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!

Never Forget

Elephants

Memorial Day weekend is here, signifying the unofficial start of summer. Amidst the barbecues and ball games, many people will take time to recognize the real reason for the day off work; a time of remembrance for the men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice for our liberty.

It was 149 years ago the day, then called Decoration Day, was officially recognized, formalizing a tradition that began almost immediately after the Civil War. It was designated as May 30, as it was not the anniversary of any specific battle. After World War I, like they did across Europe, poppies became a symbol of the day of remembrance, a reference to the poem “In Flanders Fields.” In 1971, Decoration Day became Memorial Day, and in 2000 a National Moment of Remembrance was designated for 3 p.m.

Although it grew from the division of the Civil War, Memorial Day has united Americans for generations. But today our divisions are again at a heightened level. For that first “Memorial Day,” the commander of the Grand Army of the Republic, General John Logan, issued an order that read in part:

“We are organized, comrades, as our regulations tell us, for the purpose among other things, ‘of preserving and strengthening those kind and fraternal feelings which have bound together the soldiers, sailors, and marines who united to suppress the late rebellion.’ What can aid more to assure this result than cherishing tenderly the memory of our heroic dead, who made their breasts a barricade between our country and its foes? Their soldier lives were the reveille of freedom to a race in chains, and their deaths the tattoo of rebellious tyranny in arms. We should guard their graves with sacred vigilance. All that the consecrated wealth and taste of the nation can add to their adornment and security is but a fitting tribute to the memory of her slain defenders. Let no wanton foot tread rudely on such hallowed grounds.”

Unfortunately, two weeks ago, the would-be heirs to that rebellion took to the streets of Charlottesville, Virginia, with torches (OK, Wal-Mart tiki torches, but still) to protest the removal of monuments to the treason that ended 150 years ago while chanting “Russia is our friend.” (In perhaps the speech of the year, New Orleans Mayor Landrieau spoke of the need to remove those Confederate monuments.)

The chant, of course, was meant as a show of support for President Trump who is facing growing investigations into whether his campaign worked with the Russians to influence the 2016 election. Much has happened since those chants, but it was quite clear then that — with or without Trump collusion — the Russians had attacked us and our electoral process through at least some role in hacking the DNC and through a coordinated disinformation campaign using social media.

Since then, and particularly in the past week, there have been many new troubling revelations. Most damning was The Washington Post story that Trump son-in-law and top advisor Jared Kushner had tried to set up a secret communication channel with the Russians in a way designed to evade U.S. intelligence during the transition.

Also in The Washington Post, columnist Jennifer Rubin outlines the past week and the rot at the core of Trump and Congressional Republicans.

“Conventional wisdom says that Trump executed a hostile takeover of the GOP. What we have seen this week suggests a friendly merger has taken place. Talk radio hosts have been spouting misogyny and anti-immigrant hysteria for years; Trump is their ideal leader, not merely a flawed vehicle for their views. Fox News has been dabbling in conspiracy theories (e.g. birtherism, climate-change denial) for decades; now Republicans practice intellectual nihilism. Nearly every point of criticism raised against the left — softness on foreign aggressors, irresponsible budgeting, identity politics, executive overreach, contempt for the rule of law, infantilizing voters — has become a defining feature of the right.”

Even today, the Post reported the Trump family ostensibly outside of government is working with GOP leaders to discuss strategy.

The dysfunction all of this this has caused in our government is beyond what Vladimir Putin could have asked for. It was one thing to see a weakening of NATO, a Russian aim for more than half a century, but the utter chaos in Washington today is paying dividends we may not fully understand for years.

Don’t get me wrong, we still have much more to learn to know whether the Trump campaign actively worked with Russia and whether there are traitors in the White House. This could be a continuation of Russian disinformation. What is troubling, however, is the way Republicans, particularly in Congress, seem more concerned about power than getting to the bottom of Russian interference in our elections.

