A Shutdown Compromise Suggestion for the Democrats

Now that we’re into the longest government shutdown in history, it’s worth trying to imagine how this is supposed to end.  In a normal GOP administration, the constant media pressure would gradually peel off enough Republican votes that the President relents, or enough Republicans flip to allow an override of his veto, ending in Republican defeat for whatever issue prompted the shutdown in the first place.

But this isn’t a normal GOP administration…

The “Chuck and Nancy” show ended at best as a stalemate, and at worst, the Presidential response that launched a thousand memes.  The Democrats seem to think that they have the whip hand, and that normal Republican processes will lead them to fold.  Why else would Pelosi declare the wall “immoral,” seemingly cutting off any ability for her to compromise? We’ve already seen cracks on the Republican side by the usual suspects, right on schedule.

However Trump is Trump.  In negotiations, he cultivates a madman image for a reason. And as he clearly showed during last year’s Democratic shutdown, he can skillfully maneuver when motivated. Maybe another tactic is required…

So here’s my suggestion to the Democratic leadership.  I ask for no money, only praise as one of the greatest peacemakers of all time; a small thing to ask IMHO. Offer Trump the 5 billion he asked for, but require that it be fully funded by tax increases.  Send the bill from the House with 5 billion and a tax increase from whatever source, an income tax surcharge, a tax on carried interest, a federal gas tax increase; whatever the Democratic zeitgeist feels like taxing at that particular moment.

This is a true compromise.  Trump gets the wall (or a down payment on one) and Democrats get to stick it to Republicans by forcing them to have a vote either for a wall and a tax increase, or no wall and no tax increase.  Although in Trumpland that sounds like a win that Trump can live with, in Freedom Caucus land, that’s a tough vote.  A lot of these guys hate tax increases but really love illegal aliens, but have to pretend publically that they are for “strong border security,” a canard that has zero real meaning without actual physical barriers.  This actually could lead to the Republicans killing the wall.

As for me, I’m more than happy to have tax increases pay for needed government expenditures (it beats deficits) but I realize that’s not a universally shared sentiment on the right. How attractive this seems to the Democrats is directly related to whether the Democrats think that Trump and the GOP are likely to crack.  I don’t know the answer to that, but if we’re still wondering this a month from now, then this compromise idea might start to look really good to the Dems.

Advertisements

Predictions for 2019

With only a 40% accuracy rate for my 2018 predictions, I didn’t exactly excel, however on the other hand, I’m not putting money down on these, so why not?

Mueller’s Investigation will not show any collusion between Trump or the Trump campaign and Russia to “hack” the election.

This is in danger of becoming a perennial; however I feel pretty strongly that the end of the investigation, whenever it comes, will, try though it may, not show any collusion between either the President or his campaign with the Russians.

The House Judiciary Committee will vote on articles of impeachment this year.

I’m not going to guess whether there will be enough votes to bring the issue to the floor of the House, but the Judiciary Committee will for sure be voting on it.  It’s too tempting to leave that candy in the pantry.

Sorry Bill Maher, but no recession by the end of this year.

Maher famously said that he hoped the economy would crash so that Trump would be voted out of office, but even though there seems to be a global slowdown, I’m going to call that the US will not enter a recession this year.  Plus, just about every business and economic talking head has predicted one, so therefore it won’t happen.

President Trump will have another Supreme Court nomination to make by the end of the year.

The common pundit bet seems to be that Ruth Bader Ginsburg will have to retire for health reasons, but I suspect a possible more likely scenario is that Clarence Thomas will retire at the end of the session sometime in the spring.  Why?  It would be the perfect troll.

No Brexit.

The Brits should really just take a tip from their American cousins and issue a Declaration of Independence and GTFO.  However, in a situation in which nobody in the establishment really wants to Brexit, it’s pretty obvious that they are just trying to run out the clock and pass the buck.

Another, not quite prediction:

I wouldn’t really say this is a prediction, both because it’s outside the one year window of this post and because at this point it’s more guess than prediction, but this could move up to a full blown prediction in the future (but that’s just a prediction).

The top of the ticket for the Democratic nominee will not be a white male.  I think their time is done in the Democratic Party.

