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Archive for February, 2013

The sequester? Never heard of it.

The sequester? Never heard of it.

The Washington Post says our attitude about the Sequester is like the movie, “Clueless.” 

(AP) Just one in four Americans are following very closely the debate over the $1.2 trillion in automatic spending cuts set to kick in on Friday, according to a new Washington Post-Pew poll, numbers that serve as a reminder that although talk of the sequester is dominating the nation’s capital, it has yet to permeate the public at large.

Most Americans are clueless about the sequester.

Not only are most people paying very little attention to the sequester, they also have only the faintest sense of what it would do. Less than one in five (18 percent) in the Post-Pew poll say they understand “very well” what would happen if the sequester went into effect.

Those remarkably low numbers come despite the fact that the debate over the sequester has dominated Washington for much of the last month and, in the past week or so, President Obama has cranked up the direness of his warnings about what it could do to the economy.

The lack of interest and knowledge about the sequester stands in contrast to the level of engagement the public showed in the last crisis — the fiscal cliff. In Pew polling done in the run-up to the cliff, 40 percent of people said they were following the negotiations “very” closely, while roughly three in 10 said they had a very strong understanding of what it would mean for themselves and the country if we went off the cliff.

What explains the difference between sequester and the cliff? At first glance, it appears to be the fact that, without tax increases included in the sequester, most people don’t think it will really affect them. Just 30 percent of those tested say sequestration would have a “major effect” on their own financial situation — a contrast to 43 percent who said the same about the fiscal cliff. The lack of a tax increase component in sequestration (Democrats do want some increases in revenue, but mostly through closing loopholes) is seen most clearly among Republicans — with just one in five following news about the automatic cuts “very closely.” Twice as many Republicans followed the fiscal cliff battle in December very closely.

(While it is impossible to document via polling, we believe strongly that people have less of a sense for sequestration than they did for the fiscal cliff because it lacks a catchy name. Never underestimate the shallowness of the American public’s news consumption habits.)

The sea of numbers above should serve as a reminder that, for most Americans, the sequester doesn’t exist. All of the talk about it coming out of Washington about whom to blame is lost on these people — another fight in the nation’s capital that they don’t believe will have any actual impact in their lives.

(For what it’s worth, the poll shows that 45 percent say Republicans in Congress should be blamed for the sequester, while 32 percent blame President Obama. That’s a far less sizable edge than the 26-point blame-game advantage that Obama enjoyed over congressional GOPers on the fiscal cliff.)

Whether the lack of interest and knowledge regarding the sequester will change once it actually hits later this week remains to be seen, although these numbers suggest it’s got a long way to go to even be a relevant issue for most people in the country. A very long way.


Explaining the Sequester to Kids

The sequester, which kicks in Friday, is a very confusing concept, even to a lot of adults. But it is simple really. Republicans and Democrats could not agree on the solution to reducing our country’s borrowing and lowering the 16 trillion dollar deficit. The deficit is the difference between the money we take in and what we spend as a country. As a compromise, both sides agreed to a plan put forth by President Obama to force automatic cuts in spending. The Democrats thought the Republicans would agree to tax increases in order to protect the military. But the Republicans agreed to cuts in military spending instead. The Republicans have even agreed to raise taxes on Americans earning $400,000 a year. The Democrats agreed to the plan because they were trying to prevent wholesale changes to entitlement programs like Social Security and Medicare. The problem now is neither side likes the deal very much and neither side wants to be blamed when the cuts kick in. 

Low-cost family dinners from Disney :)

This week,while the sequester is bearing down on us, I am going to try to feature low-cost recipes. This one is from Disney’s (keeping in step with the whole Oscars theme!)

Meatball Curry

meatball curry


Curry can be hard for little ones to enjoy, but adding a familiar food like meatballs and sweetening it ever so slightly makes it more palatable. My kids like all the color of this and the ease of prep works for me. You can use pre-made meatballs from the grocery store’s freezer section or make them fresh from your own recipe.

Hands-On Time: 10 minutes
Ready In: 25 minutes
Yield: 4-6 servings


2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
1 pound prepared meatballs
2 Tablespoons sliced green onion – green and white parts
1 clove garlic – minced
1 small sweet onion, such as Vidalia – sliced
1/2 cup each red, green and yellow peppers
1/2 cup pineapple bits – drained
1 cup chicken stock
1 Tablespoon cornstarch
1 Tablespoon sweet curry powder
2 Tablespoons brown sugar
4 cups hot cooked rice



  1. Heat oil in a large, shallow pan over medium-high heat. Add sweet onion and peppers and cook until slightly softened – about 5 minutes.
  2. Add garlic, green onion, pineapple and meatballs. Stir until well combined.
  3. Blend chicken stock, curry powder, brown sugar and cornstarch together until sugar and cornstarch is dissolved. Pour over meatballs and peppers.
  4. Simmer, stirring often, until meatballs are heated through – about 10 minutes. Serve over hot cooked rice.

