Daily Archive: 01/05/2013

Jan 05 2013

Can you work against the social safety net and still call yourself a Democrat?

The New Deal, Social Security, The Great Society, Medicare, Medicaid – concern for the welfare of “the little guy.” These are the marquee items which have defined the modern Democratic Party to its constituency.  These sorts of programs have been the sweet nectar in the plant which has allowed liberals and lefties to excuse the Democrats flings with the Military Industrial Complex, foreign dictators and bankster thugs along with the usual graft, corruption and peccadilloes.

The Democrats have, in modern times, always looked after society’s island of misfit citizens and the oppressed, cast off from the society and economy.  This is what allowed lots of principled people to pull the levers for folks that were committing war crimes and conducting illegal wars of aggression for resources and business interests. It is what allowed principled anti-war legislators to coalesce in a party which did some pretty awful things. The Democrats were going to watch out for the interests of the little guy whether he was a hero in one of their wars or not.  

An article entitled, “Defining the modern Democrat,” lays out the basis of the identity of the Democratic Pary:

The modern Democratic Party was born, just over a century ago, when another young orator from the Midwest-William Jennings Bryan-rocked the national convention in Chicago in 1896.  Because of its stirring climax, Bryan’s address is widely known as the “Cross of Gold” speech and, in most histories, is accompanied by an arcane explanation about the gold standard and 19th-century monetary policy.

Unfortunately, the focus on gold obscures Bryan’s real import. His candidacy redefined the Democratic Party as the voice of the common man. It ultimately led to Woodrow Wilson’s election and the formation of Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal coalition, which dominated American politics for most of the 20th century. …

Bryan and his Democrats promoted a wide, rich menu of reforms – a graduated income tax, the Federal Reserve, women’s suffrage, direct election of U.S. senators – that became law in the Progressive Era.

The Great Commoner, as Bryan was known, was “the first leader of a major party to argue for permanently expanding the power of the federal government to serve the welfare of ordinary Americans.

The ambitions of William Jennings Bryan were carried out by other great Democrats and enacted with the enthusiastic support of Americans.  They are the bedrock of our social contract and a legacy of the 20th century that most Americans would like to keep vital and secure.

Jan 05 2013

Wild Card Throwball: Bengals @ Texans

The Bengals were founded by Paul Brown, namesake of the Cleveland Browns, after being booted in a management struggle with Art Modell in the ’60s.

Now the only model Art is if you want to be the epitome of the greedy community blackmailing NFL owner but Paul was no prize either and it would be poetic justice to have the Bengals and Ravens face off and both lose while the souls of their former leaders drown each other in a slime pit in Hell which is why, as surprising as it is, I have some smidge of sympathy for a team from Texas who’s main sin is to choose the largest media market available after the carpetbagging departure of the unlamented Oilers.

Something I didn’t know is that this is exactly the same as last year’s matchup except for the fact that the Texans will be starting their starter instead of their third string back up (btw, they won that game).  They backed into this position in the most humiliating way possible however, losing their last 2 games in embarrassing defeats.

For the Bengals the question is whether Andy Dalton is any better than last year’s 3 picks indicate.

I’m told streaming video is available here but you can’t prove it by me.  Perhaps you have to register, something I’m reluctant to do even though I have several e-mail boxes just for crap like that.

Jan 05 2013

Random Japan

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Japan’s Top 10 Cosplay Costumes of 2012

With the myriad of cosplay costumes available in Japan, first-time cosplayers must be overwhelmed with all the choices. Luckily, Cospa, a major cosplay costume company in Japan, has narrowed down the choices, releasing the 2012 costume sales rankings. Coming in at number one is everyone’s favorite vocaloid, Hatsune Miku.

Jan 05 2013

Health and Fitness News

Welcome to the Stars Hollow Health and Fitness News weekly diary. It will publish on Saturday afternoon and be open for discussion about health related issues including diet, exercise, health and health care issues, as well as, tips on what you can do when there is a medical emergency. Also an opportunity to share and exchange your favorite healthy recipes.

Questions are encouraged and I will answer to the best of my ability. If I can’t, I will try to steer you in the right direction. Naturally, I cannot give individual medical advice for personal health issues. I can give you information about medical conditions and the current treatments available.

You can now find past Health and Fitness News diaries here and on the right hand side of the Front Page.

