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October 2nd, 2003:

Beer news

The Spoetzl Brewery, makers of Shiner Bock, has announced that it will start brewing a light beer.

With Shiner Light, the Spoetzl Brewery in Shiner hopes to take advantage of Texans’ growing thirst for light beer and their mounting aversion to carbohydrates.

“The bottom line is that Texas is a light beer state,” said Gary Hudman, Shiner brand manager. “It’s been a long time coming.”

Shiner Light will debut at the 10th Annual Shiner Bocktoberfest Concert Oct. 18 in Shiner and will be available the following week at stores, bars and restaurants in Texas. Although Shiner products are sold in 23 states and Washington, 85 percent of sales are in Texas.

This is Spoetzl’s first new beer since 2001, when Shiner Hefeweizen came out. The brewer has been working on the light beer for four years, Hudman said.

I dunno, I have a hard time picturing Texas as a light beer kind of place. Besides, you take the tour at the Saint Arnold Brewery, they’ll tell you that the way you make light beer is by taking regular beer and adding water. No thanks. I’ll stick with Shiner Bock.

Meanwhile, down in Galveston, there’s a guy who wants in on the microbrew business and who’s trademarked the name Star Bock, which he said was a combination of Lone Star and Shiner Bock. Not too surprisingly, he’s gotten some flak for this.

Plans progressed, and the trademark process was sailing along, until the situation suddenly changed in July. Another brewer — one not even involved in producing beer — had taken a keen interest in the small bar’s efforts to create Starbock.

Starbucks Coffee Company weighed in with all the subtlety of its corporate-colossus status. All Bell had to do to make Starbucks happy was immediately drop his beer’s name and destroy all materials containing images of its trademark.

Do that soon, the corporation ordered, or face “other necessary legal action.”

I’ll be rooting for Rex Bell and his Star Bock Beer, but I wouldn’t go betting against the house on this one.

UPDATE: Michael has some more about Rex Bell.

The great Limbaugh implosion

I was going to do a rundown on Rush Limbaugh’s bad day yesterday, which included his resignation from ESPN and a screaming headline about allegations of drug abuse, but why bother when Eric McErlain’s on the case? He’s got all you need, in these three posts.

A few of my own thoughts: I do believe what Limbaugh said, in addition to being plain old stupid, was racist. He said that there was in effect a media conspiracy to make Donovan McNabb look good because he’s black. By my definition, that’s a racist remark. The crux of this remark is not whether or not Donovan McNabb is overrated, it’s whether or not McNabb’s reputation comes from some media gestalt. Here are his exact words, for reference:

“I think what we’ve had here is a little social concern in the NFL,” Limbaugh said. “The media has been very desirous that a black quarterback do well. They’re interested in black coaches and black quarterbacks doing well … McNabb got a lot of the credit for the performance of the team that he really didn’t deserve.”

What actually shocks me about this is that two decades after guys like Doug Williams and Warren Moon, we’re even talking about “black quarterbacks” any more. Something like a dozen starting quarterbacks are black, and many more are on rosters or no longer in the league. Some have done great things, others have been Akili Smith, most are in between. Being a black quarterback is no longer remarkable in the sense that it’s no longer unusual. As such, “the media” doesn’t pay any attention to that any more because it’s not a story any more. Hell, when was the last time you even heard someone call McNabb, or Steve McNair, or Daunte Culpepper, a “black quarterback”? I couldn’t tell you.

Look at it this way: If Dontrelle Willis wins the National League Rookie of the Year award over Brandon Webb, whose stats are inarguably better, it will almost surely be due to media hype. But is that hype the result of Willis’ race, or is it the result of Willis’ big initial splash, his fun-to-watch pitching motion, his outgoing personality, and the fact that he contributed towards a playoff team while Webb is at home? If McNabb really is overrated – and I haven’t been keeping up on the Philly papers’ coverage of him so far this year, as I suspect Limbaugh hasn’t either, so I can’t say if this allegation is even true – could it maybe be because of factors other than race?

Here’s the thing: It’s possible Rush could have been right, in that not only is McNabb overrated but that “the media” gives him a pass on things that they criticize in white quarterbacks. There’s only one way to actually make that case, and that’s to cite a ton of examples, something Limbaugh wouldn’t have had time for in his limited format even if he’d given the matter more than passing thought. The fact that he did bring it up when he was clearly unprepared to back it up is what says to me that he had an axe to grind rather than a point to make.

