Should Taxpayers Pay to Secure Trump Family Business Trips?

February 28, 2017

By Karen

In two words: HELL, NO!

Security and embassy staff accompanied Trump’s son Eric to Uruguay on a business trip, and we taxpayers got stuck paying $97,830 for their lodgings. That doesn’t include their salaries and travel expenses.

This was business Daddy Donald claims to be divorced from, even as any profits presumably keep flowing into his bank account.

My question: How did Trump’s adult children keep themselves alive before Daddy got the Secret Service, and why are we protecting them now like they’re heirs to the throne?

Donald’s supposedly a billionaire who claims he doesn’t need to collect his $400,000 annual salary as president, so why aren’t he or his adult sons footing the bills for security on nongovernment-related business jaunts in Trump’s name?

After all, Trump’s already squeezing taxpayers to secure his house, golf course, and the freaking Atlantic Ocean every weekend he spends at Mar-a-Lago — which is to say, all of them.

And since Melania doesn’t want to be first lady, New York City pays anywhere from $150,000 to $500,000 a DAY to keep her and Barron in the digs they’ve grown accustomed to at Trump Tower, although the setup is wreaking havoc on Tiffany’s and anybody else unfortunate enough to be in the vicinity.

Our government lets Trump bank profits he rakes in on the D.C. hotel near the White House that he leases from the government in a conflict of interest so clear, it’s a disgrace that the feds didn’t confiscate the property on Inauguration Day. Why doesn’t Trump donate those to defray travel expenses?

Trump’s alleged forfeited salary amounts to chump change when he and his family are on track to siphon off hundreds of millions in travel and security expenses if he completes a term. The Trumps treat the U.S. Treasury like their piggy bank to finance trips wherever their fancies take them.

Meanwhile, Congress watches this ritual rape of the taxpayers and does nothing.

When Trump speaks to Congress tonight, any words he says about cutting budgets or saving money are meaningless so long as he and his family swan around, personally enriching themselves, while the rest of us pay for them to do it.

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How Oprah Goosed Weight Watchers Stock

December 22, 2016

By Karen

Here’s another perfect example of the media not doing its (math) homework. All Oprah Winfrey had to say was, “Hey, look, I lost some more weight!” and it became big news, no questions asked.

Oprah joined Weight Watchers® in August 2015, investing $43 million in the company in exchange for a seat on its board. By the end of January 2016, she filmed an ad claiming she had lost 26 lbs. eating bread every day.

I calculated she was losing 1-2 lbs. a week, which is reasonable, but hardly worthy of a media blitz, especially when you factored in how much Oprah needed to lose.

To provide some context, I followed the WW Points Plus® plan myself in 2012 and lost 50 pounds in 9 months.

So today we get this big announcement that Oprah has lost “more than” 40 pounds. Not “an additional” 40 pounds. Forty pounds total.

And if she actually lost “more than” 40, don’t you think she’d proudly give the exact number, like she did when it was 26?

So let’s do the math. She was down 26 in late January, and now 40 in late December. That’s 14 lbs. lost in 11 months.

Therefore, in 2016, her average loss has been 1.27 lbs. a MONTH. That’s 20.32 ounces. Averaging four weeks in a month, she’s been losing about 5 ounces a week.

And on that paltry progress, Oprah’s stake in the company grew to $77 million because the media didn’t do the math and put the story in proper perspective.

I’m really happy that Oprah feels she’s finally got the situation under control. I’ve been there. It’s a never-ending struggle.

What I have a problem with is Oprah growing even richer touting weight-loss results that would have most dieters in despair.

I once had a friend who’d say he could lose that much weight taking a good dump. Come to think of it, anybody could.


“Appetites” by Anthony Bourdain: A Book Review

November 23, 2016

By Karen

Since Anthony Bourdain hit critical mass, turning whatever he touches to triumph, it’s unsurprising that Appetites: A Cookbook is hitting best seller lists and getting rave reviews.

It’s beautifully produced under his own Ecco imprint, with recipe titles in a font that must be called BourdainHand. Its many full-page photos include several of wife Ottavia and daughter Ariane (never full face; he explains it’s her decision on how public to go when she’s old enough). Ottavia’s grappling dummy and Eric Ripert even make appearances.

Overall, the photos and artwork are intended more to shock and awe than illustrate. Bourdain told a talk show host (one of the Jimmys) that bookstores are wrapping the book in paper because the cover art is disturbing. Inside are gratuitous animal parts and guts, including a pig bladder inflated to float like a balloon.

appetites

I’m surprised the photo of Tony (page 176) armed and barely recognizable in camo hasn’t been hijacked by the alt-right. He could be Donald Trump’s poster boy.

