Ailing: A couple weeks ago, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell rolled out the Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017, the GOP health care alternative to the Affordable Care Act. He’d hoped for a vote on the bill before the July 4 break, but as the deadline loomed, moderate Republicans claimed the bill was too harsh and went too far; conservatives complained the bill didn’t go far enough; Democrats weren’t biting at all. And with no path to a majority, there was no vote.
CNN quotes Senators Susan Collins and Rand Paul to demonstrate the divide:
Sen. Susan Collins:
“There was only one issue. That’s unusual. It’s usually a wide range of issues. I heard, over and over again, encouragement for my stand against the current version of the Senate and House health-care bills. People were thanking me, over and over again. ‘Thank you, Susan!’ ‘Stay strong, Susan!’”
Sen. Rand Paul:
“The bill is just being lit up like a Christmas tree full of billion-dollar ornaments. And it’s not repeal.”
Which may be where things are headed. With shaky support for the BCRA, the AP says a new tactic may be underway: repeal the Affordable Care Act now; replace it with something else down the road.
That’s the path Rand Paul is putting forth, says The Hill:
“What about dividing the bill in two? Do the repeal, which no Democrat will vote for — repeal the taxes, repeal the regulations — and do a fix to Medicaid that helps to pay for everything. No Democrats will vote for anything good like that. But Democrats will always vote for spending.”
New York Magazine says “Senate Republicans may have found their health-care compromise.” The Washington Post says “repeal now; replace later” would be a “massive gamble.” It’s still an unpopular move, according to a March poll from The Kaiser Family Foundation. But it doesn’t have to be wildly popular — it only needs to be more so than the current bill, which is ranking somewhere between a poke in the eye and a swift kick in the knee. Neither of which the BCRA would cover.
On Friday, President Trump tweeted, “If Republican Senators are unable to pass what they are working on now, they should immediately REPEAL, and then REPLACE at a later date!”
If Republican Senators are unable to pass what they are working on now, they should immediately REPEAL, and then REPLACE at a later date!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 30, 2017
Politico takes a look at “Rand and Donald’s wild health care ride” and the complicated history of the relationship President Trump and Sen. Paul have had, from contentious rivals on the campaign trail to often friendlier times now.
Politico suggests Sen. Paul has the president’s ear, which is putting some stress on GOP Leadership, namely your other Kentucky senator, the aforementioned Sen. McConnell. U.S. News & World Report ran the AP’s story: “McConnell, Paul Talk Health Care…Just Not With Each Other.” Those two men have had a complicated relationship as well, with Sen. McConnell representing the establishment and Sen. Paul representing a more libertarian ideal.
On health care, Sen. Paul wants a list of changes to the bill before he can vote yes.
Sen. McConnell says sure, but there’s no time, according to The Guardian. Says Sen. McConnell:
“What we’re trying to do is a very complicated procedure. I’m in the position of the guy with the Rubik’s Cube, trying to twist the dial in such a way to get to at least 50 members of our conference who can agree to a version of repealing and replacing at least as much of it as we can agree to do. That is a very timely subject that I’m grappling with as we speak.”
And with that countdown looming, McConnell says if he can’t get Republicans to agree, he might actually be forced to look to a bipartisan solution with Democrats:
“Either Republicans will agree to change the status quo or markets will continue to collapse, and when I have to sit down with Sen. Schumer any negotiation with Democrats will include none of the reforms that we would like to make both on the market side and the Medicaid side.”
Isn’t it telling of politics in 2017 that an inclusive, working government that takes into account its full citizenry is used as a threat? “Don’t make me talk to Democrats. Don’t you make me…”
Robot Chicken: Thursday was National Fried Chicken Day, and to celebrate, your friends at KFC have sent a Colonel Sanders robot out into the world, says Yahoo!, AdWeek, Nation’s Restaurant News and Creativity.
H.A.R.L.A.N.D. (Human Assisted Robotic Linguistic Animatronic Networked Device), a robotic Colonel Sanders head that emerges from a KFC bucket to take your order. The orders are taken from KFC drive-thru employees then the robot filters their speech into Colonelese.
No, really. I have a video and everything.
And I have a press release:
“What better way to celebrate National Fried Chicken Day than by ordering KFC from the Colonel himself?” said George Felix, KFC’s U.S. director of advertising. “We suspect drive-thru designers are heralding the H.A.R.L.A.N.D. technology as the greatest industry advancement since the addition of two-way communication itself. Not only do we have a real person as our historic brand icon, but now we have the ability to bring that real person back as a real robot. The future is now.”
There’s a mockumentary of the initiative over at Funny or Die, who visit the Louisville Institute of Technology, which looks suspiciously like the Paleis van Justitie in Amsterdam.
The Dude Abides: In preparation for the 16th annual Lebowski Fest in Louisville this weekend, USA Today proclaims The Dude of “The Big Lebowski” as Louisville’s hero, as Batman to Gotham and Superman to Metropolis. Which would make a little more sense if the movie took place in Louisville or had some other connection, but they’re working an angle and you’re not supposed to tug too hard at that.
With tensions high nationwide and in the city, they look to Dudeism, a religion based on The Dude, played by Jeff Bridges in the 1998 Coen brothers film. Created by Oliver Benjamin in 2005, Dudeism has an estimated 450,000 followers across the globe and a 12-step Dude program to help practitioners abide alongside “The Take it Easy Manifesto.” You can find the 12 steps online or in “The Abide Guide.”
The Lebowski Fest starts tonight and goes through Saturday. You can grab tickets at lebowskifest.com.
High Fashion: Paris Haute Couture Fashion Week kicked off on Sunday, a four-day extravaganza in which all the big-time fashion designers show off their upcoming lines.
This year, it appears they’re sticking with the tradition of making the clothes more avant-garde than most people know what to do with and more expensive than most people can afford, so that kind of evens out.
But if all the latest and greatest clothes were there, you know the top models and fashion-savvy celebrities were there too — including your own Jennifer Lawrence. She’s been one of the faces of Dior for the last several years, so no surprise to find her at the 70th anniversary of the Christian Dior fashion house exhibition, says W, USA Today and Esquire.
She wore a sheer something or other I don’t fully understand with boyshorts underneath.
— The Fashion Court (@TheFashionCourt) July 3, 2017
Your big Spider-Man movie opens this weekend, and since “Opening Friday” now means Thursday at 7 P.M., we can tell you it’s already doing really well. Deadline reports it did $13 million just last night. So it might be popular. And Rotten Tomatoes currently has it sitting at 94 percent. So if you’re into the big superhero smash bang movies, it might be worth your time, is what I’m saying.
Here’s the trailer:
See you next week.