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Hanukkah: The Jewish festival of rebellion

In Editorial on November 30, 2012 at 3:49 pm


Next week, we begin preparations for the Jewish festival of Hanukkah. It is traditional for Jews to eat fried foods during the eight-day holiday in remembrance of the miraculously long-lasting oil used to rededicate the ancient Temple. This Phyne Dyning editorial observes that the Hanukkah story also suggests that it should also be a time for Jews to oil their weapons.

Many non-Jewish folk honestly believe that Hanukkah is “Jewish Christmas”.

That’s okay. I am as clueless about as many non-Jewish celebrations as there are world religions. I have no clue what Christians are talking about when they mention Maundy Thursday. It sounds, to me, like part of the dialog in a scene from The Godfather:

‘Mawnday, Thursday, Toosday, Wesday, Friday, Sawnday…”

To be fair to my goyische friends, a lot of Jews don’t know much about Hanukkah either.

My (Reform) rabbi tells his congregation that Hanukkah is without much basis in history and that the holiday was invented as a festival to bring light and cheer to the darkness of the winter season.

Well, that certainly sounds…ho-hum. My rabbi is free to believe what he likes.

I like the original story. The bit about new, improved, and longer-lasting Temple oil is nice. But it’s the first part of the story, the part about the Jewish rebellion and defeat of the state, that gets my motor running.

After the Greek conquest of Judea, the Greek ruler Antiochus Epiphanes endeavored to wipe out Jewish practice. Circumcision was banned. The Temple was looted, desecrated and used for secular purposes. Jewish rituals were prohibited. Jews were forbidden to keep the Sabbath and the conquered Jews were expected to ‘go Greek’.

And many of them did exactly that.

They paid the Greek taxes, they participated in gymnasium, and they abandoned Hebrew and Aramaic in favor of speaking and writing in Greek. Torah became a ‘snore-ah’. Many Jews went so far as to try to ‘out-Greek’ the Greeks in daily living.

Sounds like Jewish Reformism and I point this out to the rabbi annually.

He always smiles broadly when he concedes, “I’m not sure why Reform Judaism even celebrates Hanukkah. We would have been on the side of the Greeks.”

I admire his honesty. He’s a good man. And he is, unfortunately, correct in his observation.

Given the whole of Jewish history, I am always a bit mystified by the almost universal Jewish love for the state…any state. Every –archy form of government has persecuted, murdered, relocated, marginalized, or at least disdained Jews. Government has always been the greatest threat to Jewish survival worldwide. (I am even more puzzled by American Judaism’s adoration of civilian disarmament…’sensible gun control’.)

Yet Jews everywhere clamor for more of the very thing that has always threatened to destroy the Jewish people.

A leader in our local Jewish federation (we have a six-pointed starship) once got his undies in a twist because there was no American flag displayed at a 9-11 memorial observation; the newest of American holidays celebrating the military-authoritarian state.

I don’t imagine G-d would be pleased by all of this.

Biblical evidence would suggest that G-d is a libertarian.

Look at what G-d tells Samuel when he brings news to the Holy One that the Jewish people want kings, instead of the judges G-d ‘suggested’, to rule over them. The early Jews now want to be subjects of kings ‘just like everyone else’.

G-d warns Samuel to tell the Jews about life under a king (government): taxation, military conscription, compulsory national service, and eminent domain…all under threat of violence if the people disagree.

But then G-d, ever the libertarian, finally concedes and tells Samuel to give the Jewish people what they want, even if it’s bad for them. G-d also warns Sammy, that the Jewish people will cry out that their once sought-for kings are oppressing them and they will beg for G-d to set them free again. What will happen? What will G-d offer up? Will he save the Jews in the final reel?

“Tell them to go home”, says G-d.

That can’t be good.

In Hellenized Judea, just like in America today, Jews wanted to be ‘like everyone else’.

Except for Mattathias’ family.

Mattathias fomented rebellion against the lawful government of Judea. His three sons joined with him in his quest to toss out the Greeks and live as Jews were commanded to do by G-d. Together they succeed in motivating many of their friends and neighbors to engage in a military rebellion against the Greeks.

I imagine the Hellenist Department of Homeland Security was not too fond of anti-Greek ‘militias’ or the unpatriotic stuff Mattathias published in his anti-Greek blog. I am certain that the ancient Greek newspaper publishers marginalized the Jewish secessionist movement as a bunch of ‘unwashed and unemployed ne’er-do-wells’ sporting mullet hair-dos and waiving “Occupy Athens” signs. The Spartan Anti-Poverty Law Center published damning, brief biographies of Mattathias’ sons, portraying them as ‘dangerous extremists’. The Athens Anti-Defamation League within the Jewish community chided Jews who were ‘not acting very Jewish’ because they didn’t embrace acting like Greeks.

Oh well.

Mostly, it ended well for those ancient, Jewish secessionists.

The rebellion had its dark days, like when piously foolish Jews refused to fight on the Sabbath and one thousand Jews perished in the senseless slaughter. Subsequent to this disaster, Judaism wisely adopted a more sensible approach to being shomer Shabbos, by stipulating that it is perfectly kosher to defend your life (or rebel) on the Sabbath.


In the end, the tiny band of Maccabees wins the day. The Greeks are defeated and Greek-sympathizers are put to the sword. The Temple is re-dedicated and there is peace and prosperity in Judea…

…until the newest government pals of the Jews, the Romans, decides (like every other government) that the Jews are an immense pain in the ass to have around.

There are two morals to Hanukkah and they have nothing to do with oil:

First: Government is not a friend to the Jews.

Second: To be a good Jew, you must be a good rebel.

There it is: Hanukkah is not “Jewish Christmas”.

It is “Jewish Forth of July”.

And that’s how the holiday is celebrated in our home.

I wish you the most joyous remembrance of the spirit of righteous rebellion. Happy Hanukkah from Phyne Dyning.


Shameless plug: Tomato paste in a tube!

In Shameless plug on November 30, 2012 at 10:49 am

th-3Tomato paste can be one of your most wasted kitchen ingredients.

Recipes never call for a whole can of the stuff and its producers seem to take sadistic joy in providing too much or too little of it in the cans. As a result, all across America, there are billions of partially used cans of tomato paste quietly moldering, forgotten, on the back of a refrigerator shelf, behind the pickles.

I tried freezing the remainder in a small tub. Unfortunately, frozen tomato paste rivals diamonds on the hardness scale. I bent countless spoons frantically trying to dig out a mere tablespoonful as my meal bubbled on the stove.

I also tried packing it into ice cube trays and wrapping the frozen paste in plastic wrap for storage. Later, I did away with the ice cube tray and just put a tablespoon of the paste directly in the plastic wrap, folded it neatly, and froze it.

Both methods resulted in scattered red packets, sewn across the bottom of my freezer like a kid’s abandoned Lego blocks.

Then, I stumbled on tomato paste in a tube.


