Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Zandar's 2020 Predictions

Another year means another set of ten predictions covering the next 12 months, so without further ado, here's what I think 2020 will bring. I was very pessimistic in my 2019 predictions, but I'm returning to the sunny side of the street this year.

1) Joe Biden defeats Donald Trump and becomes President.  Yeah, this is a safe guess and a pretty likely outcome, but I think it's what will happen.  Biden has been ahead in the primaries and leading in head-to-head matchups with Trump for all of 2019.  I have to believe that Biden will win, but whether or not Trump concedes in 2021 is a question for 2021.

2) Trump will be acquitted in his Senate trial.  I know, I know, next I'll tell you water is wet and the sun is made of burny stuff that is hot.  But it'll happen, and it'll be a big reason why...

3) The Democrats will reclaim the Senate in 2020.  Those votes to acquit are going to wreck vulnerable GOP senators like Susan Collins, Cory Gardner, Martha McSally and Thom Tillis, and I think they're going to lose. A 50-50 tie with Biden winning means Biden's VP is the tiebreaker and the Dems will prevail...unless Joe Manchin switches parties or something. That's why I'm predicting Dems get 51 or 52 seats with Iowa's Joni Ernst losing, Pat Roberts's open seat in Kansas getting picked up, and Doug Jones holding on.

4) Democrats keep the House.  Nancy Pelosi continues to outmaneuver the White House and I think high turnout in November will not only assure a Biden win, but a big House gain for Team Blue.

5) The US Supreme Court will give states sweeping powers in rulings on abortion and discrimination.  I don't want to be right on this one, but I forsee a huge hole being blown in Roe and another in the Civil Rights Act as SCOTUS will come down on the side of letting states make their own rules on abortion clinic access and LGBTQ discrimination, and by January 1, 2021 it's entirely possible that there will be a dozen states with no abortion clinics, and there will be no protections for sexual orientation or gender identity at the federal level.

6) US Attorney General Bill Barr will announce indictments for James Comey and John Brennan. Trump has wanted these two heads for ages, and he's going to get them.  The court fights are going to be bad, but Trump rounding up FBI folks for personal revenge will be the last straw for a lot of voters.

7) The Dow Jones will end up under 25,000 by December 31.  I don't think the recession will hit in 2020, but it'll definitely catch up to us next year. The global slowdown will be too much to overcome.

8) Marvel movies will not rule the box office in 2020.  That's not to say parent company Disney won't have an incredible year again, with a pair of Pixar features (Onward, Soul), Harrison Ford starring in Call of the Wild based on the Jack London novel, and live action movies of Mulan and Jungle Cruise.  But of the three Marvel properties, New Mutants, Black Widow, and Eternals, I only see Black Widow breaking half a billion.

9) Trump will finally get around to those pardons.  He'll have nothing to lose once, well, he loses.  Oh wait, he'll be headed for state cases against him and jail time, but in the meantime the pardons will be the least awful thing he does.

10) And of course, ZVTS will make it through year 12.  It'll be thanks to all of you who have stuck with me since the 2008 primary race and through 4 presidential contests.

Am I right?  Am I wrong?  We'll file these away for the future, as always.

Holidaze: Feels Like 40 Years Ago

The US Embassy in Baghdad is under siege by hundreds of Iraqi protesters after the US responded to the death of a US military contractor at an Iraqi military base with missile strikes that killed more than 40.

Supporters of an Iranian-backed militia besieged the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad on Tuesday in retaliation for U.S. airstrikes, breaking through the first layer of security at the embassy compound and damaging a reception area before being expelled by Iraqi security forces. Here’s what we know:

  • U.S. diplomats took refuge in a safe room as guards fired tear gas at the invading protesters and tried to put out fires they set.
  • President Trump accused Iran of “orchestrating an attack” on the embassy, and the Pentagon said it was sending reinforcements to help protect it.
  • Iraqi security forces later intervened and set up a barricade, but protesters threw gasoline bombs into the compound.
  • The Kataib Hezbollah militia vowed to force the embassy to shut down.

Hundreds of angry supporters of an Iranian-backed militia shouting "Death to America" broke into the U.S. Embassy compound in Baghdad on Tuesday, trapping diplomats inside in response to U.S. airstrikes that killed or wounded scores of militia fighters.

