Special Election in Georgia goes to the Republicans

Jon Ossoff lost the special election in Georgia tonight, 47% to 52%. On one hand this represents a disappointment for the Democrats, yet they did achieve a significant improvement within the district compared tot he last election held there, where current Heath Secretary Tom Price cruised in with a 23% lead. The reality of this however changes little; Ossoff alone would have never changed the orientation of the House, not with a 24 seat majority held by the Republicans, with the greatest shift being a victory for the Democrats and the Resistance, but nothing substantive.

Additionally in light of the nature of a special election, it is important to note that this loss doesn’t necessarily mean that 2018 will appear nor act the same way. It’s unlikely 51 million will be spent on each congressional race, or that the issues focused on will b the same as a conservative leaning upper middle class white district. What matters for the Dems is that they learn from the tactics shown during the election, the platforms Ossoff focused on versus what the voters focused, the attacks by the Handel and Ossoff that worked, the ones that didn’t and what they can earn from this. Hopefully those lessons will help in 2018.

(okay yeah it’s a little disappointing, sue me)

 

Citation:
Bloomberg: Special Election Results

British Election exit polls point to hung parliament

Caaaaled it.

Just saying. Anyway, it looks like the conservative party has lost the majority, needing 326 seats to maintain control of parliament and requiring a coalition government to now lead Britain(ha!). At this stage it looks likely that Labor, having gained at least 33 seats from this election, along with the Scottish Independence Party are likely contenders for this coalition, though it must be said that the lib-dems are insisting there will be “no deals, no coalitions” cause reasons. I don’t know, pride?

Also, Comey has finished his latest senate hearing, and confirmed a few things:

  1. Trump is still, as far as Comey is aware, not under investigation (which he did inform Trump of three times)
  2. Trumps actions, his attempts to force a loyalty pledge, and his attempts to shut down the Flynn probe are what concerned Comey and encouraged him to write his notes.

He also insisted that all of Trump and his teams attempts to disparage him and blame him for any concerns within the FBI are “lies, plain and simple”.

So, this may lead to a potential obstruction of justice case, though by itself it is not enough, Britain is looking at a hung government, we’ll see how that goes, and Russia remains a looming concern/threat, not only for Trump but for the US and abroad. After all Comey did say they interfered with the election, and that they will be back. I’m inclined to take him at his word.

Coms Director Leaves Trump Administration

Trumps Communication Chief Dubke has resigned from his role, following Trumps return from his overseas trip. Allegedly this was not forced by the Trump administration or the president himself, but at this stage this departure is being labelled as the begging of a reshuffle of the Administration. Given the nature of the role it isn’t terribly surprising that Dubke would choose to leave, as many communications directors do, former President Obama went through four officials, and one acting, communication directors throughout his tenure. However, it must be noted that departing this early in this administrations duration is unusual, and whether that is due to the unusually high demands of this role in this particular time, or due to the complaints by the current president are unknown.

If there is a cause for concern it is due to Dubkes deposition, the man was known for being a mild-mannered individual who did not fit into any one camp or faction, allowing him to cooperate with all members of the Administration, potentially at any rate. Individuals like this are rare in this white house and more would always be preferred to the divided factions that currently populate it. At least for Trump that is.

At this stage I don’t know how far any potential shake up could be, or even if it may occur, regardless a new communications director will be needed and that will be an unimaginably difficult role to fill with this administration, and this president, coordinating the recruitment. My guess, it’ll either be Spicer, already claiming he will be handling fewer daily press briefings, whether that will mean he takes this role or is responding to criticism from Trump is not yet known. Alternatively, Trump himself may take the role, seeing as he doesn’t let anyone else speak for him.

 

Citation:
Bloomberg: Trump Communications Chief Dubke Leaving, White House Says

Trumps back. The end.

Looking back at the NATO summit,and indeed the entirety of Trumps trip overseas, it’s not hard to question the relevancy of it all. In truth it doesn’t seem like he accomplished much of anything, he signed a deal with the Saudis, that Obama had already paved the way for, he met the Pope. And that seemed to be it. He went to Israel and sat at the wall, while also infuriating the intelligence community there and seemingly resolving them to be much more reticent with the intelligence in the future, and he went to the summit.

And wasn’t that an event. Firstly, he pissed off the British with the other intelligence leak, this one by reporters in the US revealing who committed the Manchester bombings. Secondly he refused to validate and support article 5 of the NATO agreement, the one where the nations agree to support each other conditionally. The language is vague so to supplement it, most presidents (in fact all involved before this one) have affirmed it to mean an attack on an ally is an attack on the US. Trump didn’t, making a vague comment ripe for reinterpretation, especially by a man known for attacking any perceived vulnerabilities with his bordering neighbors. And finally he did not reaffirm or deny US involvement in the Paris Deal, leaving the EU hanging on that as well.

Still, while all of that is concerning for the Europeans, and damaging to foreign relationships Trump and America has with some of their chief allies, the reality is not much was really done. The deal, and some vague denials. The world still spins, the EU has decided, or at least Merkel has decided, that it must stand on it’s own feet for now, and yeah. He went home.

And when the first comment he really makes is whinging about the media, you know nothing has really changed.

 

Citation:
The Atlantic: What did Trumps Foreign Trip Accomplish?
Politico: What did Merkel Mean?

