Monday, February 28, 2005

Psssst Wanna See Some Folks Who'll Never Work Again?

Gotta love the Freepers. Some brave souls ventured into the land of the looney left and held a pro-Bush demonstration in Hollywood on Oscar night. I'm surprised Michael Moore didn't try to eat them.....

via Conservative Princess

Condi-Licious Part 2

There seems to be little or no doubt that Hillary Clinton will be running for President in 2008. Surely one of the reasons she is positioning herself as more of a hawk than other Democrats is the possibility that her Republican opponent will be Condaleeza Rice. No doubt Hillary saw this photo, and all the attention it garnered, I wonder what went through her mind.........(cue Twilight Zone music)

Top Three thoughts Hillary Clinton had in reaction to the Matrix photo:

1. .....and Bill said he wanted to be U.N. secretary General for the travel!

2. Perhaps Madam Secretary would like to come over to Mama's for tea and..........muffins!

3. Oh cruel fate why do you mock me?! Condi gets a matrix outfit, and I get a zip code for my ass!Posted by Hello

Pro-Syrian Lebanese Government Falls

This report from CNN indicates that the pro-Syrian Prime Minister in Lebanon has resigned in the face of public protests and rancourous parlimentary opposition. In a wonderful rendition of the playground classic, "I could beat you up if I really wanted to" the outgoing PM said he could have won the vote of no confidence, but didn't want his government to appear to be a stumbling block.

In a related development, Syria denied that it has ever committed a terrorist act anywhere. You have to love these guys, pretty soon they'll claim all those terrorists that they're keeping under their protective umbrella aren't Syria's, they're really "just keeping them for a friend"!

Didn't work for me either when I was a kid.

The March of Liberty

Things seem to be progressing rapidly but peacefully in Beirut. Opposition leader Wally Jumblatt called for mass protests today, two weeks after the recent assination of Rafik Hariri, and in defiance of the ban on public demonstrations. At last report an estimated 200,000 people had gathered in Martyr's Square, and Parliment is debating a confidence vote on the current government. See the link above, Caveman in Beirut for more.

In related news John Kerry, in between cashing checks and gobbling caviar, mentioned that he still believes Iraq was the wrong war, in the wrong place, at the wrong time.

Via Across the Bay

UPDATE: Just read this development in the Times this morning. Apparently Syria turned over Hussein's half brother yesterday, and 29 other members of the terrorist group responsible for bombing innocent men, women and children. As the writer points out, Syria has perfected the role of the region's arsonist and fire department and they clearly are trying to work their way out of the corner that the Hariri assasination put them in. Keep the pressure on.

Oscar Night Decadence...

In our own little tribute to Hollywood excess, Oscar night decadence was in full swing at the Pursuit household last night! Champagne through a straw you ask? Yup, suprisingly it does work, especially when accompanied by chocolate and consumed between the warmth of the flannel sheets and down comforter.

By the way.......who won?Posted by Hello

Saturday, February 26, 2005

The March of Liberty

Well, President Bush continues to de-stabilize the Middle East (see my posts below on the Syria/Lebanon changes). When will this stop? Now Egypt is moving toward fee elections for President, as opposed to the traditional vote on one man nominated by parliament.

I'm busy shooting trap, so I won't be adding my typically brilliant analysis. The Captain has it covered anyway, go check it out.

Oh yeah, and was the wrong war, at the wrong time, in the wrong place.

Wine Recommendation

Now that I've given you a simple pasta recipe, the question becomes what wine should we serve with the pasta? For the recipe below, something bold, strong and Italian comes to mind, and no, I'm not talking about me. (Thank you very much I'm here all week)

Last Saturday I attended a fantastic tasting of reserve reds and found some delightful wines. One Pinot in particular was quite interesting, but wouldn't be appropriate for the dish below. Instead, for this dish, I found a Ripasso that was very good and reasonable inexpensive at USD 19.00/bottle.

Ripasso is not quite as well known as some other Italian wines, and as a result can be a nice to introduce to friends who like a nice bold flavor along the lines of an Amarone, but like me are unwilling to accept the inflation in Amarone prices that we've seen over the past few years. Ripasso is, in fact, made from the lees left over from a batch of Amarone. The lees are re-fermented, hence the name Ripasso. The great thing in addition to the price advantage is that you get a wine with the flavors of Amarone, that is also very drinkable as a young wine.

So give the 2001 Tedeschi San Rocco Ripasso from Valpolicella a try. Its been aged in cherry barrels, and although it is young will taste with moderate structure and a rich medium to full bodied flavor.

Pasta ala Pursuit

With all the excitement of a link from Vodkaboy, the staff here at the Pursuit of Happiness missed posting a Friday recipe. As a result, bonuses have been cut, administrative staff fired, and I'm going to stop outsourcing political analysis to the wacko conservative that has been posting here.

Actually that's not true. We're still going to be your one stop shop for all the conservative political diatribes you could possibly want in one lifetime. That said, we need to correct the recipe sitch.

So here of my fave pasta recipes because its so easy, so fast and yes soooooooooooo good! Before we get started allow me one speech.

People if you're buying bottled sauce, stop and ask yourselves why? If the reason is speed, then I can assure you, this recipe takes little extra time, and is a taste sensation compared to the tinny, processed sauces produced by Mr. Ragu or Mrs. Prego. Give it a try, and I guarantee that you will pitch the bottle.