On a side note, I do think Limbaugh would have weathered this storm had it not been for the out-of-the-blue drug allegations. As noted here, the Sunday NFL Countdown ratings had ticked upwards this season, which usually insulates someone from this kind of criticism. My belief was they’d get an initial boost but would be at normal levels by season’s end. I’m almost disappointed that we won’t get to see that theory tested.

UPDATE: Via Big Media Matt, I see that NRO’s Robert George made the same points as I did.

An oilman in Iraq

The top story in today’s Chron is this interview with Philip Carroll, the senior American oil official in Iraq. It’s pretty upbeat, as you would expect from a man in his position, but it demonstrates that we have only just begun to spend billions of dollars over there:

Carroll suggested that any recovery by Iraq’s oil industry would take place over the long term and would require billions of dollars in foreign investment.

“Iraq’s present capability, as close as I can assess it, is to produce right at or maybe a little less than 3 million,” barrels per day, he said. “They are not going to be able to go above that much without significant investment.”

Of that amount, he said, about 2.5 million barrels per day would be available for export.

Carroll said it is realistic to foresee a day in “a minimum of six or seven years” when, fueled by as much as $40 billion to $50 billion in additional foreign investment, Iraq could become an oil colossus exporting as much as 6 million barrels a day. Iraq’s proved oil reserves are estimated at 112.5 billion barrels, second in the Middle East only to Saudi Arabia’s 259 billion barrels.

“That would provide them with very large export earnings and the ability for their economy to grow rather attractively,” Carroll said. “They are not going to get there in 2004 and they are not going to get there in 2005. It is going to require tens of billions to fully develop that kind of capacity.”

Emphasis mine. I think we all know who is going to provide that “foreign investment”. Get your checkbooks out, everyone.

Sniping and griping

If there’s a more beautiful sound right now than Republicans sniping and griping at each other over a new Congressional map, I don’t know what it is. Governor Perry’s self-imposed deadline of Wednesday has come and gone, and the joint committee is no closer to approving a new map than they were when they started. Here’s a taste, from the Statesman:

For now, however, Senate and House negotiators seem focused on West Texas.

Sen. Todd Staples complained that the narrow focus is detrimental to the rest of the map.

That’s why Staples, R-Palestine, and Sen. Robert Duncan, R-Lubbock, jumped on what they considered a compromise on West Texas. They claimed the West Texas portion of a map by Rep. Arlene Wohlgemuth, R-Burleson, as a “promising advance.”

“We trust this is a serious plan and not another ploy to divert attention from real progress,” Staples said. “How could a top Republican leader, part of the leadership team, author a compromise for West Texas that the speaker had rejected?”

The House wasn’t biting.

“I’d like to remind Senators Staples and Duncan, however, that Representative Wohlgemuth is not a member of the House Redistricting Committee, has not participated to date in the House-Senate negotiations on redistricting and did not speak to me or for me — or the House — in drawing her map,” Craddick said.

Wohlgemuth, through a spokeswoman, said Staples and Duncan had changed her version of West Texas. She said her map was an attempt to help the counties in her district near Fort Worth and did not represent the speaker’s position.

From the Express News:

[H]ardly had Sens. Todd Staples, R-Palestine, and Robert Duncan, R-Lubbock, told reporters they were reluctantly accepting a House compromise map, when House Speaker Tom Craddick and the author of the House-passed measure said they hadn’t offered any such thing.

“It is not a map that the speaker would support,” said Bob Richter, Craddick’s press secretary.

The “compromise,” it turned out, was a combination of the Senate-drawn map and a map suggested by state Rep. Arlene Wohlgemuth, R-Burleson, one of Craddick’s top lieutenants.


The senators argued that Wohlgemuth’s map was identical to one favored by the Texas Republican congressional delegation, which could change the delegation to 21 Republicans and 11 Democrats. Currently, there are 17 Democrats and 15 Republicans.

“That being the case, and (Wohlgemuth) being a top member of the House leadership team, how could a top Republican leader offer a compromise on West Texas that the speaker has rejected?” Staples questioned.

