A Moment of Truth in the Age of Lies

Truth

“The further a society drifts from the truth, the more it will hate those who speak it.” – George Orwell

Truth in America has been under assault for some time now, but in the past several months we have seen the fight become frenzied as the president of the United States tells his supporters not to believe what they see, only what he tells them.

Of course, lying politicians is not a new phenomenon. It is why we have the myth of George Washington chopping down the cherry tree, and Honest Abe. Where we find ourselves today, however, is the result of 30 years of sustained attack by those on the right, starting with the Republican Party.

Around the time of Newt Gingrich’s “Contract With America,” the GOP really began its effort toward a “permanent majority.”

The problem Republicans had in trying to create a permanent majority is that their ideas were not (are not) particularly popular. To overcome this existential flaw in achieving their goal, they set out on a two-pronged strategy of lies and rigging the structure of government and politics.

On the structural side, the effects of their efforts are clear, particularly when you look at their aggressive Gerrymandering that I have written about before. In 2016, for example, Republicans received a plurality of votes cast for Congress nationwide, 49.9%, but they received a greater share, 55.2%, of the seats. Democrats, as a result, won a smaller share of seats than they did votes: 44.8 percent of seats as compared to 47.3 percent of the votes.

Creating their world of alternative facts, while a long-term process, may have been easier. The Nixon “Southern Strategy” and Reagan and the Moral Majority were precursors to this effort. Building off of the Know Nothing movement-like racism and anti-immigrant sentiment (not just in the south), and the politicized evangelicals’ rejection of science (that they see as hostile to a literal reading of the Bible), the GOP set off a new anti-intellectual era.

This effort was aided by the end of the Fairness Doctrine, the rise of right-wing talk radio and especially the new Republican propaganda machine Fox News, and decades of attacks on the traditional “mainstream” media. Of course, the MSM itself was in a weaker position after Watergate, economically, with the corporatization of news outlets and in the “professionalization” of journalists leaving homogenous press pool to cover an increasingly diverse country. The digital age has not helped either.

By the time the Bush Administration had left the “reality-based community” behind, we were well on the path to Trump. We don’t yet know to what extent our Russian enemies were able to exploit this GOP strategy in 2016, but it certainly made their job easier.

But we are now at the point where the president regularly states provable lies. The president and congressional Republicans work against efforts of the FBI and the intelligence community to discover the truth about the 2016 election — actively seeking to ruin the careers of senior officials deemed in their way. And the GOP has reached the point of completing a takeover of the third branch of government, the court.

Republicans senators are trying to rush through the Supreme Court nomination of of Brett Kavanaugh by burying thousands of documents, of looking away from the potential he is compromised by whoever has paid his massive debts (they don’t want to know who), and is potentially a rapist. They want him on the Supreme Court to complete the coup and deliver the permanent Republican majority.

While the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing this week on the accusation of sexual assault by Dr. Christine Blasey Ford against Kavanaugh may turn out to be just another battle against truth by the GOP, it also holds the possibility of being a decisive turning point, perhaps exposing this last grasping effort by the GOP.

It feels like we are at a pivotal point in history. We are trying to run our country on such an accumulation of lies that it seems unsustainable. A long, long time ago, my evangelical mom used to say “the truth will always find you out.” Let’s hope so.

Start this week with The Truth cocktail. This very tasty bitter cocktail (yes, the bitter truth) comes via Frederic Yarm at the Cocktail Virgin.  The Truth is:

2 oz Punt e Mes
1/2 oz Cynar
1/2 oz Strega
2 dash Orange Bitters (Regan’s)

Stir with ice, strain into a cocktail coupe, and garnish with an orange twist.

Cheers!

 

Democracy Dies In Darkness

Paperwork

Republicans in the Senate appear to be taking the slogan of The Washington Post — Democracy Dies In Darkness — as a plan of action.

