Sunday, November 30, 2008

Thanks..... Without Giving......Part Two

This Turkey Day we are off, for the first time in a decade.

We hate turkeys.....well, dead turkeys. Live turkeys are Our Friends.

Still, we have to work over the weekend, so I took my Grandpuppy to the Farmer's Market at MPC on Wednesday to prepare.....

There was literally no one there. I was the only shopper. The apple ladies called out to me to buy Fuji's like they were transvestite hookers on 8th Avenue in the good old days in New York.

"Hey! Check my apples! You need apples, boy!"

I love having apple ladies fight over me......

After the market, Puppy and I headed for the beach.

We stopped at the Cheese Shop for a half-bottle of Gruet and some Tasmanian double cream soft-ripened cheese with some nice French bread. Cost? Less than $16.

The Cheese Shop guys told me to bring Puppy inside.

"Dogs are welcome here....."


Until Puppy strolled in, stood up, planted his paws on the counter, and started turning his magic nose up at hard-ripened cow cheese.

Puppy is into the soft goat stuff......

Meanwhile.....only in Carmel.......The Cheese Shop staff could deal with a German Wirehaired Pointer who only likes soft-ripened goat and sheep cheese.

Only in Carmel.

Xabi and I took our stash and retired to The Beach.

There was not a soul in sight.

Xabi and I had the entirety of Carmel Beach to ourselves.....

We walked from 13th back to Del Mar at Ocean......with only the wind and the waves as company. Well, Robinson Jeffers might have been there with us.....but that is another story.

Puppy is a famous Carmel Beach criminal. Xabi loves all dogs, and even refuses to eat until all the other dogs have food just like his.....He was attacked and almost killed by a Pit
Bull on Carmel Beach, and even got a citation, as in $200 fine.....Puppy still loves all dogs.

Unfortunately, Puppy seems to especially love dogs owned by nice lesbian couples, cute little blonde girls......and anyone that might be freaked out by a spotted puppy madly humping anything with four legs on Carmel Beach.

There were no dogs on The Beach on Thanksgiving Eve. Thank you, Jesus.

There was a moon......with Venus and Jupiter in attendance...but there were no people and no dogs.

As we walked the length of the beach and back......arguably one of the most expensive pieces of real estate in the world.......we noted the basics: the feel of the wind, the scent of the sea and sand and the giant piles of kelp heaped in our paths.......Venus, Jupiter and the Moon.

The houses on Scenic.......seemed about a quarter full. Judging by TV blue light.

We know how this works. We have a client from 1999 with a house on Scenic and 13th (the shitty little house)......who to our certain knowlege has been there twice in ten years. He is a tech guy, so he has program that turns the lights on and off.....but we know where the key is behind the water heater, and have taxed him for some Newcastles and re-stocked his local wine stash without his knowlege since Clinton was President..... This guy has a timer that pretends he is ever there.......

Yeah, right.

Still, Puppy and I were stoked to see at least a quarter of the houses on Scenic with actual people enjoying the actual Carmel experience.

Sort of.

At least watching TV on Carmel Beach. On the beach itself.......just me and Xabi. How cool is that? When was the last time you had sole control over a few billion dollars.

Well, not sole control. We were just observers of the sand, sea, Jupiter, Venus, moon thing....but you get the picture.....

I am thinking of starting a new economic function: "Enjoyment of Carmel Beach by Property Owners on Scenic". It could be an Indicator of our Economic Health.

Call it 25% on Thanksgiving this year.

So, walking up Carmel Beach with a known Dog-Criminal on Thanksgiving Eve.....suddenly I heard manic barking.

Oh, fuck.

I ran up to check out the problem.

I saw a guy standing close to the surf.....with Xabi barking like a lunatic just in front.

"Oh, shit. Sorry, sir.....he thinks it is his beach."

Puff, puff.

"I am really sorry. He is a nice dog.......He just likes dogs more than people....."

Puff, puff.

I could see the guy.....frozen and stiff. Xabi barking like a nut, charging in and out. Woof. Woof.

"Shit. Sorry, dude. This is a local dog.....he was Mr. August this year, and he thinks he owns the Beach......."

The guy did not move. Frozen in fear, no doubt.

Xabi continued to bark and race around. Fuck.

As I got closer, the dude never moved.

Not a dude....a thing.

The Dude was a driftwood log, jammed into the sand, wrapped in kelp......and set up such that it looked like a Carmel seaweed Bob Marley. Dreads, holding a torch.

Not something casual....the kelp and kelp fronds that made the sculpture were wrapped tight with kelp fronds. The driftwood was buried deep.....enough to stand a tide or two.

From twenty feet it was Bob Marley.......

It took me ten solid minutes to convince Puppy that the sculpture was not......real?

Or what?

I love Carmel.......

A place where someone will spend hours creating an obscure art-form/tribute of world class quality......and walk away, feeling complete.

Twisted Mister walk on the billion dollar sands......completely alone on the busiest day of the year.......breathing the air and sea and crazy ionic nuttiness......and absorbing the pounding of the surf.......

And running into a completely anonymous, random, perfect.....thing that someone spent hours to make just because.......

Not because anyone would see it or understand........

My life in a nutshell.......

Xabi and I were stoked......

Thanks, Carmel..........

I am good for another year.

Thanks..... Without Giving......

1) From TMZ.

Papparazzi accosting Tommy Chong in LA:

"What are you thankful for this Thanksgiving, Mr. Chong?"

"I am just grateful that I got my Cheech back. California is a lonely place without your Mexican......." shit, Hermano.......

2) My friend Gary, who sold us our Tassajara Nissan work truck......after he had thrashed the living shit out of it......has an issue or two.

We love the Nissan. Gary gave us an extra motor, which we loaded in the bed when we picked it up in Upper Jamesburg. Gary and Morgan live "That Way" past the "This Way...That Way" sign.....or maybe it is "This Way".

The Nissan has whiskey dents all over it. We used Vice-Grips for door handles for a we just Dukes of Hazzard it through the windows and get over the whole "door" thing.

Tassajara lusts after my Nissan. Functional. Simple. Small. Cheap.

Back off, and fuck off, you monks!

When I drove the Nissan to town to get smogged, after giving Gary $500 to transfer title. The thing jumped all over the road and scared the living shit out of me.

At Pacific Smog there were issues about the smog check. The guy was bummed that the Nissan was struggling to pass.

I said, "No worries! We have a backup engine in the bed! One of them must be able to pass....."

There were so many holes in the exhaust that the computer could not deal. Finally the Smog Guy found one hole that would allow us to pass and we were on our way.

Off to Skip's to see about the whole inablility-to-steer thing. Turns out there was one small bolt holding the entire front end of the Nissan together. We fixed all that up. I bought some new shocks, just in case.

When we got home, we looked closer at the suspension. It was maxed out. Hmmmm.

We removed the extra engine Gary gave us. We removed the plastic bed....and found about a ton of the finest composted worm castings anyone has ever seen. A ton is 2,000 pounds.

The Nissan is a four-cylinder rated at a quarter ton.

My survival of the trip to town in the Nissan with one bolt holding the front end together in a truck with an extra engine and a ton of worm castings is proof that Jesus loves me.

Or blind-ass Irish luck.

Gary and Morgan are farmers up there on the Ridge above Jamesburg. Great veggies and herbs. Something about them and their little farm caused the Monterey County Sheriff to drive up their driveway five times during the fires last summer.......and believe me, I could barely find their place with love in my heart and good directions.

Today at The Store, Amanda had her best day ever. All the nice....well, nice to us....people came in. The sense of Community was raging.......Hollywood people came and fell in love with Dave and Pablo and Grant and our 50 chickens.......Bailey learned how to scan and bag her Sunday ice creams.....Jeff and Alice came in with their daughter and had "the best breakfast ever in the history of breakfasts".

At one point Peyton and Pauline came in. Amanda insisted that they all go out and sit in the sun.

Sweet, warm, peaceful, wonderful.

Gary came in for propane from the mountain.......

After he left, Pauline told a little story......

"You know, Gary has had a migraine since Vietnam......"

What the fuck?

