Saturday, November 25, 2017

This Bud’s for you


If you look at the label at the top of a Budweiser beer, this is what you will see: 

“This is the famous Budweiser beer. We know of no brand produced by any other brewer which costs so much to brew and age. Our exclusive Beechwood Aging produces a taste, a smoothness, and a DRINKABILITY that you will find in no other beer at any price.” 

Long ago, I committed this phrase to memory, and occasionally use it in classes to demonstrate how to improve memory.

We all know what taste and smoothness in a beer mean, but what exactly is DRINKABILITY? I really wasn’t sure, but discovered the answer this morning when I was researching when Budweiser changed its formula to the bland version sold in stores today. For the record, the only time that I buy Budweiser is when I plan to use it to marinade either bratwurst of Italian sausage, but I recently bought a 12 pack of the 1933 Repeal Reserve amber  lager, which Anheuser-Busch just released in order to celebrate the ratification of the repeal of Prohibition on December 5, 1933.  

To perfectly honest, the stuff that I just bought is a very good beer. Unlike the regular Budweiser (which has an alcohol content of 4.2%), the Repeal Reserve has an alcohol content of 6.1%., and it definitely is NOT the beer that your dad used to drink. 

According to the article shown below, drinkability means the ability to drink more than one beer without feeling full. For that reason, the #1 selling beer in America is Bud LIGHT, followed by Coors LIGHT, Budweiser, Miller LIGHT, Corona, Natural LIGHT, Busch LIGHT, Michelob Ultra, Busch, and Heineken.  

Here is a list of the 10 most popular beers sold in America: 

 The fact that the beers listed above are the most popular beers sold in America doesn’t necessarily mean that they are actually good beers, as the taste test above indicates.  

In the last 40 years, the amount of hops and malt in today’s Bud has decreased dramatically, even though the inflation-adjusted price has not gone down. As a result, the per-bottle profit has increased quite a bit since the old days. Tinkering with the formula can sometimes have disastrous results, which Schlitz learned in the 1970’s. At one time, it was the most popular beer in America, but the deterioration of taste, combined with a bizarre 1970’s ad campaign, put the brewery out of business. Fortunately, you can still buy the ORIGINAL FORMULA Schlitz today, but it is not readily available

I still buy the occasional 6 pack of Budweiser just because I like their ads, which proves that they have some smart people in their marketing department. Here is a sample of some of their best ads:

Those smart people have noticed that the craft beer industry has grown dramatically in recent years. As a result, Anheuser-Busch has settled on the successful formula of “if you can’t beat them, joint them” 

In addition to Budweiser, Anheuer-Busch also owns Rolling Rock, Shock Top, Natural, Johnny Appleseed, Landshark Lager, Goose Island, Elysian Brewing, and Four Peaks.

They also have a minority interest (32%) of Redhook Ale, Widmer Brothers, and a few others.

There’s been an increased emphasis in the last year to “buy American”, which is not an easy thing to do. The classic American car, the full size Chevrolet, was the best selling car in America for close to 30 years. However, it is NOT an American car, since it is made in Ontario. If you are really hankering for a good old American beer, you’ll have to buy something other than Budweiser, since Anheuser-Busch is now a wholly owned subsidiary of Belgium based In-Bev. The REAL American beer is Yuengling, a family owned brewery that has been in operation since 1829.

To quote Benjamin Franklin, “beer is living proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy”. If drinking Budweiser makes you happy, I am not going to rain on your parade.


Cheers !






Steve Bannon is in town!



On the evening of November 18, Steve Bannon spoke at the Marriott resort on the west side of Tucson. He was invited to that venue by the Brian Terry foundation, which used the occasion to present him with their “courage in journalism” award. According to the local paper, roughly 400 people paid anywhere from $50 to 1000 to hear Mr. Bannon speak. Not surprisingly, his presence also attracted about 200 demonstrators, who lined both sides of Starr Pass Avenue in the vicinity of the resort. The protest was peaceful, and no one was injured or arrested.



The award given to Mr. Bannon was given to him due to his coverage of the “Fast and Furious” program in Breitbart, the publication that he has been in charge of for several years. His article specifically mentions that death of Brian Terry. 



As you may recall, Brian Terry was a Border Patrol agent who was killed at the end of 2010. The guns that killed him were purchased from the “Fast and Furious” gun program that our government instituted during the Presidency of George W. Bush. The program was called “Operation Wide Receiver” when it was started in 2006, but the name was changed to “Fast and Furious” in 2010.


Due to their suspect credibility, I don’t watch FOX “news” (where right wing radio host Michael Levin will soon have a weekly show), or read Breitbart or the National Enquirer, all of which are the chief sources of information for Donald Trump. Out of curiosity, I looked up the article that Bannon had written in Breitbart about Brian Terry. You can read the entire article by clicking on the link below.



