Sabroso!

I was bingeing on Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives one day when I saw Guy visit a Mexican joint in my neighborhood. Mexican food is my favorite cuisine, so I decided to visit the place myself. On Día de los Muertes, a Mexican friend and I headed to Sabroso! Mexican Grill for dinner. “Sabroso” is the Spanish word for “tasty” and this restaurant is aptly named! Their food was so delicious that we’ve been back a couple more times and I’ll tell you why.

Everything on the menu is made completely from scratch right down to the tortillas and you can really taste that it is. The chef is a maestro of Mexican salsas (i.e. sauces) and caldos (i.e. broths). His use of chiles has a harmonious balance of spiciness and flavor that perfectly complements the protein in whichever dish he’s preparing. The menu has a wide variety of traditional Mexican dishes—even menudo on the weekend.

I love a good chile verde and it’s one of the most commended dish in Sabroso!’s Yelp reviews, so I ordered it on my first visit. I was not disappointed. It had plenty of pork and the green sauce was the best I’ve had (don’t tell my mami). It’s made with green tomatillos and enough chiles to be spicy but not so much as to overpower the other flavors.

Chile verde dish and the house margarita
Chile verde and the house margarita

My Mexican friend ordered the chamorro and gave it her stamp of approval for authenticity. It’s a slow-cooked, fall-off-the-bone beef chuck in a mild, smoky guajillo sauce. She shared a piece with me and I too thought it was delicious. She also ordered a mango margarita rimmed with spicy salt and she said it was very good.

Chamorro dish and a mango margarita
Chamorro and a mango margarita

Perhaps my favorite Mexican dish is pollo en mole but it’s absent from many Mexican restaurants’ menu. Since it’s one of Sabroso!’s house specialties, I ordered the red chicken mole on my next visit. It’s spicy and has all the complex flavors you would expect from mole poblano. The generous portion of chicken was enough for me to take some home and get a second meal out of the dish.

Red chicken mole dish with Peruvian beans
Red chicken mole with Peruvian beans

On another occasion, I was passing by Sabroso! on my way home. So I stopped in and ordered a bowl of pozole to go. They offer it with pork or chicken and I tried the pork. It had a wonderfully flavorful broth. On the side, it had all the traditional fresh toppings, including shredded cabbage, onions, and lime. It reminded me that I would have to try their menudo the next time I’m there on a weekend.

Most of Sabroso!’s plates come with Mexican rice and beans. Rather than the more common pintos, they offer a choice of black beans or refried frijoles peruanos, which I had never eaten before but enjoyed thoroughly. They offer a choice of flour or corn tortillas made fresh to order and I found the corn tortillas to be excellent. Of course they include the obligatory chips (made from their corn tortillas) and salsa.

I discovered Sabroso! during the pandemic, so I dined under the outdoor pavilion they erected for safety but the state now allows them to serve their guests indoors at limited capacity. The waitresses are friendly and hospitable. If you’re a fan of Mexican food and you’re anywhere in the area of Garden Grove, California, pay Sabroso! a visit. You will not be disappointed.

Trust the science

Here’s what a year of novel coronavirus pandemia looks like in America measured by new confirmed COVID-19 cases and deaths per day. In retrospect, the impact of the pandemic looks eerily like what the epidemiology experts warned us in advance that it would look like.

COVID-19 cases confirmed in the United States per day
Deaths caused by COVID-19 per day in the United States

Epidemiologists said that cases would be a leading indicator, followed by hospitalizations about a week later, and the trailing indicator, deaths, about a week after that. These graphs show the peaks in deaths following a couple of weeks or so behind those in cases.

They also said that COVID-19 cases would start climbing after people began congregating on Memorial Day, which they did. Then they said cases would spike after Thanksgiving and Christmas gatherings, which they didーas high as 300,000 on one day!

So let’s let the science guide us to put an end to this pandemic as quickly as possible now that Americans are getting vaccinated against COVID-19. Until we reach herd immunity in the United States, continue to wear a mask and maintain social distance while out in public and avoid congregating in large groups for extended periods of time.

