Unfit At Any Speed

Chaos Monkey

President* Trump is doubling down on one of the most bizarre weeks he’s had in office (King of Israel and The Chosen One being key moments). Today he is busy embarrassing America on the world stage at the G-7 meeting in France, being Putin’s errand boy arguing for Russia to be re-included in the meeting despite its being kicked out for invading Crimea. And he is trying to claim other world leaders are asking him, “Why the American media hates your country so much. Why are they rooting for it to fail?” But it’s probably just all the unborn chicken voices in his head.

Coming on the heels of Trump’s remarks on his trade war with China on Friday that sent markets into a tailspin, the Disruptor in Chief has been even more erratic than usual, prompting James Fallows to write a piece for The Atlantic called “If Trump were an Airline Pilot,” examining how if Trump were in any number of regular jobs of responsibility and exhibited his recent behavior he would likely be removed.

  • If an airline learned that a pilot was talking publicly about being “the Chosen One” or “the King of Israel” (or Scotland or whatever), the airline would be looking carefully into whether this person should be in the cockpit.
  • If a hospital had a senior surgeon behaving as Trump now does, other doctors and nurses would be talking with administrators and lawyers before giving that surgeon the scalpel again.
  • If a public company knew that a CEO was making costly strategic decisions on personal impulse or from personal vanity or slight, and was doing so more and more frequently, the board would be starting to act. (See: Uber, management history of.)
  • If a university, museum, or other public institution had a leader who routinely insulted large parts of its constituency—racial or religious minorities, immigrants or international allies, women—the board would be starting to act.
  • If the U.S. Navy knew that one of its commanders was routinely lying about important operational details, plus lashing out under criticism, plus talking in “Chosen One” terms, the Navy would not want that person in charge of, say, a nuclear-missile submarine.

Unfortunately for America, President Looney Tunes isn’t going anywhere because his Republican enablers in Congress clearly put party over country. Still, you have to wonder if it might sink in with Republicans that this force of destruction could endanger their own reelection prospects. Which also makes it curious why they wouldn’t just remove Trump (impeachment or 25th Amendment) and be just as happy or happier with a less erratic but even more Christian Right-wing President Pence.

While you sit back waiting for the next lunatic thing from Trump to emerge from the G-7 Summit this weekend, have a Chaos Monkey cocktail. Via Kindred Cocktails, the Chaos Monkey (named for the book about Silicon Valley) is:

2 oz Scotch, Monkey Shoulder

.5 oz Creme de banane

.25 oz Amaro Montengro

1 barspoon Amargo-Vallet, or substitute with a dash or two of Angostura bitters and a dash of demerara syrup

Lemon twist

Stir over ice, strain into an old fashioned glass with a large cube/sphere. Garnish with a lemon peel, expressed.

Cheers!

 

 

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!

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!

ImPeachMint Julep: The time has come

Julep

As the debate around impeaching Trump heats up, it is becoming clear even to a few Republicans what must be done as the president* engages in impeachable offenses on a daily basis.

The time has come, not only for impeachment but also an original Gin Bitters cocktail, in this case, a variation on the mint julep recipe found in the Joy of Mixology from Gary Regan. Here, for your drinking pleasure is the ImPeachMint Julep: muddle a couple of mint leaves with 1 oz of demerera syrup in a collins glass, add 1.5 oz bourbon, I used Old Forester 1920 Prohibition style 115 proof because the times call for strong medicine, add 1.5 oz peach liqueur. I also added .25 oz Branca Menta to enhance the mint and cut the sweetness. It is also a reminder to Cheeto Mussolini that impeachment is a better fate than the one his Italian Fascist mentor met. Lightly stir the ingredients and add crushed ice to the collins glass, then garnish with a few fresh mint sprigs.

Trump’s actions have dragged our democracy far from what it is supposed to be, and without holding him accountable through impeachment restoring the rule of law will only be that much more difficult.

Let the Hearings begin!

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!

Hunting (and Finding) Witches

Rye Witch

The Acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker would not answer questions from Congress today about whether he still considers the Mueller investigation to be a “witch hunt.”

Before Trump named the “Big Dick Toilet Salesman” (h/t @emptywheel) to the role that oversees Mueller’s efforts, Whitaker had echoed the witch hunt sentiments regularly spouted by Trumpists. While he may not own up to the words now, we can see that “Hot Tub Crime Machine” Whitaker (h/t @MollyJongFast) was just another attempt to disrupt and/or end the investigation.

Now that Democrats have control of the House of Representatives, real oversight can begin on the Trump administration and their swampy crime wave. Congressman Adam Schiff, Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee is also planning on looking beyond the administration to find those who have tried to interfere with Mueller (looking at you former chairman Nunes).

It will be interesting to see how the recent revelation from Jeff Bezos over the extortion attempt from Trump friend and National Enquirer owner David Pecker factors in to what Shiff is looking into. Some of Trump’s support in Congress seems a normal extension of the cliff Republicans have driven off. But, maybe he can uncover how others, like Senators Ted Cruz and Lindsey Graham, went from such big Trump opponents to orange-stained lapdogs.

The tendrils of the corruption in Washington have spread massively (reaching all the way to South Dakota where former GOP/NRA operative — and Russian spy Maria Butina’s boyfriend — Paul Erickson was just hit with 11 felony counts). At this point (and this stat is a couple weeks old now) there have been 199 Criminal Charges; 37 People/Entities Charged; including 6 High-level Trump Associates; 7 People have pled Guilty; 4 People Sentenced to Prison; 1 Convicted by a Jury.

Whitaker may have avoided talking about the witch hunt because his boss seems to be changing the talking point to “Presidential Harassment.” At this point finding witches in and around this presidency is like finding hay in a hay stack.

The way things are going, we are likely to hear about more witches being found any time now. While you wait, have a Rye Witch cocktail.

Created by Jim Meehan, the Rye Witch is a riff on an Improved Old Fashioned. I pulled the recipe from Talia Baiocchi’s great book Sherry. The Rye Witch is:

1 dash Fee Brothers orange bitters

1 dash Regan’s orange bitters

1 cube of Demerara sugar

2 oz Rittenhouse Rye

.25 oz Strega

.25 oz palo cortado sherry

Muddle the bitters and sugar in a mixing glass, add rye, Strega, sherry and ice, stir and strain into a chilled rocks glass, garnish with an orange twist. (Yes, not a rocks glass pictured. Needed to do dishes. Don’t judge.)

Cheers!

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!