Weekly News Roundup & Liar’s Cocktail

One Drink: Harvard, Free Speech, and Private Institutions

This week, Harvard revoked the admissions of ten incoming members of the class of 2021 after admissions officials discovered the group had shared racist and sexually explicit Facebook messages, and the right wing media went crazy over perceived censorship at the liberal universities.

The core issue is free speech on campus, and whether or not universities are censoring dissenting views in a march toward imposed liberal orthodoxy. People have written volumes about this debate, but, at least in this instance, I don’t understand the volume of outrage here. Listen, Harvard is a private, albeit influential, institution, and they’re free to run their admissions however they like within the law. If their actions violate terms attached to federal funds, the funds can be revoked. But otherwise they’re free to make their own policies– it’s their reputation to lose. Government should not be intervening in how private educational institutions, left or right, admit students. If Harvard wants to damage its standing by being perceived as an institution that mandates conformity of thought, that’s their problem, and if you don’t like it, then don’t go to Harvard. Most people can’t get in anyway.

Two Drinks: The Comey Hearing

Oh, the Comey hearings. What, at various points during the week, was described as the Superbowl of American politics, a live-Tweeting extravaganza, a drinking game, the potential end of the Trump administration, and a non-event, turned out to be more of the latter. Trump comes out of the testimony looking like a mob boss, a bad leader, and incompetent, but that’s not new. The biggest loser from Thursday’s hearings was Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who Comey said had been a person of interest from the beginning.

Yet Democrats are painting this as a victory (hint: It’s not), and Republicans are saying Comey cleared Trump (hint: he didn’t), emphasizing the gap between how both sides are looking at two very different issues; whether Trump personally was complicit in some as-yet-undetermined misconduct versus finding out the extent of Russian interference in the election and who from Trump’s team knew what, when.

This story is not over yet, as investigations continue in the House and Senate. Although, between going after former Attorney General Loretta Lynch, the unmasking of Americans’ identities in intelligence reports under the Obama administration, and Hillary Clinton’s emails, what exactly these committees are investigating is unclear. The investigation also continues at the FBI under Robert Mueller, an investigation Comey emphasized would not be affected by his firing. So all this media circus has done is to further cement the partisan politics that have ground Washington to a halt. Where are the centrists? There’s enough absurdity here to want all of these people out, Republicans and Democrats.

Red Drink: It’s Infrastructure Week, Y’all!

While the Senate was bogged down preparing for the Comey hearing and the House was busy passing a bill to repeal Dodd Frank regulations (spoiler alert: like the health care bill, it just sent a draft to the Senate, which is working on a totally different Dodd Frank overhaul), the White House was busy promoting Infrastructure Week.

The core of Infrastructure Week was Trump’s proposal to privatize the nation’s air traffic control system, which is overdue and has support from both parties and every airline industry body, from airline operators to unions. This would bring the US in line with many other developed countries, including the UK, Canada, Australia, Germany, France, and Italy in creating a user-fee based non-profit corporation in charge of air traffic control, stabilizing funding and making the system more responsive to technological change and industry needs.

So why are we drinking about this? Because, like everything else in Trumpland, the timing was terrible. By choosing this week, the climax-to-date of the Russia investigations, Trump has managed to take Infrastructure spending, one of his few campaign promises that has wide bipartisan support, and turn it into a polarizing issue, just by virtue of his having touched it.

Oh, and that document Trump signed during a ceremony in the White House? It was a memo to congress. Basically an opening salvo. We’re a long way from any actual action on infrastructure spending. So, to put it in business terms, now every Republican priority, from infrastructure to health care to tax reform, has seen a letter of intent, but no subsequent contract. As any businessman knows, signing an LOI is the easy part, going from an LOI to a signed contract is the hard part.

Blue Drink: Get Her Off The Stage

We’re a little bit late here, but Hillary Clinton made an appearance at Recode last week, coming out swinging at Russia, Facebook’s fake news problem, and her email scandal, proving that Trump is not the only candidate from the 2016 presidential election who can’t move on.

