Weekday Drinking: (Il)legal Voting

Donald Trump the other day tweeted something dangerous (a sentence I fully expect we’ll get used to saying over the next four years):

I can only assume he’s referring to VoteFraud.org’s claim (promoted by InfoWars) that “Three million votes in the U.S. presidential election were cast by illegal aliens”.

Why is this so bad?

Well, for one it’s totally unsubstantiated. If there are really three million people voting illegally it would be a slam dunk for the Republicans, supporting all their voter suppression efforts over the last XX years, legitimizing Donald Trump’s popular vote victory, and likely allowing them to successfully pass a whole new barrage of voter ID laws.

But – wait, because here comes the first part I need a drink for – Gregg Phillips, the “voting integrity activist” responsible for this claim refuses to release the data!

Since then….nothing. So it’s safe to assume there is no evidence to base these claims on.

This is bad because it sets the stage for PEOTUS to delegitimize his popular vote loss. Donald Trump is going to win the Electoral College vote and become the next president of the United States, but he still lost the popular vote  by over 2 million votes at last check. This means that he does not have a popular mandate for his extreme agenda – which is an important consideration as he continues to pack his cabinet with polarizing individuals with limited mandates of their own.

This delegitimization is also being used by hopefully soon-to-be-ex Governor Pat McCrory of North Carolina as he tries to cling to power by claiming he only lost the vote in NC due to voter fraud. It’s been a nice smokescreen while he tries to pack the NC Supreme Court on his way out, too.

Lying about voter fraud delegitimizes democracy.

It’s that simple. Donald Trump and the Republicans won this election but are staring at the real data that shows their hold on the vote is precarious. They lost elections in historically Republican states like North Carolina, despite winning federally, because of their extremist platform. Lying about voter fraud in this way sets them up to claim future losses aren’t really losses at all.

It also sets up pushing through even more restrictive Voter ID laws in the wake of the Shelby County v Holder decision invalidating parts of the VRA. These laws in general have “radically discriminatory intent” and, had the law referenced in the linked NPR story not been struck down, may actually have tipped the NC election.

The highest-elected Republican in the country is pushing a dangerous narrative either out of ignorance or a desire to pass divisive, discriminatory laws that disenfranchise Americans. And he’s not even in office yet.

I need a drink.

Fittingly, here’s a recipe for the Smoke and Mirrors, a scotch-based cocktail guaranteed to help you read through Donald’s Twitter feed:

  • 1.5oz Single Malt Scotch (old enough to vote, if you can find it)
  • .5oz Benedictine D.O.M
  • .5oz Byrrh Grand Quinquina
  • 3 dashes Angostura Bitters

Pour the above ingredients into a mixing glass. Smoke with applewood. (For a guide on how to smoke cocktails, check out this video)

Stir well with ice then serve in a chilled coupe glass with an orange twist for garnish. Enjoy!

Weekly News Roundup & Cranberry Old Fashioned

Reasons we’re drinking this week: Donald Trump causes havoc in Manhattan, Pat McCrory tries to defy election results, Media barons line up like schoolgirls for a scolding from Mr. Trump, and a recount effort gains steam.

One Drink: Trump in New York

Donald Trump confirmed this week what he had hinted at last week: he is unwilling to move to Washington full time to live in the White House (even though he just built such a great, fabulous, the best you’ve ever seen, grand, bigly hotel there).

Now, if Donald Trump wanted to split his time between Washington and a rural country estate, where the impact of the additional security that a presidential residence needs would be minimal, that would be one thing. But Mr. Trump doesn’t want to live at Mar-a-Lago, he wants to live in Trump Tower, in midtown Manhattan. New York City residents already dreaded the brief visits of previous sitting presidents, as the presidential motorcade shuts down whole avenues at a time, and security perimeters and no-fly zones are set up around wherever the president is staying. Now, the city is spending roughly one million dollars per day to host the additional security required to allow Trump to stay in Trump Tower. Makes forfeiting that $400,000/yr salary look like a pittance if the taxpayer is going to have to pay $1.46 Billion just on residential security for Trump Tower over the next four years.

We’ve talked about this before. Trump doesn’t care about other people. He’s a narcissist, and only considers his own convenience, other people be damned.

Two Drink: North Carolina: Governor McCrory vs. The Will of The People

Apparently taking a note from Trump’s authoritarian tune and running with it, this week in North Carolina, incumbent governor Pat McCrory is digging in deep against the election results that have him losing his governorship by just over seven thousand votes.