But a Wohlgemuth aide countered that the legislator had no idea the senators were going to take just the West Texas part of her proposed map. It’s not even the part she wanted changed.

“She had no indication they were going to take her map and graft it like they did, and she is a little surprised, needless to say,” said Erica Phillips, Wohlgemuth’s legislative director.


Told that Craddick had rejected their plan, the normally soft-spoken Duncan sounded exasperated.

“It would be nice to be able to negotiate, instead of this take-it-or-leave-it stance,” Duncan said. “We have not been able to negotiate with the speaker, and no one else seems to have the authority to make any decision about West Texas except him.”

Well, it’s good to be the Queen, after all. Here’s more from the Morning News:

House Speaker Tom Craddick, R-Midland, swatted aside the Senate’s version of an olive branch, a proposed plan his spokesman said “would not do any of the things that the speaker would want.”

“They’re absolutely apart” on the specifics of a plan to boost the number of Republicans in Congress, said Bob Richter, Mr. Craddick’s press secretary.

Senate mapmakers, in announcing their offer of a compromise over West Texas districts, accused their House counterparts of stubbornness.

Sen. Todd Staples, R-Palestine, the author of the Senate’s map, said Mr. Craddick appears ready to block passage of any redistricting plan if he doesn’t get his way on every detail of a Midland-dominated congressional district the Senate’s already agreed to create.
“We believe that position is unreasonable,” Mr. Staples said.

Another Senate negotiator was more harsh about the bickering between House and Senate Republicans over a final plan to boost GOP representation in Congress.

“The House has been negotiating in bad faith,” said Sen. Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa of McAllen, the lone Democratic senator on the House-Senate conference.

Likewise, Mr. Staples accused the speaker’s office of “insensitivity” to the need for quick approval of a map.

Sing it, brothers. Meanwhile, farther down in the DMN story, we see Governor Perry exhibiting his usual level of leadership:

Last week, Mr. Perry called next Monday a “drop-dead” date for passing a bill. As his timetable appeared in jeopardy Wednesday, the governor downplayed his opposition to shifting the primary date.

“If that is what’s required, then that is what’s required,” he said. “When we have that election is not as important as having the election” using a map drawn by elected legislators instead of the current map, which was drawn by judges, Mr. Perry said.

“Now with that said, I would rather them not have to be changing primary dates,” he added.

Here’s a prediction for you: If the third session ends (on October 14, if I’m counting correctly) and there’s no map in hand, Perry will accept no blame for this debacle regardless of whether he calls a fourth session or not. (As it happens, I’ll be in France on that date, so someone else will have to keep an eye on this for me.)

Perry alluded to deadlines that would affect the primary date. Here’s the scoop from the Chron.

If a compromise is not reached among Republicans in the next several days, they likely will have to move the Texas 2004 primaries from March 2 to March 9 to be able to use a new redistricting plan.

If the debate goes beyond next week, the primaries likely would have to be moved to March 30, according to a letter by Secretary of State Geoff Connor.

While President Bush is unlikely to face a major challenge for renomination in the Republican primaries, the battle for the Democratic nomination could be held as late as March 9. But some candidate likely will have sewn the nomination up before March 30.

Hinojosa said moving the election date would have the effect of suppressing minority turnout in the Democratic primaries.

Staples said Republicans are aware that could cause problems implementing a new redistricting map under the federal Voting Rights Act.

“We know that moving election dates could possibly involve a pre-clearance issue with the Department of Justice,” Staples said. “We know there would be an additional expense to moving the election date.”

Here’s what House map author Phil King says to that.

“I don’t think the public cares whether the primary is in early March, late March, April or September,” King said. “I’d rather we take our time and not rush it here in the last hour, even if it means we have to keep going for a couple of more weeks in another special session.”

The Statesman has that quote as “I don’t think it makes a hill of beans to 99 percent of Texans if the primary is in March, April, May, June or August”, an assertion that fails the laugh test unless you believe that getting a new map done is something that 99% of Texans want to have happen before the 2004 election. I’m also willing to bet that every single county clerk in Texas wants to know as soon as possible when the primary will be, and they’ll want to know who’s going to pay for it if they have to hold a separate primary just for Congressional candidates. Moving the dates may or may not be an issue to Perry and his ilk, but doing so ain’t free.

