An Offer He Can’t Refuse

Privilege

The dominoes are falling. Trump’s long-time fixer Michael Cohen has taken a plea deal and is headed to prison, while his former campaign chairman Paul Manafort has been found guilty in the first of his two trials.

Whether Cohen decides to cooperate with the Mueller investigation on his way to jail remains to be seen. But the Russia investigation is heating up, and both events today may play a role. We are 10 weeks from the midterm elections and today we have news that the same hackers indicted for attacking the 2016 election and linked to the Russian military have attacked conservative groups critical of Putin. The attack was stopped by Microsoft.

Everybody knows Cohen was knee deep in Trump’s dealings with Russia, so he could potentially shed light on any collusion/conspiracy. He did say about a month ago that he would put family and country first. Unlike Republicans in Congress, this former GOP finance co-chair may be able to put aside being partisan long enough to fight for democracy in the USA. So perhaps there is some patriotism in the extra from the Sopranos, or maybe it was something else.

Cohen’s plea comes only a week after a special master overseeing reams of paper and millions of electronic files removed from his office determined only a small fraction could be classed under attorney-client privilege. Perhaps he got an offer he couldn’t refuse.

Whatever it was, toast these developments tonight with an Attorney Privilege cocktail. From Imbibe Magazine, the Attorney Privilege is:

2 oz bourbon

.5 oz orgeat

2 dashes Angostura bitters

Stir over ice, strain into a chilled coupe, lemon twist garnish

While enjoying this Japanese Cocktail variant, I will also toast Michael Cohen for giving me reason to link to a bunch of Leonard Cohen videos.

Cheers!

 

Cleanup on Aisle 45

Stripper

There has been one fundamental question implanted in the minds of many Americans since January, 2017 (if not November 2016); What happens after Trump?

With nearly every action taken by this administration designed to personally enrich the official or their associates, and/or further the policy aims of Russia, we will need some systemic cleanup when Trump is gone.

The supporting role of Republicans in Congress in furthering the actions of the Trump administration will not make the task any easier. As the evidence mounts practically by the day of Russian interference with our elections, the really difficult questions may come once Mueller has made his report and/or indictments.

Those difficult questions have been rolling around for a while, but author Steven Beschloss raised them on Twitter the other day:

If we accept the Russians interfered w/ our elections & manipulated the outcome to Trump’s advantage… If we confirm Trump conspired w/ the Russians to take the WH… Then we are faced w/ an illegitimate presidency. And the illegitimacy of his subsequent actions. What then?

If we accept his illegitimacy, is Hillary the real president? What happens to Pence and all the rest? Must they all go? I think questions like these freak people out and our system is not prepared to handle this. But face it we must once Mueller does his job.

Everything about Trump’s role in our politics since the day he came down that escalator has been unprecedented, and unprecedented is where we will find ourselves when this presidency is over.

As some commenters to Beschloss’ tweet noted, it will be the Second Reconstruction, or like rebuilding Germany after World War II. We will have to grapple with fundamental questions of how we Americans will govern ourselves. Our hyper-partisan times seem ill-suited to the task.

Perhaps, the evidence of a Russian attack on our system will be so compelling as to unite the nation. On the other hand, it is likely a significant portion of the population will hold on to their opinion. Therefore, one step that might help as we move toward a reconstruction is a return to true democratic majority rule.

Our congressional representation has been stuck at 435 for more than a century. The number of people per representative ranges from 500,000 to 900,000. We need to correct that, along with partisan Gerrymandering. I have written about this before, including here, here, and here.

This will also take some statesmanship, people who put country over party, who act as George Washington and Abraham Lincoln did.

There are difficult days ahead, but it is time to start thinking about how we rebuild. While you contemplate the best political stain remover, have a Bitter Stripper cocktail.

The drink comes from Gaz Regan’s book The Negroni. It was designed to be clear, which is something else we can all use now. The Bitter Stripper is:

30 ml (1 oz) Plymouth Gin

20 ml (.66 oz) Dolin Vermouth, Blanc

10 ml (.33 oz) Saler’s Gentiane

5 ml (.17 oz) Cointreau

Orange twist

Stir over ice, strain into a chilled cocktail glass, zest twist over the drink and add as garnish.

