Friday report on bulls**t

The healthcare bill has been delayed until tomorrow, presumably in the hopes that enough votes can be drafted to pass the bill. The freedom caucus (and seriously how on earth are they not the anarchy caucus? Anyone?) remain opposed to much of the legislation, asserting that it does not go far enough to repeal Obamacare, to the vociferous support of the Koch brothers and their conservative policy group. Moderates are being scared off the bill cause, you know, 24 million people and a worse deficit score (only $154 billion less debt now with all the amendments the Freedom caucus insisted on) is politically a nightmare for anyone h=who didn’t come into office being a raging nutcase moderate republican. And Trump is demanding a final vote on Friday, do or die.

On the other hand, does anyone really trust the Americans to not be stupid enough to pass this bill?

In the background of all of this, Rep. Nunes has apologized for running to the president to inform him about information regarding the investigation into his own people, acting seemingly surprised that he may have, you know, compromised an investigation. I realise the republicans are going to support their president, of course, but at the very least don’t pretend to be impartial. Either admit to being a shill, or stand firm in your impartiality, you can’t have both.

Oh, and Schumer and the dems in the senate are committed to a filibuster regarding Gorsuch. Wonder who’ll call for nuking it first, Cruz or Trump?

 

(oh and if McConnell is stupid enough to get rid of it)

RyanCare still Struggling

Paul Ryan’s healthcare bill is still in danger of failing, not only are a number of house conservatives still opposing the replacement bill for the ACA, even though some are willing to change their votes with concessions from Trump, but Senate conservatives are openly calling the bill dead on arrival (DOA). Its openly acknowledged that the republican senate only needs to lose two of its members for the bill to fail, especially with the Democrats united in opposition to the bill. The problems of course lead back to the issue of repealing Obamacare, and actually providing healthcare, or Medicaid benefits for their constituents. Ideological conservatives loathe Obamacare, because market place logic for a basic human right is apparently sensible…somewhere. And the more moderate members of the Senate and house are more concerned with their people losing both cover (24 million will lose their cover if the bill passes) and not being voted back in for being the guy who did that to them.

Naturally Ryan remains focused on passing this bill, even if the policy is detrimental to the majority of America, businesses and the economy (because the sheer level of money used on healthcare is enormous, and could be better applied if they moved away from a capitalist system. But that’s neither here nor there), which could be lead back the issue of the border adjustment tax, which having seemingly failed now seems to have resulted in an $800 billion decrease in Medicaid spending. All for tax cuts for the wealthy, because reasons.

At this stage, even if it does pass the house, it will probably fail in the senate, which may lead to the fall back plan of waiting for Obamacare to implode from its own destructive path.

Which, you know, it isn’t.

 

Citation:
Politico: Healthcare bill DOA in Senate

Gorsuch Hearings Continue

Supreme Court Nominee Neil Gorsuch is facing a tough ground at his confirmation hearings, with Democrats doing their level best to identify, and attack, any areas where he may be weak or beholden to the Trump administration. And to give the man credit, he’s held his ground, establishing himself as an independent member of the judiciary (if admittedly with conservative leanings), who will not presume to hold better views than any of his would be predecessors, that will not currently declare any potential ruling at this stage, and will openly deny being willing to defer to the Trump administration. Which is good, if still not totally convincing. Still he remains one of Trumps best decisions to date undeniably; which then begs the question: why are democrats so actively against his nomination?

Okay, so ‘actively’ is a bit of leap, but they have been persistently attacking, while republicans croon, on any issue they can find and trying to confirm bias, or an intent to dismantle any past ruling particularly Roe vs Wade. So why are they determined to challenge him? Two reasons mostly:

  1. Liberal pushback. Many activists are determined to push them to block Gorsuch, due to him being a Trump nominee and because of his stances, as shown through past court rulings, on environmental issues, abortion, and corporations. To some he is indeed a grave far-right threat, others want Democrats to challenge and obstruct Trump in much the same way the Republicans did for Obama for eight years, as best they could, and see this as the first test.
  2. Merrick Garland. Obama’s nominee was denied even a hearing due to Republican obstruction (which they could accomplish by being the senate majority) as such they prevented any chance of him being nominated in the attempt to put one of their own in Scalia’s seat. The gambit paid off, but now Democrats are fuming and may well see this as a chance to punish the Republicans for their efforts and do their level best to prevent Gorsuch’s nomination.

So far Gorsuch looks unruffled by Democrats efforts to challenge and block him, but more hearings are to come, and then the vote will occur with all the potential of a filibuster occurring, with the democrats still trying to block the nomination. Anything’s possible these days.

