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Archive for September, 2011

Don’t diss da state of New Jersey

 From (TRENTON) — Here’s the situation, “Snooki”: The party is over. There won’t be any tax break for “Jersey Shore.”

Gov. Chris Christie squashed a controversial $420,000 tax credit called the “Snooki subsidy” for the first season of the hit MTV show, saying taxpayers could not afford to support a program that tarnishes the state’s reputation.

“I have no interest in policing the content of such projects,” the governor said in a news release. “However, as chief executive I am duty-bound to ensure that taxpayers are not footing a $420,000 bill for a project which does nothing more than perpetuate misconceptions about the state and its citizens.”

In blocking the “Jersey Shore” tax credit, Christie assumed the unusual role of critic-in-chief. For example, he let stand tax credits for other shows, including “Hell in a cell at Newark,” a collection of live wrestling shows, and “Chlorine,” a movie starring Kyra Sedgwick.

Film industry professionals had testified at a committee hearing last week that targeting certain shows and stripping “Jersey Shore” of its tax credit would have a chilling effect on production companies when they consider doing business in New Jersey.

In the case of “Jersey Shore,” they said the tax incentive was well worth it because it brings millions of dollars and additional jobs to the state. Officials in Seaside Heights, where “Jersey Shore” was filmed in its initial season, agreed.

What’s more, “Jersey Shore” is the most highly watched show in the channel’s history, resulting in such new phrases in the pop cultural lexicon as GTL (gym, tan and laundry, for non-fans).

A spokeswoman for MTV said the show would not be adversely affected by the loss of the tax break, but declined to comment further.

Andre’ DiMino, the president of the nation’s largest anti-bias Italian American organization, said he was delighted with the veto.

“It’s absolutely outstanding that he took the initiative and did the right thing,” DeMino. “The tax credit was an absolute insult.”

The New Jersey Economic Development Authority approved the credit for the 2009 production of the show’s inaugural season. It was part of the first round of film tax credits awarded by the authority since Christie suspended the program in 2010 to close a budget deficit.

The $10 million tax credit program gives eligible film and television production companies a 20 percent tax credit on their expenses in New Jersey. The show’s producer, 495 productions, said it spent $2.1 million in the state during taping.

In denying the tax break, Christie also took a swipe at “the contradictions coming from legislative supporters” who complained about the money for “Jersey Shore” just days before seeking legsislation to increase financing for film tax credit program.

State Sen. Paul Sarlo (D-Bergen) said he agreed with Christie for denying the tax break.

“Hopefully he’ll work with us to revamp the program for worthwhile projects,” said Sarlo, who sponsored a bill approved today along partisan lines to expand the film tax credit.

Last week Christie took the opportunity to tweak Sarlo, saying he senator “would probably be good at playing Twister, given all of his contortions” about the tax credit program.

The expansion of aid for the film and television industry was part of a blitz of job-related bills passed by the Senate today to provide tax credits for manufacturing companies that invest in new equipment and also phase out a nip-and-tuck tax on plastic surgeries.

The Legislature is expected to do little more between now and the Nov. 8 election, when all 120 seats are at stake.

» New York Daily News: New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie vetoes $420,000 in tax credits for producers of MTV’s ‘Jersey Shore’
» New Jersey Star-Ledger: Gov. Christie won’t enter presidential race, his brother insists

Chicken Meatball Soup

From /

Ingredients –

  • 1 pound ground chicken breast
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 5/8 cup Italian seasoned bread crumbs
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 (32 fluid ounce) container chicken broth
  • 1 1/2 cups sliced carrots
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped celery
  • 1 1/2 cups sliced parsnip
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 bay leaves


  1. Turn cold water on in sink to fine stream. Using wet, bare hands, mix together ground chicken, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, bread crumbs, and beaten egg. Shape into small meatballs, wetting hands as necessary. Place on a greased cookie sheet.
  2. Bake at 400 degrees F (205 degrees C) for approximately 15 minutes. Drain on paper towels.
  3. Meanwhile, saute onions and garlic in oil until tender/ clear in a large pot. Add water, broth, carrots, celery, parsnips, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, and bay leaves. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer about 15 to 20 minutes. Add meatballs after 10 minutes.

