Well…our time here at Seminole Campground in North Fort Myers is now officially…short. It’s Tuesday as I write this and we’ll be underway for the summer early Friday morning. So let’s get ya’ll caught up in things here at our winter home.
Li’l Red is fixed…the shop got ‘er done and Neil picked it up on Friday last. They had to order a different rear hatch than the original photo estimate that USAA did called for since we have the auto-lift hatch. We did end up with the upgraded lift mechanism as part of the deal though.
Our pre-underway list is almost done…Neil got everything outside put away today except the normal “day before leaving” items. Bikes are stowed, basement is pretty much repacked for travel vice winter time, grill and camp stove stowed, tire covers removed and stored, Big Red has had his oil changed and diesel/DEF topped off. Li’l Red will get an oil change tomorrow and we’ll pick up some groceries…then Thursday we’ll do laundry, finish the last packing, hitch up Big Red for blast-off on Friday, and make our final stop at Elks Lodge 1288 to say our “until next times” to our friends there.
We had a pretty good Easter…Connie finished up with the Choir Week From Hell© Sunday morning. Neil attended the Easter Vigil Mass with her on Saturday evening since she doesn’t drive at night any more so he decided to skip Sunday as is allowed. He did a duck breast outside for dinner and we had it with some brown butter sage gnocchi…those are sort of a pasta made out of mashed taters and flour then they’re sautéed in budda and sage…he also made some blueberry sauce out of some of last summer’s berries we picked up in Maine. It was quite yummy…he’s finally figured out the optimum cooking method for a large (1 pound) breast. Most of the recipes you find are for much smaller 4 ounce or so size breasts…basically you score the skin/fat side and put in a cold pan then cook over medium low heat until all the fat is rendered. Unfortunately…with the larger size by the time all the fat is rendered the middle is still raw and by the time the middle is its desired 140 degrees the skin is far overdone. So what he did was cook it on very low heat skin side down…always do this outside if you live in an RV as it generates quite a bit of smoke…until the skin was about 90% done to the right color and the fat was about 60%-70% rendered. Then he turned it skin side up and put the skillet on the preheated grill with the top down and essentially roasted it. This finished the fat rendering and he checked it every 2-3 minutes until it was at his desired 137 degrees…it will coast up a bit after you remove it from the pan.
And all that rendered duck fat…don’t dare toss it…that’s like liquid cooking gold ya know. Strain through a coffee filter to get the brown bits out and put it in the fridge. Anything you can do with bacon fat…and trust me, there’s a lot on that list…is even better with duck fat. Use it on roasted potatoes, as part of the roux for gumbo…you could smear duck fat on a bumper and it would taste good. Sure…it’s fat…but you’re going to use some oil to cook most of the time anyway…and duck fat (or bacon fat) is so much better than plain ol’ oil that why wouldn’t you use it?
Ok…so we’ll blast-off out of here Friday morning on a 2 day transit…we’ll overnight in Lake City then continue on to Foley AL on Saturday. After an extra day there…so we can eat at Lulu’s and our other favorite eatery there…we’ll leave Monday, overnight in Vinton LA off of I-10 and arrive in Kerrville TX for the NHOG Rally on Tuesday…well it doesn’t actually start until the following Monday but our friend Jim is going to help Neil replace the carpet in our LR slide with the same hardwood flooring in the rest of the rig. Our friends Bill and Linda won’t make it to the rally…their schedule got modified by a whole series of things this spring and a trip to Kerrville just wasn’t in the cards. On the bright side though…he did get a 22KVA natural gas generator installed at their house so he no longer cares about power outages. Natural gas never goes out during those and his generator is big enough to run the entire house including all 3 A/C systems. I don’t want to know what the natural gas bill will be for those times when it’s needed…but having cool air and power to keep your fridge and freezers working during an outage is most definitely a good thing.
After the rally…we’ll head out May 11 on a 3 day transit up to Kansas City where we’ll commence our US-50 trip…we’ll do the western half heading west then double back via US-20 and do from Kansas City back to the east coast heading east…with the rally in TX that must worked out better schedule wise.
