Friday, March 28, 2008

The Other Guy Running for President......

This is from Phil Butler......a friend from Pacific Grove. I thought you all might be interested in a rare viewpoint.

Why I Will Not Vote for John McCain

By Phillip Butler, PhD

Cdr, USN (ret.)

Dear Friends:

As some of you might know, John McCain is a long-time acquaintance of mine that goes way back to our time together at the U.S. Naval Academy and as Prisoners of War in Vietnam. He is a man I respect and admire in some ways. But there are a number of reasons why I will not vote for him for President of the United States.

When I was a Plebe (4th classman, or freshman) at the Naval Academy in 1957-58, I was assigned to the 17th Company for my four years there. In those days we had about 3,600 midshipmen spread among 24 companies, thus about 150 midshipmen to a company. As fortune would have it, John, a First Classman (senior) and his room mate lived directly across the hall from me and my two room mates. Believe me when I say that back then I would never in a million or more years have dreamed that the crazy guy across the hall would someday be a Senator and candidate for President!

John was a wild man. He was funny, with a quick wit and he was intelligent. But he was intent on breaking every USNA regulation in our 4 inch thick USNA Regulations book. And I believe he must have come as close to his goal as any midshipman who ever attended the Academy. John had me “coming around” to his room frequently during my plebe year. And on one occasion he took me with him to escape “over the wall” in the dead of night. He had a taxi cab waiting for us that took us to a bar some 7 miles away. John had a few beers, but forbid me to drink (watching out for me I guess) and made me drink cokes. I could tell many other midshipman stories about John that year and he unbelievably managed to graduate though he spent the majority of his first class year on restriction for the stuff he did get caught doing. In fact he barely managed to graduate, standing 5th from the bottom of his 800 man graduating class. I and many others have speculated that the main reason he did graduate was because his father was an Admiral, and also his grandfather, both U.S. Naval Academy graduates.

People often ask if I was a Prisoner of War with John McCain. My answer is always “No – John McCain was a POW with me.” The reason is I was there for 8 years and John got there 2 ½ years later, so he was a POW for 5 ½ years. And we have our own seniority system, based on time as a POW.

John’s treatment as a POW:

1) Was he tortured for 5 years? No. He was subjected to torture and maltreatment during his first 2 years, from September of 1967 to September of 1969. After September of 1969 the Vietnamese stopped the torture and gave us increased food and rudimentary health care. Several hundred of us were captured much earlier. I got there April 20, 1965 so my bad treatment period lasted 4 1/2 years. President Ho Chi Minh died on September 9, 1969, and the new regime that replaced him and his policies was more pragmatic. They realized we were worth a lot as bargaining chips if we were alive. And they were right because eventually Americans gave up on the war and agreed to trade our POW’s for their country. A damn good trade in my opinion! But my point here is that John allows the media to make him out to be THE hero POW, which he knows is absolutely not true, to further his political goals.

2) John was badly injured when he was shot down. Both arms were broken and he had other wounds from his ejection. Unfortunately this was often the case – new POW’s arriving with broken bones and serious combat injuries. Many died from their wounds. Medical care was non-existent to rudimentary. Relief from pain was almost never given and often the wounds were used as an available way to torture the POW. Because John’s father was the Naval Commander in the Pacific theater, he was exploited with TV interviews while wounded. These film clips have now been widely seen. But it must be known that many POW’s suffered similarly, not just John. And many were similarly exploited for political propaganda.

3) John was offered, and refused, “early release.” Many of us were given this offer. It meant speaking out against your country and lying about your treatment to the press. You had to “admit” that the U.S. was criminal and that our treatment was “lenient and humane.” So I, like numerous others, refused the offer. This was obviously something none of us could accept. Besides, we were bound by our service regulations, Geneva Conventions and loyalties to refuse early release until all the POW’s were released, with the sick and wounded going first.

4) John was awarded a Silver Star and Purple Heart for heroism and wounds in combat. This heroism has been played up in the press and in his various political campaigns. But it should be known that there were approximately 600 military POW’s in Vietnam. Among all of us, decorations awarded have recently been totaled to the following: Medals of Honor – 8, Service Crosses – 42, Silver Stars – 590, Bronze Stars – 958 and Purple Hearts – 1,249. John certainly performed courageously and well. But it must be remembered that he was one hero among many - not uniquely so as his campaigns would have people believe.

John McCain served his time as a POW with great courage, loyalty and tenacity. More that 600 of us did the same. After our repatriation a census showed that 95% of us had been tortured at least once. The Vietnamese were quite democratic about it. There were many heroes in North Vietnam. I saw heroism every day there. And we motivated each other to endure and succeed far beyond what any of us thought we had in ourselves. Succeeding as a POW is a group sport, not an individual one. We all supported and encouraged each other to survive and succeed. John knows that. He was not an individual POW hero. He was a POW who surmounted the odds with the help of many comrades, as all of us did.

I furthermore believe that having been a POW is no special qualification for being President of the United States. The two jobs are not the same, and POW experience is not, in my opinion, something I would look for in a presidential candidate.

Most of us who survived that experience are now in our late 60’s and 70’s. Sadly, we have died and are dying off at a greater rate than our non-POW contemporaries. We experienced injuries and malnutrition that are coming home to roost. So I believe John’s age (73) and survival expectation are not good for being elected to serve as our President for 4 or more years.

I can verify that John has an infamous reputation for being a hot head. He has a quick and explosive temper that many have experienced first hand. Folks, quite honestly that is not the finger I want next to that red button.

It is also disappointing to see him take on and support Bush’s war in Iraq, even stating we might be there for another 100 years. For me John represents the entrenched and bankrupt policies of Washington-as-usual. The past 7 years have proven to be disastrous for our country. And I believe John’s views on war, foreign policy, economics, environment, health care, education, national infrastructure and other important areas are much the same as those of the Bush administration.

I’m disappointed to see John represent himself politically in ways that are not accurate. He is not a moderate Republican. On some issues he is a maverick. But his voting record is far to the right. I fear for his nominations to our Supreme Court, and the consequent continuing loss of individual freedoms, especially regarding moral and religious issues. John is not a religious person, but he has taken every opportunity to ally himself with some really obnoxious and crazy fundamentalist ministers lately. I was also disappointed to see him cozy up to Bush because I know he hates that man. He disingenuously and famously put his arm around the guy, even after Bush had intensely disrespected him with lies and slander. So on these and many other instances, I don’t see that John is the “straight talk express” he markets himself to be.

Senator John Sidney McCain, III is a remarkable man who has made enormous personal achievements. And he is a man that I am proud to call a fellow POW who “Returned With Honor.” That’s our POW motto. But since many of you keep asking what I think of him, I’ve decided to write it out. In short, I think John Sidney McCain, III is a good man, but not someone I will vote for in the upcoming election to be our President of the United States.


Wednesday, March 26, 2008

The Masters......Redux

OK....This is a food-related blog.

Supposedly. I have been working like a dog.....three hours tonight on my Extebarri post. I am about three courses in. Stay tuned.

Tomorrow, Brendan and Matthew from Prague.....are off to The Masters.....aka Pebble Beach Food and labor with the pros, for free. We have been doing it for years at the Highlands Inn, but now it has been captured by Pebble Beach.

At the Highlands, the entire resort was turned over to the event. The chef, Mark Ayers, somehow coordinated all the primadonna chefs and wine geeks, a full house of patrons, and floods of weird ingredients overwhelming his hotel and kitchen. Mark was some weird combination of Nurse Ratched and the Dalai Lama and The Highlands was for five days all Masters, all the time.

