Thursday, August 15

ByKevin Sheekey

Programming Note:  Check for Live Updates on my website at  

Trump vs the Fed as Recession Signals Keep Popping:

Trump Hits Fed Over ‘Crazy Inverted Yield Curve’ (Bloomberg)

For Perspective, He’s Not the First: Trump’s Feud With the Fed Is Escalating, and Has a Precedent (New York Times)

From Lyndon Johnson to Richard Nixon, presidents have long had fraught relationships with Fed chairs.

Trump Painting the Fed as Scapegoat if the Economy Tanks as Trade Fight Wreaks Havoc (MarketWatch)

Trade War Update: China Signals U.S. Tariff Delay Not Enough to Stop Retaliation (Bloomberg)

This Weekend: Gun Safety Groups to Rally in All 50 States to Pressure Republicans (Politico)

Everytown for Gun Safety Action Fund and Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America — both funded by former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg — will also air nearly $1 million of TV and digital ads to pressure key GOP senators. Learn more about the ‘Recess Rally’ here.

NRA in Crisis: NRA Promised $6.5 Million to Buy Dallas Mansion for CEO Wayne LaPierre, Document Shows (Wall Street Journal)

2020 Watch: Morning Consult Weekly National Tracking Poll (Hindsight 2020)
Biden 33 (0)
Sanders 20 (+1)
Warren 14 (-1)
Harris 9 (0)
Buttigieg 5 (-1)
Booker 3 (0)
O’Rourke 3 (0)
Yang 2 (0)

(17K Registered Voters)

The Epstein Tapes: Unearthed Recordings From His Private Island (Bloomberg)

We should all by now recognize Jeffrey Epstein for what he was, a perverted con man. A former FBI agent who focused on fraud investigations once admitted that even she was “fascinated by con men and women. The main characteristic is that they’re very outgoing, very gregarious, and they know how to say the right thing to make people like them.” Including reporters.

We’re not arguing history here, but how did he get from A to B? U.S. Congressman Steve King Argues Humanity Might Not Exist If Not for Rape and Incest (Des Moines Register)

In remarks Wednesday at the Westside Conservative Club in Urbandale, Iowa, the Republican congressman was explaining his opposition to exceptions for rape and incest in anti-abortion legislation. The remarks sparked condemnation and calls for his resignation from both parties.

Hillary, Ivanka, and Jared were right about this one thing: the utility of a private email system: Life After Gmail: Why You Should Use a Private Email Server (Bloomberg)

Pilots of the Year: Russian Airliner Crash-Lands in Cornfield Outside Moscow, – All 233 Aboard Survived (Bloomberg)

Greta Thunberg Sets Sail for Two Week Journey to UN Climate Talks in New York (New York Times)

Focus on: Hong Kong

And finally, closing thoughts on where the Hong Kong protests may be headed, by Bloomberg’s Matthew Campbell:

Hong Kong’s Massive Protests Raise Ominous Questions About 2047 (Bloomberg)

What no one in Hong Kong can predict is where the relationship with the mainland—and the very nature of the city’s governance—goes from here. There are three obvious scenarios.

The first is a broad accession to protesters’ aims, including a pullback of aggressive policing and perhaps moves toward greater democracy. It’s also the least likely. China has rejected even the simplest of this summer’s demands: an independent inquiry into the unrest. The Communists are loath to back down in the face of popular pressure, especially in full view of the global media.

The second scenario, a violent intervention in Hong Kong followed by the intense repression of its citizens, is the most frightening. Elements within the Chinese government appear willing to at least signal the possibility. In late July the Hong Kong garrison of the People’s Liberation Army released a video that included a fictional scene of soldiers marching toward a crowd of protesters; more recently, state media published a video of armored vehicles rolling through Shenzhen, which directly borders Hong Kong.

The potential consequences of military action are too numerous to list. But the best argument against such a move is a practical one: It probably wouldn’t work. Beijing has sought to portray the protesters as a small group of full-time agitators supported by shadowy foreign backers, but one of the most striking things about the demonstrations is their broad participation. The huge crowds include teachers and students, accountants and shopkeepers, and white-and blue-collar workers of all ages. Short of a massacre, there’s almost certainly no way to force them back to their homes.

At this point a third scenario is the most likely. School will be back in session in September, presumably giving students less time to be in the streets. The business community, always Hong Kong’s most important constituency, will eventually lose patience with protests disrupting transport and scaring off tourists. It’s entirely possible that the demonstrations will fizzle out in favor of a return to the day-to-day hustle of one of the world’s most energetic cities.

Any respite, though, will be temporary—and leave behind a city where investors might be eyeing the exits, whether for Singapore or another global hub….

Indeed, one of the ironies of Hong Kong’s post-handover period is that, viewed strictly from the perspective of business, its capitalist values may now find their clearest expression across the border, in Shenzhen, Guangzhou, and Shanghai. Billionaires are a very poor guide to ordinary citizens’ lived experience, but in this case they’re probably instructive. The average age of mainland China’s five richest people is about 55; in Hong Kong, it’s almost 87.

What made Hong Kong special under the British, and gave it the uniqueness its citizens fear losing, was more than Western-style liberties. It was opportunity—and the belief that for those willing to work hard, there was nowhere better to dream big. It’s hard to make that case now. China’s leaders and Hong Kong’s protesters are never going to agree on politics. But if Beijing wants to find a way to drain their anger, it might start there.

Best of late night.

“It just came out that the guards in charge of Jeffrey Epstein were asleep on the job. Even worse, today they were reassigned to guard El Chapo.”
— Jimmy Fallon

On former Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper ending his campaign for president:

“He’s leaving the race. And when he broke the news to all of his supporters, they were like ‘Cool dad. Thanks for telling us.’”
— Jimmy Fallon

“On a recent Delta flight from Aspen to Salt Lake City, there was just one passenger. Just one guy on the whole plane! But when they were boarding, they still made him wait until Zone 5.”
— Jimmy Fallon

“This is crazy. And when the beverage cart came by, they still slammed into his knee. And they lost his bag.”
— Jimmy Fallon

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