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.

Weekly News Roundup & The Wolf Cocktail

This week we delve into some pretty uninteresting tax returns, blaming England (which I support in general, but not in this instance), the CBO score, and a rumor of an impending government shutdown by… wait for it… Democrats. And we’re crying into our wolf cocktail as Trump ruins relationships with our allies, because that’s exactly what the Trump administration is doing. Crying wolf.

One Drink: Finally, Some Tax Returns: Confirmed, then Denied, Still Legal, and Generally Uninteresting

On Tuesday, Rachel Maddow revealed two pages of Donald Trump’s 2005 tax returns. Her reveal was overly dramatic and not well received. The two pages were uninteresting, showing Trump made a lot of money, and paid a lot of taxes. We knew he was rich. Rich people do pay taxes. 

The White House preempted her story by releasing a statement confirming the numbers in the returns, and then saying it was illegal for Maddow to publish the returns. It’s not. But then Trump called the returns fake news. So it’s his real 1040, but a fake story. Whatever.

There are also many rumors that Trump himself was behind the leak. An attempt to distract from the serious scandals plaguing his presidency? Maybe. An attempt to drip out a return from a year he did pay taxes so he won’t have to reveal years he didn’t? Possibly. Do I really care, when faced with the prospect of widespread involvement with various elements of the Russian state during the campaign and transition? Nope.

Two Drinks: Blaming Britain, Missing Deadlines, Still No Evidence of Wiretapping

The week began on Monday with the White House and Justice Department missing a deadline to produce evidence of Trump’s claim that his wires were tapped during the election to the House Intelligence Committee. Sean Spicer said he is confident that “evidence will emerge,”  although whence such evidence will emerge if not from the White House has not been made clear. Maybe Wikileaks? Trump loves Wikileaks.

Oh, and then it got worse. Sean Spicer, who for once in his life had a plausible excuse for his wardrobe when his horrible tie choices coincided with St. Patrick’s day, then claimed that Obama had instructed GCHQ, the British NSA, to tap his phones. A justifiably enraged GCHQ issued a rare public statement flatly denying the claim, and the White House was forced to make a formal diplomatic apology over the issue, promising not to repeat the claim. Then Trump repeated the claim.

Trump’s defense here? It was all Fox News’s fault. Because obviously the man doesn’t have agency and can’t be held responsible for what comes out of his mouth, and since he was channeling Fox News during a seance using his body as a vessel, he can fully pass the blame. Am I getting that logic right?

The explanations coming from senior advisors at the White House are that there are variable meanings of the words “wires,” “tapped,” “my,” “phones,” and “Obama.”

As the head of the executive branch, Trump can release any information about a wiretap by instructing the Department of Justice to do so. There is no need for a Congressional inquiry. He’s burning his bridges (along with his credibility), and when Trump actually does need congress to investigate something in the future, they’re going to point to this and say “why should we believe you?” just like Trump was asking “why should we believe the intelligence community after there were no WMDs in Iraq?” God, isn’t Karma a bitch?

Red Drink: The CBO Has Spoken

The Congressional Budget Office, an independent congressional agency, came out with forecasts for Ryancare, and the response offers a masterclass in the art of spin.

The key takeaway from the report is that 24 million Americans will lose health coverage if the bill is enacted as is. Republicans are claiming it’s not that 24 million people will lose their access to health care per se, it’s that 24 million people will chose not to buy healthcare because they won’t be forced to (you could already chose to not have health care, you just had to pay a tax, which given that hospitals have to treat you in an emergency regardless of coverage or ability to pay, seems pretty reasonable to me, but I digress). I also chose not to buy a Lamborghini.

The other key takeaway is that the bill will reduce the deficit by some $337 billion dollars. If we’re talking about cutting the deficit, as a millennial, I would love to see entitlements that I’m paying for an probably won’t receive on the chopping block first. Entitlements are also a much bigger affront to the traditional Republican view of Government. But keep in mind that Trump and the Republicans have basically been throwing spaghetti at the wall when it comes to ways to cut the deficit, from eliminating block grants to Meals on Wheels, funding for PBS and NPR, after school programs, health care, and anything else that doesn’t affect the 65+ demographic or Lockheed Martin, in hopes of finding what will stick as the least offensive option to their voting base. This bill isn’t predicated on ideology, it’s feeling in the dark for a light switch.

