A Moment of Truth in the Age of Lies

Truth

“The further a society drifts from the truth, the more it will hate those who speak it.” – George Orwell

Truth in America has been under assault for some time now, but in the past several months we have seen the fight become frenzied as the president of the United States tells his supporters not to believe what they see, only what he tells them.

Of course, lying politicians is not a new phenomenon. It is why we have the myth of George Washington chopping down the cherry tree, and Honest Abe. Where we find ourselves today, however, is the result of 30 years of sustained attack by those on the right, starting with the Republican Party.

Around the time of Newt Gingrich’s “Contract With America,” the GOP really began its effort toward a “permanent majority.”

The problem Republicans had in trying to create a permanent majority is that their ideas were not (are not) particularly popular. To overcome this existential flaw in achieving their goal, they set out on a two-pronged strategy of lies and rigging the structure of government and politics.

On the structural side, the effects of their efforts are clear, particularly when you look at their aggressive Gerrymandering that I have written about before. In 2016, for example, Republicans received a plurality of votes cast for Congress nationwide, 49.9%, but they received a greater share, 55.2%, of the seats. Democrats, as a result, won a smaller share of seats than they did votes: 44.8 percent of seats as compared to 47.3 percent of the votes.

Creating their world of alternative facts, while a long-term process, may have been easier. The Nixon “Southern Strategy” and Reagan and the Moral Majority were precursors to this effort. Building off of the Know Nothing movement-like racism and anti-immigrant sentiment (not just in the south), and the politicized evangelicals’ rejection of science (that they see as hostile to a literal reading of the Bible), the GOP set off a new anti-intellectual era.

This effort was aided by the end of the Fairness Doctrine, the rise of right-wing talk radio and especially the new Republican propaganda machine Fox News, and decades of attacks on the traditional “mainstream” media. Of course, the MSM itself was in a weaker position after Watergate, economically, with the corporatization of news outlets and in the “professionalization” of journalists leaving homogenous press pool to cover an increasingly diverse country. The digital age has not helped either.

By the time the Bush Administration had left the “reality-based community” behind, we were well on the path to Trump. We don’t yet know to what extent our Russian enemies were able to exploit this GOP strategy in 2016, but it certainly made their job easier.

But we are now at the point where the president regularly states provable lies. The president and congressional Republicans work against efforts of the FBI and the intelligence community to discover the truth about the 2016 election — actively seeking to ruin the careers of senior officials deemed in their way. And the GOP has reached the point of completing a takeover of the third branch of government, the court.

Republicans senators are trying to rush through the Supreme Court nomination of of Brett Kavanaugh by burying thousands of documents, of looking away from the potential he is compromised by whoever has paid his massive debts (they don’t want to know who), and is potentially a rapist. They want him on the Supreme Court to complete the coup and deliver the permanent Republican majority.

While the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing this week on the accusation of sexual assault by Dr. Christine Blasey Ford against Kavanaugh may turn out to be just another battle against truth by the GOP, it also holds the possibility of being a decisive turning point, perhaps exposing this last grasping effort by the GOP.

It feels like we are at a pivotal point in history. We are trying to run our country on such an accumulation of lies that it seems unsustainable. A long, long time ago, my evangelical mom used to say “the truth will always find you out.” Let’s hope so.

Start this week with The Truth cocktail. This very tasty bitter cocktail (yes, the bitter truth) comes via Frederic Yarm at the Cocktail Virgin.  The Truth is:

2 oz Punt e Mes
1/2 oz Cynar
1/2 oz Strega
2 dash Orange Bitters (Regan’s)

Stir with ice, strain into a cocktail coupe, and garnish with an orange twist.

Cheers!

 

Democracy Dies In Darkness

Paperwork

Republicans in the Senate appear to be taking the slogan of The Washington Post — Democracy Dies In Darkness — as a plan of action.

The unprecedented withholding of Supreme Court Justice nominee Brett Kavanaugh’s records is designed to ram through the choice of the unindicted co-conspirator president. Among the documents unavailable to Americans, and most of their representatives in the Congress, are the judges’ views on executive authority. Besides overturning Roe v Wade, Kavanaugh seems willing to allow his sponsor to pardon himself of his crimes.

Oh, and those documents may contain evidence that Kavanaugh has lied to Congress. I guess that would allow some future Congress to impeach Justice Kavanaugh, if future Congresses are allowed to exist.

The Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee are putting up an uncharacteristically stiff resistance and have aimed their fire (effectively?) at turning the two Senate Republican votes they need to stop the nomination. This has included releasing documents the GOP has decided to term Committee Classified.

