Perez Beats Ellison for DNC Chair -- Over the week-end, while most normal people were wondering what film would win the Oscar for best picture (a disaster of a moment on TV), the Democratic National Committee held a couple of ballots before choosing former Labor Secretary Thomas Perez over Congressman Keith Ellison as its new chairman. Mr. Perez immediately offered the congressman the deputy chair job, which Mr. Ellison accepted. Those Inside the Beltway pontificated about the election's meaning, but few got it right. It doesn't matter much. [27 February]
Tories Take Copeland from Labour, UKIP Miss in Stoke -- Two by-elections in England strengthened Prime Minister Teresa May's hand when the final results were announced early this morning. In the Cumbrian constituency of Copeland, the Conservatives took a seat that Labour had held in one form or another for 85 years, the first by-election gain by a sitting government in 35 years. It was the biggest improvement in by-election vote share over general election share since 1966. In Stoke-on-Trent Central, the UK Independence Party missed a chance to break-through when Labour held the seat. The highly pro-Brexit area did push UKIP past the Tories by a fraction of a percent, but runner-up in a first-past-the-post election still means one lost. With the opposition so divided, Ms. May's position is further enhanced. [24 February]
Trump Withdraws Obama's Guidance on Transgender Students' Bathroom Use -- One has a hard time believing that the federal, state and local governments of the US have even a second to pay attention to which bathroom a kid uses during the school day. Surely, there are more pressing issues. However, not only did President Obama issue guidelines on the matter suggesting that the teen use the facilities they prefer, but the Trump administration has seen fit to withdraw those guidelines. The person to decide where to do one's business is the one doing the business. If a child doesn't feel comfortable in one set of facilities, no one has the moral authority to force the use of those facilities. [23 February]
Trump's Deportation Plan Will Cost Hundreds of Billions -- Yesterday, the Trump administration issued new enforcement guidelines for the immigration authorities. The only group not at greater risk of deportation than before are children brought to the US by their parents illegally. For everyone else, detention and deportation just became much more plausible. Regardless of whether one supports or opposes the plan, it is going to cost the nation dearly to implement it. [22 February]
Lieutenant General H.R. McMasters is Trump's National Security Adviser -- President Trump announced yesterday that he was appointing Lieutenant General H.R. McMasters of the US Army to serve as his National Security Adviser. The general's appointment generated broad spectrum support. He is seen by many as a thoughtful (he has a PhD) soldier, one unafraid to tell his superiors the bad news they need to hear. This journal sees two flaws in the appointment, neither of which should prevent him succeeding but both of which are grounds for concern. [21 February]
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