Just a few weeks out from the election and the anxiety is intensifying. What direction will America be headed on November 7?
Polls go back and forth, including one today that says a low turnout could mean Republicans hold the House by one seat. Reports of GOP voter suppression activities are now a part of each news cycle. Voting systems across many states are so insecure that children have hacked them in minutes, and Congress has done nothing to strengthen our defenses while the Russians are up to their same tricks from the 2016 election.
It does seem the anti-Trump part of the country is more motivated to vote, and there are many people working to get out the vote in big numbers for Democrats. Still, the waiting for election day won’t be easy. This is particularly true as the propaganda from the right has been turned up to 11.
No matter, how the election goes, there will be a lot of work to do when it’s over. Whether it’s Congress getting back to normal oversight duties if Democrats win or potential reactions that might come as a result of interference or corruption, November 6 is more of a beginning than an end.
As we face the final three weeks to the midterm elections, now would be a good time for a Purgatory cocktail. Via Kindred Cocktails, the Purgatory is:
2.5 oz Rittenhouse Rye
.75 oz Bénédictine
.75 oz Green Chartreuse
Stir over ice, strain into a chilled coupe, lemon twist garnish
Donald Trump is fighting with a dead guy, and losing.
The death of Senator John McCain this past week set off the final spat between the patriotic ex-POW war hero twice defeated in his bids for the presidency, and the current president, a traitor who gained office with the help of Russia. While Trump plays games with flags at the White House, it is clear McCain prepared a brilliant parting shot from beyond the grave.
Beyond the fact that Trump is explicitly not invited to his funeral, McCain has asked George W. Bush and Barack Obama — the two men who thwarted his attempts at the White House — to speak. On Twitter, @Stonekettle put it best:
“McCain asked these men to eulogize him because he knew they would put aside any differences and take the high road, that they would speak to the nation and to the world about duty and service and sacrifice above self.
“And Trump would not.”
In a — what may or may not be — final dig at Trump, McCain has asked Russian dissident and Putin opponent Vladimir Kara-Murza to be a pallbearer. Kara-Murza has survived two poisoning attempts, both believed to have come from the Kremlin.
At this point you may be expecting a suggestion of a Last Word cocktail. However, in a nod to McCain’s chess master level of play to Trump’s checkers game, we need a good Last Word variant. I offer the Oh My Word cocktail.
The recipe comes from the fantastic new bookI’m Just Here for the Drinks by Sother Teague @CreativeDrunk. This is an absolutely beautiful book that is personal and accessible, filled with knowledge and wisdom that flows in an easy going style, like a great conversation across the bar. Oh, and a lot of very good recipes from one of the best in the business.
The Oh My Word cocktail is:
2 dashes of orange bitters
.75 oz Maraschino liqueur
.75 oz green Chartreuse
.75 Amaro Montenegro
.75 oz OldTom gin
Stir over ice, strain, serve up, no garnish
So as the band plays Danny Boy for McCain, raise your Oh My Word. And when the funeral is over, to avoid the Trump tantrum designed to regain attention, turn off the TV and curl up with I’m Just Here for the Drinks, cover to cover, this is one of the best cocktail books to come along.
News of another Trump campaign, Trump Tower, meeting for the purpose getting illegal (and shady) foreign assistance — this time from the Middle East — comes on the heels of the Senate Intelligence Committee report confirming that Russia interfered in the 2016 election in favor of Trump.
The New York Times is reporting emissaries from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates met with Donald Trump Jr and others three months before the election to discuss ways to help Trump win.
A few days ago the report from the Senate Intelligence Committee was released that backed up the intelligence community assessment that “The Russian effort was extensive, sophisticated, and ordered by President Putin himself for the purpose of helping Donald Trump and hurting Hillary Clinton.” The bipartisan report is at odds with the House Intelligence Committee Republicans who are working overtime to block any attempts to understand what happened during the election.
Also last week, Trump strangely came to the defense and sought to bolster Chinese telecom ZTE after it was sanctioned for the security threat it posed to America. Then we found out the Chinese government was giving $500 million to a Trump project in Singapore.
In fact, whether it’s Saudi Arabia, U.A.E., or Russia, Trump was (and is) willing to sell out the interests of the United States to advance his own interests, and it’s pretty transparent at this point.
