Beer Monopoly





  International Reports









Posted April 2008:

The other day I went to a panel discussion on the American Election Campaign organised by the German Marshall Fund and the Hanns-Seidl-Foundation. These two political think tanks had brought over from the United States one journalist and two party strategists (one GOP, one Democrat) who sent us home with the warning that we could be wrong to think that a Republican candidate could not win the race to the White House. In other words, the longer Mrs Clinton and Mr Obama continue their slugfest, the better for Mr McCain to build on his lead.

What I found most fascinating attending this discussion was not just the insight I gained into the use of the internet as a means of political campaigning – when it comes to using the web, European political parties have a lot of catching up to do – I particularly liked studying two high calibre spin doctors: one by the name of Juleanna Glover (Republican) and the other by the name of Jamal Simmons (Democrat). Female spin doctors in Europe are still a rare breed so I expected some self-effacing woman, a younger version of Chancellor Merkel, black trouser suit and all, but lo and behold, I was made to shake hands with a woman who behaved like a girlie, flopping her ginger hair about and speaking in a grating high pitched voice.

I mean does no one remember Mrs Thatcher and how she handbagged everyone once she had reinvented herself as one of the boys, taking elocution lessons and lowering her voice?

Ms Glover, on the other hand, did not live up to anybody’s expectations. As she sat there in her green stilettos, her purple tights, her blue dress and pink t-shirt, clutching her tiny evening bag whose rhinestone front would have made Liberace envious, I wondered if G.W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Rudi Giuliani and John McCain really listened to her advice as her biography claims?

American bloggers can be cruel. When I googled Ms Glover, I found out that she is referred to by three descriptors mostly: society hostess, lobbyist, and more recently, divorcee. 

Welcome to 2008. It’s as if the 70s never happened.




If you read German, I have a book recommendation for you. It’s a historical novel by Günther Thömmes, a Bitburg brewer who turned writer some years ago. His book is called “Der Bierzauberer” (The Beer Magician). I find the title a bit unfortunate because there is nothing magic in brewing a good beer. In the Middle Ages, the setting of his novel, that may have been the case, but I fear it was his publishing house that suggested the title to make the novel more sellable. A bit of suspense and mystery all mixed in with the mash – and the publisher will laugh all the way to the bank.

Actually, the plot keeps you in its grip. It revolves around a young man who becomes a brewer in Weihenstephan, then moves on to St. Gallen, falls out with the Inquisition, escapes to Bitburg, make his way to Cologne only to have a final and fatal showdown … I will not give away any more.

For anyone who is mildly interested in the history of brewing and life in the Middle Ages, this novel is a must-read.




The painter Valeska is a friend of mine. But even if she had not been, I would have chosen her painting “Globalisation” for my website. True, we have had to cut it down in size to fit onto a computer screen. We have multiplied it and done a Warhol on her. Our excuse? Call it artistic licence.

But should you ever get to Munich, ask your taxi driver to take you along Mittlerer Ring (Circular Road). Across from the mighty old pile that is the Bavarian Prime Minister’s Office, there is a bank building and on the ground floor there is a permanent exhibition of Valeska’s gigantic canvasses.  That’s why I suggested taking a taxi. That way you will not cause an accident (like other unlucky drivers before you) once you see Valeska’s work for the first time. These red hues, applied on canvasses several square metres large, are quite a sight to behold. Especially at night. You can take at look at Valeska’s art at



january 09 · october 08 · june 08 · may 08