The Ignominious End of the American Century

1919

We have now unequivocally reached the end of the American Century. The term was coined by Henry Luce, founder of Time, Life and Fortune magazines, in February 1941 as an argument against U.S. isolationism and for American leadership in the world. While Luce was clearly looking at the war that would soon come to be know as World War II, he sought to replace British global leadership with an American model, and in this, he was clearly looking back to Woodrow Wilson and the arguments used in bringing America into WWI. Wilson’s 14 Points and “Making the World Safe for Democracy” had also helped to establish the post-WWI order.

By contrast, the American President today cozies up to the world’s authoritarian dictators who are not interested in safe places for democracy, and Trump’s America First is antithetical to global leadership as Luce envisioned it. In addition, of course, is the situation at the border where the administration separates refugee children from their families and detains them in inhumane conditions. In less than a generation we have moved from going to war with people who “Hate us for our freedom,” to denying freedom to refugees. The Atlantic Monthly had called the end of the American Century shortly after Trump’s inauguration in late January 2017. I mentioned it a little later here, with my favorite WWI cocktail, the Sidecar.

Even if not for Trump’s dismantling of the world order built largely to U.S. specifications after WWII (as Luce had hoped for), this weekend on June 28, we will see the 100-year anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Versailles that formally ended WWI, incorporating many of the ideals pushed by President Wilson and putting the U.S. into a global leadership role. But that century, chronologically, is up now too.

The Treaty of Versailles is famously not without its faults. Although there is growing dispute among historians about the treaty’s punitive approach to Germany being directly responsible for WWII, we are still living today with the mess it created of the Middle East.

When we get past the time of Trump and Putin’s adventurism and look to rebuild the world order it will look different than it has since the end of WWII. While you sit back to contemplate what that order may look like, have a 1919 cocktail and keep your fingers crossed they can avoid the mistakes of Paris during that summer 100 years ago.

The cocktail comes from Drink in Boston and the recipe via Cocktail Virgin. The drink origins have nothing to do with the Treaty, but another mistake of that year, the start of Prohibition. The 1919 is:

.75 oz Rittenhouse Rye

.75 oz Old Monk rum

1 oz Punt e Mes

.5 oz Benedictine

1 dash Bittermen’s Xocolatl Mole Bitters

Stir over ice and strain into a cocktail glass.

Cheers!

Then What?

Aftermath

Amid all of the talk around starting the Impeachment process or not, and which Democratic candidate is polling best against Trump, there is an element of the car-chasing-dog and the question what does it do when it catches one. At this point, the most critical conversation that we aren’t having is what happens when Trump is gone.

Historian Steven Beschloss touched on the point in a Tweet yesterday, saying:

“We used to have Democrats & Republicans. We saw the world differently, but assumed the other side shared a love of country, commitment to the constitution & belief in core American values. That assumption has been broken, perhaps irreparably. Unity will take unique leadership.”

Trump and his GOP enablers have done serious damage to our democracy, the rule of law and our standing in the world. It’s not as though the endless parade of talking heads on TV have missed this either, many have properly noted that Joe Biden’s strength in the polls stems to a significant degree that he represents a restoration of normalcy in politics and governing. The Democratic candidate who most capably presents a plan to clean up after Trump and restore a more normal order of things, especially if that is coupled with plans to address progressive desires, will be the odds-on favorite to be the Democratic nominee, and likely defeat The Orange One in the general election.

This will not be an easy task as it will mean stuffing all of those enabled and encouraged white-supremacists and fascists back down in their hole. Serious repairs will have to be undertaken on the Senate and the judiciary after the damage Mitch McConnell has wrought.

Decades-old alliances will have to be rebuilt.

There are many fantastic, forward looking ideas coming from the Democrats that would make great improvements in lives of Americans. However, it is hard to see any of those going very far until we fix the things Trump has broken this country. Of course, the next President might also have to physically throw Trump out of the White House next year, too.

