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Forward Observer on Virginia

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Forward Observer

 
The Watch Report is a weekly look at political, social, and economic intelligence, and includes early warning and indications of America’s volatile future.

 

In this Watch Report

  • InFocus: Outlook on Virginia
  • Impeachment Watch
  • Biden: Only a centrist can win 2020
  • Leftist veteran provides combat advice
  • The Atlantic: How to Stop a Civil War
  • Rove: Democratic party fractures in 2020?
  • Bannon: Hillary comes back in 2020
  • McConnell: Confirming Trump judges to continue
  • ‘The Base’ sheltering missing Canadian soldier
  • Yoho becomes latest House GOP retiree
  • Gohmert names whistleblower
  • Groypers planning disruption of TPUSA event
  • Economic/Financial Watch

 

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InFocus: The state of Virginia remains the leading contender for an outbreak of political violence, but the risk may be lower than many perceive. Back in June of this year, I made a video about the so-called “Civil War 2,” in which I stated that a regional conflict was more likely than a national-level one. (One caveat that continues to apply is the effect of a contested or “stolen” national election, perceived, real, or otherwise, that could result in nationwide violence.) Further, this conflict wouldn’t resemble 1861 or any large scale domestic conflict, but that it would likely be confined to what’s called “low intensity conflict” — conflict under the threshold of conventional war (tanks and bombers) but above routine, peaceful competition. While I didn’t predict it would begin anywhere specifically, I made the point that a conflict would most likely begin with the cultural war spilling over into political violence over a state or regional issue. That brings us to Virginia and specifically the potential for conflict over proposed gun laws.

In January, Democrats will take over the entire state legislature, and have vowed to pass Senate Bill 16, which would outlaw the sale, possession, and transport of “assault weapons,” including AR-15s. In response, over 80 counties in the state have declared themselves “gun sanctuary counties.” Legally, it means very little, but these counties have voted to not use public funds for, nor support, the enforcement of proposed unconstitutional gun laws. State officials, like U.S. House Rep. Gerry Connolly (D), have criticized law enforcement officials in these counties, going so far as to say that county sheriffs should be prosecuted for not enforcing gun laws. This week, state representative Donald McEachin (D) made headlines for his conclusion that the governor might call up the National Guard in order to enforce the state laws. While that fueled considerable speculation, it is currently unlikely. The mobilization of National Guard troops to enforce gun laws, i.e., to confiscate them, would escalate the situation to war-like conditions in an election year — something the governor’s office is unlikely to pursue. (In a state like Virginia, much of the mobilized national guardsmen are likely to be AR-15 owners themselves.) Furthermore, Virginia’s incoming Senate Majority Leader Dick Saslaw (D) said that he’s “not going to lock up a large part of Virginia” through the enforcement of these proposed laws. Other Democrats have admitted that Senate Bills 16, 46, and others may be watered down before coming up for a vote.

Governor Ralph Northam (D) reportedly supports a grandfather clause that would enable current owners to keep their so-called assault weapons, so long as those firearms are registered during a “grace period.” That makes mass confiscation unlikely, at least until to the end of the grace period. Yet as we’ve seen with states in similar cases, turnout to register grandfathered firearms is expected to be weak. State officials in Virginia understand the risks associated with overt infringement on Second Amendment rights. In the words of Second Amendment advocate Ben Woods, a former active duty soldier and Marine and now a federal law enforcement officer, “People [are] talking about tar and feathering politicians in a less than joking manner.”  [source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jo3_ie_Cr94] This amount of negative feedback, backed up by community organizing and arms, is a recipe for an insurgent-like struggle that the state would clearly like to avoid.

The situation is still developing, but Virginia could go the way of New York, Connecticut, and other states with similar gun laws on the books. After massive backlash and a failure to register firearms, those state governments backed down on enforcement en masse and there was no widespread conflict like many feared. Law enforcement in those states continue to serve Risk Protection Orders (RPO), also referred to as “red flags,” and confiscate firearms on a case by case basis. Citizens of those states continue to be charged with state felonies for firearms violations, while statewide armed conflict continues to be unlikely. This appears to be the most likely course of action pursued by the state of Virginia, but I’m willing to revisit this outlook once Virginia Democrats take over the state legislature next month. – S.C.

