Sunday, September 1, 2019


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Latest on Texas shooting: LINK

Latest on the storm: LINK

Latest on the Hong Kong protests: LINK

THE FIVE BIGGEST SEPTEMBER QUESTIONS

1. Can Donald Trump convince the markets, Fortune 500 CEOs, the Gang of 500, the American people, and Beijing that he has a strategy to win the trade war with China?

Magic 8 Ball reply: My sources say no.

My take:Given the distance between the two sides, Hong Kong’s unrest, and the Chinese apparently not feeling any time pressure to do a deal, the best the administration can hope for this month is to buy more time.

The media conventional wisdom (backed by the pro-free-trade sensibilities of the most-quoted academic and think tank analysts) is that the tariffs – some of which go into effect today — are foolhardy. 

But the Washington Post has an essential reading op ed piece by a Chinese dissident who says Donald Trump is pursuing the only strategy that has the potential to break the back of the Communist Party.

And/but also read this moving New York Times op ed by two of the leading Hong Kong activists, including one who was just arrested, calling on the U.S. to stand with the protesters against Beijing.

2. If the Magic 8 Ball is correct about Question (1), what will the conventional wisdom about the state of the U.S. economy be on 9/30?

Magic 8 Ball reply: Reply hazy, try again.

My take: One of the White House’s biggest challenges is to try to get the media to stop focusing on negative economic data to the exclusion of positive economic data. That will be an uphill fight, since the press’ favorite storyline now is “Trump reelection in peril because of looming recession.”

And there is no doubt that there are negative economic signs occurring before our eyes (in addition to the income inequality that existed even when things were going better). 

Read this Reuters report on little-noticed public data on manufacturing slowdowns impacting the Big 3 states of Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania.

And/but that brings us to potentially the biggest political and economic question of the month…..

3. Will Nancy Pelosi allow a vote on the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement?

Magic 8 Ball reply: Ask again later.

My take: Pressuring Pelosi in favor: She thinks a deal is right for America; her donors want it; the Canadians and Mexicans want it; many of her first-term centrist members want it; Bob Lighthizer is working overtime to accommodate her wishes.

Pressuring Pelosi in opposition: The side deals are not finalized; the Democratic presidential candidates are likely to largely be in opposition; a completed pact would give the economy a big boost, enhancing Trump’s reelection prospects, and freaking out the left.

Possible solution: Pelosi delivers the progressives some major bone (perhaps giving in in some symbolic way on impeachment…), before allowing the vote to occur.

4. Will Joe Biden be the polling frontrunner by the end of the month?

Magic 8 Ball reply: Signs point to yes.

My take: There are two ways the former VP could fall – by his own failures or by the surge strength of a rival.   Biden has gotten bad press almost every day for a long stretch, and his numbers largely sustain.  So it is hard to see what more he could mess up to impact his standing with voters, who are still largely not focused on the race. 

And the big field of prospects makes it a challenge for any of Biden’s rivals to make up significant ground.

The obvious exception to this analysis is if the debate turns out to be decisive.  I doubt it.

5. Will anyone successfully diminish the national press corps’ historic focus on the results of Iowa and New Hampshire by the end of the month?

Magic 8 Ball reply: Don’t count on it.

My take: Although there are plenty of candidates in the race who would like the reality to be that a third or fourth (or fifth) place finish in Iowa and/or New Hampshire doesn’t doom their prospects, the spending and travel patterns by the close of September are likely to recondition the media back to its old groupthink: the two first-in-the-nation contests will/should determine who gets to go forward in the subsequent primaries and caucuses, despite the kickoff states’ small size and lack of  real diversity.

In other news:

*Storm puts Florida rookie Republican Governor DeSantis in spotlight.

My take: DeSantis’ fast start and high approval ratings combine to create one of the most under-covered stories in American politics today.  He is governing as much like a Democrat as a Republican on many issues, and his popularity is a big plus for the top of the ticket in 2020.

*Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg made a rousing DC public appearance, as she recovers again from cancer.

“On Tuesday, Ginsburg is scheduled to give a lecture in Little Rock in front of 18,000 people. The free tickets are all claimed, with a waiting list of 16,000.”

My take: An incredible person who inspires passion and has re-imagined what it means to be a modern Supreme Court Justice with a political and pop cultural following.

*“‘Will and Grace’ stars angry over Hollywood Trump fundraiser.”

My take: Continuing efforts to demonize political opponents can have negative consequences – in this case, they could actually help Donald Trump be reelected.

*Wall Street Journal: The left tries to make Mitch McConnell a national rallying cry.

My take: Every dollar spent focused on McConnell outside of Kentucky is a dollar not spent on Trump.  Not everyone in the Democratic Party agrees with this strategy, even if on the merits McConnell is as large a threat to the future of the progressive movement as anyone or anything else.

*2020 Electoral College battleground map is tiny.

My take: The Washington Post’s Dan Balz with essential reading on the focus on Florida plus the Big 3, with everything else a distant fifth.  And the distance between the Big 3 and Florida might grow over time.

Top sports story:  How Mario Cristobal Blew Oregon’s Shot at Auburn
Yahoo Sports

Top business story: Trump Trade War With China Will Hit Apple for Real This Weekend
Bloomberg

Top entertainment story: Box Office: ‘Angel Has Fallen’ Ruling Labor Day Picnic With $14M-Plus
Hollywood Reporter


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