This year will be different. I called the switchboard at Pebble, and the girl had no clue what the hell I was talking about. Ooops. She referred me to Catering, who eventually gave me a phone number. When I called in to find out what time to show up tomorrow (Day One of The Big Show) the newly imported assistant to the Director......had no clue. She'll ask the chef. New chef, first time guy. Gary.

She'll call back.

Brendan drove by the site.

"We are in tents."

"Yeah, I know. I will try to mellow out this year. I get excited."

"No, asshole. Wigwams and teepees. Fucking TENTS! Not 'Relax you are too TENSE!' Great big fucking TENTS!"

I kind of knew this in advance. A couple of dozen high end chefs from all over, working in tents in a field.

"There are horses and shit.....All around, bro."

We deal with this all the time. The last two days we were ecstatic to be working in a garage in the pits at Laguna Seca for a Lexus shoot. Ecstatic. There was electricity! No water, but walls and floor and power....and relief from frost, dew, sun, wind, dust, sand.

Big time, in our world. There was fucking WiFi! I emailed the invoice for our work to a chick twenty feet away! Who needs water, or sewage, or septic?

I'm not sure how Thomas Keller....or Hubert Keller for that matter....are going to deal with tents and horseshit. I have seen 3Star Michelin chefs melt down over a dented half-sheet in the middle of a high-power modern kitchen run by the restaurant the Dalai Lama.

It should be interesting.

"Relax, Chef. You are too tents......."

I will try not to use this joke more than twenty times....

I Hate N*ggers.......

One of the aspects I least like about myself is my ability to stay huddled in bed, clutching a giant cup of cafe au lait long after the alarm goes off at 5am......flipping through the news channels. MSNBC, CNN, Headline News, Fox, Fox-LA, Current, Link, RFD (well, SOMEONE has to keep up with Weed of the Week!). Fox Soccer does not start until 8am, you see.

The past week it has been depressing.....all Rev. Wright, all the time. Fox is unwatchable. The furor had almost died away by Monday, thank The Lord.

Meanwhile, John McCain's whack job preacher friends and spiritual advisors got absolutely zero air time, even though they are so much more entertaining.

Rev. Rod Parsley from Ohio thinks that America was created to destroy Islam. He is a "Christocrat" and thinks America, as a Christian country, should be a theocracy. Best of all, he likens Planned Parenthood to the Klu Klux Klan and Nazi Germany......and is convinced that the U.S. government is fomenting black genocide.....the distruction of the black allowing 1500 black abortions a day.

And this guy is white!

Rev. John Hagee from San Antonio....a spiritual advisor whose endorsement McCain actively sought.....has famously called the Catholic Church "The Great Whore'', when we all know she is Dianne Feinstein. Silly man. Hagee also is against domestic violence laws because they encourage women to not obey their The Bible says they must. There is more, but you probably don't believe me.

Anyway, with no coverage of these cool McCain spiritual advisors, and only Sean Hannity going on about Obama's spiritual advisor, the news was falling back on real the fifth anniversary of the Iraq coup. Oh, and the 4,000th American death in Iraq. Oh, and the collapse of the banking system. Oh, and the collapse of the dollar. Oh, and Britney on a sit-com.

And then......yesterday, Billary dredged it back up again: "Well, he wouldn't be MY pastor......"

Jeez, here we go again. Hillary, your actual pastor supports Rev. Wright. Hillary, Mike Huckabee supports Rev. Wright. Mike Huckabee!

Mike Huckabee
doesn't want to see people slamming the Reverend and Obama about a pastoral sermon.....but Hillary does? Hmmm.

Reverend Wright said "Goddamn America!" you see. And, after 9-11: "All our chickens are coming home to roost!" This means he hates America, and welcomed the bombing of the trade towers, as does by implication his parishoner.....Barack Hussein Obama. Can't trust those Black Muslim America-hating Negroes!

I foolishly watched the entire Reverend Wright sermons in question on YouTube. After which excercise I have to say, I realized that I am a fan of the good Reverend. He could be my definitely would not drift off during his sermons.

Oh, and I agree with the Reverend 100%. Well....the whole Jesus thing aside. If Obama is denying the Rev.....Obama is a pussy.

The 9-11 clip played endlessly on Fox was actually an outtake of Rev. Wright quoting a white American diplomat (the former US ambassador to Saudi Arabia) .....well.....and Osama himself. Whatever the reality, Osama used the US military presence in the Middle East as a primary reason for the bombings, and gave lots of notice. Trying to understand the other side's logic is unpatriotic?

The other comment came in the middle of a tirade about the modern black situation, and the focus of white political agenda. Inner city young men with a 40% unemployment rate and a 30% incarceration rate? Deteriorating neighborhoods, no health care, crap education. Where is the help? When a young black man is more likely to be found in jail than with a job......God damn America!

We can fix shit like this! And for a lot less than 200,000,000 euros a day. You can walk around anywhere in Harlem nowadays, at any hour.....and admire the beautifully restored architecture. If we can turn around black real estate, we ought to be able to help actual black people......

God damn it!

If you are one of those queasy liberals....or staunch conservatives..... who blame the messenger....."Well, they should help themselves. You don't see Asians with these problems. We Irish worked our way out of poverty in only two or three generations...." you probably think racism is dying in America.

Oh, and the attacks on Rev. Wright and Obama are not racial. Actually, Obama is the recipient of reverse racism in a Geraldine Ferraro kind of way. "If he weren't black, you see......."

A few months ago a South Park episode based on "Wheel of Fortune" inspired us for a Monday Night restaurant naming. One of the more upright and repressed liberal parents of one of the kids was down to the wire on "Wheel" and within a letter of winning millions. The word was "N*GGER". The poor schlub stood there wringing his hands, trying to sort out all his conflicts: money, morality, money, good liberal values, money....

He eventually shouted out the word.

Wrong word! Wrong vowel!

So....that night we named the restaurant "People Who Annoy You" Roadhouse.

"No N*ggers or *aggots need apply!"

Amanda's dad was a guest. He figured it out in two seconds flat. Johnny Kinder and Rogelio were also there, with Peyton and Pauline. It took them a few more seconds. John and Rogelio represent the only gay couple in Cachagua.....that we know of. They know us well enough to know that "F" was not the missing letter, nor "I" the missing vowel.

Imagine looking beyond the easy and obvious to the real. Imagine examining the personal mental process that occurs when you try to fill in the blank in "N*gger".


Well, in Cachagua we do such things.

Then last Sunday rolled around, and one of our locals with a college degree took me aside.

"Do you have time to discuss something sensitive?" Uh, sure.

Like when the GF says: "Honey, we need to talk......"

Dianne has a Phd in Marriage and Family Counseling. (I have a PHD, too.....but it is blue and I use it to dig holes for fenceposts. My red PHD broke). Dianne has a friend, Froggy, who is a chef at Spanish Bay. Froggy represents one of the few black people ever to make it out to Cachagua. Froggy had heard about our South Park menu, and wanted Dianne to let us know that he would not be dining at The Store anymore.

Word has spread about our racism and homophobia.

I guess Reverend Wright IS my pastor.......

Monday, March 24, 2008

Easter Thoughts.... is after midnight. I missed my Easter post.

We have a film shoot tomorrow morning....breakfast and lunch for 75 union members. And Monday Night dinner. I am still here because I am finishing up a vegetarian entree for PapaRosen. Vegetarian date, you see. Handmade mezzo-lune with Jamie Collins goat cheese, acorn squash and leeks. I hope there is sex involved. For someone.