 

Priority Intelligence Requirements:

PIR1: What are the latest indicators of the Far Left’s sentiments, initiatives, activities, and plans to gain and exercise political and social power?

PIR2: What are the significant indicators of disruptive political, social, or cultural conditions or events?

PIR3: When and how will the next economic or financial crisis affect America?

 

PIR1: What are the latest indicators of the Far Left’s sentiments, initiatives, activities, and plans to gain and exercise political and social power?

 Impeachment Watch

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) is scheduled to go ahead with a floor vote on impeachment next week, following today’s resolution on the articles of impeachment. It’s expected to pass the House on party lines, and then be turned over to the Senate for a January trial. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has stated on repeated occasions that Trump will not be convicted or removed. That was the central argument for some Democrats who wanted a censure instead of an impeachment vote, citing numerous instances of presidential wrongdoing that didn’t result in an impeachment process.

This week, the New York Times’ Carl Hulse asked if impeachment would become a “regular feature of America’s weaponized politics” in the post-Trump age. He cites a slew of both Democrats and Republicans who warn of the risk that opposition parties will pursue impeachment over a low threshold. [source: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/12/12/us/impeachment-democrats-republicans.html]

Biden: Only a centrist can win 2020

Current Democratic front-leader Joe Biden surveyed the UK’s election of conservative Boris Johnson in a blowout against the Labour Party’s far left Jeremy Corbin as proof positive that only a centrist can remain competitive against President Trump in the U.S. 2020 election. “Look what happens when the Labour Party moves so, so far to the left,” Biden said during a fundraiser in California, drawing a comparison to what’s happening in the Democratic Party. Biden went on to criticize far left ideas without naming his peer candidates. (AC: The UK can be seen as a bellwether for US politics. Before Trump 2016, there was the successful Brexit referendum, a cornerstone of the British conservative platform. In a previous report, I looked at the likelihood that the 2020 election might be decided by July’s Democratic National Convention. If the conservatives’ blowout win in the UK is any indication of the state of right wing populism, the nomination of a far left Democratic candidate in July might have already determined the outcome of the 2020 election.)

Leftist veteran provides combat advice

Members of Leftist groups criticized an alleged photograph (below) of New Jersey police officers responding to Tuesday’s shooting in New Jersey, which is being linked to a black supremacist group. A member of the John Brown Gun Club, going by the name “Kosmo,” criticized the police, tweeting: “This is a VERY bad take on a team door stack. First is supposed to be aiming at the door, second aiming long over the shoulder, 3rd watching flank, and 4th rear and high. It is basic team tactics that they are ROYALLY fucking up. No stack should EVER be more than 4 people LMAO.” (AC: Kosmo reports to be a “veteran of wars” and likely served with socialist Kurds in Syria and/or Iraq. In previous tweets, Kosmo comments on battle drills performed by U.S. Special Forces, and provides advice for how to emulate their room clearing procedures. Kosmo is one of numerous leftists who likely have combat experience with the Kurdish Peshmerga, or socialist Kurdish resistance groups like YPG or PKK in Syria and/or Iraq. Kosmo reportedly lives in western Washington State.)

The Atlantic: How to Stop a Civil War

The theme of the December special issue of left wing outlet The Atlantic is “How to Stop a Civil War.” The entire issue is of exceptional value to those with interest in civil conflict and the worsening divisions in American political society.

Editor Jeffrey Goldberg introduces the issue and summarizes its themes in A Nation Coming Apart. He notes that The Atlantic started publication in 1857, shortly before the American Civil War. The slavery debate gripped the intellectual life of the country at the time, and the positions of both sides gradually became irreconcilable. He sees a real danger that the forces exemplified by President Donald Trump’s supporters and opponents are pushing the country in the same direction.

