Empire Drinks

Imperial

Democracy is feeling a little weak these days.

As the Senate tries to ram through a secret health care bill that could hurt millions, Trump continues to use his position to enrich himself, and gerrymandering again seems too strong to overcome in the most expensive House race ever in GA06, these are dark days indeed.

We have heard more details on Russian attempts to interfere with our elections and evidence of cyber attacks on state election systems. Meanwhile Trump claims it is all a Democratic hoax and skirts with obstruction of justice to block any investigation.

The emperor may have no clothes, but he certainly has friends in Congress and the Kremlin. As hard as it is, now is the time to stay strong. The French elections remain a sign of hope against the global tide of nationalism and fascism. As the refrain goes in the French national anthem, La Marseillaise:

Aux armes, citoyens !
Formez vos bataillons !
Marchons ! Marchons !
Qu’un sang impur
Abreuve nos sillons !

For now, while we form our battalions, we can perhaps take a little power back with an Imperial Buck cocktail. From Kindred Cocktails, the recipe is:

2 oz Cruzan Blackstrap Rum

.5 oz lime juice

1 oz pineapple juice

3 oz ginger beer

Shake without ice all ingredients except the ginger beer, pour over ice into a Collins Glass, add the ginger beer.

Cheers!

The Poisoning of Democracy

Racer

The spectacle of Dear Leader Cheeto Mussolini receiving the sycophantic praise of his VP and Cabinet before the cameras yesterday raised serious questions about what alternate universe we’ve been beamed into.

Then the evening brought the trial balloon that Trump is considering firing Robert Mueller, the special counsel overseeing the Russia investigation (you know, the one that could potentially find that Russia interfered with the election to install Trump, who is now doing everything Putin could possibly want). This is a cause for concern not because of any doubt that Don Cheeto Corleone would do it, but rather that the GOP Congress would do nothing to stop or correct it.

Not to ignore the massive problems caused by our would-be naked emperor and his Russian patrons, but our representative democracy has some deep structural problems coming to a head right now.

In an encore to their utterly unprecedented stealing of a Supreme Court seat, Senate Republicans are now preparing to ram through some version of Trumpcare. There is no way to argue about its provisions specifically because no one knows what’s in it. However, if it follows the AHCA passed by the House GOP, then many Americans will suffer, many will lose their access to healthcare, most Americans will become that much more dependent on their employers for increasingly expensive healthcare, all while providing the wealthiest people in the country big tax breaks.

This breakdown in Congressional norms is the latest in a long string of anti-democratic actions that deny any real representation in our government. This certainly includes recent Republican voter suppression efforts around the country, but also the Gerrymandering work of both parties. In fact, it has been going on long enough that there is no false equivalence as both parties have undergone several changes in direction since it started. Those policies that were once the Democrats’ are now Republican, and vice-versa.

On Sunday, there was a vote that has the (unlikely) potential of exposing that structural flaw we are grappling with now. Once again, the voters of U.S. Territory Puerto Rico have voted for statehood. Now there are many problems with this vote, it was 97% in favor, but on 23% turnout, there was a voter roll purge before the election, etc.

However, despite its problems, half a million Puerto Ricans voted in favor of statehood, and that is about as many as the total population of a couple of states sending four Senators to Washington. Even Washington D.C. itself has more people than Wyoming, but Wyoming has 3 electoral votes and D.C. has none.

It is clear this Republican Congress is not going to give any real hearing to Puerto Rican statehood because that would add an awful lot of likely Democratic voters (the precise opposite of everything they have been working for) who are poorer, browner, and (worst of all) Spanish-speaking.

It is the fear of the other, the non-white invasion (that once included the Irish and Italians) that has kept our Congressional representation at the same number it has been since 1911 (with small variations).

The prospect of Puerto Rico becoming the 51st state reminds us of the question of representation. Sure, the Senate might move to 102 members, but the House would have to change a number it has had for more than 100 years with only temporary deviation for Alaska and Hawaii.

As the population of the U.S. has grown while the number in the House has remained 435, the power of smaller rural states has grown at the expense of larger urban areas. That is the poison at the heart of our system now, and the Puerto Rican vote has put it back in focus.

So the cocktail for today is the Puerto Rican Racer. Named for the island’s mildly venomous snake, this recipe from NYC’s Death & Co. calls for:

2 oz Puerto Rican Rum (Ron del Barrilito 3 Star)

.5 oz Laird’s Apple Brandy

.5 oz Yellow Chartreuse

1 tsp Grenadine

1 dash Peychaud’s Bitters

Stir over ice, strain into an old fashioned glass over a big rock, no garnish

Cheers!

Who’s Minding the Store?

Buster

A consistent theme has developed during the Reign of Error in which, when the number of scandals or problems seem impossible to keep up with, Trump will take to Twitter to create or highlight another one.

Such was the case today, when Cheeto Mussolini complained in a tweet to Fox News: “Dems are taking forever to approve my people, including Ambassadors. They are nothing but OBSTRUCTIONISTS! Want approvals.”

Surprisingly, reality begs to differ. Of the 559 positions requiring confirmation, Trump has not even announced a nominee for 442 of them. At this point, 39 have been confirmed, 63 are awaiting confirmation, and another 15 have been announced but not yet nominated.

This has led to headlines like Newsweek‘s “Trump Not Doing His Job?” in reference to the lack of nominations, to Jennifer Rubin saying in The Washington Post that Trump is courting disaster by not fully staffing the government.