Amanda, Xabi and I spent all day yesterday wandering around Middle America.....Los Banos, Firebaugh....and the Salinas Costco.

It was a horror show on the order of Soylent Green. Except for the poppies and lupines in Pacheco Pass....always the land of bandidos, only now the only wild souls left are wildflowers.

Wall to wall Latinos, with a scattering of rednecks. Virtually everyone obese, even the kids.

In Los Banos, asking for directions to the Basque restaurant at the police station, I waited twenty minutes and no one appeared. Lots of brand new squad cars out actual police available.

The entire neighborhood surrounding the copshop was mostly sweet little Craftsman cottages.....all for sale. All with large Latino families sitting on the porches and in the yard....waiting for eviction. Three plus generations.

"Give me your tired....your huddled masses striving to be free....."

While the Government bails out bankers and hedge fund creeps with yachts and summer places on Long Island....Los Banos goes into receivership, along with all the the dreams and promises.

Whatever the status of any individual immigrant at any individual moment.....our rep is that whole "tired, huddled masses" thing. People come here because they believe in our shtick. I mean, if those crazy Yanks can spend $200,000,000 a day in Iraq.....there must be something for a hardworking guy with a cool family....Right? I mean, George Fucking Bush is on the tube every time he can find some burnout to film him talking about Freedom and Opportunity, right?

I was in and out of the Salinas Costco in 20 minutes. I am a pro. And I had to be, because the crack heads living in the parking lot next door to my parking spot were scaring Amanda and Xabi.

The entire 1200 seconds I tried not to look at all the immigrants surrounding me....and tried not to wonder what the fuck they are going to make the payments on those big trucks and those shitty condos The Man has sold them. The bankers are being bailed out by Uncle Sam....but, lo siento, Jose.

Thanks to Behue for the following. He sent it to me on St. Patrick's Day, but us old rebels feel most Irish on Easter. The quote is from James Connolly, Commandant of the rebel forces in the Easter Rising of 1917. It was forwarded to Behue from an Irish dad of a working class kid from Monaghan who just died of a staph infection in Minnesota because he was afraid to go to hospital...because the ICE agents might be there to deport him.

"'Where Liberty is, there is my country.'

So said the enthusiastic 18th century revolutionist. But if he lived nowadays he would have a long search for his country -where Liberty is. The only liberty we know now, outside of the liberty to go hungry, stands in New York Bay, where it has been placed, I am told, in order that immigrants from Europe may get their first and last look at it before setting foot on American soil.

You see, it would be decidedly awkward for our Fourth of July orators to be orating to the newcomers about the blessings of American liberty and then to be asked by some ignorant European to tell them where that liberty is to be found.

Some ignorant, discontented unit of the hordes of Europe, for instance, might feel tempted to go nosing around in search of liberty, and his search might take him into the most awkward places.

He might go down South and see little white American children of seven, eight and nine years working in our cotton mills enjoying their liberty to work for a boss when other children are still compelled by tyrannical laws to stay on wrestling with the dreadful problems of reading, 'riting and 'rithmetic.

The Liberty we have in Bartholdi's statue is truly typical of liberty in this age and country.

It is placed upon a pedestal out of reach of the multitudes; it can only be approached by those who have money enough to pay the expense; it has a lamp to enlighten the world, but the lamp is never lit, and it smiles upon us as we approach America, but when we are once in the country we never see anything but its back

'Tis a great world we live in."

From Facets of American Liberty, James Connolly, 1908

Note the date. Some things never change.

James Connolly was badly injured in the fighting during the Easter Rising in 1917....the Rising that led to Freedom and Democracy for the Irish..... The Rising failed, and Connolly was captured and transported to Kilmainham Jail.....the Guantanamo of then.

Two days later, Connolly was tied to a chair (he was too shot up already to stand) and shot by the British.....

The same day, Padraig Pearse, my grandmother's poetry instructor from Trinity College up the street..... was also stood against the wall of Kilmainham Jail and shot.

Happy Easter.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Shoot the Messenger....

This is along the lines of "Politics or Food?".......

I watched the dollar hiccup a bit and then continue its plunge. A shopping center in NYC now longer accepts dollars.....just euros. Wine Geek Alex is off to San Sebastian for a couple of days of fine food and fun......and lunch at Akelarre just went up $30.

This article comes from France.....but it explained the mortgage/dollar crisis in terms even a chef can understand. Once again, thanks to TruthOut.

Bernanke Deep-Sixes the Dollar to Save Wall Street
Contre Info

Sunday 16 March 2008

In the absence of the authority and political courage required to cut to the quick, the Fed has been reduced to using expedients that - while allowing the extent of losses to remain concealed - postpone the moment of truth and compromise the dollar. To save Wall Street, Bernanke exports the crisis and stokes a global inflationary fever, risking a devastating boomerang: rejection of the dollar as the global reserve currency.

Basic Math

Mortgage-backed securities in circulation total $11,000 billion. US real estate is overvalued by 20 to 30 percent. If a quarter of the wealth of US households vaporizes, that represents $2,750 billion worth of debt that will probably not be repaid and will become losses for the financial system.

According to the study by Greenlaw, Hatzius, Kashyap and Shin (pdf), the total capitalization of United States' banks, government agencies and savings banks amounts to $1,681 billion.

Their direct exposure to mortgage securities totals $5,591 billion, or half of the outstanding amount. They are, consequently, potentially faced with write-downs of up to $1,375 billion - close to their total capital.

These figures do not take into account possible losses in other credit sectors: consumption, auto loans and commercial real estate.

Credit-related risks are covered by insurance contracts signed by mutual agreement between companies - CDS or Credit Default Swaps - bearing a total value of $45,000 billion, over three times the United States' gross domestic product.

If this risk coverage mechanism is set in motion, it could propagate a cascade of refund demands from "counterparties" - that is, those that sold the insurance - counterparties which for the most part have no provisions available to meet those calls.

Speculative funds - hedge funds - are also involved. These enterprises are based on the principle of massive credit use - called leveraging - to increase their earnings. Here's how:

Mr. Smith has $100 to invest and buys a mortgage-backed security that earns $8 a year. By borrowing $1,500 at 6 percent to invest 15 times more, he earns a total of $128, pays $90 in interest and is left with a net return of $38 for an initial outlay of $100.

An excellent return until the day the securities lose 20 percent of their value. The lending bank demands reimbursement. Mr. Smith sells his securities: $1,600 less (20 percent) $320 = $1,280. He has lost his $100 and owes the bank $220.

It is, in fact, this mechanism of inverse leveraging that is asphyxiating "the auxiliary banking system," i.e. the investment funds.

Illiquidity and Insolvency

The central banks, lenders of last resort, can help healthy establishments meet a strained liquidity situation by supplying an interim loan. But the situation in which the financial system finds itself does not result from a lack of liquidity. It's an insolvency - that is, bankruptcy - crisis.

The market will only recover stability and confidence on three conditions: That the insolvent enterprises disappear and the bad paper they are holding along with them; that the companies that can survive receive a capital infusion to offset their losses; and that falling real estate assessments reach true prices, at the same time restoring a reliable value to the securities backed by those assets.

That's a great deal of ground to cover. Especially when the tool for intervention - the central bank - is absolutely not adapted to the mission of the day: saving Wall Street.

Bernanke's Tool Box

Bernanke has two levers he may use: loans and rates.

