Wednesday, February 27, 2008

My New Cyber-Micro-Politico-Brewery

After careful consideration, I Obi wan liberali, being of devious mind, have decided to open up my own cyber-micro-brewery. The name is an original one “The Hornet’s Nest” and the menu shall be of a political nature. With so many inspirational Utah politicians to inspire “The Hornet Nest” menu, I know with all the fiber in my bean, that it will be a cyber-success.

The first item of business is to create the brews. Below are my first attempts at creating a mouth-watering menu of unique Utah brews.

Leavitt Lager- Our signature beer, Leavitt Lager is a pretty great beer, with a very pretty can. Though light on flavor and light on substance, JUST LOOK AT THE CAN!!. Also available on tap but trust me, you’ll miss the can.

Huntsman jr. Light- Like our signature beer, Huntsman jr. Light (Hj Light) has a smooth finish and a beautiful can. Hj Light also has half the alcohol, half the flavor, and twice the carbonation of Leavitt Lager.

Buttars Pale Ale- If you are looking for a bitter beer, no beer is better at being bitter than Butters Pale Ale (BPA). Our genetically engineered hops is intolerant of malt and is guaranteed to piss you off. Though we’ve eliminated the alcohol, we guarantee you the same hangover, and the same ability to insult people that drunken dry-wall installers have perfected for years.

Dougall Draught- Nothing says “draught”, like Dougall. Not intended for actual consumption, we’ve created the perfect gag gift for those you really despise. Made from moldy hops, rancid rye, and recycled b.s., this beer will explode upon opening, spreading bilacious liquid and fumes for several square yards (please don’t use around children).

Stephensen Stout- Dark and foamy, Stephensen Stout (SS) is drunk with power. Popular in board rooms and chamber meetings, SS strikes fear in mamby pamby wine sippers from the avenues. And with every pint on tap, we’ll contribute a dollar to the mega-business of your choice.

Bramble Amber Bock- Get off the ground with a frothy Bramble Amber Bock,(BAB). Feeling ambitious? Try a BAB. The extra carbonation will rise like a Senator in a safe district and the higher than usual alcohol content will make even Bramble’s bills look good.

Curtis Cherry Wheat- Nothing speaks value (to us), like Curtis Cherry Wheat (CCW). A smooth hefeweisen with cherry flavor, you’ll forget that you paid us twice for the same beer. Like Greg Curtis, our motto is “one for the price of two.”

Hillyard Hefeweisen- Aged longer than any beer we make, “Hilly Hef” as we call it is a filtered wheat beer. A hef with staying power, you’ll smell like Hilly Hef for decades after having a pint.

Rocky Protest Porter- To city dwellers, nothing tastes better than a Rocky Protest Porter (RPP). However, the taste seems to decline the minute it leaves the city limits. Not recommended for the suburbs or for Rotary Club socials.

B & G Pilsner- Named after former House leaders Brown and Garn, this light beer has been brewed twice in reclaimed water. For those who believe in recycling, B & G is the beer for you.

I’m still working on the food menu and I welcome additional suggestions on beers. May the farce be with you all.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Seeking to Understand My Own Biases

What has been a life long struggle for me, is to understand the perspective of people who claim to be conservative. In this quest, I've read books, I've talked to people who identify themselves as conservative, and I've tried to classify as many commonalities as I can among those who proudly wear the metaphorical flag lapel.

Admittedly, I Obi wan liberali, was born to goodly parents who were in fact, somewhat liberal by Utah standards. Certainly not as liberal as I am, but they were Democrats who had many of their core philosophies developed during the Great Depression, with a view that government had been an agent that made positive changes. To some extent, I see modern conservatism as a reaction to what occured during the New Deal through the Great Society, positing that the reach of government had overstepped it's bounds.

The result of my upbringing is that I don't necessarily view the role of government as limited, but as vital in certain functions. From education, roads, regulations on the environment, workplace safety, food safety, etc., there are many governmental functions which people today take for granted, and only become aware of them when the government makes a mistep.

My expectations from the government at all levels, is that proper controls will be in place to make sure money is spent appropriately and not wasted. Whatever programs we as citizens believe are important enough to be funded with our tax dollars, should have appropriate oversight and be audited on a regular basis.

However, I acknowledge that there are those who believe that the government should have a limited role. In Utah, where the predominant religion has a tremendous influence on political thought, there is a widespread belief in strict interpretation of the U.S. Constitution. This has a religious underpinning, in that Mormons believe that the Constitution was divinely inspired. Many Mormons take an additional step, in taking the position that any governmental programs not specifically authorized by the U.S. Constitution, are therefore going against the wishes of our divinely inspired founding fathers, and by based upon this, against the will of God.

