The Joni Ernst Watch 8/3/2015

When it comes to Joni “Make ‘em squeal” Ernst or Steve King it’s clown shoes all day, every day. Recently, the conversation in Iowa has turned away from our homegrown whack-a-doos and focused on the nutcase circus that will be the Republican caucus.

Steve King went all…well, Steve King and suggested that the recent Supreme Court ruling on gay marriage opened the door on other, shall we say, alternative unions:

I had a strong, Christian lawyer tell me yesterday that, under this decision that he has read, what it brings about is: It only requires one human being in this relationship — that you could marry your lawnmower with this decision. I think he’s right.

I would love to meet the lawyer who gave Iowa’s favorite member of Congress this stout legal opinion.

This site does not usually post a lot of stuff about the Governor For Life Terry Branstad, but his recent comments about agricultural pollution in Des Moines’ drinking water are most interesting:

The Des Moines Water Works ought to just tone it down and start cooperating and working with others, like Cedar Rapids is doing, and other communities in the state of Iowa

This is an attack on Branstad’s big ag buddies who dump shit into the water of the state of Iowa.  He does not care because their money is green.

Who is ready for the Republican debate this week? I am. Ten of the “top” candidates will get to debate in prime time on Fox News while the other seven candidates will get relegated to the kids table. You have to love a world where Donald Trump is invited to be an adult. The ultimate man child is getting some respect from the establishment. This will end well.

Mike Huckabee cannot stop with comparisons between the recently negotiated nuclear deal with Iran and Nazi Germany.

One, it’s as if reactionaries trying to gain traction in the Republican race to be the nominee are grasping at the most facile of imagery in hopes of moving up the polls. For example, see Donald Trump’s recent rise in standing. Say something inflammatory and get some bump in your numbers.

Second, there is a trend of comparing anything this president does to Nazi Germany. Don’t believe me? Take a moment to look at some of these classic Tea Party signs:

DEB NICKLAY/The Globe Gazette A billboard on South Federal Avenue in Mason City seemingly compares President Barack Obama to Adolph Hitler (left) and Vladimir Lenin.

DEB NICKLAY/The Globe Gazette
A billboard on South Federal Avenue in Mason City seemingly compares President Barack Obama to Adolph Hitler (left) and Vladimir Lenin.

Forget for a moment that the National Socialism was really fascism, which was opposed ideologically to the type of socialism we normally associated with the Soviet Union, China, or Cuba. Semantics, I know.

54cb37f829977_-_obama-hitler-sign-110209-lg

What is up with these whack-a-doos?

Coming up we might have our first casualty of the 2016 primary season. Rand Paul, hoping to grab some of his dad’s libertarian grassroots magic, Rand 2016 is on the ropes

Given that his stump speeches sound like something written by a junior in high school running to be senior class president you have to wonder how he got this far:

I’ve told people if I am elected president — or I guess, better yet, when I am elected president — I will do something extraordinary, I won’t try to grab up more power, I will try to give power back to the people and to the states, respectively.

That is some real barn burning rhetoric Rand. Thanks for playing.

Friday Linkage 7/31/2015

The end of July. School is only a few weeks away for my daughter. Where did the summer go?

On to the links…

Farmworkers Score Big in New Tomato Deal—The Coalition of Immokalee Workers just got Ahold USA to sign up to its program. This is a big win. Pressure is working.

Battle of Solar Pits Rooftop Against Utility-Scale Systems—Why not both? Seriously, why is there a conflict between these two? Oh right, follow the money…

Hillary Clinton Pledges Half a Billion Solar Panels for US—This has to be one of the easiest policy wins of recent memory. Let’s see…clean, emission free power from the sun for the next twenty five years after the panel is installed. I am sure Ted Cruz is pissed about this.

Hillary Clinton Still Won’t Take a Position on the Keystone XL Pipeline—Why is this such a hard thing for her to disavow? Keystone XL is a loser on so many levels.

Wind Energy Provides Europe With 8% Of Its Electricity In 2014-8% is a good number. I would like to see more.

Large-Scale Solar Near Parity In World’s Three Biggest Markets—When power from emission free sources is at parity with fossil fuels even accounting for the loss of subsidies we will have reached a major turning point.

First Ever US Offshore Wind Farm Gets First “Steel In Water,” No Turning Back Now—This is exciting because offshore wind has such potential. It can deliver clean, emission free wind power to the heavily and densely populated eastern seaboard.

Rocky Mountain Resorts Race to Defend their Businesses Against Climate Change—Those beautiful powder days are threatened by climate change. Skiing in late March is threatened by climate change. Does anyone care about climate change?

