Daily Archives: July 21, 2014

Anthony Bourdain is debriefed by Blogs of War and it’s a smash!

“Find myself in Beirut during the 2006 war was clearly a defining moment for the show–and some kind of crossroads for me personally.”

Food, culture, conflict are things with which chef, author and restauranteur Anthony Bourdain must contend in producing his TV shows, “No Reservations” and “Parts Unknown.” The brutish, chain smoking and potty mouthed host glowers his way through his shows but his sensitivity to his hosts is never far fromABsmoking his mind. 

I used to think that basically, the whole world, that all humanity were basically bastards. I’ve since found that most people seem to be pretty nice–basically good people doing the best they can . There is rarely, however, a neat takeaway. You have to learn to exercise a certain moral relativity, to be a good guest first–as a guiding principle. Other wise you’d spend the rest of the world lecturing people, pissing people off, confusing them and learning nothing. Do I pipe up every time my Chinese host serves me some cute animal I may not approve of?

Bourdain recently debriefed Blogs of War about his culinary (and otherworldly) exploits,

I’ve been able to look at places like post Benghazi Libya, the DRC, Liberia, Haiti, Cuba, Gaza, the West Bank, Kurdistan and recently Iran from a very intimate angle. Those are all very long stories–and if you don’t take that time to listen, to take in the everyday things–the things that happened before the news story, there’s not much hope in understanding them.

Bourdain says sometimes food tells the real story of what’s happening in a country, as he found out recently in pre-revolutionary Egypt,

When we expressed a desire to shoot a segment at one of the ubiquitous street stands selling ful, our fixers and translators, who, no doubt also worked for some sinister department of the Interior Ministry, were absolutely adamant that we not do it. What was it about this simple, everyday, working class meal of beans and flatbread that just about everyone in Cairo was eating that was so threatening? Turns out, they knew better than us. The price of bread had been going up. The army controlled most of the bakeries and stocks of flour. There had been riots over bread elsewhere in the country. And the inescapable fact was that ful was ALL that much of the population was eating and the bastards knew it. That was an image they apparently considered sensitive , dangerous: their countrymen eating bread.

Read the rest at Blogs of War here. 

Closing arguments expected tomorrow in Jesse Ventura- Chris Kyle case over Coronado bar fight

Former SEAL and Minnesota Governor Jesse Ventura sues widow of ‘American Sniper’ Chris Kyle over reputed bar fight in Coronado.

Mc P's Irish Pub in Coronado.  Photo by TripAdvisor
Mc P’s Irish Pub in Coronado.
Photo by TripAdvisor

Former Minnesota Governor and professional wrestler, Jesse Ventura claims the story of a bar fight Chris Kyle related in his book American Sniper sullied his reputation and made it hard for him to go to Navy gatherings anymore. He argues in his defamation lawsuit against Kyle’s widow, in fact, the incident never happened. 

Attorneys representing Kyle’s widow Taya Kyle, the daughter of Lake Oswego, Oregon Mayor Kent Studebaker, “the former professional wrestler and celebrity needed no help from Kyle in sullying his own name.”

Eyewitnesses have testified Kyle, who in his book referred to Ventura not by name but by the label ‘scruff face’, punched the former governor. 

On October 12, 2006, Kyle and other SEALs were at Mc P’s in Coronado to celebrate the life of fellow SEAL Michael Mansoor, a friend of Kyle’s, who just days before dove on a grenade in Ramadi to save the life of his comrades. Ventura was at McP’s attending a SEALs reunion. 

That’s where things get fuzzy.

Kyle claims in his book “he punched and knocked down Ventura after he continued to make disparaging remarks about President George W. Bush and the Iraq war and said the SEALs “deserved to lose a few.””


“[My career] came to a screeching halt is the best way I can put it.” The Underwater Demolition Team-SEAL Association has been circulating a petition to remove Ventura for dishonorable conduct. Ventura has said it was because of the bar story.”

The organization claims members circulated the petition because of Ventura’s lawsuit. 

His douchebaggery speaks for itself. On one hand, if he did say the SEALs “deserved to lose a few” it would make those SEAL reunions a bit testy. On the other, going after the widow of the “American Sniper” the most lethal sniper in the military who was named by his enemies the “Devil of Ramadi” makes him look like a classless sissy. 

Ventura went to court to clamp down on the story which he says cost him big money, 

Photo credit Showbizdaily.net
Photo credit Showbizdaily.net

“Tax returns showed Ventura made more than $13 million in the decade before “American Sniper’s” release. Much of that came from his contract for an MSNBC talk show in 2003-05, but Ventura took in $676,000 in 2011, the year before the book came out.

After Kyle’s autobiography was released, Ventura’s earnings dipped to $190,000 in 2012. Ventura said job offers, usually plentiful, “came to a screeching halt.” The third season of his TruTV series “Conspiracy Theory” was put on hold because of the story, he said, and the series eventually was canceled.

