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!

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!

Death in the Afternoon

Blood

We have now gone through two Fridays since the Mid-term elections and there have been no new indictments from Special Counsel Robert Mueller. While it is frustrating for most of us, it does seem to be driving Trump a bit nuts.

It is quite clear in the more-unhinged-than-usual behavior from Trump. As Frank Rich noted in New York Magazine, Trump is starting to panic. He is more secluded and ranting in his bunker and not doing much presidenting, with a nearly empty schedule. From blaming the California wildfires on mismanagement and a lack of raking to making note of the sex life of a deceased Supreme Court Justice with his widow at the Medal of Freedom ceremony, Trump is cracking up and clearly somewhat out of his mind.

There was a time when people ascribed great strategic vision behind Trump’s actions, saying he was playing three-dimensional chess and besting everyone. It turns out, however, that this is not a game of chess, but a bullfight — and Trump is the bull while Mueller is the matador.

No matter how Trump charges, Mueller is ready. Fire AG Jeff Session to install a loyalist to oversee the investigation? Seems Mueller may have already filed a number of sealed indictments. Some of those may be against his family members. It seems to be driving Trump a bit insane, but he may also be wearing down.

At this stage of the fight, Trump is moving slowly with a bunch of bright red, white, and blue banderillas hanging from his neck and shoulders. The question is whether Mueller has determined it is time for the final phase, el tercio de muerte. Trump has already done damage to our democracy, aided by the GOP, but Mueller has so far shown himself to be an artistic bullfighter so hopefully we hear something good soon.

As we await the estocada, the final thrust of the matador’s sword, and hope the Trump administration’s death in the afternoon is near, have a classic Blood and Sand cocktail. Named for the 1922 silent film with Rudolph Valentino as a bullfighter, I pulled the recipe for this classic cocktail from Ted Haigh’s Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails book.

1 oz Scotch (blended is called for here, I used Black Bottle)

1 oz orange juice

.75 oz Cherry Heering

.75 oz sweet vermouth

Shake over ice, strain into a cocktail glass, garnish with a cocktail cherry

Cheers!

Doing the Wave

Newark

It’s only two days after the 2018 midterm elections and Trump is dismissing the blue wave, taking a “war-like posture” with the new Democratic majority in the House, and likely using unconstitutional means to replace the Attorney General in a transparent move to interfere with the Mueller investigation.

There are still a bunch of undecided races, including 11 House seats and governorships in Georgia and Florida. But despite that, and the distractions of Trump tantrums, it is worth taking a step back to assess what happened Tuesday.

First, obviously, the Democrats gained control of the House. They flipped a net of 31 seats and have a majority of 222 seats with more likely to come once the vote counting is done. But getting much less notice is what happened at the state level. At this point, Democrats have flipped seven governorships and went from seven to 13 states where they control all branches of state government.

Trump can deny it all he wants, but we did see a blue wave on Tuesday despite falling short on some high profile races (looking at you Texas).

In New Jersey, for example, Democrat Andy Kim seems poised to unseat Tom MacArthur in the state’s last undecided congressional race (Kim has now declared victory though no official confirmation yet). Politico reports that two years ago the NJ delegation was evenly split between six Republicans and six Democrats. If Kim has indeed won, the breakdown will 11 Democrats to one Republican.

To celebrate the blue wave, with a nod to the NJ blue wave, have a Newark cocktail. From Meehan’s Bartender Manual, the story behind this variation on the Brooklyn cocktail (and all the Brooklyn neighborhood variants it inspired requiring the need to look across the river) is worth a read.

The Newark is:

2 oz Laird’s 100 proof apple brandy

1 oz sweet vermouth

.25 oz Fernet Branca

.25 oz Maraschino Liqueur

Stir, strain into a chilled coupe, no garnish.

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!