Monday, September 16, 2019


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JUST WAITING FOR….

Donald Trump and Saudi Arabia to decide on a response to Iran.

My take: There are a lot of steps to go through – the U.S. to make public evidence of Iranian responsibility; more European allies to concur with the American position; the Pentagon to present more retaliatory options; the Saudis to decide if they want escalation; Trump to determine the costs of striking Iran.  John Bolton’s absence (and a skittish Pentagon) make a muscular response less likely.

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The markets and energy prices to respond to the loss of Saudi production.

My take: Reporting is still mixed on how quickly the world can restore daily levels, but Monday will be a wild ride.  A military response by the U.S. or Saudi Arabia will only serve to roil markets even more.  In the end, the reality is there is a war going on between Saudi Arabia and the Houthi rebels (backed by Iran) and this attack was part of that war.

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UAW striking against General Motors to impact the U.S. economy.

My take: The Democratic presidential candidates will ratchet up pressure, as will the White House.  This situation needs a settlement.  Labor pros believe if GM gives in a little, this won’t be a long action.

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Biden allies to find a way to get positive coverage by really taking on Elizabeth Warren in a way that will work.

My take: The Old Media continues to give Biden just brutal coverage, with the last 72 hours dominated by his answer on race from the debate.  Attempts to get the press to put Warren in the barrel with smallish stories (her support in Massachusetts is soft) aren’t going to get it done. And even if Team Biden gets Warren in the barrel, he isn’t going to halt her momentum until he consistently tells a better American story than she does.  His opposition research team is not going to save his candidacy.

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Bernie Sanders to see if staff changes help his fortunes, especially in New Hampshire.

My take: The weakness of the Sanders campaign is the same as its strength: it is a highly decentralized effort. Sanders 2020 is like Sanders 2016. It is both a message campaign AND an organization campaign.  Sanders backers know the message will never change much, so the organization has to improve to head off Warren.

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Biden to see if he can sustain his strong support from African American voters.

My take: The former VP doesn’t actually have a South Carolina firewall that will save him if he finishes poorly (read: third) in Iowa or New Hampshire.  There are benefits of frontrunner status. There are also dangerous expectations. 

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Trump to decide on a gun safety package, in the wake of a telephone call from Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer demanding the House-passed background check provision be part of any deal.

My take: The Gang of 500 assumes Trump will pick no real fights with the NRA when he announces his gun legislative package.  Assuming that is the route he takes, the fallout is clear.  If, on the other hand, he surprises most everyone and embraces an agenda the Democratic leadership can get enthusiastic about, then the forces that will be unleashed will produce unknowable implications.

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Nancy Pelosi to reach date TBD at which point she says it is too late to impeach Trump.

My take: The media and most House Democrats want impeachment. The polling hasn’t changed enough to convince centrist House Democrats or the Speaker that impeachment is the way to go. Pelosi never loses sight of the calendar.  Her plan to let as much air out as necessary to run out the clock is on track.

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The politico-media complex to determine in what direction the Justice Kavanaugh story goes.

My take: The Democratic presidential candidates will keep this story going for at least another day, along with presidential tweets.  There will be more investigative reporting on all sides – that, not politics, will determine what happens next.

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Israel to decide if Netanyahu gets to keep his job.

My take: If he wins, we pretty much know what happens. If he loses, the changes in the region and around the world will likely be immense.  And/but not even Tom Friedman knows what they will be.

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China to decide if a weak economy necessitates striking a trade deal with the U.S.

My take: This is the key to the Trump strategy.  While there are a lot of pressures on China NOT to strike a deal, if their economy is in serious peril, they might not have any choice. 

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The U.S. to decide if a weak economy necessitates striking a trade deal with Beijing.

My take: Per the Wall Street Journal, “In the week ahead, the U.S. will see fresh figures on industrial production, housing starts and existing-home sales. The Federal Reserve will release its policy statement.”  Trump’s wager is the American economy can sustain the trade war better than the Chinese.  Every week, including this one, tests that proposition.

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The U.S. to move forward on nuclear talks with North Korea, after reports of another letter from Kim Jong Un to President Trump.

My take: Even with Bolton gone, there is skepticism that American or Trump reelection interests are served with more incremental back and forth.  The next step has to be walk walk walk, not talk talk talk.

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Top sports story: Brees ‘concerned’ about injury, to see specialist
ESPN

Top business story: The $400 billion outdoor industry sounds alarm on Trump’s trade war tariffs
CNBC

Top entertainment story: Box Office: ‘It: Chapter Two’ Continues International Reign With $47 Million
Variety


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