Doubt Of The Deal
What To Watch Next Week
GROUNDHOG DAY ON CAPITOL HILL: WaPo “There are two more weeks left to negotiate a border security agreement before the government could shut down for the second time. But the major players on both sides are refusing to give an inch, greatly increasing the chances of failure to craft a game-changing immigration deal that will satisfy both President Trump and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. … And late on Thursday, in his clearest terms yet, Trump vowed he didn’t need Congress to build the wall, suggesting he was ready to declare a national emergency if his signature campaign pledge didn’t get funded. … That decision would not be without danger. Republicans on the Hill worry using executive action would have lasting consequences that could set a precedent for future “emergencies” declared by Democratic presidents … on everything from Medicare to gun control to climate change.
The Hill “Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said on Tuesday that he is open to legislation that would prevent future government shutdowns”
Reminder: Most Americans are opposed to the wall and are specifically opposed to Trump using his emergency powers to get one. “One-third of Americans (34 percent) would support the president declaring a national emergency to use military funding to build a border wall. Nearly twice as many (64 percent) would disapprove of this move,” according to a poll from Monmouth University released Monday. Nonetheless, a GOP Hill staffer texted us: “Immigration polls through the roof for us.”
BGov “The Senate returns next week and prepares to adopt an amendment from Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) that would urge the U.S. to continue fighting the Islamic State and al-Qaeda in Syria and Afghanistan. Also next week, a long-delayed bill resurrecting the Land and Water Conservation Fund could make its way to the Senate floor, while behind the scenes lawmakers continue to negotiate a homeland and border bill that’s key to keeping the government open past Feb. 15.
Axios “Speaker Pelosi behind and above. Female immigrants, gazing down from the balcony. A black woman who ran a close race for governor of Georgia, rebutting. When President Trump delivers his first State of the Union address under divided government on Tuesday, he’ll be surrounded by these and other living reminders of the 2018 elections that delivered Democrats the House majority and a record number of women to Congress, ” AP writes.
Speaker Pelosi’s Campaign Plan To Reopen The Government
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BGov “North Korea is unlikely to give up its nuclear stockpiles, and Iran isn’t trying to make a nuclear bomb, according to an intelligence assessment of global threats released on Tuesday. The report contradicts the rationale behind two of President Trump’s top foreign policy positions. In testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee, top intelligence officials detailed the biggest threats facing the U.S., including cyberattacks from Russia and China, and movements like the Islamic State.
Reality Divide: The divide between Mr. Trump — and his supporters — and the Republican establishment on foreign policy has rarely been as stark.”
The Temporary Cabinet
— SECRETARY OF STATE: Mike Pompeo, has met with a top Senate campaign operative about running in Kansas. He will appear at a Kansas-Missouri breakfast next week.
— DEFENSE SECRETARY: Patrick Shanahan, who is in an acting role. The President has not named anyone to succeed him.
— ATTORNEY GENERAL: Matt Whitaker, who is in an acting role. The Senate postponed a vote on Bill Barr, whom Trump nominated for the role.
— INTERIOR SECRETARY: David Bernhardt, who is in an acting role. Trump has not nominated a replacement, but is said to be close.
— COMMERCE SECRETARY: Wilbur Ross, whose future is always speculated about. Acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney is angling for his job.
… ALSO: U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Jonathan Cohen is in an acting role. The administration has not yet officially nominated Heather Nauert.
— EPA ADMINISTRATOR: Acting Administrator Andrew Wheeler had his confirmation hearing recently. But there has been no permanent administrator since Scott Pruitt resigned last July.
— CHIEF OF STAFF: Mulvaney holds the acting chief title now. Trump has not named anyone to fill the role permanentl (see Commerce Secretary above). Politico
In The Year 2020
@CoryBooker … I’m running for president. Join me on this journey.
BGov ”Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ), 49, a senator since 2013 and the former mayor of Newark, joins a growing Democratic primary field including fellow Senators Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Kamala Harris of California. Booker … attended Stanford University, where he played football and was senior class president. After attending Oxford as a Rhodes scholar, Booker received a law degree from Yale. He won election to the Newark City Council in 1998 and became mayor in 2006 on a promise to revitalize one of the nation’s more troubled cities. He balanced the budget, bolstered investment in mass transit, and persuaded Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg to donate $100 million to improve Newark’s schools.”
Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) kicked off a “Dignity of Work” tour that will take him to all four early states ahead of a likely bid for the presidency. … Brown said his reelection by seven points this past November in a state Trump carried by eight points two years before shows “a strong progressive can win – and win decisively – in the heartland.” He appealed to many of the blue-collar voters who flipped to Trump after backing Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012. That puts Brown in the same lane as former vice president Joe Biden – who has also staked his rationale for a potential run on appealing to this crowd. — Brown, the top Democrat on the Senate Banking Committee … argued that the conventional wisdom that Democrats need to pick between populism and progressivism in 2020 is a false choice.”
A Whole Latte Trouble
NYTs “In an interview with Scott Pelley on “60 Minutes” on Sunday, Howard Schultz decried “extremes on both sides” and said he’s considering a run for president as a “centrist independent.”Since announcing his interest in an independent presidential bid, former Starbucks CEO has leveled most of his criticism at Democrats. A billionaire who supports abortion rights and more gun regulation, Schultz has called himself a ‘lifelong Democrat.’ But he now describes the party as an unnavigable institution, beholden to its liberal fringe and inconsequential to improvement of the country.”
The Anointing of Juan Guaido
“The world’s democracies are right to seek change in Latin America’s worst-governed country,” The Economist writes in its lead editorial: The scale of the disaster [President Nicolás] Maduro has brought down upon Venezuela is hard to comprehend. In the past five years GDP has fallen by half.”
theSkimm “President Nicolás Maduro is facing the biggest challenge to his rule since he rose to power in 2013. Last week, opposition leader and head of the country’s parliament Juan Guaidó invoked the constitution to act as interim prez. [This week], the European Parliament joined the US, UK, Canada, several Latin American countries, and others in backing Guaidó. And the EU spoke out against the attacks on the press. What’s next: Massive protests are planned tomorrow.”
Tech Giants As Gatekeepers
Axios ” Apple controls our phones (if they’re iPhones). … Facebook controls our access to people … Google controls our access to information … Amazon controls our access to goods and many software services.”
Why it matters … The recent squabble (between Apple and Facebook) reminds us that all these companies have become gatekeepers with enormous power. What’s next: Many innovators working in the crypto/blockchain world hope to reverse that trip — but haven’t yet built systems and products that the mass of users are willing to embrace. By contrast, most of the work in machine-learning-based artificial intelligence that’s already beginning to be widely adopted depends on proprietary dragon-hoards of data controlled by large companies. Long view: Tech has seen dominant gatekeepers before, like IBM and Microsoft, lose their centrality and evolve into mature money-making machines with lower public profiles. But the tenure of the current crop of tech giants shows few indications of approaching obsolescence.
SPEAKING OF APPLE … Apple plans to launch iPhones “with a more-powerful 3-D camera as soon as next year, stepping up the company’s push into augmented reality.” (Bloomberg)
Polar Vortex Express
NYTs “The word “vortex,” derived from the Latin for “to turn,” has been in use since at least the 1600s, according to the Oxford English Dictionary. It’s cited in centuries-old scientific theories to mean a swirl of something around a central axis. The first pairing of “polar” and “vortex” is widely credited to an article published in 1853, in a magazine that Charles Dickens edited. The author, John Capper, was a merchant and journalist who lived in what’s now Sri Lanka. His article, “Air Maps,” was a somewhat florid account of the state of the relatively new science regarding wind, a crucial factor for nautical travel and trade in the era before marine engines. The patterns of the Earth’s major winds could be tracked, Capper wrote, and one “whirled about the pole in a continued circular gale: at last, reaching the great polar vortex.” These days, we know the polar vortex as those swirling winds breaking out of the polar region, bringing frigid temperatures south.
“The polar vortex, an ominous-sounding system of wind and cold air over the North Pole, broke apart this month. Here’s how it’s bringing dangerous cold nationwide. (Report from Milwaukee, WI, yes, -22, with a windchill of -40something, is really, really cold.) Fascinating graphic explanation re. Click Here.