U.S. Craft Beer Volume Production up 16% through 1st Half of 2015—People keep waiting for the crash in craft beer explosion, but it just looks like a lot of people cannot get enough of craft beer:

Mid-Year-Craft-Production-Volume-2015-BeerPulse

Pour some more IPAs folks!

America Is Not Getting Fatter Anymore—This is amazing to me. People are consuming a lot less soda and actually paying attention to their health in terms of obesity.

Looking Up: How Farming Changed my Perspective on Rain—When you make your living from the land you take a whole new perspective on a lot of different issues. Rain is life instead of inconvenience.

Deschutes Brewery Pinedrops IPA

The second beer that I ended up with because of HyVee’s evil Fuel Saver program was Deschutes Brewery’s Pinedrops IPA:

Pinedrops

This beer pours a lot lighter than Fresh Squeezed IPA. Therefore, I would classify this as a more traditional IPA versus the emerging American Pale Ale style of beer.

However, the light body does not provide a good sounding board for either the alcohol (6.5% ABV) or bitterness (70 IBU). Perhaps it is from the wide variety of hops used— Nugget, Northern Brewer, Chinook, Centennial, and Equinox hops—or the general level of bitterness, but this beer leaves a lingering after taste that is not particularly pleasant.

It reminds me, unfortunately, of a lot of early craft beer IPAs that left you with the feeling of having drank some bong water with your beer. Those brewers were trying to mask deficiencies in skill by piling on flavors and aromas. Having drank well done beers from Deschutes Brewery before I know there is no need for these brewers to be hiding because the talent is present in the brewhouse.

Also, with a name like Pinedrops I was expecting a heavy, resinous profile that almost made you think you were breathing in the air of a temperate coniferous rain forest. Was that too much to ask?

At this stage of the craft brewing industry in America we expect more from our IPAs:

One Mug Homebrew

See what others are saying about Deschutes Brewery Pinedrops IPA at Beeradvocate.

What is this Stuff: Cobra Verde

The downside to spending a lot of time wandering the grocery store with your daughter looking for lactose free items is that you end up with things in your cart you may have never thought about buying before. Case in point:

Cobra Verde

In the refrigerated section at New Pioneer Coop in Cedar Rapids I came across this little bottle of Cobra Verde. What is Cobra Verde you ask?

It’s an all-natural energy drink with a pretty simple ingredient profile: water, green coffee extract, citrus, ginger, and cane sugar. It happens to be made in Iowa City just a short drive from my home in Cedar Rapids so that makes it local as well.

As a die-hard coffee loyalist and someone who has never been a fan of energy drinks—I don’t want wings, honestly—I was hesitant to crack open the lid and take a drink. Silly me. This stuff is awesome. It does, however, pack a heavy caffeine kick so if you are drinking this at some other time than early in the morning be advised that your sleeping rituals might be disturbed. I drank a bottle after a late afternoon bike ride to Urbana and spent the early evening running around like a meth head.

Do you want to know how to make Cobra Verde even better? Mix equal parts Cobra Verde and carbonated water from a Sodastream for a bubbly delight. It cuts down on the caffeine jolt and mutes some of the flavors, but there is just something fun about bubbles. I am a sucker for bubbles.

If you happen to be in eastern Iowa or Chicago Cobra Verde Retailers.

Deschutes Brewery Fresh Squeezed IPA

HyVee’s Fuel Saver program is the devil. You walk into the liquor store thinking you are going to pick up a fifteen pack of All Day IPA and instead you end up with something completely different because you saved $0.25 off per gallon of gas. This is how I ended up with two six-packs of different beers from Deschutes Brewery. In my defense, a total of $0.50 off per gallon of gas ends up saving me $10 when I fill up with the maximum of twenty gallons. Easy to do when road trip summers are here.

When Deschutes Brewery first came into the Iowa market I tried several of their beers and came away liking them in general. It’s been a while and I have not been tempted since for various reasons. The first beer I cracked open was Fresh Squeezed IPA:

Fresh SqueezedI had passed this beer on numerous occasions, read the label, and thought that with a name like Fresh Squeezed it should have been a fresh hopped beer. Damn marketing.

The beer pours a darker amber color than most IPAs, which makes me consider this more of an American Pale Ale. What does that mean? Whatever marketing wants it to mean, but in general I think it means more malt and body than a traditional IPA.

