Saturday, November 26, 2016

December Surprise

It's the stuff that conspiracy theorists' dreams are made of – and it's happening right now, before our eyes! Hillary and her Stalinist army are trying to overturn the results of the election, while Trump & Co., plus a few resigned Republicans, are busy populating the next administration (with, by and large, hard-core neocons) and fleshing out their domestic and foreign policy without a care in the world. Are we witnessing the greatest political stunt in American history? Is Hillary playing rope-a-dope with the Republicans – pretending to give up when, in fact, she is doing just the opposite – gathering her forces for the mother of all battles? If so, she's going to catch them off guard because right now they are engaged in unparalleled triumphalist reveling, and not noticing the cockroaches falling out of every crack in the wall and skittering about on the floor.

And sure, the Electoral College comes up for criticism every time there's a close election but, funny thing is, no one ever does anything about it. Hillary herself has complained bitterly about it on previous occasions, but then never followed up. And it's hard to see why, because, after all, the Democrats are, as the name implies, democrats – that is, they believe in absolute majority rule, and never mind the federalist niceties of representative government. They did manage, a while back, to impose the popular vote on Senate races, which pretty much makes the Senate and the House indistinguishable except for length of term. And now they would love to do the same for the presidency because of all the surplus votes that go to waste in the “blue” states, whereas in the “red” states, every vote counts. What good does it do to have an overwhelming majority in the East and West Coast states, if a bunch of hayseeds in the Midwest and South can still snatch the presidency out of one's deserving hands? And you'll notice, every day there's a new headline announcing how much Hillary has gained in “the popular vote” -- as if it mattered! So we see that the propaganda campaign is in full swing, and a Constitutional amendment may, at long last, be in the offing. Once the Democrats regain control of Congress and the state legislatures, that is. 

Now, I say that Hillary & Co. are disputing the election results – but not always directly. Obama has apparently told them to cool it with the poor-loser crap, and I suspect that it's because (1) there really was never any love lost between him and Hillary; (2) he sees Hillary's loss as his own vindication, in that he won in 2008 whereas she might very well have lost; (3) he'd rather not have a fellow Democrat fouling up his legacy (which she would be certain to do); and (4) he doesn't want the last few weeks of his term marred by a “Constitutional crisis”, especially if he might be forced to “take a position” on the matter. So – my theory, of course – Hillary has turned over the heavy lifting to Jill Stein, who has mysteriously already collected over $5 million for the cause of recounting votes in three states. (I never knew recounts cost anything – at least not for the candidates. Live and learn!) And of course there are now “experts” -- mostly unnamed, of course -- who have provided statistical arguments in favor of the recounts. And – horror of horrors! -- the results don't match the poll numbers. (I guess in the future we can settle who's going to be president just by polling, and skip the election entirely, if poll numbers are so superior to actual election results.)

Another question that might just occur to someone who remembers what happened in 1960, and in countless other elections – national, state, and local – over the years, is: What happened to the big-city Democrat machine? This has traditionally been a kind of automat that dispenses extra votes, as needed, to put Democrat candidates over the top – and has operated primarily in large cities, mostly in the Northeast and Midwest. And look at the three states that Stein has targeted: Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and Michigan. Two of those have old-time machine cities – Detroit, Pittsburgh, and Philadelphia. So wha' hoppen? Either the Dems are losing their grip on their traditional urban strongholds (possibly due, at least in part, to “white flight”, which was caused by “urban renewal”, which was a Democrat program – please ring the Irony Bell, thank you) or other parts of the country have gained just enough in electoral votes, which means in population, to tip the scales. But why has the South, for instance, gained in population? The terms “right to work”, “taxation”, and “cost of living” occur to me – and two out of those three are, once again, directly related to Democrat domestic and economic policy.

If all of this sounds a bit like karma, or “what goes around comes around”, it's no accident. And it shows how “agents of change” may get more “change” than they bargained for, or the wrong kind.

So much for the irony of the Democrats asking for a recount. Someone said, regarding elections, “if it's not close, they can't cheat”. What seems to have happened this time around is that it was close, and they failed to cheat – or they did cheat, but it wasn't enough. In any case, they can't complain – unless they want to repent and declare Nixon the winner, post-mortem, in 1960.

But wait! It's not too late, and, in the immortal words of Yogi Berra, “it ain't over till it's over”. What if they decided to hold off on the shenanigans on Election Day and during the initial vote count, but are now poised to pull off a coup d'etat in the recount? Wouldn't that take the Republicans by surprise, who are right now busy planning Inauguration Day festivities (or sitting at home sulking)? Is anyone keeping an eye on this? We're all used to the idea that the Electoral College vote is a mere formality, and that of course it can't possibly turn the results of an election around – but this is far from the case. We did not elect a president on Election Day! We elected electors, who may or may not be reliable. They may, for example, decide that "the will of the people” should be interpreted to mean the national popular vote, rather than the vote in their respective states. And if enough of them do that, Big Nurse will emerge triumphant, and Bill will be smirking non-stop for four years.

So... OK, as I said, this is red meat for the conspiracy crowd, and it will be even more so if Hillary, disguised as Jill Stein, succeeds and the election is reversed. It can't happen, you say? Well, neither could Trump have been nominated for the presidency, and neither could he have won. So much for “impossibility” -- which is akin to “inevitability” on the wishful thinking scale. (I should also add that the U.S. would never make a movie actor president – except that it did.) (Add “or a peanut farmer” if you like.)

But, should this come to pass, what happens then? I shudder to think, but it might just ignite a civil war. Please note that there is already a war on, with rioting in the streets and electors receiving death threats. But at the same time, many of the losers are holed up in “safe rooms” with teddy bears, blankets, and binkies. (And now they have to deal with the death of Fidel Castro! They just can't win.) I don't think the Trump crowd would take a loss – especially one this unprecedented -- quite so passively.

