Still Crazy After All These Years

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

An Assistant Attorney General in Michigan, if you remember from some time back, is waging war against U of M's student body president, who is openly gay.

Remember, too, that Michigan's current Attorney General, Mike Cox, despite the AG's very own entire web page devoted to cyber safety, refused to fire this Assistant or even to force him to rescind his hate-filled blog.

The blog? Chris Armstrong Watch (google it...I ain't linking it...).

Again, the AG's web site on Cyber Safety here.

Let's hear what the Assistant AG has to say: "I have no problem with the fact that Chris is a homosexual. I have a problem with the fact that he's advancing a radical homosexual agenda." []

Anderson Cooper, who is NOT GAY, took him to task yesterday. Video here. Read the whole article; it's worth it.

But if you're as lazy as me, here's the most unintentionally hilarious paragraph I have seen this week:

Among other things, Shirvell has published blog posts that accuse Armstrong of going back on a campaign promise he made to minority students; engaging in "flagrant sexual promiscuity" with another male member of the student government; sexually seducing and influencing "a previously conservative [male] student" so much so that the student, according to Shirvell, "morphed into a proponent of the radical homosexual agenda;" hosting a gay orgy in his dorm room in October 2009; and trying to recruit incoming first year students "to join the homosexual 'lifestyle.'"
No hate speech there.

And what does Mike Cox, our current AG, who has a Cyber Bullying Task Force, say about this?
"Mr. Shirvell's personal opinions are his and his alone and do not reflect the views of the Michigan Department of Attorney General," Cox said in the written statement provided by his office to CNN's "AC 360" Tuesday night. "But his immaturity and lack of judgment outside the office are clear."

Shirvell said he works on the blog during his off-hours.
Powerful rebuttal.

Mike Cox, protecting our youth from Cyber Attacks. Unless they are Teh Gay. Then...just not during work hours.


Let Them Eat Cake

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Bill Maher, though an occasional asshole, is spot-on in his criticism of greedy bastards. Plus, I love how he does snark; it's a passing subtle comment more than the dripping hate that clouds my own brand.

At any rate, here's what Bill has to say about people who whine about a 3% tax increase:

New Rule: The next rich person who publicly complains about being vilified by the Obama administration must be publicly vilified by the Obama administration. It's so hard for one person to tell another person what constitutes being "rich", or what tax rate is "too much." But I've done some math that indicates that, considering the hole this country is in, if you are earning more than a million dollars a year and are complaining about a 3.6% tax increase, then you are by definition a greedy asshole.

And let's be clear: that's 3.6% only on income above 250 grand -- your first 250, that's still on the house. Now, this week we got some horrible news: that one in seven Americans are now living below the poverty line. But I want to point you to an American who is truly suffering: Ben Stein. You know Ben Stein, the guy who got rich because when he talks it sounds so boring it's actually funny. He had a game show on Comedy Central, does eye drop commercials, doesn't believe in evolution? Yeah, that asshole. I kid Ben -- so, the other day Ben wrote an article about his struggle. His struggle as a wealthy person facing the prospect of a slightly higher marginal tax rate. Specifically, Ben said that when he was finished paying taxes and his agents, he was left with only 35 cents for every dollar he earned. Which is shocking, Ben Stein has an agent? I didn't know Broadway Danny Rose was still working.

Cake?  Yeah...not so much...
Ben whines in his article about how he's worked for every dollar he has -- if by work you mean saying the word "Bueller" in a movie 25 years ago. Which doesn't bother me in the slightest, it's just that at a time when people in America are desperate and you're raking in the bucks promoting some sleazy Free Credit Score dot-com... maybe you shouldn't be asking us for sympathy. Instead, you should be down on your knees thanking God and/or Ronald Reagan that you were lucky enough to be born in a country where a useless schmuck who contributes absolutely nothing to society can somehow manage to find himself in the top marginal tax bracket.

And you're welcome to come on the show anytime.

Now I can hear you out there saying, "Come on Bill, don't be so hard on Ben Stein, he does a lot of voiceover work, and that's hard work." Ok, it's true, Ben is hardly the only rich person these days crying like a baby who's fallen off his bouncy seat. Last week Mayor Bloomberg of New York complained that all his wealthy friends are very upset with mean ol' President Poopy-Pants: He said they all say the same thing: "I knew I was going to have to pay more taxes. But I didn't expect to be vilified." Poor billionaires -- they just can't catch a break.

