it operates on the assumption that voters and lawmakers would be willing to fully phase out even enormously popular deductions and exemptions.   Under Cain’s plan everything would be subject to the 9%  sales tax – food, housing,  clothing – no exceptions.   We are already suffering from reduced consumption, additional taxes would curtail consumption even further, not to mention the anger from the public.  It also opens up a whole new market for under the table transactions, pay me in cash and you get in essence a 9% discount.  If memory serves this country started its revolution over excessive taxes.

One of the many cries of the Tea Party is state’s rights.  We hearing that with health care reform aren’t we?  Cain’s plan also impacts states’ sales tax collections.  States depend on sales tax revenues. Adding a 9 percent sales tax on top of a state sales tax would reduce states’ freedom to use sales taxes because it would reduce revenue.

How would Cain’s 999 effect the vast majority of Americans?

CAPD: Cain’s Tax Plan Would Increase Taxes Paid by Lower-Income Americans

However, Michael Linden, the Center for American Progress’ Director of Tax and Budget Policy, told Think Progress that because the bottom quintile of earners currently only pay about 2 percent of their income in federal taxes, under Cain’s plan they would be paying considerably more. Specifically, he said with the 9 percent tax on every dollar they make, as well as every dollar spent, the poorest Americans would pay a whopping 18 percent of their income in taxes.

Comparatively, Linden said middle-class earners would see their taxes rise from 14 percent to about 18 percent, while the richest one percent of Americans would see their tax rate fall from about 28 percent to 11 percent under the 9-9-9 plan.

“It would be the biggest tax shift from the wealthy to the middle-class in the history of taxation, ever, anywhere, and it would bankrupt the country,” Michael Ettlinger, the vice president for economic policy at the Center for American Progress, told The Wall Street Journal.

While Cain has touted his plan as the solution to the nation’s economic struggles, Linden’s analysis found that, based on 2007 tax data, it would actually result in the largest budget deficits since World War II. If applied that year, the 9-9-9 plan would have yielded just under $1.3 trillion in total federal tax revenue — 9.2 percent of the GDP — compared to 18.5 percent of GDP in tax revenue that was actually collected that year.

Cain’s plan to tax food is so surprising that even the Tea Party group FreedomWorks assumed certain vital goods, such as food and medicine, would be exempt from the 9 percent national sales tax.

“If you’re one of the minority of people — the top 10% of the population — who pay 70% of the income tax revenues, you might see the change as a good deal.But if you’re lower down the income scale, and especially if you’re one of the 50% of Americans who don’t pay any income taxes, then you might not see it as such a good trade,” FreedomWorks’ Web site states in an Oct 6. blog post titled “Herman Cain’s “999 Plan”: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.


What we have in Herman Cain is a carnival barker appealing to the Tea Party with simplicity.   Even conservative economist are calling Cain’s plan a non starter.  This is one of the most fundamental problems with the Tea Party mentality is the inability to engage in critical thinking, and Mr. Cain has fully taken advantage of the sheeple.  Welcome to the carnival, step right this way folks and see the unbelievable…

























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Egypt – What Happened?! Symptomatic of the World

Posted by politicalmonkey2010 on October 11, 2011

We have all watched in horror and dismay the events in Cairo the past two days as the Coptic Christians clashed with security forces on the street leaving at least 25 dead, and over 330 injured.  As this country takes it steps towards democracy, the birthing pains are being felt on the street.  I do not think it is adding sensationalism to say that the world is in a state of flux, we see it on the national level, and right down to the small micro-systems we each operate in.  Egypt is no different, this is a complicated country, multi layered social fabric, and in the middle of  re-inventing itself.  I do not have any answers as to what happened, but it is important that all the components be factored into the events in Egypt and the larger ramifications.

The Media

If you want to look to the local media for the story and you want facts good luck.  The media for the past 30 years had been controlled tightly by the Mubarak regime.  During the revolution I remember watching Nile News, there were literally 1,000’s of people outside their studio and they were talking about the Valley of the Kings and tourism.  With the toppling of Mubarak a new door was opened – journalism, or at least the idea of reporting a different narrative than what the state wanted to provide.  The only problem is the idea of fact checking, canons of journalism, ethics and responsibility in reporting haven’t quite caught on – sensationalism, and promoting a specific agenda are alive and well.   This is no different than what we have in the US – i.e. Fox News where thinly disguised “opinions” are presented as facts.  There is a mentality that we have been conditioned to that says – if I saw it on TV it MUST be true.  This mentality has also moved over to social media, it was tweeted out so it must be true.  We have seen the emergence of more talking “heads” in cyberspace with their own internet radio talk shows – catering to a specific audience, cherry picking information and packaging it all very neatly for the consumer.  It is not different in Egypt.  News consumers world wide are facing the same problems with accuracy of information – news must be viewed in the same light as if you were buying a car, you have to contrast and compare, and you have to be brave enough when the facts show, no matter how much you want to believe “XYZ” they are wrong.

Social Media

As we watched the Arab Spring unfolding on social media, specifically on Twitter the world had the benefit of living in real time with people in Tahrir Square.  The peaceful protests over threw a dictator in 18 days, the world rejoiced.  From Twitter also sprang a new form of mico-celebrities.  Some rightly earned, some rightly earned and then started to believe their own press, and simply could not give up the limelight.  Egyptians knew the world was watching, they had a unified message, they carried it thru flawlessly.  Without a doubt the news media  was a part of the success of the revolution.  News organizations such as CNN and BBC provided coverage 24/7, interviewed tweeters from the square – they say fame is addicting and for some tweeting Egyptians it became a way of life.  The continual occupying of Tahrir Square moved from being a revolution to being an impediment to moving forward, because if Egypt moved forward and no protests were happening, their claim to fame was also over.

The Military and Security Forces

During the revolution when the tanks rolled into the city I literally sank to my knees in fear and terror.  The military acted with honor, not once did they open fire on the crowds in Tahrir Square.  When the tanks rolled into my neighbourhood, they were greeted like heroes.  The chants the people and the army are one reverberated throughout the country.  One of the complaints you hear from the youth of the Revolution is that the army is moving too slowly, that they want to retain power.  I do not believe that for one minute.  The military wants to go back to doing what a military force does, protecting the country, not running the country on a daily basis.  I think they are very eager to  give control to the civilian sect, and they are taking their responsibility during this transition very seriously.  Nobody wants to see the need for another revolution in a year.  They are proceeding with caution.

They have handled the protesters with kid gloves, they have acquiesced to demands, these are not the actions of people who want to retain power.  When the security forces disappeared during the revolution the people took over protecting their own neighbourhoods.  Security forces still are not back in mass, there is a security void being filled by the military.  People want to live in a safe place, basic need any where in the world, Egypt is no exception.  There is an overwhelming large silent majority that fully support the military.  They are going to have to find their voices – because what the media is covering are the “squeaky wheels”.

I, like everybody else watched in horror as the tanks went through the crowds two days ago, as hard as the images were to watch there are two things that stand out.  First, if the   military wanted to open fire they could have very easily wiped out all the protesters.  Second, the tanks were being used to disperse the crowd, you can see in the videos the driver slowing down, if he had wanted to crush them all he would not have slowed down.  Does that sound harsh?  Do I think it was handled right?  No, and the Egyptian government doesn’t think it was handled right either.  You cannot “un-ring” that bell.

Christian VS. Muslim?  or Divide and Conquer Extremism

For over 1,400 years Coptic Christians and Muslims have lived side by side.  Like any neighbours, problems have arisen.  This is not a unique occurrence.   Catholics VS. Protestants in Ireland.  Ultra Orthodox Jews VS. Reformed Jews in Israel.

