Call the Exorcist!

Host

While the president* tries to stoke fear ahead of the midterm elections with ridiculous claims of “invasion by the migrant caravan,” it is actually our body politic that has been invaded by something alien.

Clearly, some kind of demonic possession has brought the nation that once led the fight to defeat fascism to the brink of succumbing to its own homegrown version. How else can we explain why the once conservative defenders of the Constitution would now so willingly allow a single person to dictate whatever changes struck their fancy. The 14th Amendment is no less important (and quite possibly more) to this country than the 2nd Amendment! Perhaps through a Vulcan mind meld we can determine what is now controlling the Republican Party.

Sigourney Weaver never saw anything as ugly and scary emerge as we have these past weeks with the violent thugs feeding off the bloodstream of Trump/GOP/Fox News rhetoric.

The most frightening thing you can do this Halloween is look back across 102 weeks of the list kept by Amy Siskind of the ways our authoritarian demon has changed things and realize how we have normalized so many un-American behaviors.

Next week we have an opportunity to bring about an exorcism to begin the process of ridding ourselves of this unwanted possessor. It will, however, require a vast cooperative  effort, ensuring the number of voters overwhelms all of the obstacles placed by the minions of the Evil One.

On this All Hallows’ Eve, to fortify for the coming exorcism by exercising your right to vote, have a Host Body cocktail and tell the GOP to Get Out!

Via Kindred Cocktail, the Host Body is:

1.25 oz Jamaican rum, Smith & Cross

1 oz Sherry, Lustau East India Solera (Oloroso)

.5 oz Amaro Nardini

.5 oz Campari

Stir over ice, strain onto one large rock, one orange twist, one grapefruit twist.

Cheers!

Flash Flood (of BS) Warning

Bamboozled

The Category 5 storm of bullshit emanating from Trump and the Republicans is expected to continue sweeping across the nation until at least November 7, when it may weaken slightly.

The amount nonsense and crazy is hitting new heights in the final approach to the midterm elections. Daniel Dale, Washington Bureau Chief for the Toronto Star summed it up nicely this evening. His lede:

Democrats will kick seniors off their health insurance. Democrats will end insurance protections for people with health problems. Democrats will destroy the Social Security retirement system. Democrats will give illegal immigrants free cars. Democrats will abolish America’s borders. Democrats are behind the latest migrant caravan from Latin America. That caravan includes people from the Middle East.

False, false, false, false, false, false, false.

At the time Dale was likely filing that piece, Trump was already on to a new lie, claiming Congress would pass a 10% middle class tax cut before the election. The fact that Congress is not in session between now and the election does not matter to Trump.

To paraphrase Capt. Willard in Apocalypse Now, the bullshit piles up so fast with Trump you need wings to stay above it.

Meanwhile, House Republicans who voted 70 times to kill Obamacare are now running as the defenders of a key ACA provision that won’t let insurance companies deny coverage over pre-existing conditions.

That there are many people who are still susceptible to this con game run by Trump and the GOP is human nature (though you still can’t fool all of the people all of the time). But it is imperative for the rest of us to make sure they don’t constitute a majority when the votes are counted.

Fight the flood of BS and lies with a Bamboozled cocktail. This is another from the Cocktail Virgin archives of Frederic Yarm, this one from October 3, 2013. The Bamboozled is:

1.25 oz Amontillado Sherry (Lustau Los Arcos)

1 oz Cocchi Americano

.5 oz Ford’s Gin (Dorothy Parker)

1/8 oz Nux Alpina Walnut Liqueur

1/8 oz Demerara Syrup

1 dash Angostura Bitters

Stir with ice and strain into a cocktail coupe.

The nuttiness of the sherry and the walnut liqueur is perfect for these next two weeks.

Cheers!

What Have We Become?

Power

The president* of the United States is complicit in a cover up by the Saudi Arabian government for its gruesome murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi (a permanent U.S. resident) because of deep financial ties between his family and the Saudi royal family. Trump says he isn’t taking a hard line because the Saudis are buying $100 billion in arms, as though that makes it better.

