Sun Stealer

Sun Stealer

During a brief window of time today, the vast majority of Americans will focus their attention on something other than Donald Trump. Never fear, though, Cheeto Mussolini has scheduled a nationally televised announcement about Afghanistan later to regain the spotlight.

The Total Solar Eclipse brings a wealth of metaphor today, from darkness spreading across the United States to my ISO-approved star-spangled solar eclipse glasses emblazoned with the logo American Eclipse 2017. The moon blotting out the sun is actually not the first time in the past seven months that Trump has not been the center of attention.

The brilliant Amy Siskind, who is chronicling all of the things that are changing under the Trump regime, has noted how the events in Charlottesville last week had sidelined Trump’s ability to control the headlines. Siskind tweeted:

“Starting Saturday in Charlottesville, for the first time in a long time, Trump lost the narrative. He is no longer driving the news cycle with his palace drama or North Korea or Venezuela or his random shiny coin for the day — the American people are driving the narrative. … This is not sustainable for him. … One of two things will happen next: he will continue to crumble under the weight of awakening by decent American people of what brought Trump into power (other than Russia). This is not our country. Or, he may throw a shinier coin — this prospect scares me — to distract again and take back the narrative.”

Of course, Trump tossed that shinier coin and stole back the narrative with his praise for the “very fine people” amongst the Nazis and white supremacists.

The onslaught of outrages from Trump is constantly eclipsing the previous offense. It has only been 13 days since Trump threatened North Korea with “fire and fury,” and 12 days since we learned that the FBI had raided the home of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort as part of Robert Mueller’s Russian election interference investigation.

As Trump heads to TV tonight in the wake of the eclipse, obscuring the planned Paul Ryan Town Hall meeting on CNN, it’s time for the very appropriate Sun Stealer cocktail. The only real question now is, how’s it going to end.

Via Kindred Cocktail, the Sun Stealer is:

2 oz gin

.75 oz Punt e Mes

.25 oz Creme de Cacao

.25 oz Fernet Branca

1 dash orange bitters

lemon twist as garnish

Stir over ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass, garnish.

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 Day After

Dawn

The day after Cheeto Mussolini rekindled for Cold War survivors the existential dread of nuclear annihilation, we’re still here.

During a briefing the other day, Trump made his remarks about how North Korea would be met with “fire and fury…the likes of which the world has never seen before” if they continue to threaten the U.S.

For all of his live tweeting of Fox News, the “fire and fury” comment seems to suggest Trump spends time on HBO as well. It’s just not yet clear whether he was all aped up over the Game of Thrones Dragon Battle scene, or he was watching reruns of the Wire and grabbed the line from the Blind Boys of Alabama.

To distract from the tightening noose of the Mueller Russia investigation (and the revelation that the FBI raided former aide Paul Manafort’s home), Trump is poking at the historically unstable Kim Jong Un and the North Korean regime.

If there’s any silver lining it’s that he is not more subtle and clever in creating the Reichstag fire he needs.

Trump’s aides were trying to downplay his remarks – Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said, “I think Americans should sleep well at night, have no concerns about this particular rhetoric of the last few days.” Nevertheless, president little hands was touting his big arsenal again this morning.

At least the sun did come up again for humanity today, so celebrate with a Golden Dawn cocktail. According to Dr. Cocktail Ted Haigh, the drink was named for the 1930 film adaptation of a Rogers and Hammerstein operetta. As Haigh put it:

“This was one spectacularly bad movie, replete with a singing Noah Beery in blackface, songs with titles like ‘My Bwana’ and ‘Hymn to Domestic Violence,’ in an all-singing two-strip Technicolor musical about prisoners of war in colonial Africa.”

Seems appropriate, and of course the more modern connotation with the Greek ultranationalist neo-Nazi party, which also seems to fit with the Trump effect.

