Friday, August 16, 2019

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The Friday Wide World of News Quiz

1. President Trump’s most imprudent idea of the last seven days was

a. Buying Greenland.
b. Encouraging Corey Lewandowski to run for the Senate.
c. Thinking he had a handle on trade talks with China.
d. Breaking all precedent and tradition and encouraging Israel to block two members of the House of Representatives from visiting the country.

2. Team Trump’s central plan to deal with a possible recession in 2020 is

a. Work on new legislative proposals that could win bipartisan support and boost the economy.
b. Develop executive action that could boost the economy.
c. Successfully negotiate a big trade deal with China.
d. Deny, deny, deny.

3. The most important dynamic in the Democratic presidential nomination fight is between

a. Biden and Warren.
b. Warren and Sanders.
c. Warren and Harris.
d. Biden and a candidate to be named later.

4. Despite his various, sometimes contradictory statements, President Trump is most worried about running against

a. Joe Biden.
b. Kamala Harris
c. Elizabeth Warren.
d. He really has no friggin’ idea.

5. The international situation that most threatens to become a full-blown crisis is

a. North Korea’s continued missile tests.
b. Hong Kong’s continued protests.
c. The Taliban’s continued peace talks with the U.S.
d. Kashmir.

6. The quote that has the best chance to go down in history is

a. “Trump will not be president forever. The people of Israel who care about preserving US-Israeli ties might want to remind their prime minister of that obvious fact” – Michael McFaul
b. “When the economy turns down, one of the important resources we have is policymakers’ credibility. Ludicrous forecasts and economically illiterate statements have dissipated the credibility of the president’s economic team. It’s banana republic standard to deny the statistics, bash the central bank, try to push the currency down and lash out at foreign countries” – Larry Summers
c. “I don’t want a boring president either, but I’d like to have a president who is competent again to do the job” – Michael Bennet
d. “Whether you love me or hate me, you’ve got to vote for me” – Donald Trump

7. Ghislaine Maxwell is in

a. Manchester-by-the-Sea.
b. Florida.
c. Europe.
d. Los Angeles, eating at an In-N-Out Burger.

8. The president will blame any 2020 economic downturn on

a. The Fed.
b. The media.
c. The Congress.
d. China.

9. The best description of Trump’s New Hampshire rally remarks is

a. “His speech was at times a greatest hits album of favorite lines, replaying the 2016 campaign against Hillary Clinton and bashing the news media, Democrats and America’s allies in Europe. Typically rambling, veering on and off script seemingly at random over an hour and a half, he repeated points he had already made earlier in the evening as if he did not remember already making them.”

10. Elizabeth Warren has sustained her astonishing run of purely positive press coverage because

a. Her poll numbers continue to rise.
b. She isn’t making any errors.
c. She is now the media’s favorite candidate.
d. None of her Democratic rivals are coming after her.


1. c and d.
2. c and d.
3. d.
4. d.
5. d.
6. d.
7. d.
8. a, b, c, and d.
9. a.
10. a and d.

In other news:

Make sure you read all the way to the end of this essential Washington Post story on the president, the economy, and 2020.

Key quotes:

“Privately, however, the president has sounded anxious and apprehensive.”

“He’s rattled. He thinks that all the people that do this economic forecasting are a bunch of establishment weenies — elites who don’t know anything about the real economy and they’re against Trump.”

“Administration officials are not actively planning for a recession because they do not believe one will occur, and they worry that making such plans would validate a negative narrative about the economy and precipitate a crash, according to people involved in internal discussions.”

Make sure you read all the way to the end of this essential Wall Street Journal story on the president, the economy, and 2020.

Key quotes:

“While he reacts to economic developments on Twitter, Mr. Trump has been privately assuring advisers that he isn’t bothered by recent drops in the stock market, according to two people who have spoken to him lately.”

“The White House has already taken steps to reassure political allies about the state of the economy. Its Office of Intergovernmental Affairs invited state and local officials to an off-the-record call next Tuesday with National Economic Council Director Larry Kudlow and other senior administration officials to discuss the economy.”

Make sure you read all the way to the end of this essential New York Times story on the president, the economy, and (implicitly) 2020.

Key quotes:

“Officials said they remained hopeful that the economy could still meet the administration’s growth targets if they continued their deregulation efforts, if Congress passed a new trade deal with Canada and Mexico, and if some kind of agreement was reached with China.”

“Outwardly, administration officials have been sanguine. A senior administration official said in an interview on Wednesday evening that analysts and investors were ‘going overboard’ on recession fears. The administration points to economic data underscoring the strength of the American consumer, like retail sales numbers released on Thursday morning. The figures showed consumers spent at a hotter pace in July than expected, driven in part by a sale for Amazon Prime members.”

My take: The fundamentals of the economy are neither as strong as the White House says/thinks they are nor as weak as the last 48 hours of press coverage suggests they are.  The single most important thing an American president can do to be a good steward of a good economy is to foster an environment characterized by stability, consistency, and predictability.  The trade war with China, the conflicts with Congress and the Fed, and Trump’s erratic behavior are the Unholy Trinity that are the very model of modern major instability, inconsistency, and unpredictability.  Kudlow, Mulvaney, Kushner, Parscale, and Mnuchin are not James Addison Baker, 3d.

More digits from the new Fox News poll that the president, Kamala Harris, and Bernie Sanders won’t like, and Joe Biden and Elizabeth Warren will.

Correction: In Thursday’s edition, I became the first journalist to misspell “Lewandowski.” I regret the error. I was so concerned about getting the “a” right that I messed up the “i.”

Top sports story: Earnhardt Jr., wife OK after Tenn. plane crash

Top business story: JP Morgan says new US tariffs will test China’s ability to prop up its economy

Top entertainment story: Disney Sets New Record as ‘Toy Story 4’ Hits $1 Billion

Big Four


Iowa becomes 11th state in US to allow sports gambling.


Nevada demographics, family tie a boon for Booker.

South Carolina

‘A heavy lift’: Religious black voters weigh Buttigieg’s bid.

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