Daily Archive: 11/28/2013

Nov 28 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”.

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Richard (RJ) Eskow: A Walmart Thanksgiving, by Charles Dickens

“A pretty high energy day” for employees. That’s how a Walmart executive described Thanksgiving after the corporation announced that this year’s “Black Friday” would begin on Thursday evening, leaving many of its workers unable to spend the holiday with family or friends.

Walmart’s wages and employment practices can rightfully be described as “Dickensian.” What, we wondered, would the Victorian author make of this latest development?

It was the night before Thanksgiving. Walmart’s top brass had assembled in the executive boardroom for a last celebration before heading home to their families. Amidst the din of laughter and chatter, nobody noticed the thin figure silhouetted in their doorway.

“I am a Walmart Associate,” the figure finally called out, “and I beg your pardon for the intrusion.”

The revelers stared in amazement. “A Happy Thanksgiving to you all!” added the shadowy Associate.

“Happy Thanksgiving? Happy Thanksgiving?!?” came an answering voice from inside the boardroom. “What right have you to be happy? Why would you be be happy? You’re poor.

Marian Wright Edelman: Preventable Hunger in Our Land of Plenty

While many American families gather around the Thanksgiving table this week, some of us combining this year’s traditional dinners with Hanukkah feasts, a too quiet group will be left out of the national celebration. The nearly 49 million Americans — including nearly 16 million children — living in food insecure households will be struggling to afford the food they need. These families won’t be choosing between apple or pumpkin pie this holiday season but will face choices about paying for groceries or rent, heat, electricity, medicine or clothing for their children as they do each month — choices no family should have to make in our nation with the largest Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in the world. Congress will be choosing how many of these desperate families and children in need to cut from life-giving and life-sustaining federal nutrition programs. In the middle of this season of gratitude for plenty, Congress has put the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, often called food stamps) on the chopping block while leaving largely intact subsidies for rich farmers and even some non-farmers.

Heidi Moore: Pope Francis Understands Economics Better Than Most Politicians

Inequality is the biggest economic issue of our time. It’s only surprising it took so long for a globally prominent figure to say it

Pope Francis is a pontiff who has constructively broken all the rules of popery – so far to widespread acclaim. He’s faulted the Catholic church for its negative obsession with gays and birth control, and now he has expanded his mandate to economics with a groundbreaking screed denouncing “the new idolatry of money”. [..]

The pope’s screed on “the economy of exclusion and inequality” will disappoint those who considers themselves free-market capitalists, but they would do well to listen to the message. Francis gives form to the emotion and injustice of post-financial-crisis outrage in a way that has been rare since Occupy Wall Street disbanded. There has been a growing chorus of financial insiders – from the late Merrill Lynch executive Herb Allison to organizations like Better Markets – it’s time for a change in how we approach capitalism. It’s not about discarding capitalism, or hating money or profit; it’s about pursuing profits ethically, and rejecting the premise that exploitation is at the center of profit. When 53% of financial executives say they can’t get ahead without some cheating, even though they want to work for ethical organizations, there’s a real problem.

Unlike Occupy, which turned its rage outward, Pope Francis bolstered his anger with two inward-facing emotions familiar to any Catholic-school graduate: shame and guilt, to make the economy a matter of personal responsibility.

Ralph Nader: Can Right and Left Rally Against Walmart?

One of the most profitable corporations in America is having a holiday food drive. Sounds good-it’s the least Corporate America can do for those struggling to make ends meet while big companies rake in record profits and give so little back. But wait… there’s a catch. The food drive is for the company’s own underpaid, poverty-stricken workers. You really can’t make this stuff up. [..]

Earlier this week, it was reported that a Walmart store in Canton, Ohio is asking for food donations for its own employees. Photos of the food donation bins circulated online showing signs that read: “Please donate food items here so associates in need can enjoy Thanksgiving dinner.” (That’s if they even have a chance to-Walmart stores are open on Thanksgiving and are beginning their “Black Friday” deals at 6 PM on Thanksgiving Day to get a jump on the holiday shopping madness.)

Walmart is America’s largest employer with a workforce consisting of 1.3 million “associates.” The company made nearly $17 billion in profit last year.  So why can’t Walmart afford to pay its own store workers enough for them to enjoy a holiday meal with their families?  The answer is Walmart doesn’t really care about its workers.

Jim Hightower: This Thanksgiving, Let’s Celebrate AgriCULTURE, Not AgriBUSINESS

In December 1972, I was part of a nationwide campaign that came tantalizingly close to getting the U.S. Senate to reject Earl Butz, Richard Nixon’s choice for secretary of agriculture. [..]

The 51 to 44 Senate vote was so close because we were able to expose Butz as … well, as butt-ugly – a shameless flack for big food corporations that gouge farmers and consumers alike. We brought the abusive power of corporate agribusiness into the public consciousness for the first time, but we had won only a moral victory, since there he was – ensconced in the seat of power. It horrified us that Nixon had been able to squeeze Butz into that seat, yet it turned out to be a blessing. [..]

The whirling horror of Butz, however, spun off a blessing, which is that innovative, freethinking, populist-minded and rebellious small farmers and food artisans practically threw up at the resulting Twinkieization of America’s food.

Jared Berstein: Pesky Brother-in-Law: Thanksgiving 2013

Another Thanksgiving. Family, friends, food, and hopefully some time off to sleep off your turkey-induced tryptophan daze.

