Year End Predictions By Popular Demand

Let’s not get too carried away with the popular demand thing. A couple of people expressed disappointment that I had not given predictions a try in my most recent post. By blogger standards, that is pretty much the same as “popular demand,” hence the picture.

So here is the plan for today. I am going to make some predictions then yield the floor to a longstanding college friend who observes the political scene closely even though his career was 35 years as a business executive in Asia and the US (after some time in politics). I will post his observations as the first comment below the story.

  1. The President will react no better to intense pressure than anyone else does, perhaps worse. Thus, applying pressure will be a weapon of choice for his adversaries. Mental health professionals will be at the ready while partisan charlatans will be poised to pounce.
  2. No matter what candidates, office holders, spokespeople, advocates or media outlets might say, the only political goal will be obtaining or keeping power.
  3. There will be more foolish runs for President than serious ones. Some will be motivated by attention-seeking; some will be runs for cable news jobs rather than elective office; some will be motivated by the ability of the unemployed to pay themselves salaries for running (assuming they can raise the money); and others will be motivated by the next prediction.
  4. Political strategists will encourage foolish candidacies so they can launch fund raising efforts to pay themselves. Political strategists have mortgages too.
  5. Fund raising considerations will be the real reason for important governing decisions. Here’s an example: stretch out the government shutdown as long as contributions are flowing. Grandstanding will be the tactic of choice. The words “the American people” will finally be retired thanks to overuse. (Actually retiring those words will not happen though it certainly should.)
  6. Cable news and partisan media will stretch “excess” to its outer limits and, in some cases, beyond. Outrage and dudgeon will result but both will dissipate quickly.
  7. Bad taste will continue its ascendancy.
  8. Stupidity will compete for the top spot with bad taste.
  9. Hypocrisy rampant. See predictions 7 and 8.
  10. Clicks will continue to be counted because popularity matters more than quality. Quality might actually be retired though from underuse not overuse (not like the “American people”).
  11. If you thought the Kavanaugh confirmation process exemplified predictions 2 through 10 above, watch for the firestorm that will happen if Ruth Bader Ginsburg steps down. The prospect of a sixth conservative justice will have to compete hard with the motivations listed in those predictions to be the real driver of the battling.
  12. The President will not be kicked off Twitter no matter what he says. He is responsible to far too much of the stock price. Note to self: that would be a terrific scene in a political novel.
  13. There will be a spectacularly embarrassing professional or college sports crisis likely resulting from testosterone, money, attention getting or all of the above. Cheating is another source of crisis though making excuses for cheating has more profound implications.
  14. There will be a spectacularly embarrassing higher education crisis likely resulting from political correctness, administrative overreach, hypocrisy, sex or all of the above.
  15. Despite increasingly puritanical efforts, known to fail with near 100% certainty, sex will enjoy its 10,000thconsecutive undefeated season (ever since the last hunter gatherer admonished his friends not to plant those damned seeds and create civilization).
  16. People will be motivated to improve their lives by leaving crummy countries and moving to better ones. They might not pay complete attention to prevailing laws. See the first dozen predictions.
  17. International incidents will be staged for domestic political purposes.
  18. This is more a hope than a prediction and it probably won’t happen anyway but wouldn’t it be nice if something good happened for Melania Trump? She looks miserable and that seems an excessive penalty for a bit of ill-advised gold digging.
  19. There will be no 19thprediction even though that would match the year. (For sure, I am going to be right on this one even if I blow all the others.)

Now off you go to the first comment by my college friend. He is bravely specific, which leaves him more open to error than me.

Also, most of his have not yet happened while most of mine are ongoing.

Happy New Year. As is my custom of long standing, I will be celebrating Nova Scotia New Year’s several hours before the ball drops.

 

 

 

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Haven Pell

At the conclusion of the Constitutional Convention of 1787, a woman asked Benjamin Franklin, “Well, Doctor, what have we got, a republic or a monarchy?” Without hesitation, Franklin replied, “A republic, if you can keep it.”

