Thursday, December 31, 2020

Zandar's 2021 Predictions

It's that time of year again, where I extrapolate the future and mostly get it wrong, only this year the stakes are a lot higher if I'm off.

1) Joe Biden will be sworn in as the 46th President of the United States on January 20th. I know, this is where I'm starting from, and at this point, this is still an assumption, because I honestly don't know how the next three weeks are going to play out, let alone the next year, but here we are. I gotta start somewhere though, and if I'm somehow wrong on this, well, yeah.
2) Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock will win the Georgia runoffs and Mitch McConnell will be relegated to Senate Minority Leader. Look, Kentucky is never getting rid of Mitch, but the other 99 senators maybe we can do something about, if albeit briefly.  Things are not going to get better until Mitch McConnell is no longer in charge of the Senate, so I have to hope that they win.

3) Even if Dems get the Senate back, the filibuster and the current size of SCOTUS will remain. No, I don't have any faith in Schumer to convince anyone on the Dem side that the filibuster needs to go, and Biden will back Schumer up on this. Considering the Dems will almost certainly lose the House in 2022 and probably the Senate again too, Schumer just can't afford it. He won't have the votes anyway.

4) The total US death toll from COVID-19 will surpass 1 million Americans by the end of the year. People aren't going to take this seriously. There will still be tens of millions of Americans who will refuse the vaccine,or masking, or social distancing. The vaccine will be available and I expect it will be ramped up for those who want it, but it's still going to be grim for the first half of the year. And yes, I know I predicting that twice as many people will die from COVID-19 in 2021 as 2020. That is horrific. I still make this forecast.

5) The Roberts Court will allow states to regulate abortion out of existence. I've been predicting this one for a couple of years running now, but there's a reason for it now with the court's 6-3 conservative bent. Come the end of the year, abortion will be not only illegal for clinicians to perform in several red states, but in more than a few states women seeking an abortion will be made into a felony. It's going to be bad, folks. The pressure on Biden will be tremendous, but the Senate won't budge.

6) Donald Trump will not be indicted.  I covered this earlier, but Donald Trump won't be charged and the New York state investigations will conclude without a grand jury indictment. They will have to, because of the very real danger of deadly terrorist violence erupting nationwide if he's arrested. We've already seen one terrorist bombing in Nashville. Imagine that, only worse, in downtown NYC, or downtown small-town America. I don't like it any more than you do, but it's very real. And if you're thinking any of the Trumps are going to jail, well, in America, we don't jail our rich felons, we rehabilitate them in the press. I want to hope again, but hope has been brutally smashed out of me by the last four years.

7) Hunter Biden will be indicted. Yeah, Joe Biden's son is going to face charges related to Ukraine and China, and Republicans will call for Joe Biden to resign. They're going to take advantage of both Bidens and try to destroy them, and by the time the 2022 elections roll around, well...

8)  No movie will break $100 million at the box office in 2021.  Hell, don't be surprised if most theater chains will be out of business by the end of the year. Movies, theater shows, concerts, eating out, we're all looking forward to those again, but the prevalence of COVID in 2021 will make things horrific for the first several months of the year, and the lack of vaccinations will only prolong the pain. The number one film in America this year was Bad Boys For Life, and that made $62 million.

9) The Dow Jones will be under 25,000 by the end of the year. This time, Republicans will have every incentive to destroy the economy and tip us fully into the Trump Depression. Unemployment will be 8% or more, and Biden will get the blame for better or for worse.

10) ZVTS will make it through 2021. You know what, if I could survive this year, everything else should be cream cheese frosting on carrot cake. And I love carrot cake. And as always, you readers will make the difference.

So we begin the journey tomorrow.  See you in 2021.

HoliDaze: Follow The Funny Money, Honey

Manhattan DA Cyrus Vance is ratcheting up the NY state investigation into fraud at the Trump Organization, and he's getting ready for the day Trump ends up on his ass outside the White House.

The Manhattan District Attorney's Office has retained forensic accounting specialists to aid its criminal investigation of President Trump and his business operations, as prosecutors ramp up their scrutiny of his company's real estate transactions, according to people familiar with the matter.

