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Since I’m pumped someone actually responded to my blog, and one of them requested a beer review, here we go.  To be honest I’m not that good of a reviewer so it’s probably fitting that I start out with a beer that’s not very good either.  Tailgate Beer IPA.

I found some of this for $6.99 a 6-pack and thought it might be worth a shot.  I was planning on doing some ice fishing, and bottles are kind of a drag out there.  I wasted a clean glass to check this stuff out.

"The Official Beer of Tailgating"

“The Official Beer of Tailgating”

The color was about right (copper), and it smelled way too malty for an IPA.  This stuff sorta tastes like an IPA, but a really cheap one.  Reminds me of malt liquor.  I would not recommend it.  I can drink it, but I’m not real picky.  It DID have alcohol in it after all….about 5%.

Since I could use some work on my beer review skills, I though we’d look to this article by Todd on BeerAdvocate.com to understand what we’re looking for.

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“There are five categories to evaluating a beer with your review:

Appearance – Note the beer’s color, carbonation, head and its retention. Is it clear or cloudy? Does it look lackluster and dull or alive and inviting?

Smell – Bring the beer to your nose. Note the beer’s aromatic qualities. Malts: sweet, roasty, smoky, toasty, chocolaty, nutty, caramelly, biscuity? Hops: dank / resiny, herbal, perfumy, spicy, leafy, grassy, floral, piney, citrusy? Yeast will also create aromas. You might get fruity or flowery aromas (esters) from ales and very clean aromas from lagers, which will allow the malt and hop subtleties to pull through.

Taste – Take a deep sip of the beer. Note any flavors, or interpretations of flavors, that you might discover. The descriptions will be similar to what you smell. Is the beer built-well? Is there a balance between the ingredients? Was the beer brewed with a specific dominance of character in mind? How does it fit the style?

Mouthfeel – Take another sip and let it wander. Note how the beer feels on the palate and its body. Light, heavy, chewy, thin / watery, smooth or coarse? Was the beer flat, over-carbonated?

Overall – Your overall impression of the beer”
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Okay, that makes sense.  I suppose I could get used to thinking about all these things every time I try a new beer.  Though it always helps to have an example to see how the format is put into action.  Here’s an interesting review of Tailgate IPA from VelvetExtract in Massachusetts.
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“Appearance-Pours a hazy scorched orange. Huge, voluminous head. Bubbles rise frm the base of the beer to feed the foamy afro. Thick, sporadic lacing blotches.

Smell-Grimace inducing. Sweet and soapy. Honey and…soap. Oh yeah! There is also an abundance of…honey and soap.

Taste-Holy horseshit Batman! This is one of the worst beers I have ever slurped! Venom! Metal and sickening sweetness with a hint of remedial hops. Like sucking on a penny covered in that frightening green rust. The fact that I bought a six-pack of this makes me want to assault someone. Asswater.

Mouthfeel-I hate you Tailgate. Sticky and clingy.

O/D-In contention for the title of the prestigous “Worst of the Worst” award. Absolutely insulting. Quite easily the worst beer I have had yet. At least the plethora of bad Macro brews aren’t pretending to be craft beers. In terms of this beer: IPA = Imbibing Pungent Asswater.”
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So apparently VelvetExtract didn’t like it much either.  I don’t want to know what asswater is or how he knows what it tastes like, but unfortunately I know what it tastes like because I drank that beer!  Don’t make the same mistake.  I do have a few left which I plan to pawn off on unsuspecting friends who have not read my blog.

lvrMedia coverage of national politics would lead you to believe that there is gaping chasm between the two political parties.  One party pretends to be fiscally sound while the other pretends to strive for a peaceful foreign policy.  If you observe the actions of our representatives and ignore their words, the small degree of difference between the Democrats and Republicans is painfully obvious.  They often argue about issues where the federal government should hold no position. Thankfully most people agree with me on one thing:  the approval rating for CONgress is around 13% right now.  These positions of power naturally attract those who desire control over others.  Some people think that most of our public servants have our best interests at heart.  According to Nobel Laureate, F. A. Hayek, this trust does not stand up to reason.  Here is an except from Road to Serfdom.

“There are three main reasons why such a numerous and strong group with fairly homogenous views is not likely to formed by the best but rather by the worst elements of any society.  By our accepted moral standards, the principles on which such a group would be selected will be almost entirely negative.

