Aftermath of the (first?) 2018 Shutdown

And I’m back. The vacation was nice, saw some movies. Oh and the American Government shutdown for three days, Palestine’s furious over Trumps decision to declare Jerusalem the capital of Israel (yeah that’s still going on), and may be preparing another Intifada. Unfortunately I’ve little to say in regards to the latter, while I have some thoughts regarding Israel and the consequences of their actions as of late, there is far too much I don’t know regarding the relationship between Israel, Palestine, and Abbas. The shutdown on the other hand:

In the aftermath of this particular debacle, it’s important to look at who was responsible (Trump, his aides Miller, Kelly, support from Cotton and the Freedom Caucus, and yes the sudden stand made by the Democratic Senators), but also what the current agreement means. First, yes Trump has some of the blame here. Not all, but if the man had accepted the bipartisan deal placed in front of him last week, this could have been avoided. However, stoked and prodded by hard-line immigration activists in his office, he found himself opposed to the deal. We have to remember, convincing Trump isn’t a matter of personal skill, it’s just about being the last person in the room. Additionally the Democrats have some responsibility for this shutdown in that they chose to prevent funding until such time as a deal for DACA could be made. Whether they could actually make a deal, or at least leverage this for the midterms is debatable, though not implausible, however it could also be irrelevant depending on the outcome of the arrangement between Schumer and McConnell.

In regards to that deal, there are two problems I have with it. First off, it requires McConnell to actually follow procedure and let this matter come down to an Up-or-Down vote. Now that could happen, but given McConnell’s past actions in the last year, where he din’t follow procedure so much as ignore’s its existence, I’m hesitant to give him any such level of trust. Still, it could happen. The second problem is that this deal only affects the Senate, the House can (and likely will knowing the freedom caucus) be it’s own problem for any kind of deal. Personally I expect that to be the final result, that the bill fails in the house, which democrats will then use to blame the republicans for not only tanking a bill protecting kids most Americans want saved, but proving to be ineffective administrators as well, given their current control of the government.

Well, we’ll see. Always interesting to watch these little games, just be better if peoples lives weren’t on the line.

 

Citation:

The Atlantic: Democrats Relent, Government Opens

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The Tax Cut Passed

It’s passed the House, it’s passed the Senate and it’ll be on Trumps desk soon enough.

Fuck.

Look I could go into detail regarding the issues regarding the bill, the loopholes and structure, how it doesn’t in fact encourage internal investment and development but movement of resources outside and beyond the country lines to further encourage profit growth. I could talk about the ideological fallacies inherent in the original design of the bill, how “trickle down” policy is a myth, about how tax cuts have never paid for themselves and the consequences these sorts of policies have had on both the economic and social development of one of the more important nations in the world. I could talk about the rank hypocrisies taken on by members of congress, the lies and manipulations, and both the hypocrisy in the final bill as relating to the former points made, and the sheer incompetency regarding the bills design itself.

But I won’t. Because I’m fucking pissed and do not have the patience to dignify this sort of bill with that sort of analysis, especially with so many outlets and (presumably) bloggers already doing so. So instead I will say this: This is a Bad Bill. It is poorly constructed, poorly implemented and unlikely to survive in its current form. Some believe aspects of it remain, salvaged remnants that can be put to use. I’m not sure if I agree with that, but regardless the point remains. This was voted on a party line basis, and as such not only will be beset by partisan opposition, but due to the inherent vulnerability of such a vote, significant repeal efforts, not from a minority in the other party but most if not all of the opposition.

And Republicans know this. And passed it anyway. For their donors. If this is the result of the political system in the US, there is something deeply wrong with it. And it needs to be fixed.

 

(also it looks like Corker did vote because of the kickback clause. My mistake, I assumed the Republicans would be more subtle than that, god knows fucking why)

Tax Plans and Net Neutrality: Update 19th December edition

I keep disappearing, don’t I?

Well I’m back, and things have happened, suddenly and stupidly. First, the Republican tax plan looks like it’s heading to a pass in the Senate on Friday, which means likely it’ll be on Trumps desk and signed not long after. This was cemented when not only Senator Marco Rubio of Florida used some brinkmanship to get more benefits for the child tax cred (which predictably is not perfectly implemented), but then as a twist Sen. Corker of Tennessee also announced his decision to vote in favor of the bill. Given he was one of the few who had unceremoniously announced his opposition to the bill no matter what, this did come as a shock. Allegedly, according to Politico, it might have something to do with a provision which would personally benefit him, but I don’t know. Feels a little to neat.

Secondly, the FCC has repealed the Obama era rules regulating internet providers. These rules cam about after allegations and I believe some reports alleging that certain providers had begun to manipulate internet speeds among certain websites and platforms and may have been planning to expand these options for their own profit. So one part responsive, another preventative, and messy enough that Republicans hated it. Look here’s the problem, we already know that certain companies will manipulate these things for their own benefit, and there’s not enough of an incentive (i.e. competition) to provide fairer service to get customers. When you’re the only store in town, why waste money on advertisement?

Overtly I doubt much is gonna happen over there, simply because the backlash and potential public (and given current trends political) response could be deeply damaging. But there will likely impacts in the background, certain sites and providers may start having to pay a premium for their services others don’t and that will have an impact people may not see. Whether that’s now or later I don’t know, but I can say this: this is an example of why monopolies, or oligopolies are bad for business and bad for the consumer. There’s no competitive edge to motivate innovation or better business strategies, and customer don’t have a choice in what they use and get shafted for it.

 

Citations:
New York Times: FCC Repeals Internet Regulations 
Politico: Why Corker Flipped 

Doug Jones Won in Alabama

Ha! Ahhh, so glad I was wrong about this one. I haven’t talked about this one too much, but I have been paying attention, and when the votes first started to come in I expected a Moore win. Should’ve known better than to assume.