One of the easiest ways to divide a society is through religion.   When anybody adds God into the equation you are lighting a match at a gas station.  The battle cry of “God is on our side” should send shivers down everybody’s spine.  The real question is.. are you on God’s side?  The most volatile, emotional wedge is one of religion.  It ignites passion.  We see this in the US don’t we?  In the last few days we have heard Dr. Robert Jeffress, a Dallas pastor and leader of the Southern Baptist Convention say  he believes Mormonism — along with Islam, Hinduism and Buddhism — are “false religions.”

Having lived in this country I can tell you what I see, I see Christians and Muslims living side by side as neighbours, I see them in business together.  I see them supporting one and other on their own spiritual journeys.  During Ramadan when Muslims are fasting I see Christians very much aware that they are fasting and they are very careful not to smoke and eat in front of them.  Conversely, I see Muslims returning the respect when Coptics fast.  I see them giving one and other greetings of peace.   I see them offering one and other holiday greetings.   I saw Christians during the revolution forming a human shield around praying Muslims, pouring the water for them to perform their ablutions.   I saw Muslims lifting a priest upon their shoulders and chanting, the Cross and the Crescent are one.

Every Egyptian male (with few exceptions) are required to enlist in the military.  That means both Muslims and Christians are serving in the military.  There is no special uniform that says I am a Muslim or Christian in the Egyptian army, they are brothers.  They are one.

In my own household, I as a Catholic, married to a practising Muslim we observe and support one and other on our spiritual path, for one very simple reason – the goal and the God are the same.   I participate in Ramadan and Eid, he participates in Easter and Christmas.  It isn’t a matter of “converting”  or who is “right”, it is a matter of love,  the greatest commandment  Matthew 22:36-40

36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”

37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

This will upset right wing nut jobs to learn that in Islam there is an obligation to protect and non Muslim.  It is not a recommendation it is an obligation, no negotiating.

We too in the US are actively experiencing the effects of extremism, it has reared it’s head in politics and religion.  The result has been nothing short of disastrous.  People standing behind all or nothing mentalities caused the downgrade of US debt,  to get this Congress to enact a law for the benefit of the people has not happened for almost 3 years, and I wouldn’t hold my breath for the remaining term.  The Tea Party has held the country hostage, and now we have the emergence of the Occupy Wall Street.  Of course the Tea Party doesn’t like to be compared to them..but here’s the truth, Occupy Wall Street is a direct result of the push from the right, they are the left’s extremist. Religious groups like Westboro Baptist and Mr. Jeffress shoving their beliefs down our throats.  Koran burning pastors seeking the limelight.  There is an “attack on God and faith” in the US and it is coming from ignorant extremist, fundamentalist, self appointed saviours of our collective souls.  God must certainly weep as he looks down upon us.

Who Benefits from Division?

The real question is who would benefit from a civil war in Egypt?  There are a million conspiracy theories out there, and I don’t have enough time to cover them.  I will however, address what I feel is the most likely guilty party – and that would be left overs from the old Mubarak regime.

We have seen this hand at play before, during the revolution the bizarre “camel attack” was orchestrated by a member of Parliament.. the trial is literally ongoing as of this blog posting.  There is an ongoing investigation into the New Year’s Eve bombing of a Church in Alexandria, where it is being alleged that it was coordinated by the former Interior Minister Habib Adly.  Again, another on going investigation/trial.  The creation of chaos with prisoners being freed during the revolution, the police disappearing, another orchestrated event by Habib Adly.  Unleashing chaos is a way to keep people in fear, to keep people from moving forward, to make them long for the days of the safety of the tyrant and regime.   Is it a coincidence that this occurred as Egypt announced the date of elections? and there is a law being considered to prohibit members of the former ruling National Democratic Party from holding elected office.

When politic office is your career,  there is a huge danger that it is not about public service.  Walk down the prison halls of Tora prison outside of Cairo Egypt and you can literally start a government.  Presidents, members of Parliament, ministers of departments have all taken up residence on charges ranging from graft to murder.  If you have earned your living through raping the country’s treasury for your personal enrichment, it is hard to replace that kind of job and lifestyle.  These people stand a great deal to lose as Egypt goes forward.

I cannot help but draw comparisons to US politicians, how many have benefited from political action committees, contributions?  Left political office in order to become a lobbyist?  We in the US are not that far removed from an Egyptian situation.

What Triggered It? and Who is Responsible?

Again, if you are looking to the local media to give you the full story I am sorry to say you won’t find it.  This is what I know – take it with a grain of salt:

In order to build a church or a mosque, you must get permission.   (By the way Al Azhar is asking for the law to be applied, which I believe is on the books that says you can building a church or a mosque according to population, i.e. if you are predominantly a Christian neighbourhood then you should logically have more churches than mosques.(

There was a structure, it was not originally part of a church, it was a hall of sorts that was used for weddings, engagements etc.  According to the governor in Aswan, there was never a permit issued to build a church or any religious institution on that spot.  Some type of permit must have been issued as the hall was expanded, and evidently expanded beyond what the permit allowed for, as a result, it was demolished.  This was the trigger.  Other sources say it was a church to begin with.  Other sources says, it was torched by Salafi’s.  I don’t know what happened, and I am not sure we ever will.  In some ways it doesn’t matter why it happened, it did.  It illustrates what happens when government is in control of religion.  This should be a huge warning to Americans as we watch the “Christian” extremist trying promoting their belief system into our laws.

The march to Maperiro was a protest by the Coptic Christians saying they were not being treated fairly.  Then something went terribly wrong.  Some say plain clothes people in the crowd opened fire on the military forces, the Church says the group was infiltrated, but by whom?  The investigation is on going.

Who is responsible ultimately?  Everybody.  Nobody is innocent in this tragedy.  And it is time that everybody owned it.  The country has been engulfed in a protest fever…if you don’t like something then protest!  One of the things that caught my eye during this protest march were the signs in English “Quit Killing Christians”.  Why in English?  Egyptians speak Arabic.  Who was the audience they were appealing to?  That makes me uncomfortable.  If  I were in protesting in the US would I write a sign in Arabic?  Probably not.

How Egyptians take this revolution forward, take it from off the streets to practical application is being challenged.  Elections must go forward. Things in my neighbourhood remained calm.  People were shocked and surprised.  Everybody seemed to know that this was a danger  from the beginning- a division caused by sectarian violence.  They were determined that Egypt would not fall into this trap…and yet it happened.   It has become fashionable and almost expected to protest since the revolution.  Everybody has done it, teachers, doctors, drivers, and now religious sects.  It begs the question, for over 30 years you have been living with a boot on your neck and you choose now during a critical transition period which needs each and every Egyptian speaking with one voice – and  you choose now to protest?

How to Move Forward

I don’t know, I don’t have a magic wand, we can’t turn back time, but we have to move forward.

As my husband and I watched it all unfold, tears came to our eyes.  It was all so very, very wrong.  We also knew we could not change the country by ourselves, but we could set an example.  We went together to a  Mass at a Coptic Church – a Muslim and a Catholic, an Egyptian and an American…then I put on a scarf and I went to evening prayers at my neighbourhood mosque.  We are one.

I believe deep in my heart the Egyptian people will come out of this stronger, more united, democracy will bloom.  There will be more challenges, but at the end of the day, nobody will have died in vain, no blood will have been shed for naught.


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Occupy Wall Street – Beware GOP the American Autumn is Rising

Posted by politicalmonkey2010 on October 8, 2011

Why is it when the “left” protests they are called a mob, but when the Tea Party protests they are called Patriots?  I was appalled to hear Eric Cantor the House majority leader and a Republican from Virginia, told a gathering of conservative activists in Washington that he’s “increasingly concerned” by the “growing mobs” at the protests, which have spread to Los Angeles, Boston, Washington D.C., and other cities after starting several weeks ago on Wall Street.

