December 20, 2012 archive

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On This Day In History December 20

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

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 20 is the 354th day of the year (355th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 11 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1803, the French hand over New Orleans and Lower Louisiana to the United States.

In April 1803, the United States purchased from France the 828,000 square miles that had formerly been French Louisiana. The area was divided into two territories: the northern half was Louisiana Territory, the largely unsettled (though home to many Indians) frontier section that was later explored by Lewis and Clark; and the southern Orleans Territory, which was populated by Europeans.

Unlike the sprawling and largely unexplored northern territory (which eventually encompassed a dozen large states), Orleans Territory was a small, densely populated region that was like a little slice of France in the New World. With borders that roughly corresponded to the modern state of Louisiana, Orleans Territory was home to about 50,000 people, a primarily French population that had been living under the direction of a Spanish administration.

The Louisiana Purchase (French: Vente de la Louisiane “Sale of Louisiana”) was the acquisition by the United States of America of 828,800 square miles (2,147,000 km2) of France’s claim to the territory of Louisiana in 1803. The U.S. paid 60 million francs ($11,250,000) plus cancellation of debts worth 18 million francs ($3,750,000), for a total sum of 15 million dollars for the Louisiana territory ($219 million in today’s currency).

The Louisiana Purchase encompassed all or part of 14 current U.S. states and two Canadian provinces. The land purchased contained all of present-day Arkansas, Missouri, Iowa, Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska, parts of Minnesota that were west of the Mississippi River, most of North Dakota, nearly all of South Dakota, northeastern New Mexico, the portions of Montana, Wyoming, and Colorado east of the Continental Divide, and Louisiana west of the Mississippi River, including the city of New Orleans. (The Oklahoma Panhandle and southwestern portions of Kansas and Louisiana were still claimed by Spain at the time of the Purchase.) In addition, the Purchase contained small portions of land that would eventually become part of the Canadian provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan. The purchase, which doubled the size of the United States, comprises around 23% of current U.S. territory. The population of European immigrants was estimated to be 92,345 as of the 1810 census.

The purchase was a vital moment in the presidency of Thomas Jefferson. At the time, it faced domestic opposition as being possibly unconstitutional. Although he felt that the U.S. Constitution did not contain any provisions for acquiring territory, Jefferson decided to purchase Louisiana because he felt uneasy about France and Spain having the power to block American trade access to the port of New Orleans.

Napoleon Bonaparte, upon completion of the agreement, stated, “This accession of territory affirms forever the power of the United States, and I have given England a maritime rival who sooner or later will humble her pride.”

Armando, you ignorant slut.

Look, I’ve made my foolish fondness for Armando known previously.  Dude is smart and can slug, body punches when he deems it appropriate.  I always liked him, even when he’s wrong.  What in hell does he think austerity is all about?  I refer him to Stirling Newberry.  Get your shit together buddy, you’re in a New World. As politically astute as you are?  That’s olden-times.  You’re in a New World of carrying capacity.  Change everything you are.

As much as I like you, get with it, Armando.

Catfood Call To Action

I think TheMomCat was half kidding when she said that we should cover this like gravy on a waffle (not from the South?  Try Syrup) but I’m up early so why not?  First, from Atrios, your action agenda-

To The Phones

White House


Your senators

Your House member.

No cuts to Social Security.

Gaius Publius @ Americablog offers this helpful digest-

What are we protecting?

We’re protecting three social insurance programs. These are:

    ■ Social Security

    ■ Medicare

    ■ Medicaid

What are we protecting them from? Anything that:

    ■ Reduces benefits

    ■ Turns the program from insurance to welfare (which only the “deserving” have access to)

How are these programs being threatened?

As near as I can tell, these are the threats. Note to foxes – this is the hands-off list. Each of these seven items is a benefit cut:

Social Security

    1. Raising the retirement age

    2. Chained CPI instead of current COLA

    3. Means-testing benefits


    4. Raising the eligibility age

    5. Increasing Part B premiums

    6. Increasing “cost-sharing”


    7. Shifting costs to the states by any means, such as “federal blended rate,” etc.

Now today’s installment, from Robert Reich (contrary to a rumor I just made up, there is NO indication he has a cameo in The Hobbit)-

Cliff Hanger: The President’s Unnecessary and Unwise Concessions

Robert Reich

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

These concessions aren’t necessary. If the nation goes over the so-called “fiscal cliff” and tax rates return to what they were under Bill Clinton, Democrats can then introduce a tax cut for everyone earning under $250,000 and make it retroactive to the start of the year.

