Supreme Court Affirms Right to Bear Arm

Thursday, June 26, 2008

The Supreme Court released their decision in the matter of the District of Columbia et al . v. Heller. This case was a challenge as to the constitutionality of several gun laws in the District of Columbia. Those being a ban on possessing a handgun and a requirement that all other guns be stored so that they are non-functional, therefore making them useless for self-defense purposes. I am in the process of a through reading of the case (another long one), but I wanted to give some initial impressions.

There isn't a whole lot of jurisprudence in regards to the 2nd Amendment. Most Con Law classes don't cover it at all and only the 3rd Amendment (quartering soldiers in your home) probably has less case law. Throughout most of our history, this was never an issue. Prior to 1934 there were very few gun laws. A child could order a belt-fed machine gun through the mail. Since that time, there has been a great deal of legislation regulating use, possession, and purchasing of firearms. For the most part, these laws have been upheld, despite numerous challenges. I was very surprised when the Supreme Court decided to hear this case.

What does it say and what does it mean?

1. They affirmed an individual right to keep and bear arms. This has been the majority opinion of most legal scholars and hopefully puts to rest the notion that this right is a collective one that belongs to the states or to people that are members of an orgainized militia.

2. They nullified the two provisions of DC law that were previously mentioned.

They were less clear in some other areas.

1. They rejected the rational basis standard of scrutiny and hinted at a higher level, though didn't say what kind of test it would require.

2. They didn't say if this applied to the states. Under the doctrine of selective incorporation, the second amendment, along with several other provisions from the BOR, has not been held to be binding on the States. Several commentations have suggested that the Court hinted that the 2nd does apply to the States, but I will have to see if I can find that.

3. They didn't say how this would apply to other federal laws.

For the most part, I am pleased with this decision. It didn't go as far as I would have wanted and still left the door open for plenty of other laws, such as licensing and bans on carry, but it is a step in the right direction. I understand that this is an emotional issue for many and I have never hid where my bias stands. I am interested to see how the candidates react. McCain has always been pretty luke warm towards gun rights and has backed many gun laws in the past. Obama has supported gun control, but hasn't made it an issue in this election. I sincerely hope he doesn't start.


Much Ado About Nothing

Monday, June 23, 2008

So, as some of you have heard, Cindy McCain runs a huge beer distributor. Her family has for decades.

But whether or not this represents some sort of huge black mark against McSame's campaign? I think this article is a little overblown. I just don't quite see the controversy here.

That said, it would be unprecedented is Cindy McCain continued in her ownership of a "lobbyisng organization (to the extent that any bona fide business is a "lobbying organization")"...but that is purely specualtive in this article. I would think she would have the good sense, as would McCain himself, of finding a way to at least on-paper shift ownership.

Hensley, founded by Cindy McCain's late father, holds federal and state licenses to distribute beer and lobbies regulatory agencies on alcohol issues that involve health and safety.

It has opposed groups such as Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) in fighting proposed federal rules that would require alcohol-content information on every package of beer, wine and liquor.

Its executives, including McCain's son Andrew, have written at least 10 letters to the U.S. Treasury Department, contributed tens of thousands of dollars to a beer-industry political-action panel and hold a seat on the board of the powerful National Beer Wholesalers Association.

Sure, it's yet one more example of the guy who supposedly distances himself form lobbying instead being intimately connected with lobbying, but even this isn't very damning. This is not even a sole-Republican "lobbying" outfit. The liquor and beer industry owns Democratic legislators every bit as much as Republicans. In Michigan (still trying to find the Free Press article), every legislator but one or two benefited from direct and indirect contributions from the beer and wine industry.

I think there are way bigger fish to fry than "outting" McSame's beer industry wife as some sort of liability. Don't make this the argument, guys. Keep it to Republicans' absolutely dismal foreign policy and national security policy.


Spiteful Rain

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Rain. I hate the rain. It is spiteful. We need it so bad, yet it only comes down on the weekends when I have a million things to do outside. And not only is it is raining sporadically. Every time I get up on my roof, it starts raining. Every time I start painting, it starts raining. Why can't rain when I am working during the day? My grass needs the rain, but the rain has decided to be spiteful. Makes me mad.