Entitlement is not bad

The word “entitled” has developed an unfair negative connotation. There is nothing inherently negative about it. Merriam-Webster defines “entitled” as having a right to certain benefits or privileges. It’s actually a good thing to have a right to certain benefits or privileges when they are deserved.

How did the word end up with a negative connotation? It happened from people using it improperly. People call other people “entitled” when they actually mean the exact opposite—that they do not have a right to certain benefits or privileges. When someone believes they should receive a benefit or privilege that they do not have a right to, it should be said that they have an undeserved sense of entitlement (“sense” being the operative word) because they inaccurately feel they are entitled.

A classic example of a true entitlement is Social Security benefits. Most workers pay into the Social Security trust fund throughout their professional career via paycheck withholdings and their employer’s contributions to it. Therefore, when a worker becomes eligible for Social Security benefits, they are entitled to receive them.

Nonetheless, there is a viral Internet meme that incorrectly says “Social Security is not an entitlement.” In fact, Social Security is not only an entitlement by the definition of the word (a right to benefits specified especially by law or contract) but also by official designation. The federal government defines an entitlement as:

A Federal program or provision of law that requires payments to any person or unit of government that meets the eligibility criteria established by law. Entitlements constitute a binding obligation on the part of the Federal Government, and eligible recipients have legal recourse if the obligation is not fulfilled. Social Security and veterans’ compensation and pensions are examples of entitlement programs.

United States Senate Glossary

It’s a good thing they are entitlement programs because if the government designated the benefits as “discretionary spending,” they would not be protected. Discretionary spending is subject to the whim of annual appropriations acts and congress has proven completely inept at passing them. That’s why when congress fails to pass one, the government shuts down but beneficiaries continue to receive their Social Security benefits.

So be proud when someone says you are entitled to a benefit or privilege that you have a right to. But if someone says that someone is “entitled” to something they do not deserve, let them know that they are not entitled.

Fight fire with fire

After four years of divisiveness in the White House, many Americans are calling on President-elect Joe Biden to govern in a bipartisan manner. They claim it will promote healing from the open wounds President Donald Trump has inflicted on the United States of America. But a wound cannot heal if the patient keeps picking the scab away.

In an unprecedented move, 126 Republican Members of the House of Representatives have joined Texas attorney general Ken Paxton’s motion for the Supreme Court of the United States to overturn the election (PDF). Never mind that Trump’s own administration announced that “the November 3rd election was the most secure in American history” and that “there is no evidence that any voting system deleted or lost votes, changed votes, or was in any way compromised.” Even his attorney general Bill Barr said “we have not seen fraud on a scale that could have effected a different outcome in the election.”

Everyone who joined Paxton’s motion is guilty of sedition. How can the United States make them accountable? It can look to the 14th amendment, which says that:

No person shall be a Senator or Representative in Congress … who, having previously taken an oath, as a member of Congress … to support the Constitution of the United States, shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same.

Section 3 of the 14th Amendment of the United States Constitution

The congressmen’s attempt to subvert a free and fair election for the president of the United States is a clear act of rebellion against the United States Constitution.

Accordingly, Representative Bill Pascrell called on “House leaders to refuse to seat any Members trying to overturn the election” yesterday.

Tweet by Representative Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-CA)

Some would say it’s a rash action and that congress should try to foster bipartisanship instead. Forget about trying to foster bipartisanship. The Senate Leader Mitch McConnell has not changed a bit in the four years since he opposed everything President Barack Obama did. And these 126 congressmen comprise 65% of the GOP in the House. They have made it abundantly clear that they will do everything in their power to cheat the Democrats and thwart President Joe Biden at every turn. That will defy the will of the American people who spoke clearly what we want in the election last month. It’s time for Democrats to fight fire with fire.