Perhaps it should not be surprising from a party that has worked for years to suppress the vote of anyone who might be considered an opponent. As we saw again this past week when the Supreme Court struck down North Carolina’s racially Gerrymandered districts.

In The Washington Monthly, John Stoehr wrote that Mitch McConnell and Vladimir Putin want the same thing. He said that the GOP will have to be held accountable:

“Trump’s sins are their sins. If he is Putin’s useful idiot, it stands to reason that so are the Republicans.

And they can start by leaning on Mitch McConnell. Former CIA Director John Brennan told a Senate panel Tuesday that: ‘I was aware of intelligence that revealed contacts and interactions between Russian officials and US persons involved in Trump campaign.’ Under testimony, he told lawmakers that he informed leading Senators from both parties about what was happening. From that discussion, according to a December Washington Post story, the Obama administration hoped to present a bipartisan united front against Russian interference. But McConnell said no.

The Post reported that: ‘He would consider any effort by the White House to challenge the Russians publicly an act of partisan politics.’ McConnell’s decision was partisan politics. And the Russians were made part of the Republican Party.

Quite literally, Putin’s priorities were the Republicans’.”

There are some Republicans concerned about the direction of the party under Trump. Joe Scarborough, for example, called Trump’s NATO speech a “love letter to Putin” and went on a rant Friday about how the GOP has lost its way.

This weekend, as we take time to remember those that put our country above everything else to secure our freedoms, we hope that the leaders of the GOP put country over party to defend the U.S. against foreign aggression.

We must never forget the sacrifices made on our behalf, but tonight I am drinking an Elephants Sometimes Forget cocktail. Via Kindred Cocktail, it is:

1 oz gin

.75 Cherry Heering

.75 lemon juice

.25 dry vermouth

1 dash orange bitters

Shake, strain into a cocktail glass straight up.

Cheers!

Revelations 2017

Revelation

Monday evening saw The Washington Post pick up its running competition for scoops with the New York Times all pointing toward time running out for the Trump Administration.

The latest revelation finds that Trump reportedly asked the top U.S. intelligence officials to deny any collusion between his campaign and Russia in an effort to push back on the FBI. The story follows on after two big pieces on Friday where the Post reported the probe is now looking at a current White House official as part of the Russia investigation (rumored to be his son-in-law Jared Kushner), and the Times piece on how Trump told the Russians (during their visit to the Oval Office) that firing the “nut-job” Comey relieved great pressure on him.

All of this has prompted another piece in the Post headlined “Trump is practically begging to be accused of obstruction of justice right now.”

One problem we face now is too much information that threatens to bury other important stories, like Trump’s budget proposal to gut Medicaid.

To help stay vigilant as the revelations keep streaming in, I suggest the Revelation cocktail. This nice Manhattan variation from Kindred Cocktails is:

1.75 oz rye

.25 oz Fernet Branca

.25 oz sweet vermouth (I went with .5 oz and it was quite tasty)

1 dash orange bitters

1 Luxardo cherry as garnish

Stir, strain into a chilled cocktail glass, garnish

Cheers!

 

The Paper Trail

Trail

Cracks have begun to open and expose structural problems for the Trump presidency.

That is not to say that the structural damage the Trump presidency has caused to democracy in the United States isn’t clear and profound. But Trump’s Reign of Error has never been in more jeopardy. All coming since he fired FBI Director James Comey.

The latest crack to open up is the appointment of former FBI chief Robert Mueller as Special Council to oversee the DOJ’s Russia investigation. This supersedes the crack that had opened a couple hours earlier with the markets experiencing their biggest drops of the year. The so-called “Trump Rally” is toast, and so is a fair amount of good will Wall Street and the investor class afforded to Trump while returns were high. This will not sit well with Republicans in Congress, either.

The market was reacting to last night’s news that Comey had written a memo shortly after a meeting with Trump, documenting Trump’s request that investigation into the just-resigned National Security Advisor Michael Flynn and ties to Russia be dropped.

