Vision Thing

A lifetime ago, when there was a general consensus among politicians of both parties that their aim was to improve the lives of Americans, Ronald Reagan could justifiably claim the Republicans were a party of ideas (not always very good ideas, but still, ideas), in fact, when George H.W. Bush ran to succeed Reagan, Republicans were concerned he lacked the Vision Thing to carry on the GOP ideas tradition. Today’s Republican Party does not even pretend anymore.

The Trumplican Party replaced ideas with conspiracy theories, and is firmly committed to minority rule. The remaining innovative thinkers in the Republican Party are focused on ways to maintain power without gaining a majority of votes. The rest of the Party simply looks for ways to eliminate democracy, such as the January 6 insurrection.

The GQP innovators are now working overtime to use the Big Lie of the stolen election to suppress votes in states around the country. These efforts are not new, but they are the tried and true means for the Republicans to stay in power. Extreme Gerrymandering, playing with the Census and not correcting the representation model set in 1911. I have written about this before, here, here, and here.

Across the country, local elections have never been more important. State legislatures are preparing for the redistricting work that defines voting districts. The key is voting for candidates who believe voters should choose their representatives, and not the other way around. Yes, Gerrymandering was once a bipartisan practice, but that is not where we are today.

Both parties are not the same. One party caters to white supremacists and uses Nazi symbology. This is not a majority coalition and that’s why Republicans have to work so hard to suppress the votes of the overwhelming non-Nazi majority of Americans.

Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party never gained a majority in Germany before taking power. We can still fight a Trumplican takeover at the ballot box, but it will be easier if we can defeat their efforts to disenfranchise significant parts of the population. Passing the HR 1 voting rights bill, is a good start. Ideas from Democrats, showing they have the vision thing now.

Have a Suppressor #1 while you make a voting plan. From A Modern Guide to Sherry by Talia Baiocchi, the Suppressor #1 is:

1 oz Dolin dry vermouth

1 oz Cocchi Americano

1 oz Pedro Ximenez sherry

8 drops Bittermens Hopped Grapefruit bitters

2 heavy barspoons lime juice

Add ingredients over crushed ice in a Julep cup (or Mai Tai glass in this case) garnish with orange peel and mint (mint omitted, it’s February in New Jersey).

Cheers!

Dead Weight

The aquittal of ex-president Trump for inciting the January 6 insurrection by the Republicans in the U.S. Senate was not a surprise, and could be one of the final acts of a dying political party.

The second impeachment of Trump has only tightened the ties that bind Trump to the GOP. But it most likely has simply strengthened the attachment of the dead weight of the Trump albatross around the neck of Republicans.

There appears to be a political realignment in the works post-Trump. Greg Sargent wrote about the war within the GOP over Trump, that is a part of this shifting landscape. Sargent puts the dynamic at play in the GOP: “The tension is this: On one hand, Republicans widely acknowledge that Trump cost them the House, Senate and White House. On the other, they continue to hail the Trump presidency as a great triumph — not just on policy, but a political success as well.”

He goes on to define that dynamic as: “Even as Trump drove a large diaspora of moderate, suburban, educated Whites to Democrats (who won the White House and Congress), Trump also brought millions of low-propensity conservative voters into the GOP coalition.”

A mistake that Sargent makes, along with many others in the media, is using the “c” word to describe Trump supporters. Calling them conservatives implies some kind of policy agenda, or at least preference. But the party of Reagan is dead. Sargent himself notes that the Trumpism animating the GOP today brings a “requirement that Republicans hew to QAnon-ified fantasies about the election’s illegitimacy, and that they aggressively hate on the constellation of phantom enemies…”

Also in The Washington Post, Jennifer Rubin points to the catastrophe in Texas as added proof the Republicans have become the party that does not give a darn. Governing and addressing real issues of concern to Americans, is not a focus for the party. The Trump Republicans have become the modern incarnation of the Know-Nothing Party, ignoring current problems in favor of anti-immigration, religious bigotry and grievance. Because we live in system designed for two parties, the longer Trump remains dead weight dragging down Republicans, the longer he is a dead weight dragging America down.

