Donnie and His Droogs at the G20

Clockwork

Friday at the Buenos Aires milk bar and Donnie and his Droogs Vlad, Xi, and Bone Saw are trying to decide how to spend their evening.

No doubt Donnie wants to rage tweet more about how Mikey is giving away all the secrets of the tower he tried to build in Moscow with Vlad’s help during the presidential campaign. Now Donnie has to go around pretending to ignore Vlad while they’re in Argentina.

He says it’s because of Vlad’s attacks on Ukraine, but the fact that MBS dismembered a US resident hasn’t kept them apart. Donnie is undoubtedly jealous. He hasn’t gotten to kill and chop up any reporters, and tear gassing women and children at the border just isn’t the same as using your military to take an opponent’s naval vessels. Now he has cancelled many of the official meetings he was supposed to do at the G20 gathering. He really just wants to get on with the ultra violence and maybe some of the old in-out, in-out.

In the meantime, while we wait on the special counsel, have A Clockwork Orange cocktail. Via Kindred Cocktail, A Clockwork Orange is:

2 oz Bourbon (Bulleit is called for, I used Four Roses Small Batch)

.75 oz Cynar

.75 oz Aperol

5 drops orange flower water

Stir, strain into a chilled coupe, small orange zest

One note, I had trouble with only getting 5 drops of orange flower water. I definitely had more than called for and it overpowered the drink. It was still good — probably better than Milk Plus — but clearly, less is more on the orange flower water.

Cheers!

Real Fake News

Obit

Since election night on November 6, the media has been coming up with narratives about how the midterm results are negative for Democrats. With the vote counting now essentially complete, it is clear these narratives keep proving false.

A few weeks ago, election night began with the story that the Blue Wave™ failed to materialize. While that storyline was reversed relatively early, some high-profile defeats helped that sense of Democratic underachievement to linger.

It turns out that the expected dramatic crashing wave of Democratic victories was actually more of a tsunami — a relentless flow of victories that has brought Democrats into power in the House, and beyond. Democrats picked up 39 seats in the House, needing 23 to gain control of the chamber.

Beyond the number of seats, Democrats saw one of their biggest victories in the House since Watergate, with vote totals giving them a 53% to 45% edge over Republicans, representing an 8.6 million vote margin with a presidential-election year type of turnout.

A telling example of the wave is in Orange County California, the heart of Reagan country, where all seven of the Representatives are now Democrats.

The Democratic wave was not limited to Washington, D.C., either. They flipped seven governorships, control 13 states now compared to seven, and broke Republican supermajorities in three states. These wins will be important moving into a census year to fight against Republican gerrymandering efforts, as well as thwart voter suppression activities in those states.

Perhaps one of the bigger fake news stories to emerge from the midterms was how the Democrats continued to lose rural America. The first piece to debunk this came from Daniel Block at Washington Monthly just a few days after the election. Using election data, Block looked at how rural votes impacted races in Kansas, Wisconsin, and Montana.

“On the whole, Democrats performed better in rural areas during these midterms than in 2016, which helped the party win some of its most consequential victories,” he wrote.

In The New York Times, pollster Stanley Greenberg also picked up on the false rural voter narrative. Greenberg notes that the biggest increase in Democratic votes came not in the suburbs (which saw a substantial increase that brought a number of House victories), but in rural areas. “That was the shocker,” he said.

“Democrats cut the Republicans’ margin in rural areas by 13 points, according to the Edison exit poll and by seven points in one by Catalist. Democrats still lost rural America by somewhere between 14 and 18 points so that left Democrats in a pickle there. That had implications for the Senate, but it shouldn’t conceal the fact that Democrats actually made progress in rural areas.”

As more and more analysis of the 2018 midterm elections is done, those early narratives of doom for Democrats is proving to be just so much fake news. Like Mark Twain, reports of Democrats’ death are greatly exaggerated.

As you savor the the Blue Wave — despite the reports — you can also savor an Obituary Cocktail.

From Robert Simonson’s excellent book 3-Ingredient Cocktails, the Obituary Cocktail is:

2 oz gin

.25 oz dry vermouth

.25 oz absinthe

Stir over ice for 30 seconds, strain into a chilled coupe, garnish with a lemon 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!