First off, far from being vilified, we bailed you out -- you mean we were supposed to give you all that money and kiss your ass, too? That's Hollywood you're thinking of. FDR, he knew how to vilify; this guy, not so much. And second, you should have been vilified -- because you're the vill-ains! I'm sure a lot of you are very nice people. And I'm sure a lot of you are jerks. In other words, you're people. But you are the villains. Who do you think outsourced all the jobs, destroyed the unions, and replaced workers with desperate immigrants and teenagers in China. Joe the Plumber?

And right now, while we run trillion dollar deficits, Republicans are holding America hostage to the cause of preserving the Bush tax cuts that benefit the wealthiest 1% of people, many of them dead. They say that we need to keep taxes on the rich low because they're the job creators. They're not. They're much more likely to save money through mergers and outsourcing and cheap immigrant labor, and pass the unemployment along to you.

Americans think rich people must be brilliant; no -- just ruthless. Meg Whitman is running for Governor out here, and her claim to fame is, she started e-Bay. Yes, Meg tapped into the Zeitgeist, the zeitgeist being the desperate need of millions of Americans to scrape a few dollars together by selling the useless crap in their garage. What is e-Bay but a big cyber lawn sale that you can visit without putting your clothes on?

Another of my favorites, Congresswoman Michele Bachmann said, "I don't know where they're going to get all this money, because we're running out of rich people in this country." Actually, we have more billionaires here in the U.S. than all the other countries in the top ten combined, and their wealth grew 27% in the last year. Did yours? Truth is, there are only two things that the United States is not running out of: Rich people and bullshit. Here's the truth: When you raise taxes slightly on the wealthy, it obviously doesn't destroy the economy -- we know this, because we just did it -- remember the '90's? It wasn't that long ago. You were probably listening to grunge music, or dabbling in witchcraft. Clinton moved the top marginal rate from 36 to 39% -- and far from tanking, the economy did so well he had time to get his dick washed.

Even 39% isn't high by historical standards. Under Eisenhower, the top tax rate was 91%. Under Nixon, it was 70%. Obama just wants to kick it back to 39 -- just three more points for the very rich. Not back to 91, or 70. Three points. And they go insane. Steve Forbes said that Obama, quote "believes from his inner core that people... above a certain income have more than they should have and that many probably have gotten it from ill-gotten ways." Which they have. Steve Forbes, of course, came by his fortune honestly: he inherited it from his gay egg-collecting, Elizabeth Taylor fag-hagging father, who inherited it from his father. Of course then they moan about the inheritance tax, how the government took 55% percent when Daddy died -- which means you still got 45% for doing nothing more than starting out life as your father's pecker-snot.

We don't hate rich people, but have a little humility about how you got it and stop complaining. Maybe the worst whiner of all: Stephen Schwarzman, #69 on Forbes' list of richest Americans, compared Obama's tax hike to "when Hitler invaded Poland in 1939." Wow. If Obama were Hitler, Mr. Schwarzman, I think your tax rate would be the least of your worries.
Now I'm fired up. Where'd I put that guillotine...


The Complication of Cows

Friday, September 24, 2010


Uncomplicated. Simple life. Stand around, moo at one another, eat what's put in front of you, poop where you want.

What you see is what you get with a cow. They don't come in a massive variety of colors and shades. They are generally pretty docile. They don't appear to be especially brilliant.

And let's not forget: they're damn tasty.

I can think of no better way to describe New Glarus Brewing Company's Spotted Cow Cream Ale. Uncomplicated, simple, but still damn tasty. Here's what I mean:

Spotted Cow, like all cream ales, pours gold with a hint of copper. Make no bones...this beer just looks like beer, no more, no less. What you see is what you get. Moo.

Though mostly clear, there is a slight haze with a load of suspended particulate; Spotted Cow is a cask-aged ale so what you're seeing is yeast. The thin but fluffy eggshell-white head left rings of fine lacing down the glass, marking each quaff's progress down the pint.

This cow is sugary or corn-syrupy sweet. It has that hint of grassy, earthy aroma that goes hand-in-hand with a malty, grainy beer. But that's a cream ale. It's got grainy malts. It smells like grainy malt. What you smell is what you get. There is a scant clover-field floral aroma from the sparing use of hops. Grains? Clover? Is there a theme here perhaps?