As the Democrats say Bite Me to the GOP’s classification, tonight have a Just the Paperwork cocktail. This is another recipe from Sother Teague’s great new book I’m Just Here for the Drinks that I’m sure you all have bought by now. I’m not sure I was all that familiar with the scaffa cocktails before, always neat and unchilled. The Just the Paperwork is:

.5 oz water

2 dashes orange bitters

1 oz Cocchi Americano

1 oz cognac

1.5 oz Amaro Nonino

Build in a rocks glass, serve neat, garnish with an orange twist

Cheers!

An Offer He Can’t Refuse

Privilege

The dominoes are falling. Trump’s long-time fixer Michael Cohen has taken a plea deal and is headed to prison, while his former campaign chairman Paul Manafort has been found guilty in the first of his two trials.

Whether Cohen decides to cooperate with the Mueller investigation on his way to jail remains to be seen. But the Russia investigation is heating up, and both events today may play a role. We are 10 weeks from the midterm elections and today we have news that the same hackers indicted for attacking the 2016 election and linked to the Russian military have attacked conservative groups critical of Putin. The attack was stopped by Microsoft.

Everybody knows Cohen was knee deep in Trump’s dealings with Russia, so he could potentially shed light on any collusion/conspiracy. He did say about a month ago that he would put family and country first. Unlike Republicans in Congress, this former GOP finance co-chair may be able to put aside being partisan long enough to fight for democracy in the USA. So perhaps there is some patriotism in the extra from the Sopranos, or maybe it was something else.

Cohen’s plea comes only a week after a special master overseeing reams of paper and millions of electronic files removed from his office determined only a small fraction could be classed under attorney-client privilege. Perhaps he got an offer he couldn’t refuse.

Whatever it was, toast these developments tonight with an Attorney Privilege cocktail. From Imbibe Magazine, the Attorney Privilege is:

2 oz bourbon

.5 oz orgeat

2 dashes Angostura bitters

Stir over ice, strain into a chilled coupe, lemon twist garnish

While enjoying this Japanese Cocktail variant, I will also toast Michael Cohen for giving me reason to link to a bunch of Leonard Cohen videos.

Cheers!

 

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!

Space Madness!

Moonage

This has been quite a news filled week: elections; Manafort trial; new tariffs; swampy behavior by Cabinet officials; immigrations; racism; Nazis; Russians; the demise of our democracy; etc.

But it is Friday, so maybe it’s a little OK to allow ourselves to be distracted. This week gave us the Mother of All Distractions — Space Force!

Vice Colluder Pence made the announcement of a new military branch at the Pentagon, a Space Command. Problem is, this pointless distraction doesn’t even seem to realize that it already exists (in a more sensible manner). As @amvetssupport pointed out on Twitter:

The USAF Space Command has 38,000 members of the USAF working in the Command. They are in almost 90 bases throughout the world.

The Trump-Pence version was roundly mocked, according to the distraction plan. But while Space Madness has captured some attention, real patriots won’t succumb to the Killing Moon. We’ll pause a moment to laugh at their Moonage Daydream, and then get back to resisting until they take their stinking paws off our democracy.

So while you’re watching Spaceballs tonight, enjoy a Moonage Daydream cocktail. Via Gaz Regan’s 101 Best New Cocktails (2015), the Moonage Daydream is:

1.5 oz Zacapa 23 rum (El Dorado 12)

.75 oz Punt e Mes

.25 oz Luxardo Fernet (Fernet Branca)

3 dashes of Dr. Adam’s Aphrodite Bitters

Build over a large rock in an Old Fashioned glass, stir until cold and add orange twist garnish.

Happy Friday!

Cheers!

The Patriot Game

Americano

And now as I lie here, my body all holes 
I think of those traitors who bargained in souls 
And I wish that my rifle had given the same 
To those Quislings who sold out the patriot game.
— The Patriot Game, Irish rebel ballad by Dominic Behan

President∗ Trump met with his top national security advisors on Friday to discuss strategy around Russian interference in the upcoming November elections. Unfortunately, this meeting can’t even be called a dog and pony show, because at 30 minutes there was barely enough time for the dog.

Nothing came of the meeting, which was held two weeks after Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats said the warning lights are blinking red over Russian attacks on the election. It was also only one week after House Republicans voted against spending money to improve election security. Never mind that we have already learned Claire McCaskill was one of two Senators who were targeted by the Russian military for hacks similar to what occurred in 2016.

Of course, the election security meeting took place about 10 days after Trump proved in Helsinki that he is a Russian asset beholden to Putin. Still, are there no patriots left in the GOP?

As the rest of us prepare to do our duty in November to remove the quislings who sold us out, it is time for an Americano cocktail. Refreshing and low alcohol, it is what we need on this battle march to the election.

This classic is:

1.5 oz Campari

1.5 oz sweet vermouth

3 oz soda water

1 dash orange bitters (optional, I like it this way)

Build in a highball glass over ice, garnish with an orange twist.

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!