This seems like a good time for a Sidecar cocktail. We have this attachment that is not driving, but impacting our freedom to maneuver. Via Dr. Cocktail’s great book Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails, the Sidecar is:

1 oz brandy

1 oz Cointreau

1 oz lemon juice

Shake and strain into a chilled cocktail glass

Cheers!

Back Off Boogaloo

Joe Biden has been President for a couple of weeks now, and the rebuilding has begun, but we can’t seem to be rid of the previous regime just yet. This is largely because we have yet to fully reckon with the insurrection of January 6.

The violent white supremacist groups Trump unleashed on the Capitol, along with the various conspiracy theory followers, including members of Congress, have kept the craziness a top news story.

One of the groups, the Proud Boys, has even been designated a terrorist entity by Canada. Many of these extremists want to bring about another civil war in the U.S. But for all their desire to bring about a Second Civil War, the only civil war they seem to be instigating is within the Republican Party. The right-wing nut job faction of QAnon believers appears to be winning out over the old-time conservative Chamber of Commerce Republicans, with the QOP replacing the GOP.

The violent groups like the Proud Boys and the Boogaloo Bois provide anti-democratic, fascist armed support for the QOP, not necessarily under Trump’s command, though they are certainly in sympathy with him. It would be very easy to label them the modern day Brown Shirts, except for one, very annoying detail. Today’s Brown Shirts have ditched the brown shirts in favor of Hawaiian shirts.

This expropriation of the Hawaiian shirt is an affront to every anti-fascist fan of Tiki culture. May the Volcano God hit them with a Tiki Curse. A little more than four years ago I began this incarnation of this blog as a reaction to Trump and the rising trend toward fascism in the U.S. Now it’s 2021 and Trump is gone, congrats everybody, but we are still dealing with the fascists. Not only do they want to take away our American democracy, but they’ve come for Tiki, too. It’s time to stand up and fight. I suggest starting with a Jungle Bird cocktail, Tiki and bitter, perfect. This classic (via kindred cocktails) is:

4 oz pineapple juice

1.5 oz Jamaican rum(dark)

.5 oz Campari

.5 oz lime juice

.5 oz simple syrup

orange slice(blood orange is good here) and cherry as garnish

Shake well with plenty of ice and pour without straining into an old fashioned glass, garnish.

Cheers!

Unpresidented

A little more than four years after Donald Trump created the word Unpresidented in a Tweet in December of 2016, he has finally given us the best definition of the word, now that he has left the scene. While his time in the White House certainly left America Unpresidented, our best hope now is that we can move on from the need to use the word unprecedented on a daily basis.

In his Inauguration speech, President Joe Biden (that felt good) called for unity and an end to our “uncivil war.” I know he is right, and yet, as a member of the most dangerous species ever to walk the Earth (a human male of European descent), I recognize how difficult this will be, too many of us carry the Conan gene. When we saw, as Amanda Gorman put it at the Inauguration, “a force that would shatter our nation rather than share it,” I suspect I was not alone in wondering why we did not have a military reaction to the insurrection, with rules of engagement allowing deadly force. Although I recognize how politically counter-productive such an action would have been, that is still a long way from recognizing the MAGA mob as fellow Americans.

To achieve the unity Biden is asking for, there will have to be some clear ground rules and agreement on some facts, and agreement on language. Unity cannot be a unilateral act. Perhaps we could start by agreeing that to be a patriotic American does not include supporting a white-supremacist Nazi theocracy. Unfortunately, those ideas are all too often found under the heading of “conservative,” a categorization used by “conservatives” themselves. Having expropriated the term conservative, the political right has since been finalizing a redefinition of the term liberal, a process that began long before Trump. (President Obama, about as Liberal as a Rockefeller Republican was demonized as a radical socialist.)