That the flavor profile doesn't open-up new and exciting experiences is neither a surprise nor a fault. Grains and sweet syrupy malt dominate the taste. Spotted Cow, being cask aged, is slighty yeasty in that there is just a hint of sourness. It's not as sour as a Belgian; this is more of a hint that balances the grainy sweetness, giving you earthy-sweetness with a hint of sour to match. The reflective aftertaste is almost orange-zest. It's not that these "hints" and "almosts" are missed opportunities in a beer that could otherwise be great. For a cream ale, Spotted Cow is great. It's just...simple.

As its style, Spotted Cow's medium body and lower carbonation suggests a creamy feel, making it just that much more drinkable.

Here's the bottom line:

Cream Ales tend to be one-dimensional. If I had a one-dimensional stout or IPA, I would be gravely disappointed. But like a Kolsch, a Cream Ale's lack of adventure is exactly what you want when you want a beer for beer's sake. What gives a Cream Ale the edge over BudandMiller is the creamy texture and the fact that "malt" and "hops" actually have a presence in the beer as opposed to Honorable Mention on the label. In the realm of Cream Ales, Spotted Cow stands out as that one step creamier, one step maltier, one-step more complicated than the average. It's one of those "session beers" that you find goes down way too easy, one after another.


Just 'Cause I Wanna Celebrate

Monday, September 20, 2010

My season tickets are on the opposite side of the end zone from the end Tight End Charlie Gantt ran to, but I saw it clear as day. The stadium erupted into pandemonium. To say the crowd was deafening is an understatement.

One for the memories, folks. I left my vocal chords somewhere in Section 29, row 4.


Conversations On Race

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

A lot of folks are doing a great job of using humor to discuss race. This particular video, while a little more raw, still makes a point; latent, subtle racism hurts every bit as much as plain ol' Southern-style racist tyrades.



Monday, September 13, 2010

Dear Commisar Goodell:

Calvin Johnson caught that ball. Your refs are idiots. You have been a failure. You will deserve the strike you'll get next year. Enjoy your stock options while they last.

Please have the refs explain this call, in detail.
Rest assured that all 7 remaining Lions fans will obsessively watch every single game for what will surely be hundreds of examples of this same touchdown being scored over and over again all season, without being called back.

Of course, you won't even address this hometown reffing. You fail.

Eat a Bucket of Dicks,

Lions Fans


Slacker Beer

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Every now and then, I'll have a beer that inspires me to mediocrity; a beer so plain and underwhelming that I would choose to sit squarely in my seat and stare at my Blackberry. A beer that is unnoticed in the crowd. A beer I could fish out of a cooler at a tailgate (tis the season, after all...) and drink, repeatedly, without ever knowing its name (take that comment where you will).

That beer, over in the corner at the party reading a magazine, is Berghoff Prairie Lager, from Minhas Craft Brewery in Monroe, Wisconsin.

Opening the bottle and starting the pour, one knows right away what this beer is: another take on a standard German or Czech Pilsner. Think Pilsner Urqell, but with less personality and a passion for stamp collecting.

Amber waves of grain aptly describe Prairie Lager's color as I pour it into my pint glass. But make no mistake, it's not the romanticized vision. It's the one you see when you've driven through such a prairie for 7 hours on a road trip. Golden sunny yellow, bright and crystal clear, only mean something at the beginning of your trip. After a time, it's just another sunny prairie.

Sweet grains meet a slight skunky aroma from the use of noble hops, each in turn a slight nod to the splendor of the style of beer that re-created beer in Europe. It's a solid pils in its aromas, but more of a shadow than the real deal; a return of an echo rather than the source.

Noble hops, usually the center of attention of a great pils, are the New Kid at a prom. Grainy, husky malts and corn have an industrial feel; I don't want to paint an unappetizing picture, but the grains here have as much personality as mass-produced "all-grain" sandwich bread. Sweet malts sneak in the back door towards the end.

As a lawnmower or tailgate beer, this lager is fine; it still has flavor above and beyond what Bud and Miller produce every day. But for the style, this light-bodied, highly-carbonated lager is the kid picked last every time for the team. I am unsure of this even being a gateway beer" to hook non-craft drinkers into craft beer, because even many of them will drink a better pils than this if pushed.


Another Good Work

The "Military Religious Freedom Foundation" has announced that they will buy one copy of the Qur'an for every one burned on the Saturday.  The group, plans to send the copies to the military, to be donated to the Afghan National Army by U.S. soldiers.

