Friday, May 31, 2013

Beer of the Week (Vol. CLXXVI)

Another edition of Beer of the Week sponsored as always by the well-grounded folks at Glen Lake Wine & Spirits who can help map out the best wines, whiskies, and beers to help you reach your drinking destination.

Our featured beer this week is the first release from Summit Brewing’s new Union Series:

The inspired union of new ingredients and time-honored brewing traditions. Brewing has always been about discovery. For the Summit Union Series, we scour the globe for new (and sometimes rare) hops and malts. Then we add equal parts craft and creativity to bring you a whole new brew. Released in small batches every so often.

It’s called Meridian Session Ale:

Summit kicks off the new limited-release Union Series with Meridian Session Ale. Inspired by Belgian Enkel (single) style ales. Drinkable yet distinctive. Simple in design yet complex in character. Brewed with a single malt, Concerto Pale, that’s a rising star in the UK and a new hop variety called Meridian that was actually discovered by accident in Oregon (more on that story below). Of course, we called it Meridian Session Ale for a reason. So don’t let the whole single-minded thing keep you from ordering another round.

Six-pack of 12oz bottles go for $8.99. Label design is a new one for Summit featuring a simple and smooth craft look.

STYLE: Belgian Pale Ale


COLOR (0-2): Dark gold and partially clouded. 2

AROMA (0-2): Spices with banana and clove. 2

HEAD (0-2): Bright white color with decent volume. Laces the glass quite nicely. 2

TASTE (0-5): Like the smell with flavors of pepper, banana, and clove from the yeast joined by bready malts and earthy hops. More flavor than you would expect with the low ABV. Mouthfeel is smooth and it has a medium body. It’s pretty drinkable, but I don’t know if I’d really consider it a session beer. 3

AFTERTASTE (0-2): Nice follow through. 2

OVERALL (0-6): The flavors of Summit’s Meridian Session are a bit different from a typical Belgian Pale, but I found them to be quite enjoyable just the same. And you have to give Summit credit for getting that much flavor with a low alcohol content. The Union Series appears to be another effort by Summit to get outside their comfort zone and with Meridian Session Ale it’s off to a promising start. 4

TOTAL SCORE (0-19): 15


Imagine this scenario if you will:

A local police department has instructed its officers to pay special attention to cars with progressive bumper stickers-Obama-Biden/Coexist/That silly one about bombers and bake sales/etc.-and issue citations for any violations that are observed. When word of this politically based profiling gets out, liberals are naturally outraged at the unequal treatment that they are being subjected to at the hands of the law. Conservatives meanwhile say that the real problem is not that progressives have been targeted for their political beliefs, but rather that the government has been issuing too many drivers licenses to people who really shouldn’t have them in the first place.

That would be an absurd counterargument, would it not? Yet, that’s essentially the one that many liberals have been making to explain away the abuses of power that have emerged in the IRS scandal. Sure, it was wrong that the IRS specifically targeted conservatives group for extra scrutiny they say, but the real problem is that there are too many 501(c)(4) groups who are trying to undeservedly qualify for tax-exempt status. While that may very well be true-and I can think of a few liberal groups whose tax-exempt status is more than a little dubious-it isn’t relevant to the issue at hand which is that a government agency provided different treatment to American citizens based solely on their political views. We should all be able to agree that such actions are chilling and threaten the basic precepts upon which system of government is based.

An editorial in today’s WSJ provides A Tax-Exempt IRS Primer:

Congress wrote the 501(c) code to provide tax-exempt status to a broad range of groups. While so-called social-welfare organizations are the current object of Democratic ire, the code covers 28 categories of organizations. So 501(c)(3) groups include charities and educational institutions. The 501(c)(4) category covers social-welfare groups. The 501(c)(6) label includes trade associations and chambers of commerce. And there is the Democratic favorite: 501(c)(5)s, or labor unions.

These categories have different requirements, and a few impose stricter rules if organizations want to claim tax-exempt status. Charitable 501(c)(3) groups, for instance, are barred from partisan campaign activities. That hasn't stopped Media Matters for America, the left-wing agitprop outfit, from claiming 501(c)(3) status for its daily attacks on conservatives.

The categories that cover the main players in politics—social-welfare groups, labor unions, trade associations—have the same general rules. The majority of their money (understood to be at least 51%) must go to their "primary" purpose—social welfare, business-community support, union activities.

Beyond that, however, the groups have significant spending leeway, including for partisan political campaigning. The caveat is that they are supposed to pay taxes on their political spending, and the contributions to these groups are not tax deductible as charitable giving (as they are for (c)(3) groups).

Viewed in this context, the IRS targeting of conservative 501(c)(4) groups is even more scandalous. The organizations were singled out for scrutiny not merely from other 501(c)(4) groups, but from all other groups that spend heavily on politics.

The editorial concludes by saying “The tax code would be cleaner, and our politics fairer, if no one enjoyed any tax-exempt advantages.” Amen to that. If Democrats want to put a proposal together that would eliminate tax-exempt status for any group involved in political activities-including of course unions-I have a feeling that many Republicans would be more than happy to make it a bi-partisan effort at reform. But to try to conflate that issue with the current IRS abuse scandal is dishonest and nothing more than an attempt to distract attention from the real problem we are trying to get to the bottom of.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Moving On

Yesterday, the local (and to some extent even national) political scene was focused on the somewhat surprising news that Congresswoman Michele Bachmann would not seek reelection to a fifth term in Minnesota’s Sixth District. As to be expected, reaction to the news was all over the board.

Many Democrats were gleeful that one of their long time bête noires was no longer going to hold elected office. However, their sense of celebration was tempered to a certain extent by the fact that despite all the energy and resources they threw against her, they were never able to beat her at the ballot box. She left on her own terms.

Meanwhile, the response from Republicans was mixed. Supporters of Bachmann were upset and wondering what the future might hold for a woman who has become a standard bearer in the battle for limited government. Other Republicans, especially those in Minnesota, publicly thanked Michele for her years of service, but privately breathed a sigh of relief. Bachmann’s reelection in the Sixth was far from a sure thing and her reputation (both deserved and undeserved) had damaged the GOP brand statewide. I get the sense that people outside the state have a hard time understanding these sentiments so I’ll try to explain where they come from.

First off, let me join those who have thanked Michele Bachmann for her leadership in the House. People always say that want politicians who remain true to their principles and convictions and that has never been a problem for Michele. You may not have always agreed with her, but you had to admire her willingness to say and do what she thought was right no matter which way the prevailing winds of public opinion were blowing. And when it comes to energy, passion, and enthusiasm few politicians can match Michele.

