Can Republicans Sink Sotomayor?

May 29, 2009

By Adele

Having Democrats back in charge has underwhelmed me so far, but it is fun to watch the Republicans flail, now that they lack the clout for obstruction. Take Obama’s Supreme Court nominee, Sonia Sotomayor, for example.

Republicans have to tippy-toe in trashing this Latina judge for fear of alienating Hispanics, the fastest-growing voting bloc. Without conning Hispanics into voting for them, the neocons couldn’t pass laws to crush what they view as the scourge of Hispanics.

I heard someone say…

Sotomayor’s decisions are going to ruin the Supreme Court.

How? Because she’s female and Puerto Rican, does she get 2 votes that will always trump Thomas and Scalia? How can one justice “ruin” a 9-person court?

Sotomayor’s unpredictable. Her past rulings don’t indicate if she’s pro- or anti-business.

So what? Do we need another justice who’s never swayed by facts? They consider Sotomayor a dangerous wild card because her past verdicts have been based on the merits of each case. God forbid she should do her job instead of pander to special interests.

Republicans are losing sleep over the well-being of Big Business if the Supreme Court stops letting it steam-roll over the rights of individuals.

This comment Sotomayor made in a 2001 speech really has the good old boys in a sweat:

“I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn’t lived that life.”

There’s nothing wrong with a justice who interprets the law with empathy and compassion for fellow human beings. Justice may be blind, but it doesn’t need to be cruel.

Anthony Bourdain Heads West

May 26, 2009

By Karen

Even between seasons of No Reservations, Anthony Bourdain doesn’t seem to sleep in the same bed 2 nights in a row. On May 28, he’ll be giving one of his talks at De Anza Community College in Cupertino, California. I wonder if his recent face-to-face encounter with Alice Waters inspired any new material, and if he’ll have the nerve to unleash it on her home turf?

On May 29, he appears at the Keller Auditorium in Portland, Oregon. On May 30, he’ll be in Seattle sharing a stage with his good friend, Mario Batali, for “An Evening,” which may well prove the highlight of his week.

What a life.

Bourdain’s May 14 appearance at the Connecticut Forum with Alice Waters and Duff Goldman is still rippling throughout the blogosphere. Here’s a video clip of Alice Waters pontificating on hot dogs and Tony’s response, which brought the conversation back to earth.

Here’s another bit where they all discuss food as aphrodisiac.

Michael Costanza attended the event and dubbed Alice Waters “the new postergirl for food snobbery” and vowed to eat half a dozen hot dogs over Memorial Day weekend just to spite her. [Note to Cats Working reader Nancy (not THAT Nancy): If you click this link, brace yourself.]

Someone caught Tony standing around in Chinatown. I seem to remember him saying a while back that he intended to retire that leather jacket. I’m glad he didn’t. It’s so him.

And here’s a candid shot of Tony and Ottavia sent by Cats Working reader Linda. They’re at Bar Pitti e Da Silvano in Greenwich Village. Don’t they look like a pair of crazy kids in love?

Now we have a mystery to solve: Somebody caught Bourdain filming something in front of his home-base restaurant, Les Halles. What could he have been up to?

At Let’ Get Together Blog, Bourdain was selected as the inaugural Food Hottie of the Month, in spite of somewhat conflicted thoughts about him.

My Opera, a recently initiated Bourdainiac, wrote an interesting analysis of what Tony does on No Reservations.

If you’re a foodie wannabe, Bourdain and other chefs contributed recipes, observations, and advice to The Foodie Handbook: The (almost) Definitive Guide to Gastronomy by Pim Techamuanvivit, to be released in October.

UPDATE: Oprah’s best friend, Gayle King, interviewed Tony for Oprah Radio™ in August 2007, and I just found the first 11 minutes, thanks to a tip from Cats Working reader Bob. Gayle’s questions cover no new ground, and she has some difficulty shutting up to let Tony speak, but Bourdain’s always a good conversationalist.

Rest in Peace, Fred

May 21, 2009

By Karen

I’m saddened and personally devastated to report that Fred the cat died at Swift Creek Animal Hospital today at about 10:35 a.m.

Fred’s kidneys had been deteriorating so gradually over the past 3 years that no one detected it, including Fred. He gave the first indication that something was wrong about 3 weeks ago when he lost his appetite. Blood and urine tests revealed chronic renal failure (CRF), an irreversible, terminal condition.

CRF in cats has been described as feeling a bad hangover that never completely goes away and only gets worse.

I treated Fred at home with subcutaneous fluid injections and pills to stimulate his appetite, but he hated all the fuss and our struggles bought him only a few more good days that soon dwindled to a few good hours.

The day of the Preakness was one of his last good ones and he enjoyed the race, even though his horse lost. He really wanted to stick around for the Belmont to see if Mine That Bird could triumph again, but this morning he woke me up before dawn and told me in no uncertain terms, “When you gotta go, you gotta go.”

