Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Boss Muddy's Special Double Creamy Beer Reviews & Koch's Oligarchapalooza

I'm all in on this post to commemorate having accomplished my goal of posting each and every day in the month of March.

Boss Tom's Golden Bock

I am a bit chagrined that I am just now getting around to trying my hometown brewer's most recent 6 pack offering. In my defense, the last six pack I purchased was for Saint Patrick's Day and that, of course, was Boulevard Irish Ale. So, when it came time to purchase another sixer, Founders Dirty Bastard caught my eye and I confess I fondled the Left Hand Milk Stout, but I came back home for the Golden Bock.

Show-Me Beer did a great review of BTGB. In fact, it earned a link from Pitch blogs. I mention this because I want to post Drunk-Monkey's gorgeous picture, which puts my picture to shame.

Drunk-Monkey was also spot on when he said this beer would be great with a heavy meal. I had it with my dinner of Chicken Alfredo Florentine; it was the perfect compliment.

In general, I find the Maibock style of beer somewhat of an enigma, and Boss Tom was no different. Visually, the beer is stunning. The deep golden color and robust carbonation provides the classic beer image. But the aroma is muted and the initial taste not all that inspiring. Then, as I enjoyed the creamy pasta dinner dish, I found myself very much looking forward to each sip. The carbonation gives it a nice bite on the front end, followed by a slight caramel sweetness, then a nice warming finish from the +6% ABV. As I finished the beer I came to the conclusion that this is a damn good beverage.

Bell's Special Double Cream Stout

The picture is crappy, but the beer is good, even though it was not what I expected. It pours absolutely black with no translucence and topped by a dark brown foam that dissipates quickly. Strong chocolate and coffee aroma. Bell's web site refers to it as a dessert beer, so I was expecting something similar to Left Hand's Milk Stout. This was NOT sweet, this was more like unsweetened chocolate with a slight bitter hop finish. But the body is silky smooth and I enjoyed it very much.

Koch (pronounced "coke") Industries = Vomitous Disinformation PR Machine (AKA "Have Cocksuckers. Will Travel")

GreenPeace: Koch Industries Secretly Funding Climate Denial Machine


  • The company’s founder, Fred Koch, once earned $5 million building oil refineries in the Soviet Union during Joseph Stalin’s reign.
  • Fred Koch was a co-founder of the John Birch Society.
  • Charles G. and David H. Koch, two of Fred’s four sons, each now own 42% of the company’s stock. According to 2009 Forbes rankings, the Koch brothers are tied for the 19th richest person in the world, and for ninth richest American, each worth between $14 and $16 billion
  • Koch Industries has bankrolled Americans for Prosperity (AFP) to the tune of over $5 million since 2005.
  • AFP – known primarily for its role in organizing the tea party movement in the U.S. – brought notorious climate denier Lord Christopher Monckton to the Copenhagen climate summit as its guest speaker. Despite Lord Monckton’s reprehensible behavior in Copenhagen – where he repeatedly compared college students advocating for a clean energy future to “Hitler Youth” and “Nazis” – Americans for Prosperity continues to host Monckton at its events in the United States, including a recent appearance in Wisconsin.
  • While in Wisconsin on AFP’s dime, Monckton booked a side gig at a GOP fundraiser where he described President Barack Obama as a “monster.”
  • Koch was also one of the funders of the 2007 polar bear junk science “study” authored by prominent climate deniers (including Sallie Baliunas, David Legates and Tim Ball) that claimed to prove that polar bear populations were not affected by anthropogenic climate disruption in the Arctic.
  • Funded the Institute for Energy Research, which was behind the Danish study that attacked the viability of wind power.


Bigger in size than either Microsoft or AT&T, Koch Industries tends to fly under the public radar screen. Yet as the Center has previously reported, Koch — which owns refineries that can process over 800,000 oil barrels a day, and operates some 4,000 miles of pipeline — is a prolific political donor. Today, Koch is the second-largest privately held company in America.

While Koch has a long history of pushing libertarianism through its grant-making, more recently, the company has established itself as an aggressive opponent of climate legislation and a major funder of climate skeptics — including the libertarian Cato Institute.

Co-founded by Charles Koch in 1977, in recent years, the Cato Institute has hosted numerous D.C.-based briefings featuring various climate skeptics. A briefing book Cato distributed among members of the 107th Congress dismissed the Kyoto protocol and further asked, “Is the way the planet warms something that we should even try to stop?”

Though Cato’s funding has diversified since its early days, it’s thanks to Koch that the think-tank exists at all: According to Gregg Easterbrook, in its early years, the “largest portion” of the Cato Institute’s bills were paid by Charles Koch.

While Cato takes the battle for public opinion on global warming to the pages of the Post, Koch has conducted a quieter scrimmage behind the scenes. Last year alone Koch Industries spent $7.4 million to lobby Congress on global warming and other issues. Meanwhile as the Center noted in September, in recent years, Koch has stepped up its funding of other global warming skeptic groups as well. From 2004-2006, the Koch Foundation increased such funding to $5.3 million, an increase of 93 percent in just those two years alone.

