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Archive for January 7th, 2018

Why it is time for Sessions to go

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Jennifer Rubin has a strong column in the Washington Post:

For months now, Democrats and Republicans alike have argued that Attorney General Jeff Sessions had to remain in place to shield the special counsel from being fired. If Trump axed Sessions, the thinking went, he could put in his flunky as attorney general who’d then proceed to can special counsel Robert S. Mueller III. We have agreed with that logic, but now facts have changed, and it is no longer tenable for Session to remain atop the Justice Department.

His potential involvement, revealed by the New York Times, in a scheme to smear then-FBI Director James B. Comey with one bad news story a day is intolerable, if not itself evidence of obstruction of justice. He cannot credibly lead the FBI, which is under his jurisdiction, after having participated in a scheme to decapitate it in furtherance of the president’s desperation to stop the Russia investigation. Moreover, if he was badgered not to recuse himself not only by White House Counsel Donald McGahn, but also by other White House officials, so he could protect the president (“Where’s my Roy Cohn?” the president bellowed), then he is very much a material witness in a possible conspiracy to obstruct justice (and frankly should have reported those efforts to the FBI and special counsel).

What’s more, he has repeatedly misled the Senate. His multiple misstatements as to the extent of his meetings with Russians during the campaign were either a serious case of memory impairment or an effort to keep interest in Russia as far from the president as possible. In either event, he was not truthful with the Senate. We have also recently learned that he promised at least one senator that he would not change the policy on enforcement of marijuana laws in order to secure votes for confirmation. He either was lying or was in no position to make the promise. The result was once again to mislead the Senate. His word can no longer be taken at face value.

He also continues to mislead the American people, for example, by tying illegal immigration to crime and grossly exaggerating the murder rate. If the attorney general cannot be relied upon to give an honest assessment of data, he cannot remain in his post. Justice Department lawyers cannot go into court each day without full confidence that their boss is truthful and competent in advancing the law and the facts in support of government positions that are before the judiciary.

Lastly, Sessions has done virtually nothing to defend the FBI against scurrilous, unfounded accusations of impropriety and bias. . .

Continue reading.

Later in the article:

So what about Mueller and Sessions’s replacement? The answer here is twofold. . .

Written by LeisureGuy

7 January 2018 at 4:07 pm

No, Bernie Sanders Tells Jeff Sessions, Marijuana Is Not the Same as Heroin

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It would be nice to have an Attorney General who was not so ignorant. Jon Quealy writes at Common Dreams:

In a terse response to news Thursday that President Donald Trump’s Justice Department would rescind its hands-off policy regarding states that have legalized medical and recreational marijuana, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) scolded Attorney General Jeff Sessions for equating the dangers of pot with heroin.

During his time in the U.S. Senate and as AG, Sessions has repeatedly assailed marijuana as comparable to much harder drugs like heroin, though scientific experts have called that nonsense.

“No, Attorney General Sessions,” Sanders said in his Thursday statement. “Marijuana is not the same as heroin.”

He continued, “No one who has seriously studied the issue believes that marijuana should be classified as a Schedule 1 drug beside killer drugs like heroin. Quite the contrary. We should allow states the right to move toward the decriminalization of marijuana, not reverse the progress that has been made in recent years.”

Written by LeisureGuy

7 January 2018 at 3:11 pm

Good advice for anyone building a home

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Though specifically addressed to homeowners rebuilding after the California fires, the advice is good for all. Lloyd Kahn writes in his blog:

I would like to offer some suggestions to people whose homes were destroyed by the California fires of 2017. I have built three homes of my own and, as well, been publishing books on building for some 45 years now. From this experience I’ve come to some conclusions about practical, sensible building.

Much of the emphasis in our books has been on owner-building, and if you will be doing design and construction yourself, these are things for you to consider. If not, these are ideas you can discuss with architects and/or builders you may be working with — the principles are the same.

Much has been learned about building homes in the last two or three decades. You may be able to take advantage of building materials and techniques that weren’t available when these homes were built. Here is a chance to do things better, to learn from experience, to create a home built from sustainable materials that will save energy, that will be better for you and the planet.

Please note: These are just random ideas for your consideration. This isn’t a check list, where you try to incorporate each suggestion in your plans. The purpose here is to stimulate thinking. Maybe you’ll find two or three ideas that will work for you.

Consider putting a tiny home on the site for a temporary place to live. You can get one ready-made, and I recommend the ones built by Ward Hensill in Bodega.

OR get a Tuff Shed: you prepare the foundation/floor, and they erect the building in one day. You then finish the interior.

OR for a local (Petaluma) manufacturer of small (not tiny) homes.  see Stephen Marshall.

If you build a tiny (or small) house first, it can later be a guest house, studio, or “granny flat.”

Consider some sort of pre-fab starting point to get the house framed up quickly and ready for services and finishing.

For example, some friends in Carpentaria had the shell of their house steel framed by local barn builders. They carried on and completed the finishing themselves, but the fire resistant shell went up in a few days.

Consider the orientation of your property. Windows facing south will allow for solar heating. Deciduous trees can be planted so there is shade in the summer, sun in the winter (when trees are bare.) What direction do the winds/storms come from? Where does the sun rise and set at various times of the year?