I’ve tried two brands: Amore and Mutti.

th-4They each have a bold, clean tomato flavor that is far superior to tomato paste in a can. Canned tomato paste, in my opinion, always tasted a bit like the can it came in. The tube paste does not have any odd, or extra, flavors and it tastes like smoothly blended sun-dried tomatoes. Unlike canned tomato paste, the tube varieties seem to have less water content and do not melt away to become tomato sauce in the pan. These pastes actually add body to the dish.

Best of all, cooks can squeeze out just enough for their immediate needs and then toss the opened tube into the fridge for later use.

The Mutti brand label encourages cooks to use a tube within three weeks of opening. It may good advice. Or, it may be a marketing ploy. The Amore brand carries no such advice on its label. All things considered it is prudent to say that either brand will stay fresher than an open can of paste in the back of the refrigerator. And, because it’s so convenient to use, cooks are more likely to use the opened tube well before it spoils or loses flavor.

At just under $3 per tube, it is definitely not a cheaper alternative to canned tomato paste. But if you use only one or two tablespoons of tomato paste per week, the savings in wasted paste could offset its higher price.

Either brand is worthy of a shameless plug from the Phyne Dyner.


Thump. Thump. Thump.

In General Information on November 29, 2012 at 3:41 pm

“It was like a level of hell going to jail,” he said. “Nobody would explain to me why this happened. I was terrified.”

Several years ago, I watched a television investigative report on alleged animal abuse by food processors. In one example at a chicken farm, unsuitable chicks were tossed on a conveyor belt that led to an open pit into which the animals fell and were crushed to death by a man using a fence post to pound them into a pulp.

One black chick, seemingly cognizant of its impending fate under the thumping post, ran frantically away from the opening into which its fellow chicks fell by the tens. Finally, inevitably, the little chick slipped and was swept into the pit to be mercilessly crushed under the slamming post.

Quan Tong knows exactly how it feels to be swept up by a similarly ruthless machine.

According to news reports, Tong was arrested and jailed as he delivered food parcels to the homebound. Quan Tong is a Roman Catholic deacon for the Des Moines Archdiocese and part of his duties consists of delivering food to shut-ins.

During recent deliveries, because he was cold, Tong retreated to his parked car to wait for a food recipient to unlock his door. A passing police officer took note of the lone Tong sitting in his car and the officer turned his cruiser around to investigate. The officer pulled in behind Tong, disembarked from his cruiser and demanded that Tong produce his driver’s license. A computer check revealed Tong’s license was revoked. Tong was arrested, handcuffed, and taken to jail where he was fingerprinted, photographed, stripped, and issued a prison uniform. He was held for six hours until his family could post his bail.

Despite the fact that his license was not actually revoked.

A ‘data entry error’ had occurred at the Iowa Department of Transportation. Tong was innocent.

He has been issued the customary “we apologize for any inconvenience” by the appropriate bureaucrats. However, the clerical error is not the most disturbing aspect of Mr. Tong’s ordeal.

Because we can…

The graver injustice is that, until a member of the costumed Praetorians decided to force Tong to account for himself, Tong was peacefully going about his business. The only provoking aspect leading to his abduction was his presence in the proximity of a Praetorian for the ruling class.

The officer was not investigating a citizen concern. The officer did not indicate that he had any suspicion Tong was criminally bent. Tong was not creating a disturbance, making an outcry, or displaying any items forbidden to commoners. There was nothing to alarm the officer or to make him believe Tong had committed a crime or was about to commit a crime.

The officer simply wanted to force Quan Tong to produce his papers.


Because he could.

That’s wrong. And it was once widely understood in America that such police authority was dangerous and wrong.

It was wrong until the Supreme Court decided the American state had a ‘compelling interest’ or a ‘public safety interest’ in detaining and questioning innocent people as they attempt to crawl along the public way. The principle of reasonable suspicion was swept away and citizens were, just as in every other authoritarian society, required to show papers whenever they are demanded to do so by someone wearing a uniform or driving a car mislabeled “To Serve and Protect” (It should read: “To Control and Coerce”)

Your pay-pahs…are not in oh-da.”

Quan Tong left his home in the Socialist Republic of Vietnam and arrived in the United Socialist States of America in 1991. Ironically, the news made special mention that the Vietnam Tong left behind had imprisoned people without trial, charges, or even an explanation to the detainee why they were being abducted.

Of his experiences in his, ‘free’ American home, Tong remembers:

“It was like a level of hell going to jail,” he said. “Nobody would explain to me why this happened. I was terrified.”

Absent of the ‘because we can’ aspects of officers demanding citizens to produce papers, Tong’s license error might have gone unnoticed until he attempted to renew it. He probably would not have been arrested and the error would have been corrected while he waited in a bureaucrat’s office.

And therein, is the danger inherent in the mechanistic state.

Tong was not abducted, crammed into the back of a police cruiser, stripped, searched, and caged because he was Vietnamese, Jewish, Catholic, or because of his political beliefs.

All of those things were done to him with machine-like impartiality and cold, methodical precision. The state, via its goon, had simply taken notice of Tong.

It was simply “Tong’s time” and it was not much different than the fate of the little black chick as it fell to be crushed beneath the thumping post.

The man wielding the post didn’t see the black chick as anything more, or less, than a task to be accomplished. He did his job as efficiently and as professionally as he could.

Thump. Thump. Thump.

Just like the officer who abducted the terrified Quan Tong and just like the jailers who later stripped him of his dignity and issued him his prison clothing.

If, at first, you don’t secede…

In Editorial on November 20, 2012 at 10:11 am

It is traditional for virtually every (American) newspaper and magazine editor (or pamphleteer and blog writer) to offer up a soppy tribute to Thanksgiving. The Phyne Dyner has restrained himself from doing so. Because he gives formal thanks to his Creator up to four times per day (every day), he sees it as inane to gather around the carcass of an immense bird to do so because an official edict was issued declaring the last Thursday of November as “A National Day of Thanksgiving”.

This Thanksgiving, a growing number of Americans are telling Uncle Sam to go get stuffed.

Secession is all the rage in recent days. The concept of states leaving the ‘Union’ has probably not enjoyed as much discussion by Americans for over 150 years. Nearly every state now has its own petition pending in the White House, signed by citizens wanting to part company with the US of A.

What it isn’t…

Despite the crowings of the immaculately coiffed newscaster caste, the petitions to secede hold no legal weight beyond requiring the current occupant of the White House to respond formally (if the petition raises 25,000 signers in 30 days). It is my understanding that no state legislature has served the central state with a formal notice of their intended departure.

Therefore, it will take less time than it takes a Pentagon paper-pusher to spend a dollar for the White House to respond to the petitions with, “Yeah, right. Like that’s gonna happen.”

That is not to say that the current secession movement is unimportant. It is of moderate importance to those of us who yearn for individual rights and it is moderately encouraging to those of us looking for evidence of life in the American people.

