Back to Basics

Martini

There was a time when the President and members of Congress would put the interests of the United States above those of other nations — especially avowed adversaries.

Unfortunately, the summer of 2018 is not that time. Instead we have a President determined to make enemies of friends while doing the bidding of enemies. Trump tears apart our allies at meetings with the G7 and NATO while talking of ending sanctions on Russia for invading Ukraine. Meanwhile, a flock of GOP Senators spent the 4th of July (Independence Day FFS!) in Moscow sucking up to Putin.

Those Senators are part of a group — that includes a great many House Republicans — that seeks to end the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election and whether the Trump campaign participated in that interference. With elections coming up in November, the GOP has spent a lot more time denigrating the FBI and the intelligence community than it has in ensuring our election is protected against interference.

I’d like to go back to that time when the basic approach of our elected officials was to protect the integrity of our democracy rather than looking at holding on to power through the help of hostile foreign powers.

This corrosion of American values also appears to have spread to a third branch of our government, where Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy — who’s son loaned Trump $1 billion while employed at Deutsche Bank — resigned. This has given Trump an opportunity to name someone more likely to take the Executive’s side in disputes with the Mueller investigation.

The labyrinth of unethical behavior in our government right now is mind boggling, and that is just in the bits we learn every day (hourly). To best approach the complexity of corruption, it is time to simplify your cocktail. I suggest a classic Martini. I like mine as follows, but don’t complicate things. Stick with what you like.

2.5 oz Plymouth Gin

.75 oz Dolin dry vermouth

1 dash of Regan’s Orange Bitters

Stir over ice, strain into a chilled Martini glass, lemon twist

Cheers!

 

 

Trump The Impetuous

Caprice

Trump has put in a lot of effort lately to dismantle the G7 alliance and destroy the American ethos as a nation of immigrants.

By tearing apart families who have come seeking asylum, Trump is trying to turn our beacon of hope into a No Vacancy sign. (Unless of course you happen to be white with money and connections.)

There are many problems with immigration under Trump, and ICE is proving to be one of the most disgusting examples of misuse of power in this administration. However, the removal of children from asylum seekers and the inhumane treatment they are receiving is a violation of our laws. When the Trump era is over, those responsible will find the Nuremberg Defense will be no more use to them than it was 72 years ago.

Meanwhile, the shit show of a G7 meeting began with Trump saying Putin should be a part of the meeting (Putin’s return on investment may the best ever), and ended with him straining relations with Canada (Canada!!!!).

As Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer put it on Twitter:

“Are we executing Putin’s diplomatic and national security strategy or AMERICA’s diplomatic and national security strategy? After the last few days, it’s hard to tell.”

Even Senator John McCain felt compelled to reassure our allies, tweeting:

“To our allies: bipartisan majorities of Americans remain pro-free trade, pro-globalization & supportive of alliances based on 70 years of shared values. Americans stand with you, even if our president doesn’t.”

Washington Post columnist Jennifer Rubin put it best when she wrote of Trump’s G7 antics:

To him, none of the benefits of the post-World War II international architecture matter. It’s about his pride, his demand for attention, his ability to create havoc — and if he needs to take a wrecking ball to the Western alliance to convince himself he’s smarter than all his predecessors, he’ll not think twice about it.

Without a doubt then, the drink tonight is the Caprice cocktail. As Merriam-Webster defines it:

caprice

1aa sudden, impulsive, and seemingly unmotivated notion or action  

  • policy changes that seem to be motivated by nothing more than caprice
  ba sudden usually unpredictable condition, change, or series of changes  
2disposition to do things impulsively
As Kindred Cocktails defines this classic:
1.5 oz gin
1.5 oz dry vermouth
.5 oz Benedictine
1 dash orange bitters
Stir over ice, strain into a chilled coupe, garnish with an orange twist
Cheers!

The Aging of Reason

Reason

“We’re on a mission from God.” — Elwood Blues

Have you seen the Light? America today is seeing its fundamental values — a birthright of the Enlightenment — being squeezed from two sides.

On the one side is the Religious Right. It has been building for quite a long time, but it does seem different today. For all of the faults of George W. Bush, he was a Believer who tried to live as (his version of) a good Christian. Trump, on the other hand, obviously prefers to spend his Sundays on the golf course (preferably one of his own). Nevertheless, the Religious Right is the strongest part of his base.

Plenty of evidence has sprung up just in the past week, from Trump’s anti-abortion moves to moving the U.S. embassy in Israel to Jerusalem. The new generation of evangelical leaders, including Franklin Graham, Jerry Falwell Jr. and Texas megachurch pastor Robert Jeffress, heap praise on Trump (and VP Pence), but raise questions whether their aim is power rather than piety.

