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Open Container Update: Super Friends

By on Aug 26, 2010 in Politics, Six Pack Updates | 0 comments

“I got the pistol, so I’ll keep the pesos / That seems fair.” — The Refreshments, “Banditos”— More than a year ago, Utah’s Super Friends responded to an urgent call to action from their Hall of Justice. Led by Superman, they rushed to the rescue of pinned-down Utahns, who were in a fight for their very existence against the Legion of Doom. They took their fight to the people, prompting a loud uprising of followers who were mad about everything, including being mad. They shook their fists, they roared their engines, they dumped horse shit on federal highways. And they all rallied under the banner of a group that, despite their hyper-regional name and an acronym that sounds more like a supplement required by the FDA that egg producers routinely overlook, were the infant burps and farts of a soon-to-be powerful force across the nation. That’s right, they were about to become Super Friends: Galactic Guardians. One year later, that group has been about the only consistently strong political movement, outside of the surprisingly focused (considering) medical marijuana activists, led by … wait for it … Shaggy and Scooby-Doo. Hell, even this week — as with every good narrative — the supposedly weakened Super Friends defied death (again) and toppled yet another Evil Incumbent, or at least came very close. (The Alaska election is actually going to the absentee ballots, and lawyers are getting involved, so give this some time to resolve itself). To celebrate their renewed power (warning: PDF), the Super Friends and Friends and Friends of Friends and People Who Want To Be Super Friends’ Friends will all ride their Super Vehicles or Super Animals or Semi-Super Non-Motorized Transpods through the streets of Metropolis, following the route that people pretending to be pioneers follow every July 24. In other news, since this is supposedly a news update: Free Market Booze: Last week, I bought booze in Wyoming, which has a state-controlled liquor system with private stores. It sucked. Moose Drool was — not a lie — $22 per 12-pack. Okay, this was Jackson Hole, but the guy in the store said the state sets their prices. My point? Unless Utah gets completely away from the liquor system — which will happen when the Legion of Doom takes control of the state — private stores are not something to get excited about. It will not make booze cheaper. Oh, by the way, the privatization board heard a report about lost revenues and increased drinking in the state cedes complete control of liquor (not just the stores). In free market terms, that translates to “lower prices” and “more convenience.” Yeah, bad idea. Utah, please keep controlling my drinking. Political Races: Dear KUED: It’s great the governor has a monthly press conference, and I know there’s no script. The questions are asked by reporters. But if Gary Herbert can go on and campaign, Peter Corroon should get equal air time. That’s what Herbert did today by responding to Corroon’s proposal to “improve education” by claiming Corroon is trying to screw the Mormons and their private, religious education. In response, I suggest that Corroon simply say he didn’t address the seminary question because his kids went to a private Catholic school. Trump his Religion Card with a Petty Debate Card. While Herbert is getting more aggressive in the campaign, I also think he be doing so with an eye towards 2012 because he assumes that this year’s race is in the bag. After all, if he were worried about Corroon, would he really start venturing down the Super Friends road and suggesting that repealing the 14th Amendment is a good idea? I’ll tell you why, and in two years you can say you heard it here first: He’s ogling for a federal seat, and if he decided to run for Rep. Jason Chaffetz’s seat when Chaffetz runs against Sen. Orrin Hatch, he could be pretty tough to beat—especially if he starts pushing to repeal Constitutional amendments. On a side note, Sam Granato has ZERO chance of beating Mike Lee. That’s according to the FiveThirtyEight blog, which knows its shizznitt. Cash For Flunkers: Corroon is actually getting some flak on Twitter today for a proposal similar to last year’s Cash for Clunkers program. It seems to have stemmed from this blog post that points out that used cars are now more expensive because of fewer trade-ins, which hurts low-income people more. Of course, the Cash for Clunkers was about getting cars with poor emissions off the road, but the economics can’t be ignored. I would also argue, however, that there are fewer trade-ins because people can’t afford to buy cars period right now. No buying, no trading. National Park Cars: Speaking of getting vehicles off the road, New West describes the success of the Glacier National Park shuttle system. In Yellowstone last week, I overheard three different people saying they wished there was a shuttle into Old Faithful. Sometimes, folks, the federal government actually does something right. Drink Tip: Today’s post brought to by Beans & Brews Italian Roast with a shot of Bushmills. However, I steeped the grounds in my French press in the whisky for a few minutes before topping with hot water. A great little trick that I’m proud to have discovered with the help of Google. I’m dubbing it “Josh’s Java.” The Open Container Update is published every...