This weekend had hope and promise of getting things done...but nope. No such luck.

I haven't posted on here forever, and now have time because my kid is playing with a neighbor and my other kid is sleeping...and I am inside doing noting because of... wait for it... the rain!



The Evil that is Kid Rock

Friday, June 20, 2008

I know that musical taste is very subjective.  Despite the fact that I don't care for Jazz, I can understand why people would like it.  The same holds true for most any other artist or style of music.  The exception is Kid Rock.  I am a total loss as to why anyone would like him or his music.  I like the stuff he samples, but he just finds a way to make it unlistenable.  Don't even talk to me about Pam Anderson.  I wouldn't hit that even if you doused me with anti-hepatitis medications.  There is also his off stage antics, like getting arrested at a waffle house.  

Cracked has a great take on why his latest video is the worst ever.


Like A Rock

At long, long last, Michigan beer distributors consistently carry the fine beers from Stone. This includes my favorite Russian Imperial Stout of all time, the aptly-named Stone Russian Imperial Stout (clever, no?). Stone is currently my absolute favorite non-Michigan brewery.

Yes, George, 2 weeks after our swap, Michigan shelves were filled with the RIS. Thanks for the shipment, though. I kinda feel like what you sent me is more authentic. I'm OCD that way.

Today's review is common enough in Michigan that you can consistently buy it at Meijers. I recommend that you do. Today, we're looking at the equally-cleverly-named Stone India Pale Ale.

So what they lack in creative naming, sort of like Sierra Nevada (they name it what it is...), they more than make-up for in clever brewing.

From the bottle, the beer poured a bright, clear golden-orange with a fluffy, creamy head head that stuck like thick lace down the side of the glass. Liquid invitation.

Huge aromatic, floral, citrusy hops assault my nose, ending with a lovely spiciness. Hop after hop after hop was used to flavor this lovely beer. Underneath it all, hidden but there when you pay attention, are some lovely fruity esters of lighter fruits; think melons and strawberries.

The taste is even a notch-up from the lovely aromatics. Orange peel, grapefruit, floral hops, earthy spices, and some pine just for kicks. So many hops it's almost puckery...and a hop-head's dream on a hot summer day (for this, the first day of summer). This beer would be completely out of control if it weren't for the judicious use of sweet malts, fading to a bready and yeasty finish under all those hops. It creates a great sensation between the huge hops and the sweet malts to give a sort of canned-pineappley-sweet taste. Really interesting and artfully done!

The beer is a slightly lighter body for a big IPA, with a creamy and oily mouthfeel; almost slick on the tongue, but with such a creamy body to it.

At a mere 7-ish% ABV, this beer could be quaffed one after another as the days in Michigan continue to heat up, and for the ho-heads, you won't be able to stop at just one.


The Six “Best” Beers?

Thursday, June 19, 2008

I am attending a small gathering on Saturday where a friend will be brewing some beer and sampling some of his former brews as well as beers found at your favorite beer Mecca.

I will be contributing a sampling of beers, probably six or so and am wondering what would really blow them away. If you had to pick up six brews tomorrow, to really impress a group of budding beer aficionados, what would you bring?


The Terrorists Have Won

Monday, June 16, 2008

Back in law school I had a professor that had copied the cover page from an abridged copy of the US Constitution. He had put an asterisk next to the title and underneath it said, "Now with 30% less freedom." The last two administrations have seen a gradual erosion of Constitutional rights. Occasionally the Supreme Court will step up to the plate and nullify a law or policy that is contrary to the Constitution. This past week they did so when they rendered their decision on Boumediene vs. Bush.

It wasn't long before pundits, bloggers, and critics to blast this brand of "judicial activism." Almost candidate Fred Thompson called the decision a "Supreme Error." Newt Gingrich suggested this decision will "cost us a city." If you visit any blogs or message bourds you will hear suggestions that the terrorists have won or that the detainees will be let go, given welfare, health care, and a free college education in the US. Absolute rubbish, in my opinion, but the internet wouldn't be the internet without hyperbole.

