MAGA? Nah, MACAA!

Hound

All eyes will soon be on the Senate Intelligence Committee and the testimony of ousted FBI Director James Comey. However, we must not overlook today’s testimony the Committee heard from several of the top intelligence officials in the administration.

On one hand, their refusal to answer questions should sound the alarm about what is going on. On the other hand, as conservative columnist Jennifer Rubin put it at The Washington Post, that refusal puts our intelligence officials in contempt of Congress.

“None of these witnesses invoked executive privilege or national security. They just didn’t want to answer,” she wrote. “This is nothing short of outrageous. …their behavior was contemptuous and frankly unprecedented.”

While these professionals knew exactly what they were doing (and I’ve heard cogent argument of how they were protecting the independence of foreign intelligence gathering), supporters of the administration seem likely to miss the significance. These self-proclaimed lovers of the Constitution have always been a bit fuzzy on the details, however.

Beyond the 2nd Amendment, the Gadsen-flag waving Tea Partiers would be hard pressed to describe any of the other 30 Constitutional Amendments (or even realize there are only 27). And, their 2nd Amendment Solutions™ have always been selectively applied.

The administration of George W. Bush spied on Americans and not only listened in on the calls home from our military stationed in Iraq and Afghanistan, but made jokes about those calls between our soldiers and their wives and sweethearts. Crickets from the NRA members, but when the black guy in the White House suggested improving health insurance, time to show up at protests with sidearms and semi-automatic weapons.

But I digress. Our problem today is that too many people lack a basic understanding of how our government works. That goes for Trump, who thinks he’s Don Corleone reincarnate, to the members of Congress who think they work for Trump.

This includes voters, as well. We just had a primary election in New Jersey yesterday and we heard again the usual complaints. Lamentations about the low voter turnout, anger over the lack of voting choices, and hand-wringing over the fate of our democracy. Too many people forget, however, that general elections are about democracy but primaries are about party organization. Back when most people identified with one of the two major parties, choosing the candidates for the general election was taken away from party bosses in smoke-filled back rooms and given to “rank-and-file” party members via primaries.

But today, lines are blurred. We’ve gone from those smoky rooms filled with party bosses giving us FDR and Ike, to primaries giving us presidents from Jimmy Carter to Trump. And now people who would refuse to declare themselves a party member want undue voice in deciding a party’s slate and direction. (Looking at you Bernie Bros.) If you want to change a party, either party, you have to get involved, convince people, build a slate and take over functions. It won’t happen by sitting back and waiting for an election.

As we’ve lost sight of the separation between primary and general elections, we have also overlooked the separation between the levels and branches of government.

Therefore, the hearings going on now will truly test whether our current crop of Congresscreatures understand they are a separate and co-equal branch of government. The future of our democracy may depend on this. Forget Trump’s MAGA slogan, we need MACAA, Make American Civics Accessible Again!

While we contemplate the educational effort ahead, and the need to keep Texas from determining the content of school books, to ensure basic knowledge of the workings of our democracy, have a Constitution Hound cocktail.

An appropriately bitter drink for our times, the recipe from Kindred Cocktails calls for:

1 oz rye

1 oz Campari

1 oz Fernet Branca

.5 oz Bigallet China-China

1 barspoon absinthe

3 dashes Peychaud’s Bitters

1 twist Grapefruit peel

Shake, strain, rocks, garnish

Cheers!

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!

 

Groundhog Day

earthen

Here we are again, Groundhog Day. By tradition, this is the day when a significant portion of the U.S. population believes in the long-range weather forecasting powers of omnivorous rodents. In 2017, Groundhog Day has the added attraction of our representatives in Washington, D.C., actively working to deny the forecasts of actual climate scientists from around the globe.

The last 24 hours have seen numerous reasons to reach for the liquor cabinet, from presidential phone calls pissing off the Australians and threatening an invasion to deal with bad hombres south of the border to presidential defense of the free speech of Nazis and threatening UC Berkeley over the violent protest that broke because of it. (For the record, I am in the pro Nazi punching camp.)

But today we saw Rex Tillerson begin his term as Secretary of State; an oilman with close ties to Russia who headed the oil company that worked to cover up research on the existence and danger of climate change in the name of profits.

In Congress, meanwhile, the Senate voted to remove the Stream Protection Rule opening the door to a return of coal mining pollution. New EPA chief nominee Scott Pruitt received committee approval for the post despite regularly suing the agency. And of course, scientists are being told not to release information on climate change.

Under these conditions, the drink for tonight is the Earthen Infusion. Despite the name, it has nothing to do with tracking runoff. Pulled from Kindred Cocktails, the drink is equal parts (.75 oz in this case) of Salers Gentiane, Campari, Cynar and Fernet-Branca.

The drink is herbaceous and bitter. It is not a strong drink, but what it lacks in alcohol it makes up for in bitterness. Just like the Earth is feeling now. This is a drink for the adventurous, those who know they like bitter drinks. Well worth it though. Just put the ingredients on ice, stir and strain.

Cheers!