Free Markets, Free People

Daily Archives: January 25, 2011


Down memory lane–there’s nothing more American than the good old cheeseburger

Call this just a weird coincidence, but I happened upon an article in the Houston Chronicle that listed the best 10 burger joints in the US.  And coming in at 10 was “Feltner’s Whatta-burger” in Russellville, Ark.  I followed it to a local link.

I went to school there (Arkansas Tech University) and I worked for Bob Feltner in what was then known only as “The Whatta-burger” (methinks somewhere later on there must have been some sort of legal thing with big burger chain named Whattaburger that caused Bob to stick his last name in front of it).

The honor of being among the best 10 doesn’t surprise me, nor could it go to a more deserving person/family.  Here’s the story:

Feltner’s Whatta-Burger in Russellville rounded out the Houston Chronicle’s top ten list of legendary burger joints this year.

"Well, it doesn’t surprise me. They do have great burgers," said Tim Macks, a customer from Fayetteville.

The restaurant opened its doors for the first time back in 1967. It started with a dream. "This used to be a dirt road out here. He sat in a lawn chair, counted cars, came home and said I’m going to open up a burger place and we thought he was crazy," said Missy Ellis, an owner.

Ellis now owns the restaurant her father started when she was just a child. She said, "To be chosen as one of the top 10, that is just unbelievable and I know he’s looking down from Heaven saying way to go."

If it is not fresh, it is not served. Food is not frozen at Whatta-Burger.

Even the pickiest eaters can find something they like and in big portions. "Our large fry is a good pound of fries, so you have to be starving to eat one of those by yourself," said Mandy Simons, general manager.

Eaters from Fayetteville, Fort Smith, and even Tulsa make their way to Russellville for a bite of the Whatta-Burger. "We always make it a point to stop here anytime we’re close," said Alan Young, of Tulsa, "We’ve been looking forward to it for two or three weeks."

A better person or a finer boss than Bob Feltner can’t be found (and I’m far from the only one who would say that).  We were a college town and he located his place right on the border of the campus.  You could walk there, and most did.  Bob supported the college and the kids who went there.  

And he hired as many as he could to work there, usually over staffing the place.   His way of helping those of us who usually didn’t have two pennies to rub against each other.  He also extended credit.  Seriously.  His system was to write it on a wooden ice cream spoon and keep the spoons in the cash drawer.  I used to work behind the counter and it wasn’t at all uncommon to hear a student say “put it on my spoon”.  I’d sort through, find  their spoon (there were a bunch) and put the amount on there. 

What was funny about it is rarely, if ever, did Bob have to collect. And when he did, he’s ask someone who was a friend of the person who owed more than he should to mention it to him.   That was it.  That was the sum of his collection effort.   What he did was appreciated and students showed up constantly to pay on or pay off their “spoon”.   I don’t think he was stiffed very often.

There was one thing Bob wouldn’t do – he wouldn’t put anything out that wasn’t fresh.  None of the hamburger was frozen – it was all fresh.  The vegies were cut up the night before (a friend used to do it and said he seemed to always smell like onions).  The fries and the like were frozen, but none of the meat.  It was the primary rule of the house – if it isn’t fresh or doesn’t look fresh it doesn’t go on a burger.  And if you weren’t sure, it didn’t go on a burger.

I could sing this man’s praises forever.  He was just a great person.  He remembered everyone’s name, greeted them like an old lost friend and made you want to come back.  The fact that his food was great was a bonus.  When I first worked there (not long after he opened) it was a walk-in or walk up place.   No seating for dining.  Strictly to go.  Over the years, Bob has added on and now it has a pretty good sized dining area. 

Of course all of this reminds me of a story where my roommate and I got caught up in a Cool Hand Luke moment and bet someone we could eat 20 regular hamburgers at Whattaburger.  I think alcohol was involved. The bet was if we did so, the other guys would pay for them but if we didn’t we had to pay for them.  Well, neither of us could afford 20 hamburgers, but we figured we could eat them. 