OK…time for a little RBB©…Reality Based Blogging…I’m going to ‘splain what the Mueller Report actually says and what it really means without all the political BS that both sides are putting out or the mostly biased reporting by the media. If you’re not interested then ya can just skip ahead to the pictures.
Let me start by saying that this isn’t a defense of the President…as I’ve said before we aren’t in favor of a lot of things that he does…but back in 2016 he looked like the least bad of 2 bad choices. Neil has always said that “none of the above” should be a choice on the ballot…and if “none of the above” wins then you have to have a new election and those people can’t run again. Unfortunately…the founding fathers didn’t see fit to enshrine that method into the Constitution…so we have to go with what we got.
So after the election…there was this whole hue and cry about “collusion” and the Russians “interfering” with our election. Now all of that took place under a previous administration as he wasn’t the President yet…but somehow the media and Democrats have determined that it’s the President’s fault.
I know you’ve been hearing about collusion in the media for the past 2+ years…but that’s a bad word for what might or might not have happened. Collusion…well, it ain’t against the law. What is against the law…is conspiracy.
The whole Mueller investigation got started because of something called the Steele Dossier…which in much later analysis turns out to have considerable evidence that the dossier was paid for as opposition research by the Clinton campaign. Nonetheless…the FBI…specifically several agents that have now been fired for cause…used the dossier to get one of those secret FISA warrants to investigate whether the Russians meddled in our election and more importantly, whether the Trump campaign colluded…again that non-criminal word…with them.
So Mr. Mueller filed his report to the Attorney General…exactly as the Special Counsel Act requires…ya know, that Special Counsel Act that was passed by a Democratically controlled congress and signed by a Democratic President because Congress didn’t like that the report of the Independent Counsel that was appointed to investigate President Clinton reported his results in their entirety back to Congress as the former Independent Counsel Act required. The AG…after receiving Mr. Mueller’s report, gave a summary of its findings to Congress…which is all that is required by the Special Counsel act. In parallel with that summary…the AG determined that he would release as much of the report as possible to Congress and the public…but that he would redact…as required by law…4 types of information…the most important redaction requirement is for grand jury material…which by law must remain secret.
Last week…the AG released the redacted report…and immediately the demands from Congress came for the complete un-redacted report including all supporting evidence…never mind that this would be illegal. Congressional Democrats also started to condemn the AG because of his “biased report instead of the Mueller Report”. Never mind that (a) what they got was exactly what Mr. Mueller submitted with the required by law redactions made and (b) that Mr. Mueller was part of the redacting team…so obviously he had some say in what was redacted; and since he hasn’t come out and stated that the AG overrode his decisions on redactions I’m guessing he approves. Congress realizes that what they’re demanding is illegal of course…but as their goals are political instead of justice they’ll make them anyway.
So the report states that there was no evidence that any US citizen cooperated with or conspired with the Russians during the election. No weasel words there…no evidence of conspiracy by anyone in the Trump campaign. This means that the hopes of the Democrats…and I think that even Democratic voters will agree that this was more about resisting the President and getting him out of office because he beat their candidate than any real desire to achieve “justice” whatever that means.
Volume two of his report goes into whether there was obstruction of justice by either the President of anybody from his campaign…and the report divides into the President and everybody else. In the everybody else case…Mr. Mueller indicted zero people for obstruction of justice and stated that while there was some evidence found…that there was insufficient evidence to support an indictment or to achieve proof beyond a reasonable doubt as is required by US law. In the President’s case…Mr. Mueller essentially punted the decision to the AG and explained his reasoning. He said that long standing US legal precedent holds that indicting a sitting president is not constitutional and that therefore he could not support an indictment. He further stated that if he had reported that absent being a sitting president he would have indicted the President that would not have been fair. Under US law…a charged person is entitled to a swift trial by a jury of his peers…and during this trial he has a chance to answer the charges and thus prove his innocence. In this case…since there can be no trial under US law…the President would have no chance to defend himself and therefore making a determination whether the President obstructed justice was not warranted. He deferred…as he should since he works for the AG…to the AG…and the AG made the determination that there was insufficient evidence to support an indictment or prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
Mr. Mueller did list 10 instances which provided some evidence that the President may…or may not…have committed obstruction…and essentially said that under the Constitution the Congress could impeach him after their own investigation…and depending on which side of the aisle you’re on…invited them to do so or just explained what the Constitution says.
