Putting Nancy Pelosi on Notice RE: Healthcare

April 30, 2009

By Karen

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi outdid herself for smug ignorance at a recent Christian Science Monitor event, infuriating supporters of single-payer universal healthcare. She said…

“As our members came back from their recess, a great deal of what they heard out there was public options, public options, public options, public options. In our caucus, over and over again, we hear single payer, single payer, single payer. Well, it’s not going to be a single payer. … We had an opportunity for that awhile back, and it was not realized. And that’s not what it’s going to be. So we had to take people from a place that they see universal, affordable, quality health care available best in single payer and say this can be achieved in other ways.”

Pelosi can ignore the will of the people because she’s already got what we want — government-sponsored healthcare. Yeah, WE pay for it so she can sit in Washington and help her insurance buds screw us.

Private health insurance is based on making a profit from premiums by providing little or nothing in return. Denying claims and rescinding policies are used as employee incentives for personal bonuses and to boost the bottom line.

Because lives are on the line, it’s morally indefensible. Yet these are “the other ways” Pelosi coyly refers to.

Why is she so keen to protect health insurers? Because they’re generous campaign contributors — bribing politicians with OUR health insurance premiums. Eliminating them would mean hundreds of billions instantly freed from bureaucratic waste and political corruption for medical care.

Any politician who refuses to consider the single-payer option is really saying,

“Your healthcare expenditures should continue to be wasted or end up in my campaign coffers. To hell with you and your family’s medical needs.”

Two bills for universal single-payer care, HR.676 and S.703, now sit in the House and Senate. If one of them, or something similar, doesn’t pass, then we need to wipe Washington clean in the next election of every politician who puts insurance company profits above constituents’ health.


Simple Solution to the Pirate Problem

April 29, 2009

By Yul

What is the world coming to when packs of young men in cheesy little speedboats can terrorize mammoth cargo and passenger vessels?

These so-called Somali “pirates” don’t even know enough to fly a skull and crossbones.

It’s sad when life is so bad that hostage-taking becomes a viable career option. But they’re hijacking vessels trying to bring them food and aid. As a way of overcoming poverty, it’s self-defeating.

And now the civilized world is wringing its hands over whether to arm crews of the targeted ships, and where the captured pirates should be put on trial.

Consider this: the crew of Maersk Alabama was unarmed, and it took circling warships and the USS Bainbridge 5 days to kill just 3 pirates and rescue the Alabama‘s captain, Richard Phillips.

Cost? Probably millions.

This past weekend, the Italian cruise ship MSC Melody had Israeli security guards on board who, embarrassingly, had to retrieve pistols from a safe while passengers kept a gaggle of pirates from climbing up the side by throwing deck furniture at them. But gunfire from the ship eventually repelled the attack.

Cost? A few bullets, plastic tables, and chairs.

It’s a no-brainer that all crews sailing the Indian Ocean should be armed, with orders to shoot to kill if attacked.

It also resolves the question of whose laws will prevail for crimes committed in international waters. Dead pirates need no trial.

The world must confront these seafaring thugs. The next bunch of pirates who sets sail needs to know the sea will be littered with little ghost ships crewed by skeletons or the rotting, bullet-riddled corpses of their predecessors.

If certain death becomes the immediate reward for attacking a ship, the pirates’ career prospects on land should look a lot brighter.


Top Designers Diss Michelle Obama’s Style

April 28, 2009

By Adele

My catty attitude toward Michelle Obama’s clothes has good company. Oscar de la Renta and Vera Wang agree the First Lady needs help.

De la Renta told Women’s Wear Daily, “you don’t… go to Buckingham Palace in a sweater.”

The haute couture crowd is miffed at being passed over, but Michelle isn’t necessarily behind it. Keep reading…

But first, let me dismiss complaints that Michelle wears the same thing twice. That’s going overboard. She’s not in a movie. Normal people don’t wear disposable clothes.

However, somebody PLEASE confiscate that black dominatrix belt she loves, wearing it across her white bow blouse over a wide-open cardigan like she wants to look fat.

In Prague a few weeks ago (Geuereislove/Getty)

In Prague a few weeks ago (Geuereislove/Getty)

At the White House, this week. (Zimbio)

At the White House, this week. (Zimbio)

Just when Michelle seems stylistically clueless, the New York Times reveals she has a long-time fashion mentor: Chicago boutique owner Ikram Goldman.

Ikram now plays go-between with designers so they never hear directly from Michelle what she wants. It’s a weird setup.

