Topics and articles chosen with care. Linked articles in bold purple
◆ Repeal and Replace goes down to the wire. Vote postponed Thursday, will happen Friday
The Washington Post reports the President gave holdouts a clear choice: “Trump delivers ultimatum to House Republicans: Pass health-care measure on Friday or he’ll move on”
The move was a high-risk gamble for the president and the speaker, who have invested significant political capital in passing legislation that would replace the 2010 Affordable Care Act. For Trump, who campaigned as a skilled negotiator capable of forging a good deal on behalf of Americans, it could either vindicate or undercut one of his signature claims. If the measure fails, it would be a defeat for Trump in his first effort to help pass major legislation and it may also jeopardize other items on his wish list, including a tax overhaul and infrastructure spending.
Defeat would also mean that Obamacare — something that congressional Republicans have railed against for seven years — would remain in place. –Washington Post
◆ Democrats Plan to Filibuster Supreme Court nominee, Neil Gorsuch (New York Times)
To break the filibuster, the Republicans need 60 votes and, according to the NYT, they don’t have the 8 Democrats they need to do that.
Comment: Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer is playing to his enraged, activist base. I see two main consequences, one for elections, two for the Senate.
- D’s from states Trump won by significant margins are made much more vulnerable. They will have to vote with the party base or the larger electorate in their states.
- Mitch McConnell will toss out the 60 vote filibuster rule for Supreme Court nominees, following Harry Reid’s precedent in overturning it for all other federal appointments.
- McConnell didn’t hold this position open–blocking hearings for Obama nominee, Merrick Garland–to let the Democrats block this appointment.
- The change in Senate rules, executed mostly by Reid, alters that body in fundamental ways. It now looks much more like the House, where a simple majority is enough to ram through legislation if you can whip your party in line.
◆ The NYT’s spin misses the main story:
Their headline: Devin Nunes Puts Credibility of House Panel He Leads in Doubt
The real headline story: Devin Nunes says he has hard evidence the Trump Transition team was spied on; Hints at “smoking gun” connecting spying to Obama Administration (ZipDialog post)
Nancy Pelosi clearly did not like Nunes’ doing this. She called him a stooge. Presumable the 4th one.
◆ London’s terror killer identified as Khalid Masood Now, the Brits want to know how he slipped through their net (Independent, UK)
Comment: Actually, he slipped through the net twice. The intel services didn’t connect his name to terrorism; they just knew him as a criminal. At this point, nobody knows whether he was connected to a wider network or not. Second, Masood slipped through an open gate and got very near Parliament itself.
That said, British and European counter-terrorism services face overwhelming tasks. Decades of anti-Western immigrants, who have failed to assimilate, have been systematically ignored by political leaders who thought–quite wrongly–that “nobody would come to Britain [or Belgium or France or ….] unless they wanted to become like us.” Nope. And simply celebrating it as “multiculturalism” turned out to be a catastrophic failure, as Theresa May has recognized.
This problem goes far beyond beefing up domestic intelligence and policing. That’s part of the answer, but the problem is much larger.
◆ Former Russian lawmaker, critical of Putin, gunned down in broad daylight in Ukraine’s capital, Kiev. (CNN) Denis Voronenkov joins a long line of former Putin critics. The suspected killer was himself killed by Voronenkov’s bodyguard.
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko called Thursday’s killing a “Russian state terrorist act” on Twitter, and described Voronenkov as “one of the key witnesses of the Russian aggression against Ukraine” — referring to Russia’s 2014 annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea region and a subsequent war with pro-Russian rebels. –CNN
Ukraine’s president called it an “act of terrorism.”
Comment: This killing makes Pres.-elect Trump’s excuses for Putin, especially those in his 2017 Super Bowl interview with Bill O’Reilly, all the more noxious (Transcript here)
“But he’s a killer though,” O’Reilly said. “Putin’s a killer.”
“There are a lot of killers,” Trump responded. “We’ve got a lot of killers. What do you think — our country’s so innocent.”
◆ Bright Future for Solar Energy in India: Hopes for a booming domestic market and exports of solar panels manufactured there (Business Insider) PM Narendra Modi wants to spend over $3 billion aiding the industry. In a country where some 300 million are not connected to the grid, the government hopes to draw 40% of its energy from renewables by 2030.