Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Hey, big spenders!


(please scroll down for the update)

In the wake of a miserable SOTU address and amid cantankerous primary posturing, please allow the CBO to drop a reality bomb on everyone:

For the fourth year in a row, Washington faces a $1 trillion-plus deficit and just servicing the nation’s debt will soon cost as much as paying for Medicaid, the federal-state health care program for the poor and disabled. (ed. note: and which was just expanded under ObamaCare)

Those were two grim predictions in a 147-page report from the Congressional Budget Office, which Tuesday stepped into the 2012 campaign like some stern Aunt Cassandra — coming down from the attic to lecture the protagonists: “It’s not just the economy stupid, it’s also the debt.”

Indeed the $1.079 trillion deficit now projected for the 2012 fiscal year ending Sept. 30 is wider than what the added CBO had predicted in August, and the picture won’t substantially improve unless Congress comes to grip with changes needed in tax and spending policy.

“The CBO’s latest alarm bell couldn’t be more ominous,” said House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.). “For years, politicians from both political parties have failed to be honest with the American people about the size and scope of the debt threat. The CBO’s report today confirms that it is past time for serious leaders to put aside politics and start forging solutions.”
(italics, ours: a variation on the "unexpectedly" theme we've grown so accustomed to the past few years.)

If you were looking for any silver linings, you are at the wrong place for the entirety of this post, at least. So, how about them jobs' numbers? From the same CBO report:

"Had that portion of the decline in the labor force participation rate since 2007 that is attributable to neither the aging of the baby boomers nor the downturn in the business cycle (on the basis of the experience in previous downturns) not occurred, the unemployment rate in the fourth quarter of 2011 would have been about 1¼ percentage points higher than the actual rate of 8.7 percent"

Terrific. The CBO is essentially saying that the real unemployment rate is actually 10%.

So, where does that leave us? Well, it leaves us with a President who has accomplished nothing in his 3 years in office as far as addressing the debt/deficit and unemployment but instead resorts to creepy militaristic/fascist imagery as the model for national cooperative triumph in his state of the Union address.

And as for our esteemed Republican candidates, we have the architect of ObamaCare vs. an ethically-challenged candidate amidst a swirling "controversy" of how he actually felt about Reagan. Inquiring minds want to know! Yes, we realize it's the primaries and there will always be an element of "silly season" to them but forgive us for sensing a complete lack of seriousness amongst all 3 when it comes to making bold and meaningful statements as precursors to bold and meaningful action with respect to the existential threat posed by our ever-growing entitlement programs and the accompanying debt.


(UPDATE #1) : One of our faves, Chuckie Schumer (D-NY) on grave and our economic outlook... from last week:


#OWS update: the so happy together in Oakland edition


Awwww... Oakland mayor not too hot on Occupy anymore.


This past fall, while encouraging city workers to take time off work to join the Occupy protests, Oakland mayor, Jean Quan had this to say with respect to the Occupy movement:

“The highway patrol and other forces came and ensured that it was peaceful tonight. We will act if we need to tonight to maintain safety. But it looks like this was a good day for the demonstrators and for the 99% movement.”

As the Occupy movement showed it's true colors over the weekend by trashing Oakland's City Hall, Mayor Quan is changing her tune.

Oakland officials assessed damage to City Hall caused by Occupy protesters while leaders of the movement claimed Sunday that police acted illegally in arresting hundreds of demonstrators and could face a lawsuit.

Mayor Jean Quan was among those inspecting damage caused after dozens of people broke into City Hall on Saturday, smashing glass display cases, spray-painting graffiti, and burning an American flag.

That break-in culminated a day of clashes between protesters and police. Interim Police Chief Howard Jordan said nearly 400 people were arrested on charges ranging from failure to disperse and vandalism. At least three officers and one protester were injured.

In a news release Sunday, the Occupy Oakland Media Committee criticized the police conduct, saying that most of the arrests were made illegally because police failed to allow protesters to disperse.

"Contrary to their own policy, the OPD gave no option of leaving or instruction on how to depart. These arrests are completely illegal, and this will probably result in another class action lawsuit against the OPD, who have already cost Oakland $58 million in lawsuits over the past 10 years," the release said.

The scene around City Hall was mostly quiet Sunday morning, and it was unclear whether protesters would mount another large-scale demonstration.

Dozens of officers remained present inside and outside City Hall after maintaining guard overnight. Occupy Oakland demonstrators

broke into the historic building and burned a U.S. flag, as officers earlier fired tear gas to disperse people throwing rocks and tearing down fencing at a convention center.

Quan, who faced heavy criticism for the police action last fall, on Saturday called on the Occupy movement to "stop using Oakland as its playground."

"People in the community and people in the Occupy movement have to stop making excuses for this behavior," Quan said.

On Sunday, Quan said she is tired of the protesters' repeated actions.

"I'm mostly frustrated because it appears that most of them constantly come from outside of Oakland," Quan said. "I think a lot of the young people who come to these demonstrations think they're being revolutionary when they're really hurting the people they claim that they are representing."
(italics, ours)

Glad she's clued-in to what we've known all along. But cry us a river, Mayor, as instead of taking a hard line against these hoods from the start, you instead, effectively endorsed a movement that everyone with the slightest shred of common sense knew would ultimately turn violent. Just call it a classic case of enabling bad behavior.

And speaking of hurting those you claim to be representing:

Oakland officials said the massive Occupy Oakland demonstration on Saturday diverted police resources from calls elsewhere in the city, stymieing the Police Department's crime-fighting efforts.

An estimated 400 demonstrators were arrested during the protest, with some activists breaking into City Hall and vandalizing it.

Mayor Jean Quan condemned the local movement's tactics as "a constant provocation of the police with a lot of violence toward them" and said the demonstrations were draining scarce resources from an already financially-strapped city.

Oakland has logged five homicides since Friday, and Police Chief Howard Jordan told the Los Angeles Times that the law enforcement "personnel and resources dedicated to Occupy reduce our ability to focus on public safety priorities." [Updated at 9:03 a.m.: It is unclear exactly how many calls were delayed because of the protests.]

Oakland officials will seek monetary damages from protesters, Quan said. In addition, the mayor said she would pursue "restorative justice" by asking that those deemed guilty be put to work picking up garbage and removing graffiti in East Oakland.

Restorative justice..? Perfect. Remember: "Whenever there was an adjective added to an important value-based noun, there was an agenda."

25 years, a few showers and perhaps a mortgage are all that really separates your typical Oakland Occupier and Oakland's political class as represented by Mayor Quan. Far from demanding change or reform, these two sets of redistributionist statists are the staunchest defenders of the status quo and really do deserve each other.