Pasta ala Pursuit


1 pound bulk Italian Sausage - make sure it has fennel
280z can of crushed tomatoes in puree
3 cloves of garlic cut into slivers
2T Olive oil
3 T Dried basil
1T Dried Oregano
2 T Tomato paste

1 pound dried pasta - penne works well with this sauce

Boil water for pasta.

Put large pan on burner over medium heat when it gets hot, add your oil. Once the oil is hot, saute the garlic slivers pressing down to release the oils. When they begin to color, remove the garlic and throw out. Leave the oil in the pan and add the sausage in chunks and brown. Once the sausage has browned, stir in tomatoes and puree. Add paste and spices turn heat to low and simmer for as little as 10 minutes or as long as 30 - the longer the better, just be sure to keep your heat low and stir occasionally.

Once sauce is simmering, boil pasta, make salad, slice some crusty bread and you're good to go.

Serve with grated Parmeseano Reggiano.

vegetarian note: If you're one of those misguided souls who has decided to forego meat in your diet, this recipe works well as a plain tomato sauce when you omit the sausage step.

Friday, February 25, 2005

The Charisma Initiative

As President Bush has toured the capitals of new and old Europe this week, his first foreign trip of the second term has been met with interesting responses on both sides of the Atlantic. These reactions have been instructive for what they say about recent history, and what they portend for the next four years.

In Europe there was much focus on what the newspapers and leaders had to say about Mr. Bush's charisma initiative. There was talk about the president's "new willingness" to listen to our European allies, take their concerns to heart, and begin a reconciliation to help forge a new beginning for our alliance. Indeed, Mr. Bush encouraged this talk with his own statements about this being a "listening tour" (a page out of Hillary's playbook?), and his desire to "look at" Europe's proposal to lift their arms sale embargo on China.

What was most interesting though, was what was not said or at least not widely acknowledged. This unspoken truth that formed the undercurrent running through the entire visit was the simple fact that Mr. Bush, through the benefit of a courageous bet and good fortune, was returning to Europe from a position of strength. Simply put, the recently completed Iraqi elections revealed old Europe to be positioning themselves for occupancy on the losing side of history.

Compared to President Bush, who looked dashing as he sported two historic foreign policy successes, a breezing economy and the moral highground that comes from destroying tyranny (not to mention a Matrix-esque Sec. of State!), Chirac and Schroeder appeared on their heels as the defeated technocrats. This image was amplified when Chirac snubbed Bush at dinner by speaking French; the desperate act of a failed leader too small to admit his mistake. How it must hurt to have been outsmarted by the dull American cowboy.

The view on this side of the Atlantic was also quite interesting. Americans in general reveled in the glory that comes from global success, and most can now feel the wind at their backs for the first time since the dawn of the new century. Of course, some Democrats tried to sell the canard, that Bush's trip represented the implementation of John Kerry's foreign policy, but this is just the folly of those who should know better.

Had the November election turned in John Kerry's favor it is quite likely that today we would be in a very different position. For one thing, it is almost certain that once in office, Kerry would have postponed the Iraqi elections due to "security problems". This move would have emboldened both the terrorists and old Europe's leaders. Instead of venturing to Europe victorious, a President Kerry would have gone hat in hand, searching for an "exit strategy".

So in the end, the ultimate winners this week were the American and Iraqi voters. The American voters because of their wisdom and courage to stay the course when the naysayers where predicting a gruesome end in Iraq. The Iraqi voter, because when they were given the chance for democracy, they stood up in the face of mortal peril and asked to be counted.

In doing so, both peoples united and stood as an example for the rest of the world. And the march of liberty moves on. Anyone suprised by Syria's announcement today that it intends to pull out of Lebanon? Stay tuned, this is getting interesting.


It seems Condi has some admirers at the Washington Post. This picture could hardly be more flattering, and as overpressure noted, the placement on page one was perfect.

Topping off the WP's Condi coverage, I came across this column in today's edition by Robin Givhan (use Bugmenot for registration). Lets just say, the article is a bit of a departure from the typical coverage that the Post or the Times provide of a high government official's fashion:

Rice's coat and boots speak of sex and power -- such a volatile combination, and one that in political circles rarely leads to anything but scandal. When looking at the image of Rice in Wiesbaden, the mind searches for ways to put it all into context. It turns to fiction, to caricature. To shadowy daydreams. Dominatrix! It is as though sex and power can only co-exist in a fantasy. When a woman combines them in the real world, stubborn stereotypes have her power devolving into a form that is purely sexual......... .........Countless essays and books have been written about the erotic nature of high heels. There is no need to reiterate in detail the reasons why so many women swear by uncomfortable three-inch heels and why so many men are happy that they do. Heels change the way a woman walks, forcing her hips to sway. They alter her posture in myriad enticing ways, all of which are politically incorrect to discuss.

Wow! I don't smoke, but after reading that I felt the need to relax in the afterglow with a cigarette.

via Overpressure Posted by Hello

Thursday, February 24, 2005

The Museum of Bad Album Covers

I've often rued the loss of those great LP covers from the age of vinyl. The bizarre art, the allusions to mythic tales, and some people I knew used the double LP to sort out their seeds, truly a loss! This site, however, has made me reconsider. Is it possible that they all were this bad?

Oh yeah, and one more thing....why aren't the Scorpions in jail?

via Unscathed Corpse

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

The March of Liberty In The Middle East

Freedom is a powerful thing.