Koch Industries, making the world safe for Oligarchs.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Keeping the Faith...

...Separate from the Government.

Blog Against Theocracy is April 2-4.

Blog up and be counted.

Details here.

Thanks to Blue Gal for the reminder.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Bonus Beer Contest: We Have a Winner! WTF?

In yesterday's "After-SMaSH" post I offered bonus points to anyone who could name the beer in the foreground of the posted picture.
~J offered "WTF is that?"


It was a bottle of Lagunitas Wilco Tango Foxtrot. I snagged the last two at Gomers in Parkville last Saturday. WTF is a malty +7% concoction that RateBeer places in the American Strong Ale category:
Not a style, per se, but the only logical category to incorporate the plethora of strong, stylistically vague beers coming from American micros these days. Some are related to English Strong Ales, but with more hop, while others are ultra-strong variants on the IPA theme. But no matter how varied their origins or characters might be, all are intense, potent, with generous quantities of hops and malt.

KC Beer Blog did an excellent review of this brew last February.

So Jay, tell us, what does ~J win?

Choice of any one of the following beers to be delivered at ~J's specified location.

But Wait! I just remembered I have a bottle of this stuff. It's kind of old though, so I don't know if ~J would be interested.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Simcoe, Bloody Simcoe: The After-SMaSH

Aftermath of Simcoe, Bloody Simcoe brewday. (bonus points if you can name the bottle of beer in the foreground)

Simcoe, Bloody Simcoe is in the carboy. Brother DJ and I had a wild ride while hitting some important milestones.

Brewday Firsts:

  • Used 24 qt kettle (no H2O "top up" for our SMaSH beer's wort!)
  • Used No Malt Extract (couldn't call it SMaSH beer if we had)
  • Used Maris Otter pale malt (the Single Malt in SMaSH)
  • Used Maris Otter crystal malt (still M.O., so still SMaSH beer, ha!)
  • Used Flaked Barley (this is not malt, so still SMaSH beer, ha ha!)
  • Used Simcoe hops (the Single Hops in SMaSH)
  • Used bottling bucket for sparging
  • Used FermCapS foam control in the boil
  • Used Whirlfloc tabs instead of Irish Moss to help with cold break
  • Eliminated back-breaking "pour & funnel" method for wort transfer

As expected, things didn't go quite as expected. This time we had to shut off the water for the guy who was putting down linoleum in the bathroom. This with 20 minutes left for the mash to finish!

Our efficiency was about 65% which is ok, but even after adding a pound of corn sugar, the starting gravity was only 1.055, so the ABV won't be any greater than 5.7%.

6% ABV would have been better. With the IBU's this beer is sporting, higher alcohol means friends and family who try it get a quick buzz, which helps take their minds off the hop assault.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

It's Billmon, Baby

Billmon, the greatest political blogger ever, whose self-imposed exile I still have not recovered from, on occasion posts to his diary at Daily Kos, which is one of the few reasons I visit that site.

The most recent event of sufficient interest to warrant Billmon's comment was how Eric Cantor's responded to violent acts and threats against Democrats by saying, well who knows what the hell he said, it was complete gibberish.

However, if you are so inclined, pull up a stool and sidle up to the bar, while a consummate connoisseur of right wing distillations recites the recipe for Cantor's little concoction. Something Billmon likes to call, Spock with a Beard.

Here is Cantor's statement as reported by the Atlantic.

There've been a lot of reports and the potential for violence against members of Congress over the past several days. Let me be clear: I do not condone violence, there are no leaders in this building, no rank and file members in this building that condone violence, period...

I've received threats...not only for my positions, but also because I'm Jewish...

Just recently I have been directly threatened. A bullet was shot through the window of my campaign office in Richmond this week...

I want to stress this, and it's very important. Legitimate threats should be treated as security issues, and they should be dealt with by the appropriate law enforcement officials. It is reckless to use these incidents as media vehicles for political gain. That is why I have deep concerns DCCC Chairman Chris Van Hollen and DNC Chairman Tim Kaine in particular are dangerously fanning the flames by suggesting that these incidents be used as a political weapon. Security threats against members of Congress is not a partisan issue, and they should never be treated that way. To use such threats as political weapons is reprehensible. I'm not naive enough to think that letters, statements, or press releases will prevent anyone disturbed enough to commit violence from acting. But I do know that such letters, statements and press releases can very easily fan the flames by ratcheting up the rhetoric. Some will only inflame these situations to dangerous levels. Enough is enough, it has to sop. We need to move forward and get back to addressing the important issues facing our nation and let law enforcement handle these situations.

Friday, March 26, 2010

To: emawkc & Bull E. Vard

A hairball from a Maine Coon cat (about 4 in/10 cm long).
Photo by Derek Jensen (Tysto), 2005-December-22

In response to yesterday's post, the indomitable emawkc and unflappable Bull E. Vard responded with some excellent arguments.

"The cost part of the equation has been ignored"

Because everyone knows it and no one wants to talk about it. A good way for a politician to become marginalized during this debate would have been to complain about how Doctors and Hospitals charge too damn much money.

It's a Hairball.

