Weekly News Roundup and a Deep Throat Cocktail

Lies. Lies everywhere. Ivanka Trump is “not promoting” her new book. Comey got fired, and it had nothing to do with the Russia investigation. Rachel Maddow is leading the new Red Scare. Oh, and Republicans continue to put party politics uber alles. Next week’s going to be interesting. 

One Drink: Ivanka’s Book

Yes, she wrote a book. And yes, the book is even worse than your wildest dreams.

Women Who Work, which Ivanka says she wrote before the election and would not use her position to promote (guess what, she did anyway), has been described by the New York Times as a “strawberry milkshake of inspirational quotes,” and by NPR as “like eating scented cotton balls.” This book is what would happen if you added concentrate of basic bitch to a slurry of liquified gold in a Baccarat champagne flute and topped it off with fake champagne. But you know what really takes the strawberry shortcake? Using a Toni Morrison quote from Beloved to encourage you to be the master, not the slave, of your email.

Two Drink: Learning The Wrong Lessons from Nixon

Lies, lies, Liza Minelli. Lies. Lies everywhere. The lies are coming so fast and so thick now I think our bernaise sauce is about to burn.

On Tuesday, Trump surprised the nation by firing Director of the FBI James Comey, supposedly for his mishandling of the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s emails, an investigation for which Trump had repeatedly praised the former Director.

Trump fired Comey with no grace and no courtesy. Trump’s personal bodyguard delivered a letter of termination to FBI headquarters while Comey was in California on business. A little mob-like, no?

I’m not surprised by anything anymore, but it was amusing to see how massively the White House underestimated how huge the public blowback would be from this Non-Nixonian misadventure. Spicer was hiding in the bushes of the White House lawn to get away from the press. Kellyanne Conway came out of hibernation (and is now apparently the victim of a sexist incident, not a totally warranted eyeroll). Sarah Huckabee Sanders (of Mike Huckabee’s esteemed, totally not homophobic and bigoted family line) emerged as a principal spokesman from seemingly nowhere to complete the three stooges dynamic of Trump administration communications spin team. The attempts to control the narrative spiraled out of control hours later as Trump gave an interview to Time magazine blatantly stating he fired Comey because of the Russia investigation. 

As of this writing, a lot is still up in the air as to where the Russia investigations go next, but rumor has it the FBI is pissed off, and you don’t want to piss off the FBI. A mobster wannabe should know that. Look at how they got Al Capone. In Trump’s words to Comey, good luck in your future endeavors, Mr. Trump. It looks like you’ll need it.

Red Drink: Partisan Politics- Not Even On The Same Planet

I watched an hour of the Sally Yates hearing in the Senate Intelligence Committee on Monday, and all I could think was “God, I need a Xanax.”

The purpose of the hearing was to learn from Sally Yates and James Clapper, former Director of National Intelligence, what they knew about Michael Flynn’s contacts with foreign governments, and what the Trump administration was told about him before they hired him. What did every Republican on the committee, save Lindsey Graham, use their time to ask Sally Yates about? Not Russia. Each used his time (they were all men) to try to trap Ms Yates, an accomplished lawyer who is clearly not easy to fool (ask Ted Cruz), into implicating herself in leaks, improper unmasking of Americans by Obama Administration officials, or dereliction of duty in her failure to defend Trump’s Muslim ban. 

The whole thing was a farce, and every Republican, save Lindsey Graham, should feel ashamed for prioritizing partisanship over the national interest time and time again. And I say this not as a liberal, but as a card carrying Republican disgusted by what the party has become.

Blue Drink: Rachel Maddow and The New Red Scare

Not exactly known for her cool head, Rachel Maddow on Monday shouted fire in the proverbial crowded theater regarding the newly promoted acting director of the FBI Andrew McCabe. Her assertion? He was already compromised by the Trump administration and would immediately scuttle any ongoing investigations. The reality? McCabe testified in front of the Senate Intelligence Committee on Thursday and did a bang up job defending the FBI’s integrity and Comey’s reputation as a man who, despite major recent missteps, was widely popular within the FBI.

Don’t get me wrong, Comey’s firing is a major political story that we’re going to be hearing a lot more about in the next few weeks, but this kind of overreaction, only to then backtrack sans acknowledgement of overreaction or apology, has characterized a lot of the left’s responses to Trump’s actions, whether warranted or not. The Democrats need to get better at picking their battles and acting on strategy, not on impulse or on contrarian principle, if they want to woo the centrist voters they’re going to need to take back the House in the midterms. 

