A Brew Ha-Ha

Important News: Pabst Brewing Company is taking MillerCoors to court claiming that company is threatening its survival by refusing to brew Pabst’s beers.

Important question: Is MillerCoors trying to do Americans a huge favor by not brewing Pabst’s products?

Think about it: Why do we have a Pabst Brewing Company that in fact does not brew any of its own beers? Why couldn’t it be called the Pabst Quiltmakers Guild, or maybe Pabst anything else?

No seriously, think about it: When it comes to bottom feeders, that’s where you’ll find Pabst. The Pabst lineup of what we’ll charitably call beers includes in addition to Pabst Blue Ribbon the brands Old Milwaukee and Lone Star. What an unholy (and mostly undrinkable) trio of crappy brands. They are, in fact, even lower on the scale of tolerable that what you’ll get from MillerCoors (think Miller and Coors).

Did you know: There was once concern that if horses had to relieve themselves in cans and bottles the results would taste like Pabst beers, but …. oh, wait a minute, I’m being told that IS how they are produced. And whole lawsuit may have to do with who owns the horses.

History lesson: I used to drink Pabst (and Miller, for that matter) when I was a kid. That was back when Izzard Charles was heavyweight boxing champion (remember him?) and teenagers didn’t care what a beer tasted like, only that it was cheap. It was cheaper than Budweiser, which shows you just how incredibly low the bar was way back when. And Budweiser owned it’s horses, if you know what I mean….

The solution: If Pabst’s beers and MillerCoors were to go down the sewer together, no beer drinkers would be the worse off. But if its just Pabst, then we’re cutting the sewer a small break.

Election thoughts….

Some random thoughts after a mostly encouraging mid-term election…..

— The counting of some votes in Connecticut were delayed because, according to beady-eyed vote-counters, they were damp since it rained during the balloting and voters carelessly allowed raindrops to drip on their paper ballots. Of course the rain may have been yet another sneaky Republican effort at voter suppression since damp ballots occurred mostly in Democratic precincts.

— The recounts are getting underway in Florida. Again. 2000 Redux. Floridians should just go ahead and set up drinking parties to entertain themselves during the process. And since the process will likely go on until January I’d suggest some serious visits to the liquor stores.

— Voters in one Nevada district overwhelmingly voted to send a dead Republican pimp to the state legislature. Apparently they felt a dead Republican pimp was better than a live one.

— Remember occasionally peeing in your pants when you were very young and got all excited about something? It’s not hard to imagine Donald Trump peeing in his diaper when he announced that the results of the mid-terms represented a “great victory” for Republicans. He consistently gives new meaning to the “L” words: Loser and Liar.

— After a bitter battle for the governor’s office in Connecticut, it was refreshing (and downright rare) to hear the Democratic winner declare his promise to pursue bipartisan solutions to the state’s financial issues AND to hear his Republican opponent pledge cooperation from his party. Let’s hope something good comes from this.

— Democrats claimed every statewide office in Connecticut, but as impressive as that sweep was it didn’t match what happened in Maine, where a Democratic woman won the governor’s office and Democrats took control of the legislature after years of regression under the GOP and its demented governor Paul LePage. It’s ok to go back to Maine now.

Keep the Focus on the Future

Recent events have brought back to mind a disturbing incident that occurred many years back, during my middle school years, in fact.

We were outside enjoying recess on a sunny day when a group of 15 kids came marching out of the principal’s office headed for one of our playmates, who was off to himself on a far side of the playground. The 15 kids — all boys — surrounded the lone student and apparently a fist fight broke out.

Before we knew what happened, the kid was dismembered. You can imagine our surprise. The 15 kids quickly disappeared around a corner, and the principal appeared to reassure the rest of us that the poor lone student was just fine and had been seen leaving the playground. That seemed hard to believe, but, well….

The next day the principal told us that he had no idea what had happened on the playground. The following day he announced that a group of “rogue kids” had showed up in his office but that he had no idea what they were up to. And later the principal told us that there had been a misunderstanding and that the 15 kids had only gone outside to tell the student it was time to return to class and that regrettably a fight broke out.