I am even more surprised that anybody is surprised that this is happening.    The laws of nature insisted this was coming, nature abhors a vacuum, and for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.  While I don’t particularly agree with protesting on Wall Street, nor am I fond of leaderless protests.   I can certainly understand the frustration.  Those “big businesses” aren’t doing anything illegal, they are operating within the law, and that law, that Carte Blanche was given to them by Congress.  Congress has provided them with a very comfortable environment which literally brought the world to the edge of financial ruin, and it still isn’t over.  With unemployment remaining high, job creation marginal at best,  and no end in sight in the near future it was bound to happen.

Eating dinner tonight we were talking about the Arab Spring – which is still a work in progress  and could not help but draw parallels to conditions in the US.

  • Unemployment is high in all the countries of the Arab Spring – in particular the youth are unemployed.   There is nothing more dangerous than educated, unemployed youth who are not given an opportunity.  They have alot of time, alot of hope, and more determination than Mr. Cantor can imagine.
  • When people do not see government responding to their basic needs they have nothing to lose.  In the US the gridlock that is Congress has nearly shutdown government, caused US debt to be downgraded, threatened to cut off vital services like FEMA during a natural disaster, and now a jobs bill sits before them and is threatening to be a non-starter.  This is like smoking at the gas station…just waiting for that live ash to hit the puddle next to the pump.
  • As this movement continues the demographics are beginning to shift..what started out as youth is now morphing into a huge cross section of Americans.  As the Christian Science Monitor has reported the middle aged and “elderly” are coming out in mass.  Just like in Cairo…the need for change, the need to be heard was the binding issue for each and every protester in Tahrir Square.  It wasn’t religion, it wasn’t age, it wasn’t education.

Is this class warfare?  Label it any way you want, the fact of the matter is the American public is fed up.  I don’t believe that the people involved in Occupy Wall Street loathe business, or are all communist or socialist as the right would like to paint them.  They are frustrated by a Congress who is deaf.  Nobody is asking for big business to cut them a check and take care of them from cradle to grave.  Human beings are happiest when they are self sufficient, they want a job.  They want an opportunity.  That is going to take a level playing field.  The pendulum has swung so far right at times I think our national anthem should be “I Sold My Soul to the Company Store.”  The working class, or as it is now the non-working class have paid the price literally for decades of deregulation and business “friendly” policies.   The middle used to be the sweet spot, but thanks to groups like the Tea Party, that is no longer an option.  The push back has finally started.

The other startling and stark difference between this grass roots movement and the Tea Party is the underlying spiritual message.  Note, I did not say religious, I said spiritual.   There is a paradigm shift of huge magnitude at play.  Words like compassion, justice, equity are prevalent, look at the signs…

Signs from Occupy Wall Street

Compassion is Revolutionary


I can’t help but contrast these signs to a Tea Party signs..



Tea Party Mentality

Perhaps even more disturbing that looking at a sign threatening to brings arms is listening to the chatter on Twitter and watching “Tea Party Patriots” spewing rhetoric about taking up arms and swapping pictures of their various weapons.

Mr. Cantor you and the GOP should be very concerned about the peaceful “mob” because sooner or later they are going to discover Congress is at the root of  95% of America’s problem.  I have been privileged to witness how a peaceful “mob” ousted a tyrant and dictator of 30 years in 18 days.  Mohamed Bouazizi, the vegetable seller who lit himself on fire in Tunisia because he could not earn his meagre living due to  government corruption and ineffectiveness triggered a tsunami.  That tsunami came to Egypt, Libya, Bahrain, Syria, Yemen..even touched Saudi and Israel has now washed up on the shores of America and I think it is going to hit Congress…hard..very hard.

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Cookin’ with the Munky! Never Fail Yellow Cake

Posted by politicalmonkey2010 on September 27, 2011

Domestic God-dess Munky Style

Introducing Cookin’ with the Munky …a side of the munky not usually revealed on the blog….but that’s what life is all about right…finding out things you never knew…

This one goes out to my twitter buddy  @manyko2 … in his honor we will call it

Manyko2 Cake

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 25 minutes

Total Time: 40 minutes

Yield: Two 9-inch Cake Rounds


  • 2 cups of flour *
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened **
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 large eggs, room temperature (this is VITAL)
  • 2 teaspoons of vanilla
  • 3/4 cup milk **

(Variations – add lemon or orange zest)

*From each cup of flour remove 2 tablespoons of flour, you will remove a total of 4 tablespoons of flour.  Then add 4 tablespoons of cornstarch.

**Use real butter and full fat milk, you can if you must use margarine and low fat milk, but I don’t know to know about it ok?


Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour 2 9-inch cake pans.

In bowl, combine flour, baking powder, and salt with a wire whisk.

Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs, one at a time. Add vanilla and mix until completely combines. Slowly add flour alternately with milk. At end of addition batter should be smooth. Divide between 2 pans.

Bake Yellow Cake Recipe for 20 to 25 minutes. Cool 5 minutes in pan, then invert onto a rack and cool completely before frosting.

For a 9 x 13 pan – Baked at 350 degrees F. for 30 to 38 minutes


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Twitter Battles

Posted by politicalmonkey2010 on September 24, 2011

I’ve taken a few days off from cyberspace to reflect…

They say the political battle for 2012 is going to be fought in cyberspace and twitter, we have already seen the impact of the age of information and instant communication.  We have watched the Arab Spring unfold before our very eyes starting with a vegetable vendor in Tunisia lighting himself on fire out of frustration.  The world sat transfixed for 18 days and watched the now world famous Tahrir Square Revolution, and the demise of a tyrant.  Bahrain a tiny country still struggles, they have not given up.  Libyan freedom fighters with the help of NATO are taking back their country.  In Syria, a vicious battle rages, we rely on You Tube Videos and tweets to tell the story since no journalist are allowed.  Finally we watched as the Palestinians took their hopes for dignity, freedom and justice to the UN and asked for statehood.  We also watched Pres. Obama threaten a veto, and did nothing short of wrapping himself in the Israeli flag and dance the Hora.   The US threatened countries who supported the Palestinian bid with cutting off funds, as well as the Palestinians themselves.

What happened to the Barack Obama who was in Cairo a few years ago encouraging the Arabs to embrace democracy, self determination?  He was playing to the the domestic market, he was playing to AIPAC, he was playing to the powerful Jewish lobby and the mis-information that the right has sent out – claiming that Barack Obama didn’t support Israel.  Which was far from the truth.   Winston Churchill said “A lie gets half way around the world before the truth has a chance to put its pants on.”  We’ve seen that with the birther issue.

In the midst of the Arab Spring, the Arab Awakening and the shifting sands of diplomacy and power in the middle east, Barack Obama has chosen to be on the wrong side of history.

One of the dangers in not blindly supporting Israel is one is automatically labelled as anti – Semitic.  The truth is the narrative that most of us have heard regarding the Palestinian issue has largely been framed by the Israelis – with a background always touching the holocaust. In no way do I deny the Holocaust, we as human beings cannot forget the horrors that occurred.   We cannot remain silent when we see ethnic cleansing going on…and that includes when the victim becomes the victimizer.  The situation in the occupied Palestinian territories is at a tipping point.   Nothing short of a slow holocaust has been occurring.   It is no longer a back story in a newspaper as it was 10 years ago, the new information age has made sure we see it all.   9/11 brought the middle east to the forefront.  There is no excuse for us as Americans not to be educated on the entire issues, from the beginning, and here’s a surprise, that is before  1948.

I am absolutely disgusted with Pres. Obama on this issue, when I voted for him I was voting for a change, not the same Bush policies towards the Palestinian issue that did nothing but cause the US to lose credibility in the middle east.  We were making significant headway in restarting our relationships in the middle east until  now…we have just lose the battle at the most crucial time.

Does that mean I don’t support Pres. Obama for re-election?  No.  I support him for re-election, because the alternative is unthinkable.

When I watch a Tea Party audience cheer at an uninsured man dying, in no way can I support that type of mentality.

When I watch a Tea Party audience boo a gay soldier serving his country, and not one Presidential candidate called them on it at the time…in no way can I support that type of mentality.

