Sunday, January 29, 2012

Obama Administration Offers $75,000 Grants to Sign Up More Food Stamp Recipients

Obama Administration Offers $75,000 Grants to Sign Up More Food Stamp Recipients:

Over the last three years, the number of Americans on food stamps has skyrocketed by two-thirds and stands at a record-high 46 million citizens, or one out of every seven people in the United States. Despite the historic rise in food stamp use, however, the Obama Administration believes not enough people are receiving food stamps who should be and is offering $75,000 grants to groups who devise “effective strategies” to “increase program participation” among those who have yet to sign up.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s website singles out Hispanics and elderly Americans as groups who often fail to enroll in the food stamp program (officially known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP) and says that one of the contributing factors that must be overcome to get more people to sign up for SNAP benefits is individual “pride”:

There are many reasons why eligible people, including seniors and Hispanics, do not participate in the SNAP. These include unawareness of eligibility, confusion about program rules and requirements, a complex application process, and a lack of transportation and pride.

To reduce these “barriers” to food stamp enrollment, the Department of Agriculture offers non-profit groups the chance to receive $75,000 grants for projects designed to boost food stamp participation among those who are eligible but have yet to sign up. The Department of Agriculture believes that the SNAP program is “severely underutilized” and says that 33 percent more Americans who are eligible to receive food stamps have yet to apply, thus the need to offer federal grants to sign more citizens up.

President Obama’s Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack has also argued that food stamps are an effective form of economic stimulus that puts “people to work” because each time food stamps are used at a grocery store “someone’s got to stock it, shelve it, package it, process it, ship it–all of those are jobs.”

And indeed, the SNAP Outreach Grant program likewise repeats the claim:

Communities benefit from the economic impact of food stamp redemption in local stores. Every dollar of new food stamp benefits generates a total of $1.84 in community spending.

Critics, however, find that line of logic unconvincing and say that is like arguing that car theft provides “economic stimulus” because it generates work for window repair shops, car radio stores, and police officers.

The Department of Agriculture’s website lists the 2001 through 2009 SNAP Outreach Grant recipients but offers no data for 2010 or 2011. Of the years listed, the highest recorded total grant allocation occurred in 2002 when $5,046,915 in grants were allocated.

Given the historic rise in the number of Americans now receiving food stamps over the last three years, one might assume that a program to enroll more citizens in the SNAP program is no longer needed. However, according to page 27 of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s 2010-2015 Strategic Plan, the Obama Administration lists as one of its goals increasing SNAP participation by 2015 to a target 75 percent of all eligible Americans from the 2007 baseline of 65.8 percent. The strategic plan says it will accomplish the Administration’s goal through “aggressive and creative outreach, customer service improvements, earned media activities, demonstration projects, and research and analysis to identify reasons for and potential solutions to participation gaps.”

Republicans, however, contend that taxpayer spending on the food stamp program has doubled under President Barack Obama and will reach $89 billion in 2012. Furthermore, they believe the program now suffers from serious fraud, abuse, and a lack of proper oversight.

On January 9th, the Ranking Member of the Senate Budget Committee Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) sent a letter to Secretary Tom Vilsack requesting a full report on the Agriculture Department’s oversight efforts. And last year, the Wall Street Journal declared that under President Obama a “food stamp crime wave” was rampant in America.

Still, thus far, the Obama Administration has decided to continue offering cash grants through the SNAP Outreach Grant program and plans to pursue its stated strategic plan of increasing food stamp enrollment through 2015.

Saturday, January 28, 2012



As Raul Castro's Communists hold conference to promote reforms, Cubans fear it is all too slow - Telegraph

As Raul Castro's Communists hold conference to promote reforms, Cubans fear it is all too slow - Telegraph

Sunday, January 22, 2012

The Golden Age of Islam

The Golden Age of Islam: A Second Look

By Richard Butrick

The period from the death of Muhammad through the 13th Century marks the glory days of the Islamic empire. It was a period of commerce, industry and intra-cultural synergies and a flourishing of the sciences, art, medicine and architecture. It was the epitome of what civilization should be. Just ask Obama. In his 2009 Cairo speech the president said that Islam "carried the light of learning through so many centuries, paving the way for Europe's Renaissance and Enlightenment," and praised the "innovation in Muslim communities that developed the order of algebra; our magnetic compass and tools of navigation; our mastery of pens and printing; our understanding of how disease spreads and how it can be healed."