I can still vividly recall election night 2006. The NARN was doing a live broadcast from the Republican “victory” party at a hotel in Bloomington. The mood was somber as the GOP was getting their tails handed to them nationally and in most local races. Governor Tim Pawlenty was barely hanging on in his reelection battle against Mike Hatch and there appeared to be little to celebrate. And then we interviewed Michele Bachmann. Along with Governor Pawlenty, she too survived the 2006 Democratic wave (in fact she beat Patty Wetterling by eight points) and that evening she was a rare beacon of light and hope. Despite the downbeat news, she was upbeat and excited and you couldn’t help but have your spirits lifted by her infectious enthusiasm. Her boundless energy and authentic sense of optimism will be hard to replace.

(And now for the inevitable “but.”) But for the last few years, I had developed a case of what might be called “Bachmann fatigue.” And I’m sure I’m not the only Minnesota conservative to come down with particular malady. It reminds me of the way I felt for the last few years of the second GW Bush term when it became exhausting to constantly have to defend, explain, or justify actions of the Bush Administration. No matter how much we might have liked Bush at one time or how much we appreciated what he had done to defend the country; many conservatives uttered an audible sigh of relief when he left office.

Likewise, it became harder and harder to defend, explain, or justify some of the things that Michele Bachmann said or did. Now to be fair, no one in recent memory has had her words and actions as often mischaracterized, exaggerated, or distorted as often as Bachmann has. So there were many instances when defending her against her relentless critics was both necessary and justified. But even her most ardent supporters should admit that she also said things that were indefensible and worthy of criticism.

Bachmann’s 2012 campaign for the Republican presidential nomination highlighted the mixed emotions that many conservatives have for her. It showed her at her best and her worst. Given the way it ended for her and the way it was portrayed in the media, most people saw a lot more of the latter. As a result, her image both nationally and in Minnesota was tarnished.

No matter how much support Bachmann had in her district or among national Tea Party groups, the reality was that she was not popular across Minnesota. Again, a good deal of this negativity, especially the “crazy Michele Bachmann” label, was both unfair and inaccurate. But it also wasn’t completely illegitimate and as the old adage goes perception is reality. The perception of Michele Bachmann among Minnesota voters was not positive which is why she was (and is) never going to run and win a statewide race. With Tim Pawlenty’s departure from the stage, Bachmann had become the most prominent Republican in Minnesota and this negative perception of her became a drag on the Minnesota GOP. This is why many Minnesota Republicans were privately pleased to see her retirement announcement yesterday.

I wish Michele Bachmann well whatever the future may hold for her. I think she might have been better off to take this route a bit earlier and step aside after the 2012 primary campaign ended. In any event, I believe her decision is the best thing for her and for Republicans in Minnesota.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Tundra Recovery

Later tonight, I’ll join Hugh Hewitt and a number of my former Northern Alliance Radio Network colleagues at an event called “Taking Back the Tundra” at the Marriot Minneapolis Northwest. The main topic of the evening is going to be Minnesota politics, specifically what could/should be done to reverse the tide of blue which has swept over the state. To be accurate, it shouldn’t really be called “Taking Back the Tundra” in terms of a reconquista to recapture lost land as Minnesota was never free of progressive control. Sure there was a time in the early 2000s when it appeared the state was becoming more purple and some even talked about making it red, but if you look at the long view you see that we’ve been a fairly consistent bastion of blue.

When it comes to what conservatives/Republicans/enemies of statism would have to do to tilt the political balance back in their favor the list of areas of improvement is long:

- Messaging
- Organizing
- Getting out the vote
- Fundraising
- Social media

And this is a just a starting point. However, in my view there are two critical areas that Minnesota Republicans must focus on if they want to have any hope of turning things around: candidates and campaigns. More specifically, there are two actions they need to execute in these areas:

1. Nominate good candidates

2. Run good campaigns

Neither are revolutionary suggestions and in fact fielding good candidates and running good campaigns are basic essentials of successful politics. And yet the Minnesota GOP has for the most part failed to deliver on either of them for the last twenty years or so. Nowhere is this failure more obvious than in statewide races. These include the two US Senate seats which are contested every six years and the five state constitutional offices (governor, secretary of state, state auditor, and attorney general) which are contested every four. Going back to 1996, the MN GOP has lost most of these state wide races being beaten by such notable candidates as Jesse Ventura, Mark Dayton (twice), and Al Franken (and another GOP loss to Franken looms in 2014).

There were six US Senate races in Minnesota from 1996-2012. The GOP won one and that was in 2002 with Paul Wellstone’s death and the controversy over the Wellstone memorial service looming large in Norm Coleman’s victory. In 2012, Amy Klobuchar’s margin of victory 34.70% was larger than the percentage of votes that Kurt Bills received 30.53%. All told the MN GOP has a .16 winning percentage in these races.

There have been a total of sixteen constitutional office races from 1998-2010. The GOP won six and one of those was Judi Dutcher’s 1998 victory in the race for state auditor. Dutcher later switched parties and joined the DFL. While the MN GOP has done better here than in the US Senate, the .375 winning percentage is nothing to brag about.

Keep in mind that these results occurred during a period where Minnesota was often considered “in play” politically. Some years have been better for the GOP during this time and some worse. So by winning only 16% of the US Senate races and 37.5% of the constitutional office races the GOP is clearly underperforming expectations.

So let’s get back to basics starting with good candidates. Of the six constitutional offices that the GOP won during this period, two were victories by Tim Pawlenty when he was elected governor in 2002 and reelected in 2006. Tim Pawlenty was a good candidate and the GOP made the right choice by endorsing him in 2002. Some conservative purists view Pawlenty as a RINO because he raised cigarette taxes by fifty cents a pack and called it a fee and because-like most Midwestern pols of his time-he came down on the wrong side on ethanol. Was Pawlenty a perfect conservative? Of course not. Was he a good candidate? Obviously.

Certain local conservative pundits like to say that we never elect conservatives in Minnesota because we really never run truly conservative candidates. Really? Kurt Bills was plenty conservative and he got walloped by Amy Klobuchar. Why? It wasn’t because he wasn’t conservative enough, it was because he was not a good candidate. Being a good conservative is not enough. You need a good candidate to win. If we really want to have any hope of turning the state around, we need to be willing to sacrifice some of the former attribute to make sure we have the latter.

Then there are the campaigns. At times a good candidate can overcome a bad campaign and vice versa. And bad campaigns can sink candidates who should win. With little margin for error this is something the MN GOP afford to have happen yet it has again and again. 2008 was a Democratic year, but Norm Coleman should not have lost to Al Franken. Coleman’s campaign was a mess with muddled messages and indecision about whether to attack Franken’s many weaknesses or play Minnesota nice with him. This failure haunts us to this day (Obamacare) and will haunt us again next year when Franken is reelected. And no whining about how the election was stolen. As Hugh said in his book, if it’s not close they can’t cheat. And running against Al Franken shouldn’t have been close.

