Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Welcome to Babylon...

My wife’s new favorite TV show is Gordon Ramsey’s “Kitchen Nightmares” (on BBC America), which, of course, pretty much makes it MY new favorite TV show as well.

The show centers around world renowned chef, Gordon Ramsey and his quest to set various poorly performing restaurants back on track by first assessing, then correcting the problems that have come to make them unprofitable.

The show started with a number of European eateries and has subsequently moved to some new fertile territory right here in the USA.

One recent episode, ironically enough, captured almost exactly what is currently wrong with America in a restaurant-based microcosm.

This episode took place in Babylon, Long Island, which is a suburb of New York City. There, Gordon Ramsey encountered yet another dysfunctional eatery called Peter’s, a local upscale restaurant that served Italian food.

Ramsey always starts his assessment by sampling the restaurant’s fares, checking their menus, their prices and how busy they are.

Upon his arrival at the Babylon Station of the LIRR, Gordon Ramsey had to wait about an hour for the restaurant’s maitre de and self-described “co-owner” to pick him up in his high end luxury automobile.

At Peter’s Chef Ramsey found the food undercooked, rushed and not of very high quality. It showed in their lack of patronage.

It turned out that Peters is owned by Tina (Peter’s sister), but run by her domineering, rough-around-the-edges brother, who spends much of the restaurant’s profits on $3,000 suits, glitzy watches and his car, while the restaurant that bears his name needs a new stove and a major rehab job on its walk-in refrigerator.

I think you can see where I’m going with this.

Another complicating matter in the business is that Tina’s and Peter’s parents are fixtures in the place and seem to demand that Tina keep the relatively useless, yet boisterous Peter happy and working at the restaurant, despite his bizarre behavior and general, all-around uselessness. I guess it’s better than having camping out at Mom and Dad’s place all day every day.

When Chef Ramsey confronts Tina over how long she can go on at this pace, she tells him, “only a matter of months,” after which she’d almost certainly lose her house to pay off her debts...many, or most of which, Peter has incurred.

Even when Chef Ramsey assesses the restaurant’s problems and sets up a new family style menu, with a new set of parameters and even a new kitchen with new appliances, Peter isn’t able to curb his ways. When he’s assigned to help out in the kitchen, he demonstrates that he has absolutely zero culinary skills and his quick temper, coupled with his hulking frame, make him a liability in too many ways to measure.

As you might expect, I saw, in this episode, a microcosm of America’s current problems, with the owner, Tina representing America’s long suffering and beleaguered entrepreneurs and business owners, her Mom & Dad, fixtures in the restaurant and stalwart of her brother Peter, no matter how much of a liability and how little help he offers the “family business,” are fairly representative of the various local governments and Tina’s brother Peter (who likes to call himself a “co-owner” despite the fact that it’s Tina’s name on all the lines of credit, the leases, etc. Peter, an ill-tempered, self-centered, lazy oaf with no restaurant nor business related skills, almost perfectly represents the U.S. government.

The loutish, incompetent and mostly useless federal big brother (Peter) likes to fancy himself a “co-owner” of the business that is America and likes to think that “nothing here would exist without him.” Mom and Dad (the local and state governments) ALWAYS can be counted to side with Peter over the beleaguered Tina (America’s entrepreneurs and business owners) and America’s kitchen staff (its workers) – the main artery of that business.

The beleaguered kitchen staff at Peter’s adequately represents America’s workers. It’s amazing that you can find real life lessons almost everywhere you look.

No wonder Gordon Ramsey’s Kitchen Nightmares is my new favorite TV show!


Roadhouse said...

It's probably a moot point. After Obama gets through with us, eating out is going to be a thing of the past. See ya in the bread line!

JMK said...

I've got to warn my fellow Conservatives that underestimating the Obama administration will doom, not only the GOP, but far more importantly, CONSERVATISM to the wilderness, perhaps for a pretty long time.

Hear me out Roady.

Right now, I think it's safe to say that Rahm Emanuel may be the most effective political force since Newt Gingrich, while Barack Obama, is perhaps the best communicator since Bill Clinton, perhaps even as effective as Ronald Reagan was.