When I listen to people like Michele Bachmann hype lies on cervical cancer vacines, in no way can I support that type of mentality.

The list goes on..I will support Barack Obama for re-election,  he is the lesser of two evils.  The other evil is so vile and vicious, the founding father’s must surely be turning in their graves.

But what you will hear me tweeting and blogging about more is the Palestinian issue, and it is not anti Semitic to tell the truth.  It is a long complicated history, and there is enough blood on everybody’s hands.  Nobody is innocent,   as one of my favorite people in the twitterverse @ilikewoods in  says in her bio .. I believe the truth is out there, and I am going to spread it like mustard!   That is exactly what I intend to do.  I know I am going to make some people uncomfortable, I know I am going to lose some followers, and I’m ok  with that.  If the truth makes you uncomfortable, then don’t read my blog, don’t follow me on twitter.  If you want to understand, engage in productive dialogue, challenge the  false narrative that has been pounded into you with the truth and facts, then welcome.

Truth is such a rare thing, it is delightful to tell it.  ~Emily Dickinson


Posted in aipac, anti semitic, dirty politics, holocaust, israel, obama, palestinian conflict, twitter, US Politics, World News | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

Egyptian – Israeli – Turkish Dynamics or Shifting Sands

Posted by politicalmonkey2010 on September 10, 2011

Israeli Embassy in Cairo

One of the first things that strikes you when you look at the Israeli Embassy in Cairo is that it is in a residential building.  I remember the first time the embassy was pointed out to me I was somewhat shocked.  I thought about US Embassies, and the level of security surrounding them, and wondered what the people who lived in the building thought about an Embassy being located there, virtually being used as human shields.   I didn’t think much more about it until recently…..

Before I address last night’s rampage on the Israeli Embassy, we need to review history.  I offer a brief snapshot of a very complicated part of the world.  Each of the areas plays a part in the events of the Israeli Embassy in Cairo being  attacked.

Egypt – Israel Peace Agreement

Egypt was the first Arab nation to sign a peace treaty with Israel in 1979.  This bold move cost then President Anwar Sadat his life,  and Egypt was ostracized from the Arab community.  The peace treaty also cost Yitzhak Rabin his life.  Both  men were assassinated by extremist from within their own countries.   The agreement paved the way for the return of Sinai to Egypt.  For over 30 years peace has been maintained, Israelis have often commented that it was a “cold” peace, but peace is peace.

The Gaza Factor

Gaza Strip

The ever evolving borders of  Israel since its inception has led to the Gaza strip being in essence sealed off – between the Mediterranean Sea,  Israeli borders on two sides and an Egyptian border on the other.  The population is about 1.6 million people in an area approximately 140 miles, most of them descendants of refugees.  In March 1979 when the peace treaty was signed between Israel and Egypt, the treaty provided for the withdrawal by Israel of its armed forces and civilians from the Sinai Peninsula, which Israel had captured during the Six-Day War, to the 1906 international border. The Egyptians agreed to keep the Sinai Peninsula demilitarized. The Gaza Strip remained under Israeli military administration until 1994  when under the Oslo Accord a phased transfer of governmental authority to the Palestinians took place.   In February 2005, the Israeli government voted to implement a unilateral disengagement plan from the Gaza Strip. The plan began to be implemented on 15 August 2005, and was completed on 12 September 2005.   You may recall George W. Bush calling for free and fair elections in the middle east, and that is exactly what happened…in a twist of irony the US kicked in the door of democracy and Hamas came to power.  The US wanted democracy, but didn’t like who showed up.   As Israel continued to choke the people of the Gaza Strip by not allowing supplies in, the now  famous Gaza tunnels were a natural outcome.  Everything from food, medicine, livestock and yes, arms runs through the tunnels.

The Gaza War or Operation Cast led was a three-week bombing and invasion of the Gaza Strip by Israel, and hundreds of rocket attacks on south of Israel which started on December 27, 2008 with a surprise air strike from Israel.  Israel’s stated aim was to stop rocket fire into Israel and arms import into the Gaza strip.  Israeli forces attacked police stations and other Hamas government buildings in the opening assault, striking in the densely populated cities of Gaza, Khan Younis and Rafah.   An Israeli ground invasion began on January 3.  Infantry commanders were given an unprecedented level of access to coordinate with air, naval, artillery, intelligence, and combat engineering units during this second phase.  Between 1,166 and 1,417 Palestinian and 13 Israeli deaths, 4 from friendly fire.  In September 2009, a UN special mission, headed by the South African Justice Richard Goldstone, produced a controversial report accusing both Palestinian militants and Israeli Defense Forces of war crimes and possible crimes against humanity, and recommended bringing those responsible to justice.  In January 2010, the Israeli government released a response criticizing the Goldstone Report and disputing its findings.   In 2011, Goldstone wrote that he no longer believed that Israel intentionally targeted civilians in Gaza. The other authors of the report, Hina Jilani, Christine Chinkin and Desmond Travers, rejected Goldstone’s reassessment.

As a side note, with all the promises including, from the US to rebuild Gaza, it hasn’t been done.  Hard to rebuild when Israel won’t allow cement in.

Gaza Humanitarian Aid, Flotillas and Turkey

There have been many humanitarian groups inside Gaza the past 10 years, one of which is the International Solidarity Movement.  A young American woman named Rachel Corrie had taken a year off to travel to Gaza and join the ISM.   She was killed in the Gaza Strip by an Israel Defence Forces (IDF) bulldozer when she was standing or kneeling in front of a local Palestinian’s home,  acting as a human shield, attempting to prevent the IDF from demolishing the home. The IDF stated that the death was due to the restricted angle of view of the IDF Caterpillar bulldozer driver, while ISM eyewitnesses said “there was nothing to obscure the driver’s view.”  Her family has had a wrongful death suit in the Israeli courts, where they have accused the IDF of withholding information.  (Read more about Rachel Corrie and her family at http://rachelcorriefoundation.org )

Part of the humanitarian efforts have also been Freedom Flotillas to Gaza.  Ships including one named after Rachel Corrie have attempted to land in Gaza and offer aid.   The the Mavi Marmara aid ship was bound for Gaza on May 31, 2010, was intercepted in international waters by IDF, 9 people were killed, including a Turkish  American Furkan Dogan, who was shot with four bullets in his head and one in his chest at close range.   The UN has released its findings, which in short say both parties were wrong, Israel had used excessive force, and they had a right to stop the flotilla.  The report of course is being challenged. ( http://english.aljazeera.net/indepth/opinion/2011/09/2011978161147706.html)  Turkey has dismissed the Palmer-Uribe Report because its conclusion about the siege contradicts previous statements and reports by the United Nations, including the Geneva-based U.N. Human Rights Council and statements by the U.N. secretary-general. Furthermore, the Palmer Report, contrary to some claims, is not a legally binding document to be voted on at the U.N. nor is the panel a court that can issue a juridical view on Gaza. But by giving a carte blanche to Israel’s piracy in international waters, it has disregarded international law and undermined the fundamental principles of justice and freedom for all including the Palestinians.   Turkey has asked for an apology from Israel.  Israel has refused.

The Netenyahu government’s refusal to issue a formal apology to Turkey has led to a swift reaction from Turkey. Prime Minister Erdoğan ordered the implementation of five measures against Israel including the lowering of diplomatic relations and freezing of military agreements. “No country is above the law,” said Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu, referring to  the Israeli exceptionalism in regional and global politics.  PM Erdoğan described Israel as acting “like a spoiled child in the face of all U.N. decisions.” The prime minister also said Turkey has no quarrel with the people of Israel and Jews around the world. Refusing to apologize and then claiming to want to repair relations with Turkey, as Mr. Netenyahu said recently, is not only an oxymoron but also self-delusional. As PM Erdoğan has declared on various occasions, Turkish-Israeli relations will not be normalized until and unless Turkey’s three conditions are met. Turkey keeps the door of diplomacy open, but it is up to Israel to pass through it or close it.  Turkey has also announced it will beef up its naval presence in the Mediterranean  – Egypt and Turkey will hold a joint naval maneuver in Turkish territorial waters by the end of the year. Erdogan is scheduled to go to Egypt on Monday.. Erdogan, meanwhile, continued to up the ante, saying in an Al Jazeera interview that Turkish warships were directed to protect Turkish ships bringing humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip, and that from now on “we will not allow our ships to be exposed to Israeli attacks, as was the case with the Mavi Marmara, because if this happens Israel will meet the appropriate response.”

