Friday, April 15, 2011

Donald Trump, President?

About two months ago I wrote a post regarding the GOP contenders for the 2012 field.  Looking over the landscape, I couldn't find a single Republican who really scared me.  Each was either boring, stupid, or too moderate for the GOP base.  In that post, I included Donald Trump, and concluded that the Donald always says he's going to run for President, but never does.  Well, look who's up on all the potential contenders.  I'll take a moment for everyone to throw up. . .done

Now normally, I'd say that Trump is WAY too liberal for the GOP primary voters.  Okay, maybe not that liberal, but WAY, WAY too sleazy for the Heartland.  He has been divorced three times, has unusual hair, been in and out of bankruptcy court, and can't figure out how to make money in the gambling industry.  Seriously.  Oh, and he's gone full birther (but its okay because he's always had good relations with "the blacks").

So normally, I'd think this guy was toast.  But. . .let's face it, the rest of the field is very weak.  Granted, every Presidential field looks weak, and then someone rises to the top.  The only exception is 2008, when everyone thought Hillary was going to take it.  Still, even compared to other years, this is a weak group.  Pathetic, even.  Trump has the money and the bluster to blow past a lot of the other contenders.  And whether its his policies, his race, his alleged religion, the GOP hate Obama.  They hate him as much as Democrats hate Bush (though I do think Bush earned his hatred). 

In that environment, the base will go with whomever they think is a winner.  2004 is a good comparison year - that year the Democrats had a choice between Kerry, Edwards and Howard Dean.  While Dean was a firebrand, and potentially a stronger match-up against Bush, the Democrats went with John Kerry because he looked like a safe choice.  We need to win this one - that was the word passed around.  In 2008, GOP voters went with McCain because he was the safe choice against Hillary Clinton.  In retrospect, both choices were not good.

So, the question that hangs up there is does the GOP go safe, or does it go for the ideal matchup.  Given what happened the last time, I don't see the GOP going safe.  Similar to the Democrats in 2008, the GOP base remembers how it went safe and lost - they're going longshot.  Donald Trump would fit the bill - he's from the libertarian/Wall Street branch of the GOP, he "creates" jobs (helpful in a downturn) and he's not boring on television.  There's also a chance he's not totally crazy - which makes him a stronger candidate than Bachmann.

At the same time, Trump never struck me as brilliant.  In a fight, he's going to plunge headlong into the fray, and use his bluster to pummel opponents into submission.  Now, normally smarts isn't a huge issue because most not-smart politicians know they're not smart and hire smart people (i.e. Karl Rove).  I don't see Trump allowing someone else run the show.  If that's the case, then the Obama of 2008, who deftly took every caucus while Clinton killed herself in the primaries, would slaughter Trump.  Romney is smart enough to butcher Trump as well.   I can imagine the same is true for a fair number of the other candidates.

All in all, Trump may be a player on the national stage, he might win a couple of primaries, but at the end of the day,  he won't win the nomination.  Rather, he's going to flame out, a la Dean.

Monday, April 11, 2011

The Rotation - Beer Post

As you all know, I am an unrelenting beer snob.  Okay, snob may be too strong of a word, because I will happily drink whatever beer given to me at a party.  But if I'm going to spend my own money, I'm not going to buy Pabst.  Not that there's anything wrong with Pabst. . .okay, there totally is something wrong with Pabst, but that's a topic for another post.

Now, thanks to my days spent at the Green Leafe Tavern, I break down my beers into two categories - beer I drink to explore the world of beer, and beer that I drink because I want to drink beer.  Seems odd, but once you get into beer, you find that there are thousands of flavors in beer, from sweet to sour.  Belgium has really lead the way in this, though it does seem ironic that a country without a functioning government, and which is constantly on the verge of splitting in two, could lead the world in anything, but its true.  I have had my mind blown by the likes of Oerbier by the Mad Brewers of Belgium, Rodenbach (the first sour beer I've ever tasted, and easily the best), Allagash Interlude (from Maine, true, but very Belgium-ish). 