You can argue whether Tom Emmer was a good candidate for governor in 2010 or not. You can’t argue whether his campaign was a disaster or not since it clearly was. 2010 was a Republican year nationally and even locally. The MN GOP took control of both the House and Senate yet somehow we couldn’t beat Mark Dayton. Why? Emmer ran a lousy campaign plain and simple. After he defeated Mary Seifert to secure the GOP nomination, there was a lot of back slapping and self-congratulation within Team Emmer about the masterful job they had done and how clever they were. This hubris may have lead them to assume that knocking off Mark Dayton in a good year for the GOP would be relatively easy. Whatever the reason, the campaign struggled to get out of the gate, got bogged down on side issues, and never developed any sense of direction or momentum. Like Coleman’s loss to Franken, this defeat has caused lasting damage to the GOP both in what could have accomplished with control of all three branches in 2011 and 2012 and what could have been prevented this year.

The Republican Party of Minnesota has plenty of work to do to order to become relevant again. But if they don’t identify and endorse good candidates and plan and execute smart campaigns none of the rest of it will matter.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Worth Fighting For

Former SEAL officer Leif Babin on A Tradition of Sacrifice, From Yorktown to Ramadi:

Let's remember on Memorial Day—and every other day, for that matter—that America did not become a nation without a fight. Last week, I found myself in Washington, D.C., admiring a bronze statue of George Washington. The statue shows him as a general, astride a horse, sword drawn at the ready. This was Washington as a true American leader, inspiring those around him by showing that he too was willing to risk death for the cause of victory. The statue brought to mind the thousands of soldiers who marched with him into battle against the British, facing seemingly impossible odds.

It was not the Declaration of Independence that gave us freedom but the Continental Army. America was born from conflict, delivered by soldiers willing to pay with their blood the tremendous cost of freedom.

The dead did not wish to be martyred. They no doubt longed to return to their homes and families. But they believed in the "glorious cause," something far greater than themselves. Despite knowing the dangers before them, they followed Gen. Washington into the fray even when victory seemed hopeless and the cause all but lost.

In America today, there are those who believe that under no circumstances is war the answer. Violence only begets more violence, we're told. The unstated message: Nothing is worth fighting and dying for. History disagrees.

Knowing firsthand the hardships of combat gives me all the more reason to admire and stand in awe of those who marched with Washington and gave their lives for the United States of America. Most will never be depicted in bronze, but their sacrifices matter. The legions of American warriors since then who sacrificed their lives have not done so eagerly, nor have they done so blindly. They acted willingly because they believed in a great nation that is worth fighting and dying for.

Memorial Day is a living monument to them, a recognition of freedom's cost. May we never take those sacrifices for granted.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

HWX, with Adam Carolla

The Hinderaker-Ward Experience (HWX) returns for a special Memorial Day weekend edition. John Hinderaker of Power Line and Brian Ward of Fraters Libertas reunite to discuss the BIG issues of the day, including:

 * the IRS scandal, the Benghazi Scandal, the AP wiretap scandal

 * the ability of any political scandal to break though to masses in the modern era

 * scandal fatigue

 * Scandal featuring Patty Smyth (not really)

We're also joined by the great Adam Carolla. He's an actor, a comedian, the #1 podcaster in America, a vinter, and for our money, the funniest guy in show business. He's also a Republican leaning libertarian in Hollywood and we talk about his outlook and experiences in Los Angeles.

Many ways to hear the podcast, including over on the mothership at Ricochet.  You can be sure to never miss an episode by subscribing via iTunes or Feedburner.  Or just use the player embedded in the upper right hand corner of this web site.  If all of these fail, send me an email and I'll come to your house and read from a written transcript.  Hope you enjoy.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Beer of the Week (Vol. CLXXV)

Another edition of Beer of the Week sponsored as always by the sunny folks at Glen Lake Wine & Spirits who can help find the wine, whiskey, and beer you need to bring cheer to celebrate the unofficial beginning of summer in style.

Last month, I had a post noting the news that Minneapolis based Finnegans Charitable Beer Company had recently joined the canned beer revolution. In recognition of my efforts to spread the word about the change to cans and a contest they were sponsoring to promote it, the good folks at Finnegan’s saw fit to drop off a couple of twelve-packs of their newly canned product.

If I were among the class of objective, unbiased, straight down the middle professional journalists I might have to refuse such a generous offer as it could raise the appearance of impropriety. But since I’m merely one among the vast unwashed mass of bloggers I feel no need to adhere to such scribbling standards. As long as I properly DISCLOSE-DISCLOSE-DISCLOSE, the fact Finnegan’s has kindly supplied me with a sample of their product sans charge should in way call in question my credibility or ability to provide a fair and accurate review of their beer.

And so without further ado let’s get to our Beer of the Week, Finnegans Blonde Ale.

12 pack of 12oz cans sells for $11.99. Simple design with gold and white colors and Finnegans’ angelic shamrock.

STYLE: Blonde Ale


COLOR (0-2): Light gold and clear. 1

AROMA (0-2): Grassy with a little honey. 2

HEAD (0-2): Bright white color. Good volume and retention. 2

TASTE (0-5): Bready malt with yeast and light hop provide well balanced flavors with a bit o’ honey. Finish is crisp and dry. Good carbonation. It has a light body and is very drinkable. 3 AFTERTASTE (0-2): Lingers nicely. 2

OVERALL (0-6): Finnegan’s Blonde Ale is a simple, straightforward beer that’s well made. It’s easy drinking, refreshing yet has just enough flavor to keep you interested. A good warm weather beer and it’s for a good cause. 3

TOTAL SCORE (0-19): 13

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Take It Back

Time is running out to purchase your tickets to Take Back the Tundra with Hugh Hewitt:

General Admission & VIP still available!


Event starts at 7:00pm, first come first serve seating

Doors open at 6:30pm


Steak Dinner at 5:30pm

VIP seating at event 7:00pm

Today is in fact the last day you buy VIP tickets. The event is next Tuesday, May 28th at the Marriot Minneapolis Northwest. Hugh will be joined by an all-star panel of former and current Northern Alliance bloggers including Brian “Saint Paul” Ward and yours truly. It’s not exactly clear what specific duties we will be performing although it must be important since we’ve asked to wear black pants, white shirts, and bow ties.

Get your tickets now and don’t be stingy with those tips.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

How They Rate

The annual update of the Fraters Libertas Beer Ratings list has been completed. There are now 802 beers included from around the world. That geographic reach now spans thirty-two countries and forty-one of these United States.

Here’s a map of the countries covered:

That’s only about 14% of all the countries in the world, but in terms of area it’s obviously much larger.

