Early Warning for 15 February 2019 – Forward Observer Shop

Early Warning for 15 February 2019

Good morning. Here’s your Early Warning for Friday, 15 February 2019.

Admin Note: Early Warning will not be published on Monday for Presidents Day. I’ll be back first thing Tuesday morning, 19 February.


White House

The President is scheduled to deliver remarks on border security (national emergency declaration?), receive his intelligence briefing, and then flies to Mar-a-Lago for the long weekend.

0: The number of days remaining for Democrats and Republicans to make a government funding deal. In a statement yesterday, White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders confirmed that President Trump would sign yesterday’s House and Senate bill into law, funding the government through September. He’s also going to be declaring a national emergency, which the administration argues would give him the powers to order construction of a border wall. President Trump is expected to redirect $7 billion in federal funding for the wall.

National Emergency: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi fired back at President Trump over the national emergency option saying, “A Democratic president can declare emergencies, as well. So the precedent that the president is setting here is something that should be met with great unease and dismay by the Republicans.” Pelosi went on to describe gun violence as a national emergency. She continued: “Why don’t you declare that emergency, Mr. President? I wish you would. But a Democratic president can do that.”

Other Emergencies: Pelosi isn’t the only one threatening emergencies. Rep. Emanual Cleaver (D-MO) tweeted out: “Gun violence is a national emergency. Climate Change is a national emergency. Income inequality is a national emergency. Access to healthcare is a national emergency. Building a wall on the southern border is not.” Many people, including us at Forward Observer, have warned that the national emergency precedent would potentially lead to more. I’ve written numerous times about ‘bending the guardrails’ and this is one instance where the guardrails could be bent for the next Democratic administration, too.

Not over: Democrats are expected to challenge the national emergency declaration in court and through legislative veto. If you’re troubled about the precedent being set by President Trump, which may be available to future presidents, here’s one consideration. Writing at the Washington Examiner,  Philip Klein points out: “The only hope for limited government conservatives is that any emergency declaration gets quickly enjoined, and eventually nixed, in federal court. At least then, the silver lining would be that a legal precedent would be set that the president cannot attempt such an end around Congress.”

McCabe: In a 60 Minutes interview, former acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe describes his efforts to undermine President Trump by encouraging the president’s cabinet to pursue the 25th Amendment route and remove the president from office. I’ll have more on that in today’s National Intelligence Bulletin.

AG: Yesterday, the Senate confirmed William Barr, President Trump’s pick for Attorney General. Barr will head up the Justice Department and could end up being a watchdog on the Russian collusion investigations.


State Department

Secretary Pompeo is on travel this week to Hungary, Slovakia, Poland, Belgium, and Iceland. He’ll end his trip today after meeting officials in Iceland to discuss security issues in the North Atlantic (Russia). Iceland takes over the chairmanship of the Arctic Council this year.


Defense Department

Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan has no publicly scheduled events.


These are the last publicly reported locations of deployed carrier groups. Conflict requiring an aircraft carrier/carrier strike group does not appear imminent.

The Abraham Lincoln (CVN-72) is off the coast of Virginia for pre-deployment training. The Lincoln will rejoin the Indo-Pacific Command once it re-bases to San Diego, CA.

The John Stennis (CVN-74) was last reported as port in Thailand.

The Ronald Reagan (CVN-76) is forward deployed to Yokosuka, Japan.



Significant House Activity:

  • Nothing significant to report. The House will not be in session next week.

Significant Senate Activity:

  • Nothing significant to report. The Senate will not be in session next week.

* Only events pertinent to national security are listed. Significant reporting will appear in this week’s Strategic and National Intelligence reports



The latest retail numbers came out yesterday and purportedly show a 1.2 percent drop in December. Economists questioned the accuracy of the report because it was so unexpected and at-odds with other economic data. The Atlanta Fed’s GDPNow estimates for Q1 is now at 1.5 percent, down from 2.7 percent just a week ago. GDPNow estimates tend to fluctuate and could still be revised higher on new data, however, this could represent a substantial slowdown.

But maybe it’s not all doom and gloom. I’ve followed Fidelity Investments’ Director of Global Macro, Jurrien Timmer, for about a year now; partly because his previous market calls were spot-on. In a recent statement, he said the current cycle could turn out like 1994, 1998, and 2011. “In those cycles, there was a meaningful correction, no recession and a central bank pivot—the Fed in 1994 and 1998 and the [European Central Bank] in 2011” — meaning that he sees a possibility that we avoid a recession altogether. That’s certainly an alternative take, considering that the global economy is both slowing down and over leveraged. Still, Timmer says he doesn’t see a global recession on the horizon, at least for now.


Far Left Daily

“Socialism is storming back because it has formed an incisive critique of what has gone wrong in Western societies… [T]he left has focused on inequality, the environment, and how to vest power in citizens rather than elites… Many of the new socialists are millennials. Some 51% of Americans aged 18-29 have a positive view of socialism, says Gallup.” – From The Economist cover story, “Millennial Socialism” (14 Feb)


What I’m Looking at this Morning

CYBERCOM: Current cyber teams insufficient as adversaries improve


Notable Quotable

“I’ve always thought Americans would come together when we realized that we faced a dangerous foreign foe. And lo and behold, now we have one: China. It’s become increasingly clear that China is a grave economic, technological and intellectual threat to the United States and the world order.” – David Brooks

Mike Shelby is a former military intelligence NCO and contract intelligence analyst. He spent three years in Iraq and Afghanistan and is now the intelligence and warfare researcher at Forward Observer.

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