Addendum #1: Here's some more of that new civility we've been hearing so much about:

Demonstrators from the Occupy Wall Street movement threw condoms on Catholic schoolgirls, refused to allow a Catholic priest to give a closing prayer, and shouted down a pro-life speaker at a Rhode Island right to life rally on Thursday, according to its organizer. The event marked the third time protesters associated with the movement have disrupted a pro-life meeting in a week.

About two-dozen members of Occupy Providence hiked from Burnside Park to the 39th Annual Pro-Life State House Rally organized by the Rhode Island State Right to Life Committee on Thursday.

The pro-life organization’s executive director, Barth E. Bracy, told LifeSiteNews.com that, near the end of the rally, the Occupiers “strategically fanned out with military precision.”

That’s when they “started showering condoms down on some of the girls from a Catholic high school.”

They gathered around speakers at the podium, shouting them down or otherwise jostling them and members of the audience.

We're confused. All this time we thought it was about "fairness", income inequality and getting someone else to pay down their student loan debt... all pretty straight-forward stuff, right? Now, they're getting into social issues like denying others their first amendment rights via Stalinist thug tactics?

As the tea party has struggled with how to take on or not take on social issues, it would appear that a similar debate needs to take place within the Occupy ranks with respect to general douche-baggery but we think we know what side has completely won-out, already.

Monday, January 30, 2012

What will they force you to do?


Do you remember when the President told us that if we liked our current health care plan, we could keep it? Well, you could keep it unless you are a Catholic.

The following is the entire text of a letter issued by U.S. Catholic bishops voicing their objections to what they feel are the conscience-violating provisions of ObamaCare and which according to Gateway Pundit was read in churches across the country on Sunday:

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ:

I write to you concerning an alarming and serious matter that negatively impacts the Church in the United States directly, and that strikes at the fundamental right to liberty for all citizens of any faith. The federal government, which claims to be “of, by, and for the people,” has just been dealt a heavy blow to almost a quarter of those people — the Catholic population — and to the millions more who are served by the Catholic faithful.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced last week that almost all employers, including Catholic employers, will be forced to offer their employees’ health coverage that includes sterilization, abortion-inducing drugs, and contraception. Almost all health insurers will be forced to include those “services” in the health policies they write. And almost all individuals will be forced to buy that coverage as a part of their policies.

In so ruling, the Obama Administration has cast aside the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, denying to Catholics our Nation’s first and most fundamental freedom, that of religious liberty. And as a result, unless the rule is overturned, we Catholics will be compelled to either violate our consciences, or to drop health coverage for our employees (and suffer the penalties for doing so). The Obama Administration’s sole concession was to give our institutions one year to comply.

We cannot—we will not—comply with this unjust law. People of faith cannot be made second class citizens. We are already joined by our brothers and sisters of all faiths and many others of good will in this important effort to regain our religious freedom. Our parents and grandparents did not come to these shores to help build America’s cities and towns, its infrastructure and institutions, its enterprise and culture, only to have their posterity stripped of their God given rights. In generations past, the Church has always been able to count on the faithful to stand up and protect her sacred rights and duties. I hope and trust she can count on this generation of Catholics to do the same. Our children and grandchildren deserve nothing less.

And therefore, I would ask of you two things. First, as a community of faith we must commit ourselves to prayer and fasting that wisdom and justice may prevail, and religious liberty may be restored. Without God, we can do nothing; with God, nothing is impossible. Second, I would also recommend visiting www.usccb.org/conscience,to learn more about this severe assault on religious liberty, and how to contact Congress in support of legislation that would reverse the Obama Administration’s decision.

Sincerely yours in Christ,
+Alexander K. Sample
Most Reverend Alexander K. Sample
Bishop of Marquette

(emphasis, ours)

We blogged about this last week, here. We're not letting this go as this represents perfectly how ObamaCare isn't about providing better health care to more Americans but rather it's about control and power. What better way to flex authoritarian muscle than by trampling over a group's religious beliefs and tenents. To wit, we were heretofore unaware that the contraceptives Catholic employers will now be forced to provide their employees were so inaccessible.

And it matters not whether you are a person of faith... If you are a person of freedom this should chap your hide and compel you to question whether or not your government takes the 1st amendment seriously and what it is they will force you to do that would violate your conscience. It's only a matter of time

We stand in solidarity with the Catholic church against this assault on religious freedom and their stand against these egregious provisions in ObamaCare.

Video clip of the day


Here's Matt Welch, editor-in-chief of Reason Magazine on the shameful and deceitful "Buffet Rule" campaign.


Yeah, why the hell are we paying for Warren Buffet's Medicare?

We say shameful and deceitful because the President and his water-carriers are deliberately conflating two completely different tax rates in order to score cheap political points.

The hue and cry of Buffet's poor secretary being taxed at a higher rate than Buffet himself doesn't hold up to scrutiny when, obviously, the woman who makes between $200,000 and $500,000 will be taxed at a higher marginal rate (up to 35%) than Buffet who grants himself an annual salary of only $100,000.

Where Buffet acrues most of his income is in capital gains where the tax rate is only 15%. As Welch suggests, if Obama and Buffet were truly being honest and had the courage of their convictions, what they should be calling for is a 35% tax on capital gains. Cue: complete economic meltdown.

Of course, that's not what they are calling for but instead they trot out Buffet's 1 pecenter secretary (so far as making her a guest at the State of the Union address last Tuesday evening) as the poster child for the Occupy-approved message of "fairness" and income inequality.

As of yet, no one, least of all our increasingly cynical and desparate chief executive has explained to us how taxing the rich will cure unemployment, reduce the debt and be, ultimately, the pro-growth policy this country's economy so needs. But it isn't about any of the above... it's all about getting re-elected to do what, exactly, we're not quite sure.

Small wonder when we've been told it's food stamps and unemployment bennies that are the drivers of the nation's economic engine.


Sunday, January 29, 2012

Caption Contest!


Via The Liberator Today:

"Welcome to Arizona, Mr. President. The former Governor sends her regards. Now, will that be a pat-down or body scan?"




A round-up of news items, articles, columns and blog posts that caught our eye this past week.

Here's some more of that "new civility" we've been hearing about... in the wake of the announcement that Gabby Giffords (D-AZ) will be stepping down from her seat in Congress, no less.

California Rep. Henry Waxman, the top Democrat on the House Energy and Commerce Committee and the coauthor of the 2009 cap-and-trade climate change bill, decried efforts by the GOP to force the Obama administration into approving a permit for the Keystone XL Pipeline.

"They want to use legislation as a way to act like terrorists. They hold things as hostage," Waxman said. "We almost couldn't fund the government because Republicans wanted to hold that idea hostage, we almost couldn't pay our debts because the Republicans wanted to hold that legislation hostage to their extreme agenda, and I wouldn't be surprised if they scuttled this conference by trying to hold us hostage."