He uses these two tools on either end of the financial institution balance sheet: the reserves in the banks' portfolio and real estate values. Loans reinforce banks' capital funds; the reduction in rates, which would normally re-launch economic activity, should also shore up real estate prices by bringing the recession to an end.

But these two axes of intervention have their limits - and their perverse consequences.

As the crisis has intensified, the loans have lost their character as a very temporary interim measure against illiquidity to take on the aspect of concealed infusions of capital. The requirement for impeccable collateral, securities held at the central bank as a guarantee for the liquidities accorded, has been relaxed in the extreme. Instead of Treasury bills, the Fed is now accepting dubious real estate debt for which there is no longer any market. The term of these loans, normally overnight, has now been extended to three months. The volume of these operations has become significant: $400 billion or half the Fed's available reserves are committed to the end of March.

This massive and very unconventional intervention presents two major disadvantages.

While it authorizes banks to maintain presentable balance sheets, by deferring the moment when the accounts will be sold off in pain, it does allow time to be gained, but does not reestablish confidence - which will be restored only when the losses have been recognized. On the other hand, by virtue of its very scope, the intervention indicates that the Fed is losing ground. At the rate things are going, the Fed's $400 billion war chest in the form of Treasury Bonds on its books is no longer an indication of its strength, but of its weakness.* To what expedients will it be reduced when it comes to the end of its reserves? The printing press? We can see on the horizon that the very credibility of the dollar is at stake.

The Dollar, Collateral Victim

The massive and repeated rate reductions Bernanke has chosen - we expect another one tomorrow - directly challenge the status of the American currency.

As his predecessor did at every slowdown of activity, the new Fed chairman tries to relaunch the credit machine, hence monetary creation, to prop up the economy and prices and to break the deflationary spiral.

Without much success. The gears in the transmission have jammed and the confidence of already-overextended households and companies is faltering.

But as he acts this way, he reinforces the already well-anchored sentiment that the dollar - weighted down by the United States' $9,000 billion debt that cannot be reimbursed - is overvalued, which amplifies the American currency's slide.

The inflows of foreign capital that have allowed deficits to grow and the currency to maintain its value for twenty years (the Clinton episode aside) are in the process of drying up. During the last three months of 2007, the influx of foreign investments went from $113 billion to $56 billion.

Just recently, US Treasury bonds have been evaluated as less reliable than Germany's.

This drop in the dollar Bernanke has accepted and precipitated to save Wall Street looks like a runaway train that will export the American crisis to the rest of the world, and do so at an exorbitant cost.

Since most raw materials markets, including most obviously oil, are denominated in dollars, the slide in the US currency mechanically entails a revaluation of raw materials' prices and provokes significant global inflation.

This phenomenon is further reinforced by the flight of capital abandoning dollar-denominated securities, the value of which is melting like snow in the sun, and seeking refuge in raw materials markets.

Indecision 2008

Because it cannot "think the unthinkable," that is, accept the extent of the losses and take the drastic measures that are required: true prices, nationalizations and bankruptcies, the United States, by deferring the purge, allows the toxic contagion imprudently concocted on Wall Street to propagate.

The United States' trompe l'oeil economic success, built on the engine of debt, asset inflation and the influx of capital its currency's status allowed, threatens to collapse.

The man occupying the Oval Office is obviously not equal to the situation, and the next team will not be in command before next January.

From now until then, Bernanke does what he can, with the tools that he's got. Thus, the United States takes the road Japan took in 1991, but without the same advantages. It has no savings and its industrial base has been massively eliminated.

There remains the dollar, the symbol of the preeminence of empire. But by exporting its crisis, the US plays double or nothing. Either the pain provoked by the greenback's fall forces the global powers to take concrete action or we run the risk of witnessing the overthrow of the global economic and financial system with the disorderly desertion of this fallen idol.

*The announcement of support for the purchase of Bear Sterns has just mobilized an additional $30 billion, reducing this sum by an equal amount.

Translation: Truthout French language editor Leslie Thatcher.

Have a great day!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Emergency Guest Post! Don't Eat the Sprouts!

Brendan is a skeptical fan of the blog.....and HATES it when I mention him or his friends.

However, I just got an emergency phone call from him: "Do you have the blog open?"

I thought "Oh, shit. What did I say now?"

"No, dude.......we just ate at The Volcano Grill and it sucks ASS! The worst meal I have had anywhere in ten years.....and I used to eat in bars in Prague!" Matt spent 13 years eating in the Czech Republic.

Brendan and his friend Matt from Prague thought: "What the heck? They have been open a couple of weeks.....and we can run fast enough to not get killed while parking on Carmel Valley Road....."

It was hard to get a clear understanding of the many and varied horrors Bren and Matt endured.....they were both shouting down the phone.

The sprouts in the sprout salad were actually in the leaves were black and slimy. They sent it back. The nachos had a sour sour cream in putrid. They sent it back. The calamare was like pencil erasers, and inedible. The sweet potato fries were cooked in cold oil, and soggy and limp. The Parmesan aioli tasted like ass. The corn on the cob had been frozen, cooked, chilled, re-cooked, etc until the kernels shrivelled back into the aged brown cob. Since when is there corn on the cob in March anyway? The ribs were cooked to death.....literally. The meat was stuck to the bones and had to be pried off.

They ate no bites of one course, one bite of two courses and sent everything back. The bill for two beers, two apps and an entree was $60. Plus tip.

The waitress used to work for us....until she failed to show up for work a few key times in a row..... and the waiter was one of my soccer guys who applied for a job with us.....and never called back when we hired him. They comped nothing.

Chefs are always wary about dissing another place....anyone can have a bad day. When the food comes back to the kitchen in a normal place, there is consternation. Sometimes it is because the diner is an insane person ("The seared ahi dish is not cooked!" or "The rare roast of venison is rare!") who needs to be killed, or thrown out in the street. "A Carrer!" as Rosa from Rafa's is proud to she pulls out her red card and prepares to hook over the jab.

Most often, it is the waitress or chef who fucks up. In this case, the diner does no one a service by dummying up. We want you to be happy, and want to fix any mistakes, however small. Under cooked or overcooked steak? We make a new one. Wrong order and you have to charge, or we can at least buy you a glass of wine or a dessert. At Arzak, we got a private tour of the secret laboratory......though the look of humiliation on the headwaiter's face was compensation enough.

At The Store we served a completely tasteless Momie's (my godmother) Caesar salad for God knows how long..... until my chef friend Frank visited and spoke up. It LOOKED perfect, and I have been making that dressing for 30 years, so I hadn't checked on the salad girl in weeks. Turns out she had no sense of taste. Fuck my boot!

Nice girl....she now manages the Corkscrew. And does a fine job. And God bless her.

Sometimes, though.......there is institutional incompetence on a grand and potentially dangerous scale. (Monday Night Dinner at The Store was started after I sent back a steak in a steak house as being inedibly rare (as in not cooked) and got the same cut up steak back.....microwaved to jerky, and probably stepped on. And no comp. And Rykoff Caesar dressing on bagged iceberg lettuce.....for $100. Thank you, Will's Fargo). Incompetence is one thing.....the dangerous part is with things like the rotting sprouts: famous locales for listeria and salmonella. Wanna REALLY freak out? Check out a recent study about lemon wedges in places like Volcano Grill

Or the old Ryan Ranch Rotisserie, a known food writer....I got a calamari steak still frozen solid in the middle, although nicely browned on the outside. I got fired from my reviewing job for the memorable opening line: "Watching the cooks and servers in action at the Ryan Ranch Rotisserie is like watching a monkey try to fuck a football....."

