Pouring on the Love

It doesn’t matter what time of the day or night it may be, when I frequent a diner my order is the exact same – regardless of which diner I choose.

This afternoon was no exception: Swiss cheese omelette well done – no goo, fries well done, rye toast and tea. Simple, to the point, can’t go wrong, never disappointed.

On the table next to the salt and pepper shakers was a bottle of Heinz ketchup with an unusual looking label. Although I never use ketchup, I was drawn to pick the bottle up to read the label. I was instantly dumbfounded, not because of the intent of the label which states, “Our Turn to Serve,” but because of the paradox involved.

You see, I remember the Swift boat issue surrounding Senator John Kerry’s presidential campaign. Swift boats are 50-foot aluminum Shallow Water Inshore Fast Tactical crafts that are engaged in coastal patrolling and rely on speed.

If you remember, Senator John Kerry (D) from Massachusetts was accused in a letter by fellow Swift boat veterans of “. . . upon your return from Vietnam, you grossly and knowingly distorted the conduct of the American soldiers, marines, sailors and airmen . . .”

The accusations were so devastating that Kerry’s chances of defeating President George W. Bush in 2004 became overwhelming, and a new word was coined for practicing unfair political attacks – “Swift boating.”

In 1966, Teresa Heinz, aka Simões-Ferreira from Mozambique, married the heir to the
H. J. Heinz Company – Henry John Heinz III. Teresa became a naturalized citizen in 1971, and in 1976 H. J. Heinz III won his senate seat as a moderate Republican. He maintained that seat until his untimely death in a 1991 plane crash.

It was in 1995 when Senator John Kerry and Teresa Heinz wed . . . but she chose to remain registered as a Republican until Kerry’s presidential bid. Although Teresa ultimately dropped her party affiliation, she never dropped Heinz from her name stating, “My legal name is still Teresa Heinz. Teresa Heinz Kerry is my name . . . for politics.”

So what’s the paradox?

Kerry’s conduct off the Vietnam battlefield catapulted him into notoriety. In 1971 – ironically the same year Teresa became a naturalized citizen – he testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee describing his fellow soldiers’ demeanor during the Vietnam Conflict as brutal.

His questionable anti-war reputation, along with the Swift boat accusations sunk his presidential bid. Married to a woman who was the wife of a moderate Republican senator, who originally chose to define herself as a Republican and insists on maintaining “Heinz” as her legal name, Kerry finds himself in another awkward position. You see, the Heinz company has taken their noble, up-lifting campaign to tables across America . . . instead of denigrating America’s soldiers at a table during a committee hearing.

The Heinz company is proudly honoring “those who have served our country with a charitable campaign that celebrates veterans while also raising awareness and money for Wounded Warrior Project, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that honors and empowers wounded warriors.”

Visit woundedwarriorproject.org if you’re interested in getting more involved, or if you want more information. I wonder if Kerry has decided to get involved  . . . and I wonder if Teresa is a registered Republican, again.

The Running of the Bull

Ernest Hemingway famously depicted the transfer of bulls from Spain’s Santo Domingo corral to the Ring where the bulls will fight that afternoon. Hemingway’s account captured the imagination of people from all over the globe in his 1926 novel, “The Sun Also Rises.”

On July 7th, this annual 8-day festival began – Pamplona’s Running of the Bulls. Each day, six magnificent fighting bulls are interspersed among two herds of tame bulls and thrill-seeking participants as they run the route throughout Pamplona’s historic cobblestone streets.

Four rockets are launched each day of the festival. Each morning, at eight o’clock exactly, a rocket launches which signals to all that the gates of the corral are open. The second indicates Elvis has left the building (I mean the bulls), the third indicates all the bulls have entered the ring enclosure, and the fourth and final launch signals that all the bulls are in the bullpens – the day’s run is over.

Some thrill-seekers pick themselves up and dust off, some escape, and some are gored.

But it’s not over, not by a long shot. That fourth rocket launch signals the beginning . . .
of the end for the beautiful creatures. You see, they will be tortured and then killed in front of teems of admiring fans – winning ugly in the name of tradition, in the Bull Ring.

On the opposite side of the Atlantic Ocean, Wall Street is involved in its own winning ugly tradition.

From gavel – to gong – to today’s bell, each morning at 9:30 a.m. exactly a bell rings which signals to all the stock market is open.

Quickly and furiously, participants run and dodge. They move sideways, forward, backward, fall down, or crash and burn – and then at 4 p.m. a closing bell rings signalling the end of the route.

The effects of the Affordable Care Act are in question, double-dip recession talk continues to loom, Europe is in crisis, confidence is down, employment is down, wages are down, factory output is down. The silver lining: Mortgage rates are down (if you can get one), and crude oil prices are down. But it’s confusing that throughout this nail-biting 2012 run, the Nasdaq is up 15% and the S&P 500 remains fairly constant. The market is nonetheless tepid and cautious, but still regarded as a bull market.

So, we have to look at ourselves standing naked in front of the mirror and ask: Are we simply caught up in the adrenaline rush that we cannot see what others believe is so blatantly obvious?

Are we in the middle of what Ernest Hemingway perfectly characterized as the corrida: Death in the afternoon?