Sun Stealer

Sun Stealer

During a brief window of time today, the vast majority of Americans will focus their attention on something other than Donald Trump. Never fear, though, Cheeto Mussolini has scheduled a nationally televised announcement about Afghanistan later to regain the spotlight.

The Total Solar Eclipse brings a wealth of metaphor today, from darkness spreading across the United States to my ISO-approved star-spangled solar eclipse glasses emblazoned with the logo American Eclipse 2017. The moon blotting out the sun is actually not the first time in the past seven months that Trump has not been the center of attention.

The brilliant Amy Siskind, who is chronicling all of the things that are changing under the Trump regime, has noted how the events in Charlottesville last week had sidelined Trump’s ability to control the headlines. Siskind tweeted:

“Starting Saturday in Charlottesville, for the first time in a long time, Trump lost the narrative. He is no longer driving the news cycle with his palace drama or North Korea or Venezuela or his random shiny coin for the day — the American people are driving the narrative. … This is not sustainable for him. … One of two things will happen next: he will continue to crumble under the weight of awakening by decent American people of what brought Trump into power (other than Russia). This is not our country. Or, he may throw a shinier coin — this prospect scares me — to distract again and take back the narrative.”

Of course, Trump tossed that shinier coin and stole back the narrative with his praise for the “very fine people” amongst the Nazis and white supremacists.

The onslaught of outrages from Trump is constantly eclipsing the previous offense. It has only been 13 days since Trump threatened North Korea with “fire and fury,” and 12 days since we learned that the FBI had raided the home of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort as part of Robert Mueller’s Russian election interference investigation.

As Trump heads to TV tonight in the wake of the eclipse, obscuring the planned Paul Ryan Town Hall meeting on CNN, it’s time for the very appropriate Sun Stealer cocktail. The only real question now is, how’s it going to end.

Via Kindred Cocktail, the Sun Stealer is:

2 oz gin

.75 oz Punt e Mes

.25 oz Creme de Cacao

.25 oz Fernet Branca

1 dash orange bitters

lemon twist as garnish

Stir over ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass, garnish.

Cheers!

Return of the 20th Century

20th

The past week has seen headlines dominated by the KKK, Nazis and the threat of nuclear annihilation. Who knew that #Winning and Making America Great Again meant replaying all the worst bits of the previous century?

The U.S. entered WWI exactly 100 years ago, adding a chronological element to the possibility of the end of the American Century I wrote about here and here. At yesterday’s press conference Trump defended Nazis with his “Both Sidesism” comments and false equivalencies between monuments to Founding Fathers George Washington and Thomas Jefferson with those of traitorous scum Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson. Now other foreign leaders are speaking out and saying we must stand up to Nazis.

These Confederate statues themselves are primarily a part of the last century, and not from the more immediate post–Civil War days. The two big periods of monument construction in the early 1900s, at the time of Jim Crow laws and the formation of the KKK, and then again during the Civil Rights Movement were clearly a 20th Century phenomenon. Also, as the NY Times put it in an editorial, this is not just a Southern problem either:

“The president of the United States has unleashed a new generation of domestic terrorists. During the presidential campaign, and now from the seat of power in the White House, Mr. Trump’s talk of building a wall, his denigration of women, his ban on transgender soldiers and his circle of nationalist advisers embolden the very people who showed up in Charlottesville chanting, ‘Jews will not replace us.'”

These would be the “very fine people” Trump spoke of at the press conference that even the conservative Weekly Standard called a disgrace.

This hardly feels like the Shining City on a Hill that Ronald Reagan spoke of in his farewell address in January 1989.

Defeating Hitler was certainly one of those times when America stood as beacon to the world, so tell some Nazi punks to fuck off and have a Twentieth Century cocktail as we try to figure out how we’ll restore that vision when Trump is gone.

This classic via Ted Haigh in Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails is:

1.5 oz gin

.75 oz Cocchi Americano (or Lillet Blanc)

.5 oz creme de cacao

.75 oz lemon juice

Shake over ice, strain into a chilled cocktail glass, garnish with a lemon twist

Cheers!

Shall We Play A Game?

Nuke Daq

In the hierarchy of distractions, Global Thermonuclear War tends to work better than most. (Made you look!)

As many Americans deal with an anxiety that has largely been absent for some 30 years, Trump keeps ratcheting up the provocative language around nukes in North Korea. Despite his “locked and loaded” rhetoric, much of the world doesn’t really believe the U.S. is on the brink of war with North Korea, and China has warned Kim Jong Un that his country is on its own if it starts something with the U.S. (but will intervene if the U.S. strikes first).

This is a serious situation, as well as a reminder of just how much Donald Trump is unsuited and ill-equipped to be president. At the same time, this does seem designed to draw our attention, and gathering attention is something Trump is suited for as he’s spent so much of his life honing those skills.

We cannot dismiss this distraction because there is no evidence that Trump wouldn’t start a war to cover his tracks.