The lies and misinformation that created our political divide, and were expertly used by Russia in 2016, will not be easily overcome, even without Trump stoking the division.

Maybe January 6 was enough of a wake-up call to expose how fragile our democracy is, especially when it is adrift on a sea of lies. We really shouldn’t be surprised that the guy who calls U.S. war dead “suckers and losers” would incite a riot to desecrate the U.S. Capitol and American Democracy.

Given the well-prepared foundation of lies, it is not surprising that a mob, convinced the election was stolen, stormed the Capitol. If they were right in thinking the election was stolen, then they would be right in thinking they were patriots for storming the Capitol. Except, they were wrong. The election was not stolen, Trump did not win in a landslide, quite the opposite, in fact.

It was not just that the mob succumbed to effective propaganda and streams of lies, but that they lost their ability to reason and think logically. Too far gone from the “reality-based” community, they believe a ring of Satan worshipping cannibal pedophiles is trying to take over the government and only Trump stands in their way. They lost sight of, or never learned, that our freedom stems from the rule of law. Laws made by the democratically elected representatives of the people. Instead, freedom to them is the extension of their white privilege, and now that the MAGA cult feels their privilege is threatened, or at least inconvenienced, they are willing to throw away the rule of law and constitutional democracy in favor of the single person who says he will protect their privilege.

Until we can come back to a common ground around the importance of the rule of law and return our political categories to the reality-based community, it is hard to see how we end our uncivil war. We will never agree on everything, that’s the point, but our disagreements need to be rooted in the same facts, commonly understood.

A good starting point to find common ground is with the Liberal cocktail. This Liberal can be appreciated by even the most ardent conservative. A classic cocktail from early in the 20th Century, I used the variant recipe via Frederick Yarm at Cocktail Virgin, the Liberal is:

.75 oz Bourbon (2 oz wild Turkey 101)
1/4 oz Amer Picon (1/2 oz Bigallet China-China)
1 dash Maple Syrup (1/8 oz)

Stir with ice, strain into a cocktail glass, and garnish with a lemon twist.

Cheers!

2020 Hindsight

We are officially in the year 2021, but it seems like 2020 will try to stay with us a little longer. From continuing Covid-19 Pandemic infection spikes to the length of time it will likely take to learn the outcome of the Georgia Senate Run-Off Election, and control of the Senate, as well as the threatened Republican Insurrection attempt to overturn the Presidential Election results, the longest year ever doesn’t want to end.

The past year was both never-ending and non-existent at the same time. Much of life was postponed, cancelled, or upended by disease or economic chaos. In the same way that baseball records note the steroid era with an asterisk, history will need to record 2020 with an Asterisk as well. The year that wasn’t also saw a U.S. President who wasn’t, and just like Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa, Trump and 2020 will carry an asterisk in the history books.

During this 2020 holdover period of 2021, we’ll see whether this year will carry the stain of 2020 into history. With just over two weeks to go until the Inauguration of President Biden, we remain at the crossroads, hopeful we are heading down the path to better days. As the remnants of 2020 play out over the next week, have an Asterisk cocktail, and keep your fingers crossed that the asterisk stays behind in 2020.

A cocktail from Doug Ford, via Kindred Cocktail, The Asterisk is:

1 oz Brandy

1 oz lemon juice

1 oz Green chartreuse

1 oz maraschino liqueur

Shake, strain into a cocktail glass.

Cheers!

Putin’s Beasts of Burden

Throughout the past four years it has been difficult to understand the reason behind White House decisions, particularly when it was hard to see a direct profit for Trump or his friends or family.

However, one consistent factor in those decisions was the benefit for Russia and/or Vladimir Putin. From the Helsinki summit through ignoring Russian bounties paid to the Taliban for killing American soldiers, Trump acted like the loyal Kremlin employee that the Mueller investigation showed him to be. Trump’s treason has not been a solo act, he is supported by the GOP. Republicans, having been bought by Russian money funneled through the NRA, willingly provided Russia a series of propaganda victories that Cold War Soviet spymasters never would have dared to dream of.