Follow us on Twitter @StarsHollowGzt

Vegan Pantry Dinners for the New Year

Quinoa with Dried Lemtil Dal

Here is a New Year’s project for you. Take an inventory of your pantry, freezer and refrigerator and cook for a week without buying anything except items that you and your children may consume on a daily basis (for me that means bananas). That is what I’m doing this week, and I have decided that I will also make my meals vegan. [..]

This is a healthy, hearty and inexpensive way to begin the New Year and we have been eating extremely well. In fact there is enough on hand that I might extend this to a two-week exercise.

~Martha Rose Shulman~

Quinoa With Spiced Lentil Dal  

A dal that is spiced up by a little bit of cayenne.

Warm Lentil Salad With Balsamic Roast Squash

A lentil salad with a cumin-scented vinaigrette.

Vegan Pho With Carrots, Noodles and Edamame

A pho without some traditional ingredients is still very much pho.

Rice Bowl With Sweet and Sour Purple Cabbage, Red Peppers and Baked Marinated Tofu

A colorful dish that uses up any sticky rice left in your pantry.

Enfrijoladas

A simple delicious dish that will use up corn tortillas in your freezer and black beans from the pantry.

Jan 05 2013

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

Bill Maher; New Rules for the New Year

2012: I call it the year in “meh.” Not the worst we’ve ever experienced, but nothing particularly great to say about it either. Like being a socialite, but in Tampa.

I am looking forward to 2013, however, because I love the odd-numbered years – they’re the ones without congressional elections, Olympics, World Cups or weird extra days tacked onto the calendar by so-called scientists. Odd-numbered years are chill. They’re the 3 p.m. of years – that small sliver of time when lunch is digested and it’s too early to think about dinner and you stand at least a fighting chance of getting something done.

In that spirit, here are the New Rules for the new year:

NEW RULE Now that their end-of-the-world prophecy has proved to be complete baloney, the Mayans must be given a job predicting election results for Fox News.

NEW RULE Sometime during the 2013 awards show season, “Gangnam Style” must be given an award for the shortest amount of time between my finding out what something is to my being completely sick of it. Besting the time of 7 hours, 12 minutes, set by “The Macarena” in 1996. [.]]

Robert Reich; Why Jobs Must Be Our Goal Now, Not Deficit Reduction

The news today from the Bureau of Labor Statistics is that the U.S. job market is treading water.

The number of new jobs created in December (155,000), and percent unemployment (7.8), were the same as the revised numbers for November.

Also, about the same number of people are looking for work (12.2 million), with additional millions too discouraged even to look.

Put simply, we’re a very long way from the job growth we need to get out of the gravitational pull of the Great Recession. That would be at least 300,000 new jobs per month.

All of which means job growth and wage growth should be the central focus of economic policy, not deficit reduction.

Robert Naiman: Save Social Security: Paul Krugman for Treasury Secretary

Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner, who has led the president’s negotiating team, is stepping down. President Obama has not yet named his replacement. [..]

Why not Paul Krugman?

He has a Nobel prize in Economics. He’s proven his ability to communicate economic knowledge to the multitude. And he’s a fierce opponent of cuts to Social Security and Medicare benefits, and the austerity dogma more generally, which as economic policy has a track record of spectacular failure around the world. As Treasury Secretary, Krugman would make job creation his top priority.

The Treasury Secretary doesn’t just oversee domestic U.S. economic policy. The Treasury Secretary also oversees international U.S. economic policy. The United States Executive Directors at the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank report to the Secretary of the Treasury. As Treasury Secretary, if Paul Krugman decides that the U.S. isn’t going to tolerate IMF support for cruel and destructive economic austerity policies in Europe and elsewhere, he’ll have the power to bring that about. Since the U.S. is far and away the most powerful country in the IMF and the World Bank, that would be a world-historical change.

Thomas Hedges: The Natural Gas Bubble

The natural gas industry is waging an aggressive public relations campaign to bolster investor confidence, despite evidence showing that shale gas is an unreliable resource and that the production process releases large amounts of methane into the atmosphere. Although hydraulic fracturing (or fracking) is in the media’s hot seat, the prospect of a drilling bubble coupled with the underreported problem of methane leakage may be the most destructive qualities of natural gas in the United States.

From commissioning false field reports to flooding television with commercials, natural gas companies are convincing Americans that gas will save the U.S. market; it will not.  

Cherie Blair: A New Year’s Resolution to Benefit the World: Education for Women

n the holiday spirit of peace on Earth and good will toward men, I would argue that more good will toward women, notably in terms of education, would contribute to more peace on Earth.