 

 

2018 Prediction Wrap Up

It’s been another so-so year in the predictions biz, which puts me way ahead of virtually any cable TV pundit.  So let’s review my predictions shall we?

Financing will be secured for a southern border wall and construction will begin.

I really held out hope that this would come true and it did provide just about the only real end-of-the year news drama, but no,  no cigar and no wall, as I begin to suspect would be the case when I wrote this.

The Mueller investigation will officially wrap up before the fall midterm elections.

This didn’t happen either.  Is it possible that Mueller really thinks there is Russian collusion, and if he just digs deep enough, he’s going to find it?  If so…what an idiot.  In any case, that invalidates my third prediction…

Mueller’s Investigation will not show any collusion between Trump or the Trump campaign and Russia to “hack” the election.  Derp.

Finally, I get one right:  The Republicans will keep control of the Senate after the 2018 elections.  But then…

The Republicans will keep control of the House after the 2018 elections.  So that’s another wrong one, but at least I’m clearer on why I got this wrong.  But as I wrote after the mid-terms, I totally underestimated

The price of Bitcoin will crash in 2018.  On January 1, 2018, the price was $14,560.84, and on December 31st, it was  $3876.60.  That sounds like the bubble burst to me.

At least 3 terrorist attacks in Western Europe with double digit casualties (Injuries and or deaths).  Although I got this one wrong, it’s happy news that I got this wrong.  Western European terrorism has continued to decline, with only 8 deaths from terrorism in Western Europe.

Kim Jong-un will still be the supreme head honcho of North Korea throughout 2018.  This seems ridiculous now but at the beginning of the year all of the “smartest people” thought there was a real possibility that Kim would be overthrown.

US Housing prices will continue to steadily increase throughout the year.  Although the latest data I can find only goes through October, housing continues to show a steady increase.

There will be an infrastructure bill that will pass with some Democratic votes.   Not even close.

So out of 10 predictions, I got 6 of them wrong, giving me a failing grade of 40%.  Not great in my own terms, but still better than Bill Kristol or any cable TV pundit.

 

 

 

Super SJW Girl

After the wrapping up of the CW’s annual crossover, Elseworlds special among its CW DC “Arrowverse,” we’ve seen the last of new CW DC shows for the calendar year.  Arrow, Legends of Tomorrow, Supergirl, and The Flash are taking a much needed Christmas break after saving the nature of reality. But Supergirl’s never ending battle against hate, fear, and Trumpery is just getting started.

Of all of the CW’s DC “Arrowverse” shows, Supergirl is the most woke super hero show currently on the air.  And when I say woke, I mean I honestly don’t think the writers understand how ridiculous they are.  Supergirl season four, for all of its Red Son like hints, spent the first few episodes focusing on the 2018 midterm elections.  Not directly of course, but in the never ending battle between good people against “hate.”

Apparently on Earth 38, the 2016 electoral battle between a woman breaking the glass ceiling and “that man” was decided in the woman’s favor.  I mean, this is science fiction after all. The previous season revealed that the President of the United States, Olivia Marsdin, was secretly an alien.  Living under a fake (yet apparently pretty convincing) identity, Marsdin ran for President, won, and spent her political capital to get the Alien Amnesty Act passed ( a bit self-serving don’t you think?).  So now alien refugees can come out of the shadows and have a legal path to citizenship.  The federal agency responsible for dealing with aliens, the DEO, Department of Extra-Normal Operations, was in on the secret.

So to review, when season 4 opens, a deep state federal agency has engaged in a conspiracy to cover up that the President of the United States is not who she says she is, but is an alien living under an assumed identity and fake birth certificate, in violation of the constitution (not a natural born citizen).  These are the “good guys.”

The season premiere had a “hate group” that successfully reveals to the public on live television that the President is an alien.  This of course creates a political and social crisis, which the President tries to diffuse by resigning. This gives the Supergirl writers a chance to pull out every trope in the book about hate and fear. If you have “fear” because the Presidency was occupied by a lying alien, you’re a bigot. And the group that revealed that the President was an alien?  These are the “bad guys.”