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  • First of all, the Moscow Tower news was important …
    — establishes Trump motivation to please Putin, blatant conflict of interest.
    — establishes direct link to Russia when previous indictments were tax fraud, lying, or Stormy Daniels
    — Trump was asking Putin’s help on Tower deal at same time Republican platform was changed,
    — Trump was telling American voters he had no business interests in Russia, but now says he was perfectly free to run for President and conduct his business at the same time
    — establishes that Mueller is filing new sensitive indictments despite Whitaker arrival
    — turns out Rosenstein is still supervising Mueller, not Whitaker; Trump must be livid
    — demonstrates once again that Mueller will proceed by “talking indictments” on the judicial track,
    not a grand “final report” which by definition is on the political track and just talk,
    subject to they-say-but-we-say games by Giuliani, in cable-land that plays to Trump
    strengths. Courts and judges operate in a system where there is “objective truth”
    and where decisions are reached, not just endless opinions voiced. Mueller’s home turf.

    As yet unmentioned, but surely to come, are indictments for
    — money-laundering by thoroughly corrupt Trump org, role of kids
    — likewise, tax fraud
    — same for Kushner org
    — RICO indictments of Trump org & Trump campaign still possible
    (which allows govt upon indictment to confiscate all Trump assets illegally acquired,
    immediately bankrupting him and the family)
    — role of Americans in DNC hack & revealing material to inflame Bernie-ites, driving votes
    to Stein and away from Hilary (Trump won Wisc-Mich-Penn by less than the Stein vote)
    — Eric Prince (DeVos) backchannel communications with Russians
    — Alfa Bank (located in Trump Tower NY) role in transmitting detailed voter targeting info
    — role of Americans in supplying that information
    — illegal funneling of Russian money to Trump campaign, role of NRA, McConnell, Ryan,
    Devin Nunes, Pence (helps explain why they have been so eager to constrain
    the investigation).
    — obstruction

    Quite a few of these are already filed as sealed indictments in order to Whitaker-proof the
    process. It also turns out that the grand jury has its own power to issue a report without
    Whitaker approval. I think Whitaker is a total opportunist, not a Trump-loyalist, who will
    go where HIS interest leads him, namely to stay clear and avoid a later obstruction charge.

    The ONLY person not indicted is Trump himself to avoid bringing on that noisy distraction
    about whether he “can” be indicted while in office. Once everyone around him, his family,
    are all indicted … he is left as un-indicted co-conspirator for Congress to deal with. Dershowitz
    et al are prattling about whether the President can be indicted, the Final Report, etc …
    all irrelevant.

    Much under-reported is that ALL of Mueller’s indictments and plea deals so far
    have included a charge of “conspiracy”. Implies that the other conspirators
    will be named, tying everything together, and directly belies Trump insisting
    “no collusion”. Collusion is not a crime, conspiracy is. Notable that crimes
    which include conspiracy carry much heavier sentences than the same crime
    committed by a single person.

    This is in addition to the unrelated investigations of various cabinet secretaries.
    And this list doesn’t include farther out possibilities, according to the blogosphere —
    eg that the Trump Modeling Agency (most people didn’t know THAT was part of the
    Trump org) engaged in sex-trafficking of underage girls. Appears that charges
    relating to “Trump University” fraud and the Trump Foundation have already been
    settled.

    Another possibility is links between FOX (and Hannity in particular) and RT
    to coordinate story themes and timing. Mueller probably has intercepts, but
    risks triggering a first-amendment backlash from liberals who otherwise
    are 100% on his side…. probably better to duck for now.

    —————————————————————————————————————————-

    Chapter 2: So what happens after these indictments drop?

