GOP Rush to Pass Faulty Alternative to ACA 

It makes no sense that Republicans are preparing to hold a vote in the House today on a repeal and replace for Obamacare without having read the bill. The amendments were not in place until last night and a finished version was not made available to members until 8PM. Why would anyone push something this complicated without reading it first.

Obviously Trump is getting pummeled from all sides for his administration’s lack of accomplishments, and needs a victory. It will be impossible for Republicans to explain to voters how they control both houses of Congress and the presidency yet can’t meet their promise to repeal and replace. That being said, take the necessary time and produce a better alternative. Because this is the kind of vote that can haunt members and a presidency right into becoming former elected officials.

Considering the late hour amendments were added to this bill, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has not had an ample opportunity to review and score this piece of legislation, meaning Congress is flying blind. They don’t know how much it will cost, amounts that may be unfunded, or the number of people potentially at risk of losing coverage or having their premiums skyrocket.

The reason for this faux urgency for passage is because Congress will adjourn for the weekend, and Trump and House leadership know the CBO numbers are likely damning, and constituencies will hammer their individual congressional members about voting for this garbage once they return to their home districts. It’s probable Republican “Yes” votes today would switch to “No” once the CBO scores are made public.

What is clear already is the American Health Care Act, the GOP alternative to Obamacare, does not protect citizens from pre-existing conditions. Estimates show $130 billion of funding is available, an extra $8 billion was added yesterday by the Upton Amendment, but this leaves a shortfall of $192 billion.

This puts states with high percentages of residents with pre-existing conditions like Alabama, Kentucky, Mississippi and West Virginia, at risk for having constituents being charged more for coverage or dropped into high risk pools, where sufficient funding may run dry. These are all Trump states, and were warned this was coming.  If you are an elected official in any of these states and are up for re-election in 2018 be prepared to lose.

It will not help matters that members of Congress and their staffs are exempt under Trumpcare, and will get better coverage offered to them through the government. That doesn’t look good. If this coverage is so wonderful the individuals responsible for passing it should be excited to enroll themselves and their family members in the same plan. Additionally, estimates are leaking out that Trumpcare will cut Medicare payments to states by $880 billion over the next decade. That means anyone who is elderly or has elderly parents needs to be concerned about out-of-pocket costs going up under Trumpcare.

This uneducated vote will leave a stain on those responsible. At stake is 1/6 of the United States economy. Members will be held accountable if this alternative adversely impacts coverage, increases costs, and adds to the deficit.

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Donald Trump Doesn’t Stand By Anything

Is it just me or does Donald Trump seem a bit stranger than usual? Admittedly he’s always off-kilter, jumping from topic-to-topic, like a pinball ricocheting around. Yet over the past 72 hours, in several interviews surrounding his administration reaching the 100-day mark, Trump’s responses have achieved new heights in rambling incoherence.

In an interview on Sirius XM’s P.O.T.U.S. channel, Trump said he didn’t understand why the Civil War was fought and that it wouldn’t have happened, “had Andrew Jackson been a little later.” Evidently Trump believes that Jackson, a pre-eminent plantation slave owner of the time, would have magically talked the South down to prevent the war, and for good measure added he himself could have cut a deal to pre-empt the conflict.

Considering Jackson died a decade and a half before the Civil War, critics immediately took issue with Trump’s historical accuracy. Aaron Blake, with the “Washington Post,” called Trump’s grasp of history “totally bizarre.”

Being that the underlying issue triggering the Civil War was the expansion of slavery, with Southern states seeking the continued right to own slaves and secede from the Union – I’ll bet good folding money neither Jackson or Trump could reason that foolishness away.

“White supremacists, lost causers and states-rights activists could latch onto this,” said David Blight, a Civil War historian at Yale University. “I don’t know if Trump even knows he’s doing it. You can be too ignorant to know you’re ignorant.”

