Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Chili Cook Off

Our annual winter chili cook off has produced a real winner this season,  great weekend dish for those cold, damp, dreary winter nights.
Two hours of simmering creates well-melded flavor in Rink Rats loaded chili. The beef is sprinkled with cumin, chili powder and oregano-making it arguably a star of the dish (but don't tell the beans).  The beer is the key, we suggest Labatts Blue.

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large red onion, diced
1 medium red bell pepper, diced
1 medium yellow bell pepper, diced
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 pound lean ground beef
8 ounces Italian sausage, casing removed
1/4 cup chili powder
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon dried oregano
One 4-ounce can tomato paste
One 12-ounce bottle beer
One 28-ounce can diced tomatoes
One 14-ounce can diced tomatoes
One 15-ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed
One 15-ounce can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
One 15-ounce can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
Shredded Cheddar
Sour cream
Chopped green onions
Add the olive oil to a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Once hot, add the onions and peppers and sauté until soft, about 4 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté until just fragrant. Stir in the beef and sausage, breaking it up with the back of a wooden spoon, and cook until browned, about 6 minutes.

Drain the beef mixture through a colander. Add it back to the Dutch oven and stir in the chili powder, cumin and oregano. Cook for about 2 minutes. Stir the tomato paste into the beef mixture; this will "toast" it and give the chili more flavor. Add the beer and stir up any browned bits on the bottom of the pan. Bring to a simmer, and then add the diced tomatoes and beans. Simmer on medium-low for 2 hours, stirring on occasion to keep the bottom from sticking.

Top with shredded cheese, sour cream and chopped green onions before serving.
Take a couple of Tums or Pepto Bismol just in case.

Total Time:
2 hr 35 min
20 min
2 hr 15 min

JACK ASS OF THE MONTH – Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer for saying “I’ve got plenty of time” to decide whether discriminating against gays should be legal?
Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer deflected questions this week about whether she would sign or veto a controversial anti-gay law that passed her state’s legislature last week.
“You know, the bill is in transmittal and I don’t have to make a decision until next Friday so I’ve got plenty of time,” she said at the National Governor’s Association meeting when asked by reporters.

The bill would allow Arizona businesses to refuse service to gay customers if they believe doing so would violate their religious beliefs. It was approved in the State’s Republican controlled House and Senate this week.
Good luck Arizona in keeping next years’ Super Bowl if Gov. Brewer signs the bill.

BIRTHDAYS THIS WEEK – Birthday wishes and thoughts this week to: Chelsea Clinton (34), Roger Daltrey (70), Ron Howard (60), Ralph Nader (80), Bob Schieffer (77), Maria Suffredini …famous niece.

POLITICS BLAST: HILLARY CLINTON'S TO-DO LIST - Don't turn into Mitt Romney ... Even many Democrats acknowledge that Romney might have been president if he could have narrowed the gap between himself and people who thought he was awkward, elitist, insular, and just a bit odd. This clearly isn't as big a challenge for Clinton ... But she still has a considerable task in front of her to avoid making the mistakes of someone who's been cloistered - her recent acknowledgment that she hasn't driven a car since 1996 exploded on the Internet. ...

Don't turn into Al Gore ... Gore, like Romney, fell short of the presidency by failing to navigate a hovering challenge. In Gore's case, he saw his main task as how to fashion a distinct personal and ideological identity from the president he served ... Clinton, by all appearances, is now on good personal terms with Barack Obama. Still, if there are ways she wants to separate herself from him - and a presidency now suffering its lowest approval ratings - 2014 would be the year to ever-so-subtly begin that process through speeches and interviews.

CIVIL RIGHTS SUMMIT - The L.B.J. Presidential Library and Museum will hold a Civil Rights Summit ... Austin, Texas in April to commemorate Johnson's signing of the Civil Rights Act, attended by three of the four living former presidents -- Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush - and perhaps President Obama. A ceremony is being planned inside ... the L.B.J. Library, to be followed by celebrations of the 50th anniversary of Johnson initiatives: Medicare, the Clean Air Act, public broadcasting, the National Endowment for the Humanities, Head Start, the requirements for seatbelts, and warnings on cigarette packs. The events are intended to offer a counterweight to the way Johnson has been portrayed over the past decades.

CHINA SLOWS TREASURY PURCHASES BY MOST IN TWO YEARS - China, the largest foreign U.S. creditor, reduced holdings of U.S. Treasury debt in December by the most in two years as the Fed ... announced plans to slow asset purchases.

The Communist nation reduced its position in U.S. government bonds by $47.8 billion, or 3.6 percent, to $1.27 trillion, the largest decline since December 2011 ... At the same time, international investors increased holdings by 1.4 percent, or by $78 billion, in December, pushing foreign holdings to a record $5.79 trillion.

DEMOCRATS VERSION OF THE BASS BROTHERS - A billionaire retired investor is forging plans to spend as much as $100 million during the 2014 election, seeking to pressure federal and state officials to enact climate change measures through a hard-edge campaign of attack ads against governors and lawmakers. The donor, Tom Steyer, a Democrat who founded one of the world's most successful hedge funds, burst onto the national political scene during last year's elections, when he spent $11 million to help elect Terry McAuliffe governor of Virginia ...
Now he is rallying other deep-pocketed donors, seeking to build a war chest that would make his political organization, NextGen Climate Action, among the largest outside groups in the country, similar in scale to the conservative political network overseen by Charles and David Koch. ... In early February, Mr. Steyer gathered two dozen of the country's leading liberal donors and environmental philanthropists to his 1,800-acre ranch in Pescadero, Calif. ... to ask them to join his efforts. People involved in the discussions say Mr. Steyer is seeking to raise $50 million from other donors to match $50 million of his own.