The most recent Russian propaganda win provided by Republicans was their disgraceful attempt to undermine democracy in the aftermath of the election. Putin, however, clearly knew what Trump and the Republicans would not acknowledge. Joe Biden won, so Russia extensively hacked U.S. government agencies and businesses in an attempt to gain some advantage once Biden takes charge and he can no longer rely on Trump.

Putin has been working on his bench of Republicans for a while, and on July 4, 2018, eight GOP lawmakers spent Independence Day in Moscow. At the time, Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank called them out on their visit, saying, “So, what do we call these Red Square Republicans? My interlocutors on Twitter suggest “Moscow Mules.” Or, given the position they put themselves in before our masters in Moscow, perhaps they should be called the Prostrate Eight: Sens. Richard C. Shelby (Ala.), Steve Daines (Mont.), John Hoeven (N.D.), John Neely Kennedy (La.), Jerry Moran (Kan.), John Thune (S.D.) and Ron Johnson (Wisc.), plus Rep. Kay Granger (Tex.).”

At around the same time as these mules were in Moscow, the story broke about Russia paying bounties to the Taliban for killing Americans in Afghanistan. To this day, Trump has never said a word about the report. For Trump, to acknowledge the story at all would implicate the Russians. However, reports of the hack of U.S. government agencies and businesses, last week is different. While we still do not know the full extent of the damage from the extensive infiltration, it is clear it was carried out by Russian intelligence services. Even Trump’s Secretary of State (Pompeo) and Attorney General (Barr) have said so. But Trump himself has fallen back to his old playbook. He blames China for the hack without any evidence.

Lack of evidence has become standard operating procedure for Trump at this point. As Trump contemplates using the military to overturn the election results in his favor, he is also working to make the U.S. a Russian client state. Before becoming a conduit for illegal Russian campaign donations to the GOP, the NRA was filled with people stockpiling weapons for the type of crisis Trump has brought on.

So, while you’re counting the hours until Inauguration Day and watching Republicans carrying water for Putin, I suggest having a Moscow Mule. Better to drink one than be one.

The Moscow Mule via Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails by Ted Haigh is:

Juice of half a lime

2 oz vodka

ginger beer

Squeeze lime juice into a Moscow Mule mug, drop spent lime shell into mug add ice cubes and vodka and fill with ginger beer.

Cheers!

Say Goodnight, Donnie

The 2020 Presidential Election was 10 days ago, and the vote counting continues, as it does, President-elect Joe Biden continues to expand his lead over President* Trump.

Even as a hand recount of votes in Georgia gets underway, Biden solidifies his lead in Arizona, and the Trump campaign itself admits its lawsuits will likely have no effect on the outcome there.

As the election comes to a close, it is clear the vote was not actually close. Biden won handily and will be sworn in as President on January 20. In the meantime, however, the poopy pants toddler Trump continues to disrupt, dismantle and demean American democracy, refusing to proceed with the Presidential Transition and making baseless claims of voter fraud. Court filings made by the Trump Campaign lack any evidence of fraud and are being dismissed on a regular basis. As one Twitter wag noted, these are less lawsuits than Twitter rants with filing fees.

Time to pour a nightcap and put the Trump Administration (and campaign) to bed, their court cases are going nowhere, and Biden is President. The perfect nightcap for the end of the Trump Administration and watching its “legal” challenges fail comes from Kara Newman’s great book Nightcap called Open & Shut. The Open & Shut is a Scaffa, a room temperature cocktail, involving no ice. The Open & Shut is:

1.5 oz Amaro Lucano

.5 oz Cognac

Combine in a rocks glass (no ice) stir and garnish with a lemon or orange peel.

Cheers!