Things got stranger yet in a televised interview with John Dickerson of CBS News. Responding to questions about changes in the healthcare legislation being revisited for passage, Trump said the Republican plan to repeal and replace Obamacare “guarantees” coverage for Americans with pre-existing conditions – which runs counter to how the bill being pushed through Congress is currently written.

“Pre-existing conditions are in the bill. And I mandate it. I said, ‘has to be,'” Trump told Dickerson. “We actually have a clause that ‘guarantees’ coverage for those with pre-existing conditions.”

That sounds definitive, but is misleading and certainly not in the same blanket manner the Affordable Care Act protects these individuals from discrimination due to their medical conditions.

After the original failure by Republicans to even get their alternative to Obamacare on the floor for a vote, a deal was cut between the Freedom Caucus to require insurers to cover those with pre-existing conditions, but provisions were included to allow insurers to charge higher premiums for them and this leaves the population vulnerable to gaps in coverage. Republicans want to set up “high risk pools” for those with pre-existing conditions, but estimates from AARP project premiums in the high risk pools could cost as much as $25,700 per year.

Trump clearly doesn’t know the details in his own plan and was left trying to appease several opposing constituencies of healthcare reform by spouting half-truths. And then this interview got super strange.

With continuing reputational damage lingering from Trump’s unsubstantiated claim that Obama surveilled Trump Tower, Dickerson took advantage of his access to get an updated response from the president.

This goes back to Trump’s ill fated tweet on March 4, 2017 @ 7:02AM: “How low has President Obama gone to tap my phones during the very sacred election process. This is Nixon/Watergate. Bad (or Sick) guy!”

It was a straightforward question from Dickerson. Did Trump stand by his claim that Obama was a “Bad (or sick) guy!”?

Trump’s epic reply, “I don’t stand by anything. I think our side’s been proven very strongly.” Dickerson pushed for a more full throated response aside from being told to interpret it himself, since Trump claims “Fake News” for anything critical of his administration.

This was too hard hitting for The Trumpster. He walked away from Dickerson in a dismissive fashion, defeated, ending the interview and going back to his desk. “Okay it’s enough,” Trump said. “Thank you. Thank you very much.”

From this disaster Trump moved on to satisfying his peculiar fascination with strongmen leaders. As intense as the standoff with North Korea is over its development of nuclear weapons and launching of missile tests, Trump swang from alluding to a possible major conflict with this rogue nation as of last week, to Monday calling Kim Jong-Un, the violent North Korean dictator, “a pretty smart cookie,” and noted he would be honored to meet with him.

Trump wasn’t done with his strongman love. There was also high praise for Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte, who has been on a binge of late, executing his constituency in the streets if suspected of involvement with drugs. This is part of President Duterte’s anti-drug campaign that Human Rights Watch has estimated led to the deaths of at least 7,000 Filipinos, usually at the hands of local police. Duterte himself has bragged about personally gunning down people when he was a mayor. Usually this would get a leader ostracized, but with Trump it earned admiration and resulted in an invitation to the White House.

Hard to say if this is merely another poor decision making binge for Trump or the beginning of a downward spiral. Considering his grasp of the entertainment industry and inherent ability to frame a moment, it would be out of character to stumble so completely with all the attention surrounding the administration reaching its 100-day mark.

It more likely is the weight and responsibility of the office finally settling upon his shoulders. There is nothing easy about being president, and few calm days. This isn’t like playing CEO, where what the boss says goes. Congress and the courts don’t have to listen to Trump. Elected officials answer to the people, same as the president. With all the political polarization, combined with Trump’s lack of focus and poor execution, it’s been near impossible to get his arms around this job.

Reports are that Trump is having trouble sleeping, and I can understand why. The man has run his mouth for two years now about how easy it would be for him to change Washington, and how tired the American people would be from all the “winning” he would bring forward once elected. That has not transpired. Legislation has been poorly constructed and not properly marketed to Congress or the American people. Now testimony will crank back up in the House Intelligence Committee about Trump ties to Russia.