And here’s the coverage by state:

The gap with the six states in the mid-South stands out and it’s probably going to take some work to close. Connecticut, Nevada, and North Dakota should prove easier to target and find beers to rate. Here’s a list of possibly options for each of the states that are currently missing from the rating roster.

Arkansas-Diamond Bear Brewing

Connecticut-Thomas Hooker Brewing Company

Kentucky-West Sixth Brewing

Nevada-Big Dog's Brewing Company

North Dakota-Fargo Brewing

Oklahoma-Choc Brewing

Tennessee-Yazoo Brewing Company

Virginia-Legend Brewing

West Virginia-Bridge Brew Works

One of the ongoing debates among craft beers aficionados is over which states brews the best beer. Here’s a list of the states by ratings average (minimum twenty beers rated):

Pretty clear advantage to California especially when you consider the number of beers.

The overall average rating for the 802 beers is 13.06 and you see from this chart that the distribution is not a perfectly normal one.

The updated ratings also include links to the one-hundred-seventy-eight reviews of Beers of Week made possible by the fine folks at Glen Lake Wine & Spirits.

802 beers down, only 182 more to go to crack one thousand. Stay thirsty my friends.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Let Them Play (If They Want)

Jason Gay, who was recently blessed with the birth of a son, has an insightful piece in today’s WSJ on Building a Child Sports Prodigy (Kidding):

I don't care if he plays anything. I want him to do what he wants. Of course: He may be falling behind. It may already be too late to produce a sports prodigy. We may have to cross the Brazil World Cup off the list. The Rio Olympics, too. He needs 10,000 hours. Isn't that the formula? Five figures of solid sports commitment—and boom—he's being overpaid by the Yankees.

Let's get an hour of practice done right now in the crib. Boom. Only 9,999 more to go.

Should I get him a coach? Does he need off-season training camps? A swing guru? A nutritionist? A nutritionist for his swing guru? Do I have any idea what I am getting myself into? My friends with older kids, it seems they are always either A) driving the car to a game, B) driving home from a game, or C) standing on a sideline at a game. They are soccer dads and hockey moms or in long, complicated relationships with lacrosse. They talk about travel teams like they're the chicken pox.

I love this and I am scared by this. I adored playing youth sports. But later on I was an umpire and referee for youth sports. I had parents run me down after games and yell at me. I learned curse words I didn't even know were curse words.

I was a referee for USA Hockey for a few years and can relate to this. The best of the job was being on the ice with the kids. The worst part was the parents and sometimes the coaches.

If you ever see me yell at a Little League umpire, just wrap me with duct tape and leave me in the dugout.

I want to approach it the right way. Is the right way even possible? Have fun, don't take it too seriously, forget who won five seconds after it's over. I want him to space out in the third quarter or forget to hit the cutoff man and have it be no big deal. I want the games to be funny. Like they are with the Mets.

Or maybe I need to push. He's not playing winter baseball or summer basketball. His spiral isn't perfect. Nick Saban has yet to make an offer. Coach K isn't interested. Should I be worried? His bench press is iffy. His vertical leap is unknown. I've timed him in the 40. He just lies there, sleeping, dreaming about milk.

This is the struggle that parents, I think especially dads, face with kids and sports. You really do want them to just have fun, but there’s also that nagging worry that not pushing-at least a little bit-is going to result in them missing out on opportunities. It can be a tough line to walk.

I'd say third-round pick at best. Maybe second if the Jets get desperate.

It's my fault. I don't give him much of a head start. I wasn't much of an athlete as a kid. I spent a zillion years in youth soccer and never once scored a goal. I raced cross-country and specialized in last place. I cannot teach him how to hit a curve. I can teach him how to catch a pop fly with his face.

But if he wants to play, he should try everything. Don't specialize. Experiment. Try baseball. Try badminton, volleyball, wrestling, lacrosse, squash, hockey, swimming, skateboarding, cricket, crew, anything. Try tennis, because it's the game my Dad taught me, and still teaches, 40 seasons in, at the high school not far from where I grew up. I bet his grandpa makes him try playing with a wooden racket just once. To give him respect for how they used to do it.

Try basketball, just to learn how to spell H-O-R-S-E.

Try golf, just to be humbled.

Try running, because it's so beautifully simple. You can run anywhere you go on the planet.

Try cycling, because when you really get pedaling, it feels like you're flying.

Try yoga...well, he's already tried yoga. Baby yoga classes, with his mom. This is what happens when you live in Brooklyn.

But I don't mind if he doesn't try any of these things. I want what any parent wants. I want him to be happy. I want him to find his own way.

Those goals are so simple and so sweet and yet at times they’re easy for parents to forget despite the best of intentions. Best of luck Jason.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Beer of the Week (Vol. CLXXIV)

Another edition of Beer of the Week sponsored as always by the fun-loving folks at Glen Lake Wine & Spirits who can help find the wine, whiskey, and beer you need to bring cheer to any occasion. But since this is American Craft Beer Week you probably want to focus your imbibing in that area.

Our featured beer this week is the first to appear here from Clown Shoes Beer which is produced by Mercury Brewing in Ipswich, Massachusetts. Clown Shoes’ approach to brewing and business reflects their name:

Something’s happening, and it involves clown shoes and beer. Clown Shoes? Very long story, but to condense it a group of us submitted the name to the Beer Advocate contest that resulted in The Wrath of Pecant. Our submission didn’t crack the top 5. This burned me up inside. While driving one day the epiphany came: I could make my own Clown Shoes beer. In no way did I expect to create a brand, figuring it would be one batch of beer for fun and then done. But folks are digging the brews and a group of us are having a great time. Clown Shoes has come to mean a lot to me on a lot of levels. Clowns are questionable but the shoes make me laugh. They remind me about humility and to find humor in life. Our mission now is to produce beer without pretension while being free and a little crazy. We hope you enjoy the beers and this site.

The first of what will likely be many Beer of the Week from Clown Shoes is Tramp Stamp: Belgian India Pale Ale:

Like a stamp on a tramp, this beer is about not so subtle seduction. Soft but complex malts, Chambly yeast, sweet orange peel, Columbus, Amarillo, and Centennial hops have merged to create a bodacious Belgian IPA.

220z brown bomber bottle sells for $6.99. The label has an orange background with a rendering of the namesake tramp and her marking.

