Dump Daschle for cabinet post?

Saturday, January 31, 2009

A second Obama nominee has issues with the IRS. Apparently, Tom Daschle, Obama's nominee for the post of Secretary of Health and Human Services, has some problems with past taxes (h/t to Aziz Poonawalla). From the article:

Daschle filed amended tax returns for 2005, 2006 and 2007 to reflect additional income for consulting work, the use of a car service and reduced deductions for charitable contributions. He filed the returns after Obama announced he intended to nominate Daschle to head the Health and Human Services Department.

Most of the additional taxes resulted from unreported income from the use of a car service provided him by a close friend and business associate, Leo Hindery Jr. The unreported income for that service totaled more than $250,000 over three years.

Daschle also had unreported consulting income of $88,333, in 2007. He also had reductions to charitable contributions totaling about $15,000 over the three years covered, according to the Senate Finance Committee document. The document, marked "Confidential Draft," is a committee statement concerning Daschle's nomination.

I realize that many people make mistakes in their taxes. The US Tax Code is needlessly complex and changes all the time. That being said, there are plenty of professionals out there that do other people's taxes. Daschle most certainly could have afforded and excellent accounting firm.

While I am willing to cut some slack, for minor errors, this seems to be more than a minor error. Obama has made some great choices for Cabinet posts and other administrative positions. He has set the bar very high, which is why this nomination has me wondering if Daschle can do the job. Aziz Poonawalla, from the previously mentioned h/t) also wonders:

The sheen of technocratic comptence that is so critical to building popular support for bold policy starts to wear thin when your Cabinet picks keep making "stupid mistakes" (direct quote from an unnamed White House upper-up).

Who would have been a better choice?


Friday Video Beer Review

Friday, January 30, 2009

Bear with us...technical difficulties...&$%&*^*%^* YouTube...Coming shortly...


Nowhere on the Youtube site does it say anything about video length limitation. Apparently, you have a 10 minute limitation on the length of your videos. You don't get to find this out until you shoot, edit, and upload a 15 minute video. Then, and only then, does the site tell you that your "video [is] rejected (length of video is too long)." Then you have to do a help search for that phrase, and THEN YouTube tells you it's too long.

There are 150 pages of complaints about the fact that 1) it's bullshit that video length is limited, especially when everywhere you look on You Tube, there are thousands of videos over the 10-minute mark; and 2) it's even more bullshit they don't tell you until you try to upload a longer video THAT YOU WORKED VERY HARD ON, THANK YOU VERY MUCH.

So, I will have to RESHOOT my &*%&^%(*) video tonight when I get home, and post tomorrow.

Unless someone out there has another solution (the video upload on Blogger has a 100 MB limit; my video is about 300).....


The Brew It Yourself Culture (Michigan and Metro Detroit)

Thursday, January 29, 2009

I ran across this article while on a website that features good stuff happening in Metro Detroit. Metromode is an awesome internet magazine that shows all the really cool stuff happening in Detroit and the surrounding suburbs. They are the anti-Detroit News and anti-Detroit Free Press. They don't report on the bad stuff, they report on the good stuff (and yes, there is tons of good stuff!). And they have a distribution list of about 600,000 people.

This week, they did an article on why Michigan is better than other states with beer brewing. This is probably all stuff that Mr. Smitty and many of you already know, but it is cool that the media is picking up on it as something that makes the Detroit area and all of Michigan a better place culturally!


(and, FYI, they do a Lansing version called Lansing Area Capital Gains that is awesome and I recommend all in the Lansing area to read!)


Gitmo no mo...

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

While not exactly new news, the executive order closing the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay Naval Base is still getting a lot of airplay among the media and pundits. I am by no means an expert in this area, but it seems that both extremes may be wrong to some degree. Those on the far left seem to think it heralds an end to the holding of persons defined as enemy non-combatants and everyone at Gitmo will get a trial. Those on the far right seem to believe that the "terrorists" will be let go and free to wreak havoc on us.

Like I said, both of those positions are wrong, though I would have to say that the right is being the most irrational at this time. The full text of the executive order can be found here. Go ahead and read it. It is not the most riveting reading, but it is pretty short. Basically, it says the the detention facility has to be closed in one year. What will be done with those who are held there? Basically, one of three things: release to their home country or a third country, trial, or transfer to another facility in the US.

As a part of the determination, the order states that those who are not being released or transferred may be prosecuted under US law in an Article III court. It will be up to the legislature to establish a court or allow them to be tried in a federal court. The order also names a variety of people that will participate in the review of these cases. Those that are deemed a security risk to the US or just too dangerous to release will be transferred to another facilty. Where? The order states that it will be a:

transfer of individuals currently detained at Guantánamo to facilities within the United States, and the Review participants shall work with the Congress on any legislation that may be appropriate.