Republicans are being quoted as saying they try hard not to listen to what comes out of the president’s mouth because it gets harder and harder to justify supporting such an undisciplined and careless leader. This begs the question of why follow such a man?

Sean Spicer, the White House press secretary, is now having to devote a chunk of his daily press briefings to backtracking in an effort to explain what jackass-stupid thing Trump has said, in an attempt to realign the erroneous commentary with existing U.S. policy.

In fits of frustration Trump takes to Twitter and blasts out threats and lies like a petulant child, such as Tuesday’s tweet from the president that has all Republicans running for cover: “Either elect more Republican senators in 2018 or change the rules now to 51%. Our country needs a good ‘shutdown’ in September to fix mess!”

This relates to the recent budget deal that will be voted on today. Apparently Trump took this as a victory before actually reading the details. Aside from increased military spending, the majority of these monetary initiatives are Democratic priorities, and ones Trump steadfastly insisted would not be funded, such as Planned Parenthood and $2 billion to the National Institutes of Health. Most importantly there is no money allocated for any border wall or deportation stormtroopers.

Realizing Democrats were celebrating a budget victory Tuesday, Trump sent out Mick Mulvaney, director of OMB, to try and explain how a border wall that was not being funded was actually being built – but not really. In the end both Mulvaney and Spicer exited the briefing abruptly without taking questions – in a walk of shame.

“It seems to be among the most bizarre recent 24 hours in American presidential history,” said Douglas Brinkley, a presidential scholar. “It was all just surreal disarray and a confused mental state from the president.”

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Trump Success Lacking 100 Days into Term

With Saturday marking the 100th day of the Trump administration, there is a longstanding tradition of evaluation that comes with reaching this initial milestone in a new presidency. Sure there is an arbitrary nature in trying to measure an entire administration from only 100 days, yet this century mark serves its purpose as a bellwether for gauging the ability of a new president to make the transition from running a campaign to governing a country.

By any yardstick it’s difficult to give the Trump administration a passing grade. All aspects of its governance, or lack thereof, have been consumed by the same dysfunction and chaos Trump utilized as a candidate, spreading his haphazard style across the White House, Congress and throughout the cabinet agencies.

Deficient examples include: Hundreds of executive level cabinet positions remaining vacant; Trump’s National Security Advisor being forced to resign; a Muslim travel ban was hastily put together and pathetically rolled out before courts twice struck it down for being unconstitutional; the healthcare alternative to Obamacare couldn’t be brought to the House floor for a vote; there’s no border wall; nor is tax reform moving.

Aside from getting his Supreme Court nominee seated, which required lowering the 60-vote threshold to achieve, and ramming some executive orders through, there is nothing for the Trump administration to highlight as a success.

Much of this is Trump’s own fault. He wanted to boast about all the “winning” America would do under his watch, and the ease he would have in correcting the country’s ills, yet there is no winning, and Trump’s job approval ratings are historically low.

In lieu of accomplishments, Trump and his minions have been busy in the run-up to this moment, spinning furiously to downplay the importance of the first 100 days. A last-ditch effort to manufacture some legislative victory was attempted with healthcare again, tax reform and border wall funding, but not even a Republican controlled Congress was willing to stick its neck out for this president.

Trump is dying to hit these walk off legislative home runs to make a splash, but failed to offer any worthy solutions. It doesn’t help that The Donald only chose family and loyalists to staff his White House, leaving him with no experienced voices for advice, only yes men.

There’s a feeling this president has not adjusted to the pressures and responsibilities of the office, so it serves him well to downplay the 100-day mark. But if he had accomplishments during this same span of time he would be wall-to-wall exclaiming his virtuosity of vision and execution. Instead it’s all rants about fake news and alternative facts as his work product is legitimately critiqued.

What can’t be explained away is out of the first 100 days Donald Trump spent 31 of them at his luxury properties playing golf. His expenditures for pleasure travel are staggering and taxpayer costs for security for himself and family members in alternative locations to the White House scream that this administration is not interested in rolling up its collective sleeves to work for the people.

