Banana Republicans

Banana Boulevardier

Democracy, the rule of law, and the competition of ideas were all once at the core of the belief system of people who called themselves Republicans and conservatives. There may still be some conservatives holding on to these concepts, but it is no longer a required — or even desired — dogma to be a Republican at any level.

It has been coming for a number of years, but after the 2018 midterm elections, the GOP has accelerated its anti-democratic, authoritarian tendencies to Ludicrous Speed. The voter suppression and hyper-gerrymandering practiced by Republicans in the 21st Century has now given way to an utter disregard of the electoral process.

In North Carolina, Republican congressional candidate Mark Harris has resorted to outright election fraud to steal the election by stealing ballots. Of course, NC also provided the playbook for other state Republican parties when they lost the governorship to a Democrat and changed laws to limit his power before the Democrat took office. In both Wisconsin and Michigan, the GOP is working overtime to make sure newly elected Democrats will not be able to take actions they campaigned on, with regard to health care, for example..

In Wisconsin, this power grab comes amid aggressive gerrymandering that saw Democrats receive 54% of votes for the state assembly, but only get 37% of the seats.

This disregard for the will of the people can also be seen in Washington, where very clear signs the President* has committed crimes — potentially including treason — are dismissed by Republicans in Congress. They simply don’t care.

Republicans have gone bananas, doing anything to hold on to power, satisfy their greed, and deliver for their patrons (Trump or Putin or both?), turning the U.S. into a Banana Republic.

As you try to navigate the streets of the crazytown our politics has become, have a Banana Boulevardier cocktail. Then we can get about making sure to return Democracy to the USA.

I got this surprisingly tasty drink via Frederic Yarm @cocktailvirgin. The Banana Boulevardier is a variation on one of my favorite cocktails, the Boulevardier, essentially a Negroni with whiskey. It is:

1 oz Bourbon (Bulleit)
1 oz Sweet Vermouth (Dolin)
1/2 oz Campari
1/2 oz Giffard Banane du Bresil

Stir with ice and strain into a coupe glass (or a rocks glass with a large ice cube). Garnish with an orange twist.

Cheers!

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!

Going Bananas on Election Eve?

Worry

Going bananas with anticipation on this election eve?

It is quite understandable. Will patriotic Americans turn out to vote against the anti-democratic forces controlling our government? Will they vote in enough numbers to overcome all the Gerrymandering and voter suppression that has helped put this minority view in power?

Will the Russians interfere as much as they did in 2016? What happens if the election is widely seen as manipulated?

All of these worries will either be eased or exacerbated when the results come in tomorrow night.

So tonight, ease your mind with the Bourbon and bananas of the Years of Worry cocktail.

Via Kindred Cocktail, the Years of Worry is:

2 oz Bourbon (100 proof)

.75 Giffard Crème de Banane

.25 oz Cocchi Americano

1 dash Bittermens Xocolatl Mole bitters

Stir, strain into a rocks glass containing one large rock.

Cheers!

D-Day for Liberal Democracy

Liberal

You are about to embark upon the Great Crusade, toward which we have striven these many months. The eyes of the world are upon you. The hopes and prayers of liberty-loving people everywhere march with you…

…Good Luck! And let us all beseech the blessing of Almighty God upon this great and noble undertaking.

Dwight D. Eisenhower, Supreme Allied Commander, 6 June 1944

On 6 November 2018, liberal democracy may face its most important challenge since that day 74 years ago on the beaches of Normandy.

Yes, I know, I am not really prone to hyperbole. I have worked in politics and seen plenty of times how any given election was over exaggerated as the most important of a lifetime. But, when the president* calls for the illegal use of the military on American soil to stir up his voting base while also suggesting he can change the Constitution by Executive Order, all with the full support of his legislature-controlling party, then things really are different.