Open Container Update: Lonely Places

By on Jul 28, 2010 in Six Pack Updates | 0 comments

“They were off to the bars, for a lack of a plan / Racing the stars to the lights of Cheyenne.” — James McMurtry, “Lights of Cheyenne,” as recorded at the Zephyr Club in Aught-Three. Many, many years ago, a friend and I got lost in Wyoming on our way to Chicago and wound up in South Dakota. That’s not a joke. There were plenty of reasons. For one, Wyoming did not have any open container prohibitions, allowing us to cross the state half-sloshed. At least, that is, until “Chocolate Thunder”—my 1986 Buick LeBaron that topped out around 60 mph—blew two tires in a construction zone outside of Laramie. At 4 a.m. So, we wound up in a Denny’s, where a waiter flirted with us while we tried to maintain the alcohol level necessary to make it out of the state. We also stared at a map, and realized that by heading north, we could take a short detour to Mt. Rushmore. However, one of the worst things about Wyoming is that their map is always crowded onto one page in an atlas, so the scale is something like 5,000 miles per inch, so our short detour lasted about 12 hours. Thank God for the lack of open container laws. My point? During that trip, I learned first-hand that Wyoming has a hell of a lot of wide-open and not-very-scenic land. They also have a lot of untapped energy sources, from natural gas to wind (lots of wind) to geothermal. They also love their energy development, and unlike Utah, is aggressively pursuing alternative energy. You know what they’re discovering? So-called green energy is not always so green. The online news site, New West, has published two stories very recently detailing these challenges. First, wind development has basically been prohibited in 3/4 of the state because of the sage grouse, a threatened bird that actually needs those seemingly useless, empty sagebrush chocked lands. Second, geothermal sources are abundant but tapping them involves many of the same impacts as extracting fossil fuels. Yeah, I know. Not local. Whatever. They’re incredibly interesting articles, especially for all of you hippie-beatniks who read City Weekly and crow about the wonders of renewable energy. In the end, the only real answer for our energy problems is for each of us to reduce our personal use. For me, that means that next time, I will ride a horse across Wyoming.  Now, while I ride my horse, here’s some other lonely places that are best traveled with booze in hand (or saddle, as the case may be): Utah’s West Desert: A day after a court gave new life to the Goshute nuke waste dump, Utah’s federal delegation cried foul and unanimously opposed it. No word from candidates like Mike Lee, however. Maybe I should just call him, instead of mouthing off from the passenger seat. Rep. Jim Matheson’s office: Whatever the reason — health-care, anyone? — Matheson has no idea why his candidate for the U.S. Attorney was not appointed and why the administration is now looking at a Republican, Scott Burns. Poor Jim, nobody loves him. Listen, pal, I hear that the House offices are great places for gin and tonics. I’ll make you the same offer I made Allyson Gamble yesterday: You open the doors, I’ll bring the gin, tonic and lime. Hell, I’ll even bring ice and glasses.  New Hampshire, for Sarah Palin: Yeah! A 2012 poll! Sarah Palin is fifth. Mitt Romney is first.  Salt Lake City, for Republicans: Steve Harmsen, an experienced pol cum sacrificial lamb, is running a race that he expects to lose against Arlyn Bradshaw for the Salt Lake County Council.  Gov. Herbert’s office: Well, it’s not lonely, but people aren’t happy, and they’re flooding him with e-mails criticizing his handling of “The List.” (Nice job, btw, to Gehrke at the Tribune for having the foresight to GRAMA these e-mails.) Essentially, most seem to want to employees who released private information rewarded, not fired. Which makes sense, in a “I like to drive across Wyoming sober” kind of way. Gov. Herbert’s campaign: So far, it’s non-existent, and the workers have plenty of time on their hands to compile 100+ articles that somehow prove he should be re-elected. At some point, I may start dissecting these, but I’ve got Wyoming on my breath. So, go read this at The Side Track blog. Arizona: It’s lonely because everyone with any sympathy or a tan is fleeing. Well, they were given a little time because a federal judge put the temporary kibosh on the most controversial parts of their immigration law. Bars: They’re going to be lonely because everyone will have to have their licenses scanned. Or, so some would like to believe. Me, my license is expired, so I have to use a passport, which requires bartenders to fill out a piece of paper. It feels like private clubs all over again. But guess what? The former DABC director doesn’t like the idea of scanning everyone, not just those without gray hair, sagging boobs, paunch bellies or balding foreheads. The Open Container is published every week day, ideally. Weekends and vacations are at the whim of...

