Since A Beer Review...

Saturday, August 29, 2009 the last thing on Smitty's mind due to being under the weather, a little review is in order.


Do as I say, not as I do

Thursday, August 27, 2009

I have been away on vacation for the past 10 days and will probably do a write up on what it was like. For the most part, I have avoided news and didn't have internet access. I have been trying to catch up and found this article on student loan repayment for House and Senate Aides.

This program has been around for a while, but was recently modified to include taxpayer funded repayment for staffers make up to $168,411. As the article points out:

The move to boost the income cap was made just a month after the House voted 328-93 in March to slap a 90 percent tax on bonuses for executives from companies that took bailout money from the Troubled Asset Relief Program.

This only amounts to 12.6 million per year, which is only a tiny fraction of the budget, but this just seems to be a poor use of money at this time. I can understand that the House and Senate want to attract the most talented people, but is this really necessary? From what I can tell, these are good jobs which receive thousands of applicants. I find it hard to believe that they are unable to attract decent employees.

I think that taxpayer funded loan repayments are a good thing, but should only be used when it can be shown that the public is being served. I would rather this go towards repaying the loans of doctors that are serving in areas where there is a shortage of physicians or people that work for legal aid. How about using to help teachers that agree to teach where there is a huge demand?


I hate liberals.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

I am a liberal, but I really hate liberals. I think I might need therapy.

When the Republicans were kicking our butts in election after election by making the case that liberals looked down on others, they were right. We drove our smugmobiles, were isolated from reality by our textbook-driven theories of how the world should work vs. how the world does work.

We laughed at people who turned and voted for George Bush.

Liberals are anti-corporate, but seems very susceptible to corporate advertising and trends. Example: They love Toyota for the Prius, but forgive Toyota even though nearly every other car and truck they make gets worse mileage than a competitor.

We claim to support better health care, a clean environment, a secure retirement and on and on, but are so gullible that we bought into the whole free-trade, pro-capitalistic corporate crap that has lowered our standard of living, destroyed unionized labor, moved production to dirty manufacturing facilities, and otherwise undermined everything we as liberals stand for. For what? Short term corporate profits, and no better conditions for our fellow humans overseas.

Sorry this isn’t a piece of literary genius. I just felt like ranting.

Have a nice day.

R.I.P. Teddy.


The Last of a Dynasty

Rest in peace, Teddy.

Orrin Hatch: "Today America lost a great elder statesman, a committed public servant, and leader of the Senate. And today I lost a treasured friend."

Nancy Reagan: "Given our political differences, people are sometimes surprised by how close Ronnie and I have been to the Kennedy family...In recent years, Ted and I found our common ground in stem cell research, and I considered him an ally and a dear friend. I will miss him."

Pelosi: "Rooted in his deep patriotism, his abiding faith, and his deep concern for the least among us, no one has done more than Senator Kennedy to educate our children, care for our seniors, and ensure equality for all Americans."

Obama: "For five decades, virtually every major piece of legislation to advance the civil rights, health and economic well being of the American people bore his name and resulted from his efforts."

Despite being born into incredible privilege, Teddy Kennedy spent his Senate career fighting for the least of us.


10 Tons of Iron

Thursday, August 20, 2009

I had the distinct pleasure of sampling another of ATK-Contributor Sopor's beer from Mt. Pleasant Brewery: Steam Engine Stout. I count myself lucky that a real pro shares his beers with me. He asks merely for an honest review.
The beer promises much through its appearance: a deep opaque black poured lazily into my pint glass, leaving sticky wine-like legs down the sides as it poured. The beer took-on a coffee complexion; dark black with russet-brown highlights. The head was a cappuccino-tan, thin, dissipating quickly but leaving patches of that tan head across the top of the beer.

The aroma held as much promise. The first to hit my nose was chocolate, fading immediately to roasted malt and coffee. As it warmed up, it took on a slight molassesy-sweet character and a touch of an alcohol burn. Very inviting stout, completely unintimidating.

The flavor started with a baked bread and roasted coffee theme, adding a hint of bitter chocolate and a little smoke. Though those flavors were present, they were thin. Under a veil of astringency and grain husk, they were a little more difficult to discern. But despite the slight medicinal taste, those flavors were indeed still there and hinted at a beer with huge potential to be a go-to beer.

The mouthfeel was a tad watery-thin, but had a slick oiliness that reminds me of my favorite Brit porters. The carbonation level was perfect; enough to clean my tongue between quaffs but not too much to sting or too little to fall flat.