Social Security should not be part of any such deal anyway. By law, it can’t contribute to the budget deficit. It’s only permitted to spend money from the Social Security trust fund.

Besides, the President’s proposed reduction in annual Social Security cost-of-living adjustments would save only $122 billion over ten years. Yet it would significantly harm the elderly.

It defies logic and fairness to give more tax cuts to the wealthy while cutting benefits for the near-poor.

The median income of Americans over 65 is less than $20,000 a year. Nearly 70 percent of them depend on Social Security for more than half of this. The average Social Security benefit is less than $15,000 a year.

Hands off Social Security. If the Republicans are willing to raise tax rates on high earners but demand more spending cuts in return, the President should offer larger cuts in defense spending and corporate welfare.

Can the circle-jerk be unbroken?

Dear God in Heaven and Yale University.

This former atheist (technically agnostic!) bows down to the Majesty of God.  Nay, I prostrate myself before His Almighty and Cruel Mockery, His Infinite Jest and Maligning of Humans, and beg His Tender Mercy:


Thou hast punkst and fuckst with me in such a way as to make Job hurl lunch.  Relieve me from the awful rowing toward Your Presence.  The starch-shirted graybeards in the Humanities program at my state college are relentlessly blown about limbo and boiling in pitch, now wondering if my riposte to Bishop Berkeley, extrapolating to the idea of perfection, was correct.  They now have their answer: I began with Mel Brooks, and imagined God, Himself, The Indisputable Master of Stand-Up.   Not only does God play dice with the universe, he is in reality Joseph Heller.

If you are going to hire David Brooks to pontificate on humility and modesty, then you must blow up another village in Afghanistan, which makes more sense, because then at least you have the goal of world domination.  


Originally posted September 26, 2011.

Haredevil Hare

LIBOR Part 1

For the past week news has been exploding out of the London Inter Bank Offered Rate fraud.

LIBOR is (supposedly) the interest rate a small group of very large London Banks charged each other for short term (overnight or 24 hour) loans to each other.  This number was not constant from day to day or even from institution to institution, for instance Peter Bank might loan Paul Bank X amount at a rate of Y while John Bank might loan W amount at a rate of Z.  Paul Bank might accept a loan from either Peter Bank or John Bank with no particular preference for the lowest cost and no actual transaction might take place at all.

These ‘potential’ trades were reported to the British Bankers Association who sampled and normalized them to come up with a number, LIBOR, that allegedly represented the typical cost of money to the most credit worthy companies.

Since all other companies were, by definition, less credit worthy their cost for borrowing was higher and frequently formalized in contracts for actual loans as LIBOR + some amount that represented how much less credit worthy (riskier) they were.

Fair enough.

But it doesn’t stop with loans, LIBOR + risk was used to value many other financial products including pretty fancy and complicated derivatives and foreign exchange transactions.  The problem was that LIBOR was not only as entirely fictional as I am, but it was also thoroughly corrupt with the divisions of the Banks in charge of providing the data on which it was based co-operating to manipulate the value to benefit their own transactions in ways that are not obviously transparent.

It’s easy to understand how in the dark days of the financial crisis Banks liked to pretend they were more solvent and credit worthy than they actually were, but it had been commonly calculated fraudulently for years before that.

Some details of this practice are now emerging in a series of regulators’ reports, settlements, and (as unlikely as it seems) prosecutions.

Bloomberg News pursued these documents through reporting and public information requests and published an article last week that attracted a lot of attention.  It’s kind of long so I’ve excerpted a small portion below.  The title is Secret Libor Transcripts Expose Trader Rate-Manipulation but the URL says “Rigged LIBOR With Police Nearby Shows Flaw Of Light Touch”.  The “Police Nearby” simply refers to the fact that one of the most notorious trading desks where this crime occured happened to be very close to a police station.  Of more significance is “Shows Flaw Of Light Touch” which is a regulatory strategy advocated by Alan Greenspan and other Chicago School economists who argued that actual government supervision of the operations of these very large Banks wasn’t necessary because honesty could be assumed since according to their now discredited theories there was no advantage in cheating.

Muse in the Morning

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Muse in the Morning

Holiday Adornment 7

Winter Solstice: Return of the Sun

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

The shortest day, the longest night, for those of us who reside in the Northern climes Winter Solstice is here. The sun reaches is most Southern destiny and touches for but a moment, the Tropic of Capricorn and immediately reverses her course. That moment will occur on December 21 at 6:12 AM EST.