You know, those things just happen, don’t they? And besides, the principal added that he had no idea that anything might go wrong. Further, he assured us the 15 students would be suspended from school for at least three days.

I think there were some parents who were a tad upset about this, but they didn’t want to ruin the school year for anyone else or anything like that, so the incident was largely forgotten.

I managed to put it out of my mind until that recent story about the disappearing Saudi journalist. But I’m sure we’ll all forget about that soon. After all, it’s important to keep our focus on the future

Is America No Longer America?

I simply can’t go on any more pretending not to be aware of what’s happening in America these days. It’s time to call a spade a space. Or rather, a doughnut.

Yes, the American institution known as Dunkin’ Donuts is has decided to change its name. Or rather it’s shortening its name, and I don’t mean it is going to start call itself just “Donuts.” That wouldn’t be right, not least because that is not the way doughnuts is spelled.

Millions of trusting Americans are now upset over this unilateral decision by DD management. Or perhaps now it’s merely “D” management. So are we supposed to get used to seeing a giant “D” above our long-time favorite outlets? And when you see one of those signs how will you know whether it’s Dunkin Donuts or Disney, Dollar General or, heck, maybe Duke University?

Here’s what’s really misleading about this: Dunkin is not doing away with Donuts. They will still be selling them, holes included, at every one of their stores. If you want a doughnut when you walk into the store, you’ll have to ask for it. Of course, you have to ask for it right now. So there’s that.

W don’t know why management decided to call itself Dunkin. Without donuts in the title, there’s no long any hint of what we ought to dunk into what. I’m not about to try dunking one of their cream cheese bagels into my cold brew, but without some help and guidance, will others fall into this trap? It’s regrettable t consider, but if it does the fault lies with an uncaring management.

I could go on, but frankly I’m too upset. At a time when American Democracy seems to be spinning out of control, this is the last straw. If you can’t count on Dunkin’ Donuts, what can you trust? And what’s next? Krispy? Colonel? Shame everywhere….

Promises Not Kept

So how’s our ethically and morally challenged president doing with all those promises he’s made to his supporters? Oops, not too good, it seems.

Remember a couple of his biggest pledges: drain the Washington swamp and build that wall (and get Mexico to pay for it)? Well, how’s that working out for everybody? If by draining the swamp you mean firing a few of the douchebags you hired for your staff, then yes, president donald is gradually draining the swamp. Except that he’s replaced them with even bigger and more corrupt incompetents who are wasting the taxpayer’s money at faster rates. That means the bottom line for this promise is — wait for it — promise not kept, not even close.

So how about the wall? You may have noticed it hasn’t been built. You may have observed that it doesn’t have the support of (Republican majority) Congress. Heck, you may even have noticed polls showing a huge majority of Americans don’t want it. And for head men’s sake, please don’t bring up the notion that Mexico will pay for it. Trump will be releasing his tax returns at Nancy Pelosi’s home before that happens.

And speaking of his tax returns, does anyone recall that during the debates with Hilary Clinton he promised he would be making his tax returns public in just a few days? Or was it a few years? Or was it never? Chalk that up to yet another promise never kept (and never intended to be kept).

Let’s move on to all the benefits to taxpayers from donald’s tax reform bill passed last year by Congress. Remember how the president assured taxpayers they’d be in for huge tax cuts? Well, donald did keep that promise, at least if you are among the very wealthiest Americans. For the rest of us, the solace benefits have been mostly invisible. Wages for everyone but the richest have been nearly stagnant in the last six months and getting more so. This was a promise most cruelly not kept. And decently promised at best.

But how about the economy, one of donald’s loudest promises lately? We’ve already mentioned wage stagnation, but consider how gasoline prices at the pump have jumped over the last six months of donnas administration? how much more are you spending there? More than enough to offset any income gains, I suspect, and those prices are only going to keep rising. Thanks Mr. president. And more bad news for taxpayers is coming as a result of the president’s poorly thought-out tariffs: soon you’ll begin paying a lot more for foods, tools, cars…. that will really cut into that extra money you’re undoubtedly stockpiling as a result of the tax cuts.

There’s more of course. After all, this president is really HUGE on promises. But let’s save those for another day. Sadly they aren’t disappearing any faster than donald’s lies.