Now let’s go back  to the Rafah Border

On Aug. 18, in violation of the peace treaty, Israeli forces crossed into Egypt in pursuit of  “militants” – ultimately this claimed the lives of five Egyptians.   This is not the first time Egyptians have been killed by Israel.  It happened quite often, and was always given minimal press coverage under Mubarak – as if Egyptian blood was cheap and plentiful.  Things have changed.  Egypt wanted an apology, seems like a reasonable request.   The response?  Israeli Def. Min. Ehud Barak  said in an interview with Israel’s Channel 2 News, Israel’s most widely-watched TV news network … “I didn’t apologize to Egypt, I expressed regret.”    Barak’s exactly statement was:  “Israel deeply regrets the deaths of the Egyptian officers.”  This was not enough for Cairo.  Egypt threatened to pull its ambassador.   Barak noted the importance of the Israel-Egypt peace agreement and expressed appreciation for the “discretion and responsibility” shown by Egypt.  “The peace agreement between Israel and Egypt is of great importance and strategic value to stability in the Middle East,” Barak said.  Barak’s statement came after he held a special situation assessment with IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz and other security and intelligence officials.   Barak ordered the IDF to investigate the incident after which a joint investigation will be conducted with the Egyptian military to determine the circumstances of the incident.

The idea that Egyptian blood is cheap, is a seminal point.  Under Mubarak no protest would have ever been tolerated at the Israeli Embassy…but on Aug. 23 there came a new folk hero, dubbed the Egyptian Spiderman or Flagman.  He climbed  13 stories… with nothing  to assist him to remove the Israeli flag and replace with the Egyptian flag.  “This is for Palestine. This is for Egypt. This is for every Arab. This is for every free person,” one Twitter user posted.

About Last Night…

Now let’s look at what happened last night.  Another Friday, another protest.  This time under the heading of  “Correcting the Path of the Revolution” .. frustrated at the slow pace of change, and for some let’s be honest protesting has become a career and lifestyle.   Some have found fame in Tahrir and simply cannot move forward.  The military has been in my opinion,  been wrongly accused by protesters.  It was the military who saved this revolution.  All you have to do is look at Libya and Syria to see what happens when the military doesn’t side with the people from the beginning.  The military deserves much more respect than it is getting from the protestors.  They have done exactly what they said they would do.

The revolutionaries deserve so much credit for having the guts to stand up to tyranny, but they do not have the ability to speak with one voice, the demands change day to day, and there is no readily identifiable leader.  This is a problem.  The continual sit ins and tent city erected in Tahrir was a problem, it would be like putting a tent city on Wall Street.  It would not be tolerated in the US.  It was an obstruction to business and movement forward.  Finally, the military said enough and cleared out Tahrir.  The military never denied the protesters the right to protest peacefully, let’s be very clear about that.  The military not wanting to be accused of using excessive force on civilians pulled out of Tahrir Square completely for Friday’s protest.

Enter the mob mentality….as the day progressed marches began to the Interior Ministry and to the Israeli Embassy.  Things quickly got out of control as the mob mentality ensued.  The beautiful thing about the revolution is it was about Egypt, about Egyptians.  There was no hating America, no hating Israel.  Last night was about wanting the world to know that Egyptian blood is not cheap…and then something went terribly wrong.  The embassy had recently been barricaded by huge cement slabs after the “Flagman” incident.  The barricade was destroyed.  The embassy was entered.

JERUSALEM, Sept 10 (Reuters) – Israel appealed for American help in guarding its Cairo embassy after Egyptian protestors stormed the building housing it on Friday.

A statement from Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak said that in conversations with U.S. counterpart Leon Panetta and Obama administration envoy Dennis Ross he had “asked them to protect the embassy from the demonstrators”. (Reporting by Dan Williams; Editing by Jon Boyle)

This absolutely inflamed me.  Why is it the United State’s responsibility to protect an Israeli embassy in Cairo?

In essence, there are two  diplomatic ties under severe strain with Israel and both critical to Israel.  Why?  Because Israel has refused to apologize.  That spoiled child, digging their heels in and refusing to acknowledge they were wrong.  This is a self inflicted wound on Israel.  From the beginning of the Arab Spring they have refused to acknowledge the neighborhood is changing.  Let me be very clear, this is not about being anti Semitic, or not believing Israel has a right to exist in peace, this is about the facts.  This is about Israel growing up, moving from the victim archetype to the empowered survivor archetype.  The world is changing, there is a new paradigm in place.  You can either embrace change and be part of a positive outcome, or you can stand against it and watch your own downfall.

Israeli ambassador Yitzhak Levanon, staff and family members arrived home on Saturday but one diplomat stayed in Egypt to maintain the embassy, an Israeli official said.  Four officers and 42 soldiers were injured in the Israeli Embassy clashes between protesters and security forces on Friday evening. There are three dead and 1049 injured, the Ministry of Health announced on Saturday.  Egypt is on high alert.  Rumors are flying the Egypt’s Prime Minister may resign.

There is no such thing as democracy in a box.  Egypt will get there, there are going to be some serious bumps in the road.  We saw one last night.

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Who is Rick Perry?

Posted by politicalmonkey2010 on August 14, 2011

Rick Perry

(This is intended to be a running commentary on Rick Perry, complete with links at the bottom of the posting, Originally published on 8/14/2011 updated 8/15/2011,8/17/2011,8/23/2011, 9/1/2011)

The Republican field continues to swarm with ideology and mediocrity at best, full of rhetoric and little substance, enter Texas Gov. Rick Perry.

He has never lost an election, including an elementary school contest for “king” of the Paint Creek School Carnival.  He secured that win by handing out pennies for votes.  Perry started his career in Texas politics as a Democratic state legislator and was even the Texas chairman of Al Gore’s 1988 presidential campaign. Already a conservative Democrat, he switched to the GOP and in 1990 was urged by party figures in the state, including longtime Bush strategist Karl Rove, to run for state agriculture commissioner.

After two terms as agriculture commissioner, Perry was elected lieutenant governor in 1998, then took over two years later as the state’s chief executive after Bush was elected president.