Silver lining: Some Action on Climate Change

The Senate on Wednesday voted down a resolution to repeal an Obama era regulation restricting methane emissions on drilling projects on public lands. An estimated $330 million in natural gas was lost yearly through burning off methane, and this regulation required oil companies to capture rather than burn it. Besides the public health and taxpayer benefits, an optimistic person can also hope the way this resolution was voted down is a sign of better things to come.

While GOP senators Lindsey Graham and Susan Collins had already publicly opposed it, John McCain surprised pretty much everyone by casting the resolution killing vote. While he said that he didn’t like that the resolution also banned any future ‘similar’ regulations to be enacted, rumors are swirling that the real reason is his displeasure over Comey’s firing earlier in the day. Fingers crossed he finally puts his votes where his mouth is!

Drink of the Week: the Deep Throat

Get it? Because Nixon. You’ll need:

  • 1.5 oz vodka
  • 0.5 oz Creme de Cacao
  • 0.5 oz cream
  • 1 Hershey’s Kiss

Place the Kiss at the bottom of a chilled cocktail glass. Shake all liquid ingredients on ice in a cocktail shaker while chanting “please let there be more leaks from the FBI, please let there be more leaks from the FBI” to focus your karmic energy into helping the Washington Post figure out what the hell is going on. Strain into the glass. From Cocktail Calendar.

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 & Moscow Mule

Gurl…. At the beginning of this week, I thought it was going to be relatively easy compared to last week. There was a light at the end of the tunnel. I was mistaken. This week, the list is categorized by branches of government, to remind you they exist.

The Executive Branch

Trump’s first phone call with Vladimir Putin went well – Trump says that the “New Start” treaty limiting nuclear proliferation between Russia and the United States, an underpinning of the peaceful end of the Cold War, was a “bad deal”.

In response to a USA Today piece comparing Steve Bannon to ISIS, Fox News published a helpful chart comparing Bannon and Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. In case you were wondering, Steve hasn’t beheaded a journalist, used chemical weapons on Kurds, employed child soldiers, executed christians, or declared a Caliphate. Yet.

A series of arrests in Russia, including of KGB/FSB officers, appears to support the theory of Russian interference in the US elections made public after a report from a former British intelligence officer.

Donald Trump said this week that he thinks Barack Obama likes him. Coupled with Melania’s facial expressions and the company he keeps, this emphasizes the fact that he’s a terrible judge of character.

Sean Spicer has said that the Judge who blocked Trump’s travel ban “went rogue.” While issuing a nationwide injunction is unusual, so is issuing a Muslim ban without consulting any relevant federal agencies or departments. The White House needs to learn how to check itself before it comes for other people.

Following Kellyanne Conway’s example, Sean Spicer invented a terrorist attack in Atlanta, saying “What do we say to the family that loses somebody over a terroristic (sic), to whether it’s Atlanta or San Bernardino or the Boston bomber?” The best part? He did this three times, two days in a row. We assume he meant Orlando, but, then again, who knows?

It’s ok, because Sean Spicer doesn’t have much time left in the White House – insiders are leaking that he’s already being set up as a fall guy. Because he’s obviously single-handedly responsible for all of the Trump administration’s woes…

Speaking of who is calling the shots, Donald Trump says it’s him! If you’ve ever heard anyone shouting about how they’re calling the shots, you know that if he feels the need to say it, it’s not true.

Trump’s conflicts of interest continue to widen as the Pentagon says it is now looking to rent space in Trump Tower so it can have the immediate access it needs to have to the President at all times. You know what would give them that access? Him living somewhere that’s designed for it. Like maybe The White House. What are the odds you think Trump is going to give them fair market rent? Any takers for 0%?

It turns out that Trump’s proclivity for nepotism does in fact edge out his professed commitment to free enterprise.  In yet another scathing tweet on Wednesday, our President lashed out at Nordstrom for discontinuing Ivanka’s clothing line.  In any other circumstances, Nordstrom’s decision would have seemed fairly routine: sales performance did not meet corporate expectations.  However, in the age of our new Royal- lol oops  I mean First Family, it seems daring to suggest anything other than a success for Trump or those close to him is unacceptable.  The issue was so important to him that he sent the tweet while he should have been in an intelligence briefing.