It’s probably the only cookbook you’ll ever own with the words fuck and shit sprinkled throughout like condiments.

It’s dedicated to Ariane and Jacques. No, not Pépin, but Ariane’s BFF, the son of her Filipino nanny (see page 246).

As a Bourdainiac, I was fascinated by his deconstructions of what we’ve seen him eat. The dishes reflect his constant globetrotting, and perhaps unintentionally drive home that someone else cooked and cleaned up later. The book’s a towering testament to how thoroughly out of touch he has become with how regular people eat.

He claims the recipes are from his childhood, his travels, and “food memories” he shares with his daughter. If that’s true, Tony and Ariane are the creepiest father-daughter duo since Gomez and Wednesday Addams because 9-year-old Ariane must be possessed of the presence of mind to ask, “Daddy, can I have a Roast Beef Po’ Boy?” two days before she wants to eat it, because that’s how long it takes to make one (page 81).

Many recipes have a two-day lead time, not including shopping at specialty stores or Amazon to assemble myriad ingredients you’ve probably never heard of. This makes them also very pricey and will leave you with a pantry full of slightly used shit you’ll have no idea what else to do with.

For example, Korean Fried Chicken (page 165) looked good until I realized I was fresh out of gochugaru, gochujama, and cheongju, not to mention four QUARTS of oil, and I needed two days to fry it twice.

His whole steamed chicken, “Poulet ‘en vessie,’” (page 168) seems reasonable enough until you need to grab four whole truffles and 4 oz. of foie gras out of the fridge.

With each recipe, he thoughtfully includes a list of any special equipment needed. This often consists of a plate “lined with newspapers” for draining.

REALLY??!! Does he ever gaze out over his adoring, hip young audiences during personal appearances and see people who would ever dream of buying an actual newspaper? Would they even recognize one if they saw it?

Otherwise his cooking instructions and advice are pretty spot-on, if snarky, with occasional lapses into Les Halles-speak. For example, as an alternative to tossing his Salad of Boston Lettuce with Radishes, Carrots, Apples, and Yogurt-Chive Dressing (page 29), he suggests leaving everything “segregated, as for salade composée.” Got that?

My current idol, Jacques Pépin, gets mentioned in the first two recipes involving eggs for his cracking and stirring techniques. But Bourdain reveals himself as the unPépin of home cooking. Where Jacques relies on ordinary ingredients and simple preparation, with an eye always on the budget, Bourdain’s recipes are the polar opposite.

I noticed Tony lifted one recipe, Linguine with White Clam Sauce (page 126) from Pépin, which was named after Pépin’s wife, “Gloria’s Linguine with Clam Sauce.” The only differences are that they prefer different types of clams, Bourdain throws in butter (he uses vats) and he doesn’t mention topping with parmesan cheese.

Appetites probably won’t be your go-to cookbook when you need a quick and tasty meal on the table. If your idea of what constitutes a good recipe matches mine…

  1. Is it straightforward and uncomplicated?
  2. Do I already have most of the ingredients?
  3. Can I make it without destroying the whole kitchen?
  4. Can it be done in one day?

…for most of Bourdain’s dishes, the answers are no, no, no, and no.

I did like his tip on making a Grilled Cheese with Caramelized Onions (page 84). Instead of butter, he slathers the outside of the bread with mayonnaise for a nice brown crust. But then he blows it by recommending freaking Japanese milk bread, whatever the hell that is.

There’s no dessert chapter because Tony says he’s not a pastry chef and would rather have cheese.

Pépin, on the other hand, has many dessert recipes from his childhood that often call for a simple store-bought dough or cake, with fruit and preserves. They require no special skill, they’re quick, and they look tasty.

Bourdain’s chapter on Thanksgiving seems useful until he recommends roasting a small “stunt turkey” for looks and then a “business bird” you actually carve and eat — AND making stock with an additional 5-7 lbs. of wings and necks.

Blogger Treehugger totally went off on the stunt turkey, so I’ll let her handle that.

The book’s best, most usable chapter is Sides. I’d definitely try the Roasted Cauliflower with Sesame (page 241) because jazzing up cauliflower is a thing for me. And I’ve already tried Korean-Style Radish Pickles (page 251) because I had an abundance of radishes, although not the daikon he recommends.

It’s only been two days (he recommends three), but here they are. They look more like chopped hot dogs now, but they taste OK, slightly sweet, with a tad of bite.

pickledradishes

I consult my two Pépin cookbooks almost daily, Appetites isn’t meant to be like that. It’s more of a grand “Fuck you!” to the cookbook genre.

I’ll let it sit beside Tony’s also little-used Les Halles Cookbook and maybe ask for an autograph if he ever passes through Richmond again and forgives me for this review.