As we learn more about this administration’s corrupt approach, have a Clear Intentions cocktail to wash away the swampiness.
This alleged ancient Chinese curse (more likely of European origin in the past century) seems fitting amid today’s turmoil. Between Trump pulling out of the Iran deal and Israeli rockets target Syria, I find lyrics from Warren Zevon’s song The Envoy playing in my head (Nuclear arms in the Middle East…).
On one hand, however, it is worth remembering that for all the geopolitical crises mentioned, Zevon released that song 36 years ago this summer and that was still five years before R.E.M. sung about the end of the world. The War Pigs aren’t new.
On the other hand, in the those other interesting times Donald Trump was not the U.S. President. Now we have entered a mad world where the insane becomes commonplace. For example, German Chancellor Angela Merkel today remarked that Europe can no longer count on the United States to protect it, but must take its destiny in its own hands.
As the evidence mounts daily (sometimes seemingly hourly) that Russia compromised the 2016 election, the President, and increasingly it appears the Republican Party, the world has come apart. Vice President Mike Pence and Congressional Republicans continue call for — and work toward — ending the Mueller investigation. Meanwhile, reports mount of the corrosion of bribes from Russian oligarchs and U.S. corporations funneled through Trump lawyer Michael Cohen that reveal the den of thieves running the government. For all Americans who truly put country first, this ain’t no party, this ain’t no disco, this ain’t no fooling around.
So, as we face the possibility that Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu may look to military actions to wag the dog and keep investigations at bay, we have to hope they don’t light the fuse that sets the world on fire. But following Monty Python’s advice to Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life, we have gin, so in these Burning Times then, have a Burning Times cocktail.
National Friendship Day isn’t until August, but this week gave us a much deeper look into the circle of Trump besties. The one that made the biggest news, of course, was finding out that Trump lawyer Michael Cohen also has Trump TV host Sean Hannity as a client.
It was known that Cohen “represented” not only Trump but also his fellow RNC fundraiser Elliott Broidy, and apparently performed similar services. Not entirely clear was what Cohen did for Hannity, but Hannity’s regular defense of Cohen and Trump was much more obvious than their relationship.
Actually, it seems other regular guests on Hannity’s show, also Trump connected lawyers, were doing work for Hannity as well.
Trump, we’ve learned, has a history of not treating his fixer Cohen very well. Now Trump may need him more than ever after the FBI obtained Cohen’s files in a raid, and the possibility Cohen will flip has Trump concerned.
Beyond the issue of who Trump’s personal attorney has been palling around with we saw more evidence of the Trump-Putin relationship on Sunday. Soon after Nikki Haley announced new sanctions on Russia over Syria, Trump called his BFF to tell him not to worry. Then Trump canceled the planned sanctions.
I’m looking forward to the book when this is all over so we can get a clear picture of how all these people are connected and who has what on whom. In the meantime, have an Old Pal cocktail.
The 2020 U.S. Census was in the news last week, raising the specter of Republican election rigging at a foundational level.
Former Attorney General Eric Holder summed it up well in an email to his anti-gerrymandering group, the NRDC:
“First: Trump’s pick to run the Census, Thomas Brunell, withdrew his nomination after it came out he is an inexperienced partisan who has defended racially gerrymandered districts and voter suppression. He even wrote a book called ‘Redistricting and Representation: Why Competitive Elections are Bad for America.’
“Second: Experts say the Census is woefully underfunded and short-staffed. The agency has had to cancel or narrow the scope of critical tests in the lead-up to the 2020 count.
“Third: Now the Trump administration is adding a controversial question about citizenship to the Census, which could result in the undercounting of many people, including immigrants.”
I have written about these issues of representation on several occasions, including here and here. The current issues with the Census, and the typical heavy hand of the Trump Administration coupled with its signature incompetence, is raising the profile of the problems to a much wider swath of Americans.
In fact, the history around why the number of members of the House of Representatives is based on the 1910 Census is covered in a terrific new piece by Ari Berman in Mother Jones. The article, “Hidden Figures: How Donald Trump Is Rigging the Census,” details efforts to sideline minority communities, especially immigrants.
Some former directors of the census worry Republicans could simply choose to disregard the 2020 count. There’s precedent for that, too.