In what is perhaps an astounding coincidence, Nordstrom stock started to rise at 10:52AM Wednesday following the 10:51AM tweet.  Stock prices closed Wednesday after an increase of 4.85%.  Even the fickle machines of Wall Street have a sense of humor.

Melania Trump, absentee first lady, is claiming in a lawsuit against the Daily Mail that insinuating she was a prostitute ”cost her “the chance of a lifetime” to make millions. Ridicule in the press obviously hasn’t stopped her husband or her stepchildren from lining their own pockets; one fails to see how one bad report in the press is holding her back from doing anything, especially since she has the most ridiculous nude pictures literally everywhere. Also, for the record, being the first lady is not traditionally viewed as an entitlement to make money. Can you imagine Michelle Obama or Laura Bush claiming that? Good Grief.

Trump’s pick for the Labor Department admitted to hiring an undocumented maid. The double irony here being that, as Labor Secretary, his job would be to enforce laws that prevent people from doing just that, but also that Trump has a history of doing the same thing.

A reporter from Newsweek is suing the government to find out how it vetted Trump’s cabinet appointments for their required security clearances. Traditionally, being convicted of a crime, say domestic violence (Steve Bannon), or having extensive ties to foreign businesses (Trump’s three children, Rex Tillerson) complicate or prevent one from attaining clearance. It’s almost as bad as sharing classified information on a private email server. Oh wait, no, they’re doing that, too.

Kellyanne Conway potentially committed a felony by endorsing Ivanka Trump’s clothing line that Nordstrom dropped this week while on TV. And this one isn’t an “oh, maybe she did, maybe she didn’t, it’s a complicated law” one, this is a “there is a law specifically designed to stop people from doing exactly what she did” kind of a thing.

Trump is actually making 3am phone calls. While we support his key advisors for guidance on major decisions on whatever schedule it is that he keeps, this one raises concern, because he asked Michael Flynn, his national security advisor, about whether or not a strong dollar was good for the US economy. You would think that, as the great businessman he claims to be, he would already know that. Most high schoolers do.

The Legislative Branch

Republican lawmakers in the senate introduced a bill targeted at reducing legal immigration. While the US immigration system is in desperate need of reform, reducing the annual green card issuance from one million to 600,000 is not the answer. Typical Republican response, though – instead of addressing the underlying concern and proposing a real solution, let’s just slash it by half and see what happens!

Another Republican lawmaker introduced a bill to eliminate the Department of Education. While I don’t want Betsy DeVos in charge of education, either, eliminating the department is certainly not the answer. The US has some of the worst schools in the developed world. See the above commentary.

Senators did do something useful this week, introducing a bill requiring Trump to notify congress of intention to lift sanctions on Russia tied to the invasion of Crimea. Little Marco finally grew a backbone.

Mitch McConnell silenced Elizabeth Warren on the Senate Floor for reading a letter written by Coretta Scott King opposing the nomination of Jeff Sessions in the 80s. Since the letter was already on the record, it looks as though the only motive was to get her to shut up. Some say it’s a ploy to hand her a microphone because Republicans know they can beat her in 2020. If they think an unelectable candidate without popular support can’t get elected president, their memory is shorter than I thought.

Despite the attempts of Senator Warren and other Democrats to prevent it, Jeff Sessions was confirmed Wednesday as the United States Attorney General.  With a voting record that would make your racist uncle blush, his categorical opposition to civil rights has been a cause of concern to many.

Senator McConnell, in an effort to appear consistent in his disconnection from the American people if nothing else, told an interviewer in his Capitol office that he sees a “high level of satisfaction” with the new Trump administration.  He also reassures that the “country doesn’t need saving” as a reminder that if you are hoping for someone to reign in the new White House, it will not be the Senate.

Betsy DeVos was finally confirmed as the Secretary of Education after a tumultuous debate over her qualifications.  Namely, the Republicans struggled to demonstrate that she had any at all.  DeVos is a wealthy benefactor of the Republican party and a long-time supporter of private schools.  During her senate hearings, DeVos failed to prove she had any but the most cursory understanding of basic education metrics.  Vice President Pence was called in for an unprecedented tie-breaking vote for a cabinet confirmation.  The vote for confirmation was split almost exactly down the middle with the exception of two Republican defectors, showing once again that party unity is more important to the Republicans than ethical decision-making.