This provided the clearest suggestion yet of Trump’s obstruction of justice. It has prompted an increased discussion about impeachment. In fact, shortly after the news broke on Tuesday, Rep. Jason Chaffetz, the GOP chairman of the House Oversight Committee, demanded that the FBI turn over all “memoranda, notes, summaries and recordings” of discussions between Trump and Comey, according to the NY Times.

While there is an element of “hear no evil” on the right as many conservatives act more concerned about prosecuting the leaks than the fundamental problems behind them, even right-wing nut job Erick Erickson is taking issue with the White House. Politico reported this morning that Erickson said:

“What sets this story apart for me, at least, is that I know one of the sources. And the source is solidly supportive of President Trump, or at least has been and was during Campaign 2016. But the President will not take any internal criticism, no matter how politely it is given. He does not want advice, cannot be corrected, and is too insecure to see any constructive feedback as anything other than an attack. So some of the sources are left with no other option but to go to the media, leak the story, and hope that the intense blowback gives the President a swift kick in the butt. Perhaps then he will recognize he screwed up. … I am told that what the President did is actually far worse than what is being reported.” 

We may not need to rely on leaks soon as Comey has been invited to testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee. At this point even Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said there needs to be a public hearing with Comey.

Last Thursday, former DOJ spokesman Matthew Miller predicted what was coming in a Tweet saying Comey “leaves a protective paper trail whenever he deems something inappropriate happened. Stay tuned.”

While we watch the cracks begin to undermine the foundation of the Trump “presidency” we can sip a Paper Trail cocktail in honor of Comey’s documentation.

The recipe from the Cocktail Virgin calls for:

1.5 oz bourbon

1 oz Aperol

.75 oz Salers Gentiane

Grapefruit twist

Stir over ice, strain into a cocktail glass, garnish with a grapefruit twist.

Cheers!

Pledge Allegiance to ?

Pledge

After Trump fired FBI Director James Comey, the person in charge of investigations his campaign colluded with the Russians to influence the election, it was revealed Trump had asked for Comey’s loyalty on several occasions.

It was also revealed that Trump’s barely plausible reason for the firing was a lie when he told Lester Holt he did it because of the Russia investigation.

The best some Republican members of Congress could do was express concern, while their leaders Ryan and McConnell essentially said nothing to see here.

As this was unfolding, white nationalist supporters of Trump rallied in Charlottesville, VA, to protest the removal of monuments honoring traitors to the United States. They did this while carrying citronella tiki torches from Wal-Mart and chanting “Russia is our friend.”

Tonight The Washington Post revealed just how good a friend Trump thinks the Russians are as he revealed highly classified information to the Russian Foreign Minister and U.S. Ambassador in the Oval Office.

Serious questions must be asked about where the allegiance of the President, his supporters, and Republicans in Congress lies. We need to record the answers, as they may be important when the allied powers begin their de-Republicanification efforts.

As you re-affirm your allegiance to the United States, have a Pledge cocktail. Via Kindred Cocktails, it is:

1.5 oz rye

.5 oz yellow chartreuse

.5 oz Averna

2 dashes aromatic bitters ( I prefer Dr. Adam’s Orinoco Bitters)

Lemon peel garnish

Stir, strain, garnish

Cheers!

Take the Fifth

5th

I won’t say the Trump presidency is beginning to unravel because that would require congressional Republicans to put country over party, and I’m not ready to make that bet.

This is despite the fact that, the day after firing the guy in charge of the investigation of Trump’s potential collusion with Russian interference in the election, Trump was welcoming the Russian Foreign Minister into the Oval Office (along with Sergey Kislyak, the spymaster Russian ambassador to the U.S.) at Putin’s request. The Russians brought along a photographer, while all U.S. media was kept out. When the Russians released photos of the meeting (including Kislyak who the White House was not acknowledging as part of the visiting delegation), the Trumpters whined about the tricksy Russians and how they lie.

However, that was quickly overshadowed by Trump’s interview with NBC’s Lester Holt today saw him contradict all of the messaging his administration has put out on why FBI Director James Comey was fired, making the phrase of the day “Obstruction of Justice.”