Back in 1920, the census reported that for the first time, half the population lived in urban areas. Those results would have shifted 11 House seats to states with most of these new urban immigrants, who tended to vote Democratic. The Republican-controlled Congress recoiled. “It is not best for America that her councils be dominated by semicivilized foreign colonies in Boston, New York, and Chicago,” said Republican Rep. Edward Little of Kansas.
Congress refused to reapportion its seats using the 1920 census. Instead, it imposed drastic new quotas on immigration. It didn’t adopt a new electoral map until 1929.
There’s no indication Congress will ignore the results of the 2020 census. But (former Census Director Kenneth) Prewitt sees parallels between the Republican Congress of 1920 and the one today. “You could make a plausible argument that one party benefits from the current distribution of seats across the legislative bodies, and they can’t necessarily improve on the ratio they now have, so therefore why reapportion?” he says. “It’s unlikely, but not implausible.”
The 2010 Census held that 63 percent of the U.S. population lived in cities, but Congressional Republican majorities are not advocating issues important to an urban population. It is only getting worse (lack of public transit funding and roll back on emissions standards), and the new, more aggressive ICE approach on immigrants certainly point to lack of concern for cities in the GOP.
So tonight, have a Metropolitan cocktail. Via Philip Greene’s The Manhattan, the Metropolitan is:
.5 oz Pierre Ferrand 1840 Original Formula Cognac
1 oz sweet vermouth
3 dashes Angostura bitters
3 dashes gum syrup
Stir, strain into a chilled cocktail glass, garnish with a lemon twist.
The naming of John Bolton as Trump’s new National Security Advisor is a dark cloud over the White House. As the third sentence of Friday’s NY Timeseditorial says: “There are few people more likely than Mr. Bolton is to lead the country into war.”
Bolton’s penchant for warmongering comes at a time when Mueller’s Russia investigation is tightening the noose around Trump and porn star Stormy Daniels is set to reveal details of the affair Trump tried to keep secret. It is an extremely dangerous time and the risk of war as distraction is high.
In his first memoir about the events leading to WWII, “The Gathering Storm,” Winston Churchill called the Second World War a largely senseless but unavoidable conflict. Today we face the potential for catastrophic war that is both senseless and avoidable.
The revelation that hacker Guccifer 2.0 was a Russian intelligence agent points to Trump associate Roger Stone pretty clearly conspiring with Russia and WikiLeaks to win the 2016 election. As The Daily Beast put it:
Mueller is likely looking to see whether Stone or other members of the Trump campaign played a role in suggesting the timing of the release of the Podesta emails, which occurred on the same day as the release of the Access Hollywood tape in which Trump spoke in vulgar and disparaging ways about women. The release of the tape was a potentially campaign-ending event for Trump. Instead, that story competed for attention with the story of the Podesta emails.
While this news broke on Friday to start the weekend (another in which Trump is at his Mar-a-Lago property in Florida), the weekend is set to end with the 60 Minutes interview of Stormy Daniels.
After a $130,000 hush money payment just before the election, Daniels has fought the validity of a Non-Disclosure Agreement about the affair. Trump has tried a number of ways to keep this story from coming out, possibly including threats.
The Stormy Daniels story is only one of several recent accounts of sexual affairs by Trump to come to light, including one from ex-Playboy Playmate Karen McDougal. Trump’s reaction to all of this pressure on multiple fronts with few familiar faces in the White House left is hard to gauge, but his behavior has been a bit more unhinged than usual lately.
Now the man Washington Post columnist George Will calls the most dangerous man in America will be advised by the person Will calls the second-most dangerous American on April 9, when Bolton joins the Administration.
There is really only one cocktail to have this weekend, a Dark ‘n Stormy. This is Gosling’s Black Seal Rum’s signature drink, and one it has held a trademark on since 1988. I was out at the time I wrote this and used Cruzan Black Strap rum instead (making it not technically a Dark ‘n Stormy, but still tasty).
So breathe deep the gathering gloom, and grab your rum and ginger beer before the light fades from every room.
1.5 oz Gosling’s Black Seal Rum
4 oz Ginger Beer
Build on rocks in a highball glass, squeeze the lime and drop into the glass.