The CBO Score is Out! (and it ain’t looking good)

The CBO (Congressional Budget Office) has released its score on the new AHCA bill passed through the house. Simply put it has three major points:

1. 23 Million people will lose insurance (compared to the 24 from the last bill)
2. Premiums for the older, sicker Americans will rise especially in states that                            refuse to maintain any of the Obama era provisions ala Kentucky and their ilk
3. However, the bill will save the Federal government $119 Billion over ten years.

Due to the last point, in its current state the bill could theoretically pass through the senate through reconciliation, however actually reaching the 51 is the sticking point. It is currently assumed that no Democrat, even the more centrist conservative leaning sort, are likely to support any bill that threatens Obamacare.

Secondly, there are enough moderate republicans opposed to serious losses of healthcare for their constituents (and 23 million people pretty much means that most of the poorer southern states will be hit) that in its current state it is unlikely for them to support this bill, be it on a political or ideological basis. Additionally, two Republican senators, Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski, oppose any particular threat to federal funding for Planned Parenthood. These two alone could derail any attempt to pass this bill in its current state, but that doesn’t mean they cannot be swayed or that changes to the bill could not convince them to support it in spite of these concerns.

At this stage I have no real prediction to the Bills success or failure. However if it does pass through the republican senate, there is no question that Trump will sign it, not due to any real grasp of the bill in question but to finally repeal and replace Obamacare.

And let the consequences be on there head.

(also did anyone else hear about the republican running for the Montana seat body-slamming a reporter? Seriously, What? Why?)

 

Citations:
The Atlantic: The AHCA Fixes Don’t Do much to fix it’s Flaws
Mother Jones: Montana Republican Candidate Allegedly slams reporter

Trump went to Saudi Arabia.

Trump didn’t screw up. I mean, completely anyway.

He’s currently in Saudi Arabia, and just yesterday gave a speech promoting better ties between his nation and theirs, and encouraging all likeminded Muslim nations and the “Muslim world” to stand together opposing terrorism. This was actually a good thing.

Remember this is the guy who claimed that “Islam Hates us”, that tried to implement a Muslim ban, and is generally considered opposed to anything related to Islamic terrorism or the thought of it. Or the barest connection to it. And yet he voiced a moderate, speech that didn’t go to far, that toed the Saudi line and made all the right noises. Well done Trump, you didn’t screw up.

And that’s about it. It wasn’t a great success, there’s no sudden shift in rhetoric for the Saudi family, the crown princes, or anything. They’ll probably think they have a closer relationship with this president than the last one, and will so long as they keep flattering him, and, uh, yeah. Didn’t start a war.

Neat.

There will be many claiming this as a success, many claiming it to be the first time, or second, or whatever that Trump actually acted like a president. He didn’t. He acted like a man who wasn’t totally incompetent and said basically nothing that mattered. Nothing has changed and next week, or month, or whatever he will make some comment about Muslims, or Mexicans or Comey and we’ll remember something very important. Trump kowtows.

He kowtows to his base when a home, he kowtows to the Russians when they visit, and he did the same for the Saudis when he visited. He wants to be praised, and a quick way to do that is to please. All he had to do was say the right, empty things they wanted to hear.

You didn’t think it mattered, did you?

 

Citation:
The Atlantic: Trump complies with Saudi line

Special prosecutor named for FBI Russia Investigation

With the appointment of Robert Mueller as special counsel to the Russia investigation by the FBI, it could be said that the Trump administration is making an overture to the House and Senate in the wake of ten days of scandal and conflict driving the two branches further apart. It could also be said that Rosenstein’s covering his arse. By selecting Mueller, a former FBI director and one respected by both parties and acknowledged as independent, some members of the house will most likely have been mollified, though how Trump is taking the news is still unknown, and given that he retains the authority to dismiss the special prosecutor at any moment it should not be forgotten that he remains a volatile man-child with far too much power and not enough sense.

Currentlly it appears that Mueller’s main duties will involve investigating, and only investigating, the possible connections the Trump campaign team may have had with the Russian government, and any connections that stem from that. It will only be in the conclusion of this investigation that any ides regarding prosecution and impeachment can be brought up.

And regarding impeachment, let me say that at no point should it be assumed that impeachment will be some magic bullet that will solve all the problems. Disregarding the damage Trump has done and will continue to do to the office of President, the norms he has shattered and the expectations you can only assume some reckless idiot/cynical conman will use to gain power, and disregarding the laws and norm he and his administration will implement in the areas they control (the justice department, the law enforcement agencies, and so on) at no point should anyone assume that impeachment would solve any of those problems, or even Trump himself.

Let’s not forget, Clinton didn’t leave office after he was impeached. Admittedly this was in part due to the flagrant disregard to the import of such a tool, as Newt Gingrich used it more as a weapon against a democrat than a response to a threat to the country as his predecessors did to Nixon. Regardless, Clinton completed his second term despite being impeached for, among other things, trying to prevent an investigation into his relationship with Monica Lewinski. In turn, if the senate does not complete the process of Impeachment and Convict the President, Trump won’t be going anywhere.

Mueller is a good first step, though whether it will amount to anything, whether it can amount to a high crime prosecutable offence isn’t clear. As such, don’t look at impeachment like a simple solution to Trump. He’ll stay if he can, and his legacy and damage will remain for years after regardless of what occurs.

 

Citation:
Politico: Justice Dept. Names Robert Mueller as Special Counsel