Episode 3 “Man of Steel” was a look back at the origin of the season’s big bad, Agent Liberty. The episode couldn’t have been more unintentionally hilarious if they had asked an NPR reporter to describe the life of a West Virginia coal miner.  Agent Liberty’s family owns a “steel factory,” and is put out of business by the competition both by the superior alien steel, but also by the superior alien workers.  Mere humans can’t compete.  Two previous alien attacks directly impact Agent Liberty’s family, and as he turns more radical, he loses his job at the University.

Quicker than you can grab a tiki torch Agent Liberty is a radicalized terrorist.  Meanwhile, what is the lesson that the Supergirl team draws from these malcontents who have issues with aliens colonizing their world?

They are simply afraid. It’s all about fear.

The comparison to what passes for political analysis at an MSNBC roundtable can’t be overstated. And I’ve no doubt the writers think they are oh so clever.

Luckily for Supergirl, she has the assistance of new character Nia Nal.  Played by actual transgender activist oops I mean actor Nicole Maines, the character is revealed to be not only trans, but also an alien.  Think about that; a trans-alien.  This opens up a whole new branch of intersectionality!

So when the show returns in January, how will Supergirl deal with these alt-human nationalists (or is it human supremacists?  I can never keep track…).  I’m unclear, but I’m pretty sure it ends with the show’s privileged white alien giving a speech on fear and ignorance.

 

How the GOP Congress Killed it’s Majority

I admit I’m not much of an affecianto of Breitbart; however they had a story that caught my eye this week

“The House GOP leadership is responsible for blocking a pro-American immigration reform package which was backed by President Donald Trump, a top House chairman said Tuesday.

The GOP leadership let the House immigration reform die in June by allowing a critical bloc of GOP legislators to split their votes between two rival reform bills, said Rep. Bob Goodlatte, the retiring chairman of the House committee on the judiciary.”

This more or less confirms what I’ve suspected the past two years: that the GOP House leadership was every bit in opposition to the Trump Presidency as any roundtable on MSNBC, and has been in opposition to him and his issues, even if it cost the Republicans the House majority.

The Paul Ryan strategy was summarized at the time fairly well here:

Well, it worked.  Ryan, as Speaker of the House, spent two years sabotaging not only any Trump friendly bills, such as the Goodlatte bill, but, with the exception of the tax cuts, all other GOP priorities.  Ryan’s legacy amounts to a bunch of massive spending bills and a tax bill that won’t survive a Democrat majority in the House and Senate.  But at least his donors will be happy.

Of course, this isn’t the first time I’ve noticed Ryan’s perfidy. The multiple versions of the House “repeal and replace” health care plans seemed like they were designed to fail, and they certainly did, giving Trump the first of many failures in dealing with Congress.

With control of all three branches of government, the GOP accomplished virtually nothing and gave not a single reason to motivate GOP voters.  If the Democrats had not gone Kavanaugh crazy, I wonder what the damage to the GOP House would have been.  Of course, Goodlatte could have said something about this a lot earlier, instead of waiting until he’s out the door, but that, like any Republican chances for immigration reform, is water under the bridge.

So two years wasted and no chance in Trump’s first term to accomplish anything on immigration or again, anything else now.  If any party deserved to lose, it’s the House Republicans.

Building a Better Human

Well it seems like it’s finally happened:

A Chinese scientist who claims to have created the world’s first genetically edited babies said at a conference on Wednesday that his actions were safe and ethical, and he asserted that he was proud of what he had done. But many other scientists seemed highly skeptical, with a conference organizer calling his actions irresponsible.

“For this specific case, I feel proud, actually,” the scientist, He Jiankui, said at an international conference on genome editing in Hong Kong.

Indeed, the only thing Dr. He apologized for was that news had “leaked unexpectedly” that he had used the gene-editing technique Crispr to alter embryos and then implanted them in the womb of a woman who gave birth to twin girls this month.

Or maybe it didn’t happen.  How many times have we fallen for cloned baby hoaxes?  On the other hand, even if this isn’t the real thing, it’s bound to happen eventually, and it’s bound to happen in China.