Meanwhile, more evidence has come out on the depth of Trump’s personal involvement in the relocation of the FBI headquarters in Washington D.C. Since the plan to move the HQ to a much more secure new suburban campus would very likely have turned the current location into a luxury hotel, Trump appears to have killed the plan to keep a competitor from opening across the street from his hotel.

Over in Congress, the GOP refuses to look into any of the Trump family’s shady dealings, as it continues to try to dismantle the investigation into the Russian influence in the 2016 election, all while packing the courts with ideologues.

The court packing may come in handy for the Republicans as they have gone into voter suppression overdrive for the 2018 elections, targeting Blacks in Georgia, Hispanics in Kansas, and Native Americans in North Dakota. It seems that Republicans in Congress are so confident these efforts will be successful that they are saying out loud how they will dismantle Social Security and Medicare after the elections.

In Russia, Putin is now saying the downfall of the U.S. as a global leader is almost done. And yet, our reputation as a beacon in the world has not completely faded yet as refugees still try to come to America. The Honduran migrant caravan that is drawing such an outcry from Trump is one example (though we have reached the point where the possibility Republicans are behind the caravan as an election ploy can’t be ruled out).

However, once migrants and asylum seekers get here, Trump is ripping apart families and deporting people, except the kids that are put in detention camps or sold into the adoption system. In the past week it was reported more than 200 kids separated from immigrant families remain in detention.

Underneath all of this is a network where money and favors change hands, while a propaganda apparatus of unprecedented scale in the U.S. operates unimpeded to distract from the operation of this network. Not just the Trump TV of Fox News, but Sinclair Broadcasting (again recently under fire) and shadowy social media actors.

While polling seems positive (and the memory that Hillary Clinton beat Trump by 3 million votes helps) that the direction Trump and the Republicans are taking the country is not desired by the majority, it will take a major effort on November 6 to overcome the most corrupt government the U.S. has ever seen.

As you think of the stakes and make your plan to vote, have a Power, Corruption, & Lies cocktail, truly the cocktail for our times.

The Power, Corruption, & Lies comes via Frederic Yarm @CocktailVirgin and was named for the 1983 New Order album with that title. The drink is:

1.5 oz Pierre Ferrand Ambre Cognac

.75 oz Aperol

.5 oz Velvet Falernum

.5 oz Lime Juice

1 pinch Salt

Shake with ice, strain into a coupe

Cheers!

Waiting Is the Hardest Part

Purgatory

Just a few weeks out from the election and the anxiety is intensifying. What direction will America be headed on November 7?

Polls go back and forth, including one today that says a low turnout could mean Republicans hold the House by one seat. Reports of GOP voter suppression activities are now a part of each news cycle. Voting systems across many states are so insecure that children have hacked them in minutes, and Congress has done nothing to strengthen our defenses while the Russians are up to their same tricks from the 2016 election.

It does seem the anti-Trump part of the country is more motivated to vote, and there are many people working to get out the vote in big numbers for Democrats. Still, the waiting for election day won’t be easy. This is particularly true as the propaganda from the right has been turned up to 11.

No matter, how the election goes, there will be a lot of work to do when it’s over. Whether it’s Congress getting back to normal oversight duties if Democrats win or potential reactions that might come as a result of interference or corruption, November 6 is more of a beginning than an end.

As we face the final three weeks to the midterm elections, now would be a good time for a Purgatory cocktail. Via Kindred Cocktails, the Purgatory is:

2.5 oz Rittenhouse Rye

.75 oz Bénédictine

.75 oz Green Chartreuse

Stir over ice, strain into a chilled coupe, lemon twist garnish

Cheers!

Why America Is Polarized

3-1

In the wake of Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation to the Supreme Court by a 50-48 vote in the Senate, one of the narrowest margins in history according to The Washington Post, “an increasingly polarized nation” is pushed to the brink.

The words polarized and divided have become shorthand for these type of party line votes that end up almost evenly split. But this shorthand misses the bigger picture that helps to explain the polarization — America is not evenly split. Even before the allegations of sexual assault, Kavanaugh was one of the most unpopular Justice nominees ever. He was “rammed through” and installed on the highest court by a group of 51 Senators representing states with 46% of the U.S. electorate. Here are the seeds of the polarization.