Perhaps most importantly, having Hillary Clinton acting sour in defeat, instead of going high, like Michelle Obama would do, cements the image of Clinton as an entitled establishmentarian in the minds of moderate Republicans who, like me, voted Democratic in the last election, not because we supported the candidate, but because we didn’t want Trump to win. If the center of the country keeps seeing videos of Clinton pandering to her base and wallowing, it will push moderate votes Democrats need in 2018 further away. Get her off the stage and out of the spotlight, ASAP, and find someone new (i.e. without baggage) to be the party’s standard bearer.

Silver Linings: Melania Goes to DC

Next week, Melania will finally be moving to into the White House with Baron. Commenters seem to think she’ll be a stabilizing force in the White House. We can only hope. At a bare minimum, it’ll save some taxpayer dollars on travel and security.

Drink of the Week: Liar’s Cocktail

Get it? Because Comey accused Trump of lying. You’ll need:

  • 1½  oz gin
  • ½ oz dry vermouth
  • ¼ oz Cointreau
  • ¼ oz sweet vermouth

Stir in a mixing glass with ice, and strain into a cocktail glass

Do Something About It

As always, we at Red Drink, Blue Drink encourage you, our devoted readers, to not only have a good drink, but to put that subsequent energy spike and loosened inhibition to good use! Our Take Action! page links to organizations we believe can help those affected in our stories above (especially victims of non-existent terrorist attacks), and we encourage you to be active in your own way to support causes that are important to you.

Weekly News Roundup and Smog Cutter Cocktail

Fighting climate change with denial, ordering federal agencies not to talk to Democrats, and Joe Biden starting to take Democratic limelight again. Oh, and Covfefe. This week was like being stuck through the looking glass, where time runs backwards, and democracy means autocracy because the Walrus and the Carpenter said it’s opposite day.

One Drink: Covfefe

On Wednesday, the Internet, cable news, and humanity at large, was convulsed with one singular driving question: what is “covfefe?”

The brouhaha started after President Trump, close to midnight on Tuesday, tweeted “despite the constant negative press covfefe.” It would seem like this was obviously a typo, as the president was interrupted while typing “coverage,” fell asleep on his phone (hey, it happens), or something similar, and posted the tweet by mistake.

Under normal circumstances, the White House communications team could immediately jump in and say, “The president meant to say coverage, got interrupted, we’re sorry for the confusion and hope you enjoyed guessing what ‘covfefe’ meant” (ignoring the obvious questions of a. why is the president tweeting at midnight and b. why can nobody in the White House delete an obviously erroneous tweet for six hours).

Of course, nothing is normal anymore, and Sean Spicer didn’t clarify a thing when, in response to a question at the daily press briefing, he said, “the president and a small group of people know exactly what he meant.” Excuse me, what? How hard are you actively trying to incite conspiracy theories at this point?

Of course, several normally respectable news outlets immediately began questioning whether this incident betrayed Trump’s unfitness to serve, which is, of course, hogwash. At this point, I think if Trump sneezed on camera, MSNBC would be sending out push notifications saying the president had contracted bronchitis. Whatever this tweet was, it was mildly amusing, and betrays nothing about Trump’s mental health. But the six hour delay between the tweet going out and being deleted, and then Sean Spicer’s botched explanation, do emphasize that the White House has no ability to control the messages it sends out, and that inability starts at the top.

Two Drinks: Trump vs. the Paris Accords: Tilting at Windmills

Continuing to actively fight the inevitable, Donald Trump on Thursday gave a much anticipated speech “outlining” his half-baked plan to withdraw the United States from the 2015 Paris Accords to combat climate change. Saying he was representing the citizens of Pittsburgh, not Paris, surprised the city of Pittsburgh, which voted 80% for Hillary Clinton in 2016.

Trump’s confused speech hinted at an intent to renegotiate the accords or the inception of a new climate negotiation altogether. Keep in mind, this was a deal that took 194 countries a year to negotiate and was 20 years in the making. Trump has shown repeatedly he has zero patience and has said that he doesn’t do multilateral deals, so who is going to lead this renegotiation? Angela Merkel has said flat out that the deal will not be renegotiated. Didn’t your bro friends ever teach you that once you pull it out and take the condom off, you can’t put it back in? Also, let’s remember this deal has no teeth. The non-binding better deal Trump wants is exactly what the Paris climate agreement already is.