While Central Europe languished in the Dark Ages of ignorance, fear and superstition following the collapse of the Roman Empire in the 5th century (so the story goes), it was the Islamic world that carried the torch of Classical civilization to a Europe finally stumbling out of the Dark Ages in the 15th century.

By contrast the Islamic world flourished during the Dark Ages: by the 13th century, both Africa and India had become great centers of Islamic civilization, and soon after, Muslim kingdoms were established in the Malay-Indonesian world while Chinese Muslims flourished throughout China.

Islam therefore is a religion for all people from whatever race or background they might be: Islamic civilization is based on a unity which stands completely against any racial or ethnic discrimination. Such major racial and ethnic groups as the Arabs, Persians, Turks, Africans, Indians, Chinese and Malays in addition to countless smaller units embraced Islam and contributed to the building of Islamic civilization.

Moreover, so the story goes, Islam was not opposed to learning from the earlier civilizations and incorporating their science, learning, and culture into its own world view. Each ethnic and racial group that embraced Islam made its contribution to the one Islamic civilization to which everyone belonged.

The global civilization created by Islam also succeeded in activating the minds and thoughts of the people who entered its fold. As a result of Islam, the nomadic Arabs became torch-bearers of science and learning. The Persians, who had created a great civilization before the rise of Islam, nevertheless produced even more science and learning in the Islamic period than before. The same can be said of the Turks and other peoples who embraced Islam. The religion of Islam was itself responsible not only for the creation of a world civilization in which people of many different ethnic backgrounds participated, but it also played a central role in developing intellectual and cultural life on a scale not seen before.

Quite a story. And it is a story being fed to US students from k-12 on through graduate schools. Quite a story? More like a fairy tale.

Victor Davis Hanson has taken down Obama's version of the Golden age of Islam:
In his speech last week in Cairo, President Obama proclaimed he was a "student of history." But despite Mr. Obama's image as an Ivy League-educated intellectual, he lacks historical competency in both facts and interpretation. … Obama … claimed that "Islam . . . carried the light of learning through so many centuries, paving the way for Europe's Renaissance and Enlightenment." [In fact] medieval Islamic culture … had little to do with the European rediscovery of classical Greek and Latin values. Europeans, Chinese, and Hindus, not Muslims, invented most of the breakthroughs Obama credited to Islamic innovation. … Much of the Renaissance, in fact, was more predicated on the centuries-long flight of Greek-speaking Byzantine scholars from Constantinople to Western Europe to escape the aggression of Islamic Turks. Many romantic thinkers of the Enlightenment sought to extend freedom to oppressed subjects of Muslim fundamentalist rule in eastern and southern Europe.
Andrew Bostom has skewered the myth that Cordoba was a model of ecumenism:

Expanding upon Jane Gerber's thesis about the "garish" myth of a "Golden Age," the late Richard Fletcher (in hisMoorish Spain) offered a fair assessment of interfaith relationships in Muslim Spain and his view of additional contemporary currents responsible for obfuscating that history:
The witness of those who lived through the horrors of the Berber conquest, of the Andalusian fitnah[ordeal] in the early eleventh century, of the Almoravid invasion — to mention only a few disruptive episodes — must give it [i.e.: the roseate view of Muslim Spain] the lie.