Open Container Update: Death Is ‘Nigh

By on Jul 27, 2010 in Six Pack Updates | 0 comments

“Avoid the world, it’s just a lot of dust and drag and means nothing in the end.” — Jack Kerouac That sound you hear? Death. Maybe tomorrow, maybe decades from now. And it will find you in ways you probably never expect. For instance, box springs and FM radio are potential carcinogens. Box springs, I always assumed, were only designed to provide a convenient hiding place for porno mags — for the kiddies reading this, those are the lo-fi paper version of the naked women you can now find by just changing your search preferences in Google. And radio is obviously toxic, especially if you’ve recently listened to the suck-crap celebration of bad music from my generation on 101.9. (Salt N’ Pepa, Spice Girls and C+C Music Factory? That’s what defines Gen X?) Those aren’t the only things that will, potentially, kill you in the news today. A quick rundown of all of the ways in which you may die: * Nuke waste. A federal judge has given new life to the Goshute’s high-level nuke waste dump. If Sam Granato’s smart, he’ll be asking Mike Lee immediately whether he supports the Goshute’s sovereign rights to manage their land, even if most of the Goshute’s don’t actually want it. But, he’s not asking. * Hookah smoke, which is still legal in Utah County, even though a session of puffing is like smoking five packs of cigarettes. (Yes, I just wrote that something is “still legal in Utah County.”) What they need is legislative help, apparently. Call Tim Cosgrove! He’s already looking at banning spice. * War will kill you. That’s not why Rep. Jason Chaffetz voted against it, but still. He’s saving lives. At least, until his flower-pansy cut-and-run attitude causes more terrorist attacks. * My personal proof that the end is near? Utah State reportedly has a good quarterback. * Reading Deseret News blogs could kill you, mainly because of laughter. If you dare, here’s Warchol’s blog about the Jam-G post I ripped apart yesterday, and my slightly tamer Salon post. * If nothing else, Whitney Houston’s third arm will kill you. That’s what smoking out of a hookah, sleeping on box springs and listening to … Whitney Houston … will do to you. Now, what won’t kill you that’s in the news today? * Election finance laws. The Senate could not muster the 60 votes needed to bring the Disclosure Act to the floor, which essentially sought to overturn the U.S. Supreme Court ruling that said corporations can behave like extremely rich humans and donate unlimited amounts of cash to candidates. The problem with the bill, according to lame duck Sen. Bob Bennett, is that “this bill goes against corporations and their right of free speech.” Ironically, the loss may actually help Democrats. * Who says blogs are all smart-ass commentary with no real reporting? Well, Doug Robinson, but he’s a hack. (For the record, I told him this while I was still at the D-News.) Over on our own Salt Blog, Jesse Fruhwirth does some nice computer-assisted reporting to give a whole lot of so-far unreported details about the suspected Tiburon, et al, arsonist. * A completely unbiased journalist at HuffPo touts Jon Huntsman Jr. for the presidency of … I don’t know. Not a 2012 candidate, although he would be good. Maybe of China. He’s also compared favorably to Bill Clinton. * Cold beer will definitely not kill you, but it can certainly spoil good beer. Mark Alston, the owner of The Bayou who knows more than a little about good beer, does a smack-down of our recent Coldest Beer issue and explains at what temperatures certain beers should be drank. For the record, I’m a beer snob, and agree with everything he says. I’m also a journalist, so I’m currently drinking Milwaukee’s Best. Premium, though, if that makes a difference. * You know what else won’t kill you? Gin and tonics. Years ago, the communications director for the Capitol Preservation Board, Allyson Gamble, said that the balconies on the second floor of the new State Capitol would be great places to have a gin and tonic. I have yet to try it, but now that she is the executive director of the board, I’d like to make a completely fair offer: Allyson, you open the doors, I’ll bring the gin. And tonic. And lime. While you’re at it, invite Tim Cosgrove. The Open Container Update will be published every afternoon on this blog and at the Salt Blog. At least, I hope...

