On The Same Team?

Army

Go Army, Beat Navy! And they did last week by the score of 14-13. This college football rivalry goes back to 1890. As fun as the friendly rivalry is, everyone knows when the game is over, they play for the same team.

Our partisan rivalry may not be as friendly as Army v. Navy most of the time, but our traditions hold that everyone was playing for the same team once the elections were over. Lately, however, that doesn’t seem quite as clear.

In the past week since the football game we have had a number of reasons to wonder what team the Republicans are playing for. First, the Republican Party — minus a few prominent defections — was fully behind Roy Moore for Senate in Alabama. Even before credible allegations of child molestation came out, this is a man who has twice been removed from the bench in Alabama, believes the country was better during the days of slavery, and believes his interpretation of the Christian Bible supersedes the U.S. Constitution. Despite party backing, Moore lost in one of the most Republican states.

In the meantime, Trump and the GOP appear to be trying to dismantle the ability of government to work by either not filling positions (especially in the State Department), or nominating unqualified personnel as we saw again this week, or not letting those in place do their jobs. (Personally, I’d feel better if the Center for Disease Control findings were “science-based” or evidence-based.”)

The GOP has also wrangled its members so it now has the votes to pass sweeping tax “reform” that by all estimates benefits the rich at the expense of the poor and middle class. While maybe that doesn’t seem out of character for Republicans who have a tradition of being fiscal hawks. However, this bill will not cut the deficit or the debt, quite  the opposite adding $1 trillion to the latter. I’m not sure how traditional Republicans can say this is good for the country.

One thing that definitely is not good for the country is the way this week saw Congressional Republicans ramp up efforts to support Trump in killing investigations into Russian interference in the 2016 election. The Mueller investigation in particular, that has already resulted in two guilty pleas, has had Republicans trashing the FBI. Let that sink in. Republicans trashing the FBI.

The best possible outcome for the long-term health of our democracy is that Trump and his enablers actually are acting on behalf of Russia. Every other alternative is disheartening for the future of the United States.

So while you’re being nostalgic for the pre-Newt Gingrich days of partisanship, have an Army & Navy cocktail in honor of rivalry among teammates.

From Dr. Adam Elmegirab’s great new Book of Bitters, the Army & Navy is:

2 oz gin

.5 oz lemon juice

.25 oz orgeat syrup

2 dashes Dr. Adam’s Boker’s Bitters

Shake, strain into a chilled cocktail glass, lemon twist

Cheers!

Old Enemies and New Friends

Friend

It is amazing to see just how much the GOP has changed in less than 10 years.

Heading in to the 2008 presidential election, John McCain’s running mate Sarah Palin was trying to make hay out of Barack Obama’s association with William Ayers, co-founder of the 1960s radical group Weather Underground. Palin, as awful as she was, tried to play the patriotism card saying Obama “is someone who sees America it seems as being so imperfect that he’s palling around with terrorists who would target their own country.”

Now, however, it is the republicans who seem to see America “as being so imperfect” that they’re willing to pall around with authoritarian leaders of foreign adversaries. Roy Moore, Alabama GOP Senate candidate, became the latest example the other day.

Saying that the U.S. was a “focus of evil” in the world – largely due to same sex marriage – he admired Vladimir Putin’s “morality.” The accused pedophile was not new in this line of thinking, echoing Trump from last year.

Denigrating America and praising Putin now seems to be the Republican Party policy. To honor this budding relationship, I suggest the New Friend cocktail. It’s not as bitter a drink as would seem appropriate, but they’re just palling around for now.

This variation on the Old Pal is from Serious Eats:

1 oz rye

1 oz Aperol

1 oz Cocchi Americano

orange twist

Stir over ice, strain into a chilled cocktail glass, garnish with an orange twist.

Cheers!

All In The (Crime) Family

Family

There are many distractions at the top of the news today, from Al Franken and Roy Moore to Trump’s Jerusalem decision, but this week is also seeing the noose tighten on America’s First Family of grifters.

On the heels of the Dec. 1 revelation of Michael Fynn’s guilty plea and cooperation with the Mueller investigation, the big news this week is that Mueller has apparently subpoenaed records of Trump and his family from Deutsche Bank. This might clarify issues around Trump’s $300 million debt to the bank and real estate deals involving Russian oligarchs.

The Flynn plea, which said a senior transition official had directed Flynn to contact the Russian Ambassador, pulled Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner deeper into the Russia investigation when he was identified as that official.