Most likely, this will be another military base or some type of supermax prison. The order isn't specific on how they will be tried, but it will be up to Congress to work with him to establish the system to deal with the individuals. Like I said, these people won't e let go tomorrow, but the ball will get rolling on some type of due process and allow the people detained to challenge the lawfullness of their detention. Time will tell what kind of trial they will receive, but it will certainly be better than the nothing they are getting now.

I think this is a very ambitious Order, but I also think it is very well-crafted and flexible enough to allow for a variety of situations. Bush wasn't the first president to act like this. Lincoln and Roosevelt both acted in similar ways, but they did something that Bush didn't do. They attempted to work with Congress and the Courts as much as possible. Bush just acted, for the most part, on his own and ignored Congress and the Constitution. Obama is attmepting to remedy this in a way that is consistent with the Constitution and the safety and security of our country.


Take A Breath

Monday, January 26, 2009

For nearly a month before the inauguration, we had to put up with much hand-wringing and face-slapping of Obama's actions before he even took office, without a single thought of his end-game. Bloggers and interest group leaders were appalled over certain cabinet choices or inaugural prayer leaders. Much was decried over people hired into his administration.

And, thanks much to Mr. Furious, I give you Obama's first week in office:

• Starting to process towards Shuttering Gitmo.

• Halting extraordinary rendition.

• Guaranteeing habeas corpus rights to detainees.

Reviving FOIA.

Yanked Bush's Executive Privilege. [super massive kudos to you, Mr. F, for quoting Mother Jones!]

Reversed the international "gag rule" on funding to international women's organizations.

• Halted a buttload of Bush's Executive Orders.

• Closed since 9/11, he's re-opening the top of Statue of Liberty to the public.

Can people start to chill-out yet?


Obama: not letting up on terror

Friday, January 23, 2009

For those who thought Obama would be soft or weak on terrorists, this ABC News story would indicate otherwise. The President is continuing a controversial bombing campaign against Al Qaeda targets in Pakistan. Good for him, I say. Pakistan has seemed to have only made half-hearted attempts at dealing with the Al Qaeda operating from their country. This was something he said he would deal with, so it is nice to see him following up on a campaign promise.



Tuesday, January 20, 2009

It's Official. Congratulations and good luck Mr. President. Consider this an open thread for your thoughts and reactions.


Bell's starting $5.2 Million Office Expansion

Sunday, January 18, 2009

So apparently Larry and the boys (and girls) over at Bell's Brewery are starting to feel a bit cramped... not in the production side of things though. Bell's is starting a good sized office expansion project at the Comstock Township production facility, taking their office spaces from a measely 2,000 square feet to 17,000.

$5.2 million expansion moves ahead at Bell's Brewery in Comstock Township(Mlive.com)

A few excerpts from the article:

'"The office building is going to be super-econfriendly[sic, I assume he meant or said eco-friendly]," Bell said. "We are shooting for platinum LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification."


"First of all, it's the right thing to do given energy costs these days," Bell said. "Our competitors are doing it. I think its good marketing for us. And I think our customers are looking for us to be an eco-friendly, responsible company."'

Not a bad idea Larry. Being "green" is the way to go... but they've still got some room to improve before they, in my opinion, are on par with Michigan Brewing Company's Bio-diesel generation and boiler setup, or even further to Sierra Nevada's VERY IMPRESSIVE efforts in green operations and environmental friendliness. Still, props to Bell's, every little bit helps!

"Beer production grew by more than 22 percent in 2008, to more than 111,000 barrels, Bell said, the seventh consecutive year of double-digit growth. The business anticipates an additional 20 percent growth this year."

DUDE. Double-digit growth for 7 years running? This is the kind of growth that corporations normally only dream of! I hope his anticipation for growth in 2009 does not get crapped on by the current state of the economy.

'Of the Comstock office expansion, Bell said, "One of the things that we're building is a large room to hold 150 people -- to get all employees together or so we can host meetings of master brewers or other professional organizations."'

"The maker of Oberon and Third Coast Old Ale has been in Comstock Township for about seven years but had its origins in downtown Kalamazoo in 1984."

Heehee... Bell's is as old as me ;-)

I've been a little disappointed with some things Bell's has done recently (Christmas Ale comes to mind...) but all-in-all, Bell's still produces some of my all-time favorite beers (ever had a year old Hopslam? AWESOME), and they are doing great things for the image of Michigan Beer, Craft Beer, and Beer in general. Cheers to Larry and cheers to Bells!