All in all, the beer is drinkable. Its flaws ae not fatal nor are they insurmountable. As I said above, this beer really wants to be a go-to beer in my fridge. Maybe an oxidation issue, maybe a malt profile issue to boost the body a bit. I will drink this beer again as-is, and I know Colin seeks only to improve!

Thanks again...


More Smart Conservatism

Monday, August 17, 2009

Following the article I posted below by Bruce Bartlett, it seems there has been a series of back and forth between Bartlett and Washington Monthly's Steve Benen regarding the media and it's poor handling of the wackos at the health care town hall meetings.

In his first post, Barlett makes the case that the media should have laughed these nut balls off the air.

“One reason this isn't happening is because the media don't treat Republicans as if they are discredited. On the contrary, they often seem to be treated as if they have more credibility than the administration. Just look at the silly issue of death panels. The media should have laughed it out the window, ridiculed it or at least ignored it once it was determined that there was no basis to the charge. Instead, those making the most outlandish charges are treated with deference and respect, while those that actually have credibility on the subject are treated as equals at best and often with deep skepticism, as if they are the ones with an ax to grind.”
As ATK readers know from the debates over the last week or so, I don't buy into the argument that Fox is a counter to an otherwise lefty media. Bartlett does a good job summing up my opinion as well as his in the following post.

He states:

"The Fox News channel is a pure conservative/Republican network that does not pretend to be anything else. Personally, I have no problem with that. The problem is that the rest of the media is no longer liberal. It has moved to the center across the board. This has created an imbalance that requires a Fox-like network that is as liberal as Fox is conservative. MSNBC seems to be trying to fill this role, but very half-heartedly for reasons I am unclear about."

I know of Barlett, but not well. I am guessing I would not agree with many of his economic policies. That is OK, because as much as I might not agree, I can respect him for being introspective and forthright. When I talk to people like this, it makes me more likely to examine my own beliefs and opinions.


Reading Assignment

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Mr. Furious pointed me to a good article in the Daily Beast, written by Bruce Bartlett, who is described as one of the original supply-siders, and a leading Republican economist.

In The GOP’s Misplaced Rage, Bartlett lays the blame of the current economic woes, including the recession and deficit right where it belongs. He goes on to say that the wacko, 22-percenters screaming at the health care town halls, have no one to blame, but the guy they love the most: George W. Bush. He even goes on to say that - gasp! - tax increases won't damage the economy.

Take a gander.


We Are ND...

Thursday, August 13, 2009

So I'm watching Glenn Beck the other day (HA!), and what do I see? My Torts professor, suggesting that the Obama Administration is basically coercing people into aborting disabled babies...

(I can't embed it, but you can see the Youtube clip here.)

Orlando Carter Snead is a former member of the Bush administration, and is a current Associate Professor at Notre Dame Law School. As the former General Counsel of George W. Bush's Counsil on Bio-ethics. He was last seen agreeing with Glenn Beck's assertion that the Obama administration was promoting eugenics. Who's got two thumbs, a shaved head, and helped supress stem cell research for years? This guy.

Also in the faculty here at ND is William Kelley, the former Deputy white House Counsel who was veeeeeeeery involved in the U.S. Attorney Firing scandal (and who was part of the Ken Starr investigations of President Clinton). So is Professor Charles Rice, who compared Obama to Adolf Hitler and stands with the "birthers" in claiming that "pending lawsuits... raise serious questions as to Obama's eligibility for the office."

I'm beginning to wonder what the hell is going on around here. But one thing's for sure; the next time someone complains about the liberal nature of higher education, I have a simple response: Go Irish.


Calling it your job old hoss sure don't make it right

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Apologies to John Mellencamp and a h/t to Radley Balko for this article.

When Donald Ross's sister passed, more than 100 people attended her funeral mass in Spokane.

The burial was scheduled for a nearby cemetery, but Ross and his family only made it a quarter of a mile when flashing lights forced them to the side of the road.

I don't know the laws regarding funeral procession in Washington, but in most states (including MI), they have the right of way and can ignore traffic signs. Yes, it can be annoying, but they are pretty uncommon these days. So, what horrible crime were Ross and his bunch of scofflaws engaging in?

But the deputy kept them there, writing up five citations because the driver and the passengers were not wearing a seat belts. And the sheriff's department says he had every right.