The Judicial Branch

Neil Gorsuch, nominee to the Supreme Court, called Trump’s attacks on federal judges this week “disheartening” and “demoralizing.” Good for him. However, these comments were leaked from a “closed-door” meeting with Senator Blumenthal (D-CT). Apparently the White House isn’t the only building leaking like a sieve these days.

The Supreme Court has accepted a case on partisan gerrymandering, which has the potential to redraw congressional district maps nation-wide. The case comes out of Florida, however North Carolina and Wisconsin have also been ordered to redraw congressional districts due to unconstitutional rigging of elections by drawing inherently uncompetitive districts.

A federal appeals court unanimously voted to uphold the original stay on Trump’s travel ban, pointing to the administration’s complete lack of evidence for the necessity of the ban and lack of precedent for its claim that the ban was unreviewable by the judiciary. This made President Trump ALL CAPS ANGRY, a sure sign that something has finally gone right.

Drink of the Week: Moscow Mule

Get it? Because Moscow. You’ll need:

  • 1/2 oz. lime juice
  • 2 oz. vodka
  • 4-6 oz. ginger beer
  • Ice cubes
  • A Russian with blackmail on you

Squeeze lime juice into a collins glass, then drop in the rinds. Add ice into the glass, pour in vodka, and then fill with ginger beer. If you fill with ginger ale, the FSB knows where you live, and will not be amused.

 

 

 

Weekly News Roundup & Mad Dog Shot

So… This week was a trainwreck. Republicans gutted congressional ethics oversight, Trump shouted at CNN I mean held a press conference, Sessions was the first of Trump’s cabinet nominees to get a hearing, and an anti-vaxer may be put in charge of vaccine safety… and he’s a Kennedy. At least Chris Christie may be back to doing something productive (we hope).

One Drink: If At First You Don’t Succeed…

Remember last week when we reported a successful instance of democracy in action, where concerned citizens called their representatives to voice their objections to a House rules change which would gut the Office of Congressional Ethics and said rule change was quickly withdrawn in response? If it sounded too good to be true, that’s because it was.

This public outcry may have saved the OCE itself, which would have been significantly hobbled in its ability to conduct independent investigations and communicate with the public through the original rules change. However, the newly sworn in Congress still managed to slip a one sentence change through in the midst of all the hubbub that may be just as obstructive. It states that, “Records created, generated, or received by the congressional office of a Member … are exclusively the personal property of the individual member … and such Member … has control over such records.”

More simply put, each member of Congress now owns any document that comes across their desk, and are under no obligation to release them, regardless of their relevance to a potential investigation or vested public interest. So, if you’re a Congressperson reading this, go ahead and buy that $5,000 chandelier you’ve had your eye on with taxpayer money! That receipt, and any other similarly incriminating documents, are now untouchable unless you hand them over. Which you would totally do if you had documented proof of your own unethical behavior, right?

Two Drink: One Doozy of a News Conference

If anyone believed that the office would make the man, I hope Wednesday’s press conference disabused them of that misconception.

What the Guardian described aptly as a “trainwreck of a press conference” started with a valid, bipartisan policy point: curbing prescription drug prices (the US is the only developed nation not to have a government body to negotiate prices with drug companies, resulting in absurd discrepancies between US and European or Canadian prices). But then it quickly spiraled out of control.

A highlight was Trump screaming at a CNN reporter and calling CNN “Fake News” (Quartz wrote a great piece after the press conference called “An obituary for fake news,” but I digress). Trump also used a pile of paperwork as a prop to show how hard he’s been working on handing over his business to his children, which the Director of the Office of Government Ethics immediately described as woefully inadequate. And then there’s Russia- even Trump’s law firm has significant ties to Russia.

TL;DR, nothing we didn’t know, everything we expected. Trump acted like a toddler, has no plans to meaningfully separate his business and the presidency, and continues to flatter Russia in a way that goes well beyond any reasonable explanation. Lawyers are going to have a field day over the next year tearing his conduct apart. It’s going to be Watergate but on steroids.