In the first instance, it is probably true that the higher education and intelligence of individuals become, the more their views and tastes are differentiated and the less likely they are to agree on a particular hierarchy of values.

It is a corollary of this that if we wish to find a high degree of uniformity and similarity of outlook, we have to descend to the regions of lower moral and intellectual standards where the more primitive and “common” instincts and tastes prevail.

This does not mean that the majority of people have low moral standards; it merely means that the largest group of people whose values are very similar are the people with low standards.

It is, as it were, the lowest common denominator which unites the largest number of a numerous group is needed, strong enough to impose their views on the values of life on all the rest, it will never be those with highly differentiated and developed tastes it will be those who form the “mass” in the derogatory sense of the term, the least original and independent, who will be able to put the weight of their numbers behind their particular ideals.”

When looked at objectively, modern politics is an abhorrent practice.  Those who hold steadfast to their party will admit to this somewhat, but of course it’s always the other side that is corrupt, negligent, power hungry, etc.  In reality both parties are doing their best to polarize the public on trivial differences, while acting virtually the same in all the areas that are most damaging to the future of the citizens of the United States, such as fiscal policy and overuse of military force.

Republicans claim to be light on taxation and public spending.  Under Reagan, the constant threat of the Cold War greased the skids for big spending on national offense.  Reagan’s tax cuts also were nothing of the sort.  The following except is from a Murray Rothbard article:

“The much-heralded 1981 tax cut was more than offset by two tax increases that year. One was “bracket creep,” by which just inflation wafted people into higher tax brackets, so that with the same real income (in terms of purchasing power) people found themselves paying a higher proportion of their income in taxes, even though the official tax rate went down. The other was the usual whopping increase in Social Security taxes which, however, don’t count, in the perverse semantics of our time, as “taxes”; they are only “insurance premiums.” In the ensuing years the Reagan Administration has constantly raised taxes – to punish us for the fake tax cut of 1981 – beginning in 1982 with the largest single tax increase in American history, costing taxpayers $100 billion.”

The now famous “Read my lips: no new taxes” lie by George H. W. Bush is a great example of the myth of tax busting Republicans.  Though his son, GW, was relatively easy on taxes, the increase in the rate of debt accumulation under a new president had never been greater since LBJ.  The failed “No Child Left Behind Act” cost tens of billions.  He passed MediCare Part D, a program obviously targeted at getting the votes of elderly citizens.  The estimated cost of this program has far exceeded the estimate by the Congressional Budget Office.   This kind of underestimate is not an uncommon occurrence.  As a despicable bonus George junior uttered the phrase “I’ve abandoned free-market principles to save the free-market system.”  What kind of BS is that?  I’ll tell you.  It’s the same kind of BS that says we have to spend massive amounts of money to cure a problem that is the result of spending too much money.

Democrats are not historically peace makers as they are purported to be.  Woodrow Wilson got us into World War I, and it is his pro-imperialist example of foreign policy which is getting us into trouble today.  Franklin D. Roosevelt knew about the planned attack on Pearl Harbor and basically let it happen so that the public would consent to entering World War II.  More recently, Bill Clinton approved missile launches on a Sudanese pharmaceutical factory that resulted in the loss of tens of thousands of lives of innocent civilians.  He got the U.S. military involved in a questionable intervention in Kosovo, sent some bombs to Iraq, and presided over sanctions that killed an estimated 500,000 Iraqi children.  When his Secretary of State, Madeline Albright was questioned about this figure, she estimated that the price was “worth it” to keep the previous CIA lackey, Saddam Hussein, under their thumb.  Obama holds the distinction of being the first president to ever order the death of a US citizen and his 16 year old son.  Hundreds of innocent children have been killed by drone in Pakistan and Yemen.  No doubt, terrorists commit horrific acts.  I only argue that killing innocent civilians with a drone is no more civilized than with a suicide bomb or IED.  Obama claims responsibility for getting us out of Iraq, when in fact, GW committed to that date during his term when he was pressed by Iraqi officials to do so.  Both have poured resources into Afghanistan, the graveyard of empires.

“The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by an endless series of hobgoblins, most of them imaginary.”  -H. L. Mencken

What I propose is that we figure out how to live without the state wherever possible.  We really can’t afford to let the parasites in fancy buildings live off of us any longer.  Unfunded liabilities for Social Security, Medicare, and public pensions are around 200 trillion dollars.  That means we would have to come up with that much right now, and earn around 5% on it in order to make all the payments that are promised.  This debt will be defaulted on through inflation or other, more direct means.  There is no other way around it.