"We're out here trying to prevent funerals, not disrupt them," said Dave Reagan of Spokane County Sheriff's Office.

Granted, I wasn't there, but most funeral processions move pretty slow, so I doubt they were in a huge amount of danger. I also have a problem with the use of the word "right". The state, and agents of the state have powers, duties, and responsibilities, they don't have rights. One of those powers is discretion. I am sure that most of us have been pulled over and not received a ticket and this is an instance where discretion would, IMO, dictate not giving a ticket for a victimless crime.

Those five tickets took 12 minutes to write. By the time Ross and his family members got back on the road, the burial was over.

This department owes this family an apology instead of justifying their actions.


230 Miles Per Gallon?

I haven't been able to post much lately on the subject of the auto industry, even through the whole bankruptcy, which is realy a shame because I could have vented a lot.

Today though, GM announced good news for a change. Their new green, halo car, the Chevy Volt will be E.P.A. rated in the city for 230 miles per gallon!

This would be calculated by some sort of combined driving cycle where the car runs on battery power only for the first 40 miles, using no gas, and then on electric drive with electricity being supplied by the on-board generator.

It will also be able to run on E-85 and will be built in Detroit starting next year.

This is quite an achievement unobtainable a few short years ago.

See autoblog here.
See CNN Money here, which explains a possible driving cycle.

All I can add is this: Fuck You Toyota!


When the screaming stops...

Monday, August 10, 2009

...even the screamers can get their point across.

It is interesting to see what happens when those opposed to health care insurance reform stop yelling, state their case, and let everyone have a shot at the microphone. They don't necessarily change minds, but everyone listens.

Take a look here.


Oh, Canada!

NPR had a nice spot this morning that shed some light on the reality of the much-maligned Canadian health care system. All in all, they have many of the same problems we do with a couple of key differences.Give it a listen. It's only about 7 and a half minutes long.

I did my best to paraphrase some of the key points.

A lot of U.S. ads being run against the ObamaCare plan make claims about the Canadian system and how "horrible" it is. Part of the dishonesty in those ads is that neither chamber of Congress is debating a plan that looks anything like the Canadian plan. I am not surprised that the opposition would run a dishonest ad. I just wish that NBC, CNN or another national news org would run this NPR story too. Among the claims listed about Canada's horrifying system are that care is rationed (like the Brit system), there are miles/years-long waiting lists/lines, and that some "bureaucrat" makes ultimate decisions about your health care and what you can receive.

"Nonsense," say Canadian health care professionals. "We are not a 3rd world country." If you need access to services, you get them. Are there cases where people have had to wait for care? Sure. JUST LIKE ANYWHERE. [I had to wait 5 months to see a specialist I needed once, but it wasn't for anything life-threatening].

In response to some well-publicized "waits" for services [we all know that good news isn't news, and that even Canadian news agencies report the worst of the worst] the Canadian government added billions to their health plan to reduce wait times for cancer, cardiac and joint replacement services. It's not a like a cancer patient is waiting the duration of their illness for services, but if you have cancer, you'd like to see someone pretty frigging quickly.

Some provinces pay for Canadians to go to the U.S. for care in some specialty fields like high-risk neonatal care. But that's because there are a shortage of neonatal docs and because, well, we have some really damn good clinics for that.

Half of canadians would like to option to buy some private insurance.

Canadian health ministers, just like the US, have anxiety over paying for aging boomers; Canada, like the U.S., has shortage of primary care physicians; and Canada (again like the U.S.) has a chronic problem with the overuse of ERs.

That said, the article ends with the statement that Canadians do not have to worry about losing their health insurance or going bankrupt because of an injury or an illness. Ad that means a lot.


Birthers, Deathers, and Astroturfers.

Saturday, August 08, 2009

I am betting each of us has seen all the shouting going on at townhall meetings on the health insurance reform packages. If not, take a look here and here.

Some of this is manufactured. There is definitely a misinformation campaign that riles up the conspiracy theorists on the right. It has been well-documented that lobbyists have sent out talking points and tactical instructions. It is in-part driven in part by the insurance lobby. Even Sean Hannity's website is being used as an organizing tool.

But at the end of the day, you have to recruit people to come out, which isn’t normally easy, so I ask:

Who are these people?

Anecdotally, Republican party rank and file have been seen at the events, as have employees of major insurance companies and drug companies, but it cannot be all of them.