Any political capital Trump had was eroded by his petty choice to squabble about inauguration crowd sizes, falsely accusing President Obama of tapping his phones, and the ever-expanding investigation into Trump ties with the Russian government.

This was supposed to be the honeymoon period. Coming into office a new president usually has a groundswell of public goodwill, high approval numbers, and especially since Republicans control Congress and the presidency – the votes necessary to move signature legislation. If Trump can’t get something passed now, when else might it happen. It only gets harder from here.

Ironically, as the former boss on “The Apprentice” it’s hard not imagining Trump firing himself at this juncture considering the robust promises he made about all the “winning” America would do versus the abject lies and failure Trump has delivered.

One-hundred days down and it remains unclear whether The Trumpster has the ability to actually function as a president or is merely reprising his role as a reality-based television personality, starring in a show about playing a president. The problem here is we’re not just chasing ratings. There are lives at stake and lasting international implications.

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Sleeping with the Fishes at Georgia Aquarium

My main purpose for being in Atlanta was to attend the Radiohead concert Saturday night, but with six hours till showtime I wanted to explore a small corner of what this impressive city had to offer.

Factoring in that I was pre-gaming for the show throughout the day, there was no way my vehicle was exiting the hotel parking lot. It was a gorgeous day out and warm. My best call was to remain walkable around Centennial Olympic Park. There was eye-candy aplenty here with: The Georgia Dome, CNN Center, Philips Arena (where Radiohead would be playing), Skyview Atlanta, the Georgia World Congress Center, the College Football Hall of Fame, and let’s not forget Coca-Cola.

“The Real Thing” has a huge presence in Atlanta even to the casual observer. I had no clue Coke was invented there in 1886. That explained a lot. Good luck finding Pepsi products. But for those wanting to know more, the World of Coca-Cola is a museum devoted to the history of this influential beverage. Together all of these enticing buildings made for an impressive view, but none piqued my interest like getting a chance to see whale sharks at the Georgia Aquarium.

I love my fishes and was psyched to visit the largest aquarium in the Western Hemisphere. We’re talking 10 million gallons of fresh and salt water. It was the largest aquarium in the world from its opening in 2005 until 2012, when it was surpassed by Marine Life in Singapore.

Local businessman and Home Depot co-founder, Bernard Marcus was the inspiration behind creating this groundbreaking attraction. The land in the Centennial Park District was donated by the Coca-Cola Company and Marcus put $250 million behind creating the readily identifiable blue-metal and glass exterior building. It’s design was intended to evoke a giant ark breaking through a wave.

Inside awaited tens of thousands of fish and other sea creatures, and hundreds of species. Besides the whale sharks, the other notable critters are beluga whales, bottlenose dolphins and manta rays. Though a non-profit, admission is not cheap. Expect to pay around $40 unless taking advantage of the advance purchase, early bird or evening discounts. Expensive or not, some 2.2 million people come through the Georgia Aquarium yearly.

Once inside it feels a bit like a movie theater. There is a central lobby where everyone enters before selecting one of the five feature galleries to wander: Tropical Diver, Ocean Voyager, Cold Water Quest, River Scout and Dolphin Tales. Each corresponds to a specific environment and LED signs advertise the start times for the next performances or feeding times.

I headed straight for Ocean Voyager, the largest exhibit, built by Home Depot, containing 6.3 million gallons of water and several thousand fish, making it the largest indoor aquatic habitat in the world. Here whale sharks roam.

This is the only aquarium outside Asia that houses whale sharks. The natural light reflecting down through the brilliant blue water creates a calming aqua-hue in the viewing area. Thousands of different species of fish and other creatures can be seen swimming about at different depths – then a whale shark cruises past and it makes one to pause. It’s the size of a bus, yet moves in such a majestic fashion, gliding slowly through the water. At over 40 feet in length and 20-plus tons, these magnificent creatures have presence.