All of this extra body means that the beer drinks a lot easier than its 6.4% ABV and 60 IBU would suggest. Being near the golden ratio—in my opinion—of ABV to IBU the extra body of the beer hides some of the downsides of having more bitterness and bite. It essentially mellows out the more extreme elements of the alcohol and hops.  Fresh Squeezed is brewed with a combination of Citra, Mosaic, and Nugget hops. None of these really stand out as the driving element leaving the profile a little muddled or muted. Again, I was kind of bummed that this was not a fresh hopped beer.

In summary, you can do a lot worse in terms of mainstream pale ales and you ought to give Fresh Squeezed a try if you are looking to broaden your pale ale palate:

Two Mug PurchaseSee what others are saying about Deschutes Brewery Fresh Squeezed IPA at Beeradvocate.

The Joni Ernst Watch 7/27/2015

When it comes to Joni “Make ‘em squeal Joni” Ernst or Steve King it’s clown shoes all day, every day. Recently, the conversation in Iowa has turned away from our homegrown whack-a-doos and focused on the nutcase circus that will be the Republican caucus.

When you are a conservative in the United States you need to remember one thing: it’s always about you. Even when it is obviously not about you, it’s about you. Take Joni Ernst, for example, Joni Ernst: Obama insulted slain service members to distract from Iran nukes deal

I do think that there are so many things going on right now that he doesn’t want us talking about, whether it is the fact that terrorism remains, whether it is the agreement with Iran. I think there are so many things that he would just rather he don’t discuss and focus on something else.

Sure, if by talking you mean bloviating on Fox News.

With so many white dudes and some other candidates who fill certain diversity quotas it is hard to keep the Republican candidates straight. How to Tell the Difference Between All the Dudes Running for President

The other way to look at the candidates is to The Most (And Least) Extreme Republican Presidential Candidates On Climate Change Just remember that being the least extreme Republican is sort of like being the nicest executioner. You’re still a giant douche.

No one can win biggest clown of the week award when Rick Santorum goes on the Rachel Maddow Show. Getting into a discussion on the finer points of civics with someone who is an admitted wonk is not a good idea under normal circumstances. “You’re fundamentally wrong on civics”: Rachel Maddow schools Rick Santorum on the Constitution

At least he is not Chris Christie.Christie courts Iowa voters

Friday Linkage 7/24/2015

RAGBRAI has invaded my home area this week. Hiawatha is infested with thousands of human-bicycle centaurs who have spent the better part of a week hunting for cold cans of Natty Light, warm showers, and a dry place to pitch a tent for the night. It is time for me to get out of town.

On to the links…

This Is How The World’s Climate Changed Last Year—Climate is global and weather is local. This is what climate deniers fail to recognize or admit. Just because it snows in your state does not mean that the global average is colder.

Swamp Power: How the World’s Wetlands can Help Stop Climate Change—Wetlands are an unsung powerhouse in the global environment. Too often we view these landscapes as “garbage” land to be drained and built upon.

200 Coal Plants Announced to Retire since 2010 in US!—Coal plants are not being built or being shut down and converted to cleaner fuels. The end is nigh.

Offshore Wind To Become Cost-Competitive With Gas In 5 Years—Think about cost competitive offshore wind being deployed on the sea shore near the massive U.S. population along the eastern seaboard. It’s a huge opportunity to put renewable power in the hands of a large number of people and retire old dirty power plants.

Two Giant Israeli Solar Plants Will Soon Provide Nearly 2 Percent Of The Country’s Electricity—If there is a country that is acutely aware of how precarious situation it is vis a vis fossil fuels it has to be Israel. Most of the countries that provide fossil fuels in the Middle East are not big fans of the country.

When Schools Serve Pizza and Corn Dogs for Lunch, These Companies Make Bank—If you want to know why school lunches are empires of suck follow the money. When companies make billions off of a program—it’s not welfare when large companies get government money—they will figure out a way to squeeze out each penny possible. If that means kids eat corn dogs and chocolate milk, so be it.

Algae Could Be Environmentally Friendly Livestock Feed, Research Finds—Algae is a potential gold mine for fuel oil, chemicals, and other industrial uses but it could also be a rich source of feed for livestock. It’s full of protein and oil, which are the things that animals raise for meat need. You can question the lunacy of raising millions of animals for meat, but feeding them algae would be better than feeding them corn or soybeans.

Organic Farming is Actually Worse for Climate Change than Conventional Farming—Headlines and stories like these fail to take into account the totality of the issues facing agriculture. It’s one thing to compare issues in a vacuum, but farming and agriculture do not occur in a vacuum. Externalities and downstream impacts are hugely important, but it is difficult to place scientific estimates on some of those issues.