-Are they everyday people?
-Are they just Republican Party sore losers?
-Are they paid operatives?
-Are they a far right fringe group in the throws of death making one last stand?
-Do they actually think the government is coming to put old people to death?
-Are they just weakminded people manipulated by the lobby corp?

Who the hell are these people? Please discuss.


Sotomayor to be sworn in today

Sotomayor to be sworn in August 8

Posted using ShareThis

While not a supporter of her, I wish her the best.


Lazy Media Bastards

Friday, August 07, 2009

Or, maybe I should say lazy Bloggers. We had a good discussion over on Mr. F's site about media bias. One thing we did agree on was that the media could be really lazy at times and just not put forth any effort at corrobarating a story. While checking out one of the blogs I frequent, Boing Boing, I came across this article: Former French President says Bush invaded Iraq to thwart Gog and Magog's apocalyptic mission. Despite Bush's antics and BS reasons for going to war, my BS detector was going overtime. I wasn't the only one. Boing Boing's commenters tend to mostly be from the left and not fans of Bush, so if they are skeptical, then I had to pause.

It turns out that this was the first time this story was presented. Daily Kos ran the same story back in May. While reading the comments in another thread, I came across a post of the source article, a French University news magazine (here is the English tranlation). From what I gather, the author talks about a man that was contacted by another group that said former French President Chirac contacted them with an inquiry about Gog and Magog, which deals with some kind of prophecy from the Book of Ezekiel.

Kos and Boing Boing have interpreted this inquiry to mean (from Kos):

This is a distinct case of Bush referencing Biblical End-of-Days prophecies as a rationale for war in the Middle East. Stated to another head of state, no less.

It is? We have hearsay within hearsay and the best I can tell is that Bush may have made this case, but we don't really know. I think it is safe to assume that Gog and Magog came up somewhere in the conversation, but we don't know the context, nor do we have any statements from anyone that was art of the actual discussion. I know that Kos and Boing Boing aren't the MSM, but (in the case of Kos) some are often quoted by other news sources and bloggers are becoming major sources of news for many people.

I guess it wouldn't be fair to say either of those sources are biased, but I think it is reasonable to say they are lazy. Kudos to the other lazy bastards in the media that had the good sense to avoid this story.


Health Care for All = the Fall of a Nation?

An article by Andrew Sullivan of the Atlantic puts the debate about the health care plans into perspective.

“The passions out there are somewhat mystifying to me. Here is what we are debating: should we demand that insurance companies provide policies to anyone regardless of pre-existing conditions? Should we help the working poor buy that insurance with subsidies? Are competitive exchanges for health insurance a good or bad thing? Would a public option or a co-op help bring down healthcare costs? Does it make sense for the government to study the effectiveness of various treatments as a guide for doctors? These are all worth debating - and if you break it down into these questions, a majority would back them. Obama's proposals were very, very well illuminated in the campaign…”
If the media would discuss it in these terms, wouldn’t most Americans question the sanity or motives of those who are vehemently opposed? Screaming "nazi" and "fascism" when debating health care for kids seems a little out of the mainstream don't you think?

Real the entire article here.



Seventy Percent Of Success In Life Is Showing Up

I have blogged about our various trips to the Michigan Brewers Guild's Summer and Winter beer fests. These are incredible events where the best brewers bring their best beer.
Well, it appears that these events are so successful that the Brewers Guild is adding 2 more!

(EAST LANSING, Mich) - Coming off a widely successful 12th Annual Michigan Summer Beer Festival in Ypsilanti this past weekend (where attendance sold out at just over 8000 at historic Depot Town's Riverside Park), the Michigan Brewers Guild (MBG) announces two new fall festivals for craft beer enthusiasts.

The UP Oktoberfest will be held on Saturday, September 12 in Marquette, followed by Harvest Fest -- presented with Metro Times -- on Saturday, October 24 at Eastern Market in Detroit.

"We have been looking to add a few new events to our annual calendar," says Scott Graham, MBG executive director. "Oktoberfest gives us the opportunity to reach out to craft beer connoisseurs in the Upper Peninsula, while the Harvest Fest brings us to historic Eastern Market in Michigan's largest city. With both, we hope to draw attendance from our existing beer fan base, as well as introduce a whole new group of people to some of the finest craft beers in the Midwest."

Further details about these events will be released in the coming weeks and will also be posted online at

Michigan's thriving brewing industry contributes over $24 million in wages with a total economic contribution of more than $133 million. In terms of overall number breweries, microbreweries and brewpubs, Michigan ranks #6 in the nation - thus supporting its claim as "The Great Beer State."

