11/03/2012 archive

Out, vile jelly!

I find it hard to express my contempt for the Sunday morning gas bags and that’s saying a lot because I have an on-line thesaurus and know how to use it.

One of the things I’m trying to do with our sites, DocuDharma and The Stars Hollow Gazette, is find some alternative programming for our readers so that they’re not tempted to gouge out their eyes like Gloucester (Act III, Scene 7).

This piece comes to us courtesy of The Real News and their YouTube Channel and features Bill Black, Associate Professor of Economics and Law at the University of Missouri Kansas City

Part 1

Part 2

The Great Betrayal – and the Cynicism of calling it a Grand Bargain

William K. Black, The Real News

Tuesday, 30 October 2012 14:10

Wall Street’s greatest desire is privatizing Social Security. Wall Street stands to make scores of billions of dollars annually in additional fees should it ever buy enough politicians to privatize Social Security. The Republican Party’s greatest goal is unraveling the safety net. They always wish to attack the most successful and popular programs introduced by the Democratic Party. Their problem is that they know it is toxic for Republican candidates to try to destroy the safety net. Only Democrats, through a “Great Betrayal” can give Republicans the political cover they need to unravel the safety net.

Because unraveling the safety net is unnecessary, harmful, and politically insane for a Democrat and politically suicidal for Republicans, the proponents of these terrible policies have long failed in their efforts. Republicans, however, have now found a fifth column within the Democratic Party who they hope will open the door to attacking the safety net. This would provide the political cover that Republicans could use to unravel fully the safety net.

The Republican Party’s approach to convincing Obama to commit the Great Betrayal cleverly exploits three human weaknesses. First, Obama wants to be considered a “centrist.” Second, Obama yearns to be considered “bipartisan.” These first two weaknesses are forms of vanity. The siren song is “do this and you will become known as the President who acted as a statesman to cut across Party and ideological divides and make the hard choices essential to allowing America to continue to be a great nation – while ‘saving’ the safety net.”

The third weakness that the Republicans seek to exploit is fear – and the death of alternatives. The mantra of European austerity proponents is “there is no alternative.” The only choice is between austerity and collapse, and that means there is no real choice. The Republican strategy is to create a series of “moral panics.” As the name implies, this involves the creation of a special form of panic falsely premised on immorality. (Think: “Reefer Madness” or Professor Hill causing River City, Iowans to believe that the arrival of pool hall demonstrated the imminent moral collapse of their children.) The Great Betrayal can only occur if Obama succumbs to mindless (and innumerate) panic.

The Democratic wing of the Democratic Party has to lead the effort to save America from the Great Betrayal. It is essential to focus on the self-destructive nature of austerity.

(T)he Rubin-wing of the Democratic Party that has been seeking to create the moral panic, but even he admits that “austerity now” “will slow the economy, cut jobs, and increase deficits.” The Great Betrayal of the safety net will begin if Obama is able to deliver the “grand bargain” imposing austerity that would “slow the economy, cut jobs, and increase deficits” and unravel the safety nets – the four horsemen of the economic apocalypse.

Obama is telling the media that the Great Betrayal is his first, and overarching, priority should he be re-elected. We are forewarned and we must act now to make clear that we will block the Great Betrayal and crush at the polls any member of Congress who supports it.

Do not concede the phrase “grand bargain” to the proponents of the betrayal. We should heed Camus’ warning that it is essential to call a plague by its real name if one is to resist it – and it is essential to resist the pestilence. “[W]hen you see the suffering and pain that it brings, you have to be mad, blind or a coward to resign yourself to the plague.” We must refuse to resign ourselves to being betrayed by Democratic leaders. Our actions must make it clear that we are not mad, blind, or cowards. We refuse to fall for their faux moral panics. It is our leaders who are all too often mad, blind, and cowards.