Additionally, it is not just an internal US thing, either. We know there has been Russian influence in our elections, as there was in the Brexit vote in the UK. And just last week we saw the right wing come to power in Brazil. The threat to democracy is more global than at any time since at least the end of the Cold War, if not the defeat of Nazi Germany.

This global trend was addressed the other day by Max Fisher in The New York Times where he suggested that the weaknesses and tensions inherent to liberal democracy itself can, in times of stress, pull it apart. He said:

When that happens, voters tend to reject that system in all but name and follow their most basic human instincts toward older styles of government: majoritarian, strong-fisted, us-versus-them rule.

We can see that here in the US, where Trump’s authoritarian tendencies are applauded by his base, and actual Nazis are running for office as Republicans. This is why Max Boot’s call to vote against all Republicans in The Washington Post the other day is so important.

I have actually been telling that to a number of relatives for some years now. At the risk of hyperbole, I have tried to explain how the GOP no longer represented conservative views, but had become enthralled to radical right wing thinking that had as its central tenet (if it had one at all) opposition to Democrats. Republicans had begun putting party before country well before Trump, which just made it easier for them to side with him.

As Max Boot put it: Vote for Democrats on Tuesday. For every office. Regardless of who they are. And I say that as a former Republican. Some Republicans in suburban districts may claim they aren’t for Trump. Don’t believe them. Whatever their private qualms, no Republicans have consistently held Trump to account. They are too scared that doing so will hurt their chances of reelection. If you’re as sick and tired as I am of being sick and tired about what’s going on, vote against all Republicans. Every single one. That’s the only message they will understand.

By doing this on Tuesday, America can once again take a leading role in saving liberal democracy, and we can turn the tide on the authoritarian forces darkening the globe. So tonight, the cocktail to have is The Liberal.

Via Dr. Cocktail Ted Haigh’s classic book Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails, The Liberal is:

.75 oz 100-proof Wild Turkey (Buffalo Trace)

.75 oz sweet vermouth (Carpano Antica)

3 dashes Torani Amer (Bigallet China-China)

1 generous dash orange bitters

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

Cheers!

An Offer He Can’t Refuse

Privilege

The dominoes are falling. Trump’s long-time fixer Michael Cohen has taken a plea deal and is headed to prison, while his former campaign chairman Paul Manafort has been found guilty in the first of his two trials.

Whether Cohen decides to cooperate with the Mueller investigation on his way to jail remains to be seen. But the Russia investigation is heating up, and both events today may play a role. We are 10 weeks from the midterm elections and today we have news that the same hackers indicted for attacking the 2016 election and linked to the Russian military have attacked conservative groups critical of Putin. The attack was stopped by Microsoft.

Everybody knows Cohen was knee deep in Trump’s dealings with Russia, so he could potentially shed light on any collusion/conspiracy. He did say about a month ago that he would put family and country first. Unlike Republicans in Congress, this former GOP finance co-chair may be able to put aside being partisan long enough to fight for democracy in the USA. So perhaps there is some patriotism in the extra from the Sopranos, or maybe it was something else.

Cohen’s plea comes only a week after a special master overseeing reams of paper and millions of electronic files removed from his office determined only a small fraction could be classed under attorney-client privilege. Perhaps he got an offer he couldn’t refuse.

Whatever it was, toast these developments tonight with an Attorney Privilege cocktail. From Imbibe Magazine, the Attorney Privilege is:

2 oz bourbon

.5 oz orgeat

2 dashes Angostura bitters

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

While enjoying this Japanese Cocktail variant, I will also toast Michael Cohen for giving me reason to link to a bunch of Leonard Cohen videos.

Cheers!

 

Panic at the Congress

Panic

President Very Stable Genius is not the only one who is, like, really smart. Republican members of Congress realize they can use the Michael Wolff book, its Trump v. Bannon storyline, and the President’s full-Fredo response as cover for their actions.

The last several days have seen Congressional Republicans across the board step up their assault on the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election and the possibility of co-conspirators in the Trump campaign. The GOP now stands for the Grand Obstruction Party according to Brian Beutler.

