014 – Alert! There has been a cojones sighting (albeit a fleeting one) in the Republican Senate. (An Editorial)

Some of you may have noticed that this is editorial #14, even though I only have written 12 previous editorials.  I skipped #13 because I didn’t want to take a chance on jinxing this editorial since I am finally able to be just a bit positive about a few Republicans.

Actually, the biggest cojones belong to a few Senators who only have figurative ones – Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski.  They are to be credited for their willingness to buck McConnell all along.  They deserve the lion’s share of the credit for being consistent and steadfast in their opposition to any of the lame repeal and replace attempts.  But this editorial is mostly a shout out to the maverick who finally not only spoke a good game but actually backed it up with some action – John McCain.

The final attempt (at least the final attempt on Thursday night) to repeal any or all of the Affordable Care Act failed thanks to the three Republican votes of Collins, Murkowski and McCain.  As they say Down Under, “Good on ya, mates.”

Now to be fair, McCain did vote “Yes” on the two other versions of repeal which were both voted down, but by larger margins, whereas Collins and Murkowski were consistently “No” all along.  Frankly, who knows why McCain decided to vote “No” on attempt #3.  Maybe it was because when it came right down to it, he just didn’t trust Paul Ryan not to simply have the House Republicans just simply rubber stamp the so-called Skinny Repeal without working on the further reconciliation that McCain demanded, and that many other Republicans simply hoped for.   What a concept.  He didn’t trust Paul Ryan.

Strange Bedfellows is a term that may aptly sum up the alliances that formed to eventually defeat attempts to repeal.

  • John McCain. Who would have thought that he might finally step up to the plate?  Maybe that brain surgery was more successful than anyone could have imagined.  Maybe all of the recent Sessions trashing had a little to do with this as well.  Just maybe McCain was thinking even a little bit about sticking it to old Donny on behalf of all those fellow prisoners who got captured.
  • Lindsay Graham. Regarding the repeal and replace votes, in spite of his rhetoric, he was party line all the way along, in every vote – not once voting “No”.  He often talked a good game but finally, when Trump began dissing his Senate buddy Jeff Sessions, he seems to have drawn a line that even he was not willing to cross.  In fact, many Republican Senators have come to Session’s defense at the expense of their previously deafening silence when it came to any of Trump’s abominations.

Graham seems to now have his feet planted firmly against Trump being able to fire Robert Mueller as well.  Again it’s the Strange Bedfellow analogy.  It’s not like Graham would otherwise probably put up much of a fight if Trump decided to fire Mueller.  But doing so now at the expense of Sessions?  Why old Lindsay won’t have any of that.  Nothing like doing the right thing for the wrong reason.

  • Speaking of Jefferson Beauregard Sessions, I have absolutely no love lost for him. He is quite possibly the worst possible Attorney General that Trump could have nominated, which is saying something when other possibilities like Rudy Giuliani and Chris Christie existed.

To see and hear Trump trash Sessions so completely, and with such ridiculous logic ,,, well it couldn’t happen to a nicer guy.  That said, if this is what it took to finally drive at least a little wedge into Trump’s blind Republican support, then more power to it.

  • The Freedom Caucus and particularly Rand Paul. Talk about a monumentally Strange Bedfellow.  The only reason Paul and his gang gave McConnell so much trouble early on was because they didn’t think the repeal efforts were mean enough!  But once again, let’s hear it for doing the right thing for, in their case, absolutely the wrong reasons.

There is an axiom that many outside the United States attribute to us.  “The United States can almost always be counted upon to do the right thing … after they have tried just about everything else.”

In the Republican’s case, I would slightly alter that.  “The Republicans can be counted upon to do the right thing … only when nothing else has worked that has been solely in their own self-interest.”

It is possible, regarding healthcare at least, that the point has now been reached.

For whatever the reasons, the results are what I think the vast majority of the country wanted – to put an end, for now, to this repeal nonsense.  Instead of just looking for anything that the Republicans, and Trump, could call a “win”, regardless of how mean and destructive their legislation was, now hopefully, just hopefully, both Republicans and Democrats can search for legislation that will be a “win” for the American public.

 

 

Advertisements

012 – He badly wants to fire Mueller … and Republicans may just let him (An Editorial)

If you can’t see this coming, you just aren’t looking hard enough.  Oh Hell, you’re just not looking at all.  If the things we’ve heard and seen over the past year and a half have taught us anything, it should be that the arrogant egotist that occupies the Oval Office will do or say anything.

