Good morning. Here’s your Early Warning for Tuesday, 16 April 2019.
ADMIN NOTE: I apologize for the unannounced hiatus. I didn’t intend or expect to be out of the loop for so long, however, normal reporting will resume this week.
Early Warning: Yesterday’s burning of Notre Dame de Paris dominated the news cycle, but it’s important to point out two things. First, authorities say that the fire was an accident and not a case of arson (“for now”). And second, right wing circles, as well as some mainstream conservatives, are questioning the official story, which was announced before a complete investigation. There were several unconfirmed statements being promoted yesterday that workers claimed the fire was set deliberately. And many have pointed to the prior Islamic terror plots against the cathedral, along with numerous French churches that have recently been vandalized or set on fire, which proponents say tip the scales of the likelihood of arson.
Also: On Friday, Colorado passed a “red flag” gun law, which states that a gun owner’s firearms may be temporarily confiscated if law enforcement or family members suspect that the gun owner is a threat to himself or society. Over half the state’s county sheriffs lobbied against the law, which is set to be enacted on 01 January, 2020; and at least 11 county sheriffs have said they will go to jail before they enforce the law. (Analyst Comment: This represents a significant point of contention in 2020 and beyond. Oregon, Washington, California, Illinois, Indiana, Florida, Maryland, Vermont, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and Connecticut have similar laws. My concern going forward is that once Democrats get back into power in D.C., gun rights activists and new restrictions will again take center stage in the culture war, setting up potentially violent encounters over how these laws are enforced.)
Politics & Governance
President Trump is scheduled to have lunch with Vice President Pence and then attend the swearing-in of the new administrator for the Environmental Protection Agency.
The IRS has one week left to comply with House demands for President Trump’s tax returns. White House officials and President Trump’s attorney refuse to hand over tax and other financial statements, which is leading to another political showdown between House Democrats and the Trump administration.
Former Republican governor of Massachusetts Bill Weld announced that he’s running in the GOP primary against President Trump. Weld officially launched his 2020 presidential campaign yesterday afternoon. (Analyst Comment: I expect to see establishment Republican support for an alternative to President Trump, and their support of a Republican who runs as a third-party independent is still a possibility.)
Goldman Sachs chief economist Jan Hatzius predicts that the 2020 general election will be a “close call”, but adds that “President Trump is more likely to win a second term than the eventual Democratic candidate is to defeat him.”
According to reporting from the LA Times, Customs and Border Patrol is getting ready to send asylum seekers back to Mexico to await their asylum hearings after a 9th Circuit Court judge stayed a previous ruling that blocked them from implementing the policy.
Far Left Daily
Over the weekend, CBS released a promo for the latest season of a show called “The Good Fight.” In it, a black man is walking through what appears to be a riot and says:
“Is it alright to hit a Nazi unprovoked? I was always taught to never throw the first punch, never instigate. You can defend but don’t attack. But then I saw a video of the white nationalist Richard Spencer being punched in the face during an interview and I realized Spencer was in a pressed suit, wearing a tie, being interviewed like his opinion mattered, like it should be considered part of the conversation, like neo-Nazism was just one political point of view. And then I realized there’s no better way to show some speech is not equal. Some speech requires a more visceral response. It’s like Overton’s Window. That’s the term from which ideas are tolerated in public discourse. Well, Overton’s Window doesn’t mean sh*t unless it comes with some enforcement. So, yeah, this is enforcement. It’s time to punch a few Nazis.”
[Analyst Comment: The promo is problematic because the term “Nazi” is used so loosely by the Left. The term “Nazi” has been applied to mainstream conservatives who are in no way affiliated with Nazism, but who merely hold an opposing political point of view. The video is clearly promoting political violence as CBS tries to do some shifting of Overton’s Window themselves. CBS later deleted the video, but you can watch it here. (Fair Warning: This link goes to the Twitter account of a white nationalist, and the comments there are typical of what you’d find in those circles.)]
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi chided “democratic socialists” during a 60 Minutes interview, saying that socialism is “not the view” of the Democratic Party. “I do reject socialism as an economic system. If people have that view, that’s their view. That is not the view of the Democratic Party.” Pelosi maintained that the way forward for Democrats was in the mainstream, adding that “we have to hold the center” for upcoming elections. [source] (Analyst Comment: Pelosi is trying to stem the level of influence that socialists have in the Democratic Party, and she likely fears that the often extreme and ill-advised comments made by the socialists are hurting Democrats’ chances in 2020.)
“I think ‘Abolish ICE’ is a call to action on several levels. One is the literal interpretation of all abolishing ICE, which I support…I don’t believe that an agency that systematically & repeatedly violates human rights — I don’t think that agency can be reformed.” – Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY)
Commercial real estate continues to suffer from an acceleration of store closures. This year alone, nearly 6,000 brick and mortar stores have closed, compared to 5,864 in all of 2018. Store closings continue to outpace store openings by 3,353 this year. (Analyst Comment: From a local perspective, consider the potential impact of economic blight in retail-heavy areas, not only as more retail shopping shifts online, but also as financial troubles emerge for shopping malls and other retail complexes during a potential 2020 or 2021 recession.)
Strategic/Defense Situational Awareness
Aircraft carriers Dwight Eisenhower (CVN-69) in the Atlantic, Theodore Roosevelt (CVN-71) in the east Pacific, Abraham Lincoln (CVN-72) in the east Atlantic, and John Stennis (CVN-74), last reported in the Arabian Sea, are all underway. The Abraham Lincoln is re-basing from Norfolk to San Diego, and the Dwight Eisenhower completed sea trials last month. While it doesn’t appear to be anything major, this is the first time in months that four aircraft carriers have been underway.
Major Army exercises to focus on South China Sea [new update to old news]
“There’s a Chinese saying that carrying out a reform is equivalent to a man cutting off his own arm, which is very hard. It might help if someone else forces you to do it.” – A Chinese lawyer based in Beijing, who supports President Trump’s hard line stance against China, and hopes that it will lead to domestic reforms in the Chinese communist government