In response, 30 mayors, 3 governors, 80 universities, and over a hundred companies, led by Michael Bloomberg (god, why couldn’t he be our president?) are attempting to basically re enter the Paris Climate Accords on behalf of the United States by committing hit the targets Trump is abandoning on their own. I wonder if Republicans will appreciate this state’s rights push for climate action.

Red Drink: Party over Country

This week, I was going to write about how conservative groups are targeting Rachel Maddow in a tit for tat attempt to bully advertisers on perceived left-leaning shows after liberals (or just decent folk) put pressure on advertisers to remove their sponsorships of Bill O’Reilly’s show after serial sex abuse allegations surfaced and Sean Hannity’s show after he promoted a harmful conspiracy theory on air about the death of a Democratic staffer. Don’t get me wrong, Rachel Maddow is not a saint, and is prone to hyperbole (as we’ve written before), but the sins are not equivalent.

But then Friday morning a new story emerged that made me want to throw my computer monitor out of the window. Politico is reporting that the White House has ordered all federal agencies to ignore oversight requests submitted by Democrats in an attempt to shut down the release of information that could be harmful to the president.

Something I have noticed in conversations with several conservatives over the last year is a fundamental misunderstanding of the concept of degrees of severity. Partisan bickering has long played a part in agencies responses to requests from the other party– just think about the IRS’s targeting of Tea Party groups and how unresolved that issue was. But Republicans and the Trump Administration in 2017 continue to take partisanship to new levels blatant obstructionism that put Party over the national interest. This is going to come back to bite Republicans in the ass when they eventually lose control of the House, the Senate, and/or the Presidency, and they will only have themselves to blame.

Blue Drink: Joe Biden for… Something 2020

On Thursday, Joe Biden launched a political action committee called “American Possibilities.” While the direction and platform of this PAC is still unclear, it was widely received as an opening bid for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, and Biden was ready, responding to questions about whether or not he was planning to run by saying “Could I? Yes. Would I? Probably not.”

Part of Biden’s statement when he announced the PAC referenced Hillary Clinton, saying “I never thought she was a great candidate. I thought I was a great candidate.” Then you know what you should have done, sir? Run for office. But you publically stated you were not going to. Coupled with Clinton’s lashing out this week, Democratic grandees are looking almost as sour and vindictive as Donald Trump. Snap out of it.

It’s like the Democratic party is so rage blind with their #Resistance that they’ve lost all connection to reality. If the 2016 election had one lesson for Democrats, it should have been that a political insider was not the right choice. Could Biden do a great job rebuilding the party? Of course. Should they be putting him forward now as a 2020 presidential candidate? Of course not.

Silver Linings: Subpoenas

Jim Comey, now a private citizen, is set to testify to the House committee investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election next week on June 8th, and rumor has it he is going to say Trump attempted to interfere with the FBI’s investigations. So that’s going to get interesting. That’s also the same day as the British election, so have a couple of smog cutters to calm your nerves before you tune into the news Thursday evening/Friday morning (depending on where you live).

Drink of the Week: Smog Cutter

Get it? Because we’re going back to coal power lol. You’ll need:

  • 1 cucumber slice
  • 0.5 oz fresh lime juice
  • 0.5 oz Tonic
  • 0.5 oz sweetened ginger juice
  • 0.75 oz mezcal
  • Beer, preferably Negra Modelo

Combine all ingredients except for beer in a shaker, and shake the shaker like you would like to shake Paul Ryan to his senses. Strain into an ice filled Collins glass while topping with beer at the same time. (from Punch)

Do Something About It

As always, we at Red Drink, Blue Drink encourage you, our devoted readers, to not only have a good drink, but to put that subsequent energy spike and loosened inhibition to good use! Our Take Action! page links to organizations we believe can help those affected in our stories above (especially victims of non-existent terrorist attacks), and we encourage you to be active in your own way to support causes that are important to you.