We know exactly where we will be looking to adjudicate blame upon the next act of violence against a public figure.

Did someone say "unexpectedly"?

Sales of new U.S. homes unexpectedly declined in December for the first time in four months, capping the slowest year on record for builders.

Why, yes, and this editon's winner is Bloomberg News.

B-Daddy (drunk-?) blogged the State of the Union address by POTUS this past Tuesday night so you wouldn't have to. Some high-lights:

Opening 75% of offshore resources to oil exploration. The same 75% you previously closed?

Apparently, Obama discovered the oil coming out of the ground in North Dakota. Now he is in favor of natural gas, oh wait, he's not; proposing new regulations for natural gas producers.

He keeps using the line, "send me a bill." No, you already sent us the bill.

Now he's going to interfere in the housing market and interfere in sound lending. Directing the banks to renegotiate mortgages? Welcome back from the dead, Juan Peron.
[Post speech note; Romney can hammer on the theme that government caused this housing bubble in the first place, more intervention props up a market that still needs to deflate.]

(ed. note: we blogged about further government intervention into the housing market here. Some people just never learn)

Millionaire bashing, no real new ideas here. Yes, sir, I am calling this class warfare, because it is built on a foundation of lies. The rich pay twice, first on corporate taxes then on gains. He envisions a nation of dependents, whose lives depend on taxes from the rich. What a poverty of imagination, if that were true we would truly be a nation in poverty.

Going after the cloture rule in the Senate? Really? Don't recall him being for that when he was in the Senate. Asking for a simple up or down vote on nominees? Be careful what you ask for, there will be a Republican President some day.

I think he's finishing. Terrible speech. Nope, back to taking credit for being Commander-In-Chief. Hey, where's the talk about engagement in Iran? Now he's talking Arab Spring and whacking Ghadaffi. He's going to whack Assad too? Who'd have thunk it, a dude named Barack Hussein Obama is all about whacking Arabs?

From B-Daddy's summation, it appeared he talked about de-regulation just as much as the need for further regulation. Incoherency, plain and simple.

Neither he nor the people working for him have a clue. Remember, these are the same people who gush all over themselves with respect to how many food stamps they've been able to issue as an indicator of economic success.

At any rate, thanks for falling on that grenade, bro. So, that others may live!

Shane Atwell reviews the movie Ayn Rand and the Prophecy of Atlas Shrugged.

Do I recommend seeing the movie? Only if you want to know everything you can about Rand and Atlas or if you want to know very little. In the latter case the movie will give you a smattering of information on several aspects of Rand's life and the book with little effort. But you really should just read the book.

tea party girl goes solar!

“The polar bears can suck-it!”

Yep. That’s what I had to tell most of the solar vendors visiting our home. It’s not that I actually have anything against polar bears, they’re pretty efficient seal hunters. But I was shopping for cheaper fixed-priced energy. Period. I still think the concept of man-made global warming is a bunch of fabricated junk-science cr*#. I found that trying to ask a bunch washed out mortgage brokers re-trained as solar salesmen to fast forward past the green B.S. is like asking an overseas customer service rep to think for themselves.


For those of you tired of the nagging and whining regarding "fairness" and income inequality from an administration that is the very epitome of the 1% and whose personnel rotate between it and Wall Street with the greatest of alacrity, you'd be pleased to know that 36 members of the President's executive staff owe over $800,000 in back taxes. For those of you scoring at home, that works out to about $23,000/person.

We know we are opining naive but how jaded and cynical does one have to be to go on the "fairness" offensive when one's own outfit is the most egregious violator of this completely undefineable* notion of fairness.

(* undefineable by our standards, not theirs)

Sir Charles at Doo Doo Economics has a SLOBs home page primer/how-to post here. Who are the SLOBs (San Diego Local Order of Bloggers)? It's a coalition of area bloggers committed to free markets, limited government, personal liberty and constitutional fidelity. We've got Randian objectivists, registered Democrats, Ron Paul supporters, libertarian-leaning conservatives (sage-brush conservatives?**) socially-conservative evangelicals and Catholics and independents.

All the world's problems are solved at our all-too-infrequent beer summits where we take a small amount of pride in steering a few of the SLOBs into that wondrous universe that is the San Diego craft beer scene.

As you might imagine, we don't do "group think" very well so if you want some fresh thinking and ideas that run counter to the narrative that is spoon-fed to you from the government-media complex, we certainly encourage you to bookmark the SLOBs and give us a "like" if you wouldn't mind. Thanks!

And speaking of SLOBs, Leslie at Temple of Mut has a great round-up of news and views herself, including that of the Scorpion Queen, Governor Jan Brewer, faith-based global-warming insanity and a potential SLOBs endorsement of Carl DeMaio for SD mayor? Go on over and check it out.

OK, gang. That's it for today. We'll see you all tomorrow.

** A nod to Barry Goldwater and the fact that the libertarian strain runs a bit deeper in the conservatives of the West/Southwest than other geographic regions of this great country.


Saturday, January 28, 2012

Stuff we saw on Facebook this week


One in a series high-lighting cool and amusing things we saw on the social media Godzilla.


You're darn right we'd be doing the same thing we're we too to find ourselves in similar circumstances.

We think you'd have to be over 30 yrs. old to get this.

Our friend "Tally"'s photo makes us think of something that would be on a Calexico album cover.

... with a side of chips!

boring... but BACON!

Absolutely spot-on!

To all our troops' safe return

Radio KBwD is on the air




But first a Super Bowl commercial teaser..?




Good lord. If you grew up in the 80s, who didn't want to live that one day... just one day... in vicarious fashion through the person of Ferris Bueller.

We were always fascinated with the ubiquitous and near prophet-like brand in which Bueller held in the movie... "You know Ferris Bueller?"

And for maintaining such a leisurely pace throughout most of the movie, they sure did accomplish quite a bit (it was June in Chicago... days are a bit longer than here in Southern California, so maybe that explains it).

Which brings us to this:

Cameron creates Ferris in his mind.

Ladies and Gentlemen, from England, here's The English Beat performing "March of the Swivelheads" and which is titled "Rotating Heads" on their outstanding Special Beat Service album.


Friday, January 27, 2012

Economic illiteracy re-visited


Andrew Napolitano and his panel on "Freedom Watch" take on the Davos Dodos of the ski party, one in the same that we did here, and yet another round of Keynesian gimmickry to keep people who are underwater in their homes still further forestalling a true housing recovery.

"It's kind of grotesque that the government is coming in and abrogating privity of contract."

And even more grotesque when you can say it with an indignant British accent.

If compelling banks to write down home loans sounds familiar, it should, as we have been down this road before back at the beginning of the Obama administation in January of 2009.