It is difficult to admit, but Trump was right about something. In 2016, when he said the election was being rigged, he was right — just not in the way he meant it (unless he meant the Russian meddling).

Putting aside Russian meddling, the election was rigged to maintain a minority rule in our government. In an interesting parallel with the Kavanaugh vote, Trump became president with 46% of the vote, but won the electoral college because of 78,000 votes across three key states.

More importantly, 2016 was another year of a Republican “seat bonus” in the House. After winning just under 50% of the congressional vote, the GOP picked up a little more than 55% of the seats. I have written about this before, including here and here. This has been happening for the past several cycles. Gerrymandering is a part of this, but so, too, is the fact the representation is still based on the 1910 Census. This is increasing the power of rural, lightly populated — and generally Republican leaning — states.

The Senate is different, as it is meant to represent states, while the House represents people. Part of the concern around the disappearing norms of Senate behavior over the past decade or so is the way it has heightened partisanship in what was once a place of comity, that rose above narrow interests for the greater good, that embodied country over party. But that came from the traditional practices of the Senate, not Constitutional mandate. The Founding Fathers warned us about factions.

Now, the minority faction rules and it has stoked the “polarization” the press likes to talk about because the will of the people is not being met. Whether it’s on healthcare, regulating banks, paying to fix infrastructure, or many other key issues of the day, the position of the ruling Republican Party is the opposite of the majority opinion in the country.

For example, look at some of the hot button issues that Kavanaugh may decide on the Court, abortion and gun control. According to Pew Research, by a nearly 60-40 margin Americans believe abortion should be legal in all or most cases. That stat is about the same as it was 20 years ago. On gun control, Gallup polling shows an even starker difference with 67% in favor of more strict laws, while 32% say keep as it is now or make it less strict (28% and 4% respectively).

The installation of Kavanaugh is the culmination of a decades long effort by Republicans to undermine democracy in favor of a “permanent majority” that I wrote about last month and looks to be a similar subject of the new Steve Kornacki book The Red and the Blue: The 1990s and the Birth of Political Tribalism that I am looking forward to reading. For noted conservative Tom Nichols, Kavanaugh represented the “situational ethics” of the GOP that showed the “Republican Party now exists for one reason, and one reason only: for the exercise of raw political power,” as he put it in The Atlantic today as he announced his “divorce” from the party.

As the GOP thwarts the will of the American people and looks to cling to power by any means possible — Gerrymandering, voter suppression, etc (including Russian help?) — it is a good time to remember who is in the majority, make a plan to vote in November, and have a Three To One Cocktail.

This pre-Prohibition drink from the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel comes via Dr. Cocktail Ted Haigh’s Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails book. It is:

1.5 oz 100-proof gin (I used Hayman’s Royal Dock Gin)

.75 oz apricot liqueur

Juice of half a lime (.5-.75 oz)

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

Cheers!

 

Drink of Laughter and Forgetting

Laugh

Dear Cheeto Mussolini, they’re not laughing with us, they’re laughing at us.

The UN General Assembly rightly scoffed at Trump’s claim to have accomplished more than any president of the US today. Even Fox News would have had trouble keeping a straight face for that one.

On the heels on my last cocktail post, The Truth, today called for something to note our laughingstock leader. The Truth came from Frederic Yarm at Cocktail Virgin, and the best choice tonight also comes Frederic, just from seven years earlier.

Today will be much easier to swallow if you wash it down with the Drink of Laughter and Forgetting cocktail. Hailing from Cure in New Orleans, and created by Mike Yusko, the cocktail makes a nice follow up to The Truth as it is also a low-alcohol drink with a Cynar base.

Adding to the fun is its play on The Book of Laughter and Forgetting by Czechoslovakian writer Milan Kundera…and it was written in 1980 behind the Iron Curtain around the time the Russians began cultivating Trump as an asset.