The simple and verifiable historical truth is that Moorish Spain was more often a land of turmoil than it was of tranquility. … Tolerance? Ask the Jews of Granada who were massacred in 1066, or the Christians who were deported by the Almoravids to Morocco in 1126 (like the Moriscos five centuries later). … In the second half of the twentieth century a new agent of obfuscation makes its appearance: the guilt of the liberal conscience, which sees the evils of colonialism — assumed rather than demonstrated — foreshadowed in the Christian conquest of al-Andalus and the persecution of the Moriscos (but not, oddly, in the Moorish conquest and colonization). Stir the mix well and issue it free to credulous academics and media persons throughout the Western world. Then pour it generously over the truth … in the cultural conditions that prevail in the West today, the past has to be marketed, and to be successfully marketed, it has to be attractively packaged. Medieval Spain in a state of nature lacks wide appeal. Self-indulgent fantasies of glamour … do wonders for sharpening its image. But Moorish Spain was not a tolerant and enlightened society even in its most cultivated epoch.
Serge Trifkovic also has a general take-down of the overblown account of the accomplishments and comity of the Islamic Golden Age in his FrontPage article, The Golden Age of Islam is a Myth.

And now we have Emmet Scott, in a soon to be released study, Mohammed & Charlemagne Revisited: An Introduction to the History of a Controversy, advancing the thesis that Rather than preserving the Classical heritage, the expanding Islamic empire destroyed it and brought about the Dark Ages.

Armed with new archaeological evidence, Scott makes the compelling case, originally put forward in 1920 by Henri Pirenne, a Belgian historian, that Classical civilization did not collapse after the fall of the Roman empire but was gradually attrited by the onslaught of Arab armies and raiders. The Islamic Golden Age came close to permanently destroying the classical humanistic culture of the West.

Hanson has pointed out the factual errors in Obama's paean to Islam's Golden Age. Andrew Bostom has skewered the myth that Cordoba was a model of ecumenism Trikovic has shown that the continuation of learning, science, technology of the "Golden age of Islam" prospered in spite of Islam and not because of Islam and now we have Emmet Scott skewering the myth that the Golden Age of Islam saved Classical humanistic Western culture. What is next? The glory of Sharia?

Islam and the “Golden Age” of Scientific Discovery

From TRoP

The Myth

Muslims often claim that their religion fostered a rich heritage of scientific discovery, “paving the way” for modern advances in technology and medicine. On this topic, they usually refer to the period between the 7th and 13th centuries, when Europe was experiencing its “Dark Ages” and the Muslim world was acquiring new populations and culture through violent conquest.

The Truth

Although there is no arguing that the Muslim world was relatively more advanced during this period than the “Christian” world, the reasons for this have absolutely nothing to do with the Islamic religion (other than its mandate for military expansion). In fact, the religion tends to discourages knowledge outside of itself, which is why the most prolific Muslim scholars have always tended to be students of religion rather than science.

[Note that the country of Spain alone translates more learning material and literature into Spanish each year than the entire Arab world has translated into Arabic since the 9th century. As the Saudi Grand Mufti bluntly put it in 2010, "The Quran with its stories and knowledge are sufficient for us... we don't need the Torah, or Gospels, or any other book].

The many fundamentalists and other devotees who dress as Muhammad did and adopt 7th century lifestyles to some degree or another underscore the importance of tradition in Islam. The religion is highly conservative and resistant to change, which is viewed with suspicion. As scholar Bernard Lewis points out, in Islam an innovation is presumed to be bad unless it can be proven to be good.

Beyond this, there are four basic reasons why Islam has little true claim to scientific achievement:

First, the Muslim world benefited greatly from the Greek sciences, which were translated for them by Christians and Jews. To their credit, Muslims did a better job of preserving Greek text than did the Europeans of the time, and this became the foundation for their own knowledge. (One large reason for this, however, was that access by Christians to this part of their world was cut off by Muslim slave ships and coastal raids that dominated the Mediterranean during this period).

Secondly, many of the scientific advances credited to Islam were actually “borrowed” from other cultures conquered by the Muslims. The algebraic concept of “zero”, for example, is erroneously attributed to Islam when, in fact, it was a Hindu discovery that was merely introduced to the West by Muslims.

In truth, conquered populations contributed greatly to the history of “Muslim science” until gradually being decimated by conversion to Islam (under the pressures of dhimmitude). The Muslim concentration within a population is proportional to the decline of scientific achievement. It is no accident that the Muslim world has had little to show for itself in the last 800 years or so, since running out of new civilizations to cannibalize.

