Topics and articles chosen with care. Linked articles in bold purple
◆ Biggest event of the day: French election Why? First, it’s already been important because the country’s main parties are out. Voters are not happy.
Second, if Marine Le Pen is elected France could well exit the European Union, which it helped form.
The latest ripple is massive computer hack of Emmanuel Macron’s computer files. (BBC)
The main suspect is Russia, which is backing Le Pen.
Macron is heavily favored. (Reuters)
Comment: Even the prospect will rock European politics. It should have already done; there is clearly widespread dissatisfaction with the excessive bureaucracy, lack of democratic controls, erosion of national control over borders, and other key elements of the European project.
There is also fury over the massive migration of Muslims from the Middle East and North Africa who are not integrating into European society, reject many elements of Enlightenment liberalism and toleration, and, in some cases, pose terror threats.
Le Pen is expected to lose to center-left candidate, Emmanuel Macron. Whether he can lift France from the economic and social doldrums is another matter.
◆ Next up on Health Care: Trump and Mitch McConnell try to craft a deal (Washington Post)
For months, McConnell, the consummate political insider, has been dispensing his counsel to Trump, the ultimate outsider, who has been absorbing the Kentuckian’s words. The dynamic has provided a degree of stability in the still-forming relationship between the low-key Senate leader and the loquacious president, who are starkly different types of people.
But cracks have also emerged in their partnership, most notably when Trump has casually suggested that McConnell change the long-standing rules of the Senate and McConnell has bluntly brushed him off.
Their fragile alliance is about to face its biggest challenge yet in the next phase of the Republican effort to overhaul the nation’s health-care laws. –Washington Post
Comment: Trump will surely rely on McConnell to work on the deal in the Senate itself, with Vice President (and former Rep.) Mike Pence as the main intermediary for the White House. Trump will be involved enough to show he cares a lot about it and then push harder when the Senate deal is close to done.
Of course, the Senate bill and the House bill will be different, requiring a conference committee–the kind of thing that used to be standard before the Obama years essentially jettisoned normal Congressional procedures.
◆ The New York Times wastes no time attacking: “Health Act Repeal Could Threaten U.S. Job Engine”
How? Because fewer people might be employed in health care. They report devastating numbers in manufacturing in Ohio and then say, well, treating people for illnesses has softened the blow to employment.
Comment: Oddly, this editorial was printed as a news story.
◆ Warren Buffett: I’m a ‘broken record’ on the US economy, we’re stuck at 2% growth (CNBC)
Don’t pay much attention to the quarterly numbers, which oscillate, he says. It’s been slow and steady since the autumn of 2009.
◆ Colombian civil war: Should the US fund the peace deal, as Obama wanted? Monica Crowley says no. (NY Post)
In mid-April, President Trump had a brief, cordial exchange with two former presidents of Colombia — Alvaro Uribe and Andres Pastrana — at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida. After the Miami Herald reported the encounter, critics suggested it might “undermine” the Colombian “peace deal” struck by the current president, Juan Manuel Santos, and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).
In fact, it’s less a peace agreement than a pathway to dictatorship for a key US ally and to an expansion of drug trafficking here — developments that would pose grave challenges to Trump’s national security agenda and fight against opioid addiction.
Remarkably, this disastrous course will likely be partially financed with nearly half a billion US taxpayer dollars — promised by then-President Barack Obama — unless Trump and House Speaker Paul Ryan deny the appropriation to implement the deal. –Monica Crowley in the New York Post
Comment: This deadly civil war has lasted for decades. Colombian voters rejected a previous peace deal.
I simply don’t know enough about the current situation to comment on it, or on Crowley’s views, intelligently.
◆ Richard Dawkins reports on very disturbing views in North Africa
The underlying article is here (National Secular Society, UK) It reports on a large survey in Egypt, Lebanon, Morocco, and Palestine.
Just 45% of Egyptian men believed there should be laws “criminalizing domestic violence, including marital rape.” And only 70% of Egyptian women agreed with this statement. –National Secular Society
Comment: This matters for women in the region and it matters for Europe, where refugees from North Africa are retaining the views for generations, not adapting to liberal western values.
♥ Hat Tip for helpful suggestions:
◆ Marcia Sukenik Weiss for the Colombia peace deal
◆ Seth Charnes for correcting me on Pence serving in the House, not the Senate