That said, I would support one concession to Representative Pascrell’s demand. If one of the seditious Members made a formal statement on the floor of the House under oath, they could be seated in the House. The statement must affirm Trump’s own administration’s position that the 2020 presidential election was the most secure in American history and that there is no evidence that any voting system deleted or lost votes, changed votes, or was in any way compromised. Absent such a statement, those Members can sit out the next congress.

Seating those Members who tried to overturn last month’s free and fair election would send the signal that they can get away with sedition in congress. Not only would that encourage them to do it again, the Republican track record indicates that they would try something even worse next time. And if Democrats don’t fight back hard now while they have a majority, Republicans will overrun them at their next possible opportunity. We already know what that would lead to. The GOP has demonstrated that it fully supports an autocracy in the USA — as long as the autocrat has an R behind his name.

Shutting down America again

Just three weeks ago I praised the Trump administration’s guidelines for “Opening Up America Again.” I stand by that praise because I still think the guidelines make sense and are practical. Unfortunately, President Trump does not stand by his own guidelines.

Literally the day after releasing the guidelines, Trump encouraged people protesting the lockdowns in Virginia, Minnesota, and Michigan by exhorting the states to reopen in a series of tweets:

Liberate Minnesota
Liberate Michigan
Liberate Virginia

However, none of the states satisfied the gating criteria that the guidelines specified for proceeding to any of the opening phases. One gating criterion calls for a downward trajectory in coronavirus infections yet all three states were still on an upward trajectory.

The guidelines also make the states responsible for being prepared to do widespread testing and contact tracing. I see this as the linchpin to success reopening up America. However, my opinion is that the federal government is also responsible for this rather than leaving it up to the states alone. I called for the federal government to take leadership on the production and distribution of the resources needed to test and trace. But the federal government has failed to do so and, as expected, no state is yet prepared to test and trace at the level prescribed by the guidelines.

Nonetheless, states such as Texas, Indiana, Colorado, Florida, and Tennessee are beginning to reopen even though the number of confirmed cases are still increasing. Georgia began reopening businesses on April 24 even though coronavirus infections were still on an upward trajectory. But at the end of the month, Trump said of Georgia’s reopening that “I think it’s wonderful.” President Trump isn’t the only one encouraging states that are failing to follow Trump’s own guidelines for reopening. Vice President Pence also praised the thirty something states that have plans or have already begun to open up, even though none of them can pass the testing gate or have two weeks of a downward trajectory in infections.

I understand why the states want to reopen. Sheltering in place and social isolation will wreak severe economic damage not only across the United States but also around the entire planet. The only way to recover from the economic harm is by opening up businesses in all sectors of the economy and in every state. Setting aside the economy, the American people are personally wearying of social distancing for a couple of months now. We all want to begin gathering in large groups for all kinds of events again.

But that doesn’t assuage my concern at this point in the pandemic that we may be reopening society too soon. No one disagrees that opening up will cause an increase in COVID-19 hospitalizing and killing Americans. Everyone hopes that this will happen at a manageable level.

We need to reopen businesses and reduce social distancing with great caution to prevent the increases from occurring in major spikes. If other cities start experiencing overloaded health systems like New York City did (and still does) from COVID-19, they will have little choice but to begin shutting down again. And if we think the shutdowns we’ve all lived through already this year were painful, imagine how much worse it’s going to hurt if we have to shut down America again.

Opening Up America Again

President Trump’s administration released guidelines for “Opening Up America Again” today. They comprise a federal policy that can be effectively implemented nationwide. They are clear, objective, and achievable while also allowing flexibility.

The guidelines assume that they will be implemented by governors on a state-by-state (or even county-level) basis. They set gating criteria and preparedness responsibilities as a baseline. This baseline will be met at different times by different states, so it allows those that are ready now to embark on Phase One immediately while ensuring that states which are not ready yet don’t open up too soon. The guidelines also give governors the flexibility to enhance the guidelines with their own requirements for conditions unique to a given state.