While Kyle didn’t mention Ventura by name in the book, he did connect Ventura to the story in later interviews.

But Taya Kyle’s attorneys say it wasn’t Kyle who sullied Ventura’s reputation, it was Ventura himself.

Chuck Webber, an attorney for the Kyle estate, cross-examined Ventura for much of the morning. Webber raised many of Ventura’s own colorful statements in an effort to illustrate that the former professional wrestler and celebrity needed no help from Kyle in sullying his own name.

Those ranged from a news conference outside a courthouse in which Ventura declared he was seeking Mexican citizenship to escape the “Fascist States of America” to a book passage that described “an Army run by Christianist extremists” to another passage saying women had to expect some level of harassment on the street.

Ventura said controversy and offensiveness were in the eye of the beholder. It wasn’t up to him, he said, to say how other people reacted to him.

“You’re not aware of what your reputation is?” Webber asked, pressing Ventura to admit that he had a penchant for controversy.

“Is anyone aware of what their reputation is?” Ventura responded.

Webber named a number of witnesses who he said would testify that they saw or heard parts of Kyle’s story happen. Were they all wrong? he asked.

They were, Ventura said.

Did Ventura sue to get back at Kyle for an embarrassing but true story? Webber asked.

Ventura said he did not.

Proving libel and defamation are very difficult to prove–especially since Kyle isn’t around to tell his side of the story. From the Minneapolis Star Tribune:

Winning defamation and libel cases in the United States is hard, because of our First Amendment rights. The Minneapolis Star-Tribune interviewed a few constitutional experts about the case. One academic called it “one of the most important First Amendment cases in recent Minnesota history.” And how could he win? “He’s got to prove not only that the publication was false and harmed his reputation, but he has also got to prove that it was published with actual malice.”

Another professor confirmed this. “Truth or falsity by itself is not the only issue. Ventura must prove Kyle knew he was writing a lie, or acted recklessly in writing his account.”

University of Minnesota professor Lawrence Jacobs told the Star-Tribune that Ventura always seems to try things “almost certain to fail or just plain without a reasonable chance of success. But I have also learned the lesson not to count Jesse out,” Jacobs said. “He is a magician, and whether it is politics, business or his latest TV career he has consistently surprised us.”

Today, attorneys and the judge are going over jury instructions. Closing arguments are set for tomorrow in a St. Paul, Minnesota courtroom.

A ten person jury is hearing the case.  

Oregon says goodbye to former Governor Vic Atiyeh *Updated*

Gentleman, visionary and last Republican governor elected in Oregon, Vic Atiyeh, has died in Portland.

*This post has been updated to include more reaction.


Vic Atiyeh, who fought for the Oregon logging industry, introduced Oregon products to Asia, navigated the state through the deep recession of the 1980s and set the state universities’ compasses toward technology has died at Providence St. Vincents Hospital. He was 91 years old.

From ABC News,

The former governor died at 8:15 p.m. PDT at Portland’s Providence St. Vincent Medical Center of complications from renal failure, said Denny Miles, who had formerly served as Atiyeh’s press secretary.

He said that Atiyeh was at home but had returned to the hospital Saturday due to shortness of breath and possible internal bleeding.

Political observer and friend, Jim Pasero, often credited Atiyeh with pulling Oregon out of the 1982-83 recession by cutting back government costs and raising taxes. Before this current recession started, the recession of the early 1980’s was the worst since the Great Depression. Though Atiyeh caught political hell for raising taxes, he was credited with minimizing the impact of the recession.  

Political analyst and KXL talk host, Rob Kremer, said Governor Atiyeh, “was a wonderful man and a mentor to two generations of Republican candidates who tried to build on his legacy.” 

But Kremer says there’s one distinction Atiyeh wanted nothing more than to shed, “I’m saddened that he didn’t live to see the day that he fulfilled his last political goal: to lose the title of the last Republican Governor of Oregon.”

During his tenure as governor between 1979-1987, Atiyeh battled with environmental groups over reducing timber harvest over the spotted owl issue. Environmentalists claimed the spotted owl was being killed off by cutting trees. Time and science proved the claims untrue, but not before Oregon’s timber industry was decimated by what turned out to be the environmentalists’ phony stories. 

Atiyeh was of Syrian descent and worked in the family’s high end rug business based in Portland. 

Politicos would often seek him out for advice, especially at the annual Republican confab the Dorchester Conference. In fact, it was at the Dorchester Conference a few years ago where I last saw him. The governor was alone and unsuccessfully trying to navigate the stairs at his hotel. Seeing he needed help, my husband provided a steady hand to get him up to level ground. Governor Atiyeh gratefully accepted the assist.  

Oregon hasn’t had a statesmen at Mahonia Hall in years. After a series of leftist ideologues, the people of Oregon may not know what true statesmen even looks like anymore. Governor Atiyeh would be a good place to start.