This is the third weekly installment of The Darsch Report.
Let’s Get Right Into the News
Hello and welcome to the third installment of the weekly Darsch Report, this article will be providing some of the news for the week of Nov 5th-11th. I would first just like to say I hope everyone had a wonderful Veterans/Armistice Day this November 11th.
It was a good week for the US Economy this week with multiple gains in the stock market. The Dow Jones increased to 25,989.3 on Friday increasing by +719.47 points, or +2.84%, over its Nov 2nd close of 25,270.83. The S&P 500 increased to 2,781.01 on Friday increasing by +57.95 points, or +2.13%, over its Nov 2nd close of 2,723.06. Unfortunately, the Nasdaq didn’t perform as well as the previous two and increased to 7,406.9 on Friday increasing by +49.91 points, or just +0.68%, over its Nov 2nd close of 7,356.99.
Despite the good showing for this week, I wouldn’t advise anyone to get their hopes up about the current state of the US economy. The Federal Reserve is still likely to raise interest rates, which leads me to believe that this weeks increase is mostly due to the recent election and President Trump’s stated willingness to work with the new Democratic House majority. WTI Crude oil is currently in a bear market free fall with the benchmark oil price being about $60 dollars per barrel. This has lead to average United States gas prices dropping about 5.7 cents across the country, but could also spell trouble for global economic health as it is the lowest oil prices have been since March of this year, down from $76.41 per barrel just last month. Hopefully, a good chunk of this large drop in oil prices is just from the 1 million barrels of Iranian oil that flooded the market and drove prices down since supply is far exceeding demand. But we will just have to wait and see what the market determines to be the new equilibrium price for oil.
It was a big week for America as the 2018 midterm elections are finishing up and bringing a big change to the House and Senate. In the House, 11 races have yet to be called but so far the Democrats have gained 34 seats and currently sit at 227 total seats with the Republicans at 198. The biggest Democratic winners in these races were moderate Democrats who either never or hardly campaigned on being a foil to Trump and instead ran on policy.. More outspoken progressives, on the other hand, didn’t have as much luck but still won some of their races.
In the Senate, Republicans had a very good showing and were able to stop this election from becoming a Blue Wave by guaranteeing themselves 51 seats and the potential of up to 54 seats. Democratic incumbents who voted against Kavanaugh did not fare well and three out of five of them have so far lost their seats. Josh Hawley defeated incumbent Claire McCaskill of Missouri 51.5%-45.5% in a minor upset (based on 538’s model), Mike Braun beat incumbent Joe Donnelly of Indiana 51.0%-45.1% (another minor upset) and Kevin Cramer beat incumbent Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota 55.4%-44.6%. However, the Democrats were able to flip a seat as well with Jacky Rosen defeating Nevada incumbent Dean Heller 50.4%-45.4%. The much-watched state of Texas also came closer than many expected with incumbent Ted Cruz beating challenger Beto O’Rourke 50.9%-48.3%. This was a race that many pollsters were saying was going to be won by Cruz by at least 5%. Tennessee, however, was won on a larger margin than what RCP and 538 had expected, 5.2% and 4.9% respectively. Marsha Blackburn beat her opponent Phil Bredesen 54.7%-43.9%, a 10.8% difference in favor of Blackburn. At the moment 2 races have yet to be called: the Mississippi special election and the Florida race.1 The Mississippi election is expected to go towards the Republicans with Cindy Hyde-Smith seeking reelection. The Florida race is still up in the air though with, a lean towards the Republicans by .2%. The Florida race has gone into an automatic recount and as long as nothing major changes the current estimate for the Senate is Republicans holding a majority of 53-47.
In the gubernatorial elections, the Republicans may have just barely held on to their majority. The current count is 25-23 with two races yet to be called, Georgia and Florida. The Republicans only managed to gain one governorship in Alaska with Mike Dunleavy beating Mark Begich 52.3%-43.8% (the independent incumbent Bill Walker didn’t run). The Democrats have so far managed to flip 7 seats. In New Mexico, Michelle Lujan Grisham beat Steve Pearce 57.1%-42.9%, J.B. Pritzker beat brought down incumbent Bruce Rauner of Illinois 54.2%-39.2%, Tony Evers beat incumbent Scott Walker of Wisconsin 49.6%-48.4% and in Michigan, Gretchen Witmer flipped the seat by beating Bill Schuette 53.3%-43.8%. Democrats also gained in Nevada where Steve Sisolak beat Adam Laxalt 49.4%-45.3%, in Maine where Janet Mills beat Shawn Moody with a little over 50% of the vote to Moody’s 43% and in Kansas where Laura Kelly beat Kris Kobach 47.8%-43.3%. Georgia and Florida are currently undergoing recounts but in both, the Republicans lead. In Georgia, Brian Kemp is leading Stacey Abrams 50.3%-48.8% and in Florida, Ron DeSantis is leading Andrew Gillum 49.6%-49.2%.
