A New Health Plan

Painkiller

After a pretty mild winter, from a meteorological standpoint, March is working overtime to deliver as much snow and cold as possible before the arrival of spring. Much of the country  is recovering from the inclement weather of the past few days, which will lead to recovering from colds, ice slipping trauma, and injuries sustained shoveling and sledding.

Fortunately, Obamacare has not yet been repealed. A lot fewer Americans will have insurance to deal with the effect of winter in March, among other things, according to an analysis of Paul Ryan’s Obamacare replacement American Health Care Act from the Congressional Budget Office.

While that analysis does provide good news for Republicans because the plan “would reduce federal deficits by $337 billion over the 2017-2026 period,” it does so because of “reductions in outlays for Medicaid and from the elimination of the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA’s) subsidies for non-group health insurance.”

The CBO also found that by 2026 the number of uninsured Americans would be about 56 million, nearly double the estimate under the current law. Adding to the people who will lose their health insurance (many of them Trump voters), is the huge tax break to the wealthy.

Meanwhile, throwing gasoline on the class fire, Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) says people just have to decide whether they want an iPhone or health care! So yes, if this passes, sell AAPL. Meanwhile his comments have sparked a fundraising boom for his Democratic opponent, Dr. Kathryn Allen.

Although Chaffetz may be on board, there is plenty of dissension in GOP ranks. Republican senators are not thrilled with the plan, while the Tea Party Republicans are also not happy, but more because they don’t think it goes far enough. And now Ryan is realizing the bill will have to change.

Of course Democrats are united against repealing Obamacare, and given the reaction Republican congressmen got in their town hall meetings, so is a large portion of America.

So, to help with this health care headache (and to think tropical thoughts in this extension of winter), I am prescribing Painkiller cocktails. Take 2 and call your congressional representatives in the morning.

Created at the Soggy Dollar Bar on Jost Van Dyke in the British Virgin Islands, I played with the recipe I pulled from Kindred Cocktails.

1.5 oz Pussers rum

.5 oz Lemon Hart 151 rum

2 oz pineapple juice

2 oz orange juice

.5 oz Coco Lopez

Pinch of nutmeg for garnish

Fill low-ball with ice, build, stir, grate nutmeg as garnish.

Cheers!

Scofflaw!

Scofflaw

A little more than 90 years ago, Henry Irving Dale and Kate L. Butler separately supplied winning entries in a national contest held by prohibitionist Delcevare King to coin a term for describing someone who drinks illegally. Kate and Henry split the $200 prize for the word “scofflaw.”

The definition of scofflaw has moved beyond simply someone who drinks illegally to a person who habitually flouts or violates the law, especially one who fails to pay debts or answer summonses.

The Scofflaw Cocktail was created, shortly after the word was coined, by a bartender named Jock at Harry’s New York Bar in Paris. While the fashionable drinkers in Paris, unaffected by Prohibition, could sip on delicious Scofflaw Cocktails, actual scofflaws in the U.S. looking for a drink were more often stuck with bathtub gin and rotgut rye. Scofflaws have always had a bit of a class distinction.

Every locality had its own enabler of scofflaws, or a scofflaw-in-chief, who supplied the booze, while often keeping the “good stuff” for themselves.

Although he may not drink, the current resident of the White House certainly fits the modern definition of scofflaw, and he’s hard at work steering the “good stuff” his own way. Even if you agree with Cheeto Mussolini that the President is the law, you can’t deny he is in violation of the lease on his DC hotel and, therefore, the foreign emoluments clause of the Constitution. The list of laws Trump has scoffed at over the years is a long one.

Back in Paris, however, in the birthplace of the Scofflaw Cocktail, our current scofflaw-in-chief proved a lot less popular than the drink, losing an election day tally in Harry’s New York Bar to Hillary Clinton 513 to 188.

Not long after the cocktail was created, one of the most notorious scofflaws of the era, Al Capone, started taking over Chicago. It took a good 70 years and the advent of Michael Jordan to finally separate the association of the word Chicago with a machine-gunning Al Capone re-enactment. New York is praying to avoid such a stain with Trump.

Hopefully, one thing these Scofflaws-in-chief might share in common is their undoing over taxes. For all of his murders, racketeering , etc., Capone was brought down on charges of tax evasion. Trump has been evasive about his taxes. Would they reveal extensive ties to Russia proving his collusion? Perhaps they would reveal how badly he has avoided paying taxes (though he says that makes him smart, and he’s already won, so it’s not clear his supporters would have a problem).

Even again today, White House press secretary Sean Spicer said that President Donald Trump is still under audit and he wouldn’t say whether Trump will release his taxes for the current year.

So as we ponder the tax evading potential of a gratuitously law flouting Administration, it’s time to have a Scofflaw Cocktail.

