A Moment’s Hesitation for the GOP

Hesitation

For a brief moment this morning it appeared Republicans might be growing a spine in response to Trump’s over-the-top racist comments about four Democratic House members. Trump himself even seemed to be walking things back by disavowing the “send her back” chant at his North Carolina rally.

Writing in The Washington Post, Greg Sargent’s article “New GOP Panic About Trump’s Racicism Reveals an Ugly Truth,” noting: “You can locate a zone of plausible deniability, in which one can claim support for such policies on pragmatic, economic or “cultural” grounds, and not out of any desire to make the United States whiter. It’s precisely this zone that Republicans now seek to inhabit.”

Even while this was happening, some GOPers had already been trying to twist the racism into some kind of Love it or Leave it approach. This now seems to be the official party line as Cheeto Mussolini himself has now come out and said “that while he’s president any criticism of the United States is unacceptable and they ‘can’t get away with’ it.

This of course stands a fundamental principle and value of the United States on its head; the right of free speech and the ability to criticize the government.

The Republican Party gave us a glimpse that maybe there is still a glimmer of GOP life in this Trump possessed shell of  a Party. Those racist attacks gave the GOP pause despite the infiltration of white supremecists. Now we’ll see if there are enough so-called Libertarian elements left in the Republican Party to push back on an assault on free speech.

There can be no impeachment of Trump without at least some portion of the GOP holding on to the principles they say they once believed in. As we wait to see if Trump’s latest outrage causes any hesitation in Republicans, or do they just keep going along, have a Hesitation cocktail. From an old blog post from Doug Ford (that I found via Kindred Cocktails), the Hesitation cocktail is:

2 oz Rittenhouse 100 Rye

1 oz Swedish Punsch (Kronan)

.25-.5 oz lemon juice

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

Cheers!

Demolition Man

Wreck

Trump and his GOP minions are once again working to end the Affordable Care Act. This continues to be one of the overriding goals of the Trump presidency. Since his installation as president, Trump has withdrawn from the Paris climate agreement and pulled out of the Iran nuclear agreement. This is all part of Trump’s attempt to erase the legacy of President Obama (in fact, it is now being reported that Trump did indeed scrap the Iran deal to spite Obama), but to say this is simply part of his white supremicist fantasy belittles his role in Putin’s grand vision to dismantle the post-World War II Order established by the U.S. and Western Europe. Trump’s attacks on NATO are well documented. But his TradeWars are aimed squarely at the economic order that was being formed 75 years ago right now. The Bretton Woods Agreement that laid the foundation for global economic cooperation was negotiated in July 1944 in New Hampshire.

Trump’s racism was on full display over the weekend, from telling several U.S. Congresswomen to go back where they came from, to his Deportation Force raids targeting overnight action against immigrant communities from Latin America. (I’m sure there are no people from Russia in Brooklyn who overstayed their visas.) These raids are much less about law enforcement than fear. Not that there was any doubt, but it must be abundantly clear even to the thickest skulled “journalist” trying to “understand” Trump supporters that MAGA is about the racism, not economic anxiety.

For a Republican who wants to “Make America Great Again” and has the economy on their mind, it would be hard not to look back at the Post-War period, when the U.S. was the economic engine of the Free World, and the rules governing the international economic order where largely prepared by America, as a Golden Age, but it’s precisely this order that Trump has taken a wrecking ball to. While Cheeto Mussolini separates families to fill his for-profit concentration camps with contracts held by his buddies and his unAmerican fixation on tariffs keeps new appliances like washers and dryers too expensive for most Americans, have a Home Wrecker Cocktail and make your plan to vote against Trump and everyone who supports him. Via Cocktail Virgin, the Home Wrecker is:

1 1/2 oz Old Overholt Rye
1/2 oz Punt e Mes
1/2 oz St. Germain
1/2 oz Lemon Juice

Shake with ice and strain into a cocktail glass.

Cheers

The Madness & Airpower of King George

PLANE

Trump’s big 4th of July Soviet style military parade turned out to be more Chernobyl than Red Square, melting down as the crowds stayed away and the torrential rains came. After his mail-order escort won the annual D.C. wet t-shirt contest Cheeto Mussolini got up behind his rain drenched bullet-proof shields to read his TelePrompTer and went full retard. Mostly the speech was labeled “inoffensive” as Vox put it with others providing similar characterizations. Slate credited the speech as “not a complete authoritarian nightmare.” But then Trump tried to give a history lesson that bizarrely noted how Americans took over the airports during the Revolutionary War. That produced some of the best Twitter memes in years as the snark got flowing. Trump has also been criticized for not following the standard Independence day script that ties the birth of the United States to immigration. Despite the heavy rains, Trump likely would have spontaneously combusted if he had to talk about America’s greatness deriving from being a nation of immigrants. Trump and his Republican enablers have been very good at projection for years, attributing every nefarious idea they have to democrats or their adversary du jour. I would not be surprised if Trump’s airport comment doesn’t stem from the reaction to his attempted immigrant ban when the Resistance took over the airports when he came to power.