With the help of Martin Scorcese, no less, here is what we wrote about it at the time which illustrated not only the non-sensicalness of it but more importantly, the moral hazards inherent to the cozy private-public relationships in Bailout Nation:

From the Wall St. Journal:

A Senate bill aimed at giving strapped homeowners more leverage in renegotiating their mortgages cleared a hurdle Thursday when Citigroup Inc. dropped its opposition.

The legislation, which is being advanced by top Senate Democrats, would let judges set new repayment terms for mortgage holders in bankruptcy court. Lawmakers say the measure is aimed at jump-starting broader efforts to renegotiate millions of underwater mortgages now weighing down the housing market.

To better help illustrate what you just read, we call in Academy Award-winning director Martin Scorcese and his outstanding movie Good Fellas. In this scene, a restaurant owner needs some financial help and needs some protection from the cops, other wise guys, people who don’t pay their bills, etc., so he goes to the local crime boss and talks him into going in as partners. Great. The restaurant owner is now partnering up with the local muscle. Good times, right? What could possibly go wrong?

In this clip, Citigroup is the restaurant owner and “Paulie” is the Federal Government.

Wow. That didn’t end too well, now did it?

Maybe now, you are beginning to get an idea of why this bailout business was such a bad idea from the get-go. We’re not Wall St. experts but perhaps the reason why Citigroup dropped its opposition to this legislation is because “Paulie” is into them for $45 billion.

Until recently, Citigroup had fiercely opposed proposals to give bankruptcy judges latitude to change the terms of mortgages. Its about-face comes after the federal government has pumped $45 billion into the company since last fall. The government is now keeping the company on a tight leash.

Just. like. that.

Let that last line linger for a moment. Taste it again. Let it roll over your palate like vinegar.

Citigroup danced with the devil and lost. They never had a chance. Now that they are the Feds’ lap dog and a newly-minted GSE, any hopes they had of exercising any independent decision-making pretty much just blew right out the window.

And that money that the lenders will be losing with the “restructured” loans will have to made up from somewhere, right? But, where? The first logical place would be to charge higher interest rates for new home loans… but if those higher interest rates are not competitive then Citigroup cannot offer their money for these loans which could then ultimately lead to… if you were going to complete this sentence with “bankruptcy”, you haven’t been paying attention… even more of your tax dollars going to pay for other people’s home loans.

The lynchpin of free enterprise and capitalism: the contract – a contract between two independent entities spelling out the terms for an exchange of goods, services, money and which is bound by law is about to become a thing of the past.
In its place, a capricious set of variables set forth by some who are on the take from the very people they are overseeing and and who are dispensing this power in an arbitrary fashion as they see fit. (ed. note: remember what the British chap said about grotesquness)

We hope we are being guilty of hyperbole, but of all the ridiculous non-sense we have seen and heard with respect to Bailout Nation, this was the first instance that sent shivers down our spine. We welcome cheerful thoughts and comments.

3 years on and nothing has been learned. 3 years on and it's all still business as usual.


Thursday, January 26, 2012

Your (California) high-speed choo-choo update


We had to cut short a post of a couple of days ago regarding California's high-speed rail system and the absurdity of the "alternate" use of the same for fear of sending our readers into a irreversible state of depression.

Having had a couple of days of rest and recovery, let's tread forward together in a slow and orderly fashion and pick up where we left off at the same linked article from the L.A. Times.

Certainly, Jerry Brown is under pressure from Big Labor, Big Green and Big Construction to begin building this monstrosity but what is the form of the pressure he is receiving from Washington D.C. and their partial funding of the project? In response to changing construction plans so that the high-speed rail system could be built first in urban areas* where it might actually be used instead of the Cental Valley:

At a recent hearing by the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee in Washington, key California legislators asked if the construction plan could be changed. But Joseph Szabo, the Obama administration's chief of the Federal Railroad Administration, said California has no flexibility to rethink the project.

"The ability to shift dollars is not there," he said.

Kind of like interior design decisions that cannot be changed when you made the decision to let the in-laws help out just a little too much with the down payment on the home. That skin in the game that was so welcome at the time has now become a mill stone.

Tax-dodging billionaire, Warren Buffet has been in the news of late for the windfall he stands to gain from shutting down the Keystone XL pipeline project as oil from the North Dakota fields (now the nation's fourth biggest oil producer and climbing) will have to be shipped southward on old slow freight trains. Burlington-Northern trains. Burlington-Northern trains that happen to be owned by Berkshire-Hathaway, Buffet's firm.

Now, back to California:

Roelof van Ark** , the project's chief executive, insists the bullet-train corridor will not become a white elephant.

He has conceded, however, that re-routing Amtrak would be relatively expensive for the benefit.

The federal government has set aside $108 million to link the high-speed segment to the track used by Amtrak, which it shares with freight hauler Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad. High-speed rail officials say that's enough for the job.

But a number of rail experts said that more money will be needed to integrate the two systems, and it's unclear how the financially struggling Amtrak system would pay any difference.

(as if you needed the italics)

We almost feel sorry for Jerry Brown. We thought his pragmatist-centrist I'm just too old to give a damn campaign approach was brilliant and would strike a tone with indies and moderates. But here we are: he has allowed himself to be painted into a corner by a progessive coalition of labor unions, greenies, big city mayors and a corrupt adminstration pursuing a two-pronged attack of their unsustainable green agenda and a crony capitalism that is staggering in both its size and sheer audacity to build the greatest boondoggle known to mankind and which will ultimately define his political legacy.

* Also a dubious plan as San Francisco and L.A. both have light rail systems making high-speed choo-choos in those same areas completely redundant.

** Our German scientists are better than their German scientists. Sorry, it was just too easy.

Steyn smack


Well, to be more precise, Steyn's readers' smack.

Here's Mark Steyn opining on the general slouch assumed by the West in the years intervening the Titanic and the Costa Concordia:

Sixty years later, the men on the Titanic — liars and thieves, wealthy and powerful, poor and obscure — found themselves called upon to "finish in style," and did so. They had barely an hour to kiss their wives goodbye, watch them clamber into the lifeboats, and sail off without them. They, too, 'ope'd it wouldn't 'appen to them, but, when it did, the social norm of "women and children first" held up under pressure and across all classes.

Today there is no social norm, so it's every man for himself — operative word "man," although not many of the chaps on the Titanic would recognize those on the Costa Concordia as "men." From a grandmother on the latter:

"I was standing by the lifeboats and men, big men, were banging into me and knocking the girls."

Whenever I write about these subjects, I receive a lot of mail from men along the lines of this correspondent:

"The feminists wanted a gender-neutral society. Now they've got it. So what are you complaining about?"

(italics, ours)

Like water seeking it's own level, we get the civilization that we pursue.


Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Let's have some fun...


by taking a quiz?