Tensions eased somewhat later in the day after Iraqi security forces intervened, erecting a steel barrier at the smashed gate into the compound's reception area and forcing the protesters to leave. However, protesters outside periodically threw molotov cocktails into the compound and tried to tear down the razor wire atop its walls, as guards inside fired stun grenades at them.

The protesters breached the vast embassy compound's outer security but did not reach the main chancery building where diplomats waited out the intrusion in a safe room.

President Trump responded angrily Tuesday to the protesters' actions, charging that Iran was behind a deadly militia attack that led to the airstrikes and blaming Tehran for the embassy siege.

"Iran killed an American contractor, wounding many," Trump tweeted from his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida. "We strongly responded, and always will. Now Iran is orchestrating an attack on the U.S. Embassy in Iraq. They will be held fully responsible. In addition, we expect Iraq to use its forces to protect the Embassy, and so notified!"

The US State Department is basically denying everything about any possible breach of the embassy's outer grounds and says there are no plans to evacuate.  Meanwhile, Tang the Conqueror is golfing at Mar-A-Lago again and some cruise missile strikes on Iranian targets would be a great way for him to wrap himself in the flag heading into any impeachment trial.

This is a pretty dangerous situation.  Both sides have considerable reason to want escalation here and the protesters never would have been able to get past the outer embassy security without help from Iraqi security forces, at least initially.

Trump has every reason to make this worse.

Zandar's 2019 Scorecard

Welp, it's December 31, and that means we take a look at how I did in my 2019 predictions, and I wasn't very accurate.  For some of these predictions that's actually a good thing.  For others, I wish I had been right.

1) Robert Muller recommends impeachable offenses for Donald Trump.

Sadly, this did not happen, and it was the miss that maybe defined the year.  If Mueller had recommended indictment six months ago, I honestly wonder where we would be right now. But he was never going to do it, and it was foolish of everyone, myself included, to believe for a second that he would.

2) Trump will wait until after Mueller's report is delivered in order to issue pardons.

That still may be the case, but the impeachment of Donald Trump has so far prevented that. Another miss.

3) Trump will not be impeached in 2019.

Another miss, but not by much.  It took until the waning days of the House 2019 session in December, but he was impeached, another miss (and I'm actually glad).

4) The Roberts Court will get a major decision on executive power related to the Mueller probe.

Again, the impeachment of Donald Trump pushed this back to 2020.  While the Supreme Court did take up the case in 2019, the decision won't come until June, if at all (being remanded back to a lower court is kind of the standard thing for these guys.) A miss.

5) The Roberts Court will effectively side with Trump in Gamble vs. United States.

This was my biggest worry, and in a 7-2 decision, the Roberts Court preserved a state's ability to try a case where the defendant was acquitted on federal charges. Siding with Trump would have meant that the NY state case against Trump would have to be dropped.  A very feel-good miss.

6) Hillary Clinton won't enter the 2020 race in 2019.

I got this one exactly right.  She stayed way, way out of it.

7) Bernie Sanders will enter the 2020 race in 2019.

Of course he did.  As I said, as much of a no-brainer as Clinton passing.

8) Dow Jones Average will be under 20,000 on December 31, 2019.

As much as I thought we were headed for a recession in 2019, it didn't happen. Despite a rough January - May period, the Dow and the economy rallied in the second half of the year and gained more than 20% for the year, the S&P 500 was up over 25%, and the NASDAQ up over 35%.  The Trump Tax Scam and Treasury Secretary Stephen Mnuchin made it possible, and it came at the direct expense of higher prices for the American consumer.

9) Marvel movies will continue to rule the box office.

Boy did they ever.  Captain Marvel came up a tad short on the domestic half-billion mark I had set, but all three Marvel films obliterated the billion mark worldwide, and Avengers: Endgame took in $2.7 billion. Eight movies broke one billion worldwide in 2019, seven of them were Disney films (and the other was Joker).  Star Wars: Rise of the Skywalker is well on its way to one billion after it's December 20 release, so Disney will have a happy 2020 as well.

10) And of course, ZVTS will make it through year 11.

We did, thanks to you.  It's been a rough year, a year where I went 4 for 10, but if I had been right on more things, I think we would have been in a lot worse shape overall.

I'll have my predictions for 2020 up later this evening.

Meanwhile, I still had a better year than most of these professional pundits, so there's that.

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