It took planes, trucks and boats to deliver the original four whale sharks to Atlanta from Taiwan. Amazingly, these enormous beasts were going to be eaten had the aquarium not purchased them, after having been captured in Taiwan’s annual fishing kill. Two died in 2007 but that same year the aquarium received two more whale sharks, just before the ban on capture of this species took effect.

Swooping through this same exhibit is a full-sized manta ray. This is the first one on display in the country, and the Georgia Aquarium is one of only four sites in the world displaying such a creature. With a wing span of more than 15 feet, this manta ray was accidentally caught in nets protecting the South African coast from sharks. It has been part of the Ocean Voyager exhibit since 2008.

The viewing windows throughout are amazingly large, offering unparalleled observation. Still, the scene stealer is the 100 foot underwater tunnel, allowing visitors to walk or ride a slow-moving conveyor belt with panoramic views as whale sharks and rays peruse this barrier reef system.

I next took a stroll through River Scout, with its overhead river allowing one to see North American fish from the bottom up. It contains an eclectic mixture of freshwater species. An albino alligator kept a close watch on passers-by, and a gang of otters unintentionally put on a performance as their cuteness won hearts and minds. In addition to local specimens, this exhibit displays piranha, electric fish and other unusual freshwater life.

Moving on to the second largest habitat (after Ocean Voyager) is the Georgia Pacific Cold Water Quest. This features animals from the polar and temperate regions of the world and contains most of the mammal species in the aquarium’s collection. Five beluga whales are the big draw. There is something hypnotizing about how these mammals move, with their taught pale skin against the blue water, and bulbous heads. They are striking to observe. Ranging from 11-15 feet, these beautiful creatures can weigh 2,500 pounds. This was also the spot to see Japanese spider crabs, sea otters, African penguins and barking seals.

Thirteen bottlenose dolphins are housed in the AT&T Dolphin Tales gallery. This is the aquarium’s newest addition, opening in April 2011. I didn’t take in the show, but there is a dolphin auditorium for performances.

The fifth exhibit is Tropical Diver presented by Southwest Airlines. Here a massive living coral reef is on display. Waves go crashing overhead as the surf churns up life surrounding the reef. The aquarium does a nice job of maintaining an ocean-themed soundtrack across its facility that makes visitors feel all the more as if they are residing underwater with these magnificent creatures. Other animals in this gallery include sea horses, garden eels, jellyfish, clownfish, shrimp, lobsters, turkey fish and many other tropical fishes.

I was blown away by the Georgia Aquarium. It’s a most pleasant place to submerge one’s self and forget momentarily about all the outside interference that clutters our modern lifestyles. Of course the exit is through the considerable gift shop. A stuffed river otter and pink leopard seal came home with us. Along with a necklace of blue plastic dolphins that light up in several LED modes from strobe throbbing to slow flashes. This was a key purchase to bring along to Radiohead later that evening.

Make a point to visit the Georgia Aquarium. A world of underwater life is waiting for you. Dive in and explore.

GEORGIA AQUARIUM | 225 Baker Street NW | Atlanta, GA | 404.581.4000

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Biscuits Aplenty at Atlanta Breakfast Club

Waking up Saturday morning on the 14th floor of the W Hotel in Atlanta I had the distinct feeling of anticipation, akin to the one customary on Christmas morning. Radiohead would take the stage at Philips Arena in 10-hours. Between now and then I had nothing on my schedule but sun and fun.

Coffee was an absolute to get the body moving, but I quickly transitioned to vodka tonics. This was going to be an all day buzz, building to a crescendo for the evening activities. When implementing an early alcohol intake schedule, eating and hydration are key. Brunch was first on the agenda, and the destination was the Atlanta Breakfast Club.

With road beverages in hand, Maia and I set out for the Centennial Park District. It was maybe a 15 minute walk. Judging by the number of folks milling about in front of the restaurant, we had made the right call on this joint.