But it was in the subtext when Obama used the phrase, "bending the cost curve" and when Republicans suddenly became champions of Medicare and wrung their hands about draconian reductions in physician reimbursements. And my central argument was that people like Mr. Freedom Lover drive costs up when they consume vast amounts of trauma care services and never pay for them.

Bull E. Vard:
"Good work, you've successfully made an argument for the health police."

A bit of a stretch, I think. Mr. Freedom Lover indicts people who support HCR as just a bunch of freeloaders, while channeling some Randian Hero fantasy and pounding his chest about being no teat sucker he,

"Anybody who knows me and my convictions knows I practice what I preach."

So I held his hypocrisy up to the light, then dipped it in some gruesome detail for dramatic effect.

I understand our political landscape and the state of our society doesn't preclude the potential for Health Police. But barring some catastrophic collapse of Western Civilization, we won't have a society where people like Mr. Freedom Lover are denied emergency medical treatment and those people do drive up costs and I don't have to explain to you the economics of insurance and the diffusion of risk and the fact that a majority of our fellow citizens don't want to live in a society where children with treatable leukemia are allowed to live or die based on the size of their parent's bank account.

It's a Hairball.

The approach taken with the HCR legislation is based on a not unreasonable calculus, and is the kind of compromise we get in a representative democracy largely co-opted by powerful economic interests who now have full citizenship after Citizens United v.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Mr. Freedom Lover

Over at Logtar's Blog, his post about the recently passed Health Care Legislation, Privilege Vs Right has touched off a heated debate.

A commenter who strongly dislikes the legislation started his first reply with the statement, "The problem is that it's easy to spend someone else's money." Then went on to argue passionately that this policy is wrong because it is impinging on his freedom. He reveals his bent that justice should be of little concern for our society when he states, "I’d rather just be free to make the choices that lead to my success or failure." He confirms one of his choices by stating, "I waive health insurance and I do not want it. Up until yesterday I had the freedom to choose."

All very well and good, I suppose, except in a later comment, while trying to refute Logtar's contention that the government has a valid interest in curtailing citizen's freedom through traffic regulations, this freedom loving individual wrote, "choosing to speed can be enforced with a fine because [..] I am putting society in danger by doing so. [...] not having health care [insurance] does not put society in danger."


This commenter seems to share a blind spot with many individuals I meet who bitterly complain about having to pay taxes and having their freedom taken away, while simultaneously behaving in ways that threaten society and cause our taxes to be higher and requiring more regulations. Not having health insurance absolutely puts society in danger, by causing medical expenses and insurance premium increases to absorb the costs of treating uninsured individuals who can't pay for their treatment.

But I suppose I could be wrong. I suppose if we lived in a society that let everyone have the freedom to succeed or fail, no matter what, and the commenter were involved in some mishap and sustained life threatening injuries and an ambulance arrived, but the EMT refused to treat him because Mr. Freedom Lover chose not to carry health insurance, I suppose as the EMT snapped the laryngoscope back into its protective case, if the EMT were observant, he might see a hint of a smile at the corners of Mr. Freedom Lover's blood covered mouth, as Mr. Freedom Lover aspirated his own blood, a hint of a smile from the satisfaction Mr. Freedom Lover felt knowing he was living in a society where he had the freedom to suffocate on his own blood because he chose not to carry health insurance.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Big Question: What Did Tea Party Cowboy Say to African American Legislators?

There is a video on YouTube posted by DefendGlenn titled, "Big Lie: Video Shows Black Lawmakers Lied about 'Racist' Assault".

At about the 27 second mark, some curious action occurs. A fellow wearing a white cowboy hat comes into the frame. He lifts a cupped hand to his mouth and just as the individual closest to him walks by, leans in and spouts something.

The audio quality is too poor to pinpoint exactly what was said, but if you have headphones you can tell it was short, quick and spoken just loud enough that only the people directly in front of him would have a chance to hear the message. When I watch the video, his body language pretty much telegraphs what kind of message he delivered.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Legislator Snapshot: Jo Ann Emerson R-Cape Girardeau

There is a post on Gone Mild about the U.S. Representative for Missouri's Eighth District, Jo Ann Emerson, and her antics last weekend during the debate on health care reform legislation. When I reached the end of the post, I noticed that Dan had failed to provide any links to support his opinion, which is not like him, so I decided to see what I could find.

The Perry Bacon, Jr. piece at WaPo is is probably the most widely circulated report on Rep. Emerson's role as an active cheerleader for the protesters. It includes the reports of the ugly incidents that occurred on Saturday. Bill Lambrecht's report confirms Rep. Emerson helped lead the crowd's chants of "Kill the Bill". While the picture at the top of this post does not include Rep. Emerson, it is likely the same vantage point from which she rallied the troops.

After the reports on the ugliness that ensued on Saturday, there is no indication that Rep. Emerson publicly denounced those actions before going out help stoke the crowd further. Interestingly, Rep. Emerson generally communicates in measured tones and refrains from participating in the Republican's crazy reindeer games.

Last summer, she participated in some events with Emanuel Cleaver.

Back in March 2009, she praised Barack Obama for his "passion on the [health care reform] issue" and declared health care reform had been a passion of hers for 13 years.