The idea that "Obama wants to drive the economy into Depression" is as foolish a thought as are the 9-11 Truther conspiracies that "the Bush administration was behind the 9/11 attacks." Both are as crazy as the idea that "Obama wants to see the U.S. attacked again."

Not only are such ideas foolish, they do irreparable harm to the side the purveyors of such ideas claim to support. They isolate such people in the "lunatic fringe" margins and once uttered, such sentiments can often serve to make those who claim them, unable to be taken seriously.

Ask yourself this, "Was G W Bush a Conservative?"

The ONLY honest answer is, "Not on your life," so PERISH that thought.

G W Bush was, like his Dad (the man who railed AGAINST Reagan's "Voodoo economics"), every bit as Keynesian as Obama, Pelosi and Reid are now.

Scarier still, G W Bush wasn't nearly as effective a communicator and defender of those Keynesian ideals as is Obama.

Right now Roady, a LOT of Americans are lauding Obama's forcing those companies that have taken bailout monies to rein in their corporate compensation (bank CEO's compensation for bailout recipients is now capped at $500K). There's little doubt that with the auto bailouts will come some real fuel changes (forced by government) and perhaps auto downsizing, along with them.

THAT (forcing a deal with businesses that take government monies) is NOT "socialism."

IF it IS, IF that's your definition of "socialism," then the corporations that sought out all that government money are the real culprits - THEY sold out Capitalism, NOT the current administration!

Roady, you KNOW I love your enthusiasm and your passion for Conservatism, but these are bad times to be reckless.

Personally, I believe that MORE Keynesian policies (more government spending, more bailouts, and more wrong-headed regulation) will not get us out of a crisis brought on by the Keynesian policies of Bush-Jr. - SIX LOOOOONG years of excessive government spending (the prescription drug boondoggle, the NCLB Act, more social spending even adjusted for inflation than LBJ) and ham-handed regulation (ie. Sarb-Ox, which has been so expensive that it was almost solely responsible for the "jobless recovery" of 2002 - 2003, as companies couldn't afford to add payroll due to the added Sarb-Ox compliance costs).

MORE of the same bad policies are never the cure for bad policies.

Saying that, I'm telling you, this crew is NOT a bunch of dopes set on ruining America or having us attacked again.

They've changed the WoT (even scrapping that terms for "the global conflict") ONLY around tha margins, but have ratcheted UP the rendition program, signed onto and kept up the NSA Surveillance programs and are re-focusing on Afghanistan and other hotspots. Very clever.

Economically, their economics team is FAR better than G W Bush's. There's absolutely no comparison. Larry Summers, Tim Geithner...not a "socialist" in the bunch...ALL of them are market-oriented economists and they're all sound policy wonks.

Even their current spending, the overwhelming bulk is targeted to infrastructure repair - creating lots of new private sector construction jobs down the road.

AGAIN, these guys have taken a very cautious, clever approach to this. AND they've fought off Nancy Pelosi's overreach on an number of issues.

Angry Liberalism CAN occasionally be en vogue because the MSM backs it up, but I can assure you "angry Conservatism" s never in fashion and there's NOTHING the liberal media likes more than to see grassroots Conservatives meltdown and engage in the very kind of ODS they themselves not long ago supported as BDS.

Trust me, they'll marginalize angry Conservatives in a heartbeat and the bulk of moderate apolitical America will go along with them, clucking, "Yeah those crazy Conservatives. You can't trust them at all."

Ironically enough, I see Conservative overreaction as MORE of a threat to Conservatism than the Keynesian policies now being CONTINUED....all Obama's done s far is to CONTINUE the G W Bush policies! Moreover, NOTHING done to date, can't be undone in dealing with the crisis these things intensify.

I suppose I'm more nuanced in my political views. I don't see it as "Republicans = GOOD, Democrats = BAD." Not at all.

The way I see it, the Blue Dog (Conservative) Democrats and the Conservative Republicans are BOTH GOOD, the left-leaning, Liberal Democrats (Chuck Schumer, Bill Nelson) are BAD, the far-Left Democratic loons (Barney Frank, Henry Waxman, Chris Dodd, John Conyers, etc) are WORSE...and the "Rockefeller Republicans" (those Liberal Republican elites like Arlen Specter, Sue Collins, Chris Shays) are the (to steal a phrase from the batshit crazy Keith Olbermann) "WORST PEOPLE in the WORLD."