Perry has been governor for over 11 years, under his leadership Texas can boast the following:

  • A quarter of Texans lack health insurance coverage, the highest share in the country.
  • Texas ranks 47th in the country for the level of state spending on schools.  Texas state capitol in Austin saw thousands of protesters descend on the grounds for a rally against a proposed $10 billion—yes, billion—in education cuts to the state. Representatives from 300 school districts, students, teachers, parents, and others marched and called on Perry to use the state’s “rainy day fund” to cover the shortfall in schools rather than lay off a projected 189,000 education workers.  The New York Times called Perry’s impending cuts “the largest cuts to public education since World War II.”  Of course, the budget cuts are still coming.  Aside from the impact such layoffs will have on the economy, since a good chunk of the new jobs Perry touts as part of his economic miracle were in schools, there’s the actual impact on the state’s students. It’s not just public schools that take a hit—universities will see their budgets slashed and financial aid eliminated for 43,000 students.
  • Texas ranks highest in the country for the levels of toxic chemicals released into the water and carcinogens released into the air.  BP spill was still churning oil into the Gulf of Mexico, Perry called it “just an act of God” and warned against any “knee-jerk reaction” that might include things like halting deepwater drilling until the dangers could be assessed. Unsurprisingly, Perry also got $129,890 from the oil and gas industry for his last reelection campaign.
  • Under Gov. Perry Texas has had the most active death-penalty regime in the country –  232 people, more than any other governor in history. (The previous record, 152, was held by George W. Bush.) He remains embroiled in controversy over the 2004 execution of Cameron Todd Willingham. Perry removed three appointees from the Texas Forensic Science Commission just days before the board was going to investigate a flawed arson investigation in Willingham’s case.  “Outside of Texas, the name Cameron Todd Willingham did not mean much to most people until the fall of 2009. In a 17-page article published by The New Yorker magazine, a curious and brave woman, a brilliant fire expert, and an investigative journalist re-opened the case against this man who was put to death for killing his children. The ‘classic arson case’ was picked apart, revealed to have been based on junk science and a misguided sense of expert intuition.  Proof of the flawed fire investigation had been rushed to Rick Perry and the Texas Board of Pardons and Parole before the execution, to no avail. Five years later, the article uncovered new evidence to all but confirm what a number of people had suspected for years: That the state of Texas had executed an innocent man.”   Just last month, he executed Humberto Leal Garcia Jr., a Mexican citizen, over the objections of the Mexican government, his own president, and the International Court of Justice. Even George W. Bush, in 2005, ordered all states to comply with the international law mandating consular access to officials from their home country for foreign nationals. Rick Perry was the only one not to comply.
  • Texas now has among the most narrow Medicaid eligibility standards in the country.
  • Texas has the fourth- highest poverty rate.
  • Texas ranks the seventh-highest teenage birth rate.
  • Texas has the lowest rate of people over 25 with a high school degree.  Interestingly, Perry did not apply for federal “Race to the Top” education funds because he said it would force national standards upon Texas.
  • Texas spends the least of any state on mental health care.
  • Texas ranks second to last in the percentage of the population covered by employer health insurance.
  • Under Gov. Perry’s direction, Texas has refused to enforce federal emissions rules for power plants and refineries.
  • Texas has also faced a $27 billion budget shortfall this year for the 2012-13 biannual budget.

Eyebrow raising comments and actions from Gov. Perry –

Perry said last year that Texas could have the right to secede: “If Washington continues to thumb their nose at the American people, you know, who knows what might come out of that. But Texas is a very unique place, and we’re a pretty independent lot to boot.” He later clarified that he didn’t support secession.

Perry declared a a bill to require all women to have an ultrasound before they can get an abortion was the first major bill debated in the House, as an “emergency”.  As Texas State Representative Carol Alvarado noted in that session, the bill’s author didn’t understand how intrusive his own bill was. She gave the legislature an in-depth description of a trans-vaginal sonogram, which would be required for women eight to 10 weeks pregnant. “This is not the jelly on the belly that most of you think, she said as she held up a vaginal probe. ‘This is government intrusion at its best.’” The bill has no provision for victims of rape or incest. It does, however, give Perry more social conservative credentials to trumpet on the campaign trail.

Perry recently said he wanted Roe v. Wade overturned so states could decide for themselves. But then he declared his support for a federal constitutional amendment that would overturn Roe and ban abortion nationwide.

Consistency doesn’t matter, apparently, when it comes to abortion or women’s bodies.

In 2007, campaigning in Iowa for former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani, Perry said “George Bush was never a fiscal conservative — never was.” In his 2010 book “Fed Up!” Perry complains Bush “turned a blind eye to undisciplined domestic spending.’  In that book, Perry calls Social Security “a failure,” and proposes the adoption of a constitutional amendment to limit federal spending.

Eyebrow raising comments and actions from Gov. Perry he is going to have to explain to the right wing –

  • Gov. Perry was in support of in-state college tuition for the children of illegal immigrants, saying those young people have lived in Texas for years, are on the path to citizenship, have studied hard and should be encouraged to get education or vocational training.
  • Perry wrote a letter to Congress in 2008 urging it to pass a bill to save the national and global economy. But he contends that he didn’t necessarily mean the $700 bailout that Congress eventually approved.
  • Perry’s core constituency is conservative evangelical Christians, but he has supported some measures that clashed with their beliefs. In 2007, he signed an executive order requiring all girls entering the sixth-grade to be vaccinated against a virus that can cause cervical cancer. The Legislature promptly blocked Perry’s order.  Perry recently explained that on a call in talk show ““I’m one of the first to say we didn’t approach this issue right at all,” Perry told the caller who asked about the vaccine. “We shouldn’t have done it with an executive order. We should have worked with the legislature.”  That might come as a surprise to the Texas legislators who have heard Perry insist he was right about the executive order as recently as September 2010.
  • On August 6, Perry and right-wing evangelical leaders are sponsoring a a prayer rally in Houston’s Reliant Stadium dedicated to “the One True God through his Son Jesus Christ.” Perry’s message on the event’s website reads:  “Right now, America is in crisis: we have been besieged by financial debt, terrorism, and a multitude of natural disasters. As a nation, we must come together and call upon Jesus to guide us through unprecedented struggles, and thank Him for the blessings of freedom we so richly enjoy.” Seems that Gov. Perry has forgotten there are other religions in the US besides Christianity….except that isn’t really true… Perry is a friend of the Aga Khan, the religious leader of the Ismailis, a sect of Shia Islam that claims a reported 15 to 20 million adherents worldwide. Sprouting from that friendship are at least two cooperation agreements between the state of Texas and Ismaili institutions, including a far-reaching program to educate Texas schoolchildren about Islam. Perry was quoted at the official Ismaili website as saying at the signing ceremony that “traditional Western education speaks little of the influence of Muslim scientists, scholars, throughout history, and for that matter the cultural treasures that stand today in testament to their wisdom.”
  • Perry has also ruffled feathers with social conservatives in recent days by saying that under 10th Amendment principles, gay marriage in New York didn’t bother him. After all, Perry endorsed former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani in the 2008 presidential race, who is hardly considered a social conservative.
  • Perry has also drawn criticism for his plans for the Trans-Texas Corridor, a failed cross-state toll road that drew criticism from rural property owners and immigration foes, because the plan involved a partnership with the Mexican government.

It’s the Economy Stupid

While Gov. Perry likes to boast about Texas’ low taxes, scant regulation and limited public services, the truth is Perry-jobs are really ‘jobettes,’ offering low pay, no benefits and no upward mobility. In fact, under Rickonomics, Texas has added more minimum wage jobs than all other states combined.  Even as Texas added those “jobettes,” its unemployment rate magically increased to 8 percent from 7.7 percent—and 23 states have a better employment rate than the miraculous Texas.

Perry says he is the best job creator in the race and that low-tax, low-regulation Texas created about 40 percent of all the new jobs generated in the United States over the past two years.  Here’s the truth:  Texas has benefited from the federal government’s expansion of the military and also from the expansion of the oil industry, which was due to international and national factors, not Perry’s policies.

Here are the numbers, which come from the federal government’s Bureau of Labor Statistics: Between the beginning of 2008 and the end of 2010 (the latest data available), Texas created about 75,000 jobs. That makes it one of the few states with any job creation at all over that time. But federal, state and local government hiring accounted for 115,000 new jobs in Texas, while private industry shed about 40,000 jobs.   Perry and his state have also benefited significantly from the kind of federal spending he’s now trashing as a presidential candidate hoping to appeal to conservative Republicans. Federal spending in Texas amounts to more than $200 billion per year, according to the New York Times, on account of several big Army bases, a heavy NASA presence, and other federal installations. That’s about 5.2 percent of all federal spending. Texas also accepted $6.4 billion in federal funds from the unpopular 2009 stimulus program championed by President Obama, according to the Washington Post In the past two years, according to the Austin American-Statesman, almost half of the state’s job growth came in the education, health care, and government sectors. Notice a pattern? These are all sectors that depend, at least in part, on government support. And Perry has taken full advantage of public spending—he managed to fill in Texas’ previous budget shortfall by taking $6.4 billion in Obama stimulus money, more than all but two governors. But that’s all coming to a close: After facing a projected $27 billion deficit for 2012-2013, and with no further stimulus in sight, Perry and Republicans in Austin resorted to sweeping cuts to Medicaid and education in their most recent budget.