Betrayal?

Let’s face facts: Donald Trump is a coward. But far worse, he gives every appearance of being willing to betray his country to a foreign power.

He’s a coward because while he talks big, he cowers when it comes to actual confrontation. He lacks the backbone — and the intelligence and decency — to face Vladimir Putin and accuse him of what we know to be a fact: Russia interfered in the 2016 presidential election an tried to see that Trump got elected.

That’s the conclusion of Trump’s own Justice Department and the Mueller investigation, which has indicted 12 Russian agents they believe played key roles in the hacking of the DNC files. But the President of the United States doesn’t believe them. He doesn’t even believe Russia had anything to do with the election because — get this — Putin told him so. He asked Putin if he ha interfered, and Putin said no. So Trump, a miserably cowardly human being, accepted that in place of an investigation by American agencies.

If that doesn’t represent a betrayal of America and American interests, what would you call it?

And so, Trump continues to glide from mere incompetence and egotism to a shunning of America’s basic democratic ideals and a willingness to submit himself and his country to the whims of a foreign power — and an unfriendly one at that.

That’s downright scary. So scary that you would expect members of Trump’s Republican party to step up and denounce it. It is unprincipled, and it is disgusting. And you would be wrong if you believe that more than a handful members of the GOP would speak up in defense of their country. That’s shameful.

There is at least one way to try and put an end to this madness, this meanness, this resort to traitorous behavior by the President. Vote to replace the Republicans in the Congress this year. And vote out Donald Trump in 2020. If you are a patriot — heck, if you are an American — you can do no less.

“A House divided against itself cannot stand.” – Abraham Lincoln.

Democracy, Schmocracy…

So, Donald Trump can invite brutal dictator and mass murderer Kim Jong Un to visit the White House but not the Philadelphia Eagles? Welcome to American Democracy 2.0.

Trump had his summit with Rocket Man and swooned. Kim was “very honorable, “very smart” and “very worthy.” He’s beloved by his people which anyone can tell because of their “fervor,” says our president. And yes, viral threats of death will have a lot of helpless citizenry shouting adoration with fervor.

But let’s not kid ourselves even as if Trump can so easily delude himself. This summit was a victory for Kim: recognition as legitimate on a world stage, securing an apparent end of U.S. military maneuvers with South Korea, and a limit on further economic and political sanctions. And what did Trump get out of this? A vague agreement for North Korea to work toward denuclearization, something the regime there has promised at least three other presidents without taking anything seriously. In other words, Trump remains a unable to broker a fair deal for the country he professes to care about.

This was a kind of diplomacy to be sure, but it was at the very least bad diplomacy. We’ll have to wait a bit to see how it turns out, but most of us already can make an educated guess: Trump somehow managed to bankrupt his gambling casinos, and now he’s proving he can do it on a much bigger and more important stage.

Our new friend is Kim Jong Un. Our new enemy is Canada? How backwards have we become. Allies are enemies, vicious dictators are our best buds. America is in trouble.

And by the way, the dishonesty of Donald Trump knows no limits, up or down. The New York attorney general has filed suit against the Trump Foundation and three of his family members for persistent illegal conduct in the operation of their supposedly charitable foundation. It seems Trump oversaw a foundation that didlittle for charities while enriching itself by paying off his business creditors and becoming entangled in his election campaign.

The suit is far-reaching and is humiliating. To have a man holding the greatest office in the land to have done such small, mean and selfish acts through his charitable foundation is atrocious and ought to disqualify Trump from the human race (at least for decent members of that race). And the suit notes that the foundation board of directors — mostly Trump’s family — failed to oversee the organization’s operation and, in fact, haven’t had a meeting since the beginning of the 21st century.

The bar is now so low, of course, that it’s actually reasonable to wonder how many people will be upset by this revelation, and how many will simply toss it off as “doesn’t matter” because “he has my back,” whatever that means in a nation gone awry.

The Simple Truth…

When the king is a liar, truth becomes treason.

Not my line, but it certainly resonates in the wake of Donald Trump’s assertion that he regards himself as above all laws. Didn’t this country fight a war with Great Britain to remove itself from a monarchy that believed itself above all laws? Well yes, but that was a long time ago, right?