Click here for headlines

Republicans ceding on defense cuts /

The Sequester

A Great Soup for a Snow Day

It’s snowing in St. Louis today so I just googled, “a good recipe for a snow day.” Doesn’t this white bean soup from sound perfect? Unlike last night’s salmon rice with peas, this I may actually make!

Petrina Tinslay

Serves: 12 Edit


Total Time: 2 hr

Cook Time: 30 min


U.S. Metric Conversion chart
  • 1 1/4 pound(s) thick-sliced bacon, cut crosswise into 1/4-inch strips
  • 2 tablespoon(s) extra-virgin olive oil 
  • 1 Spanish onion, finely chopped
  • 1 large carrot, finely diced 
  • 2 celery ribs, finely diced
  • 4 clove(s) garlic, minced
  • 1 fresh bay leaf
  • 2 teaspoon(s) chopped thyme
  • 2 teaspoon(s) chopped rosemary
  • 1 pound(s) Great Northern beans, soaked overnight and drained
  • 10 cup(s) chicken stock
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper


See a Hearty Pasta and Bean Soup Recipe!

 See More!


  1. In a large soup pot, cook the bacon over moderate heat, stirring, until browned and crisp, about 7 minutes. Drain, reserving the fat and bacon separately.
  2. Heat the olive oil in the soup pot. Add the onion, carrot, and celery and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are softened, about 8 minutes. Stir in the garlic, bay leaf, and 1 teaspoon each of the chopped thyme and rosemary and cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add the drained beans, stock, and 3 tablespoons of the reserved bacon fat and bring to a boil. Simmer the soup over moderately low heat until the beans are tender, about 1 1/2 hours.
  3. Discard the bay leaf and stir in the remaining thyme and rosemary. Season the soup with salt and pepper and transfer to shallow bowls. Garnish the soup with the bacon and serve.

Civics for Kids

Have you seen this movement on Facebook? One million kids marching for gun control in Washington?

The Open Face / The Mom Vivant / Debbie Baldwin of Ladue News

I’m on Facebook. I’m not proud. Admittedly, I really only check the site to monitor Cranky’s postings—what boys she’s posing with, scanning a photo for a stray can of beer in the background—but a problem has emerged. Facebook no longer is the cool college social networking hub it was in 2005. Now it’s the 21st century equivalent of a slide carousel of your neighbor’s family vacation. It’s the digital version of cropping, and worst of all, it apparently is the world’s most unproductive cure for boredom. I’ve realized something: Facebook isn’t cool anymore.

The other night at dinner, a friend announced with unabashed pride that he wasn’t on Facebook. Heck, my coolest friend shut down her Facebook page more than a year ago. Oh, and forget about Cranky and her teenage friends. They jump from social media sites like crickets—by the time they’re all caught up on Twitter, they’ve moved on. So where does that leave Facebook? More importantly, where does that leave us?

Over the years, Facebook shyness has certainly waned—you know that fear that if you post something about sneaking more than 4 ounces of mouthwash into your carry-on bag, Homeland Security will show up at your door. The reason being that most posts are forgotten in the time it takes to type them. That being said, I have noticed that people who post on Facebook—myself included—develop a certain, shall we say, signature style. So let’s peel the onion—what’s your Facebook personality?

The Traveler

Now, while I love these kind of posts—sunset in Majorca, zip-lining in Costa Rica—I also hate them. Yes, you’re fabulous. You go to exotic destinations. You take breathtaking photographs and eat Michelin-rated meals. So? A friend of mine lent me her house in the Ozarks a couple of years ago. You don’t see me rubbing that in anyone’s face.

The Quipper

As one might guess, I fall into this category. The quipper posts funny little observations—sort of a cyber-Seinfeld. Nine months before I was born, I went to a party with my dad and left with my mom. Love a good quip. It brightens my day.

