At the beginning of the week, once again DOJ prosecutors demonstrated how petty and vindictive they can be when they recommended that Roger Stone get a prison sentence between 7 and 9 years for obstructing Congress’s Russia investigation. Today the Justice Department announced they would not seek to file criminal charges against McCabe over misleading federal investigators in connection with a 2016 press leak. The gracious treatment McCabe received is in stark contrast with the treatment Roger Stone got earlier in the week. They both mislead federal investigators. The irony is that if Andrew McCabe had done his job in 2016 the Russia Investigation would have quietly died behind closed doors and Roger Stone would not be jail. Instead Roger Stone is looking at 7 to 9 years in prison primarily because the Justice Department lawyers created a crime for obstructing an investigation that should not have existed. It is a bad look and Attorney General Barr should have known better.
I work for a small internet retailer. Since most of our orders come from Amazon, we literally get paid when we ship the order. If most of our employees called in sick or self-quarantined themselves for several weeks, our company would collapse. Larger businesses may have a bit more flexibility but they would be severely damaged. When I look at this chart, I see a lot of Chinese people who are not going to work. China’s pandemic is bad for businesses in and out of China. Shortly, we will find out how intertwined the global economies really are when China’s economy contracts.
For such a woke group of people, it is astonishing that the Democratic Party is so stupid about information technology. We have been coding phone apps for a long time. You would have thought someone would have tested the Iowa caucus phone app before they used it to tally votes. They appear to be going out of their way to show America they are the party you absolutely do not want running the country. Competence matters!
Last night Mr. Dershowitz gave us a class on the Constitution and the history of impeachment. For our poor senators who have to listen to this trial, I think Mr. Dershowitz did a great job of keeping the information relevant and interesting. If you did not have any problems following any of the Hillsdale’s Constitution 101 classes, you should not have a problem following his arguments.
A couple of months ago a field mouse decided to take residence in our pantry. When we first noticed his presence we opted for a non-lethal strategy. Our plan was to remove his food supplies and hopefully he would decide to go elsewhere. The situation came to boil a couple of days on New Year’s Eve when I moved a Crock-Pot travel cover while trying to get to a pot and spilled a bunch of rice and lentils on the floor. This mouse was attempting to make a nest for the winter. That was not acceptable!
This mouse had somehow managed to escape our three barn cats we have downstairs and two cats we have upstairs. My solution was surprisingly simple. I work at a place that sells mouse deterrents amongst other products, so I bought some Bonide Mouse Magic and deployed two packets in the pantry. This is a natural solution to an age-old problem. Mice do not like the smell of mint or spearmint. To my surprise, the mouse decided to escape through the two house cats. Mint and spearmint oils do not kill mice. They do not like the smell. So the mouse tried to make a run for it. He did not make it and was caught. He is dead. Best of all, he was not partially eaten. Our barn cats would have eaten him and not left a trace. The field mouse is nature’s original power bar but house cats are really out of touch. So I was grateful our house cats did not try to eat him and then throw him up. There are no pretty solutions. Fortunately, my wife does not have a problem picking up the carcass and putting it in the trash. I could sleep in. Life is good!
An ancient proverb says, “the enemy of my enemy is my friend.” This is true until the common enemy is no longer a threat. I was hoping our recent friendship with Iran would grow into a nonaggression pact. Unfortunately, Iran sponsored demonstrations at the United States embassy in Iraq indicates that Iran did not care to be friends with the U. S. anymore. They were not even trying to hide their contempt for the United States. Iran’s leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, responded Wednesday by taunting Trump, declaring, “You can’t do a damn thing.” For a country that could not do a damn thing, killing General Soleimani was a pretty impressive rebuttal. Iran and the United States have lost that loving feeling. It would be wise of Iran to be careful with their taunts and actions going forward. President Obama is gone. There is a new sheriff in town.
It is January 1 and I am making Hoppin’ John again to bring in the New Year. My wife says this year’s version was the best ever so I had to tell you what I changed. I cooked both the black eye peas and the rice separately. When I folded the peas and rice into the dish with the scallions and bacon, everything was already cooked so I could lower the temperature to warm and avoid muddling the flavors by overcooking. The scallions and bacon were able to step up and step out flavor-wise. I think she like the crunchy-ness of the scallions. This was a very nice way to make use of some excellent turkey broth from Thanksgiving and extra Christmas ham. A fresh interpretation of leftovers that impressed my better half.
I like dark beers. Craft brewers created a lot of really fine stouts and porters this year. I know, I have had my fair share. When the brewer gets it right, it is because the brewer has mastered mixing multiple flavors so that they are recognizable but not overbearing. The flavors that highlight a well-made stout or porter the best are bourbon, chocolate, coffee, oak, and vanilla.
This year, 2019, I decided to try my hand at making a fine porter with the Bourbon Barrel Porter extract kit. My plan was to have it ready for Christmas so my brew day was in September. I make a yeast starter for all of my brews but it is probably especially important for a heavy beer like this. I left the beer in the primary fermenter for about six weeks. Heavy beers take longer to ferment so you need to be patient if you want a good stout or porter. I tasted the beer and confirmed it was good and ready to go. So I soaked the full pack of oak cubes in 16 ounces of bourbon for two days before adding it into the secondary fermenter with the beer. After two weeks in the secondary fermenter, I bottled. I have been drinking this porter for the last four weeks and I have to say it is the best beer I have ever brewed. We got the flavors right. It took a long time but it was worth it.
Why is it so hard for our elected officials to act like adults? Without bipartisan support, impeachment was juvenile and a sad reminder that our elected representatives have forgotten about constituent priorities. So instead of fixing surprise medical bills, we got impeachment. We had bipartisan support for fixing surprise medical bills. Good luck with the re-election campaigns!
Over at The Hill, they wrote about some new rules the Trump Administration hopes will drive down costs by increasing competition. I am leary of new healthcare regulations but I think these ideas may actually work. Here is what they said.
One regulation would require hospitals to provide a consumer-friendly online page where prices are listed for 300 common procedures like X-rays and lab tests. A second regulation would require insurers to provide an online tool where people could compare their out-of-pocket costs at different medical providers before receiving treatment.
Both of these regulations are slightly improved ideas for improving cost transparency. Recently I was looking at our Medicare plan to determine if our preferred doctors and hospitals were included in our network. Our preferred emergency care hospital and major hospitalization hospital were in our network so I was happy with our plan. So we know where we want to go. The next thing I looked at was planning our healthcare costs.
I like it when my doctor tells me upfront what a common procedure costs. I do not like it when doctors and hospitals surprise me with exorbitant out-of-pocket costs. This is a bipartisan issue so I help both sides will continue to work for our common good.
It is normal for me to shop for the best price. I do not have a problem shopping for the best price/value for any of the common procedures. As an example, I have been told by various friends that some common procedures such as an MRI may vary widely in price. In-network providers are great but if you have the cash on hand and you know the out-of-pocket costs then it may make sense for you to go out of the network for this service.
A regulation change the Trump Administration did not address is to allow people on Medicare to contribute to an HSA. People my age still have several more years before our first major hospitalization. It makes sense we should be allowed to continue to contribute to an HSA. The better we prepare for our future healthcare expenses, the better off we are. The lure of tax-exempt savings may just be the trick to better preparation.