This has certainly been an eventful year. Given my great powers of prediction (I had Hillary Clinton winning the election), I thought I’d a shot at what might happen in the coming year.
1. Republicans keep the House and add a few seats in the Senate.
2. The Russia probe will end with no evidence of any collusion.
3. Sexual harassment scandals will no longer be in the headlines but they will permanently change the guidelines of acceptable behavior.
4. The stock market will keep moving up but will be down for the year.
5. We will have a new Attorney General.
6. Nancy Pelosi will not keep her job.
7. We will make little or no headway in dealing with North Korea.
8. Trump infrastructure bill will die when Democrats refuse to support it.
There you have it. It doesn’t matter if I am right or wrong because everyone (including myself) will not remember any of them.
Traditionally the Republican Party was seen as the party of the wealthy while the Democrats were made up of regular people. This makes it very ironic that the one presidential candidate who spoke to and for those people was billionaire Republican Donald Trump. You would think that losing the presidential election and see the lowest Democratic representation in Congress since the 1920’s would wake up the Democrats.
Instead, they seem more out of touch than ever. The core of the party is a self-appointed elite that listens to nobody but themselves. They seem more interested in venting their hatred of President Trump than mending fences with their disaffected constituents. There is much in the tax reduction package that they don’t like yet not a single Democrat tried to work with the GOP to improve the bill. Nancy Pelosi said it was Armageddon. They didn’t seem to care that those regular people that once voted for them are getting tax cuts.
They have manufactured a crisis with the supposed imminent firing of Robert Mueller. Some, including Eric Holder, urged people to take to the streets if that happens. While they have urged that demonstrations be peaceful but we all know some would turn violent. How does that help their cause?
They have threatened to shut down the government over the handling of illegal immigrants brought here by their parents when they were children. I agree something needs to be worked out but question the political wisdom of potentially antagonizing millions of voters to protect a group that cannot cast a single vote.
Some Democrats see the need for change but most seem to want to double down on the strategy that got them into this mess.
Next year marks the seventieth anniversary of the formation of Israel. Sadly, it will also mark seventy years without the Palestinian question being resolved. This is a very emotional issue with feelings running high on both sides. Supporters of each side blame the other for all the bloodshed. There is plenty of fault on both sides.
It seems like every president thinks they can break the logjam. President Trump has talked about taking on the issue. I see little chance of success. Before getting into thorny issues like the settlements and Jerusalem, Palestine has to recognize Israel’s right to exist. Israel tried trading land for peace with the Gaza Strip. They have been subject to thousands of rocket attacks and countless acts of terrorism.
There is an enormous amount of hatred toward Israel in the world. I do think moving the embassy to Jerusalem was an unnecessary provocation but it certainly doesn’t warrant action by the UN. I think some that talk of a two state solution wouldn’t mind seeing Israel wiped off the face of the earth.
The ball is in the Palestinian’s court. Hopefully something changes in the next sixty-nine years.
The Obama administration Department of Justice had many shady dealing. One I found particularly unsavory was the way they handled cases against some businesses. They would offer to settle if the firm donated money to a liberal nonprofit. Undoubtedly some of that money found its way to democratic candidates.
We are beginning to see evidence of a two part conspiracy to get Hillary Clinton to the White House. Part one was to clear her clear her of any charges related to her mishandling of government secrets. To me the evidence is fairly strong. Key witnesses were not sworn in. The report exonerating her was begun well before the investigation concluded. It was also watered down. After the uproar over the Attorney General meeting with Bill Clinton, she said she would follow the recommendation of FBI Director Comey. I doubt she would have said that if she didn’t know what he was going to say. He way overstepped his responsibilities. His job was to investigate, not reach a conclusion.
Part two was to do harm to Donald Trump’s chances of winning the election. The evidence is much less clear but some tantalizing facts have come to light. We do know that either the campaign or DNC paid a firm to do opposition research. It resulted in the phony dossier about collusion with Russia. We also know that the FBI used some information to allow them to spy on members of the Trump campaign. The campaign was publicly accused of colluding with Russia. Russia did try to undermine Clinton. President Obama knew about it before the election but chose to do nothing.
Everything outlined above did happen. There is no way to prove a conspiracy with connecting them up. Within the last few days two possible links have come to light. Peter Strzok, a senior FBI official, texted his girlfriend, an FBI lawyer, about a meeting they had with Andy (presumably Andrew McCabe, then Deputy Director of the FBI). He mentioned an idea Page threw out at the meeting. It had something to do with a plan to keep Trump from being elected. Strzok compared it to life insurance. We also learned that the wife of Bruce Ohr, an associate deputy attorney general, worked for the firm that ordered the dossier and that he met with the president of that company.
These two facts are certainly are not enough to prove a conspiracy. It is clear that some in the Justice Department and FBI deliberately interfered in the election. Everyone, regardless of party, should be outraged. Promoting our democracy and ensuring liberty and justice for all is far more important than who wins an election.
Just a few months ago the idea of a Democrat winning in Alabama would have been unthinkable. Now it has happened. I have heard some talk about how this portends good news for Democrats in 2018. The only lesson we can take from it is that having accusations of sexual impropriety against you has a detrimental effect on your chances.