STYLE: Belgian IPA


COLOR (0-2): Copper brown and obscure. 2

AROMA (0-2): Pepper and candied sugar. 2

HEAD (0-2): Light tan color, small foamy bubbles, good volume, and lacing. 2

TASTE (0-5): Like the aroma, there are strong flavors of pepper and candied sugar along with a nice orangy zest. Bready caramel malts blend well with yeast and grassy hops which provide a bitter finish. The mouthfeel is smooth and creamy, the body is medium, and it’s rather drinkable. 4

AFTERTASTE (0-2): Rich follow through that lasts. 2

OVERALL (0-6): This is quite a good beer. Sometimes Belgian IPAs can go too far on the Belgian side (yeast, pepper, candied sugar) and not enough on the IPA. Tramp Stamp strikes the right balance and is a good combination of interesting and tasty flavors. 4

TOTAL SCORE (0-19): 16

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Right to be Wrong

The March edition of First Things contained an excellent piece by Gilles Bernheim on the connections between Homosexual Marriage, Parenting, and Adoption :

I have written in light of the French debate. Whether legal rights concerning homosexual parenting and adoption are extended or limited, it is also clear that LGBT activists will use homosexual marriage as a Trojan horse in their greater efforts to deny natural sexuality, to erase sexual differences and replace them with orientations that make it possible to leave behind the “straitjacket of nature” and to pursue the destruction of the heterosexual foundations of our society.

There would be no courage and no glory in voting for a law based more on slogans than on arguments, in conforming to the dominant political correctness out of fear of being anathematized, and in hiding behind a question such as: “Even if there is no reason to pass a law, why is it a problem if we want to pass one?” The problem with the proposed law is the harm it portends for our society as a whole, and this solely for the benefit of a tiny minority. This harm consists in the irreversible scrambling of three things: genealogies, by substituting “parenting” for fatherhood and motherhood; the status of the child, who would go from being a subject to being an object to which others have a right; and sexual identity as a natural given, which would have to give way to orientation as an individual expression, in the name of the struggle against inequality, perverted into the elimination of differences.

The point that gay marriage confers benefits to a few at the expensive of many is one often overlooked in the debate on the matter. Despite widespread misperceptions, the reality is that somewhere between 1%-2% of Americans are actually gay. And among this group, the number who actually wish to get married in a very real and legal binding sense is small (check the stats in states and countries where gay marriage has been legalized). So we’re making fundamental changes to an institution that’s been one of the bedrocks of modern civilization in order to satisfy the demands of a minority of an already tiny minority of the population.

That’s exactly what the DFL controlled legislature and Governor Dayton did in Minnesota this week. One of the more amusing aspects of the debate leading up to the vote was the challenge issued by supporters of gay marriage that those who oppose it would end up “on the wrong side of history.” Firstly, many of the same people laying down this challenge and suddenly embracing the importance of history had previously demonstrated little respect for or understanding of it. Secondly, the notion that popular opinion at this particular point in time was inarguably correct and that what people had believed for thousands of years was obviously wrong is a perfect example of the conceit of progressive modernity and laughably narrow minded.

The idea that charging us with the crime of “being on the wrong side of history” would be a stinging indictment of opponents of gay marriage is also silly. Oh no, I’m not on “the wrong of side of history” as defined by Democrats in Minnesota in May 2013, am I? How will I go on with my life? Guess what? Social conservatives have been on the “wrong side of history” on abortion for the last forty years. I think somehow we’ll survive being on the “wrong side of history” on gay marriage too. In fact, I’m going wear it as a badge of pride. It never felt so right to be so “wrong.”

UPDATE: Looks like my timing on this was impeccable. The same day that I post a link and excerpt from an article that appeared in a magazine two months ago, it is revealed that parts of the article were plagiarized:

The first thing to say is that this affair can’t be interpreted as an example of progressives hunting down dissenters. Bernheim took a strong stand on a controversial issue, but it wasn’t his opposition to gay marriage that precipitated the scandal. It was his dishonesty. These transgressions of basic academic integrity were uncovered by Jean-Noël Darde, a plagiarism watchdog, not a gay activist.

The second thing to say concerns plagiarism. One of the perversions of our era is to make a god of intellectual property. Most commentators described Bernheim as “stealing” words and sentences. This is wrongheaded. Plagiarism is a sin against truth, not property. It’s first and foremost a kind of lying, not a kind of stealing. He violated our trust by speaking in a voice that was not his own, which is why in this and other cases of plagiarism the writer loses intellectual and moral authority broadly.

A third thing to say concerns the man. In my years of teaching, I had to deal with plagiarism many times. Now and then a cynical young person tried to get by with the minimum of work. But most of the students who plagiarized did so because they were desperate or scared, or both. I could tell because it was so obvious, and thus pathetic and pitiable. And indeed, when I confronted students I found that there was almost always a great deal of pathos in the background: psychological crises, terrible fears of failing, a consuming sense of hopelessness in the face of the assigned material.

Bernheim’s plagiarism seems to be of this sort. Now that I’ve reviewed some of the details, I can’t believe he believed he could get away with it. (I am, in fact, somewhat embarrassed that I didn’t grow suspicious when the French rabbi sounded so much like John Paul II when talking about sexual complementarity and transcendence.) Please join me in praying for Rabbi Bernheim. From my reading of the evidence in this affair (what’s so hard about citing someone?), it seems he certainly needs it.

The final thing to say is that I’m sorry. The essay’s arguments aren’t any less true for having been plagiarized. But we allowed the magazine to be a vehicle for falsehood. The lie was in the byline. “Homosexual Marriage, Parenting, and Adoption” was not in any proper sense by Gilles Bernheim. I apologize to you for publishing an essay that betrayed your trust in the integrity of First Things.

Amen to the point that the fact that they were plagiarized doesn’t diminish the impact of the arguments. It’s a shame that Rabbi Bernheim’s plagiarism has clouded the clarity of the message.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

A Block That Needs A Cop

While the world’s gaze seems perpetually trained on the Middle East for fear that events there may lead to a wider war, the real tinderbox is likely in Asia. In addition to North Korea nukes, the territorial disputes that China has with several countries, there are also less noted animosities that threaten the stability of the region and the global economy. Anti-Korean Voices Grow in Japan :

As Japanese nationalism is fueled by friction with neighbors over territories and World War II legacy issues, hostile demonstrations against the country's Korean residents are gathering steam, raising concerns among political leaders and setting off soul-searching among Japan's largely homogeneous population.

While attendance at the rallies is small and such extreme actions are far from entering the mainstream of Japanese politics, the demonstrations of nationalist activists using hate speech and intimidation have grown in size and frequency in recent months. One target has been the central Tokyo neighborhood of Shin-Okubo, known for Korean restaurants and shops selling South Korean pop-culture goods. Starting in February, groups of 200 or so demonstrators have descended on its busy weekend streets, waving Japanese flags and carrying signs that read "Roaches" and "Go Back to Korea." They shouted in unison: "Let's Kill Koreans," language that passersby told local television they found shocking.