From Haigh’s Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails the Golden Dawn is:

.75 oz Calvados (or apple jack)

.75 oz dry gin

.75 oz apricot brandy (or liqueur)

.75 oz orange juice

Shake vigorously over ice, strain into a chilled cocktail glass, garnish with a stemless cherry dropped into the glass and dribble a little pomegranate grenadine through the drink.

Cheers to another morning!

 

 

Permanent Vacation

Final Voyage

We have arrived at the first Friday in August, a high point for summer vacations. While many of us may dream of not coming back, we all might be better off if three items in the news today remained on permanent vacation.

The first has to do with the repeal of Obamacare. As Paul Krugman wrote today in the NY Times, it seems for now that the ACA is here to stay. That’s because it has made things better for people generally. What needs to go away is the BS behind the attempts to defeat it. From Krugman:

“What was Obamacare rage about?

“Much of it was orchestrated by pressure groups like Freedom Works, and it’s a good guess that some of the ‘ordinary citizens’ who appeared at town halls were actually right-wing activists. Still, there was plenty of genuine popular rage, stoked by misinformation and outright lies from the usual suspects: Fox News, talk radio and so on. For example, around 40 percent of the public believed that Obamacare would create ‘death panels’ depriving senior citizens of care.

“The question then becomes why so many people believed these lies. The answer, I believe, comes down to a combination of identity politics and affinity fraud.”

As Krugman pointed out, people are backing ACA today because truth eventually prevails. But let’s hope that our experiences of the past several years are making us better at spotting this type of propaganda, and we can use the defense of Obamacare as the going away party for fake news and faux outrage over nonsense like “death panels.”

Another item comes via Dana Milbank in his column “There’s no such thing as the Trump Democrat” in The Washington Post. Discussing a new analysis from the AFL-CIO, Milbank points out:

“The number of Obama-to-Trump voters turns out to be smaller than thought. And those Obama voters who did switch to Trump were largely Republican voters to start with. The aberration wasn’t their votes for Trump but their votes for Obama. 

“It follows for Democrats that most of these Obama-Trump voters aren’t going to be persuaded to vote Democratic in future; the party would do better to go after disaffected Democrats who didn’t vote in 2016 or who voted for third parties.”

For all of the flaws of Bernie Sanders as a person/candidate, many of his ideas sparked genuine energy among people who are a natural part of the Democratic Party base. As FDR did appropriating a number of Eugene Debs’ Socialist Party ideas to create the New Deal and build a lasting Democratic coalition, today’s Dems would be better off incorporating popular Sanders’ ideas than they would backing Pro-Life candidates in hopes of attracting Trump voters.

Hopefully this new AFL-CIO report will let us wave goodbye to faulty analysis that hurt the chances of pushing back against a regressive GOP, a party that already enjoys structural advantages making it difficult for Democrats.

Of course the biggest news was the start of a 17-day vacation for Cheeto Mussolini. It has been feeling like it’s the end of the world for both the Resistance and Trump (especially with Mueller’s Grand Jury news), but the next few weeks are unlikely to be restful.

Lazy is the word of the day when it comes to Trump. GQ is out with a story headlined “Laziest President in American History Departs for 17-Day Golf Resort Vacation.” While Newsweek is making its own headlines with its cover story coming out referring to Trump as “Lazy Boy.”

So as we wish his Orangeness bon voyage in his travels to exotic New Jersey, we can sip the very tasty Final Voyage cocktail in hopes he decides not to come back when vacation is over.

This terrific variation on a Last Word cocktail from Cocktail Virgin is:

3/4 oz Smith & Cross Rum
3/4 oz Rothman & Winter Apriot Liqueur
3/4 oz Green Chartreuse
3/4 oz Lime Juice

Shake with ice and strain into a cocktail glass

Cheers!

Countdown to Extinction

El Gun

The past week has been the worst week for Republicans since the election of Donald Trump. The amount of GOP infighting, whether between the White House and Congress, within the White House, or within the Senate, is clear evidence party discord is boiling over.