Consider having a large enough section of the roof sloping and facing direct south for maximization of solar panels (which can be added years later).

Have the home built in two stages. Get the kitchen/bathroom/living/sleeping areas done first, with plans to add on later, so you can live there ASAP.

Even if you hire a builder, do some of the work yourself. I built most of a house in the ‘60s by working on weekends, after work, and holidays. You can save a lot of money by doing some of the simple stuff.

Stud frame construction. Straw bale, cob, timber frame, and other natural materials each have their benefits, but the stud wall system, with insulation, wiring, and plumbing within the walls is by far the quickest way to build.

Rectangular design. . . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

7 January 2018 at 12:22 pm

Posted in Daily life

Very satisfying dinner: Ratatouille with chicken

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Update : Just made it again, and it is extremely tasty and filling. I use 1-cup servings/meals, and I’m sure the recipe is more than 4 cups, so it may be less than 3 points. It tastes very rich. Also, note:

2 tablespoons pine nuts = 3 WW points
1/4 cup shredded parmesan = 3 WW points.

You may be able to use those and still be under your daily budget./update

I made this last night and liked it a lot. The entire recipe is a total of 13 Weight Watcher points, so divide by the number of servings to get the points per serving. The 13 points are from the 3 tablespoons olive oil (12 points) and 2 Tbsp pepper (1 point). Everything else is zero points. So 4 servings is 3 points per serving.

8 garlic cloves, 6 smashed a bit, 2 minced
2 medium white onions or 1 large
2 medium zucchini
1 medium eggplant
1 sweet red bell pepper; or 1 green bell pepper
[optional: several stalks of asparagus]
2 teaspoons cracked rosemary
1.5 tablespoons dried thyme
[optional: a diced lemon, including peel (0 points)]
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 14-oz can diced tomatoes
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
2 boneless skinless chicken half-breasts, cut into chunks – I use ones I’ve already poached (see below), but raw can be used
2 teaspoons fine sea salt, more as needed
1-2 tablespoons of freshly ground black pepper (1 point)

Heat oven to 350 degrees.

Prepare the vegetables: Smash and peel 6 garlic cloves, reserving the 7th and 8th. Halve onions through their roots, and slice halves into 1/2-inch-thick slabs. Slice zucchini into 1/2-inch-thick rounds (i.e., thick, so they’ll hold up under cooking). Cut eggplant into 1-inch cubes. Seed peppers, and cut them into 1/2-inch-wide strips. If using asparagus, cut into 1″ lengths.

Toss vegetables and the 6 cloves of smashed garlic (and lemon if using) with the olive oil and herbs. Spread the vegetables on a rimmed baking sheet lined with nonstick foil. Sprinkle salt lightly over vegetables.

Place the baking sheet in the oven. Cook 90 minutes (until vegetables are very tender and lightly browned at the edges). Don’t worry about the vegetables being pretty; they will meld into the ratatouille. Use a wide spatula to burn the vegetables every 20 minutes or so.

Transfer the vegetables to a wide-diameter sauté pan. Add the minced garlic and sauté all that for a couple of minutes, stirring often. Then add tomatoes, balsamic vinegar, salt, and pepper. If you’re using raw chicken breast, add that as well. (If you’re using cooked chicken breast, add chicken at the end.) Stir well. The dish should be quite thick. I find that additional liquid is not needed.

Cover pan and cook over low heat for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally until vegetables are tender and imbued with juices and oil. If you’re using poached chicken breast, add it at this point and continue cooking over heat for 3-5 minutes to warm the chicken. This dish is also tasty when cold.

Poaching chicken breasts

Use four chicken breast halves.

Pound the thickest part of each chicken breast half to make the piece more uniform in thickness. This pounder works quite well. (Use Saran Wrap or the like around the breast as you pound it.)

In a large pot, put 4 quarts water, 1/2 cup soy sauce, 1/4 cup salt, 2 tablespoons sugar and stir to dissolve. Add 6-8 smashed cloves of garlic and stir again. Put the chicken breasts on a steamer rack and immerse in the pot. Leave for 30 minutes to brine and flavor the chicken. The rack keeps the chicken breasts from sitting on the bottom of the pot, where they can easily overcook from the heat conducted through the metal.

Put the pot over medium heat and heat until the water temperature reaches 175ºF, stirring occasionally to keep the water temperature uniform. When the temperature is reached, remove pot from heat, cover, and let sit 18-22 minutes, just until the meat temperature is 160ºF. Remove breasts from heat and, if serving immediately, cover with foil and let sit 5 minutes.

I generally just refrigerate them to use them in various recipes: the ratatouille, a tossed salad, with beans as a chili, and so on. In the Weight Watchers plan, boneless skinless chicken breasts have zero points.

The Thermapen Mk4 by ThermoWorks is extremely accurate and quick reading—I used an earlier model for years and it’s the best kitchen thermometer I’ve had. The MK4 is even better.


Written by LeisureGuy

7 January 2018 at 7:32 am

Posted in Food, Low carb, Recipes

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