Back in 2007, she was one of four Republican members of the House who supported legislation that would have required U.S. troops to be withdrawn from Iraq within one year.

Her criticism of the HCR legislation has generally been specific to the policies, if not always accurate. In this audio interview she gives these objections to the HCR legislation:

  • $500 Million in Cuts in Medicare

  • Insufficient reimbursements for Doctors in rural areas

  • Sweetheart deal for Big Pharma

  • Boon for Insurance Companies

  • Prefers a Bi-Partisan approach: Claims Republicans not included whatsoever.

  • I share Rep. Emerson's objections to bullet points three and four. I am ignorant about physician reimbursements in rural areas. That leaves the first and last points. The first one is accurate but misleading, since the plan reduces the payments to private insurers providing Medicare Advantage coverage which is subsidized by regular Medicare recipients. If Rep. Emerson really doesn't like government policies that are a "boon for insurance companies" she should support this aspect of the HCR legislation.

    The last bullet point is balderdash. From the the web site of the Republicans on the House Energy Committee, which crafted the initial legislation, here is a list of Republican amendments that were approved by the committee (including one from Rep. Greg Walden which would benefit her rural constituents):

    Cliff Stearns, R-FL., would prohibit the Government plan from receiving a 'bailout' from taxpayer funds.
    Anna Eshoo, D-CA., Jay Inslee, D-WA., and Joe Barton, R-TX., would create a pathway for non-pioneer drug companies to manufacture 'follow-on' biologics.
    Phil Gingrey, R-Ga., would prevent the new "Center for Quality Improvement" created under this bill from developing methodologies for rationing care.
    Phil Gingrey, R-GA.,would prevent government bureaucrats at the new Center for Comparative Effectiveness Research (CCER)from dictating to physicians what treatments they can or can't offer.
    Rogers, R-MI., would prevent the Federal government and private insurers from using Federal comparative effectiveness research for care rationing or limiting reimbursement levels. T
    Tim Murphy, R-PA., would require the new Center for Comparative Effectiveness Research and the new Health Choices Commission to consult with the specialty colleges and academies of medicine in determining any official recommendation or standards for best practices.
    John Sullivan, R-OK., would require the HHS Secretary to eliminate duplicative government programs, reducing waste and inefficiency in the realm of government healthcare.
    Michael Burgess, R-TX., would authorize States to create an option under Medicaid to allow individuals already on Medicaid that have annual prescription drug costs of over $200,000 to hold employment and be productive members of society.
    Anna Eshoo, D-CA., and Mike Rogers, R-MI., allows the primary physicians, under section 1301 of the bill, to be eligible regardless of specialty.
    Michael Burgess, R-TX., would ensure that all qualified health plans (including the public plan) under the bill will have a reasonable and accessible utilization review and appeals process so that insurance companies (or the public plan) aren't allowed to deny needed care and step in-between a patient and their doctor.
    Ed Whitfield, R-KY., would place a moratorium on the reimbursement cuts to 10 of the top 11 procedures performed by interventional pain physicians in an Ambulatory Surgical Setting.
    Rep. Greg Walden, R-OR., offered two amendments en bloc.
    The first amendment would help ensure that the demographics of the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MEDPAC) more accurately represent the demographics of Medicare recipients.
    The second amendment would help ensure that the new "Health Benefits Advisory Committee" established in the Democratic legislation accurately represents the interests of rural Americans. Currently 21 percent of the U.S. population lives in rural areas. Mr. Walden's amendment would ensure that at least one quarter of the Committee's members be practitioners who have legitimate experience practicing in a rural area for at least a five-year period preceding their appointment. .
    Rep. Steve Buyer, R-IN., offered two amendments en bloc to protect veterans' access to health insurance
    One amendment would allow the Secretary of Defense and the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to retain sole authority over their respective health care systems.
    The other amendment would allow veterans enrolled in the VA health care system to obtain coverage through the new Health Insurance Exchange in addition to their VA coverage.
    Shimkus, R-IL., would add language to the bill ensuring that there is no religious discrimination for patients seeking spiritual care under plans in the new Health Insurance Exchange.

    Monday, March 22, 2010

    The Vigilance of LimBeckelleMaklin

    When I saw this, I thought it might make a good blog post.

    I was overjoyed to see that Mr. Destructo was already on the case. Yea, he was feeling it. Like all good Americans, he knows we can depend on Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck and Michelle Malkin to ferret out the bamboozlers, to tell us who loves freedom and who doesn't. When they sized up Marcelas, LimBeckelleMalkin found him lacking,

    "Raise your hand if you love freedom, Notice Your Dead Mom didn't move a muscle, kid."

    Clearly just another freeloader. And a whiny one at that.

    Sunday, March 21, 2010

    Health Care Reform Legislation Enacted

    Just watched the historic vote in the US House of Representatives on health care reform. I am one of those people who would have told a pollster that I did not support this health care reform legislation. Not because I did not support health care reform, but because the legislation did include a robust public option.