The unprecedented withholding of Supreme Court Justice nominee Brett Kavanaugh’s records is designed to ram through the choice of the unindicted co-conspirator president. Among the documents unavailable to Americans, and most of their representatives in the Congress, are the judges’ views on executive authority. Besides overturning Roe v Wade, Kavanaugh seems willing to allow his sponsor to pardon himself of his crimes.

Oh, and those documents may contain evidence that Kavanaugh has lied to Congress. I guess that would allow some future Congress to impeach Justice Kavanaugh, if future Congresses are allowed to exist.

The Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee are putting up an uncharacteristically stiff resistance and have aimed their fire (effectively?) at turning the two Senate Republican votes they need to stop the nomination. This has included releasing documents the GOP has decided to term Committee Classified.

As the Democrats say Bite Me to the GOP’s classification, tonight have a Just the Paperwork cocktail. This is another recipe from Sother Teague’s great new book I’m Just Here for the Drinks that I’m sure you all have bought by now. I’m not sure I was all that familiar with the scaffa cocktails before, always neat and unchilled. The Just the Paperwork is:

.5 oz water

2 dashes orange bitters

1 oz Cocchi Americano

1 oz cognac

1.5 oz Amaro Nonino

Build in a rocks glass, serve neat, garnish with an orange twist

Cheers!

Parting Shot

My Word

Donald Trump is fighting with a dead guy, and losing.

The death of Senator John McCain this past week set off the final spat between the patriotic ex-POW war hero twice defeated in his bids for the presidency, and the current president, a traitor who gained office with the help of Russia. While Trump plays games with flags at the White House, it is clear McCain prepared a brilliant parting shot from beyond the grave.

Beyond the fact that Trump is explicitly not invited to his funeral, McCain has asked George W. Bush and Barack Obama — the two men who thwarted his attempts at the White House — to speak. On Twitter, @Stonekettle put it best:

“McCain asked these men to eulogize him because he knew they would put aside any differences and take the high road, that they would speak to the nation and to the world about duty and service and sacrifice above self.

“And Trump would not.”

In a — what may or may not be — final dig at Trump, McCain has asked Russian dissident and Putin opponent Vladimir Kara-Murza to be a pallbearer. Kara-Murza has survived two poisoning attempts, both believed to have come from the Kremlin.

At this point you may be expecting a suggestion of a Last Word cocktail. However, in a nod to McCain’s chess master level of play to Trump’s checkers game, we need a good Last Word variant. I offer the Oh My Word cocktail.

The recipe comes from the fantastic new book I’m Just Here for the Drinks by Sother Teague @CreativeDrunk. This is an absolutely beautiful book that is personal and accessible, filled with knowledge and wisdom that flows in an easy going style, like a great conversation across the bar. Oh, and a lot of very good recipes from one of the best in the business.

The Oh My Word cocktail is:

2 dashes of orange bitters

.75 oz Maraschino liqueur

.75 oz green Chartreuse

.75 Amaro Montenegro

.75 oz OldTom gin

Stir over ice, strain, serve up, no garnish

So as the band plays Danny Boy for McCain, raise your Oh My Word. And when the funeral is over, to avoid the Trump tantrum designed to regain attention, turn off the TV and curl up with I’m Just Here for the Drinks, cover to cover, this is one of the best cocktail books to come along.

Cheers!

 

An Offer He Can’t Refuse

Privilege

The dominoes are falling. Trump’s long-time fixer Michael Cohen has taken a plea deal and is headed to prison, while his former campaign chairman Paul Manafort has been found guilty in the first of his two trials.

Whether Cohen decides to cooperate with the Mueller investigation on his way to jail remains to be seen. But the Russia investigation is heating up, and both events today may play a role. We are 10 weeks from the midterm elections and today we have news that the same hackers indicted for attacking the 2016 election and linked to the Russian military have attacked conservative groups critical of Putin. The attack was stopped by Microsoft.