While you start jotting down your honey-do list for the next President and Congress, have an Aftermath Cocktail. The drink from @Fransos via KindredCocktail is a delicious Rum Old Fashioned variant:

2 oz Cuban rum, Havana Club Selección De Maestros

.25 oz Demerara Rum, Lemon Hart 151.25 oz Cruzan Blackstrap Virgin Islands Rum

18 drops Bitters, Bittermens ‘Elemakule Tiki

7 drops Bitters, Bittermens Xocolatl Mole

1 t rich Demerara syrup

Stir on a big rock. Garnish with a fat orange peel.

ImPeachMint Julep: The time has come

Julep

As the debate around impeaching Trump heats up, it is becoming clear even to a few Republicans what must be done as the president* engages in impeachable offenses on a daily basis.

The time has come, not only for impeachment but also an original Gin Bitters cocktail, in this case, a variation on the mint julep recipe found in the Joy of Mixology from Gary Regan. Here, for your drinking pleasure is the ImPeachMint Julep: muddle a couple of mint leaves with 1 oz of demerera syrup in a collins glass, add 1.5 oz bourbon, I used Old Forester 1920 Prohibition style 115 proof because the times call for strong medicine, add 1.5 oz peach liqueur. I also added .25 oz Branca Menta to enhance the mint and cut the sweetness. It is also a reminder to Cheeto Mussolini that impeachment is a better fate than the one his Italian Fascist mentor met. Lightly stir the ingredients and add crushed ice to the collins glass, then garnish with a few fresh mint sprigs.

Trump’s actions have dragged our democracy far from what it is supposed to be, and without holding him accountable through impeachment restoring the rule of law will only be that much more difficult.

Let the Hearings begin!

Cheers!

Paper Chase

Paper Chase

In the current battle between Congress and Trump on the question of oversight, Trump just blinked.

It was reported earlier today that former White House personnel security director, Carl Kline, would answer questions for a Congressional investigation of security clearance issues next week. The White House has blocked, or said it would block, the appearance of administration officials before Congress since the Mueller Report became public, setting the stage for a (another) Constitutional crisis.

One key witness is former White House Counsel Don McGahn, who features in the Mueller Report around a potential charge of Obstruction of Justice. The Washington Post reported, when the report came out that McGahn’s “ubiquity in the report’s footnotes laid bare his extensive cooperation in chronicling the president’s actions,” prompting Trump to dispute McGahn’s assertions and talk of blocking his appearance before Congress. In particular, the Mueller Report points to Trump’s dislike of note taking, as the Post reported:

“Some of the report’s most derogatory scenes were attributed not only to the recollections of McGahn and other witnesses but also to the contemporaneous notes kept by several senior administration officials — the kind of paper trail that Trump has long sought to avoid leaving.”

Another part of the paper trail that is escalating the fight with Congress is the request for Trump’s tax returns. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin has refused to turn them over to Congress, as required by law, and the deadline has passed. This action (or inaction) could put Mnuchin in jail for 5 years.

On several fronts, Congress is now engaged in a paper chase with the administration, so join the pursuit with a Paper Chase cocktail. Via Kindred Cocktails, this is a very tasty riff on the Paper Trail cocktail I wrote about a year ago.

1.5 oz Bulleit Rye

1 oz Aperol

.75 oz Bonal Gentiane Quina

Stir with ice, strain onto a large cube and garnish with a lemon twist

Cheers!

The Mueller Aperitif

Premiere

Despite Attorney General Barr’s best impression of Kevin Bacon in Animal House today, all is not well in Trumplandia®.

Barr cannot move everyone along past the Mueller report because its contents — even redacted as they are — will not be easily dismissed.

As details of the investigation filter out, one thing above all is clear: the report is certainly not the end of the Trump/Russia matter. If it signifies the end of anything, it is the end of the beginning in getting to the bottom of what happened in 2016.

There are more questions today than there were yesterday. A key question has always been how so many Republicans could skip their patriotic duty and protect Trump. Some clarity is coming to that (looking at you Sen. Grassley) and bringing new questions.

The revelations of the report will spill out for a couple of days. Then the analyses and interpretations and speculation of what has been redacted will take center stage for a while. Then the hearings — Mueller, Cohen, others — will consume countless hours of air time (before, during and after the hearings).