Red Drink: Not Too Racist for 2017

In the first of many confirmation hearings for Donald Trump’s cabinet appointees, prolific racist Jeff Sessions on Tuesday sat before the Senate Judiciary Committee. His mere presence there as nominee for US Attorney General was impressive, given that he was previously denied an appointment by the Senate for another, lesser judicial appointment (federal judge) due to his egregious record on race and voting rights.

But we’re in a bold new world! Voting rights are well enshrined and no longer contested by any political party or candidate for reasons like race. So clearly the leader of the DOJ, the federal agency responsible for promoting and defending voting rights can be excused for not believing in them. Right?

Proving that he has moved past his prior views on race, Sessions submitted an answer to a Senate Judicial questionnaire identifying four cases he “personally handled” as “significant litigated matters” backing up his “strong civil rights record”. Unfortunately, as it turns out, Sessions has a different definition of “personally handled’ than many of us, as after the questionnaire was made public those actually involved in the cases came out and clarified that Sessions had “zero involvement”. Oops.

These are simple mistakes though. In contrast to Kellyanne Conway’s preferred methods of communication, let’s listen to what he actually has to say to the committee. In response to a question about whether “a secular person has just as good a claim to understanding the truth” Sessions, in open session, replied “Well, I’m not sure”.

In what is truly a feat we never thought possible, Sessions with that line brought the Committee chambers to total silence for several seconds. Who says he can’t accomplish great things?

Blue Drink: Robert Kennedy & Vaccines: Fox In Charge of the Hen House

We got a rare pick this week across party lines by the incoming administration to snatch someone the Democrats are probably happy to be rid of. Robert F. Kennedy, Jr, of the Kennedy dynasty and as blue as they come, is saying he was asked to head a commission on vaccine safety. He is also a prominent skeptic of vaccines. Trump has denied the appointment, saying he was exploring putting Kennedy in a committee on Autism, which, were it true, could easily be interpreted by an avid anti-vaccination critic like Kennedy as one and the same.

Somehow, it would be fitting for the president-elect who who won by denying cold hard facts to go to the original fact-denying movement for guidance.

For the record, Vaccines work, vaccines do not cause autism, and antivaxers caused a measles outbreak in California in 2015 because they weakened the herd immunity built by vaccines that protects all of us.

Silver Linings: Chris Christie to Focus on his Strengths

After falling from grace in the Trump circle, Chris Christie (still acting Governor of New Jersey) used his State of the State speech in New Jersey this week to return to the topic of the drug abuse and addiction epidemic occurring in the state (and, indeed, all over the northeast and midwest).

For anyone who hasn’t seen this powerful video, Chris Christie is a passionate defender of people who suffer from drug and alcohol addiction, and advocates sensible reform for minor drug offenders. If Christie could channel his national platform into addiction policy, he could make a serious positive impact on our country, and I wish him luck.

Drink of the Week: Mad Dog Shot

Because confirmation hearings. Get it?

  • 1oz Vodka
  • 1tsp raspberry syrup
  • 2-5 drops tabasco sauce

Shake ingredients with lots of ice. Down quickly. (From 1001 Cocktails)

 

American Brain Drain Under a “Post-Truth” Regime & Mind Eraser Cocktail

It’s official, everyone, we live in a ‘post-truth’ world! Everything is made up and the facts don’t matter! How did we get here? What happens now? What will a future America devoid of objective certainty look like? History might hold a clue, but at this point, there might not be anyone left to listen.

It’s become increasingly apparent in American politics that facts, those snippets of objective, evidence-based, indisputable information, no longer hold sway over the public discourse.  To hear some tell it, we live in a ‘post-truth’ world where “there are no such things as facts.”  America, and indeed the world, is currently experiencing an upswell in populist sentiment that rejects, amongst other things, elitist institutions and organizations that appear to dictate policy and societal direction. The image of a cold, unfeeling elitist who speaks unto the masses and drags them kicking and screaming into their future has been used for decades to stoke anti-intellectual sentiment in America. Caught up in this wave, though, are the researchers, developers, and innovators who advance the frontiers of scientific knowledge and in many cases are dependent on public money (in the form of government grants or institutional budgets) to fund their activities. When the electorate is disdainful of, or actively hostile towards, these so-called ‘scientific-technological elites’, so too are the government officials they elect, and consequently the purse strings are slowly drawn closed. What happens then is an exodus of academic and creative human capital, commonly known as ‘brain drain’. Researchers, innovators, and other developers end up relocating themselves, their research, and in many cases their businesses, to friendlier countries.

