Let's Get It Started
February 12, 2018

Views from the Vrge

"Nobody puts Baby in a corner" Edition

Screen Shot 2018-02-12 at 4.40.53 PM

February 9, 2018

Ten days ago, President Donald J. Trump gave a very effective State of the Union address that identified the strong economy as a metaphor for a strong America. This message, if laid out in a drumbeat campaign over the next 9 months, could be the framework that the GOP needs to avoid a wipeout at the ballot box come November.

Yet, this powerful economic and cultural message has been largely obscured by three things:

  1. A volatile stock market,
  2. A serious political miscalculation over “The Memo”, which turned a serious issue into a veritable side-show; and
  3. A failure to implement the basics of crisis management by the White House staff with regard to the Rob Porter issue.

Yet, Democrats should be very wary. Despite the chaos, President Trump and Congressional Republicans have a clear message going into the midterms that can be turned into a bumper sticker. By contrast, Democrats have all the energy and anger in the world, but no message other than “Trump is Terrible.” This will need to change if they want to win back the House and keep the Senate close.

Policywise, Congress has reached a two-year budget deal that moves federal spending issues until after the mid-term elections. This was a traditional Washington compromise, in which both sides got something to love.

The biggest outstanding issue is DACA. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi held a very unusual House “Filibuster” on Wednesday to try to persuade Speaker of the House Paul Ryan to hold a vote on the issue. While good theater and good politics, the stunt is extremely unlikely to be successful. On DACA, it is increasingly likely that there will be a one-year fix that kicks the can on the issue to 2019.

Next week, The Senate will hold an old-school debate on immigration with amendments and no guaranteed outcome. Expect tough votes that will put members on both sides in challenging positions.

And expect to see the Administration issue its infrastructure framework for a $1.5 trillion infrastructure bill as early as Monday (much of the funding will leverage private sector investment). For the tech industry, take a look for investments in broadband (especially rural), as well as transportation and fuels.

Race for 2018
With the spending bill settled, expect much of the focus in 2018 to be political.

In the race for control of the House of Representatives, Democrats need a net pickup of 24 seats to win control of the chamber. Right now, the Real Clear Politics average have Democrats up 6 points on the generic ballot. That’s enough to make things close, but not nearly enough for the tsunami some people are hoping for. One thing to watch: will the efforts in Pennsylvania and other states to force re-districting help get a few more seats in play?

In the race for the Senate, the map favors the Republicans. Key races include:

United States Senate Competitive Races [Ballotpedia]

  • Arizona, Republican Party Jeff Flake–Battleground
  • Florida, Democratic Party Bill Nelson–Battleground
  • Indiana, Democratic Party Joe Donnelly–Battleground
  • Maine, Independent Angus King–Race to watch
  • Michigan, Democratic Party Debbie Stabenow–Race to watch
  • Missouri, Democratic Party Claire McCaskill–Battleground
  • Montana, Democratic Party Jon Tester–Battleground
  • Nevada, Republican Party Dean Heller–Battleground
  • North Dakota, Democratic Party Heidi Heitkamp–Battleground
  • Ohio, Democratic Party Sherrod Brown–Battleground
  • Pennsylvania, Democratic Party Bob Casey–Race to watch
  • West Virginia, Democratic Party Joe Manchin–Battleground
  • Wisconsin, Democratic Party Tammy Baldwin–Race to watch

Tech Tidbits
The Waymo v. Uber case finally made it to trial, and then suddenly ended – to the audible surprise of live-tweeting courtroom. No cash will be changing hands, instead Waymo is taking a .34% stake in the company. While the contentious and controversial Travis Kalanick did take the stand, you’ve got to think this is part of the post-Travis cultural shift.

Some people were up in arms when they thought Facebook’s algorithm limited news feeds to encompass updates from only 25 of their closest friends. Check out Snopes; that was a hoax. Either way, the new algorithm appears to be a work in progress.

Snap and Twitter surprised this week with earnings that beat expectations. (Charlie should have doubled down on Snap).

Tesla, on the other hand, is down more than 10% due to delays with the Model 3.
Check out David McCabe’s Axios article: Critics shame Silicon Valley firms over addictive technologies.

Data Download
Delivery drives new opportunities for restaurants. Axios discussed the rise of delivery apps and how this is affecting the restaurant industry:

“In 2016, delivery transactions made up about seven per cent of total U.S. restaurant sales. In a research report published last June, analysts at Morgan Stanley predicted that that number could eventually reach forty per cent of all restaurant sales, and an even higher percentage in urban areas and among casual restaurants.”

This is not only good for your late-night craving, but will lead to new revenue streams for restaurants and drivers alike.

Musts: Read, Watch, Listen

  • The much touted Godless failed to live up to expectations. Let’s just say… it’s no Deadwood. The series finale of Godless is quite good, but the rest is a snoozer.
  • Check out Joe Biden’s new book called “Promise Me, Dad.” In case you were wondering, Uncle Joe is running for President in 2020.
  • Winter Olympics – Curling, Short Track Speed Skating, Downhill, and of course Ice Skating.
    Everyone is raving about The Good Place, so if you haven’t already headed Stefana’s advice to watch it: you’re out of excuses.
  • CREED-The 2nd best Rocky Movie. Yes, Dave McGuire, Rocky III is a distant 5th.

Super Bowl LII Takes

  • Nobody puts Baby (Manning) in a corner. The Eli Manning/OBJ ad was the best ad. We could watch it again and again.
  • JT is terrifically talented, but the half time show was simply manic.
  • The sloth referee was an excellent addition to the #PuppyBowl (h/t Stefana)

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