The dysfunction and chaos of the Trump administration, combined with Republican majorities in both the House and the Senate, has rapidly metastasized a cancer that has been growing in the GOP for decades. Whether this cancer turns out to be terminal is not yet clear, but many Republicans are certainly growing concerned.

His Royal Orangeness was faced with more defiance from his own party in the past several days than he has seen since the most contested point of the Primaries. From Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who Trump would like to get rid of because he has recused himself from the Russia investigation but won’t resign (and was sent to El Salvador as potential target practice for the MS-13 gang); to Alaskan Senator Lisa Murkowski’s refusal to give in to attempted mafia intimidation from Trump capos; to the refusal of military leaders to take orders via tweet when it comes to personnel matters; Cheeto Mussolini has had a lot of middle fingers raised in his direction.

New revelations on the Russia story and dismissal of the Mooch notwithstanding, the biggest event in a week full of major news stories was the Senate healthcare vote. Arizona Senator John McCain joined with Murkowski, Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, and all Senate Democrats to spectacularly put an end to the current round of attempts to kill Obamacare revealing fissures within the GOP.

That the healthcare vote even got that close to passage is an example of how far from the norms of governing the Republicans have gotten. This wasn’t about policy, it was about making a point (and perhaps giving donors a tax cut). The proposals were crafted in secret, outside of regular procedure, and what was known was immensely unpopular. Republican voters were not in favor of the proposals, and neither were many elected Republicans outside of Washington, D.C.

Being this far out of line from normal governing process was easier for Republicans when they could simply throw bombs without being in power, staging meaningless votes they knew would not become law.

The GOP now, however, controls the government. They cannot hide behind symbolic votes. Snarky comments that put the libtards in their place are no substitute for policy. They are learning (or not) that slogans are not ideas. Now they risk alienating their electoral support, both from their base and from swing voters. They definitely fear that their inability to fulfill the “repeal and replace” slogan will cost them with the base, while those swing voters more interested in effective governance than slogans have no reason to back them (and a growing number of reasons to oppose them).

Power for Republicans was gained by structural advantages, such as gerrymandering and voter suppression efforts, not through the strength of their ideas/slogans. A look at how vote tallies for President and Congress have come out points to this structural advantage. Clinton got 3 million more votes than Trump while Congressional voting saw the GOP get 50% of the vote but 55% of the seats last year.

However, the disaster of Trump combined with GOP toxicity and recent court rulings on gerrymandering and vote suppression could hold the potential to negate those structural advantages.

Although today’s incarnation of the Republican Party (not Teddy Roosevelt’s) stands in opposition to most conservation and environmental concerns, it may soon find itself on the Endangered Species list. From now until the midterm elections, the Republican soundtrack should be Megadeth’s album “Countdown to Extinction.” The track list is their Symphony of Destruction.

Republicans have been focused on an unsustainably shrinking portion of the population for some years. But instead of death by demographics, Trump may be the weapon that brings down the GOP. While pondering this extinction level event, best to have an Elephant Gun cocktail.

Via Kindred Cocktails, the Elephant Gun is a simple, but tasty drink:

2 oz Demerara Rum (recipe calls for El Dorado 15, I used the 12 year old)

2 dashes Bitterman’s Xocolatl Bitters

1 rinse Creme de Cacao

Stir the rum and bitters over ice, strain into the Creme de Cacao rinsed glass over a rock.

Cheers!

Better Left Dead

Reviver

Senate Republicans narrowly squeaked out enough votes to begin debating their plans to repeal Obamacare, even though there is no bill yet.

The only things that seem consistent with GOP ideas for “Repealing and Replacing” Obamacare is that tens of millions of Americans will lose their health insurance, that pre-existing conditions may well be uncovered again, and that basically this benefits no one but members of Congress and their ultra-rich donors.

Yet somehow this keeps coming back to life. While that may suggest the appropriate drink is a Zombie, I have two issues with that.

First, that would be a lot of Rum for a Tuesday night. Second, with a Zombie you pretty much know what you’re getting, but we have no idea what this healthcare reform might look like as it is being done in secret by a handful white male Republican Senators with no public hearings.