The budget for the military is larger than the next 10 countries combined.  I hope everyone can agree with me that this is insane.  I think most would agree that “Love thy neighbor as thyself” is a great command to live by.  Is it the large scale of war that supposedly makes murder a heroic act?  For the most part, citizens of other countries are just over there trying to eke out an existence…same as you and I.  Unfortunately there is one group of psychopaths who claim to be in charge of us and another set of psychopaths who claim to be in charge of them.

Politics is definitely a dirty business.  What is seen could be compared to professional wrestling.  What is unseen resembles the dealings of organized crime.  The real two parties are them and us, and it’s the us party that is getting raked over the coals while they live the high life.  This is not democracy, it’s plutocracy.

I grew up on a small farm.  My dad worked full time at a factory and also farmed.  My mom worked as a waitress and store clerk as far back as I can remember.  I was taught to work and study hard.  We were fairly independent compared to the average American, but very similar to our neighbors.  We cut and split wood to heat the house.  We had a large garden and canned food every fall.  We hunted and processed our own game.  We went to church most Sundays.  I attended a Lutheran parochial school through 8th grade.  Where I come from, crowds donate for a spaghetti supper, silent auction, etc. for friends, family or neighbors that run into bad times due to medical issues.  In reflection, it seems that my upbringing has quite a bit to do with my independent worldview.

My first presidential ballot went for Bob Dole.  Nice try huh?  I was sure I was a Republican since we were fiscally conservative, and I agreed that abortion was murder in the eyes of God.  I was 21 at the time and didn’t know much about politics.

In 2000 I voted for George W. Bush.  I feel ashamed now, but take solace in the belief that it didn’t really matter.  First because my individual vote was insignificant, but more so because I believe that it didn’t really matter who won.  After 9/11, I was swept up in pissed-off patriotism like a lot of people.  I was sure there were WMD’s.  I argued with my dad about the need to interfere in the Middle East.  I lost these arguments horribly.  When I really learned the facts I lost a lot of faith in the war hawks.  By 2004 I had started to question my place on the political spectrum.  I didn’t vote.

In the next few years my discussions with friends about current events started to become more challenging.  I was forced to research and justify my position.  After testing my convictions I was kind of in a limbo between the two parties.

In 2008,  some close and politically minded friends gave my wife and I a copy of Revolution: A Manifesto by Ron Paul.  I had seen a few things about Dr. Paul on the news, but didn’t know a whole lot.  The occasion for the gift was our wedding.  I read the book on the plane during our honeymoon and was blessed with two major life experiences at once.  Revolution lit a fire in my mind.  I started reading everything I could find about libertarian views.  In the November election I wrote in Ron Paul even though he was not officially on the ballot in my state.  My hope was that it might be reported that he got X number of write in votes.  No luck there, but I maintain that was the only vote that I have not wasted.

My wife and I had bought a house in 2007.  We knew the market was looking down, but were assured by the experts that it was only a bump in the road.  Financial advisors assured that large 401k contributions early would lead to a luxurious retirement.  By early 2009 we were both out of work, our 401k(s) had dropped 25%, and our house was quickly depreciating. Then we got to see Wall Street get a pass on their mistakes and misdeeds.  I consequently spent a lot of time studying economics.

What I have learned is frightening.  The value of the dollar has dropped 50% since 1985.  Thanks to excessive federal spending, the US dollar’s role as the world reserve currency is threatened.  Years of easy money policies from the Federal Reserve have punished savers and retired people.  Since Nixon took us off the gold standard in 1971, there has been no real check on public spending.  The rest of the world is basically pegged to the US dollar.  Everyone buys oil with dollars…or at least everyone who wants to keep our military out of their country does.  The Fed bankrolls our government and banks.  A private corporation creates money, more specifically, digits on a screen to buy bonds and securities.  Obviously this affects the interest rate and other sectors of the economy.  There is no such thing as a free market when the supply of money is manipulated by the few, and for the few.

On the philosophical side I have come to the belief that government is, at its core, merely a monopoly of force.  It is not right for me to demand, at gunpoint, a percentage of your pay.  It is no more right for a few million people to collectively demand a percentage of your pay under threat of imprisonment.  For more on that line of thought, see The Law by Frederic Bastiat.