That whole sequence…or possible sequence of events…gets into very murky territory. For instance…and from my admittedly brief and I am not a lawyer reading of the report…this is the most serious possible obstruction…the President tried to have Mr. Mueller fired and did actually fire the FBI director. On one hand…this could be construed as interfering with the investigation…and hence might qualify as obstruction. On the other hand…the President is the head of the Executive Branch of the government…and hence he can hire and fire any Executive Branch employee…including both the head of the FBI and the Special Counsel. In any event…his attempt to fire Mr. Mueller was defused by his staff because they convinced him that the investigation would continue anyway so firing Mr. Mueller would have no effect
As I said…proving anything beyond a reasonable doubt…particularly when the Special Counsel found no underlying crime of conspiracy…would prove problematic at best and impossible at worst. And a sealed indictment to be opened when he’s no longer a sitting president would violate constitutional rights to a speedy trial…as stated by Mr. Mueller.
So the only thing left as a possibility is impeachment…the House could vote to impeach with a simple majority vote…but conviction in the Senate requires 67 votes and that just ain’t gonna happens. The Speaker of the House is currently downplaying impeachment talk because she realizes it’s just a pipe dream and won’t accomplish anything.
Lastly…let’s talk about what the Russians actually did to meddle in our election…but let’s leave out all the media and political hype. From reading the reports…their activities fell into two main areas. First…they generated a lot of social media accounts and posted many things favoring Mr. Trump and against Ms. Clinton. Second…they may…or may not, facts in this case are pretty lacking…have stolen emails from the Clinton campaign and provided them to Wikileaks or other places for publication.
So what did the Russians really do. Back in Moscow…they determined that it would be in the best interests of Russia that Mr. Trump won the election…so they put out a bunch of social media stuff to help him. What they didn’t do was attempt to actually cheat in the election by invading election systems and changing votes.
Is this bad? Now I’m not defending the Russians…as they’re clearly not our friends…just trying to stay neutral in my wording here. The Russians supported the candidate they would prefer to win…because they thought it was in their national interest. Likewise…I’m not defending any of the dictator’s that we oppose as a matter of our interests in the following paragraph…just pointing out inconsistencies in our position on “meddling”.
We do the same thing…we support candidates we like and do many other things that we think are in our national interest. For instance…we supported the comedian who won the recent election in Ukraine over the incumbent. We support the rebels in the Syrian Civil War because we don’t like their leader. We support the leader of the opposition in Venezuela over the duly elected president there…despite the fact that the president won the election under their laws. We’ve recognized the opposition leader as the “true” president and demanded that Mr. Maduro step down. Why do we do all these things? Simple…because our government thinks that doing them is the best national interests of the US…and the US should do what government perceives as being in our best interests. However…getting outraged because other countries do the same thing seems hypocritical to me.
Let’s face it…in reality the efforts of the Russians didn’t really have any effect on the outcome of the election. Voters were either going to vote for Mr. Trump or for Ms. Clinton…and their minds were made up. There weren’t really any undetermined voters and the Russians didn’t break into any systems and rig the vote…so at best their efforts were noise.
The good thing is that in 18 months we’ll have another election…and our citizens will get to vote for President again. I just wish that the Democrats would run on what they would do if elected rather than continue their #ResistTrump efforts. I also wish that Congress would do their job and legislate instead of never ending investigations…but that’s probably not gonna happen either.