Liberals fear grand bargain betrayal if President Obama wins


11/2/12 4:26 AM EDT

He wants a large-scale deficit deal. But it would inevitably mean making concessions to Republicans that infuriate the Democratic base that spent the past two years and tens of millions of dollars trying to return him to the White House. Progressives worry about which Obama will show up after Election Day: the pragmatist who offered benefit cuts to House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) in the 2011 debt ceiling talks or the partisan chastened by a failed deal to slice into prized Democratic programs.

“The base is not going to be happy with ham and egg justice” that requires disproportionate sacrifice from all but the wealthy, said Van Jones, Obama’s former green jobs czar and founder of Rebuild the Dream, a progressive advocacy group. “It is a fiscal showdown. We’re not going to blink. There is no reason in the world why the pillars of middle-class security, the earned benefits that our parents fought for, should be on the chopping block.”

Obama, if he wins, will assert that voters had a choice – and his vision on taxes, entitlements and the deficit prevailed.

“If I’ve won, then I believe that’s a mandate for doing it in a balanced way,” Obama said this week in an interview on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.” “We’ve already made a trillion dollars worth of cuts. We can do some more cuts. We can look at how we deal with the health care costs in particular under Medicare and Medicaid in a serious way. But we are also going to need some revenue.”

Obama signaled last week that he could revive the offer he made to Boehner, which was a mix of new revenues, reduced federal spending and entitlement benefit cuts such as raising the Medicare eligibility age and lowering the cost-of-living increases for Social Security recipients

Administration officials say the range of options that Obama has considered in the past are well known, so it shouldn’t be a surprise if they are resurrected.

But progressive leaders don’t want Obama to go back there. Privately, they use words like “debacle” and “betrayal” to describe the backlash that would ensue. They are far more measured in their public statements ahead of the election.

The unions and advocacy groups have invested time and money in the battleground states pushing the message that Obama is better than Republican Mitt Romney on creating jobs, protecting the middle class and preserving Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security.

And if Obama wins, they say they plan to remind him who is responsible for delivering him a second term – and it won’t be a coalition of Republicans, deficit hawks or even independents, but rather a Democratic base that expects him to stand firm on key priorities.

“MoveOn’s 7 million members have made clear that ending the Bush tax cuts for folks earning over $250,000 and preventing any benefit cuts to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid are top priorities – that’s a key reason why MoveOn members are working so hard to reelect President Obama and elect progressive champions to Congress,” said Ilya Sheyman, campaign director for MoveOn.org Political Action. “After Election Day, our members will expect Congress and the president to focus on passing a real jobs program, instead of making job-killing cuts, even if it requires working into January or beyond.”

The AFL-CIO and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees will keep their organizers in the field well after Tuesday to pressure lawmakers as their attention turns from electoral politics to deficit deal making.

The network will hold what they’re calling a national day of action Nov. 8 and follow up later in the month with lobbying events. They’ll also release results of an election night survey by Democratic pollster Stan Greenberg on why voters went to the polls.

“It is safe to say many groups are very concerned that a grand bargain will be foisted on the Congress that goes against what Democratic candidates promised on the campaign trail,” said Roger Hickey, co-director of the Campaign for America’s Future. “And it is clear the president is considering making the grand bargain that he offered to Boehner previously.”

Yup, Van Jones and MoveOn getting all outraged and stuff November 8th AFTER he no longer needs a single vote again, ever.

That will hold his feet to the fire.

(h/t Naked Capitalism)

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

The Many Colors of Squash

Winter Squash

   This week it’s hard not to think about pumpkins, even though most of you won’t be cooking your jack-o’-lanterns. But along with the pumpkins in bins outside my supermarket, there are as many kabocha squashes, butternuts, acorns and large, squat European pumpkins that the French call potirons.

   You can use either butternut or kabocha squash in this week’s recipes, though the two are not identical in texture or flavor. Butternut is a denser, slightly sweeter squash, and kabocha has an earthier flavor. Kabocha squash absorbs flavors beautifully and is especially well suited for salads because of the nice way it absorbs tart dressings.

