Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Miller: Folsom Coors Blues

The wing-nuts fell into predictable hysteria a couple of weeks ago over Miller Brewing sponsoring the annual "leather" Folsom Street festival in San Francisco. The pretend-outrage was "shared" by "all". Those who did not take sufficient offense were shunned and scorned in the right-wing of the Marquette faculty lounge. My new favorite unintentional comedian, John McAdams, took the stunned Rick Esenberg to task for his "mellow" attitude towards Miller’s tacit encouragement of children in leather vests and an apparently very butch re-imagining of the Last Supper, originally fantasized in a painting by Da Vinci.

It’s hard to figure out exactly what the Accidental Professor was getting at, but it had something to do with acting like he was offended because (he says) lefties play the "offended card" and thereby gain great power. "...[T]hey need to face a right that will play by the same rules," the fevered McAdams proclaimed, saying is was like "the prisoner’s dilemma", an interesting philosophical challenge that he twisted beyond all recognition. But, wait, it gets better (with McAdams, it always does): "This logic is why I rather applaud attacks on academic freedom from the right. I don't want them to succeed, but I do want leftist academics to be afraid that their academic freedom might be taken." (my italics) Thus does the supposed academic encourage attacks so that other academics feel the Fear. Seriously. You just can’t make this kind of stuff up.

In any event, the fact that lesser bulbs like McAdams, Michelle Malkin and Jessica McBride (still trying to get traction with, well, whatever you got) feigned bundled undies over the whole thing was properly ignored at Miller HQ in Milwaukee. Little did we know then that they had bigger fish to fry. A mere week after the wing-nut flare-up, the company announced an alliance even more unholy than they could ever have with some harmless alternate-lifestyle fringees in San Francisco. Our own Miller Brewing – at least it always seemed that way – has jumped in bed with right-wing, anti-union Coors Brewing in Colorado.

Just as Miller has lost much of its local identity and character since it was sucked into a South African brewing conglomerate, Coors has tried to take a step back in recent years from the nut-right inclinations of its founding family. Adolph's grandson Joseph Coors was in the "kitchen cabinet" of Hollywood actor Ronald Reagan and was instrumental in founding one of the bastions of the permanent right-wing misinformation campaign, the Heritage Foundation. He also contributed to the illegal terrorist Contra campaign run by Oliver North against Nicaragua in the 1980s. Since then, his son Pete Coors – still the chairman of Coors – ran as a fairly predictable right-winger for the Senate in 2004, losing to Democrat Ken Salazar.

Coors has had a long-running battle with organized labor, and labor leaders at Miller are justifiably concerned about how that will affect their status at Miller Coors. After Coors permanently replaced union workers with scabs in 1977, the AFL-CIO conducted a fairly-successful nation-wide boycott of Coors products for the next ten years. The boycott was dropped when Coors agreed to stop anti-union activity and allow a representation election, although Teamsters lost the election and the two Coors plants remain non-union.

With the battle looming over where the new Miller Coors will be headquartered, Wisconsin’s right wing finds itself hoisted on its own imaginary petard. GOP front-groups like Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce (WMC) find themselves between their own harsh election-year rhetoric about Wisconsin’s "tax hell" and trying to convince Miller Coors that this is not such a bad place after all. This is especially delicate for them at a time that their lackeys in the State Assembly are playing politics with the state budget with the same sort of reckless language about Wisconsin’s supposedly lousy business climate, etc. Senior Wing-nut Charlie Sykes has already pretty much given up trying to take back all the nonsense he has said about Wisconsin in the past, implying that the company would be crazy to headquarter in Milwaukee because of Colorado’s superior ranking by the right-wing Tax Foundation. Thanks for the help, Charlie.

With Miller’s marriage of convenience, another part of the soul of the city slips away. Coors just has too much baggage that will prevent it from ever losing its unfortunate political past and present, even if it wanted to. Now Miller carries some of that baggage and, even if the company manages to stay anchored in Milwaukee, it will now be affected by that legacy. It may be that Great Lakes and mountain water don't mix


Anonymous said...

Why are your posts always so personally insulting to others?

Anonymous said...

Also, when did you stop beating your wife?

Mike Plaisted said...

"Personally insulting" to who? McAdams? I don't know anything about him personally and care even less. All I know -- and all I am commenting on -- are his writings on his blog and on comment threads. Just because his expressed "thoughts" are ludicrious doesn't make him personally so. I think his comment that he supports attacks on academic freedom as a political tactic is outragious on its face and subject to ridicule without my help.

I am attacking the idea and the tactic, not the person. He's embarassing himself and his cause. Nothing is more insulting to him than what he himself puts out under his own name.

Anonymous said...

"He's embarassing himself and his cause. Nothing is more insulting to him than what he himself puts out under his own name."

That goes for you as well. :)

Mike Plaisted said...

Fine, so tell me how. What have I ever written that is as ridiculous as encouraging attacks on academic freedom? Get it out there and let's talk about it. Unlike McAdams, at least I'll engage and respond. And not Anonymously.

Anonymous said...

Ah yes, that evil, right-wing, racist, anti-union company Coors will doom us all!! Run for the hills Mike while you can!!

By the way, it's not a South African's based in London, not South Africa.

Mike Plaisted said...

S.A.B. = South African Brewery. It started there and has since expanded, but its international offices are still there, according to its web site. The media and investor contact numbers appear to be England.