The guidelines are broken into three phases. The baseline gating and preparedness must be met and in place before moving to any of the three phases. Each phase addresses those aspects of daily life for which restrictions remain appropriate due to COVID. Once a phase has begun, states should have no evidence of a rebound before moving to the next phase. They might even have to retreat back to the previous phase if they experience too great of a rebound in COVID-19. Each phase has a distinct set of guidelines for individuals, employers in general, and specific types of employers.

Even Phase Three, which eliminates most restrictions, is not a full return to normal. The United States will likely not be able to return to a state like what seemed normal at the beginning of the year until a coronavirus vaccine has been developed and administered to a large enough portion of the population to get herd immunity. That will not happen until the year 2021 at the earliest. And even then, it will be some form of a “new normal.”

How well and how soon the guidelines will be implemented in a given state will depend largely on its governor. There will be a wide variance among states depending on the resources available to the state and the competency of the governance. Some states have already banded together with their neighboring states to begin working toward opening up to their residents. These coalitions will likely facilitate implementing the guidelines by pooling their resources and people.

The president wants to see the economy return to a reasonable level of productivity as soon as possible. For that to occur, the federal government will also have to step up to the plate. The first obstacle states will face is testing and tracing. States will not be prepared to begin even Phase One until they have widespread testing and contact tracing in place. And they cannot move beyond Phase Three until vaccination for coronavirus is widespread among their respective populations. Neither of these are likely to occur in the near future without the federal government taking leadership on the production and distribution of the resources needed to test, trace, and vaccinate. So the president needs to begin immediately working on this if he wants to see the economy turn around. If President Trump won’t take the responsibility to do so, it will be President Joe Biden who will.

The evil genius of the Democrats

I was watching Fox News when I learned that the Coronavirus is just another scam created by Democrats to impeach President Trump. I have long felt that the Democrat party is uniquely capable of leveraging a distinct advantage into a colossal failure. So imagine my surprise when they managed to exhibit amazing genius in creating their latest scam to remove Trump from office.

Coronavirus impeachment scam

It all started late last year when the Democrats found a pangolin that was infected with a strain of Coronavirus that was at that time unknown to scientists. They brought the pangolin to China and tricked a vendor into selling it at an open air market in Wuhan. Then the Democrats induced the virus to jump species from the pangolin to humans.

But this was just the beginning of their genius. The Democrats knew that the Chinese people’s behavior was such that there would be an outbreak of the Coronavirus infection in Wuhan. That way, in spite of Trump’s quick implementation of a travel ban from China, the Coronavirus would still manage to get inside the United States.

Once inside the US, the Democrats engineered a way for the Coronavirus to bypass Trump’s “perfect” testing program. Even though Trump assured us that he has “a natural ability” to understand the virus outbreak, the Democrats still managed to get it to break out across the country. This caused Americans to react in irrational paranoia by cancelling public events to mitigate the spread of the virus.

The Democrats’ next step in their vast left-wing conspiracy was to manipulate the mainstream media into reporting on the Coronavirus. Specifically, they got the American people to panic and the MSM to blame Trump for the Coronavirus hoax. The Democrats did all this to impeach the president since they failed miserably with the Mueller investigation and the Ukraine scandal.

What makes this conspiracy particularly heinous is the Democrats’ willingness to needlessly frighten millions of Americans just to get Trump out of office. In fact, the Democrats even got the World Health Organization to declare COVID-19 (the “scientists” name for the Coronavirus) to be a global pandemic so that everyone would fall for the Democrats’ scam.

World Health Organization declares that COVID-19 outbreak is pandemic

So forget about Russia meddling in our elections. Be much more concerned about the Democrats using the Coronavirus to steal the election from Trump. They have finally managed to show true genius in an election scam. But America does not need genius if it’s driven driven by evil.

The hypocrisy of impeachment

President Donald J. Trump is impeached by the House of Representatives. He extorted another head of state using the power of his office to get a personal favor. Then did everything he could to obstruct congress’s investigation into the extortion. This should disturb all law abiding Americans. But I am even more disturbed by others’ participation in this impeachment affair.