Over we went and Bob got into the fun of it and got the burgers ready.  Well, I’m ashamed to say, I made it through 6 or maybe 7.  I figured we were doomed.  But my roomie scarfed down his 10 and the rest of mine.   We won the bet, barely, in the time allotted.  Me?  I became a footnote in Whattaburger history, but my roomie, Denny, became “champ”.  Every time Denny went in the place, Bob would yell out, “what it’ll be, Champ?”

Loved the place, loved the man, loved the whole family.

If you are ever anywhere near Russellville, Arkansas, do yourself a favor and hunt down Feltner’s Whattaburger.  Missy Ellis, mentioned in the article, is Bob’s daughter (and worked at the Whattaburger with us).  Tell her I said “hi” and enjoy a great burger in Bob’s memory.

~McQ


So how’s that “civil discourse” working out for you?

First up on the “thee but not me” list of being for “civil discourse” but not practicing it, is our old buddy from a show which should be called “Beanball”, Chris Matthews.

Chris is a great proponent of “civil discourse” unless you try to apply it to him.  He is apparently attempting to repeal Goodwin’s law or to so cheapen the term “Nazi” that it no longer carries the horror it should.   Mr. Moral Equivalence’s latest?  Here’s his intro:

Good evening. I’m Chris Matthews in Washington. Leading off tonight: Glenn Beck shoots off his mouth. Today Jared Loughner pled not guilty. So has the right wing to the charge it promotes trouble with its endless rants about guns and hatred of government. Take Glenn Beck — please. He targets what he calls radicals in Washington who, quote, "believe in communism," and "you’re going to have to shoot them in the head." Gotcha!

We’ve got a Republican member of Congress out there going full bore on this stuff, saying he wants him and his fellow members of Congress to carry guns at the Capitol. Welcome to the State of the Union 2011. The violent rhetoric of the right won’t stop. It’s our top story tonight.

There’s your set up – the “violent rhetoric of the right won’t stop”, and it’s his top story.  Lead with a discredited Glenn Beck story.   Got it.

Commercial break and what do we see and hear?   A few vids of Obama, McConnell and Cantor – discussing each side’s take on Obama economic policy.

And Matthews next statement?  The next one after seeing the three vids noted?

MATTHEWS: Don’t you just love the new Republican Party? We have the Tea Party people with the placards and the Nazi stuff, and then you have these two Junior Chamber types representing them in Washington.

The irony bug hasn’t yet found Matthews apparently.  The guy (and much of the left) are walking, talking hypocrites.  Palin is lambasted for putting crosshairs on a campaign map months ago and 3 days ago, what does Matthews and company do?  Yeah, put crosshairs on the US Capitol with the title “Fire on the Right”.  Uh, the word “on” is significant when used in conjunction with a crosshairs graphic, wouldn’t you say – using the left’s standard for this sort of thing and all.  Notice it isn’t “fire from the right” or “fire of the right” or even “fire by the right.”

It is “Fire on the Right” which, one assumes, given their instant pop analysis of the Tucson shooting would mean that if any assassin of a left leaning persuasion should shoot at a politician (or anyone) on the right in the next, oh, 6 months or so, it’s Matthews fault.  Because his graphic and its title told them to do so.

Right? 

Oh, and how did Matthews use the graphic?  Hypocritically, of course:

CHRIS MATTHEWS: Leading off tonight: Words and actions. Are people affected by what they hear? If not, why do people speak? If the messages people get day after day have no effect on their behavior, why do big corporations spend millions on advertising? Why do politicians? Does the daily climate of attack, the constant torrent of angry attack and questioning of loyalty, of legitimacy, of Americanness, stir people up? Does it trigger the zealots, the unstable, those who are a bit of both?

The politically correct judgment is that we can`t blame anyone for what we`ve seen recently, that words don`t matter in this discussion of people`s violent actions. But do we really believe words don`t matter, that they don`t incite, that they don`t cause trouble? Do we really believe you can say anything you want about someone and not expose them to the actions of a zealot or a nut?

Well we’ll see, won’t we Chris, now that using the left’s standards, you’ve done more than enough to incite “a zealot or a nut”.

Meanwhile down in GA, we have a different and appallingly ignorant revocation of Goodwin’s law and even more moral equivalence:

A Spanish-language newspaper in Georgia has drawn bipartisan criticism for publishing a doctored photograph depicting the state’s new governor as a Nazi.