"No, he has been through it all: operations, shrinks, accupuncture, massage, drugs........Gary has had a really bad headache for since 1968."

"What worked best for him was a Pain Management class he took. He uses meditation to try to make the pain part of his life, and not a thing apart."

"Gary has a box of files of stuff that happened back then that he doesn't let anyone see........ I think his headaches come from the box."

Reality crew are susceptible to migraines. I just re-upped our Imitrex scrip at $240 for eight tabs. We have Lutecia, the world's best massage therapist, on stand-by to eliminate any passing head throb.....

Gary has had a headache for forty years......and is the sweetest, most calm, nicest guy one could ever meet.....

It is de rigeur to thank our veterans for their service......These thanks are piling up.

This is thanks for their service.....

Who thanks them for what is in the box?

And what is in the box for the new......million kids coming back.

Lots a boxes.

Thanks, you guys.

Buy stock in Imitrex.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Organic Shmorganic

Sort of a good news/good news day in organic world.

First, the USDA has oddly decided to start monitoring and enforcing National Organic Program guidelines on cheap Chinese "organic" products. Of course, they have something like three guys in China.....but it is a start.

Also, the USDA has finally promised to close the loophole that allows crap milk producers like Horizon and "O" organics to market supposedly organic milk that actually comes from old-school, factory-style intensive confinement facilities. If you buy from these companies....which bottle for Costco, by the would be better off buying regular Safeway milk and lighting the three dollars a gallon price difference from the pretend organic milk on fire in the parking lot. At least your money would not be stolen, and you would not be encouraging liars and thieves.

The next step might be in organic and "natural'' meats. Unless you know your shipper and packer, most outfits selling on the mass market ape the dairy boys: the maintain an organic finishing facility and cycle non-organically raised critters through every couple of weeks. Like sending Rosie O'Donnell to the Golden Door for two weeks and pretending she is now Pamela Anderson. Stay tuned.

Next, Dr. Bronner's Magic Soap is gaining some traction in its lawsuit against Whole Foods and a bunch of other suppliers of "organic" bodycare products. Dr. Bronner's actually makes organic soap, and is annoyed at the non-organic competition getting away with......well, murder. Or attempted murder.....which is one take on including known carcinogens in your organic bodywashes. The science is kind of geeky.....but the list is informative. Once again, shop at Whole Foods at your peril: fish, produce, bodycare products.....have a nice day. We love Alan in the wine section, and LaBrea bakery bread. Oh, and the charcoal......even though the presence of obvious construction site waste (hardwood flooring, etc) is a little still makes a nice fire and the pieces are the right size. Still better than briquets!

In fish land, the NOSB has recommended allowing the labeling of fish as organic......including farm raised fish fed organic feeds. This rule has not yet been adopted which is nice, since it flies in the face of all science and all efforts to establish sustainable and healthy standards for both fish and the ocean they swim in. Oh......Whole Foods has a majority share in California Gold.....a "organic" salmon fish farm. I won't belabor the continuing environmental disaster that salmon farming brings to our feed or no.

Good news from fish land, though, comes from a new study from our own UC Santa Barbara (Chris Costello and Stephen Gaines). This is a possible solution to the last, famous doomsday report from last summer that predicted all the world's fish gone by 2048.

The good professors from the land of sunshine and wildfires recommend privatising the ocean. Yipes.

The privatisation comes in the form of ITQ's.....Individual Transferable Quotas, or catch shares.

Current rules in most fisheries have a total ceiling on the tonnage of fish caught, or limit the kind of gear that can be used, or shrink the season. In the Mediterranean, the tuna season is sometimes two days......which leads to every boat that can float killing every tuna that can be found. Two day seasons mean two days of fresh fish, and 363 days of frozen fish. Also, the supply of fish in two-day seasons goes from zero with high prices, to a temporary glut with low prices for the fisherman on catch day. The guy has to catch more and more to make up for the low prices.

ITQ's divide up the total catch among the fishermen as a long-term right. This invests the fisherman with a stake in the long-term preservation and management of the catch. Fisherman who want more fish can simply buy out their competitors rather than strip the oceans. Prices rise, as do profits. Harvests rise as well.

Not many catches are protected by ITQ's. Alaska halibut and king crab are. The fresh halibut and crab season now lasts for eight months, not three days. The frenzy that inspired "The Deadliest Catch" is and rescue missions for crabbers are down 70% since the ITQ system was introduced. Prices and quality are way up.

The downside is that only 121 ITQ's exist amongst the world's 10,000 fisheries. Their principal enemy? Globalization folks......who think that lower prices for producers trump all other concerns. Russian, Chinese and Japanese factory ships off Monterey? Fine, just fine.

The most radical idea is probably the best. Ban all fishing in international waters.

Yipes!! No, it turns out that 90% of all fishing is done in national waters.....where ITQ's have a hope of being supported and enforced.

Stay tuned.......and meanwhile, get your fish from the SeafoodWatch list.....

And stay out of Whole Foods.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Phil Gramm is Adolf Hitler.....

And his wife Wendy is Eva Braun.

Consider this a place-holder for a Tuesday post......

I was reading today about the war crimes trials at The Hague, and the various Crimes Against Humanity being prosecuted there. Specifically about Ramush Haradinaj, the Prime Minister of the newest country of Kosovo, who was a KLA freedom fighter ten years ago when shit got ugly in the face of Serbian ethnic cleansing.

He was exonerated at The Hague.

My thoughts turned to Woody Guthrie: "Some will rob you with a shotgun....and some with a fountain pen......"

The Commodities rule that Phil Gramm jammed through Congress in 2000 not only spiked your gas prices all summer for no reason other than market manipulation.....has done the same thing for food prices.

While gas prices directly effect lots of stuff in the third world, it has a less dramatic effect on actually removing food from people's mouths than corn prices.

Like oil prices, corn prices have dropped by half. The processors....faced with financial panic everywhere around them, and completely insulated from market pressure by their near total monopoly on marketing and distribution.....are enjoying double digit growths in income and profits.

Costs have fallen.....prices have not. Little people are starving. Medium people are diverting funds from health care, education, etc. while profits rise.

In a true free-market, global economy higher prices would have been transferred to the producers...and/or lower commodity costs would have been transferred to the consumers.

Not so. The few specially placed shipper/broker companies are raking it in protected by sweetheart deals with all the various governments.

Have a nice day, Phil Gramm.

I look forward to the day when your ass is dragged to The Hague to answer for your Crimes Against Humanity.....

In a Just World....this could happen.

And I hope that on that day there is a baller like Ramush Haradinaj around to jam a shotgun up your ass and blow your fountain pen to kingdom come.

Are you smarter than a Mexican........

My mom teaches a ESL class at The Store on Sundays and Wednesdays. No surprise, her students are all from Mexico, and virtually all female. As I have said before, the class is the cutest thing in the world. Anyone feeling down and depressed about the state of the American Ideal, just come on by. The Statue of Liberty makes guest appearances and stands in the corner by the bar: "Give me your tired, oppressed, etc......huddled masses yearning to be free."

I have been piggy-backing with a few of the fathers of the group who are legal residents, working on their citizenship exam preparation. It has been really instructive and really hard during the Bush Administration teaching about the Separation of Powers and the Bill of Rights when any idiot with limited English skills can read in a bad newspaper like The Herald about the destruction of the above at every moment of the last eight years of our national political lives.

So.....are you ready for a little test yourselves?

Come on......Take the test.

Don't feel bad if you screw up. Our elected officials score about 44%, and the general population not much better at 49%. Our zip code is way ahead of the curve at 72%.

To pass the citizenship test, you need a score something above half, I am pretty sure.

Oh.....and as a member of the Mayflower Society......I object to all the answers on the one question I missed, goddammit.

Thursday, November 20, 2008


This was originally a food blog. I am a chef.....and all that.

Thanksgiving is approaching. A time to give thanks for all we have. A time to guilt-trip relatives into assembling for a poorly prepared, miserable meal of brown things while college football on TV drowns out all meaningful thought and communication.

If you are under 10 and have access to a DirectTV remote......."The Wizard of Oz" is on at 5pm in Grandma's room.......