The influence of the Religious Right on the policies of the U.S. government is not what the founders intended. When Thomas Paine published his Age of Reason pamphlets attacking organized Christianity, he was arguing the church was corrupt and overly institutionalized. What would he think of today’s situation?

As obvious as the Religious Right squeezing from one side is, the other pressure point is really just coming into focus. Shedding some light on this point is (of all people) Henry Kissinger in The Atlantic this month. While his piece, “How The Enlightenment Ends,” is aimed at how humans are not prepared intellectually, philosophically, or ethically, for the rise of artificial intelligence, it definitely touches on some topics that have become more visible in the Age of Trump.

The Enlightenment sought to submit traditional verities to a liberated, analytic human reason. The internet’s purpose is to ratify knowledge through the accumulation and manipulation of ever expanding data. Human cognition loses its personal character. Individuals turn into data, and data become regnant.

Users of the internet emphasize retrieving and manipulating information over contextualizing or conceptualizing its meaning…Truth becomes relative. Information threatens to overwhelm wisdom.

When it comes to politics, Kissinger sees the velocity of data having a negative impact on understanding and on building consensus. He says this is due to the greater ability to micro target based on “specialized purposes or grievances.” A quick look at the social media effect on the 2016 election gives plausibility to this idea. “The digital world’s emphasis on speed inhibits reflection; its incentive empowers the radical over the thoughtful; its values are shaped by subgroup consensus, not by introspection,” Kissinger writes.

Perhaps like Jake and Elwood, it is time to get the Band back together — Locke, Kant, Voltaire, Adam Smith, etc. — to spark a new Enlightenment for the 21st Century, one that energizes a new generation to tackle the philosophical and ethical questions unimaginable in the 18th Century.

But before you going looking for that copy of Rousseau’s The Social Contract you had in college, you may want to make yourself an Age of Reason cocktail.

Via Bittermen’s, the Age of Reason is:

2 oz rye

.5 oz cognac

.5 oz Cocchi Americano

1 bar spoon green Chartreuse

1 bar spoon yellow Chartreuse

10 drops Bittermen’s ‘Elemakule tiki bitters

lemon twist

Stir over ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Run the lemon twist around the rim of the glass and discard.

Cheers!

 

You Scratch My Back…

Clear

News of another Trump campaign, Trump Tower, meeting for the purpose getting illegal (and shady) foreign assistance — this time from the Middle East — comes on the heels of the Senate Intelligence Committee report confirming that Russia interfered in the 2016 election in favor of Trump.

The New York Times is reporting emissaries from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates met with Donald Trump Jr and others three months before the election to discuss ways to help Trump win.

A few days ago the report from the Senate Intelligence Committee was released that backed up the intelligence community assessment that “The Russian effort was extensive, sophisticated, and ordered by President Putin himself for the purpose of helping Donald Trump and hurting Hillary Clinton.” The bipartisan report is at odds with the House Intelligence Committee Republicans who are working overtime to block any attempts to understand what happened during the election.

Also last week, Trump strangely came to the defense and sought to bolster Chinese telecom ZTE after it was sanctioned for the security threat it posed to America. Then we found out the Chinese government was giving $500 million to a Trump project in Singapore.

In fact, whether it’s Saudi Arabia, U.A.E., or Russia, Trump was (and is) willing to sell out the interests of the United States to advance his own interests, and it’s pretty transparent at this point.

As we learn more about this administration’s corrupt approach, have a Clear Intentions cocktail to wash away the swampiness.

Via Kindred Cocktails, the Clear Intentions is:

2 oz gin (Sipsmith in my case)

.75 oz Cocchi Americano

.25 oz Amaro Montenegro

1 dash celery bitters

Stir over ice, strain into a chilled coupe

Cheers!

 

Before the After

Max

For reasons long forgotten, two mighty warrior tribes went to war, and touched off a blaze which engulfed them all. Without fuel they were nothing. They’d built a house of straw. The thundering machines sputtered and stopped. Their leaders talked and talked and talked. But nothing could stem the avalanche. Their world crumbled… — “The Road Warrior” (1981) Opening Narration 

Every great (and not so great) dystopian movie or book sets its stage, providing background for how society, civilization, or the planet came to the state in which the story takes place.

This is often some time in the future, and works better in some stories than others. We are now only one year away from the Los Angeles of 1982’s Blade Runner. However, it is worth remembering that Roy Batty and his gang of Replicants all had incept dates in 2016. Coincidence?