Some whackado editor of a Spanish-language paper depicts a governor who has been in office all of a week as a Nazi.  Why?

But Navarro said the picture represents the fear immigrants in Georgia feel with the arrival of Deal to the state’s top office, because of Deal’s strong anti-immigrant rhetoric during the last campaign.

Well there you go.  He disagrees with Deal’s political approach to the issue – which is, btw, not “anti-immigration”, but against “illegal immigration” (I refuse to let the left conflate the two).  So what do you do?  Depict your political opponent as a Nazi obviously.

Nice. 

And here’s the irony – the boob depicts Deal as a Nazi (and everyone knows how they dealt with opposition press) and then says:

Navarro, who immigrated to the United States from Colombia, said he printed the picture knowing he didn’t have to fear retaliation from the governor because of the freedom of speech guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution.

Yeah, that happened all the time in Nazi Germany Mr. Navarro, you ignorant jackwagon. 

Yeesh … you just can’t make some of this stuff up.

~McQ


The anticipated move to the center by Obama

Apparently that’s what everyone expects to hear in the SOTU address.  And most see it as a reflection of political reality.  Independents deserted the Democrats fairly quickly after the Obama administration took office, apparently not liking what they saw developing at all.  So here comes the inevitable shift – at least the perception of one – to the center in order to win them  back.

The left?  Where are they going to go?  Who else would they vote for?  They’re not going anywhere despite all their grumbling and mumbling about Obama’s attempt to move right (and yes, a move by Obama to the center means a distinct move to the right).  Here’s the reality:

A labor official, who asked not to be identified in order to speak more candidly about the president’s political situation, noted that “the midterm elections freed” Obama to work independently and without regard to his party’s left.

“The left understands that the choice in 2012 will be Obama or somebody far worse,” the official said. “They will have no choice, no matter what Obama says in the State of the Union address. No matter how much we complain, he knows that at the end of the day, we will be supporting him in 2012 — and that affects what he can do now. The choice for us will be an administration that disappointed us or a Republican administration that will be out to destroy us.”

Colorful language, but you get the drift.  The far left is stuck with him and Obama knows it.  It is the center where elections are won, and right now they don’t belong to him. 

So how does he win them back?

Well the Democrats hope that it will be through leadership.  Rep Anthony Weiner lays it out:

“He’s the president of the United States, and he’s got to go in there and lean into the idea that he still has an agenda he wants to accomplish,” Weiner said. “He has to make sure he’s leading the debate and Paul Ryan is responding, not the other way around.

“He has to make it clear that he’s not going to be held hostage over issues like the debt-limit increase,” Weiner said.

But, as usual and instead, the President plans to vote “present”:

But the president’s decision not to lay out his own vision for reducing the national debt has infuriated balanced-budget advocates, who fear that a bipartisan consensus for action fostered last month by Obama’s commission could wither without presidential leadership.

"There is no way you get momentum without the president. If you don’t lead now, when is it going to come?" said Maya MacGuineas, president of the bipartisan Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget. "He has to go first and he has to be specific. He has to pivot to something hard."

And pander, of course:

The direction of Obama’s speech became apparent over the weekend, when the White House informed Democratic lawmakers and advocates for the elderly that he would not endorse the commission’s recommendation to raise the retirement age and make other cuts to Social Security – the single largest federal program.

The sound you hear, my friends, is that of the can being swiftly kicked down the road again – something candidate Obama said wasn’t going to happen on his watch.

The administration claims that it’s goals will be more specifically addressed in the budget request the White House submits in mid February.  Per Robert Gibbs, the SOTU is just not the proper venue for specifics.   Well, except when you want to take a shot at the Supreme Court, who, by the way, will only have partial attendance this year, with a group of conservative justices clearly deciding to show their disapproval of the partisan sniping they were victim too in last year’s SOTU.

Yup, all in all politics rules the day with the political advice being as predictable as sunrise.  Obama, being the ultimate political animal, will indeed heed it, but the left shouldn’t look for any leadership to suddenly emerge where none has been evident in the past and the center should be wary of the now well-known smoke and mirrors show the administration puts on regularly – saying one thing and doing something else altogether.

Life in the Obama White House I’m afraid.

~McQ