Various Republican senators have stated outright that the bill in its current form is dead on arrival in the senate, Trump has said it’s the opening salvo in a negotiation. Republicans of various ideological alignments have a lot of complaints. So watch this space, and don’t get too worked up yet, since a lot is going to change before this bill goes anywhere.

Blue Drink: Now Look Who’s Shutting down the Government

The New York Times ran a story on Monday suggesting that Democrats were hinting at a government shutdown over funding the border wall that Mexico will not be paying for. Democrats have the opportunity here to show that they are more responsible than Republicans, who, and I can say this as a long-time Republican, have abdicated their platform of fiscal responsibility multiple times over the Obama years.

Shutting down the government would be a short-term win in showing the far left base that Democrats are fighting Trump’s xenophobic rhetoric. But the Democratic party is getting too involved in this silly “#resistance” nonsense. The way to regain control of Washington is at the ballot box in 2018 and 2020, and involves voter outreach to win back a large share of moderate and rural white voters from Republicans. Pandering to the obstructionist base is not going to do that.

Drink of the Week: Wolf Cocktail

Get it? Because the administration keeps crying wolf. You’ll need:

  • 6 slices fresh jalapenos
  • 1 oz simple syrup
  • 3 oz tequila
  • 1 oz fresh orange juice
  • 1 oz lime juice

Muddle 3 jalapeno slices and simple syrup until jalapenos are broken down. Add tequila, orange juice, lime juice, and ice, and stir. Garnish with remaining jalapeno slices. (Source: Billy Parisi)

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 & Margaritas

Reasons we’re drinking this week: Responsibilities of the Presidency slowly begin to dawn on Trump, Neo Nazis get closer to power, the Ghosts of Republicans Past are pulled out of retirement, and the Democratic party retires to do some soul searching.

One Drink: Trump to Obama: “Wait, I have to do what?”

Shocking revelations this week as leaked reports from Trump’s meeting with Obama stated the blatantly obvious: Trump wasn’t expecting to win and has no idea what he’s gotten himself into. Accounts of his meeting with the sitting president reveal that Donald, serial terminator of employment, was reportedly “unaware” that he would have to replace the entire four-thousand strong West Wing staff. What did he think, that Obama’s personal secretary, used to being treated like a person, would consent to working for a serial pussy-grabber?

The fact that Trump didn’t do any homework on the duties of the job he spent the last hellish 19 months trying to convince the American people to put him in throws a harsh light on his total disrespect for the institution of the presidency, and his whole-hearted selfishness and lack of concern for other people. He doesn’t care about working class Americans, or any Americans other than himself and his children. If he did, he would have looked up how he was going to “make America great again” instead of lining up a host of media executives he’s now having to ask for a rain check on starting the New Trump Times (with the tagline “All The Nonsense That’s Fit to Tweet!”).

Stay tuned, because the next few weeks are really going to elucidate how little Trump has prepared for this. We all need to be holding him accountable. Excuses for not doing the reading stopped working for me after high school. Why should we give a 70 year old man a pass? He should know better by now.

Two Drink: Senator McCarthy is Turning in his Grave

On Monday, Donald Trump made his first major staffing announcement, appointing Steve Bannon to be his chief strategist. While it is not unusual for a candidate to appoint his senior campaign staff to important White House positions, what is unusual is Mr. Bannon’s pre-campaign employment. While Mr. Bannon’s personal beliefs are debatable, the “news organization” he ran before joining Trump is something he admittedly designated as a “platform for the alt right,” or, in layman’s terms, a neo-Nazi propaganda rag.

It’s worth reminding our readership that, despite the storied mistreatment of non-white people in our country’s past, Nazis have never been this close to America’s center of power. In fact, the House Unamerican Activities Committee, which later went on to tarnish its reputation through red baiting, was actually founded to root out Nazi spies in American government. Senator McCarthy would be turning in his grave to hear that one had been so brazenly named to office, and it’s a sign of the times I genuinely feel bad for him now.