The Washington Post reminds us today that amid all of the craziness of the North Korean brinksmanship and thanking Vladimir Putin for expelling U.S. diplomats from Russia, Trump continues to use the presidency to enrich his family. While the Post is primarily talking about the Trump Hotel, there are seemingly a deep web of financial interests at play.

The team of prosecutors assembled by special counsel Robert Mueller is loaded with specialists on financial crimes. The revelation that former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort’s home was subject to a pre-dawn raid by the FBI serving a warrant for Mueller’s investigation suggests the vice is tightening.

Another interesting thread in the financial aspect came up today in a special report from Reuters detailing the ways in which Putin, via Russian state-owned energy firm Rosneft, is taking advantage of unrest in Venezuela to gain leverage over oil fields and access to U.S. markets (via CITGO) despite sanctions.

“Moscow has substantial leverage in the negotiations: Cash from Russia and Rosneft has been crucial in helping the financially strapped government of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro avoid a sovereign debt default or a political coup. 

“Rosneft delivered Venezuela’s state-owned firm more than $1 billion in April alone in exchange for a promise of oil shipments later. On at least two occasions, the Venezuelan government has used Russian cash to avoid imminent defaults on payments to bondholders, a high-level PDVSA official told Reuters. 

“Rosneft has also positioned itself as a middleman in sales of Venezuelan oil to customers worldwide. Much of it ends up at refineries in the United States – despite U.S. sanctions against Russia – because it is sold through intermediaries such as oil trading firms, according to internal PDVSA trade reports seen by Reuters and a source at the firm.”

Republican Senators from several Gulf oil states are urging Trump to hold off on Venezuelan sanctions as they would send Maduro further into Russia’s arms, further harming U.S. energy interests.

How this plays out will be interesting to watch as there are a number of links to people in the Trump orbit. Of course there is Secretary of State and former Exxon Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson who has many connections to Rosneft. But there are also known targets of the Trump-Russia investigation with Rosneft ties, including Manafort and Carter Page. Adam Schiff, ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee, outlined some of those ties back in March.

Without putting on the tinfoil hat, just some things to keep an eye out for while comfortable in the knowledge that Mueller’s team likely is all over this. So while we wait for things to blow up on one side or the other, enjoy the weekend with a Nuclear Daiquiri.

Via Cocktail Virgin, the Nuclear Daiquiri is:

3/4 oz Wray & Nephew Overproof Rum
3/4 oz Green Chartreuse
3/4 oz Lime Juice
1/3 oz Falernum (Velvet)

Shake with ice and strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with a lime wheel.

Cheers!

The Day After

Dawn

The day after Cheeto Mussolini rekindled for Cold War survivors the existential dread of nuclear annihilation, we’re still here.

During a briefing the other day, Trump made his remarks about how North Korea would be met with “fire and fury…the likes of which the world has never seen before” if they continue to threaten the U.S.

For all of his live tweeting of Fox News, the “fire and fury” comment seems to suggest Trump spends time on HBO as well. It’s just not yet clear whether he was all aped up over the Game of Thrones Dragon Battle scene, or he was watching reruns of the Wire and grabbed the line from the Blind Boys of Alabama.

To distract from the tightening noose of the Mueller Russia investigation (and the revelation that the FBI raided former aide Paul Manafort’s home), Trump is poking at the historically unstable Kim Jong Un and the North Korean regime.

If there’s any silver lining it’s that he is not more subtle and clever in creating the Reichstag fire he needs.

Trump’s aides were trying to downplay his remarks – Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said, “I think Americans should sleep well at night, have no concerns about this particular rhetoric of the last few days.” Nevertheless, president little hands was touting his big arsenal again this morning.

At least the sun did come up again for humanity today, so celebrate with a Golden Dawn cocktail. According to Dr. Cocktail Ted Haigh, the drink was named for the 1930 film adaptation of a Rogers and Hammerstein operetta. As Haigh put it:

“This was one spectacularly bad movie, replete with a singing Noah Beery in blackface, songs with titles like ‘My Bwana’ and ‘Hymn to Domestic Violence,’ in an all-singing two-strip Technicolor musical about prisoners of war in colonial Africa.”

Seems appropriate, and of course the more modern connotation with the Greek ultranationalist neo-Nazi party, which also seems to fit with the Trump effect.

From Haigh’s Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails the Golden Dawn is:

.75 oz Calvados (or apple jack)

.75 oz dry gin

.75 oz apricot brandy (or liqueur)

.75 oz orange juice

Shake vigorously over ice, strain into a chilled cocktail glass, garnish with a stemless cherry dropped into the glass and dribble a little pomegranate grenadine through the drink.

Cheers to another morning!

 

 

In Trump’s Shadow

Shadow

Trump is at his Bedminster, N.J., property on a “working” vacation while the White House undergoes some needed renovation.

Meanwhile, the decay in the Republican Party grows more visible as its fissures and crumbling façade splash across the news every day. As I wrote last week in Countdown To Extinction, Trump is the Elephant Gun that may well bring down the GOP. Republicans are now agreeing with Bill James, saying that Trump “invaded and took over the party.” What could the GOP possibly have done?