Trumps inability to articulate ideas about the nature of America, let alone long accepted platitudes is just another exhibit in the case that Trump is not a real president. As a reminder that he is no more a real president than those Revolutionary War airports, I suggest a Paper Plane cocktail. Probably my favorite”new classic cocktail” created at Milk and Honey in NYC, via Sasha Petraske’s Regarding Cocktails the Paper Plane is:

.75 oz bourbon (Buffalo Trace)

.75 oz lemon juice

.75 oz Aperol

.75 oz Amaro Nonino

Shake and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

Cheers!

American Value

Treasure

Notwithstanding the inhumane detention of refugees at the southern border, or Trump’s Soviet-style military parade usurpation of Independence Day, perhaps one of the most unAmerican developments of this era has been the complete rejection of democracy by the Republican party.

As the oldest democracy in the world, how the U.S. conducted its democratic politics was once a model, and the standard against which other democracies were judged. But today, one party, the Republicans, are actively working against the operation of democracy by suppressing the vote. Adding a citizenship question to the census is just one tactic. Despite a court order to remove the question, Trump is now looking to reinstate it as part of the census, in just another show of his disregard for the rule of law. The court order against Trump’s desire comes even as Republicans do everything they can to remove independence from the Judiciary by picking judges to pack the courts with those synpathetic to GOP policies. One place that has worked for them is in their ability to keep picking their voters through Gerrymandering.

The ridiculously partisan Gerrymandering has damaged the structure of our democracy, to the point where votes cast in a legislative election can clearly give a majority to the democrats but Republicans still gain a majority of seats. In a show of force better than Trump’s military parade, both Mother Jones and The Washington Monthly profiled groups fighting back against the GOP Gerrymandering machine this week.

The undermining of our representative democracy is not new, and I have written about it here, here, and here. If we can rebuild representation in our government, then we can rebuild our democracy, restoring the value we once brought to the world. Removing the stain of Trump won’t be easy, but rebuilding our democratic institutions will help. On this Independence day, have a National Treasure cocktail and remember what we have always treasured as Americans (and it’s not tanks on parade). Via Frederic Yarm @cocktailvirgin the national Treasure is:

.75 oz Wild Turkey Rye Whiskey (Rittenhouse Bonded)
.5 oz Laird’s Bonded Apple Brandy
.5 oz Carpano Antica Sweet Vermouth (Martini Gran Lusso)
.5 oz Campari
,25 oz Cynar

Cheers!

Paper Chase

Paper Chase

In the current battle between Congress and Trump on the question of oversight, Trump just blinked.

It was reported earlier today that former White House personnel security director, Carl Kline, would answer questions for a Congressional investigation of security clearance issues next week. The White House has blocked, or said it would block, the appearance of administration officials before Congress since the Mueller Report became public, setting the stage for a (another) Constitutional crisis.

One key witness is former White House Counsel Don McGahn, who features in the Mueller Report around a potential charge of Obstruction of Justice. The Washington Post reported, when the report came out that McGahn’s “ubiquity in the report’s footnotes laid bare his extensive cooperation in chronicling the president’s actions,” prompting Trump to dispute McGahn’s assertions and talk of blocking his appearance before Congress. In particular, the Mueller Report points to Trump’s dislike of note taking, as the Post reported:

“Some of the report’s most derogatory scenes were attributed not only to the recollections of McGahn and other witnesses but also to the contemporaneous notes kept by several senior administration officials — the kind of paper trail that Trump has long sought to avoid leaving.”

Another part of the paper trail that is escalating the fight with Congress is the request for Trump’s tax returns. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin has refused to turn them over to Congress, as required by law, and the deadline has passed. This action (or inaction) could put Mnuchin in jail for 5 years.

On several fronts, Congress is now engaged in a paper chase with the administration, so join the pursuit with a Paper Chase cocktail. Via Kindred Cocktails, this is a very tasty riff on the Paper Trail cocktail I wrote about a year ago.

1.5 oz Bulleit Rye

1 oz Aperol

.75 oz Bonal Gentiane Quina

Stir with ice, strain onto a large cube and garnish with a lemon twist

Cheers!

