My wallet contains over a dozen “get-the-tenth-cup-free” cards for coffee shops as far as Plymouth, Sturbridge, Meredith, Kennebunkport.

I favor them not just because they are independent, but because their coffee invariably tastes better.

At times I race up the Maine coast, down to Cape Cod, around Winnipesaukee, along the Mohawk Trail, or deep into the heart of Connecticut with no choice but a quick stop.

Never settling for Dunkin’, I look for Starbucks, not because it is upscale, but because coffee there — though not as flavorful as Kiskadee, Dockside, Kaffmandu, Brewed Awakenings, Commune — is strong and satisfying.

Since I never pay more than $2.30, why do I keep hearing that Starbucks is $7 per cup?

For years, I’ve rolled my eyes at deliberate distortions that stereotype anyone who presumes to have any taste by those who insist on — and are comfortable only with — lowest common denominators (LCDs).

Now, comes a social media meme prompted by Starbucks possibly offering beer and wine: “Apparently, it’s getting difficult to sell sober people a $12 cup of coffee.”

If that joker can inflate to deflate, this joker can conflate to retaliate: This is the same complaint that PBS is all nonstop fundraising.

Truth is that during fundraisers, less than 15 minutes per hour are spent soliciting. Commercial television and radio, meanwhile, typically devote eight minutes of half-hour shows, including news, to advertisements.

Considering that they do it 365 days a year while public stations do it 10 or 12, it’s like someone atop Mount Washington complaining that Turkey Hill is too high.

Moreover, fundraisers tell us how information is gathered. Here’s what commercials tell us:

That Wells Fargo, AIG, Chase and other wrecking balls against the economy in 2007 are wonderful, conscientious citizens now working in America’s best interests.

Ditto environmental criminals such as Volkswagen, Exxon/Mobil, BP, Monsanto, Koch Industries, Nestle.

That video games immersed in violence and mayhem are “rated M for mature” where “greatness awaits.”

That “amazing” and “awesome” are now nouns reduced to descriptions such as “quick and easy.”

That Walmart is “community,” that Applebee’s is “neighborhood,” that Chevy is “family.”

Budweiser’s Renaissance ads define LCDs. When the effeminate visiting king requests mead rather than the party’s “Dilly Dilly” choice, he and his queen are comically dismissed as the voiceover intones: “For the many. Not the few.”

As an added dig at elitists who might prefer an IPA or stout, the king is named “Pamplemousse,” French for “grapefruit.”

Commercials mirror another walk of modern American life steeped in distortions and stereotypes that target audiences.

Still mystified by John McCain’s VP selection in 2008? Allowing for the allure of LCDs, Sarah Palin made perfect sense as an appeal to voters who preferred George Bush over Al Gore in 2000 and John Kerry in 2004.

Didn’t work for McCain. But it works like cream and sugar, tweet by tweet, for someone who has made — or litigated — a living off LCDs, particularly the ultimate LCD, reality television.

“Send her back!” is “You’re fired!” politicized. Treating public reaction as mere television ratings, he can claim that “many people like it” — the gateway LCD.

This summer, CNN may have out-LCDed them all by promoting the Democratic debates like prize fights on ESPN2 or showdowns on “Survivor.”

Sometimes, I think America has become a nonstop limbo contest. Due to this constant dance, many of “the many” now accept no end to absurdities:

Muslims cheering 9/11 from New Jersey’s shore. Windmills causing cancer. George Washington capturing Cape Canaveral. Alabama in the path of a Sharpicaine. Betsy DeVos. Kellyanne Conway. Rudy Giuliani. Fox News.

Followed by atrocities: Children in cages. Putin in Helsinki. Brett Kavanaugh. William Barr. Betrayal of allies who aided us following 9/11.

And obscenities: A baby returned to an El Paso hospital for a photo op when all those still being treated for wounds from a rapid-fire AK-47 refused to meet the man who “put a target on our backs.”

A president and first lady grinning ear to ear while brandishing the orphaned baby as giddily as if he were a plate of tasty tacos.

As with the preference for weak coffee over strong, the question for Trump supporters remains: At what price?

Caffeinate with Jack Garvey, author of “Keep Newburyport Weird” and, at

Recommended for you