Cow Farts Create Hot (Legislative) Air

By on Feb 4, 2010 in Politics | 0 comments

Global warming claims get legislators hot and bothered. Climate change happens, sometimes for the better and sometimes for the worse. What is not happening, however, is a definitive reason attributable to man. People, put down the pitchforks, at least the ones pointed at me. That’s not my argument, that’s the argument made by Rep. Kerry Gibson, R-Ogden, in pushing HJR12. That resolution urges the Environmental Protection Agency to step away from regulating greenhouse gases as pollutants. It also originally referenced “tricks” played to support the global warming “conspiracy,” although that was amended. The resolution passed the House Natural Resources Committee Thursday morning, with only Rep. Phil Riesen, R-Salt Lake, voting against it. First off, a little legislative education: resolutions mean nothing. Squat. They sound good and are great ways for mid-level legislators with a passion for a specific issue to rally their troops. Resolutions are also great time wasters, as evidenced by the 75 minutes spent by the committee railing against climate change. Resolutions, however, make great political theater. And this debate was no exception. In short, here’s the highlights: Gibson says that those who believe that man is causing global warming don’t want to hear opposing viewpoints. They also get emotional, which makes debate difficult. “When we become so emotional, the facts get lost. Too many times, when facts are presented on the other side, they are ignored by the so-called experts.” He also said that the proponents of CO2 caps rely too heavily on “sky is falling” arguments. Randy Parker, Utah Farm Bureau chief executive officer, then tells the committee that, in fact, the sky is essentially falling because of proposed taxes taxes on CO2 production. “It will create energy shortages and will, in fact, create food shortages.” Also, “alarmists have hijacked the debate,” which apparently angers alarmists on the other side of the debate, like Parker. He also references the “global warming credibility crisis,” and points to leaked e-mails as proof that this whole global warming issue is a sham. Taking a left turn into Messin’ With The Big Dog Land, Parker spends a few minutes smacking around BYU professors who questioned a scientist who testified in 2009 to the committee, and demands that BYU apologize for the professors. Finally, he gets to the real heart of the matter: cow farts. Don’t tax them. (Note: At this point, we’re about 30 minutes into the hearing). Gibson and Parker expand on threat to farmers if cow farts are, indeed, taxed and energy prices rise due to the CO2 taxes, since farming cannot happen without using lots of coal power or fuel. Parker drives the nail home by asking, “Do Americans really want to rely on China, Mexico, and India to meet their basic needs?” In other words, the sky is falling, and it will suck for Americans when they have to climb the gigantic wall on the Mexican border to meet said basic needs. Rep. Mike Noel, R-Kanab, asks a question. Well, he’s supposed to. He basically rants about … well, the sky falling. And global warming (human-caused) is a conspiracy that the weather is disproving. Riesen also asks a question, sort of. He talks about how he wants to protect Earth and air for future generations, because he will die in the next 20 years (but will live forever as the voice on Trax trains … that is him, right?). I’d love to say he ranted, but he doesn’t rant. (In fact, nobody rants like Noel, which is actually a skill I highly admire. He is really a Utah Republican version of Lewis Black.) Gibson says that what he really wants is substantive debate where everyone gets a chance to air their opinions on global warming. By the way, at this point, he has had the floor (which he shared with Parker) for almost an hour. Rep. John Mathis, R-Vernal, the committee chair, asks for public comment. He also reminds the public that the committee is running out of time, so they need to keep their comments “short and concise.” You know, for the sake of debate. The public speaks, including a U. engineering professor who introduces the other side of the global warming debate into the mix with, well, blah blah blah (everyone has heard the reasons, right?) That, however, only incites another Noel rant that is, sadly, cut short by Mathis. Also, a couple of other industry folks who support the resolution testify. Noel rants, again. This time, it’s about why the global warming research is part of a deep conspiracy. The committee, running out of time, soon passes the...