"I'm melting.........I'm melting......."

In Cachagua we try to keep the under-10's away from the psychedelics....with limited success.

In preparation for Thanksgiving, I have been working on my pedigree....tying in the wild-ass immigrants with the original Mayflower crew. "Speak for yourself, John...." The original American love story with John Alden and Priscilla Mullins....with Miles Standish playing Dick Cheney.....has still not been optioned to Hollywood.

Hmmm......Maybe I will work on that while I am not catering during the Bush Depression.

Anyway.....if you are not a fucking dummy....and are a regular patron of The Cachagua should order our chicken. Not because we are geniuses......we just get good ingredients and follow the rules.

Our chickens come from Fulton Valley. You can do better, but you have to work for it. We brine them, and roast them in the oven with olive oil and butter schmeared on there once in a while.

Add Murray River pink salt.


$10 for a half chicken......

And a pretty girl brings it to you, and cleans up your mess.

We do 80-100 dinners every Monday.....and sell 4 or five orders of chicken. Max.

Fucking dummies.

The beauty of the chicken dish is in the brine.

Our kitchen guru is Harold McGee. Harold is an English professor at Stanford....and the world's leading expert on science and the kitchen.

Here is Harold on brine:

Brining has plenty of advocates, and understandably so. It’s a flexible technique that makes a remarkable difference in the moistness of the meat, especially the breast. All you have to do is dissolve a few tablespoons of salt in a few quarts of water, keep the turkey covered withthe solution for a few days, then let its surface dry out uncovered for a day or two before roasting.

What simple brining does to meat turns out to be complex and pretty cool. The main driving force is osmosis, the natural shifting around of water and substances dissolved in it so as to even out any imbalances in their distribution. Meat contains a lot of water and very little salt. When we first immerse it in salty brine, salt moves from the brine into the meat, and water from the meat into the brine. The meat becomes saltier and drier.

But then the salt begins to modify the meat. The sodium attaches to the long, intertwined muscle proteins and causes the proteins to push apart from one another. This makes room for more water, and salt, and weakens the muscle fibers. The water flow reverses, so that water and more salt move from the brine into the meat.

All this shifting around takes time, especially in a cold refrigerator. In one laboratory study, little meat logs about a half-inch square and an inch long were still gaining weight after three days in the brine.

Brined meats end up gaining 10 percent or more of their original weight in water and salt. Then when they’re cooked to well done, their swollen muscle fibers can lose moisture and still have enough left to seem juicy. And the weakened fiber structure makes them seem tender as well.

The problem when it comes to turkey is that almost all commercial turkeys come pre-injected with a salt solution.

"Moisture Enhanced Meats."

The "moisture" is such that supermarket turkeys can be up to 10% brine. The "moisture" you are being thankful for is basically tap water and salt.

God forbid you should try to make gravy from the leakage from these fuckers. Think Boston Market.....or Dead Sea.

Even at this late date you pull off a great Thanksgiving Whole Foods and order a Diestel turkey. Pay the big bucks, which are not very big bucks.

I would brine the thing. The unstated by Harold McGee good side of brining is the antiseptic aspects. Bugs hate salt.

Finally....Harold points out that the turkey breast maxes out at 145 degrees, and starts to die at 155 degrees. The legs need to be cooked to 165, minimum.

Our secret process to produce gorgeous white and dark meat:

Stuff the neck cavity of your Diestel turkey with any and everything you find laying around: apples, garlic, onions, bread, etc. Think insulation. Put only a few aromatics in the body of the bird. We actually shove smoking hot rocks into the body cavity, but that is Level Two Turkey Roasting.

Brush down the turkey with mass quantities of melted butter. Cover the turkey with a butter soaked Safeway brown bag and put into a pre-heated 500 degree oven. Wait twenty minutes, and turn the oven down to 275 degrees.

At this point we remove the turkey, and bury the breast in layers of Corralitos bacon or pork fat.

Insert your remote digital thermometer deep into the leg joint of your turkey. Set the alarm for 160 degrees.

Start drinking Gruet.

Three hours later switch to local pinot or syrah and carve your turkey.

Don't forget to feel Thankful.

The Free Market......Tastes Great, Less Filling

Banning fast-food advertising to children would reduce child obesity rates by up to 18% in the U.S., according to a new study.

The study by the U.S. National Bureau of Economic Research and funded by the National Institutes of Health determines that ending fast-food advertising on children’s programming would reduce the number of overweight children aged 3 to 11 by 18%, and for adolescents (12- to 18-year-olds) by 14%. Data also revealed a more pronounced effect on males than females.

The N.I.H. does not recommend ending such programming......just points out what the effects would be.

Costs to the U.S. health care system: $14 billion per year. Advertising budget for fast food promotion? $11+ billion dollars a year. Advertising budgets run under 10% of profits in a good business. In a mortar and concrete businesses. In conceptual businesses, think 5% or less. Do the math. $200 billion dollar profits.

Once again, we privatize the profits, and socialize the costs.

I won't even get into the Michael Pollan stuff about how our farm policies are warped to produce mass quantities of cheap if we were freezing to death and starving while fighting off Martians from underground fortresses.

Sherman! Set the WayBack Machine to 1961! Let us see some kids' programming and advertising.

Memo to George Bush: Regulations Are BAD!

The Most Disturbing Thing I Learned Today.....

Gladys Knight is a Mormon.

No word on the Pips.

Stay tuned.

Teamsters are with us....

All he wanted was a goddamned Frosty™.

Glennn Beck, in a Wendy's for a Frosty™ last Saturday night, was accosted as he stood in line by a truck driver with "food in his hair" who called him a "racist bigot."

Here's the story from the mouth of the hypermanic, pop-eyed, chubby-cheeked, arm-flapping, spittle-spraying, race-banging, grenade-launching, cliche-spewing, sex-obsessed, fag-baiting, right-wing cheer-king for violence against diversity:

"It happened to me at Wendy's Saturday night. We are on the bus and we stop to get fuel and I said, I'm going to go in, I'm treating. Everybody wants a Frosty™. I'm going to go get Frosties™. And one of the security guys, said, No, you're not. I said, Yeah, I am. I mean, it's a truck stop. How much trouble am I going to get in in a truck stop? Everybody here you can trust. You're not going in. I went in, but I had to bring the swat team with me and so I'm just, I just want to Frosty™ please, the guy standing next to me, who, by the way, I may point out. Had food in his hair, is a truck driver and he turned around. He looked at me and the recognition was immediate and he said, You racist bigot! And I just said -- I wanted to say, I think you have me mistaken for someone else, but I knew he knew who I was and he just hated me for who I was. You conservatives that have destroyed this country! And the hatred was so deep, it was breath taking. Luckily the swat team was there and I just separated myself from him and he just shouted through other people and there were children in the restaurant and he blamed me for everything, I believe including the Holocaust, and the hatred was palpable. The guy screamed at the restaurant, you better not let me see you in the parking lot because I've got a truck and I'll run your ass over!

Wow. Is this who we've become? Is this who we've become?

Who WE'VE become, Glennn??? Spare us puh-leaze, you glib fake. You've grabbed every headline you could by trying to ignite the racial and ethnic slime of the male knuckle-dragging wing of the wingnut base -- you can't get all self-righteous on us now now...

Slime is hard to light, but here are some of his more notorious attempts:

~~ Beck once speculated that Rep. Dennis Kucinich's wife was under the influence of "some sort of ... date rape drug," one that is "not powerful enough to actually knock you out, but it's powerful enough to, like, make you think that you're not standing next to Dennis Kucinich and making out with him." Maybe, he said,the right drug could be "cyanide," adding: "That would be the only thing that would really dull the senses enough. Even then, your dead body would be like, 'Dennis Kucinich has his tongue in my mouth.' "

~~ "Hey, you know what? There are good Muslims and bad Muslims. We need to be the first ones in the recruitment office lining up to shoot the bad Muslims in the head"

~~ He's called President Jimmy Carter a "waste of skin," Cindy Sheehan a "prostitute."

~~ "When I see a 9/11 victim family on television, or whatever, I'm just like, 'Oh shut up' I'm so sick of them because they're always complaining."