If there ever was a time and place where America’s leadership was needed it’s right now in Asia. To seek to defuse the North Korean threat, to reassure those nations threatened by an increasingly aggressive China, and to bring mutual American allies like South Korea and Japan together-despite their differences-are all vital roles that America is uniquely suited to play. Unfortunately, despite the Obama Administration’s much heralded “pivot” toward the region that was announced in 2009, the reality is that once again President Obama seems content to “lead from behind” and let events unfold or unravel as they may with no real attempt to direct their course. Such a hands-off approach only increases the likelihood that countries in the region will seek their own solutions to satisfy their own self-interest. Given the history of the area and the tensions that continue to increase today, it’s also one that could to lead to a conflict that’s in no one’s interest including the United States.

Monday, May 13, 2013

What About the Ninos?

If you thought teachers unions in America were a problem, they’re nothing compared to their colleagues south of the border. In today’s WSJ, Mary Anastasia O-Grady explains how would be teachers are holding the state hostage (literally):

Mexican students studying to be teachers released a hostage on Wednesday—in the municipality of Nahuatzen—due to concerns about his health. But they continue to hold five others. The students are supported by the Michoacán State Teachers Organization, which warned that the remaining captives, who are state policemen, would be freed only when a demand for 1,200 new teaching jobs is met.

The Mexican standoff, now a week old, is only the latest example of a teacher-union rebellion against recent amendments to the Mexican constitution aimed at improving public education.

Institutional Revolutionary Party President Enrique Peña Nieto has made it a priority to fix the broken public-education system. But eager reformers are often tested by politically powerful interests in their first year in office. The teachers believe they can make him back down.

Over the 71 consecutive years that the PRI ruled Mexico until 2000, it earned a reputation for heavy-handedness bordering on repression. Now that it is finally back in power, there is pressure on Mr. Peña Nieto to show that his party is kinder and gentler. This may tempt him to tolerate union violence. But the recent constitutional amendments increase transparency and accountability and depoliticize education. This is the change the PRI needs to show the public it supports.

It's easy to see why teachers are up in arms over the amendments. For the first time ever they will be vetted in a comprehensive process that includes proficiency exams. Lifetime tenure will no longer be guaranteed from the day a teacher graduates from a teaching college. Teachers will not be allowed to pass their tenured posts to relatives, the prevalent practice of selling a teaching post will be outlawed, and promotions will require evaluation. In short, teaching is to be like a real job, where performance matters.

Accountability is a foreign concept for many who go into teaching, which explains why teaching students are part of the rebellion. In April, violence broke out in Chilpancingo, the state capital of Guerrero, when the state legislature refused a request by activists to reject the new evaluation process. Union thugs vandalized property. They also blocked the highway that runs from Mexico City, through Chilpancingo, to Acapulco, with serious economic consequences. Most teachers unions at least pretend to care about their students. Many striking teachers in Mexico just walked off the job, leaving children and parents in the lurch.

Drug cartels, state controlled industries, and corrupt government officials aren’t the only groups holding Mexico back from realizing its potential promise.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Beer of the Week (Vol. CLXXIII)

Another better late than never edition of Beer of the Week sponsored as always by the earthy folks at Glen Lake Wine & Spirits who can help you discover the natural bounty of wine, whisky, and beer that our world provides.

The movement towards organic products has been with us for some time now. Some of it is no doubt quite real and earnest while some of it seems to be more about slapping an organic label on products so that you can charge more for them. I have an uncle who is a farmer and he discovered that while there is a bit of work involved in getting your product certified as “organic” (in his case pigs), once you do it can be quite a lucrative business to be in.

In recent years, brewers have attempted to climb aboard the organic bandwagon. My experiences with beers that claim to be “organic” while limited, has not been good. Most organic beers that I’ve tried either are lacking in flavor or have tastes that so off-putting that it’s been a challenge to finish the product once poured (a challenge that I have proudly overcome in each instance).

So it was some trepidation that I greeted the news that Summit Brewing’s latest Unchained Series offering was going to be an organic brew. Batch 12 Organic Ale:

Presenting Batch 12 in the Summit Unchained Series – 100% Organic Ale. It’s Minnesota’s first USDA-certified 100% organic beer. It’s also the first Unchained batch from new brewer Gabe Smoley. Gabe went all out to make this session IPA as enjoyable as it is sustainable. He even developed his own organic yeast strain (talk about a beer geek). 100% Organic Ale offers up pronounced rose, potpourri and floral hop character with a light malt backbone – making it the perfect beer for Spring. So enjoy this limited-release beer while you can.

For the most part, the beers in the Unchained Series have been of high quality so despite the organic label I was excited to give Summit’s Organic Ale a go.

Six-pack of 12oz bottles sells for $8.99. Standard industrial themed label used in the Unchained Series.



COLOR (0-2): Dark ruby red. 2

AROMA (0-2): Fruity hops with a little sweetness. Aroma is good, but light. 1

HEAD (0-2): Tan color, good volume, and excellent lacing. 2

TASTE (0-5): Much more flavor than I was expecting with the low alcohol content. Fruit and floral hop flavors blend well with solid malt backbone. Mouthfeel is creamy and smooth. Good carbonation. Medium-bodied yet very drinkable. 3

AFTERTASTE (0-2): Bitter flavors linger pleasantly. 2

OVERALL (0-6): This doesn’t taste like an organic beer and in my book that’s a good thing. Now, it doesn’t exactly taste like a standard IPA either which is also okay. It tastes more closely resemble those of a pale ale than IPA, but it’s still quite enjoyable. And it packs more flavor than you would expect with the lower ABV which makes it a good choice when you’re choosing to have more than one. 4

TOTAL SCORE (0-19): 14

Thursday, May 09, 2013

No Whining in Hockeytown

Robert from Michigan responds to yesterday's post on the whining Wings fan:

Citing Bill Simonson as being representative of our hockey values is similar to associating David Stockman with conservative beliefs. Simply put, Bill is best described as "a silver-throated sphincter with fartcracker teeth". What a dumbass!

Almost all the local writers and commentators supported and agreed with the discipline handed down by the NHL. Fans, too. As far as Detroit not getting respect on a national level, let me get my cell phone so Simonson can call someone who gives a crap. Suck it up, shut your mouth, and get down to business. That's how things are normally done around here. If you want cheering in the press box, go to Chicago.

Boy, it's great to be back in the hockey culture after spending a month in the Arizona heat.

True that. But like playoff starved Wild fans, Robert and other Red Wings bossters should probably enjoy it while lasts. After last night's OT win by Anaheim, Detroit is down three games to two and facing elimination at home in game six. At least they'll likely have lasted longer than our local squad. I don't see much hope for the Wild tonight in Chicago no matter who's tending the pipes.