The mainstream press and late night pundits have had a field day with the latest secessionist movement. They have almost universally portrayed the petitioners as trailer-trash ignoramuses, barely able to spell secede. All-knowing journalists dismiss the movement as a sub-population springing from the combination of sour grapes Romney-ites and slack-jawed anti-government bumpkins.

To some extent, the journalists are quite correct.

If secession was important to many of the signers of these petitions, the petitions would have originated before the re-enthronement of our Dear Leader, Barack Obama.

Better late than never.

What it is…

The petitions are visible evidence that people are talking about individual and states rights. More than anything, the petitions are a symptom betraying how sick the American nation has become. Far from a fever, the petitions are the hint of illness; that scratchy throat a few days before the full-blown symptoms of the flu emerge.

People are, at last, considering their options when it comes to casting off the central state. This time, the discussion is unclouded by the issue of slavery. This is not a small point.

Generations of Americans have been thoroughly indoctrinated to believe secessionism and slavery were joined by one manacle. This time, there are no kidnapped Africans who are part of the equation and the absence of slavery today defuses those who reflexively insist that all secessionists are motivated by a deep devotion to racism.

There is only the growing discussion about individual (and state) freedoms and the assertion that citizens can, at a time of their choosing, peacefully dissolve the ties that bind them to their government.

A collateral part of the discussion is about a growing interest in libertarianism. People who have been unaware of libertarianism or even outwardly hostile to it are giving it a looking over.

That worries the state and its sycophants.


The statists, those self-described People of Peace and Tolerance, immediately retrieved the only tool they know how to use…the hammer.

Responses to the secession petitions were met by demands by some that those responsible for them (or even those who signed them) be rounded up and forcibly deported and then strip the traitors of their citizenship. At the ‘gentler’ end of suggested state responses were suggestions to allow states to secede if they liked, but to confiscate any federal ‘wealth’ from those states and destroy any federally built infrastructure before the parting.

Notice the violent language in those responses? Violence is all they know. To the hammer, everything looks like a nail.

There has been a more cerebral response to the growing interest in secession and libertarianism.

In as many days, I’ve seen at least two televised tributes to central state planning and concomitant fear mongering about the dangers of libertarianism or a free market economy.

Ken Burns is arguably one of America’s most loved filmmakers. While I found his epic Civil War series somewhat balanced, his latest works are much more solicitous of the central state and pandering to the official, yet mythical, versions of American history.

Since Burns takes much of his feed from the public trough, I will credit him that he is bright enough not to shit where he eats.

Therefore, it was no surprise that his documentary, The Dust Bowl, beat two drums simultaneously. One: The Dust Bowl resulted from the unrestrained, free market. Two: Collectivism and the central state aborted the tragedy via the state socialism within the New Deal.

The second tribute to the central state came from film documentarian, Alex Gibney in his PBS Independent Lens offering, Park Avenue: Money, Power & the American Dream.

Gibney took off like an Occupier on fire by (correctly) indicting virtually all of the billionaire residents of 740 Park Avenue as the corporatist puppeteers who really run America.

So far, so good.

Then, an astounding display of chutzpah: Gibney detailed how the ultra-wealthy manipulate the strings of government to favor their own empire building and fortune amassing. Then, he has the audacity to decry those manipulations as the inherent danger within free markets.

Since few of Gibney’s viewers have any idea about what a free market is, he simply renamed fascism “the free market”. Since fewer of his regular viewers have the remotest idea what ‘libertarianism’ is, he offered up the Koch brothers as examples of libertarians.

Who knew?

Gibney’s propaganda was immaculate and slick. Even Goebbels didn’t have the balls to put a tallis (prayer shawl) on Hitler and call him ‘Jewish’.

Gibney also leveled his sights on the high priestess of individualism, Ayn Rand. He did so by pulling sound bites from a 1959 interview Mike Wallace conducted with the author and founder of the school of thought known as ‘objectivism’. The narrator solemnly intoned, “Rand’s philosophy has a remarkable similarity to the ‘greed is good’ philosophy of Gordon Gecko in the movie Wall Street.

It was magical and I half expected the closing credits to play over footage of libertarians delightfully chowing down on a banquet of dead children.

All of this blowback is good news for libertarians of any stripe. It is proof that the state sees libertarianism as a viable threat to its existence.

With today’s secession movement completely absent of damning ties to racism, the state’s apologists needed some boogeyman with which to frighten away timid Americans who are curious about liberty and the free market concept. The state needed something to wave in front of these easily cowed people who were now taking notice of libertarianism to show them how dangerous freedom could be. Burns and Gibney supplied the fear by yelling “fire” in a flooding theater.

That’s a good thing.

You know that a concept has legs if someone takes the time to vilify it with lies.

Is there good news?

Yes, indeed.

The secession movement, while ultimately doomed, is tangible evidence that a lot of people are questioning the authority of the central state to keep citizens bound to it.

People are showing an interest in libertarianism and free markets. The state sees the threat those interests pose to the state and its minions have embarked upon repackaging and renaming fascism as the danger inherent within them.

So, yes, there is good news.

People are listening to the libertarian message. A few are responding to it. But better, a lot of people are talking about freedom from the state.

That’s something to be thankful for.

Abraham Lincoln: Devoted to racism and ethnic cleansing

In General Information on November 12, 2012 at 4:47 pm

“Lincoln is theology, not historiology. He is a faith, he is a church, he is a religion, and he has his own preists and acolytes, most of whom have a vested interest in ‘the great emancipator’ and who are passionately opposed to anybody telling the truth about him” (Lerone Bennett Jr., former executive editor at Ebony magazine)

[It is a virtual certainty that few Americans are familiar with genuine research on the subject of Abraham Lincoln and that they base their opinions of that very evil-acting man solely upon the imagined history provided by Lincoln cultists. Steven Spielberg is the latest useful idiot for the cult of Lincoln. Lincoln, a railroad lawyer, held identical contempt for people whose skin had a reddish hue as well. Before he was assassinated, Lincoln tapped well-known bigot and anti-Semite, William Tecumseh Sherman, to carry out the planned genocide of the Lakota nation. Celebrate a holiday honoring Lincoln? Never! The following is republished with permission from the libertarian opinion pages of Lew Rockwell. PD]

Lincoln the Racist (Or: Steven Spielberg, Call Your Office)