But, like I said, sometimes I don't want my mind blown, I just want to drink beer.  For these times, I have the Rotation - beers that I tend to buy that are almost always in my refrigerator.  Like any good rotation, I go from one beer to the other depending on mood, but I almost always come back to these beers.  So, without further ado, here are the beers that are in my rotation:

Stone Brewing - IPA - Stone is the godfather of San Diego's craft brewing scene.  Okay, maybe not the godfather, but definitely the leader, defining San Diego's brewing style for the past 15 years.  And for me, the best beer Stone produces is the IPA.  Its light, crisp, and bitter as hell - the product of a ridiculous amount of hops added to the beer that gives it its fragrance and spice.  Now, I love all of Stone's beers, but I always come back to the IPA.  Always.

Grupo Modelo - Pacifico Clara - Here's proof that I'm not a beer snob - I drink Pacifico.  Its basically Corona, but with slightly more character.  I don't know why I prefer Pacifico to Budweiser or Corona or Coors, but I do.  There, I said it.  Let's move on.

Ballast Point - Yellowtail Pale Ale - Okay, as a rule, I dislike pale ales because every craft brewer makes a pale ale.  It is, after all, the easiest beer for a homebrewer to make, and is usually the first beer that craft brewers learned to make.  As a result, most brewers hold onto the pale ale out of nostalgia.  That said, Yellowtail Pale Ale is not a true pale ale, but rather, a German style Kolsch ale.  As a result, its a sort of a cross between a pilsner and a pale ale. . .definitely a plus for a rotation beer.

Julian Hard Cider - Hard Cider - Okay, here's the curveball.  Julian Hard Cider isn't a beer at all, its a cider.  At around 7% abv, its alcohol content is pretty much like a beer, but instead of being made of barley, hops and yeast, its simply apples and yeast.  Anyway, the cider made it to the Rotation by being so damned good and food friendly.  Its completely dry, slightly acidic, smells of apples, light and crisp.  The only problem I have with this cider is that my girlfriend likes it as much as I do.

Guinness/Czechvar/Pilsner Urquell - Okay, these are three very different beers, but they fit into my foreign beers category.  While Czechvar and Pilsner Urquell are both lagers, they are completely different from Pacifico.  Specifically, both are crisp with a good amount of hops.  Seriously, try Czechvar and you'll never really want to drink Budweiser (which stole its name from Czechvar, long story) again.  Guinness, of course, is the great beer of Ireland.  And as much as I hate the conglomerate that owns the brewery (Black lager? Seriously?) I love the beer.  Whenever I'm drinking out with friends, and I don't know what to order, I'll order a Guinness.  Its my go-to beer.

So, as I said, here are the beers in my rotation.  Are they my favorites? Not really.  But they are all good beers (or ciders) in their own right.  So, if you haven't tried them yet, do so.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

And Now We Have Something. . .

With Paul Ryan unleashing his budget, which abolishes Medicare within the next ten years, we now, finally, have a real debate.  For the past twenty years, debates over the Federal Budget have been confused - most people believing that whatever ails the budget can be solved by cutting waste, inefficiency and foreign aid. But not now. 

Now, there is a real question - what should the Federal Government do?  Medicare is wildly popular, but here you have the GOP arguing that the Federal Government cannot afford it.  Rather than take the easy way out, Democrats should ask the American people if Medicare is worth paying for.  In other words, let's have a real debate about what government should and should not fund. 

In fact, I'd love to see this spread to other areas of government as well.  For instance, education at the state level is the primary function of state government.  But there's no way of knowing what education costs because we keep changing the standards.  So, instead of dickering, let's figure out how much education costs - with an agreed upon student/teacher ration, textbooks that must be so old, technology, etc. - and then figure out whether or not we want to pay it.  Let's have honest discussions about what government costs at all levels of government.