~~ “The only [Katrina victims] we’re seeing on television are the scumbags.”

~~ He commented on a mock ad produced by subscribers to his website depicting a giant refinery that produces "Mexinol," a fuel made from the bodies of illegal Mexican immigrants. Beck read from the ad: "At Evil Conservative Industries, we know four things for certain. The country needs cheap, alternative fuel source. Two: the human body is 18 percent carbon. Three: carbons can be turned into hydrocarbons. Four: we have a buttload of illegal aliens in our country.

Goofy_beck ~~ "I'm thinking about killing Michael Moore, and I'm wondering if I could kill him myself, or if I would need to hire somebody to do it."

~~ To Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN), the first Muslim congressman, Beck said, “I have been nervous about this interview with you because what I feel like saying is, 'Sir, prove to me that you are not working with our enemies.’”

~~ He's advocated nuking Venezuela and the Middle East.

Beck is ending his show on CNN Headline News after being hired by Fox News to host the 5p hour, beginning next spring. Beck signed a multi-year agreement to host a weekday programs well as a weekend show.

Although we defend his right- blah-bitty blah-blah- to say it, but we love that Joe the Truck Driver pitched the hateful little hemorrhoid some feces on a November night, and might possibly intruded on his Frosty™ moment.

Fuck Joe The Plumber

Charles “Karel” Bouley, a weekend talker and fill-in on San Francisco's KGO has been fired.

He announced late Tuesday on his blog:

"And with a two minute phone call and one paragraph letter I have been fired from KGO. I’m told the engineer that made the mistake has been as well."

What was the mistake? A few days before the election, in his home studio while a board operator was supposed to have potted the audio down, but, unfortunately for him, he had not. Heard by thousands of Bay Area listeners were his remarks during an ABC News break about John McCain 's Everyman, Joe the Plumber.

"Fuck god damn Joe the god damn, mother-fucking PLUMBER! I want mother-fucking JOE THE PLUMBER dead."

While not exactly poetry, the expletives were unintended, but KGO fired his ass despite the Supreme Court is still pondering whether to permit such "fleeting expletives "on the airwaves.

After the audio was aired all over cable teevee for a week, the pressure was heavy on the Citadel-owned station still reeling after the Bernie Ward affair. Needless to say, Sean Hannity, and Billo Reilly made much of Karel's flamboyant gayness.

"Weekends are cheap and they were using a cheap engineer for my show," he said.

Karel blogs: "Yes, this is wrong. It is my responsibility but not my fault. I do my show remotely and have no on/off for my microphone. The engineer had two ways of stopping this, and had he not been in the bathroom he may have. Should I have gone off like this in my home studio? No, in a perfect world we realize all microphones are live, even if for 15 years they haven’t been. But as JOE SCARBOROUGH drops the F-bomb and lives, as many other KGO host(s) have and survived on air... one wonders if there’s more."

So what does a fired talk jock do after he's fired spectacularly? He blogs, podcasts, and fills in for other radio host. “A girl’s gotta eat,” he says.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

The fundamentals of the economy are......

A buddy from high is very rare that I can say that since there were only 100 in my class in Chatham, New Jersey a thousand years ago.....teaches business law back East.

He writes:

In my law course in Commercial Law, the final sections are on bankruptcy. So we have been playing with the SEC site, under Filings using the little robotic search engine EDGAR, using KEY topics and full text search, and then read, you too will be able to find the following (which my friend Andy Menon also found):

All stores that informed the Security Exchange of closing plans between October 2008 and January 2009. Some you know but perhaps not as many as there are!

Watch those store money cards and gift cards.. and credit slips!


Circuit City stores... most recent (? how many)

Ann Taylor- 117 stores nationwide are to be shuttered

Lane Bryant,, Fashion Bug ,and Catherine's to close 150 store nationwide

Eddie Bauer to close stores 27 stores and more after January

Cache will close all stores

Talbots closing down all stores

J. Jill closing all stores

GAP closing 85 stores

Footlocker closing 140 stores more to close after January

Wickes Furniture closing down

Levitz closing down remaining stores

Bombay closing remaining stores

Zales closing down 82 stores and 105 after January.

Whitehall closing all stores

Piercing Pagoda closing all stores

Disney closing 98 stores and will close more after January.

Home Depot closing 15 stores 1 in NJ (New Brunswick)

Macys to close 9 stores after January

Linens and Things closing all stores

Movie Galley Closing all stores

Pacific Sunware closing stores

Pep Boys Closing 33 stores

Sprint/ Nextel closing 133 stores

JC Penney closing a number of stores after January

Ethan Allen closing down 12 stores.

Wilson Leather closing down all stores

Sharper Image closing down all stores

K B Toys closing 356 stores

Loews to close down some stores

Dillard's to close some stores.

And we are bailing out BANKS because George Bush believes in the fundamental wisdom of the free market?

Where did I put my glass of champagne? It can't be empty already........

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Morning Update......

Yorba Linda called Triangle Fire. It went nuts overnight, luckily spreading mostly into the Chino Hills State Park....but linking up with the Brea fire as feared.

For those of us in the Central Coast....thank your lucky stars that we don't have Santa Ana winds.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

So Cal Fires.....

I am a recovering Southern California brat....Anaheim, before Disneyland even.

Our news coverage is weak about the fires, so here are some MODUS snaps for those interested, and stuck on dial-up. Here is a live fire blog....compliments of Kos.

And here is an overview for folks who have no clue from Corona or Sylmar. Disneyland is in Anaheim. Six Flags is in Santa Clarita.

The Sayre fire in Sylmar has destroyed more than 600 homes. Many of these are mobile homes. Interesting that I have only heard about Montecito and Corona and the million dollar homes being destroyed.

In the snap, the big freeway is the 5. You can see it winding over the Grapevine in the distance as a yellow line.

The Corona/Yorba Linda fire has taken 200 homes and apartments....and the fire officials fear that it will join the Brea fire. The Riverside Freeway, the various toll roads and a big mess of other roads are all closed. The winds were fierce enough that embers blew two hills worth and ignited homes miles from the active fire front. A furniture store with a giant parking lot and good brush clearance also burned.

Mom is mad.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Proposition H8

Final word on the democratic process.......

A group of two wolves and a sheep don't' get to vote on what's for dinner.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Sarah Palin and The Rape Kits......

David Rees had a video awhile back entitled "Sarah Palin and The Rape Kits"

This started with the discovery that Bible Spice had helped balance the Wasilla City budget by charging rape victims $500 for the cost of the rape kit used in their own investigations.

David's commentary was:

In this week's GYWO, no means no, unless you have 500 bucks to sink into your own rape investigation. When the guys start looking into this whole rape kit situation, lots of questions come to light. Most pressing among them being, just how into rape are McCain and Palin anyway? How much money should your average rape victim keep in checking? And is Wasilla really the premier destination for globe-trotting rapists?

Well, Bible Spice is not alone in her skepticism of rape victims. Rape kits are also billed to serving military women.....who are raped by fellow soldiers at double the rate of civilians. The prosecution rate of those reported rapes (80% go unreported......) is 8%. Civilian rates are 40%.

Luckily, there is an amendment fixing this situation in the military due to take place in December. Wasilla?

Anyway, if you think that "Sarah Palin and The Rape Kits" sounds like a punk band?

Right you are.

Here is their new release, "Lipstick on a Pig".

(Notice that "Get Your War On" is sponsored on This refers to one of my favorite rabbi jokes:

A cartoon of an Orthodox rabbi, talking into a cellphone: "Don't worry. Everything is fine. Remember....I am here for you 23-6!")

Keep your powder dry......

I apologize for this annoying Times-Roman script. Blogger is punishing me for something obscure.

Anyway....Obama is in. Gun sales are up. A nutball Congressman from Georgia is suggesting that Obama has a Brownshirt squad ready to reap hell on......Rednecks?

Last night I made a joke about Obama gun sales to a nice man from Texas dining at The Store with my Republican friend, Gary. Gary is bulletproof.....and one of the few Republicans I know who are not irony-challenged. I think his wife makes him take an Internet Irony Course while he works out on his StairMaster.