The wait was going to be 45 minutes, but we were in no hurry and besides this place was rumored to have outstanding biscuits. I left my cell number and downloaded the NoWait app, which allowed us to see how many parties remained in front of us waiting for tables, freeing us up to wander in search of a Bloody Mary.

A few blocks over by Philips Arena we discovered Der Biergarten, a second floor drinking oasis, constructed of exposed wood beams and overflowing with plants and greenery. It beckoned to walkers-by to take a seat at one of the family style picnic tables outside on the terrace to soak up the traditional German atmosphere. While beer was the obvious specialty the bartender had no problem concocting a hearty Bloody Mary for us to imbibe.

Once consumed we scooted back to the Atlanta Breakfast Club to find our table ready. This Southern style kitchen was a vibrant eatery, full of all varieties of nationalities and races, local and otherwise. One whole wall was a floor-to-ceiling chalk board, where diners could etch greetings or draw creatures. The exposed kitchen added to the exciting feel of the restaurant as chefs and waitstaff worked feverishly through the haze of orders.

As the hour of the day moved past AM to PM, Maia and I sided with lunch over breakfast, though the Crispy Fried Chicken & Waffles was hard to pass up. I had the Cajun Fried Shrimp Po-Boy, that came dressed with Creole mayo and field greens on a toasted roll. It overflowed with flavorful shrimp and proved substantial if not quite up to New Orleans standards where this style sandwich originated.

Maia’s dish of Gulf Shrimp & Grits was ridiculously spectacular. It came with the house specialty chicken sausage that was the best I’ve sampled. It had a pop and seasoning that held its own against the grits and smoked pepper gravy, but offered a lighter alternative to traditional andouille, and one that complemented the dish’s flavors.

I can’t say enough about the biscuits at the Atlanta Breakfast Club. They will change your life. Thick yet airy, golden brown, with a richness and sublime texture that melted in my mouth with butter and jam. We put down three orders, which our waiter said wasn’t something he saw often. He also happened to be kind enough to comp one of our biscuit orders.

With our appetites past satisfaction we bid adieu to our new favorite breakfast spot and set out to walk through Centennial Olympic Park in search of the Georgia Aquarium. There’s Whale Sharks on the horizon.

ATLANTA BREAKFAST CLUB | 249 Ivan Allen Jr. Blvd. | Atlanta, GA | 470.428.3825

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Atlanta’s Noble Fin Hits the Spot

Regardless of good intentions, rarely do I manage to depart my house on a road trip as early as anticipated. Maia and I had taken Friday off and were driving to Atlanta to see Radiohead on April 1 at Philips Arena. Instead of exiting at the crack of dawn, it ended up being late morning before we actually hit the road. Honestly, with all the commotion swirling around our lives these days, the last thing either of us wanted to do was rush.

The 400-mile drive down was pleasant, and afforded an opportunity to chat & chill. Thankfully we swooped right in to Atlanta around 7PM, without being impacted by the I-85 bridge collapse from the previous day. We had a room waiting at the W Hotel-Downtown. That was a sweet address, super chic, hip, and walkable to many attractions in the area, including our show Saturday.

After cleaning up and getting a cocktail or two we sought a comfortable place for dinner. I had scouted Atlanta outposts, but they were primarily barbecue joints and decadent sandwich spots. Hole-in-the-wall was not sounding pleasant after such a long drive. There would be plenty of time for those the rest of the weekend. Tonight we wanted some upscale comfort.

Since Georgia is a coastal state, seafood was high on my priority list. After coming across Atlanta magazine on the Net, I pulled up its 50 Best Restaurants issue and felt an immediate attachment to No. 15 – Noble Fin.

“Its dining room may look bland, but Noble Fin is one of metro Atlanta’s most assured and satisfying seafood restaurants. Its guiding inspiration was a traditional fish house, drawing on chef-owner Jay Swift’s time in Boston and Baltimore. Indeed, you cannot find better crab cakes in the city, but Swift also serves a more succulent New York strip than most steakhouses inside and outside the Perimeter. It’s the rare restaurant that delivers more than it promises.” ~ Atlanta magazine, Feb. 1, 2017.