Wednesday, May 08, 2013

No Tears for Hockeytown

A Detroit writer claims that the NHL misses the mark with suspension of Red Wings' Justin Abdelkader and even speculates about a deeper conspiracy to promote Disney’s team at the expense of Detroit:

The quacks from Southern California are getting some help here from the league office. My conspiracy side says the league would love a team such as the Ducks, from the second-largest media market in America, to have a deep run in the playoffs.

The NHL's mindless cronies loved watching the Los Angeles Kings win it last year. The Red Wings — like most teams from Detroit — get no national media love or attention from the NHL. Bettman is hooked on the big markets. He thinks his sport should be on the same level as the NFL and Major League Baseball in the U.S. He is so wrong.

Those of us in NHL markets that rarely are in the spotlight have to chuckle at the absurdity of these claims. The Red Wings get no national media love or attention from the NHL? Really? A few years ago, you couldn’t turn in to a national NHL telecast and not find some combination of the Red Wings, the Rangers, the Blackhawks, or the Bruins playing. Casual fans could have been forgiven for thinking that the four American teams that made up the Original Six were the NHL.

At Awful Announcing, Dave Rogers doesn’t show much pity for the Detroit Red Wings writer who urges you to feel sorry for his team:

Bill Simonson, a Detroit Red Wings writer for, is begging for you to feel sorry for his club. The Red Wings, a team the NHL has almost entirely based their future realignment around, is suddenly the overlooked squad in the league. The same team that will play in its second Winter Classic on New Year's Day 2014 before other noteworthy squads even play their first. The same team that has one of its own in Brendan Shanahan ruling over NHL discipline. The same team that has won the Stanley Cup 11 times is, according to Simonson, a team without national media love or attention from the NHL.

Simonson recently penned this article explaining why he thinks Justin Abdelkader's recent two-game suspension is unfair. Granted, we use the term "article" pretty loosely here. If you scan through his rant, you'll probably find yourself laughing at his delusions. We're not here to defend the NHL discipline system (it stinks), but we will point out a mockery of the written word when we see one.


Simonson claims that there is a conspiracy to push Anaheim deep into the playoffs because they reside in the NHL's second-largest media market. Yes, the NHL wants Anaheim, the team with some of the lowest attendance in the league (15,887 a game, 25th in the NHL) and one of the lowest evaluations by Forbes (21 of 30) to make it deeper than Hockeytown and their massive attendance (20,066 a game, 3rd in the NHL) and massive worth (6th in the NHL according to Forbes). It makes perfect sense that the NHL would love for Anaheim to make it deep into the playoffs after the massive ratings bomb they laid back in 2007 when they took home the Cup.

Perhaps the biggest offense from Simonson in an article loaded with incorrect and ignorant comments is the way he treats his own fans. He claims Detroit fans can't name five stars in the league that aren't on Detroit's roster. You might as well just call them morons if you think a hockey fan can't name any other players in the NHL.

And Simonson’s reaction to being critiqued for his piece is about what you would expect, insulting those who questions his claims without making real arguments.

However, I will give Simonson credit for two points in his article that ring true:

Bettman is by far the worst leader of a sports league to ever walk this earth. He let the league expand when it it was stupid to expand. The NHL has a blind arrogance from the league office that makes you think they have no idea what they’re doing.

Hard to refute that opinion of the commish or the general ineptitude of the management of the NHL.

By the way, hockey players have been my favorite athletes to interview over the years. They are real, honest and down to earth, for the most part. What I have found is that those who play the sport, live it.

Another nugget of wisdom. Too bad the main points of the piece were so far off base.

Monday, May 06, 2013

It's a Dog

An excerpt from Jim Gaffigan's forthcoming book "Dad is Fat" tackles the insipid dog and baby comparisons:

Every year after Jeannie has her annual baby, I receive congratulations from friends and family. There’s always one per- son who says, “Oh, you just had a baby. Yeah, we just got a puppy.” What? In no other situation could you compare a human to an animal and people would actually be okay with it. You could never say, “Oh, you just got married? Yeah, I used to have a pig. Does your new wife like to roll around in mud, too? My pig loved that.”

Of course, the dog-and-baby comparison is nothing new. Dog owners are sincere and mean no insult. Their dog is their “baby.” But, of course, a dog is not a baby. It’s a dog. I also understand some people prefer dogs to babies. We are raising our children in New York City, which is not the most popular place to have children. If you hear someone cooing, “Oh, how cute!” on the street in NYC, you better look down, because they are going to be referring to a dog.

It’s a good thing babies have no idea how often they are compared to dogs. I would think that would be pretty insulting to the babies. Let me be clear. I love all animals. I love to pet them. I love to eat them. I’m an all-around animal lover, but besides the drooling and whimpering, your dog is not that similar to a baby. Take the smells, for instance. Babies are the two extremes on the spectrum of smell. They either smell like heaven filled with lollipops or like a microwaved cesspool. The cleanest of clean dogs still smells like a dog.

Champagne Flows and Oil Woes

Today’s WSJ has an educational editorial called A Tale of Two Oil States:

More than 400,000 Texans are employed by the oil and gas industry (almost 10 times more than in California) and Mr. Smitherman says the average salary is $100,000 a year. The industry generates about $80 billion a year in economic activity, which exceeds the annual output of all goods and services in 13 individual states.

Now look to California, where oil output is down 21% since 2001, according to Energy Department data, even as the price of oil has soared and now trades in the neighborhood of $95 a barrel. (See the nearby chart.)

This is not because California is running out of oil. To the contrary, California has huge reservoirs offshore and even more in the Monterey shale, which stretches 200 miles south and southeast from San Francisco. The Department of Energy estimates that the Monterey shale contains about 15 billion barrels of oil, which is about double the estimated supply in the Bakken.

Occidental Petroleum, the big oil player in California, has recently purchased leases from the Interior Department to drill in the Monterey shale, but in April a federal judge blocked the breakthrough drilling process known as hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking," in the state. The judge ordered an environmental review of the drilling process that Texas, North Dakota and other states have safely regulated for years.

A large part of the explanation for the Texas boom and the California bust is the political culture. Despite their cars, California voters have elected politicians who consider fossil fuels to be "dirty energy."

The plaintiffs in the Monterey shale lawsuit were the local chapters of the Sierra Club and the Center for Biological Diversity. Rita Dalessio, chairwoman of the Ventana chapter of the Sierra Club, said, "We're very excited. We're thrilled" by the judge's ban, adding that "I'm sure the champagne is flowing in San Francisco." This attitude is prevalent among California's elite and wealthy.

This is another all-too-familiar and depressing example of how often the same people who claim to care most about the poor and the middle class are the ones whose actions do the most to damage their opportunities to improve their lots. More jobs and cheaper energy would be a welcome boon to those groups in California. If only there was some way those goals could be realized...

