French Election Continues

The French Election has is currently undergoing is second round, between the two contrasting figures of Le Pen and Macron. while both represent a departure from the traditional left-right dichotomy, the two of theme represent such startling different visions for the future of France, and in turn the EU, that they couldn’t be farther apart.

And yet, in regards to that final note, the EU, there is a shared concern. Both sides acknowledge the flaws inherent in the system, even if the choose to respond in differing ways. Le Pen is demanding a referendum on leaving the EU, believing that the globalist construct is detrimental to Frances economic and cultural future, and not necessarily without reason. There is no question that France is struggling with an unacceptably high level of unemployment of 9.6%, with the youth rate currently around 25%. Culturally, while there is no question the xenophobia involved in Le Pens targeting of Muslims and Arabs, it should be acknowledged that the influx of refugees from the middle-eastern region has not come without cost to individuals and life style and should be responded to.

But this is all stuff that”s commonly known. Whats interesting’is what Macron said today. 

Confirming the concerns many have regarding the EU, Macron has announced a need for reform within the EU, or that it will face a Frexit. And make no mistake this is a far more significant threat than any Brexit could hope to be.

France is one of the chief economic partners of the EU project, the other being Germany. If either of these nations decided that they should leave, it is almost a certainty that the EU would collapse. In turn this means that the EU for it’s own survival is far more likely to listen and respond to such a threat. Assuming arrogance doesn’t somehow impede any discussions, though given the current struggles with Brexit it is unlikely (to me) that any of the leadership would invite further strife.

Now, certainly there are issues with the EU. An economic focus on the norther nations has often left many other states involved, Greece, Italy, Portugal, and other Southern states are struggling due to the lack of trade focus and economic involvement which such and imbalance encourages and impacts France as well. Coupled with the bureaucratic nature of the EU, and the difficulty individual nation states have impacting and shifting the priorities of the economic construct to better serve the whole and not the most immediately present and it’s no surprise there is discontent regarding the EU.

Understand I have little knowledge regarding the intricacies of the EU, and admittedly little motivation to investigate. What I do know is this is a major shift in politics for the such a central part of the EU, and if Macron maintains this stance, and wins the election, there is every chance this could result in legitimate change for the institution.

I like the EU, and I trust in its mission, that by binding Europe together economically there is a far lesser chance of conflict between the historically fractious states. That doesn’t mean it can’t be improved.


(My) Media Bias

The media’s weird to me right now. On one hand there’s the big studio media, CNN, Fox, MSNCB and the like, and they quite frankly are sh*t. Talking heads, derivative arguments and comments, and while at times there can be interesting and challenging commentary often it’s all just white noise. As Hasan Minhaj said at the Whitehouse Correspondent Dinner, not everything is breaking news, take an hour and calm down, and then tell us about the news.

But that’s one side, the TV Cable side. The other, the digital/print media side?

Holy Sh*t are they stepping up.

Again and again I read exposes, connections with Russia, news and information that goes way beyond anything I’ve seen from them (Politico, Reuters, Time) at any point. And look, I’m young I don’t have that much of a frame of reference. But from a lot of other perspectives, people involved and invested in this, journalists, commentators and the like, they haven’t been this energized in years.

Guess having an enemy in the Whitehouse is useful after all.

So on one hand, I’m annoyed with the media, with the derivative bullsh*t coming from so many big names and would be leaders in the field, who fail time and time again to challenge and fight and report the news, be it from bias or in the name of an objectivity that no one will support or defend (case in point).

From others, hunting and unearthing and fighting against something and someone I consider a genuine threat?

More please.


Politico: WHCD comedian Hasan Minhaj slams Trump Administration

Friday Update April 28 edition

So, first 100 Days of Trumps presidency (and oh god there’s another three and half+ years of this shit) are nearly over and amount to just about nothing. A combination of executive incompetence, legislative resistance (from the Democrats) and a lack of unity (from the republicans) from congress, and federal blocks on most of his executive orders, what with being illegal and all, have left Trump looking pretty impotent by the 97th day (as of 28 April 2017).

Gorsuch got into the Supreme Court though! So hey, something happened. Cause the senate got involved. And changed the rules.

Macedonia’s in a bit of a crisis, though I don’t know nearly enough to confirm what it means or whodunit. Masked men have taken over parliament, and since there wasn’t really a functional government since the last election what with the unwillingness of the Majority party to work with the opposition, and the third party siding with said opposition, no one’s really in charge over there. This kind of reminds of Ukraine, if I’m being honest, but there’s just not enough information available right now.

There’s some other shit going on, but honestly who really care’s about Ann Coulter. Seriously all those so called conservative commentators whinging about Berkeley, meanwhile I’m more sorry for the conservative students being forced to call these people, and not someone actually qualified to talk about this stuff. Poor kids never had chance.

Anyway, see ya next week.

Trumps Tax (cut) Plan, is about what you’d expect

So, Trump released his tax plan. It’s, predictably, about as bad as everyone expected, even some conservatives. As one Derek Thompson from The Atlantic explained:

“Trump’s tax plan is, for now, only about 100 words long. But as law, it would dramatically change the way individuals and businesses pay taxes.