At the end, Fred drew his last breath peacefully with his head and paws in my hands.

Fred would hate me saying this, but he had single-minded, almost-canine devotion to me for the nearly 16 years we spent together. He was Yul’s tireless sparring partner and Adele’s cuddle buddy. His passing leaves a huge hole in all our hearts.

Here’s one of my favorite candid photos of Fred, snapped during the 2006 photo shoot for my book jacket. It was Fred’s unfailing daily presence in my office that inspired me to write How to Work Like a CAT.

Fred enjoying his 15 minutes of fame

Fred enjoying his 15 minutes of fame

My dearest Freddie, please rest in peace. Your bold, courageous, loving little spirit will always be with me. I’ll never forget you.

Joke of the Day: Credit Card Reform

May 20, 2009

By Karen

Credit card offers choke my mail every day, but card issuers call me a “deadbeat” because I pay my balances in full and on time every month. They’d much rather extort fees and interest that would have the Mafia drooling.

And now Congress and Obama are trying to “fix” credit with their so-called “crack-down” on credit card companies.

Do I sound a tad bitter? Well, I am. It smells just like their faux healthcare reform, where they’re determined to keep private insurers rolling in profits even if it kills the rest of us — financially and literally.

Like health insurers, credit card companies know how to work the system. To compensate for lost monthly fees, which comprised 70% of their profits in 2005, more cards may have annual fees. And the interest clock may start ticking the moment a purchase is made, like it already does on some cash advances. Congress kow-towed to banks by failing to cap interest rates in its legislation, so the sky’s the limit.

Since I’d never piss away hundreds in annual fees to maintain a stable of credit cards, I’ll be forced to cancel many, and that could wreck my credit rating.

Congress’ new limits don’t become effective for 9 months, so they obviously want card issuers to have a nice big window to squeeze consumers as dry as they can. It’s the only reasonable explanation for such a delay, which will only lead to more defaults and bankruptcies. Banks have computers. If they can levy fees and raise interest rates on individual accounts in the blink of an eye, they’re fully capable of making global system changes within one monthly billing cycle to comply with new laws.

You’d think with a Democratic House, Senate, and president, the little guy would finally catch a break, but it’s a rare day when Congress and the White House don’t sell us out to Big Business and tell us they’re doing us a favor.

Bourdain v. Waters: Little Snark or Bite

May 19, 2009

By Karen

Kinder and gentler is becoming chronic with Anthony Bourdain. On May 14 he shared a stage with Alice Waters, the organic food maven he’s compared to the Khmer Rouge — and nothing happened.

The Connecticut Forum’s “Food for Thought” event was so sold out, they ran a simulcast. Bourdain fans must have expected some verbal blood sport, but they got thumb-wrestling instead.

Back in January, Bourdain did start backpedaling on Waters by calling her a “visionary.” Maybe he felt like a rat when Rachael Ray and Emeril Lagasse were nice to him after he’d trashed them, and wanted to avoid déjà vu.

For Jules Pieri of the Daily Grommet, the panel was all about Waters.

And Tasty New England and the New Haven Advocate thought Ace of Cakes star Duff Goldman stole the show. What, did Tony forget to pack his charisma?

However, I found that just when Bourdain was softening in January, the Feedbag lit into Waters for importing chefs and food to those soirées she held during inauguration week, instead of walking the walk by relying on locally grown produce (in DC? in January?) and talent.

The panel moderator, local personality Colin McEnroe, compared Bourdain’s “world-class ego” to Kurt Vonnegut’s, and mentioned that Tony dropped a lot of f-bombs.

Fox61 described Tony’s defense of people who can’t afford organic. I knew he’d stand up for food budgets.

Eat Me Daily revealed what the panelists all ate the night before the Forum, and it wasn’t the gourmet fare you’d expect of culinary experts.

When asked which food trend he’d ban, no one seems sure whether Bourdain said “buffalo” or “truffle oil.” (My guess: truffle oil.) And he called Whole Foods grocery the “Starbucks of organic food.”

When Waters’ expressed her utopian dream of school children getting 2 organic meals and a snack every day, Bourdain said they should learn how to write first.

And in answer to the inevitable “What would you want as your last meal” question, when Waters said she’d like shark fin soup, Bourdain (who gave his usual bone marrow response) observed that her dish didn’t sound very local.

Waters got in one little dig on both Bourdain and Goldman by stating she never watches television.

If you want to read the whole history of Bourdain v. Waters, has it all. Warning: He’s no friend of Tony’s.

In other Bourdain news…

You know you’ve really made it when your likeness appears on lunch bags. If you reuse these, you can watch Tony age as the bag gets wrinklier.