The Mueller Aperitif

Premiere

Despite Attorney General Barr’s best impression of Kevin Bacon in Animal House today, all is not well in Trumplandia®.

Barr cannot move everyone along past the Mueller report because its contents — even redacted as they are — will not be easily dismissed.

As details of the investigation filter out, one thing above all is clear: the report is certainly not the end of the Trump/Russia matter. If it signifies the end of anything, it is the end of the beginning in getting to the bottom of what happened in 2016.

There are more questions today than there were yesterday. A key question has always been how so many Republicans could skip their patriotic duty and protect Trump. Some clarity is coming to that (looking at you Sen. Grassley) and bringing new questions.

The revelations of the report will spill out for a couple of days. Then the analyses and interpretations and speculation of what has been redacted will take center stage for a while. Then the hearings — Mueller, Cohen, others — will consume countless hours of air time (before, during and after the hearings).

Since we are just getting started, it is time for an apéritif. I suggest La Première from Rebekah Peppler’s book Apéritif. La Première is, according to Peppler, like taking the Italian aperitivo Americano and dropping it in the middle of France. Bonal replaces the Campari and Italian (sweet) vermouth is replaced by French (blanc, in this case) vermouth. It is:

1.5 oz Bonal

1.5 oz blanc vermouth

2 or 3 dashes of Angostura bitters (I used Orinoco bitters)

soda water

lemon peel

In an ice filled lowball glass, combine the Bonal, vermouth and bitters. Top with a splash of soda water, stir gently, finish with the lemon peel

Cheers!

King of the Trolls

Storm King

Nominating Herman Cain to the Federal Reserve Board is what you get when the president is the King of the Internet Trolls.

At this point, Trump has simply said he plans to nominate the certifiable nut-job former Republican presidential candidate Cain. Nevertheless, it has had the desired effect as a storm of distraction has blown up around the idea, displacing stories of leaks from the Mueller investigation team unhappy with Attorney General Barr’s summary of the report.

Is there anybody who still doubts that Trump is basically trolling America? Dominating news cycles is the only consistent policy objective he has. In addition to the Twitter bots, he can rely on the help of Congressional troll minions in the GOP — from the annoying likes of Jim Jordan, Matt Gaetz and Devin Nunes to the truly dangerous impacts of Mitch McConnell — to wear us all down with a flood of nonsense.

Because a good portion of that nonsense is damaging to the US and democracy in general, it gets harder and harder to stay focused on what is important. This may be why MSNBC ratings went down in the immediate wake of Barr’s letter on the Mueller report. Many of us saw it for the BS it was and were too weary to put up with all the pointless talk around it, knowing we’d get to where we are now with confirmation of the trolling.

To deal with Trump’s trolling and frequent tweet storms, sometimes you have to come in out of his Kingdom of Rain. To help dry off, have a Storm King cocktail.

The Storm King is a Rob Roy variant from Damon Boelte (Grand Army, Brooklyn). A good break from the political is also to listen to Damon and @CreativeDrink Sother Teague on Wednesdays for The Speakeasy podcast. The Storm King is:

2 oz Blended Scotch (Black Bottle, which I got from listening to The Speakeasy)

.5 oz Nocino (Nux Alpina)

.25 oz Bénédictine

3 dashes Angostura Bitters

Stir, strain into a chilled cocktail glass, cherry garnish

Cheers!

Working Around the Clock

Midnight Shift

The work to save our democracy and the rule of law in America from Donald Trump and his GOP enablers is not a 9 to 5 job.

The letter summarizing the Mueller investigation from Trump’s hand-picked Attorney General William Barr is a ridiculous whitewash of things we know and an overreach of his authority that is obvious without having seen the report. It is a reminder of all the invasive tentacles we’ll have to remove.

The anti-democratic, authoritarian forces — along with their gang of traitors, grifters and careerists — will not be defeated easily. Although we still need to see his report, the Mueller investigation has become — for this generation and this fight — the “it’ll be over by Christmas” mantra of the World War II era. But this is still the early days.

Clearly, the authoritarians are well dug in and better entrenched by the day. This battle has a long way to go, but for those of us in for the duration, perhaps more people will now realize the task ahead.

There is no Mueller silver bullet coming to save our democracy. The sleeping giant of the American people need to awaken again. It will take all three shifts working against the voter suppression, the Gerrymandering, and the propaganda machine to restore America. Mobilizing the vote needs to be our weapon of choice.

Before you punch the clock, have a Midnight Shift cocktail.

