Daily Archive: 11/29/2013

Nov 29 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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New York Times Editorial Board: Government in Slow Motion

Last week, in a fit of fury after they lost the ability to filibuster President Obama’s nominees, several Congressional Republicans threatened to retaliate by slowing things down on Capitol Hill. Democrats “will have trouble in a lot of areas because there’s going to be a lot of anger,” said Senator John McCain, Republican of Arizona, specifically warning that a United Nations disability treaty was now in danger of being rejected for the second time. [..]

The most immediate priority for Congress is to reach a budget agreement by mid-December, to relieve the sequester cuts that have decimated so many important programs and now threaten the Pentagon’s readiness beginning next year. Negotiators from both chambers have had more than a month to come up with a solution, but Representative Paul Ryan, the House budget chairman, has resisted the most obvious one: ending a group of tax loopholes for the very rich and using the money to replace the worst aspects of the sequester. Instead, he simply wants to make other cuts, or raise fees on purchases like airline tickets and duck stamps that affect many people of modest means, thereby protecting high-end tax shelters.

Paul Krugman: Obamacare’s Secret Success

The law establishing Obamacare was officially titled the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. And the “affordable” bit wasn’t just about subsidizing premiums. It was also supposed to be about “bending the curve” – slowing the seemingly inexorable rise in health costs.

Much of the Beltway establishment scoffed at the promise of cost savings. The prevalent attitude in Washington is that reform isn’t real unless the little people suffer; serious savings are supposed to come from things like raising the Medicare age (which the Congressional Budget Office recently concluded would, in fact, hardly save any money) and throwing millions of Americans off Medicaid. True, a 2011 letter signed by hundreds of health and labor economists (pdf) pointed out that “the Affordable Care Act contains essentially every cost-containment provision policy analysts have considered effective in reducing the rate of medical spending.” But such expert views were largely ignored.

So, how’s it going? The health exchanges are off to a famously rocky start, but many, though by no means all, of the cost-control measures have already kicked in. Has the curve been bent?

The answer, amazingly, is yes. In fact, the slowdown in health costs (pdf) has been dramatic.

Richard Kirsch: We’re Not Broke – We’ve Been Robbed

Slashing government spending now is just going to make our nation poorer

With the Friday the 13th December deadline for a federal budget deal, the cries of “we’re broke,” and “we can’t afford to keep spending,” are ringing again. But we’re not broke and acting like we are is making us poorer.

One of the biggest common misunderstandings is that governments are like households, which need to tighten their spending when times are tough. Actually, governments and households work in opposite ways.

Governments can and should spend more when times are tough. Government spending makes up for lack of spending by families and businesses, and it helps get the economy moving by getting people back to work, putting money in their pockets, and contracting with businesses.

Harold A. McDougall: The Democrats Need a Tea Party

The Tea Party pushes the Republicans to the right. The Democrats need a party to push them to the left. Not the old left of big government and high taxes on the middle class, but a new left of participatory democracy, economic cooperatives, and diversity, not just of race and lifestyle, but of income, class and culture as well. This new party would be based in neighborhoods and workplaces, and steer clear of fat-cat funding.

By “the Democrats,” I mean people who vote Democratic, not the Democratic Party establishment. Beginning with DNC Chair Tony Coelho’s “Right Turn” in the 1980s, executed to bring in more campaign dollars, the Democratic Party establishment has moved further to the right, into an unholy alliance with big business–banks, multinationals, military contractors, insurance and drug companies–enabling these interests to feed on the middle class and the working class, while the rich get richer.

Dave Johnson: Corporations Owe Hundreds of Billions of Taxes But GOP Goes After Federal Employees

Congress is again fighting over the budget with Republicans now demanding cuts in federal employee benefits. Is this really about the budget? Or is it about destroying government? Meanwhile hundreds of billions of taxes owed by corporations remain uncollected.

The recent Republican shutdown of the government ended with the can being kicked down the road, and the budget still in sequester and unresolved. The temporary funding runs out mid-January, and negotiators are trying to come up with a compromise. But Republicans insist that only cuts will be allowed, and that the sequester spending levels are the new normal.

Robert C. Koehler: Trivializing Peace

What goes around comes around . . . and around, and around.

