Leaks to Drain the Swamp

Bijou

We have struck a rich vein of leak gems.

From DO NOT CONGRATULATE to news of McCabe being fired by Jeff Sessions over “Lack of Candor” after he authorized a criminal investigation of Sessions for “lack of Candor” in his Congressional testimony, the leaks are flowing like a river.

Administration sources are fighting back against the corruption of this administration (or their enemies within it anyway) by staying in constant conversation with reporters.

Of course the news isn’t all coming from Washington. The whistleblower who broke the news of Facebook’s privacy and fake news “difficulties” (and the undercover sting on Cambridge Analytica) are helping to make 2016 a little clearer.

And, of course, with the mounting court cases against Trump heading toward the discovery phase, the flow of information is only going to get stronger. Stormy days ahead for Trump.

As these jewels of knowledge fall too fast to pick them all up, relax and treat yourself to a Bijou cocktail. A classic that first appeared in Harry Johnson’s 1900 edition of the Bartenders Manual, I took the recipe from Amanda Schuster’s excellent book New York CocktailsThe Bijou (French for jewel) is:

1.5 oz gin (Plymouth in this case)

.75 oz sweet vermouth

.75 oz green Chartreuse

1 dash orange bitters

Stir, strain into a chilled coupe, garnish with lemon peel or brandied cherry.

Cheers!

 

News Dump Bittersweetness

Symphony

It’s Friday evening, do you know where your Special Counsel is?

The last several days have been an onslaught of news. From gun control to trade wars to scandalous cabinet secretaries to Jared Kushner losing his security clearance and using his position as Trump son-in-law/Senior Advisor to secure massive loans to his family business, the past week has felt like months worth of major stories.

Even when you get outside of the White House, our institutions of government have run amok. The House Intelligence Committee is leaking texts of Senators for partisan gain. The end game of Mitch McConnell’s Senate obstruction is soon to play out in the Supreme Court with a union-busting case. Collective bargaining for public unions is hanging by a prayer.

We are definitely living the curse of interesting times. If Trump is draining the swamp, then we’re all in the sewer it’s running through.

Of course, some of this overwhelming pace of breaking news is not the kind that Trump wants to hear, either. Robert Mueller is tightening the noose around the Trump campaign and it ties to Russian election interference. Trump may have lost Hope (Hicks), but Mueller gives hope to the rest of us.

Whatever the news tonight, good or bad, it is sad we are even here. So while we wait, have a Bittersweet Symphony cocktail, put on some redemption songs, and think about how we might recover some of what we’re losing.

From Gaz Regan’s great book The Negroni, the Bittersweet Symphony is a tasty Negroni variation:

1.5 oz London dry gin

.75 oz Punt e Mes

.75 oz Aperol

Stir, strain into a chilled cocktail glass, lemon twist.

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!

 

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!

Electoral Hanky-Panky

Hanky

It has been known for some time that the 2016 election was the target of questionable and underhanded activity brought on by Russian intelligence services. Our Intelligence Community has been telling us this for a year.

However, the past week saw the picture around this interference get clearer. On Monday came indictments of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and his aide. But the more surprising news of the day was that former campaign foreign policy advisor George Papadopoulos had pleaded guilty to lying about contacts with Russia (and was cooperating with Mueller).

The week ended with the NY Times revelation that another Trump campaign foreign policy advisor, Carter Page, has told Congressional investigators that he met with Russian officials. This is contrary to many denials he has made to the media.

In between, it became clear that Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions were in a meeting when Papadopoulos talked about setting a meeting between Trump and Putin. This has a number of Senators questioning the truthfulness of comments Sessions made under oath.

Congress also heard from attorneys for Facebook, Twitter, and Google this week about the use of their platforms for Russian-linked groups to run very targeted campaign ads. This meeting did not leave members of Congress feeling very confident about what did happen in the election, or what might again in future elections.

Business Insider also revealed that Russian hacker Guccifer 2.0 had altered hacked DNC emails before making them public. The timeline of Guccifer’s appearance on the scene has an interesting correlation with things we are learning about the Trump campaign and its contacts with Russia. It has been noted online today (not completely confirmed yet) that Guccifer’s Twitter account began on June 9, 2016. That was the day of the Trump Jr, Kushner, and Manafort meeting with Russians in Trump tower. Either way, the first comment on DNC hack from Guccifer was June 15.

The jigsaw puzzle Mueller is working on began to take some shape this week. There was clearly some hanky-panky between Trump’s people and the Russians last year. While we wait for more pieces of the puzzle to get filled in, sit back with a Hanky-Panky cocktail.

This classic from the Savoy Cocktail Book has gotten a nice update in the fantastic new Meehan’s Bartender Manual by Jim Meehan. Using Meehan’s recipe, the Hanky-Panky is:

2 oz Tanqueray gin

1.5 oz Cocchi vermouth di Torino

.25 oz Fernet-Branca

Stir with ice, then strain into a chilled coupe. Garnish with an orange twist.

Cheers!

Incompetent v. Indifferent

Heart

As we approach 10 days after Hurricane Maria made landfall in Puerto Rico as a major Category 4 storm, the federal response to the suffering of 3.5 million American citizens has been woefully inadequate.

The devastation is almost unimaginable, with the electrical grid gone across the whole island with no prospect of repairs for months to years, and nearly 2 million people without drinking water. During these 10 days, President Trump has spent two weekends at his golf resorts. The Washington Post reports the first weekend, a Lost Weekend, hampered efforts to provide relief for Puerto Rico.

This past week, Trump then blamed relief efforts on the fact that Puerto Rico is an island. “This is an island, surrounded by water. Big water. Ocean water,” Trump said.

This weekend, again from his golf course in New Jersey, Trump lashed out at Puerto Rican officials, particularly the mayor of San Juan, in a series of early morning tweets. Apparently her desperate pleas for help did not come with enough Hail to the Chief.

While some have called Maria Trump’s Katrina, CNN said it is much worse. I am not a fan of trying to refurbish the image of George W. Bush. However, Katrina showed the Bush Administration to not be very good at handling a crisis, but their incompetence did not suggest the level of uncaring we see today.

While the “big water” comment proves Trump is in search of a brain as much as Bush was, it would certainly help now if he at least had a heart. Since the wizard isn’t likely to bestow one on Trump any time soon, in the meantime we can drink a Have A Heart cocktail.

This classic from Dr. Cocktail Ted Haigh’s Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails book is:

1.5 oz gin

.75 oz Swedish Punsch

.75 oz lime juice

.25 oz grenadine

Cheers!