At the same time, Republicans in Congress are beginning to assert some independence such as the bill to reign in Trump’s ability to fire Bob Mueller. Even the chief architect of alternative facts, Kellyanne Conway, had to admit Trump’s approval ratings among Republicans, conservatives and Trump voters is down.

Now the NY Times is reporting that Republicans are looking ahead at the 2020 Presidential Election.

“President Trump’s first term is ostensibly just warming up, but luminaries in his own party have begun what amounts to a shadow campaign for 2020 — as if the current occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue weren’t involved.

“The would-be candidates are cultivating some of the party’s most prominent donors, courting conservative interest groups and carefully enhancing their profiles. Mr. Trump has given no indication that he will decline to seek a second term.

“But the sheer disarray surrounding this presidency — the intensifying investigation by the special counsel Robert S. Mueller III and the plain uncertainty about what Mr. Trump will do in the next week, let alone in the next election — have prompted Republican officeholders to take political steps unheard-of so soon into a new administration.”

The whole article is worth a look, and while you’re reading about the shadow campaign, enjoy a Shadow Dreaming cocktail. After all, amidst a deteriorating GOP, for these shadow candidates, Dreaming is Free.

Via Kindred Cocktails, the Shadow Dreaming cocktail is:

2 oz Bourbon

.5 oz Carpano Antica Forumla sweet vermouth

.25 oz Zucca

.25 oz Demerara Rum 151

1 dash aromatic bitters (I used Dr. Adam’s Orinoco Bitters)

5 drops Bitterman’s Xocolatl Mole Bitters (as a float)

Build All except Mole Bitters in a mixing glass, stir until diluted, strain into a chilled, stemmed glass, and garnish with 5 drops Mole Bitters.

Cheers!

Permanent Vacation

Final Voyage

We have arrived at the first Friday in August, a high point for summer vacations. While many of us may dream of not coming back, we all might be better off if three items in the news today remained on permanent vacation.

The first has to do with the repeal of Obamacare. As Paul Krugman wrote today in the NY Times, it seems for now that the ACA is here to stay. That’s because it has made things better for people generally. What needs to go away is the BS behind the attempts to defeat it. From Krugman:

“What was Obamacare rage about?

“Much of it was orchestrated by pressure groups like Freedom Works, and it’s a good guess that some of the ‘ordinary citizens’ who appeared at town halls were actually right-wing activists. Still, there was plenty of genuine popular rage, stoked by misinformation and outright lies from the usual suspects: Fox News, talk radio and so on. For example, around 40 percent of the public believed that Obamacare would create ‘death panels’ depriving senior citizens of care.

“The question then becomes why so many people believed these lies. The answer, I believe, comes down to a combination of identity politics and affinity fraud.”

As Krugman pointed out, people are backing ACA today because truth eventually prevails. But let’s hope that our experiences of the past several years are making us better at spotting this type of propaganda, and we can use the defense of Obamacare as the going away party for fake news and faux outrage over nonsense like “death panels.”

Another item comes via Dana Milbank in his column “There’s no such thing as the Trump Democrat” in The Washington Post. Discussing a new analysis from the AFL-CIO, Milbank points out:

“The number of Obama-to-Trump voters turns out to be smaller than thought. And those Obama voters who did switch to Trump were largely Republican voters to start with. The aberration wasn’t their votes for Trump but their votes for Obama. 

“It follows for Democrats that most of these Obama-Trump voters aren’t going to be persuaded to vote Democratic in future; the party would do better to go after disaffected Democrats who didn’t vote in 2016 or who voted for third parties.”

For all of the flaws of Bernie Sanders as a person/candidate, many of his ideas sparked genuine energy among people who are a natural part of the Democratic Party base. As FDR did appropriating a number of Eugene Debs’ Socialist Party ideas to create the New Deal and build a lasting Democratic coalition, today’s Dems would be better off incorporating popular Sanders’ ideas than they would backing Pro-Life candidates in hopes of attracting Trump voters.

Hopefully this new AFL-CIO report will let us wave goodbye to faulty analysis that hurt the chances of pushing back against a regressive GOP, a party that already enjoys structural advantages making it difficult for Democrats.

Of course the biggest news was the start of a 17-day vacation for Cheeto Mussolini. It has been feeling like it’s the end of the world for both the Resistance and Trump (especially with Mueller’s Grand Jury news), but the next few weeks are unlikely to be restful.

Lazy is the word of the day when it comes to Trump. GQ is out with a story headlined “Laziest President in American History Departs for 17-Day Golf Resort Vacation.” While Newsweek is making its own headlines with its cover story coming out referring to Trump as “Lazy Boy.”

So as we wish his Orangeness bon voyage in his travels to exotic New Jersey, we can sip the very tasty Final Voyage cocktail in hopes he decides not to come back when vacation is over.

This terrific variation on a Last Word cocktail from Cocktail Virgin is:

3/4 oz Smith & Cross Rum
3/4 oz Rothman & Winter Apriot Liqueur
3/4 oz Green Chartreuse
3/4 oz Lime Juice

Shake with ice and strain into a cocktail glass

Cheers!