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The Maastricht Diplomat

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Throw It at the Wall, See What Sticks

Another week, another episode in the ongoing series “Who wants to be a dictator?”, starring Donald Trump as president, accompanied by a varied cast of unscrupulous Republicans. This week, Mr. Trump declared a national emergency in order to redirect money to his pet project – the Mexican border wall – after the Democratic-controlled house refused to cave during the ongoing negotiations to keep the Federal government funded. In a shocking display of nihilistic partisanship, Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell gave his tacit support for Trump’s executive power grab after agreeing to a deal with Democrats just hours before.

Though national emergencies are by no way a novelty in the American system, it is without a doubt the first time that a government has used the broad powers the procedure grants to bypass Congress over funding. Unsurprisingly, some of the saner voices in the GOP grasped the extraconstitutional nature of the move and, perhaps fearing electoral backlash in what will be a hard-fought election season, seemed willing to stare down Trump in the political and legal challenges that are sure to pop up immediately.

Not to worry though, as the third law of American politics clearly states that for every sane republican action, there is an equal and opposite bat-shit reaction. This week’s supply is brought to you by senator Ted Cruz from Texas, who came up with a plan B to fund the wall. Senator Cruz wants infamous drug kingpin Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman to pay for the scheme by using $14 billion in asset forfeiture the Justice Department is seeking in the drug lord’s indictment on 17 counts of international drug trafficking. An idea best described as delusional.

America’s justice system prevailed today in convicting Joaquín Guzmán Loera, aka El Chapo, on all 10 counts. U.S. prosecutors are seeking $14 billion in drug profits & other assets from El Chapo which should go towards funding our wall to #SecureTheBorder. — Senator Ted Cruz (@SenTedCruz) February 12, 2019

While at a glance it might seem sensible to use drug money to prevent drugs from flowing across the border, there are some issues. First, drug lords don’t have accessible bank accounts for the state to simply seize. Second and more important: it requires the complete absence of any sense of irony to advocate building a wall to stop drugs by using drug money taken from a man who made his fortune tunnelling under every wall ever put in front of him. Can’t wait for the Netflix take on this.

In other news, for a brief but spectacular moment, Thailand’s upcoming elections were given an air of royalty when the king’s elder sister and former princess, Ubolratana Rajakanya, announced her ambitions to run for prime minister. Having laid down her titles to marry an American, she is still massively popular owing to her acting career and MIT education. Despite this, both royalist and liberal Thais were wary of her actions, one side fearing that it might undermine the regime while the other hoped for the first free democratic vote since the 2014 military coup, free of royal involvement. Powers moved swiftly to block her candidacy, but questions are sure to linger long after the people head to the polls in five weeks’ time.

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