Therefore, I propose tonight is a night for a Corpse Reviver #2 cocktail. For one thing, you never know what will happen once the corpse is revived (Could have the brain of Abby Normal). This classic cocktail is also an eye opener, and we certainly need that right now.

You’ll often see it made with Lillet Blanc, but I really prefer using Cocchi Americano and believe it is closer to the original from the days of the 1930 Savoy Cocktail Book.

.75 oz gin

.75 oz Cocchi Americano

.75 oz Cointreau

.75 oz lemon juice

scant barspoon Absinthe

Shake vigorously over ice and strain into a chilled coupe.

This is one of my all-time favorite classic cocktails, enjoy!

Cheers!

This Is Fine…

Dandy

Things have become a little creaky six months into the Reign of Error. Cries of “Fake News” on Russia have evolved into inquiries about Presidential pardon authority.

The first six months has also seen more disarray on the personnel front than perhaps any Administration in history. Despite claims of Democratic obstruction, of the 210 seats requiring Senate confirmation, 33 have been confirmed, 58 have been nominated, 5 more have been announced but not formally nominated, and Trump has yet to take any action on the remaining 114 seats. This is in addition to losses of people from his first National Security Advisor Michael Flynn to his spokesman Sean Spicer the other day.

Spicer’s leaving came as a result of Trump naming the slick Wall Street huckster Anthony Scaramucci as White House communications director. Things did not start all too well for the Mooch. From being fully transparent about being less transparent and removing old tweets (or at least thinking he could remove old tweets) to muddled messages about the Russia investigation, it was just another weekend in the slow motion train wreck that is the U.S. right now.

Meanwhile, dealings with Congress aren’t going much better. From immigration, to health care, to infrastructure, to the Russia probe, The Washington Post headline today summed things up well saying “Republicans are in full control of government – but losing control of their party.”

“Frustrated lawmakers are increasingly sounding off at a White House awash in turmoil and struggling to accomplish its legislative goals. President Trump is scolding Republican senators over health care and even threatening electoral retribution. Congressional leaders are losing the confidence of their rank and file.”

This mess can’t all be laid at Trump’s feet. Republicans have lacked any cohesive, workable plans that they can build anything resembling consensus around for a long time, other than attention-grabbing soundbites for an out-of-power party.

Trump just amplifies the more general problems of the GOP. In an excellent Twitter thread, NYU journalism professor Jay Rosen took an in-depth look at the recent Trump New York Times interview and the way it breaks down the premises on which such interviews are historically built.

“It’s more than incoherence, it’s the obliteration of sense,” Rosen wrote. You don’t get a sense that he’s explaining what existed prior to its being asked about in the interview— or that it will persist after.

“Reading the transcript, you see desperation everywhere: a hunger for validation, a dim rage to appear before the judges of appearance.”

Oscar Wilde is reported to have said, “there is only one thing in the world worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about.”

This has been a guiding idea for Trump, perhaps forever (or at least since he was calling in to the NY Post posing as his fake publicist). Trump may not be a dedicated follower of fashion in the way Wilde was something of the pre-eminent Dandy of his day, but in the late 19th Century Dandyism was partly defined as a style marked by artificiality. As a grifter looking to enrich himself while paying lip service to blue collar Americans, Trump fits the definition.

So while we watch flames kick up around Trump and the GOP, enjoy a Dandy Cocktail. Taken from Kara Newman’s excellent book “Shake, Stir, Sip,” though the drink dates back much longer and was in the Savoy Cocktail Book, it is:

1.5 oz rye

1.5 oz sweet vermouth (I went with Cocchi Rosa in this case)

3 dashes of orange liqueur (Cointreau here)

1 dash Angostura bitters

1 lemon and 1 orange twist

Stir over ice and strain into a chilled coupe, express the citrus oils and use the peels of each as garnish.

Cheers!