Worse, he depleted the ranks of long-time government staff, particularly in the Foreign Service, and continues to do so. Today, the acting ambassador to China, a 27-year State Department veteran, resigned over Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris Accord. With all the problems in the world, he may just need an envoy, but maybe he doesn’t really want things to work.

It’s almost as though he is destroying the ability of our government to function, the way our primary foreign adversary might wish.

Trump’s tweet on nominees came on the heels of a slight Twitter meme that pointed out we have started Hurricane season without a head of FEMA or NOAA. That calls for a Hurricane Buster cocktail to ease all the various storm surges we are currently enduring as well as those to come.

The recipe, via Beachbum Berry’s Potions of the Caribbean, calls for:

1.5 oz gold Puerto Rican rum

.75 oz applejack

.5 oz Curaçao

3 oz guava juice

.75 oz lime juice

Shake well over ice, strain into a glass with crushed ice, garnish with sugar cane stick, cocktail cherry, pineapple and orange slices (I was out of garnish material, still tasty)

Cheers!

Earth Died Screaming

Corn

Nothing about the news that Trump is likely to pull the U.S. out of the Paris Climate Accord actually changes Tom Waits’ prediction of the Earth’s fate.

Really, we’ve been at the End of the World as We Know It since November. But mostly, the damage being inflicted by Cheeto Mussolini is political. While significant, we could recover politically in a relatively short time (key word being “could”). But when it comes to climate change, everyone alive today will be dealing with it the rest of their lives. (And we already are dealing with its effects, don’t kid yourself.)

Whether Trump makes it official by pulling us out of the Accord, or simply doesn’t fulfill the actions we’ve agreed to take, the climate will continue on its path. The short-sightedness of Trump and the climate deniers is that they think making changes necessary to mitigate the effects of climate change will hurt the economy. Also, their fear of the black President caused them to kill off the Republican idea of a carbon market and the Chicago Climate Exchange was suffocated at birth.

The opposite effect on our economy is the more likely outcome as Germany and China stand to reap the benefits with green technology. In the meantime, we are beholden to the fossil fuel and agriculture interests who want to maintain the status quo.

So, as we take Bluto’s advice while awaiting word from the White House, tonight’s cocktail is the Corn and Oil. Taken from Smuggler’s Cove, the Corn and Oil is:

.5 oz John D. Taylor’s Velvet Falernum

2 oz Barbados Rum

2-4 dashes Angostura bitters

Add ingredients to an old-fashioned glass and fill with crushed ice. Stir to combine until frost forms on the glass.

Cheers!

The Big Con

Right Hand

“If this thing blows up, the Feds will be the least of our problems,” – Kid Twist, from The Sting.

It will be pretty disappointing if the Trump clan turns out to be the transparently petty grifters they seem and there’s not some deeper more interesting con going on. Several times a day, the Entertainer-in-Chief provides us with what would be considered a major scandal in most any other presidency.

One of those today was the news that his daughter Ivanka would become an unpaid federal employee. This comes after a bit of an uproar over her getting an office in the White House to be an informal advisor to her father. She will now join her husband as an unpaid advisor.

As The Reformed Broker Josh Brown said on Twitter today:

“We aren’t paying Ivanka for the same reason Facebook users aren’t paying Zuckerberg. Because we’re not the customer, we’re the product.”

So now daddy’s little girl is ensconced right next to him in the White House as an “employee.” May as well toast this play with a Right Hand cocktail since that’s where Ivanka sits now. Meantime, we can watch to see if there’s a bigger con going underneath the obvious conflict of interest riddled swindle happening in broad daylight.

The Right Hand was created by Michael McIlroy of Milk and Honey and Little Branch in 2007 according to the Bitterman’s website recipes page. It is:

1.5 oz aged rum

.75 oz Carpano Antica sweet vermouth

.75 oz Campari

2 dashes of Bittermens Xocolatl Mole Bitters

Stir, serve up in a cocktail glass.

Cheers!

Dammit Jim, I’m a doctor, not a…

Doctor

As Republicans in the House prepare to vote on the Obamacare replacement tomorrow, the American Health Care Act, I am continually drawn to the words of America’s most famous physician, Dr. Leonard H. “Bones” McCoy.

I would love to hear how the Chief Medical Officer for the USS Enterprise would describe the AHCA. The estimate that even more people will end up without health insurance under AHCA than would result from a simple repeal of Obamacare has me thinking he’d come in along the lines of Dark Ages, barbaric, or Spanish Inquisition.

Of course, there are plenty of current members of Congress also giving the AHCA a similar review (and those who don’t think it goes far enough). The reporting ahead of tomorrow’s vote paints a grim picture for Paul Ryan and his college dream to throw people off Medicaid. With headlines like The Washington Post’sGOP health-care plan, facing conservative revolt, lacks the votes for House passage,” we may need to start quoting Dr. McCoy’s most used line; “He’s dead, Jim.”

The difficulties are happening even as Trump threatens and cajoles House Republicans. This, of course, brings up McCoy’s other most famous line, I’m a doctor, not a (fill in the blank). Most appropriately, in Episode 41 “The Deadly Years,” which aired on 8 December 1967, Bones uttered, “I’m not a magician, Spock, just an old country doctor.”

So tonight, in honor of Dr. McCoy and functioning health care, I’d prescribe a simple Doctor Cocktail. And let’s hope there’s no need tomorrow to quote Dammit Jim! Taken from Ted Haigh’s (aka Dr. Cocktail) Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails book, this 1936 classic is:

2 oz Jamaican rum

1 oz Swedish Punsch

1 oz fresh lime juice

Shake, strain into a chilled cocktail glass, garnish with a lime twist.

Cheers!

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!