The Foundation is also calling for a "buy a Qur'an Day" for September 11.

As it turns out the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF) is one sweet organization.  It is also run by one real badass.  The guy comes from a three-generation military family.  He was a boxer, JAG officer and Reagan administration lawyer.  He is no pinko-liberal. Read more about him here

Here is a quote from him:

"'Wherever I see unconstitutional religious predators in the U.S. military, of any stripe, I don't care if I live or die. Someone's gonna get a beating and we're going to do it," he says. 'The two ways to administer the beating is to go into the media or into court,' he explains..." 


Christians Who Aren't Afraid

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Just when I am about to swear off all Christians, even the liberal ones, I hear about this event.

All Saints Episcopal Church of East Lansing, Michigan will be holding an open reading from the Qur'an in their sanctuary on Saturday. They have invited members of a local Islamic Center to attend.

This might actually get me to church.

For those in the area who are interested:

All Saints Episcopal Church
800 Abbot Road, East Lansing, MI
7 to 9 p.m. Saturday, September 11

By the way:

For those that compare the burning of the Qur'an to the building of the Islamic Center in New York City, (both protected by the first amendment) I should remind you that the building of the Islamic Center was planned to bring people of multiple religions together, but burning the Qur'an is being done out of hate.


Pure Michigan: U of M Football

I just couldn't resist posting this. Despite being an MSU grad, I have a great deal of respect for Michigan and will cheer for them against any school but mine. That being said, I have gotten a great deal of flak over the years from Michigan fans that never went to Michigan...or liven in Ann Arbor...or worked there...or had a relative that went there.


No Hate

Finally, the faith community speaks-out against hate committed in the name of religion:

But then this asshole and his brain-washed congregation is sticking to their guns, despite warnings from even General Patreus that they ought not do this

Gen. David Petraeus, the commander in Afghanistan, said the burning of Islam's holy books "could cause significant problems" for American troops overseas.

"It could endanger troops and it could endanger the overall effort in Afghanistan," Petraeus said in a statement issued Monday.

With about 120,000 U.S. and NATO-led troops still battling al Qaeda and its allies in the Islamic fundamentalist Taliban movement, Petraeus warned that burning Qurans "is precisely the kind of action the Taliban uses and could cause significant problems -- not just here, but everywhere in the world we are engaged with the Islamic community."

Petraeus said he was concerned by the political repercussions of the church's plan.

"Even the rumor that it might take place has sparked demonstrations such as the one that took place in Kabul yesterday," he said. "Were the actual burning to take place, the safety of our soldiers and civilians would be put in jeopardy and accomplishment of the mission would be made more difficult."

He said extremists would use images of burning Qurans to inflame public opinion and incite violence.

"And this would, again, put our troopers and civilians in jeopardy and undermine our efforts to accomplish the critical mission here in Afghanistan," he said.

Plain and simple, this pastor is drunk with the allure of the limelight. He loves the publicity and the only reason he is still pushing his agenda of hate is because it is making him famous. He has no leg to stand-on. He is alone in this endeavor. But what he has is a constant media spotlight and his name in bold headlines across the world. Selfish fame.

You shall have no other gods before me??


My Labor Roots

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

This is a little late for labor day, but what the hell.

My family has not been a member of union in three generations, not counting my kids, yet we remain pro-organized labor. What made my family pro-union and made us Democrats? My pro-labor heritage goes back to both my grandfathers.

A couple stories…

Sometime around the 1920’s my grandfather (He is Bob Sr. I am Bob III) moved from the thumb of Michigan down to Detroit with his brother. The plan was that Bob Sr. would work and put his brother through college and then his brother would reciprocate. Bob Sr. and his brother were Republicans, as were most of the people from the thumb, along with my family who still lives there.

My grandfather took a job on an assembly line at Dodge Brothers automotive when Dodge was a stand-alone company, and not yet unionized. Bob Sr. assembled some sort of complex part and was paid by the piece, instead of by the hour as is currently the norm. He must have been a pretty inventive guy, because he invented a tool that assisted his assembly of this part. Due to his tool, his output doubled and so did his pay. He started making real good money.

Before long Dodge Brothers management came through and handled out copies of my Grandfather’s tool to all the workers.  With output doubled, Dodge Brothers then cut the worker’s pay in half.