Coming Soon...

Friday, January 16, 2009

Around the Keg beer reviews will be going Audio!

Let's face it; since the holidays and since becoming a partner in my firm, blogging regularly is tough enough, let alone finding time late Thursday night or first thing Friday morning to type up an eloquent beer review is sometimes pretty hard, especially given that I am barely literate. It takes a long time for me to look up cool words in my otherwise Oswald Bates-ian Thesaurus.

So, as soon as the appropriate equipment is purchased and installed, beer reviews and discussion will now be broadcast!

Stay tuned, and thanks for choosing good beer.


Book review: Shake Hands With The Devil: The Failure Of Humanity In Rwanda

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Most of my reading is typically pretty light fare. Starting back as an undergrad, I tended to pick escapist stuff when I read for fun to couteract textbooks and other academic works. I do enjoy some deeper stuff from time to time and recently read Shake Hands with the Devil: The Failure of Humanity in Rwanda by Roméo Dallaire.

Back in July, I blogged on a series of articles on Africa. It was a rather harsh and non-typical look at the problems occuring there and it prompted some fairly strong responses. I didn't entirely agree with the author, but I thought he made some good points, but I readily admitted that there is plenty about Africa that I don't know anything about. I still contend that the problems facing Africans are huge and that simply caring or pledging money are not productive solutions. I asked if anyone had any ideas, but no one did. I found this book at the library and though it was a good opportunity to correct my ignorance.

Shake Hands with the Devil details the account of Lt. Gen. Romeo Dallaire, a Canadian, who was head of the United Nations Assistance Mission for Rwanda (UNAMIR). Rwanda ended a bitter civil war in 1993 and UNAMIR was charged with overseeing the transition to the new government that came out of the peace accords. The transition never occured and fighting broke out between tribal factions. Between April and July of 1994, Hutu (one of the main tribal factions, along with the Tutsis) militias and elements of the military killed some 800,000 men, women and children.
There is plenty of blame to go around and lessons to be learned. From the UN, who was slow to react and unwilling to offer any substantial support, to the western powers who either ignored what was happening or actively interfered with the peacekeeping mission. Gen. Dallaire believed that a well equipped force of around 8,000 could have prevented the genocide and there are other experts that believe his analysis is correct. So often we hear "never again," but genocides have occured since WWII and are occuring today. This book offers hope that they can be prevented or stopped, if other countries are willing to make the effort.


50 Most Loathsome...

Monday, January 12, 2009

This has been blogwhored so much all over the net, their server is crashing, but I thought it was amusing enough to post anyway.

I have never heard of it before, but The Beast has compiled a list of the 50 Most Loathsome Americans for 2008. There is someone you love and someone you hate somewhere on the list.

I thought one of the best entries on the list was this one:

43. You

Charges: You think it’s your patriotic duty to spend money you don’t have on crap you don’t need. You think Hillary lost because of sexism, when it’s actually because she’s just a bad liar. You think Iraq is better off now than before we invaded, and don’t understand why they’re so ungrateful. You think Tim Russert was a great journalist. You’re hopping mad about an auto industry bailout that cost a squirt of piss compared to a Wall Street heist of galactic dimensions, due to a housing crash you somehow have blamed on minorities. It took you six years to figure out what a tool Bush is, but you think Obama will make it all better. You deem it hunky dory that we conduct national policy debates via 8-second clips from “The View.” You think God zapped humans into existence a few thousand years ago, although your appendix and wisdom teeth disagree. You like watching vicious assholes insult each other on TV. You support gun rights, because firing one gives you a chubby. You cuddle falsehoods and resent enlightenment. You think the fact that 43% of whites could stomach voting for an incredibly charismatic and eloquent light-skinned black guy who was raised by white people means racism is over. You think progressive taxation is socialism. 1 in 100 of you are in jail, and you think it should be more. You are shallow, inconsiderate, afraid, brand-conscious, sedentary, and totally self-obsessed. You are American.

Exhibit A: You’re more upset by Miley Cyrus’s glamour shots than the fact that you are a grown adult who is upset about Miley Cyrus.


We still live...

More to come.


Big Ten woes? Blame USC

Monday, January 05, 2009

WHEW! Now that I'm more settled in down here in the great state of TAY-HAAS, I think I have time to once again begin contributing to the ATK community in a somewhat meaningful (I use the term VERY loosly) fashion! YAY!! Now for a sports thought.

Watching OSU play Texas and listening to the Big Ten get railed for its lack of recent bowl success, particularly in the BCS games, I can't help but think that, at least partially, the league is a victim of circumstance, as follows:



Potential Drunks

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