The plight of women in many regions of the world remains dire. Two-thirds of the illiterate people on the planet are women. These women are illiterate not because they don’t care about learning, but because they are not considered fit for or worthy of an education. They are excluded from schools deliberately and systematically. [..]

Research shows that when you educate a girl, it brings greater and wider long-term benefits than when you educate a boy. An educated girl becomes a woman, and if she then becomes a mother, she passes what she has learned to her children, including the value of education itself. Her children are more likely to be educated, and more likely to be vaccinated. An educated woman is more likely to bring prosperity to her neighborhood so education is common sense, as well as good for economic development.

Amitabh Pal: Al Jazeera Purchase of Current TV an Attempt to Overcome Bias

It’s early in the new year, but the media landscape has already shifted with the news that Al Jazeera is purchasing Al Gore’s Current TV. [..]

For Al Jazeera, it is an attempt to overcome persistent prejudice against the network as anti-American and indeed even pro-terrorist. The attitude against the network is so negative in certain quarters that two years ago a public reception at a museum fundraiser in Maine featuring the Al Jazeera Washington bureau chief, Abderrahim Foukara, had to be moved to a private, undisclosed location.

Little wonder, then, that Al Jazeera English is available in only a few places in this country.

Jan 05 2013

The Daily Show: A Year In Review Part 1

January

February

March

April

May

June

Jan 05 2013

On This Day In History January 5

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.

January 5 is the fifth day of the year in the Gregorian calendar. There are 360 days remaining until the end of the year (361 in leap years).

On this day in 1933, construction starts on what will become one of America’s most famous landmarks: the Golden Gate Bridge. When completed in 1937, the Golden Gate has a 4,200-foot-long suspension span, making it the world’s longest suspension bridge. Since opening to the public in May 1937, almost 2 billion vehicles have crossed the bridge, in both the north- and southbound directions.

The bridge was named not for its distinctive orange color (which provides extra visibility to passing ships in San Francisco’s famous fog), but for the Golden Gate Strait, where the San Francisco Bay opens into the Pacific Ocean. The bridge spans the strait and connects the northern part of the city of San Francisco to Marin County, California.

Before the bridge was built, the only practical short route between San Francisco and what is now Marin County was by boat across a section of San Francisco Bay. Ferry service began as early as 1820, with regularly scheduled service beginning in the 1840s for purposes of transporting water to San Francisco. The Sausalito Land and Ferry Company service, launched in 1867, eventually became the Golden Gate Ferry Company, a Southern Pacific Railroad subsidiary, the largest ferry operation in the world by the late 1920s. Once for railroad passengers and customers only, Southern Pacific’s automobile ferries became very profitable and important to the regional economy. The ferry crossing between the Hyde Street Pier in San Francisco and Sausalito in Marin County took approximately 20 minutes and cost US$1.00 per vehicle, a price later reduced to compete with the new bridge. The trip from the San Francisco Ferry Building took 27 minutes.

Many wanted to build a bridge to connect San Francisco to Marin County. San Francisco was the largest American city still served primarily by ferry boats. Because it did not have a permanent link with communities around the bay, the city’s growth rate was below the national average. Many experts said that a bridge couldn’t be built across the 6,700 ft (2,042 m) strait. It had strong, swirling tides and currents, with water 500 ft (150 m) in depth at the center of the channel, and frequent strong winds. Experts said that ferocious winds and blinding fogs would prevent construction and operation.

Jan 05 2013

Popular Culture 20130104: The Electric Light Orchestra — ELO 2

It has been a while since I started this series.  My contributions here, and at my other regular blogs, have been quite spotty for a number of reasons.  Part of it has to do with it having been the holiday season, and things get a bit odd then, but for the most part the holiday season treated me pretty well, except for when it did not.

Another distraction, one that is absolutely necessary for me to do, is to work on cultivating my nascent consulting business.  I write well, am a great scientist, and have skills that include things from analytical chemistry to health and safety expertise to technical writing to expert testimony.  One of my friends that I met here who does consulting work has agreed to work with me over the telephone to assist me in establishing my business.  Any others who might be able to help are strongly encouraged to pitch in as well, because I am sick and tired of feeling useless!

In any event, it is time to get back to what I do well in this series, or at least I think that I do, and that is to provide embedded music, some historical background, and my commentary to bands that catch my interest.  With this in mind, we shall look at the second effort from The Electric Light Orchestra, called ELO 2.

In my opinion it is a very much better album than their debut one.  The band had settled down a bit, and Jeff Lynne was very much in control, for good or ill, by then.  Let us get started!