Make Americanos Strong Again

few-negroni

As the story goes, around 1920 in Florence, Count Camillo Negroni was at his regular joint Bar Casoni when he decided he needed to beef up his usual Americano cocktail by replacing the club soda with gin. Thus was born one of the best drinks ever made, the Negroni. (Gaz Regan has a whole book on it that is a great read.)

At about the same time as Count Negroni was making Americanos stronger, a fellow Italian was writing down ideas that would help make Americans stronger nearly a century later. Julius Evola came home after fighting in World War I and rejected the church, bourgeois institutions and developed a worldview with an overriding animosity toward the decadence of modernity, according to the NY Times. He was one of the intellectual leaders of Italian Fascism and a favorite of Il Duce, and today he influences our very own Cheeto-Mussolini and his key advisor Steve Bannon.

The combination of Trump’s Corporatist/Kleptocracy ethos and Bannon’s Evola-inspired Traditionalist worldview has had an unexpected effect on a great many Americans. Across the country many Americans are taking to the streets, the airports and filling Congressional constituent meetings to protest the actions and proposed actions of Trump and the GOP.

Unlike the actors cheering Trump’s announcement of his presidential run, those marching today are not paid, but deeply concerned about the future of the country. The hostile crowds greeting Republican Town Halls today are often compared to the raucous Town Halls of 2009 when the Tea Party came out against Obamacare. The difference here is that the Tea Party was stoked by partisan (if not racial) animosity, lies about death panels, and misrepresentations of costs and a private insurance program as “socialized” medicine. Today, Republican Congressmen are facing angry constituents because those constituents are facing the reality of improvements in their quality of life being taken away.

In fact, the Republicans in Congress have accomplished something heretofore unimaginable, they have become even more spineless than Congressional Democrats. Their craven disregard of the truth and reality in the service of their donors may now be a step over the line since republicans control all the levers of government.

The reaction to Republicans that many in the pundit class are missing is something that every Chicagoan/Illinoisan understands. We expect a certain level of corruption in our politicians (hey, everybody’s gotta make a living), but when you become an embarrassment, it’s time to go. See Dan Rostenkowski and the long list of former IL governors who moved on to license plate manufacturing.

There is action and organizing across the country to counteract the embarrassment that our leaders have become. And yes, this includes the yet-to-be-determined potential treason at the highest level of our government. Real aiding a hostile power type of treason, too, not fake Ann Coulter treason because of a liberal food stamp program.

As Michelle Goldberg put it recently in Slate, “To talk about Trump as a menace to our democratic way of life understates the crisis.” So as you get ready for this weekend’s protests, have a strengthened Americano to fortify.

Negronis are easy and contain ingredients every American should have. It is equal parts gin, sweet vermouth and Campari, with an orange twist and/or a dash of orange bitters. Build over ice or one nice cube, stir with your finger.

It is hard to screw up a Negroni. Any type of gin will work, I typically prefer Plymouth Gin but FEW Spirits American Gin seemed appropriate tonight. You can use vodka if you don’t like gin, but that becomes a Negroski and there’s enough Russian influence right now. Any sweet vermouth will do as well, each making the drink a little different, but all good. Campari is the one constant.

Happy Friday!

Cheers!

Who Gets the Last Word

word

We have now made it through three weeks in the reign of Donald of Orange and the planet remains habitable for humans, and the democratic traditions of the United States are holding on, albeit barely.

To paraphrase President Jack Dale in Mars Attacks, I want the people to know they still have one out of three branches of government working for them, and that ain’t bad.

In Legislative Branch, those GOP statesmen in the Senate who expressed such pre-election concern have now almost unanimously supported each of Trump’s choices for the Cabinet of Horrors. (Three Senators have each voted no once.)

Meanwhile in the House, Republicans have gutted environmental protections, such as the Stream Protection Rule, and removed requirements for transparency that combat corruption in the oil, gas and mineral industries. They are removing regulations design to keep guns out of the hands of the mentally ill, and continuing to work toward repealing Obamacare, despite getting an earful from their constituents.