The published decision is here if you want to read it. It is long, even for the Supreme Court. The decision is 70 pages or so and the dissenting opinions are another 56 pages. I am still working my way through it and I will readily admit that Habeas cases were never easy for me, depite taking a class on federal jurisdiction. If you read the holding you will not find anything about the terrorists winning or even being let go and given a free college education. Essentially, they said the following:

1. The detainees named in the case are being held on US territory.
2. Habeas Corpus, as stated in the Constitution, may only be suspended in "Cases of Rebellion or Invasion the public Safety may require it."
3. This was not a situation where Habeas may be suspended.
4. The procedures and safeguards put in place by Congress and the President are not adequate substitutes.
5. Petitioners may file habeas claims in a US Court to challenge the claim that they are unlawful combatants.

All of the people named in this case are citizens of countries that are not at war with the United States. I think it is also fair to say that some are probably not terrorists. Even the ones that have done something deserve due process. They certainly shouldn't be held for years with no meaningful opportunity to challenge their detainment.

If you get a chance, at least read the holding and form your own opinion before you believe any of the doom and gloom predictions of the critics. Personally, I never liked a notion of a perpetual war on terror where people are held in prisons without any kind of procedural safeguards. I tend to agree with Justice Kennedy when he writes that:

In considering both the procedural and substantive standards used to impose detention to prevent acts of terrorism, the courts must accord proper deference to the political branches. However, security subsists, too, in fidelity to freedom’s first principles, chief among them being freedom from arbitrary and unlawful restraint and the personal liberty that is secured by adherence to the separation of powers.


Singing Soprano


I alluded to a medical procedure last Friday...

Yes. Per the agreement with my wife, who pumped-out twins, I got a vasectomy.

Now, really, the procedure itself wasn't that bad. I was out of there in about 15 minutes, and really, despite some very very minor swelling and a tad of residual soreness (nothing regular Tylenol can't handle), it was no big deal.

There was, however, one part of the procedure that truly sucked, though. It was the worst, most painful thing I can remember, short of ones that may have been so painful I blacked-out.

It wasn't the shot of local anesthesia.

It wasn't the incision.

It wasn't the tugging of various internal organs.

It wasn't smelling my own burning flesh as the doctor cauterized the cuts shut after removing an inch of my ball tubes.


You see, the doc had to tape the shaft of my penis to my stomach to keep it from flopping in his way.

Allow me to paint a picture. Warning: what follows is not for the faint of heart, or children.

So the procedure goes according to plan. We chat about politics. He is Iraqi and while he disagrees with the war, as I do, he also disagrees with last week's Supreme Court decision to grant habeus corpus rights to those individuals incarcerated at Gitmo. We discuss this, and I noted with humor that I just disagreed about a heated topic with the guy with a knife in one hand and my balls in the other. I asked him not to hold it against me (HA! rife with puns...), which garnered a good laugh. He asks me about Somalia and we draw a few parallels to gang warfare and sectarian violence. You know, good conversation between two well-educated gentlemen, one of whom is hacking merrily away at the other's balls.

He finishes with little fanfare. He removes the few layers of gauze and absorbant barriers, and say's "oh yeah, I have to remove the tape. This'l just take a second."

"Oh, okay," I start. "So as I was sayyyyiiiieeeuuugggnnnn!!!!!!"

"Sorry," he says sheepishly. "We use good tape here."

He tugs again. I scream as what feels like 3 feet of skin is removed from the shaft of my cock.

"Jesus, doc, what did you use, duct tape??"

"Only a second more..."

Again, the same feeling that at he is removing no less than 20 inches of tape off of my penis.

"Doc! Dammit! How much of my dick did you tape down??"

He chuckles. CHUCKLES. "Only as much as I had to."

Rip. Scream. Writhe.

"I swear you wrapped the whole damn shaft in tape, didn't you!"

"I promise you, only ths bit of contact. It's just I can only take off a bit at a time before you bellow like a dying Euphredes tiger." He snickers.

