Swindler-In-Chief

Super

Amazingly enough, it is a Saturday and Cheeto Mussolini is in the White House and not at one of his properties. (He’s probably just too engrossed with his military parade autoerotic fantasies.)

During his first year in office, Trump wasn’t in the office much, spending one-third of his time at one of his own properties. And, according to trumpgolfcount.com, this has cost taxpayers more than $52 million so far. Much of that, of course, goes right into Trump’s pocket as the government pays Trump’s businesses.

As Swindler-In-Chief, Trump is leading by example as we watch our democracy slide into kleptocracy. A couple of weeks ago the Ben Carson nepotism news broke, Jonathan Chait wrote that was only one of four new corruption stories coming out of the trump administration that day. “Donald Trump is a grifter who paid a massive fraud settlement shortly before assuming office. He has surrounded himself with like-minded grifters,” Chait wrote in New York magazine.

Not that any of this is a surprise. In October, Margaret Carlson wrote a piece in The Daily Beast titled: “Trump’s Not a ‘Moron’—He’s a Grifter, and He’s Created an Administration of Grifters.” A month later, The Nation published the article: “Trump Is Creating a Grifter Economy.” There seems to be a theme here.

The Trump Organization hotel businesses remain at the heart of the issue. Earlier this month was the report that Trump’s DC hotel was caught directly benefiting from taxpayer money. Just today, Newsweek reports that the Trump Organization’s Dominican Republic projects could be grounds for Trump’s impeachment.

There are many distractions right now, like wife beaters in the White House and the drama around the fate of John Kelly, but we can’t lose sight of the foundational scandal of Trump and Russia. At the same time, as Caroline Orr (@RVAWonk on Twitter) noted in her report on Trump’s DC hotel: “While the Russia investigation is rightly making headlines, it’s more important than ever not to overlook the rampant corruption happening right under our noses.”

So tonight would be a good time for a cocktail from a hotel not affiliated with Trump. Several good ones can be found in Beachbum Berry’s Potions of the Caribbean. I suggest the Queen’s Park Hotel Super Cocktail. This cocktail from Trinidad simply tastes like the Caribbean, which is helpful in early February.

1.5 oz gold Trinidad rum

.5 oz sweet vermouth

.5 oz lime juice

.5 oz grenadine

4 dashes Angostura bitters

Shake over ice, strain into a chilled cocktail glass, garnish with lime

Cheers!

A Fool and His Memo

Fool

Congressman Devin Nunes’ foolishly dangerous memo is out, proving nothing except perhaps things that don’t help his buddy Trump.

Trump, being advised by Fox News fool Sean Hannity, of course, thinks the memo will help him do away with the Russian Conspiracy Investigation. It won’t. And Jennifer Rubin, The Washington Post conservative columnist, nails a truth about  Trump’s declassification of the memo allowing its release of information around intelligence gathering tools.

“This appears to be the second time (the first in the Oval Office with Russian officials) that Trump has handed the Russians classified material. If Trump is not a Russian agent, he surely is acting as effectively as one.”

Trump is being Trump, like the good Russian asset he is. However, what is the excuse for Nunes, Speaker Paul Ryan, and most of the rest of the GOP? As Obi-Wan Kenobi said: “Who’s more foolish, the fool or the fool who follows him?”

As we learn about all the things the release of this memo compromises (and how #MemoDay is the top trending hashtag for the Russian bots), it is best to have one of the worst named drinks according to the staff at New York’s Death & Co, Le Bateleur.

Le Bateleur is French for The Fool, and let’s face it, tagging these idiots with foreign-named drinks would annoy them. From the Death & Co book, it is a tasty concoction of:

2 oz London Dry gin

.75 oz Punt e Mes

.5 oz Strega

.25 oz Cynar

1 dash Angosturra bitters

Orange twist garnish

Stir, strain, garnish

Cheers!

This Is Not A Drill

Hawaiian

The erroneous Hawaiian ballistic missile alert is yet another example of the far too frequent stupid, funny, scary events of the past year.

As The Washington Post reported, a little after 8 a.m. local time Saturday, many Hawaii residents and visitors began posting screenshots of alerts they had received, reading: “BALLISTIC MISSILE THREAT INBOUND TO HAWAII. SEEK IMMEDIATE SHELTER. THIS IS NOT A DRILL.”

It took 10 minutes for notification of the false alarm to get out.