The anti-Syrian demonstrations in Lebanon on Monday and Tuesday (see below) highlight how the American invasion of Iraq is serving as a catalyst for change in the region. While it is still too early to claim success, particularly in the face of continued resistance from other western democracies and the intelligentsia of the left, the minds of middle east people are clearly beginning to open to new possibilities. The linked WP column by David Ignatius requires registration (go to, so I'll pull the most pertinent paragraph:

"It's strange for me to say it, but this process of change has started because of the American invasion of Iraq," explains Jumblatt. "I was cynical about Iraq. But when I saw the Iraqi people voting three weeks ago, 8 million of them, it was the start of a new Arab world." Jumblatt says this spark of democratic revolt is spreading. "The Syrian people, the Egyptian people, all say that something is changing. The Berlin Wall has fallen. We can see it."

Interesting that Mr. Jumblatt, the leader of the Lebanese protests, compares the events in Syria and the greater Middle East to the fall of the Berlin Wall. In the prior case, leftists all over the world resisted President Reagan's muscular anti-communist policies and instead promoted a policy of appeasement and accommodation.

This position was represented by that greatest of appeasement fetishists, Jimmy Carter, who in 1977 lectured Americans about our "inordinate fear of communism". I wonder how that phrase sounded to those being held in the Siberian gulags. The lesson that conservatives took from the anti-communist success, was that people will put their lives on the line for freedom if America will stand with them in the fight. Quoting W from his recent State of The Union:

"America will stand with the allies of freedom to support democratic movements in the Middle East and beyond, with the ultimate goal of ending tyranny in our world."

The point is, words mean things. The previous occupant of the Oval office never fully understood this. President Clinton was always quite eloquent, but his words were empty vessels that took the country nowhere. Our enemies began to understand this and attacked the World Trade Center, our embassies in Africa, our military bases and they were met with hollow, ineffectual responses. They became more emboldened and 9/11 was the inevitable result of weak foreign policy and a complacent American populace.

How could we expect oppressed people to fight back when we, the most powerful country in the world, appeared to cower in the face of Islamic extremism? President Bush, ironically the most ineloquent president any of us have ever heard, has sent a very clear message to the people of the Middle East. That message is that 9/11 changed things for America. We understand that we cannot sit idly by while millions of Arab lives are lost to poor education, poverty and totalitarianism. We realize once again, that as with Eastern Europe, our job is to stand with the people of the Middle East, support them and bring our western allies along on the ride.

UPDATE: A decent overview of recent Syrian history can be found here. Funny how a car accident can change history. I remember at the time wondering if this was trully an accident. Via Vodkapundit.

UPDATE II: Roger Simon reports that anti-Syrian protests are planned by the Lebanese community in LA for Saturday, and some may apparently be underway already.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Phone Messages Not To Leave

So I'm leaving a message at on my wife's voicemail at work to let her know where to get a hold of me this afternoon:

"I'll be at the house until noon, then I've got some errands to run. I have to buy shotgun shells and duct tape and some other stuff"

Happily, Mrs. Pursuit realized I was rushed, and not planning some hostage taking and a shootout with the cops. Much laughing ensued.

I Thought We Were The Great Satan

Geez, give one country a little freedom and everybody wants it! In what can only be described as further bad news for leftists, Democrats in the U.S., France, and dictators everywhere, today marked the second day of anti-Syrian protests in Lebanon. Oddly, the citizens of Lebanon seem to be losing patience with UN Resolutions, and "rushed to protest" the long occupation and control of their country by its neighboring country.

In related news Iraq continued its progress towards democracy, progress towards peace continues between the Israelis and Palestinians, and John Kerry still believes that the Iraq war was the "wrong war, at the wrong place at the wrong time"Posted by Hello

Saturday, February 19, 2005

The New Republic and Pursuit of Happiness Agree

Ok, well not exactly. Martin Peretz in the The New Republic writes of the decline of liberalism in the United States and I wrote of the Democratic death spiral (see below). Effectively, Peretz is discussing the cause, and I the effect. From the article:

It is liberalism that is now bookless and dying. The most penetrating thinker of the old liberalism, the Protestant theologian Reinhold Niebuhr, is virtually unknown in the circles within which he once spoke and listened, perhaps because he held a gloomy view of human nature. However gripping his illuminations, however much they may have been validated by history, liberals have no patience for such pessimism. So who has replaced Niebuhr, the once-commanding tribune to both town and gown? It's as if no one even tries to fill the vacuum.......

Ask yourself: Who is a truly influential liberal mind in our culture? Whose ideas challenge and whose ideals inspire? Whose books and articles are read and passed around? There's no one, really. What's left is the laundry list: the catalogue of programs (some dubious, some not) that Republicans aren't funding, and the blogs, with their daily panic dose about how the Bush administration is ruining the country.

I've said it before and I'll say it again. As a conservative that came to the movement because of its spirited intellectual thought, nothing concerns me more than a political landscape in which the liberal side fails to bring any ideas to the discourse. Sadly, that is the state of play in the U.S. and I dare say the world today. Unchallenged, I believe that conservatism will grow stagnant and fail to evolve to meet the challenges of tomorrow.

As of now, I think the most likely outcome will be the death of the Democratic party and the ascendancy of a new libertarian ideology. Most likely, the newly ascendant group will be a splinter party that breaks off from the Republicans due to their frustration with the bloat that comes from incumbancy. We'll see. Perhaps Mr. Peretz offers the first sign that the liberals, and their party the Democrats, have some life in them yet.

Friday, February 18, 2005

Don't Stop Thinkin About Tomorrow!