I Have the Cutest Kids in the World

We all think we have the world’s cutest kids, and we’ve been showing people pictures of them since the invention of the camera. Sure, Facebook allows for an onslaught of adorable toddlers, but so what? Kids are cute. Which leads me to the next breed of poster:

Animals are Funny/Adorable/Loyal/Human/Sweet/Talented/Charming/Intelligent

I think you see where I’m going with this. Then there is the worst possible type of post, the scourge of Facebook. The post that made Facebook uncool:

I’ve Got Nothing

If you have nothing to say, don’t speak; and more important, don’t type. These are actual FB posts on my page:Every marker in the box is dried out. Guess I’m headed back to Target. Then there was, Had an OK day. Tried Diet Mountain Dew. Really? I don’t know how I would have survived the day not knowing that. Why do bank tellers feel the need to make pleasant chit-chat when there is a huge line??? I may have posted that one, but there has to be a more productive way to vent.

Promote a business. Post an inspirational message. Mark a birthday or an anniversary. And maybe with a little wit and intelligence, we can make Facebook cool again. Well, wit, intelligence and several million teenagers.

Click here for headlines

Americans still engaged around gun reform 2 months after shootings /

Where your state stands on implementing Obamacare /

Fox host apologizes for rape remark 

Boost that immunity!

Boost that immunity!

Photo and article courtesy of Ladue News

By Connie Mitchell

How are you faring during this cold and flu season? The answer depends, at least in part, on how your body’s immune system is protecting you from the many viral and bacterial illnesses that gets passed around every winter.

A strong immune system is crucial to our ability to fight off potential illness-causing pathogens, and there are several ways in which the body fortifies its defenses. “Innate immunity is what we’re born with, and includes the normal barriers that we have, such as our skin or the lining of our digestive tract, and even some of the secretions in our sinuses and airways that help protect us and keep bacteria and viruses out,” says Washington University Clinical Associate Dr. Matthew Bonzelet, a physician specializing in internal medicine with Maryland Medical Group. “We also have some cells and proteins that are our first responders to infections. They’re called to sites where we’ve had (bacterial or viral) invaders to set up our first line of defense and to call upon more specialized defense cells to come and lend a hand,” Bonzelet adds.

Acquired immunity develops through exposure to specific pathogens. This is the type of immunity built through vaccinations, such as the flu vaccine, which exposes the body to the same antigens or parts of antigens that cause disease. While the antigens delivered via vaccine are not strong enough to cause the actual disease, they do stimulate the immune system to produce antibodies against them.

A third type of immunity, passive immunity, develops through antibodies passed from mother to child during pregnancy and via breastfeeding. This type of immunity helps babies defend against illness in the first months of life.

Besides what we’re born with and what we can achieve via vaccines, maintaining a strong immune system is largely a matter of good self-care. “The best thing to do is stay as healthy as you can,” says Dr. Sarah George, associate professor of infectious diseases at Saint Louis University. “Eat a good, balanced diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables, exercise regularly, keep within a normal body weight, and get good sleep. It’s been reasonably well shown that people who are not getting enough sleep, who are extremely fatigued or extremely overweight have weaker immune systems and are more prone to infection.”

George notes that the mechanisms around these findings have not been thoroughly explained, but studies indicate that children who eat a diet containing a lot of fast or processed food and sugar experience more respiratory infections.

Over-the-counter immunity boosters crowd drugstore shelves, but Bonzelet and George agree that little to no real evidence exists to support manufacturer claims. “We do know that a lot of the substances that are in these products, like vitamin C and zinc, are important in the role of the immune system, but we haven’t seen that people who have normal levels of vitamin C and zinc have any benefit by increasing the amount that they have,” Bonzelet says. He adds that some studies have been touted to support claims that products shorten the duration of a cold or help prevent the common cold. “But when these studies are looked at more closely, they’re not great studies,” he explains. “The jury’s out. We’re not convinced that this works well.”

Although George is “dubious” about over-the-counter immune-boosters, she has a final word of advice: “Get your flu shot, please. It’s still effective and available, so if you haven’t had it, please get it.”

Sibling Rivalry

This is unusual for us at But I get these emails from St. Louis’ Dr. Russell Hyken from time to time and find the topics really interesting. 


All siblings have arguments, but what if they are persistent? A new University of Missouri research study shows that sibling conflict can lead to depression and anxiety. The occasional argument or disagreement is not necessarily a problem, but the study highlights that ongoing, persistent fighting can have long lasting effects on an individual’s mental health. Dr. Hyken was recently on Fox2Now discussing the different types of sibling rivalry and when it should be cause for concern.

Watch the video here