    So, while being disappointed that it lacks provisions for a robust public option, I applaud the reforms that will end some of the most egregious practices of the private health insurance industry. I look forward to a time when I no longer have to worry about my family being denied coverage for pre-existing illness and no longer have to worry about having my insurance canceled or run out when I need it the most.

    Saturday, March 20, 2010

    SMaSH Beer Home Brew Recipe

    SMaSH stands for Single Malt and Single Hop. Most beer is made using a variety of malts and hops and commercial brewers rarely use this approach. Home brewers have popularized SMaSH beers as a way to experience the full flavor of each ingredient. This recipe uses 10 pounds of Maris Otter malt and 6 ounces of Simcoe hops.

    Maris Otter is a 2 Row English barley cultivar developed in 1996 at Cambridge. Maris Otter Pale Malt makes up 80% of the malt bill. The base malt contributes the sugars that will be converted to alcohol by the yeast. The other 20% of the malt bill is Crystal Maris Otter. Crystal malt is barley that has been roasted with a special process that partially caramelizes the sugars in the grain. The sugars from this grain add flavor and color to the beer, but are not converted to alcohol by the yeast.

    Simcoe is a cultivar bred in Yakima Washington and first released in 2000. It has a pine-like aroma and a taste with a slight hint of citrus.

    Technically, using crystal malt should disqualify this recipe from being considered a SMaSH beer, partly because it's rare for a home brewer to know what type of barley was used to create the a crystal malt. However, Simpson's recent introduction of Crystal Maris Otter now makes it possible to have a SMaSH beer sweetened by the caramelized sugars of a crystal malt.

    Thursday, March 18, 2010

    "Lucky Me Lucky Mud" Just Another Love Story

    I remember when tumbler was introduced in 2007. Tech savants pondered the significance; silicon angels flogged of google essence; a fellow blogger created some Bullshit. All a distant memory until a fateful decision to play blegger me this, whereupon my marginal utility almost ebbed away in the effluence of FuckYeah, Tattoos!

    Ahh, to slip the surly cables of our Extenze News Network so I might leisurely spend my days basking in the warm glow of Lego Porn...

    Enough of that! Back to our regularly scheduled program cuz there's bills to be plaid:

    Holy Jebus! Holy Jebus! what is that hideous tiny clinched fist with black chipped nail polish floating before sister neon blue surprise about to beat down da plaid fetish midget OR phantasm's prophetic call to the coming Apocalypse?

    Wednesday, March 17, 2010

    Boulevard Irish Ale: "Yea, It's Just That Damn Good"

    My contributions for St. Patty's Day 2010: Pictures of the beautiful, Irish lassie, Deborah Ann Woll, who plays the teenage vampire Jessica Hamby on HBO's True Blood. And, accolades for the beautiful Irish Ale produced by my hometown brewery, Boulevard Brewing.

    Irish Ale is the BEST beer that Boulevard produces on a regular basis. I heartily endorse the grassroots effort to convince Boulevard to make Irish Ale all year long.

    Tuesday, March 16, 2010

    What Would You Do For a Pliny?

    Hey, hopheads, how much beer would you bottle by hand in order to get your hands around those bodacious tap handles?

    For Peter Estaniel at BetterBeerBlog, it was 12.5 barrels of Russian River's Concecration. One drawback: your hands will be useless bloody stumps by the time you finish. I would guess drinking Pliny from a straw diminishes the experience.

    Consecration is brewed with the wild yeast Brettanomyces, which makes it unsuitable for bottling using the regular bottling equipment due to the risk of contamination.

    Here is a little primer on Brettanomyces:
    Brettanomyces (also known as Brett) is feared by most brewers and winemakers alike. In fact, there are some local winemakers who will not set foot in our brewpub in Downtown Santa Rosa due to our use of Brettanomyces. Brettanomyces is actually yeast, it ferments and acts the same as every other "conventional" yeast, it just has the propensity to continue fermenting through almost any type of sugar, including those natural sugars found in the wood in an oak barrel. Brett is very invasive and if not handled properly can become out of control in a winery or brewery, but, if used properly with care, it can add rich aromas and flavors of earthiness, leather, smoke, barnyard, & our favorite descriptor-wet dog in a phone booth.

    Monday, March 15, 2010

    Our Gang, episode 1: "Government a la Ayn"

    We have to end a system in which those at the top are never held accountable for the harm they inflict on the rest of society.
    - Dean Baker, Commentary in the Guardian regarding Obama's picks to fill vacant spots at the Federal Reserve.

    Spanky: "Miss, did you warn anyone about the dangers of the housing bubble?"
    Darla: "Well no officer, I didn't."
    Spanky: "Are you shewwwwwwr?"
    Darla: "I'm shewwwwwwr."
    Spanky: "OK. One more thing: You DO agree with Ayn Rand's assertion that, 'the essence of femininity is hero-worship', correct?"
    Darla: "By hero worship, do you mean worship as an abstract emotion for the metaphysical concept of masculinity as such—which I experience fully and concretely only for the man I love?"
    Spanky: "I shewwwwwwr do."
    Darla: "Then yes, officer, I DO agree."
    Spanky: "Then you would make a super vice-chair of the board of the governors at the Federal Reserve!"
    Darla: "Yippee! Will there be ice cream?"
    Spanky: "Shewwwwwwr! Every Sunday after Church!!!"