Targets include the governor's race in Florida, where the incumbent, Rick Scott, a first-term Republican, has said he does not believe that science has established that climate change is man-made. Mr. Steyer's group is also looking at the Senate race in Iowa, in the hope that a win for the Democratic candidate, Representative Bruce Braley, an outspoken proponent of measures to limit climate change, could help shape the 2016 presidential nominating contests.

WINTER OLYMPICS - US officials defend team performance in Sochi. The speedskaters flopped, and the hockey team was blanked when it mattered most. If it wasn't for some brand new sports, the medal count would be paltry. ... The U.S. [finished with] 28 medals in Sochi, putting it behind just the host country in total medals. But Norway won more gold than the U.S. (11-9) and the 28 total medals were nine less than Americans won in a record-setting performance four years ago in Vancouver. That total -- five less than won by Russia -- would have been far less if U.S. athletes didn't win nine medals, including five gold, in sports that made their debut in these games. ... Canada won more gold medals than its much bigger neighbor for the second Olympics in a row.

TOUGH STUFF: Bob Costas' sharp, if jarring, commentary last Friday changed the narrative for those who thought NBC ignored or displayed a naive attitude about the world outside of the Olympic Village. ... Costas said the Sochi Olympics had gone off better than many people feared going in, 'all of which is truly wonderful, but should not serve to obscure a harsher or more lasting truth. This is still a government which imprisons dissidents, is hostile to gay rights, sponsors and supports a vicious regime in Syria -- and that's just a partial list.' While the games' may burnish Putin's reputation in some eyes, 'no amount of Olympic glory can mask these realities.'

Great views but not the full picture: Controversies have dogged Olympics' host nation, but NBC's coverage has largely pushed them to the margins, before [Costas' comments], the most hard-nosed analysis that NBC has offered may have come the night before the Opening Ceremonies. In a conversation with Costas, New Yorker ... editor David Remnick, hired as an analyst by NBC, opined that the Games represented an opportunity for Putin to 'reassert Russia on the world's stage. ... Remember, he's an autocrat; he's no democrat. He has no interest in LGBT issues or human rights, all the things that are being discussed. And he doesn't care that you care that much.' ... The absence of further discussion about the anti-gay law has disappointed gay rights advocates. ...

In an interview, Remnick , the author of 'Lenin's Tomb,' a Pulitzer Prize-winning account of the fall of the Soviet Union, declined to assess NBC's Olympic coverage. But he noted that American TV in general has shown waning interest in international news. 'Whether it's Russia or China, they need to spend more resources to tell those stories,' he said. 'That's a much bigger point than whether it made it into [prime time during] the Olympics.' When it has focused on Russia during the Games, NBC has tended to put a happy face on the host nation. The primary vehicle has been a series of 'travelogue' pieces highlighting regional and historical aspects of Russia, each hosted by correspondent Mary Carillo.

WARREN BUFFETT annual letter, previewed by FORTUNE, "What you can learn from my real estate investments": "My money ... is where my mouth is: What I advise here is essentially identical to certain instructions I've laid out in my will. One bequest provides that cash will be delivered to a trustee for my wife's benefit. (I have to use cash for individual bequests, because all of my Berkshire Hathaway shares will be fully distributed to certain philanthropic organizations over the 10 years following the closing of my estate.) My advice to the trustee could not be more simple: Put 10% of the cash in short-term government bonds and 90% in a very low-cost S&P 500 index fund. (I suggest Vanguard's.) I believe the trust's long-term results from this policy will be superior to those attained by most investors -- whether pension funds, institutions, or individuals -- who employ high-fee managers.

SAY IT AIN’T SO - Maria Bartiromo, after 20 years as the face of CNBC, makes her debut on the Fox Business Network at 9 a.m. this week with "Opening Bell with Maria Bartiromo." Per Fox, "The program will feature the latest news on world market openings and stock moves, as well as the key business headlines of the day. Bartiromo will interview major financial leaders as she breaks down what viewers need to know both before and after the opening bell rings.

COLLEGE HOCKEY PICK OF THE WEEK – Saturday 3/1 4:00 PM ET, NESN - #14 Notre Dame Fighting Irish (19-12-2) visit #1 Boston College Eagles (25-4-4). Fresh off their Beanpot victory the Eagles are ready for another national title run. BC wins 5 – 2.  Season to date (5-2).

(NCAA Men’s Hockey, Mar 1) #7 U Mass-Lowell Riverhawks (20-8-4) at #17 Vermont Catamounts (17-11-3). Cats 4 – 3.

(NHL, Mar 1) Pittsburgh Penguins (40-15-3) at Chicago Blackhawks (35-11-14), Hawks 3-2.

(D-III Game of the Week, Mar 1) baseball; Chapman Panthers (6-4) at Cal Lutheran Kingsmen (4-1). Early battle for 2nd place, Cal Lu  7 -5.
2014 Season to date (15-14)

DRIVING THE WEEK - Senate Banking hearing on TRIA reauthorization Tuesday ... Fed Governor Daniel Tarullo speaks at NABE conference Tuesday ... CFPB Director Richard Cordray speaks at National Association of Attorneys General's annual meeting Wednesday ... Two House Financial Services subcommittee hearings Wednesday on HUD IG report and the Volcker rule ... Janet Yellen testimony before the Senate Banking Committee Thursday ... Sen. Elizabeth Warren discusses retirement savings at Center for American Progress event Thursday ...

The House is set to consider on Wednesday two Financial Services bill. The first is Rep. Michael Grimm's flood insurance affordability act (we have not yet seen the new text); the second is Rep. Sean Duffy's "Consumer Financial Protection and Soundness Improvement Act of 2013.

Next week: How do you hire?

Until Next Monday, Adios.

Claremont, CA
February 26, 2014

#IV-45, 202

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