Yeah, yeah... but first the set-up: Last week KT linked to an excellent piece by Charles Murray on the changing face of and the increasing isolation of America's elite class.

That article got us to thinking: If we are going to bang on the elites in this country we darn well better make sure we aren't ones ourselves as much as miserable little populist poseurs.

So, take the quiz here to see if you really are a snob or can safely continue railing against snobs as living life outside "the bubble" and firmly entrenched in Main Street.

How did you do?

We're safe.

How Thick Is Your Bubble?

View user's Quiz School Profile
Score » 15 out of 20  (75% ) 
On a scale from 0 to 20 points, where 20 signifies full engagement with mainstream American culture and 0 signifies deep cultural isolation within the new upper class bubble, you scored between 13 and 16.

In other words, you don't even have a bubble.
Quiz SchoolTake this quiz & get your score

As beer-geeky as we are, we'll cop to having some Coors in the fridge from time to time as that's what were feeling after yardwork or while BBQing in August. And we have several very good friends that are smokers and who also happen to be some of the finest human beings we know.

Here are some questions that we think would fit right in as well:

- In the past year or so, have you shopped at a big box retailer or a Sears-like department store? (how that one was not a question is beyond us)

- In the past year or so have you attended either a college or high school sporting event?

- Do you own a pair of work boots... that you actually work in from time to time?

- Do you have a work bench in your garage?

- Do you own at least 4 power tools?

- Do you fly an American flag outside your house?

Quick story: Every Saturday, the Jehovah's witnesses flood our neighborhood going door to door but luckily, we thought, they never stop at ours. After doing a little research, we found out that Jehovah's Witnesses aren't too big on the patriotic thing nor are they down with military service. Yes, we fly the flag (JH repellent! - they probably figure we're lost causes) and just to make this airtight, we will be flying the Marine Corps flag from now on as well.

- Do you change your own oil?

- Do you put up Christmas lights?

- Have you scratched out personal checks or given cash in $25 amounts or less to two charitable organizations in the past year.

- Have you gone bowling in the past year?

- Have you or a good friend ever been a member of 4H or Future Farmers of America?

- Have you hosted or attended a cook-out that was pretty much just burgers and dogs and... seven layer bean dip?!

OK. That's good for now. Seriously, let us know how you did - we're all friends here and please chime in with some of your own Main Street questions in the comments.

Meanwhile, on the shores of picturesque Lake Davos...


This from the annual confab of global redistributionists and social justice types (think U.N. glee squad on Winter break):

Economic and political elites meeting this week at the Swiss resort of Davos will be asked to urgently find ways to reform a capitalist system that has been described as "outdated and crumbling."
"We have a general morality gap, we are over-leveraged, we have neglected to invest in the future, we have undermined social coherence, and we are in danger of completely losing the confidence of future generations," said Klaus Schwab, host and founder of the annual World Economic Forum.

"Solving problems in the context of outdated and crumbling models will only dig us deeper into the hole.

"We are in an era of profound change that urgently requires new ways of thinking instead of more business-as-usual," the 73-year-old said, adding that "capitalism in its current form, has no place in the world around us."

Without us seeming impolite or untoward, allow us to make some slight course and speed corrections to the terminology employed by the gracious host Mr. Schwab: We think what he really meant was that there is no longer a place in the world for the heavily bureaucratized, centralized and cronyist social democracy model that is saddled with unsustainable entitlement obligations which is outdated, crumbling and morally corrupt.

However hopeful we may be and contrary to the evidence before them, why do we get the sneaking suspicion that whenever these well-meaning chin-strokers all get together, simply "business as usual" is all that is on the menu?


Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Your (California) high-speed choo-choo update


It's almost getting too easy but when you make a committment to cover perhaps the greatest public works boondoggle in history, you soldier on oblivious to the repetitive drumbeat of redundant bad news. Ah, but this is a little different because not only is the primary usage of California's high-speed rail system an all-time bad idea, the alternate plan for the system is an atrociously criminal waste of tax-payer dollars as well. Yes, folks, it's a two-fer.

When the Obama administration gave California $3.4 billion in startup money for a high-speed rail system, it insisted on a guarantee that the project would not become a white elephant -- something critics could brand as a train to nowhere.

The first section of track had to run down the spine of the Central Valley and have another use, should the rest of the bullet train project collapse.
Those requirements are now at the center of an intensifying political battle, waged by critics who say the state's fallback plan to use a 130-mile stretch of track for slower Amtrak service is a sham because there's no guarantee the national rail service will ever use it.

Amtrak said it has no agreement to operate on the track and has not analyzed the possible negative effects on one of its most successful rail lines. Still, the California High Speed Rail Authority has estimated 45 minutes could be shaved off Amtrak's current service between Bakersfield and Merced.

Wait, what?

There is already an existing Amtrak line?

Why, yes there is...

(please click to enlarge in case you can't make out that blue line running through the middle of the state)

So, when the train to nowhere doesn't get up and rolling, using Amtrak choo-choos on the high-speed rail line... when they have existing tracks was the alternative plan? That was the big idea?

And what of this 45 minute time saved? We're not rail engineers
but what of these high-speed rail tracks? Are they magic tracks?

And dig this:

Officials note that the state has invested millions of dollars to improve the San Joaquin Valley line and build ridership (ed. note: read: subsidies) , which now ranks among Amtrak's five most traveled routes.

One would not be mistaken if one felt that this alternate plan was not too well thought out.

If you think we are being a tad too critical, you are probably correct. After all, how much flexibility towards alternatives and other uses can you have when you go all $120 billion in on 19th-century technology. We totally get it.

There's much, much more to this article upon which we want to comment but we think we are all at our digestible limit for the time being.

He can't wait!


When the President gives his campaign State of the Union speech this evening, he will, no doubt, make a plea for an end to the divisive, grid-locked and do-nothing behavior of Congress. We say amen to that as today marks the 1000th day since the Democratic-controlled Senate passed a budget* while sitting on between 20-30 jobs-related bills that have passed the House.

So, have at it, Mr. President and let'er rip!

H/T: Hot Air

* Then again, perhaps not having a budget put together and passed by poor ol' Harry Reid and his gang of big spenders really is cause for celebration.

When being pro-choice really isn't about choice (UPDATED)


(please scroll down for update)

(This article was originally posted on Saturday. It has been re-posted as we felt it important enough not be relegated to the relative unread back pages of the slower-trafficked weekends.)

But first this, from Cardinal-Designate, Timothy Dolan:

“Never before has the federal government forced individuals and organizations to go out into the marketplace and buy a product that violates their conscience. This shouldn’t happen in a land where free exercise of religion ranks first in the Bill of Rights.”