Sunday, May 05, 2013

Holidays Americans Will Do

Happy Cinco de Mayo which has easily become America’s favorite Mexican holiday even if it’s not all that authentically Mexican in nature. Cinco de Mayo No Hecho en México, Actually:

People who associate Cinco de Mayo celebrations with the Mexican heritage of the United States are missing the point. Cinco de Mayo was created in the U.S. for the U.S. It has always been a uniquely American way to express the identity of Hispanounidenses, the "Hispanics of the United States."

Exactly how Cinco de Mayo turned into the signature celebration of the United States' 52 million Hispanics is a bit of a mystery—especially since it is hardly celebrated in Mexico outside of the State of Puebla. Cinco de Mayo has no association with Mexican independence. It commemorates a battle on May 5, 1862, in which the Mexican army vanquished the well-equipped French forces of Napoleon III.

No one knows exactly why Hispanics in California began celebrating Cinco de Mayo at the end of the 1860s. Nor does anyone understand why, a century later, the Chicano movement picked it up as an expression of their demands for civil rights—although that association did make the celebration even more truly American.

What we do know is that in the 1970s cultural organizers in San Francisco selected Cinco de Mayo from among a slate of holidays as the best pan-national Latino celebration in the U.S. It was a savvy choice. Most Mexicans had never heard of the holiday, so it didn't carry the risk of pitting different Hispanic nationalities against one another.

Who says we don't make anything here anymore?

Thursday, May 02, 2013

Ignoring History

In today’s WSJ, Tom Acitelli explains how two key government actions helped ignite the United States Beer Revolution. The first was a tax cut passed with a Republican in the White House:

The story of the U.S. ascent to the top tier of world beer began in the late 1970s, when brewing was liberated from government taxation and regulation that had held it back since Prohibition.

In 1976, Henry King, a gregarious World War II hero whose favorite drink was a whiskey-based Rob Roy, trained the attention of his U.S. Brewers Association, the industry's biggest trade group, on Congress. The brewing industry had been trying unsuccessfully for years to get Washington to lower excise taxes on beer produced by smaller brewers.

King was determined to change things. In an impressive feat of bridge-building, he lined up support from the industry's labor unions as well as its owners. Steelworker and glassworker unions called in favors; the big brewery owners wrote personal checks. These owners, whose excise taxes would remain the same, figured that by helping their smaller brethren, they would ultimately help themselves by inspiring more beer consumption in an American alcohol market suddenly awash with California wines.

Brewer Peter Stroh—whose family name was a mainstay of Midwestern beer—lobbied a fellow Michigander, President Gerald Ford, to sign the bill that King's efforts finally steered through Congress. H.R. 3605 cut the federal excise tax on beer to $7 from $9 per barrel on the first 60,000 barrels produced, so long as a brewery produced no more than two million barrels annually. (There were few breweries that did, which was another reason King's association went to bat for the tax cut.)

The tax cut unleashed a revolution in American brewing. Hundreds of smaller breweries began to open across the country selling what came to be called craft beer. But as significant as the numbers was the rise of American brewers and consumers as the industry's tastemakers. Nowadays, craft-beer startups in places like France, Italy and Japan are less likely to look for inspiration in the traditional pilsners and heavy ales of Northern Europe than in the hopped-up India pale ales of California and the smooth bitters of New England.

The second was deregulation under a Democratic president:

Gradually, though, the secretive home brewers grew bolder. In the 1970s—about when Henry King was lobbying Congress to cut the beer tax—home-brewing clubs in California, where America's craft-beer revolution began, joined with trade groups representing the winemaking shops that sold home-brewing supplies. They lobbied California Sen. Alan Cranston to introduce legislation legalizing home-brewing at the federal level.

Cranston introduced legislation that was reconciled with a House bill in August 1978. President Carter signed the law that October, and it took effect the following February. Home-brewing of up to 200 gallons a year per household was suddenly permitted.

Following the federal example, state legislatures also began rewriting their bans on home-brewing, and it is legal now in every state except Alabama. The result: Home-brewing took off, helping to spur the movement toward craft beer that had been touched off by the beer tax reduction. The beer industry swelled in the 1980s and 1990s, producing thousands of jobs and tens of millions of dollars in annual tax revenue.

The rise of American beer wasn't an accident. It was spurred by efforts to cut taxes and regulation that unleashed entrepreneurship. Too bad Washington doesn't raise a toast to that idea more often.

Indeed. Here in Minnesota we’re actually seeing a move in the other direction as recent proposals by Democratic legislators would actually significantly increase the tax burden on brewers in the state. Minnesota was a bit late to the craft beer revolution, but it’s now in full swing here. It would be a shame if the DFL’s insatiable hunger for more revenue stifles the growth of an industry on the rise.

Wednesday, May 01, 2013

HWX, with Rep. Tom Cotton

The Hinderaker-Ward Experience (HWX) returned this past weekend for a very special Saturday afternoon episode.   Topics of discussion included:

* celebration of Snow-Out Day in Minnesota

* reflections on the Boston bombing, 2 weeks out
*  the travails of the Comprehensive Immigration Bill 

* Loon of the Week (John Kerry and his passion for barbershop quartet)

* This Week in Gatekeeping (media group award for Boston coverage)

We are also joined by the distinguished Representative from Arkansas’ 4th Congressional District, and Republican rising star, Tom Cotton.  He discusses his thoughts on the effectiveness of  Obama administration counter-terrorism efforts, the Gang of Eight’s Immigration bill and its chances in the House, and more.

Many ways to hear the podcast, including over on the mothership at Ricochet.  You can be sure to never miss an episode by subscribing via iTunes or Feedburner.  Or just use the player embedded in the upper right hand corner of this web site.  If all of these fail, send me an email and I'll come to your house and read from a written transcript.  Hope you enjoy.

Baby, He's Back!

It’s been many a moon since talk radio shock jock Hugh “Ralphie” Hewitt has graced the North Star state with his presence. Apparently the statute of limitations on the various restraining orders issued by the Department of Natural Resources have now expired and Hugh has been granted a temporary visa to return to Minnesota for a special appearance. An Evening With Hugh Hewitt:

Tuesday, May 28th

Marriott Minneapolis Northwest
7025 Northland Drive N
Brooklyn Park, Minnesota 55428
Phone: (763) 536-8300

The event starts at 7pm and for a mere $12.80 you can gain entrance. For 99 bones you can enjoy a steak dinner before the show and get VIP seating. And for only $149 you can eat dinner at Hugh’s table and get a front row seat to the event. Some people would kill for that kind of access. All you gotta do is wipe out your credit care and secure your place at the table today.