Everybody knows Cohen was knee deep in Trump’s dealings with Russia, so he could potentially shed light on any collusion/conspiracy. He did say about a month ago that he would put family and country first. Unlike Republicans in Congress, this former GOP finance co-chair may be able to put aside being partisan long enough to fight for democracy in the USA. So perhaps there is some patriotism in the extra from the Sopranos, or maybe it was something else.

Cohen’s plea comes only a week after a special master overseeing reams of paper and millions of electronic files removed from his office determined only a small fraction could be classed under attorney-client privilege. Perhaps he got an offer he couldn’t refuse.

Whatever it was, toast these developments tonight with an Attorney Privilege cocktail. From Imbibe Magazine, the Attorney Privilege is:

2 oz bourbon

.5 oz orgeat

2 dashes Angostura bitters

Stir over ice, strain into a chilled coupe, lemon twist garnish

While enjoying this Japanese Cocktail variant, I will also toast Michael Cohen for giving me reason to link to a bunch of Leonard Cohen videos.

Cheers!

 

Cleanup on Aisle 45

Stripper

There has been one fundamental question implanted in the minds of many Americans since January, 2017 (if not November 2016); What happens after Trump?

With nearly every action taken by this administration designed to personally enrich the official or their associates, and/or further the policy aims of Russia, we will need some systemic cleanup when Trump is gone.

The supporting role of Republicans in Congress in furthering the actions of the Trump administration will not make the task any easier. As the evidence mounts practically by the day of Russian interference with our elections, the really difficult questions may come once Mueller has made his report and/or indictments.

Those difficult questions have been rolling around for a while, but author Steven Beschloss raised them on Twitter the other day:

If we accept the Russians interfered w/ our elections & manipulated the outcome to Trump’s advantage… If we confirm Trump conspired w/ the Russians to take the WH… Then we are faced w/ an illegitimate presidency. And the illegitimacy of his subsequent actions. What then?

If we accept his illegitimacy, is Hillary the real president? What happens to Pence and all the rest? Must they all go? I think questions like these freak people out and our system is not prepared to handle this. But face it we must once Mueller does his job.

Everything about Trump’s role in our politics since the day he came down that escalator has been unprecedented, and unprecedented is where we will find ourselves when this presidency is over.

As some commenters to Beschloss’ tweet noted, it will be the Second Reconstruction, or like rebuilding Germany after World War II. We will have to grapple with fundamental questions of how we Americans will govern ourselves. Our hyper-partisan times seem ill-suited to the task.

Perhaps, the evidence of a Russian attack on our system will be so compelling as to unite the nation. On the other hand, it is likely a significant portion of the population will hold on to their opinion. Therefore, one step that might help as we move toward a reconstruction is a return to true democratic majority rule.

Our congressional representation has been stuck at 435 for more than a century. The number of people per representative ranges from 500,000 to 900,000. We need to correct that, along with partisan Gerrymandering. I have written about this before, including here, here, and here.

This will also take some statesmanship, people who put country over party, who act as George Washington and Abraham Lincoln did.

There are difficult days ahead, but it is time to start thinking about how we rebuild. While you contemplate the best political stain remover, have a Bitter Stripper cocktail.

The drink comes from Gaz Regan’s book The Negroni. It was designed to be clear, which is something else we can all use now. The Bitter Stripper is:

30 ml (1 oz) Plymouth Gin

20 ml (.66 oz) Dolin Vermouth, Blanc

10 ml (.33 oz) Saler’s Gentiane

5 ml (.17 oz) Cointreau

Orange twist

Stir over ice, strain into a chilled cocktail glass, zest twist over the drink and add as garnish.

I may have gone a little heavy on the Saler’s and I loved the cocktail. If you are not used to the bitter earthiness of the gentian Saler’s, you may want to go a little light. This is likely to be a regular feature for the remainder of the summer for me.

Cheers!

Space Madness!

Moonage

This has been quite a news filled week: elections; Manafort trial; new tariffs; swampy behavior by Cabinet officials; immigrations; racism; Nazis; Russians; the demise of our democracy; etc.

