Friday, August 30, 2019

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The latest on the storm here

Labor Day Weekend Goes in Like a Lion


China and U.S. calm trade war waters.

My take: Markets, Capitol Hillers, and Big Business are all relatively easily placated by a soothing Trump tweet/quote and a Commerce Ministry statement from Beijing.  Before too long, however, there will be a reminder that “nothing is decided until everything is decided,” and the roiling will commence again.

The optimists want trade czar Bob Lighthizer to first conclude the North American trade deal (which would buy a little time with the markets and the real economy), then turn his full attention to getting a tough-but-fair pact with the Chinese.  Step One is easier than Step Two, but Step One is still a challenge.

The Justice Department reportedly is investigating Huawei.

My take: Don’t underestimate the degree to which this apparent probe makes getting a trade deal with China even more difficult. Lighthizer can horse trade a lot of pieces, but can he negotiate away the search for truth by a U.S. Attorney’s office?

Also: China effectively expelling a Wall Street Journal reporter for tough Xi coverage will not help matters either.

Judge slow walks House Democrat attempts to get Trump tax returns.

My take: Procedural ruling is a loss for investigators who want the wheels of justice to grind fast enough to make meaningful progress before the election. It is also an implicit win for Speaker Pelosi, since waiting on the courts to adjudicate these inter-branch conflicts is her strongest card to stall impeachment (along with public opinion).

Hong Kong police arrest key activists.

My take: On the eve of a major anniversary, Chinese threaten to finally and inadvertently put a specific, compelling face on the conflict. 100,000 protesters is a statistic; Joshua Wong is a human being who can capture the world’s imagination.


Iowa caucus process in abject disarray.

My take: The DNC’s looming rejection of telephone voting leaves Hawkeye State Democrats struggling to find a way to get into compliance with new national party rules calling for wider voter participation options.  Chances are the caucuses will be saved and the state’s first-in-the-nation influence will be preserved, but the path to a resolution is deeply hazy.

Trump assistant departs White House after allegedly over-sharing with reporters and seeking more power.

My take: This tale will not clothe or feed or house a single needy child, but it will have the Gang of 500 chattering until someone writes a more definitive account of what happened.  Bookers and book agents are surely penning “let’s have lunch” missives for Madeleine Westerhout as you read this.


Justice Department inspector general strongly wraps Comey knuckles again in report on Trump memos.

My take:  Comey still has his defenders.  But the respected Justice Department watchdog has now fully validated the view of Hillary Clinton (that Comey’s actions during the campaign were completely out of line) and Donald Trump (that Comey’s actions during the administration were completely out of line).  Comey and Friends can continue to argue that he always put the FBI, truth, justice, and the American way first, but they have to ask themselves: What does it say about a man that both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump blame him with cause for having a bigger negative impact on their political careers than anyone else?

Biden defends confused telling of dramatic war story.

My take: In the Age of Trump, Democrats will rightly and understandably get indignant when held to any standard whatsoever on verbal errors. Nonetheless, if Biden ends up losing the nomination, this story (and how his staff and he personally handled its fallout) will almost certainly be part of the narrative explaining how, not surprisingly, the Delaware leopard could not change his spots. 

Even though he went into the race knowing that he had to change at least a few spots to win.


I failed to include the link to Tom Edsall’s important New York Times piece on Trump voters in Thursday’s edition. Here it is. LINK

Top sports story:  Jones expecting Zeke to miss more than opener

Top business story: Airlines brace for Hurricane Dorian as storm threatens to snarl Labor Day weekend travel

Top entertainment story: Disney Layoffs Hit Nearly 60 in Media Distribution Division

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