    Sunday, March 14, 2010

    Debating Free Market Evangelists

    I have several libertarian leaning friends and relatives. Debates about politics and economic policy often occur. I sense a great many arguments for the curative power of unfettered capitalism are based more on dogma that fact. But, without any formal education in economics, I'm at a bit of a disadvantage.

    I liken myself to be a rationalist and willing to change my opinion if I have sufficient evidence. I've generally been a left-leaning moderate (less and less moderate every day, btw) so, I did not support Ronald Reagan in 1980 or 1984. But over time I came to see his administration's tax policy combined with Paul Volcker's fed policy were conducive to the economic recovery in the 80's and beyond.

    While government policies supporting private enterprise have been a significant factor in the economic prosperity of Western nations, the notion that support for democratic institutions and social justice are also important foundations is widely shared. Most of my libertarian opponents subscribe to the economic theories of Milton Friedman and argue that unfettered free markets are the only way to achieve a just society. When pressed, most will concede such an economic system is not compatible with representative democracy. Exactly how one could judge whether a society was just, when its members lack the power to chose its leaders, remains a sticky question.

    Over the past few years, my arguments in favor of government involvement to mitigate or reverse trends such as de-industrialization, dependency on foreign imports, job losses to low wage labor in developing countries, and a consumer driven economy financed with foreign debt were met with derision and expositions on economic theories that I was hopeless to counter.

    Recently our country seems be lagging behind several other nations economically. Nations sporting highly "fettered" economies. Nations with government involvement in industrial policy. Nations with government controls absolutely antithetical to the prescripts for economic growth and widespread prosperity espoused by free market evangelists. Why would that be? How could that be? Could our laissez-faire approach to national economic policy be a factor? Even if true, where would I find someone who would concur? Someone acquainted with economics and economic policy, someone who spoke presciently about the dangers?

    There is a great line near the end of the movie, "Ocean's 11". Danny Ocean has been caught robbing the MGM Grand and is confronted by the owner, Terry Benedict. Benedict asks, "Where's my money".

    Danny says,

    "I know a guy."

    Well, there's a guy who is the President of the Economic Strategy Institute, which he founded. A guy who served as counselor to the Secretary of Commerce in the Reagan Administration. A guy who has led many U.S. trade and investment negotiations. A guy who has served as vice chairman of the President's Committee on Trade and Investment in the Pacific and sits on the Intel Policy Advisory Board and the U.S. Export-Import Bank Advisory Board.

    Clyde V. Prestowitz, Jr. has a B.A. with honors from Swarthmore College; an M.A. in East-West Policies and Economics from the East-West Center of the University of Hawaii; and an M.B.A. from the Wharton Graduate School of Business. He also studied at Keio University in Tokyo. He is fluent in Japanese, Dutch, German, and French.

    Mr. Prestowitz wrote this back in 2005:

    "America needs to recognize that many of the assumptions guiding its economic policy are at odds with the realities of today's global economy. Its performance in a broad range of areas--including saving, education, energy and water conservation, critical infrastructure and workforce upskilling--is far below the standard of many other nations. America needs to understand that its refusal to have a broad competitiveness policy is, in fact, a policy. And it gives leading U.S. CEOs no choice but to play into the strategies of other countries. This policy, according to its proponents, leaves decisions to the unseen hand of the market. Actually, however, it leaves them to the highly visible hands of lobbyists and foreign policymakers. It is a policy that ultimately leads to impoverishment."

    It's great when you know a guy.

    Saturday, March 13, 2010

    The Great Philly Beer Frenzy of 2010

    You have to hand it to Philadelphia, they know what's important. has a full time beer reporter; A beer blogger named Joe Six-Pack.

    Joe's been working overtime lately, what with the landing of the 2010 Pliny the Younger and the Philadelphia Liquor Control Board conducting raids to stop the sale of unregistered beer.

  • Turns out, the two events might be related. Jealously over who got the Pliny and who didn't?

  • These owners got pinched when the PLCB agents decided they possessed unregistered Duvel!

  • Of course, the list the agents used to determine what beers are registered is worthless.

  • You know people are pissed cuz the event spawned a Facebook Page.

  • What's worse, the release of a new beer might be delayed.

  • One good thing came out of this, though. I found three new quality beer blogs to follow:

    The Brew Lounge

    Shut Up About Barclay Perkins

    Joe Sixpack

    Friday, March 12, 2010

    I Used to be a Pie Baker

    h/t BLCKDRGD

    He stepped on them pies. Doubled that pie weight, tried to make it back. But them pies cut with powdered sugar, yo. Now he outta business, gotta take that last pie package and trade it in for a full-auto. This a pie corner. Mr. Destructo

    Thursday, March 11, 2010

    Don't Mess with Bell's Winter White Ale

    Bell's Brewery's Winter White Ale
    had a German hefe nose,
    And if you ever tried it,
    you might break out the lederhosen.

    Lots of BeerAdvocate reviewers,
    Want to gag and call Winter White Ale names.
    They won't consider Witbier,
    claim hefe's just for summer games.