John Negroponte. Now look below at the photo of Mick Fleetwood. Sure they're trying to fool us with the beard, but tell me......have you ever seen these guys together? Even curiouser, Stevie Nicks, Lindsey Buckingham, and Christine McVie have been strangely silent regarding this appointment.

In the wake of the Jeff Gannon controversy, I think Kevin Drum and the gang better get on this right away!Posted by Hello

Mick Fleetwood Head of US Intelligence? Posted by Hello

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Breaking Wedgie News

What is happening in schools these days? Teachers teaching classes how to explode bombs, slutry seductresses having their wanton ways with young males, and now this: Wedgies that get out of control.

When I was a kid we gave out regular wedgies and the mythical Atomic Wedgie. The Atomic Wedgie was a wedgie soooo extreme that the elastic waistband supposedly ended up around the victim's ears. Never saw one, but heard many a tale. It sounds like our victim here had something more along the lines of the atomic version.

Well, Duh!

The NYT reports on Porter Goss' appearence before the Intelligence Committee yesterday:

Intelligence that "strongly suggests" that Al Qaeda operatives have considered using the Mexican border as an entry point was cited in written testimony by Adm. James M. Loy, the deputy secretary of homeland security. But he wrote that there was "currently no conclusive evidence" that this had succeeded.

In the past, law enforcement officials have said Al Qaeda might try to use the Mexican border, but the testimony on Wednesday seemed to suggest increasing concern. In response to questions from the senators, Admiral Loy described it as a "very serious situation," while Robert S. Mueller, director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, listed first among his current concerns what he said might already be "the threat from covert Al Qaeda operatives inside the United States."

No kidding? Seems to me certain people have been asking for border help for quite awhile, only to be dismissed as "anti-immigration". Hopefully, we can get some important action on this vulnerability now. I'm not holding my breath, though.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Answers for Professor Bainbridge

Professor Bainbridge, one of my favorite bloggers due to his excellent wine reviews, has some serious questions about Social Security reform. We don't get too many serious inquiries from the Democratic side, and I doubt the good professor considers himself a Democrat anyway, but it is an excellent opportunity to continue the dialogue. I'm by no means and expert, because that would require me to look stuff up and I really can't be bothered, but I thought I'd give it a try. Haven't winged a written exam since college, but here goes:

Professor asks:

Would we achieve significant actuarial improvements in the health of the Social Security system by (a) changing the method by which the benefit is calculated from being based on wages to one based on prices (see Tyler Cowen's post for details) and (b) increasing the retirement age? Social security was designed for an era in which most folks would live to receive benefits for months rather than years. Why not deal with that problem directly? (Glenn Reynolds has a solution that goes somewhat in the other direction.)

I've actually read the answers to these questions so I can confidently say that yes, we would achieve improvements in the health of SS by limiting reform to the two methods suggested above. I think we would have to move the retirement age substantially to get a huge lift, but this might make sense since when the program was designed life expectancy was not more than a couple years past 65. It is now well into the 70's for both genders, and most likely will continue to rise. The inflation equation I'm less familiar with, but all seem to agree this change would help as well. I believe that we should take both of these actions.

Professor asks:

If we can achieve significant savings and ensure the health of the system with the changes mentioned in # 1, is there a non-ideological reason for introducing private accounts? Even proponents of private accounts concede that the transition costs will require trillions of dollars of government borrowing. Do we conservatives really want revenge on FDR and the New Deal at that price? Personally, speaking as a small government fiscal conservative kind of guy, I'd give up personal accounts if any money thereby saved was spent on deficit reduction or, better yet, an income tax rate cut.

This is not about revenge on FDR and the New Deal, and I'm at a bit of a loss to understand what is ideological. I believe it is important to give people an opportunity to own their retirement, I'm not sure that can be considered an ideological view. The real reason to offer private accounts is two-fold. First if we limit inflation adjustments and increase the retirement age as per my above answer, we are by definition cutting benefits. Allowing for private accounts, that will quite likely grow faster than the same contributions under the current system, will hopefully take up some of the lost benefits that occurred through the retirement age and inflation adjustment changes. The second reason is that giving people a real ownership position in our society is likely to get them more engaged in every facet of this countries governance. This would be good for liberals and conservatives, which I guess, is the ultimate non-ideological reason. As for the borrowing question, we already will have to borrow trillions to cover the Social Security shortfalls, because the government will have to refinance debt, currently held in the SS "trust fund" on the open market. This will be a huge, unprecedented increase in the expansion of the publicly issued debt.

Professor asks:

Why aren't conservatives talking about other entitlement programs, such as Medicare, which reportedly is scheduled to go broke long before Social Security does?

Some of us are. See my post below on Social Security. Medicare is a huge problem that arguably dwarfs the Social Security problem. Just to kick that debate off I'll mention that we should expand Health Savings Accounts.

Caffeinated Nation

After extolling the virtues of that cocktail of cocktails, the Manhattan, last weekend, I can now report even better news in the world of delightful beverages.

Coffee is good for you. Lots of coffee? Well, turns out thats even better! Get this;

A study of more than 90 000 Japanese found that people who drank coffee daily or nearly every day had half the liver cancer risk of those who never drank coffee. The protective effect occurred in people who drank one to two cups a day and increased at three to four cups.

I'm sure most dedicated coffee achievers out there already knew this inately, but now the rest of you can drink up in full knowledge of that black elixir's many benefits.

Coffee, it does a body good.