District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr. opened the investigation in 2018 to examine alleged hush-money payments made to two women who, during Trump’s first presidential campaign, claimed to have had affairs with him years earlier. The probe has since expanded, and now includes the Trump Organization's activities more broadly, said the people familiar with the matter. Vance’s office has suggested in court filings that bank, tax and insurance fraud are areas of exploration.

Vance has contracted with FTI Consulting to look for anomalies among a variety of property deals, and to advise the district attorney on whether the president’s company manipulated the value of certain assets to obtain favorable interest rates and tax breaks, according to a person with knowledge of the investigation who, like others, spoke on the condition of anonymity because the matter remains highly sensitive. The probe is believed to encompass transactions spanning several years.

Spokesmen for Vance and FTI Consulting declined to comment.

Representatives for the Trump Organization did not respond to a request for comment. In the past, company officials have rejected the merits of Vance’s investigation, calling it politically motivated.

Headquartered in Washington, FTI provides a range of financial advisory services to clients worldwide in public and corporate sectors. “We provide the industry's most complete range of forensic, investigative, data analytic and litigation services,” according to a corporate brochure, which also noted FTI’s “extensive experience serving leading corporations, governments and law firms around the globe.”

The analysts hired by Vance probably have already reviewed various bank and mortgage records obtained from Trump’s company as part of the ongoing grand jury investigation, and they could be called on to testify about their findings should the district attorney eventually bring criminal charges, said the person familiar with the arrangement
See, Trump going to prison is an imperative, but it'll never happen. His cult won't allow it

A significant number of Americans believe misinformation about the origins of the coronavirus and the recent presidential election, as well as conspiracy theories like QAnon, according to a new NPR/Ipsos poll.

Forty percent of respondents said they believe the coronavirus was made in a lab in China even though there is no evidence for this. Scientists say the virus was transmitted to humans from another species.

And one-third of Americans believe that voter fraud helped Joe Biden win the 2020 election, despite the fact that courts, election officials and the Justice Department have found no evidence of widespread fraud that could have changed the outcome.

The poll results add to mounting evidence that misinformation is gaining a foothold in American society and that conspiracy theories are going mainstream, especially during the coronavirus pandemic. This has raised concerns about how to get people to believe in a "baseline reality," said Chris Jackson, a pollster with Ipsos.

"Increasingly, people are willing to say and believe stuff that fits in with their view of how the world should be, even if it doesn't have any basis in reality or fact," Jackson said.

"What this poll really illustrates to me is how willing people are to believe things that are ludicrous because it fits in with a worldview that they want to believe."
Trying to send Trump to prison will result in massive, nationwide violence, and Democrats and the American people most likely won't have the stomach for it after the next dozen or so Nashville-style suicide bombings and/or Las Vegas-style shootings.  Biden will be hated and blamed for it, and rightfully so, but the most likely outcome is that Trump will never be charged and the New York state investigations will conclude without charges.

There's nothing to make me think justice exists in America, and being Black in America in 2020, I at least am over the illusion that it ever did.

Hope has been burned out of me. It's survival now, that's victory moving forward.

Zandar's 2020 Prediction Scorecard

Welp, it's that time of year again, where I get to try to console myself with enough half-credit points out of my ten predictions for the year that I can skate by with five or more and not feel like a complete imbecile. And then I'll do it again! 

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. 

Got this one, thank Christ.

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...
Easiest call I made all year.

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.

Hold on this one until next week.

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.

I'll take the win on this one,despite Dems losing a dozen seats.

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.

This has not happened.  Yet.
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.

Nope, and Barr actually resigned rather than doing this.

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.
Another miss, the Dow did crash to 18K, but has climbed into positive territory for the year thanks to Mitch McConnell $6 trillion "COVID-19" giveaway.

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.
Only one was released, New Mutants, and it was a dud like everything this year, so yeah, Marvel definitely did not rule the box office in 2020.

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.

Boy did he ever turn pardons into a side business, full-on white-collar crime boss style.

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.
Yep. And this year was...bad.  But you're all still with me.

So, final score, 6-3 with one left to be determined. Not bad, considering the year we had.

My 2021 predictions will be up later today.
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