Yoni Applebaum, the ideas editor, writes in “How America Ends” that it is hard for a political democracy to adjust peacefully to demographic changes that displace one group from power and favor another. This is exactly the situation in America at present as non-whites become a majority. In “Civility is Overrated,” Adam Serwer offers a dissent from the idea that a return to civility is urgently needed and argues that a return to “truth-telling” is more important to marginalized groups.

Rove: Democratic party fractures after 2020?

Former Bush advisor Karl Rove laid out a scenario where the Democratic Party is left ‘angry and fractured’ following a brokered convention next summer. Should no candidate win on the first ballot during July 2020’s Democratic National Convention, so-called “superdelegates” will vote in the second round. Made up of “party insiders and elites,” these superdelegates could vote for someone other than the front-runner. Rove’s conclusion: “Democrats could be in for a rocky convention, featuring back-room deals and horse trades that anger and fracture the party.”

Bannon: Hillary comes back in 2020

Former White House advisor Steve Bannon predicted that Hillary Clinton would enter the 2020 presidential race. “Hillary Clinton is waiting for her shot to come in and say, ‘I’m going to save the Democratic Party,’” Bannon told Fox News’ Maria Bartiromo. “She’s going to come in. This whole thing’s going to come down to Super Tuesday. I don’t think anybody can win it right now in the primary process.” (AC: Given the excerpt from Karl Rove, it’s possible that Clinton could capture the nomination during the Democratic National Convention, should none of the current top four candidates break away with a decisive lead.)

 

PIR2: What are the significant indicators of disruptive political, social, or cultural conditions or events?

McConnell: Confirming Trump judges to continue

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell renewed vows to confirm as many federal judges to the bench as possible through the rest of this year. “Whatever’s on the calendar, I’m going to make every effort I can to clear them all. We’ve already… finished up the [Circuit Courts]. So I’m going to make my best effort to clear the calendar of district judges by the end of the year.’” (Analyst Comment: The Trump administration has confirmed 50 judges to the Circuit Courts, which is just five judges shy of Obama’s confirmations over the span of eight years. McConnell is looking at the confirmation process for 18 additional judges nominated to district courts.)

‘The Base’ sheltering missing Canadian soldier

A neo-Nazi group called “The Base” is being accused of sheltering a missing Canadian ex-soldier. Patrik Mathews disappeared on 24 August after he was revealed as a recruiter for The Base, and Canadian authorities seized illegal weapons at his home. Mathews was a combat engineer who taught explosives and weapons skills. He is thought to have entered the U.S. illegally with the help of Base members. The group has been implicated in offenses ranging from vandalism to murder. Members communicate with a secure messaging platform, and all members must pass an extensive vetting process before getting access to their communications apps. The little that is known about the group comes mainly from a member who was arrested for defacing synagogues and whose electronics had links to The Base on them. (AC: The group chose “The Base” as their name, allegedly for similarity with al-Qaida, which translates to “The Base” in Arabic.)

Yoho becomes latest House GOP retiree

Rep. Ted Yoho (R-FL) announced his retirement from the House, becoming at least the 19th member of the GOP not running for reelection in 2020. Avery Jaffe of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee said that the volume of retirements is “proof positive that GOP morale is at an all-time low.” (Analyst Comment: Missed in some “news” reporting is that Yoho, when first elected, set out a four term limit for himself, which he’s now reaching. But despite that minor detail, there’s likely some truth to Jaffe’s statement. With Republicans out of striking distance to take back the House in 2020, some Republicans have grown tired of a combination of Democratic dominance and the daily grind of advancing policies popular with the Trump base but less popular in districts with razor thin reelection margins. This isn’t to say that Democrats will necessarily flip these districts, but the slate of retirements will pose both opportunities and challenges for the GOP for the next term. For one, these retirements will allow unabashedly pro-Trump candidates to test the president’s popularity in their districts. As for challenges, Democrats could extend their majority in the House, setting up another four years of legislative punishment should President Trump be re-elected.)