Puréed Winter Squash Soup With Ginger

One of the most comforting dishes you can make with winter squash is a puréed soup.

Lasagna With Roasted Kabocha Squash and Béchamel

No-boil noodles make this rich-tasting lasagna easier to prepare.

Roasted Beet and Winter Squash Salad With Walnuts

This composed salad sets the colors of the beets and the squash against each other beautifully.

Winter Squash and Molasses Muffins

Add walnuts and raisins or chopped apricots to personalize these moist muffins.

Balsamic Roasted Winter Squash and Wild Rice Salad

Tossing the squash with the vinegar before roasting deepens the flavors of both.

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

Michelle Chen: In Sandy’s Wake, New York’s Landscape of Inequity Revealed

The shock of Sandy is still rippling across the northeastern United States. But in the microcosm of New York City, we can already see who’s going to bear the brunt of the damage. As Hurricane Katrina demonstrated, floodwaters have a way of exposing the race and class divisions that stratify our cities.

Though some bus and subway service is returning, many neighborhoods dependent on public transportation remain functionally shuttered. Not surprisingly, recent surveys show that Metropolitan Transit Authority ridership consists mostly of people of color, nearly half living on less than $50,000 a year in one of the world’s most expensive cities.

It’s true that Sandy’s path of destruction was to some extent an equal opportunity assault, pummeling the trendiest downtown enclaves and blighted neighborhoods alike. But residents’ levels of resilience to the storm–the capacity to absorb trauma–will likely follow the sharp peaks and valleys of the city’s economic landscape.

Robert Reich: More Jobs, Lousy Wages, and the Desertion of Non-College White Men From the Democratic Party

The two most important trends, confirmed in today’s jobs report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, are that (1) jobs slowly continue to return, and (2) those jobs are paying less and less.

Today’s report showed 171,000 workers were added to payrolls in October, up from 148,000 in September. At the same time, unemployment rose to 7.9 percent from 7.8 percent last month. The reason for the seeming disparity: As jobs have begun to return, more people have been entering the labor force seeking employment. The household survey, on which the unemployment percentage is based, counts as “unemployed” only people who are looking for work.

Ralph Nader: Be an Expert Voter

With Election Day on the horizon, most voters have settled on their choice for the oval office. But let’s not forget about the all the other choices on the ballot, many of which will have a great affect on the lives and livelihoods of Americans — Congressional and State representatives, local officials, and referenda.

It’s no secret that the majority of voters simply vote the party line, never examining the various candidates on their ballot beyond the D or R next to their name. And, the mass media is not your friend when it comes to electoral choices, rarely holding candidates feet to the fire on their specific proposals or calling them out on their deceptions, or what they ignore. As a result, politicians can flood the airwaves with misleading information, empty promises, and vapid slogans. I like to call this political tactic the “three F’s” — keeping voters flattered, fooled and flummoxed just long enough to secure their vote. The three F’s are the very reason so many voters, who do not do their political homework, end up regularly voting against their own self-interests.

So how does one avoid the trap of the three F’s? Here are three suggestions to become a more informed and more principled “expert voter.”

Liz Winstead: Abortion Is a Medical Procedure

Lately, the conversation surrounding abortion has been extreme; very rape focused, very life of the mother focused.

It’s probably because so many of the politicians who have been bringing abortion into the public forum have some cave-dwelling, anti-science beliefs that belong nowhere in a discussion about reproductive health, and who don’t believe abortion should be legal even in those cases.

The opposite of what sane people believe.

The opposite of what I believe.

I also believe abortion should be legal in every other case.

Like in the case of “The future of the mother,” or “The age of the mother,” or “The financial situation of the mother.” In other words, in the case of the life of the mother. Whatever life she chooses to have that doesn’t involve being pregnant at that moment.

Robert Sheer: Non-Kenyan White Men for Romney

Let’s look at the bright side of this interminable and essentially superficial election process. I’m hoping that, even if Mitt Romney wins, the upside will be that I get to be taxed at the same rate he has enjoyed as one of the nation’s most skillful hedge fund hustlers.