A Proposal For Bloggers

Roger Simon has a proposal for bloggers regarding Iran. Pretty cool idea, and it just might be effective. Go take a look.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005


Late February and early March are among the grayest days in Chicago. Today is maximum gray. So to alleviate the winter blues, (and to give me some practice posting photos) here is a photo from our Italian vacation last year. A sailboat, somewhere between Amalfi and Capri. Posted by Hello

Democratic Death Spiral

I worked for a real estate development company between 1989 - 1992. It was a great job, as I had responsibility for control work on all office building development in California. I was able to travel from Chicago to LA, SF and SD about once a month, which was a pretty good perk during the winter months. But I digress.

I bring this story up, because anyone who knows anything about real estate development during that time knows that the industry headed into the tank in the early 90's and a lot of people ended up pursuing "alternate career paths". The company I worked for began in 1990 to lay-off people, sell long held assets and do anything they could to create profits and pay bonuses. As we observed this activity it soon became clear that the firm was in a death spiral. They could only cut expenses a short way until they hit bone. There was only so much in assets that they could sell until they were left with a portfolio of bad properties with little or no appreciation. As a young exec I learned from this experience to watch out for organizations in these death spirals. More importantly, I learned to not be the last guy out.

I see the same situation today with the Democratic Party. Since the 1968 elections they have only won three Presidential Elections to the Republican's seven. They now have lost the House and the Senate. Most Governors are Republican. Clearly, something is wrong.

Yet the Democratic response is bizarre in it's denial of the obvious. The party faithful, those who haven't left, respond that vote totals are close, the electorate is blind, and an evil president is tricking foolish yokels into supporting causes that are against their own self interest. They accuse Bush of being a theocrat, yet he is responsible for bringing democracy to Islamic people in the face of historic resistance from the "liberals" in the Democratic party.

The recent elevation of Howard Dean to the head of the Democratic party continues this "cover our ears and scream everything is ok" strategy. Howard Dean, represents the extreme left of the party. Supported by he is quite open in his desire to raise spending, raise taxes, limit military funding, and leave Iraq immediately. The very issues that were just defeated in the recent election. In fact, Howard Dean's appeal is so marginal, he couldn't even win the Presidential nomination of the party that just elected him as its leader.

Death Spiral anyone? The remaining members of the party increasingly find themselves represented by the most shrill of the party's leaders. They've got terrific jokes - How many Bush Cabinet members does it take to change a light bulb? None, there is nothing wrong with the light bulb, blah blah blah - great insults about the Chimp in Chief, but nothing of value to offer to those who count the most, voters. This is the same situation as my little real estate company. Leaders make themselves feel good with false advances and rhetoric, while those of us on the outside recognize the disaster for what it is.

The tragedy is that alternatives for a return to national prominence exist. On issues of Social Security and Medicare reform, the Democratic party has failed to offer one credible idea. The party that invented these programs that have improved the lives of millions, refuses to do anything except to say "no". Not very inspiring is it?

Economic policy is another target of opportunity. Bush has done a decent job of beginning to reform taxes through marginal rate reductions, long-term capital gains reductions and death tax reform, yet he avoids the real issue. Spending must be brought under control. This is a once in a generation opportunity for Democrats to change their image as big spenders. Sadly, their only criticism is that taxes are too low and that we need to spend more - everywhere....except on defense.

In the article linked above, Horace Cooper Head of the Centre for New Black Leadership does an excellent job of telling Democrats what they need to do. The question is, are they listening?

Cool Animation

This probably would have been more appropriate yesterday, but the animation is cool and worth sitting through. It seems to change fairly frequently, so you may want to bookmark it if you like it.

Monday, February 14, 2005

Like The Guest Who Wouldn't Leave

Remember the Belushi skit on Saturday Night Live about the guest who wouldn't leave. The hosts tried hints, cutting of the drinks, turning off the lights, and still the guy wouldn't get the hint.

Andy reminds me of the Belushi character, except Andy is worse. Belushi never promised to go and Andy did. Still, day after day he rants on. Why can't he just go away?

I've linked, but go at your own risk.

Sunday, February 13, 2005

Cocktail Society

So I'm sitting here on a Sunday afternoon thinking that on some things our parents had it right. No, let me rephrase that.....they had it perfect.

One of those things was the cocktail. I remember every weekend afternoon my folks would sit down and have a nice plate of cheese, crackers and sausage and good drink. Sadly, their cheese tended toward the spreadable, processed kind but in their time this was a symbol of American enginuity. "Why they've made a cheese that spreads! What will they think of next?".

Today if I had a nickel for every person I met that proudly prclaimed that they "don't like to drink", well I'd be a very rich man. What is wrong with these people? Of course drinking has its time and its place, but when the time is right, nothing beats a well made cocktail. Listen people, it worked for Frank, Sammy, Dean and the pack - ok, maybe a little too much for Dean - and it can work for us too.

My Dad's drink was the Manhattan. A sweet, hardy mix of whiskey, sweet vermouth, bitters and a Maraschino Cherry. Dad always put an extra cherry in his and Mom's drink for my sister and I to enjoy too. We'd get together before dinner, in the fall on Sundays we'd watch the 3p.m. NFL game which in my memory always seemed to be a Cowboys v. Redskins game, and have a family snack. The key as a kid was to wait to ask for your cherry. Ask too soon and the cherry would taste like a cherry; good, but a kind of pedestrain experience. Wait, and your patience was rewarded. The Manhattan would soak into the cherry and for a brief moment, we would get a small sample of the adult world in the taste of that cherry. I always enjoyed those moments for the promise of adulthood that they held.