Finally, some muddled thinking from Karen Hughes in the Chron:

Meanwhile, presidential adviser Karen Hughes weighed in on the Texas redistricting battle. She said it would be good for Bush to erase the 17-15 majority Democrats currently hold in the state’s congressional delegation.

“Our congressional delegation frequently votes in a way that is opposed to what the president supports and to what the people of Texas, polls show, support,” Hughes said.

Are you saying that a state’s Congressional delegation should mirror that state’s support for the President? If so, then shouldn’t Florida, a state whose support for Bush in 2000 was fairly evenly divided with opposition to him, have a delegation that’s closely balanced between the parties, instead of the 18-7 advantage Republicans currently enjoy? Besides, “supporting the President” is not the Congress’ job. Their job is to pass laws and represent their constituents’ views. Those constituents who live in districts that support Bush and yet reelected Democrats either think their Congressmen already show an appropriate level of support for him, or they think other issues are more important.

“This is not as a White House official. This is not as an adviser to President Bush. This is as Karen Hughes, who lives in Texas and would like my congressional delegation to represent my views,” she said.

Hughes is represented by U.S. Rep. Lamar Smith, R-San Antonio.

Your Congressperson already represents your views (I presume). Everybody else’s Congressperson is none of your damn business.

UPDATE: That last bit about Hughes and her Congressman is even funnier than I originally thought. I was emailed the following article from the Statesman, but I can’t find the URL right now (I’m still looking). Apparently, when Hughes made this complaint, she didn’t realize who her Congressman was:

She’s worked at the White House, traveled the world with the president and
played politics at the highest level.

But, like many rank-and-file Americans, Karen Hughes of Austin discovered
Wednesday that she didn’t know who represents her in the U.S. House.

At a news conference with Gov. Rick Perry, Hughes, an adviser to President
Bush, complained that local Democratic congressman Lloyd Doggett doesn’t
adequately represent her in the House.

Hughes later determined that Doggett doesn’t represent her at all.
Republican Lamar Smith of San Antonio does.

Hughes’ comments about Doggett had come as she discussed the congressional
redistricting effort under way at the Texas Capitol. She sided with
Republicans trying to draw a new map that will give them a majority of the
state’s 32 U.S. House seats.

“I don’t believe he frequently represents my point of view, but individually
that happens,” Hughes said of Doggett, who is as ideologically anti-Bush as
anyone in the House.

When Hughes got home, she pulled out her voter registration card and found
she lives in Smith’s district. Doggett did represent Hughes until the
congressional maps were redrawn in 2001.

Hughes dutifully called around to correct her error.

“This is terribly embarrassing but I believe I told y’all my wrong
congressman today,” she said. “I think I may be in Lamar Smith’s district,
which I’m sure is a big relief because I’m sure (Doggett) didn’t want to try
to represent me anyway,” she said.


UPDATE: Here’s the link, courtesy of Byron.

Comment spam

Grrr. Last night I was hit by a comment spammer, who injected an ad for his scummy website all over my blog. His IP address is, and the IP address of his accursed website is, so all you MT users should take preventative action and ban those addresses now. Meanwhile, I’m slogging through my recent comments deleting each one, which is an annoying and tedious task.

I forget who pointed me to this, but A Small Victory has a recent post about a gaggle of comment spams she’s received, and she’s included a list of IPs that she banned as a result. Even better, one of her commenters has pointed to this method for banning comment spam based on content, which I will be investigating.

Meanwhile, back to deleting I go…

UPDATE: All gone. I’m lucky that the jerk only spammed me about 20 times, instead of several hundred times. On to more productive things.

UPDATE: Here’s another IP to ban: I think I’m gonna have to bookmark this post, for everyone’s easy reference. And I need to get off my butt and implement that aformentioned general solution.

UPDATE: The complete list of comment-spammer IP addresses to ban:

This includes the address from which the comment was posted as well as the address of the website they’re shilling for. I’ll add more as I need to.

UPDATE: Added two more IP addresses. I also see that Jay Allen has released a new version of his comment de-spammer. Must download…

UPDATE: Ironically, as I came to this post to add three more IP addresses, I saw that it had been comment spammed, something I failed to notice the last time I updated this. Sheesh.