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!

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!

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!

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!

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!