This is in reference to the Obama administration's (via the Department of Health and Human Services) gracious decision to allow Catholic organizations that provide health care until August of 2013 to start covering contraceptives.

How exactly is mandating more coverage going to bend the cost curve downward? But more importantly, what about freedom of choice and your individual right of religious and moral conscience?

Here's B-Daddy on the matter:

Even beyond religious conscience, this limits everyone's choice. What if I want a plan that costs a lot less? Cutting back on mandated services like contraception that have no co-pay could reduce the cost of insurance. Why isn't that a consumer choice? The assault on freedom from the health care law is so vast, that it sometimes helps to just think about one assault at a time.

Those who argue otherwise just hate me as an individual and hate the whole concept of consumer choice. They are called leftists or statists and they have decided to regulate everyone lives, individual choice and conscience be damned.

B-Daddy's exactly right. Those who support ObamaCare but were the ones back in the 80s and 90s running around in their "Keep your laws off my body" t-shirts are bald-faced, lying-ass hypocrites.

ObamaCare isn't about bending the cost curve downward. ObamaCare isn't about providing better health care for more Americans. Everything you've heard about this excrable law from its supportes is bunk. ObamaCare is about control- nothing more and nothing less. It's about them getting you to sing their tune and dance their jig by legislative and regulatory fiat whether you like it or not.

It simply gives lie to the whole notion of being "pro-choice". What a sick, sick joke.

(UPDATE #1): KT was kind enough to link to us and we will return the favor as he also provided some trenchant commentary on the subject at hand:

Like I said above, there's no financial reason for it. There's no access reason for it, either. It's not like contraception isn't available down to the point where you can buy it in vending machines in the bathrooms at bars. It's not that there's insufficient education about the topic - they no longer read Charles Dickens, but our kids know all about condoms and the pill.

So what is it?

We don't want to give it away so go to the link to find out but suffice to say the statist-Left's fascination with it we find both troubling and dangerous. It was as if the 20th century never happened.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Project Gunrunner/Operation Fast and Furious update

This went down on Friday but a busy schedule has kept us from blogging about it until now. Our bad.


It's his constitutional right but clamming up is certainly not going to make this thing go away any quicker.

The chief of the Criminal Division of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Arizona is refusing to testify before Congress regarding Operation Fast and Furious, the federal gun-running scandal that sent U.S. weapons to Mexico.

Patrick J. Cunningham informed the House Oversight Committee late Thursday through his attorney that he will use the Fifth Amendment protection.

Cunningham was ordered Wednesday to appear before Chairman Darrell Issa and the House Oversight Committee regarding his role in the operation that sent more than 2,000 guns to the Sinaloa Cartel. Guns from the failed operation were found at the murder scene of Border Agent Brian Terry.

The letter from Cunningham’s Washington DC attorney stunned congressional staff. Last week, Cunningham, the second highest ranking U.S. Attorney in Arizona, was scheduled to appear before Issa‘s committee voluntarily. Then, he declined and Issa issued a subpoena.

Cunningham is represented by Tobin Romero of Williams and Connolly who is a specialist in white collar crime. In the letter, he suggests witnesses from the Department of Justice in Washington, who have spoken in support of Attorney General Eric Holder, are wrong or lying.

“Department of Justice officials have reported to the Committee that my client relayed inaccurate information to the Department upon which it relied in preparing its initial response to Congress. If, as you claim, Department officials have blamed my client, they have blamed him unfairly,” the letter to Issa says.

Romero claims Cunningham did nothing wrong and acted in good faith, but the Department of Justice in Washington is making him the fall guy, claiming he failed to accurately provide the Oversight Committee with information on the execution of Fast and Furious.
(italics, ours)


This represents the first real break-away in what had previously been a unified government front defending the feds' actions in their wildly successful multi-agency gun-running operation.

Look for an immunity deal in exchange for testimony to be coming much, much sooner than later.

And in related news, the state of Arizona wants some answers of its own:

Arizona's state legislature will open its own investigation into the Obama administration's disgraced gun-running program, known as "Fast and Furious," the speaker of the state House said Friday.

Speaker Andy Tobin created the committee, and charged it with looking at whether the program broke any state laws — raising the possibility of state penalties against those responsible for the operation.

It's a turnaround from the rest of the immigration issue, where the federal government has sued to block the state's own set of laws.

Turnaround? We're not politically naive, but isn't it also just prudent governance to want to know the whys and hows of a deadly gun-running operation of and by the federal government within your state lines?



A round-up of news items, articles, columns and blog posts that caught our eye this past week or so.

George Will on the importance of the Supreme Court's decision on ObamaCare:

The Obamacare issues of Medicaid coercion and the individual mandate are twins. They confront the court with the same challenge, that of enunciating judicially enforceable limiting principles. If there is no outer limit on Congress’s power to regulate behavior in the name of regulating interstate commerce, then the Framers’ design of a limited federal government is nullified. And if there is no outer limit on the capacity of this government to coerce the states, then federalism, which is integral to the Framers’ design, becomes evanescent.

So, the time the court has allotted for oral argument about Obamacare is proportional to the stakes. This case is the most important in the more than half a century since the Brown v. Board of Education cases because, like those, it concerns the nature of the American regime.

Evanescent. Ahem. vanishing; fading away; fleeting.

Will's right, however, as if the Supremes uphold the mandate, the precedent will have been set that there is effectively nothing Congress cannot compel you to do. Crazy notion but we don't think that's what the Founders had in mind for the federal government.

Sarah over at Lipstick Underground is no fan of Newt Gingrich but appears to dislike his wife even more:

The REAL ick factor in all this is wife #3, Callista Bisek Gingrich, mistress during marriage #2 and potential First Lady of the United States. Just let that sink in for a minute.

I hold women to a higher standard then men. I’m hardly a prude, and stuff happens in marriages that is just between spouses. But the simple truth is, we are the gate keepers to societal standards around here...and I’m not interested in having to call some home wrecking hussy “First Lady.” She’s no lady and I don’t want her in my White House.

We... had not considered that angle before.

Sir Charles at Doo Doo Economics attended the 28th annual San Diego County Economic Roundtable and provides his round-up here ending with this observation:

All the economists and speakers shared one common sentiment. The 2012 election year will decide if small or big government will rule our futures. My take on the situation is that a smaller government role is warranted. Keynesian economics has run its course. Small tweaks to capitalism work but socialist cronyism is not a small tweak. Making poverty and dependence comfortable and allowing the state to pick winners and losers is not wise in any civilization. Only the passion of self interested individuals who believe in their own ideas and benefit from taking risks can create a vibrant economy. No amount of marketing "green" or other state solutions will impassion true believers, investors and customers like an individual with an innovative idea.

Look no further than Europe to see how that statist/entitlement model is working. Yet, the ruling party at the federal level and in many states including our home state of California seem quite content to be just that... content to follow the status quo when the status quo will lead to certain ruin.