Throughout modern history, that friendlier country has been the United States of America, and consequently the country has been at the forefront of every major scientific, technical, and industrial advance that influences how we live today. America’s policies have allowed everyone from Albert Einstein to Elon Musk the opportunity to grow their field and develop unprecedented technologies, not to mention contribute significantly to the US economy in the form of patent licensure and direct commerce. Today in America, major fields of research and innovation are the target of scepticism, indifference, or outright hostility even as they seek to improve the world we live in. Medical research using fetal tissue, green technology to reduce global warming, even funding to explore space have all been the victims of a growing distrust in the intellectual process and scientific fact. Even in fields that are well-regarded and -supported, Immigration policies are making it increasingly difficult for qualified students and innovators to learn and remain in the United States. Combined with the fact that many other countries now have systems and infrastructure in place to support similar fields of study, America faces an unprecedented period of brain drain where it stands to lose its position as the most innovative, creative, and scientifically capable nation in history.

Where could all these academics and innovators go, do you ask? China and India, for a start. Currently the majority of Chinese- and Indian-born college graduates (many of them in STEM fields that are shrinking in the US) are returning to their home countries to start research opportunities and businesses not available to them in America. The resultant leaps in innovation, science, and development have generated not only massive corporations like Alibaba and Biocon, but are driving global scientific and technological progress at a rate to soon overtake the United States.  The trend is also apparent in immigrants from other countries, such as those in Latin America and Eastern Europe, though presently China and India are the closest runners-up. Regardless of their destination, each scientific emigrant from the US represents a significant loss of human capital and economic contribution at a time when the US is not educating enough scientifically-minded Americans to fulfill the existing demand. This trend is not likely to reverse under a society and administration that do not value scientific fact.

The loss of American human capital is not restricted only to developing economies.  Canadian universities of late have been actively courting American scientists and researchers, unveiling hundreds of millions of dollars and world-class facilities ready for immediate use. The Canadian government has similarly declared support for fields of research and innovation that are threatened or unsupported under US policies.  So when your friend says “I’m moving to Canada”, it might be because her research proposal just got funded by the Canadian government.  

What would the impact of brain drain be on the American economy? It would be difficult to estimate, especially as America has never been on the negative side of a human capital exchange. The impact could be something like never having Google or Tesla or Pfizer contribute to the US economy.  Instead, let’s look at what happens to those countries that have faced similar situations to the US right now and see how brain drain (or lack thereof) affected them.  Ireland is still recovering from the 2008 Great Recession, but suffered high emigration rates, including to Canada, especially among those with advanced degrees. This brain drain once threatened the recovery of the Irish economy to the point where a ‘double-dip’ recession seemed likely.  Recently, government support for advanced research and development has led to a net increase in Irish academic expatriates returning home, with a corresponding increase in economic growth and opportunity.  American policymakers would do well to learn from the Irish lesson as we at home still struggle to regain traction after the 2008 recession.

Conversely, we can also look at the impact supporting scientific progress and innovation have on an economy.  Poland’s support for innovation and entrepreneurship is credited for allowing it to emerge from the 2008 recession with net economic growth, with no years of net negative growth. Europe has also reaffirmed its commitment to fostering innovation and development in their respective economies, the net result of which is expected growth and recovery amongst every nation to do so. Europe currently faces many issues similar to America, especially in terms of immigration and a growing populist or far-right sentimentality, yet it seems apparent that the way out of economic and social turmoil, so often cited as the primary reason for populist movements, is the embracing of scientific discovery and technological innovation, not its rejection.

It becomes obvious, then, that America cannot afford to lose its best and brightest. The degradation and loss of the scientific infrastructure already present in America would be a major setback to the pace of scientific discovery as a whole, to say nothing of the immediate economic impact.  What can we as ordinary citizens do to stop this cycle? For a start, contact your federal, state, or local representative and tell them that you support increased funding for American scientific, innovative, and entrepreneurial institutions and organizations. Start with the Federal Committee on Science, Space, Technology and the House Committee on Education and the Workforce. Tell your state and local representative to support in-state funding for science and technology.  And when you can, support American small businesses, especially those working to create innovative and creative solutions for the world we live in.