Nutritional Information open nutritional information

Amount Per Serving  Calories: 430 | Total Fat: 6.8g | Cholesterol: 39mg

Women in Saudi Arabia may not be able to drive or have surgery or leave the country without the permission of a male relative, but they can finally vote.  Having said that, they won’t be able to vote for four more years. While some women are asking why that is, the country’s king, King Abdullah is really considered a very progressive reformer.  Not only will women be allowed to vote for the first time, they will even be able to hold political office.   This is especially significant because Saudi Arabia only held elections for the first time in 2005.  The restrictions on women come from traditional Saudi law which is based on the Q’uran or Islamic law.  As King Abdullah said Sunday, “We refuse to marginalize women in society.”  It would be interesting to engage your kids in a conversation about women’s rights here in the United States and in Saudi Arabia.

The boys who cried wolf

The boys who cried wolf

Americans are getting tired of the phrase, “government shutdown.”  And if poll results are any indication, they’re pretty tired of Congress, too.  This is the third time in five months that there has been the threat of the government shutting down because of a political impasse.  I think the link below to an article by Thomas Friedman in the New York Times is perhaps the best read on the current climate.  He says, “both parties seem to have concluded lately that no compromise is possible and therefore their differences will just have to be settled by the 2012 election. No problem! I’m sure our markets will be patient until the next president is in place in early 2013!”  

Late Monday night, another government shutdown was avoided when the Senate passed a bi-partisan resolution to keep finances flowing through next Tuesday.  But as one lawmaker said even they are getting tired of the fight.  As one legislator said, “Let’s fight when there is something to fight about.”

The latest impasse was because the Tea Party refused to agree to an infusion of disaster relief funds unless they got significant budget cuts in exchange.  Republican Governor Chris Christie, of New Jersey, says he is ashamed at the politicization of disaster relief.  And in an interesting twist, there are new rumors that Christie may be running after all.  In his home state of New Jersey, Gov. Christie took a hard line on reforming pension funds and his approval ratings actually went up.  He has a tough talking, no-nonsense style that could have crossover appeal at this critical time.

Well behaved women don’t make history

Did you know women were the first protest group in U.S. history to picket the White House. Since then this tactic has been used by many groups to protest for rights. Check out this site to learn more about the 19th amendment and how women were finally given the right to vote.

Mom Vivant Debbie Baldwin / Ladue News

The fall television season has arrived and, since the summer viewing options made me want to jab a fork in my eye, I couldn’t be happier. As you may or may not recall last spring was a bloodbath for new television with a record number of shows getting the axe in their first season—a number of network executives met with the same fate I imagine. (Whoever gave the green light to Perfect Couples must certainly be planning a career change.) That being said, there are obviously a few holes in the schedule and networks have filled them with more than twenty new shows premiering over the next two weeks. Bones fans unfortunately will have to wait longer, it premiere’s in November.

Fortunately the two funniest shows on television Modern Family and 30 Rock—with How I Met Your Mother running a close third—are returning. The recast Two and a Half Men looks promising although in another year they are going to have to change the name to Three Men, that kid outweighs Jon Crier and is taller than Ashton Kutcher. The lovely and talented Christina Applegate joins Will Arnett in Up All Night a sitcom about life with a newborn and riding on its heels is Free Agents a workplace romance starring Hank Azaria and Kathryn Hahn. Both Arnett (Running Wilde) and Applegate (Samantha Who) have had trouble getting shows off the ground of late. We will have to see if this one fares any better. The other new sitcoms range from promising (New Girl, How to Be a Gentleman) to atrocious (I Hate My Teenage Daughter, Whitney).

 After so many successful seasons of Mad Men the networks finally picked up on the fact that viewers like the nostalgia of a bygone era—minus the stemming the spread of communism part. NBC has The Playboy Club on its schedule and ABC is offering Pan Am, a drama about the magical days when ‘flight attendants’ were ‘stewardesses’ and people could smoke on air planes. We will have to see if notorious adulterer Eddie Cibrian can rise above his bad press to get the Playboy Club up and running.

 And of course it wouldn’t be fall TV without a spate of yawny crime dramas and a medical show or two for good measure. Person of Interest, Prime Suspect, Unforgettable, Ringer and Revenge are the forgettable batch of crime dramas. I have Bones and Castle, my crime show list is complete. The medical installments include A Gifted Man about a surgeon haunted by his dead wife and Hart of Dixie (barf) about a doctor—bet you can’t guess her name—who moves—bet you can’t guess where.