Today, as every single person Trump picks for his administration seems chosen for their ability to dismantle the agency to which they are appointed — and Trump himself works to dismantle the world order that has existed for at least the past half century — it does feel as if we are living through the backstory of the next dystopian blockbuster.

The construct of “for reasons long forgotten,” like that in The Road Warrior, is often used for that backstory. However, it has me wanting to shout “No! The reasons were important. Don’t forget about us!” In a sense, though, Amy Siskind’s The Weekly List is documenting those steps toward wandering in a post-apocalyptic wasteland.

So before America is entirely the dominion of corrupt oligarchs, with our cities in dust, make time for one more kiss and have a Mad Max cocktail.

Just like Roy Batty, 2016 is the incept date of this cocktail, from Kingfish in New Orleans. Although I don’t recall having a Mad Max, I had a great time at Kingfish in July 2016 while in New Orleans for Tales of the Cocktail. The food and the drinks were terrific.

Via Kindred Cocktail, the Mad Max is:

1 oz rye

1 oz Cynar

1 oz Aperol

orange twist

Stir, strain, twist

Cheers!

This Ain’t No Disco…

Burning

May you live in interesting times.

This alleged ancient Chinese curse (more likely of European origin in the past century) seems fitting amid today’s turmoil. Between Trump pulling out of the Iran deal and Israeli rockets target Syria, I find lyrics from Warren Zevon’s song The Envoy playing in my head (Nuclear arms in the Middle East…).

On one hand, however, it is worth remembering that for all the geopolitical crises mentioned, Zevon released that song 36 years ago this summer and that was still five years before R.E.M. sung about the end of the world. The War Pigs aren’t new.

On the other hand, in the those other interesting times Donald Trump was not the U.S. President. Now we have entered a mad world where the insane becomes commonplace. For example, German Chancellor Angela Merkel today remarked that Europe can no longer count on the United States to protect it, but must take its destiny in its own hands.

As the evidence mounts daily (sometimes seemingly hourly) that Russia compromised the 2016 election, the President, and increasingly it appears the Republican Party, the world has come apart. Vice President Mike Pence and Congressional Republicans continue call for — and work toward — ending the Mueller investigation. Meanwhile, reports mount of the corrosion of bribes from Russian oligarchs and U.S. corporations funneled through Trump lawyer Michael Cohen that reveal the den of thieves running the government. For all Americans who truly put country first, this ain’t no party, this ain’t no disco, this ain’t no fooling around.

So, as we face the possibility that Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu may look to military actions to wag the dog and keep investigations at bay, we have to hope they don’t light the fuse that sets the world on fire. But following Monty Python’s advice to Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life, we have gin, so in these Burning Times then, have a Burning Times cocktail.

Via Kindred Cocktail, the Burning Times cocktail is:

2 oz Plymouth Gin

.75 oz Strega

.25 oz Fernet Branca

2 dashes Dr. Adam’s Bokers Bitters

lemon twist

Stir, strain, garnish

Cheers!

Buddy System

Pal

National Friendship Day isn’t until August, but this week gave us a much deeper look into the circle of Trump besties. The one that made the biggest news, of course, was finding out that Trump lawyer Michael Cohen also has Trump TV host Sean Hannity as a client.

It was known that Cohen “represented” not only Trump but also his fellow RNC fundraiser Elliott Broidy, and apparently performed similar services. Not entirely clear was what Cohen did for Hannity, but Hannity’s regular defense of Cohen and Trump was much more obvious than their relationship.

Actually, it seems other regular guests on Hannity’s show, also Trump connected lawyers, were doing work for Hannity as well.

Trump, we’ve learned, has a history of not treating his fixer Cohen very well. Now Trump may need him more than ever after the FBI obtained Cohen’s files in a raid, and the possibility Cohen will flip has Trump concerned.

Beyond the issue of who Trump’s personal attorney has been palling around with we saw more evidence of the Trump-Putin relationship on Sunday. Soon after Nikki Haley announced new sanctions on Russia over Syria, Trump called his BFF to tell him not to worry. Then Trump canceled the planned sanctions.

I’m looking forward to the book when this is all over so we can get a clear picture of how all these people are connected and who has what on whom. In the meantime, have an Old Pal cocktail.

From Robert Simonson’s 3 Ingredient Cocktails the Old Pal is:

1 oz rye

1 oz dry vermouth

1 oz Campari

Orange Twist (other recipes call for lemon twist, which I did since I was out of oranges)

Stir over ice, strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

Cheers!