So this would be a little adventure in itself. Our destination was located in what is known as OTP or Outside The Perimeter, meaning it was beyond the city’s encapsulating freeway of I-285. I know it sounds crazy getting back in the car, but we had no interest in driving all that way to eat in some lame chain restaurant nearby. Besides it’s little jaunts like this when I usually end up finding the best food or happen upon something unexpected. This drive promised both.

It was an easy 25 minute trip, upon which we found Noble Fin in a nondescript suburban shopping area. Once inside we were immediately transported to a coastal atmosphere. The decor was modern yet rustic and extremely comfortable, with its weathered hardwood flooring, mix of booths separated by steel and frosted glass, and an open kitchen that was fronted by a hollowed-out canoe.

We were seated at a rather roomy four top. Time for some serious cocktails. I wanted something clean yet powerful, and Dirty Martinis go perfect with fish or steak. I went with Tanqueray Gin, extra-swampy, up with olives. Maia chose the Ketel One vodka version. Both arrived in perfect condition. I took this as a good sign.

Normally I wouldn’t consider ordering critter at a seafood restaurant. Often any meat on a seafood menu is placed there as an afterthought to appease the few that can’t figure out fish, but the restaurant review pointed out that was not the case at Noble Fin. One of the Friday night specials was a 22 oz. Cowboy Ribeye. I asked our server of its deliciousness level and she assured me of its spectacularity, so I gave it a run. Maia opted for one of their signature dishes, the Seared Diver Scallops.

To give my meal a slight seafood spin I ordered a cup of the house-made Clam Chowder, which I had read was impressive. It was fabulous. I kinda wish I had ordered a bowl, but with the bread and size of the steak to come, less was best.

My steak was immaculate. A perfect medium rare, and the size of a small hubcap. I started doing a happy dance right there in my seat. Each bite was a festival of flavor. Steaks, even good ones, are routinely done properly but fail to be remarkable. This offering from Noble Fin was one of the best pieces of meat I’ve ever had the pleasure to sample, and rivaled anything from the best steakhouses in Chicago. It also was $60, and should have been good, yet exceeded expectations.

Maia’s scallops were perfecto as well, meaty yet delicate, with a succulent smoky flavor. We both ordered another round of drinks, then kicked back to enjoy each other’s company and Noble Fin’s hospitality.

Throughout the dinner we built a rapport with our friendly and knowledgable server, Christine. She had visited Louisville previously so we had that in common, and she was sweet enough to give us a thumbs-up/thumbs-down on possible Atlanta attractions and some inside skinny on non-tourist spots to hit.

On the drive back to our hotel we bumped into the I-85 bridge collapse. That was a surprise. The construction crews were diligently working around the clock to get the disaster cleaned up. There was no traffic at this late hour, but I could only imagine what the Monday morning rush hour would be like.

My friends, always remember looks can be deceiving, and unexpected adventures often lead to discovery. Noble Fin delivered on both, and was a satisfying experience that was more than worth the drive.

Noble Fin | 5260 Peachtree Parkway | Peach­tree Corners, GA | 770-599-7979

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Trump’s Trouble with the Truth

Remember in grade school learning about the former presidents. There was a mythical quality surrounding young George Washington and his escapade of chopping down a cherry tree. He could never tell a lie. My how times have changed.

Now we have Donald Trump, who can’t last a news cycle without tweeting falsehoods in an attempt to distract or avenge perceived slights. Don’t waste time waiting on an apology. Niceties and responsibility are not taken by Trump. I don’t envy teachers that must justify this president’s behavior to impressionable minds. It’s absolutely true that words do matter, and this president is setting a deplorable example of how to conduct oneself to children and adults alike.