I’m not asking for the super-low rate that he probably paid during the many years of tax returns he has refused to publicly disclose. Nothing that extreme — I can’t afford his ingenious accountants. But I am hoping that Romney will set the top rate at the 14 percent that he was willing to admit to having paid on his $13.7 million in income in 2011 when he knew his tax records would have to be revealed to the public because he was running for tax-collector-in-chief.

George Zornick: Getting Progressive Candidates on the Record Against Safety Net Cuts

Politico has a very interesting story this morning that gave voice to what a lot of progressives in Washington have been nervously worrying about: the possibility that a freshly re-elected President Obama could sell his base down the river only weeks after the election during fiscal cliff negotiations. (Liberals fear grand bargain betrayal if President Obama wins.)[..]

But ultimately, Obama cannot implement a deal alone. He has to get members of his own party to vote for it in Congress-so regardless of the president’s disposition, there are many pressure points in Congress for progressives who want to keep Democrats from cutting the safety net.

Onkar Ghate: A Liberal Ayn Rand?

It’s no secret that the right is awash in Ayn Rand. Tea Partiers carry signs like “Who is John Galt?” and, astonishing for a novel published 55 years ago, sales of Atlas Shrugged topped 445,000 last year.

All of this has prompted researchers like Yale historian Beverly Gage to wonder, “Why is there no liberal Ayn Rand?” Good question. Liberals today, Gage observes, have no long-term goals or vision, no big ideas, no canon.

Here’s a radical thought. Instead of liberals dismissing Rand’s appeal to the American spirit of individualism and independence, as President Obama recently did in his Rolling Stone interview, why don’t liberals make Rand part of a new canon? Why let conservatives monopolize her?

F1 2012: Yas Marina Qualifying

Formula One declares war on NASCAR!

Landing Spot in America Is Elusive for Formula One

By LEO LEVINE, The New York Times

Published: November 2, 2012

The series, which awards the World Drivers and Constructors championships, has struggled to find a permanent home in the United States. There are several reasons for this, but a principal one has been lack of a suitable circuit in a good-sized metropolitan area.

Over the years, there have been a number of attempts to find a permanent home in the United States. Sebring, Fla., was the first in 1959, and after that came Riverside, Calif., and then Watkins Glen in the Finger Lakes region of New York. The Watkins Glen setting was much loved by drivers, teams and spectators, but it was not a financial success. And it was not a favorite of the man who has controlled the sport as head of the Formula One Constructors Association, Bernard Ecclestone.

Watkins Glen declared bankruptcy after the 1980 season, and for the last three decades Formula One racing has wandered the country, some years with two events, some with none. There have been races in Long Beach, Calif.; Detroit; Dallas; and Phoenix, and even the parking lot of a Las Vegas casino.

Flaming Chunks of Twisted Metal!

The problem with Formula One is that it is boring.  For years and years at a time drivers, at least the smart ones, try to duplicate what Sebastian Vettel did last week which is pull away at the start and pile up an insurmountable lead so they can coast to a victory.


NASCAR on the other hand is high speed bumper cars, tightly regulated to produce the maximum amount of crashes.  Do you want to be a TBI Throwball Star with a 4 year career or a 40 year old designated has been?  Which would you rather watch- Checkers or Chess?  King me!

Crushing victories make unexciting amusements which is why you should constantly be on the lookout for ‘horse race’ reporting, in politics as well as sports.  In most cases it’s really not as close as all that and the institutional incentive is to compose a compelling narrative.  If you can present an overwhelming favorite as a scrappy, come-from-behind underdog who’s sympathetically triumphed despite personal obstacles in a way that gives the fan the impression that if they were only a little more dedicated and disciplined they too could be a Galt-like Master of the Universe, you are not a mere facile fantasist and servile stenographer but a hard nosed reporter of Truth, Justice, and The American Way! ready to rip off those nerdy glasses and prove that you have powers and abilities far beyond those of being the fastest typist Perry White has ever seen.