The Winter Solstice is a special night for those who practice the craft and has a rich history from many cultures. In old Europe, it was known as Yule, from the Norse, Jul, meaning wheel. It is one of the eight holidays, or Sabbats, that are held sacred by Wiccans and Pagans around the world. In Celtic traditions it is the battle between the young Oak King and the Holly King:

the Oak King and the Holly King are seen as dual aspects of the Horned God. Each of these twin aspects rules for half the year, battles for the favor of the Goddess, and then retires to nurse his wounds for the next six months, until it is time for him to reign once more.

Often, these two entities are portrayed in familiar ways – the Holly King frequently appears as a woodsy version of Santa Claus. He dresses in red, wears a sprig of holly in his tangled hair, and is sometimes depicted driving a team of eight stags. The Oak King is portrayed as a fertility god, and occasionally appears as the Green Man or other lord of the forest.

The re-enactment of the battle is popular in some Wiccan rituals.

As we prepare for the longest night, we decorate our homes with red, green and white, holly, ivy, evergreen and pine cones. We honor the solar year with light. We place candles in the windows facing the North, South, East and West to ward off the darkness and celebrate the return of the sun/ With the setting sun, fires are lit in hearths and fire pits and kept burning to keep us warm until Sol returns at dawn.

There is food a plenty, roasts and stews and winter vegetables and sweets, chocolate and peppermint candy, apples and oranges and sweet breads. All these reminding us of the last harvest, the gifts of Gaia, Mother Earth and the hunts by Hern of the Wild Hunt. Of course there will be honeyed and spiced wine and hearty, dark beers, some made by friends who will join the festivities.

What ever your beliefs, or none, may the traditions and celebrations bring you peace and joy. Blessed Be. The Wheel Turns.

Meet Tim Scott, the Newest Senator

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

Shortly after the election, South Carolina’s junior senator and Tea Party hero, Jim DeMint announced his resignation to become the head of the right wing Washington based think tank, The Heritage Foundation. That left it to the Tea Party governor, Nikki Haley, to appoint someone to fill the remaining two years of DeMint’s senate term. Gov. Haley stated that she would not appoint a “place holder” but would look for a person who would be a viable candidate for a full term in 2014. Today the governor announced her decision, overlooking polling favorite and native son Stephen Colbert, appointing the African American freshman US Representative Tim Scott to the seat.

David Dayen at FDL News reports:

Scott becomes the first African-American Senator since Roland Burris left in 2010, and the first African-American representing the South in the Senate since Reconstruction (there have only been six other African-American Senators total in the history of the country). Gov. Haley made the announcement at the State House in Columbia a short while ago:

Mr. Scott, 47, offers a unique story and background, one that is in scant supply in the Republican Party right now. Raised by a single mother, he was, by his account, a lost child who struggled with school and with life until a Chick-fil-A franchise owner took him on as a protégé and schooled him in conservative principles.

“Coming from a single-parent household and almost flunking out of high school,” Mr. Scott said in 2010, during his bid for the House, “my hope is I will take that experience and help people bring out the best that they can be.”

As David notes, don’t let Mr. Scott’s background fool you and links to this article at Think Progress:

By Scott Keyes on Dec 17, 2012 at 9:46 am

Tim Scott is America’s newest senator today after getting tapped by South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley (R) to fill the vacancy left by former Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC). DeMint announced this month that he was leaving the Senate to head up the Heritage Foundation, an arch-conservative think tank in Washington DC.

Though DeMint left big, controversial shoes to fill for Republicans, few conservatives will be disappointed with Scott’s record. Elected to Congress just two years ago in the Tea Party wave, Scott has already garnered headlines for his plan to impeach President Obama, his legislation to cut off union members’ children from food stamps, and his defense of Big Oil.

Here’s a quick look at Scott’s record:

  • Floated impeaching Obama over the debt ceiling. As the debt ceiling debate raged in the summer of 2011 because of the intransigence of Tea Party freshmen like Scott, the nation inched perilously close to defaulting on its obligations. One option discussed by some officials to avoid that scenario was for the president to assert that the debt ceiling itself was an unconstitutional infringement on the 14th Amendment. However, Tim Scott told a South Carolina Tea Party group that if Obama were to go this route, it would be an “impeachable act.”
  • Proposed a bill to cut off food stamps for entire families if one member went on strike. One of the most anti-union members of Congress, Scott proposed a bill two months after entering Congress in 2011 to kick families off food stamps if one adult were participating in a strike. Scott’s legislation made no exception for children or other dependents.
  • Wanted to spend an unlimited amount of money to display Ten Commandments outside county building. When Scott was on the Charleston County Council, one of his primary issues was displaying the Ten Commandments outside the Council building. According to the Augusta Chronicle, Scott said the display “would remind council members and speakers the moral absolutes they should follow.” When he was sued for violating the Constitution and a Circuit Judge’s orders, Scott was nonplussed: “Whatever it costs in the pursuit of this goal (of displaying the Commandments) is worth it.”
  • Defended fairness of giving billions in subsidies to Big Oil. Scott and his Republican allies in Congress voted repeatedly last year to protect more than $50 billion in taxpayer subsidies for Big Oil corporations. When ThinkProgress asked Scott whether it was fair to do that, especially at a time when oil companies are earning tens of billions in profit every quarter, the Tea Party freshman defended the industry: “fair is a relative word,” said Scott.
  • Helped slash South Carolina’s HIV/AIDS budget. As a state representative, Scott backed a proposal to cut the state’s entire HIV/AIDS budget, despite the fact that South Carolina ranks in the top-third of reported AIDS cases. The cuts were ultimately included in the state’s budget, impacting more than 2,000 HIV-positive South Carolinians who needed help paying for their medication.

If you thought that the Senate couldn’t possibly be any worse, oh my, were you wrong. Now more that ever, the Senate needs to reform filibuster.

My Little Town 20121219: Christmas Trees

I apologize for not being around the past couple of weeks.  I have been busy with Christmas goodie baking and some personal matters.  I shipped off a box of treats to the former Mrs. Translator on Monday for her to enjoy and share with Middle Son, Least Son, and their families.  I also mailed out a box to Eldest Son and his mate since they are unable to come home this year.

I sent Black Walnut/Cream Cheese Pound Cake, Hickory Nut/Cream Cheese Pound Cake, Apricot Bread, Black Walnut/White “Chocolate” Toll House Cookies, and of course Lizzies.  It was warm and I was unable to get the Myer’s Rum Truffles rolled Sunday night, so they missed out on them.  I finally froze a one liter bottle of water and used it to keep my hands cold Monday evening so I was able to get them rolled Tuesday.  Some of them I dipped in tempered milk chocolate, some I coated with cocoa powder, and some I coated with confectioner’s sugar.  I have improved on the recipe in the link, so ignore it.  At the next available What’s for Dinner? I shall publish the improved recipe.  Last night I took care packages to my neighbors who are also my friends, including the truffles.

Those of you that read this regular series know that I am from Hackett, Arkansas, just a mile or so from the Oklahoma border, and just about 10 miles south of the Arkansas River.  It was a rural sort of place that did not particularly appreciate education, and just zoom onto my previous posts to understand a bit about it.

I have mentioned previously how much my mum loved Christmas.  She loved wrapping the gifts, cooking the goodies and meals, and even buying the gifts.  But most of all she loved to decorate the interior of the house.  (The outside belonged to my dad to decorate.)  A major part of decorating was the tree itself, but she did the whole downstairs as well.

We never bought a tree (except for one of those three foot aluminum ones popular in the early 1906s on which she would hang the Christmas cards).  We always went out and got our own.  Before I was old enough to go, my brother and dad would go get one, usually from the farm.  Later, after he married and moved away and I got older, my dad and I would go.

End of the World Menu- Part One editors got together and selected 3 menus for your end time dining pleasure.  The first one is based on actual Mexican and Guatemalan cuisine and consists of a Shrimp Ceviche (Ceviche de Camaron), Chicken Tamales with Tomatillo/Cilantro Sauce, Chayote Slaw, Braised and Fried Pork Carnitas, a Chocolate Flan, and a Tropical Fruit Margarita “because if the end has come, a little inebriation is in order.”

Tropical Fruit Margarita

(serves six)


  • Lime wedges
  • Sugar (for rimming)


  • 3 cups Homemade Sweet-and-Sour Mix for Margaritas
  • 1 cup gold tequila
  • 3/4 cup papaya nectar
  • 3/4 cup guava nectar
  • 1/2 cup canned cream of coconut available in the liquor department of most supermarkets.
  • 16 ice cubes
  • 6 lime slices

Rim 6 glasses.

Combine 1/2 your sweet-and-sour mix, tequila, papaya and guava nectar, cream of coconut and ice cubes in blender. Process until blended. Repeat. Pour into 6 glasses. Garnish each with lime slice.

Rest of the recipes below the fold.

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