Recently by Thomas DiLorenzo: The Forgotten Men You Should Know About
“Who freed the slaves? To the extent that they were ever ‘freed,’ they were freed by the Thirteenth Amendment, which was authored and pressured into existence not by Lincoln but by the great emancipators nobody knows, the abolitionists and congressional leaders who created the climate and generated the pressure that goaded, prodded, drove, forced Lincoln into glory by associating him with a policy that he adamantly opposed for at least fifty-four of his fifty-six years of his life.” – Lerone Bennett, Jr., Forced into Glory: Abraham Lincoln’ s White Dream, p. 19
Let me introduce you to Lerone Bennett, Jr. who was the executive editor of Ebony magazine for several decades (beginning in 1958) and the author of many books, including a biography of Martin Luther King, Jr. (What Manner of Man: A Biography of Martin Luther King) and Forced into Glory: Abraham Lincoln’s White Dream. Bennett is a graduate of Morehouse College in Atlanta and authored hundreds of articles on African-American history and culture during his career at Ebony. He spent more than twenty years researching and writing Forced into Glory, a scathing critique of Abraham Lincoln based on mountains of truths.
Forced into Glory, published in 2000, was mostly ignored by the Lincoln cult, although there were a few timid “reviews” by reviewers that have never done one-thousandth of the research that Lerone Bennett did on the subject. As a black man, he was spared the mantra of being “linked to extremist hate groups” by the lily-white leftists at the Southern Poverty Law Center, the preeminent hate group of the hardcore Left. He was also spared that hate group’s normally automatic insinuation that any critic of Lincoln must secretly wish that slavery had never ended. They mostly sat back and hoped that he would go away.
Lerone Bennett, Jr. contends that it is almost impossible for the average citizen to know much of anything about Lincoln despite the fact that literally thousands of books have been written about him. “A century of lies” is how he describes Lincoln “scholarship.” He provides thousands of documented facts to make his case.
On the subject of Steven Spielberg’s new movie on Lincoln, which is entirely about Lincoln’s supposed role in lobbying for the Thirteenth Amendment that ended slavery, Bennett points out: “There is a pleasant fiction that Lincoln . . . became a flaming advocate of the amendment and used the power of his office to buy votes to ensure its passage. There is no evidence, as David H. Donald has noted, to support that fiction . . .” To the extent that Lincoln did finally and hesitatingly support the amendment, Bennett argues that it was he who was literally forced into it by other politicians, not the other way around as portrayed in the Spielberg film. (David Donald, by the way, is the preeminent Lincoln scholar of our day and Pulitzer prize-winning Lincoln biographer).
On the issue of the Emancipation Proclamation, Bennett correctly points out that “J.G. Randall, who has been called ‘the greatest Lincoln scholar of all time,’ said the Proclamation itself did not free a single slave” since it only applied to rebel territory and specifically exempted areas of the U.S. such as the entire state of West Virginia where the U.S. Army was in control at the time. (James G. Randall was indeed the most prolific Lincoln scholar of all time and the academic mentor of David Donald at the University of Illinois).
Lerone Bennett is understandably outraged at how the Lincoln cult has covered up Lincoln’s racism for over a century, pretending that he was not a man of his time. He quotes Lincoln as saying in the first Lincoln-Douglas debate in Ottawa, Illinois, for example, that he denied “to set the niggers and white people to marrying together” (Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln, vol. 3, p. 20). In Forced into Glory Bennett shows that Lincoln rather compulsively used the N-word; was a huge fan of “black face” minstrel shows; was famous for his racist jokes; and that many of his White House appointees were shocked at his racist language.
Lincoln did not hesitate to broadcast his racist views publicly, either. Bennett quotes his speech during a debate with Douglas in Charleston, Illinois on September 18, 1858 (Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln, vol. 3, pp. 145-146):
“I will say then that I am not, nor ever have been in favor of bringing about in any way the social and political equality of the white and black races, that I am not nor ever have been in favor of making voters or jurors of Negroes, nor of qualifying them to hold office, nor to intermarry with white people; and I will say in addition to this that there is a physical difference between the white and black races which I believe will for ever forbid the two races living together on terms of social and political equality. And inasmuch as they cannot so live, while they do remain together there must be the position of superior and inferior, and I as much as any other man am in favor of having the superior position assigned to the white race.”
Bennett documents that Lincoln stated publicly that “America was made for the White people and not for the Negroes” (p. 211), and “at least twenty-one times, he said publicly that he was opposed to equal rights for Blacks.” “What I would most desire would be the separation of the white and black races,” said Lincoln (Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln, vol. 2, p. 521).
Reading through Forced into Glory, one gets the clear impression that Bennett got angrier and angrier at the non-stop excuse-making, lying, cover-ups, and fabrications of the “Lincoln scholars.” He never takes his eye of the ball, however, and is relentless in throwing facts in the faces of the Lincoln cultists.
As a member of the Illinois legislature Lincoln urged the legislature “to appropriate money for colonization in order to remove Negroes from the state and prevent miscegenation” (p. 228). As president, Lincoln toiled endlessly with plans to “colonize” (i.e., deport) all of the black people out of America. This is what Bennett calls Lincoln’s “White Dream,” and more recent research of the very best caliber supports him. I refer to the book Colonization after Emancipation by Phillip Magness of American University and Sebastian Page of Oxford University that, using records from the American and British national archives, proves that until his dying day Lincoln was negotiating with Great Britain and other foreign governments to deport all of the soon-to-be-freed slaves out of the U.S.
The Lincoln cult, which has fabricated excuses for everything, argued for years that Lincoln mysteriously abandoned his obsession with “colonization” sometime around 1863. Magness and Page prove this to be the nonsense that it is.
In Illinois, the state constitution was amended in 1848 to prohibit free black people from residing in the state. Lincoln supported it. He also supported the Illinois Black Codes, under which “Illinois Blacks had no legal rights. White people were bound to respect.” “None of this disturbed Lincoln,” writes Bennett.
Bennett also points out the clear historical fact that Lincoln strongly supported the Fugitive Slave Act which forced Northerners to hunt down runaway slaves and return them to their owners. He admittedly never said a word about slavery in public until he was in his fifties, while everyone else in the nation was screaming about the issue. When he did oppose slavery, Bennett points out, it was always in the abstract, accompanied by some statement to the effect that he didn’t know what could be done about it. And as a presidential candidate he never opposed Southern slavery, only the extension of slavery into the territories, explaining that “we” wanted to preserve the Territories “for free White people” (Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln, vol. 3, p. 311). In Bennett’s own words: “One must never forget that Lincoln always spoke in tongues or in a private code when he was talking about slavery or Negroes. And although he said or seemed to say that slavery was wrong, he always qualified the assertion in the same speech or in a succeeding speech, saying either that slavery was wrong in an abstract sense or that it was wrong in so far as it sought to spread itself.” He was a master politician, after all, which as Murray Rothbard once said, means that he was a masterful liar, conniver, and manipulator.
All of these truths, and many more, have been ignored, swept under the rug, or buried under thousands of pages of excuses by the Lincoln cult over the past century and more in books and in films like the new Lincoln film by Steven Spielberg. After spending a quarter of a century researching and writing on the subject, Lerone Bennett, Jr. concluded that “Lincoln is theology, not historiology. He is a faith, he is a church, he is a religion, and he has his own preists and acolytes, most of whom have a vested interest in ‘the great emancipator’ and who are passionately opposed to anybody telling the truth about him” (p. 114). And “with rare exceptions, you can’t believe what any major Lincoln scholar tells you about Abraham Lincoln and race.” Amen, Brother Lerone.
November 10, 2012

Who owes veterans? Getting thanks from the right people.