But why even worry about any of this, because it's not going to happen. It's impossible. Yep. No way. Just roll over and go back to sleep.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Bad Prophet! No Sushi!

Well, I guess it's time to face the music. I can't put it off any longer. I have to, in the interests of “transparency”, resurrect my predictions from last February concerning the presidential election and provide, as promised (or at least implied), a final rating of my talents as a prognosticator. So here goes.

Prediction #1: Obama will nominate someone (not a “flaming liberal” but a “moderate” according to his frame of reference, who will seem like a flaming liberal to conservatives) for the Supreme Court.

Result: True! So I get one point.

Prediction #2: The Republicans will hold hearings (re: confirmation of the nominee)

Result: False! They at least had the cojones to resist all of that pressure, and Obama apparently felt that he had better things to do than threaten “the nuclear option”, i.e. a government shutdown, if the hearings didn't take place. Plus, he was confident enough that Hillary was going to be president that he preferred to toss the matter into her lap. No points.

Prediction #3: Whoever it is will be confirmed because enough Republicans will cave, fearing “voter rage” in the election and/or a “government shutdown” (and how that relates to the Supreme Court is beyond me, but the Democrats are already talking about it – and of course the Republicans will be blamed if it occurs).

Result: See Prediction #2. No points.

Prediction #4: Some of the Republican “base” will be annoyed and skip voting in the November election as a result, giving the Democrats even more of an edge than they already have.

Result: Hard to tell. What I should have said is that some of the Democrat base will skip voting. I underestimated the advantage Obama had in 2008 and 2012 by being a political rock star (and black, by the way). Apparently many of the Democrat stay-at-homes were black and were less than inspired by Hillary (and who can blame them?). No points (due to a minor semantic issue).

Prediction #5 (oh, this is a good one): The Republicans will NOT – repeat, NOT – nominate Trump for president. They would rather lose the election (they've said as much). They are almost as unlikely to nominate Cruz. There will be a “brokered convention” and the mainliners will put up someone they consider a “moderate” -- but who? Bush has dropped out, so that leaves Rubio, and maybe Kasich for VP.

Result: Well, you know. I think what happened was, basically, as follows. The Republican mainstream saw the handwriting on the wall – they had, basically, a mutiny on their hands – and it was easier to just let it run its course than try and fight it off. Plus, they figured that by losing (and they were positive Trump would lose, make no mistake – they were as much believers in Hillary's inevitability as the Democrats were) it would teach those populists – that rabble – a damn good lesson, and give them (the establishment) an excuse to banish them from the party once and for all. They never dreamed in a million years that Trump would actually win, and that his takeover of the party would be set in concrete for at least 4 years. (How he handles this windfall is another question. He could just kick all of the country-club types out and turn the party entirely over to his supporters, but that doesn't seem likely. What's more likely is an uneasy truce, with each side hoping to make gains in 2018.) No points.

Prediction #6: Bernie will be crushed to fine powder by Hillary long before the Democrat convention.

Result: True! Not only that, but it turned out (surprise, surprise) that Bernie was a dead man walking since Day One because there had been a conspiracy against him within the party all along. The dismay his supporters felt could only be exceeded by the fact that, within five minutes after Hillary's nomination, he got down on his knees and became her footstool. A man of principle, right... One point, for a total of 2 so far!

Prediction #7: Hillary will beat whoever the Republicans put up because she already has a solid base of nearly ½ the eligible voters.

Result: Well, I was right about her base. I said at some point that she had 47%, and guess what, she won a bit under 48% of the popular vote. What I failed to anticipate was that she would be unable to add much of anything to her base, i.e. to inspire very many independents or “undecideds”. Whether they switched to Trump, or voted third party, or just stayed home is another matter, but the fact remains that, when it comes to the rock star, AKA charisma, factor, Obama had it and Hillary... not someone you'd exactly want to cozy up to, right? (And Bill agrees.) I'm going to be generous and grant myself half a point on this one, because I called the solid base correctly. (Total: 2 ½ points)

Prediction #8: Once inaugurated, Hillary will dramatically pivot away from the Islamic world and from Muslims in the U.S. But it's unlikely she'll start World War III – for one thing, she and Putin are too much alike. Foreign policy overall will change little from Obama's, which changed little from Bush's.

Result: “Not applicable.” But while we're on the topic, Trump is sliding into the neocon camp faster than you-know-what slides out of a goose. What ever happened to his skepticism about America being involved in countless conflicts overseas? About the American Empire? I knew that kind of loose talk was over with when John Bolton appeared at Trump Tower. He never saw a proxy war he didn't like... and, for that matter, any other kind of war he didn't like. If you think we're already fighting a war on Islam, oops, I mean “terror”, wait until this joker takes the reins at State. No points.

Prediction #9: Domestic policy will be a seamless continuation of Obama's.

Result: “Not applicable.” But I don't think it's going be as radically different as all of the rioters expect. Trump is too much of a realist to go off on any wild pursuits when it comes to domestic policy. I mean, what's he going to do about entitlements? You can't un-scramble eggs, as they say. But we'll see what happens. No points.

Prediction #10: A bachelor pad for Bill Clinton will be built in the White House, with a secret door leading out to Pa. Ave. Also, the Clintons will bring back the furniture they took with them when they moved out in 2001.

Result: These could still happen, but it's unlikely. Especially the furniture part. No points.

Grand total: 2 ½ points out of 10, which would be enough to earn me a passing grade in the Chicago public schools. I think I deserve a participation trophy at least; don't you?

And BTW, is this so-called “failure” going to deter me from making predictions in the future? Surely you jest...