    Then one soggy March Thursday,
    Muddy came to say,
    all you rubes with your nose uptight,
    I hope you choke on your Miller Lite!

    Then the shallow-minded slaggers,
    shouted out with glee,
    "Winter brews must be dark 'n heavy"
    or the grade we put down is a D!

    Beer Advocate usually attracts a higher caliber of reviewers compared to RateBeer, but the bunch weighing in on Bell's Winter White ale is giving me second thoughts. Why don't people consider the style before hacking away at a review. Or maybe read the brewer's notes?

    "A Wheat Ale brewed with American Wheat and a proprietary blend of Hefe and classic Belgian-style yeasts. A refreshing winter alternative created from the subtle fusion of two classic flavors."

    It compares with some of the best belgian ales at less than $10 for a sixer! I have to wonder why a person would take the time to be a member of Beer Advocate then trash a well brewed beer just because it doesn't conform exactly to their perceived concept of how a beer should taste. Seems narrow minded and contrary to the spirit of being, you know, an advocate for beer.

    The aroma is of a nice hefe, the appearance is not cloudy. On the tongue there is a subtle wheat flavor which succumbs to the tartness of the belgian yeast then finishes with fruity overtones and a lingering spiciness. The silky mouthfeel and 5% ABV make it eminently drinkable.

    This beer delivers great taste at a great price. Another masterpiece from Bell's.

    Wednesday, March 10, 2010

    Dennis Kucinich (D-OH): Mass Murderer

    Let's tally up the Administration and Congress' track record on Health Care Reform:

    [X]Single-Payer dealt away before negotiations even begin
    [X]Mandated payments to private insurance companies
    [X]IRS is collection agency for private insurance companies
    [X]Backroom deals with Big Pharma
    [X]Performing Yo-Yo tricks with the Public Option
    [X]Double-fisted stroking of Blue Dog Democrats, for no good reason
    [X]Rahm calling progressives fucking retards
    [X]Buying votes with custom legislation for Nebraska and Louisiana
    [X]Double-fisted stroking of Republicans, for no good reason
    [X]Losing Ted Kennedy's seat

    That seals it for me. I guess Moulitsas is right , if this health care legislation fails, the blood of 40,000 Americans will be on the hands of Dennis Kucinich and only Dennis Kucinich.

    Tuesday, March 09, 2010

    Change of Plans: Sierra Nevada Unfiltered Wheat

    On a recent visit to Bubbles to stock up on beer for a special occasion, I picked up the following items:

    1 Rogue Hazelnut Brown Nectar, 22oz
    1 Sierra Nevada Estate Brewers Harvest Ale, 24oz
    6 Bell's Special Double Cream Stout, 12oz
    A mixed sixer of:
    2 Bell's White Winter Ale, 12oz
    2 Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale, 12oz
    2 Sierra Nevada Unfiltered Wheat, 12oz

    My list was shaped in consideration of our guest, who is not a big fan of highly hopped ales and has only reached legal drinking age 14 months ago. I wanted to keep the ABV in a reasonable range.

    I had the performance choreographed perfectly: The Double Cream Stout was penciled in as the headliner; the lead-up would be the Rogue coming after Bell's White Winter Ale as the bridge from the SN Wheat, which would pull yeoman's duty as the warm-up act. The SN Estate and Celebration might even make unexpected walk-on appearances!

    Of course, such a careful plan could never come to fruition: We started with the Double Cream Stout, then off to the casino, then back home to finish off the Rogue. Now I've got to start making a dent in this inventory.

    Sierra Nevada has always had a well choreographed line-up of beers, but in the past year there has been a change of plans and the Unfiltered Wheat was discontinued and replaced with a Kellerweis Hefeweizen. Smart move, because there is nothing particularly bad about this beer and nothing particularly good. It has a lemon scent and a light mouth feel. Sweet up front with a dry finish. There is not much wheat character at all. The best feature is the lingering spicy aftertaste, which allowed me to gain an appreciation for the type of flavor Spalt hops brings to the table.

    Duly noted.

    Monday, March 08, 2010

    Borg & Klarup's Lupulin Lunker IPA

    I had two reasons to fear I wouldn't like Mikkeller Simcoe Single Hop IPA:

  • I have already proclaimed my next brew to be a Simcoe hopped SMaSH beer

  • I dropped $5.49 on a 11.2 ounce bottle.

    Mikkeller Brewing is in Denmark and was started by two friends who brewed beer as a hobby. They quickly became the Danish Ben & Jerry of beer brewing. Their website describes this offering thusly:
    The first in a new series of single hop IPA's from Mikkeller. Brewed with Simcoe, known for many great US micro-brews. An extremely fresh-hopped IPA.

    It poured cloudy with a thick creamy head. Nice start. It smelled like grapefruit juice. Not overtones, not just strong and citrusy. Grapefruit Juice. Now I'm nervous.

    When I held the empty bottle up to the light, I could see some residue in the bottom of the bottle. When I held the glass up to the light, I could tell some residue ended up in the glass. But not really residue. These are chunks. I mean there were some real lunkers flopping around in there. Some were so big I was tempted to start giving them nicknames.