    Democrats in Congress will have mixed motivations:
    1. Their already passionate base will demand immediate
    impeachment now that the evidence is visible … to remove
    Trump before he can do further damage.
    2. But strategists looking to 2020 elections will want very very
    lengthy hearings:
    — wallow in how bad Trump corruption was, expose offenses
    such as non-Russia money laundering or tax evasion
    which Mueller didn’t get to.
    — build a unified national consensus, reduce divisions,
    and avoid Repubs being able to pose as victims
    of Dem partisanship. Goal would be a nearly unanimous
    Senate vote to convict of impeachment.
    — make sure the 2020 elections are still about defeating Trumpsim
    with undiminished anger … not allow a moderate (Pence?)
    successor to gain sympathy, say he needs to be given
    a chance to clean up.
    — get lots of free TV time posturing in hearings
    — (the media will also want extended high-viewership hearings)

    Republicans, conversely, will be incented — if the evidence is strong —
    to cut their losses, dump Trump quickly, and build a new fresh Party
    based on Romney, Flake, Sasse, or Pence …. with plenty of runway
    before 2020 elections. They will be against corruption (of course)
    but still espouse key Republican base tribal mantras
    — Nancy Pelosi wants to raise taxes
    — Nancy Pelosi wants open borders
    — Nancy Pelosi is soft on crime, doesn’t love our military
    — Nancy Pelosi wants a government takeover of all medical care
    — Nancy Pelosi wants judges who are judicial activists
    It would be nice if they tried to move the base back to a higher
    moral/ethical plane re disparaging minorities, DOJ, FBI, press, courts,
    but the requirements of holding their angry base will impose limits.
    Repubs will not talk about the budget deficit or cutting entitlements
    or foreign affairs unless events force it.

    The danger of a successor Bannon-esque figure grabbing the mantle
    of Trumpism but saying he won’t be corrupt is very real. Tom Cotton,
    Jim Jordan, or Mark Meadows are obvious threats.

    If Pence is scooped up in the campaign RICO indictment (he was
    Chair of the transition and obviously lied about his knowledge of
    Flynn’s Russia contacts) … there will be Republican pressure
    for him to resign and be replaced with a “Mr. Clean” VP who can be
    confirmed by the Senate. What they have to avoid at all costs
    is Trump and Pence going down together, in which case Nancy
    Pelosi becomes President. Obviously there would be a battle
    royal for who that new VP would be.

    Trump’s own path depends first on his kids, as my wife has been
    saying for more than a year. Even though Trump won’t be personally
    indicted, at least Don Jr and probably Eric/Jared/Ivanka will be.
    If it looks like they would likely be convicted and serve non-trivial
    jail time, Trump’s #1 goal becomes negotiating a deal of pardons
    for all, and maybe even preserving some of the Trump business and
    money for them …. in exchange for his own resignation. Unlikely he
    could pull off pardoning them and staying in office himself.

    Secondarily, Trump’s future depends on Fox/Hannity/Limbaugh.
    If they suddenly get patriotic about Russian treason, Trump is
    disgraced and loses all hope of a Senate rescue. Best he can do is
    get a pardon deal for all, forfeit the bankrupted Trump businesses,
    be allowed to keep a modest $100 million but sell Mar-a-Lago
    and the plane, and depart like Nixon without a fuss. He won’t be
    able to resist writing a book and going on talk shows and giving
    speeches, which will divide and poison the Repub Party and
    help the rest of us remember how bad he was. He would still be
    subject to lawsuits in state courts, and civil suits, I think.

    But if any media stays with him, he can go to Plan B, which is
    “changing the subject”, for which he has superb skills
    and many opportunities, starting with a revived Korea crisis.
    Very hard to predict the outcome of a pitched national tribal
    battle between the allied voices of FOX and Trump and
    extended court proceedings involving his kids, but I assume
    that in the end the judicial process, which may grind slowly
    with appeals, would surely prevail

    Bob Mueller is doing so much to reaffirm basics ….
    the rule of law, values, orderly process, truth itself.
    A true American hero when the country needed him
    whether everyone knew it or not.