What Matters Most in 2020

Crux

Over the past weekend a lot of people on Twitter were talking about the work America has ahead of us to clean up after Trump. I couldn’t agree more, and I have written about it before, first here and most recently in June.

The question of how we rebuild our democracy, our alliances, and our standing in the world in the wake of the Trump presidency will define the opposition to Trump in the election. This Restoration I believe is a key source of Biden’s strength. Even some MAGA-types seem to recognize that now we actually need to “make America great again.”

Much of America’s authority in the world came through “soft power” and it will not be regained simply by removing Trump. With a planet in the midst of a climate crisis, America will not restore its standing while one political party, representing a significant portion of the government, favors superstition over science. For this reason among many others, Joe Biden would be better off choosing Kamala Harris rather than a Republican as a running mate. Beside the fact that she would naturally be better than a republican, It also nicely sets up a successor. Others, such as Elizabeth Warren do seem to understand that before America can move forward with the best progressive plans, we first have to at least get back to where we were in our position in the world. (Or at least stop being a proxy for Russian positions.)

It won’t be easy, but I believe the candidate with the best plan to clean up after Trump will have the best shot at replacing him. As we Officially move into 2020 tonight, have a Crux cocktail. Via Kindred Cocktails the Crux is:

1 oz Cognac

.75 oz Cointreau

.75 oz Lemon Juice

.75 oz Dubonnet Rouge

Shake and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

As a side note, I began this blog 6 years ago today. It was just as my exploration of cocktails and their ingredients was beginning (more of that story here), and while I wasn’t well versed in the cocktail blogosphere of the time, I thought I’d take it from my business journalism background. That never really went anywhere, so I rebooted Gin & Bitters into what you’re reading now in January 2017. The world is so different now than it was 6 years ago. Hopefully this time next year I will be looking for a new angle for this blog because we won’t need a stiff drink just to watch the news anymore.

Happy New year!

Cheers!

Corrections

Prohibition

This past week was a historic one. As Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced the move to expeditiously draft Articles of Impeachment against President* Trump, she chose a historically appropriate day to do so. Thursday Dec 5, was the 86th anniversary of the end of Prohibition, and proof that America can correct its mistakes.

As Pelosi noted, Trump has forced this course of action through his abuse of power. The fact that there were some (Democrats) in Congress who spoke about impeachment almost from the day Trump was sworn in is neither surprising nor disqualifying since Trump campaigned as a wannabe king/dictator.

The Intelligence Committee hearings have only added factual proof of abuse of power. Meanwhile this week also saw Trump‘s insane ramblings about toilet flushing, as he and his GOP enablers continued to spout Kremlin propaganda. Trump also took to doing PR for the Saudi royal family this week when a Saudi “trainee” gunned down several Americans at Pensacola Naval Air Station, including a young recent Annapolis graduate just learning to become a Naval Aviator. But Trump says it’s all OK because the Saudi King will send money.

This came on the heels of Trump being laughed out of Europe at the NATO summit. This is a mistake America really needs to correct, though it will likely take all of us to help Republican Senators find their spine so that the articles of impeachment set in motion on Repeal Day might bring about Trump’s prohibition.

While we watch the Judicial Committee hearings on the articles of impeachment, have a Prohibition Cocktail. From the Prohibition-era Savoy Cocktail Book of 1930, The Prohibition Cocktail is:

1.5 oz Plymouth Gin

1.5 oz Kina Lillet (Cocchi Americano)

2 dashes orange juice

1 dash apricot brandy

Shake over ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass, garnish with a lemon twist

Cheers!

 

The Kurds of 5th Avenue

5th Avenue

At a campaign rally in Iowa, in January 2016, Donald Trump said, “I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose any voters,” and then folded his fingers into the shape of a gun.

But Trump’s abandonment of our Kurdish allies, and their subsequent attack by Turkey,  may have more of an impact than just some random guy Trump might shoot on a street in New York City.

This move comes at a time when Trump’s foreign policy moves are already under scrutiny for being less about America’s global interests than his own.

The stunning betrayal of our closest ally in the fight against ISIS is cause enough for a strong rebuke of the President*, but the way Trump’s withdrawal of U.S. troops in Syria played into the hands of Erdogan, Assad and Putin, just adds an extra bitterness that is even hard for Republicans to swallow. The Russian flags raised over bases in Syria that were just vacated by U.S. troops only adds to the evidence for Trump as an asset of the Kremlin.

This particular 5th Avenue-moment for Trump has finally cost him with Republicans in Congress, as a majority of the House GOP sided with Democrats to voice opposition to the move in Syria.

Trump has a history of not paying contractors, and the Kurds did the heavy lifting in the fright against ISIS, so there would be some poetic justice if his betrayal of the Kurds (not paying an important contractor) led to his downfall.

The Kurds are in the middle of 5th Avenue and Trump handed the gun to Erdogan, now we’ll see whether it costs Trump.