    This was a case where the Sam Adams etched bottom glass may have not been the best choice. As Global Killer and his little buddies angrily churned away, I noticed brown streaks on the foamy head. For this I paid $5.49? To have skid marks on my beer foam? Sikke noget pis!

    Waiting for things to settle was not going to be an option, so I took a sip, being careful to avoid the skid marks. It was...nice. Another sip and it was better than nice, it was good! The grapefruit smell translates to a dominant citrus flavor on the tongue, along with a little pine. The bitterness was not as great as I feared. It is pleasant and only slightly increases as the beer warmed, as did the 6.9% ABV alcohol burn, but neither were overpowering.

    The mystery to me is the malt and yeast character, which is very little, but the body and ABV are right in line for an IPA. There is a slight sweet/bready quality on the back end that does a nice job of taking the edge off the hop bitterness. But no carmel or roasty or grain or smokey. Nothing to get in the way of enjoying that fantastic Simcoe hops flavor.

    This is a very good beer, but very pricey. I now have the proper motivation to clone it. I'll start with the SMaSH batch then start working my way toward it.
  • Sunday, March 07, 2010

    Git Ur Econ Geek On

    Last February, the Kauffman Foundation hosted the first ever Economics Bloggers Forum.

    Granting that econ geeks are few and far between, if you are a local blogger and care even a wit about world events you should have stumbled across the blogs of at least one of the attendees listed below and perhaps share my sense of wonderment as to how the event passed us by with little or no fanfare.

    Alison Schrager
    Amity Shlaes
    Bob Cringely
    Brian Carney
    David Warsh
    Gregg Gordon
    Mark Thoma
    Mark Perry
    Matt Schreiber OM III Capital Management
    Scott Jagow
    Seth Ditchik
    Sramana Mitra
    Steve Malanga
    Tim Kane
    Tyler Cowen
    Bob Litan
    Arnold Kling
    Ben Wildavsky
    Carl Schramm
    Charles Johnson
    Chris Lester
    Dane Stangler
    Don Boudreaux
    EJ Reedy
    Jeff Cornwall
    John McIntyre
    Lynne Kiesling
    Matt Rees
    Matthew Yglesias
    Michael Anton
    Michael Mandel
    Mike Shedlock
    Paul Kedrosky
    Virginia Postrel
    Wendy Guillies
    Yves Smith

    Other than the Kauffman Foundation, the only local media coverage I could find was at KC infoZine. We even got scooped by The Dallas Morning News.

    And it's not like there weren't local cultural angles; Tyler Cowen had a battle of the Kansas City barbecue joints post. asks if Kansas City might become the post-Globalization version of Mont Pelerin, because they're coming back!

    Saturday, March 06, 2010

    John Adams was a Traitor

    You know the all Founding Fathers of the United States were dedicated Patriots who steadfastly labored and sacrificed in order to free our nation from the yoke of the British Crown and all those who truly love this country revere their names and their legacies. Right?

    Wrong. John Adams actually defended people who massacred American patriots. He even used legal loopholes to get the sentences reduced for men convicted of murdering innocent Americans.

    John Adams gave legal counsel to agents working for a foreign government dedicated to keeping Americans subjugated and oppressed. This is confirmed in his own words!.

    March 5, 1773:

    "I. . .devoted myself to endless labour and Anxiety if not to infamy and death, and that for nothing, except, what indeed was and ought to be all in all, sense of duty. In the Evening I expressed to Mrs. Adams all my Apprehensions:That excellent Lady, who has always encouraged me, burst into a flood of Tears, but said she was very sensible of all the Danger to her and to our Children as well as to me, but she thought I had done as I ought, she was very willing to share in all that was to come and place her trust in Providence.

    "Before or after the Tryal, Preston sent me ten Guineas and at the Tryal of the Soldiers afterwards Eight Guineas more, which were. . .all the pecuniary Reward I ever had for fourteen or fifteen days labour, in the most exhausting and fatiguing Causes I ever tried: for hazarding a Popularity very general and very hardly earned: and for incurring a Clamour and popular Suspicions and prejudices, which are not yet worn out and never will be forgotten as long as History of this Period is read...It was immediately bruited abroad that I had engaged for Preston and the Soldiers, and occasioned a great clamour....

    "The Part I took in Defence of Cptn. Preston and the Soldiers, procured me Anxiety, and Obloquy enough. It was, however, one of the most gallant, generous, manly and disinterested Actions of my whole Life, and one of the best Pieces of Service I ever rendered my Country. Judgment of Death against those Soldiers would have been as foul a Stain upon this Country as the Executions of the Quakers or Witches, anciently. As the Evidence was, the Verdict of the Jury was exactly right.

    "This however is no Reason why the Town should not call the Action of that Night a Massacre, nor is it any Argument in favour of the Governor or Minister, who caused them to be sent here. But it is the strongest Proofs of the Danger of Standing Armies."

    Now you know the truth. No need to thank me.

    P.S. I'm sure these TRUE PATRIOTS will soon ask for the traitorous John Adams to be tried and convicted posthumously.