So, Doug Jones won in Alabama, by a slim margin yes, but this is Alabama. No Democrat has won there since 1992, so this not only a major upset for Moore and Trump (also Bannon) but the Republican establishment. From what I can glean, an energized base and significant Black voter turnout was what won this race for Jones, which does bode well for Democrats running in states with a larger and growing minority populations, especially with a Trumpian foil to play off of.

However this doesn’t change certain actions being taken elsewhere. While it could be said that the Senate should wait on all major votes until their newest member is sworn in, I very much doubt the Republicans are inclined to wait for a surefire no vote. especially if, as they claim, they have the votes necessary pass their tax bill. Regarding Sen. Strange, I’m uncertain he should vote at all. While I don’t begrudge the man, the combination of a lame-duck status and the fact that this man was not selected by voters but by the former governor is enough for me to question his current role. Still, if the Republicans push through with this vote, Strange will support them, and America will simply have to deal with the consequences. Assuming it passes of course.

Franken Gone, Moore Comes out of Hiding

Last week Former Senator Al Franken of Minnesota announced his intention to resign from his post. He gave a speech in effect denying most of the accusations against him, decrying Trump and Moore for their own misdeeds and walking off in a huff. I suppose I could feel either vindicated or unimpressed by all this, but honestly my biggest gripe is that no one in the Democratic party waited until after the ethics committee finished it’s review. On one hand I appreciate that by the time Senator Gillibrand and others committed to denouncing Franken and calling for his dismissal an eighth woman had accused him. At some point, patience is no longer an option. Nevertheless trial by public opinion isn’t how any case should be handled, and while I do believe he should have resigned regardless of the results of the investigation, these accusations needed to be investigated properly and, if need be, Franken punished accordingly.

Anyway, it’s happened so there’s not much more to say about that. Though I do wonder, if people continue to push in this manner for long, will there be a backlash? And what will it look like.

Moving on, Alabama’s being interesting again. Moore’s was hiding for the last few days, though he’s now out and about touting his endorsement from Trump, who in turn apparently had a rally for Moore in Florida. Why the hell not.

It’s the final stretch of this race and I still thinks it’s a toss up. With another republican presenting himself as the palatable option for right-leaning voters, and Jones pushing the turnout as much as he can, I’m thinking it will comedown to just that. Democrats are still pissed about Trump and motivated by Virginia’s wins they might well come out in droves. In turn republicans have far less the gain or lose with this seat, Moore remains a controversial figure, and the less extreme voters in Alabama may well split the Republican vote with the other guy. On the other hand, Alabama.

50/50? It’s gonna be close either way.

 

Politico: The #MeToo movement should be ready for a backlash

Tax Cuts and Shutdowns

I swear you leave for a week and everything goes to hell.

So the Republicans passed the tax cut in the Senate, meaning now they need to consolidate both bills into a working framework that will pass both houses, keep in mind that this means the Senate will be the most likely place for it to fail; Corker remains adamantly (as far as I can tell) opposed to the bill, they only need two more people to vote against the bill for it to fail, and one if Roy Moore loses in Alabama.

Secondly, the shutdown looms. The House and Senate need to pass funding for the federal government, otherwise they’ll face a shutdown before Christmas, and no one wants that. With the Democrats playing hardball trying to get the CHIP program funded and the DACA children protected, this means the republican caucus either needs to unify or risk compromise with the Democrats. So predictably the Freedom Caucus raised a fuss. Currently things are progressing rather quietly but unless the Republicans can get their shit together, or suck it up and compromise, I think we’re looking at a shutdown.

And finally, Rep. Conyers has resigned, officially pledging his support to his son to take his place, with another member of his family also pledging to run for the seat. Additionally multiple Senators have demanded that Sen. Franken step down after I believe its now eight women have accused him of sexual harassment. To which I say: good, he should go. Because A: you shouldn’t harass people in any way especially not sexually, and B: I dislike people showing a consistent pattern of abuse of power, having power.

Also Trump has announced the American embassy shall be moving from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, under the basis that Jerusalem is the true capital of Israel. Because fuck regional stability.

 

Citations:
The Atlantic:  Republicans Pass Their Tax Bill
The Atlantic: Conyers Stepping Down
The Atlantic: Calls for Franken to Step Down 
Politico: Republicans tamp down opposition 

Update 30th November Edition

So, the tax plan has moved forward once more, North Korea has announced that it has completed it’s nuclear program and has fully operational nuclear capabilities, and Trump re-tweeted fake anti-Muslim videos. Well, shit.

First off, the Senate has voted on a party line basis to move the tax bill (one of them, I don’t know which, none of the reporting I’ve read has actually labeled the bills. I’m assuming it’s the Senate one) forward, meaning they will now debate it on the floor. Likely this means that the bill will be discussed for a bit, republicans stymieing any attempts to filibuster or amend the bill and try to move the bill as fast as they can onto a vote. I still don’t know where this is going or if it’ll pass, and part of why I feel that way is that this is just a really bad bill. It’s poorly designed, badly crafted and just really short sighted. Even if this does pass there’s every chance that if the democrats get far enough along by 2020, they’re just gonna try and repeal the damn thing. Assuming that’s possible of course.

Anyway, secondly, North Korea has proclaimed victory, or something. They’ve got nukes, and Trump an’t pleased. That’s kind of it. War has not been prevented, negotiations are not happening and nobody’s backing down. This is not going to end well.

And finally, Trump has re-tweeted some conspiracy shit about Muslims from a British far right group. This isn’t news, it’s just really fucking stupid. So yeah, not a great day.

 

Citation:
The Atlantic: North Korea Announces Nuclear Capability