Meanwhile, Donald Trump Jr again proved to be the Fredo of the Trump crime family when he tried to not answer Congressional questioning about a conversation he had with his father regarding the infamous Trump Tower meeting by claiming attorney-client privilege (despite the fact that neither he nor his father are attorneys).

First daughter Ivanka Trump has largely been out of the news this week. Actually she has had a much lower profile since stories came out last month on her involvement in potential money laundering real estate schemes with Trump Organization affiliated properties, like the Trump Ocean Club in Panama. Shockingly, there are ties to Russian organized crime alleged as part of those investigative reports.

As we watch the world (hopefully) come apart for the Trumps with Mueller continuing  to build his case, have an Against the Family cocktail.

Via Kindred Cocktail, the Against the Family recipe is:

2 oz Rye

.5 oz sweet vermouth (Punt e Mes)

.5 oz Amaro Montenegro

Combine rye, vermouth, and amaro in a mixing glass and stir with cracked ice. Strain into a coupe glass and express orange oil over the top.

Cheers!

VIP America

Rope

The Senate is preparing to vote on changes to the U.S. tax system that promise to fundamentally alter how we operate as a nation.

No one really knows what is in the Republican bill (they’re still making changes in the hours before the vote) but the outlines from all analyses so far indicate massive benefits to the rich at the expense of the poor and middle class. This was certainly true of the bill passed in the House that I noted recently.

With the GOP approach that gives tax credits for owners of private jets and the removes credits to teachers buying classroom supplies we will see inequality explode. We are moving to an America where a small number of people at the top are Executive Platinum frequent flyers and everyone else is down below, riding the dog, stuck in traffic.

Have you earned enough status to receive all of the perks in the Republican tax bill?

As Ronald Brownstein put it in the Atlantic, if you’re a white Baby Boomer, have a better chance to get your seat upgrade and bottle service. “The baby boom is being evicted from the penthouse of American politics. And on the way out, it has decided to trash the place,” he wrote. He noted that while the Boomer VIP status was ending, we’ll still be stuck behind their velvet rope for the next several years at least.

In the meantime, enjoy a Velvet Rope cocktail. Via Kindred Cocktails, the Velvet Rope is:

2 oz Rittenhouse Rye

.5 oz Velvet Falernum

2 dashes Peychaud’s bitters

Orange twist

Stir over ice, strain into a chilled coupe, garnish with an orange twist

Cheers!

 

Dancing With Fox News Stars

Waltz

The battle between truth and lies, between news and propaganda, has reached a crucial and personal period for most Americans; the Holidays.

Beginning today and running for the next month or so, there will be much more time spent with family, particularly those who get the news and opinions from Fox. We are about to hit a spike in awkward conversations.

At a time when the GOP can’t even seem to disavow a child molester, there is some sign of rational Republicans, though. The Hill reported yesterday that Rep. Will Hurd (R-Texas) has called for more to be done to counter the Russian disinformation campaign now being waged against us.

But, as the holidays will remind us, there was a reason the Russian fake news effort was successful. (Yes, that’s why it is President Trump despite 3 million fewer votes. Well targeted effort in key states for EC win.) Timothy Egan noted it in the NY Times last week in his piece We’re With Stupid:

“But the problem is not the Russians — it’s us. We’re getting played because too many Americans are ill equipped to perform the basic functions of citizenship. If the point of the Russian campaign, aided domestically by right-wing media, was to get people to think there is no such thing as knowable truth, the bad guys have won.”

As you try to decide whether your uncle or father-in-law is on the side of supporting child molesters as long as they’re Republicans or is willing to question Russian interference with our election — doing the dance of family peace around the Thanksgiving dinner table — I suggest preparing with a Winter Waltz cocktail.

This warming seasonal drink should put a chill on the political discord. Via Punch, the Winter Waltz is:

2 oz rye

.5 oz ounce Averna

.25 oz St. Elizabeth Allspice Dram

2 dashes Dale DeGroff’s Pimento Bitters

Shake over ice (yes, shake, gives it a nice foaminess), strain into a chilled cocktail glass and garnish with star anise.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Cheers!

Puttin’ On The Ritz

Millionaire

The House has passed their Ayn Rand wet dream version of “Tax Reform” and now we wait to see what the Senate will do. Their plan is different and not as certain to pass as the House bill. But again, we are left counting on Republican dysfunction to avoid the disastrous effects of legislation.

The Republican tax reform provides exemptions for owners of private jets, but eliminates one for teachers buying school supplies for their classrooms.