Following along with Dr. Cocktail Ted Haigh in his book Vintage Spirits and Vintage Cocktails, the Scofflaw is:

1.5 oz rye

1 oz dry vermouth

.75 oz lemon juice

.75 oz real pomegranate grenadine

Shake, strain into a cocktail glass with a lemon twist

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!

Evening Edition

nocturnal

The Washington Post unveiled its new slogan a little more than a week ago, with the phrase “Democracy Dies in Darkness” appearing under its name.

And yet, for the eternity that has been the first six weeks of the Trump presidency (and stretching back into the transition, too, I guess), darkness seems to be bringing a good deal of activity in defense of democracy. It has been hard to sleep, in fact, because of the light being shed after dark. This is not simply the blue light emanating from glowing rectangles interfering with slumber, but the words within that glow.

I’m not talking about the 3 a.m. words from the Tweeter-in-Chief here either. Unlike his Orangeness, I don’t grab the phone for that 0’dark-thirty bathroom trip.

I am talking about the increasing occurrence of major stories breaking In The Evening. I’m almost afraid to look at Twitter after 9 if I have a particularly early morning the next day. If, like me, you have wondered what is going on, then today’s story in The Atlantic is for you. In her story “Why Do the Big Stories Keep Breaking at Night?” Adrienne LaFrance lays out the case for why the rhythms of print publication are still impacting the news cycle.

The piece takes off from the major reports that hit last night. First was The New York Times story about how Obama administration officials worked to preserve intelligence on Russia in their final days. This was followed shortly, and overshadowed by, the Washington Post article reporting that Attorney General Jeff Sessions did not disclose communications he had with the Russian ambassador to the United States, despite saying there were no contacts when asked at his confirmation hearings in the Senate.

As LaFrance notes, print deadlines are creating publishing targets, and in effect creating evening editions of the newspapers. (As someone who once worked at an evening newspaper, this makes me smile.) So, to keep making sure that all of those major investigative news stories make the deadline to be in your morning papers, it may remain difficult to get to bed at a decent time if you are easily distracted by breaking news.

As the Post and the Times go about their nightly, Tonight, Tonight, news war, may I suggest a cocktail to help counteract the rays of blue light and disturbing information about our purported leaders; The Nocturnal cocktail. This one comes from Kindred Cocktails.

1.5 oz Bourbon

.75 oz Fernet Branca

.5 oz Maraschino liqueur

.5 oz Cointreau

1 dash of Angostura (or my favorite alternative, Dr. Adam’s Dead Rabbit Orinoco bitters)

Orange twist

Stir over ice, strain into a chilled coupe

Cheers!

Too Much, Too Little, Too Late

 

too-muchSaturday, fast approaching at this point, will bring the vote on a new Chairman for the Democratic National Committee. Leading contenders being the more establishment-backed frontrunner Thomas Perez (former Labor Secretary) and Representative Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), the Bernie Sanders camp candidate.

I don’t have a dog in this fight. Other than wanting someone strong leading the opposition party (in our two-party system) to stand up to the Kleptocrat-Fascist group that has now fully taken over the national GOP.

Of course, Democrats being Democrats, it is hard to get your hopes up. Even the Washington Post headline “Democrats brace for backlash as they vote on new party chairman” provides a glimpse of the petty infighting likely to derail organized resistance within the government.

Rehashing the Hillary-Bernie Primary is a luxury for a simpler time. People are in the streets, and at Republican Congressional Town Halls, vocally resisting this regime. We need Democrats to get with the people already motivated to stand against Trump and his GOP enablers. Those already in leadership position in the government and the party need to lead.

This will take some of that establishment organizational and institutional experience and know-how. This will need to be combined with the experience of the grassroots organizers who know something about insurgent campaigns. As EJ Dionne said about the DNC Chair race,”Whoever prevails will have an unusual opportunity and a large burden…The hard part will be convincing the newly mobilized that the Democratic Party knows what to do with their commitment.”

The leadership it will take to provide the direction people need and making the right decisions to turn back the worst of this regime will be critical.

Trump continues down his path and today’s banning of specific news organizations from a press briefing while again calling them enemies of the American people only takes this authoritarian tendency to another level. Hopefully we’re not too late.

So the nightcap to finish off week 5 of the Duke of Orange’s rule is Too Much Too Little Too Late from Kindred Cocktail.

1.25 oz gin

1 oz Cocchi Americano

.75 oz Gran Classico

.25 oz Apricot Liqueur

Dash orange bitters

Stir over ice, strain into a coupe

Cheers!

El Presidente

prez

We are now four weeks into Trump’s Reign of Error.

We are now down one national security advisor of questionable ties to Russia, though we did pick up a new head of the EPA who doesn’t think the EPA should exist. As Flynn was being ousted from his national security post, and his access to classified material was cut off by the intelligence community, the NY Times and CNN reported on a numerous contacts between the Trump presidential campaign and Russian intelligence officers.

All of this has raised the question, again, of Trump’s own Russia ties. A Russian spy ship was spotted off the coast of our submarine base in Connecticut. It is unclear if its mission was surveillance or asset extraction. The Administration response was simply, “Emergency, everybody to get from street.