Third, even accomplished Muslim scientists and cultural icons were often considered heretics in their day, sometimes with good reason. One of the greatest achievers to come out of the Muslim world was the Persian scientist and philosopher, al-Razi. His impressive works are often held up today as “proof” of Muslim accomplishment. But what the apologists often leave out is that al-Razi was denounced as a blasphemer, since he followed his own religious beliefs – which were in obvious contradiction to traditional Islam.

Fourth, even the contributions that are attributed to Islam (often inaccurately) are not terribly dramatic. There is the invention of certain words, such as alchemy and elixir (and assassin, by the way), but not much else that survives in modern technology which is of practical significance. Neither is there any reason to believe that such discoveries would not have easily been made by the West following the cultural awakening triggered by the Reformation.

As an example, consider that Muslims claim credit for "inventing" coffee - in the sense that they popularized an existing discovery by Africans who were caught up in the Arab slave trade. However, it is also true that the red dye used in many food products, from cranberry juice to candy, comes from the abdomen of a particular female beetle found in South America. It is extremely unlikely that the West would not have stumbled across coffee by now (although, to be fair, coffee probably expedited subsequent discoveries).

In fact, the litany of “Muslim” achievement often takes the form of rhapsody, in which the true origins of these discoveries are omitted - along with their comparative significance to Western achievement. One often doesn't hear about the dismal fate of original accomplishments either. Those who brag about the great observatory of Taqi al-Din in [freshly conquered] Istanbul, for example, often neglect to mention that it was quickly destroyed by the caliphate.

At the end of the day, the record of scientific, medical and technological accomplishment is not something over which Muslim apologists want to get into a contest with the Christian world. Today’s Islamic innovators are primarily known for turning Western technology, such as cell phones and airplanes, into instruments of mass murder.

To sum up, although the Islamic religion is not entirely hostile to science, neither should it be confused as a facilitator. The great achievements that are said to have come out of the Islamic world were made either by non-Muslims who happened to be under Islamic rule, or by heretics who usually had little interest in Islam. Scientific discovery tapers off dramatically as Islam asserts dominance, until it eventually peters out altogether.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Newt Was Right

Newt Was Right: Andrew C. McCarthy

Newt Gingrich’s ardent admiration for Franklin Delano Roosevelt owes more to the latter’s unflinching wartime leadership than his welfare-state policy prescriptions. This week, though, the former Speaker is also undoubtedly in accord with FDR’s aphorism, “I ask you to judge me by the enemies I have made.” To his great credit, Newt has made an enemy of CAIR.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations, that is. The nation’s best known cheerleader for radical Islam — or, as Fox News compliantly puts it, “the largest Muslim civil liberties group in the United States” — has issued a blistering press release that labels Gingrich “one of the nation’s worst promoters of anti-Muslim bigotry.” The occasion for this outburst is the imminent Republican primary in South Carolina.Asked at a campaign appearance whether he’d ever consider endorsing a Muslim for president, Gingrich sensibly answered that he would not rule it out — “it would depend on whether [the hypothetical Muslim candidate] would commit in public to give up sharia.” Naturally, the usual suspects are in full fury, with CAIR the loudest among them. They’ve trotted out the rote response, dutifully echoed by Fox, that sharia, Islam’s legal code, is simply a set of spiritual guidelines — one that, in CAIR’s portrayal, “teaches marital fidelity, generous charity, and a thirst for knowledge.”