So here I am today. Plate of cheese - French, sorry O'Reilly - some sausage, Italian, and the two greatest contributions that America has ever made to the Cocktail Society: the Triscut, and my Dad's good old Manhattan. Instead of football I'm blogging while my family is concocting some sort of pre-Valentines Day surprise in the kitchen.

Life is good, baby, life is good.

Papa Pursuit's Manhattan:

Into a cocktail shaker filled with ice pour 3 shots of BLENDED whiskey, to 1 shot of sweet vermouth. Mix and let the drink sit for approximately five minutes. Papa Pursuit insisted that Manhattans were better if they were given time to "rest".

After 5, shake the drink and strain into a hi-ball filled with ice. Add 1 cherry, plus one for each of your kids, and add 1 teaspoon of cherry juice. Add three shakes of bitters and mix.

Enjoy with some spreadable cheese while listening to Frank.

This Beats Festivus In The Category of Great New Holidays

I really don't know what to say, except I'm thrilled somebody has finally thought of a holiday focused on appreciating the man in your life. It's really perfect; simple, direct, no hidden messages, no lavish preparations just a steak and bj. By the way, if your pressed for time, I'm sure most guys will agree that the steak is a "nice to have" part of the holiday.

Link semi-not worksafe.

Saturday, February 12, 2005

Some Social Security Progress?

Well, it seems that some members of the Democratic party are unwilling to follow the Kennedy-Kerry juggernaut into oblivion. Take a look at the link above. Two Democrats have now said they are "open" to the concept of private accounts, particularly as a means to stimulate the frighteningly low rate of personal savings in the U.S.

This is fantastic news. Bush, specifically said in his SOTU that he had a proposal, but that everything was on the table. Good for Senators Carper and Nelson for taking W at his word. I remain convinced that we will get real progress on this problem in 2005, thanks to the President's courage.

Then its on to Medicare, and HSA's

Friday, February 11, 2005

Friday Recipe

While I'm off pursuing economic fulfillment this afternoon, I thought I'd leave you with a little dish I prepared last night. Its healthy, simple and packed with flavor. Most importantly it makes leftover stuff, elegant and tasty. I used the left over rib eye steak from daughter pursuit #2's birthday dinner earlier in the week, but any cut will do.

Steak Salad

left over steak, enough for 2 or 3 decent size slices per salad
mixed greens of your choice
1 jar of roasted red peppers, or prepare 2 of your own sliced into strips
1 box of cherry tomatoes
2 cloves garlic minced
1 onion
1/2 avocado for each salad, sliced
thyme to taste
salt and pepper

1/3 c olive oil
1/3c lighter oil
couple "plops" balsamic vinegar
1/3c minus a couple "plops" red wine vinegar
basil to taste chopped
garlic to taste minced
Parmesan cheese grated to taste

1. Heat oven to 500, and mix, cherry tomatoes in splash of oil, chopped garlic, and two teaspoons each of chopped rosemary, thyme. Slice onion half into thin strips and mix in. Add salt and pepper and roast for 10-15 minutes. Remove and set aside

2. While tomatoes are roasting prepare dressing.

2. Chop greens and mix.
3. Sprinkle approximately 1 teaspoon of fresh thyme for each salad you're making in
4. Put greens on plate, and arrange roast tomatoes, onions, and avocado slices on each plate.
5. Grind some fresh pepper over each salad
6. Add steak slices on top, and dress each salad.
7. Serve and gratiously receive accolades of thrilled guests.

Wednesday, February 9, 2005

Help. I Need Your Brain!!

Ok, here is the deal. My daughter is turning 13 soon and she is beginning to stress out about her birthday party. I know, no big deal to us, but she goes to school with kids that have had a lot handed to them, and have seen it all. In other words, I'm looking for some "cool" party theme/activity ideas that everyone will enjoy.

Here are the details: 10-15 girls are invited, no boys, age group is 12-13 years old. Party will be held in April, so weather is still iffy. Oh, and I'd prefer not to spend a gazillion dollars on this.

Now go to it people, give me your thoughts, and remember the psyche of a new teenager and the entire relationship with her father is IN YOUR HANDS. Ok, thats putting it in young teenager terms, but you get the point. Leave your ideas in comments.....please.

Men Pay and Pay and Pay

I don't expect to get much sympathy on this topic, but it turns out that men pay for the favors of females throughout the animal kingdom. Of course this is a topic dear to my....heart, yah that's it, as Valentines Day approaches. Penguins, crickets, monkeys you name the species and it seems that females have found a way to get men to pay up before they put out.

Happily, men are still men and some of our more creative brethren may not be so honorable when it comes to the game of romance. Not that I endorse this sort of thing, but members of both sexes do from time to time misrepresent certain aspects of the deal, and it is interesting to see that this is not unique to the human species. Take the male dance flies for example. It turns out some of these little guys are a bit deceptive when offering their payment, er gift I mean, for love:

The meal is another insect gift-wrapped in a silk balloon, but some guy flies have found they can get away with presenting an empty balloon.

"Why she accepts it, nobody knows," Waldbauer said.

Why indeed. Show me the "nice guy" who hasn't lost out to the "bad guy" and I'll show you a man who has never dated. Men, there is a lesson here and I think it is more than just that there are cads in every species. I'll leave it to you to derive the full meaning.