012 - Trump Collage.jpg

In a perfect world, you would like to think that there is a John Dean lying in the weeds somewhere who, in order to save his own skin or maybe even, God forbid, to just do the right thing, will be finally willing to turn on the Prevaricator in Chief.  But for all the similarities to Watergate, there is a big difference now.  Any potential new John Dean knows that no matter how convincing and verifiable his tale, he will be vilified like no other before.  Ok, Nixon did try some of that to be sure, but he didn’t have social media – especially Twitter.  30-40% of the American public will continue to believe every despicable thing that is said to discredit whoever might even think about turning on Trump.  Republican Congressmen and women, while perhaps not really believing it, will nonetheless remain quiet for the most part, if not actively participate in the personal attacks.

High tech lynching?  Clarence Thomas, you ain’t seen nothing yet.

Jeff Sessions appears to be next in line to take a fall and, when he does, I hold no hope whatsoever that he will be the new John Dean.  He has proven time and again to be a totally impotent pawn of the Donald.  He has already meekly accepted, without any personal defense, or any defense of the justice department which he serves, that incredible trashing unleashed upon him by the Donald this past week.  He may be holding out on resigning, hoping that being fired by the Donald will somehow be more honorable than resignation.  But he is a goner, make no mistake.

Once Sessions is gone, he will be replaced by someone who is ready and willing to fire Mueller and to declare the investigation complete.  Trump will not nominate anyone who has not given him his personal assurance that he will do so.  The Senate will, of course, demand that the new prospective Attorney General will promise not to fire Mueller, and the nominee will either outright lie saying he will not, or will try and get away with an answer that provides him wiggle room.  The second is the more likely scenario because that will also give Republican Senators more wiggle room to confirm his nomination.

Once a new attorney general is confirmed, it will only be a matter of time before the Trumped up excuses will be used to justify Mueller’s firing.  You may hear some verbal outrage on the Republicans part, but they won’t have the stones enough to do anything about it.   Because, if they do, Trump’s voters may no longer have enough power to get them re-elected, but they still have enough power within the Republican party to get them primary’ed right out of any chance to even run for re-election.

012 - The Russia Probe - Wink Wink.jpg

What about any other potential John Deans?

Sean Spicer?  Give me a break.  Talk about being spineless.  Anyone who has continually allowed themselves to be the subject of well-deserved ridicule for repeating the boldface lies of his boss, has unquestionably demonstrated that he has no spine nor self-respect.

Mike Flynn?  He has proven to be one of many unprincipled guns for hire with whom the Donald has surrounded himself.  “I have a story to tell.”  Yeah, right.  I’ll believe that when it happens.  If anyone has received a proactive, secret guarantee of a pardon, it would be Flynn.

Steve Bannon?  He would be SO lynched by the loyal Trumpsters, and even the Breitbart crowd, that I have never even given his turning on Trump any consideration whatsoever.

Family members – Ivanka, Donny Jr. and Jared?  Hey, what’s a family for?  Did you really think the Donald placed Ivanka and Jared so close JUST because they are family?  Would any of the Corleone family have ever turned on Vito … or Michael?  I don’t think so.  Even Fredo Corleone (uhh, I mean Eric Trump) didn’t turn on Michael.  But Fredo was such a total loser, he could have been easily manipulated into doing so without realizing it.  So family or not, Michael had to act on Fredo.   Sound familiar?  Watch your back, Eric.

Paul Manafort?  Hmmm.  Another of those guns for hire like Flynn, but I see a difference with him.  Manafort has received millions in payments from foreign governments, and also likely has many more millions in loans to many of those governments and individuals.  He was also jettisoned from Trump’s orbit fairly early on, but still was with him long enough to be able to reveal really damaging information.  I’ll bet I’m not the only one who thinks Manafort is a good candidate as being the one who blew the whistle on Donny Jr’s meeting with the Russians last June.  What a great way to stick the knife into both Donny Jr and to Jared, with whom I’m sure there is no love lost with Manafort.  I’m sure that possibility has not been lost on the Donald either.

Manafort is capable of being squeezed big-time by Mueller, should Mueller’s investigation be allowed to continue.  He is probably another very good candidate for one of those proactive pardons.  But even with a pardon, he would still be on the hook to a lot of unsavory people, i.e. governments, for those millions in payments and loans.  Trump may be able to pardon him but he can’t offer witness protection.  That may be Mueller’s ace-in-the-hole.

012 - Mission Accomplished

No one else really comes to mind.  It would take someone who is in a high enough position, and who has been with Trump long enough, to do any significant damage … and I don’t see anyone else who fits that bill.

