JOANNA ELM, Author, Journalist, Attorney

Guns & Baseball — and Clean Ovens

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It’s Squib Saturday, and it’s been a while since I’ve shared the most interesting, most outrageous, or most entertaining tidbits of information gleaned from all the stuff I’ve read –or seen — or done.  So, this week: A round-up of those tidbits from the last couple of weeks.



The Most Ridiculous Idea Ever!


Within hours of the shootings of Republican lawmakers at a Alexandria, Va. baseball field a couple of weeks ago, I read this article by Jonathan Martin, in the New York Times, titled Their Own Targeted, Republicans Want Looser Gun Laws, Not Stricter Ones.  The article went something like this: Even the Republican congressmen who were shot at will not consider tightening gun regulations. In fact, they are arguing that had the gun laws been less restrictive they could have carried firearms to the baseball practice that morning to protect themselves.

So, exactly how would that have worked? At the time the first shots were fired, Steve Scalise , the House majority whip who was the most seriously injured, was on second base.  Where would he have put his firearm when he came out to bat? Where could he have concealed it on his person? Where would the lawmaker and/or aide who was at bat put his firearm? What about the pitcher, or the guys in the outfield? I suppose they could have left them on the bench in the dugout where their fellow team members would be armed to the teeth also. But  further consider this: Among the first interviews, which I watched on MSNBC’s Morning Joe after the shootings, one of the witnesses said that when Scalise’s security detail responded with firepower, those in the dugout turned and yelled: “Are you friendly (fire)?” Imagine, if they had all been armed, shot first, and asked questions later.

As a wise pundit observed after the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre, if twenty dead children aged between 6-7 years old can’t bring about a change in laws on gun possession, nothing will. At least, lawmakers like Scalise ( whose pro-gun stance has earned him an A+ rating from the National Rifle Association) appear to accept the possibility that, if they Vote for the Gun, They Might Very Well Die By The Gun.

Most Illuminating — on Coal

It takes a brilliant mind to coherently present the facts on why coal is a dying industry, and why Trump, despite his campaign promise, can never bring back all the coal mining jobs that have disappeared over the decades.  But that’s what John Oliver did in his Last Week Tonight show recently.  Oliver did the same brilliant analysis on why marijuana should be legalized, and on all the nonsense surrounding Brexit. The ability to make difficult and controversial subjects comprehensible is what distinguishes brilliant journalists from the run-of-the-mill hacks. To make those difficult subjects comprehensible –and risible– is doubly brilliant. So, I always figured that Brit-born Oliver had trained as a journalist somewhere in my native country, England.  Turns out not to be so. But he did attend Cambridge University, one of the two top universities in Britain, before making comedic commentary his forte. If you watch nothing else this week, watch this excerpt on youtube.

Meanest Health Care Plan Ever!

Not a single Republican lawmaker (House or Senate) has argued against the assertion that one intended effect of the health insurance plan coming up for a vote in the Senate is to reduce taxes on investment income and high earnings for the better-off among us. If passed, the new health insurance legislation would almost certainly reduce taxes for my husband and myself.

Is that good news for us? Yes. Who doesn’t hate writing those quarterly checks to the United States Treasury?

BUT, the reality for my husband and I is also this: We have not gone without any of the goods and services we needed because of the increased tax payments we’ve made since Obamacare went into effect.   In other words, we lead a pretty comfortable life in spite of the increased taxes that went into effect in 2010 so that millions of U.S. citizens, previously uninsured, could get health insurance under expanded Medicaid coverage.  A recent estimate showed that the new health care plan would reduce taxes on really high earners with incomes of more than $1 million by an average of $54,000 a year. Come on guys! Did you really miss that $54k over the last few years?  The current POTUS is right on this one thing: the proposed health insurance legislation is just plainly MEAN.

Most Interesting Google Discovery

When I decided earlier this week to roast some skin-on, bone-in chicken breasts, I dreaded the inevitable result of a grease-spattered, smoky oven which would continue to smoke the next couple of times I roasted or baked. Naturally, when faced with an issue of this magnitude, I Googled.

I expected some obvious, simple solution like “cover chicken with foil,” but that wasn’t the case. Instead, I got entries with lines like “I’m not going to sacrifice great roasted chicken for a clean oven,”  with subsequent advice on how to clean a heavily grease-spattered oven with a mixture of “this” and “that.” I could not believe that Google had failed me in this simple quest.

So, I called Jane, my go-to expert, fabulous cook and Florida neighbor.  She suggested broiling, and placing the chicken breasts at mid-level in the oven after seasoning simply with salt and pepper. “But keep an eye on them,” she warned. I sensed trouble whatever I did in the oven.

In the end, I took the chicken breasts outside, and precisely followed the instructions for gas-grilling in my copy of The Cook’s Illustrated Guide to Grilling and Barbecue. They turned out perfect and delicious.  I was so excited, and so eager to dig in and try them, I forgot to take photos. So, (pictured) here are the bratwurst with peppers and onions which I grilled (perfectly) for dinner the following evening.

Best Car Commercial This Week

The one that makes me want to get into the back seat of a Lincoln.


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  1. Pingback: 'Someone Opened A Window Into Hell' -TV Talk Show Hosts Battle Guns - JOANNA ELM, Author, Journalist, Attorney

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