 

Citation:
Politico: Ten Takeaways from the Gorsuch Hearings

FBI Director Comey speaks out regarding investigations

Today FBI Director Comey spoke at a hearing confirming two very important points: that he has no evidence of any wiretapping by then-president Barack Obama on then-candidate Donald Trump, and more importantly, that the FBI was investigating the Russian hacks of the DNC and members of the Trump campaign in regards to connections and possible collusion with the Russian government. This is a significant step forward in the narrative that Russia interfered with the election, regardless of whether there is indeed any evidence regarding collusion: the fact that these questions can even be asked is concern enough. Now certainly there will be complaints regarding relevancy and importance and whether the left is crying wolf, from both sides, but it is worth pointing out the response the Republican members of the senate and house intelligence committees had regarding these investigations:

They focused on leaks. Solely on leaks, to be clear.

Now sure from a government perspective these are significant and concerning, certainly the sheer speed and number of leaks is worthy of concern, but not only were the leaks not even part of Comeys briefing, they were also used as a cover to ignore any part of the investigation, the wiretapping, anything pertinent whatsoever. This either shows an intent to obfuscate the issue behind a minor concern they drummed up, or a tacit willingness for these actions, hacking and collusion and so forth, to continue so long as it harms the opposition and benefits them. At the very least they should acknowledge the concerns raised by these investigations, instead of what Rep. Nunes focused on, especially afterwards in discussions with the press.

At least pretend to be concerned over foreign influence in elections, Nunes, it’s not that hard.

 

Citation:
Mother Jones: FBI Director (kinda) calls Trump a liar
Mother Jones: Republican Congressman leading probe has never heard of Key Trump Figures

Healthcare bill gains support from Freedom Caucus

The Republican Healthcare bill colloquially called Ryancare or Trumpcare, depending on who you ask and who they want to blame, is currently being worked on, allegedly incorporating changes to the bill to support the elderly and the poor says Reuters. Along with these are changes to federal block grants for states, and a requirement for able-bodied applicants of Medicaid to work. Presumably these changes are to encourage the support of both moderate Republicans, who would prefer more coverage for their constituents, and for the hardliners like the Freedom Caucus and Ted Cruz who want changes to Medicaid in an attempt to control the debt.

Whether these work is up to debate, however as Trump has seemingly gotten the Freedom Caucuses vote regarding the health bill there is all the more chance for this bill to pass the house. From there comes the Senate, and with it one of the more dangerous opponents of the bill: Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas. The Senator has been a biting opponent of the bill maintaining that it will cause premiums to remain high and has a host of other concerns regarding the bill and support within the senate.

Still, Trump is openly supporting the bill now. Might be enough.

 

Citation:
Reuters: Republicans revamp Healthcare bill

Regarding the Merkel Meetup

 

Angela Merkel, the German Chancellor famous for her stability, quiet competence and her moral strength to let in 1 million refugees from the Syrian crisis, is set to meet President Donald Trump. As James Rubin writes, the contrasts could not be more stark. But what does it mean for these two political juggernauts to meet, the ostentatious president and restrained chancellor? In the short term, probably little. Diplomatic relations aren’t formed from one meeting, but some measure of influence could occur, perhaps swaying Trump (or Merkel) on issues that pertain to them.

In particular I imagine the issues of NATO and Putin will be prominent concerns of Merkel though whether Trump will listen on the latter, because he won’t or can’t, remains up to debate (unfortunately). Beyond that any major issue or development is unlikely to occur, due in part to the nature of diplomacy and the Merkel herself.

Remember, there was a time when Obama and Merkel were distant rather than the staunch allies they were by the end. Angel Merkel is a cautious woman, despite what her humanitarian efforts might portray, and she isn’t likely to outright side with or against Trump based on one meeting, even with all the events of the past few years informing her.

I’d suggest patience. What matters is in the long term, not in the next few days.

 

Citation:
Politico: The Leader of the Free World meets Donald Trump

Netherlands Election goes better than expected

The Netherlands election’s first exit poll is out,  and the battle between the controversial Far-Right(ish) Geert Wilders and the current Prime Minister Mark Rutte is ending better than expected, with Rutte’s party winning 31 seats in the house, and Geert’s being one of three to win 19. And can I just say on behalf of much of the western world:

Oh thank F**King God

Can you imagine how emboldened far right parties would have been if a third straight result in their favor had occurred. I mean yeah most of them will probably tout this as a measure of their influence, and yes they might even have a point. For now anyway, older working class and lets be blunt less educated members of society are pissed (reasonably some might say) and are lashing out at what they consider either threats to their home, or a government they feel has abandoned them. It’s not quite that simple on either side of the argument but it is what it is. However, without that third lucky charm, it will be much harder for them to convince the wavering middle that there is a surging rise of populism and they represent the people and blah blah blah…

Point is France’s Macron and Germany’s Merkel just got a boost, hopefully they can capitalize on it, and hopefully the far right will waver long enough for it to count. They’ll be back, but this could stop this authoritative nonsense in its tracks. For now anyway.

Citation:
Politico: Dutch Election: Live Blog