Frankly, I didn’t expect to read an unbiased article in Bannon’s publication, and I was right. He mentions the Obama “scandals “ of Benghazi, the IRS, Department of Justice phone tapping, Pigford, GSA, Solyndra, Lightsquared, and the EPA administrator email aliases. If you take a few minutes to research them, you’ll quickly discover that NONE of them were actually a scandal. Naturally, the article says absolutely NOTHING about the involvement of the Bush administration in the “gun running program”, which was originated by ATF offices in Phoenix and Tucson.


Although he no longer works for the Trump administration (he has since returned to Breitbart), Bannon is still very much a Trump supporter. In his speech, he said, “President Trump needs your backing now more than ever. this nullification process that is underway, this nullification that is trying to take away the 2016 victory from the American people and Trump supporters – it has to be stopped “.  


According to Bannon, Trump would not be President if the Brian Terry incident has not occurred. He blamed the “elite global apparatus” and multinational corporations for resistance to a massive wall along the Mexican border.


The immigration issue happens to be one of my “hot buttons”, so I’d like to add a few comments at this point. The first of those comments is that spending $20 billion for a massive wall along the Mexican border is a REALLY STUPID idea. Mexico is not going to pay for it, and neither are the U.S.  taxpayers.


 During the 2016 Presidential campaign, Trump said that he was going to deport all 11 million illegal immigrants. Since it would cost an estimated $285 billion to deport all those people, it simply is not going to happen. The link below provides more details.



Even if we came to our senses and did not build the wall, we STILL spend $12 billion a year on border security, and the NET migration from Mexico has been ZERO since 2004. Click on the links below for an expanded discussion.





In 2006, the Bush administration passed the “Secure Fence Act”. As a result, we erected close to 700 miles of fence along the border, at a cost of roughly $1 billion. To quote the late Illinois Senator Everett Dirksen, “a billion here and a billion there – pretty soon you are talking about some real  money”.


To their credit, the founding fathers built “freedom of speech” into the 1st amendment to the Constitution. Although it allows people like Steve Bannon the right to publish nonsense in publications like Breitbart, it also allows peaceful protestors the freedom to assemble and protest right wing extremists like Steve Bannon,


For that, we can all be grateful.  









Saturday, November 18, 2017

Pope on a rope

Both my wife and I grew up in Catholic families, so it should not be a surprise that both of our families had at least a few “pope on the rope” soaps at various times in our childhood. It is difficult to determine when the “pope on a rope” was first sold, but it is easy to determine when they were no longer available. In 1985, the Vatican decided that having a chunk of soap fashioned to look like a pope was not a proper use of a papal figure, and sales stopped soon after that.

Both of our families also had magnetic St. Christopher statues sitting on the dashboard of the family sedan. With the advent of padded dashes, the magnetic statues became outdated, but you can still buy St. Christopher medals today. Since St. Christopher is the patron saint of travelers, having a medal of him in your car on a long trip is probable a good idea.

Contrary to common opinion, the history of papal succession is NOT an unbroken line of men from St. Peter to the present day. The first break in the tradition is Pope Joan, who apparently was the pope for a brief period of time in the 11th century. Since Pope Joan is a bit of a legend, and since she is not listed on the register of popes, it is difficult to tell if she was actually the pope, but her legend lives on.

The first disruption in the “chain of command” was the Western Schism, which lasted from 1378 until 1417, when men of the Avignon papacy and the Rome papacy both claimed to be pope. Things got even more complicated in 1409 when the Council of Pisa established a THIRD pope. Starting in 1414, the Council of Constance cleared things up. Today, there is only one pope, who lives in Rome. The Eastern Orthodox Church of today does not have a pope, but Bartholomew 1 holds the title of “primus inter pares” which means “first among equals”.

Over the years, I have read a few books about the various popes. “Hitler’s pope”, published in 1999, describes how Pope Pius XII dealt with the rise of Hitler, who was actually raised as a Catholic.

More recently, I am in the process of reading “The Francis Miracle”, which provides a great deal of information about the man who was born as Jorge Mario Bergoglio in Italy.

Even if you are not a Catholic, it is a compelling story about his unlikely ascendancy to his current position. In my opinion, he is the best pope of my lifetime, but that is an opinion that would not be shared by the more conservative Catholics of today. The most prominent of that group would include German Cardinal Gerhard Mueller and American Cardinal Raymond Burke. Since Mueller is the pope’s own doctrinal chief, the reign of Pope Francis will become even more interesting to watch.

In his closing comments, the author of the book (John L. Allen) had this to say about Pope Francis:

“Catholicism has never fully been the church of Pope John XXIII, John Paul II, or, for that matter, Gregory the Great or St. Peter himself. It has too much of its own mind -  or, rather, 1.2 billion individual minds, all encouraged by Catholic tradition to bring their own reason to bear on what the faith means to them. The nature of the Church is that no one individual, not even a pope, can dictate its rhythms and its culture. That said, a handful of popes over the centuries clearly changed the Church forever, definitely closing some doors and kicking others open against all odds.

Francis’s mission is to move the Church to the political center, the margins of the world and the heart of the gospel. Will he pull it off in a way that lasts? We can’t be certain, of course, but anyone watching him at work knows the smart bet probably isn’t against him”   

Can I get an “amen”, brothers and sisters?