Weekly News Roundup & Mulled Wine

We’re back after a hiatus because damn this week was a doozie. Here are four things, among many, that had us grabbing for the bottle.

One Drink: Trump Puts His Foot In His Mouth on CNN

The Trump administration DOJ this week said they would seek to halt the mega-merger of Time Warner cable and AT&T. The sticking point? CNN.

The only reason the DOJ wants to block this deal is because Trump is trying to lash out at CNN. Unfortunately for him, his lack of message control is likely to be a problem— just as Bowe Bergdahl got a light sentence after arguing the president had prejudiced his case, litigators for the two companies are likely to argue that the Trump administration can’t fairly block the deal due to Trump’s frequent negative comments about CNN’s coverage of him.

Some background: antitrust regulators (when they are actually doing their jobs) generally scrutinize horizontal mergers, i.e. mergers of direct competitors (think Rite Aid and Walgreens), but don’t usually block vertical integrations, i.e. a company buying further down or further up the supply chain (think CVS and Aetna).

Two Drink: Dismantling Higher Education

The more analysis gets done, the worse the tax plan the GOP is trying to shove through congress before the end of the year looks. The most recent revelation: the plan stands to cripple graduate education (analysis from Forbes).

Quick reminder on how many PhD programs work: candidates get tuition wavers from universities, ranging anywhere from around $12k to over $50k. They then fund their program through stipends for teaching or research work, generally around $20k-$30k per year. They pay tax in line with someone in that income range, because the tuition waivers are deductible and not considered taxable income.

The GOP tax plan repeals that exemption, meaning a PhD candidate attending a top private school would be making between $20k-$30k per year, but get taxed as if they were earning $70k-$80k per year, a tax burden few students would be able to bear.

Our higher education system is one of this country’s biggest strengths. Attacking it is short sighted in the extreme.

Red Drink: Removing the Tumor

GOP Leadership is finally condemning Roy Moore this week, the Alabamian senate candidate running to fill Jeff Session’s seat. You remember, the man who has been removed from the Alabama Supreme Court for judicial ethics violations not once, but twice. The first time for refusing to remove the ten commandments from the state court house (you know, separation of church and state), and the second for refusing to honor the Federal Supreme Court’s decision on same sex marriage (federal law does trump state law in the constitution).

What it took? Allegations of statutory rape.

Apparently this is where Republicans draw the line against unacceptable behavior these days. Not supporting white supremacy. Not abetting the NRA to perpetuate a culture of mass murder. Not sexual violence against an adult. Not distinguishing between legitimate and illegitimate rape. Not assaulting a reporter. Not rank transphobia or homophobia. Statutory rape. Not making a judgement call, just an observation.

Roy Moore says he is not stepping down. He has no shame, but we already knew that.

Blue Drink: Slamming The Self Destruct Button

What a week for Democrats. On the verge of two major symbolic elections, the Democratic theme dominating the news cycle last week running up to Tuesday’s elections was not the gubernatorial races in New Jersey and Virginia, but Donna Brazile’s new book.

Her book, which came out on Election Day, is the second eye-roller of a memoir, after Hillary Clinton’s book re-opened the wounds of the 2016 election. Brazile called the primaries rigged, said she considered replacing Clinton on the ticket with Joe Biden after her fainting incident in 2016, called joint fundraising agreements a cancer on the party, and singled out Obama, Clinton, and Debbie Wasserman Schultz (former DNC chair) as “titanic egos.”

Pot, kettle, black. Ms. Brazile didn’t exactly come out of the last election cycle squeaky clean herself, either. Slate published a great review of the book, lambasting it. Dorothy Parker’s quote “This is not a book that should be tossed aside lightly. It should be thrown with great force” comes to mind.

As Republican leadership is actively imploding on cable television, it seems that Democratic leadership is beginning to actively implode through the publishing world. Let’s hope the victories in New Jersey and Virginia are a sign that the party doesn’t need its current leadership to find a way to victory in 2018.

Silver Linings: Karma in Virginia

The first transgender woman won a seat in Virginia’s state legislature, beating an opponent who styled himself as Virginia’s chief homophobe, who refused to debate her, called her “him,” and introduced the state’s bathroom bill. When asked about her victory, she said “I don’t attack my constituents. Bob is my constituent now.” Finally, a politician with some grace.

Another piece of good news: the Senate passed legislation requiring sexual harassment training for all Senators, staffers, and interns.

Drink of the Week: Mulled Wine

It’s the first truly freezing day of winter here in New York City, so we’re drinking mulled wine. You’ll need:

  • 1 bottle red wine (we use Cabernet)
  • 1/4 cup brandy
  • 1/2 cup sugar (we use turbinado)
  • 1 large orange, cut into wheels
  • Spices: 6 whole cloves, 6 allspice berries, 2-3 cinnamon sticks, One star anise pod, 2 cardamom pods

Put the spices into a cheesecloth or tea strainer, except the cinnamon sticks. Put everything into a pot and slowly warm until the mixture starts to steam, but don’t let it boil. Serve immediately.

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.

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