Daily Archive: 12/07/2012

Dec 07 2012

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Dec 07 2012

The Hanukkah Story

Please keep in mind that I’m even less Jewish than I am Christian so if I differ in details it’s pure ignorance, not malice.

At some point a Syrian King named Antiochus captured Jerusalem, outlawed Judaism, looted the Temple erected by Solomon, and sacrificed pigs on the altar.

To be fair it might have been lobsters, the point is that to express his contempt and enmity he was as disrespectful as he could figure out how to be.

Shortly (as these things go in antiquity which has a much more relaxed and nebulous time frame than contemporary reality) after that a group of Jewish rebels recaptured the city and set about ritually re-dedicating the Temple, a process that involved continuous illumination from a lamp called a menorah.

The supply of oil for this task was limited to a single day and more would not be available for at least eight, yet miraculously the lamp continued to burn.

Further speculation on my part seems unwarranted.  Should you be celebrating this season I wish you and yours a happy and enjoyable time.

Dec 07 2012

Punting the Pundits

“Punting the Pundits” is an Open Thread. It is a selection of editorials and opinions from around the news medium and the internet blogs. The intent is to provide a forum for your reactions and opinions, not just to the opinions presented, but to what ever you find important.

Thanks to ek hornbeck, click on the link and you can access all the past “Punting the Pundits”.

Follow us on Twitter @StarsHollowGzt

Paul Krugman: The Forgotten Millions

Let’s get one thing straight: America is not facing a fiscal crisis. It is, however, still very much experiencing a job crisis.

It’s easy to get confused about the fiscal thing, since everyone’s talking about the “fiscal cliff.” Indeed, one recent poll suggests that a large plurality of the public believes that the budget deficit will go up if we go off that cliff.

In fact, of course, it’s just the opposite: The danger is that the deficit will come down too much, too fast. And the reasons that might happen are purely political; we may be about to slash spending and raise taxes not because markets demand it, but because Republicans have been using blackmail as a bargaining strategy, and the president seems ready to call their bluff.

New York Times Editorial: Keep the State Tax Deduction

As they continue to wrangle over the year-end fiscal deadline, both Democrats and Republicans are considering caps on federal income-tax deductions.

That could be very bad news for residents of New York, New Jersey and other states and cities that rely heavily on their own income taxes. Such a cap would reduce the value of the deduction for state and local income taxes, which has been part of the federal tax code for a century (though the deduction has been diluted by the alternative minimum tax). That could substantially reduce middle-class disposable incomes in high-tax states, which, in turn, would put pressure on those states to cut taxes and the services they have long chosen to provide. (A cap would also affect property and sales taxes, though those are spread around more evenly among all the states.)

John Nichols: GOP, Koch Brothers Sneak Attack Guts Labor Rights in Michigan

In the state where workers sat down in Flint General Motors plants 75 years ago and emboldened the industrial labor movement that would give birth to the American middle class, Republican legislators on Thursday voted to gut basic labor rights.

And union leaders warned that, if labor can be so battered in Michigan, it can — and may — be attacked anywhere. [..]

Employing slick messaging and a timeline developed to thwart opposition, Snyder and his legislative allies claimed that they were enacting anti-labor legislation to create “Freedom to Choose” in the workplace. But the Orwellian turn of phrase did not fool the working people of Michigan, thousands of whom surrounded and occupied the Capitol during a day of emotional protest. “Right to work would set all Michigan workers back in terms of wages, benefits and safety on the job,” declared Mike Polkki, a mine worker from Ishpeming who joined furious last-minute efforts to lobby members of the Republican-controlled legislative chambers. “Instead of attacking the middle class, our lawmakers should work to build it back up.”

Michael Winship and Bill Moyers: FCC May Give Murdoch a Very Merry Christmas

Until now, this hasn’t been the best year for media mogul Rupert Murdoch. For one, none of the Republicans who’d been on the payroll of his Fox News Channel – not Newt Gingrich or Rick Santorum or Mike Huckabee or Sarah Palin – became this year’s GOP nominee for president. [..]

But Murdoch’s luck may be changing. Despite Fox News’ moonlighting as the propaganda ministry of the Republican Party, President Obama’s team may be making it possible for Sir Rupert to increase his power, perversely rewarding the man who did his best to make sure Barack Obama didn’t have a second term. The Federal Communications Commission could be preparing him one big Christmas present, the kind of gift that keeps on giving – unless we all get together and do something about it.