This reality influences Utah politics to this day. Because of this, it is hard to separate religion from politics, because religious ideas influence core political philosophies. Cleon Skousen and his Freeman Institute effectively marketed a link between Mormon theology and conservative strict constructionism. Ezra Taft Benson agreed with this perspective and did much to further this belief. That is what liberals are up against in Utah. Liberals are often viewed antagonistically, because in reality, their position opposes the positions taken publicly by a former beloved prophet, and a whole political/religious paradigm that is in discord to liberal beliefs.

Friday, February 15, 2008

The Blue dogs and the decline of democracy

After watching the actions of the Senate and the House regarding "The Protect America Act", I've been rapidly losing respect for the blue dogs. Bi-partisanship is not the same as surrendering. The act of making illegal actions retro-actively legal is repugnant to the rule of law, and by granting telecom amnesty that is what Republicans (voting en block) and blue dogs are accomplishing.

During the Clinton impeachment, I don't know how many times Republicans used the term "rule of law". However, they seem to be silent when the actions of a Republican administration engages in illegal behavior and elicits telecoms to participate. They now seek to justify illegal action as a means of protecting us.

A long-standing American principle has been a presumption of innocense. We the people have restricted the government from unlawful intrusion into our lives unless the government can prove their case that the intrusion is necessary. The Bush Administration violated that fundamental paradigm, and the fact that the mainstream press can't understand the significance of the vote on the "Protect America Act". And making retro-actively legal, illegal actions has so subverted our legal paradigms, that I don't know where to begin.

Blue-dog enablement of authoritarian policies has helped undermine our Republic and the basic underlying principles our government has stood for. There was a time when I used to respect and value the blue dogs. That respect is vanishing quickly.

Monday, February 11, 2008

The Reagan Myths

Watching Republican presidential candidates fall over themselves trying to convey themselves as "Reaganites" was enough to make me disgorge my lunch. So many people embrace Reagan as this mythical figure is irritating to me. Reagan proposed and accomplished huge tax cuts yet never articulated where he would pay for them. He blamed Congress for the deficits that his administration incurred, yet he never, and I mean never, articulated what should have been cut. He increased military spending, and would not countenance reductions regarding Social Security or Medicare which represented a huge proportion of federal spending.

On many levels, Reagan was one of the worst Presidemts of the United States. He bought some temporary prosperity by going into debt, an option available to all of us, if we are so inclined, and in fact, we seem to be inclined. But Reagan was a Keynesian on steroids, going well beyond any self-respecting Keynesian would go.

And now, it seems that Republicans embrace the myths of Ronald Reagan, much to the hazard of our Republic. Cutting taxes, without articulating which expenditures you are going to forgo doesn't make sense at a national level any more than they would at a personal level. But Republicans seem all too eager to embrace short-sided tax cuts for short-term political benefit. It is amazing to me that people worship the myths of Reagan. Of course, I've seen equally implausible myths believed in with great sincerity.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Mitt’s Departure and the Embrace of Fear

Mitt spent more money than the gross national product of many small nations, and he could barely take a distant second to McCain with Huckabee breathing down his neck. Quitting now probably makes sense in that it attempts to save face, and save money. Mitt’s Stalingrad of this campaign was the Florida primary. Losing 100% of the delegates to McCain pretty much put McCain on the offensive for good. The Bagration of the campaign was Super Tuesday. Now, lined up on the river Vistula, Mittler knew he didn’t have the troops to stop the oncoming carnage.

But Mitt’s message to CPAC was illuminating. It is illuminating just how worked up the right is by fear. Democrats like Obama preach hope, while Republicans embrace fear. To me the contrast is telling and pervasive. Democrats stress that we’re coming to the end of a national nightmare, while Republicans focus on how much worse it will get, “if we don’t give them more time, money and power.”

During a time of great stress, FDR stated, “there is nothing to fear, but fear itself.” The fear-mongering of Republicans is in the worst tradition of our country, not it’s finest. If we are to be the beacon of freedom to the world, we recognize that we accept a certain amount of risk. We decided a long time ago, that we would not be a police state. And though we’ve taken some minor hits over the years, our strength has been a resiliency to never stray from certain fundamental principles that make America unique. When terrorists involved in 9/11 cause us to fundamentally change the role and intrusiveness of government, the terrorists have won.

Like FDR, I fear fear. That is why I fear four more years of Republican rule. Our Republic is relilient. In the off-chance that Republicans do prevail, I hope it is resilient enough to overcome it.