Grub Street reports that one of Tony’s old pots will sit on a shelf in Daniel Boulud’s DBGB Kitchen and Bar, opening in June in New York City. Apparently, Boulud’s a collector.

Mine That Bird’s Triple Crown Dream Dashed by Fast Filly

May 17, 2009

By Fred

After coming from last to whiz past all the other horses in the final stretch of the Kentucky Derby, everyone was wondering if Mine That Bird’s turbo-charged win was a fluke.

Turns out, the Bird’s the real thing and did have a shot at the Triple Crown — until this tomboy filly, Rachel Alexandra, showed up at Pimlico for the Preakness Stakes yesterday. She had 5 straight wins behind her, all run under the Bird’s Derby jockey, Calvin Borel. For the Preakness, Borel defected back to Rachel, predicting she’d win the race.

Rachel and Calvin (Photo - Garry Jones, AP)

Rachel and Calvin (Photo - Garry Jones, AP)

Mine That Bird took that slap in the face with grace. And he didn’t get rattled at the gate when the horse beside him, Big Drama, started over-acting and had to be backed out and reloaded.

Mine That Bird’s a great horse with or without Borel. He was 18 lengths from the lead at one point, but made it up and lost by only one length to Rachel. Everybody’s now calling her “Alexandra the Great,” since she’s the first filly to win the Preakness since 1924.

Watch the race for yourself.

My former favorite, General Quarters, also ran, only to get lost in the crowd again. He came in 9th, but still beat two of the favorites, Friesan Fire and Pioneerof the Nile.

We don’t know yet if Rachel and the Bird will have a rematch at Belmont in 3 weeks. The last filly to win that one was Rags to Riches in 2007.

This has all created some tension at Cats Working because Adele’s rooting for Rachel Alexandra. But I’m betting my treats on Mine That Bird.

Once Rachel’s racing days are over, there’s talk she’ll be meeting Curlin in hopes they hit it off and produce a super-horse together. Rachel will have her hooves full with Curlin who, in retirement, is reported to be quite a ladies’ man.

Donald Trump’s New Language: Bimbo

May 13, 2009

By Adele

Miss California, Carrie Prejean, is so fluent in Bimbo-Speak, men like Donald Trump, who should know better, are using it.

This morning Prejean was on The Today Show with her new protector, Trump. He’s letting her remain 1st runner-up in the Miss USA Pageant and staunchly defends her nude photos, even though she lied about their existence to pageant officials.

“Most of these girls are models,” Trump has said. “And look, Carrie is a seriously good looking girl. Because of her looks, [they] are making such a big deal with this.”

So if she looked like Susan Boyle, nobody would mention it?

As to why Prejean didn’t win the Miss USA title, Trump said, “She was asked a very tough question.”

Yeah, it was, “Do you believe in gay marriage?”

Here’s Prejean’s Bimbo-Speak at its finest:

“I think it’s great that Americans are able to choose one or the other. We live in a land where you can choose same-sex marriage or opposite marriage (apparently unaware California just banned it). And you know what? I think in my country, in my family, I think that I believe that a marriage should be between a man and a woman. No offense to anybody out there, but that’s how I was raised.”

Believing everything she heard as a child has really saved her time on thinking now.

But the truly tough question came today when Matt Lauer asked her if we’ve seen all her nude photos. She couldn’t answer.

Prejean whines she’s being punished for exercising her right to free speech in giving what Trump described as “an answer from the heart.”

Yet Prejean is hell-bent on denying gays the freedom to follow their hearts, becoming a spokesperson in the National Organization for Marriage’s campaign against same-sex marriage.

On the other hand, as a standard-bearer for its ugly, exclusionary agenda, NOM couldn’t have done better than choosing a vacuous bimbo with fake boobs who poses for sleazy pictures and then lies about it. She should do NOM proud.

Bourdain & Waters Face Off: Reconciliation or Duel?

May 11, 2009

By Karen

On May 14, Anthony Bourdain hops over to Hartford to be on a “Food for Thought” panel at the Connecticut Forum with Alice Waters, the California restaurateur who “bugs the living shit” out of Bourdain for advocating that everyone eat fresh, locally-grown produce, even when it’s prohibitively expensive. Cheekily nominating herself to be on Obama’s “kitchen cabinet” to ensure he gets the country eating right was what landed her between Bourdain’s crosshairs.

Now, Michelle Obama did dig up the White House lawn to plant a vegetable garden, but admits she enjoys sneaking to Five Guys for a burger, and President Obama and Joe Biden lunched at Ray’s Hell Burger last week. Obviously, fresh veggies only go so far with the First Family.

I’m guessing it will take more than a fruit basket to quell Bourdain’s philosophical clash with Waters. Oh, and the unfortunate bystander on the panel will be The Ace of Cakes’ Duff Goldman.