The more I think about it, the more I believe it was a blessing in disguise for the Republicans. Of course losing a seat when they already had a thin majority is a huge blow. It will make it much more difficult to pass legislation.
However, consider what it would have been like if Roy Moore had won. Deciding what to do about him would have been extremely divisive. There is no guarantee that they could get his vote. He is a self-righteous grandstander that would have made life miserable for his fellow Republicans.
The impact on next year’s election is even more important. I believe that the main reason Democrats pressed Conyers and Franken to resign was to give them the moral high ground. Last year they relied almost exclusively on demonizing Donald Trump and the Republicans. In addition to being racists, sexists and homophobes, they could add gropers and child molesters to their litany of GOP evils.
I was surprised that President Trump came out so strongly for Moore. He must believe that he will be fine as long as he stays with the hard-core base. He should realize that the main reason he won the election was because the Democrats had a really bad candidate and a terrible strategy.
Note: Unlike the TV networks, I don’t believe in reruns. There is one exception. I will repeat the following post every December 7 as long as I am blogging.
Today marks the 72nd anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor. It was a devastating strike that resulted in 2,400 deaths. Virtually everyone in the country was affected. Millions traded work clothes for uniforms. Many women went to work in factories. Everyone had to cope with shortages.
We were woefully unprepared. Earlier that year maneuvers were held in Louisiana. Many men carried wooden rifles. A bill to extend the term of draftees was passed that summer by only one vote. It took almost four years but the war was won. Over 400,000 American soldiers never returned home.
Anyone that has the chance to go to Hawaii should go to Pearl Harbor. Visiting the memorial, built atop the Arizona, is an incredible experience. It’s hard not to think about the men permanently entombed below your feet. Nearby is the Missouri, the ship upon which the Japanese surrendered.
When I think of Pearl Harbor, I think of one young man. He was already in the service. He had a 30 day leave starting on December 6. When he reached home, a telegram was waiting ordering him to return. Eventually he caught up with his unit. They were in a California desert since it was feared the Japanese would capture the coastal cities. Soon he was shipped out to Australia. On his second day he was in a truck accident and broke his back.
That man will turn 97 next week. He feels the effects of his injuries every day. Most call him Perry. I call him Dad.
President Trump has been able to get almost anything he wants from the House. The Senate is a different matter. We have seen the effort to repeal Obamacare fail while the Senate passed the tax bill. Although it is too early to make any predictions, I’d like to take a look at the midterm elections.
Right now all of the attention is on next week’s Alabama election. A Democrat win was once unthinkable but Roy Moore and checkered past changed that. The real question is whether President Trump gets bad news or really bad news. Someone as self-righteous as Moore will be less of a team player than Ted Cruz. A Democrat taking the seat is even worse.
The odds look pretty good for the GOP next year. They have only eight seats to defend compared to twenty-five for the Democrats. They only have two seats at risk. Nevada first term senator Dean Heller is trying to win reelection in a state Hillary Clinton won. The other is the Arizona seat being vacated by Jeff Flake.
Meanwhile the Democrats must defend ten seats in states that Trump won. Michigan and Pennsylvania seem safe. The real question in Florida is whether Governor Rick Scott will enter the race. If not, incumbent Bill Nelson should win. The GOP lost Indiana last time by selecting a weak candidate. They could take the seat back if they choose the right person.
Missouri’s Claire McCaskill is in for the political fight of her life. Democrats are likely to keep their seat in Montana and stand a better than 50% chance in North Dakota. Right now Ohio seems fairly safe. Republicans are gunning for West Virginia’s Joe Manchin. It should be a tight race. Finally, Democrats should be able to keep Wisconsin.
Democrats will need a miracle to take the Senate. The most likely outcome is the GOP getting two or three seats, far short of a filibuster-proof Senate.
Needless to say, a lot can happen in the next eleven months. Please stay tuned.
There is an old saying that Congress has workhorses and show horses. While the latter group grappled for air time, the workhorses would learn all of the ins and outs of a particular area. They would then be the ones to craft legislation.
While there still are some workhorses, more and more legislation is based on political dogma. These beliefs are never scrutinized to see if they are based in reality. Whether legislation is beneficial is less important than whether or not it is ideologically pure.
The entire premise of the Affordable Care Act was that the main problem was evil health insurance companies. This doesn’t square with the facts. The bulk of people under sixty-five are covered by self-funding employers and Medicaid. Medium and large companies pay the claims themselves and hire the insurance to handle the administration. Provision after provision is based on that bias.
This incorrect thinking applies to both parties. The fundamental premise of the Republican tax bill is that tax cuts pay for themselves by stimulating growth. This doesn’t make any sense. It larger tax cuts get more revenue, we would maximize revenue by eliminating all taxes. There is just no way to make up the loss. If McDonald’s taxes are cut in half, they are not going to be able to double their business. To make matters worse, most employers will use the savings to increase profits.
This reliance on dogma coupled with a refusal to compromise is not a healthy trend. Bill Clinton was the last president that tried to appeal to moderates. Since then each president has moved farther from the center, been more divisive and relied on the base to win. After they don’t produce the utopia they promised, the other party takes over. My guess is that the next president will be a Bernie Sanders socialist.
Those of us in the middle hope that someday a moderate will come to the rescue. Until then, the country will continue to suffer.