There may be a well-fucked football rolling around the Volcano Grill. Assuming they can even manage that trick.....

The boys just called back in. They were on their way down to Jane's house in the Village.

Puking was mentioned.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

The Sweetest Thing.......

The U2 song "The Sweetest Thing" is running through my head right now.....

Dammit....this is going to be another political post. Well, there is hope...there might be some food in here somewhere.

Regardless, I owe my friend Charyn the posts from Extebarre and I promise I will be back on track soon.

Believe it or not....and thanks to many of you.....I am now a Democratic Central Committee member.

My friend Bennie shamed me into it....the bastard. He was right, though: the only people that apply for these positions are the Secretary of the Senior Class types, and they are all Hillary Clintons. Us nutballs need representation, too!

It was a hard campaign. I needed TWENTY Democrats to sign a petition saying they thought I was fit to put on the ballot in June. Damn.

Turns out all my friends and co-workers are either Republicans, Peace and Freedom, Green Party, Libertarians, Decline to State, favorite: "Jackrabbit Ballsack Freedom Party".

That this particular gentleman is from New York and adept with all manner of automatic weapons and blunt objects should come as no surprise to anyone. I won't mention his name for fear his parole officer reads the blog.

I wound up scrambling like mad to meet the deadline. Scrambling and groveling. And I was stunned by the reality of political labels in my little valley world. My mom is a Republican, and could not sign for me. Mom? I thought "I Like Ike" was a while back......

And.......All the grumpy conservative folk turned out to be Democrats. Thank God.....

None of the kids were registered. It was a wake-up call. I may actually have to work at this job.....

Anyway, you will all be happy to know that I won the election.

How could I possibly know already?

No one else ran. Saves all that voter fraud.

No one was more surprised at my unveiling than the real Democrats who do this all the time. My friend Vinz, the Head Democrat (who took the stunning fotos of our Memorial Day crosses) was particularly perplexed. Seems like the last time I saw him..... at a Mike Gravel function.... I was aggressively Republican....because all Democrats suck. Uhhhh......I forgot about that. Still, at the Gravel event, I worked as a good Republican and made all those cheap Democrat bastards actually put cash in the hat for the Senator. Money talks, bullshit walks......

Despite my new position, and my official party registration.....I am still a Republican in my heart. Witness today's epiphany.....

I am way out of sinc with all the nice people when it comes to immigration policy. My ex was an intern in a maternity ward at Riverside General. The place was over-run with pregnant 15-year olds who had been run across the border by gangs.....and lifetime doctor visit #1 was with Lisa, two minutes before mamacita popped out the new American citizen. One time, the check bounced, and the coyotes actually repo'ed the new baby! I had to translate, and put cash in a bag and meet some fuckhead on a dark street......Why?

When my son broke his arm (admittedly in a bar fight....good lad!) it was not possible for him to get treatment at King Medical Center in LA. He waited a week, because they were overwhelmed by illegals.

My friend James is a union carpenter. He has not worked in a year, and two hundred meters from my house, and four miles from James' house there is a job employing 30 carpenters. The douche bag owner is building his fifth house using Amazonian hardwoods and slate from that MLB pitcher's grannies farm.....for his horses. Not a word of English spoken on the job......Did I mention that James is in foreclosure?

In the same horse prick's vineyard (did I mention his name is Tom DeRecht, from surprise there), the workers are shipped in from Gonzales in vans at $8 per hour cost....while skilled American kids who need $15 to live work for me on weekends and play video games all week during the day. Meanwhile, the workers are only paid for time on job....deducting the 1.5 hour transit each way, and the cost of said transport. A twelve hour day nets them less than fifty bucks, while my guys are losing the race to make it next month's rent.

So.....I am grumpy with illegals. Fuck 'em. Send 'em back. The old thing about the ruling class importing cheap labor to destroy the unions and the middle class......

Our one Latina worker has a permit, and is working towards a distant goal of citizenship.

Meanwhile, in our little community and with our crappy little store, at least half of the business is from the Latinos that share space with the crackheads in the trailer park acrosss the creek. No one speaks English.

Meanwhile, Rosaria....our as sweet as can be. I speak Spanish to her, and she blushes and laughs and makes no eye contact...and works like a dog. I no longer have to re-polish every wineglass on jobs. Her friends visit on the job, and we make them lunch that they eat out by the creek....and they all blush and laugh and make no eye contact. My Spanish is apparently that bad. Rosaria has a dog named Snoopy, about rabbit sized.....who wears a sweater she knitted in the winter. Based on her whopping $250 a week, Rosaria's husband bought a new truck....which helps him get to his job in Salinas, an hour away. Cool.

The no-English thing bugged me, though. We basically cook only modern Spanish food, but still.....

Meanwhile, my mom retired as an ESL teacher last year. She was feeling bad at being the oldest employee of the Monterey Unified School District at 82. She still felt fine, did a good job...but she felt weird still working at 82. Still, after a few months of sitting around (doing Meals on Wheels, driving old ladies to doctor appointments, arranging communal lunches for the old folks at the Community Center....she was bored and bummed. Nothing to do, really. She still substitute teaches, and is in line for any ESL jobs that come up in Carmel, but none of that counts as doing something.....

So....I thought: Bored Mom.....Mono-lingual Latinos. Problems solved.

We started our class last week. It runs Sundays from 4-6, open to all, in the restaurant. First week, we had five: Rosaria and her girlfriends and one brave man. The class was very low key and a huge success.

This week we had ten folks.....and I had my epiphany.

Back in the day, at Silver Jones in was illegal to employ people without social security numbers and work permits. There were stiff fines for the employers, and the migra was always around. 1989 was long before I could get any white people to cook our weird kind of food, so my whole crew was from San Pablo....a village outside Ciudad Oaxaca. When they wanted to fuck with me, they spoke Nautl. I would scream at them: "Hablan espanol!! Pendejos!"

We had a faux walk-in in the back for migra raids. There was a buzzer by the front door, and we practiced. Buzzer goes off.....all the DW's and salad guys hid in the walk-in, and I avoided my fines. Everybody shared one SS number and one time card for every other guy.

In the past few years, the rhetoric has changed. Now it is: "No Amnesty for Lawbreakers!" "We cannot give citizenship to people who break the law to enter our country!"


Today, I didn't want to vibe out the ESL class (our kitchen is almost part of the dining room), so I sat in front of the store with Xabi. I watched as Rosaria came over with her girlfriends. I got Snoopy some veal rib bones from the pressed breast we are doing these days. A couple of the usually drunk pool players came in and joined the class....leaving their macho at the door.

Then, a few minutes after four, when Mom had already started the class......two young moms came walking over the bridge over the creek. They each had a two-year old in tow. I watched them approach, and it dawned on me that they were wearing their good jeans, their good shoes, and their good blouses. The little girls were decked out, too.

Each mom also had a brand new spiral notebook under her arm, and sharpened pencils in the hand that was not helping her daughter along. The look on their faces. It was one of hope.....of excitement, expectation....and promise.

I was gutted.

I snuck back in the kitchen and listened to the class. They were on basics: address, marital status.....Mom was teaching them how to understand job application forms.

It was The Sweetest Thing......


The little girls colored and pranced around....while their moms learned how to fill out forms for jobs that might include communication and respect.

I realized that this was perhaps the first time that these women (and the drunks) had had a positive interaction with white people. No migra. Not the ShopKeeper ripping them off for $9.29 plus tax for six bottles of Corona. For the first time, here were American citizens helping them with their lives.