Since we are just getting started, it is time for an apéritif. I suggest La Première from Rebekah Peppler’s book Apéritif. La Première is, according to Peppler, like taking the Italian aperitivo Americano and dropping it in the middle of France. Bonal replaces the Campari and Italian (sweet) vermouth is replaced by French (blanc, in this case) vermouth. It is:

1.5 oz Bonal

1.5 oz blanc vermouth

2 or 3 dashes of Angostura bitters (I used Orinoco bitters)

soda water

lemon peel

In an ice filled lowball glass, combine the Bonal, vermouth and bitters. Top with a splash of soda water, stir gently, finish with the lemon peel

Cheers!

King of the Trolls

Storm King

Nominating Herman Cain to the Federal Reserve Board is what you get when the president is the King of the Internet Trolls.

At this point, Trump has simply said he plans to nominate the certifiable nut-job former Republican presidential candidate Cain. Nevertheless, it has had the desired effect as a storm of distraction has blown up around the idea, displacing stories of leaks from the Mueller investigation team unhappy with Attorney General Barr’s summary of the report.

Is there anybody who still doubts that Trump is basically trolling America? Dominating news cycles is the only consistent policy objective he has. In addition to the Twitter bots, he can rely on the help of Congressional troll minions in the GOP — from the annoying likes of Jim Jordan, Matt Gaetz and Devin Nunes to the truly dangerous impacts of Mitch McConnell — to wear us all down with a flood of nonsense.

Because a good portion of that nonsense is damaging to the US and democracy in general, it gets harder and harder to stay focused on what is important. This may be why MSNBC ratings went down in the immediate wake of Barr’s letter on the Mueller report. Many of us saw it for the BS it was and were too weary to put up with all the pointless talk around it, knowing we’d get to where we are now with confirmation of the trolling.

To deal with Trump’s trolling and frequent tweet storms, sometimes you have to come in out of his Kingdom of Rain. To help dry off, have a Storm King cocktail.

The Storm King is a Rob Roy variant from Damon Boelte (Grand Army, Brooklyn). A good break from the political is also to listen to Damon and @CreativeDrink Sother Teague on Wednesdays for The Speakeasy podcast. The Storm King is:

2 oz Blended Scotch (Black Bottle, which I got from listening to The Speakeasy)

.5 oz Nocino (Nux Alpina)

.25 oz Bénédictine

3 dashes Angostura Bitters

Stir, strain into a chilled cocktail glass, cherry garnish

Cheers!

Working Around the Clock

Midnight Shift

The work to save our democracy and the rule of law in America from Donald Trump and his GOP enablers is not a 9 to 5 job.

The letter summarizing the Mueller investigation from Trump’s hand-picked Attorney General William Barr is a ridiculous whitewash of things we know and an overreach of his authority that is obvious without having seen the report. It is a reminder of all the invasive tentacles we’ll have to remove.

The anti-democratic, authoritarian forces — along with their gang of traitors, grifters and careerists — will not be defeated easily. Although we still need to see his report, the Mueller investigation has become — for this generation and this fight — the “it’ll be over by Christmas” mantra of the World War II era. But this is still the early days.

Clearly, the authoritarians are well dug in and better entrenched by the day. This battle has a long way to go, but for those of us in for the duration, perhaps more people will now realize the task ahead.

There is no Mueller silver bullet coming to save our democracy. The sleeping giant of the American people need to awaken again. It will take all three shifts working against the voter suppression, the Gerrymandering, and the propaganda machine to restore America. Mobilizing the vote needs to be our weapon of choice.

Before you punch the clock, have a Midnight Shift cocktail.

The drink is the creation of Jacob Grier that I got from an old 2012 post from Frederic Yarm. The Midnight Shift is:

1 1/2 oz Novo Fogo Gold Cachaça (I only had silver)
3/4 oz Cynar
3/4 oz Sweet Vermouth
1/4 oz Galliano
2 dash Mole Bitters
1 dash Absinthe

Stir with ice and strain into a rocks glass filled with fresh ice. Garnish with an orange twist and add a straw (although I skipped the straw).

Cheers!