Anyway, the Texas guy is not some dumbass redneck....not that I have anything against dumbass rednecks. Texas guy owns a third or fourth house on Scenic in Carmel at Ninth Street on Carmel Beach.

When I made my "Obama Wins, Buy Guns!" joke....he nodded sagely.

"Well, maybe not guns right away. But I hear they are going clamp down on ammo sales. Better stock up."

Okay.....Now a word from "Get Your War On" and David Rees:

Get the latest news satire and funny videos at

Our Far Flung Correspondents......

A note from a most-of-the-time Cachaguan who is also an as-little-time-as-possible Ohioan....Joyous. Used completely without permission after I found myself getting a little teary after reading it. That is what an entire day of billing will do for you.

Dear Mike,
Just read your blog. Wish I could have been there to celebrate Juan's first vote with Pat, Amanda and all the Cachagua gang at the voting place.
Meanwhile, your displaced Cachagua friend Joyce here, was an Ohio Voter Rights Official, a thing designated by our state attorney general. There were lots of us, not just me. I had five precincts in a gym in Willowick, in a Catholic Church that had an insert in their bulletin about how to vote. I am a Pro-Choice/Pro-Life Catholic. Think about it....why be so narrow. ALL of life is sacred, not just the fetuses. Also sacred are Juan, Dave who rocks on the store porch, Liz, Pauline and Peyton, our brothers and sisters of color and single moms. Also women who have had to exercise their right to choose.
I began the day at the predawn hour of 5:45am where I found cars parked and waiting for the polls to open at 6:30am. Every manner of human came through the door. The poor poll workers could not leave. I went home for lunch. The guy in charge of changing the tapes on the machines and "repairing" the machines was a Republican rover named Matt. Whenever he was "working" on a machine, I pulled up a chair and smiled. He snarled at me "Who are you working for? Who is paying you?" I sweetly replied, "The state attorney general". (I thought that sounded mighty grand) I and my cohort stayed til the last seal was in place on the machines and the ballot boxes. We phoned in the results to the Democratic headquarters so there would be no slip twixt the cup and the lip taking the results to city hall. Oddly enough, Matt's precinct was overwhelmingly for McCain while the other four were for Obama. Hmmmm. Glad it wasn't worse.
My favorite moments of the day were the African-American families who came in dressed in their best, with scrubbed children, for this historic moment. I wanted to hug them all but couldn't so I just sent them loving looks that I hope telegraphed well into their hearts.
At the end of the long day, I came home to David and our dog Nora. We curled up on the sofa together and cried tears of joy through Obama's acceptance speech.
God bless America. We have to do every little thing we can, from sea to shining sea. We do have the audacity to hope.
See you in January. Love, Joyous

8 is Enough......

Got six minutes? Got a hanky?

Brief excerpt:

Finally tonight as promised, a Special Comment on the passage, last week, of Proposition Eight in California, which rescinded the right of same-sex couples to marry, and tilted the balance on this issue, from coast to coast.

Some parameters, as preface. This isn't about yelling, and this isn't about politics, and this isn't really just about Prop-8. And I don't have a personal investment in this: I'm not gay, I had to strain to think of one member of even my very extended family who is, I have no personal stories of close friends or colleagues fighting the prejudice that still pervades their lives.

And yet to me this vote is horrible. Horrible. Because this isn't about yelling, and this isn't about politics. This is about the human heart, and if that sounds corny, so be it. ...

With your knowledge that life, with endless vigor, seems to tilt the playing field on which we all live, in favor of unhappiness and hate... this is what your heart tells you to do? You want to sanctify marriage? You want to honor your God and the universal love you believe he represents? Then Spread happiness—this tiny, symbolic, semantical grain of happiness—share it with all those who seek it. Quote me anything from your religious leader or book of choice telling you to stand against this. And then tell me how you can believe both that statement and another statement, another one which reads only "do unto others as you would have them do unto you."

You are asked now, by your country, and perhaps by your creator, to stand on one side or another. You are asked now to stand, not on a question of politics, not on a question of religion, not on a question of gay or straight. You are asked now to stand, on a question of love. All you need do is stand, and let the tiny ember of love meet its own fate.

You don't have to help it, you don't have it applaud it, you don't have to fight for it. Just don't put it out. Just don't extinguish it. Because while it may at first look like that love is between two people you don't know and you don't understand and maybe you don't even want to know. It is, in fact, the ember of your love, for your fellow person just because this is the only world we have. And the other guy counts, too.

This is the second time in ten days I find myself concluding by turning to, of all things, the closing plea for mercy by Clarence Darrow in a murder trial.

But what he said, fits what is really at the heart of this:

"I was reading last night of the aspiration of the old Persian poet, Omar-Khayyam," he told the judge. It appealed to me as the highest that I can vision. I wish it was in my heart, and I wish it was in the hearts of all: So I be written in the Book of Love; I do not care about that Book above. Erase my name, or write it as you will, So I be written in the Book of Love."

Sunday, November 09, 2008


As I walk through a dead as dirt Carmel on a Thursday....and a dead as dirt Carmel Crossroads on a Saturday.....I am thinking about numbers.

The poor bastard with the upstairs restaurant two blocks off Ocean with the insane rent. Competely empty. Fucked.

The nice lady with the obscure antique store two blocks off Ocean with the insane rent. Completely fucked.

The really nice guy with two cute dogs who owns the obscure Car Memorabilia Store a half block into the maze of The Crossroads with the insane rent. Completely fucked.

Multiply by all the tiny little shops selling random stuff.....paying insane rent.

The $750,000 tax hike for the richest of the rich.....I don't know......looks like it might come out of sales of all these places. Oh, and the sales girls.....and their landlords......and the places they shop.

Not that the $750,000 is more than peanuts at the level of income we are talking about. The problem is that if people feel poorer, they act poorer. gives people an excuse not to spend.

Remember the Great Drought of 1976-78? When restaurants stopped giving everyone water for free? Have you seen a glass of water since, this side of Denny's?

We took the excuse of saving water, and have been running with it for more than thirty years.

The last time this kind of crunch went down, in a much smaller manner, we had clients try to hire our staff to serve Costco salmon wrapped in aluminum foil doused with Costco Lawry's Seasoned Salt.....with a side of Costco angel hair pasta drenched in Costco mayo. I kid you not. It was like a pretend Depression party, and all the Pebble Beach folks went with it.

Briefly, that time. Keep your fingers crossed.

Mine are definitely crossed after I open the envelope from the client who owes us $12,000 going back eighteen months and find a check for $1,000. "Sorry I let this get away from me. Talk to you soon." And me remembering two of the parties where all the guests drove up to the guy's pretend winery in $100,000 motorcycles. La ti dah. Hey, about dropping off one of the bikes until you get square?

Yeah, right. We are just the little people. more number: oil is selling for about $60 a barrel. I won't go into the whole Wendy/Phil Gramm thing again, don't worry.

Governor Palin needs oil to be above $74 to balance her famous "conservative" budget, since 84% of the state's revenue comes from.....ummm.....taxes......on oil companies.

Welcome to reality, Bible Spice.

One final number: California is short some $10 billion dollars on this year's budget. The Republicans (the Grover Norquist Crazy Republican crew, anyway) refuse to raise any taxes whatsoever....... so Arnold is gutting police, education, welfare, etc to try to balance the budget. He is talking about raising sales tax a point and a half.....which is good Republican revenge on all those poor and working class Obama folk since sales tax takes a much bigger bite of poor wages than rich incomes.

The $10 billion dollar number?

That is the amount we spend in Iraq.....every month.

Anyone remember Iraq?

Friday, November 07, 2008



JFK's Inaugural Speech.....written by Ted Sorensen and JFK.

"So let us begin anew—remembering on both sides that civility is not a sign of weakness, and sincerity is always subject to proof. Let us never negotiate out of fear. But let us never fear to negotiate."

"And if a beachhead of cooperation may push back the jungle of suspicion, let both sides join in creating a new endeavor, not a new balance of power, but a new world of law, where the strong are just and the weak secure and the peace preserved.19
All this will not be finished in the first 100 days. Nor will it be finished in the first 1,000 days, nor in the life of this Administration, nor even perhaps in our lifetime on this planet. But let us begin."