It appears to have come from a state civil defense system that had recently reactivated Cold War era alerts due to the threat from North Korea.

Not to sound like a cranky old man, but we used to be better at this stuff. Decades of denigrating government and all of its functions seems to have taken its toll, down to just getting details like a missile alert right.

As someone pointed out on Twitter, at least this didn’t happen with blaring headlines during Fox & Friends. President Shithole was safely on one of his golf courses and away from the big button on his desk.

This is also a reminder that I really need to visit Hawaii. In the meantime, time for a Royal Hawaiian cocktail. Taken from Dale Degroff’s The Essential Cocktail, the Royal Hawaiian is:

1.5 oz gin

1 oz unsweetened pineapple juice

.5 oz lemon juice

.75 oz orgeat

Shake over ice, strain into a cocktail glass, no garnish.

Cheers!

 

Of Assholes and Shitholes

Haitian

The Racist in Chief has denigrated the office of the Presidency of the United States to an unprecedented level this evening. I’m sure Putin considers him an amazing bargain.

Calling Haiti, El Salvador, and African nations shithole countries while discussing immigration policy with a Senate delegation and saying we need more from places like Norway instead is yet more proof the Oval Office is occupied by a white supremacist.

Trump reportedly said, “Why do we need more Haitians?” according to people familiar with the meeting. “Take them out.” Besides the the fact this statement smacks of ethnic cleansing, it belies an ignorance of history, of the fact that Haitian soldiers came to fight in the American Revolution to free us from Britain. MAGA my ass.

While watching the news and considering how these racist views will impact our foreign policy, immigration policy, and relations with a number of our neighbors, have a Haitian Witch cocktail. (You could also stick pins in a Donald Trump voodoo doll available at Amazon.) I know whoever the American is that gets the duty to answer the summons from the Haitian government to explain Trump’s remarks could use one (or both).

Via Kindred Cocktails, the Haitian Witch is:

2 oz Barbancourt 8 Haitian Rhum

.75 oz lime juice

.5 oz Cheery Heering

2 t agave syrup

1 dash Peychaud’s bitters

Shake, strain over rocks in a lowball glass.

Cheers!

 

Panic at the Congress

Panic

President Very Stable Genius is not the only one who is, like, really smart. Republican members of Congress realize they can use the Michael Wolff book, its Trump v. Bannon storyline, and the President’s full-Fredo response as cover for their actions.

The last several days have seen Congressional Republicans across the board step up their assault on the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election and the possibility of co-conspirators in the Trump campaign. The GOP now stands for the Grand Obstruction Party according to Brian Beutler.

House speaker Ryan has backed Devin Nunes’ attempts to further cover up Trump’s actions and denigrate investigators and the FBI. Meanwhile, in the Senate, the Judiciary Committee has recommended that the only investigation into potential criminal activity should focus on Christopher Steele, the former British intelligence agent who provided evidence of Russian involvement in the Trump campaign.

Paul Krugman has a theory for this action, that Republicans have made a deal with the devil, and now they’re stuck and can’t back out.

More specifically, Trump’s very awfulness means that if he falls, the whole party will fall with him. Republicans could conceivably distance themselves from a president who turned out to be a bad manager, or even one who turned out to have engaged in small-time corruption. But when the corruption is big time, and it’s combined with obstruction of justice and collaboration with Putin, nobody will notice which Republicans were a bit less involved, a bit less obsequious, than others. If Trump sinks, he’ll create a vortex that sucks down everyone involved.

Krugman has a point, and it may be the reason many Republicans are willing to go with the flow right now, but there seems to be something more at work. To watch the turnaround in Sen. Lindsey Graham, in the way he spoke about Trump until recently, really raises the question of whether he has been compromised in some way. No one knows, but stories of Russian oligarch money sloshing through our political system in the wake of Citizens United clearly raises the possibility of kompromat on any number of GOP officials.

Whether because of their deal with the devil or kompromat, Republicans certainly look to be putting party over country a lot lately. Krugman made another very true point about Republican complicity in Trump’s crimes: “Massive electoral defeat – massive enough to overwhelm gerrymandering and other structural advantages of the right – is the only way out.”

This is not lost on the, like, really smart Republicans. They have sounded the alarm about this trap and their actions from now until November to hold onto power are likely to be as un-American as anything we have seen. Trump may have a big nuclear button on his desk, but we are seeing that congressional Republicans are already pressing the panic button over the next elections.