So, just how did that "open marriage" request/demand that was to end Newt's candidacy work out?

Gingrich trailed Romney by double digits just days ago. But that changed quickly after Gingrich's performance in Thursday's night CNN Southern Republican debate. The former House speaker was able to turn his biggest liability -- accusations by his second wife, Marianne, that he wanted an "open marriage" -- into an asset, drawing two standing ovations for assailing the media for bringing up the allegations.

If there was going to be a primary out there where allegations of marital infidelity were going to register with the state's social conservative-leaning Republican voters, it would've been South Carolina and yet Newt wins going away. So, what is it?: Newt's skillful debate performance in criticizing the (northeastern) media or a collective electoral shrug of the shoulders seemingly saying, "It's Newt, of course he's going to want to get a little freaky." Next.

Oh, by the way, Newt carried the majority of married women.

Totally related (via Instapundit):

MORE STILL: A female reader writes that Gingrich may not have been so hurt by ex-wife Marianne’s TV interview:

Hate to say this and don’t use my name, but I watched the interview and thought

“You bitch, he cheated on his first wife with you. What the heck did you expect?”

Kinda parallels what Sarah was saying above, don't it?

How's that Arab Spring working out over in Egypt?

Terrific: Egypt Islamists win 70 percent

Islamists won a combined 70 percent of parliamentary seats in the first election after Egypt’s revolution, according to official results Saturday that cemented the victory of rival religious parties belonging to the Muslim Brotherhood and the more fundamentalist Salafists.

More fundamentalist? Again, terrific.

Don't think we're going out on a limb by saying life won't be getting much better for this particular set of protesters.

KT links to a fine piece by Charles Murray on the changing face and increasing isolationism of the elites in our country:

And the isolation is only going to get worse. Increasingly, the people who run the country were born into that world. Unlike the typical member of the elite in 1960, they have never known anything but the new upper-class culture. We are now seeing more and more third-generation members of the elite. Not even their grandparents have been able to give them a window into life in the rest of America.

It's long but worthwhile and caused us to recall Angelo Codevilla's epic manifesto from the summer of 2010 "America's Ruling Class -- And the Perils of Revolution"

A sampling:

Today's ruling class, from Boston to San Diego, was formed by an educational system that exposed them to the same ideas and gave them remarkably uniform guidance, as well as tastes and habits. These amount to a social canon of judgments about good and evil, complete with secular sacred history, sins (against minorities and the environment), and saints. Using the right words and avoiding the wrong ones when referring to such matters -- speaking the "in" language -- serves as a badge of identity. Regardless of what business or profession they are in, their road up included government channels and government money because, as government has grown, its boundary with the rest of American life has become indistinct. Many began their careers in government and leveraged their way into the private sector. Some, e.g., Secretary of the Treasury Timothy Geithner, never held a non-government job. Hence whether formally in government, out of it, or halfway, America's ruling class speaks the language and has the tastes, habits, and tools of bureaucrats. It rules uneasily over the majority of Americans not oriented to government.

And dig this from Russell K. Nieli:

Participation in such Red State activities as high school ROTC, 4-H clubs, or the Future Farmers of America was found to reduce very substantially a student's chances of gaining admission to the competitive private colleges in the NSCE database on an all-other-things-considered basis. The admissions disadvantage was greatest for those in leadership positions in these activities or those winning honors and awards. "Being an officer or winning awards" for such career-oriented activities as junior ROTC, 4-H, or Future Farmers of America, say Espenshade and Radford, "has a significantly negative association with admission outcomes at highly selective institutions." Excelling in these activities "is associated with 60 or 65 percent lower odds of admission."

Exit question: Sorry for going all pitchfork-wielding populist but how have all those Ivy League degrees littered about Wall Street and Washington D.C. been working out for this country, lately?

OK, gang. That's it for now. It's a new week so let's get to it.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

If it's Sunday, probably a good time for a Tim Tebow post




Tim Tebow, Tebowing, Tim Tebow Tebowing, Tim Tebow, Tebowing, Tim Tebowing the Pittsburgh Steelers, Tim Tebow, Tebowing, Tim not-Tebowing the New England Patriots, Tim Tebow, Tebowing, Tim Tebowing and driving all the right people absolutely bonkers, Tim Tebow, Tebowing, Tim Tebowing and John Elway and John Fox have got quite a predicament on their hands, Tim Tebow, Tebowing, Tim Tebowing, Tim Tebow, Tebowing, Tim Tebow continuing to Tebowing.

* For those of you who have stumbled across this site because of a word search or a Google image search, welcome to Beers with Demo! We're huge sports fans but do not blog too much about it concentrating instead, and perhaps, unfortunately, on politics and culture here in America, California and our hometown of San Diego from a conservative/libertarian perspective.

If that sounds like your thing, please feel free to stop by again real soon. Thanks!

** Yes, absolutely shameless self-promotion.

Championship Sunday open thread


Strangest doggone thing we've seen this year: A high-powered offense that is centered around not just a tight end but two of them - both second year guys, Rob Gronkowski out of Arizona and Aaron Hernandez of Florida. They combined for 24 TDs, 170 receptions and 2,200 yards receiving. Ridiculous, huh?

Having said that, we like the Ravens getting 7-1/2 against the Pats at home in Foxboro. Call it a hunch but there have basically been 4 teams that have dominated the AFC for the past decade or so (Pats, Steelers, Colts and Ravens) and we just feel that possibly it's the Ravens turn to get back to the Super Bowl for the first time in 11 years.

In the late game, we think the Niners magic carpet ride finally comes to an end. Take the Giants getting 2-1/2 on the road in San Francisco. No one is playing better on both sides of the ball right now so look for the G-men to return to the Super Bowl after a four year absence.

Niner QB, Alex Smith, really came into his own this year under first year coach Jim Harbaugh. It was gratifying to see as we saw Smith play in high school alongside Reggie Bush at Helix High down the road from us here in San Diego.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Income inequality by the numbers



Via Rich Lowry:

1.1 : the millions of dollars new White House Chief of Staff, Jacob Lew, made from Citigroup in one year, recently.

8.7 : the millions of dollars former Chief of Staff, William Daley, made in roughly one-year of work for JPMorgan Chase.

5.1 : the millions of dollars former administration economic advisor, Larry Summers made for managing a hedge fund.

16.1 : the millions of dollars Rahm Emanuel made from working for an investment firm.

2-3 : the millions of dollars former budget director Peter Orszag will pull down from Citigroup.

7 : the millions of dollars current national security advisor, Tom Donilon, made for his work at Fannie Mae back in 2000-2003.

Perhaps this class warfare exercised of late by the President is rather of the self-loathing variety.