Thom Hartmann and Sam Sacks: One Party Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest

The Republican Party’s descent into complete madness reached a new depth this week. Whipped up by paranoid delusions of a one-world autocratic UN government, Senate Republicans on Tuesday killed an international treaty designed to help people with disabilities all across the planet. [..]

Thirty-eight Republican Senators walked right passed Bob Dole – former Republican candidate for President – to cast a “no” vote. Why? Because they want to continue to pander to a paranoid minority of the Republican base that believes the UN is secretly assembling a global government to destroy American sovereignty, throw mothers in The Hague, and condemn their disabled children to death. [..]

Back in the 1960s, the Firesign Theatre created a candidate named Papoon who ran for President on the campaign slogan: “Not Insane!”  It was funny then.  It’s not funny anymore.  

So, a heartfelt plea to the few intelligent and thoughtful Republicans left: it’s up to you to inject sanity back into your Party. Please do it quickly!

Christopher Ryan: Walmart Rejected Safety Upgrades at Asia Factory Where 100 Died in Fire

It seems a little too easy for Walmart to brush off safety upgrades at their supplier factories. Their reasoning is that the cost is too high. The dead factory workers in Bangladesh, and their families, might have viewed the safety issues differently.

Whether it’s the appalling work conditions at Apple supplier factories in China where workers are available 24×7 and given a cup of tea and a biscuit, the Chinese factories that previously produced lead-tainted children’s toys for the US market or the garment factories throughout Asia, there’s a distinct lack of accountability by too many Western companies. Walmart is only the latest.

Dec 07 2012

On This Day In History December 7

This is your morning Open Thread. Pour your favorite beverage and review the past and comment on the future

Find the past “On This Day in History” here.

December 7 is the 341st day of the year (342nd in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 24 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1787, (In) Dover, Delaware, the U.S. Constitution is unanimously ratified by all 30 delegates to the Delaware Constitutional Convention, making Delaware the first state of the modern United States.

Less than four months before, the Constitution was signed by 37 of the original 55 delegates to the Constitutional Convention meeting in Philadelphia. The Constitution was sent to the states for ratification, and, by the terms of the document, the Constitution would become binding once nine of the former 13 colonies had ratified the document. Delaware led the process, and on June 21, 1788, New Hampshire became the ninth state to ratify the Constitution, making federal democracy the law of the land. Government under the U.S. Constitution took effect on March 4, 1789.

Delaware  is a U.S. state located on the Atlantic Coast in the Mid-Atlantic region of the United States. The state takes its name from Thomas West, 3rd Baron De La Warr, an English nobleman and Virginia’s first colonial governor, after whom (what is now called) Cape Henlopen was originally named.

Delaware is located in the northeastern portion of the Delmarva Peninsula and is the second smallest state in area (after Rhode Island). Estimates in 2007 rank the population of Delaware as 45th in the nation, but 6th in population density, with more than 60% of the population in New Castle County. Delaware is divided into three counties. From north to south, these three counties are New Castle, Kent, and Sussex. While the southern two counties have historically been predominantly agricultural, New Castle County has been more industrialized.

The state ranks second in civilian scientists and engineers as a percentage of the workforce and number of patents issued to companies or individuals per 1,000 workers. The history of the state’s economic and industrial development is closely tied to the impact of the Du Pont family, founders and scions of E. I. du Pont de Nemours and Company, one of the world’s largest chemical companies.

Before its coastline was first explored by Europeans in the 16th century, Delaware was inhabited by several groups of Native Americans, including the Lenape in the north and Nanticoke in the south. It was initially colonized by Dutch traders at Zwaanendael, located near the present town of Lewes, in 1631. Delaware was one of the thirteen colonies participating in the American Revolution and on December 7, 1787, became the first state to ratify the Constitution of the United States, thereby becoming known as The First State.

Delaware is the home state of Vice President Joseph Biden

Dec 07 2012

What’s Cooking: Potato Latkes

Hanukkah starts at sundown this Saturday evening, along with the lighting of the first candle and spinning dreidels, Potato Latkes are a must. Here is my favorite recipe Reposted from December 4, 2010

It isn’t Hanukkah without Potato Latkes, those wonderful, crispy pancakes of shredded potato and onion served with apple sauce. It’s lot easier than when I was growing up in the 50’s. Back then we had to shred them with a metal grater that often resulted in some shredded knuckles, too. Food processors have saved a lot of knuckles and teary eye from shredding the onion.