Actually, it teaches polygamy, the underwriting of jihadist violence through ostensible charity, and the Islamization of knowledge. Don’t take my word for it. I refer you instead to a CAIR favorite, the International Institute of Islamic Thought. (IIIT)

CAIR and IIIT are both Muslim Brotherhood affiliates long active in our country. Founded in the early Eighties, IIIT is a Virginia-based think tank dedicated to what it calls the “Islamization of knowledge,” which is a “euphemism,” as the Hudson Institute’s Zeyno Baran puts it, “for the rewriting of history to support Islamist narratives” — such as the claim that Spain is actually the rightful property of Muslims, to be renamed “al-Andalus,” as it was known under jihadist conquest. CAIR, strategically based in Washington, was shrewdly designed to be an Islamist public-relations arm — the Brotherhood realizing that the American media and government were suckers for agitators who style themselves as “civil rights” advocates. This was back in the mid-Nineties, when new criminal laws against supporting terrorists complicated the Brotherhood’s overt championing of Hamas.

Both CAIR and IIIT were identified as Brotherhood satellites in the internal Brotherhood memoranda that proved critical in the Justice Department’s successful Holy Land Foundation prosecution — a case involving millions of dollars funneled to Hamas, and a case in which CAIR was cited as an unindicted co-conspirator.

CAIR and the IIIT are so inter-bred that CAIR’s advisory board has included Sayyid Syeed, a founder of, and director of “academic outreach” for, IIIT — in addition to being a founder of the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA, another unindicted coconspirator in the HLF case) and a former president of the Muslim Students Association (MSA), the first building block of the Brotherhood’s American infrastructure. And late last year, just weeks before blasting Gingrich, CAIR presented a lifetime achievement award to Iqbal Unus, a top IIIT official, who was also a prime mover in the development of MSA and ISNA.

CAIR’s reverence for the IIIT is relevant because the Islamization think-tank is prominent among the endorsers of Reliance of the Traveller: A Classic Manual of Islamic Sacred Law. In fact, IIIT’s endorsement report is included in Reliance, vouching that this English translation of Umdat al-Salik — an authoritative compendium of sharia composed by a renowned 14th-century Islamic jurist — is accurate, faithful to Muslim doctrine, and highly successful in “its aim to imbue the consciousness of the non-Arabic-speaking Muslim with a sound understanding of Sacred Law.” Thus, IIIT opined, “there is no doubt that this translation is a valuable and important work, whether as a textbook for teaching Islamic jurisprudence to English speakers, or as a legal reference for use by scholars, educated laymen, and students in this [English] language.”

I have previously summarized sections of this IIIT-certified manual. The law it promulgates is not merely a set of religious principles for spiritual guidance but a full-scale, authoritarian governmental system, regulating every aspect of political, social, and economic life. For example, Reliance denies freedom of conscience, explaining that apostasy from Islam is a death-penalty offense. It further elaborates, with supporting citations from scripture, that a Muslim apostatizes not only by clearly renouncing Islam but by doing so implicitly — such as by deviating from the “consensus of Muslims,” or making statements that could be taken as insolence toward Allah or the prophet Mohammed.

Reliance further approves a legal caste system in which the rights and privileges of Muslims and men are superior to those of non-Muslims and women. For example, it approves polygamy: Muslim men may marry up to four women, though Muslim women are limited to marrying one man, who must be a Muslim — the system being designed to produce Muslim children. Under the manual’s legal regime, the testimony and inheritance rights of women are worth half that of a man; women are directed to be obedient to their husbands (they may otherwise be beaten) and must have permission from their husbands before leaving the marital home.

The manual penalizes extramarital fornication by stoning or scourging. It matter-of-factly assigns other cruel corporal punishments for various offenses (e.g., amputation of a thief’s hand). The death penalty is directed for homosexuals, as well as for those who spy against Muslims, and for those who make interest-bearing loans.

This sharia system leads to an epidemic of unreported rape, because rape allegations must be verified by four male witnesses — otherwise the intercourse is considered extramarital fornication (turning the victim into a capital criminal). There can, moreover, be no marital rape in sharia because a wife is obliged to submit on demand. There is a reason why sexual assault is the unmentioned scandal of an increasingly Islamic Europe.

Reliance venerates jihad, which it defines as “to war against non-Muslims.” Muslims, moreover, are obliged to strive to establish an Islamic government, ruled by a caliph, who must be Muslim and male. If an Islamic state is established, non-Muslims are permitted to live in it only if they accept the state’s authority, pay a poll tax, and comply with various degrading conditions of dhimmitude that are designed to remind them of their inferior status.