Imagine that!

Still with me?

Vice President Johnson, Mr. Speaker, Mr. Chief Justice, President Eisenhower, Vice President Nixon, President Truman, reverend clergy, fellow citizens, we observe today not a victory of party, but a celebration of freedom—symbolizing an end, as well as a beginning—signifying renewal, as well as change. For I have sworn before you and Almighty God the same solemn oath our forebears prescribed nearly a century and three quarters ago. 1
The world is very different now. For man holds in his mortal hands the power to abolish all forms of human poverty and all forms of human life. And yet the same revolutionary beliefs for which our forebears fought are still at issue around the globe—the belief that the rights of man come not from the generosity of the state, but from the hand of God.2
We dare not forget today that we are the heirs of that first revolution. Let the word go forth from this time and place, to friend and foe alike, that the torch has been passed to a new generation of Americans—born in this century, tempered by war, disciplined by a hard and bitter peace, proud of our ancient heritage—and unwilling to witness or permit the slow undoing of those human rights to which this Nation has always been committed, and to which we are committed today at home and around the world.3
Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, in order to assure the survival and the success of liberty.4
This much we pledge—and more.5
To those old allies whose cultural and spiritual origins we share, we pledge the loyalty of faithful friends. United, there is little we cannot do in a host of cooperative ventures. Divided, there is little we can do—for we dare not meet a powerful challenge at odds and split asunder.6
To those new States whom we welcome to the ranks of the free, we pledge our word that one form of colonial control shall not have passed away merely to be replaced by a far more iron tyranny. We shall not always expect to find them supporting our view. But we shall always hope to find them strongly supporting their own freedom—and to remember that, in the past, those who foolishly sought power by riding the back of the tiger ended up inside.7
To those peoples in the huts and villages across the globe struggling to break the bonds of mass misery, we pledge our best efforts to help them help themselves, for whatever period is required—not because the Communists may be doing it, not because we seek their votes, but because it is right. If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich.8
To our sister republics south of our border, we offer a special pledge—to convert our good words into good deeds—in a new alliance for progress—to assist free men and free governments in casting off the chains of poverty. But this peaceful revolution of hope cannot become the prey of hostile powers. Let all our neighbors know that we shall join with them to oppose aggression or subversion anywhere in the Americas. And let every other power know that this Hemisphere intends to remain the master of its own house.9
To that world assembly of sovereign states, the United Nations, our last best hope in an age where the instruments of war have far outpaced the instruments of peace, we renew our pledge of support—to prevent it from becoming merely a forum for invective—to strengthen its shield of the new and the weak—and to enlarge the area in which its writ may run.10
Finally, to those nations who would make themselves our adversary, we offer not a pledge but a request: that both sides begin anew the quest for peace, before the dark powers of destruction unleashed by science engulf all humanity in planned or accidental self-destruction.11
We dare not tempt them with weakness. For only when our arms are sufficient beyond doubt can we be certain beyond doubt that they will never be employed.12
But neither can two great and powerful groups of nations take comfort from our present course—both sides overburdened by the cost of modern weapons, both rightly alarmed by the steady spread of the deadly atom, yet both racing to alter that uncertain balance of terror that stays the hand of mankind's final war.13
So let us begin anew—remembering on both sides that civility is not a sign of weakness, and sincerity is always subject to proof. Let us never negotiate out of fear. But let us never fear to negotiate.14
Let both sides explore what problems unite us instead of belaboring those problems which divide us.15
Let both sides, for the first time, formulate serious and precise proposals for the inspection and control of arms—and bring the absolute power to destroy other nations under the absolute control of all nations.16
Let both sides seek to invoke the wonders of science instead of its terrors. Together let us explore the stars, conquer the deserts, eradicate disease, tap the ocean depths, and encourage the arts and commerce.17
Let both sides unite to heed in all corners of the earth the command of Isaiah—to "undo the heavy burdens ... and to let the oppressed go free."18
And if a beachhead of cooperation may push back the jungle of suspicion, let both sides join in creating a new endeavor, not a new balance of power, but a new world of law, where the strong are just and the weak secure and the peace preserved.19
All this will not be finished in the first 100 days. Nor will it be finished in the first 1,000 days, nor in the life of this Administration, nor even perhaps in our lifetime on this planet. But let us begin.20
In your hands, my fellow citizens, more than in mine, will rest the final success or failure of our course. Since this country was founded, each generation of Americans has been summoned to give testimony to its national loyalty. The graves of young Americans who answered the call to service surround the globe.21
Now the trumpet summons us again—not as a call to bear arms, though arms we need; not as a call to battle, though embattled we are—but a call to bear the burden of a long twilight struggle, year in and year out, "rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation"—a struggle against the common enemies of man: tyranny, poverty, disease, and war itself.22
Can we forge against these enemies a grand and global alliance, North and South, East and West, that can assure a more fruitful life for all mankind? Will you join in that historic effort?23
In the long history of the world, only a few generations have been granted the role of defending freedom in its hour of maximum danger. I do not shrink from this responsibility—I welcome it. I do not believe that any of us would exchange places with any other people or any other generation. The energy, the faith, the devotion which we bring to this endeavor will light our country and all who serve it—and the glow from that fire can truly light the world.24
And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you—ask what you can do for your country.25
My fellow citizens of the world: ask not what America will do for you, but what together we can do for the freedom of man.26
Finally, whether you are citizens of America or citizens of the world, ask of us the same high standards of strength and sacrifice which we ask of you. With a good conscience our only sure reward, with history the final judge of our deeds, let us go forth to lead the land we love, asking His blessing and His help, but knowing that here on earth God's work must truly be our own.27


In my crypto-native Nevadan mode.......

Hey, I have a signed foto from Paul Laxalt calling me a "True Nevadan" is over Peyton and Pauline's table at The Store......

For you who are not ancient.....Paul Laxalt was governor of Nevada and a prominent member of Ronald Reagan's Kitchen Cabinet.

Paul Laxalt's sister-in-law was my French teacher in the 9th grade in Reno.....who inspired me to learn French, and some Basque, and seek out other continents in search of knowledge and inspiration.


If not for her, I could still be working in a bank in Nevada.....and I would be a much better shot......

I supported Jill Derby in her run for Congress in my old state. She failed, but sent me a nice letter. In it she mentioned the fact that she heard Ted Sorensen, the old JFK speechwriter, speaking one of his own speeches a few years ago. She immediately got off her North Nevada rancher's butt and started ruining her life and running for Congress. Let's all pretend Jill was a simple rancher, and not head of the Nevada University Board of Regents. She probably had Mme. Laxalt as well.

I thought I would share.

For you ADD folks like is the nice conclusion, from the ancient Hebrew:

"The day is short, and the work is great, and the laborers are sluggish, but the reward is much, and the Master is urgent."

A Time to Weep
2004 Commencement Address at the New School University
by Theodore Sorensen, May 21, 2004

This is not a speech. Two weeks ago I set aside the speech I prepared. This is a cry from the heart, a lamentation for the loss of this country's goodness and therefore its greatness.

Future historians studying the decline and fall of America will mark this as the time the tide began to turn - toward a mean-spirited mediocrity in place of a noble beacon.

For me the final blow was American guards laughing over the naked, helpless bodies of abused prisoners in Iraq. "There is a time to laugh," the Bible tells us, "and a time to weep." Today I weep for the country I love, the country I proudly served, the country to which my four grandparents sailed over a century ago with hopes for a new land of peace and freedom. I cannot remain silent when that country is in the deepest trouble of my lifetime.

I am not talking only about the prison abuse scandal, that stench will someday subside. Nor am I referring only to the Iraq war - that too will pass - nor to any one political leader or party. This is no time for politics as usual, in which no one responsible admits responsibility, no one genuinely apologizes, no one resigns and everyone else is blamed.

The damage done to this country by its own misconduct in the last few months and years, to its very heart and soul, is far greater and longer lasting than any damage that any terrorist could possibly inflict upon us.

The stain on our credibility, our reputation for decency and integrity, will not quickly wash away.