So, I finally got it. My Republican soul agrees still: No Amnesty for Lawbreakers!

So.....who is breaking the law? The people that crawl north in search of jobs to better their lives and help make a better world for their children?

The moms who doll themselves up and bring new pencils and new notebooks they had to get someone to drive 40 miles to get to a class where they might find the backdoor key to this marvelous place called America?

See....we Republicans respect contracts. And inherint in the whole American Dream thing is The Promise.

Or the pricks like Tom DeRecht, who promise them jobs....and dangle the irresistable carrot of promise in front of them that causes them to leave their homes, their families and their country.

My Republican heart still agrees: Lock these law-breaking bastards up: every employer who has ever hired an illegal worker.

Let's do it today. We'll go back ten years......

Wait a minute. How about nine years? Uhhhh......eight and a half years!

As an Irish person, whose people fled ethnic cleansing and brutal economic travesty to come to America to be exploited for another few generations.....I am ashamed that it took me this long to realize that I was buying into the wrong frame.
See, Michael you dummy: the immigrants are the victims of the crime, not the perpetrators.


I am super embarrassed.....but how nice is it to realize that even at my advance is still possible, indeed learn from your 82 year old mother.

Thanks, Mom.

Happy St. Patrick's Day.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Politics and Food.....

I got blasted this week for being "dangerous" and this friendly little blog as being "hurtful" and "destroying people" and being "bad for business".

"What does writing about politics have to do with food anyway?"


Right away for some reason I thought of Vladimir Ashkenazy. Who? Vlad was/is a killer piano guy who was a friend of Ansel Adam's. Vlad even bought a house in Big Sur after doing a party for Ansel.

Anyway, for a party in Ansel's house old Vlad would fly in his piano from New York....a big fucking Steinway. Also, he would fly in his piano tuner....because all the stuff would change on the flight and in the truck. Picture what THAT costs......

But our Vlad wanted to be in control of his instruments.....and his work environment. He brought his own stool. He checked with me about the caviar. He checked with me about the placement of the chairs for the guests.

The tuner came back just before the party to retune everything....just in case the humidity had done something.

(And, no.... His name was not Oppor Knockety. And he did not only tune once).

And then Ashkenazy relaxed.... and created great art and blew everyone out of the room......

He had control of his environment.

We ask no less in our pathetic little kitchen in Cachagua. We don't need control....we just want to know what to expect.

We used to be famous for our smoked salmon. I trained with my godfather, Werner Kalmus.....who was famous in Germany before the war, and later in Paris after the war. The king of smoked salmon.....and foie gras for that matter.

Three years ago, Karl Rove personally intervened with the Department of the Interior on behalf of some Republican oat-hay growers on the Klamath River (donation: $300,000) and destroyed TWO MILLION salmon. Karl Rove personally destroyed the fish, big parts of the Native American Klamath culture....and the livelihoods of every fisherman and restaurant guy from San Diego to Portland. And my smoked salmon business.

Is this a political problem.....or a food problem?

My workers are all independent contractors.....they have other jobs on the side. They are all young and bullet-proof, and immune from disease. They also play hurt....they don't go to hospital if there is not a bone showing. Insurance for these warriors is $200 per month. They make maybe a grand from me.....and another grand from their real they are mostly uninsured.

My grand-puppy has health insurance....but not my children, wife, or the workers who are my best friends.

Is this a political question.....or a food question?

I spent two hours today on the phone with the new California Fish and Game agent....talking about the bust of two local shitheads for poaching. These douchebags were catching steelhead hens in my fucking river....gutting them, removing the eggs....and using the eggs to catch other steelhead. And tossing the still living, gutted bodies of the hens back in the river to die in agony.

It is almost impossible to prosecute this atrocity. The Gamies have the guys, an eye-witness, the rods and reels and hooks hidden in the bushes....but they did not catch them in the the scumbag fuckheads will probably walk.

Politcal problem or food problem?

Gino Panisi....scumbag fuckhead on Wharf II....Royal Seafood....continues to sell farmed salmon as wild salmon....and despite every effort (including DNA analysis...think OJ with the glove) continues to destroy the fishery and personally profit immune from the law. COOL (Country of Origin Labeling) is being battled in the legislature as being too restrictive to business.....despite the fact that it is destroying the businesses it is supposedly protecting.

Political problem or food problem?

The Farm Bill gives away billions of dollars to soy bean guys, corn guys and sugar guys. Prices for corn are going through the roof and trashing the whole world-wide pricing system...causing famine in Africa..... because dumbshit Americans....including Barack Obama.....are pretending that corn is a good fuel.

Meanwhile, our friend Jamie from Serendipity....who is running two or three organic farms and producing magical foods.....cannot even find an affordable place to live in the area where she grows the food. Don't EVEN fucking ask about her health insurance. Her goats are better insured.....

Food problem.....or political problem?

Yesterday....gobbling fish oil capsules and Wellbutrin...trying to not be depressed.....I watched the Secretary of the Air Force (The United States Air Force) testifying before Congress about the award to European AirBus for the contract to build USAF refueling tankers.

"My position is that there is no industrial base in the United States to build these airplanes. The American industrial base has eroded since 1990, and is now in the position where we have to go overseas for industrial production at modern levels."

Well.....just check out my posts about El Poblet. America can't compete at modern food levels either.....except for Wylie Dufresne and David Kinch at Manresa.

But....this is the Secretary of the Air Force....presumably a Republican.....telling Congress that we now need to buy warplanes overseas because our home-based industry has been gutted since 1990.

Hmmmm. Who was in charge in those years? Bush, Clinton, Bush.

The dollar is now ...rightly.... in the toilet. I can no longer afford to go to Spain to check in with my buds for the inspiration and knowledge that I need for my business and my soul. The dollar is worth half the value of currency in countries where old ladies still sweep the streets with straw bundles wrapped around sticks outside their houses made of mud.

Is this a political question....or a food question? If I think both Clintons and both Bushes are rancid, lying, self-absorbed sacks of this a political opinion, or a food opinion?

I grew up politically in the Kennedy-Johnson-Nixon era. I was inspired by the Kennedy's...impressed by the efficient corruption of Johnson....and appalled and repulsed by the lying arrogance of Nixon and his cronies.

For the last twenty-eight years our country has been ruled by a cabal of folks who think we are stupid....and are willing to lie, cheat, and steal the copper wires out of walls and jerk off in our mouths and tell us it is ice cream.

There was a time when America meant truth....and hope.....and science.....and technical know-how and can-do spirit.

The Bushies are easy to The economy is in a rough spot. WMD's. Spreading Freedom. Rape. Pillage. Corruption. Hypocrisy. Scandal. Embarrassment. Wanton stupidity.

It is clear that it is time for change.

Meanwhile.....Hillary Clinton, so intent on fulfilling her family's destiny....has been lying, cheating and stealing on a Nixonian level. Actually, beyond the Nixonian's, because they were dumbfucks. She is so self-absorbed that she is willing to destroy Democratic chances in this election to fulfill her goals of the Presidency next time around.

In my kitchen, life is hard. Our floor sucks. Our septic system sucks. We get no deliveries, and have to drive at $4 plus a gallon for all our stuff. We have no insulation, so we freeze in winter and roast in summer. We have no reliable trash we re-cycle like bandits and compost like bitches.

This no small thing. Brendan spends two long days each month, covered in stale beer and bleeding from small cuts to drive the re-cycle to Salinas for the cost of the gas it takes him to get there....on his day off.