Like many Americans, I knew what we would be getting in Trump before he was even elected. So none of his criminal acts since he took office have surprised me. He has done pretty much what I expected he would do once he took office.

The parties to this impeachment who have not done what I expected they would do are the Republicans in congress. Perhaps I was naive but I thought that, when faced with important issues of governance, they would do their duty as our representatives and put their country before the Grand Old Party. I assumed that they would realize that allowing a Republican president to trample on the Constitution would come back to haunt them when a Democrat POTUS would later take the office.

I could not have been more wrong. Not only have some of them betrayed their oath of office to uphold the Constitution, almost all of them have. The only Republican who has publicly voiced opposition to Trump’s high crimes, Representative Justin Amash, was literally ejected from the GOP for doing so! Not even retiring Republican congressmen are expressing any objection. And Trump’s former opponents in the Republican presidential primary election who once excoriated him are now the ones carrying the most water for him.

If Republicans opposed the impeachment on principle and with integrity, it would not disturb me. But the GOP is rife with hypocrisy on this matter. Only Trump could do the things he does and not be widely condemned by Republican legislators. Any Democrat doing the exact same things would have been impeached and removed from office already and deservedly so. It’s likely that even any other Republican doing the same things would have suffered the same fate.

It’s not as if there is a lot of disagreement about some of the most condemning facts about the Ukraine scandal. For example, Republicans will all concede that the White House’s memorandum of the July 25 phone call with President Zelensky (AKA the “transcript,” as Trump likes to call it) accurately reflects the call. But imagine if every mention of Trump was changed to President Barack Obama. Then if every mention of the Ukraine was changed to Israel and every mention of Zelensky to prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu. And every mention of Hunter Biden was changed to Mitt Romney’s son. Other than that, leave all the rest of the wording unchanged. Who seriously thinks the Republican congress would have sat on their hands if Obama were to have released such a memo?

Now imagine if Obama had refused literally every subpoena for documentation and testimony from congress when they opened an investigation into the phone call, which the at-that-time-Republican led congress would have assuredly done. Would Republicans have defended such an action as Obama’s executive prerogative? You can even look back at special counsel Robert Mueller’s Report On The Investigation Into Russian Interference In The 2016 Presidential Election. It cites at least five cases of obstruction of justice by Trump. If Obama and his administration had taken those same actions, would the Republicans in congress have ignored them?

Graphical analysis of fourteen counts of obstruction of justice from Mueller Report
Analysis of fourteen counts of obstruction of justice

We all know the answers to these questions. There’s no way the GOP would have put up with Trump’s high crimes from a Democrat president instead. Congress would be able to curtail Trump if Republicans would behave the same way toward him as they would have toward a President Hillary Clinton. But because they are not, Trump can go on trampling the Constitution with impunity, just as we knew he would. That’s why I’m even more disturbed by the GOP than I am by Trump.

No collusion. Yes obstruction

I finally finished reading Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Report On The Investigation Into Russian Interference In The 2016 Presidential Election (at least the portions that were not redacted). This is a summary of the principal conclusions I reached from reading it: no collusion, yes obstruction. Allow me to elaborate.

I speculated before the release of the Mueller report that Mueller had a “smoking gun” that would prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Donald Trump conspired with Russia to influence the 2016 presidential election. It turns out that I was wrong about that. I was surprised to discover that Mueller uncovered no concrete evidence that Trump actively and directly conspired with any Russian agents to that end. In fact, there is little information in Volume I (the part about Russian interference) that was not already part of the public record from investigative reporting, indictments, and guilty pleas. Therefore, I accept Mueller’s contention that “the investigation did not establish that members of the Trump Campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities.”

I used the term “no collusion” in the title only as a sarcastic reference to the countless times Trump said or tweeted “no collusion.” The truth is that Trump clearly colluded with Russia when he said on live TV, “Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing.