I should say … no one other  than Putin.  He has always held all the cards, but why kill the Golden Goose – the gift that keeps on giving?  Even if Trump is not able to get sanctions lifted, which is looking increasingly less likely, Trump has done so much already to strengthen Putin’s position in the world, that Putin can already claim the hacking and collusion to be a phenomenal success.  The confusion, disarray, chaos and the elemental distrust and division that have been taken to such an incredible level in American society can only be considered icing on the Putin cake.  He is such a clear winner in all of this.  What a grand reward for someone who has deceived, stolen and assassinated his way to the top.

So congrats, Vlad.  Satan would be proud … if he weren’t so envious.

012 - Hand up Trumps Ass - in text

The Big Sick (A movie review – in theaters)

Released in theaters

  • Jul, 2017

Ratings

  • 97% – Rotten Tomatoes Critics
  • 92% – Rotten Tomatoes Movie Goers
  • 85% – Roger Koehler

Starring

  • Kumail Nanjiani
  • Zoe Kazan
  • Holly Hunter
  • Ray Romano

Directed by

  • Michael Showalter

Roger’s Review

Deborah and I saw this movie at a Tuesday afternoon budget matinee, or should I say almost did not  see it.  There is a bit of a dearth of movies with seeming potential here in mid July 2017.  Other possibilities included Wonder Woman  and Battle for the Planet of the Apes.  Both of those movies have, somewhat surprisingly, received 90 plus ratings from Rotten Tomatoes professional movie critics, and almost as high from their movie goers as well.

But Deborah first noticed this little movie and suggested it to me.  My initial reaction was underwhelming, to be sure.  From her sparse description, it just did not seem like something in which I would be interested.  The title of the movie also threw us both off a bit – The Big Sick?  Although after watching the movie, I know where that comes from, for it to be used as the title of the movie is a bit of a mystery.  But don’t let that throw you off as well.

When faced with only a few other options, I looked further into the reviews for The Big Sick and I took a look at the movie trailer.  Both the reviews and the trailer caught my intention so that is what we decided to see.

Official Movie Trailer

 

We are both very pleased that we did.  This small, I’m sure low budget, romantic comedy with a twist, was very enjoyable.  I had learned in doing research that it was based upon a true story.  In fact, the lead actor in the movie – Kumail Nanjiani – co-wrote the screenplay along with his real life wife Emily Gordon, and he starred as himself.  The story relates most of the actual events that occurred in the first year that Kumail and Emily met.

The role of Emily is played in the movie by actress Zoe Kazan.  Zoe is the granddaughter of noted movie director, Elia Kazan.  She has been a pretty busy actress, having appeared in over 20 films and multiple TV series since 2007.  You might also enjoy another romantic comedy in which Zoe starred – the 2013 film What If, co-starring Daniel Radcliff (aka Harry Potter).

The Big Sick - The two Emilys

Kumail is a Pakistan born naturalized American who moved to the United States with his family when he was young.  He is a struggling stand-up comic at a comedy club in Chicago.  Along with his band of fellow comics, they harbor dreams of making the big time.

Kumail meets Emily when she good naturedly heckles him during one of his sets.  Their meeting turns into a one-night stand, and that in turn unexpectedly turns quickly into a serious relationship.  But Kumail’s family has other plans for him.  Their Muslim heritage demands that Kumail must marry a Pakistani girl in an arranged marriage.  Fearing the loss of his family, Kumail keeps his relationship with Emily a secret from his parents, and he also keeps their plans for him a secret from Emily.

After Emily learns of Kumail’s background, and his family’s plans for him – which he does not completely disavow – they break up.  But then the story takes an unexpected turn when Emily is hospitalized and placed into a medically induced coma until her condition can be diagnosed.  During this time, Kumail meets Emily’s parents.  Her mother is played by Holly Hunter (Grace Annadarko from TV’s Saving Grace, and also Academy Award winning best actress in the 1993 movie The Piano).  Her father is played by Ray Romano (best known for TV’s Everybody Loves Raymond).

From this point, the story revolves around attempts to diagnose Emily’s condition as well as Kumail’s efforts to establish a relationship with her parents – one which they are initially very reluctant to allow.

The Big Sick - Kumail and Emilys

Ray Romano’s character is an interesting one.  He is supportive of his wife and daughter but also harbors guilt.  He is also kind of a mental klutz.  At one point, upon meeting Kumail over lunch, he asks a pretty ridiculous question of Kumail.  He says that he has always wanted to ask a Muslim what their reaction was to 9/11.  Kumail just kind of looks at him, as if to say, “Are you for real?”.  Then in one of the great dark comedic lines, he says:  “It was a tragedy (long pause).  We lost 19 of our finest.”  When Romano obviously doesn’t get it, Kumail quickly apologizes for the bad joke.

