Mired in an epic losing streak

via Kansas City Star

I know this is kinda breaking with the political/economic/booze oriented posts, but sweet baby Jesus, the Kansas City Royals are killing me.  Last night’s loss to the Blue Jays makes 11 in a row, all of which have been at home.  I’m not sure if I can make it out of April at this rate.  Even the Kansas City Star is yucking it up with their slogan for the season: Our Time.

But here’s a great article by Rany Jazayerli, ‘the world’s most famous Royals fan’, that pretty much sums it up.  Hopefully things picking up for my boys in blue.  And hopefully that makes for more interesting blog posts in the future.

Health Care and the Constitution

via Getty Images

The Supreme Court just had hearings over the Affordable Care Act to determine its constitutionality.  The biggest question they will stew over is that of the mandate to buy health insurance.  Those questioning the bill’s constitutionality site that the federal government mandating that a citizen purchase something is ‘unprecedented’ in our Constitution.  The bill’s defenders propose that the judicial branch has, in the past, deferred to Congress on the regulation of interstate commerce.

But for me, a huge part of the argument against the bill is mostly built upon semantics. If the mandate to buy insurance is ignored by a citizen, they will face a penalty to be paid to the government unless they cannot afford insurance.  In that case, their insurance will be subsidized by the government.  Now, if instead of using the language ‘penalty’, if the Dems had called it a tax, there’s simply no case.  The court has long held that the state is free to levy taxes on its citizens for the common good.  But likely out of fear, and partially out of naivety, that language was avoided.

Why? First, the GOP loves slamming any and every tax hike the Dems roll out, no matter how practical or popular.  Secondly, I’m sure some within the administration thought that since the Affordable Health Care Act is an old page from the GOP playbook (see Mitt Romney), that this would give the bill broader appeal.  In other words, the last thing they thought would be another politically motivated witch hunt on the scale of the Clinton years which would wind up with the bill being debated at our highest court in the land.

If the bill is overturned, it will likely again be on party lines in a 5-4 vote. It seems strange to me that the party crying about judicial activism for decades might be exploiting the judiciary for the same purposes.  Many contend the smart money is still with the bill being allowed to stand along with the mandate, but the direction of the proceedings has me a bit worried.

The inebriationist in Paris (cont’d)

via the-real-breaking-news.com

Our correspondent reports from the world’s most beautiful city:


Day 2 from Paris: Gout attack. Hobbling home from the Latin quarter we stopped at the River Seine where they were preparing to film a daring movie scene in which a motorcyclist drove along the bank of the river with a car chasing close behind. The bike started to wobble, then it fell sending the man and the motorcycle careening into the river. People ran frantically to the river side to pull the injured driver ashore as the bike sank to the bottom. The silhouette of a very large fish was illuminated by the sunken headlights of the lost motorcycle. Just another day in Paris.


It is our hope that our correspondent will recovery completely from gout complications and regale us with stories of inebriation and ineptitude.  Stay tuned.

Friday Happy Hour: Daiquiri

via barexpres.com

Ok, kids.  Figured that every Friday would be perfect timing for a little Happy Hour cocktail segment.  So look forward to a post every Friday celebrating a few of my favorite classic cocktails.

As the weather starts to brighten up and spring takes over Kansas City, I thought it was perfect time for one of my favorite warm-weather classic: the Daiquiri.

First off, let’s set the record straight.   An original Daiquiri isn’t frozen.  It isn’t fruity, either.  And I certainly wouldn’t serve the thing with a parasol.  It’s an easy recipe that, like so many other classics, is still so easy to screw up royally.

Things you’ll need:

White rum: I love Appleton (from Jamaica), Don Q (from Puerto Rico), or Mount Gay (from Barbados); but when it comes down to it, it’s your cocktail at the end of the day, so make it with what you will.

Sugar: superfine white sugar typically works best.  Because it’s a finer grain, it emulsifies easier in cocktails.  And if you can’t get your hands on the stuff, making a 1:1 simple syrup with your typical granulated white sugar will work just fine.  I prefer the superfine sugar because it tends to lend the cocktail a sherbet-like quality that isn’t the same with simple syrup.

Limes: always pick smaller limes that aren’t too firm.  If you squeeze them in your hand, they should feel juicy, not like a golf ball.

Tools: 3-piece shaker or Boston shaker set.  Hawthorne strainer (the one with the bunny ears).  Hand juicer.  Cocktail spoon.  Jigger.

Ok, we’ve got all we need to mix us a Daiquiri.  The recipe is simple:

2oz white rum

2 barspoons superfine sugar (or 1oz simple syrup)

1oz fresh squeezed lime juice

Combine lime juice and sugar in your mixing glass or 3 piece shaker.  Stir together until sugar starts to emulsify.  Add rum and fill with ice. Cap and shake well for at least ten seconds.  Strain into a cocktail glass or serve over crushed ice or cubes.

Always remember: these recipes aren’t set in stone. Feel free to tweak them to your personal tastes.  All these recipes will be geared towards my personal tastes, because, well, this is my blog.

Hope you enjoy as much as I do.  I love how simple, bright, and refreshing this old Cuban beauty is. And as the weather warms up, this puppies are perfect on the deck.  And considering you only need a few things to make this happen and relatively easy cleanup, they are great poolside.

Crybabies on Wall Street

photo credit HITC

There’s been a full- fledged attack from certain news sources harping on about the role of real estate in the crash of 2008.  A lot of it is valid.  But what’s being pushed under the rug is the shadow banking industry that took a busted bubble recession and turned it into a depression on par with the Great Depression.  Were it not for extreme government intervention, the damage would have been astronomical.

And the financial sector, in the wake of such a massive blow to our economy, has escaped relatively unscathed.  Major financial regulation overhaul isn’t on the table, even in the extremely long and complex legislation known as Frank-Dodd.  And here’s the kicker: Wall Streeters are crying about how rough life after the crash has been.

To me, this just shows how isolated and convoluted the realities of these people are.  It’s alarming.  And it’s further evidence of a growing divide in our country and politics: those who suffer from a cut in bonuses that exceed six figures vs those who lost their jobs, homes, and retirements. It also underscores an odd sense of entitlement for those in the upper income tax bracket.

Until we come to grips with the fact that the middle class is the engine that powers the economy and that their purchasing power makes our economy diverse and robust, this divide will only get worse and our economy more anemic.  Stagnant wages for the majority of the working class is far more worrying than the deficit. Now if only the crybabies on Wall Street and politicians on the Hill could come to terms with it.


Kansas: a great place for basketball, but I wouldn’t want to live there

Getty Images

Looks like our neighbors next door are at it again.  In their unbridled zealotry to end abortion, our GOP dominated, Christ-loving neighbors have introduced yet another bit of legislation aimed at narrowing a female’s options in regards to reproductive rights.

Last year, Kansas State Legislature tried to enact a law to place restrictions upon where a woman could have an abortion. Certain aspects of the law actually placed specifications as to the dimensions of the rooms that doctors could see patients intended to shut down clinics that provide the service. Federal Courts soon challenged the law resulting in its suspension.

And now the introduction of a sweeping reform into this process has been introduced.  Not to mention its clearly nefarious regulation of the practice of abortion, it also includes misinformation linking abortions and breast cancer.

And all this in the face of an ethics case against former Kansas Attorney General Phill Kline and a settlement for sexual discrimination which has cost tax payers a pretty penny.

Why are Kansas’s politicians so eager to fight battles that have been decided for decades? Well, it fires up voters and distracts them from the real issues at hand.  If legislators used half the time bickering about abortion and put it towards solving big inconsistencies in performance in its public schools, we’d all be the better for it.  But instead we deal with yet another blow to womens’ reproductive rights and the rights of those who work to provide them.

Which brings me to a bigger topic.  Are women feeling ostracized by the Republican party? Between zealots and misogynists, the ladies have got to be feeling the squeeze.  It’s hard to fathom that this debate still rages on in our modern world: that regulating the choices women make about their bodies is fair ground for government.  But it seems to have an unlikely champion in an institution that’s no more than a front for small government.