"Are you sure it's that you can only take off a few FEET at a time?? Sweet Mercy of Mary, doctor, just YYYYAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!"

"There. It's off."

"G...great," I pant, writhing on he bed, sweating profusely. "Did you leave any skin at all, or do I need to see a plastic surgeon."

"Plenty of skin. Plus, you know, it grows back."

"You did it just because I disagreed with you about the supreme court, didn't you? I want my money back."

"I still have the tape in my hand, and you're still laying down," he smiles.

"You win. Hand me my whitey-tighties."

Yeah, for the first time since I traded-in my underoos, I had to wear whitey-tighties. You're supposed to wear "tight-fitting underwear or an athletic supporter" and so I had to go buy those silly-looking underwears, which for a boxers guy like me, was akin to buying porn at an upscale bookstore. More on that later.

And there you have it. I sorta wish he asked me to hold it instead of using tape, but then you all wouldn't have been able to share in this riveting tale.


Go Go Speed Racer

Friday, June 13, 2008

So, early this morning, I had a certain medical procedure performed. Thus, the delay in today's review. Yes, all is well, yes, I am healthy, yes, I am still the same sex.

Today's review is another fantastic brew traded to me by ATK regular George. Today we'll discuss Bear Republic's Racer 5 IPA. As far as IPAs go, this was about as good as I've had in terms of its balance, aggressive hop presence and integrity of the style.

Delivered in a big 22oz brown bomber with a checkered-flag logo and a big red 5 right smack on the front, it's a whole pint and a half of explosive hop-bomb for my fellow hop-heads.

It pured into my glass a mildly hazy amber and straw color with a fluffy pure-white head that lft rivulets of thick lacing down the glass as I drank it.

The beer has a clean, fresh and refreshing citrus aroma laid over an earthy pungency. There is a huge diversity of hops use in this beer, an the tantalizing aroma shows it. Underneath the load of hops, I got a nice light fruity-esters and a strong toasted malt worked hard to maintain its integrity against the hoppiness.

Hops race along my mouth and leaves a vapor-trail of earthy and floral bitterness that lasts for the rest of each sip and tjrough the whole pint. I believe it's bottle conditioned, and the remarkable smoothness of the beer shows it. There again is this solid maltiness, but true to British-style ales, it tends towards a biscuity and toasty range of flavors that serves to comopliment the earthy hops very well. The beer's 7% abv shows in a nice, warming alcohol presence without tasting like jet fuel or like you did a bolilermaker; it's there, and it has a warming effect, but that's all it is (though instead of spice, I wonder if it contributes to the estery flavors).

Smooth, medium-high carbonation, great medium body and a slight, slick oiliness are hallmarks of Racer 5. Another great beer from The Golden State, and thanks again, George!


Name that... car?

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Okay, so enough politics for now... my wife and I were driving the other day when some song mentioned a Chevy in it and it got me to thinking, which soon became a contest between her and I as to how many songs mention cars in them. We came up with a few and, for the most part concluded that Chevy's and Chevrolet's are the most mentioned cars in popular music. I've been pondering this ever since and thought I would put it to you, the ATK community, to list any other song you can think of that mentions a car of some type. Obviously, we'll get plenty from the Beach Boys and Jan & Dean, stuff like that, and that's fine, but I was hoping for some more obscure stuff as well. Thought this would be a fun exercise.


The choice is clear

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

In 2008, vote beer. Vote Obama.


The Enemy in our Midst

Tuesday, June 10, 2008



The Impact of “Obamacons”

Monday, June 09, 2008

I have personally heard from a half-dozen strong Republican voters who are planning on voting for Obama in November. They include my in-laws, a couple Lansing area Republican lobbyists and others. There is even a name for it now: “Obamacons”, or conservative Obama supporters.

Who are these people? Why are they supporting a lefty, like Obama? Are they a large enough group to impact the election?