“Russia, if you’re listening…”

But collusion is not a legal construct, so Mueller explicitly reported that he did not look at the evidence through a collusion lens. He looked for evidence that Trump conspired with Russia to defraud the United States. Unlike collusion, conspiracy is a crime but Mueller could not find evidence that all the elements of conspiracy as defined by federal law were met by Trump as relates to Russia’s interference in the election. So one of my principal conclusions is actually that there was no conspiracy. For all you Trump supporters to whom I said “mark my words,” now is the time for you to tell me “I told you so.”

But Mueller’s report also has a Volume II and it tells a different story. Volume II focuses on obstruction of justice and, contrary to Trump’s assertion, it does not exonerate him. It implicates Trump on at least four counts of obstruction. I’m not referring to obstruction in the vernacular; I’m talking about obstruction of justice as defined by federal law. The report cites almost a dozen incidents that seemed obstructive on their face. It sets out all of the elements that the law requires for the crime of obstruction then it carefully analyzes them against the facts. The report is fair to Trump because it calls out the cases which meet some but lack all of the elements required for a conviction of obstruction of justice. Nonetheless, the report still shows that all of the elements required for a conviction exist in at least five of the incidents.

Graphical analysis of fourteen counts of obstruction of justice from Mueller Report
Analysis of fourteen counts of obstruction of justice

This raises the question of how there can be obstruction of justice if there was no underlying crime of conspiracy. The law does not identify an underlying crime as one of the legal elements required for obstruction and there is a good reason for it. When agents begin an investigation, they don’t know if what they’re investigating is criminal. Sometimes even the target does not know. If the target of an investigation could legally obstruct it when there’s no underlying crime, that would give incentive for a target to obstruct when there is an underlying crime. After all, if they could obstruct the investigation well enough, they could prevent a conviction for their underlying crime, thereby resulting in justice being done for neither their underlying crime nor obstruction. That’s why it’s a crime to obstruct justice whether an underlying crime has been committed or not.

This raises another question of why the Special Counsel did not indict Trump since the report clearly lays out sufficient evidence of obstruction of justice to get a conviction. There’s no need for conjecture about this question—Mueller explicitly tells us that his reason is to show fairness to the president. The Department of Justice (DoJ) has a longstanding policy that prohibits prosecuting the sitting president. However, an indictment is an accusation that the defendant committed a crime. In normal circumstances, the trial is the defendant’s opportunity to publicly present evidence that refutes the accusation. But this is not a normal circumstance because the DoJ will not prosecute a president while he is in office, so he would not have the opportunity to publicly defend himself against accusation of a crime. Therefore, it would not be fair to Trump for the Special Counsel to implicate him while he is president. The only remedy the U.S. Constitution gives to determine if a sitting president is guilty of a crime, and for the president to defend himself against the accusation, is impeachment. Since impeachment is the purview of congress, not the DoJ, Mueller simply reported the facts and law related to obstruction with the intention that the House of Representatives use the information to decide whether or not to impeach Trump.

Although Mueller did not explicitly state as much, over 500 former federal prosecutors have signed on to a letter which states that, if Trump was not the sitting president, he would have been found guilty of obstruction of justice from the evidence laid out in Mueller’s report, saying:

Each of us believes that the conduct of President Trump described in Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report would, in the case of any other person not covered by the Office of Legal Counsel policy against indicting a sitting President, result in multiple felony charges for obstruction of justice.

Mernitz, David W., et al. “Statement By Former Federal Prosecutors”. May 6, 2019. Medium.com.

They add that “these are not matters of close professional judgment…to look at these facts and say that a prosecutor could not probably sustain a conviction for obstruction of justice — the standard set out in Principles of Federal Prosecution — runs counter to logic and our experience.” I’m not a lawyer but I’ve read Mueller’s report, which is written in large part in layman’s terms, and it’s pretty clear to me. I agree with the 500 prosecutors referenced above that Trump is guilty of obstruction of justice.