In Editorial on November 12, 2012 at 12:30 pm

The people of the United States just completed (another) holiday of state-inspired masturbation, Veteran’s Day. For over seventy-two hours, television held a non-stop military orgasm as anchorwomen dutifully moistened their chairs and non-veteran anchormen ‘held their manhood cheap’ before those who served in the imperial legions.

Veteran’s Day was first celebrated as Armistice Day at the conclusion of WWI. When ‘the war to end all wars’ turned out to be only a phony prelude to all subsequent wars, the holiday became ‘Veteran’s Day’. The holiday is often confused with ‘Memorial Day’, a holiday set aside to commemorate the nation’s dead military members.

[Veterans marching in Memorial Day parades are marching in salute of their fallen comrades, not so gathered civilians along the parade route “can finally say thank you” to the marchers. I wish the anchors would get at least that much right.]

Veteran’s Day in America is celebrated by celebrating the state and its military. The wintertime greeting of “Happy Holidays!” gets temporarily replaced with mindlessly blurted “Thank you for your service”, the state-inspired ‘Geseundheit’ one is expected to utter upon learning someone is a veteran.

Nonsense! If American veterans want a thank you, they’ll not get one from me. They need to pound on the doors at Raytheon, General Dynamics, and Kelly, Brown, and Root. They should run their parade route through the offices at Exxon.

There is no draft. Members of today’s military are well paid. They volunteer for service and are given, in exchange, a plethora of accommodations, bonuses, and freebies…‘parting gifts’ for having been fodder for the state and its imperialistic goals.

“They’re fighting for your freedom.”

More nonsense. Most are not fighting, period.

The ratio of support personnel to national trigger-pullers runs, in most cases, from 5 to 1 to upwards of 7 to 1. Most members of the military seldom hear more than harsh language from their fellows, let alone gunfire.

And, they are certainly not fighting, or even serving, for my freedom.

The United States has not had anyone fighting for America’s freedom since (arguably) WWII. Subsequent to that war, America’s legions have been fighting for empire and little else. Since I do not support the idea of American empire or Pax Americana, they have not (in my lifetime) ever fought for me.

[It is my opinion that combat veterans should set worshipful civilians right by reminding them that they didn’t fight for them, Mom, or apple pie. They fought to simply stay alive and to keep the guy next to them alive who was, likewise, returning the favor.]

No ‘thank you’ is, therefore, owed…except by war’s profiteers.

“Members of the military give up parts of their lives, and often their life as a whole.”

More nonsense.

Many people give up good parts of their lives as they pursue careers. Over-the-road truck drivers are a pretty good example. A lot of them also die while pursuing their occupation behind the wheel of an eighteen-wheeler. I don’t greet truckers with a timid “Thank you for your service.” It would be silly.

As silly as doffing one’s hat to a veteran and uttering the same.

Coal mining is dangerous. Recently, a man working in a tuna-canning factory was accidentally steamed to death on the job. Harvesting Alaskan king crabs is among the most dangerous of occupations. Where are the flag-draped parades for tuna canners, coal miners, and crab fishermen? Do we get misty-eyed at their sacrifices?

Of course not.

Doctors, lawyers, university professors, and a plethora of other professional occupations require their pursuers to give up years (often decades) of family life as they chase down those careers. They miss out on birthdays, holidays, and family gatherings…

…by choice, as do members of our military.

Do we get all gooey over the small businessman who toils for 80-100 hours per week during the critical first years of his business?

Of course not.

Do you conclude your consultation with a physician or lawyer by solemnly mumbling “Thank you for your service”?

Of course not. They would be embarrassed and you’d be a fool.

It’s not like the military isn’t well paid.

Pay for an E-1 with less than two years of service (An E-1 with more than two years of service should be paying us.) is around $1,500/month, or about $9.50/hr. A lot of folks in the civilian world make much less and try to raise families on that amount.

[Please spare me the nonsensical assertion that members of the military ‘work’ more than a civilian-standard 40-hour week. Most time in the military is spent sitting around waiting to do something. I’ve experienced that in two, world-class military organizations.]

A ‘butter bar’ lieutenant (O-1) with less than two years in grade earns almost double, at $2828/month…almost $18/hr. Like their civilian counterparts, junior officers are often college educated. Unlike their civilian counterparts, they do not work as barristas for $5/hr, plus tips.

The truth is, without the adoration of the mobs or a trashed economy, few people would pursue military careers and you know what that might lead to?


We’ll have none of that.

Veterans are owed deep measures of thanks, from the people who benefited most from their service…the military-industrial-congressional plutocracy who shifted their burden of saying ‘thank you’ to the deliberately dumbed-down civilians standing along the curb of a Veteran’s Day parade.

[It is my custom to give ‘birthday greetings’ on the founding anniversary of the respective branches of the military to those who successfully became members of those organizations. There is no double standard in doing so. My birthday wishes are given in recognition that the person successfully completed the requirements set to become an airman, sailor, soldier, or Marine. Their completion may be the only thing the person ever achieved (or they may see it as their greatest achievement) and someone’s individual achievements should be always be recognized. It is a far different thing than saying ‘thank you’. It is nonsensical to say ‘thank you’ when someone else achieves.]

Broccoli-Cheese Soup au Dijon

In Recipies on November 12, 2012 at 10:31 am

Cold weather has settled in earnest in America’s Ukraine (Iowa) and that means hearty soups and crusty breads will feature on the Phyne Dyner’s table.

My favorite cooking shows are those having hosts who encourage their viewers to improvise on their featured recipe. Chefs Jacques Pepin and Chris Koetke are masters at encouraging home cooks to make dishes “their own”.

Chef Koetke

I have done that with Koetke’s version of broccoli-cheese soup.

I’ve been a huge fan of broccoli-cheese soup and I would have continued making it as I had for nearly forty years if not for encountering Chef Koetke’s version on his Live Well Network show, Let’s Dish! My result was always good, but Chef Koetke encouraged his viewers to improve on “good” by cooking the broccoli to a level of doneness that many chefs would consider ‘over done’. Koetke asserts that cooking broccoli thoroughly brings out its nutty flavors.

I was intrigued and hooked on the idea and gave it a try. It worked!

The result was an extraordinarily velvety soup that was (uncharacteristically) ‘un-cheesy’.

Many cheese soups are over-wrought with cheese flavors, particularly those using mild vegetables like cauliflower, asparagus, or broccoli. Cooking the broccoli to maximum doneness really brings out its flavors and adds a whole dimension to its flavor profile.

It also compliments the bold flavor of added Dijon mustard.

Many southern cooks add Dijon mustard to their versions of broccoli-cheese soup. But, with the otherwise mild flavor of the broccoli, the result is often simply too “cream of mustard”. That problem was also solved by thoroughly cooking the broccoli first.

