Early Warning for 20 December 2018

Good morning. Here’s your Early Warning for Thursday, 20 December 2018.

ADMIN NOTE: Early Warning will not be published the week of 24 December 2018.

 

White House

The President: Nothing significant to report.

Shutdown: Last night, the Senate passed a short term funding bill that would keep government open until 08 February 2019. The House is expected to vote on it this morning. President Trump seemed to backtrack yesterday from his commitment to a shutdown, although he did tweet this morning: “The Democrats, who know Steel Slats (Wall) are necessary for Border Security, are putting politics over Country. What they are just beginning to realize is that I will not sign any of their legislation, including infrastructure, unless it has perfect Border Security. U.S.A. WINS” [source] After Drudge Report and conservative commentators bashed him for caving on the border wall, and especially after video emerged of Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) dancing at a D.C. bar in celebration, President Trump is likely feeling some pressure to reverse course. It’s not a prediction, just a possibility that can’t be overlooked.


 

State Department

Secretary Pompeo is scheduled to meet with the Filipino foreign secretary.


 

Defense Department

Defense Secretary Mattis: Nothing significant to report.

 

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 having returned to San Diego.

The Abraham Lincoln (CVN-72) was last reported as having returned to Norfolk.

The John Stennis (CVN-74) was last reported as conducting joint operations in the Arabian Sea.

The Harry Truman (CVN-75) was last reported as having returned to Norfolk.

The Ronald Reagan (CVN-76) was last reported as having returned to home port in Yokosuka, Japan.

The George H. W. Bush (CVN-77) was last reported as having returned to Norfolk.

 

Of note: According to their last reported locations, all aircraft carriers but one are back in home port, presumably for Christmas.

Bold indicates significant changes to last reported location or other amplifying information.


 

Congress

Significant House Activity:

  • The Financial Services committee is expected hold hold a hearing entitled “The Peril of an Ignored National Debt”. (AC: This hearing has been postponed at least two times.)

Significant Senate Activity:

  • Nothing significant to report.

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


Weather/Climate


 

Economy/Finance

Former hedge fund manager and investing icon Stanley Druckenmiller was on Bloomberg this week warning that “The highest probability [for the U.S.] is we struggle going forward.” He continued: “It’s just a time for caution. You want this bubble to unwind slowly now, because if you don’t… you may have to do a lot more crazy monetary stuff and actually it’ll be more of a problem.” (AC: Druckenmiller is explaining that the Fed is going to have to resort to extreme measures if bubbles in the U.S. economy begin to burst.) “The air can be let out of this balloon without causing another financial crisis. I think it’s possible, but it’s hard to believe markets will not have struggling returns the next three to five years,” adding that he expects the S&P 500 to return between zero and five percent annually for the foreseeable future. [source]

The House Financial Services committee is scheduled to hold a hearing today entitled “The Peril of an Ignored National Debt”. Here’s an excerpt from the memo: “America’s debt has grown faster than that of Greece, Italy, or Japan since 2000, and our nation cannot sustain rapidly increasing deficits. Today, Social Security and Medicare account for more than 40 percent of federal expenditures, and this outsized share of government spending will grow much bigger still as cost increases outpace U.S. economic growth through the mid-2030s. Continuing with large and growing deficits will, before too long, require sharp tax increases. But trying to solve the problem by increasing taxes comes with an incredibly high cost – that is, by effectively cutting take-home pay, tax increases weaken work-incentives and shrink economic opportunity.” [source]


 

What I’m Looking at this Morning

Democrats engineer secret project that mimicked Russian-style disinformation tactics to get Alabama senator elected

CFR warns that South China Sea and Taiwan among top flashpoints for conflict

Navy planning for gray zone conflict


 

Notable Quotable

“There is a trend of lowering the threshold [of using nuclear weapons]. Lowering the threshold could lead to a global nuclear catastrophe… [A nuclear war between the West and Russia] could lead to the destruction of civilization as a whole and maybe even our planet.” – Russian president Vladimir Putin

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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