June 21, 2017 Last Updated 8:19 am

AHCA gets major boost from Democratic miscalculations; Brexit at center of Queen’s Speech, Tories scale back agenda

Morning Brief: The Democratic candidate in Georgia’s special election failed to even match Clinton’s performance in the district, leading GOP to conclude that the voters have given them a free hand to move forward on health care and tax cuts

The US and UK find themselves in dangerous territory this morning. One nation is set to move aggressively to implement its agenda of limiting access to health care and shifting wealth from the middle class to the wealthy, while the other is tasked with the job of separating itself from its neighbors, fearing the consequences of that action.

Yesterday I wrote about the special election in Georgia “I’ll be shocked if Ossoff pulls it off. Democrats continue to poll well… and vote only occasionally.” In the end, it really wasn’t close. Though Ossoff was leading in the polls going into the vote yesterday, he lost by over 3 points, a bigger margin that Hillary Clinton lost to Donald Trump in the district.

The results of the special election will be interpreted by supporters of both parties in different ways, but it will be how the results will be interpreted by the Republicans in Congress and the president that should be the concern of everyone.

Tomorrow Senate leadership will introduce the newly written Senate version of the AHCA. I see no way it doesn’t pass with 100 percent of Republicans voting for it. Despite protestations about the secrecy of the bill, no Republican will be deaf to the chats of “Trump! Trump! Trump!” chanted last night by Karen Handel supporters following her victory. While the Democrat was hesitant to make the GA-6 race about the president, Handel supporters were not.

And what of the fate of the Russia investigation? It was a bit mistake by the president to fire James Comey then say it was because of the investigation. Will he now make a bigger mistake by not firing the special prosecutor? Trump is free to do as he wishes, including squashing the investigation and firing anyone who stands in his way. There is no opposition to the president in the Republican Party, and the Democrats are proving incapable to showing any real resistance by winning even one meaningful election.

The Washington Post, James Hohmann:

Democrats despondent, Trump emboldened after GOP victory in Georgia special election

With all the ballots counted, Republican Karen Handel won the most expensive House race in U.S. history by 3.8 percentage points. That’s a larger margin of victory than the 1.5 points that Donald Trump carried Georgia’s 6th Congressional District by last November.

Handel even wound up winning by a greater margin than the GOP candidate in an unexpectedly close special election to replace OMB Director Mick Mulvaney in South Carolina that had not been on the national radar.

The New York Times, Frank Bruni:

After Georgia Election, Democrats Are Demoralized, Again

he party has been bitterly divided over whether that route should veer toward the left, which is where Bernie Sanders is beckoning it, or toward the center. Ossoff chose the latter, electing not to put his chips on the demonization of Trump, lest he offend all the district voters who had put faith in the president. His positions, in aggregate, were moderate…

…My guess is that Handel’s success owed a great deal to the assertiveness with which Republicans painted Ossoff as a liberal puppet, ready to have Nancy Pelosi pull his strings. Because he’s just 30, had a paltry record to invoke and seemed to be getting ahead of himself by running in a district in which he wasn’t even residing, he was ripe to be defined — and caricatured — by the other side.

That’s one lesson to take away from this: Candidates matter. And Ossoff’s defeat may make it more difficult for Democrats to recruit the best ones for the equally tough House races to come.

Politico: Trump spikes the ball after Georgia election win
CNN: Republicans jittery about health care breathe sigh of relief
The Atlantic: Democrats’ Georgia Gut Punch

While the direction of the US now appears set, the UK finds itself floundering about.

Today, the Queen’s speech — that bizarre tradition where the monarch of a modern states acts as if they are still in charge, though they know they are not — featured less not more, dropping key Tory manifesto pledges due to their unpopularity. While in the US defeats by the Democrats have emboldened the Republicans, the recent win by the Tories has led to a less confident government, not a more emboldened one.

The Tory government looks as old and feeble as its royalty, yet like in the US, the voters have become tribal.

At the center of it all is, of course, Brexit.

The Sun, Alain Tolhurst:

PM’S Humble Pie: Theresa May ditches dementia tax and scrapping of free school meals in Queen’s Speech that vows to deliver a ‘Brexit that works for everyone’… as DUP name their price for supporting her

Theresa May has torn up the Tory manifesto to focus on delivering a “Brexit deal that works for everyone” in the Queen’s Speech as she ditches the “dementia tax”, grammar schools and the scrapping of free school meals…

…But it was also overshadowed by Government instability, the recent terror attacks and the Grenfell Tower tragedy.

And as it was unveiled it was reported the DUP are seeking a £2billion sweetener for Northern Ireland in exchange for the support of their 10 MPs to get the speech passed through the House of Commons.

Sources told the BBC the party wanted £1billion of investment in the health service, and another £1billion for national infrastructure.

For a few years I was the publisher of a technology magazine called ITS World. “ITS” stands for intelligent transportation systems, and it means everything from self-driving cars (which gets the headlines) to simpler things such as automatic toll collection systems. We acquired the magazine from an owner who hardly knew they owned the title because it matched up well with our transportation construction magazine. Unfortunately, after I left, the company was so determined to prove that our success was a mirage that they shuttered the magazine.

Yet, here we are, on the verge of an era where cars may well drive themselves — or, at least, that is what some are saying. As much as I am an advocate for technology, I’ve always believed we are way, way too early on to really start seeing car drivers sitting in the back seat, confident in the ability of their autos to not get them killed.

Matthew DeBord seems to feel the same way.

Business Insider, Matthew DeBord:

I checked out Tesla Autopilot — and there’s no way it can drive a car by itself

But here’s the real deal: Warnings or not, you absolutely, positively shouldn’t take you hands off of the wheel. Ever.

The technology is very good, but after using it for only about 15 minutes on the highway, it was abundantly clear to me that Autopilot is a long, long way from the magical experience of a car driving itself.

Or even steering itself.


The New York Times: Uber Founder Travis Kalanick Resigns as C.E.O.
Syracuse.com: Growth at any cost fueled Uber’s toxic workplace

Chicago Business Journal: Chicago Sun-Times now reviewing at least two bids for the paper
The Street: Tronc’s Michael Ferro Would Be Overpaying for Sun-Times at $15 Million or More

BuzzFeed News: How The Guardian Lost America

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