One of the more perceptive reactions I have read to this movie is, to paraphrase, “You know where the movie is headed, but you enjoy the trip nonetheless”.  I could not agree more.  Knowing ahead of time that this is a true story allows you to forgive some things which might otherwise have been considered simply the standard stuff of a romantic comedy.

If you are inclined, I invite you to follow the links I have provided to interviews both with Kumail and the real Emily, or with Kumail and his onscreen Emily – actress Kazan.  There are numerous interviews out on You Tube.  I have tried to select a couple of the best ones that I was able to find.

 

Today show interview with Kumail Nanjiani and co-star Zoe Kazan …

 

Interview with Kumail Nanjiani and the real Emily V. Gordon …

 

The Big Sick - Cast and Crew.jpg

011 – Democrats need to clearly articulate what Republican health reform really means (An Editorial)

Although it hardly qualifies as an example of unique insight on my part, in my last editorial I did pretty much call the new Republican/conservative strategy of excusing Donny Jr & company’s collusion by now saying that collusion is simply opposition research – it is certainly not a crime.  Donny Sr added, predictably, “I’m sure most people would have taken that meeting.”

But regarding healthcare, Trumpcare (or Wealthcare) amounts to eliminating the taxes and subsidies, and paying for that by taking away virtually all coverage provided by the Affordable Care Act, and then replacing it with the opportunity to purchase junk insurance, which would only be an affordable (though basically worthless) option for the (currently) young and healthy.

It cannot possibly be anything other than that because the single, most important goal of the proposed legislation is to remove the taxes and subsidies of the Affordable Care Act … and those are the only current ways to finance the things provided in the Affordable Care Act.

011 - Repeal Education - we have a winner.jpg

It is now, more than ever, incumbent upon Democrats to hammer Republicans with a consistent, and coherent, vision for the American people that the crap about allowing Obamacare to fail on its own is just that – crap.  Not only are Republicans not doing anything whatsoever to address fixing the issues with the Affordable Care Act, while retaining that which the vast majority of Americans believe is in fact working, they are actively doing things to sabotage it.

Fortunately, the whole “repeal only” thing does not appear to be going anywhere.  One thing of which I was not previously aware, the “repeal only” legislation being proposed essentially only repeals the taxes on those making over $200,000 annually, and also removes the subsidies for the insurance companies.  That is all Republicans can do with only a 51 vote margin in the Senate.  To do more, they would need 60 votes.

Even if Republicans were able to pass a straight repeal, stuff like covering pre-existing conditions and allowing kids to stay on their parents’ insurance longer would be left intact and in effect.  But without any way to finance those things, that would clearly cause insurers who stay in the markets to raise rates through the roof, or to cause other insurers just to leave the markets entirely – either of which would make the Affordable Care Act instantly unsustainable.

The other thing already being done, without the need to modify any existing law, is just to not renew funding that provides those subsidies to the insurance carriers.  Apparently, those funds are something that have to be renewed each year – they are not automatic as long as the Affordable Care Act is in effect.  Trump has not renewed them to this point and appears unlikely to do so.

Another thing that could, and likely will be done by Trump, is to fail to enforce the individual mandate contained in the Affordable Care Act.  That also would likely doom our current system since having only sick people purchase insurance is also not sustainable for the insurance marketplace.

These things absolutely HAVE to be clearly articulated by the Democrats.  The other thing Democrats need to do is to refer to the Affordable Care Act not so much by name, but to rather identify it by the provisions it makes – Medicare subsidies, pre-existing condition coverage, extended coverage for grown children, removing caps on lifetime catastrophic coverage.

011 - Repeal Education - I always forget

Polls just are not asking the right questions.  They often ask, in various ways, do you want Trumpcare or Obamacare?  Anytime the “I could shoot someone in the street” crowd, and many others, hear “Obama”, they immediately say “Hell no”.  But a lot of them love the new coverages that are provided – they just often don’t really understand that those coverages are being provided by the Affordable Care Act.