However, good to know some people are prospering in this sluggish economy. Maybe it really is, who you know.

Lowry's exit question:

Is it too much to ask that one high-profile Obama official leave government and refuse to make more than $70,000 a year out of solidarity with the middle class and commitment to income equality? Of course it is. Just as the definition of a recession is when someone else loses a job, greed is when someone else makes a lot of money. For anyone hoping to get to the top, the collective message of current and former Obama officials should be clear: Do as they do, not as they say.

* Stephanie Cutter: adviser to the Obama reelection campaign who wrote a critique the other day regarding Mitt Romney’s days at Bain Capital, subtitled “Profit at Any Cost" and who herself served as a spokeswoman for J.C. Flowers... a private equity firm.


Friday, January 20, 2012

Radio KBwD is on the air


While growing up, we first became aware of this guy while he was firmly entrenched in his 70s disco Do Ya Think I'm Sexy phase. Shame.

Later on, when we heard the band of which he was previously a member, they very much seemed to us to be a rock band's rock band: A tight, professional outfit with great live energy.

Ladies and Gentlemen, from England and appearing on the BBC in 1971, it's Rod the Mod, Ronnie Wood and the rest of The Faces performing, "(I know) I'm Losing You".



So, what was all that about, again?


In the news today:

Americans are holding onto cars and trucks longer, pushing the average age of a vehicle to a record 10.8 years.

The Polk research firm said Tuesday that the average age of a car last July was 11.1 years, while the truck average was 10.4.

Unemployment and the sour economy have caused people to put off buying cars and trucks.

And $3 billion poured down the drain of Keynesian gimmickry ain't gonna change any of that.

Helpful lessons in news item coverage


In what is being considered another black eye for the tea party movement and amid stinging criticism from the media, a smoke bomb was thrown over the White House fence during a tea party rally outside the White House on Wednesday. The tea party has been blamed for a coarsening of political discourse in the 3 years since they rose to national prominence and this most recent incident will certainly bolster the notion of increasing extremism arising from within the right.

Eh, actually, we just made that up. Not too shabby, though, huh?

Here's what did happen:

As hundreds of Occupy protesters massed outside the gates of the White House, an apparent smoke bomb was thrown over the fence Tuesday night, forcing authorities to disperse the crowds. President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama were not in the White House when it happened — he was taking her out for a night on the town to celebrate her 48th birthday.

There were no arrests in the incident, said George Ogilvie, U.S. Secret Service spokesman.

Nothing to see here, folks. Please move along.


Thursday, January 19, 2012

MAXED OUT: Brewery Tour!


Well, well, well. Looky who's back? Max with his first installment of MAXED OUT for 2012...

Well, HEELLLOOOOO there my faithful friends of the froth, how have you all been? I've been great, thanks for asking, and I'm back for more debauchery in this new and fantastic year. This is my first time writing in 2012 for Beers with Demo and I am pleased to bring you a wrap on what was one of the better beer tours that we've taken, which was just this past Saturday.

As some of you know and some have even attended, every six months or so I put together a tour of breweries that starts and ends at my bar, Hoffer's in lovely downtown La Mesa. In the past we have checked out such places as Green Flash, Alesmith, Stone, Ballast Point, and Port/Lost Abbey, which we added to the list again this time around. We also checked out Ironfist and a brand new nano-brewery called Aztec, both of which reside in.... errr... lovely? Vista, California.

So we loaded a 50 person stretch-limo bus complete with two stripper poles and a bathroom (BOOM!) with 45 drunkards and set off at noon this past Saturday. First stop: Ironfist. So, Ironfist has a pretty cool story behind it. When they first opened, some 2 almost 3 years ago, their head brewer was a ripe young 20 years old. Since it is illegal to brew at such an age his older brother took the credit for the beer for the first year that they were open. Kinda funny. Ironfist specializes in Belgian style beers with a West Coast angle. More than the angle, it's the accessibility that makes Ironfist a pretty damn good brewery. By accessibility, I really mean that they aren't crazy, over the top recipes like The Bruery in Orange County and Lost Abbey, who both take a pretty batty take on Belgian style brews. If you haven't had the opportunity to try any Ironfist delights, may I recommend the Velvet Glove Imperial Oatmeal Stout, Spice of Life Belgian Pale, or the Hired H nd Saison.

Somehow we got all 45 people back on the bus and headed to Aztec Brewery. One of the people on the bus, my friend Matt Wilson, is classmates with one of the owners and recommended we try them out. Thanks, Matty, great suggestion. While they are a young brewery that only self-distributes, I was shocked at the size of their brewery (pretty darn big.) Not only were the beers and size a pleasant surprise but they also had a Jamaican dude slingin' Jamaican food in front. They had a few really nice bourbon and tequila (ya, tequila) aged beers that were very interesting and not overly aggressive. But the highlight for myself, and several other people that I talked to, was their Chipotle IPA. Very interesting and like the barrel aged beers, was refreshingly unaggressive. Great job Aztec, keep up the good work. Oh, and if you want to try the Chipotle IPA, Hoffer's will be getting a couple kegs of it by next week. You're welcome in advance.

Our last stop on this here brew tour was the ever reliable Port/Lost Abbey located in... errr... lovely? San Marcos, California. My main man Andy surprised us all and had a tour lined up and waiting for us when we stepped off of the bus. THANKS ANDY!!! So we took a quick 20 minute tour of their facilities, complete with a brief history of the place and a concise yet educational description of how they make their beers, and split time making it between Port and Lost Abbey. Even I learned a thing or 2. I know, and you thought that I knew it all. Port/Lost Abbey is my personal favorite brewery I've ever been to, and if you haven't checked it out, I implore you. As for beers to check out if you get the chance? ALL OF THEM!!!

All in all, I had a great time and I think that most of the other people on the tour did as well. Stay tuned for the date of the next tour, which I'm thinking will be some time in mid-July. If you want a spot let me know in advance and I'll save a seat for ya.

Oh, and since I've already told you all my top 10 favorite beers of all time, a new addition to this new year will be a little segment I call THE BEST BEER I EVER HAD THIS LAST WEEK!!! So...


Until next time my beer loving brethren, have a beer for me.

(ed. note: Familial obligations prevented us from attending what was this favorably received brewery tour.... We are not into Belgians but we are way into Iron Fist, if that is any indication regarding the quality of their beers.... If we can make a pairing recommendation: grab some sushi to go along with Spice of Life.... And Max wasn't lying about the brother combo. Our first exposure to Iron Fist was about 2-1/2 years ago and big brother Adrian was indeed passing himself off as the head brewer.... Reason #28 as to why San Diego is the craft beer capitol of the world: cheap real estate in which to set up shop in these charming little industrial parks in places like Vista and San Marcos)