POST-GAZETTE - Res Publica

Of Coffee and Commies

by David Trumbull

July 29, 2005

One of the benefits --if we can call it that-- of getting older is that I become more tolerant of my own and others' foibles. For example, I no longer fret about my inability to plan properly for financial security in retirement. It's not that I don't have a plan, it just that it's not the sort that Fidelity Investments recommends. I plan to smoke, drink, and eat too much and die leaving the credit card companies holding the bag. So far I am exactly on track for my plan.

Likewise, I've become more tolerant of one of my pet peeves in other people -- gullibility.

I just got another one of those forwarded E-mails. You know the kind. It had every sign of being an urban legend. Many people had forwarded it. Who knows where it originated? It told the story of a friend of a friend who knows it's true 'cause she got it from a friend of a friend whose mother knew the writer. I used to get peeved at people for sending this garbage. I'd dashed off a curt note telling them so. Now, older, wiser, and fatter, I sit back, light up a Lucky, pour a glass of rye, and use the incident as fodder for a column that has been about as well-planned as my retirement.

The E-mail called for a boycott of Starbucks coffee because the chain supposedly does not support our service men and women in Iraq. On its face the claim is utterly unbelievable. Whatever the top managers at Starbucks think of the war, they would never put their corporation into the middle of a controversy that can only lose customers.

Now, personally, I don't drink Starbuck coffee, but that is only because it is the second worse tasting coffee I've ever had. The worst, by the way, is at The Union Club of Boston. But in that stronghold of old fashioned Yankee Republicanism the bad coffee is probably intentional --something that, like cold showers, "builds character." Actually I used to frequent Starbucks rather a lot when I lived in Central Square, Cambridge. The Square in those days had at least a half-dozen coffee houses and Starbucks had by far the worst coffee, but it was the only place I could sit and read the paper without being pestered for "spare change." If anyone knows where the good coffee is it's the panhandlers and bums who drink it all day.

Similar E-mails have been circulating with the same baseless charges directed at various American businesses. I cringe every time I get one from some conservative who ought to know better. They attack a business that provides goods that people want at attractive prices and makes money for millions of stockholders. Give the liberals this: those commies are wily. They even dupe their opponents into spreading their anti-American and anti-business lies for them.

David Trumbull is the chairman of the Boston Ward Three Republican Committee; he may be contacted at (617) 742-6881 or Boston's Ward Three includes the North End, West End, part of Beacon Hill, downtown, waterfront, Chinatown, and part of the South End.