Last week, a family friend of an accused American guard in Iraq recited the atrocities inflicted by our enemies on Americans, and asked: "Must we be held to a different standard?" My answer is YES. Not only because others expect it. WE must hold ourselves to a different standard. Not only because God demands it, but because it serves our security.

Our greatest strength has long been not merely our military might but our moral authority. Our surest protection against assault from abroad has been not all our guards, gates and guns or even our two oceans, but our essential goodness as a people. Our richest asset has been not our material wealth but our values.

We were world leaders once - helping found the United Nations, the Marshall Plan, NATO, and programs like Food for Peace, international human rights and international environmental standards. The world admired not only the bravery of our Marine Corps but also the idealism of our Peace Corps.

Our word was as good as our gold. At the start of the Cuban Missile Crisis, former Secretary of State Dean Acheson, President Kennedy's special envoy to brief French President de Gaulle, offered to document our case by having the actual pictures of Soviet nuclear missiles in Cuba brought in. "No," shrugged the usually difficult de Gaulle: "The word of the President of the United States is good enough for me."

Eight months later, President Kennedy could say at American University: "The world knows that America will never start a war. This generation of Americans has had enough of war and hate ... we want to build a world of peace where the weak are secure and the strong are just."

Our founding fathers believed this country could be a beacon of light to the world, a model of democratic and humanitarian progress. We were. We prevailed in the Cold War because we inspired millions struggling for freedom in far corners of the Soviet empire. I have been in countries where children and avenues were named for Lincoln, Jefferson, Franklin Roosevelt and John F. Kennedy. We were respected, not reviled, because we respected man's aspirations for peace and justice. This was the country to which foreign leaders sent not only their goods to be sold but their sons and daughters to be educated. In the 1930's, when Jewish and other scholars were driven out of Europe, their preferred destination - even for those on the far left - was not the Communist citadel in Moscow but the New School here in New York.

What has happened to our country? We have been in wars before, without resorting to sexual humiliation as torture, without blocking the Red Cross, without insulting and deceiving our allies and the U.N., without betraying our traditional values, without imitating our adversaries, without blackening our name around the world.

Last year when asked on short notice to speak to a European audience, and inquiring what topic I should address, the Chairman said: "Tell us about the good America, the America when Kennedy was in the White House." "It is still a good America," I replied. "The American people still believe in peace, human rights and justice; they are still a generous, fair-minded, open-minded people."

Today some political figures argue that merely to report, much less to protest, the crimes against humanity committed by a few of our own inadequately trained forces in the fog of war, is to aid the enemy or excuse its atrocities. But Americans know that such self-censorship does not enhance our security. Attempts to justify or defend our illegal acts as nothing more than pranks or no worse than the crimes of our enemies, only further muddies our moral image. 30 years ago, America's war in Vietnam became a hopeless military quagmire; today our war in Iraq has become a senseless moral swamp.

No military victory can endure unless the victor occupies the high moral ground. Surely America, the land of the free, could not lose the high moral ground invading Iraq, a country ruled by terror, torture and tyranny - but we did.

Instead of isolating Saddam Hussein - politically, economically, diplomatically, much as we succeeded in isolating Khadafy, Marcos, Mobutu and a host of other dictators over the years, we have isolated ourselves. We are increasingly alone in a dangerous world in which millions who once respected us now hate us.

Not only Muslims. Every international survey shows our global standing at an all-time low. Even our transatlantic alliance has not yet recovered from its worst crisis in history. Our friends in Western Europe were willing to accept Uncle Sam as class president, but not as class bully, once he forgot JFK's advice that "Civility is not a sign of weakness."

All this is rationalized as part of the war on terror. But abusing prisoners in Iraq, denying detainees their legal rights in Guantanamo, even American citizens, misleading the world at large about Saddam's ready stockpiles of mass destruction and involvement with al Qaeda at 9/11, did not advance by one millimeter our efforts to end the threat of another terrorist attack upon us. On the contrary, our conduct invites and incites new attacks and new recruits to attack us.

The decline in our reputation adds to the decline in our security. We keep losing old friends and making new enemies - not a formula for success. We have not yet rounded up Osama bin Laden or most of the al Qaeda and Taliban leaders or the anthrax mailer. "The world is large," wrote John Boyle O'Reilly, in one of President Kennedy's favorite poems, "when its weary leagues two loving hearts divide, but the world is small when your enemy is loose on the other side." Today our enemies are still loose on the other side of the world, and we are still vulnerable to attack.

True, we have not lost either war we chose or lost too much of our wealth. But we have lost something worse - our good name for truth and justice. To paraphrase Shakespeare: "He who steals our nation's purse, steals trash. T'was ours, tis his, and has been slave to thousands. But he that filches our good name ... makes us poor indeed."

No American wants us to lose a war. Among our enemies are those who, if they could, would fundamentally change our way of life, restricting our freedom of religion by exalting one faith over others, ignoring international law and the opinions of mankind; and trampling on the rights of those who are different, deprived or disliked. To the extent that our nation voluntarily trods those same paths in the name of security, the terrorists win and we are the losers.

We are no longer the world's leaders on matters of international law and peace. After we stopped listening to others, they stopped listening to us. A nation without credibility and moral authority cannot lead, because no one will follow.

Paradoxically, the charges against us in the court of world opinion are contradictory. We are deemed by many to be dangerously aggressive, a threat to world peace. You may regard that as ridiculously unwarranted, no matter how often international surveys show that attitude to be spreading. But remember the old axiom: "No matter how good you feel, if four friends tell you you're drunk, you better lie down."

Yet we are also charged not so much with intervention as indifference - indifference toward the suffering of millions of our fellow inhabitants of this planet who do not enjoy the freedom, the opportunity, the health and wealth and security that we enjoy; indifference to the countless deaths of children and other civilians in unnecessary wars, countless because we usually do not bother to count them; indifference to the centuries of humiliation endured previously in silence by the Arab and Islamic worlds.

The good news, to relieve all this gloom, is that a democracy is inherently self-correcting. Here, the people are sovereign. Inept political leaders can be replaced. Foolish policies can be changed. Disastrous mistakes can be reversed.

When, in 1941, the Japanese Air Force was able to inflict widespread death and destruction on our naval and air forces in Hawaii because they were not on alert, those military officials most responsible for ignoring advance intelligence were summarily dismissed.

When, in the late 1940's, we faced a global Cold War against another system of ideological fanatics certain that their authoritarian values would eventually rule the world, we prevailed in time. We prevailed because we exercised patience as well as vigilance, self-restraint as well as self-defense, and reached out to moderates and modernists, to democrats and dissidents, within that closed system. We can do that again. We can reach out to moderates and modernists in Islam, proud of its long traditions of dialogue, learning, charity and peace.

Some among us scoff that the war on Jihadist terror is a war between civilization and chaos. But they forget that there were Islamic universities and observatories long before we had railroads.

So do not despair. In this country, the people are sovereign. If we can but tear the blindfold of self-deception from our eyes and loosen the gag of self-denial from our voices, we can restore our country to greatness. In particular, you - the Class of 2004 - have the wisdom and energy to do it. Start soon.

In the words of the ancient Hebrews:

"The day is short, and the work is great, and the laborers are sluggish, but the reward is much, and the Master is urgent."

*Theodore Sorensen was special counsel to President Kennedy and a member of the Executive Committee of the National Security Council (ExComm) that met during the Cuban Missile Crisis

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Real Americans.....

I know Real Americans don't give a crap about what those faggots in the rest of the world think.......

Here is a snap from my adopted homeland.......

Our Cachagua Fire dozer crew can appreciate the amount of work involved in a gesture to people 6,000 kilometers away.

I pass the baton to Callie, Gerrit, Deano, Gerry, et al.

The Amazing Day......

Just now some random pundit, discussing future political appointments, used the term "President Obama."

President Obama.

Not President-Elect Obama, or Senator Obama, or Presidential Candidate Obama.....

President Obama.


It still isn't sinking in.