The following is my version of Chef Koetke’s improved broccoli-cheese soup. So, enjoy!

You will need:

3 lb (approx) broccoli crowns, finely chopped

½ yellow onion, minced

1 TBS brandy or cognac (optional)

1 bunch green onions, minced

1 large clove garlic, minced

1 stick unsalted butter, cut into pieces

2 – 3 TBS flour

½ tsp ground white pepper

1 TBS coarse-grained Dijon mustard

1 tsp fresh thyme leaves (or ½ tsp dried)

3 C low sodium chicken (or vegetable) broth

1 ¼ C shredded sharp cheddar

1 C half and half (or ½ C heavy cream)

pinch kosher salt

freshly ground black pepper

Melt the butter in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add the onion (yellow and green) and garlic. Sprinkle a pinch of kosher salt over the vegetables as they cook. Cook until ‘sweated’ and the onion is just soft and translucent, but not yet golden. Add the brandy or cognac, if using. Stir in the chopped broccoli and reduce the heat to low-medium. Stir to combine flavors and cover. Cook for about 40 minutes, stirring frequently. Do not allow the broccoli to scorch! Sprinkle the flour, in batches, over the vegetable mixture and stir well. Add the white pepper and thyme leaves and stir. Cook until fragrant. Add in the mustard, broth, and cheese. Cook until the cheese melts and the soup thickens a bit. Whisk in the half-and-half (or heavy cream). Just before service, use a stick (immersion) blender to slightly blend the soup to a creamy consistency, leaving some pieces of broccoli intact. If you use an upright blender or food processor for this step (in batches), allow the soup to cool before blending. Then, re-heat the soup. Season with salt and pepper.

Serve with lots of crusty bread.

Djaj bil Khizu (Chicken Tagine with Carrots)

In Recipies on November 12, 2012 at 9:47 am

We’re continuing our easy-chair tour of Moroccan tagines with a djaj (chicken) tagine prepared with carrots. Carrots are regarded as aphrodisiacs in many Arab cultures and this dish uses an abundant amount of them.

Aphrodisiac properties aside, it’s a shame so many people enjoy carrots only as a side dish. This ancient root vegetable packs a sweet wallop when it is fully cooked (The Celtic word for carrot means, “honey underground”.) and today’s featured dish pairs well-cooked carrots with generous amounts of lemon juice to make a Moroccan sweet and sour chicken meal. This tagine can be prepared in just over an hour and it makes a great Shabbat or other special occasion main course.

Carrots are related to coriander and this recipe adds generous amounts of ground coriander and cilantro leaves for flavorings. Garlic and fresh, minced parsley add a bit of pungency and the entire dish gets a generous amount of black pepper.

The result is luxurious and gastronomically stunning.

I (again) omitted traditional saffron from my version. If you adore saffron, by all means, add it in a generous pinch. It will lend this tagine a beautiful hue.

I also used cut up chicken quarters instead of a whole chicken. Due to expected high feed prices and higher energy costs, chicken and egg producers are culling their flocks and the price of fresh chicken has spiraled. I love the meat on chicken legs and thighs and, when the skin is removed, their fat content is brought down dramatically. Still, poultry dark meat contains up to 30 to 50 percent more fat than while meat. This is important when considering how much olive oil to use in cooking. If you prepare these dishes with (skinned) dark meat, cut the olive oil portions in tagines by about 40%. If you prepare it with all white meat, double the olive oil. For a whole chicken, use the recipe amount.

Just a reminder: You don’t need a tagine vessel to make great tagine. A large, deep skillet (with cover) or a Dutch oven works great. If you want to use a tagine vessel, make sure it as suitable for stovetop use. Many glazed tagines are not.

Here’s what you’ll need:

2.5 lb fresh chicken (jointed, skinned)

1 large white onion, finely minced

3 – 4 cloves garlic, finely minced

2 ½ C water

A generous handful chopped flat-leaf parsley

A generous handful of chopped cilantro

1 tsp ground coriander

1 tsp ground ginger

1 tsp ground black pepper

juice of one lemon (about ¼ C)

1 lb fresh carrots cut into thick rounds

2 TBS olive oil

pinch kosher salt

In a large, deep skillet or Dutch oven, nest the chicken pieces together. Season with the kosher salt. Sprinkle in the onion, garlic, black pepper, and the spices. Pour the water over everything and gently stir the ingredients to combine. Heat over medium-high heat until boiling. Drizzle the olive oil over the exposed chicken. Cover and reduce heat slightly and cook for thirty minutes. Reduce the heat to medium-low and add the cilantro and parsley, reserving about a tablespoon (each) for garnish. Stir in the lemon juice and carrots. Use tongs to gently turn the chicken. Cook, uncovered for fifteen minutes. When the chicken is quite fragile and the carrots are fork-tender, remove it and the carrots to a large platter or bowl and set them aside. Reduce the cooking liquid until it is quite thick. Return the chicken and carrots to the cooking vessel and toss to coat with the rich and syrupy sauce. Garnish with the remaining parsley and cilantro. Serve with large pita rounds.

Libertarian versus Libertarian-leaning, an example

In Intro to Libertarianism on November 5, 2012 at 10:22 am

[Editor’s Note: This is an excellent summary of libertarian-leaning principles. I’ve added a bit of commentary because I am often troubled by assertions made by (my words) ‘incomplete libertarians’ who claim to be anarcho-capitalists, libertarian-socialists, anarchists, or libertarians except when they talk about traditionally Christian-fascist bogeymen like feminism, GLBT issues, and abortion. Aside from that, Vance provides a concise and elegant summary of libertarian-leaning beliefs. I am also a bit troubled that some libertarians continue to assert nonsensically “the best tax is the least tax”. That is like saying, “Robbery and grand theft is bad, but petty larceny and shoplifting are just fine.” Theft is theft…no matter the degree. All taxation is theft. Our differences underscore the ideological differences between ‘libertarian’ (traditional liberal – myself, Chomsky, Rose, Bakunin, and Kropotkin) versus ‘libertarian-leaning’ (Vance, LaBaume, Rockwell, and Ron Paul). Libertarian-leaning is NOT synonymous with ‘libertarian’. PD]

Please remove me from your mailing list, “I’m just totally uninterested in your view of politics,” wrote a former student and friend.

I have been described (and dismissed) by some of my former friends as anti-war, libertarian, isolationist, or anti-government, not so much because they think that one word encapsulates my political philosophy, but because they are ignorant of U.S. history, the U.S. military, the U.S. government, U.S. foreign policy, and their own Bible that they profess to believe.

[Unfortunately, Vance later uses his own Bible (or some mystical ‘whatever’) to demonize abortion as ‘morally wrong’.]

Although I am a student of, and a commentator on, politics, I am not political in any way. I don’t vote. I don’t donate to political campaigns. I don’t endorse candidates. I don’t campaign for anyone. I don’t frequent political events. I don’t watch political debates. I loathe politicians, and especially members of Congress, of whom Mark Twain said: “There is no distinctly native American criminal class except Congress.”