I spend two hours every Monday, and every Friday.....turning stinking piles of compost...hundreds of pounds....and fighting to keep th pH balance and the flies at bay.

We drive miles and miles to get real produce, fresh fish, and properly, humanely raised meats for our people.

Our competitors buy fish from Gino Panisi....and meat from IBP, who brought you the Downer Cattle scandal last week.

We do not lie. We have this weird idea that everyone should always be striving to be better....

America used to about being the best......not spinning shite into cotton candy.

Hillary Clinton did not win Texas. Twenty Republican counties converted their votes to her to fuck Obama, for Republican purposes.

Hillary Clinton did not win Ohio. Ditto the Texas Republican thing....10,000 Republican votes for her per county, just to fuck with the Democrats....but she also lied outrageously in the NAFTA-gate thing. Hillary was instrumental in putting NAFTA in place at the get-go,and then positions Obama as the bad guy?

There is no "Big State" momentum.


Bill Clinton says that "whenever there was a situation that was too poor, too dangerous, or too important...we sent in Hillary."

Sinbad said it best: "So you sent in to Bosnia: your wife, a guitar player, and a gay black comedian?" Hillary, Sheryl Crow and Sinbad.

Get the fuck outta here......

Hillary Clinton is willing to gut Obama in favor of McCain.....just to clear the decks for herself and her family in 2012.

Well, people....this is not our world. There will be not much left to rule in 2012 at this rate.

Three more Supreme Court Justices lost to the dark side.

200 weeks of $200 million dollars a week in Iraq......

The continued gutting of the American middle class.

Who am I supposed to sell my food to?

How am I supposed to keep my workers focussed and out of despair?

How do I keep them healthy and educated?

Back to Ashkenazy.....Control of our environment?

This is like Vladimir trying to play the PacBell Stadium organ during the Seventh Inning Stretch in a Giants' game. I am thinking Toccata and Fugue in E Minor.....

Is this a food problem......or a political problem?

While typing this post I was working on some crema inlese: Organic Valley cream, eggs from Bob Harris in Pajaro....vanilla from Madacascar......Valrhona single source Araguani chocolate from Venezuela......

The first time around I was distracted and the eggs curdled. I tossed it.

Second time around, watching the eggs and cream come together......and the mix with the Araguani.....silky, sexy.....awesome.

I wish I were dangerous.........

Too delicious...

Not in a food way.......Spitzer was a putz, but he got a few things right.


Attacking the Bush Administration through the courts. Subject of FBI investigation. Eliot should have called former Governor Seligman instead of Kristen...

This article was published in The Washington Post the morning after Eliot Spitzer's Mayflower Hotel tryst with "Kristen". No wonder the NYSE took time out to applaud and cheer when the Governor resigned the other day.

Thanks to TruthOut.....

Predatory Lenders' Partner in Crime

By Eliot Spitzer
The Washington Post

Thursday 14 February 2008

How the Bush administration stopped the states from stepping in to help consumers.

Several years ago, state attorneys general and others involved in consumer protection began to notice a marked increase in a range of predatory lending practices by mortgage lenders. Some were misrepresenting the terms of loans, making loans without regard to consumers' ability to repay, making loans with deceptive "teaser" rates that later ballooned astronomically, packing loans with undisclosed charges and fees, or even paying illegal kickbacks. These and other practices, we noticed, were having a devastating effect on home buyers. In addition, the widespread nature of these practices, if left unchecked, threatened our financial markets.

Even though predatory lending was becoming a national problem, the Bush administration looked the other way and did nothing to protect American homeowners. In fact, the government chose instead to align itself with the banks that were victimizing consumers.

Predatory lending was widely understood to present a looming national crisis. This threat was so clear that as New York attorney general, I joined with colleagues in the other 49 states in attempting to fill the void left by the federal government. Individually, and together, state attorneys general of both parties brought litigation or entered into settlements with many subprime lenders that were engaged in predatory lending practices. Several state legislatures, including New York's, enacted laws aimed at curbing such practices.

What did the Bush administration do in response? Did it reverse course and decide to take action to halt this burgeoning scourge? As Americans are now painfully aware, with hundreds of thousands of homeowners facing foreclosure and our markets reeling, the answer is a resounding no.

Not only did the Bush administration do nothing to protect consumers, it embarked on an aggressive and unprecedented campaign to prevent states from protecting their residents from the very problems to which the federal government was turning a blind eye.

Let me explain: The administration accomplished this feat through an obscure federal agency called the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC). The OCC has been in existence since the Civil War. Its mission is to ensure the fiscal soundness of national banks. For 140 years, the OCC examined the books of national banks to make sure they were balanced, an important but uncontroversial function. But a few years ago, for the first time in its history, the OCC was used as a tool against consumers.

In 2003, during the height of the predatory lending crisis, the OCC invoked a clause from the 1863 National Bank Act to issue formal opinions preempting all state predatory lending laws, thereby rendering them inoperative. The OCC also promulgated new rules that prevented states from enforcing any of their own consumer protection laws against national banks. The federal government's actions were so egregious and so unprecedented that all 50 state attorneys general, and all 50 state banking superintendents, actively fought the new rules.

But the unanimous opposition of the 50 states did not deter, or even slow, the Bush administration in its goal of protecting the banks. In fact, when my office opened an investigation of possible discrimination in mortgage lending by a number of banks, the OCC filed a federal lawsuit to stop the investigation.

Throughout our battles with the OCC and the banks, the mantra of the banks and their defenders was that efforts to curb predatory lending would deny access to credit to the very consumers the states were trying to protect. But the curbs we sought on predatory and unfair lending would have in no way jeopardized access to the legitimate credit market for appropriately priced loans. Instead, they would have stopped the scourge of predatory lending practices that have resulted in countless thousands of consumers losing their homes and put our economy in a precarious position.

When history tells the story of the subprime lending crisis and recounts its devastating effects on the lives of so many innocent homeowners, the Bush administration will not be judged favorably. The tale is still unfolding, but when the dust settles, it will be judged as a willing accomplice to the lenders who went to any lengths in their quest for profits. So willing, in fact, that it used the power of the federal government in an unprecedented assault on state legislatures, as well as on state attorneys general and anyone else on the side of consumers.


Friday, March 07, 2008

Lord....hear my song....

I spent the week with my head under my pillow.

As some wise soul said: "The worst part of being being RIGHT!"

Probably George Orwell.

I talked about how Barack was going to be fucked by The Machine......Sure enough.


I got a letter today from my friends at the Hermitage of the Camaldolese down in Big Sur, Father Raniero. These are Catholic monks who follow a contemplative regime....make fruitcakes....and do data entry to pay the bills.

The local Camaldoli are just above Point 16 in Big Sam Farr's place. It is a magic spot: I got married there once, and my restaurant godfather Bill Brown is buried there.

Their "hive", or orginal locus, is in the hills above the source of the Arno river in the Costentino, above the stupidly gorgeous town of Poppi. Not far from St. Francis' final retreat at La Verna.

Fuck Assisi, by the way. St. Francis of Assisi? No. If you want to understand St. spend the early morning in Bevagna with the bluebirds, and drive to La Verna.

In Assisi, you can actually buy a tractor hat with plastic bluebird shit on it as a souvenir of your spiritual visitation. Sweet.

In one of my more obscure reference books I have a great description of Edith Wharton's (Ethan Frome?) trip to Camaldoli and La Verna in a Stutz Bearcat. She was depressed, you see. The trip to La Verna involved all of the monks getting out and winching the Stutz up the mountain, over the granite cliffs so that Edith could experience the Full Francis.

