A Democrats Worst Nightmare

Grind for February 12th, 2019
“She got her looks from her father. He’s a plastic surgeon.”

– Groucho Marx.

Harder Than I Expected

The Headline

What’s the deal with Howard Schultz?

The Grind

Longtime Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz might be running for president.

In late January, he told reporters he was “seriously considering” running as a “centrist independent.”

As if his decision to run on a third-party ticket wasn’t bad enough, he spent the first few days of his “campaign” attacking Democrats Elizabeth Warren, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and Kamala Harris.

Schultz is similar to Trump in that he is a rich, white businessman with no experience in politics. He owns 3% of Starbucks, giving him a net worth of $3.5 billion. Like Trump, Schultz has promised to distance himself from his financial interests should he win the election in 2020.

Other challenges for Schultz include his business interests in China (Starbucks as 3,300 stores there) and his focus on bipartisanship.

As analysts have been quick to point out, it is likely Schultz’s campaign will help Trump win by splitting the vote among those who oppose Trump. But in Schultz’s opinion, Democrats will ensure Trump’s re-election if they select a “progressive, left-leaning liberal…and there are enough of those people who are running.”

The Details

Howard Schultz has portrayed himself as a socially liberal deficit hawk, describing the national debt as the “greatest threat domestically to the country.”

In January, he blamed both parties for engaging in “revenge politics” and “consistently not doing what’s necessary on behalf of the American people.”

Schultz, 65, is a strong supporter of refugees, veterans, and the LGBTQ community. He wants to find a pathway to citizenship for DACA recipients, but has called for immigration reform and tighter border security. He does not agree with Trump’s plans to build a wall along the southern border.

Schultz supports tax reform, but has opposed efforts to increase taxes on the rich. Early polling suggests he is massively unpopular among voters who know he exists.

“I think the American people are longing for and desiring leadership they can trust and a government that is working for them,” he said during an interview with The Seattle Times. “The current environment is filled with a level of toxicity we have not seen, certainly in my lifetime.”

Schultz is currently on a three-month tour promoting his book From the Ground Up and plans to make a final decision on his candidacy when he returns.


The Headline

Trump expected to ban Chinese telecom equipment

The Grind

President Trump is expected to sign an executive order banning Chinese equipment from US wireless networks.

The decision, which comes ahead of a key industry conference later this month, sends a clear signal that US officials are prioritizing cybersecurity amid the global rollout of 5G infrastructure.

The directive “could further roil the Trump Administration’s already tense relationship with Beijing, especially if the US push erodes Chinese firms’ significant European market share,” reports Politico.

The Details

The directive targets Chinese telecom giants Huawei and ZTE, which have repeatedly been accused of spying and intellectual property theft and are considered by many to be a national security concern.

Huawei has been banned from selling its tech in the US since 2012. Starting last October, all federal agencies are banned from buying and/or using equipment produced by Huawei and ZTE.

In January, the Department of Justice announced charges against Huawei’s CTO, who faces extradition to the US for violation sanctions on Iran.

Despite these concerns, Huawei and ZTE continue to offer the lowest prices as tech companies throughout the world gear up to deploy 5G wireless networks. And with Huawei controlling 28% of the global telecom equipment market, it is unclear how US businesses will proceed with the 5G expansion if the directive is signed.

“The US still hasn’t developed an alternative, Huawei-free version for the massive, complicated and high-stakes global 5G buildout,” notes Politico.

In the meantime, the Department of Homeland Security is examining tech supply chains to come up with criteria for security assessments as well as an “approved-manufacturers list.”

And officials at the State Department are warning other countries about 5G security. “We’re raising it at the highest diplomatic levels,” says Rob Strayer, the department’s top cyber official. “We’re making sure that the most senior policymakers in governments are aware of the momentousness of this decision and what is at stake in the decision they’re about to make.”

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