Going Bananas on Election Eve?

Worry

Going bananas with anticipation on this election eve?

It is quite understandable. Will patriotic Americans turn out to vote against the anti-democratic forces controlling our government? Will they vote in enough numbers to overcome all the Gerrymandering and voter suppression that has helped put this minority view in power?

Will the Russians interfere as much as they did in 2016? What happens if the election is widely seen as manipulated?

All of these worries will either be eased or exacerbated when the results come in tomorrow night.

So tonight, ease your mind with the Bourbon and bananas of the Years of Worry cocktail.

Via Kindred Cocktail, the Years of Worry is:

2 oz Bourbon (100 proof)

.75 Giffard Crème de Banane

.25 oz Cocchi Americano

1 dash Bittermens Xocolatl Mole bitters

Stir, strain into a rocks glass containing one large rock.

Cheers!

D-Day for Liberal Democracy

Liberal

You are about to embark upon the Great Crusade, toward which we have striven these many months. The eyes of the world are upon you. The hopes and prayers of liberty-loving people everywhere march with you…

…Good Luck! And let us all beseech the blessing of Almighty God upon this great and noble undertaking.

Dwight D. Eisenhower, Supreme Allied Commander, 6 June 1944

On 6 November 2018, liberal democracy may face its most important challenge since that day 74 years ago on the beaches of Normandy.

Yes, I know, I am not really prone to hyperbole. I have worked in politics and seen plenty of times how any given election was over exaggerated as the most important of a lifetime. But, when the president* calls for the illegal use of the military on American soil to stir up his voting base while also suggesting he can change the Constitution by Executive Order, all with the full support of his legislature-controlling party, then things really are different.

Additionally, it is not just an internal US thing, either. We know there has been Russian influence in our elections, as there was in the Brexit vote in the UK. And just last week we saw the right wing come to power in Brazil. The threat to democracy is more global than at any time since at least the end of the Cold War, if not the defeat of Nazi Germany.

This global trend was addressed the other day by Max Fisher in The New York Times where he suggested that the weaknesses and tensions inherent to liberal democracy itself can, in times of stress, pull it apart. He said:

When that happens, voters tend to reject that system in all but name and follow their most basic human instincts toward older styles of government: majoritarian, strong-fisted, us-versus-them rule.

We can see that here in the US, where Trump’s authoritarian tendencies are applauded by his base, and actual Nazis are running for office as Republicans. This is why Max Boot’s call to vote against all Republicans in The Washington Post the other day is so important.

I have actually been telling that to a number of relatives for some years now. At the risk of hyperbole, I have tried to explain how the GOP no longer represented conservative views, but had become enthralled to radical right wing thinking that had as its central tenet (if it had one at all) opposition to Democrats. Republicans had begun putting party before country well before Trump, which just made it easier for them to side with him.

As Max Boot put it: Vote for Democrats on Tuesday. For every office. Regardless of who they are. And I say that as a former Republican. Some Republicans in suburban districts may claim they aren’t for Trump. Don’t believe them. Whatever their private qualms, no Republicans have consistently held Trump to account. They are too scared that doing so will hurt their chances of reelection. If you’re as sick and tired as I am of being sick and tired about what’s going on, vote against all Republicans. Every single one. That’s the only message they will understand.

By doing this on Tuesday, America can once again take a leading role in saving liberal democracy, and we can turn the tide on the authoritarian forces darkening the globe. So tonight, the cocktail to have is The Liberal.

Via Dr. Cocktail Ted Haigh’s classic book Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails, The Liberal is:

.75 oz 100-proof Wild Turkey (Buffalo Trace)

.75 oz sweet vermouth (Carpano Antica)

3 dashes Torani Amer (Bigallet China-China)

1 generous dash orange bitters

Stir with ice and strain into a cocktail glass, garnish with a cocktail cherry.

Cheers!

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!

 

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!

 

Flying Too Close to the Sun

Plane

Another of Trump’s best people has resigned from the Administration. This time it was HHS Secretary Tom Price after revelations that he chartered private flights costing taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars.

As Rep. Adam Schiff snarked on Twitter, “Tom Price committed the one unpardonable sin in Trump’s world: Being rich, but not rich enough to own his own private jet.”

Actually, Trump had threatened Price’s job in July during the overly political speech to the Boy Scouts, saying that if Price couldn’t get the Obamacare repeal bill passed he’d fire him. This past week saw the latest repeal bill fail. Shot down in flames if you will.

Price’s excessive private plane charters has also brought a great deal of scrutiny to the travel habits of others in the Administration as well, with new discoveries making headlines frequently the past few days. The latest case of misuse of taxpayer dollars being attributed to the Veterans Affairs Secretary earlier today.

Of course, Trump is yet again spending the weekend at one of his golf courses, raising the already astronomical security costs and stretching the Secret Service to dangerously thin levels. The cost of Trump versus Price is like comparing an Air Force One 747 versus a paper airplane, but it just proves Trump remains King of the Grifters.

Since the rest of us won’t even be left with a paper airplane at this rate when Trump is done, may as well have a Paper Plane cocktail as we send Tom Price into the wild blue yonder.

Via Kara Newman’s excellent book Shake. Stir. Sip. the Paper Plane is:

.75 oz Bourbon

.75 oz Aperol

.75 oz Amaro Nonino

.75 oz lemon juice

Shake over ice, strain into a chilled coupe glass.

Cheers!

In Trump’s Shadow

Shadow

Trump is at his Bedminster, N.J., property on a “working” vacation while the White House undergoes some needed renovation.

Meanwhile, the decay in the Republican Party grows more visible as its fissures and crumbling façade splash across the news every day. As I wrote last week in Countdown To Extinction, Trump is the Elephant Gun that may well bring down the GOP. Republicans are now agreeing with Bill James, saying that Trump “invaded and took over the party.” What could the GOP possibly have done?

At the same time, Republicans in Congress are beginning to assert some independence such as the bill to reign in Trump’s ability to fire Bob Mueller. Even the chief architect of alternative facts, Kellyanne Conway, had to admit Trump’s approval ratings among Republicans, conservatives and Trump voters is down.

Now the NY Times is reporting that Republicans are looking ahead at the 2020 Presidential Election.

“President Trump’s first term is ostensibly just warming up, but luminaries in his own party have begun what amounts to a shadow campaign for 2020 — as if the current occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue weren’t involved.

“The would-be candidates are cultivating some of the party’s most prominent donors, courting conservative interest groups and carefully enhancing their profiles. Mr. Trump has given no indication that he will decline to seek a second term.

“But the sheer disarray surrounding this presidency — the intensifying investigation by the special counsel Robert S. Mueller III and the plain uncertainty about what Mr. Trump will do in the next week, let alone in the next election — have prompted Republican officeholders to take political steps unheard-of so soon into a new administration.”

The whole article is worth a look, and while you’re reading about the shadow campaign, enjoy a Shadow Dreaming cocktail. After all, amidst a deteriorating GOP, for these shadow candidates, Dreaming is Free.

Via Kindred Cocktails, the Shadow Dreaming cocktail is:

2 oz Bourbon

.5 oz Carpano Antica Forumla sweet vermouth

.25 oz Zucca

.25 oz Demerara Rum 151

1 dash aromatic bitters (I used Dr. Adam’s Orinoco Bitters)

5 drops Bitterman’s Xocolatl Mole Bitters (as a float)

Build All except Mole Bitters in a mixing glass, stir until diluted, strain into a chilled, stemmed glass, and garnish with 5 drops Mole Bitters.

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!