Last week, in an article by E.J Dionne Jr. of the Washington Post discussed this issue in relation to Douglas Kmiec, a pro-life activist and former employee of the Justice Department under the Reagan administration, who is an Obama supporter. The article, which was written in response to Kmiec being denied communion because of his Obama support, said that Kmiec was supporting Obama: “…despite the candidate's position on abortion, not because of it, partly in the hope that Obama's emphasis on personal responsibility in sexual matters might change the nature of the nation's argument on life issues.” In the article, Kmiec also stated that conservatives find Obama's call for a new approach to politics appealing.

Is this a trend or just merely a few disenfranchised conservatives? Has Bush’s failures pushed conservatives to Obama, or are there things about Obama that draw conservatives to him?

What do you think?


Blackbird Fly!

Friday, June 06, 2008

So I didn't know that a Merle is a blackbird. I should have guessed by the label, but I'm not really very smart. But what I do know is that this lovely 750mL, corked-and-capped bottle of North Coast's Le Merle, compliments of Around The Keg regular George, is one Hell of a saison. Thanks, George. This blackbird was a rare treat!

A side note: I love me some saisons. I like the spicy sourness of the armoatics and the taste. I love its relative lightness of body. I am hell-bent right now to brew a good saison and not ruin it by drinking it way too early. Brewers note: I am in the market for a good saison recipe.

So where was I? Ah, right. Le Merle.

The corked-and-caged aspect of the beer bottle added a hint of authenticity to it, like this has been lovingly stored in a Belgian or French farm house cellar somewhere, waiting to be imbibed after a long days' work. "Pop" goes the cork, and I was off to the races.

It poured a beautiful apricot-gold color, nice and hazy, with a big 3-inch fluffy head like a meringue. As the head receded, it left thick lacing down the sides of my glass (which seemed, inaudibly, to thank me for the bubble bath!). I poured it on one of those nice warm, upper-70-degree days as we ate dinner on our back deck. Idillic.

This beer is a beautiful mix of summertime fruits: lemons, oranges and sweet peaches. Underneath is some coriander and peppery spice, which when taken with the fruit aromas makes this beer a gourmet fruit salad, garnished with a hint of flowers from the hops. There is also a touch of alcohol; just a hint and not overwhelming, as well as some bready and malted notes to round it all out.

I dove right in. Fruit salad indeed! All that lovely citrus ran all over my tongue, filling it with sweet-but-tangy tangerines and oranges, lemons and pepper, flowers and coriander spices. What an amazing mix, and yet it was light and subtle and mixed so well with sweet malt, white bread and crackers and a hint of alcohol; not so muc to make it a burn, but just enough to add some spice so you know it's there. Perfect. It had a slight bitterness to it; more than many other saisons I have tried, but the Guidelines allow for a "moderate to high" bitterness without dominating, which this beer pulls-off really well.

The medium-high carbonation and the lighter body gives this beer a wonderful, refreshing effervescent feel to it, and it finishes with a pleasant tangy dryness. This is, conceptually, an absolutely beautiful summertime-on-your-deck beer. Well done, North Coast, and I can't thank you enough for sending me this beer, George!

Lansing-dwellers, I am working with Oades Big 10 to see if I can get a case delivered.


Could the Primary Really Be Over?

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

When the country started the primary races, I began as an Edwards supporter, who could have supported either Obama or Clinton had either won the nomination. As time went on, and Edwards left the race, it was clear to me that the race for the nomination was also a race for the Democratic Party’s soul. Would we turn back to the Republican-lite policies of the first Clinton administration or roll the dice on a fresh new face who promised reform?

I definitely turned away from Hillary Clinton because of how she ran her race; as she essentially became the desperate-for-power caricature that her detractors had always drawn. Fortunately, it looks like we will have a candidate soon, and despite being an inexperienced campaigner and young, he is a candidate that ran an overall respectful primary battle, is a person we can respect, and is a person inspiring millions of people.

As the super delegates start to fall toward Obama, what are your thoughts about the general election race? Will Clinton cave in tonight or just “suspend” her campaign Romney style?

BTW – For the 1.6 Million ATK readers in the Lansing area who want to go to a little pro-Obama party, some supporters and Obama staff will be meeting at the Nuthouse in Lansing on Michigan Avenue at 8 pm.



Potential Drunks

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