Tuesday, July 22, 2014

The Silly Season Gets Serious

I took my talents to South Beach over the weekend for a relative's surprise birthday party, and on the plane to and fro I had the opportunity to...think. Love airplane mode. Phones and tablets should have other modes, such as marriage mode, play-with-children mode, just-watch-one-screen mode, or perhaps physical media mode, where you would be forced to consume news and entertainment using a newspaper or magazine. I know, I know. I'm old and out-of-touch.

Not really.

Consuming news over the past 10 days has been a wild ride. The Middle East is blowing up again, Malaysia Airlines underwent another tragedy. U.S. courts are issuing contradictory opinions on the same set of facts. We have reached a news critical mass.

I am worn out about the decades-old Israeli-Palestinian war and the war over which press outlets are too pro-Israel (FOX) and too pro-Palestinian (The New York Times). Terrorist groups and organizations have for too long molded the narrative and have sabotaged every attempt at peace in the region. And the governmental authorities in the warring camps have let it happen. Clearly, Benjamin Netanyahu is not the man who will lead Israel to recognize a two-state solution and there is no current Palestinian leader with the credibility to make peace with Israel. As long as countries in the region refuse to recognize Israel's sovereign right to exist, there is no basis for meaningful talks. As long as Israel continues to blow up Palestinian homes, the world will continue to paint it as an immoral country.

And speaking of leaders with no credibility and few morals, Vladimir Putin has almost succeeded in building his neo-Soviet state out of the ashes of the USSR. Covering up the shooting of the Malaysian airliner, then having his thugs block access to the crash site is right out of the Chernobyl 101 textbook. The problem is that textbooks are so passe and the technology we have now has laid bare his claim that it was Ukrainians, not pro-Russian separatists, who perpetrated this horrific deed. I don't believe that this will lead to Putin's downfall in the short term because he's still very popular in Russia and he controls the media. Some Russians even believe that Putin himself was the target as he was flying in the general vicinity at the time the Malaysian plane was destroyed. Next up to blame will probably be the Israelis. Putin loves the Israelis.

As for the latest domestic squabbles, the Third Circuit Court in DC upheld the ACA subsidies and the Fourth Circuit in Richmond struck them down. Gotta love our judicial system. Both sides can claim victories, but my sense is that the ultimate decision by the Supreme Court, either next year or the year after, will uphold the subsidies that people get when buying insurance on the national exchange even though the law says that subsidies should only be given to people who buy on the state exchanges. Of course, the last time we tried to parse the ACA arguments in the court, the general consensus was that the law was toast. Ouch. And even if the Republicans win the Senate in November, which they won't, the law will still survive.

Meanwhile, sleep tight America. Rick Perry's got the border covered. 

But don't worry; he'll never be president.

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