So Have a 5th Avenue Cocktail created by Jim Roundall and taken from Brad Parson’s great book Bittersthe 5th Avenue Cocktail is:

1.5 oz London Dry Gin (Martin Miller’s is called for, I used Ford’s)

.5 oz Dolin Blanc vermouth

1 teaspoon yellow Chartreuse

1 dash absinthe

2 dashes lemon bitters

Garnish with lemon twist

Stir with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

Cheers!

Unfit At Any Speed

Chaos Monkey

President* Trump is doubling down on one of the most bizarre weeks he’s had in office (King of Israel and The Chosen One being key moments). Today he is busy embarrassing America on the world stage at the G-7 meeting in France, being Putin’s errand boy arguing for Russia to be re-included in the meeting despite its being kicked out for invading Crimea. And he is trying to claim other world leaders are asking him, “Why the American media hates your country so much. Why are they rooting for it to fail?” But it’s probably just all the unborn chicken voices in his head.

Coming on the heels of Trump’s remarks on his trade war with China on Friday that sent markets into a tailspin, the Disruptor in Chief has been even more erratic than usual, prompting James Fallows to write a piece for The Atlantic called “If Trump were an Airline Pilot,” examining how if Trump were in any number of regular jobs of responsibility and exhibited his recent behavior he would likely be removed.

  • If an airline learned that a pilot was talking publicly about being “the Chosen One” or “the King of Israel” (or Scotland or whatever), the airline would be looking carefully into whether this person should be in the cockpit.
  • If a hospital had a senior surgeon behaving as Trump now does, other doctors and nurses would be talking with administrators and lawyers before giving that surgeon the scalpel again.
  • If a public company knew that a CEO was making costly strategic decisions on personal impulse or from personal vanity or slight, and was doing so more and more frequently, the board would be starting to act. (See: Uber, management history of.)
  • If a university, museum, or other public institution had a leader who routinely insulted large parts of its constituency—racial or religious minorities, immigrants or international allies, women—the board would be starting to act.
  • If the U.S. Navy knew that one of its commanders was routinely lying about important operational details, plus lashing out under criticism, plus talking in “Chosen One” terms, the Navy would not want that person in charge of, say, a nuclear-missile submarine.

Unfortunately for America, President Looney Tunes isn’t going anywhere because his Republican enablers in Congress clearly put party over country. Still, you have to wonder if it might sink in with Republicans that this force of destruction could endanger their own reelection prospects. Which also makes it curious why they wouldn’t just remove Trump (impeachment or 25th Amendment) and be just as happy or happier with a less erratic but even more Christian Right-wing President Pence.

While you sit back waiting for the next lunatic thing from Trump to emerge from the G-7 Summit this weekend, have a Chaos Monkey cocktail. Via Kindred Cocktails, the Chaos Monkey (named for the book about Silicon Valley) is:

2 oz Scotch, Monkey Shoulder

.5 oz Creme de banane

.25 oz Amaro Montengro

1 barspoon Amargo-Vallet, or substitute with a dash or two of Angostura bitters and a dash of demerara syrup

Lemon twist

Stir over ice, strain into an old fashioned glass with a large cube/sphere. Garnish with a lemon peel, expressed.

Cheers!

 

 

A Moment’s Hesitation for the GOP

Hesitation

For a brief moment this morning it appeared Republicans might be growing a spine in response to Trump’s over-the-top racist comments about four Democratic House members. Trump himself even seemed to be walking things back by disavowing the “send her back” chant at his North Carolina rally.

Writing in The Washington Post, Greg Sargent’s article “New GOP Panic About Trump’s Racicism Reveals an Ugly Truth,” noting: “You can locate a zone of plausible deniability, in which one can claim support for such policies on pragmatic, economic or “cultural” grounds, and not out of any desire to make the United States whiter. It’s precisely this zone that Republicans now seek to inhabit.”

Even while this was happening, some GOPers had already been trying to twist the racism into some kind of Love it or Leave it approach. This now seems to be the official party line as Cheeto Mussolini himself has now come out and said “that while he’s president any criticism of the United States is unacceptable and they ‘can’t get away with’ it.

This of course stands a fundamental principle and value of the United States on its head; the right of free speech and the ability to criticize the government.

The Republican Party gave us a glimpse that maybe there is still a glimmer of GOP life in this Trump possessed shell of  a Party. Those racist attacks gave the GOP pause despite the infiltration of white supremecists. Now we’ll see if there are enough so-called Libertarian elements left in the Republican Party to push back on an assault on free speech.

There can be no impeachment of Trump without at least some portion of the GOP holding on to the principles they say they once believed in. As we wait to see if Trump’s latest outrage causes any hesitation in Republicans, or do they just keep going along, have a Hesitation cocktail. From an old blog post from Doug Ford (that I found via Kindred Cocktails), the Hesitation cocktail is:

2 oz Rittenhouse 100 Rye

1 oz Swedish Punsch (Kronan)

.25-.5 oz lemon juice

Shake over ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass, garnish with a lemon twist.

Cheers!

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!

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!