Everything is awful

Since January I’ve recited Elizabeth Bishop’s line from “The Bight” as if it were a mantra: awful but cheerful. As the worst week of the year inches toward some kind of dignified close, reminders why we’re fucked.

First, Puerto Rico, where a million people or more than eighty percent of the island remains without power. Trash pickup is non-existent. So are essential services. Dengue, chikungunya and Zika epidemics are possibilities:

At the Iniciativa Comunitaria clinic, doctors said they’re seeing a spike in cases of pink eye, skin rashes and diarrhea that often come with lack of cleanliness.

On a recent weekday, Alexandra Hernández was watching her husband pour a bag of lime on a dead cow that had gotten tangled up in a derelict tractor on the day of the storm and remained in their yard.

The mayor’s office said it didn’t have the resources to remove the stinking carcass and suggested Hernández move for the safety of her 3-year-old child. But she was staying put. “I have nowhere else to go,” she explained

But the president, who pronounces “Puerto Rico” as if he learned it from Buster Poindexter, has threatened to withhold FEMA aid, no doubt because nobody on the island voted for him in 2016 unlike Texas and Florida and besides they’re brown skinned people.

Next, the president’s decision to stop paying Affordable Care Act subsidies has sent the insurance markets into a tailspin. Citizens dependent on Obamacare fortunate enough to live in a state with contingencies get the hammer blow deferred another year. For the rest of them?

The subsidy payments are worth an estimated $7 billion this year and go directly to insurers to help offset out-of-pocket costs — such as co-pays and deductibles for low-income Obamacare customers. Without them, Obamacare insurers will still have to provide discounts to customers — they’ll just have to eat the added cost, which most will attempt to recover by increasing premiums.

“The market can only take so many shocks,” said Ceci Connolly, CEO of the Alliance of Community Health Plans. “We had hoped that a business person would have understood the implications to the market, but that seems not to be the case.”

Obamacare customers are already contending with fragile markets. Nearly half of all counties have just a single insurer selling plans, and premiums are skyrocketing in many states. Trump’s decision to cut off the subsidy payments two weeks before open enrollment begins on Nov. 1 for Obamacare’s fifth enrollment season is sure to lead to further uncertainty by consumers as well as insurers.

I had conversations about Bob Corker yesterday. Bob Corker, who voted for every one of World War III enthusiast Donald J. Trump’s Cabinet nominees, will not save us.

If our president didn’t have a couple bats gliding across his belfry, I would say he has loaded the legislative branch with the responsibilities for the sake of running a do-nothing Congress campaign in 2020; the world knows he hates Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan, who don’t hate him because, at last, their pet projects are getting underway. Tom Cotton, the ghoul from Arkansas, agrees:

The president seemed determined to erase any residual hope that the nuclear deal might form the basis of a new relationship between the United States and Iran. His speech, from the Diplomatic Reception Room of the White House, was perhaps the most hostile of any American leader toward Iran since President George W. Bush placed the country on his “axis of evil” in 2002.

Mr. Trump recited a litany of misdeeds by Iran going back to the 1979 hostage crisis and described it as the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism, supporting Al Qaeda, Hamas, Hezbollah and the Taliban. He also accused the country of dealing with North Korea, a reference to Pyongyang’s long history of selling missile technology to Iran, and said he had asked the nation’s intelligence agencies to investigate whether the relationship went further.

His tone made clear that Mr. Trump has no interest in what, for the Obama administration, was the biggest gamble of the accord: to provide the basis for two longtime adversaries to find other ways to cooperate.

We’ve got three years, three months, and three-odd weeks left, if my wretched math is correct. The Senate will not recommend impeachment. In 2016 I discovered Aperol. I can’t think what potent potable I can add to my collection that will produce the necessary daze.

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