House speaker Ryan has backed Devin Nunes’ attempts to further cover up Trump’s actions and denigrate investigators and the FBI. Meanwhile, in the Senate, the Judiciary Committee has recommended that the only investigation into potential criminal activity should focus on Christopher Steele, the former British intelligence agent who provided evidence of Russian involvement in the Trump campaign.

Paul Krugman has a theory for this action, that Republicans have made a deal with the devil, and now they’re stuck and can’t back out.

More specifically, Trump’s very awfulness means that if he falls, the whole party will fall with him. Republicans could conceivably distance themselves from a president who turned out to be a bad manager, or even one who turned out to have engaged in small-time corruption. But when the corruption is big time, and it’s combined with obstruction of justice and collaboration with Putin, nobody will notice which Republicans were a bit less involved, a bit less obsequious, than others. If Trump sinks, he’ll create a vortex that sucks down everyone involved.

Krugman has a point, and it may be the reason many Republicans are willing to go with the flow right now, but there seems to be something more at work. To watch the turnaround in Sen. Lindsey Graham, in the way he spoke about Trump until recently, really raises the question of whether he has been compromised in some way. No one knows, but stories of Russian oligarch money sloshing through our political system in the wake of Citizens United clearly raises the possibility of kompromat on any number of GOP officials.

Whether because of their deal with the devil or kompromat, Republicans certainly look to be putting party over country a lot lately. Krugman made another very true point about Republican complicity in Trump’s crimes: “Massive electoral defeat – massive enough to overwhelm gerrymandering and other structural advantages of the right – is the only way out.”

This is not lost on the, like, really smart Republicans. They have sounded the alarm about this trap and their actions from now until November to hold onto power are likely to be as un-American as anything we have seen. Trump may have a big nuclear button on his desk, but we are seeing that congressional Republicans are already pressing the panic button over the next elections.

In a rare moment of sympathy with the GOP, I suggest we all reach for the Panic Button tonight. This cocktail from the Dewberry Hotel in Charleston via Imbibe (that I found via Kindred Cocktails) contains:

1.5 oz bourbon
.75 oz Averna
.5 oz Campari
.5 oz Cheery Heering liqueur
.25 oz fresh lemon juice

Shake, strain into a chilled cocktail glass over a large ice ball (the button), express and discard lemon peel.

Cheers!

 

Flying Too Close to the Sun

Plane

Another of Trump’s best people has resigned from the Administration. This time it was HHS Secretary Tom Price after revelations that he chartered private flights costing taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars.

As Rep. Adam Schiff snarked on Twitter, “Tom Price committed the one unpardonable sin in Trump’s world: Being rich, but not rich enough to own his own private jet.”

Actually, Trump had threatened Price’s job in July during the overly political speech to the Boy Scouts, saying that if Price couldn’t get the Obamacare repeal bill passed he’d fire him. This past week saw the latest repeal bill fail. Shot down in flames if you will.

Price’s excessive private plane charters has also brought a great deal of scrutiny to the travel habits of others in the Administration as well, with new discoveries making headlines frequently the past few days. The latest case of misuse of taxpayer dollars being attributed to the Veterans Affairs Secretary earlier today.

Of course, Trump is yet again spending the weekend at one of his golf courses, raising the already astronomical security costs and stretching the Secret Service to dangerously thin levels. The cost of Trump versus Price is like comparing an Air Force One 747 versus a paper airplane, but it just proves Trump remains King of the Grifters.

Since the rest of us won’t even be left with a paper airplane at this rate when Trump is done, may as well have a Paper Plane cocktail as we send Tom Price into the wild blue yonder.

Via Kara Newman’s excellent book Shake. Stir. Sip. the Paper Plane is:

.75 oz Bourbon

.75 oz Aperol

.75 oz Amaro Nonino

.75 oz lemon juice

Shake over ice, strain into a chilled coupe glass.

Cheers!