The designers make clothes blind, having no idea if Michelle will like or ever wear them. Designer Maria Cornejo has made 8 suits, 3 coats, and 3 dresses. Jason Wu, creator of that white one-shoulder inaugural gown covered with used dryer sheets, did it in exchange only for the glory of having the dress in the Smithsonian.

And many of the relatively obscure designers Ikram solicits happen to be sold in Ikram’s boutique, so they really have no choice but to play her little games.

Can you say “conflict of interest?”

Under the circumstances, I don’t blame Oscar and Vera for being peeved.


The Latest Anthony Bourdain Roundup

April 27, 2009

By Karen

Anthony Bourdain and wife Ottavia paused for a photo at the Food Bank for New York City’s Sixth Annual Can-Do Awards Dinner to honor Jon Bon Jovi on April 21, along with Rachael Ray, Emeril Lagasse, and Mario Batali. Bourdain always looks good in a suit and tie, but what’s with Ottavia’s cat-ate-the-canary smile? The poofy dress? Could a sib for Ariane be on the way? Only time will tell, but if I’m right, remember you read it here first.

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The Feedbag reports that Tony was in Flushing, NY, about a month ago eating a lamb face salad for an upcoming No Reservations. If that’s true, maybe it will be in the Rust Belt episode, which included Buffalo.

YumSugar reports that guest judge Toby Young will be back for Season 6 of Top Chef, which starts filming in a secret location today. Here’s hoping Tony returns to show the boring Brit how to cut a chef down to size with style.

Burrito Justice led me to Somali Pirate with the tongue-in-cheek claim (I think) that Bourdain was named “Somalia’s Next Top Pirate” on some weird Somali reality show last year. I do agree that Tony’s got the je ne sais quois to appeal to pirates.

Cats Working reader Bob alerted us to a new installment of Tony & Friends where Eric Ripert uncharacteristically rips into Gordon Ramsay’s take-no-prisoners style and what it bodes for future chefs.

Reader Adele found this account at Food Lovers Like Me on what it was like to actually be there when Bourdain and Ripert talked to Martha Stewart recently on her Sirius Radio show.

I just found this May 2008 interview with the New York Post I think I missed. Tony revealed he and Ariane loved watching Yo! Gabba Gabba on Nick Jr. and that her favorite book then was Good Night, Gorilla.

She should be ready to tackle NR: Around the World on an Empty Stomach before too long. It’s mostly pictures, and it’s dedicated to her.

And if you’re a DVD collector, No Reservations: Collection 4 goes on sale July 14 with 688 non-stop minutes of Bourdain’s travels.

The Pandemonium Of The Sun wrote a not-so-glowing review of Bourdain’s book, Typhoid Mary, which I recently read and admired for his ability to humanize a widely reviled woman. According to this reviewer, that makes me a “Bourdain fanatic.”

Just FYI, we call ourselves “Bourdainiacs” around here.


Feline Streaker Nabbed by Tail at Wrigley Field

April 26, 2009

By Fred

Most humans are blaming the cat who ran across Wrigley Field on April 21 for interrupting the 4th inning of a Chicago Cubs/Cincinnati Reds game, and they say she got what she deserved when she was tossed into the stands by her TAIL.

Run, kitty, run! (AP photo)

Run, kitty, run! (AP photo)

The Chicago Tribune claimed felines aren’t weighing in on the controversy because “repeated attempts to seek comments from cats were unsuccessful.”

Well, let’s set the record straight on that. Cats are not happy about it. Not one bit.

Our tail is an extension of our spine, so a tail is never, under any circumstances, to be used as a handle to lift us.

But the tail is exactly what the security guard grabbed when he finally nabbed this calico cat, tossing her to someone else waiting in the stands with a towel.

I’m assuming the cat’s female because most calicos are. To her credit, she put up a good fight, clawing and biting several humans who tried to catch her as she streaked to her 15 minutes of fame.

A bunch of strays live nearby, and some people think they recognize this cat as one of those. No one knows what possessed her to join the game, unless she was interrupted in hunting rats reputed to live at Wrigley, or some fan smuggled her in as a joke.

Fortunately, a vet said she appears to have suffered no lasting damage from the rough handling and waits in a local animal shelter for someone to claim her or give her a good home.

I hope this story has a happy ending.