The Michigan Brewers Guild exists to unify the Michigan brewing community; to increase sales of Michigan-brewed beer through promotions, marketing, public awareness and consumer education; and to monitor and assure a healthy beer industry within the state. For more information, including a list of Michigan microbreweries, log on to
Another sold out festival at over 8,000 attendees. Amazing work. I know ATK's Sopor was there pouring beer for Mt. Pleasant Brewing and I hope he can add to this post and let us know what it looked like.

Keep your calendars clear for a trip to Marquette in September and Detroit in October!


I don't know how to put this but I'm kind of a big deal

Thursday, August 06, 2009

As some of you know, I put together a group of beer enthusiasts from around the capitol called the Brewers Caucus. We meet monthly-ish and brew beer or drink good beer. It's all about being social, crossing partisan political lines, and enjoying craft beer.

The Michigan Brewers Caucus was the lead article of the Lansing E-Zine called Capital Gains. Find the article here. It features...yours truly! My "15 minutes" have now been exhausted. It was a fun article that didn't make us look like total drunks, so that's cool and all.

Capital Gains is a cool e-zine that highlights Lansing, MI area businesses and nightlife, as well as some occasional political ventures.

The photographer is Dave Trumpie. His web site may be basic, but his work is quite good. He shies away from wedding work, but does most everything else. He does a lot of business brochure-related stuff, annual reports, advertisement photos for local businesses. He's a fixture, and he's got a great eye.

Both Trumpie and the article's author, Larry O'Connor, were easily convinced to join the Brewers Caucus.


Interesting Poll Regarding Concelaed Carry

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

A recent Zogby Poll says that:

An overwhelming majority of Americans (83 percent) support concealed-carry laws, while only 11 percent oppose them. A majority of Independent voters (86 percent), Democrats (80 percent), young voters age 18-29 (83 percent), Hispanic voters (80 percent), and those who voted for President Obama (80 percent) support the right to carry a firearm.

I was fairly surprised. While I believe that most people are supportive of some type of lawful carry, I would have guessed that number be around 50-60%. I share Eugene Volokh's questions regarding the way the question was asked:

Currently, 39 states have laws that allow residents to carry firearms to protect themselves, only if they pass a background check and pay a fee to cover administrative costs. Most of those states also require applicants to have firearms safety training. Do you support or oppose this law?


Bud Light + good = Augustiner

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

In light of the unfortunate Shatner/Rick Astley string of posts (for which I feel partly responsible), I feel the need to add something substantive. And what better than a good ol' beer review.

One of the wedding presents Mrs. BMac and I received was two bottles of Augustiner Helles, a Munich product brought stateside by a friend. I was not very familiar with the helles genre, so I did some research.

I drank one.

It poured a nice pale golden with a two-finger white head, though the head dissipated fairly quickly. Nice lacing.

On first smell, I was nervous. It echoed of every American, macro-brew, shit-I-drank-in-college lager. However, when I actually got my nose in it, it was actually pretty complex. Some citrus, but definitely a lot of malt. Some other stuff I couldn't place.

I can sum up the taste in one words: crisp. It was very light, but with unexpected body. It was (as one would expect) quite malty, but there was a nice understated balance of hops. Clean, crisp mouthfeel. It finished with a hint of lemony citrus and just a touch of hops, but nothing overpowering. The taste lasted for a surprising length of time.

While drinking it, I kept thinking "this is what Bud Light would taste like if they didn't suck". No adjunct, real hops, real malt, an attempt to create balance. For anyone looking to make the jump from Coors Light to 'real' beer, this would be the best catalyst I can imagine. It's structured the same way, but with a much better result.

Overall, I fell in love a little bit. This may be the ultimate session beer, especially for the summer. I could drink a dozen of these poolside and die a happy man. The only problem is that they only make the stuff in f-ing Germany, which I rarely visit.


Must Move Shatner Out of Field of Vision...

I have nothing substantive to post at this time. But every time I see that F&*%ing picture of Shatner climbing the mountain, I have the sudden urge to kick small animals.

Ergo, enjoy this little number...

Sacrilege? Possibly. Creepily fitting? Absolutely.


Whiskey Tango Foxtrot!

Saturday, August 01, 2009

This may be worse than the Nimoy video I posted a few months ago.



Potential Drunks

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