Early Warning for 19 March 2019

Good morning. Here’s your Early Warning for Tuesday, 19 March 2019.

 

Early Warning: This morning, I added numerous quotes from Democratic presidential candidates about packing the Supreme Court. The issue, as progressives outline, is that no matter how well Democrats do in House, Senate, and presidential elections, a conservative Supreme Court will stand to strike down progressive measures it sees as unconstitutional.

Democrats point to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s 2016 decision not to hold confirmation hearings for Obama-pick Merrick Garland as the beginning of the Supreme Court fight. Since then, President Trump has added two conservative justices, and Democrats are now scheming ways to nuke the Court’s conservative majority.

By constitutional law, there is no set number of Supreme Court justices. The Congress ultimately gets to decide how many are seated, which is why Democrats are salivating over the opportunity to remake the Supreme Court. First, though, they have to retake the Senate and the presidency.

For as much as the Left accuses President Trump of “bending the guardrails of Democracy,” packing the Supreme Court and abolishing the Electoral College are two measures that actually remove guardrails, not merely bend them. And both of these decisions would heavily favor Democrats for future elections.

These changes are not imminent. It may take several more election cycles for Democrats to gain the absolute power required to make these changes. But it’s clear that Democrats want them. For me, this begs the question of whether America is ready to have these kinds of fights. I also wonder how changes like these would fuel domestic unrest and possible political violence. This is another reason in an ongoing succession of why I believe that we have some politically darker days ahead of us.

 

Politics & Governance

President Trump is scheduled to meet with Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro and other officials.

Secretary Pompeo is on travel to Kuwait, Israel, and Lebanon from 18-23 March to discuss regional security issues, specifically focusing on combating Iranian influence and activities in the Middle East.

On Friday afternoon, President Trump vetoed a Congressional resolution to block the national emergency declaration for the southern border. In a press release, the White House described the situation:

The situation at the southern border is rapidly deteriorating because of who is arriving and how they are arriving. For many years, the majority of individuals who arrived illegally were single adults from Mexico. Under our existing laws, we could detain and quickly remove most of these aliens. More recently, however, illegal migrants have organized into caravans that include large numbers of families and unaccompanied children from Central American countries…

Under current laws, court decisions, and resource constraints, the Government cannot detain families or undocumented alien children from Central American countries in significant numbers or quickly deport them. 

 

Far Left Daily

“Politics around the world will increasingly be defined by two visions: multiracial welfare states that provide a decent standard [of] living for all their people versus white nationalism fueled by corporate elites to preserve hierarchy.” – Waleed Shahid, Justice Democrats

“We have to recognize the threat of white nationalism. We’ve got to call it out. As President of the United States, my Justice Department would go after white nationalists with full prosecution.” – Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA)

“I believe it’s time to start the national full blown conversation about reparations in this country.” – Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA)

“Every vote matters, and the way we can make that happen is that we can have national voting, and that means get rid of the Electoral College.” – Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA)

“We are on the verge of a crisis of confidence in the Supreme Court. We have to take this challenge head on, and everything is on the table to do that.” – Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA), speaking about court packing

“It’s not just about expansion, it’s about depoliticizing the Supreme Court. It’s a conversation that’s worth having.” – Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), speaking about court packing

“The debate is quickly moving past the question of whether Democrats should seek to reform our courts to the question of exactly what type of reform to pursue. Adding seats to the Supreme Court is a necessary step. It is reassuring to see so many candidates beginning to recognize the urgency of this.” – Brain Fallon, Demand Justice

 


 

Economy/Finance

According to Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, China could triple its purchases of U.S. agricultural goods as part of, or leading up to, a future trade agreement. Perdue described the “very attractive numbers” as a part of trade talks. (Analyst Comment: This would be a clear win for the Trump administration, but without significant reforms to the trading relationship, the U.S. still stands to lose in terms of overall competitiveness as long as China protects its state-owned enterprises from U.S. competition and forces technology transfers for U.S. corporations doing business in China.)

The latest Merril Lynch fund manager survey is out and it finds that the largest tail risk to the global economy is… China. The Chinese economy is slowing down, although the Chinese Communist Party rounds of heavy stimulus to avoid a long-term slowdown.

According to credit rating company Moody’s, there are currently 10 states approaching insolvency, with one — Illinois — on the verge of financial collapse. New Jersey, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Kentucky, Louisiana, California, and Alaska, in that order, are atop the list, each suffering from chronically spending more than they receive annually in taxes and fees. The biggest budget drain is pension payments that outstrip the state governments’ ability to finance and pay for them. [SOURCE] (Analyst Comment: Illinois owes pensioners more than $133 billion, as of December. Other states have funded less than 50 percent of their obligations. My current expectation is that the stock market will fail to sustain the 7.5 percent annual growth required to fund these pensions. Ultimately, we could be looking at massive restructuring of these agreements — later retirement, reduced benefits, and higher contribution requirements for those still working — or potentially a federal bailout.)

One area where coming automation will have a substantial impact is over-the-road trucking, a large industry with lots of jobs and good pay. A Government Accountability Office analysis of how automation will affect the trucking industry found one of two likely scenarios: “Long-haul highway driving will be fully automated, resulting in fewer trucking jobs and possibly lower wages;” and/or, “Self-driving trucks may still need operators, possibly changing the skillset and wages without significantly affecting the number of trucking jobs.” [SOURCE] (Analyst Comment: Various analyses have forecast job losses in the millions, but similar reports also claim that technology can also save employment. The GAO trucking report touched on how that might look: There will be jobs, just different ones that will require retraining existing workers or funneling new workers into various related fields. Still, the transition is not expected to be quick or painless. We’re likely to see rising unemployment once these automated trucking systems begin hitting the road in earnest in the coming years.)

 

Strategic/Defense Situational Awareness

Kaine: No evidence of U.S. military buildup for Venezuela

Islamic State spokesman calls for retaliation over New Zealand massacre

Russians deploys strategic bombers to Crimea


 

Notable Quotable

“Trump’s digital sophistication was one of the most over-reported stories of the 2016 election cycle. Trump’s digital head start in the 2020 cycle is one of the most under-reported stories.” Mike Schneider, Bully Pulpit Interactive, speaking about the Trump campaign’s massive spending spree on Facebook and Google

Samuel Culper 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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