So about the North Korea thing

Okay, Trump? Trumpy, mate, Shut Up. Kay? Just shush for like, five days or something, let this blow over okay? Cause, uh, threatening to blow up another nation, even one screwing with you like North Korea, with “Fire and Fury and Power like the world has never seen”?

Not Helping. 

Right so, while Trump was on vacation, intelligence agencies confirmed that yes, North Korea now has a payload for those shiny missiles they’ve been throwing around lately. They made some threats, and Trump responded, as above. This is very bloody bad. Not because North Korea is suddenly about to launch a nuke or anything (the things mostly there for defense, if they actually tried anything America and most of the world would immediately retaliate) but because it escalates tensions with a guy who blusters for security, against the guy who blusters for ego. Who also has nukes, and I don’t think he quite grasps how dangerous those things are. Or doesn’t care.

Or thinks that’s what freedom looks like.

So no, I don’t think anythings gonna happen immediately. On the other hand, Comey, Paris Agreement, Priebus. Trump is an unpredictable actor, not just to his enemies but to everybody. So yeah, just a little freaked out.

Why Cruz’s Healthcare Amendment is a big deal.

Today Cruz proposed an amendment, verbally to the GOP leadership in the senate, for the Better Care Reconciliation Act (BCRA) in an attempt to bridge the gap between conservatives and moderates and pass the bill. In essence, it provides insurance companies the option of offering an additional, cheaper bill for any prospective buyer along with the current ACA mandated plan. In exchange, the conservative is willing to accept lower tax cuts for Medicaid and vote for the bill, citing greater business freedom and consumer choice.

The reality is this amendment would likely cause the inadvertent creation of high-risk pools, insurance groups which are primarily stocked by the ill, due to the healthy and young choosing the cheaper less comprehensive plans. The ill, old or those with pre-existing conditions would lean towards to the comprehensive plans. Said consumers would need to use their insurance for whatever treatment they require, forcing the companies to pay for the treatments, and in turn requiring the companies to raise costs to afford to do so. This in turn will massively increase premiums, defeating the purpose of much of this bill.

Functionally the amendment (and bill) is not sustainable in the long term, but it could lead to a short term win for the Republican party, as moderates are more likely to support a plan that has more generous cuts for Medicaid and better funding for combating the opioid crisis. But even with said benefits, and even without this amendment, there is one simple fundamental truth that will inevitably result in severe consequences.

This is a bad bill.

It has been designed poorly, mostly in an attempt to bridge political gaps and fit the rules for reconciliation, functions poorly and seems designed only to achieve some form of ‘repeal and replace’. There is no seeming interest in this being an effective bill, no interest in making a conservative form of comprehensive healthcare; the only thing this bill really accomplishes is that it cuts taxes for the rich.

Something like healthcare cannot be relegated to a  political win: it’s a massive part of the economy, it significantly impacts peoples lives, and is considered (in the rest of the western world) a fundamental part of society, and instead of being treated as such, this is only being shown as a political battle. People will die if (when) this bill passes. And no one in the Republican Party really seems to recognize that, trapped as they are in their little bubble on Capital Hill.

I can only hope this bill fails. I don’t want to consider the alternative.

 

Citation:
Bloomberg: Cruz Pitches New Amendment 

Comey’s Gone

Today, Trump fired FBI Director James Comey, allegedly informing the man by allowing a meeting from the Director to the FBI to occur before television screens behind Comey turned on with news of his dismissal. Only after did he receive his letter of dismissal.

James Comey is only the second FBI director to be fired from his position, the previous case was a bipartisan affair led by former President Bill Clinton, and was based on the Director William Sessions being accused of ethics violations and abuse of office, resulting in his removal. Again this was a bipartisan affair, whereas this has been referred to as Nixonian, a reference to then-President Nixon’s removal of a special investigator.

In no way is this okay. In now way does this not flout laws, procedure, norms and general decency and respect for the American system. By all rights this should be the beginning of a true impeachment campaign, an attempt to remove a man who has flouted the system in such a way that is truly unprecedented and a dangerous precedent to set. This would require a bipartisan effort with Republican stalwarts standing firm in opposition to the President and dedication to their duty.

We can assume this will not happen.

Objections will be raised, concerns levied and Democrats will issue a challenge and some may well attempt this path. But the Republicans won’t, they will do nothing substantial, unwilling as they are to lose their control of the White house and the electorate he represents, and they will do nothing.

This shouldn’t have happened. I don’t know what will happen next, or how this can be stopped. I really hope 2018 works out.

 

Citation:
The Atlantic: An act of Presidential Imperialism

I’m Back (and Turkey voted yes)

Today Turkey voted yes on Erdogan’s referendum to increase substantially the presidential powers he possess. By doing this, he removes the office of Prime Minister, weakens the parliamentary by preventing it from declaring no confidence votes on ministers and the president, provides Erdogan the power to select however many judges and vice presidents he wants and streamlines decree control, allowing him to create legislature personally and quickly.

Basically, Erdogan is now vastly more powerful within Turkey, and is one of the most powerful legislatively wise political leaders in the world. Democratically(ish) anyway.

Although close, the vote is final and confirms a longstanding trend of Erdogan’s and Turkey’s advent towards authoritarianism, with currently no conceivable measure of returning to a more democratic and parliamentary form of government, certainly not with the military the (surprising) defenders of liberal democracy in turkey for decades.

This is another dangerous shift that corner of the world is turning towards, and if elections in Europe go down similar paths, and more authoritative leaders begin to lead in Europe, the middle-east and indeed the America’s, I worry what such loud and volatile personalities could lead their nations into.

 

Citation:
The Atlantic: Turkey’s referendum: how democracies decline