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!

Safe for Democracy?

Sidecar

The passage of “Trumpcare” by the House of Representatives sucked up most of the attention this past week, but there were other things going on that will likely have a deeper and more lasting impact.

That is not to belittle what just happened with the AHCA vote, but as anyone who has seen Schoolhouse Rock understands, this bill has a way to go before it’s law. As E.J. Dionne said in The Washington Post, “the Anti-Health-Care Bill passed on Thursday bids to be the most remarkable redistribution of income in congressional history, from the poor and middle class to the very wealthy.” He added that this heartless vote will define the House Republicans and the Cook Political Report said the vote moved ratings on 20 House seats more favorably toward the Democrats.

So, yes, the healthcare vote could have a lasting impact on Republicans, but the more troubling impact for all of us came on the international front where we continued to turn our backs on 100 years of global leadership.

On Wednesday, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson gave a speech to State Department employees saying that too much reliance on human rights principles really creates obstacles to our ability to advance our national security interests, and our economic interests.

Tillerson’s move away from promoting human rights simply follows one of Trump’s few consistent policy directions. During the campaign Trump said the U.S. didn’t have the right to lecture other countries on human rights because things are so bad here now. In the past week, Mother Jones reported Trump renamed the White House office of “multilateral affairs and human rights” as the office of “international organizations and alliances.”

The last week also saw Trump say he would be “honored” to meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, who he has regularly praised, and invite Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte to the White House. One of the only other ways Trump is consistent (in addition to golfing at one of his resorts every weekend) is his praise for dictators and despots around the world.

All of this comes weeks after the 100th anniversary of a moment that defined the direction of America for a century. After years of keeping the United States out of the war that would become World War I, neutrality was no longer viable and on April 2, 1917, President Woodrow Wilson went before a joint session of Congress to seek a declaration of war. A part of his address would set us on a path that only now we seem to be leaving:
The world must be made safe for democracy. Its peace must be planted upon the tested foundations of political liberty. We have no selfish ends to serve. We desire no conquest, no dominion. We seek no indemnities for ourselves, no material compensation for the sacrifices we shall freely make. We are but one of the champions of the rights of mankind. We shall be satisfied when those rights have been made as secure as the faith and the freedom of nations can make them.
The United States needs to reaffirm its aspiration to these Wilsonian principles. Today we are following the misguided isolationist path of America First and raising up opponents of democracy from Putin to Erdogan (leaders of countries where Trump has financial interests).
At this point 100 years ago America was mobilizing for the Great War. Those doughboys were the ones who helped make America great in the eyes of the world, and we largely stayed that way for the past century. Despite his slogan, Trump is threatening to tear down what makes America great.
As you mobilize for this fight, have a cocktail that grew out of WWI, the Sidecar. This classic recipe is:
1.5 oz cognac
1 oz Cointreau
.5 oz lemon juice
Orange twist garnish
Shake over ice and strain into a chilled, sugar-rimmed cocktails glass (sugar not pictured), add garnish
Cheers!

Perfect Manhattan: No Trump

Perfect

On the eve of Trump’s first visit to NYC since becoming president, all of us in the vicinity could use a drink.

Presidential visits create massive disruptions as a rule, but rarely do you get the added snarl of citywide protests. From his arrival at JFK airport to his dinner on the Intrepid aircraft carrier in midtown, the area will be a mess for much of the day.

Fortunately, his Orangeness will spare the metro area from a lengthy visit and immediately hightail it to his golf resort in rural New Jersey after dinner.

As a reminder of how nice NYC is when Trump is not here (or signing executive orders that cost, demean or otherwise fuck over New Yorkers) I suggest fortifying with a Perfect Manhattan.

No better source than Philip Greene’s book The Manhattan: The Story of the First Modern Cocktail.

2 oz rye (or bourbon)

.5 oz dry vermouth

.5 oz sweet vermouth

2 dashes aromatic bitters

Cherry for garnish (lemon peel also suggested, real Americans use real cherries)

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

Cheers! (He’ll be gone soon)