Now this does not mean libertarians are callous to the downtrodden.  We maintain that private charity would be more efficient with the funds it receives.  Imagine if your taxes were cut in half.  Do you think you would be able to chip in for Grandma’s surgery, give extra to church or find a good charity to support?  Poverty in the US has stagnated since the LBJ declared war on poverty. A rising cause of poverty,  skyrocketing medical costs are an issue for another article.  Suffice it to say that where you find government intervention, you find dramatic price increases with little to show for it.  For example: energy, housing, finance, public education, and higher education.  Subsidization creates a greater demand, which then leads to an increase in the price.  Inflation is hardest on the poor, and unfortunately it is a mainstay of current economic planning.

In 2012 my wife and I were state and district delegates for the Republican Party.  We guessed Ron Paul did not have a chance to win, but were going to do our best to make sure he got as good a showing as possible.  Thankfully the Minnesota Republican party played fairly.  Paul secured 33 of 37 votes in Minnesota.  Many other state parties committed fraud in order to keep liberty minded delegates from advancing.

Of course Ron Paul ended up being marginalized by the Republican Party.  They would not tolerate someone who held such peaceful views to run for the position of killer in chief.  I did not vote.  This time it was not for apathy or lack of clarity on the contenders.  I refused to give my consent to the plan that either of those men have for our country.  I love this country, but the management leaves much to be desired.  I’m not sure it was worth giving up a couple Saturdays and an evening to sit in a meeting of a political party that I marginally agreed with.  Perhaps only for the experience to witness how illegitimate it all is.

Now in 2013, I’m a parent of two great kids with another on the way, and am greatly concerned about what kind of future they will have. At this point I am probably more on the anarchist end of the libertarian scale (Voluntaryist hits it pretty close ) and find I believe in less government than the doctor who got me thinking about all this in the first place.  The great thing is, there’s a lot of younger people that feel the same as I do, and that makes me smile in spite of the current trajectory of events.

My intent in starting this blog is to help spread the idea of freedom.  I believe striving toward libertarian ideals would be highly beneficial for our country.  The non-aggression principle is considered to be the main tenet of libertarianism.  Don’t hurt anyone else, and don’t damage or steal their property.  Property includes air and water.  Vices are not generally considered to be crimes.  Of course there is a lot more to it than that.  But the line of logic starts there and goes into things like homesteading and the finer points of property rights.

Many of the libertarian philosophy books that I have read are written by, or are similar to the views of Murray Rothbard.  Rothbard has been one of the major influences in libertarian thought since the 1960’s.  He followed the non-aggression principle to its logical end and called it anarcho-capitalism.  This basically means there is no government, and private industry provides any services that have value.  The consumer regulates corporations through purchase of goods and services or lack thereof.  Obviously this would require honest journalism, or at least free competition.  This is markedly different than government which relies on coercion.  There would still be laws against aggressive acts, but they would be enforced by private police and courts.  They answer to us, their direct customer.  Without government as a lever of legal coercion, businesses must live and die by the market value of their service or good, not by their ability buy tax breaks and influence laws that eliminate upstart competition.

Libertarians on the other end of the spectrum are much more pragmatic and say that if our republic followed the constitution we would be just fine.  My views fall somewhere in between those ends.  You may not agree with me, but consider this:
The federal government alone is blowing through a quarter of our entire output.  Include state and local public spending, and that number rises to around 35%.  This percentage has nearly doubled since the 1940’s.  Government holds a damaging monopoly in the areas it touches, and is at least as, if not much more corrupt than the private sector.  It is my hope to convince you that coercion of any kind should be avoided whenever possible.

I may write or post some things about our government that you disagree with.  I might post some things I don’t agree with 100%, but find them to be an interesting perspective.  Please keep an open mind.  Speak up if you think I don’t have my facts straight.  Another goal of this blog was learning from your perspective, so speak up and keep me honest.  I think having a civil discussion about the nature of government is very important at this point in time.  Difference of opinion is expected.  I am not an expert of libertarianism, just a student hoping to get others to give it a fair look.  This is my attempt at making a difference because I feel that politics is a lost cause.

Another reason I decided to start this blog is that I’ve found that I like to write, and figured this should be a good creative outlet.  It’s possible there will be some book, movie, or gear reviews.

Thanks for reading,
Shane