We’ve heard how Trump had the hugest inaugural crowd ever, accept that wasn’t accurate. The Donald will tell tales of how he actually won the popular vote in November’s election if not for the millions of fraudulent ballots cast for Hillary. Again, not true. Did you hear the one about how President Obama wiretapped Trump and his campaign buddies. That was a whopper that really got the intel community laughing, but also blatantly untrue.

The security blanket voters wrapped themselves in after Trump’s unlikely victory was the prospect that his lust for making deals on behalf of America would necessitate he surround himself with intelligent advisors who knew the ways of Washington. Wrong again. The guy is such a chaos train wreck the only people he can keep close are family, sycophants and adult babysitters.

Instead the West Wing and cabinet heads were filled by a bunch of Wall Streeters, Jared & Ivanka who are pointless, Steve Bannon who seeks an isolated perfect race, or there’s Mike Flynn and Jeff Sessions, both with their Russian ties and Flynn forced to resign, perhaps facing charges.

Putin and Russia seem to be a soft spot for the president. The tangled web of Trump associates linked to Russian contacts has risen to the level of a full on FBI investigation. What The Trumpster failed to recognize with his sending of the fake Obama wiretap tweet, is it refocused everyone’s attention on Trump’s love for all things Putin.

Forcing James Comey, director of the FBI, to come testify on Capitol Hill to dispel any truth from Trump’s wiretapping allegation opened up the bigger trap door. From this self-inflicted wound we learned that Trump’s people were talking with Russian spies already under surveillance by U.S. intelligence. Now Comey let it be known that an investigation is underway regarding Trump associates colluding with Russia to affect the outcome of the presidential campaign.

Comey stated, “If any Americans are part of that effort then that is a very serious matter.” Trump responded with a tweet saying that any suggestion that his associates coordinated efforts with Russian officials was “fake news.”

With all of this percolating in the background Trump decided the time was right to push for a vote on the Republican alternative to the Affordable Care Act. After eight years of Sen. Mitch McConnell, chief obstructionist, proclaiming his enthusiasm to pull Obamacare out root & branch, the Republicans still couldn’t come up with a functional alternative. Yet Trump slammed on the accelerator.

In the end Speaker Paul Ryan pulled the bill from the floor when insufficient votes were available. It’s not dead mind you, this will likely come back for a vote, but moderate and conservative Republicans could not find common ground. It’s amazing that with eight years to prep a replacement, this garbage of a measure that would cost millions of Americans coverage, and offers a massive tax cut for the super wealthy, was the best the Republicans could pull together.

Donald Trump told voters it would be easy passing Trumpcare. It would be cheaper, have more choices, cover a larger population, and come with lower deductibles. None of that was true.

“Nobody knew that health care could be so complicated,” Trump acknowledged after realizing the issues surrounding health care were more involved than the repeal-and-replace Republicans had let on. Maybe he could have asked any health care policy expert in Washington. It would have saved time and embarrassment.

But this is who Trump is to his core. He lies, cheats and steals. That can work for a shady businessman, but not as president. Especially since Trump is the cheap version of a huckster. He brags about an image, but underneath, where it counts, Trump is a snake oil salesman. He has nothing of substance to offer. The praise he dispenses is heaped upon fellow creeps like Roger Ailes and Bill O’Reilly from Fox News. Both serial sexual harassers, and both forced to step down in disgrace for their humiliating behavior.

I understand in theory why people voted this man in office, but Trump is not the guy to be given this kind of control or power. He is not equipped to contemplate the information that needs processing on a daily basis as president. Much less piece together the myriad of responses necessary for our constituencies and foreign allies. All those relationships and the current status of each must be maintained and its importance recognized. Thus far Trump can’t keep a single story straight for an afternoon.

I’m not sure if the man is having a senior moment, or it’s early onset Alzheimer’s disease, but Trump is unable to do the job of president. He operates like a spoiled prince rather than as a president, shooting his mouth off over Twitter with no thought of the implication his words carry. The time has come for competence to enter this White House, or Donald Trump and his circus of imbeciles needs to pack up and return to Crazy Tower.

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