When Carolynn and I visited the Cosentino it was not a lot different. A storm was brewing, and as we climbed the mountain, the road got smaller and darker. There was lightning. There were wild boar in the road.....and there is something scarier about zillion year old wild boar in the mountains of Italy than Cachagua wild boar. They stood in the road and just growled at us.

There were stags. Not deer....fucking STAGS! Giant racks of giant antlers glaring down at our Fiat Punto. Tree limbs were falling. Goddamm boars and stags.

We finally got to Camaldoli and ran inside under a thunderous downpour. The power was out, of the whole spooky place was lit by torches. We went to mass, sung in the thousand year old church by torchlight, a cappella in a three thousand year old language. We met Brother Tom....who was from Big Sur. He sold us some crap from the gift shop. My brain can still not quite wrap around that night.....

And La Verna was another 20 kilometers up the hill!

Edith Wharton was a baller......

Anyway, Father Raniero's letter talks about Lent...the season of denial. "Those who wish to be my disciples must deny themselves, take up their cross, and follow me....." We must first seek to be his disciples in all that we say and do, especially the way we treat everyone that we meet. We must see Christ in everyone....."

As monks of the New Camoldoli Hermitage we send you this Lenten letter as a reminder of our vow of stability in a busy world in order that we may honor you and support you in your journey......"

I am the least religious guy you will ever meet....but there is something sweet about Raniero and his monks......And I have experienced first hand their connection to something straight out of Friday the Thirteenth......

Last night.....watching the tube, I was trying to hold tight Raniero's sweet feelings of self denial and support.

And Hillary Clinton came the Witch From Hell.

Hillary was attacking Obama as not being "ready to cross the threshold" of Commander in Chief.
Hillary allowed as how only she and John McCain have the experience to lead the troops. She leads....and has lead. Obama has only a speech he made once. were married to a guy who led the troops. So is Laura Bush. Should she be Commander in Chief?

Your foreign policy experience boils down to a trip to Kosovo with Sheryl Crow and Sinbad.

And you are telling people that John McCain is better able to be Commander in Chief than your rival, Barack Obama? Especially when Barack called the right side of the worst foreign policy decision in the history of the United States....and you blew it?

Deep breath..........

If you have had any experience with snakes......back in the day, people would kill them in the theory that that would make them safer. We know better now, but.......If you whack a snake and don't kill thrashes around and tries to strike at anything. It does not give a shit. It strikes and bites like a motherfucker.

Because it is being whacked by a tall guy with a shovel, the only thing it can bite is that writhing, annoying flesh in front of its face........


Hillary Clinton is attacking her own party, her own flesh and hope that she will somehow kill all of that which is killing her.

My friend Gabe Rosen (paparosen in blog talk) flew out to Ohio to try to do the work of The Lord. Well, not that Lord....but some Lord. He canvassed, he called, he walked.....he shelled out cash he could not afford, and did not try to bring some light to the World of Ohio.

The huge issue in Ohio was NAFTA. Bill Clinton sold out every American manufacturing and union job still left after the Reagan pogrom...... and decimated the entire center of America ten years ago.

Hillary came in as if.....unlike Monica Lewinsky...she had never sucked that particular dick.

She is, and always has been, a huge NAFTA supporter....but now it is not cool. Her staff leaked to the Canadians (despite all evidence to the contrary....part of North America, the NA part of NAFTA) that she was only kidding about attacking NAFTA in the Ohio primary......and then her staff leaked to the media that it was OBAMA who was just kidding.

And it worked. Americans are dumfucks. Ohio? family left there in 1866.......

In Texas....Hillary's people were completely outnumbered in the caucuses. Their published plan was to guilt trip the Obama people (there are so many of is only fair that you should let us be president and secretary of the precinct).

The resulting presidents and secretaries are responsible for reporting the caucus results.....and chose not to bring along sheet after sheet of Obama voters.

Rush Limbaugh encouraged all his people to cross lines in Texas and Ohio and vote for Hillary to continue the division in the Democratic Party.....and to support the Democratic candidate that all polls show cannot beat John McCain. In TWENTY Texas counties.....there were no recorded votes for any Republican.

In TWENTY Texas counties.....all the Republicans voted for Hillary. Every single one! And she still barely won the state. With all the Republicans voting for her........

Now the Mainstream Media talks about her resurgent campaign......and she identifies herself with John McCain. Anyone without an understanding of my contempt for this position need just search this blog for "Hillary".

Let me sum it up and save you the trouble: Fuck Hillary Clinton.

Obama continues to walk a positive line. As Raniero said....."a vow of stability in our busy world, in order to honor you and your intentions......"

Your intentions might be....a job, some work, a warm place to sleep, some food....the respect of your peers.........

Personally, I have had enough with politicians who are lying sacks of shit. Hillary Clinton and her people are....after yesterday, for anyone with access to modern media.....proven, lying, sacks of shit. Lie. Manipulate. Stick and move. Protect your people. Win at any cost.

I had this from Bush. I had this from Reagan. I had this from Daddy Bush. I had this from Nixon. Frankly, I had this from Bill Clinton.

I am revolted to have it from his wife.

Obama gave me a glimpse of a man and a movement with a connection to a higher power. Like Raneiro. I got all goosebumpy...

Two days ago.......prodded by Irish Catholic guilt...(thanks, Raniero).... and Jewish guilt (provided by my friend Bennie), I registered to run for local Democratic Central Committee member in my District. I just needed 20 signatures of registered Democrats.

Due today...... How hard could that be?

I have 20 employees that I get my politcal blood from.....and dozens of clients and blogfans.....and suppliers, and farmers and workers....

It was a bitch.

Most folks were not even registered. Most of the kids were registered Green, Libertarian, Peace and Freedom. They think that Democrats are irrelevant. But they love Obama.

Most of my suppliers were registered Republican.....but they all are voting for Obama. They just aren't Democrats. Everyone is voting for Obama, you see.......

Except the Democrats......

Once again.....I will go on record as saying that the real reason that America is so fucked up......dollar in the toilet, no housing, no healthcare, crumbling not because of the Republicans....but the Democrats. Everything you heard Rush Limbaugh say about them is true. The Old School Democrats could not put a carrot in a washtub. And they could definitely fuck up a wet dream.....every time. They fucked up so badly that Americans voted in THESE idiots.......and Hillary is riding in on the same paradigm.

I promise, if elected to the Central follow my younger constituents: if Hillary Clinton is nominated to be the Presidential Candidate, I will never in my life vote for another Democrat for any position.

Well.....any Democrat that supported Hillary.

Some girl got fired today for telling the Scots that "Hillary is a monster!".

I have her back.......

In eight years, with our economy in the dungeons....and three new Supreme Court justices chosen by John McCain....and your grand-daughter flying to Sweden to get contraceptive information or buying it from the present version of Marijuana Clubs......and 1984, the novel....seemingly like a summer me.

My son just returned from Prague....where he has been working as a film maker for the Communist Museum......He came home because he met all the people...the artists, writers, singers, cooks....who were crushed by end of the Prague Spring.....

When Hope died......when "Yes, We Can!" died.

The only question remains: How stupid are we Americans?

Lets go back to the Catholics.....St Ignatius Loyola. He thought at one point that his life's work was involved with the little bits that God forgot....and that annoyed Men.

Work. Health care. Respect. Peace.

I am sending Raniero a check......and Barack.