The West, in spite of our massive intellectual capital in genetics, is unlikely to ever do more than play catch up to the East which doesn’t have the western hang up of “but Hitler,” to stifle every development in genetics applied to humans (and to stifle about every policy argument).  On the other hand, the West has a lot of other hang ups that will make further practical scientific advancement impossible.  We can build great rockets, but while we’re arguing over fitting 52 different bathrooms on it to handle the multiple genders, the Chinese will simply colonize the solar system with just two bathrooms.

So China it is. In this case, the Chinese team disabled the CCR5 gene, to confer resistance to HIV, Smallpox, and Cholera. It’s a naturally occurring mutation that appears in some Northern European populations, and recreating it in the embryos of families where the fathers are infected with HIV (as this study claims) seems like a win/win.

So if these trials, and by trials I mean the two baby girls, are a success, what other CRISPR additions could be added?

How about a healthy copy of BRCA1?  A mutation of that gene leads to ovarian cancer in families, and the chance to eliminate it would allow many people to live without a heavy predisposition to cancer hanging over their heads.

A mutation of GLP1R protects against Type II diabetes.

The MSTN R allele confers greater muscle mass and is found among high performance athletes.

A gene carried by a Papua New Guinean tribe that confers resistance to dementia.

The Bajau people of Southeast Asia have a variation of PDE10A, which gives them spleens twice the “normal” size.  Why does that matter?  The Bajau can hold their breaths for up to 13 minutes at depths of up to 200 feet.

Actually I could go on and on listing the many local adaptations that have appeared in populations around the world: Lactose tolerance is probably the best known, but there are others such as high altitude adaptations, and malaria resistance.  All of those genetic adaptions could be up for grabs and available to anyone willing to travel to the East for a clinic that preforms such genomic surgery.  It’s sure quicker than the old fashioned natural selection way.

Of course, the real prize would be multiple gene qualities like high IQ.  The ability to add a few IQ points to embryos will give whatever countries allow it a significant boost; one that would be nearly impossible to catch up to.

Thoughts on the 2018 Mid-term

I wanted to take some time to take in the results of the mid-term elections before I came to any sort of conclusions since immediately afterwards there is a lack of real data, and in this election, lack of real election results.  However I finally set down to note a few thoughts on the results.

Turnout

The turnout for this midterm was unprecedented, with 113 million people voting, compared to 83 million in 2014. My prediction on the GOP winning the House was based on the assumption that the Democrats would not be able to do much to increase turn out in a midterm election.  That has been a constant problem for the Democrats, allowing the Republicans to play catch up on those off year elections with no President at stake.  This time however, the Democrats finally cracked the turn out code, by another tactic that I’ve consistently underestimated; the ability to keep the outrage at Trump’s election turned up to eleven more or less consistently since November 9, 2016.  If they can bottle this it’s a game changer, and bad news for future Republican prospects.

Demography Is Destiny

California:  One thing I did anticipate is that I didn’t see much chance of retaining most of the GOP seats in California, especially ones in which a Republican incumbent was retiring. Daryl Issa’s district, CA-49, was a good example.  He won his 2016 re-election by one percentage point, saw the handwriting on the wall, and retired this term, leaving the seat to be won by a Democrat.

Ohio:  On the other hand, Ohio is moving (albeit slightly) in the other direction.

Florida Florida Florida!

The big national news about Florida was all about two corrupt Democratic counties still being corrupt Democratic counties and trying to redo the election post voting, however that was just a minor snag.  To me the real story is that the Democratic Candidate for governor, Andrew Gillum, the corrupt mayor of Tallahassee, under FBI investigation, with the baggage of Bernie Sanders style socialism, plus the promise of massive tax increases, only lost by 33,683 votes, 49.18% of the vote to DeSantis’ 49.59% of the vote. It’s a stark example of where the Democratic Party is right now; comfortably abandoning any pretense of moderation and fully embracing what was radical yesterday as the new party mainstream.

This seems to be a telling portent for the future.  Whoever the 2020 Democratic Presidential candidate is, chances are his or her positions will resemble Bernie Sander’s far more than Hillary Clinton’s. And Democratic and Independent voters won’t be scared away by that.  The Republicans, if they were smart, would start strategizing how to deal with a radical opponent in which possibly a majority of the electorate shares and supports those views.  Unfortunately, the Republicans aren’t smart and will probably only start thinking about that after Election Day in 2020.