This recipe is really simple. The trick to getting latkes that hold together and aren’t “oily” is the  potato. Idaho’s win, hands down.

Traditionally, according to kosher law, when latkes are served with a fish meal they are fried in oil and served with sour cream. If they are served with meat, they are fried in chicken fat and served with apple sauce. Since, I haven’t kept a kosher kitchen in over 40 years, I fry the latkes in oil and serve both apple sauce and sour cream.

Because this recipe has no flour or egg, the latkes are more delicate and lacy. These are best served when they are fresh from the pan, so, we take turns making them all during the meal. It can actually be fun.

Pure Potato Latkes

  • 4 large Idaho potatoes, about 2 1/4 lbs.
  • 1 large onion, peeled
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup canola oil

In a food processor with a coarse shredding disc or o the large shredding hole of a hand grater, shred the potatoes. Squeeze them well to rid them of as much water as possible and place them in a bowl. I use a cotton dish towel to squeeze the water out. it gets them really dry. Shred the onion and add to the bowl. Add the salt and pepper. Mix well. More water will be exuded and should be squeezed and drained thoroughly.

In a large heavy frying pan (a 12 inch iron pan works best), over medium heat, heat 2 tablespoons until a slight haze appears on the surace of the oil. Drop about 1/4 cup of the mixture into the oil, flattening slightly with the back of a spoon Leave a little pace between the pancakes for ease in turning. They should be about 2 1/2 inches in diameter and will flatten as they cook.

Cook about 7 minutes or until the edges turn golden brown. Flip and cook another 5 to 7 minutes or until the other side is golden brown. If the oil starts smoking or the latkes brown too quickly, reduce the heat and briefly remove the pan from the heat. Remove the latkes and drain on layers of paper towels Continue with remaining mixture adding 2 tablespoons of oil with each batch.

Serve with apple sauce and sour cream.

Bon Appetite and Happy Hanukkah!

Dec 07 2012

“Keep Your Hands Off My Medicare”

Where is the Tea Party now that the Republican Party wants to cut Medicare? Does anyone remember the 2010 election that gave the right wing extremists control of the House of Representatives and the disruption these Tea Partiers caused at Democratic Town Halls with their signs and demands that government keep their hands off Medicare? Anyone? Buehler?

So far not a peep from this vociferous crowd now that the Republicans are holding tax reform and budget negotiations hostage demanding major cuts to Medicare and Medicaid and raising Medicare eligibility age to 67 because wealthy white men are living longer.

The popularity for Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security, the three programs that are the major components of the social safety, is overwhelming. According to an ABC News/ Washington Post Poll (pdf) 79% of Americans do not want Medicare cut at all. By a large majority (65%) they would prefer tax hikes on the wealthy than reduction of payments to hospitals and doctors. Meanwhile, the Republicans in the House and Senate, who still think they won in November, are demanding drastic cuts after they campaigned against those very cuts.

Subbing for MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow on her show, Chris Hayes talks about the effort to defend Medicare and making the program more efficient with Rep. Jan Schawkowsky (D-IL), a member of the House Budget Committee.

 

Dec 07 2012

Credit Where Due

At Halftime, Costas Put Spotlight on Guns. By Morning, the Spotlight Was on Him.

By BILL CARTER, The New York Times

December 3, 2012, 8:23 pm

Many of the harshest reactions to Mr. Costas’s comments charged that it was inappropriate to use the platform of an NFL telecast to make arguments concerning a hot-button issue like gun control.

Mr. Costas noted in response that N.F.L. coverage on many networks had talked about the incident all day on Sunday.



He said the criticisms of his commentary “hold no weight with me” because the same people saying that that was an inappropriate time and place to talk about the gun issue “would have thought it was fine if they agreed with what I was saying.”

The issue of guns has come up far too often in sports already, he said, with athletes seeming to be among the groups with the most gun owners. “Do you think the place guns have in sports is appropriate?” Mr. Costas asked. “That it’s healthy?”

He added: “I defy anyone to give me one example when an athlete having a gun averted trouble, defused a situation, protected someone from harm. But we can think of countless situations where an athlete having a gun led to tragedy.”

Compare and contrast with his colleagues whether you agree with the substance of his position or not.