Sunday, August 28, 2005

Cut and Run: The new Dem strategery

Leaving aside all of the standard Democrat critiques of Bush and the War in Iraq, such as "he lied", "War for Oil", " No WMDs", and the ever popular, "Why are we there?", I've found that the left's arguments seem to be all leading up to the same conclusion: Get the troops out of Iraq, now.

So in discussing the issue with liberals, I've taken to bringing it up early in the conversation, just to cut to the chase, so to speak. It usually goes something like this:

Liberal: Bush just won't come out and tell us what we are fighting and dying for over in Iraq.
Me: Are you in favor of pulling all of our troops home immediately?

Liberal: I just don't think it's right for me to send my child over to Iraq, so Bush and his buddies at Halliburton can make themselves even more filthy rich.
Me: So you are in favor of pulling all of our troops home immediately?

Liberal: You know Bush can't even meet with Cindy Sheehan to tell her the reason her son died.
Me: So you are in favor of bring al of our troops home immediately?

Eventually, they agree that they ARE in favor of complete and immediate troop withdrawal, but, knowing how stupid this idea is, they make me push them into it. Then they try to justify it but, of course, that is impossible. Notice that they are constantly comparing Iraq to Vietnam except in relation to the consequences that would occur following a "cut and run" conclusion to the conflict. After we pulled out of Vietnam in 1975, one of the most brutal and despicable slaughters of recent history ensued in the area. Millions of people were killed and displaced in Cambodia and Vietnam. Family fortunes were ruined, homes destroyed, children killed and enslaved and all by the enlightened, communist victors.

I use this strategy in such arguments because it reduces all the nonsense about how we were lied to in preparation for a planned war for neo-con aims down to a minor issue. In short, it doesn't matter at all why we entered Iraq, simply because we are there now and can't leave until the job is done. Whether Iraq was a terror-supporting state or not is now a moot point because it is now the front line in the War on Terror, regardless of Sadaam's place in the terror world prior to the war. Now, don't get me wrong, I fully believe there was ample evidence that Sadaam was supporting the terror networks and that he had WMDs and that it was and is a good thing to topple him. It was a huge gamble that may yet pay off in spades. I just think the arguments for the invasion are no longer important because WE ARE THERE.

The ludicrous nature of the left's argument for immediate troop removal is, of course, not lost on the Democrat politicians. They will not say what the more radical members of their party (and a few other parties that are also never referred to by their Democrat allies) are loudly proclaiming at peace rallies around the country. These politicos know that the majority of the people who think Iraq is going badly or was a mistake do not agree with the "cut and run" strategery. These politicos do not join Cindy Sheehan and her Code Pink/A.N.S.W.E.R. colleagues at Camp Casey. It seems that the actual success of Sheehan's actions may put a very difficult decision to the mainstream Democrats very soon: join the socialists in the anti-war cause and admit the fraternity between the Democrats and socialists or lose this powerful tool against the Republicans in the next cycle of elections.

Good luck Dems!

Saturday, August 20, 2005


Today is my twenty-second anniversary. I married a beautiful and imminently sensible woman on August 20, 1983. She accepted me for what I am and for what I could become and NEVER tried to change me a bit. This in spite of the fact that I really do need some changing. Alice is the best thing that ever happened to me and I cherish the life we've built together.

We have raised two sons over the past twenty-one years and they have turned out alright, by all accounts. One is working as an entry level engineer in a high-tech manufacturing business and the other is about to enter college this fall. Both are strong, intelligent and good-looking kids (they take after their mother).

I remember well the day we stood on the lawn in Roseville, Michigan, at her mother's house, and said our vows. It was indeed a happy day for us both. We've both changed considerably since then. Much of life is about how you deal with things as they come at you and this requires change. Of course my love for her has done nothing but grow. I actually love her more now than I ever could have when we spoke those vows long ago. This love has been tempered in a crucible of difficulties, experience, trials and tribulations. It has also been strengthened by the cool waters of joy, success, maturity and exuberance. (Hey, a sword analogy is romantic, isn't it?)

Marriage is a tough bargain. It requires a selflessness that few young people can employ. It requires a duality of purpose, rather than a drive for selfish gain. The rewards one gets from the right partner are immeasurable. I couldn't recommend it to everyone, but as for me, it has been the most profitable exchange of my life.

On this special day for Alice and me, I would like to wish all of you the happiness that we share!

Thursday, August 18, 2005

What Will The Left Do, Without Bush?

President Bush is in the middle of his last term. He cannot run for President again. He is a "Lame Duck" president. At the beginning of his final term he announced some very grand plans for transforming the country. He set forth a grand agenda to establish tort reform, restructure the convoluted, oversized tax code and to reform Social Security. So far, only one of these items has been even moderately accomplished. By all accounts the president's actions towards reforming SS have been a dismal failure and he hasn't even started working on the tax code. I predict that this agenda will not be accomplished. The media is dead set against all of the items on this agenda. They control public opinion in this country and they still hold sway over the great majority of Americans.

Although all of these items were great ideas, even if they had been accomplished, I am not sure the end result would have been something better than the status quo. I mean, look at the other "victories" of this administration: No Child Left Behind, the new Transportation Bill, Medicare reform, etc. In each case, in an effort to wrangle votes from the opposition, a terrible result has been achieved. NCLB is a toothless measure that was made ridiculous, all the more so because it was co-written by Teddy Kennedy. The Transportation Bill is a pork-laden handout to every Senator and Congressperson, ruined by the desire for their re-election. Medicare is even worse off than it was before the reform, and that was a difficult achievement even for a politician.