Every analysis has said this benefits the rich at  the expense of the poor and middle class. Only America’s oligarchs-in-waiting benefit, finally getting on equal footing with their Russian counterparts. Even the non-partisan and non-fake news Associated Press came out with this lede the other day:

WASHINGTON (AP) — The ultra-wealthy, especially those with dynastic businesses — like President Donald Trump and his family — do very well under a major Republican tax bill moving in the Senate, as they do under legislation passed this week by the House.

Senators Orrin Hatch v. Sherrod Brown got into a very heated exchange over the bill during a Senate Hearing, with another Republican explaining how his hardscrabble roots mean he couldn’t be for the rich against the poor.

The bill would work to fulfill the longstanding GOP goal of destroying Obamacare, throwing some 13 million people off of their health insurance and making premiums more expensive for everyone else. It would also tax tuition waivers in a way that would severely damage graduate-school education. There are so many ways this bill weakens America, it almost seems it was planned by a foreign adversary. Fortunately none of them have any influence in our government.

While calling on your Senator to vote against the measure, have a classic Millionaire cocktail. This way, you can say you’re calling with a millionaire and maybe get your Senator on the phone quicker. Besides, if they’re only taking calls from billionaires, at least you have this pretty tasty cocktail.

I began with the classic recipe found in Ted “Dr. Cocktail” Haigh’s book Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails and modified for ingredients on hand.

1.5 oz Myers’s Dark Rum

.75 oz sloe gin (I used Greenhook Ginsmith’s version made with beach plums)

.75 oz apricot brandy (I used Rothman & Winter Orchard Apricot liqueur)

Juice of 1 lime (1-1.5 oz)

Shake over ice, strain into a chilled cocktail glass, garnish with a lime wedge.

Cheers!

Moore Bitterness

Something Bitter

In the state of Alabama, 49 percent of the population identifies as an Evangelical Christian. In polling this week, 37 percent of Alabama Evangelicals said charges of sexual misconduct with teenage girls made them more likely to vote for Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore.

Alabama Republicans are saying they prefer to send a child molester to the U.S. Senate to represent them over a Democrat (Doug Jones in this case, a man who prosecuted two Klansmen for the 1963 16th Street Baptist Church bombing that killed four girls). This is party over country, a sentiment not confined to Alabama, and the source of many of our problems today. It’s a big reason why Moore’s election is not something I would vote against, as much as I hope Jones can hold on to his current lead in the polls.

Thanks to the voters of Alabama, we will soon have a man at the highest levels of governing the country who has twice been removed from office for violating his oath of office. A man who claims to govern in the name of Christianity, but who — as Rev. Dr. William Barber says — espouse not Christianity but extreme Republican religionism.

This is troubling enough, but it is worse when you realize these same Alabama voters have more influence on the governance of the nation than voters elsewhere.

Based on the 2010 Census, Alabama has seven members of the U.S. House of Representatives for a population of 4.9 million people. That is one representative per  700,000 people. The 12 reps for New Jersey’s 8.9 million people, or the 53 for California’s 39.3 million people, means one representative per 742,000 people.

I have written about the problems we encounter with our representation capped at 1911 levels, most recently here, and how it is even more fundamental to fixing our democracy than reforming Gerrymandering. That does not mean we shouldn’t fix the gerrymandering problem, and former Attorney General Eric Holder is working on that. Hopefully SCOTUS will rule the right way on the Wisconsin case and not make the effort harder.

Beyond the structure of electing our representatives, Timothy Egan pointed out in the NY Times the other day there are other issues to address as well.  This is not just about dealing with Russian interference (though we need to do that too), but why it was effective.

“We’re getting played because too many Americans are ill equipped to perform the basic functions of citizenship. If the point of the Russian campaign, aided domestically by right-wing media, was to get people to think there is no such thing as knowable truth, the bad guys have won,” Egan wrote. “We have a White House of lies because a huge percentage of the population can’t tell fact from fiction. But a huge percentage is also clueless about the basic laws of the land. In a democracy, we the people are supposed to understand our role in this power-sharing thing.”

For most of us around the country, watching as the voters of Alabama plan to send a child-molesting extreme religionist to the U.S. Senate, we’ll have to look to 2018 to try to make sure Moore is in the minority party.

In the meantime, have a cocktail. I suggest a Something Bitter This Way Comes cocktail via Kindred Cocktails. It is:

1.5 oz Rye

1 oz Amaro CioCiaro

.5 oz Cocchi Vermouth di Torino

.25 oz Fernet-Branca

2 dashes Bittermens Xocolatl Mole Bitters

Pinch of kosher salt

Stir over ice for at least 30 seconds, strain into a chilled cocktail glass, garnish with an orange twist.

Cheers!