But what’s not to like about my “view of politics”? What could possibly be so bad about it? And what is my “view of politics” that some conservatives, evangelicals, and Red-State Christian fascists find so uninteresting?

I have assembled this brief explanation of my “view of politics.” I am using the word politics in its broadest sense, as is common. Some of my views are best explained by quotes from others that I like. Not in any particular order, here are twelve propositions that make up my “view of politics.”

On the state, I believe with Lew Rockwell that the state is “a gang with a flag.” I believe with Murray Rothbard that the state is “a bandit gang writ large.” It is “a vast criminal organization far more formidable and successful than any ‘private’ Mafia in history.” I agree with H. L. Mencken that “every decent man is ashamed of the government he lives under” and that “all government is, in its essence, organized exploitation, and in virtually all of its existing forms it is the implacable enemy of every industrious and well-disposed man.” I also agree with Voltaire that “the art of government is to make two-thirds of a nation pay all it possibly can pay for the benefit of the other third.”

[I am amazed that ‘evolved’ man continues to believe in the myth of the ‘goodness’ of the state. Anarchist Larken Rose aptly describes ‘patriotism’ as: Having been trained to feel a blind loyalty to the ruling class of the particular piece of dirt they live on.” I would add that the ruling class adds, as its surrogate fetish, a bit of colored cloth on a stick ( sic ‘a flag’) to which the masses are expected to genuflect, bow, and swear allegiance (obedience) to.]

On economics, I believe that laissez faire is natural, moral, and biblical. I oppose all government regulations and any government intervention in the economy for any reason. I also subscribe to Richman’s law: “No matter how much the government controls the economic system, any problem will be blamed on whatever small zone of freedom that remains.”

[Arrrgghhh! Why did Vance feel compelled to say laissez faire economics is ‘biblical’? It is enough that it is ‘natural’ and ‘moral’ (I would have said ‘ethical’.). His bible (or mine) has no place in any discussion about legitimacy of something where it involves others who may not subscribe to his (or my) ‘Big Book of Unprovable Myths and Legends’.]

On taxes, I believe that taxation is theft. I believe with Frank Chodorov that the income tax is the root of all evil. But as long as we have taxes, I believe with J. B. Say that the “best” tax is the lightest. I therefore subscribe to the Rockwell rule when it comes to any tax reform proposal: “Does it reduce or eliminate an existing tax?” And I believe that tax breaks, tax shelters, tax incentives, tax deductions, tax loopholes, tax exemptions, and tax credits are always good because they allow people to keep more of their money in their pocket and out of the hands of the government.

[I submit that supporting the ‘least tax is the best tax’ only perpetuates the crime of legitimized theft by making it palatable to the point that it’s poison is not tasted. If there are no tax breaks, tax shelters, tax incentives, tax deductions, tax loopholes, tax exemptions, or tax credits…the pain and illegitimacy of taxation is felt by all. The more people oppressed by a tax, the more of them will oppose the taxation and it will go away. Tax breaks, tax shelters, tax incentives, tax deductions, tax loopholes, tax exemptions, and tax credits are analogous to exempting certain people from the peril of being robbed, simply because of who they are.]

On the Democratic Party, I believe with Strom Thurmond, who left the Democratic Party in 1964 because it was “leading the evolution of our nation to a socialistic dictatorship.” The Democratic Party is the party of liberalism, socialism, feminism, collectivism, abortion, organized labor, big government, environmentalism, affirmative action, welfare, paternalism, taxing and spending, income redistribution, and every alternative lifestyle known to man. That is, the Democratic Party stands for everything I oppose. I think the last good Democratic president was Grover Cleveland.

[I am often perplexed that feminism gives so many libertarians heartburn. If they are opposed to substituting male domination with equally offensive female domination, I’m on board with them. True feminism does not seek to replace misogyny with misadrony. On the other hand, if feminists seek only full parity with males, I’m on board with them. Many pseudo libertarians get a proportionate amount of heartburn by same-sex relationships (couched by Vance as ‘every alternative lifestyle known to man’). Why? “It’s unnatural.” Says who? “My Big Book of Unprovable Myths and Legends!” Then, YOU shouldn’t have a same-sex relationship. A libertarian doesn’t care about what his neighbors do consensually in matters of sex.]

On the Republican Party, I don’t think it is the lesser of two evils; I think it is pure evil. When Republicans say they believe in limited government, they only mean that they want a government limited to one controlled by Republicans. They are the party of war, torture, empire, militarism, the warfare state – and the welfare state. That is, the Republican Party stands for everything I oppose. All the talk by Republicans about the Constitution, the free market, and limited government is just a bunch of hot air – as is the Republican Party platform, Republican “Pledge to America,” and books by Republican “leaders.”

On voting, I believe with whomever said that it “just encourages the bastards.” I agree with Noam Chomsky that “if voting could actually change anything, it would be illegal,” with Mark Twain that “if voting made a difference, they wouldn’t let us do it,” and with Charles Bukowski that “the difference between a democracy and a dictatorship is that in a democracy you vote first and take orders later; in a dictatorship you don’t have to waste your time voting.”

On foreign policy, I believe with Thomas Jefferson that the best foreign policy is “peace, commerce, honest friendship with all nations – entangling alliances with none.” U.S. foreign policy is reckless, belligerent, and meddling, and has been for over 100 years.

On war, I believe with Benjamin Franklin that “there was never a good war or a bad peace.” I see nothing good about a “good war” (WWII) in which 50 million people died, the majority of whom were civilians. I also like Ike when he said about the atomic bombing of Japan that “it wasn’t necessary to hit them with that awful thing.” I believe the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are especially senseless, unjust, and immoral. I agree with Randolph Bourne that “war is the health of the state.”

On the U.S. military, I believe that instead of being a “global force for good,” it is a global force for evil. Not only should the military not be fighting foreign wars, no U.S. soldier should be stationed anywhere but on American soil. All 1,000 foreign bases should be closed, and all U.S. troops should be brought home. The sooner the better. And

On liberty, I believe, with Leonard Read, that people have the fundamental right to do “anything that’s peaceful” as long as it is not aggressing against someone else’s person or property. I believe, with Lysander Spooner, that vices are not crimes. I subscribe to the libertarian non-aggression principle; that is, it is wrong to threaten or initiate violence against someone unless in defense of one’s person or property.

On abortion, I believe that abortion is not only morally wrong, but violates libertarianism’s non-aggression principle. However, I part company with pro-lifers because I don’t believe the federal government has any more authority to concern itself with abortion than it does to concern itself with the amount of parking ticket fines in the fifty states. And I also extend my pro-life sentiments to children and adults in foreign countries on the receiving end of U.S. bombs and bullets.