But it is Friday, so maybe it’s a little OK to allow ourselves to be distracted. This week gave us the Mother of All Distractions — Space Force!

Vice Colluder Pence made the announcement of a new military branch at the Pentagon, a Space Command. Problem is, this pointless distraction doesn’t even seem to realize that it already exists (in a more sensible manner). As @amvetssupport pointed out on Twitter:

The USAF Space Command has 38,000 members of the USAF working in the Command. They are in almost 90 bases throughout the world.

The Trump-Pence version was roundly mocked, according to the distraction plan. But while Space Madness has captured some attention, real patriots won’t succumb to the Killing Moon. We’ll pause a moment to laugh at their Moonage Daydream, and then get back to resisting until they take their stinking paws off our democracy.

So while you’re watching Spaceballs tonight, enjoy a Moonage Daydream cocktail. Via Gaz Regan’s 101 Best New Cocktails (2015), the Moonage Daydream is:

1.5 oz Zacapa 23 rum (El Dorado 12)

.75 oz Punt e Mes

.25 oz Luxardo Fernet (Fernet Branca)

3 dashes of Dr. Adam’s Aphrodite Bitters

Build over a large rock in an Old Fashioned glass, stir until cold and add orange twist garnish.

Happy Friday!

Cheers!

Eastern Promises

Eastern

The top national security officials in the U.S. held a briefing on Thursday where they “described Russian efforts to interfere in the 2018 midterm elections as deep, real and ongoing, showcasing their efforts to combat a threat President Trump has repeatedly dismissed and played down,” according to the Wall Street Journal.

This just makes this the latest Dog and Pony Show about election security from the Trump administration. As the WSJ story also noted:

“Mr. Trump didn’t attend the news conference and, later Thursday, didn’t mention his administration’s plans to combat Russian interference during an 80-minute campaign rally in Pennsylvania.

“Instead, he again criticized the probe. “We are being hindered by the Russian hoax. It’s a hoax, OK?” Mr. Trump said to cheers from the crowd.”

A bit of snark from the Journal, including a note about the lunatic fringe attending Trump’s rallies.

At this point, a few months from the mid-term elections, and ever since the Helsinki summit, Trump just seems to be overtly acting as a Russian intelligence asset and openly obstructing justice in the Mueller probe.

Of course, Trump is not alone as the GOP is full of people taking mind boggling measures to support him. The latest comes from Sen. Rand Paul who, apparently upset he missed the Fourth of July Moscow visit with other Republican senators, is headed to Russia next week.

In the meantime, we are getting a pretty good glimpse of Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort’s ties to Russian oligarchs from his trial, focused on his dealings in Ukraine. We are also hearing more about alleged Russian operative  Maria Butina, and her boasts to classmates of being a liaison between Russian intelligence and the Trump campaign.

It certainly seems that the vast majority of the Republican Party, and GOP-leaning groups (looking at you NRA) were in bed with the Russians, figuratively and/or literally.

The drink today is the Eastern Promises cocktail. I came across the drink on Kindred Cocktails while looking for a way to use my Cocchi Americano Rosa. Eastern Promises is:

1 oz gin

1 oz framboise (raspberry eau-de-vie, not liqueur)

1 oz Cocchi Americano Rosa

.25 oz orange liqueur (calls for Mathilde XO, I used Grand Marnier)

1 dash orange bitters

orange twist garnish

Stir, strain onto a big rock, garnish

A quick word on the ingredients. While I was able to use my Cocchi Rosa, which was nice as it is tasty stuff, the framboise delayed this cocktail for a bit. My first thought was to use Chambord, until I looked closer. The framboise did complicate things a bit (life is pretty complicated these days anyway) as raspberry eau-de-vie is harder to find, being one of the harder fruit brandies to make. I probably would have dropped it, but I have been a sucker for all things raspberry going back to those bright blue Mr. Misty floats from Dairy Queen when I was growing up.

The drink comes off as a slightly bitter orange-raspberry martini.

Cheers!