The fate of the free world hangs with France

Congressional Republicans took a major step today towards repealing and replacing Obamacare, with an amended American Healthcare Act bill narrowing passing the House of Representatives.

Next the bill will be sent to the Senate, where there is much uncertainty as to how it will be received. Meaning the bill is still far from becoming a law, but stands just one step away.

Public reaction to this development will be strong. As I expressed yesterday, people’s lives hang in the balance. While the legislation doesn’t abandon those with pre-existing medical conditions – one of the last additions, in fact, was to tack on $8 billion in state aid for that very reason – but it does appear to be dismantling some of the safeguards that protected them.

This is extremely important and deserved to be the focus of national conversation. And with Congress now heading home for an 11-day recess to face their constituents, that is bound to happen. And something tells me it is not always going to be civil.

We’re in an era now where constituents have become so passionate that they are finally holding their representatives accountable. Gone are the days where elected officials can coast their way through Washington and rarely hear a peep except from the occasional agitator. People are now holding their representatives accountable, and the result is a massive display of civic participation in action.

So let’s see what happens over the next week and a half.

Until then, we have another major event to keep our eyes on: the French presidential election on Sunday.

franc

By all accounts, centrist Emmanuel Macron should roll to victory, as all parties are expected to unite against his far-right adversary, Marine Le Pen.

*Cue Brexit will never happen*

*Cue Trump has no chance*

Consider me paranoid to believe any predictions until the actual results are in.

But of all the populists who are roiling through Europe, Marine Le Pen is among the most dangerous. And that’s not because her xenophobic and discriminatory views are any worse than some other firebrands that have popped up in countries like the Netherlands and Austria, but because Le Pen is savvy enough to soften her views and actually put them into action.

A Le Pen-led France would completely change the direction of France, and thus the European Union, the entire European continent, and the world. It would embolden those on the far-right and reinforce a sense of nativism worldwide.

The French have a choice to do something that Britons and Americans failed to do.

Macron and Le Pen met for their first and only presidential debate on Wednesday night, and the result was an American-like shouting match that a civilized European nation is accustomed to. It exemplified the divisiveness that is taking place in that country.

But it all ends Sunday. Let’s see what happens. If the election turns out like we hoped, we can all celebrate by eating French fries.

On second thought, we can all eat French fries no matter what.

#FrenchFriesAlways

Have a good weekend everybody. I’m taking a trip down south and will return Tuesday.

Until then, May the fourth be with you.

What I missed while I was in West Virginia

Well, I spent the last week road tripping to West Virginia on business, and I came back to find that the United States is the closest it’s been to nuclear war since the Cuban Missile Crisis more than five decades ago.

For the record, it was my first time in West Virginia, and while I try hard not to stereotype, everybody there looked exactly like I expected them to. Lots of flannel shirts and trucker hats. The only disappointment was that people weren’t walking down the streets wearing coal miner uniforms.

But I can safely say that I didn’t meet a single unkind person in my brief time in the state. The more I travel south, the more I can confirm that southern hospitality is indeed a real thing.

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They don’t call West Virginia the Mountain State for nothing

Now I can cross West Virginia off my travel bucket list … said no one ever.

And while being surrounded my mountains affords you a certain feeling of detachment that lets you distance yourself from the rest of the world, I did still try to keep up with the news. Turns out a lot happened while I was away.

As we all know, North Korea is a rogue nation that is recklessly building up its nuclear arsenal. Their government is a true dictatorship to the core, with a history of starving and imprisoning its people for even the tamest of offenses. Simple accommodations like electricity and television in homes are scarce, bordering on nonexistent.

And led by such an unstable figure such as 33-year-old Kim Jong-un, the situation obviously requires a great deal of subtlety and diplomacy to avoid setting off a domino effect that ends with nuclear catastrophe.

So naturally, Donald Trump is the perfect man for the job! Subtlety and diplomacy just happen to be his strong points.

North Korean officials have publicly stated that any threats to their nation would be met with a nuclear strike. They may be bluffing. But that’s not something I want to find out, and it’s hard to feel comfortable when we have nearly as unpredictable of a leader making our decisions.

Kim Jong-un

Sound bites like “the era of strategic patience is over” may sound good on TV, but could realistically have devastating effects. Pretending you’re sending a naval armada may look tough, but in reality, it’s the nuclear equivalent of lighting a match in a tinderbox.

I always figured that one day this blog would end because I became too busy or too lazy, and not because of nuclear extinction. So we’ll see.

What else happened last week? Well, Arkansas, still embattled in legal wrangling over their 10-day execution fest, was able to go through with one execution of African-American prisoner and convicted murderer Ledell Lee, after the Supreme Court voted 5-4 to let it happen. A double execution is also planned for Monday night.

Which means that Neil Gorsuch’s first decision as a Supreme Court Justice was to kill a black man.

Sounds about right.

But by far the biggest news that happened over the last several days is the French French electionspresidential election. The nation picked its top two candidates on Sunday, choosing centrist Emmanuel Macron and right-wing sensationalist and known Muslim hater Marine La Pen, who will now compete in a runoff next month in what is set to be a major turning point in the history of Europe.

Political experts foresaw this as a watershed election not only for France, but the entire continent and the future of the European Union. And now, the French people have a choice to do what the United Kingdom and United States failed to do – reject populism and xenophobia and join together behind a more unifying force.

This upcoming vote deserves a lot more attention, and I’ll devote a post to it in the near future in lieu of making this one too much of a currents event overload.

Bearing that in mind, I fortunately was unable to even touch on Bill O’Reilly!

Pun absolutely and horribly intended.