Still not convinced? We’ve paired our story with a Mind Eraser cocktail, so you can see for yourself what America with ‘brain drain’ would be like!

Mind Eraser (makes 1 cocktail)

  • 2 oz. Kahlua coffee liqueur
  • 2 oz. vodka
  • Club soda

Fill a rocks glass with ice and pour in vodka. Next, layer in the Kahlua so it floats over the vodka. Top with a layer of club soda.

Drink by placing a straw in the glass and consuming as rapidly as possible, ideally all at once. It’s not called a Mind Eraser for nothing, you know! Disclaimer: one cocktail may not be enough if you’re trying to drink to forget.

Climate Change Skepticism & a Frozen Cranberry Cosmo

A recent report published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters shows a large rift in the Pine Island glacier, one of two glaciers in the West Antarctic Ice Sheet which are responsible for preventing large chunks of ice in the sheet from floating out to sea and melting. These two glaciers form a large part of the total ice in Antarctica, which accounts for about half of the fresh water on the entire planet. Why is this important? Well, scientists that study glaciers have some pretty compelling evidence that, when the surface ice exposed in these rifts comes into contact with liquid ocean water, melting accelerates, similar to how ice in your whiskey tumbler melts faster when you crack it before putting it in the glass.

When the West Antarctic Ice Sheet melts, sea levels will rise globally around 10 feet. Here’s how your community will fare when that happens. And yes, scientists who study global warming phenomena think it’s a WHEN and not an IF. Furthermore, these recent reports concerning the rift in the Pine Island glacier suggest that it will melt sooner than we expected, perhaps in many of our lifetime.

Now, we need to figure out ways of both minimizing the extent of glacier melting, and protecting the people that live in vulnerable areas when the sea levels do rise.  Back in the Nixon era, it was a commonly accepted belief that the world was warming, and the debate was over the best measures to counteract global warming. That’s how we ended up with the Clean Air Act, among others. But now the very existence of global warming is the subject of debate, as evidenced by the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology retweeting a debunked story from Brietbart. It’s ridiculous that climate change is again up for debate, given the solid body of work that scientists have assembled showing that the world is warming (and most of the data indicates that we humans have something to do with it), not to mention anecdotal evidence like intense droughts in California becoming more common.

So, what are we going to do about it? Saying “I told you so” will be a lot less satisfying when we’re all underwater, so if you have that relative who doesn’t think climate change is real, when you go home for the holidays, come armed with the facts and start a real conversation.  

Beyond discussions at the dinner table, I would argue that we have two issues that need to be a part of a national conversation about climate change. First, America must continue to be an integral part of global steps to combat climate change. This is very much put into jeopardy with the incoming climate-change skeptic administration. So, call your congresspeople and beg them to support our continued involvement in the Paris Climate Agreement. Ask them to call for debate on some of the currently proposed bills concerning climate change.  If you happen to be represented by someone who is a climate change denier, call their office and tell them you disagree with their stance on climate change.

Second, we need to come up with contingency plans for what will happen to our communities when (not if) sea levels do rise. This will need to be handled at a local as well as state and federal level, so if you live in a vulnerable community (especially one that doesn’t routinely have to deal with flooding!), go to your county’s board and civic association meetings and ask what the flood contingency plan is. Call your mayor’s office! Figure out what subsidies your state government offers for putting solar panels on your roof. And maybe…buy a boat and stock it with canned goods and a nice bottle of scotch. Just in case.

Already mourning the loss of frozen cocktails,

The Scientist

 

What I’m Drinking: Frozen Cranberry Cosmo

Here is a recipe for a cranberry cosmo, which combines the need for drinking frozen cocktails while we still cran (thanks Obama) with the festivities of the season.

  • 4oz vodka
  • 1oz lemon juice (about ½ a lemon)
  • 1oz orange liqueur
  • 2oz cranmary simple syrup

Put all of the above in a cocktail shaker with plenty of ice. Shake and strain into chilled glasses and garnish with whole cranberries or a twist of lemon zest.

Cranberry simple syrup:

  • 1 12oz bag cranberries (about 3 cups)
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 1 tbl chopped rosemary
  • 2 ½ cups water

Put everything in a saucepan and simmer for 20-30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Once the berries have all popped, ladle them through a fine sieve set over a pitcher and collect the juice. Let the syrup chill until you’re ready to use.

(from mixedgreensblog.com)