Sunday, August 18, 2019


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In the words of Wonka:
Hold your breath
Make a wish
Count to three
Come with me
And you’ll be
In a world of pure imagination
Take a look and you’ll see
Into your imagination
We’ll begin with a spin
Traveling in the world of my creation

What we’ll see will defy explanation


Poetry

Hong Kong and Portland are relatively calm.

U.S. consumer spending fades as a balm?

Trump lacks a clear recession killer.

The Post and Times profile StephenMiller.

Dan Balz’s portrait of Trump’s standing is grim.

Elizabeth Warren’s chances ain’t slim.

Monday, Native-Americans and prez candidates meet.

While Dick Cheney sits in a Trump fundraising seat.

Democratic candidates’ donations code cracked.

Douthat explains a recession’s impact.


Prose

Hong Kong and Portland are relatively calm.

Portland law enforcement appears to have done a great job dealing with the protests and counter demonstrations.  After a Saturday break, Hong Kong’s freedom fighters are back at it.

My take: News coverage generally does not make it clear if time is on the side of the  Force of the Hong Kong rebels or on the side of the Beijing Empire’s Death Star.  If the choice is to bet on freedom or propaganda, an American president might choose the latter, but history always wagers on the former in the end.

U.S. consumer spending fades as a balm?

Washington Post looks at how the world economy now relies on what props up 70% of America’s economy – the wallets of Uncle Sam’s relatives.

My take: The story suggests consumers might well follow business investors in pulling back over both real-world uncertainty and a run of worrisome headlines.  But at a time of bubbles and anxiety, the two sustaining constants have been U.S. consumer spending and America serving as a safe-haven magnet for foreign investment. A recession might be on the way, but consumers will be among the last to walk away from the punch bowl.

Trump lacks a clear recession killer.

The New York Times view: trade wars–>business pull back–>consumer confidence decline.

My take: Trump can make short-term moves and send distracting tweets to try to day-trade away the instability and uncertainty caused by his trade war with China.  But it is a mortal lock that Labor Day will come and go with no signs of substantial DC-Beijing progress and the North American trade deal still in limbo.  If the president’s re-elect hinges on the state of the economy in 2020 (and it largely does), and the state of the economy hinges on his striking one or both of those deals, the White House is going to need a faster boat to outrun the sharks.

The Post and Times profile Stephen Miller.

White House immigration aide gave an interview for the Washington Post version, while stiffing the Paper of Record.

My take: On this relatively slow news day, it is worth digesting both of these pieces.  For fans and foes of Miller, who have read previous bio stories, there will be much familiar here.   But there are interesting tidbits in both treatments, including Miller pushing back after the Post story went online, denying bad blood between him and Jared Kushner.  Explored in both stories but not fully explained on a psychological and practical level: how Miller got and retains such influence over the president.

Dan Balz’s portrait of Trump’s standing is grim.

Dean of the Washington press corps is both incredulous and scathing in covering the waterfront of the presidential week.

My take: Far be it from me to annotate the master. Balz speaks for the Gang of 500 as well as anyone, so read the whole thing yourself.  The headline sums it up well: Trump has one playbook, and very few plays left in it

Elizabeth Warren’s chances ain’t slim.

Fresh poll shows Massachusetts Senator closing the gap with Biden on who is best positioned to beat Trump. 

“In a new Economist/YouGov poll, 65% of Democratic voters said Biden would ‘probably beat Donald Trump’ — unchanged from June. But the number saying the same thing about Warren jumped 14 points since then, to 57%, the highest of any other candidate.”

My take: Watch this space.  Nothing is propping up Biden’s frontrunning horserace number as much as his electability lead. If the latter disappears, the former is deeply endangered.

Monday, Native-Americans and prez candidates meet.

Iowa forum to include Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, Marianne Williamson, Steve Bullock, John Delaney, Amy Klobuchar, Julián Castro, and Bill de Blasio.

My take: Headlines rarely come out of these multi-candidate issue forums. But these are where buzz and connections can be made under the radar.  Warren put out her longest policy plan to date last week on Native American issues, perhaps in part to defuse the heritage controversy that remains one of the biggest red flags regarding her readiness for scrutiny under the brightest of spotlights.  So while her appearance will likely get the most attention, the other prospects face the same, bigger challenge: breaking through doing the quiet work of winning over key elements of the Democratic tapestry.

While Dick Cheney sits in a Trump fundraising seat.

Star-studded Jackson Hole Monday donor confab reportedly also features Liz Cheney, Ivanka Trump, Jared Kushner, Mick Mulvaney, Ronna McDaniel, Tommy Hicks Jr., Todd Ricketts, Brad Parscale, and Kimberly Guilfoyle.

My take: This remains one of the most under covered stories of the 2020 cycle. Team Trump is building a fierce double threat fundraising juggernaut, with small-dollar prospecting (Parscale and Kushner) and big-dollar wrangling (McDaniel, Kushner, nearly the entire Bush-Cheney-Romney-McCain firmament) combining for major coin.  Not clear how much this event will raise, but, given the lineup, safe to say it will be a lot.

Democratic candidates’ donations code cracked.

New York Times looks at how and when the Big 5 (Biden, Warren, Sanders, Harris, Buttigieg) has raised the most money online in 2019.

My take: After you finish the Miller profiles and Balz, read this clever story, which tees up one of the biggest pending questions of the third quarter – how will Biden and Kamala Harris do with online donors?

Douthat explains a recession’s impact.

New York Times opinionmeister paints the portrait of what is to come if the economy tanks.

My take: Time-capsule-worthy Douthat essay. Clever, well reasoned, tells you something you didn’t know – and at once dismissive of and dismissing of Donald J. Trump.

*****

Top sports story: Little League World Series 2019: How to watch, scores, schedule, results, with first four teams eliminated
CBS Sports

Top business story: U.S. set to give Huawei another 90 days to buy from American suppliers
Reuters

Top entertainment story: ‘Good Boys’ Eyes Best Original Comedy Opening of 2019
Variety

*****

Big Four

Iowa

2020 Democrats are stepping up their courtship of Native American voters. Here’s why

New Hampshire

New Hampshire veterans seek to intervene in POW Bible lawsuit

Nevada

Light rail could save the city from perpetual Project Neon-like traffic

South Carolina

Greenville’s a rare exception as local sales taxes have spread to most SC counties


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