This is actually a great drink for a Tuesday night, especially when trying not to think about the orange buffoon. The Drink of Laughter and Forgetting is:

1.5 oz Cynar

.5 oz green Chartreuse

.75 oz lime juice

.5 oz demerara syrup (I used .25 oz demerara gum syrup)

14 drops of Angostura bitters (Orinoco bitters)

Shake with ice, strain into a coupe glass, garnish with a spritz of Angostura

Cheers!

A Moment of Truth in the Age of Lies

Truth

“The further a society drifts from the truth, the more it will hate those who speak it.” – George Orwell

Truth in America has been under assault for some time now, but in the past several months we have seen the fight become frenzied as the president of the United States tells his supporters not to believe what they see, only what he tells them.

Of course, lying politicians is not a new phenomenon. It is why we have the myth of George Washington chopping down the cherry tree, and Honest Abe. Where we find ourselves today, however, is the result of 30 years of sustained attack by those on the right, starting with the Republican Party.

Around the time of Newt Gingrich’s “Contract With America,” the GOP really began its effort toward a “permanent majority.”

The problem Republicans had in trying to create a permanent majority is that their ideas were not (are not) particularly popular. To overcome this existential flaw in achieving their goal, they set out on a two-pronged strategy of lies and rigging the structure of government and politics.

On the structural side, the effects of their efforts are clear, particularly when you look at their aggressive Gerrymandering that I have written about before. In 2016, for example, Republicans received a plurality of votes cast for Congress nationwide, 49.9%, but they received a greater share, 55.2%, of the seats. Democrats, as a result, won a smaller share of seats than they did votes: 44.8 percent of seats as compared to 47.3 percent of the votes.

Creating their world of alternative facts, while a long-term process, may have been easier. The Nixon “Southern Strategy” and Reagan and the Moral Majority were precursors to this effort. Building off of the Know Nothing movement-like racism and anti-immigrant sentiment (not just in the south), and the politicized evangelicals’ rejection of science (that they see as hostile to a literal reading of the Bible), the GOP set off a new anti-intellectual era.

This effort was aided by the end of the Fairness Doctrine, the rise of right-wing talk radio and especially the new Republican propaganda machine Fox News, and decades of attacks on the traditional “mainstream” media. Of course, the MSM itself was in a weaker position after Watergate, economically, with the corporatization of news outlets and in the “professionalization” of journalists leaving homogenous press pool to cover an increasingly diverse country. The digital age has not helped either.

By the time the Bush Administration had left the “reality-based community” behind, we were well on the path to Trump. We don’t yet know to what extent our Russian enemies were able to exploit this GOP strategy in 2016, but it certainly made their job easier.

But we are now at the point where the president regularly states provable lies. The president and congressional Republicans work against efforts of the FBI and the intelligence community to discover the truth about the 2016 election — actively seeking to ruin the careers of senior officials deemed in their way. And the GOP has reached the point of completing a takeover of the third branch of government, the court.

Republicans senators are trying to rush through the Supreme Court nomination of of Brett Kavanaugh by burying thousands of documents, of looking away from the potential he is compromised by whoever has paid his massive debts (they don’t want to know who), and is potentially a rapist. They want him on the Supreme Court to complete the coup and deliver the permanent Republican majority.

While the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing this week on the accusation of sexual assault by Dr. Christine Blasey Ford against Kavanaugh may turn out to be just another battle against truth by the GOP, it also holds the possibility of being a decisive turning point, perhaps exposing this last grasping effort by the GOP.

It feels like we are at a pivotal point in history. We are trying to run our country on such an accumulation of lies that it seems unsustainable. A long, long time ago, my evangelical mom used to say “the truth will always find you out.” Let’s hope so.

Start this week with The Truth cocktail. This very tasty bitter cocktail (yes, the bitter truth) comes via Frederic Yarm at the Cocktail Virgin.  The Truth is:

2 oz Punt e Mes
1/2 oz Cynar
1/2 oz Strega
2 dash Orange Bitters (Regan’s)

Stir with ice, strain into a cocktail coupe, and garnish with an orange twist.

Cheers!