On a side note, can we stop using the term “white nationalists” and call a spade a spade? These people are neo-Nazis. The term “white nationalists,” or  “alt-right” is putting lipstick on a pig in some misguided attempt to take their movement seriously. It’s akin to exclusively referring to Nazis as “members of the national socialist party;” technically correct, but deeply misguided. I will not be using the term, and encourage you to do the same.

Red Drink: Blast From The Past

This week, in preparation for Christmas, we were all treated to a visit from the collective Ghosts of Republican Past. Newt Gingrich (serial philanderer), Jeff Sessions (too racist for Republicans to confirm for a judgeship in the 1980s), and David Petraeus (indicted for sharing classified information with his mistress; take that Hillary), among others, have all been disinterred, and are now appearing as potential picks for Donald Trump’s cabinet, as the worst of the Republicans’ past tries to shove their idealized version of the 50s down our collective American throats.

Unfortunately, demographics are not on the Republicans’ side here, and this whole nationally traumatizing episode may be the party’s “last gasp,” a sudden jolt of energy before death. Voters 18-29 voted Democrat by an 18 point margin, while voters 65+ voted Trump by an 8 point margin. Essentially, old voters secured the election by the seat of their pants.

Despite having won the election nationally and taking 3 new governor’s mansions, the same problems highlighted in the Republican Party’s post-mortem after getting trounced in the 2012 election still persist: instead of trying to appeal to minorities and young voters as the report suggested was necessary to form a viable long-term party, Republicans have instead antagonized every one of those groups.

The demographic shifts afoot in this country did not reverse on election night because threatened white people said so. If today’s Republicans want the party to continue after the baby boomers die out, the results of that post-mortem still stand. But party leadership’s actions this election cycle have made it virtually impossible for the party to ever take a step back from the brink to address the key action items highlighted in that report.

This whole situation is beginning to remind me uncomfortably of Go Set A Watchman. Beloved character you thought had undergone a moral awakening and was ushering in the new era rears up as having been an abhorrent part of the problem all along. Was Harper Lee a psychic? Or just unusually prescient in releasing her last work? The world will never know.

Speaking of Baby Boomers and older voters making decisions that the rest of the country disagrees with, may I propose a solution? Driver’s licenses are frequently taken away from those who are deemed to no longer be of mental and physical fitness to be responsible for the safety of themselves and those around them when behind the wheel. Does that have anything to do with the right to vote? I would certainly never say something like that.

Blue Drink: Power Struggles: A Whole New Election

The crushing defeat last Tuesday has thrust Democratic leadership into the same soul-searching the Republican party went through after the same experience in 2012. Democratic elites have seemingly been surprised by a lot this year: from the rise of Bernie Sanders to the defeat of Hillary Clinton, and one thing is obvious: the Democratic party is out of touch with a lot of Americans. So what are they doing about it? Well, it appears Democrats are almost as bad as Mr Trump in that regard: they had no plan for this scenario either. Since when have national polls within the margin of error equaled certain victory? Contingency planning should be a part of every national election cycle for a party that has been doing this exact thing for the last 188 years. For anyone who was so deep in the left-wing progressive bubble that the fallibility of the Democratic Party comes as a shock: snap out of it. More to come on this mess as it evolves.

Pop Open the Bubbly: Ben Carson Says He’ll Go Away

Finally, some good news. The former neurosurgeon who fabricated stories about trying to stab his friends while in grade school in an effort to seem relatable said this week that he would not accept a position in the Trump administration because he did not feel he had what it took to govern. This calls into question why he was running for the presidency in the first place (one thinks the answer to this question would elucidate something about Mr. Trump as well).

But, you know what, this was a rough week, so let’s just take this at face value for what it was: a silver lining.

Y’all I’m drinking a margarita. I just can’t. You can find my recipe below.

Yours in continually reminding the world that this is not normal,

The Bartender

 

Red Drink Blue Drink Margarita Tips

A margarita is 3 ingredients: ½ of a lime, 1 oz of Cointreau, and a generous helping of Camarena Blanco Tequila. Juice the lime and add all ingredients into a cocktail shaker with plenty of ice. Take out all of your pent up aggression on the cocktail shaker until it’s too cold to hold anymore (kind of like my ex boyfriend, but I digress). Pour out into a glass and garnish with a second margarita.