[Unfortunately, ‘libertarian’ Vance now salutes the flag of Christio-fascism with his opposition to abortion. He does so with the false assertion that abortion ‘violates libertarianism’s non-aggression principle’. Nonsense! If you invited friends to your home and then decided (long after they arrived) that you would rather spend the evening alone, you would be well within your rights to ask them to leave. If they refused, you are entitled to remove them through the use of force. It is creative anthropomorphism at its best to assume that a fetus is a ‘person’ with rights greater than the rights of the person hosting it inside her body. If you are a true libertarian and you are opposed to abortion, don’t have one. To call it ‘murder’ is to beg for the state to enforce rules from your own ‘big book of myths’ (whatever bible you use). At their root, they are less concerned with the welfare of their fanciful ‘baby’ than they are with the ‘morality’ of how it became fixed to the mother’s uterine wall…paleo-Puritanism beliefs that sexual pleasure must be countered with some kind punishment…quid pro quo. Don’t like abortion…don’t have one. Yes, it’s that simple.]

On gun control, I believe gun control is being able to hit your target. And unlike some in the NRA, I actually believe that the Second Amendment prohibits the federal government from infringing in any way on the right to keep and bear arms. That is, the federal government has no authority to ban or regulate any gun of any caliber or type, any ammunition, any magazines, any gun sales or purchases, or any gun shows. And the federal government has no authority to set up a Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms since it has no authority to ban or regulate alcohol, tobacco, or firearms.

I’m sure I am missing something. But the above, in a large nutshell, is my view of politics that some are uninterested in.

November 5, 2012

Laurence M. Vance writes from central Florida. He is the author of Christianity and War and Other Essays Against the Warfare State, The Revolution that Wasn’t, Rethinking the Good War, and The Quatercentenary of the King James Bible. His latest book is The War on Drugs Is a War on Freedom.


More Kasbah Cookery

In Recipies on November 5, 2012 at 8:50 am


Kasbah Tamadot (Web Photo)

This recipe combines two of my favorite things: Moroccan flavors and Cornish game hens.

I’ve already gushed praise on the little birds in several, previous columns and recipes. It bears repeating that game hens provide just enough flavorful meat to satisfy most carnivores, they are simple to prepare, and they cost almost as little as turkey during the summer season in North America.

[With the approach of the American Thanksgiving holiday, this dish would be a great substitute for a whole turkey if you are feeding a large group. The cost would be similar and there would be no gigantic containers of leftovers to deal with later.]

The original version of this recipe employs quail. The dish is just as tasty with game hens and similar birds whether they are called “squab”, “pigeon”, “quail”, or “Chukars”. Using game hens will allow you to sample one of the most traditional Moroccan meals without the expense of using quail!

I made other deviations from the traditional Moroccan recipe. I substituted whole wheat couscous, added a bit of cinnamon beyond what is in the ras el hanout, and drizzled a bit of fine honey over the birds just before service. The honey adds even more sweetness to an already sweet meal. Besides, as the Arabic proverb says: “An Arab who does not enjoy sweets is like a Muslim who does not believe in Paradise.”

If you do not use whole wheat couscous, be sure to cut its preparation liquid by at least one-half. The whole wheat couscous keeps its body and is very forgiving of overcooking. Overcooking regular couscous will yield a pasty mush resembling a very poor polenta.

I also eliminated saffron in the dish. I’m not a fan. I’ve tried saffron from many sources and in many variations of quality. Although it lends a gorgeous color to the dish, its flavor seems ‘iodine-like’ to me. If you love it, use it. I simply used a bit more ras el hanout.

[Every spice seller will vouch that their version of ras el hanout (lit. “boss of the shop”) spice blend is authentic. Just like all other things in the kitchen, the composition of ras el hanout is a matter of tradition and personal taste. I tend toward blends that run heavy on rose hips. You will find Lebanese, Moroccan, Persian, and other variations. I also favor the Lebanese style which uses a bit more allspice and cumin. The Persian style, using more cardamom, is also quite excellent. An excellent spice seller will guide you. Or, best, experiment with your own blends!]

The recipe for the couscous stuffing is sufficient for two birds. Increase the amounts proportionately if you are preparing more birds.

Let’s get to our Kasbah cookery! You will need:

1 16-32oz game hen per person

3/4 C (uncooked) whole wheat couscous per bird

6oz slivered almonds, toasted

6oz dried mission figs, minced

1 tsp ground ginger

2 ½ C water

2 TBS sugar

3 TBS olive oil

½ tsp black pepper (or ¼ tsp Aleppo pepper)

1 onion, thin sliced

1 ½ tsp ras el hanout (according to taste)

pinch saffron (optional)

kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to season

pinch cinnamon

1 TBS fine honey per bird

thread and needle

Be sure the game hens are 100% thawed!

Prepare the couscous according to package instructions (See notes above!) and set it aside to cool. Mix in the figs, ginger, pepper, sugar, and almonds with the cooked couscous when it is cool. Meanwhile, carefully clean and rinse the hens. Pat them dry (inside and out) with paper towels. Lightly season inside with a bit of salt and pepper.

[NOTE: Practice superior kitchen hygiene when handling the stuffing and the birds. NEVER allow a spoon or your hand to touch the bird and then return to the bowl of stuffing. You will be using the leftover stuffing separately! It is safest to dish out sufficient couscous for stuffing the birds into a separate bowl from which you will take to stuff the birds. It takes less than a drop of uncooked poultry juice contamination to create ‘food poisoning’ for everyone. Always cook the stuffed birds IMMEDIATELY after stuffing them.]

Use a teaspoon and your fingers to stuff the couscous mixture inside each hen. Carefully suture (sew) up any openings after the birds are stuffed. Place the birds in a very deep skillet (that has a cover) and pour the water and oil into the skillet. The water should cover the birds by almost half. Sprinkle the ras el hanout into the water and also a bit on top of each hen. Scatter the onion slices around the birds. Season with a bit of kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Set aside any remaining couscous stuffing mixture.

Heat the skillet over medium-high heat and bring to the boil. Cook, uncovered for thirty minutes. Rotate each bird ¼ turn every fifteen minutes. Reduce the heat to simmer and cover. Cook for an additional 30 minutes, turning each bird ¼ turn every 15 minutes. Check the internal temperature of the birds. They are done when they are at 165F in their thickest part. BE SURE to also check the temperature of the stuffing at the same time. It should be at least 160F. Remove the birds from the skillet to a platter, breast side up. Drizzle about 1 tbs of honey over each bird and sprinkle with a tiny bit of cinnamon. Ideally, the liquid in the pan will be slightly syrupy and coat the birds with a fine glaze.

While the birds are ‘resting’, check the liquid in the skillet. It must be syrupy. If it is too thin, reduce it over high heat. If it is too thick and pasty, add a bit of water. When the liquid is at the correct consistency, toss in the remaining couscous mixture and stir. Spoon the couscous onto serving plates and nest the game hens in its center. Snip out your sutures and remove the thread before service.