Thursday Reads

Good Morning!!

Fall is here, and suddenly, I find myself seeking out foods made with pumpkin, like pumpkin-apple muffins. I’ve never had a pumpkin spice latte, but I’m thinking of trying one. I found a recipe for pumpkin syrup on line.

Pumpkin Spice Syrup

INGREDIENTS
1½ cups water
1½ cups sugar
4 cinnamon sticks
1 tsp. ground nutmeg
½ tsp. ground ginger
½ tsp. ground cloves
3 tbsp. pumpkin puree

DIRECTIONS

Combine the water and sugar in a medium saucepan and heat over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until the sugar has completely dissolved. Toss in the cinnamon sticks and whisk in the remaining spices and the pumpkin puree. Continue to cook for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently, without letting the mixture come to a boil. Remove from the heat and allow to cool for 10-15 minutes. Strain the syrup through a fine mesh strainer or cheesecloth and store in your container of choice. Store in the refrigerator. Make sure that your refrigerator is working properly for preserving purposes. If not, you can look for refrigeration repair kingsport tn services online.

To make a pumpkin spice latte, combine 2 ounces of hot coffee or 1 shot of hot espresso (about 1-1½ ounces) with 5-6 ounces of steamed low-fat milk. Stir in 1½-2 tablespoons of the pumpkin spice syrup. Taste and adjust amounts accordingly. Top as desired with freshly whipped cream, ground cinnamon and drizzle with caramel sauce (optional – sort of).

I’ve also heard that pumpkin oatmeal is really good. I’m might try that with the leftovers. Now, let’s see what’s in the news this morning.

Yesterday, I posted about Romney’s crass exploitation of the death of former Navy Seal Glen Doherty in the September 11 attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi. Last night I learned that Doherty was active in the fight to prevent right-wing fundamentalists from completely taking over the U.S. military. Mikey Weinstein, who has fought the good fight for years, wrote about it at Huffington Post.

I had the extreme good fortune, honor and privilege to work alongside Glen for years as a longtime member of the Advisory Board of the four-time, Nobel Peace Prize-nominated, civil rights charitable organization I founded and currently serve as president of called the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF). We currently are assisting over 30,000 American military personnel fighting against Christian fundamentalist religious extremism in our own armed forces. Glen selflessly served as a passionate, ’round-the-clock’ supporter of MRFF based on his fervent belief in its mission to protect the secular nature of the U.S. Military and the imperative this secular nature has to our national security. Separation of church and state in the United States military was not a trivial matter for Glen. It was his mantra.

Based upon our profound, mutual working experiences with MRFF, I’m truly fascinated about what Mitt Romney actually “learned about him”. During his chance meeting with Glen at that Christmas party a few years ago, did candidate Romney learn about his close personal and professional relationship with MRFF? Other fascinating learning opportunities for Mr. Romney regarding Glen’s deep support of and belief in MRFF and what we stand for may have revealed to him some very “uncomfortable” facts about the life of this true American Hero.

Please click the link and read the list of initiatives that Doherty supported. Of Romney’s shameful use of Doherty’s story for political purposes, Weinstein writes:

As informed citizens of the United States, we are all too aware of the rampant grandiose hyperbole generated as a result of our political campaigns. This absolutely disgusting, opportunistic travesty however was so much more, and so much lower, than the usual political ‘pablum’ that courses through our normal campaign emissions. This “performance” was simply naked and shameful exploitation of the life and memory of an actual American Hero. Romney did not “know” Glen. His insinuation that he somehow had a connection to Glen is disingenuous at best and a naked lie at worst. It is bold and bald untruthfulness. As Alfred Tennyson said, “A lie that is half truth is the darkest of all lies.” A timely and heartfelt apology is truly in order here.

I couldn’t bring myself to watch the Warren-Brown debate last night, but I read a good review of it at Dailykos by Joan McCarter. Apparently the moderator this time wasn’t an idiot.

What a refreshing Massachusetts Senate debate. From the beginning, when moderator Jim Madigan (thank you WGBY and public television), announced that the questions would be from and based on what the public had sent in, there was hope. When the first question was not about Elizabeth Warren’s heritage, but instead about unemployment and job creation, you knew we were in for a debate of substance.

Without that initial attack on Warren to set Brown up, he came off a little discombobulated. Brown was often scattered, incoherent, and thrown off by the time clock, resorting to mixing all his talking points on “bipartisan” and “job creators” into a mish-mash of word salad when he found himself with extra time. That was regardless of the question asked of him. He also failed in controlling the nasty, taking several cheap shots at “Professor” Warren, including blaming her salary and benefits as a Harvard professor for the spiraling costs of higher education.

This debate featured a far more Republican-sounding Brown that any of the previous debates. He railed about tax hikes, on his fealty to Grover Norquist, on the job-killing Obamacare. It was a bizarre juxtaposition to see the guy the tea party was so excited to get elected in 2010 and the “second-most bipartisan senator” fighting for the same brain. The results were bad for Brown.

Read the rest at the link. I’m still glad I didn’t watch it. Watching Paul Ryan tonight will be bad enough for one week.

In another hard-fought Senate race in Missouri, Claire McCaskill has released three new ads in her battle with Todd Akin. Each ad features a rape survivor talking about Akin’s anti-woman policies. Here’s one of the ads:

You can watch the other two ads at the above link.

There’s another terrific war-on-woman ad released by Deb Butler, a Democrat running for the North Carolina state senate. The ad features a transvaginal probe.

North Carolina state Senate candidate Deb Butler has released a new ad that slams Republican incumbent Thom Goolsby for supporting anti-abortion legislation.