BONUS VIDEO: Tony recently stopped by to cook with Mario Batali on The Chew. They made Budae Jjigae, a Korean SPAM stew (page 58).

BONUS PLUS: Michael Brendan Dougherty in The Week had an interesting take on Appetites, comparing it to Alton Brown’s new book, Everyday Cook, as spiritual autobiographies.


UnFoodie’s Secret Crush on Jacques Pepin

August 25, 2016

By Karen

Before Anthony Bourdain’s new cookbook, Appetites, comes out on October 25, I must confess une affaire du tube with Jacques Pépin. Ironically, Bourdain introduced us with a No Reservations segment where Jacques demonstrated proper egg-cracking technique. At the time, I thought he was cracked.

Then everything changed.

PBS has been rerunning three Pépin series: Essential Pepin, More Fast Food My Way, and Heart & Soul. After just a few episodes, I became obsessed and bought the DVDs and companion cookbooks for the latter two series, and all summer I’ve been studying Jacques like a culinary school groupie.

(Essential Pépin is good, but uses more mis en place and time-skipping, which minimize all that’s really involved. In the other two series, Jacques’ cooking is more down-to-earth. Heart & Soul is my favorite. Alas, it’s said to be his last for PBS.)

On weekends, my mother becomes my sous chef. I send her the recipe so she can shop, then I go over and we watch Jacques make it on DVD before we try it.

So far, every dish has turned out well and my parents enjoyed them.

Every time I see Jacques chop an onion, “poetry in motion” pops into my head. I even bought a good chef’s knife and keep it sharp, but I’ll never come close to his dexterity.

Also thanks to Jacques, I now use herbs de Provence.

Unfortunately, no photos, but here are a few dishes I’ve done. Many recipes are available online.

Poulet à la Crème (chicken thighs elevated)

Gloria’s Linguine with Clam Sauce (loved it!)

Corn Soufflé (practicing for a Thanksgiving side)

Asparagus Fans with Mustard Sauce (finally, green sticks get some personality)

Soda Bread (so quick and easy, I’ve made it perfectly twice)

Not only does Jacques explain what he’s doing, but tells how he economizes, appreciates ordinary ingredients (white button mushrooms, for example), and even uses canned goods without getting snarky about it.

Years ago I learned Chinese cooking from Wok with Yan with Stephen Yan (no, not Martin). I also liked Emeril, but can’t say I soaked up any technique or made his dishes.

And then there’s Bourdain. He was never a celebrity chef, though they keep calling him one. He wasn’t famous at Les Halles, and he quit that job when Kitchen Confidential took off. I’ve seen him cook only a handful of times.

That said, he remains my biggest culinary influence. Just watching what he eats and says about food has opened new worlds. I know what mis en place means. I cook more creatively. I ate squid with ink in Lisbon. And now I appreciate top-tier chefs like Eric Ripert and Jacques Pépin and learn technique from them.

I’ve pre-ordered Bourdain’s book Appetites with expectations it’s more user-friendly than his Les Halles Cookbook and will join my two Pépin cookbooks as favorites.

So, thank you, Tony, for putting Jacques Pépin on my radar. And thank you, Jacques, for enriching home cooks by sharing your amazing knowledge with such charm and generosity.

Pepin


Could Oprah Eventually Doom Weight Watchers?

February 16, 2016

By Karen

In 2012, I followed Weight Watchers® PointsPlus® system and lost about 50 lbs. Four years later, my scale fluctuates 6-8 lb., but I remain slim enough to wear all my skinny-sized clothes. To this day, I still count points and weigh weekly. Maintaining isn’t easy.

Last year, at Weight Watchers’ invitation, Oprah Winfrey agreed to lose poundage — again — in a grand way. For a $43 million investment, she got a seat on the board and became WW’s spokeswoman.

Now WW stock jumps every time Oprah opens her mouth, whether to insert food or not, and she offsets her weight losses with bank account gains.

In her latest ad, Oprah claims to eat bread “every day.” She’s lost 26 lbs. since August 2015, or about  1-2 lb. a week, eating bread. What bothers me is that she’s shown only from the neck up.

Check out this photo of her on CNBC. Unfortunately, it’s undated, so we don’t know which diet deserves credit, but Oprah certainly looks like she’s lost more than 26 lbs.

Oprah is following a new WW plan called Beyond the Scale, which “focuses on you, not just a number on the scale.”

It’s all about SmartPoints™ and FitPoints™. PointsPlus folks are screwed because our overpriced WW calculators and P+ cookbooks are now obsolete.

WW’s website offers nothing but empty tag lines unless you join, but independent bloggers with access explain the difference in plans. Instead of counting fat, carbs, fiber, and protein on PointsPlus, it’s all about calories, saturated fat, sugars, and protein on SmartPoints.

