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!

Donnie and His Droogs at the G20

Clockwork

Friday at the Buenos Aires milk bar and Donnie and his Droogs Vlad, Xi, and Bone Saw are trying to decide how to spend their evening.

No doubt Donnie wants to rage tweet more about how Mikey is giving away all the secrets of the tower he tried to build in Moscow with Vlad’s help during the presidential campaign. Now Donnie has to go around pretending to ignore Vlad while they’re in Argentina.

He says it’s because of Vlad’s attacks on Ukraine, but the fact that MBS dismembered a US resident hasn’t kept them apart. Donnie is undoubtedly jealous. He hasn’t gotten to kill and chop up any reporters, and tear gassing women and children at the border just isn’t the same as using your military to take an opponent’s naval vessels. Now he has cancelled many of the official meetings he was supposed to do at the G20 gathering. He really just wants to get on with the ultra violence and maybe some of the old in-out, in-out.

In the meantime, while we wait on the special counsel, have A Clockwork Orange cocktail. Via Kindred Cocktail, A Clockwork Orange is:

2 oz Bourbon (Bulleit is called for, I used Four Roses Small Batch)

.75 oz Cynar

.75 oz Aperol

5 drops orange flower water

Stir, strain into a chilled coupe, small orange zest

One note, I had trouble with only getting 5 drops of orange flower water. I definitely had more than called for and it overpowered the drink. It was still good — probably better than Milk Plus — but clearly, less is more on the orange flower water.

Cheers!

Real Fake News

Obit

Since election night on November 6, the media has been coming up with narratives about how the midterm results are negative for Democrats. With the vote counting now essentially complete, it is clear these narratives keep proving false.

A few weeks ago, election night began with the story that the Blue Wave™ failed to materialize. While that storyline was reversed relatively early, some high-profile defeats helped that sense of Democratic underachievement to linger.

It turns out that the expected dramatic crashing wave of Democratic victories was actually more of a tsunami — a relentless flow of victories that has brought Democrats into power in the House, and beyond. Democrats picked up 39 seats in the House, needing 23 to gain control of the chamber.

Beyond the number of seats, Democrats saw one of their biggest victories in the House since Watergate, with vote totals giving them a 53% to 45% edge over Republicans, representing an 8.6 million vote margin with a presidential-election year type of turnout.

A telling example of the wave is in Orange County California, the heart of Reagan country, where all seven of the Representatives are now Democrats.

The Democratic wave was not limited to Washington, D.C., either. They flipped seven governorships, control 13 states now compared to seven, and broke Republican supermajorities in three states. These wins will be important moving into a census year to fight against Republican gerrymandering efforts, as well as thwart voter suppression activities in those states.

Perhaps one of the bigger fake news stories to emerge from the midterms was how the Democrats continued to lose rural America. The first piece to debunk this came from Daniel Block at Washington Monthly just a few days after the election. Using election data, Block looked at how rural votes impacted races in Kansas, Wisconsin, and Montana.

“On the whole, Democrats performed better in rural areas during these midterms than in 2016, which helped the party win some of its most consequential victories,” he wrote.

In The New York Times, pollster Stanley Greenberg also picked up on the false rural voter narrative. Greenberg notes that the biggest increase in Democratic votes came not in the suburbs (which saw a substantial increase that brought a number of House victories), but in rural areas. “That was the shocker,” he said.

“Democrats cut the Republicans’ margin in rural areas by 13 points, according to the Edison exit poll and by seven points in one by Catalist. Democrats still lost rural America by somewhere between 14 and 18 points so that left Democrats in a pickle there. That had implications for the Senate, but it shouldn’t conceal the fact that Democrats actually made progress in rural areas.”

As more and more analysis of the 2018 midterm elections is done, those early narratives of doom for Democrats is proving to be just so much fake news. Like Mark Twain, reports of Democrats’ death are greatly exaggerated.

As you savor the the Blue Wave — despite the reports — you can also savor an Obituary Cocktail.

From Robert Simonson’s excellent book 3-Ingredient Cocktails, the Obituary Cocktail is:

2 oz gin

.25 oz dry vermouth

.25 oz absinthe

Stir over ice for 30 seconds, strain into a chilled coupe, garnish with a lemon twist

Cheers!

Dancing With Fox News Stars

Waltz

The battle between truth and lies, between news and propaganda, has reached a crucial and personal period for most Americans; the Holidays.

Beginning today and running for the next month or so, there will be much more time spent with family, particularly those who get the news and opinions from Fox. We are about to hit a spike in awkward conversations.

At a time when the GOP can’t even seem to disavow a child molester, there is some sign of rational Republicans, though. The Hill reported yesterday that Rep. Will Hurd (R-Texas) has called for more to be done to counter the Russian disinformation campaign now being waged against us.

But, as the holidays will remind us, there was a reason the Russian fake news effort was successful. (Yes, that’s why it is President Trump despite 3 million fewer votes. Well targeted effort in key states for EC win.) Timothy Egan noted it in the NY Times last week in his piece We’re With Stupid:

“But the problem is not the Russians — it’s us. We’re getting played because too many Americans are ill equipped to perform the basic functions of citizenship. If the point of the Russian campaign, aided domestically by right-wing media, was to get people to think there is no such thing as knowable truth, the bad guys have won.”

As you try to decide whether your uncle or father-in-law is on the side of supporting child molesters as long as they’re Republicans or is willing to question Russian interference with our election — doing the dance of family peace around the Thanksgiving dinner table — I suggest preparing with a Winter Waltz cocktail.

This warming seasonal drink should put a chill on the political discord. Via Punch, the Winter Waltz is:

2 oz rye

.5 oz ounce Averna

.25 oz St. Elizabeth Allspice Dram

2 dashes Dale DeGroff’s Pimento Bitters

Shake over ice (yes, shake, gives it a nice foaminess), strain into a chilled cocktail glass and garnish with star anise.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Cheers!