This may be the most extreme case of Trump incriminating himself, and it may even stick this time. If so, we’ll soon be hearing a lot of Trump’s associates seeking their protections under the Fifth Amendment. As Josh Marshall noted in Talking Points Memo today, Trumps contradiction has caught a lot of people helping to spread lies.

While you sit back and watch, it might be a good time for a 5th Amendment cocktail. The recipe via Kindred Cocktails is:

1.75 oz bourbon

.25 oz Yellow Chartreuse

.25 oz Fernet Branca

.5 oz Velvet Falernum

2 dashes Hawaii Bitters Lilikoi Bitters (see note below)

Lemon peel

Stir over ice and strain over a large rock

A couple of notes on variations and additional Trumpian elements: It is a pleasant easy drinking bourbon cocktail, the Fernet was somewhat pronounced, but that may be because I followed one of the suggestions and cut down the Falernum to .25 oz. Also, I’m not sure of the original flavor intent here because WTF are lilikoi bitters?

A bit of research tells me lilikoi is a Hawaiian variant of passionfruit. To compensate, Similar one of the commenters on Kindred Cocktails used a dash each of orange and peach bitters. I used a dash of orange bitters, too, but I went with 18:21 Hibiscus Bitters since I kept seeing those passion flowers and had nothing else citrusy, so I went floral instead.

The drink originated in Hawaii, the actual birthplace of Barack Obama, despite what Trump says. The other Trump similarity is that I couldn’t get details on the lilikoi bitters because the company seems to have disappeared in 2013 leaving a lot of paid orders unfilled. Sounds almost presidential.

Cheers!

 

 

Vive la France!

75

Today, France delivered a major victory in the fight against resurgent fascism with the landslide election of Emmanuel Macron over Marine Le Pen.

The Washington Post set the scene well, saying:

The anti-E. U. French leader Marine Le Pen’s larger-than-expected defeat Sunday in her nation’s presidential election was a crushing reality check for the far-right forces who seek to overthrow Europe…Given one choice after another since Trump’s U.S. presidential victory, Western European voters have delivered mainstream candidates to office despite a post-November sense that an anti-immigrant populist wave was washing over the Western world. Far-right candidates in Austria, the Netherlands and France have faltered.

Many battles remain, but in keeping with yesterday’s post, let’s have a drink to keeping the world safe for democracy for another day. In this case, the World War I inspired cocktail is the French 75.

In yesterday’s post, I quoted from President Wilson’s address to Congress seeking a declaration of war against Germany, using the famous part about making the world safe for democracy. However, Wilson’s closing is also important, and also echoes the aspirations we need today:

It is a fearful thing to lead this great peaceful people into war, into the most terrible and disastrous of all wars, civilization itself seeming to be in the balance. But the right is more precious than peace, and we shall fight for the things which we have always carried nearest our hearts—for democracy, for the right of those who submit to authority to have a voice in their own governments, for the rights and liberties of small nations, for a universal dominion of right by such a concert of free peoples as shall bring peace and safety to all nations and make the world itself at last free.

To such a task we can dedicate our lives and our fortunes, everything that we are and everything that we have, with the pride of those who know that the day has come when America is privileged to spend her blood and her might for the principles that gave her birth and happiness and the peace which she has treasured. God helping her, she can do no other.

This speech was 100 years ago, yet here we are again.

The origin story of the French 75 varies between being developed at Harry’s New York Bar in Paris, or by soldiers in the field looking for something refreshing to drink. Like its namesake cannon (the one used by Harry Truman’s outfit) the drink is smooth, but packs a wallop.

The recipe as taken from Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails by Ted Haigh, aka Dr. Cocktail, is:

2 oz gin

1 oz lemon juice

2 tsp sugar or 1 tsp simple syrup

Champagne

Shake gin, lemon juice and sugar over ice, pour into a champagne flute or collins glass, top with Champagne, stir gently and add lemon peel garnish.

Cheers!