Newt Gingrich is not pulling this stuff out of the sky any more than I am. It is all there in black and white, courtesy of CAIR’s Islamist allies. Of course, there are Muslims who do not want to live in a sharia state, Muslims who desire a civil society on which private spiritual beliefs are not imposed. That is exactly why Newt, in answering the question about presidential qualifications, took pains to qualify that “a truly modern person who happened to worship Allah” would pose no problem. But that is not the type of Muslim that CAIR and other Brotherhood satellites are grooming. They advocate sharia, which is why Gingrich makes sharia, not the fact that someone happens to be a Muslim, his line in the sand.

Fox is owned by News Corp, whose second-largest shareholder is the Saudi prince Alwaleed bin Talal, whose fabulous wealth spearheads the aggressive campaign to put a happy face on sharia while promoting it in the media and the academy — just as Muslim Brotherhood founder Hasan al-Banna instructed in his elaborate plan for Islamizing societies. It is no surprise, then, to find Fox’s report on Gingrich parroting CAIR’s stock rebuttal that sharia is no threat to America because it mandates that “Muslims respect the law of the land in which they live.” This, by the way, is the same thing the Blind Shiekh and other terrorist defendants claimed, when I prosecuted them in the first World Trade Center case; they argued to the jury that they couldn’t possibly be involved in a jihadist war against the United States because when a Muslim lives in a non-Muslim country, sharia dictates that he honor that country’s legal code.

It is laughable. Even if you believe that Islamists respect our laws, those laws allow for their own repeal and modification. Hence, they comfortably accommodate a campaign of sharia incrementalism — if we allow it to happen. There is nothing illegal about it, but a quick glance at Europe will tell you that its success would gradually and dramatically alter the character of the West. And CAIR’s unmitigated gall in smearing Gingrich as a segregationist is astounding. These are the guys whose ideal society segregates everyone along lines of creed and sex. Their strategy in the West is voluntary apartheid: Muslims counseled to retreat into their own enclaves, the better to argue that they must be permitted to govern themselves under their own parallel sharia system — giving sharia the toehold of legitimacy from which it can spread. Read Reliance and ask yourself who the segregationists are.

The sharia of the IIIT and their chums at CAIR is patently antithetical to the individual liberties, equality of opportunity, and separation of powers that undergird our constitutional system, which any president must swear to preserve, protect, and defend. It is, of course, permissible in our free society to believe that our system should be overthrown in favor of a sharia system — just as it is permissible to believe the moon is made of blue cheese. But the rest of us are not required to admire an Islamist’s beliefs just because there is no crime in his holding them, or just because they derive from a belief system he labels “religion.” And given that one cannot rationally believe both a proposition and its opposite, Newt is exactly right to argue that a presidential candidate could not be faithful simultaneously to the Constitution and to the classical sharia preached by the Brotherhood.

CAIR despises Gingrich because he is not seized by factophobia. That’s the Western epidemic whose seemingly untreatable pathogen is the dread accusation of “Islamophobia,” leveled by smartly groomed Islamists in their neatly pressed suits who so exude moderation — at least until you ask them about Israel — that you could never imagine them swatting a fly, much less chopping off a hand. Nearly two decades of boot-licking by a bipartisan parade of American politicians and administrations have conditioned these CAIR “civil rights” activists to expect — to demand — that no one will question them, not about sharia tenets, not about their organization’s sordid history.

When someone dares to depart from the script, that someone must be vilified without remission. Otherwise, the fortress of cards comes tumbling down. But imagine an American media that actually did its homework and asked CAIR about what’s in Reliance of the Traveller, rather than mindlessly repeating the Brotherhood’s lavishly financed talking points.

— Andrew C. McCarthy, a senior fellow at the National Review Institute, is the author, most recently, of The Grand Jihad: How Islam and the Left Sabotage America.