Weird Scenes Inside The Goldmine

We’re not done with Trump yet, but The End Is Nigh is the cocktail to help get to january 20

I do not identify as a Baby Boomer, though some demographers do put me there. But I definitely arrived at the transition from Baby Boomers to Gen X. For more than a week now, however, Jim Morrison singing The End has been playing on continuous loop in my head. For much of that time it was unclear if the Lizard King was signing about The End of Trump or the end of American Democracy. Still, with the election of Joe Biden as President, we can see light at the end of the tunnel.

We are truly at the End of an Error, but like the old joke, it is still not clear if that light is the exit or an oncoming train. The long-term outlook is good, but from now until January 20, we may be in for a bumpy ride.

Last night, after Biden was confirmed to have won the election, Jim Morrison began to fade from my mind as the spontaneous celebrations around the world as street parties and church bells signaled the rejoicing that America rejected a fascist dictatorship. From there, things got weird.

The scary weird happened in Harrisburg, Penn. where some 2,000 heavily armed Trump Brown Shirts showed up to whine about the loss. If Y’all Qaeda and Meal Team Six is going to continue this behavior, then each state’s National Guard should have very clear rules of engagement around when to take prisoners and when to use deadly force to protect institutions of American government from armed anti-American terrorist groups. The weird, weird also happened in Pennsylvania, in Philadelphia, where Rudy Giuliani proved the Hunter Thompson maxim that when the going gets weird, the weird turn pro. When Rudy’s obituary is written, right next to his 9/11 performance there will be a few lines about his press conference yesterday at Four Seasons Total Landscaping.

Over the next two months we can only hope this Administration continues to be The Gang Who Couldn’t Shoot Straight. With looming criminal indictments and creditors demanding payment, Trump will be a cornered rat who feels the walls closing in every day closer to Jan. 20 we get. The End is coming for Bunker Boy, but it is likely going to take us a few cocktails to make it to January.

As you make your plans for getting to Inauguration Day, have a The End Is Nigh cocktail. From Neal Bodenheimer at The Cure New Orleans, The End Is Nigh is:

1.5 oz Rittenhouse Bonded Rye (Old Overholt Bonded Rye)

1 oz Bonal

.25 oz Amaro Sibilla

2 dashes Angostura bitters

Combine ingredients in a mixing glass. Stir 40 revolutions and strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with an orange peel.

Cheers!

Voting Matters

suppressor

Americans in 2020 got the message, voting matters, and days before election “day,” record numbers of people have already voted early or by mail. By this writing, about 92 million votes have been cast, or roughly 2/3 of the total votes cast in 2016.

Now the question is, whether all of those ballots will be counted. While there has been a record voter turnout, there has also been a record number of legal actions taken to limit voting and ballot counting.

Hundreds of lawsuits have been filed around the country, by Republicans, to stop voting, or counting votes. After slowing the U.S. Postal Service, the GOP is fighting to make sure ballots received (but not postmarked) after election day are not counted.

As Politico noted a few days ago, “Never before in modern presidential politics has a candidate been so reliant on wide-scale efforts to depress the vote as Trump.”

Since 2016, Trump has made no secret of his authoritarian desire to be President for Life. But now it seems he wants to be “President for Life” because it may save his life. Notwithstanding all the likely prosecutions awaiting Trump once he is no longer President*, when he leaves office he will not be of much value to those he owes hundreds of millions of dollars, or to Putin. The Secret Service will no longer be around to protect him.

Another part of the analysis from Politico said, “The president’s inability to capture a majority of support sheds light on his extraordinary attempts to limit the number of votes cast across the battleground state map — a massive campaign-within-a-campaign to maximize Trump’s chances of winning a contest in which he’s all but certain to earn less than 50 percent of the vote.”

As a Chicago Cubs fan, I have my own theory about why counting all the votes will bring an end to the Trump presidency. In 2016, shortly before Trump “won” the presidency, the Cubs won the World series for the first time since 1908. When Trump “won” the election, I felt guilty. The Cubs ending their curse must have brought on a new curse, the Curse of Trump. Another thing happened in 1908, 65.4 percent of all eligible voters in America voted in the Presidential Election, won by William Howard Taft. No election since 1908 has seen that high a percentage of voters cast ballots. We are poised to break that turnout percentage in 2020. I believe breaking that record should undue the Cubs-Trump curse.