So…should the President be impeached? Not for me to say…that’s up to the House and Senate…but at this point politics and payback for losing the election and #resist will play a much greater part in the decisions of both chambers than doing the right thing. Realistically…I can’t see that what he may have done…assuming it’s actually true…is any better or worse than what President Clinton did, what President Obama did issuing Executive Orders that arguably were extra legal, or any other politician did. At this point in our history…candidates can rarely win based on winning policy statements, willingness to negotiate, and compromise with the other side. Political candidacy in this era depends on negative campaigning, finding dirt on the other side…and rigid adherence to party ideologue ideas…not to mention the litmus tests on both sides. With both of our parties being pretty much dominated ideologically by the far extremes…it’s hard for any candidate to get through the primaries and become the nominee without running way, way too far to the outer limits…be it socialism or nationalism. The trouble is…the US is still primarily a center-right country…and the vast majority of voters are in the middle…not the extreme edges. Primaries in both parties are popularity contests when each tries to out left…or out right…the other candidates. Then once they’re the nominee they try to run back to the center to get enough votes to win…because while the extremists dominate the primaries they’re simply not enough of them to win a national election. My personal guess is that impeachment will not happen if Ms. Pelosi has control of her caucus…but not because she’s on the President’s side or wouldn’t personally love to see him go. If she wins the day…it’s because she is first and foremost a politician…and she realizes that the likelihood of conviction in the Senate is remote to non-existent. While Republicans have the majority in the Senate…you need 67 votes to convict…and this means that 20ish or almost half…of Republican Senators will need to vote to convict. Since the most important thing for both parties is to defeat the other side rather than do their jobs…I think this extremely unlikely. Given that…I can’t see impeachment going anywhere and likely neither will Ms. Pelosi. The trouble is…I’m not sure that she has any better control of her caucus than Mr. Ryan did of his caucus. He had the problem of the Tea Party 1st term Representatives who thought it should be their way or the highway…she has the problem of the socialist wing of her party as well as the increasingly “let’s out socialist the other Presidential candidates” attitude of the 19 announced Democratic candidates.
I’ve got some more thoughts about all the policy platforms that the 19 Democratic candidates for president are coming up with…but this has gone on too long already so I’ll save them for another day.
On to interesting stuff found on the net…and for any of you who skipped the RBB© part of the post you can start reading again here.
Most people have heard the old saw that “everything in Australia wants to kill you” I reckon. This is because they have an extremely large number of creatures with deadly venom compared to the other continents…brown snakes, spiders and various other creatures there have all killed humans. So this week…I saw this report which talks about a man who was killed and a woman is in the hospital in critical condition…they were in their back yard and were attacked by a deer. Yes…a deer.
Next up…this article…which is about an animal known as a liger. Check out the right hand video on the top line. Now a liger is the offspring of a male lion and a female tiger…if the species and genders were switched then it would be a tigon instead of a liger but I digress. The liger is the largest known cat in the world…as you will see in the video.
You probably saw last week all the hubbub about the first ever photograph of a black hole about a bazillion light years away. I’m not sure how you can take a picture of a black hole anyway since by definition light cannot escape from it and hence the photo would just be black…but you can take photos of things that are just outside of what is known as the event horizon…which is the distance from it where light can no longer escape. Anyway…the production of this photo required 3 years or so, about 5,000 terabytes of data and simultaneous observations from various places on the earth and then more observations 6 months later when the earth was on the other side of its orbit. The black hole is in a galaxy named Messier 87 and it’s really only 55 million light years away…and they’ve calculated that it has 6.5 billion times the mass of our Sun…so it’s pretty big. Anyway…after gathering the data they crunched it for a couple of years…and the result is this magnificent photo of a black hole.
Now I’ll grant you that looks sort of out of focus and doesn’t have any detail…so I looked ‘round the interwebs and found this guy that used the same magical software they use on NCIS and CSI to enhance photos. Turns out that once you enhance the black hole photo to see what it really looks like you get this.
Old people training.
And finally…dear millennials.