Did I say "evil" or "racist", Anony? No. Do we need to run for the hills or anywhere else? No. Will I be buying Coors? No. Miller? More of a "maybe" than it used to be.

patrick said...

I heard on one of the shows that Wisconsin's ranking in terms of business climates was 39th out of the states. Maybe it was Sykes that talked about this. Anyway, this survey was most likely done by one of those right-wing groups that lefty bloggers and politicians like to ignore. The problem is, and what sykes was commenting about, is that business leaders don't ignore that kind of stuff. To the type of people who might bring an assembly plant to wisconsin and employ 1500 people to make a profit, that sort of thing does make a difference. The left can talk all it wants about this or that necessary program, but none of them will bring a useful job to wisconsin. If I were Doyle, I'd be on the phone with Miller right now, because you can bet the people from colorado are. Instead, Doyle is likely trying to figure which republicans he can pick off to get his job killing tax hikes passed. And while the left argues that we should all be happy to surrender the money we earn, the people at Miller are quietly asking a different set of questions.

And who cares which political causes the founder of Coors was involved in? I'm sure it counts for squat to the blue and white collar workers over at Miller who must be restless wondering if their jobs will still be there this time next year.

Mike Plaisted said...

I'm sure Jim Doyle is taking this situation with all the seriousness it deserves, making the retention of Miller a top priority. Why would you think he would ignore the possible loss of the Miller HQ in Milwaukee? Doyle and Wisconsin government can do more than two things at once. I'm sure he's made the calls and has the staff at Commerce working on it 24/7. Why wouldn't he?

As for waht business leaders consider when locating or continuing to locate somewhere, they are not as small-minded as wing-nuts on the radio. Sure, they look at at tax ratings from right-wing organizations -- I mean, how can you avoid it? But they also look at quality of life and the quality of the available workforce.

It will be a close call between Denver and Milwaukee for Miller Coors. We are already behind the 8-Ball because the designated CEO is a Coors guy. The decision for people like Sykes and you, patrick, is whether you are going to try to prove a political point about Wisconsin's supposed business climate on the backs of the hard-working Miller workforce.

More illuminating, ask yourself this: Taxes weren't that much different under Tommy Thompson. If he or another Republican were still governor, would you still be throwing up your hands and giving up on Wisconsin? Or would you be the booster we all should be right now? There is such a thing as a self-fufilling prophecy, and the last thing you guys on the right want is to be proven wrong. Even when you are.

And, yeah, I think the Coors family has a lot of death to answer for by supporting the contras in Central America and a lot of all kinds of pain for helping create the phony Heritage Foundation "think" tank. If I ran a corporation, I would try to avoid my customers having to take one side of the other. As it is, Coors has a history of being on the wrong side of everything.

Anonymous said...

Before being bought by SAB, Miller was owned by Philip Morris. Its local character was gone a long time ago.

You ask what would indicate that Doyle would do nothing about trying to keep Miller here? How about past history? He didn't even pick up the phone to invite Honda in for a tour when they were looking for a place to build a plant.

BTW - I am not the anon. who made the posts earlier in this string. Don't want to take credit for others' work.

Anonymous said...

Mike, you'd be more persuasive if you were not obviously obsessively fixated on Sykes-hatred. It's getting creepy. Dud, you need a new life. Or at least a hobby.

Other Side said...

Anonymous 4:05 pm: I think you laid the dud.

guess said...

To the anony who feels the need to attack our author @ every opportunity. Reading your comments is becoming an enormous waste of all of our time. I could easily have cut and pasted your comments from the last blog and they would have the same impact. Clearly this is personal for you. Your opinions seem to have little or nothing to do with what has been written and a lot to do with a personal dislike for Mike Plaisted. How about this, maybe you could call him up, meet him at a bar, and settle things like men so you can stop wasting everyone else's time reading comments like "wife beater" and "Sykes hater". We get it. We got it last week, and last month, and the one before that. Come up with new a relevant comment or get off the guys back.

Anonymous said...

Bye Bye Miller. There is no earthly reason the merged company will continue operations in Wisconsin vs Colorado. it would be a business blunder to keep operatons in Wisconsin when there is now a perfect opportunity to bail.

Mike archive this. if I'm wrong a year from now I'll give you $1,000 if you repost my comment in it's entirity.

As old school business folds or bails in Wisconsin a lot of the people left behind wind up working in service jobs in the ever increasing state government. There's no stopping it as Who's gonna' get elected by promising to fix the situation? i.e. cut expenses (jobs).

Sorry about being anon. Am interviewing in Colorado right now and not on my home system. Got about 3" of snow yesterday.

Curt said...

The only thing Miller has going for it, is gravitational pull. My guess is that it is a larger operation, which makes eliminating it somewhat harder. But on taxes, workforce, labor situation, and quality of life, Milwaukee doesn't stand a chance. I'm looking to follow Anony above out there. Colorado is on our short list of places to move to.

As for Miller's questionable advertising. It wasn't the brightest thing that group has done. They have the better product, but Bud has been kicking their butt advertising for 20 years. Putting their logo on that ad, was stupid. It had to cost a lot more in lost revenue than it could possibly have broght in. (Including any future revenue from my household)

That aside, it would be huge loss for Milwaukee to lose another good blue collar employer.