My biggest take away from all this data is that Florida will always be Florida and will constantly give us really close races. More seriously, it looks like there wasn’t much of a Blue Wave because since World War 2 the president’s party has lost on average 37 seats compared to Trump’s loss of 34 seats so far. It was also the fourth time in the past 118 years that the party in power gained seats in the Senate during a midterm (the other three times are 1914, 1962 and 1970). This election turned out to be fairly average when it comes to the House and a rarely seen feat being performed by Republicans in the Senate. Going into 2020 it is hard to tell how the electoral map will look since we don’t know what states are really in play and who will be running against Trump, but with the Republicans losing governorships and Senate races in the Rust Belt it will be an uphill battle to keep the presidency
This weekend Presidents Trump and Macron made an awkward truce to avert a Twitter war, a day before the big Armistice Day commemoration in Paris. In an interview on Tuesday with Europe1, Macron called for the EU to create its own army to have a defense capacity "without relying solely on the United States" and “to protect us against China, Russia and even the United States of America.” These statements made by Macron sparked Trump to take to Twitter stating that the remarks are “Very insulting, but perhaps Europe should first pay its fair share of NATO, which the U.S. subsidizes greatly!” However, upon Trump's arrival at the Élysée Palace, tensions seem to ease as Macron welcomed his arrival and said that his plan is consistent with sharing a larger burden on NATO and Trump saying that he is appreciative of Macron wanting Europe to be stronger and share a larger burden of the NATO budget.
The idea of an EU army has been a matter of heated debate among EU member countries for years and still faces a lot of opposition. Many member states have no real defense policy and believe that having protection in NATO is sufficient enough.
On Wednesday, November 7th, tragedy struck at a Borderline Bar and Grill in Thousand Oaks, California as a marine veteran opened fire into the bar killing 11 bar patrons, Sgt. Ron Helus, and injuring over 20. The gunman, a 28-year-old Thousand Oaks resident, was armed with a semiautomatic pistol which he later turned on himself when authorities arrived. The motive for the attack is currently unknown as toxicology reports have yet to determine whether or not he had drugs in his system. The most we can get is posts he made to Instagram in which he stated "It's too bad I won't get to see all the illogical and pathetic reasons people will put in my mouth as to why I did it. Fact is I had no reason to do it, and I just thought....(explitive), life is boring so why not?" he posted, according to ABC News and Buzzfeed. Three minutes later he posted, "I hope people call me insane (two smiley face emojis) would that just be a big ball of irony? Yeah... I'm insane, but the only thing you people do after these shootings is 'hopes and prayers'...or 'keep you in my thoughts'." He added, "Every time...and wonder why these keep happening... --(two smiley face emojis)."
Funeral services have been or will be held for all of the victims of this mass shooting and I ask all of my readers to remember the names of those that were lost rather than the monster that took them away. They are:
Daniel Manrique - a 33 y/o Marine Corps veteran who since 2014 has helped fellow veterans transition from military to civilian life as a member of Team Red, White, and Blue.
Justin Meek - a 23 y/o security guard at Borderline who just earned a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice at California Lutheran University. He died a hero as he used his body to shield other patrons from gunfire.
Alaina Housley - an 18 y/o freshman at Pepperdine University who was loved by her high school classmates and called a “natural leader and connector” by her former principal. She was an honors student who played varsity soccer and served in student government all four years.
Cody Gifford-Coffman - a 22y/o older brother to two, 8 and 9-year-olds, who was the head umpire for the Camarillo Pony Baseball League and had planned to join the U.S. Army. His father will remember him as “one of the kids to run toward a bully, to stand up for others. I think that’s maybe what he did."
Noel Sparks - a 21 y/o college student who was majoring in art at nearby Moorpark College and also worked part-time at Calvary Community Church in Westlake Village helping with the children’s programs.
Kristina Morisette - a 20 y/o cashier for Borderline who was described as such in a Facebook post by one of her friends "You were just the sweetest girl I’ve ever met... you are the last person that deserved such a sudden fate. RIP beauty. Thank you for always putting a smile on my face."
Sean Adler - a 48 y/o, father of two, who worked as a bouncer for Borderline and Azar’s Sports Bar and as a strength and conditioning coach at Royal High School. In August, he realized a dream and opened a coffee shop, Rivalry Roasters, in a Simi Valley strip mall. His sister, Valerie Alder, told NBC News that as the gunman opened fire, Adler tried to disarm him.
Jacob Dunham - a 21 y/o off-road enthusiast and friend to Blake Dingman. He had recently graduated from Conejo Valley High School and wanted to go into Mechanics School because of the love and pride he had of his truck.
Blake Dingman - a 21 y/o off-road enthusiast and Newbury Park resident who had worked in the commercial electrical field since high school and had just been called and offered a new job working for a local company.
Mark Meza, Jr. - a 20 y/o who worked as a busboy and food runner for Borderline. He was described by his family as “a loving and wonderful young man who was full of life and ambition,"
Telemachus Orfanos - a 27 y/o Navy veteran who worked at a car dealership in California. He was also a survivor of the mass shooting in Las Vegas in October 2017 that killed 58 and injured hundreds more.
Ron Helus - a 29 y/o sheriff Sgt for the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office who was the first to arrive at the scene and died on Thursday after exchanging gunfire with the shooter and being shot multiple times. He planned on retiring from law enforcement in the next year or so and a memorial service is set for Thursday with over $21,000 being raised on a GoFundMe in support of his family.
1. At the time of writing, Arizona had also yet to be called, but Martha McSally conceded the election the afternoon of Monday November 12.