And yes, that pesky brother-in-law who’s especially revved up this year for an aggressive incoming attack well before the gravy boat reaches you. So, let’s see if I can once again come to your aid with a bit of Q&A. [Links to earlier versions below.]

Now remember, he (or she — there’s lots of pesky aunts, sisters, even spouses) is loaded for bear coming off of the ugly healthcare.gov rollout, and the whole way up the interstate he’s been getting increasingly excited about batting you about with this one.

But you know my methods: we stroke, we kick. We concede the truth and provide the context. We are fact based. We never get nasty. We love our misguided bros et al — while we may get a touch acerbic, our goal is never to humiliate nor put down. It is to guide them back to the enlightened path, no matter how far they’ve strayed.

Nov 28 2013

On This Day In History November 28

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.

November 28 is the 332nd day of the year (333rd in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 33 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1970, George Harrison’s “My Sweet Lord” is released.

Nov 28 2013

Thanksgiving and Hanukkah with Stephen Colbert

Guess Who’s Coming to Thanksgiving Dinner?

Stephen’s DVD allows every family to experience the joy of having him as a guest of honor at Thanksgiving.  

5 x Five – Colbert Holidays: Thanksgiving

Stephen celebrates Thanksgiving by drawing Nancy Pelosi hand turkeys, cooking with Martha Stewart and pardoning a turkey.

5 x Five – Colbert Holidays: Hanukkah

Stephen celebrates Hanukkah because he has a lot of Jewish friends, and he doesn’t care who knows it.  

Have a happy, health and safe holiday, everyone.

Nov 28 2013

What’s Cooking: Don’t Throw That Turkey Carcass Out

Republished and edited from November 25, 2010 for obvious timely reasons.

I know by tomorrow tonight you will be sick if looking at the remnants of dinner, especially that turkey carcass but you aren’t done with it yet. I’m going to walk you through making turkey stock.

First you will need a big pot, I mean big like the one you use to cook spaghetti big, at least big enough to hold the turkey carcass and cover it wiht water. Mmmm, say about 8 quarts big. I know you have one somewhere.

Next your going to peel an onion, slicing off the top but leaving the stem part intact. Cut it in half through the stem. Gather some whole carrots and a few celery stalks (don’t cut off the leaves that’s where the most flavor is). Peel some garlic, as much as you’d like (we like a lot) but at least two cloves, leaving it whole. Take some of the herbs that you used to season the turkey with and three or four bay leaves and set it aside in a bowl for a minute.

Now, put the turkey in the empty pot to make sure it fits. If it doesn’t you have a couple of  choices the easiest of which is to cut the carcass into sections so it fits into the pot you have. Now that it fits, put it on the stove and fill it with cold water using a pitcher (this gets heavy that’s why you’re doing it this way), covering the turkey . Add all the veggies, cover and bring to a full boil. Turn down the heat and let it simmer for about 3 or 4 hours, stirring occasionally and scraping the loose meat off the bones.

With most of the meat off the bones, remove the bones with a large slotted spoon or scoop and discard the bones. If it’s cold enough out side where you are, put the pot outside to cool. If it’s cold enough the fat which will float to the top will solidify and can be easily removed with a spatula.

Now strain the stock through a sieve lined with cheese cloth. Discard all those vegetables, the flavor is now all in the stock. Add new vegetables; chopped carrots, cubed potatoes, thinly sliced celery, soup greens such as kale, collards, chopped savoy cabbage or escarole, sliced onions, fresh herbs, and last but not least, pasta.

If you have a lot of stock, it can be frozen. I save the pint and quart plastic containers from the Chinese take out. They are also useful to put chicken and meat bones so my talented cats can’t get into them.  Bones are not good for kitties.

The stock is also great for making Risotto with Wild Mushrooms. You’ll need

* about 8 cups of stock. If you don’t have enough turkey from your stock, College Inn makes a very good Turkey broth but it won’t be as good as yours.

* 2 cups of Risotto or Arborio Rice

* about 3 tbsp of Olive Oil

* 3 tablespoons of butter, unsalted

* 1 pound of fresh wild mushrooms such as portobella, crimini (baby portabella) or shiitake. I like shiitake best but usually use half and half. The mushrooms should be cleaned with a soft paper towel or soft brush.

(I have a soft brush just for mushrooms. I also have a truffle slicer. 😉 )

* 2 tablespoons fresh tarragon leaves, chopped, or 1 tbsp dried

* 2 tablespoons fresh flat leaf (Italian) parsley, the other parsley, curly, is very rarely used in cooking. Its mostly a garnish.

* 2 large shallots chopped or a small onion

* 2 cloves of garlic, chopped.

* 1/2 cup dry white wine, something you would drink with the risotto.

* 2 tablespoons of fresh grated Parmesan cheese

Heat the broth in a sauce pan and keep it warm over low heat.

Heat two tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet and add the garlic. Fry until it just begins to color, then add the mushrooms and tarragon. Season to taste with salt and pepper and cook, stirring frequently, for about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat two tablespoons butter in a separate skillet. Soften the shallots in the butter. Add the rice and saute for a couple of minutes, stirring, so the rice becomes coated with the butter. Add the wine and bring to a boil. When it has evaporated, add one-half cup of the hot chicken stock.

Keep adding the hot broth, one-half cup at a time, to the rice. Continue until the rice has absorbed nearly all the liquid. The rice is done when it is creamy, but al dente.

Stir in the remaining butter, the mushrooms and the Parmigiano Reggiano. Mix gently, garnish with a few leaves of tarragon and serve.

Bon Appétit!