In a rare moment of sympathy with the GOP, I suggest we all reach for the Panic Button tonight. This cocktail from the Dewberry Hotel in Charleston via Imbibe (that I found via Kindred Cocktails) contains:

1.5 oz bourbon
.75 oz Averna
.5 oz Campari
.5 oz Cheery Heering liqueur
.25 oz fresh lemon juice

Shake, strain into a chilled cocktail glass over a large ice ball (the button), express and discard lemon peel.

Cheers!

 

2017 Con La Mosca

Anisetta

And we thought 2016 was bad.

Of course, at this time in 2016 many people thought “how could 2017 get any worse.” No one is suggesting that about 2018. In fact, there is a growing realization we are walking along the precipice, or as @fmbutt (Farooq Butt) said on Twitter the other day, “we hugely underestimate the fragility of modernity.”

The usual sense of optimism for the new year is muted this year. I believe this is partly because 2017 was packed so full of news that portrayed democracy under grave threat. Amy Siskind’s “The Weekly List: This Is How Democracy Ends” has been cataloging the abnormalities under Trump for more than a year.

So much has been crammed into this year that it is hard to keep up with how many outrageous things have been normalized. In a year this full, the only way to see it off is with a good digestivo. Lots of choices as Italian amari have gained a lot more attention lately. I’m a big fan of Ramazzotti (though a Polish honey mead works well here, too, maybe just my Chicago upbringing).

Tonight, though, an anisetta con la mosca should do the trick because those three flies — (con la mosca) coffee beans representing health, happiness, and prosperity — are a symbol of the hope for 2018 as we let the anisette settle our digestion of 2017. The hope is not Mueller and his investigation, important as it is, but the reaction of so many Americans that are standing up to the kleptocracy, incompetence and the degradation of our traditions that Trump and his GOP enablers represent.

Meletti is my preference for anisette, but whatever you’re drinking tonight, raise a glass to the ideals that actually make America great, and to the work ahead in 2018.

Happy New Year!

Cheers!

On The Same Team?

Army

Go Army, Beat Navy! And they did last week by the score of 14-13. This college football rivalry goes back to 1890. As fun as the friendly rivalry is, everyone knows when the game is over, they play for the same team.

Our partisan rivalry may not be as friendly as Army v. Navy most of the time, but our traditions hold that everyone was playing for the same team once the elections were over. Lately, however, that doesn’t seem quite as clear.

In the past week since the football game we have had a number of reasons to wonder what team the Republicans are playing for. First, the Republican Party — minus a few prominent defections — was fully behind Roy Moore for Senate in Alabama. Even before credible allegations of child molestation came out, this is a man who has twice been removed from the bench in Alabama, believes the country was better during the days of slavery, and believes his interpretation of the Christian Bible supersedes the U.S. Constitution. Despite party backing, Moore lost in one of the most Republican states.

In the meantime, Trump and the GOP appear to be trying to dismantle the ability of government to work by either not filling positions (especially in the State Department), or nominating unqualified personnel as we saw again this week, or not letting those in place do their jobs. (Personally, I’d feel better if the Center for Disease Control findings were “science-based” or evidence-based.”)

The GOP has also wrangled its members so it now has the votes to pass sweeping tax “reform” that by all estimates benefits the rich at the expense of the poor and middle class. While maybe that doesn’t seem out of character for Republicans who have a tradition of being fiscal hawks. However, this bill will not cut the deficit or the debt, quite  the opposite adding $1 trillion to the latter. I’m not sure how traditional Republicans can say this is good for the country.

One thing that definitely is not good for the country is the way this week saw Congressional Republicans ramp up efforts to support Trump in killing investigations into Russian interference in the 2016 election. The Mueller investigation in particular, that has already resulted in two guilty pleas, has had Republicans trashing the FBI. Let that sink in. Republicans trashing the FBI.

The best possible outcome for the long-term health of our democracy is that Trump and his enablers actually are acting on behalf of Russia. Every other alternative is disheartening for the future of the United States.

So while you’re being nostalgic for the pre-Newt Gingrich days of partisanship, have an Army & Navy cocktail in honor of rivalry among teammates.

From Dr. Adam Elmegirab’s great new Book of Bitters, the Army & Navy is:

2 oz gin

.5 oz lemon juice

.25 oz orgeat syrup

2 dashes Dr. Adam’s Boker’s Bitters

Shake, strain into a chilled cocktail glass, lemon twist

Cheers!