Many people in Kentucky, for example, say that they hate Obamacare but that they love their own Kynect healthcare option.  It turns out that Kynect IS Obamacare – just named differently in Kentucky.  Oh, by the way, Rand Paul is one of the Kentucky senators who dearly wants to just repeal Obamacare and thinks Trumpcare doesn’t go far enough.  Are Kentucky voters even aware of the effect of what Rand Paul is proposing on their behalf?  Someone should let them know that no more Obamacare means no more Kynect.

https://www.dailykos.com/stories/2013/8/23/1233305/-Kentuckians-Hate-Obamacare-But-Love-It-By-Another-Name

With a less than a 15% approval rating for Trumpcare nationwide, and I’m sure even less than that if people truly understand what repeal-only would mean, Republicans have obviously not been able to convince even a small portion of the population that their healthcare plans have any virtue.

But as I have stated in previous editorials, the goal should not be to try and change the minds of the Trump base.  If they have not budged in their support by now, it just ain’t gonna happen.  Rather, the message should be directed toward educating the other 60-65% who need to clearly understand what is  happening with healthcare … and just as importantly, what is not  happening.

011 - Repeal Education - we mde 4 major changes

Low Carb Individual Pizza (A Recipe)

I love pizza – no ifs, ands or buts about it.  Not being able to eat even frozen pizzas is a challenge, much less the deep dish pizza I so love.  Therefore, I have again recently, and have previously, looked seriously at low carb pizza crust options I have seen on the internet.  There are numerous variations, including crusts made of hamburger, crumbled cauliflower, almond flour, etc.  I have tried most with not much favorable results.

However, since re-embarking upon a low carb diet to try and lower my A1C level, which has been effective in the past, I have found that low carb tortillas have become a decent substitute for the bread/flour which I miss so dearly.  You can use low carb tortillas for the Mexican dishes for which they are most typically associated, such as enchiladas and quesadillas.  However, they also work well as wraps for mini-sandwiches, instead of just wrapping a slice of meat with a slice of ham, and calling that a low carb “sandwich”.

I have found another excellent use of a low carb tortilla – as a pizza crust.  The key I have found is to heat the tortilla before adding ingredients in order to make sure the tortilla is firm.  My first efforts at this resulted in good tasting, but very soggy pizzas.  However, between pre-heating the tortilla, and also placing the toppings on the pizza first, and then putting the cheese on top of most of the toppings, that helps create a very crisp … and also a very thin crust.

Ingredients

  • 1 low carb tortilla (4-5 carbs for a 7” – 8” tortilla)
    • Low carb tortillas seem to be available in most stores
  • 1/3 cup pizza sauce (approx. 3 carbs)
    • Total carbs in pizza sauce vary anywhere from 3 net carbs to 8 net carbs per ¼ cup
  • 1 cup mozzarella cheese – adjust amount to preference.  (In Wisconsin, our home prior to moving to New Mexico in 2014, we prefer LOTS of cheese!)
  • Vegetables of choice: mushrooms, onions, green peppers, artichoke hearts
  • Meats of choice: pepperoni, pork sausage, crab
  • (Optional) Pizza or Italian seasoning

Directions:

  • Pre-heat oven to 430º
  • Heat tortilla right on stove top burner (or in a large fry pan, or as I do, on a large mesh pizza screen (see picture below) which is placed on top of a burner) – 20-40 seconds per side
    • This is crucial to make sure the “crust” is crisp, and not soggy
  • On heated tortilla, spread ½ of the pizza sauce – not all of it – just enough to slightly moisten top of crust
  • (Optional) Depending upon the pizza sauce you select, that may be sufficient to provide additional flavor.  However, when adding any additional seasonings, do so after you first spread a thin layer of sauce on the tortilla but before you add any meat and veggies
  • Add vegetables and meat, including pepperoni
  • Sprinkle mozzarella cheese on top
    • Putting cheese on after the toppings helps prevent the cheese from making the crust soggy
  • (Optional) Pour some additional sauce on top of the layer of cheese.
    • Note: I don’t feel the need to add any additional sauce.  A good coating directly on the tortilla, before adding anything else, provides sufficient flavor for me.
  • Place pepperoni on top of cheese
    • This will allow some of the pepperoni to become crisp
  • Bake for 13-15 minutes at 430º to 450º

 

Serves:  (1)  Total carb: = 7-9 carbs for an entire 7-8” individual pizza, compared with a typical 12” frozen pizza which can have up to 15 carbs or more per slice … and genuine, restaurant deep dish pizza is likely even a lot more than that.

Note:  If you have a chance to try out this recipe, I would love to hear from you and find out what you like or don’t like about it.  If you have any questions or suggestions, I would be very happy to correspond with you.  You may email me directly at rkoehler1952@gmail.com.

Pizza mesh