Lashing out against someone else for his own failing, as do many toddlers, the nationally shamed McCrory (who rose to national prominence this election cycle by imposing a statewide anti-Trans bathroom bill to prevent Charlotte from treating people with dignity) has now taken to blaming individual counties for voting irregularities, something fervently denied by every county he’s blamed. What McCrory is hoping to do here is invoke a loophole in the state’s constitution stating if a race’s results are questioned, it falls on the state legislature to elect the Governor. He assumes his colleagues would aid his coup. Remember, this is happening in the United States.

This is not the only election result this year where Governor McCrory is refusing to accept the will of the people. North Carolina voters also swung the state’s supreme court by replacing conservative Republican Chief Justice Bob Edmunds with Democratic contender Mike Morgan, shifting the court to 4-3 liberal control. In an effort to prevent this, McCrory and the Republican-controlled state legislature have floated packing the bench with two additional justices, which of course they would appoint in an emergency session before the end of the year, to ensure the court doesn’t change hands. This is so immoral I actually want to vomit.

Red Drink: Trump vs. the Failing New York Times

Why, you might ask, is the president elect in the offices of the New York Times when he should be interviewing for the four thousand West Wing staffing positions he needs to fill? Why would the president-elect call one of the nation’s most venerable news institutions “failing” when his very election has boosted their new subscription rate?

We didn’t get good answers to either of those questions this week as Trump started the week on Monday meeting with the heads of several cable news outlets off the record, and then went to the offices of the Times on Tuesday to meet on the record with reporters and speak off the record with Arthur Sulzberger.

It’s shocking that heads of national media would be meeting off the record with a president elect in the first place, not to mention that the president elect would reportedly berate heads of the free press about what Trump viewed as unfavorable (read: legitimate) coverage of his lies and flip-flops along the campaign trail and the questionable backgrounds of the people he has surrounded himself with.

What’s equally shocking about all of this story is that the heads of these media organizations attended the meeting in the first place. Drastically under-questioned in coverage of these events is the judgement of the heads of CNN, NBC, CBS, Fox, MSNBC, and ABC, who lined up like naughty schoolchildren to receive a scolding from their headmaster. You would think that the collective heads of all television news in the United States would have had more backbone.

Paul Ryan, Reince Priebus, and the Republican Party leadership are letting this happen, meaning the national political leaders have by proxy launched an assault on the freedom of the press. Take that, Lincoln.

Blue Drink: Who Wants A Recount?

Is Clinton v. Trump the new Bush v. Gore? A group of computer scientists, led by the National Voting Rights Institute and the director of the center for computer security and society at the University of Michigan, digging into the election results in key swing states Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin seem to suggest so.

Analysis of voting data by county suggests a discrepancy between counties relying on electronic voting machines and counties using paper ballots. Apparently Trump did better in on electronic voting machines than on paper ballots, ironic for a man who doesn’t own a computer, and, according to the researchers, potentially indicative of inaccurate results (whether because of Russian hacking, polling place irregularities, rampant fraud, or technical glitches is unknown).

As of Thursday, Green Party presidential candidate and 9/11 conspiracy theorist Jill Stein had raised over $3 million to support the recount efforts ahead of a Friday deadline to challenge the results. This outburst of altruism from Jill Stein, who, along with Gary Johnson, nibbled away at Clinton votes from centrist libertarians and far-left Bernie Sanders supporters, seems out of place, and she may be acting as a surrogate for the Clinton campaign so they aren’t seen directly questioning the results of the election. Or it could be a last-ditch play for relevance for the candidate Americans have already completely forgotten.

Whatever is going on here, it’s all suspicious, but don’t get your hopes up.

Pop Open The Bubbly: (Don’t) Lock Her Up!

A small bright side this week as Trump continues to flip flop, and now says he will not try to prosecute Hillary Clinton for… whatever it was she did wrong (winning the popular vote, maybe?), won’t reinstate torture techniques if the generals don’t want to (which they’ve repeated over and over and over again), and will leave gay marriage as a matter of settled law (which, I’m sure, Trump’s fervently anti-LGBTQ cabinet will find surprising). Will this last? Who knows.

In honor of Thanksgiving, and in an effort to provide you with excuses to drink more because it’s “festive,” this week’s drink recipe is the Cranberry Old Fashioned. You can find the recipe below.

Dutifully Defending Democracy with Bourbon,

The Bartender

Drink of the Week: Cranberry Old Fashioned

This one is really simple, in fact, you can make it at the thanksgiving table or this morning with the leftover cranberry sauce. You just make a regular old fashioned but muddle cranberries in with the sugar and bitters. (If you’re using cranberry sauce, don’t use sugar, just put a little bit of bitter and mix it in with the cranberry sauce).

Weekly News Roundup & Margaritas

Reasons we’re drinking this week: Responsibilities of the Presidency slowly begin to dawn on Trump, Neo Nazis get closer to power, the Ghosts of Republicans Past are pulled out of retirement, and the Democratic party retires to do some soul searching.

One Drink: Trump to Obama: “Wait, I have to do what?”

Shocking revelations this week as leaked reports from Trump’s meeting with Obama stated the blatantly obvious: Trump wasn’t expecting to win and has no idea what he’s gotten himself into. Accounts of his meeting with the sitting president reveal that Donald, serial terminator of employment, was reportedly “unaware” that he would have to replace the entire four-thousand strong West Wing staff. What did he think, that Obama’s personal secretary, used to being treated like a person, would consent to working for a serial pussy-grabber?

The fact that Trump didn’t do any homework on the duties of the job he spent the last hellish 19 months trying to convince the American people to put him in throws a harsh light on his total disrespect for the institution of the presidency, and his whole-hearted selfishness and lack of concern for other people. He doesn’t care about working class Americans, or any Americans other than himself and his children. If he did, he would have looked up how he was going to “make America great again” instead of lining up a host of media executives he’s now having to ask for a rain check on starting the New Trump Times (with the tagline “All The Nonsense That’s Fit to Tweet!”).

Stay tuned, because the next few weeks are really going to elucidate how little Trump has prepared for this. We all need to be holding him accountable. Excuses for not doing the reading stopped working for me after high school. Why should we give a 70 year old man a pass? He should know better by now.

Two Drink: Senator McCarthy is Turning in his Grave

On Monday, Donald Trump made his first major staffing announcement, appointing Steve Bannon to be his chief strategist. While it is not unusual for a candidate to appoint his senior campaign staff to important White House positions, what is unusual is Mr. Bannon’s pre-campaign employment. While Mr. Bannon’s personal beliefs are debatable, the “news organization” he ran before joining Trump is something he admittedly designated as a “platform for the alt right,” or, in layman’s terms, a neo-Nazi propaganda rag.

It’s worth reminding our readership that, despite the storied mistreatment of non-white people in our country’s past, Nazis have never been this close to America’s center of power. In fact, the House Unamerican Activities Committee, which later went on to tarnish its reputation through red baiting, was actually founded to root out Nazi spies in American government. Senator McCarthy would be turning in his grave to hear that one had been so brazenly named to office, and it’s a sign of the times I genuinely feel bad for him now.

On a side note, can we stop using the term “white nationalists” and call a spade a spade? These people are neo-Nazis. The term “white nationalists,” or  “alt-right” is putting lipstick on a pig in some misguided attempt to take their movement seriously. It’s akin to exclusively referring to Nazis as “members of the national socialist party;” technically correct, but deeply misguided. I will not be using the term, and encourage you to do the same.

Red Drink: Blast From The Past

This week, in preparation for Christmas, we were all treated to a visit from the collective Ghosts of Republican Past. Newt Gingrich (serial philanderer), Jeff Sessions (too racist for Republicans to confirm for a judgeship in the 1980s), and David Petraeus (indicted for sharing classified information with his mistress; take that Hillary), among others, have all been disinterred, and are now appearing as potential picks for Donald Trump’s cabinet, as the worst of the Republicans’ past tries to shove their idealized version of the 50s down our collective American throats.

Unfortunately, demographics are not on the Republicans’ side here, and this whole nationally traumatizing episode may be the party’s “last gasp,” a sudden jolt of energy before death. Voters 18-29 voted Democrat by an 18 point margin, while voters 65+ voted Trump by an 8 point margin. Essentially, old voters secured the election by the seat of their pants.

Despite having won the election nationally and taking 3 new governor’s mansions, the same problems highlighted in the Republican Party’s post-mortem after getting trounced in the 2012 election still persist: instead of trying to appeal to minorities and young voters as the report suggested was necessary to form a viable long-term party, Republicans have instead antagonized every one of those groups.

The demographic shifts afoot in this country did not reverse on election night because threatened white people said so. If today’s Republicans want the party to continue after the baby boomers die out, the results of that post-mortem still stand. But party leadership’s actions this election cycle have made it virtually impossible for the party to ever take a step back from the brink to address the key action items highlighted in that report.

This whole situation is beginning to remind me uncomfortably of Go Set A Watchman. Beloved character you thought had undergone a moral awakening and was ushering in the new era rears up as having been an abhorrent part of the problem all along. Was Harper Lee a psychic? Or just unusually prescient in releasing her last work? The world will never know.

Speaking of Baby Boomers and older voters making decisions that the rest of the country disagrees with, may I propose a solution? Driver’s licenses are frequently taken away from those who are deemed to no longer be of mental and physical fitness to be responsible for the safety of themselves and those around them when behind the wheel. Does that have anything to do with the right to vote? I would certainly never say something like that.

Blue Drink: Power Struggles: A Whole New Election

The crushing defeat last Tuesday has thrust Democratic leadership into the same soul-searching the Republican party went through after the same experience in 2012. Democratic elites have seemingly been surprised by a lot this year: from the rise of Bernie Sanders to the defeat of Hillary Clinton, and one thing is obvious: the Democratic party is out of touch with a lot of Americans. So what are they doing about it? Well, it appears Democrats are almost as bad as Mr Trump in that regard: they had no plan for this scenario either. Since when have national polls within the margin of error equaled certain victory? Contingency planning should be a part of every national election cycle for a party that has been doing this exact thing for the last 188 years. For anyone who was so deep in the left-wing progressive bubble that the fallibility of the Democratic Party comes as a shock: snap out of it. More to come on this mess as it evolves.

Pop Open the Bubbly: Ben Carson Says He’ll Go Away

Finally, some good news. The former neurosurgeon who fabricated stories about trying to stab his friends while in grade school in an effort to seem relatable said this week that he would not accept a position in the Trump administration because he did not feel he had what it took to govern. This calls into question why he was running for the presidency in the first place (one thinks the answer to this question would elucidate something about Mr. Trump as well).

But, you know what, this was a rough week, so let’s just take this at face value for what it was: a silver lining.

Y’all I’m drinking a margarita. I just can’t. You can find my recipe below.

Yours in continually reminding the world that this is not normal,

The Bartender


Red Drink Blue Drink Margarita Tips

A margarita is 3 ingredients: ½ of a lime, 1 oz of Cointreau, and a generous helping of Camarena Blanco Tequila. Juice the lime and add all ingredients into a cocktail shaker with plenty of ice. Take out all of your pent up aggression on the cocktail shaker until it’s too cold to hold anymore (kind of like my ex boyfriend, but I digress). Pour out into a glass and garnish with a second margarita. 

Post #1: A Letter from the Bartender

We were all surprised by the results of the presidential election last week. After the initial shock, and concern over what the future might hold, I did some soul searching. I’ve always been interested in politics, but I got turned off by all of the fundraising, the continuous news cycle, the partisanship, and the obstructionism I was seeing at every level of government, from the President and the House down to the Ann Arbor City Council. Perhaps I waited too long to get involved, and I am embarrassed that it took the election of a man who flies in the face of decency to light the fire in me to try to make a difference, but here we are.

I, like many of you, see more and more absurdity every time I turn on the news or open up my Facebook feed. Acceptance of extreme ideas has become commonplace. So what One Drink, Two Drink, Red Drink, Blue Drink aims to do is heal through humor, calling out the absurdity with sarcasm, wit, and facts, and washing it all down with the occasional (read: frequent) stiff drink to help lubricate the discourse. We also aim to provide solutions, not just moaning out a sob story alone at the end of the bar, but motivating our readers to get out and affect change in the world. So we will be including actionable next steps at the end of of our columns.

I’m not going to spend a lot of time here looking at the election result. What’s done is done, and people who are imminently more qualified than I am will be writing their dissertations on the subject for years to come. I want to look toward the future. A future where both parties need reform. Democrats who have become elitist, complacent, and disconnected. Republicans who have become beholden to an extremist few. Party apparatuses geared more toward monied interest than governance. It’s going to get worse before it gets better, and we’re not going to get through this sober, so, here goes.

The Bartender