For individuals, the plan would:

  • reduce the number of tax brackets from seven to three and cut the top marginal rate from 39.6 to 35 percent
  • double the standard deduction, while eliminating most tax breaks except for home ownership and charitable deductions
  • repeal several taxes, including the Alternative Minimum Tax, the estate tax, and the Obamacare tax on investment income

For businesses, the plan would:

  • reduce the corporate tax rate to 15 percent, paid for with unspecified cuts to “special interests” and a “one-time tax on trillions of dollars held overseas”
  • allow small-business owners to have their income taxed at 15 percent, as well (much more on this later)
  • move to a territorial tax system, in which businesses would only pay tax on income earned in the U.S. (so, Boeing wouldn’t pay taxes on planes sold to an Australian airline)”


So, functionally, it’s a big tax cut plan. It is most definitely not net neutral, and very net negative with the American Government standing to lose trillions over the course of ten years. The problem is certain aspects of the tax code in America do need to be rewritten or replaced, corporate tax needs to be done in such a way that encourages business while ensuring multinationals like Apple and Google actually, you know, pay taxes and small business owners shouldn’t be penalized for not being as large as their competitors so should receive a similar tax as well, and far more besides including things I am simply not aware of.

The problem is Trump doesn’t have any idea how to make a plan like that, seemingly no Republican does and above all none of them are willing to do the hard, long slogging work of actually sorting through the tax code to find out what needs to be done, not now and not during the transition period when they should have started.


Basically, no one knows what the hell they’re doing, and predictably this is the result.


The Atlantic: A Comprehensive Guide to Trumps Tax Plan

Govt. Funding Update (cause I don’t want to talk about France today)

Currently, Democrats and the Trump Administration are in negotiations regarding the government funding bill. Democrats refuse to vote for any bill that would block the required subsidies for the ACA, and for any bill that provides initial funding for the Border Wall Trump bragged about, threatening a government shutdown. Meanwhile the Trump Administration is demanding an increase to the defense budget by over $54 billion which it so clearly needs, and the initial funding of the Border wall. For national security.

Cause Mexicans.

For the record, those scary guys Trumps so worried about, the cartel members and such?

They dig tunnels. Underground. To get into America. So, a wall wouldn’t even work. But whatever, it’s just logic right who cares about that?

Meanwhile a Federal Judge in California blocked the executive order trying to defund ‘sanctuary cities’ basing it on not following any of the actual laws related to federal funding. Basically it was a cheap shot at any city not backing his anti-immigration (illegal or otherwise) stance.

Most successful 100 days, eh?


The Atlantic: Does Trump want a Government Shutdown? 
The Atlantic: Federal Judge Blocks Trumps ‘Sanctuary City’ Exec. Order

My Teeny Tine French Election obsession (also hey! a title)

So, I’m a little obsessed with the French election. I say little, because I’m not watching and listening to every single event and rally I can get my hands on, such as I was with the American election. It is however very prominently on my mind, especially in light of the recent conclusion of the first round of votes, with predictably Macron and Le Pen heading to the second round (with a good showing from Melachon, the socialist candidate. So hey, good for him).

I’ve said this before, but this is a big deal, a big European election in much the same way as the German Election is a big deal, as these two are the only nations really able to tear down the EU if they exited themselves. Some might consider this a good thing, I disagree. ignoring the economic fallout, where the sudden decentralization with no actual plan for how that would work, no trade deals really in place,

(these things take years of effort and negotiation to build, case in point my own country, New Zealand, has become rather good at negotiating deals as a matter of economic survival, and it still takes us quite a few years to establish any real deal between nations. And we’re good at this shit.)

And the assumption that somehow there wouldn’t be a global backlash and recession from the biggest market in the world dissolving. It always irritates me when people ignore that.

The second thing is, of course, my concerns regarding conflict and war. I do not trust volatile, aggressive personalities which politically thrive of attacks on a nebulous other, be it opponents or minorities rather than providing plans for handling whatever problem has occurred. Erdogan and Putin (and the Hungarian guy but I don’t remember his name) are good examples of this, currently economically all of them are struggling, which is significant for nations like Russia and Turkey which could be very viable trading and resource hubs, if they were managed better, but if anything both have thrived politically by blaming much of the nations problems of other people, Kurds or Americans, or whatever.

Which is what makes the French election very important. Firstly there is another would be autocrat, secondly the threat of a dissolving EU, and whatever could come after that. If this goes the way of right wing populist, bold words with little thoughts and planning behind them, especially in the aftermath of some of Le Pens plans? This could end very badly.

And I know what the polls say. But I know better than to trust them blindly.


Politico: Macron and Le Pen headed to Runoff

Dystopian fiction…yay

There’s been a recent surge of interest in dystopian fiction, ‘1984‘ has peaked in sales for the first time in many years, ‘The Handmaiden‘ has recently released to rave reviews, numerous television shows, films and books are suddenly (terribly) relevant.

It’s not surprising of course, with recent political shifts in our known, predictable world and with certain directions societies in multiple countries are taking towards authoritarian politics, religious zealotry and anti-immigrant (read:outsiders/others) behavior it’s no wonder people are looking to fiction for potential outcomes. It’s always been good for reminding us how close we teeter to disaster, how democracy, freedom, common sense are not a guarantees.

(and they give you the best nightmares, don’t they)

With the coming French elections, and the possibility of a Le Pen election (and seriously have they forgotten what happened in the World Wars? Why they happened? Seriously France?) coupled with the shift in more western politics, Turkeys referendum, Brexit and so on, looking at these bits of fiction provides a strange sort of catharsis, and an example of what not to do. Let’s hope we can avoid any such interest in religious zealotry, Gilead looks like an awful place.


(but seriously, Stahp with the Crazy yeah?)