The drink is the creation of Jacob Grier that I got from an old 2012 post from Frederic Yarm. The Midnight Shift is:

1 1/2 oz Novo Fogo Gold Cachaça (I only had silver)
3/4 oz Cynar
3/4 oz Sweet Vermouth
1/4 oz Galliano
2 dash Mole Bitters
1 dash Absinthe

Stir with ice and strain into a rocks glass filled with fresh ice. Garnish with an orange twist and add a straw (although I skipped the straw).

Cheers!

He Went to Jared

Manhattan Transfer

It was not a good week for the Russian asset in the White House, and the Michael Cohen testimony to Congress was only one aspect of the walls closing in on Trump.

The NY Times broke the story that Trump overruled intelligence officials and ordered the security clearance for his son-in-law Jared Kushner. While there is nothing particularly unexpected or shocking in this news, it does prove — once again — that Trump lied.

House Oversight Committee Chairman Elijah E. Cummings (D-Md.) has already requested information related to granting Kushner a clearance as Congress moves to investigate the matter. Between his request that the Russians provide a secure backchannel communications avenue outside of the reach of U.S. intelligence agencies, to high debt levels (tied largely to overpaying for Manhattan real estate), the FBI and CIA had deemed Jared “unclearable.”

In today’s NY Times, Nicholas Kristof ties together a nice deal for solving Kushner‘s money problems, Saudi Arabia’s quest for a nuclear program and a company that wants to supply the Kingdom with reactors. It is so much more refreshing here now that the swamp has been drained.

By going to Jared, Democrats may be on to a more fruitful path that does not even need to involved the Mueller investigation. While debates rage around the ability to prosecute a sitting President and whether it is wise for the House to impeach Trump if it is unlikely the Senate will convict, there may be easier ways to attack the corruption of this administration.

Trumpworld presents a target-rich environment, and the past week offered several high priority targets of opportunity. The security clearance for Jared is one, but also the clearance for his wife, first daughter Ivanka, as well. Cohen’s testimony also provided another direction with Don Jr. and the Trump Organization. Federal prosecutors from the Southern District of New York are already on the case in several instances Cohen told the Committee, but his testimony also gave Congress a roadmap for further investigations and witnesses.

The unprecedented Presidency* of Trump sees an almost hourly progression of abnormal and illegal behavior (check the Weekly List from Amy Siskind), but shifting the focus to those around him could be a way to begin dismantling this regime. Whatever reasons Republicans have for defending Trump, those reasons may not carry over as easily to people like Jared and Don Jr.

As the investigations turn the spotlight on people around Trump, have a Manhattan Transfer cocktail. A Phil Ward creation I pulled from “Death & Co: Modern Cocktail Classics,” The Manhattan Transfer is:

1.5 oz Rittenhouse 100 Rye

1 oz dry vermouth

1 oz Ramazzotti

1 dash orange bitters

Stir over ice, strain into a coupe, no garnish

Cheers!

Slip Slidin’ Away

Slope

The Russian operative in the White House continues his efforts to destroy American democracy with the latest ploy being the National Emergency declaration.

Even while announcing the need for extraordinary means to secure the southern border from the menace in his head, he made clear how much of a non-emergency the situation is, daring anyone to try to put a check on powers he feels entitled to wield. Immediately, a number of sycophantic, and/or compromised, Senators pledged fealty to Emperor Orange I. And Trump may not be wrong about his Supreme Court Justice picks backing up his unConstitutional actions when it gets there (see: Muslim Ban).

For the GOP to not push back on this presidential power grab and the precedent it sets is just one more of the jaw-dropping, head-scratching, WTF?!? moments from Republicans in the past few years. Some of them do recognize the power this will give the next Democratic president to declare a national emergency on guns, health care, or climate change to get around a GOP Senate (whose control is so structurally baked in as to be near certain).

Of course, precedent setting and unprecedented is the hallmark of the unPresidented age we are living through. Trump has sent us speeding down so many slippery slopes that America would sweep any Winter Olympics medal count. Forget about making America great again, we will have our hands full just making America functional again. Restoring the rule of law alone will require many difficult steps back up those slippery slopes.

Trump is golfing his way through the National Emergency, ensconced on his own property in Florida, while the rule of law is slip sliding away. Time for a Slippery Slope cocktail.

The drink comes from Tona Palomino. I found the recipe via Kindred Cocktails while looking for new ways to use Cherry Heering. The Slippery Slope is:

2.5 oz rye

.75 oz Cherry Heering

.5 oz Cynar

Stir over ice, strain into a cocktail glass

Cheers!