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!

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!

 

Dancing With Fox News Stars

Waltz

The battle between truth and lies, between news and propaganda, has reached a crucial and personal period for most Americans; the Holidays.

Beginning today and running for the next month or so, there will be much more time spent with family, particularly those who get the news and opinions from Fox. We are about to hit a spike in awkward conversations.

At a time when the GOP can’t even seem to disavow a child molester, there is some sign of rational Republicans, though. The Hill reported yesterday that Rep. Will Hurd (R-Texas) has called for more to be done to counter the Russian disinformation campaign now being waged against us.

But, as the holidays will remind us, there was a reason the Russian fake news effort was successful. (Yes, that’s why it is President Trump despite 3 million fewer votes. Well targeted effort in key states for EC win.) Timothy Egan noted it in the NY Times last week in his piece We’re With Stupid:

“But the problem is not the Russians — it’s us. We’re getting played because too many Americans are ill equipped to perform the basic functions of citizenship. If the point of the Russian campaign, aided domestically by right-wing media, was to get people to think there is no such thing as knowable truth, the bad guys have won.”

As you try to decide whether your uncle or father-in-law is on the side of supporting child molesters as long as they’re Republicans or is willing to question Russian interference with our election — doing the dance of family peace around the Thanksgiving dinner table — I suggest preparing with a Winter Waltz cocktail.

This warming seasonal drink should put a chill on the political discord. Via Punch, the Winter Waltz is:

2 oz rye

.5 oz ounce Averna

.25 oz St. Elizabeth Allspice Dram

2 dashes Dale DeGroff’s Pimento Bitters

Shake over ice (yes, shake, gives it a nice foaminess), strain into a chilled cocktail glass and garnish with star anise.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Cheers!

Return of the 20th Century

20th

The past week has seen headlines dominated by the KKK, Nazis and the threat of nuclear annihilation. Who knew that #Winning and Making America Great Again meant replaying all the worst bits of the previous century?

The U.S. entered WWI exactly 100 years ago, adding a chronological element to the possibility of the end of the American Century I wrote about here and here. At yesterday’s press conference Trump defended Nazis with his “Both Sidesism” comments and false equivalencies between monuments to Founding Fathers George Washington and Thomas Jefferson with those of traitorous scum Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson. Now other foreign leaders are speaking out and saying we must stand up to Nazis.

These Confederate statues themselves are primarily a part of the last century, and not from the more immediate post–Civil War days. The two big periods of monument construction in the early 1900s, at the time of Jim Crow laws and the formation of the KKK, and then again during the Civil Rights Movement were clearly a 20th Century phenomenon. Also, as the NY Times put it in an editorial, this is not just a Southern problem either:

“The president of the United States has unleashed a new generation of domestic terrorists. During the presidential campaign, and now from the seat of power in the White House, Mr. Trump’s talk of building a wall, his denigration of women, his ban on transgender soldiers and his circle of nationalist advisers embolden the very people who showed up in Charlottesville chanting, ‘Jews will not replace us.'”

These would be the “very fine people” Trump spoke of at the press conference that even the conservative Weekly Standard called a disgrace.

This hardly feels like the Shining City on a Hill that Ronald Reagan spoke of in his farewell address in January 1989.

Defeating Hitler was certainly one of those times when America stood as beacon to the world, so tell some Nazi punks to fuck off and have a Twentieth Century cocktail as we try to figure out how we’ll restore that vision when Trump is gone.

This classic via Ted Haigh in Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails is:

1.5 oz gin

.75 oz Cocchi Americano (or Lillet Blanc)

.5 oz creme de cacao

.75 oz lemon juice

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

Cheers!

The Madness of King Donald

Royalty

The Reign of Error hit its six month anniversary today, and in an interview with the NY Times, His Orangeness really lays bare what we are dealing with as a nation.

It is not so much that what Trump said was surprising as it was a confirmation of his cluelessness, his ignorance, and his deeply held belief that he has been anointed the absolute monarch of the U.S.

The Times interview is a must read, even if it is difficult to get past the periods of meaningless word salad gibberish to understand the amazingly un-American approach to the conduct of our government.

Trump’s misinformed conception that the head of the FBI is someone who is, or should be, directly reporting to the President was part of his whine that included the unfairness of Attorney General Jeff Sessions having to recuse himself from the Russia investigation (and the Russian Front has been very active this week).