I fear a repeat of last season because the only additional person I’m excited to welcome into by living room this fall is Simon Cowell with his X Factor. Who knows? Maybe the Charlie’s Angels 3.0 will surprise me, but somehow I doubt it.


Creamy Wild Rice Soup

 This recipe comes from one of my absolute favorite cooking sites, 

  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 2 cups sliced leeks, white and light green parts only (about 4 leeks)
  • 2 cups chopped celery (about 4 ribs)
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 5 cups no-fat chicken broth or Homemade Chicken Stock
  • 2 cups red potatoes, skins on, chopped (about five small potatoes)
  • 2 cups parsnips, peeled and chopped (about 3 medium)
  • Additional chopped parsley

Bring water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Add wild rice and simmer until al dente and nut-flavored, about 25 minutes for native wild rice and 60 for cultivated.

Meanwhile, heat a four-quart Dutch oven and melt butter. Add leeks and celery, sauté on medium high until soft and just beginning to brown. Add parsley and garlic, sauté another minute or two. Add chicken broth and bring to a boil. Add potatoes and parsnips and return to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 20 – 30 minutes or until potatoes and parsnips are soft.

With a standard or immersion blender, purée (using small batches and extra care with a standard blender) hot vegetable broth, leaving some chunks. Stir in wild rice and serve.


The Debt Spiel

The Debt Spiel

If you thought people were disappointed in August with all of the grandstanding and political posturing around the debt deal, wait until you get a load of this. The Debt Deal has morphed into the Debt Spiel.  And instead of across the board cuts to the budget and scaling back on entitlements, the President’s proposal is to cut half of the money by levying taxes on the wealthy.  We are all for closing questionable loopholes but we have to call out the Boss for basically declaring class warfare.  It is just so patently political to galvanize the base by blaming the wealthy for our country’s mounting debt.  It is a common complaint that the wealthiest citizens don’t pay their fair share.  But the reality is more than 40 percent of Americans don’t pay any income taxes at all. 




Who holds the key to women voters?

Who holds the key to women voters?

 You might assume it’s the Democrats.  But a new book by Anita Dunn, a former White House spokesperson under President Barack Obama, called “Confidence Men: Wall Street, Washington and the Education of a President” seems to suggest that the Obama Administration may not be as female friendly as you might think. We’ve heard there have been male only basketball matches between the President and his top advisers. And some of us have been amazed that Hilary, yes that Hilary, stands so timidly beside the President when he takes the podium to talk about initiatives undertaken or overseen by his female Secretary of State.  But now this new book claims female advisers weren’t asked their opinions in roundtable discussions where they were skipped over while the men were queried.  And the author claims that Dunn herself said the work environment qualifies in every legal aspect of a hostile work environment for women.

Should the Gov't mandate HPV vaccines for girls?

Should the Gov’t mandate HPV vaccines for girls?

Photo courtesy: like a whisper/

It was an unlikely reason for Gov. Rick Perry’s unraveling in the debates Monday night.  But, there is no doubt that his defense of a state edict he issued as Governor of Texas requiring girls be vaccinated against HPV, a sexually transmitted disease that is believed to cause some cervical cancers, hurt him.  While the Tea Party claims it does not veer into social terrority, Michelle Bachmann and Rick Santorum, saw an opportunity to ignite social conservatives.  Bachmann argued that the government had no business usurping parents’ roles in deciding whether their eleven year old daughters should get the still new, and in conservative circles controversial, Gardasil vaccine.  Santorum went so far as to say that unless Texas schools present a higher than average risk for sexually transmitted diseases to be transmitted at school, he saw no need for this to be part of the battery of vaccinations required to enter school.  Unlike measles and chicken pox, he argued the transmission risk is low in that setting.  But the real hurt came when Bachmann accused him of passing the law at the behest of pharmaceutical manufacturer Merck, who according to the Daily Beast contributed more than 29,000 to Perry’s campaign. Perry’s response to Bachmann in the debate was, “I’m not a cheap date.  I raised 30 million dollars. I’m offended that you think I can be bought for $5,000.”