I have always thought that George Bush/John McCain's perverse hold on poor working people was some bizarre version of Swedish Hostage Syndrome. How else could the Republicans continually convince working people to vote for a group that systematically stripped away their jobs and shipped them overseas, destroyed their educational opportunities, ignored their decaying infrastructure, and cursed them with vehicles too wasteful and expensive to drive to the jobs they no longer had, or to the welfare office that no longer gave them benefits.

I didn't realize how pervasive the Swedish Hostage Syndrome was. I was even part of was my family.

My oldest son and my middle son voted in their first presidential election in 2000......and it was stolen. Their second vote was 2004. Enough said. My youngest had only the 2004 experience to guide him.

All of them had been raised to expect that democracy is sacred, and we live in a government of the people, by the people, blah, blah, blah.

All they have experienced since high school is a government of the corrupt, by the corrupt, for the corrupt. Lies are truth. Truth is a lie. Fact is fiction. Fictions are fact. Science is religion. Religion is science.

Not to mention the utter bankruptcy of our society. I am not talking about the recent economic crash. This is old news if you graduated from Carmel High in 1999. It has been made very clear to you for years now that if you don't have a trust will never own your own house. Better be nice to Pops.....because you will be living in his house for decades. You will be lucky to afford your own rent.

I won't go into the whole "Yes, We Can" thing, or the "Audacity of Hope" thing. For our young people this was a dream.....The idea that normal people could have some say in what goes on in their lives? A vague promise, probably another switch-and-bait. American Idol is popular for reasons best left unexamined.

Anyway.....Tuesday morning dawned really early. Amanda had committed to shepherding Juan of our Project People....through the voting process.

Juan is a referral from Susan of the three or four smartest and most intuitive people I have ever met. Juan is a recovering gang guy who once died on the operating table behind an ice overdose....and bailed on school, but is still a math and physics genius. He met Susan in her GED class, which he aced while barely awake. He turned 18 in mid September....and Amanda registered him to vote on the very last hour of the very last day. Trying to convince him that his vote matters, that he matters, that his participation matters. A tough sell.

Juan lives in Castroville....and we drive him back and forth to work in Cachagua for reasons way to complicated for this post. Suffice it to say that it ain't about Jesus. Getting up on your only morning off and driving an hour and a half each way to save a kid gets to be like work real fast. Empathy and charity may be their own reward.....but it ain't in this lifetime. Trust me.

Juan's mom lives in East Salinas very close to Alisal High School. His ID is at mom's, so when he registered to vote...that is where he wound up.

Early on Tuesday, we looked up Juan's polling place and all rallied to the cause. Amanda, Juan, Grandpuppy and I all trundled down to our polling place so we could show the kid how it works. His previous experiences with authority had always involved him being wrong, criminal and stupid....except for Susan there was some ground to cover.

When we arrived at the CDF station that is our polling place, everyone in the joint was someone who had been at The Store the night before: Pat the musician, Richard Crane, Leslie Drew, etc. Everyone knew Juan and gave him a big welcome. "First time voter! Right On!"

The booths were full, so Amanda and Juan sat on the couch to fill out her ballot.

We had gone over all the issues a million times, and hashed them all out while chopping fennel and shucking oysters: Yes on 2, No on 4, No on 7,8,10......Still Amanda fucked up her ballot, which was a good lesson. Juan helped her turn it big deal..... and she did it right. There were even cookies.

Amanda had never been in East Salinas. The polling place was a Victory Mission....side entrance, on a side street off Williams Road opposite Alisal High. Forget Sarajevo, soccer folks have taken bullets at Alisal High for wrong decisions in a high school game. Indian Country.

As they turned into the side street of the polling place they passed a god-forsaken trailer park that makes Jensen Camp seem like Pebble Beach. Right on the corner of the side street and Williams was a particularly vulnerable trailer........buffeted by the four lane traffic from Williams and the economic winds from hell.

Amanda: "Ohmigod. Those poor people. I feel sorry for whoever lives in that corner trailer. Life must be hell."

Juan: "That is my grandma's place."

At the polling place, the people were possibly even more gracious, kind and supportive than in Cachagua. There were old white ladies who had been there for decades, some Latina moms and grannies, and a super-smart black lady. They walked Juan through the process while Amanda watched.

Juan voted.....and came out of the process beaming......and literally floating off the ground.

Hope. Connection. Power.

Well, maybe.......

We called a Victory/Seppuku Party at The Store to monitor events with a supportive group. As usual I was working my ass off on details when I got a call from Brendan at about 4:30 pm.

"Dad......they are doing it again. They are saying that the polls were wrong and the early results are all McCain....and they are talking about President McCain!"

Awww....fuck. I felt that same old leaden pull of disappointment and delusion that I have been experiencing for eight years....ever since the monumental hangover in Italy with Carolynn that caused the Bush Presidency.

Multiplied by a thousand by the fear and despair in Brendan's voice.

I was too busy to check reality on dial-up or CNN at The Store. Instead I snarled and slashed at everyone that I came in contact with....

Juan called......he had heard the same reports as Brendan. Multiply the guilt and helplessness by another thousand. Did I lie to them? Did I give them false hope?

I did the task-oriented thing....and plunged ahead. Mesquite grilled the tri-tip. Made the pizza dough and showed Borja how to make world class pies. Fixed the satellite and the projector, chilled the champagne.....and tried not to weep with despair.

Brendan arrived after a day of digging ditches. We just stared at each other......

Later that night there were lots of reasons people were weeping......for different reasons.

I was thinking of Brendan......but mostly about Juan.

The Audacity of Hope, indeed.

Lame Duck....

I apologize if I go over the same ground again and senile Uncle Ralphie talking up that great 14th hole he once had at Pebble.....

The worst day of work I ever had:

As an apprentice at a French auberge in the countryside, one of my jobs was butcher boy......on duck day, we rounded up all the ducks....the yearlings......from the nice decorative pond by the side of the farmhouse.....We lined them up and arranged the slaughter: a clothesline to string them up and pass them on to two cauldrons of water to properly remove the feathers and down. Two immersions are necessary at two different temperatures

The clothesline was the gibbet......the ducks lined up........the technique was to pick up the duck and quickly stab up through the throat to back of the brain with a short knife. Supposedly there was some nerve situation that assisted in feather removal, plus the bleeding out, with a good knife motion.......the duck, still alive for all intents and purposes, was then hooked onto the clothes line and sent along to the two pots. A quick dip.....the water was around 140 degrees as I remember.......scalding hot....and mad pulling and ripping at feathers....stinking lanolin, scalding water down the gloves, curses you cannot imagine.......then the second pot......more of the same.......then the naked duck was hung on the final rack.

Meanwhile, all his buddies were hanging out watching a polite line.........Seen ''The Pianist"?

As they moved forward, some of the duck buddies would start to limp and drag one if to say: " Bad meal....don't take me"......

The Chef's response: Pas de pitié pour canards boiteux...........

No pity for lame ducks......

Needless to say, this phrase often pops up in the day-to-day running of a business involving French people......

I must admit.....that despite the huge penalties involved should I have been discovered.........I contrived a way to sneak some of the limping yearlings either over the fence into the the hayfield, or back with the breeders by the pond.......So, it worked on me.......if not on the French........Guilty of falling for a canard........Maybe one of my ducks was the Spielmann of the duck world.......

Meanwhile.....if you felt the slightest inclination to feel sorry for George Bush and the final collapse of his fucked and failed shit-kicker empire......

Don't. one of his lame duck appointments....he appointed Lee Greenwood to the National Council of the Arts. This was the freaky looking whack-job, bald-headed speed freak in the American flag suit that sang the National Anthem to Sarah Palin every day during her eight week run as Poca-haunt-us.

National Council of the Arts.

Lee Greenwood.

The best part? The appointment is for six years.....ensuring the presence of a dumbass redneck fuckward on the Arts Council all the way through Obama's first term.


Fuck a duck......and die a cripple.

With all due respect for the Americans with Disabilities Act, this is Cockney rhyming slang.....

Next up, Thomas Kinkade? (if you forget his name just do a google search for "crap art in America").

All these people all need to be stuffed in a goddam bottle and floated out on the Japanese current.....


We can.........

Pas de pitie pour canards boiteux.