The interview included elements of his astounding lack of knowledge on health care, saying insurance costs $12 per year, while threatening Senators that they must vote for the McConnell plan for Trumpcare or risk losing their seat (as though he were some two-bit gangster).

Meanwhile, the royal family nepotism runs deep, and was a primary source of the Russia investigation issues Trump had to deal with this week. During the Times interview, Trump even referenced the Don Jr. collusion meeting in Trump Tower last summer that likely caused the suicides of a few Trump communications people.

It has been 240 years since our Revolution to break free of an insane king, and it looks like that time has come around again. While we think about those things we’ll need to fix when the smoke clears, an American Royalty cocktail will help.

Taken from Kindred Cocktails, American Royalty is a variation on a Kir Royal, a bitter variant to match the bitterness the concept of American royalty should be to any true patriot.

1 oz Gran Classico

1 oz Creme de Violette

4 oz Champagne

Add the liqueurs to a flute, top with Champagne

Cheers!

Avenue to Impeachment

Avenue

Trump may not know where our aircraft carriers are headed, but the direction of his presidency is getting clearer every day: Impeachment.

As evidence of corruption and collusion with the Russians mounts, the real question is whether Republicans in Congress will find their patriotic spine and/or recognize the damage Trump is doing to their party to begin impeachment proceedings, or will it take the wave of Democrats elected in 2018.

Earlier this week in Slate, Harvard Constitutional Law Professor Noah Feldman defined high crimes and misdemeanors in laying out potential impeachment options for Congress. The options include public corruption in the ways Trump’s conflicts of interest are enriching him, abuse of power as he continues to threaten his opponents with power of the Presidency, and undermining the rule of law, most notably if the case is made for colluding with Russia to interfere with the election.

The corruption angle is difficult to keep up with since this is not an hourly blog. Despite contradicting the advise of our foreign policy officials, Trump congratulated Turkish President Erdogan on his (tainted by fraud) victory in a referendum weakening democracy and extending Erdogan’s power. I’m sure Trump’s business interests in Turkey had nothing to do with that.

In The Washington Post this week, Jennifer Rubin told us that Trump’s ethical squalor is worse than we thought:

On the financial side of the Trump sewer, matters are going from bad to worse. Trump never divested himself of his business holdings or released his tax returns. The extent of his conflicts of interest are therefore unknown. He has now amended the trust (showing how flimsy it is if it can be altered on a whim) to allow him to withdraw funds and to receive periodic briefings from his son Eric (who “can do that as chair of the trust’s advisory board, and told Forbes magazine last month that he plans to give his father big-picture financial briefings every quarter or so”). All this should underscore how ludicrous it is to claim separation between Trump and his business operations.

But the elephant in the room continues to be the questions about Trump’s collusion with Russia, and this week continued the drip-by-drip advance of the story. Further details of Trump advisor Carter Page and his ties to Russia that drew scrutiny from the FBI, the revitalization of the House Intelligence Committee investigation, and the big Reuters story on the Putin-linked group’s plan to sway the U.S. election.

This week also saw the professor who predicted Trump’s election publish a new book, The Case for Impeachment. Allan Lichtman, history professor at American University, is now predicting Trump will be impeached before his term is finished. One interesting point brought up in the Financial Times article on the book is:

Lichtman points out that Nixon faced impeachment for what was arguably the least important of his three big offences — the burglary of the Democratic offices in the Watergate complex. Even then, it was the cover-up, rather than the crime itself, that led to Nixon’s undoing.

Just last night, someone who knows a few things about Watergate, Carl Bernstein told a Trump advisor on CNN that “there’s an active cover-up going” with regard to the Russia investigation.

There is a lot more we need to learn, but as we look down the road toward Trump’s impeachment, we can raise an Avenue cocktail to the journey. This classic from the 1930s makes an appearance in Dr. Cocktail Ted Haigh’s book Vintage Cocktails and Forgotten Spirits. The recipe is:

1 oz Bourbon

1 oz Calvados

1 oz passionfruit juice (or nectar, I used syrup and cut the amount in half)

1 dash grenadine

1 dash orange flower water

Shake over ice, strain into a chilled cocktail glass

Cheers!