Conservatives can't just swing for the fences against the Obama administration.We simply don't have the credibility to do that.

Not after having spent the DECADE after Gingrich soiling the Conservative coalition he'd built.

A LOT of so-called Conservatives (G W, McCain, DeLay, Hastert) have f*cked things up and delivered a bloated government and a sick economy.

We have to fix our own house before we can throw any rocks at Obama's.

WomanHonorThyself said...

lol..I used to watch his Chefs from hell for something like that and watch him verbally abuse everyone in sight..talk about a temper!..great metaphor though my friend!..always an honor to see you at WHT!

JMK said...

He IS some piece of work, Angel, but that one episode really connected very well with what's going on today.

I love your blog, Angel. Your video compilations are awesome!

Roadhouse said...

Trust me, I never accused Bush of being a conservative, especially on fiscal matters.
Regarding Obama's true intentions...we will see. I still think there's something to his associations with Ayers, Alinsky, ACORN, and Rev. Wright. I wish I could put my gut feelings aside, but all signs point to hammers and sickles.
I really, really want to be wrong about this.

JMK said...

Roady, I KNOW you do (hope to be wrong)....and bottom-line, I don't think you're wrong about the disastrous outcome...even the CBO says the stimulus plan will have long term negative consequences; http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2009/feb/04/cbo-obama-stimulus-harmful-over-long-haul/

My caution only goes to the tone and tenor of how Conservatives choose to make their arguments.

If your opponent has a hole in his boat, it's best just to let him sink, rather than excoriate him for deliberating sabotaging his own attempt in the race.

We DO seem to be heading from hard times into much worse times, BUT we have to acknowledge that the Bush administration (uncomfortable as this is to admit) had a HUGE hand in moving the U.S. to the Keynesian path it's now on.

G W bush bought into the same "Big Government Conservatism" that Rudy Guiliani thrived on for a few years. The problem is that it still ballooons government and Bush went even further with his "compassionate Conservatism" and that line of thought led many Republicans to support some of the policies that led to the current subprime mortgage mess that triggered the global credit crisis.

Newt Gingrich had a GREAT article in yesterday's Washington Post about what Conservatives (in government) need to do to win back the day; http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2009/feb/11/where-does-the-conservative-movement-go-from-here/

You have great passion and you write very well, but it's vital that we remember that when things begin to really unravel with this stimulus package (and that may be up to a year away yet), the Left is going to look for any reason (any ill-temper form Conservatves) to try and excoriate them as "Mean-spirited people who are taking pleasure in the failures of this 'rescue attempt' and the subsequent pain of others."

Our opponents are neither gracious in defeat, nor any less repulsive in victory....they can't help themselves, it's about as good as they get.

We shouldn't respond in kind.

I mean, if a severely mentally handicapped kid smacks in you the head, you don't throw him down and beat him, you merely look to reduce any leverage (power) he may have.

Same thing here, the far-Left are generally emotionally disturbed people - they don't need to be throttled, so much as marginalized.

Z said...

That on PBS, or? Not on the Food Channel, right? I'd like to see it.

JMK...if you wrote a POST out of that incredible COMMENT here about Obama and doom, I KNOW a bunch of us would post it...let's do a BLOG BURST TUESDAY or something!

WRITE it and they will come. More have to be warned THIS WELL..GREAT job.
Please consider doing this...please. It's no good singing to this choir!!

And thanks for the amazing smack down to Ducky at my blog on the credit card article...you have such good information/thinking!

JMK said...

"That on PBS, or? Not on the Food Channel, right? I'd like to see it." (Z)
Sadly it's on BBC America...I don't know how my wife finds these things - another favorite of hers is another BBC show "How Clean is Your House" with two British cleaning women visitng various homes and helping them out of their "deplorable condition." Another is "I Shouldn't Be Alive" that focuses on three stories at a time of people who've dealt with some horrific events and survived.
"if you wrote a POST out of that incredible COMMENT here about Obama and doom, I KNOW a bunch of us would post it...let's do a BLOG BURST TUESDAY or something!" (Z)
I will work on that Z...but I want to be careful about that. I LIKE Conservatives, especially fellow working-class Conservatives like Roady and Seane-Anna and others, many of whom are very angry over what they see happening.