This is, after all, a president who has fired his FBI director in an effort to halt an investigation of his possible links to Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election. This is the president who has made clear he detests his Justice Department director because he refused to stop the investigation. This is a president who has committed all sorts of lies in an hapless effort to divert attention from that investigation, and who most recently says he could even garden himself if he were to be convicted as a result of the investigation.

This is a president who words and behaviors bear no relation to truth or honesty and whose administration seems committed only to enriching itself while wreaking havoc on American democracy. Trump remains a malcompetent person — a bumbling, inarticulate shadow of a leader — whose danger to the health of the country he heads cannot be overstated.

His words that he is above all laws and can pardon himself from any crimes show exactly who he is: a tyrant in the making and a man whose removal from office is not merely a remedy but a requirement for all of us concerned about the country we love, a country whose greatness is under assault.

Free Speech Tested

Those of us who advocate free speech and believe that freedom applies even to cranks, crazies and congenitally disposed-to-lie presidents have quite an on-going test these days. What’s going on is exposing ever-more fissures developing between the political left and right.

First it was Roseanne, she of noxious conspiracy theories and racist tweets, who compared former White House official and African American woman Valerie Jarrett to an ape. That was “vile and vicious” indeed, and her employer ABC promptly fired her. And while Roseanne had every right to say what she did, merely confirming her blatant racism, her employer had every right to permit her to feel the consequences right away. Liberals applauded, the Trump White House could not manage to offer a single word about it.

A few days later when TV comic and commentator Samantha Bee called the president’s daughter a very ugly “c” word, the White House was quick to label the remark “vile and vicious.” Thats because she’s perceived as a liberal, and conservatives jumped aboard the blame express, the same they missed with Roseanne. Samantha Bee of course had every right to say what she did even though it was vulgar. Whether or not she pays a similar price as Roseanne remains to be seen.

What stands out from this, unfortunately, is that we are so terribly polarized in every aspect of our society that we can no longer acknowledge what’s wrong unless it happens to the other side. And the actions of the President of the United States makes this even more egregious by his choosing to ignore and failing to condemn racist words and behaviors (remember his comments about the Nazi white supremacists in Virginia last year?).

Maybe Roseanne felt is was ok to say what she did because she’s only following in the path trampled by the president. Maybe Samantha Bee felt she could say what she did because the level of public discourse has rarely been so low. Whatever the case, these incidents contribute to the poisoning our democracy. They are shameful and they demean us all.

More Money for You?

So, how are hard-working, low-income Americans faring under the economics of Donald Trump these days? These are, after all, Trump’s electoral base, people who voted for him in 2016 and who still loudly proclaim they are die-hard Trump backers.

First, take a quick look at Trump’s tax plan, approved by Republicans last year. Have incomes are the majority of Americans gone up? For a few hourly workers, there’s been a modest one-time-only bonus. For even fewer there’s been an increase in their take-home pay. But who’s gotten the real benefits, the tens of millions dollars? It’s been the wealthiest Americans and large corporations.

And how about costs for low-income folks? Health care costs are rising, largely because of the fumbled efforts of Trump and his GOP allies to dismantle Obamacare, which has resulted only forcing more people into uninsured ranks and forcing others to pay more for less.

And then there’s the cost of gas at the pump. Are you better off now than you were before Trump came into office? No way. Prices are now approaching $3 per gallon in Connecticut and such more elsewhere. That will quickly eat up whatever tiny increases workers found in paychecks. And it’s only going to get higher, thanks to Donald Trump.

And speaking of health care, by the way, Trump once vowed he would take serious steps to trim rising health care costs. But yesterday he announced a “plan” to lower costs which eliminates any serious steps he once advocated. Indeed, his plan has pleased big pharma so much that when the plan was announced, drug company stocks jumped upward. That’s a “plan” that will have little or no effect on tens of millions of hard-working Americans. Thank you, Donald Trump. You and your Republican allies can celebrate doing nothing helpful to people who need help the most while assuring big corporations they will have a free hand in socking it to everyone else.

Still feel like thanking Donald Trump for getting more money for you?