I may have gone a little heavy on the Saler’s and I loved the cocktail. If you are not used to the bitter earthiness of the gentian Saler’s, you may want to go a little light. This is likely to be a regular feature for the remainder of the summer for me.

Cheers!

Space Madness!

Moonage

This has been quite a news filled week: elections; Manafort trial; new tariffs; swampy behavior by Cabinet officials; immigrations; racism; Nazis; Russians; the demise of our democracy; etc.

But it is Friday, so maybe it’s a little OK to allow ourselves to be distracted. This week gave us the Mother of All Distractions — Space Force!

Vice Colluder Pence made the announcement of a new military branch at the Pentagon, a Space Command. Problem is, this pointless distraction doesn’t even seem to realize that it already exists (in a more sensible manner). As @amvetssupport pointed out on Twitter:

The USAF Space Command has 38,000 members of the USAF working in the Command. They are in almost 90 bases throughout the world.

The Trump-Pence version was roundly mocked, according to the distraction plan. But while Space Madness has captured some attention, real patriots won’t succumb to the Killing Moon. We’ll pause a moment to laugh at their Moonage Daydream, and then get back to resisting until they take their stinking paws off our democracy.

So while you’re watching Spaceballs tonight, enjoy a Moonage Daydream cocktail. Via Gaz Regan’s 101 Best New Cocktails (2015), the Moonage Daydream is:

1.5 oz Zacapa 23 rum (El Dorado 12)

.75 oz Punt e Mes

.25 oz Luxardo Fernet (Fernet Branca)

3 dashes of Dr. Adam’s Aphrodite Bitters

Build over a large rock in an Old Fashioned glass, stir until cold and add orange twist garnish.

Happy Friday!

Cheers!

Eastern Promises

Eastern

The top national security officials in the U.S. held a briefing on Thursday where they “described Russian efforts to interfere in the 2018 midterm elections as deep, real and ongoing, showcasing their efforts to combat a threat President Trump has repeatedly dismissed and played down,” according to the Wall Street Journal.

This just makes this the latest Dog and Pony Show about election security from the Trump administration. As the WSJ story also noted:

“Mr. Trump didn’t attend the news conference and, later Thursday, didn’t mention his administration’s plans to combat Russian interference during an 80-minute campaign rally in Pennsylvania.

“Instead, he again criticized the probe. “We are being hindered by the Russian hoax. It’s a hoax, OK?” Mr. Trump said to cheers from the crowd.”

A bit of snark from the Journal, including a note about the lunatic fringe attending Trump’s rallies.

At this point, a few months from the mid-term elections, and ever since the Helsinki summit, Trump just seems to be overtly acting as a Russian intelligence asset and openly obstructing justice in the Mueller probe.

Of course, Trump is not alone as the GOP is full of people taking mind boggling measures to support him. The latest comes from Sen. Rand Paul who, apparently upset he missed the Fourth of July Moscow visit with other Republican senators, is headed to Russia next week.

In the meantime, we are getting a pretty good glimpse of Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort’s ties to Russian oligarchs from his trial, focused on his dealings in Ukraine. We are also hearing more about alleged Russian operative  Maria Butina, and her boasts to classmates of being a liaison between Russian intelligence and the Trump campaign.

It certainly seems that the vast majority of the Republican Party, and GOP-leaning groups (looking at you NRA) were in bed with the Russians, figuratively and/or literally.

The drink today is the Eastern Promises cocktail. I came across the drink on Kindred Cocktails while looking for a way to use my Cocchi Americano Rosa. Eastern Promises is:

1 oz gin

1 oz framboise (raspberry eau-de-vie, not liqueur)

1 oz Cocchi Americano Rosa

.25 oz orange liqueur (calls for Mathilde XO, I used Grand Marnier)

1 dash orange bitters

orange twist garnish

Stir, strain onto a big rock, garnish

A quick word on the ingredients. While I was able to use my Cocchi Rosa, which was nice as it is tasty stuff, the framboise delayed this cocktail for a bit. My first thought was to use Chambord, until I looked closer. The framboise did complicate things a bit (life is pretty complicated these days anyway) as raspberry eau-de-vie is harder to find, being one of the harder fruit brandies to make. I probably would have dropped it, but I have been a sucker for all things raspberry going back to those bright blue Mr. Misty floats from Dairy Queen when I was growing up.