As the Executive Branch makes steady progress toward the authoritarianism of rule by presidential fiat and tweet, it was met last week by the remaining (perhaps temporarily) functioning branch, the Judicial Branch. As the Washington Post reported: A three-judge panel on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit ruled Thursday that the Trump administration’s restrictions on travel from seven majority-Muslim countries will remain on ice while the courts work through whether the restrictions are legal.

This will still take some time to fully sort out and to see who will have the last word, but unlike Dana Milbank, you don’t need to drink Everclear while you wait. You can have your own Last Word. The good folks at Sipsmith Gin (probably Jared Brown) have a great history of the drink here.

I made it with:

1 oz Sipsmith Gin

.75 oz Chartreuse

.5 oz Luxardo Maraschino

.5 oz lime juice

Shake and strain into a chilled coupe.

Cheers!

We Don’t Need No Education

root
Root of All Evil

The administration added its latest swamp creature today when VP/GOP High Priest Mike Pence blessed the contract of sale between 50 Senators and their donor Besty DeVos, allowing her to become the U.S. Secretary of Education.

Despite her $200 million investment in the GOP, DeVos’s staggering incompetence and utter unsuitability for the position only garnered her 50 Republican senators, necessitating Pence’s vote (the first time in history a cabinet nominee needed the VP tie-breaker). This glaring example of pay-for-play has me almost feeling sorry for former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich who is still sitting in prison for corruption that now seems amateur by comparison. (But only almost, he’s still pond scum.)

As she becomes the latest brick in the wall of the GOP’s attempt to prove government doesn’t work, we’re now left with her for-profit charter school education schemes. At the same time that Trump is seeking to tear down the separation between church and state when it comes to political contributions, DeVos can now steer tax dollars to religious schools. (Some religious schools anyway. I suspect Muslim schools need not apply.)

I guess in all of their own religious education our pious GOP leaders have forgotten 1 Timothy 6:10. As it says in the King James Version: “For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.”

In keeping with the Good Book, may I suggest having a Root of All Evil cocktail. The recipe is from Cocktail Virgin, and calls for:

2 oz Bourbon
.75 oz Grand Marnier
.5 oz Fernet Branca
.5 oz Luxardo Maraschino
2 dash Regan’s Orange Bitters

Stir over ice and strain into a cocktail glass.

Cheers!

Yo-Ho-Ho…

marque

We’ve made it to Friday, two full weeks into the Trump presidency. For a majority of Americans, a nightmarish Running Man journey through a game zone of ill-conceived executive orders and late night tweet rants.

But on Wall Street and in the boardrooms of banks, it is time to celebrate. Trump told a gathering of the Business Roundtable today that he is taking aim at regulations put in place since the financial crisis.

As the New York Times put it:

“President Trump mounted an all-out assault on financial regulation on Friday, announcing an array of steps to tear down safeguards enacted to prevent a repeat of the 2008 financial crisis and turning to the Wall Street titans he had demonized during his campaign for advice.”

Matt O’Brien at the Washington Post tells us that Trump’s “forgotten men and women” aren’t who we thought they were, writing:

“During the campaign, Donald Trump liked to brag that, unlike his rivals, he wasn’t in Wall Street’s pocket. And you can tell that by the fact that he’s stocked his cabinet with Goldman Sachs alums, has signaled that he wants to dismantle the post-crisis rules reining in banks, and will now allow brokers to go back to giving their clients deliberately bad advice. This is Wall Street’s kind of populism.”

For most of us, the so-called dumb money, our finances are now sailing with less protection. The Privateers are free to roam again, so look closely at the flags flown by bankers and financial advisors, and keep your fingers crossed they don’t raise the Jolly Roger after it’s too late.

Rum is what this Friday calls for, so we can join the pirates with our own Letters of Marque (the license granted by the government for piracy on the high seas), a cocktail from Brad Thomas Parson’s book Amaro.

This delicious, balanced drink is:

1 oz Scarlet Ibis rum

1 oz Cynar

.5 oz Pierre Ferrand dry Curaçao

.5 oz Galliano

Stir, strain, garnish with a flamed orange zest.

Have a few, the pirates are coming. Happy Friday!

Cheers!