The amount of voting we have seen shows that Republicans have not been as effective at suppressing the vote as they would have liked. Now they are working on suppressing the vote counting.

In addition to limiting the time for valid ballots to arrive, they have also limited the processing time frame for vote-by-mail ballots, ensuring results will not be known on election night Tuesday. Republicans have made it clear they will then claim votes tallied after election night are illegitimate and seek to have their partisan-stacked courts decide the election in their favor to preserve minority rule.

As you prepare for Election Day, have a Suppressor #21, a low alcohol cocktail from the Ticonderoga Club in Atlanta. While Georgia is a hot spot for Republican voter suppression efforts, the Ticonderoga Club Suppressor cocktails are about the low ABV and that’s good as you’ll want to keep your wits about you to be on your toes for GOP shenanigans.

Via Punch, the Suppressor #21 is:

1 oz Barolo Chinato

1 oz Cynar

1 oz Amontillado sherry

2 dashes orange bitters

Garnish grapefruit twist

Stir over ice and strain into an Old fashioned glass over one large cube, garnish with a grapefruit twist.

Cheers!

Super Spreader

We don’t know for certain whether the President* is still transmitting disease, but he clearly surrounds himself with those who are. The announcement of Tump’s pick of a nominee to ram into the Supreme Court became a maskless super spreader event at the White House, as dozens of staffers and advisors tested positive for COVID 19 following the event. We still don’t know the full extent. Trump himself was hospitalized, encapsulating his whole failed approach on controlling the virus.

Today we have the potential for a continuation of that super spreader event as the Senate Confirmation Hearings get underway for Amy Coney Barrett with maskless Mike Lee, Trump Senator from Utah, in attendance. He tested positive for the virus after the White House event, but today he was in place at the Senate and freely spewing germs.

Mike Lee also provided evidence that Trump is a super spreader of more than just Coronavirus. Lee has also been infected with Trump’s authoritarian disease, saying last week that America is not a democracy, and that is not a bad thing. (I think Mike is in for a surprise come November). A few days later we learned that a still functioning part of the FBI had uncovered a plot to kidnap and potentially assassinate the Governor of Michigan, over lock down restrictions, by domestic terrorists associated with the white supremacists Trump refuses to denounce who want to stoke a civil war. The plot included a plan to kill the governor’s law enforcement protection detail. This news brought nothing from Trump except more denunciation of the democratic Governor of Michigan, meanwhile Trump and his supporters, who love to say “blue lives matter” and call for “law and order” once again show they do not care about anyone they think is in their way.

Trump showed this explicitly while he was “in” the hospital, King Donald would not be denied a car ride around the hospital to feed his narcissistic needs, forcing his Secret Service detail into the enclosed vehicle with him while he was highly contagious. Naturally, many former Secret Service agents called this stunt inexcusable, but there were rumblings from active agents at the time, an almost unheard of event. This extraordinary expression of dissatisfaction from this group of conspicuously non-partisan group of agents may bode well for next January. As long as Trump hasn’t infected all of the white House Secret Service agents by then, if Trump is not leaving the white House to make way for duly elected President Biden, then Trump can expect no sympathy or favor from the people he’s tried to kill.

As you think about that day that Trump exits the White House, raise a Secret Service cocktail, and remember what former special agent Joseph Petro told the Washington Post, “the Secret Service cannot protect the President from himself.”

The Secret Service cocktail is a Negroni variation from Sother Teague’s great book “I’m Just Here for the Drinks” it is:

2 dashes mole bitters

1.5 oz Plymouth gin (a favorite gin of mine, so I’m out, but substituted Dorothy Parker gin, different, but still tasty)

.75 oz Maurin Quina

.75 oz Ancho Reyes

stir over ice and strain into a rocks glass on fresh ice, garnish with an orange twist.

Cheers!