RSS 2.0:

Pilot with terror links deemed a security risk accuses airline of racism after losing his job

Pilot with terror links deemed a security risk accuses airline of racism after losing his job:

Daily Mail:

By Ian Gallagher

Last updated at 10:19 PM on 21st January 2012

    • Restrictions: The Mail on Sunday is challenging the decision made by the courts that the pilot with terror links cannot be identified

Restrictions: The Mail on Sunday is challenging the decision made by the courts that the pilot with terror links cannot be identified

A British airline pilot arrested over an alleged terrorist plot is claiming racial and religious discrimination after losing his job.

The pilot, a Muslim, was judged a security risk because of his close links to two alleged extremists suspected of ‘planning to use an aircraft as part of a hostile or terrorist act’.

Because of draconian reporting restrictions imposed last week by an employment tribunal, the man cannot be identified and neither can his employer.

Despite this, a well-known British carrier said in a letter that the pilot was ‘in a position to cause considerable harm’ and added that it was in the ‘national interest’ to ensure he never flew commercial aircraft again.

Concerns about the two suspected extremists – one is a business partner of the pilot’s brother – were first raised when they paid for flying lessons and a light aircraft in cash.

During a raid on the London home of one of the pair, detectives found documents relating to the operation of aircraft, a flight map of the UK and literature from an Islamic extremist group banned in many countries.

The pilot, who lives in South-East England and was based at Heathrow, has known the men for ten years and rented a flat from one of them.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Just a cake

Just a cake:


A cake with a little ganache.


Or maybe a little too much.

Nope. Not possible. Not sure there’s such a thing as too much ganache.

I like to eat it by the spoonful, but by the cakefull is even better.

The cake inside is chocolate. And actually the recipe for the chocolate cake in this post is not the actual cake in these pictures.

Why? Well, while it looks nice enough, it just wasn’t satisfied. So I made a few changes and made a better version the same day that I didn’t have time to decorate.

Instead, I’ve just been eating it straight up.

I like the simple look of the decorated one though.

High contrast.

The cake is frosted in buttercream first.


But for the middle layer of frosting, I tucked away a few of these inside.


Buttercream, speckled with miniature chocolate chips for kicks.




Then the rest of the cake gets covered in plain white buttercream.

Easy enough.


Then comes the best part.

A reason to lick my spoon.


You’ll want the ganache to set up and thicken before you pour any on the cake.


Thicker, like this.


Oh my! Start pouring in the center, but be careful not to go too fast.

Ideally, you wouldn’t want too much to go over the sides and puddle around the cake.


Yeah, like this.

Okay, I got a little excited.

Ganache does that to me.

Now for the recipe of the second chocolate cake I made. The better one.

That said, I welcome any of your chocolate cake suggestions. I’m looking for the best homemade chocolate cake ever. Got one? Know of one? Care to share? This one’s good! But I’m not done searching.

What fun would that be anyway.


Chocolate Cake with Vanilla Frosting …and a good amount of ganache!

Chocolate Cake:

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour

2/3 cup natural unsweetened cocoa

1 1/2 cup sugar

1 1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 eggs

1/2 cup vegetable oil

2 teaspoons vanilla

3/4 cup milk

2/3 cup hot water

Buttercream Frosting:

1 1/2 cups butter

1 teaspoon vanilla

6 cups powdered sugar

4-8 Tablespoons milk

2/3 cup semi-sweet chocolate morsels, if desired

Chocolate Ganache:

3/4 cup heavy cream

1/4 cup butter

3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate morsels

For the cake:

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

  • Grease the bottom of two 9-inch cake pans. Then place parchment paper cut to size on the bottom of each pan and grease paper. Dust pans with cocoa.

  • Sift dry ingredients together and place in a large mixing bowl.

  • Add eggs, oil, milk and vanilla and beat for a couple of minutes until combined.

  • Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add hot water and mix together.

  • Pour into prepared pans and bake for about 28-30 minutes. Batter will be very liquid.

  • Cool for about 5 minutes in the pan. Transfer to wire racks to cool completely.

For the frosting:

  • Beat the butter in a mixer until smooth.

