Articles chosen with care. Comments welcomed. Linked articles in bold purple
◆ The Republicans’ held the Georgia seat vacated when Dr. Tom Price left to head Health and Human Services.
The seat has long been Republican, of the traditional-conservative variety, but was thought to be vulnerable because Trump won so narrowly. The Democrats’ poured in vast sums from around the country and had an attractive, middle-of-the-road candidate (albeit an inexperienced one). He almost won in the First Round of voting. In the Final Round, though, Republicans’ came home and came out, handing the seat to Karen Handel, who has held state-wide office and is well-known in the district.
Comment: The R’s victory is less significant than their loss would have been. If the D’s had won, it would signal that Trump’s vulnerability, and Republicans in marginal districts would begin backing away from Trump and his agenda. A Democratic victory in a traditionally Republican seat would also have made it easier to recruit Democratic candidates for 2018. Now, Democrats realize all those immediate hopes are dashed.
Less obvious: the Democrats “nationalized” the race, and it didn’t work.
Nationalizing the race means focusing on big US issues, rather than local ones. That’s often a smart strategy when the opponent’s party is unpopular. In this case, nationalizing the race mean linking the Republican candidate to Trump. That didn’t work. In fact, the Republican embraced Trump and vice versa. More important, the Republicans, not the Democrats, may have the advantage in nationalizing these races. Nancy Pelosi’s name is poison outside of deep blue states, and any Democratic victor would be voting to make her Speaker. Republican candidates love to make that point.
As expected, Republicans also won a vacant seat in South Carolina, though the race was closer than forecast.
That makes the Democrats 1-4 in special elections (D win in Calif; R wins in Georgia, So. Carolina, Montana, and Kansas). They will be 1-5 after Utah elects a successor to Jason Chaffetz.
◆ Today in Islamic Terror in Europe: Belgium. Police killed the jihadist in Brussels’ main train station and safely destroyed his explosives.
Comment: It’s the thought that counts. Well, that and as many innocent infidels as they can kill.
◆ Saudi king switches successors. Out: the counterterror chief. In: King Salmon’s son, who is currently defense minister CBS reports:
The all-but-certain takeover of the throne by Mohammed bin Salman [age 31] awards near absolute powers to a prince who has ruled out dialogue with rival Iran, moved to isolate neighboring Qatar for its support of Islamist groups, and leads a devastating war in Yemen that has killed thousands of civilians.
The prince already oversees a vast portfolio as defense minister. He has become popular among some of Saudi Arabia’s majority young population for pushing reforms that have opened the deeply conservative country to entertainment and greater foreign investment as part of an effort to overhaul the economy. –CBS
Comment: The youth of the heir-apparent contrasts sharply with a series of elderly kings and could lead to a long reign.
◆ Mitch McConnell expects a health care bill on the Senate floor by Thursday. What’s in it? No one besides the Republican negotiators knows.
◆ Supreme Court says that people cannot be banned from the Internet, even if they committed horrible crimes and might be predators on social media sites (Tech Dirt) The courts’ reasoning: The First Amendment’s protection of free speech and the Fourteenth Amendment’s protection of due process make it unconstitutional for courts to prohibit sex offenders from visiting social media sites.
◆ Palestinians continue their non-stop program at the United Nations to deny any Jewish connection to the most-prominent and well-documented Jewish heritage sites Legal Insurrection article here.
Comment: What’s shocking is how many countries routinely vote with the Palestinians on issues that baldly deny the most basic historical facts. This goes beyond politics and historical denial into outright anti-Semitism.
♥ Hat Tip for helpful suggestions:
◆ Miriam Elman for the article on Palestinians at the UN
◆ Michael Lipson for the Supreme Court decision on the Internet