Watching Dick Cheney’s Slimy Slide Into Senility

April 23, 2009

By Fred

One can only pity Dick Cheney’s incessant grousing about Obama’s “mistakes,” including that handshake with Hugo Chavez. It must be galling for a soulless, snarling geezer to watch the new guy carefully dismantle what he hoped would be his lasting legacy of evil. Closing Guantanamo. Refusing to engage in unprovoked mayhem and cruelty under the guise of a “war on terror.”

And now, apparently at Senator Diane Feinstein’s urging, Obama is leaving the door open to prosecuting the architects of our policies on torture.

Starting with the lawyers in the Justice Department, the fingers won’t have to point far to implicate the Marquis de Sade himself — Cheney.

Some have suggested that Bush is having Cheney bash Obama for him. I don’t buy that. Bush has nothing to gain, and everyone knows Cheney never took orders from Bush. No, Dick is acting alone, shooting his mouth off and revealing that his marbles are rattling looser than ever.

For example, Cheney still swears waterboarding works, even though we now know they did it a total of 266 times to accused terrorists Abu Zubaydah and Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. Jack Cafferty worked that out to be about 6 times a day while it lasted.

If waterboarding is so effective, to have been doused hundreds of times, those 2 guys must have the highest IQs in history and divulged unprecedented amounts of knowledge.

They must have given us the cure for cancer, confirmed if there’s other intelligent life in the universe and what planets it lives on, and answered the age-old question of which came first, the chicken or the egg.

Instead of wasting ink and air time with his sour grapes, Cheney should get lost in the woods enjoying his favorite pastime — killing small, defenseless creatures — and thank his lucky stars he’s not rotting in some jail awaiting trial for war crimes.


To Preserve U.S. Dominance, Cut Off Obama’s Hands?

April 21, 2009

By Yul

You’d think Barack Obama French-kissed Venezuela’s President Hugo Chavez at the Summit of the Americas the other day, for all the hoo-ha their handshake caused.

Where's the threat in this? (Photo - TimesOnlineUK)

Where's the threat in this? (Photo - TimesOnlineUK)

As Obama meets other world leaders for the first time, some people are upset that he’s politely listening rather than preaching. Doesn’t he realize the U.S. embodies the absolute perfection every other country should strive for? That he should remind them of it every chance he gets?

Right. We’ve got more white-collar crooks and gun-riddled corpses per square inch. Not to mention a healthcare system that costs billions more than theirs yet benefits millions of people fewer.

I see no down side to friendly relations with every country in North and South America — including Cuba, which has already annexed southern Florida — creating a cooperative powerhouse of shared interests. It could come in handy if Russia, China, or South Korea start lobbing missiles at us and we need backup.

Eight years of George Bush’s bravado left many fences to mend. That’s what Obama’s trying to do, one handshake at a time. He never said he’d take Bush’s place as the world’s schoolyard bully, so why expect it now? He’s smart enough to know there’s no “winning” any war against countries with an inexhaustible supply of ignorant fanatics willing to die for their cause.

Somebody has to say “Enough’s enough,” so why not us, the model of perfection? Let’s get back to leading by example.

Many conservatives claim to be Christian, yet clamor loudest for Obama to display more rudeness and hatred. Whatever happened to “turn the other cheek?” Where in the Bible does it say enemies must remain enemies forever?

Every time I see Obama shake hands with another leader, no matter who it is, I feel our chances of avoiding the next war just got a little better. Anybody who has a problem with that is just a fool.


Emeril Beat Anthony Bourdain to Richmond

April 20, 2009

By Karen

Dressed in camouflage, my fellow Massachusetts emigrant, Emeril Lagasse, came to Richmond on April 18 to film an episode of his new show, Emeril Green, with the soldiers at Fort Lee. Emeril had nothing but compliments for Army food.

(Photo - Mark Gormus, Richmond Times-Dispatch)

(Photo - Mark Gormus, Richmond Times-Dispatch)

Between seasons of No Reservations my mind wanders, on Anthony and Ottavia Bourdain’s wedding anniversary today, to the land of What If. For example…

What If, when Tony met Ottavia, he had been pre-Kitchen Confidential, an underpaid chef, and an unknown, part-time novelist? Would she still have fallen for Antonio’s other charms? His smoking, his snark, his not-quite-ex-wife?

I mean this in no way as a reflection on Ottavia, because God knows I kept my fair share of bad boyfriends under wraps. But I’m guessing the very idea of bringing home to the parents a separated ex-junkie with a checkered work history, 20+ years her senior, would have eliminated him from consideration. TV fame and his potential for fortune must have helped his chances.