The drink comes off as a slightly bitter orange-raspberry martini.

Cheers!

The Patriot Game

Americano

And now as I lie here, my body all holes 
I think of those traitors who bargained in souls 
And I wish that my rifle had given the same 
To those Quislings who sold out the patriot game.
— The Patriot Game, Irish rebel ballad by Dominic Behan

President∗ Trump met with his top national security advisors on Friday to discuss strategy around Russian interference in the upcoming November elections. Unfortunately, this meeting can’t even be called a dog and pony show, because at 30 minutes there was barely enough time for the dog.

Nothing came of the meeting, which was held two weeks after Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats said the warning lights are blinking red over Russian attacks on the election. It was also only one week after House Republicans voted against spending money to improve election security. Never mind that we have already learned Claire McCaskill was one of two Senators who were targeted by the Russian military for hacks similar to what occurred in 2016.

Of course, the election security meeting took place about 10 days after Trump proved in Helsinki that he is a Russian asset beholden to Putin. Still, are there no patriots left in the GOP?

As the rest of us prepare to do our duty in November to remove the quislings who sold us out, it is time for an Americano cocktail. Refreshing and low alcohol, it is what we need on this battle march to the election.

This classic is:

1.5 oz Campari

1.5 oz sweet vermouth

3 oz soda water

1 dash orange bitters (optional, I like it this way)

Build in a highball glass over ice, garnish with an orange twist.

Cheers!

 

Lawyers, Guns, and Money

Russian

The arrest, indictment, and denial of bond for Maria Butina certainly has any number of Republicans and NRA officials asking “how was I supposed to know she was with the Russians, too?”

The shit is now hitting the fan for those caught in the Russian spy’s honey pot. The 29 year-old suspect spy funneled Russian money through the NRA to the GOP, had a romantic relationship with a 56 year-old American, a long time Republican operative with ties to the NRA and the media.

Donald Trump may be able to take some comfort that he is not the only American ensnared by the Russians. The rest of us, however, will find no comfort in how extensively the Russians seem to have integrated themselves into our political and governing system. And this parasite continues to feed.

Trump’s own Director of National Intelligence has said the lights are blinking red like they were before 9/11, whether the Orange Whipped believes the Russians are looking to interfere in the midterm elections or not.

To get rid of the bitter taste of treason, I suggest beginning with a Russian cocktail. A classic dug up from the 1930 edition of the Savoy Cocktail Book, the Russian is equal parts of gin, vodka, and Creme de Cacao.

Shake well, strain into a chilled cocktail glass, and, as the book says, “Tossitoff quickly.”

Cheers!

At Least We Still Have Alaska!

Alaska

The Treason Summit in Helsinki showed Trump’s true colors (not just orange) as a stooge of Vladimir Putin. His pathetic attempt to walk away from his comments, saying he meant to say would’t instead of would, is to believe people did not watch the full press conference.

It was, of course, of a piece with Trump’s method of berating allies (as he did at NATO just before Helsinki) while praising dictators. This was not our first example of the world coming apart, but it may have finally gotten through to at least some portion of MAGAts. Even Fox News was aghast at his performance.

We can’t be sure what was agreed to in the private meeting between Trump and Putin, but at this point the best thing that can be said about the summit is that at least we still have Alaska. After Trump’s turn as supplicant to the Russian strongman (did he say his name was Reek?), toast the preservation of our 49th state with an Alaska cocktail.

From Brad Parson’s book Bitters, the Alaska is:

1.5 oz gin

.75 oz Yellow Chartreuse

1 dash of orange bitters

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

Cheers!