In fact it seems there are all sorts of things we can learn from our little animal friends. Take my new personal hero the male cricket:

If the meal is too small it won't keep the female busy for the 50 to 55 minutes it takes to fully inseminate her

50 to 55 minutes?! Not that I, personally, am surprised by this outstanding example of fortitude, but none-the-less WOW! Do you think they just roll over and fall asleep at the end, or do they have to "cuddle" too?

Tuesday, February 8, 2005

Thank You Hollywood

This really is too much....way over the top. Still, its a beautiful thing.......

Thanks to Professor Bainbridge

Desperate Lesbians?

Somehow, this isn't all that shocking but none-the-less quite distressing. Apparently one of the Desperate Housewives is set to reveal she plays on the wrong least from my point of view. I mean we lose Nicolette Sheridan, well I can live with that. But this, this is truly unfortunate. Well I'm holding out hope this isn't true.

All those wasted fantasies.....must now revert to Teri Hatcher.

UPDATE: Turns out these are just rumors and all is well with the world. Story here

Pornography and Politics

This is an interesting development; ABC News has discovered that Republican politicians have accepted contributions from companies that distribute pornography! Cable companies such as Comcast, Adelphia along with Hoteliers such as Marriott provide pay per view services that include "adult" fare.

Interestingly enough ABC, which has no liberal bias at all - just ask them, included interviews with people that believe these politicians should stop accepting donations from these companies, because of the politician's family values positions. How convenient!

I'm sure, in the interest of fairness we'll soon see the story on Democrats who currently accept donations from:

Automotive manufacturers that produce global warming products

Large Corporations that outsource jobs, and take other advantage of American workers

Clothing companies, pharmaceutical companies, and cosmetics manufacturers that torture animals

Oil companies that helped President Bush trick us into war

Haliburton, because we all know they're just evil

Defense contractors that support this country in our war based on lies

Food manufacturers and fast food chains that trick us into eating unhealthy food

Liquor producers, that addict drinkers and ruin families.

Any others that I forgot? I'd hate for the Demo's to inadvertently fall victim to hypocrisy!

Monday, February 7, 2005

KISS Haiku Genius

Well it may not be the height of intellectual achievement, but then again how many of you have achieved finalist status in your FIRST HAIKU EVER? Yup, Annika ran a haiku contest with the subject being those aging rockers KISS. At the end of the day, your buddy Pursuit is a proud, proud man.

Friday, February 4, 2005

The Good Professor Churchhill

The recent controversy over whether this guy ought to be fired is interesting. I've thought quite abit about it and I'm tempted by the free speech arguments against firing Churchhill, but in the final analysis they don't hold water. High profile professionals in all careers are held to standards of behavior that transend their professional duties into their private life. The justification for these arrangements is simple; what they do or say in their private life can impact the reputation of their employers.

Churchhill's idiotic statements, and his refusal to repudiate them, put the credibility of any University that would hire him into question. Indeed, his tenure is subject to minimum standards of professional behavior. If CU cannot relieve him of his duties for his Eichman comments then what will it take?

The good professor is more than welcome to he rights to free speech. He just needs to learn that with rights come responsibilty, and as we all know, payback is a bitch baby.

Thursday, February 3, 2005

Wine Tasting Notes

As I mentioned below, I was at a rather large wine tasting event the other night....Monday to be exact. Its taken me a while to get some notes up, but I've finally managed to get some time.

The event was fun, met some new people and saw a couple old friends as well. Also scheduled another Cali Red event for two weeks from now, and I'll post my opinions from there as well.

This event was also, mostly California wines. Frankly, I prefer the French style as more elegant and nuanced, but of the few French wines that I had at this tasting, none were really worth mentioning. Most of the wines that I focused on were in the USD 10 - 30 per bottle range.

Daniel Gehrs: For a guy that likes nuance, my continued attraction to Gehrs "high fidelity" wines is a bit inexplicable. I'm enjoy the bold approach, and generous mouth that come with his style, although, based on my taste Monday it seems he may be tempering his style for greater appeal. Most wines had been in the bottle for two years already and struck me as more smooth on the palate, but less structured as well. Specifically:

Pinot Noir, Santa Barbara County 2001 - Priced in the $12 range, this was a great value, providing typical Pinot fruit, and some structure.

Merlot 2002: Not a stand out, although I am not typically a Merlot drinker

Syrah, Paso Robles 2001 - Another excellent value, great spice, decent mouth. Around $12.

Spring Mountain: I always want to hate Spring Mountain, and I don't know why. This week was no different, and the didn't let me down.

Syrah 2001 - Nice fruit, great spice very big mouth. I enjoyed this wine, but in the $40 range, not worth it in my opinion.

Estate Red 2001 - Just flat, blah

Elivette 2001 - Better than the Estate Red, but at 60 - 70 American I was disappointed

Keenan Winery - I've always liked Keenan and believe they deliver value for the money.

Merlot 2001 - At 20 to 25 American an outstanding value. Big tast, lasts in the mouth, excellent structure.

Penner-Ash Winery: I am unfamiliar with these folks, but really enjoyed their stuff.

Pinot Noir 2002 Willamette - Very nice, good fruit, hints of vanilla, and spice. Nice buy at $30-35

Pinot Noir 2002 Syrah Rubeo - A little sweet for my taste but as above good fruit. Not a bad buy at $14-18.

Biggest Suprise of the Tasting: Peacock Family Vineyards 2001 Cabernet Sauvignon. I had never had this wine and it was great. Nice tannins, good structure. At $40 -45 still a good buy.

I've got more, but those were the highlights, if there is interest, I'll put more thoughts up later.