The state’s unemployment rate of 8 percent compares favorably with the national rate of 9.2 percent, but Texas’ rate has stubbornly stuck at or above that level since September 2009.  In May, some 985,656 Texans were unemployed, virtually unchanged from a year ago, according to the Texas Workforce Commission. Texas accounted for about 1 of every 14 jobless Americans in May.  And Perry’s critics question the kind of jobs being created in the state.  Texas and Mississippi are tied, at 9.5 percent, for the highest proportion of hourly workers earning at or less than the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 550,000 Texans earned no more than the minimum wage in 2010, and the number of Texas workers earning the federal minimum wage or less was greater than the totals for California, Florida and Illinois combined.

Lori Taylor, associate professor in the Bush School of Government and Public Service at Texas A&M University, cited these reasons for Texas’ lower wages: a younger, less educated workforce and a lower cost of living.

The state’s workforce will age, but the proportion of adults without a high school degree is projected to increase from 12 percent today to 30 percent in 2040 if current trends continue, according to the state comptroller’s TexasWorks study in 2008. That study of the state’s future workforce predicts another 30 percent of the 2040 labor force will have only a high school diploma and no training for a high-tech economy.  But keep in mind…education has been cut and will continue to be cut under Gov. Perry.

Attacking the Fed – Perry’s Ignorance of MonetaryPolicy

Perry’s first pronouncement on the Federal Reserve as a presidential candidate was a convoluted mouthful of economically illiterate posturing. When asked his opinion of the Fed, Perry said of chairman Ben Bernanke, “If this guy prints more money between now and the election … we would treat him pretty ugly down in Texas. Printing more money to play politics at this particular time in American history is almost treacherous—or treasonous.” To Tea Partyers and government-bashers, Perry’s jabs at the Fed might sound like a welcome challenge to an omnipotent federal agency that routinely manipulates the economy. But if Perry wants to be taken seriously by business leaders and investors—who control a wee bit of the campaign money he’ll no doubt be asking for—he might want to take a crash course on the Fed and monetary policy.  Most economists feel that the Fed’s aggressive intervention in the economy since 2008 has been a necessary evil that helped prevent a financial panic and a full-blown depression. The Fed is also the only part of the government that seems capable of doing anything at all to help the economy, since every other part of Washington is paralyzed by political dysfunction.

Even Republicans are having a hard time swallowing Perry’s rhetoric..

Karl Rove, a Fox News commentator and formerly Bush’s chief political adviser, said Perry was wrong to separate himself from Bush because he should be trying to expand his support as widely as possible. Rove also took issue with Perry’s comment that Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, who was appointed by Bush, was developing economic policies that were almost “treasonous.”

Rove said, “Governor Perry is going to have to fight the impression that he’s a cowboy from Texas. This simply added to it.”  Peter Wehner, another former Bush adviser in the White House, said in a Commentary essay that Perry’s remark about Bernanke was “the kind of blustering, unthinking comment that Perry’s critics expect of him.”

Social Security

Asked by Ben Smith whether Social Security should be replaced with state-based benefit programs, as Perry once suggested in a Newsweek interview, the governor hedged.  “I’m for having a conversation with the country about how we find some solutions,” he said at the Iowa state fair. “Having the states doing it is one of the ways.”

The Chinese Connection – Perry Doing Business with the Enemy?

Perry announced that telecommunications firm Huawei Technologies would base its U.S. operations in Plano in Oct. of 2010.  Perry made time for a dinner with Huawei’s chief executive, Ren, according to a news release. The Chinese executive is a former leader in the People’s Liberation Army who helped oversee the Chinese military’s telecom intelligence in the 1980s, according to a Rand report. Huawei disputes this, saying he helped lead an engineering department of the PLA. His company had grown rapidly to become the world’s third-largest telecom equipment provider, with about 1,100 jobs in North America. It opened its first research office in Texas in 2001.Perry praised the company’s “really strong worldwide reputation” and its chairman, Ren Zhengfei, whose straight talk he said reminded him fondly of West Texans.  That’s nice but I don’t think the average West Texan has had both the George W. Bush and Obama administrations had concluded that the global telecom giant poses a potential cyber-security risk to the U.S. military and businesses.

  • Three times since 2008, a U.S. government security panel has blocked Huawei from acquiring or partnering with U.S. companies because of concerns that secrets could be leaked to China’s government or military.
  • In 2005, a Rand report questioned Huawei’s “deep ties with the Chinese military, which serves a multi-faceted role as an important customer, as well as Huawei’s political patron and research and development partner.”
  • In 2008, the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, a multi-agency government panel, blocked Huawei’s plan to buy 3Com.
  • In late 2009, The Post reported, the National Security Agency privately urged senior executives of AT&T not to purchase Huawei equipment for a planned phone network. The article reported that U.S. officials feared that Chinese intelligence agencies could insert “digital trapdoors” into Huawei’s technology to serve as secret listening posts in the U.S. communications network.” AT&T did not discuss the warning but later announced it had chosen other providers.
  • In August 2010, eight Republican senators, including Jon Kyl of Arizona and Richard Shelby of Alabama, urged the Obama administration to investigate Huawei’s effort to sell equipment to upgrade Sprint Nextel’s mobile network. They argued that Huawei’s involvement “could create substantial risk for U.S. companies and possibly undermine U.S. national security.” The Committee on Foreign Investment rejected Huawei’s partnership with Sprint later that year.

Perry has made international recruiting a centerpiece of his economic policy, and more than two dozen Chinese companies now have a Texas presence. China is the state’s third-largest export-import partner.

Yet, when asked several times about China – US relations on the Laura Ingram show, the Governor came up short with concrete answers…

Laura: Is a rising China good for the United States? And if not, what are you going to do about it?

Perry: We’re going to have to deal with China. We’re going to have to trade with them. China disregarded the world for millennium. They lived in their own little world. We can’t afford to do that. We’re going to have to deal with China—

Laura: What does that mean?

Perry: We’re going to have to find ways diplomatically and financially, economically—

Laura: What does that mean? Those are broad generalities. I need specifics on this show….People are concerned that they’re going to surpass us militarily, probably economically if we don’t turn things around. As President of the United States how would you take a different path from George Bush and this president on China?

Perry: Well one of the ways we do it is by getting the economy going. Because the fact of the matter is if you don’t have a strong economy your foreign policy means nothing.


Perry: China needs to hear from us ‘listen, we will do trade with you, we will be a partner in trade with you, but you cannot steal our intellectual property.’

And this:

Laura: Do you think our trade policies have been working for the American family, vis-à-vis China, or many of the other countries that are growing their economies incredibly fast right now?Perry: I don’t think our trade policy has been working for years, frankly, from the standpoint of being in the best interest of our families. Do we need to trade? Absolutely. Am I a free trader? Yes. But I am a fair trader.

Bilderberg Connection

For all the conspiracy loving theorist out there..this little item will wet your appetite..

He said he was invited to the Bilderberg meeting and attended out of curiosity. “I found it to be an interesting group of people. I have yet to find out why they want to keep it a secret,” he said. “I haven’t been invited back and that was 5 years ago, so I guess I didn’t impress them.”  The caller focused on the Amero, a supposed Euro-like common currency for the Nafta countries.  Perry said, “I agree with you, that doesn’t appeal to me at all either.”