The Left should be ecstatic about this presidency. There have been no real meaningful reforms to government, especially in juxtaposition with the hopeful agenda of the Contract With America ideals put forth by our new Republican congress in 1994, during the administration of Clinton, arguably the most corrupt and disingenuous political machine ever assembled.

Don't get me wrong. I think Bush is a genuine man. He says what he thinks and does try to do what he says. I believe the man when he speaks. I just don't know what, in the current political climate, is actually possible for a politician, even a President, to do.

I've said this before and I'll say it again. We need a return to our constitutional roots. We need to stop making political office a gem of a job that a person will kill to get and keep. We need to make it a duty to hold political office and a part-time duty at that. There is no reason why we should be paying-and paying well-politicians a full time salary with outrageous benefits to work at doing what they do to us on a full-time basis. All day, every day, politicians are working hard to mess up our lives. If the government were to be locked out for a couple of months, even if we had to pay these criminals during the lockout, we would all be immensely better off.

The Left has attacked the War On Terror, one of the only proactive and positive things the government has done for us in decades, as a "War For Oil", a war based on lies, a mistake and an affront to the rest of the world. They attack everything done by Bush and any of Bush's associates. Why do they do this? I think it is because they can't get over the loss of their two Golden Boys in the past two elections. You see, the American people want to move toward a more conservative place. They are tired of the moral relativism of the Left. They are tired of the socialist tendencies of our elected leaders and their kowtowing to corrupt and wrongheaded leaders from Europe and the rest of the world. They are tired of paying politicians to financially rape them while living the good life on their dime. They believed the Republican signators to the Contract With America and they are being grievously deceived by those same Republican Congresspeople. Still, they know they are better off with them than the alternative.

Because the Left can't MoveOn, they attack everything that this country does as if it were all Bush's fault. One great example is the idea that Bush has criminalized stem cell research. All Bush did was make it illegal to use Federal money to finance stem cell research beyond the existing stem cell lines. He didn't outlaw stem cell research. If this research is so promising, why does it need Federal money to achieve it's aims. Corporations should be clamoring over each other to throw R&D money at this sure fire deal. They aren't? Wonder why?

Right now, the Left is holding on to the little Bush-hating credibility it has left, getting supporters to help them in their fight against the evil Shrubya. They hold protests against the war as if they were back in the sixties at some love-in, and have the Hollywood loonies spouting the DU talking points for them on the evening news, while the MSM dutifully covers every rag-tag group of fifty idjits that hold up signs saying "NO War For Oil". But, I ask you good people, what will they do when Bush is gone? After his last term is completed, and he goes into retirement in Crawford, what will they do? Will they continue to camp out outside his ranch or will they MoveOn to some new enemy and attach the same ridiculous invectives to him or her?

Prediction: The Left will largely disappear after Bush is gone and the vacuum left by these people will be a ripe opportunity for the rest of us to enact some real change in this government. I'd opt for something simple for starters. How about the Contract With America? It sounded good to me at the time.

Friday, August 05, 2005

Award Winning Beer

Remember folks, you all can say you knew me when.
I received a call from the Michigan State Fair Homebrewer's Competetion, on Wednesday, saying that "at least one of the beers I entered into the competition has placed"! That means I make "award-winning beer"! Well, at least that's what I'm gonna say...

I won't know until the Awards Ceremony, at the Michigan State Fair on August 13th, which beer won what place, but placing is good enough for me right now!

I entered two beers into that competition: an Irish Red Ale and an American Wheat. I posted the recipe for the Red Ale back in April (See April Showers post) and I made the American Wheat (I call it Summer's Cauldron but it is a slightly altered clone of Bell's Oberon) on June 2nd. I have since brewed a large IPA, called A Terrible Beauty, on July 6th.

I began entering competetions a couple of years ago, just for fun. I have received some good ratings on my beers but never placed before. I have judged beers in competitions and worked as a steward in last year's Masters Championship of Amateur Brewers. Beer judging is fun! There are some very analytical processes involved but the act is still overall a subjective endeavor. Often an experienced beer judge, with rank in the Beer Judge Certification Program, will rank one of my beers higher than another judge who is a novice/beginner. That indicates the subjectivity of the sport.

Here is the recipe for my latest creation, A Terrible Beauty:

I don't know whether to call it an Imperial IPA or an American Barleywine. In competetion, your beer is judged by it's merits and hoe well it fits the style to which you have assigned it. Even the best Irish Stout in the world will receive a poor rating if it is entered as a Brown Ale, for instance.
Anyway, the vitals:

9% ABV
100 IBU

Malt Bill
26 Lbs. Breiss Pale Malt
2 Lbs. 20L Crystal Malt
2 Lbs. Weyerman Munich Malt
1/2 Gal. Pale Malt Extract
1 Lb. Malto Dextrin
1/2 Lb. Honey

Mashed at 152 F, for one hour, with 1 oz. Cascade hops in mash.

Hop Schedule
1 Oz. Chinook (13%) 60 minutes
1 Oz. Centennial (10%) 60 minutes
1 Oz. Columbus (16%) 15 minnutes
1 Oz. Cascade (6%) 15 minutes
2 Oz. Cascade (6%) 1 minute
1.5 Oz. Cascade (6%) Dry Hop

Used WLP 007 for one five gallon keg and White Labs 1098 for the other.
OG: 1.075
FG: 1.010

I bottled it yesterday and will be sampling it next week at our annual canoe trip on the Au Sable River near Oscoda.

I know this post is "brewer technical" but I thought it might interest you all anyway. Any questions, let me know, I am happy to explain any of the technical terms but don't want to bore anyone unnecessarily.