Republican leaders in Congress, the same guys who spent two years, $7 million and some 30-40 hearings investigating Benghazi, said its all fine, no need to investigate.

Our Narcissist-in-Chief then held a long, strange trip of a press conference yesterday that has most us still feeling a little hungover.

As an appropriate hair-of-the-dog to fortify us all for this Presidents Day Weekend’s protests, it’s time for an El Presidente. ¡Azúcar!

This cocktail is perfect for it’s orange color, Spanish name, and (in my case) using the once banned illegal immigrant Havana Club rum. Some versions of the cocktail’s origin story even have it named for Cuban  President Gerardo Machado y Morales, who was elected president in 1925, became a powerful dictator and was exiled in 1933.

Actually, though, it was named for one of his predecessors, Mario Garcia Menocal. Menocal was president of Cuba from 1913-1921. His presidency started strong on a modernizing note, but his administration later deteriorated. Menocal stayed involved in politics and was part of an uprising against Machado’s dictatorial extension of power in 1931.

According to Jeff “Beachbum” Berry, the drink first appeared in a handbook for Cuban bartenders in 1924. Today there are many variations on how to make an El Presidente, different proportions of rum to vermouth, white rum v añejo rum, and how to garnish.

I went with the recipe from Jason Wilson in Boozehound.

1.5 oz aged rum (Havana Club Añejo 7 Años)

.75 oz dry vermouth (Berry is adamant it be Dolin Vermouth de Chambéry Blanc)

.75 oz curaçao (Pierre Ferrand Dry Orange Curaçao)

.5 teaspoon grenadine

orange twist

Stir on ice vigorously for 30 seconds, strain into a cocktail glass, twist.

Happy Friday,

Cheers!

Time to Pay Up

tax

The big news today is, of course, the resignation of national security advisor Michael Flynn for inappropriate discussions about sanctions with a Russian ambassador prior to the inauguration. (Or lying about it, or lying about it and leading Pence to lie about it. So was it the treason or making the VP look bad that forced him out?)

Clearly, it is a good day to drink a Moscow Mule. I am out of ginger beer at the moment, however, and I think there will be plenty more opportunities to make Moscow Mule the drink of the day.

Like every other of the 25 days of this Administration, there is more than one story worth a drink.

In this morning’s headlines was news of yet another court “issuing a strong rebuke” to Trump’s travel ban, this time in Virginia. While the courts keep knocking down Trump’s Muslim ban, he is making progress in a related campaign promise attack on the “other,” in this case undocumented Mexican immigrants.

The ICE raids of the past week have been, as VOX put it today, “both fairly standard and newly terrifying.” It is true that such raids took place before His Orangeness took charge, but the expanded use of “Collateral Arrests” are a part of the way these raids were designed to send a message. (They also don’t seem to be targeting Poles in Chicago, Irish in Boston, or the random hotbeds of godless Canadians.)

Whether this is the first stirrings of Der Gropenfuhrer’s Deportation Force remains to be seen. Regardless, it is as misguided as most everything else this group of Thieves and Liars is trying to do.

Like many before him, Trump has demonized immigrants to his supporters (all descendants of immigrants) that they are both stealing jobs and leeching off the state. This has been debunked many times over the decades, including in a piece in today’s NY Times.

While Trump looks to actually try to make good on his campaign promise (don’t know why people don’t believe fascists until it’s too late) it is very un-Republican. For all of the usual sound and fury, the businessmen in GOP generally know that undocumented immigrants are a good deal.

In “The Truth About Undocumented Immigrants and Taxes” in the Atlantic last fall it was estimated that illegal immigrants pumped $13 billion into Social Security and only got about $1 billion in benefits. A USA Today story last year said illegal immigrants pay more than $11.5 billion in taxes, a total that includes more than $6.9 billion in sales and excise taxes, $3.6 billion in property taxes, and over $1 billion in personal income taxes.

With that kind of tax burden, those immigrants are a lot like the citizens of states like New Jersey, New York and Illinois who send a lot more tax money to the feds than they get back, essentially subsidizing all of those Trump-supporting states.

It is also annoying to have such rhetoric coming from our tax-cheat-in-chief. So, unless you are the Cheeto-faced, ferret-wearing shit gibbon, you’ve got 9 weeks from today to get those tax forms in.

In support of all of our neighbors from the south coming across the wire to pay into our system, today we’ll have an Income Tax Cocktail. Essentially a Bronx Cocktail with bitters, I pulled my recipe from Gary Regan’s The Joy of Mixology:

2 oz gin (Sacred, a London craft gin in this case, one that came in illegally)

.25 oz sweet vermouth

.25 oz dry vermouth

1 oz fresh orange juice

Angostura (or Dr. Adam’s Orinoco Bitter) to taste

Shake, strain into a coupe, orange twist

Cheers!