Foreign Policy “My faith requires me to support Israel”

His faith may require him to support Israel, but he had better understand the consequences.  The middle east is literally teetering, and a misguided foreign policy would have consequences felt around the world.  Mr. Perry had better revisit the 1967 borders and have a come to Jesus meeting that these were the original borders of Israel.  Such a simplistic statement I am assuming means he has absolutely no working knowledge of the middle east and Israel aside from the fact that Israel has one of the fattest wallets in the lobbying community.

I could not end this post without addressing financing..follow the money

Nearly half of the $102.8 million that Perry raised from 2001 through 2010 came from 204 “mega-donors” who contributed $100,000 or more, according to Texans for Public Justice, a watchdog organization that monitors state political contributions.  His biggest contributors include Houston home builder Bob Perry, who made national headlines by helping finance a political attack on former Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry, and Harold Simmons, a Dallas multibillionaire who is developing a controversial nuclear waste disposal site in West Texas.   Keep your eyes on the money..more to come.

***UPDATE*** Following the Money

Who donates to Gov. Perry?  and Why?

  • Let’s talk a little bit more about that nuclear waste site which Mr. Simmons stands to profit from…do you know what happens to folks who get in the way of a business deal in Texas?  Bobby Gregory was one of two people on the eight-member panel known to oppose allowing out of state imports.  Gov. Perry offered him a prestigious appointment as a regent of a state university to get him out of the way. Under Texas law, Gregory could not hold two state-appointed positions requiring Senate approval at the same time, and so taking the regent job would have required him to leave the waste commission.  He declined the offer, and his term expired Aug. 31, 2011.
  • John McHale, an entrepreneur from Austin, Tex wrote a check to Gov. Perry for $50,000 – ironically n May 2010 an economic development fund administered by the governor’s office handed $3 million to G-Con, a pharmaceutical start-up that Mr. McHale helped get off the ground. At least two other executives with connections to the firm had also given Mr. Perry tens of thousands of dollars like  David M. Shanahan, who also has a significant ownership stake in the company. He is also the founder and president of Gradalis, a biotech firm based in Dallas that received a separate $1.75 million grant from the state’s technology fund in February 2009. Campaign finance records show that Mr. Shanahan contributed $5,000 in 2007 and then $10,000 to the governor in November 2009.   Then there is James R. Leininger, a San Antonio businessman who has given more than $230,000 to Mr. Perry, he has an interest in Gradalis.
  • Mr. Perry has raised at least $17 million from more than 900 appointees or their spouses, roughly one dollar out of every five that he has raised as governor.
  • Appointees of the State Parks and Wildlife Commission and the board of regents of Texas A&M, Mr. Perry’s alma mater have donated more than $4 million to his campaigns for governor.
  • Need help from Gov. Perry’s signature projects like the Texas Enterprise Fund and the Texas Emerging Technology Fund?  The enterprise fund, which is intended to be a deal-closing tool for the state as it competes for jobs, has dispensed $435 million in grants to businesses since 2003. The technology fund, which has doled out nearly $200 million to companies since 2005, has a similar job creation mandate.  More than a quarter of the companies that have received grants from the enterprise fund in the most recent fiscal year, or their chief executives, made contributions to either Mr. Perry’s campaign dating back to 2001 or to the Republican Governors Association since 2008, when Mr. Perry became its chairman.
  • Need a job, want an appointee position? Then donate!  Te Teacher Retirement System, a $110 billion pension fund that is among the nation’s largest have at least four top donors or fund-raisers serving on the board.   Mr. Perry’s trustees leaned on the fund to invest more money with hedge funds and private equity firms.  In 2009 an investment manager at the fund, Michael Green, wrote to a board trustee saying that the fund’s chief investment officer had pressed him and other employees to set aside their objections to such investments, including allocations to two firms whose partners and former partners have donated more than $1 million to Mr. Perry’s campaigns.  Mr. Green’s boss, he wrote to the trustee, told him: “This is the way business is done.”
  • In 2005, when the TXU Corporation, a utility based in Dallas, sought permits to build coal-fired power plants, Mr. Perry issued an executive order for a review panel to fast-track the application. In the months that followed, current and retired TXU executives, as well as the company’s political action committee, sent Mr. Perry more than $100,000 in donations, including one check dated the same day as Mr. Perry’s order. Mr. Perry’s office said at the time that the order was unrelated to the contributions. A state judge later blocked the order, ruling that Mr. Perry had overstepped his authority.
  • In 2003, after a rash of mold-related lawsuits against home construction companies,  Perry created a state board, the Texas Residential Construction Commission. The most generous contributor?  Bob Perry(not related), a homebuilder who has contributed more than $2 million to the governor over his career.  The legislation creating the board also sharply limited the rights of homeowners to sue contractors for faulty construction, shunting most disputes to the commission. After its passage, Bob Perry and his wife sent two $50,000 checks to the governor’s campaign. Three weeks later, the governor appointed an executive of Perry Homes, Bob Perry’s company, to the commission, which was abolished in 2009.
  • Perry’s top 50 donors, who collectively gave more than $21 million to Perry, and found that 34 received some benefit from Perry’s administration or the state, including grants, contracts and appointments. The donor list was compiled by the nonprofit Texans For Public Justice.
  • Twenty-three donors won Perry’s appointment to state boards, often the boards of regents at the University of Texas or Texas A&M.
  • Roughly one in three of the top Perry donors had business interests that secured grants, tax subsidies or project approvals under his administration, the Post review found.
  • Five donors gained both an appointment and a state boost to their specific company or interests.
  • Holt, who owns the nation’s largest Caterpillar dealership, urged Perry to lure a Caterpillar manufacturing plant to Texas, and a company official told reporters in an interview last year that such a plant would help the dealership get equipment. Perry’s office agreed in 2008 to award an $8.5 million incentive grant for a proposed new Caterpillar factory promising 1,714 jobs. Holt said in an e-mail that the plant’s move to Texas would not directly benefit his dealership.  That’s a little hard to believe.
  • In 2005, the governor tapped the Texas Enterprise Fund — an economic development fund he created — for its largest grant to date: $50 million to a joint research venture between Texas A&M University and a fledgling biotech company, Lexicon, that promised to create 1,616 jobs. Lexicon got $35 million of the grant. The company’s investors included a Texas congressman and two others who were among Perry’s top donors.  One was Robert McNair, an investor and former energy executive, who has given $330,000 to Perry. McNair controlled 9.3 percent of Lexicon’s stock at the time of the state grant.  Recently, Lexicon backed off on its jobs promise. The Texas media reported last year that Perry had renegotiated the deal with Lexicon so that Texas A&M took responsibility for creating more of the promised jobs over a longer time period.
  • Americans For Rick Perry reported raising $193,000 over eight days in June, according to its filing with the Federal Election Commission. Most of the money came from reliable Perry donor Harold Simmons of Dallas, who gave $100,000. Simmons won state approval under Perry’s administration to build a nuclear waste disposal site in West Texas that experts say could eventually be worth billions of dollars to Simmons. Other contributors to Americans for Rick Perry include $50,000 from Universal Computer Systems, which is headed by major Perry donor Bob Brockman of Houston and $25,000 from Withers Energy Corp., headed by blue-chip Perry backer John Speer of Cypress, Texas. Americans for Rick Perry is promoting Perry’s candidacy for president.
  • Texas business legends Peter Holt, owner of the San Antonio Spurs, and Billy Joe “Red” McCombs, an auto and real estate magnate and former sports team owner, are typical of the large campaign donors who helped Perry raise more cash than any Texas governor. Together, these two men with diverse business interests personally donated more than $936,000 to Perry’s campaigns, in a state that does not limit the amount individuals can donate to local politicians.
  • Mr. Perry has benefited not only politically in terms of financial contributions but also personally…take the time to read this: http://www.texastribune.org/texas-politics/2012-presidential-election/perry-scored-land-deals/

Check back often, as I will update this blog as more information becomes available, it’s going to be an interesting political season.


































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