Bottom line, PointsPlus are rough on fat and carbs. SmartPoints slam you on sugar and saturated fat.

P+ works for me so I won’t switch, and I wish Oprah well. But we all know her dieting history.

Weight Watchers is throwing some big dice and obviously hedging their bets by saying SmartPoints isn’t “all about the scale.”

After Oprah loses the weight, makes the talk show rounds to show off her svelteness and sends the stock on one last big spike, will she become another yo-yo case, like most former members?

I’ve been there myself, joining WW twice before, only to regain all the weight and more. They welcome yo-yos back to their meetings like old friends.

Oprah has never before made the lifelong commitment that’s required for WW. Can she do it now? Or in a year or so, will we see her rebloated on an Enquirer front page, trying to elude the paparazzi (you know, like Kirstie Alley)? If we do, that flushing sound you hear will be the Weight Watchers brand going down the toilet, no matter how they try to spin the points next time.


What Makes a Comeback Next? Polio?

February 3, 2015

By Adele

Parents who buy in to the nonscience that getting their children vaccinated will turn the little darlings into idiots should be much more concerned about the effects of heredity on brain development.

The last thing they needed was New Jersey governor Chris Christie adding his two cents by saying that, although he had all his kids vaccinated, “parents need to have some measure of choice.”

Granted, parents should be able to choose whether to let the kids have a puppy. Or at what age they’re mature and responsible enough to use the stove, stay home alone, or start dating.

But parents deserve NO “measure of choice” when it comes to letting their kids become walking public health hazards.

Measles, which can be deadly, was virtually extinct in the United States until the “anti-vaccers,” as they’re called, spurred on by “medical experts” like Michele Bachmann and Rand Paul, chose to ignore scientific fact and go exposed.

Pet owners, BY LAW, must vaccinate dogs and cats against rabies. Yet any idiot human today can pop out a child and knowingly let it become a carrier or victim of any number of serious, even fatal, illnesses, including chickenpox, mumps, whooping cough, hepatitis, bacterial meningitis, diphtheria, and polio, to name a few.

It makes absolutely no sense.

President Obama has said all parents should get their kids vaccinated. OK, then he should work with Congress to make vaccinating children the national law.

Leave it to parents to decide whether or not to make their kids wear tags showing they’ve had their shots, just like pet owners do.

This is a nonpartisan matter of homeland security — and the threat is coming from the inside. To safeguard public health, we need to mandate common sense to those who lack it. Who needs foreign terrorists when we can decimate ourselves with our own germs and viruses?

 


Time for Football to Come Out

February 18, 2014

By Cole

So this hunky defensive lineman at the University of Missouri, Michael Sam, announces he’s gay, and the football world goes into a tailspin.

Will Sam still get picked for an NFL team? Will other players tolerate him in the locker room? How will the fans deal with it?

Well, let a cat address the elephant in this room…

Football is already the gayest sport EVER.

Karen doesn’t know I occasionally watch football on weekends when she’s out running errands. But as a red-blooded, all-American tomcat, I have enjoyed rooting for my teams. The Missouri Tigers would be a college example, along with the Carolina Panthers, Cincinnati Bengals, Detroit Lions, and Jacksonville Jaguars in the NFL.

And this is what I see…

Grown men prancing around in extremely tight, short pants that they must find so fetching, they can’t resist touching each other’s butts.

When they aren’t playing grab-ass, they spend inordinate amounts of time posing in intricate formations like chorus girls rehearsing some Busby Berkley extravaganza.

When someone manages to actually throw the ball, they all use it as an excuse to crash into another player and engage in full-body hugs before everybody flings themselves on top of each other in a heap.

And while they have a mass dry-hump on the ground, the crowd watching from the stands cheers them on.

Golf has its sissy outfits, and baseball has men swinging their bats, but neither can hold a candle to the gayness of football.

Football players are typically brawny and think they’re tough — as long as they CAN think — because the evidence is in that the sport scrambles some of their brains beyond recognition. It’s a high price to pay for a game that delivers 3% action and 97% snooze time (which is why cats like it).

But as Michael Sam proves, gay has no particular body type. If Sam does get in to the NFL, out-of-shape couch potatoes who waste endless hours following this feckless sport had better have their cardiologists on speed dial.

I predict that players they’ve idolized as ruthless killers on the field will start making some shocking confessions, revealing that the locker room has never been the testosterone-soaked sanctuary everybody thought it was.

Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

But let’s face it. American’s have a worldwide reputation as silly prudes. Yet we’re obsessed with watching men engage in fully padded orgies — wearing helmets.

How much kinkier can you get?


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