Sullivan Leaves

So Andrew Sullivan has decided to admit what we all have known for a while....his blog is an unreadable mess. I guess he hasn't actually admitted this, but tell me; who has been able to read this guy for the past couple of years?

I'll admit that back when he was leading the charge against the NYT, I avidly read every line of attack and hoped that he would help bring some change to the paper. Even then though, I was always troubled that his attacks seemed to me as oddly personal, and full of needless vitriol. The same was true during the Iraq War lead up. He was on the right side, so I ignored some of the less than gracious ways that I thought he treated his critics.

Shame on me, I'm afraid those of us that were troubled by his style, but chose to ignore it, ultimately helped create Bad Andrew.

I stopped reading Andrew when his poison keyboard began to be directed at those of us that didn't support his Gay marriage crusade, or his "its going good today","now its a collasal failure" mood swings on Iraq. The breaking point for me was when he held a pledge drive and then went on vacation for a month the day after it was over. I thought this was extremely disrespectful to his supporters.

And now he is packing it in, at least temporarily. I hope as the rest of us move on, we remember to remain passionate about those things that matter to us, but also considerate of those with whom we disagree. I'm new to this game, but have found quickly that blogging does encourage a shoot now, ask questions later approach. It can also be an easy place from which to mount a venomous attack against our "enemies". I think Andrew to one degree or another fell victim to these temptations. I also think his reputation has suffered because of it.

The rest of us are into this gig with a lot less capital on the line. The lesson though, is no less important to us. If all we have is our reputation, then we need to ensure that we protect it.

Addition To The Blogroll

I've added a new addition to the blogroll today, my new favorite liberal - sorry Functional Ambivalent - Habitat Girl, who blogs over at Hammer and Nail. I've been enjoying her site lately with thoughtful, although decidely misguided, posts on politics and more accurate yet equally thoughtful posts on life. She also added me to her blogroll (but didn't tell me, for shame) so I've got to follow through on my strict policy of returning the love.

So what are you waiting for, stop by say hello for me!

Tuesday, February 1, 2005

Iraq: Minds They Are A Changin?

I'm not a huge reader of the Chicago Sun-Times, but Limbaugh was talking about Mark Brown's column today, so I thought I should check it out. It is quite interesting, perhaps more so than Mr. Brown intends, as it indicates the profound impact the Sunday elections have had on people in the U.S., and exposes the underlying theme of elitism that so many American liberals display towards people of color.

I've been quite curious as to why so many otherwise good people seem to have aligned themselves against a chance for freedom for the Iraqi people. While I disagreed with their resistance to the war, these anti-freedom liberals (oxymoron anyone?) went from disagreeing with policy to aligning with the forces against freedom once the war was over. As with the French and the Germans, it appears now that these Americans will increasingly be fighting the tide of history if they continue to deny, and yes, resist helping in Iraq.

Brown's column provides the first hint that perhaps this is dawning on some folks. It also includes some lines that indicate to me at least, that maybe they're resistance goes beyond standard Bush hatred to a little cultural elitism.

Catch these quotes, which I've selectively taken from the article, you should read the whole thing yourself:

"You didn't change your mind when our troops swept quickly into Baghdad or when you saw the rabble that celebrated the toppling of the Saddam Hussein statue, figuring that little had been accomplished and that the tough job still lay ahead."

Rabble? These people live under the boot of Saddam for twenty years, endure executions, rape rooms and torture, and are nothing more than rabble on the day of their liberation? Next time, we must remember to drop leaflet and inform the populace that their expected to dress for the occasion!

"But after watching Sunday's election in Iraq and seeing the first clear sign that freedom really may mean something to the Iraqi people, you have to be asking yourself: What if it turns out Bush was right, and we were wrong?"

Why is it that after the last twenty years, when we saw the fall of the wall in Berlin, the execution Romania's dictator at the hands of a newly freed people, the revolution in Russia, the students willing to die in Tiananmen Square, that it continues to be a shock to liberals that freedom is something worth dying for. Aren't liberals supposed to be society's main proponents for freedom, and if so, how have they so routinely ended up on the wrong side of history?

"For those who've been in the same boat with me, we don't need to concede the point just yet. There's a long way to go. But I think we have to face the possibility."

After all he has seen in the past week, the clear desire for freedom, the courage to display their purple fingers, Mr. Brown continues to cling to the thought (hope?) that maybe these people really don't want the chance that we've given them. Indeed, later in the article he claims we've forced a brave new world on them.

"On the other side of that barrier is a concept some of us have had a hard time swallowing: Maybe the United States really can establish a peaceable democratic government in Iraq, and if so, that would be worth something."

In the name of all that is good, why in the world is this so hard to swallow? Have we not spent the last two decades witnessing the march of freedom? That last part is particularly astounding - it would really be worth something? Uh, ya I think it might be worth a whole lot, but you know, maybe Mr. Brown will need a few more decades to work that out. This freedom stuff is messy business after all

"Instead of making the elections a further expression of "Yankee Go Home," their participation gave us hope that all those soldiers haven't died in vain."

In fact, they demonstrated that our soldiers fought and died for a very brave people who are slowly shaking off the effects of decades of fear and torture. In fact, many said that while they want us to leave, they need us to stay until security is fully established.

There is more, so much more and as I said you should read it all. While Mr. Brown seems to finally be "getting it", it is hard to see what is more stunning; his initial lack of faith in the "rabble" or his unwarranted cynicism of the President's foreign policy.