Put down that pizza, I’m making a point here.

Professional Sports are entertainments, not competitions.  Bright and shiny distractions as ephemeral as soap bubbles, scripted ‘reality’ shows with a veneer of novelty in that you’re supposed to willingly suspend disbelief and embrace cognitive estrangement.

“It ain’t over ’til it’s over”, I hear the rime beard cry.

It is done.  It is over.  Cooked in the cake, say I.

F1: Vettel dominates Abu Dhabi Grand Prix practice

7Days in Dubai

Saturday, November 03, 2012

Vettel has won the past four races to overtake Alonso at the top, and by all accounts has the fastest car on the circuit. He leads the Spaniard by 13 points with three races remaining, followed by Raikkonen who is 67 points back.

Webber is a further six points back, and Hamilton another two points back. Each of them has to practically win every race and hope Vettel doesn’t finish to have any chance.

The team (Red Bull) can clinch its third consecutive constructors’ title in Abu Dhabi if Vettel wins and Webber finishes no worse than eighth, or the two finish second and third. Red Bull leads Ferrari by 91 points, and McLaren was a further 10 points behind.

Red Bull, McLaren, Ferrari.  How long until that’s no longer a surprise?

I pass, like night, from land to land;

I have strange power of speech;

That moment that his face I see,

I know the man that must hear me:

To him my tale I teach.

Mediums and Softs on offer with a .5 second a lap advantage to the Softs.

Interactive Tracks

Yas Marina

Official Sites

Any (heh) surprises below.

On This Day In History November 3

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 3 is the 307th day of the year (308th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 58 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1964, residents of the District of Columbia cast their ballots in a presidential election for the first time. The passage of the 23rd Amendment in 1961 gave citizens of the nation’s capital the right to vote for a commander in chief and vice president. They went on to help Democrat Lyndon Johnson defeat Republican Barry Goldwater in 1964, the next presidential election.

Washington, D.C., formally the District of Columbia and commonly referred to as Washington, the District, or simply D.C., is the capital of the United States, founded on July 16, 1790. Article One of the United States Constitution provides for a federal district, distinct from the states, to serve as the permanent national capital. The City of Washington was originally a separate municipality within the federal territory until an act of Congress in 1871 established a single, unified municipal government for the whole District. It is for this reason that the city, while legally named the District of Columbia, is known as Washington, D.C. Named in honor of George Washington, the city shares its name with the U.S. state of Washington located on the country’s Pacific coast.

On July 16, 1790, the Residence Act provided for a new permanent capital to be located on the Potomac River, the exact area to be selected by President Washington. As permitted by the U.S. Constitution, the initial shape of the federal district was a square, measuring 10 miles (16 km) on each side, totaling 100 square miles (260 km2). During 1791-92, Andrew Ellicott and several assistants, including Benjamin Banneker, surveyed the border of the District with both Maryland and Virginia, placing boundary stones at every mile point. Many of the stones are still standing. A new “federal city” was then constructed on the north bank of the Potomac, to the east of the established settlement at Georgetown. On September 9, 1791, the federal city was named in honor of George Washington, and the district was named the Territory of Columbia, Columbia being a poetic name for the United States in use at that time. Congress held its first session in Washington on November 17, 1800.

The Organic Act of 1801 officially organized the District of Columbia and placed the entire federal territory, including the cities of Washington, Georgetown, and Alexandria, under the exclusive control of Congress. Further, the unincorporated territory within the District was organized into two counties: the County of Washington to the east of the Potomac and the County of Alexandria to the west. Following this Act, citizens located in the District were no longer considered residents of Maryland or Virginia, thus ending their representation in Congress.

The Twenty-third Amendment to the United States Constitution was ratified in 1961, granting the District three votes in the Electoral College for the election of President and Vice President, but still no voting representation in Congress.

In the Middle of the Night

Relief Reaching Staten Island

We are still in disaster mode.