  • Add vanilla and mix until combined.

  • Add the powdered sugar in several additions, scraping down the sides after each addition.

  • Add milk a tablespoon at a time and mix together until you achieve a smooth consistency.

  • Note: If you want your frosting whiter without using shortening, add a little white icing color to tint.

For the ganache:

  • Heat cream and butter in a saucepan until melted and remove before it starts to boil.

  • Place chocolate morsels in a small bowl and pour cream on top. Let sit for a few seconds and whisk by hand until completely incorporated and smooth.

  • Let cool until thick and pourable.

  • The ganache can take a bit to thicken. You can make it before the buttercream, to save time. Just use a wire whisk to stir it every few minutes and keep it smooth

To assemble: trim tops off of cake layers with a long serrated knife so they have a nice, flat top. Place one layer bottom side up on cake stand. Mix about 2/3 cup morsels with about 1 cup of the frosting. Spread frosting on top of bottom layer. Place second layer on top. It helps to have a crumb coat on the outside of your cake first. Simply apply a thin coat of frosting to the entire cake to catch andy excess crumbs. Then place cake in freezer for a few minutes to firm up frosting and cover the entire cake again with a thick layer of buttercream. This will help you keep all those crumbs from getting caught in your pretty work. Slowly, pour ganache over center of cake. Pour just enough to start dripping down the sides.



Saturday, January 14, 2012

And the winner is ........

And the winner is ........:

Over at I Own The World, the Big Fur Hat, freshly tooled and tuned from his recent hospital stay, is holding IOTW's annual agitprop competition -- something we are drowning in from the media, music, pop culture, Hollywood and all those ridiculous but artistic knaves.


Yowsa, what a field this year. This is going to be tough for this year’s judge. But it’s also going to be tough on the artists, because this year we have one of the sharpest eyes in the biz. As if her resume is not already impressive, I am hear to inform you that this year’s judge could easily be an art director for any agency out there. Trust me, I’ve been in the business for decades and she’s one of best Ive ever worked with.

This year’s PUK award for most outstanding achievement in visual agitprop is Pamela Geller. Good luck to these semi-finalists!

Check out the entries here. Brilliant. I will struggle with this one.

Diogenes Middle Finger – Nominated by Diogenes

Maksim – Nominated by Mary Jane Anklestraps

BigFurHat/Irony Curtain – nominated by Mary Jane Anklestraps

Wolverine – Nominated by Diogenes

Daletoons – Nominated by The Looking Spoon

TerrellAfterMath – Nominated by The Looking Spoon

TerrellAftermath – Nominated by the Looking Spoon

The Looking Spoon – Nomintaed by The Looking Spoon

OMGFor America – Nominated by The Looking Spoon

Maksim – Nominated by Frosteetoes

BigFurHat – nominated by Claudia

illustr8r – nominated by Claudia

Zappa Trust – Nominated by Zappa Trust

Zappa Trust – Nominated by Zappa Trust

illustr8r -nominated by bigfurhat

Will Profit – Nominated by Will Profit

BigFurHat – nominated by Diann

Deputy Slim Chiply – nominated by Deputy Slim Chiply

Stilton Jarlsberg – nominated by Millertime

Daletoons – nominated by Maksim

wolverine – nominated by BigFurHat

TerrellAftermath - nominated by rightwingfeather

The Looking Spoon - nominated by The Looking Spoon

illustr8r – nominated by bigfurhat

wolverine – nominated by bigfurhat

The Looking Spoon - nominated by The Looking Spoon

Flaming Hetero – nominated by flaming hetero

RAPH – nominated by Plain Jane

Daletoons - nominated by Rightwingfeather

SadHillNews – nominated by rightwingfeather

MaryJaneAnklestraps – nominated by rightwingfeather

HopeNChangeCartoons – nominated by Chieftain


Herbie Mann – nominated by Herbie Mann

MaryJaneAnkleStraps – nominated by Irony Curtain

Maksim – nominated by Maksim

Maksim – nominated by Maksim