I just think that Conservatives have to look inward first and consider that we can't simply support a Party or person because we think they're "on our side."

Look, G W Bush had a lot of things that worked for him with Conservatives - a down home folksy appeal that belied his Ivy League roots, a post-alcohol and drugs conversion to faith and he spoke the language - he resonated with Conservatives.

I'll even acknowledge that G W Bush, like his Dad, had a real faith in the possibilities of a GOOD government...but it's government itself that's the threat to liberty, whether well intentioned or not. The machinary of government is too easily abused, too easily corrupted, too clumsy.

My only admoninition is to the tone and tenor of the debate. Most Conservatives had a HUGE problem with BDS, all the more reason to avoid ODS.

I see G W and Obama the same way - both basically good men, both somewhat naive and both drawn to some very poor ideas.

I'm working over the next two days, but I'll work on that.


Roadhouse said...

Your point is well taken, but I think there is value in drawing these people out and forcing them to explain and defend their positions in as public a forum as possible. I also see this as a war of ideologies. I just don't want to lose because I was afraid to throw down with some philosophical ass-whoopin'. The stakes are just too high.

conservative brother said...

I love Hell's Kitchen and Kitchen Nightmares too jmk. It sure beats watching American Idol any day. As for Obama, I have to disagree. Conservatism never failed, because it was never really used under Bush or for the eight years Republicans were in power jmk. If the economy keeps shedding jobs, reality will set in quick to even the most loyal Obama mental case. Hope will not pay a car or mortgage note. It all comes down to reality and things that are tangible. The same way Carter lost is the same way Obama will lose too. The economy will be Obama's undoing jmk. Obama hasn't even been in office a full month yet. Give it time, but his numbers will surely start to drop by next year. Fades never last forever, they usually last only for a season at best.

conservative brother said...

Roadhouse "It's probably a moot point. After Obama gets through with us, eating out is going to be a thing of the past. See ya in the bread line!"

Since Obama is being heralded as the new Messiah, we will have unlimited fish and bread from Obama the great Roadhouse.

JMK said...

Confrontation IS necessary Roady, condemnation isn't.

Personal attacks only get in the way of and obscure an argument...that's why I advocate avoiding hyperbole like, "The Obama administration is deliberately leading us into a Depression," OR "The Obama administration wants us to be attacked again."

Those kind of charges alienate some of the people we'd like to reach out to, namely apolitical "moderates."

JMK said...

"As for Obama, I have to disagree. Conservatism never failed, because it was never really used under Bush or for the eight years Republicans were in power jmk." (Tyrone)
That's what I said, with, "Conservatives can't just swing for the fences against the Obama administration. We simply don't have the credibility to do that.

"Not after having spent the DECADE after Gingrich soiling the Conservative coalition he'd built.

"A LOT of so-called Conservatives (G W, McCain, DeLay, Hastert) have f*cked things up and delivered a bloated government and a sick economy.

"We have to fix our own house before we can throw any rocks at Obama's."

G W Bush talked the talk, he and much of the rest of the post-Gingrich GOP, just didn't walk the walk.

There IS certainly hope...AFTER Carter, came Reagan....after David Dinkins (and the skyrocketing murder rate in NYC...over 2,000/year) came Guiliani....and after Bill Clinton veered Left in his first two years, came Newt Gingrich.

The problem with modern Conservatism is that when it's been empoered it's treaded way too lightly - nibbling around the edges, instead of dismantling the programs that weigh the economy down like anchors.

I am, in fact, hopeful of some sweeping changesd in 2010, but they won't mean ANYTHING unless they are truly Conservative changes. I hope we can find another Gingrich and not someone who'll settle for nibbling around the edges, and certainly NOT a DeLay or a Hastert who'd seek to "play along with the Keynesians."

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