“He wouldn’t dare show you this, but this is Thom Goolsby’s contribution to women’s health,” Butler says in the ad, holding a trans-vaginal ultrasound wand. “A medically unnecessary and invasive procedure that is now required by state law. He promised us his first priority would be jobs, but instead he’s following us into the doctor’s office.”

The New York Times offers Trip Gabriel’s Six Things to Watch for in the Biden-Ryan Debate. Gabriel predicts:

1. Biden will hit Ryan (and Romney) with everything he’s got.

Expect Mr. Biden, who is able to deliver cutting sarcasm without seeming angry, to continue to make up for Mr. Obama’s passivity at the first debate by accusing Mr. Romney of dissembling about long-held policies.

2. Biden will attack the Ryan budget.

Republicans and Democrats both rejoiced when Mr. Romney picked Mr. Ryan because the ticket was married to Mr. Ryan’s audacious House budgets with deep cuts in federal spending.

Although the budget, which Mr. Romney has largely endorsed, does not specify how programs will be cut, Mr. Biden will happily fill in the blanks by saying that an equal, across-the-board cut would mean eliminating 38,000 teachers and dropping 200,000 children from Head Start.

The remaining issues are Medicare cuts, the fiscal cliff, foreign affairs, and possible gaffes, especially by Biden. Of course we’ll have a live blog of the debate tonight.

The Supreme Court yesterday refused to hear a suit against telcoms who received immunity for spying on American citizens.

The Supreme Court has ended a 6-year-old class-action lawsuit against the nation’s telecommunications carriers for secretly helping the National Security Agency monitor phone calls and emails coming into and out of this country.

The suit was dealt a death blow in 2008 when Congress granted retroactive immunity to people or companies aiding U.S. intelligence agents.

Without comment, the justices turned down appeals from civil liberties advocates who contended this mass surveillance was unconstitutional and illegal.

This month the justices are set to hear a separate case to decide whether NSA officials can be sued for authorizing this allegedly unconstitutional mass wiretapping.

That should be enough to get some discussion started. Now what are you reading and blogging about?


Live Blog: Elizabeth Warren and Scott Brown in First MA Senate Debate

The first Massachusetts Senate debate is tonight at 7PM Eastern. You can watch it on C-Span or on-line at CBSboston. For anyone who is in the Boston area, Elizabeth will be holding a post-debate rally at Adams Park in Roslindale at 3:30 pm on Friday.

Are you ready to rumble? Scott Brown almost wasn’t.

As of 3:30 p.m. ET, Brown was still in Washington, held up by the prospect of late-night votes in the Senate on a continuing resolution to fund the government that needs to get passed before Congress goes into recess.

This afternoon, Brown said that he would need to stay in Washington and skip the debate if there turned out to be late-night votes.

That prompted Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., to declare that there would be no votes tonight. As he did so, Reid suggested Brown was trying to use the Senate as an excuse to get out of his debate.
“It’s obvious to me what’s going on,” Reid said. “I’ve been to a few of these rodeos. It is obvious there is a big stall taking place. One of the senators who don’t want to debate tonight won’t be in a debate. While he can’t use the Senate as an excuse, there will be no more votes today.”

Ha ha ha! Brown hates debating. You just know he was hoping to avoid tonight’s match-up with a much smarter and more experienced opponent.

Steve LeBlanc at The Boston Globe suggested what each candidate needs to do tonight.

Brown must continue reaching out to independent, Democratic and women voters — three key demographics for any Massachusetts Republican candidate. He also must portray himself as an independent thinker who is not beholden to either political party.

Warren must deepen the voting public’s sense of familiarity with her while also protecting and increasing her support among women and Democrats. The Harvard law professor also must counter the image that she is out of touch with average voters.

Two candidates not on the stage could also play a role in the debate — President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney.

Warren needs to tie herself closely to Obama, who remains popular in Massachusetts and leads Romney by double digits in recent state polls. Brown, on the other hand, has to show independence from Romney and other Republican leaders.

And of course Brown needs to pretend that he barely knows Mitt Romney. He has been trying to do that ever since the secret tapes became a front page story a couple of days ago. Warren needs to find ways to tie Brown to his former pal Mitt Romney and his sneering, dismissive attitudes toward working- and middle-class Americans.

At MassLive, Shira Schoenberg gathered more recommendations from a number of Bay State political experts. I also think this post at Bloomberg is quite helpful.

When Republican Scott Brown and Democrat Elizabeth Warren debate for the first time today, both candidates vying to represent Massachusetts in the U.S. Senate will hold advantages capable of tipping the race.

Brown’s upset victory in 2010 for the post held by the late Ted Kennedy for almost 47 years was fueled by his debate performances against Attorney General Martha Coakley, who was considered a shoo-in before Brown stole the spotlight with his one-liners and what the Boston Globe called “pointed attacks.”

Warren’s rise from academic scholar to Democratic star grew from her fight to create a federal consumer protection agency and her success at translating complex political ideology into succinct campaign themes.

Elizabeth Warren is an expert debater.

She was 16 and living in Oklahoma, where she was born and raised, when she graduated from high school and attended George Washington University on a full debate scholarship that paid for her room, board, tuition, books and some spending money.

But Brown is good at throwing out provocative one-liners. According to political consultant Michael Goldman, Brown needs to convince voters he has done a good enough job in the the past two years to earn a full six-year term in the Senate.

Warren needs to tie Brown to the Republican Party and its standard-bearer Mitt Romney, who is very unpopular in the state. She will also point out the times he has sided with Wall Street and oil companies rather than the people of Massachusetts.

In the past five days there have been five polls of this race, with Warren leading in four and Brown in one. Warren also got an important endorsement today from Boston Mayor Tom Menino.

I hope those of you who can watch will help me live blog. It should be an interesting night.