Gohmert names whistleblower

In Wednesday night’s impeachment debate, Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) rattled off a list of fact witnesses he wants to testify before the House votes on impeachment. That list of names included alleged CIA whistleblower Eric Ciaramella, making Gohmert the first lawmaker to name him publicly. In response, Rep. Don Beyer (D-VA) accused Gohmert of committing “an incredible and outrageous breach.” Beyer continued: “The President threatened the whistleblower with violence, and whether the person just named is the whistleblower or not they were just put in real danger. This is unacceptable and there should be consequences.”

Groypers planning disruption of TPUSA event

A new confrontation between the mainstream young conservative group Turning Point USA and the loosely knit coalition of alt-right youth known as “Groypers” is scheduled for December 20. Turning Point USA is having its annual Student Leadership Summit December 19-22 in West Palm Beach, FL, with a long list of conservative speakers and political figures. Nick Fuentes has called for a “Groyper Leadership Summit” in West Palm Beach for December 20, with the location to be sent to attendees before the event. The past practice of the Groypers has been to infiltrate mainstream conservative meetings to disrupt them or to ask embarrassing questions. It would be reasonable to expect such an effort in West Palm Beach.

 

Upcoming Event Calendar

14 December: “Trump/Pence #OutNow!” (Chicago, IL)

16-31 December: Nobody is Above the Law protest events (nationwide)

20 January: “50,000+ strong 2nd Amendment Rally” (Richmond, VA)

 

PIR3: When and how will the next economic or financial crisis affect America?

After Wednesday’s Federal Reserve meeting, a majority of the Fed’s Open Market Committee members expect no changes to interest rates in 2020. This would suggest that cuts to interest rates meant as an insurance policy against recession are working in the Fed’s eyes. [12 Dec]

The canary in the coal mine: 63 percent of pension funds are considering whether to extend guaranteed benefits to new workers within the next five years. These pension funds are trying to make up for a funding shortfall, where future liabilities are higher than their expected ability to pay out. As a result, more pension plans are expected to drop defined benefits for new workers. (AC: Pension plans, on average, are predicated on 7.5 percent annual growth in order to meet future liabilities. While the stock market is up around 20 percent this year, fund managers are concerned that increasing numbers of retirees and lower growth in the coming years will threaten their ability to sustain adequate levels of funding.) [11 Dec]

The Federal Reserve is expected today to reach a decision on interest rate cuts. Fed watchers expect no cut, but they do expect the Fed to resume quantitative easing (QE) this year to solve the repo market problem. Rate spikes have caused some turmoil in overnight lending, causing the Fed to intervene and infuse banks with cash to provide liquidity. This week, the Bank of International Settlements described the problem as “structural,” which lead Credit Suisse and other financial firms to expect more money printing by the Fed. [11 Dec]

Dan Fuss of financial firm Loomis Sayles remains concerned about the $1.4 trillion worth of outstanding debt in high-yield bonds. I’ve included numerous reports on how the corporate debt bubble, including already distressed corporate loans, could turn into a financial crisis. Some 85 percent of leveraged loans are the result of loosened lending standards, which could cause substantial financial disruption if triggered by a spate of defaults. Total corporate debt sits around $9 trillion, while the high-yield bond market, at $1.4 trillion, is larger than the subprime mortgage market in 2007. [11 Dec]

Americans’ outlook on the economy is improving. According to a new Fannie Mae tracker, 57 percent of Americans say the economy is on the right track, up from 51 percent in July. Some 33 percent of Americans believe that the economy is on the wrong track, down from 40 percent in July. [10 Dec]

BlackRock, Goldman Sachs, and UBS all see gold as a hedge against geopolitical and domestic risks. Goldman expects gold to rise to $1,600 in the coming months, up from $1467 as of this morning. [10 Dec]

Bloomberg warns this morning that after 10 years of fighting against the effects of 2008, “the worry [for central banks] is the next ten years could be their most testing yet.” Bank of America recently warned of “quantitative failure or monetary policy impotence,” which is another way of saying that central banks might not be able to battle the effects of deflation during the next economic downturn. [09 Dec]

 

The information provided by Forward Observer in this report is for informational purposes only. It should not be considered financial advice. You should consult with a financial advisor to determine what may be best for your individual needs.

// END REPORT

 
 
 
 
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