In other news…

Shades of Grey writes about recently discovering Bourdain. Where has she been? (Warning, annoying music accompanies her post, but you can silence it. Scroll down to the “Spring Mix” heading and click the largest button in the purple playlist.)

And here’s some video of Bourdain and others being asked to compare various recording artists to food for Average Betty at the UCLA Extension 13th annual Restaurant Industry Conference.

Bourdain would appreciate this rant that he and Iron Chef inspired in Chatterbox Sara against Semi-Homemade’s Sandra Lee. I just recently read a bit about Lee’s nightmarish childhood and wonder if all this abuse will ever make her crack. (I know, Tony would say, “Too late.”)

And blogger hungry4morefoodie, who uses the tagline, “Who exactly is this Anthony Bourdain?” and claims her favorite book is Kitchen Confidential, still has the temerity to wax eloquent about a lunch at Olive Garden. Adding insult to injury, she also doesn’t think Applebee’s sucks. Her affection for the chains Bourdain always mentions as what’s wrong with American cuisine makes her brazen hijacking of his catch-phrase (in lieu of composing something clever herself — you know where Cats Working stands on that) seem like blasphemy.

To end on a side note, Top Chef judge Toby Young was recently hit by a car while bicycling around London — in the middle of the night — so his lack of wit would seem to extend beyond the judges’ table.

Crazy Judge Makes Richmond VA Bankruptcy Utopia

May 8, 2009

By Fred

First he gave executives who killed Circuit City his blessing to blow the company’s last dime on bonuses for themselves. Now U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Kevin Huennekens is telling the defrauded customers of defunct LandAmerica 1031 Exchange Services the money they entrusted to LandAm is no longer theirs.

These poor suckers made the mistake of letting LandAm hold the proceeds from sales of investment properties so they could avoid paying capital gains tax while they found other properties to invest in. LandAm collected these deposits with a smile almost right up to the moment it went under.

Huenneken’s ruling that the money now belongs to LandAm is based on the loophole that customers’ agreements with the company didn’t contain the words “trust” or “escrow.”

Silly people just believed what the company stated was its whole reason for existing.

Huenneken’s anti-consumer interpretation may ultimately kill the 1031 exchange business altogether. Only an idiot would give a penny to such a company, knowing the company could disappear tomorrow and keep everything, no strings attached.

To top it off, these ripped-off customers now owe those capital gains taxes on the money Huenneken is letting LandAm steal, unless President Obama himself declares the situation a disaster and lets them off the hook with the IRS.

The customers’ only recourse is to line up with all LandAm’s other creditors and hope someone throws them a scrap.

Justice may be blind, but this ruling is so morally and ethically repugnant and utterly devoid of common sense, Huennekens needs to be de-benched and psychologically evaluated before other bankrupt companies launch the biggest siege Richmond has seen since the Civil War, seeking more sweet deals.

Home Depot will probably see a big spike in shovel sales, now that investors know a hole in the backyard is the only safe place to keep their fortunes.

Insurance Lobbyist Karen Ignagni Stops Advocating Screwing Women

May 7, 2009

By Karen

Pro-private-insurance trade group America’s Health Insurance Plans(AHIP) has dangled a new carrot before Congress, using self-employed women like me as pawns to kill any chance we’ll ever see affordable government-sponsored or single-payer healthcare.

Last November, AHIP president and CEO Karen Ignagni began trying to derail healthcare reform by offering to stop cherry-picking customers so only the healthiest and least likely to need it could qualify for individual insurance.

In March, she offered to stop charging ill people more, but quietly replaced illness with age as a reason to jack up premiums, disingenuously slipping insurers a means to hit everyone with hefty annual rate increases, ill or not.

Now, in the individual market where insurers can get away with anything, she’s admitting they typically charge women 25-50% more than men as punishment for having uteruses.

Ignagni now agrees with Senator John Kerry (D-MA) that screwing women is wrong and is offering “not to recommend continuing it.”

Senator Kerry, with all good intentions, has naïvely introduced a bill to prohibit insurance companies from using gender to set premium rates. But he’s just playing into insurers’ hands because they’ll simply increase men’s premiums to match women’s.

Can you say “Ka-Ching!”?

Congress, instead of rewarding the AHIP’s duplicity with lame “reform” that throws all Americans into the insurance pool to be devoured by these sharks, you need to recognize these tactics for what they really are:

Bold-faced admissions of an industry’s longstanding unethical practices and unconscionable discrimination for profit at any cost.

The only civilized response to “deals” like these is to shove universal healthcare bills HR.676 and S.703 down Karen Ignagni’s throat and eliminate all such double-talking, self-serving, useless leeches from the equation.

P.S. If anyone out there thinks you can scare me with “rationing,” go get yourself some individual insurance, visit a doctor, file a claim, and see how much of it, if any, gets paid. THAT’S rationing. We have it right now, thanks to the insurers Ignagni represents.

%d bloggers like this: