Women in the bar business

I had planned on writing about Super Tuesday today, but I came across an article that struck a chord with me in Class Magazine, an industry publication.

Believe it or not, I am actually in the bar business, not politics or economics; although those are two of my favorite hobbies. It’s a demanding, yet rewarding, job/career that I rather enjoy.  The booze, the people, the art: what’s there not to love?

And in my opinion, it’s a profession that doesn’t elicit the respect it deserves.  Anyone who’s done time behind the stick knows how difficult it is to remain congenial and hospitable while faced with the drunken masses.  It definitely requires immense amounts of patience, study, professionalism and a good deal of athleticism, not to mention acting as a poor man’s therapist.  The hours are long, the work is hard, and we bartenders depend upon the kindness of our patrons to make a living.  To be honest, it’s downright stressful.

But the piece by Jamie MacDonald and Sam Fish highlights a trend that is prevalent across our profession: the lack of female bartenders, especially within the craft cocktail scene.  Jamie makes an argument that women should be ‘nurtured’ in our work environment.  The sentiment seems to (and I’m sure somewhat unintentionally) lend credence to women needing what Sam refers to as a ‘crutch.’

Personally, I’m totally with Sam on this one.  The women in our business should be celebrated and treated as equals in our work environment.  Now that I just read that last sentence, I can’t really believe that even has to be said in this day and age.  But that certainly doesn’t mean they need to be coddled.

If one looks at some of the leading people in the bar business, you come across names like Julie Reiner, Charlotte Voisey, and Aisha Sharpe.  And maybe we’re a bit better at promoting this than the guys across the pond. Point in fact: Speed Rack.

Some of my favorite bartenders I’ve ever had the pleasure of working with have been female.  The dynamic behind the bar can be completely different with a lady tending alongside me.  And at Manifesto, the bar I currently run in Kansas City, we prefer having females on staff alongside the fellas.

But work ethic, creativity, attention to detail, endurance, and hospitality know no gender.  These are the aspects we celebrate at Manifesto; and be it man or woman, if you exhibit those qualities, how far you go or what you do with them is up to them.  I can only hope the same could be said at every other joint in the biz.

I’m not so naive to think that all things are equal everywhere.  And I’m not going to speculate as to why more ladies don’t enter our field.  But the ones that do should at the least be offered a fair shake by the rest of us, be it competing in cocktail competitions, or just slingin’ beers on a Friday night.  Show some respect.

It’s the economy, stupid.

Some things never change... even when they should.

For the last half a year, the media and others, some rightly, some not so much, have been lambasting President Obama over a slow economy.  Some, myself included, realize that a slowly growing economy is a sign of the political quagmire that has enthralled the Hill since Pres. Obama took office.  So while things could have been a whole lot better, say if Republicans came back to planet earth and realized that austerity is a sure way to ensure a deeper recession that would be much tougher to climb out of; they could have also been a whole lot worse were it not for the stimulus package put forth by the administration (again, the stimulus was far too small, but politically difficult considering the GOP’s overwhelming obstructionism).

But suddenly all this doesn’t really seem to matter. Maybe it’s the candidacy of Rick Santorum.  Maybe it’s Mitt Romney desperate attempts to sway social conservatives in his favor.  But suddenly this election has become a referendum on religion in politics and contraception.  And the GOP’s determination to turn Planned Parenthood into an abortion factory has the chance to turn everyone’s attention away from the true matter at hand: the economy.

The Economist has a wonderful article about how American politics (contrary to the GOP’s beliefs) since Kennedy’s speech on religion and politics, God’s place in political dialogue has not become marginalized; instead it has become de rigueur.

But what does this say about the economic side of the debate?  Are the Republicans ceding that the economy is on stronger footing? Are they afraid that the economy is now something Pres. Obama can stump on with confidence?  Or are they just having trouble keeping their eye on the ball?

And is this American public willing to hear the same old bullshit debate over something so commonly practiced as contraception? Something tells me this isn’t going to go over well, especially in a general election.

Either way, the GOP seems to have neglected any lesson learned from the McCain/Palin pasting. And as many households want to hear more concrete plans of how to get Americans back to work, the closest any GOP candidate can offer is lower corporate taxes? Pretty lame stuff.

It’s becoming more and more obvious how out of touch the Republican party was in the last Presidential election cycle.  It now seems to have gotten even worse.

Manifesto 2012

As exhibited by our quick look at the candidates, this presidential field is beyond weak. The Prez has left himself surprisingly vulnerable to this mashed-up bag of GOP disasters. It’s enough to make a political junky half-excited for what promises to be a most interesting election year while making me half-depressed to endure what is sure to be a mountain of bullshit rhetoric.

So I figured, ‘What the hell? We, the United States of America, deserve better.  And I’m sick of bitching about it. It’s time for action!”

Which is where Manifesto comes in.

If you didn’t know already, I run a little basement bar in Kansas City.  We have a pretty devout Facebook following, largely due to the ridiculousness of our status updates.  The bar itself is a full-fledged, attention-to-detail-oriented cocktail bar that, at first glance, delicately dances on the fence of snooty.  But we do our best to remind people that we are just a bunch of people inviting some friends over to their bar to have a good time.  And Facebook, in a weird way, allows us to keep things light.

So the other day, somewhat out of frustration, I announced on the Manifesto Facebook page that we, Manifesto, would be running for President of the United States of America.  And so far, it’s gotten off to a great start.

First things first (especially in this modern world of politics), we realized we needed a Super-PAC to take on the Mitt Romney machine.  So the Association to Stop Sobriety, also known as ASS-PAC, was born.  Not to mention that this fits in nicely with the War on Sobriety we’ve been waging in the basement for a few years now.  And hopefully with some cajoling, we’ll find someone to run the thing.

Well, the race is on.  And do yourself a favor and vote for Manifesto in 2012!

GOP Primary 2012: Getting to know Ron Paul

Every primary needs a lark, and Ron Paul is definitely that. Mr. Paul is a hard core libertarian with an obsession with ending the Fed; but what worries me most about Ron Paul is his determination to return to the Gold Standard. This would shrink an already contracted economy miring the country in a double dip recession turned depression.

Also his non-interventionist strategy has him on the outs with the largely hawkish party.  And he will have trouble recruiting African-American votes after declaring that the Civil Rights Movement and the Civil War were a waste of American money and time.

But in Mr. Paul’s defense, he takes the idea of small government and pushes it to it’s extreme.  His declaration to end certain government cabinets such as the Department of Education may scare some, but endear him to the fringe of the party. And his respect for individual liberties and civil rights is commendable.

But most of his ideas are fairly radical which is a bit dubious coming from a ‘conservative’ party like the GOP.  He won’t be the nominee, but he has taken his campaign to help shape policy in some form, as well as pave the way for a future run by his son, Rand (named after Ayn).

GOP Primary 2012: Getting to know Newt Gingrich

photo credit AP

One thing is for certain during this primary: nothing’s for certain.

The media had written off Newt Gingrich before the race even started, and to be honest, for good reason.  His campaign was incredibly disorganized, and Mr. Gingrich seemed more interested in cruising the Greek islands than running for president.

But that all changed quickly after Rick Perry and Herman Cain’s individual implosions.  The GOP faithful needed anyone other than Mitt Romney and immediately latched onto Mr. Gingrich. And at first things went well. His forceful presence in the South Carolina debate endeared him to the Southern base. And his attacks of President Obama as the ‘food stamp president’ won him a sturdy base of followers.

But this bellicose nature eventually is what did him in. Many of his former colleagues began stumping for Mr. Romney.  His willingness to say or do anything to garner a vote became evident, not to mention his prior backing of programs like health insurance mandates and his work for Fannie and Freddie began to drag his campaign into muddy waters.  Oh, and he had a plan to replace janitors with school children.  The jig was up.

And rightfully so. Mr. Gingrich has turned his campaign for presidency into a ‘Mitt Romney must not be the next GOP nominee’ campaign.  His infatuation with Mr. Romney’s chances of winning has sprouted a disease from within the party.  The lack of a clear candidate at this stage of the race has issued Pres. Obama the biggest gift he’s been afforded since he entered Washington, D.C. Well, at least since the McCain/Palin ticket.

GOP Primary 2012: Getting to know Rick Santorum

via addictinginfo.org

Rick Santorum has been easily the biggest surprise in this race. After narrowly winning an Iowa recount, Mr. Santorum was soon-after left for dead. But in this primary, full of swings, dips and surges, Mr. Santorum has leaped to the top of the field.  Although Mr. Santorum may lead a few national polls, serious doubts remain about  the legitimacy of his campaign, so we’ll call Mr. Romney the front-runner.

A deeper look into the candidacy of Rick Santorum finds a stark counterpoint to Mr. Romney. There are no doubts whatsoever about Mr. Santorum’s convictions. His stance on anything from women in the workplace to gay rights are tried and true social conservatism at it’s nth degree.  According to a former aide, Mr. Santorum is “a Catholic Missionary who happens to be in the Senate.”

From an economic standpoint, his preoccupation with the federal deficit is troubling.  And his latest attacks on Pres. Obama’s religious beliefs have been extreme to say the least.  While most of his campaign hinges upon ideals that are divergent from the so-called ‘mainstream American’, no one doubts the sincerity of Mr. Santorum, who refused to back down from statements as outlandish as the one made about JFK’s speech about religious equality quote, “made him sick.”  This quality, and simply the fact that he’s not Mitt Romney, seemed to have endeared him to prospective GOP voters.

But he also carries the baggage of whole-heartedly embracing George W. Bush’s big government agenda (see compassionate conservativism).  Not to mention he was thoroughly drubbed in his last campaign for Senate.  And if you aren’t of the faint of heart, you can go ahead and google Santorum.  It goes without saying that he draws the ire of a large portion of the population leaving his likely electability in question.

That being said, he provides an interesting and stark alternative to the man that everyone was eager to crown the GOP nominee just a month or two ago.

GOP Primary 2012: Getting to know Mitt Romney

photo credit: AFP

While the race for the pleasure of taking on our beleaguered incumbent ramps up, I figured we ought to take a second to look at these men in-depth. We shall start with the front-runner himself, Mitt Romney.

Son to Michigan Governor George Romney, Mitt was raised as a devout Mormon. His mission work, were it for a more traditional faith, would be heralded by conservatives around the country. Instead his faith remains undoubtedly dear to him but shrouded in a bit of mystery (unlike other candidates want to wear theirs on their sleeves).

He’s an Ivy League grad from an affluent family that is unafraid of hard work. His time at Bain reincarnated our present economy, helping upend the domination of companies’ boards and replacing it with the interest of the shareholder. By buying up lagging companies and tweaking them into growth monsters, companies such as Bain buoyed the American economy into the boom of the 1990’s.

But with his successes come scrutiny. Making these businesses better often involved sacking workers which is taboo in current times of heavy unemployment. And ugly practices by Bain (after he had left the company) of lining their pockets while running businesses into the ground, still dog him today.

Post-Bain, he entered politics, and in the meantime, rescued the Olympics from a certain quagmire. His Governorship of Massachusetts was widely portrayed as a massive success (in a much different political environment), weaving his way through a legislature dominated by Democrats. And his Health Care Reform bill was the template on which Pres. Obama based his reform.

And I haven’t even mentioned his personal life because there isn’t much to mention. He’s squeaky clean when it comes to personal affairs with a loving wife and family.

All of this would seemingly make him a dream candidate for the party that heralds Ronald Reagan as their political ‘Lord and Savior’. Instead, Mr. Romney has been pushed by his colleagues in the GOP field, and by voters no doubt, to run away from his most admirable qualities as a pragmatic centrist. Add to this his insistence that we take a hard line with China on currency, that the deficit is what is dragging our economy, and that somehow tax cuts will improve employment, Mr. Romney seems to me to be the wrong man for this country at this pivotal moment.

But he also seems to be the best the GOP currently has to offer. And if Paul Krugman is right that Mitt Romney really is a closet Keynesian, then he most definitely is the best man for the job on the GOP side.

But his lack of ability to connect with voters has left him extremely vulnerable. He often seems out of touch with the common man, likely because he is. His father’s life is one of the American Dream, where hard work and playing by the rules will allow you to succeed in this country, and hopefully will allow your kids to have access to the things you didn’t growing up. George was able to provide Mitt with opportunities that most parents would dream of affording their children. And to Mitt’s credit, he did the most with it. His personal wealth is enviable. But stumping to a man with a family that has lost everything over the past five years will remain his greatest challenge, and ultimately his downfall.