The story goes that Bob Sr. walked out that day.  He walked out a union man and waked out a pro-union Democrat. He later organized milk deliverymen in Detroit and was known to carry a small pro-union sign with a very thick sign post.

My maternal grandfather’s (Dillard) story is a little shorter. He was always a Republican, for no good reason. He was also a West Virginia coal miner, until he moved to Detroit before my mother was born. He later died of emphysema. His hero was John L. Lewis and supported the organization of coal miners.

Some say that those days are past and that labor laws now protect workers. Some say organized labor's days are over. Some even blame our economic woes on them.

I say unions are needed more, and needed the world over. The working person needs a voice more than ever to stand up against multinational corporations, right-wing media and corporatist economic polices espoused by politicians of both parties. When the people of all nations are free to unionize, only then will markets, and the workers of the world, be truly free.


Best Anniversary Ever

Thursday, September 02, 2010

How awesome would life be if a 16-day festival was held in honor of your marriage, and subsequently your anniversary, creating a tradition that has lasted now for 200 years?

Thanks to the marriage of Crown Prince Ludwig (later King Ludwig I) and Princess Therese of Saxe-Hildburghausen in 1810, we have a 2-week, 6-million person beer fest of most epic proportions. Now, I had a really fun wedding to a wonderful beer-loving, hockey-watching football fan named Mrs. Smitty. But our anniversary this year? I think we went out for dinner together or something. I can tell you this much: it wasn't celebrated along with 6 million drunks from across the world. Just two.

Another fine tradition of Oktoberfest, as if a beer tent that looks like the picture below isn't enough, is that a special beer was created just for the celebration, named, aptly, Oktoberfest! This Marzen-style beer, so named because it was brewed in March (Marzen), was stored throughout the summer (lagered), and busted-out in late summer. What remains is consumed at Oktoberfest!

A solid Oktoberfest is a beer I like to return to every September or so. It's one of my football beers. Knowing me so well, beer-buddy Greg, back from adventures in far-ranging Pittsburg, brought back a lovely Oktoberfest from Capital Brewery in Middleton, Wisconsin. The name, simply, is Fest.

Comfort poured forth from the bottle; bright, sunny copper with the slight haze you find on September evenings when the air cools a bit from the sweltering August heat. A puffy, bubbling cloud of eggshell-white formed on the top of the beer, bursting with aroma, yet dissipating as if in an early-Fall wind. Perfect weather for my own little festival.

Full, traditionally Bavarian beer aromas rise from the beer, carrying memories of a thousand brewmeisters. Nutty, roasted grains mingle with that most magical German Noble hop; sweet earth meets pungent earth yielding that characteristic Teutonic beer aroma famous the world over. Malty caramel provides a sweetener, ending on a gentle nutty aroma.

This beer is what I really like in an Oktoberfest. Gorgeous grains up front, husky, are balanced by Noble hops behind. Melt-in-your-mouth caramel is doesn't compete with that earthy, spicy blend of Hallertauer and Saaz hops; rather, they compliment one another. The result is a fine example of what our Germanic neighbors love to quaff about this time every year.

The beer has a few small flaws; it's just a tad watery and thin, and the malt, while sweet, is monotone. But this beer is more than drinkable; it'll be a regular addition to my beer fridge every Fall and at half the price of Spaten (which is imported all the way from the Fatherland), I am willing to deal with its minor flaws. I daresay they go unnoticed unless you look for them anyway. Fest differs from Sammy A's Oktoberfest, which is syrupy in its sweetness. This is much more of a throwback to the proud heritage of a crown prince's wedding anniversary.

Clean. Crisp. And best of all, traditional flavor.


Developing Situation

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

An armed man has taken hostages at The Discovery Channel's HQ in Silver Spring, MD. is providing updates as the situation unfolds.

A friend of mine works media in the DC area. He provided this pic of the gunman (note: he said it could be one of the plain-clothes detectives...).

And apparently these are his demands. He apparently wants us to stop having kids, and sees having children as polluting the planet. Fortunately, given that this guy really really dislikes babies, CNN reports: [Updated at 2:19 p.m.] The Discovery Channel day care has been evacuated to a nearby area, according to CNN affiliate WJLA. The day care had about 100 kids, WJLA reported.

Environmentalist gone nuts? And there seem to be conflicting reports about evacuations or not...


The police shot and killed him at a little before 5:00. They moved-in on him when he drew a weapon and pointed it at a hostage.



Potential Drunks

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