So in addition to getting the best job in the world, success brought Bourdain fatherhood, a hot wife, and a close new extended family. It’s the kind of “happily ever after” that would probably make Tony himself hurl. But Happy Anniversary anyway… and many more!

Now back to Bourdain’s April 4 appearance in Knoxville, Tennessee. Chef Joseph at Avanti Savoia’s Blog offers a thoughtful perspective from a non-fan point of view.

And one of Tony’s hosts wrote about his disappointing non-experience with Bourdain during shooting of the Washington, DC, episode.

That post led me to this great little cache of 9 deleted NR scenes from the most recent season, including Eamonn’s Irish pub in Alexandria, Virginia, where Tony enjoyed a sandwich of French fries and butter. You can also watch him mercilessly diss the pastry in Venice. Turns out he has no more respect for chocolate lovers than vegans. Who knew?


Bo Obama May Need the Dog Whisperer

April 16, 2009

By Yul

First Dog Bo looks more full-grown than puppy, and he’s dragged every Obama family member except little Sasha. Michelle’s new vegetable garden could probably use some Secret Service protection, since Bo may want revenge for the poodle number somebody did on his tail.

Let's hope they leave Bo's butt furry. (Photo - Bill O'Leary, Washington Post)

Let's hope they leave Bo's butt furry. (Photo - Bill O'Leary, Washington Post)

Dog Whisperer Cesar Millan loves to domesticate psycho dogs with macho methods that would leave him in shreds with any cat, but I think the Obamas, as first-time dog owners, could use Cesar before Bo stages a coup d’etat.

However, gaining control of Bo comes with some risk. Rush Limbaugh, Bill O’Reilly, and their ilk would probably never let them hear the end of it. “Oh great! The leader of the free world needs lessons in how to lead his own pack.”

BONUS BO TRIVIA:

Bo is registered with the American Kennel Club as Amigo’s New Hope. “Amigo” is the name of breeder Art Stern’s facility.

Bo’s mother is Penny, and his maternal grandmother is 9-year-old Pooka, who lives nearby in DC with some woman who works at the Department of Transportation.

Bo’s father is a 6-year-old stud named Watson, who lives in Pennsylvania. Watson knows how to stand next to the sink and flip food out of the garbage disposal.

A children’s book, Bo, America’s Commander in Leash, is already set for publication later this month. Author Naren Aryal couldn’t have known much, if anything, about the First Dog, so use of Bo’s name seems a shameless grab for book sales. I wonder if Michelle will be as vocal in condemning canine exploitation as she was with the Sasha and Malia dolls?

While training with Henry Higgins for his Washington debut, Bo learned to sit, shake, roll over, and bark, “I won’t rain in the plane as we fly over Spain.” He also understands the commands “off” and “wait.”

I heard on the news that Bo was returned by his first adoptive family because of some friction with their other dog.

The next thing we’re itching to know is what Bo does all day while the girls are at school. I hope Obama gives Bo a Cabinet seat and names him Secretary of Animal Rights.


Does Padma Lakshmi Want Out of Top Chef?

April 15, 2009

By Karen

Padma seems to be working overtime to rebrand herself as a mindless sexpot between seasons of Top Chef. In 2008, she was number 66 on AskMen.com’s list of “The 99 Top Most Desirable Women of 2008.” It apparently went to her head.

Now she appears in her birthday suit in the May issue of Allure magazine, virtually ensuring that few people will ever again notice what she’s wearing.

Pushing Thickburgers for Hardee’s in a commercial filled with R-rated foreplay was weird enough, but the experience must have still left Padma’s exhibitionist fantasies unfulfilled in a way that only throwing herself naked onto a rug for Allure could satisfy.

Or maybe she’s trying to cash in on whatever value her nudity has because, at 38, the clock’s ticking on how long she’ll be compelling as a sex object.

But Top Chef head judge Tom Colicchio must be wondering if Padma’s forays into soft porn during the off-season are turning her into a culinary joke, and if he and the other judges can keep a straight face whenever she opens her mouth at the judges’ table.

Maybe there’s a double standard at work here. Anthony Bourdain bared almost all in his notorious “boner” picture, but nobody held it against him because his everyday life is intellectually richer than most people’s.

Padma’s brief marriage to author Salman Rushdie didn’t seem to enhance her depth of character. Her last cookbook published in 2007 was called, Tangy, Tart, Hot and Sweet.

The competition will seem trivialized when aspiring top chefs  are ordered to “pack their knives and go” by a Playboy bunny wannabe who makes love to junk food. Will Colicchio let it continue?


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