Last month, the day after I left Santa Rosa, Calif., a 13-year-old boy carrying a toy replica of an AK-47 was shot and killed on the outskirts of that town by a Sonoma County deputy sheriff with a reputation for being trigger-happy. The officer had ordered the boy to drop the “gun,” then in a matter of two or three seconds opened fire, giving him no chance to comply.

This is not an isolated incident, which is why it’s yet one more tragedy I can’t get out of my mind – one more logical consequence of the simplistic militarism and mission creep that’s eating us alive. This is gun culture running unchecked from boyhood to manhood, permeating national policy both geopolitically and domestically. This is the trivialization of peace. It results in the ongoing murder of the innocent, both at home and abroad, at the hands of government as well as criminals and terrorists.

Nov 29 2013

On This Day In History November 29

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 29 is the 333rd day of the year (334th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 32 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1963, one week after President John F. Kennedy was fatally shot while riding in a motorcade in Dallas, Texas, President Lyndon Johnson establishes a special commission, headed by Supreme Court Chief Justice Earl Warren, to investigate the assassination.

After 10 months of gathering evidence and questioning witnesses in public hearings, the Warren Commission report was released, concluding that there was no conspiracy, either domestic or international, in the assassination and that Lee Harvey Oswald, the alleged assassin, acted alone. The presidential commission also found that Jack Ruby, the nightclub owner who murdered Oswald on live national television, had no prior contact with Oswald.

According to the report, the bullets that killed President Kennedy and injured Texas Governor John Connally were fired by Oswald in three shots from a rifle pointed out of a sixth-floor window in the Texas School Book Depository. Oswald’s life, including his visit to the Soviet Union, was described in detail, but the report made no attempt to analyze his motives.

Nov 29 2013

What’s Cooking: Roasted Turkey Stock

Remember that turkey carcass from last night’s dinner I said not to throw out? Well here’s another recipe for turkey stock that I used to make gravy and add to the dressing. This one starts with roasting the  carcass from a 10- to 15-pound roasted turkey, plus the neck, neck, wing and leg bones to produced one of the most flavorful stocks that I have ever made. Since it makes about a 3 quarts of stock. it can also be frozen for future use.

Roasted Turkey Stock

Ingredients

   1 leftover carcass from a 10- to 15-pound roasted turkey, preferably including neck, wing and leg bones

   4 or 5 onions, quartered (no need to peel; just rub off any papery skins)

   2 large or 3 small carrots, peeled and cut into chunks

   4 large or 5 small celery ribs, cut into chunks

   2 cups white wine

   2 large or 3 small garlic cloves, smashed and peeled

   4 sprigs fresh thyme

   2 bay leaves

   1 teaspoon black peppercorns

   1 whole arbol (or another small dried red) chile

   Kosher salt

Preparation

1. Heat oven to 450 degrees. Using a sturdy knife or your hands, cut or tear turkey carcass into large pieces. Arrange in a single layer in a roasting pan and roast until brown and sizzling, 20 to 25 minutes.

2. Remove from oven and transfer pieces to a stockpot.

3. Add onions, carrots and celery to the empty roasting pan and place over medium heat. Sauté briefly, just to loosen the crusty turkey bits from bottom of pan.

4. Return pan to oven and cook until vegetables are browned around the edges, 20 to 25 minutes.

5. Remove pan from oven and place it over medium heat. Add white wine and cook, stirring, until wine is reduced to a syrup, about 3 minutes.

6. Add wine-vegetable mixture to stockpot. Add garlic, thyme, bay leaves, black peppercorns and chile. Add 6 quarts water and place over medium-high heat just until mixture comes to a boil.

7. Immediately reduce heat to low, skim any foam floating on top and simmer, skimming as needed, for 3 hours. Add 1 teaspoon salt and taste. If stock tastes watery, keep simmering until stock is flavorful. Taste for salt again and add more if needed.

8. Strain stock through a sieve into a large container or containers. Discard solids. Let stock cool slightly, then refrigerate. Skim off any fat from the top of the stock. Use within 4 days or freeze.

YIELD: About 3 quarts

Nov 29 2013

Who’s We Kimosabe?

Happy Holiday Celebrating the Massacre of the Indigenous People of North America.  I hope that you and your family and friends are happy and safe with plenty to eat and be thankful for.