Good morning. Here’s your Early Warning for Tuesday, 13 November 2018. (All times Central.)
InFocus: The most popular article at the Wall Street Journal heading into Tuesday morning is entitled, “Hillary Will Run Again”. Long-time Clinton advisor Mark Penn writes an opinion piece where he points out that Clinton still has a 75 percent approval rating among Democrats and what she considers to be unfinished business. “She will not allow this humiliating loss at the hands of an amateur to end the story of her career. You can expect her to run for president once again.” [source]
One of my concerns in the 2020 election cycle remains the possibility that a recession has an effect on the electorate. It’s true enough that no one knows when it will hit, and many Americans are completely oblivious to another set of financial storm clouds. But recessions are cyclical, so it’s a matter of ‘when’ and not ‘if’. Former Trump advisor Steve Bannon, the man often credited with righting the Trump campaign ship, has warned since 2016 that if the Democrats adopt an economic populist message, they’d be unbeatable. Hillary Clinton ran as a progressive in 2016 and then lurched farther Left to stave off a challenge from Bernie Sanders (along with some help from the DNC). President Trump and his economic policies will inevitably be blamed for the next recession and the criticism of “late-stage capitalism” we’re already seeing is likely to become a central issue in U.S. politics, especially when Democrats are allowed to lay blame for the next financial crisis. The real Blue Wave could come as “democratic socialists” getting elected in larger numbers.
In a somewhat related topic, I continue to be concerned over what’s happening in Florida. Many on the Right, including President Trump, are alleging that the Senate election is being stolen from Republican Rick Scott. Public officials have reported that there’s been no evidence of election fraud, although several instances of irregularities should raise red flags. I commented on some of those in Friday’s Early Warning.
Historian and author Larry Schweikart (Patriot’s History of the United States) tweeted on Friday:
Dunno about you but I think it’s time Rs begin printing their own little “secret stash” of “ballots to be discovered when you’re behind” and start using them. [source]
It drew mixed reviews, but a surprising amount of support from Republicans who believed that elections were being stolen in Florida, Arizona, and other states. Last night, Republican Martha McSally conceded to Democrat Kyrsten Sinema, despite voting irregularities in Maricopa County. Meanwhile in Florida, Broward County election officials are finding boxes marked “provisional ballots” in some odd places, including in an Avis rental car. These recently discovered ballots have curiously cut the lead of Republican candidates for Senate and Governor. At risk is the bedrock of our Republic: representative government by free and fair elections. It’s not outlandish to say that a high profile case of illegal electioneering could lead to political violence, which could lead to additional instances. And there’s a real risk that real or perceived election interference threatens more than just Florida. The 2020 presidential election is likely to be another contentious one, and there exists the possibility that we see more politicization of vote counting. My greatest concern for 2016 was a failed election that created extreme instability for the country, and we’ll obviously run that risk again in two years.
Meanwhile, we’re awaiting the fallout from the Florida Senate and Governor election. After that, we can expect even more political instability as the Democratic House has some 85-100 investigations lined up for the Trump administration. I’ll have more on that in tomorrow’s Early Warning.
The President: Nothing significant to report.
Caravan Watch: Over the long weekend, I was watching Mexican news coverage of the Migrant Caravan, wherein video of migrants in cattle and poultry cars three rows high were broadcast. At last report, the large caravan had broken up into smaller groups as some began to catch buses and hitchhike to the U.S. border. On Sunday, about a hundred migrants arrived in Tijuana, while others continued to funnel in. The Tijuana border crossing bridge contains about 2,500 hopeful asylum seekers, while others remain scattered between there, Guadalajara, and Mexico City. Those groups are expected to reach the U.S. border in the coming days, and will be followed by an estimated 2,500 other migrants in two groups still traveling north through southern Mexico. The total number of migrants traveling in caravans is at least 8,000, by last reports. President Trump signed am executive order last week raising the bar for asylum-seekers, who are increasingly being told by immigration activists that they stand poor chances at receiving asylum.
Secretary Pompeo: Nothing significant to report.
Defense Secretary Mattis: Nothing significant to report.
Of Note: The Commander of the Estonian Defense Forces is in D.C. and meeting with Gen. Joseph Dunford, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The U.S. Air Force recently committed to building an airbase in Estonia, which would significantly increase defense readiness in the Baltic region.
These are the last publicly reported locations of these ships. Conflict requiring an aircraft carrier/carrier strike group does not appear imminent.
The Carl Vinson (CVN-70) was last reported as taking part in a sustainment exercise off the coast of southern California.
The Abraham Lincoln (CVN-72) was last reported as being in port at Norfolk, but will be transitioning to a new home port in San Diego.
The John Stennis (CVN-74) was last reported as being underway in the eastern Pacific as it begins its shift to a new homeport in Norfolk.
The Harry Truman (CVN-75) was last reported as being in the eastern Atlantic.
The Ronald Reagan (CVN-76) was last reported as taking part in joint U.S.-Japan military exercise Keen Sword off the coast of Okinawa, Japan.
The George H. W. Bush (CVN-77) was last reported as being in the western Atlantic.
* Indicates significant changes to last reported location or other amplifying information.
Significant House Activity:
- Nothing significant to report.
Significant Senate Activity:
- The Senate Judiciary Committee is scheduled to hold a hearing “to examine big bank bankruptcy, focusing on 10 years after Lehman Brothers.” (This hearing was originally scheduled for 03 October 2018.)
* Only events pertinent to national security are listed. Significant reporting will appear in this week’s Strategic and National Intelligence reports.
On Friday, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin spoke with his Chinese counterpart and signaled that both sides wanted to renew discussions on ending the trade war. President Trump and Chinese president Xi Jinping are scheduled to meet later this month. President Trump is committed to forcing China’s hand on its own economic weakness. Don’t expect President Trump to back down unless China makes significant concessions. The number one thing media outlets consistently fail to report is that the Trump tariffs only exist to modify unfair Chinese trade practices and economic espionage. If those two factors are allowed to continue, then the Chinese will continue to degrade U.S. competitiveness in the global economy.
The Atlanta Fed’s GDPNow has Q4 economic growth at 2.9 percent, down from Q3’s prediction of 4.5 percent just a few months ago. Goldman’s tracker shows 2.5 percent annualized, also down from 4 percent over the summer. This is the economic slowdown many are pointing to. Blame a stronger dollar, blame the trade war, blame rising interest rates: plenty of factors to go around to explain the slowdown. I just want to point out that 11 of the past 14 rate hike cycles have resulted in a recession.
HurricaneWatch: The National Hurricane Center reports a small disturbance in the Caribbean. About 17 days remain in “hurricane season,” which ends on 30 November. [source]
What I’m Looking at this Morning
“Nancy Pelosi is making gender a central part of her bid to reclaim the speaker’s gavel — leaning hard into the pitch that Democrats cannot oust the only woman at their leadership table following a historic election for women.” – Rachel Bade, writing for Politico