Thursday, December 31, 2020

Grading my 2020 Predictions

Now that the longest fucking year ever is finally coming to a close, I need to look back at the archives and see just how clueless I was about where 2020 was going when I posted my 2020 Predictions. By December 31, 2019, there had already been articles about the Chinese government's attempts and early failures to control the novel coronavirus. So surely I picked up on that and was able to foresee this whole dreadful year, right?

Okay, not quite.

In any event, aside from missing the single biggest story of the entire year, how did I do in foreseeing how things would go? Let's review each prediction to see how I did:

 1. Trump will be acquitted on all counts in the Senate after his impeachment trial.

2. No more than one Republican will vote to convict Trump on any count.

Right. Romney was the only Republican to vote guilty, and only on the first count.

3. No new articles of impeachment will be passed by the House in 2020.


4. The Democratic nominee for President will be Joseph Biden. (I really keep going back and forth between him or Buttigieg, and very occasionally although not recently, Warren, but this is where I landed at year's end)

Right. Seems obvious now. But wow, in retrospect it is hard to believe that Buttigieg ever seemed likely.

5. Joe Biden will have at least one possibly serious (also possibly we won't know how serious) medical issue in 2020.

Wrong. I'm not counting the fractured foot as serious.

6. Donald Trump will not debate the Democratic nominee. (I think there is a chance he will show up at a debate if the Democratic nominee is Biden because Biden is so terrible at those things, but zero chance if anyone else in the nominee. And even with Biden the odds are against Trump showing up. So my prediction is there will be no debate with Trump no matter who is the nominee).

Wrong. Biden was the nominee and Trump did skip one debate, which itself is unprecedented since the modern debate tradition began. But that is not good enough to count as right for this prediction.

7. Trump will lose both the popular vote and the electoral vote in the 2020 general election.

8. Trump will not accept the outcome of the election.


9. The Democrats will hold a majority in the House and retake the Senate in the 2020 election.

Half-right. They held the House, but we still don't know about the Senate. Even if Democrats pull off a double victory in the Georgia special elections, they will not win the Senate in 2020, so that other half is wrong.

10. After the 2020 election, the Democrats will have more trifectas than Republicans in the State Houses (currently Democrats have 15 trifectas to Republicans' 21)

Wrong. Democrats still have 15 trifectas but Republicans increased their number to 23. While Biden's victory over Trump was pretty definitive (at least it is if you look at the actual numbers and not the fevered delusions being aired in the right wing media in the past two months), that Democratic victory did not extend down-ballot. There was no Democratic wave and there was probably a net loss.

11. The 2020 election will have the highest turnout in any national election in the past 20 years.

Right. In terms of total number of voters, 2020 was the highest turnout ever.In terms of percentage, it is the highest turnout since 1900. And because Women were not granted the vote in every state until the 19th Amendment passed in 1920, if we counted all the women and non-whites who were excluded in voting turnout percentages in 1900 and in prior elections, 2020 almost certainly had the highest turnout percentage in American history.

Wrong. It really looked like they would do it this year, but over the summer, Israel formally dropped its annexation plan.

13. Trump will issue at least one pardon of at least one of his relatives, one of his current or former attorneys, or current or former employees.

I'm going to count this one as right. In 2020, Trump has pardoned Michael Flynn, George Papadopoulos, Roger Stone, and Paul Manifort, all of whom worked for Trump's campaign (Flynn also worked for the Trump Administration as National Security Advisor). Also, he pardoned someone who is, if not family, than is family adjacent,  Charles Kushner, the father of Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner.

14. The unemployment rate will be over 4.5% in November 2020 (the last employment report available before the end of the year). The "current" (November 2019) rate is 3.5%.

Right. I might not have foreseen the pandemic, but I got this effect of it right. The current official rate is 6.7% (which is actually a huge improvement from the 14.7% we hit in April)

15. The UK will Brexit in 2020, although it will not be a "hard" (no-deal) Brexit, but rather Britain will accept some kind of transition deal with the EU.

Right. Technically, the Brexit doesn't take place until midnight as 2020 turns to 2021, but I'm still counting that as 2020.

16. The Hong Kong protests will die down by the end of 2020, although the issues underlying the protests will still be unresolved and the territory will not reintroduce or pass the extradition law that started the protests during 2020.

I'm going to count this as wrong even though the protests arguably did die down. It's just that what actually happened (the pandemic dampening the ability to protest coupled with Beijing exerting more direct control of the territory) was pretty different from what I predicted and the extradition law was passed.

17. General Haftar will take control of Tripoli in Libya before the end of 2020.

Wrong. The GNA held him off.

18. The Maduro government will either lose power in Venezuela or face an armed rebellion.

Wrong. If I look hard enough maybe I could find some armed rebel group, but nothing widespread happened and that is what I had in mind.

19. Another rightwing populist government will gain power in Europe in 2020.

Wrong. At least I'm not aware of any populist rightwing party in power in any European country that wasn't already in power at the beginning of 2020.

20. Single payer/medicare-for-all will be in the Democratic party platform in 2020, although only as a long-term aspiration.

Wrong. The platform hedges the issue a bit saying (pdf)::
Generations of Democrats have been united in the fight for universal health care. We are proud our party welcomes advocates who want to build on and strengthen the Affordable Care Act and those who support a Medicare for All approach; all are critical to ensuring that health care is a human right.
The platform also explicitly endorses adding a public option to the Affordable Care Act, but that is not the same as a single-payer even if lets people opt into a single payer system.

21. There will be at least one major (>5 people killed) terrorist attack by a right-wing extremist in the U.S. during 2020, although the media will (mostly) not refer to it as terrorism.

Wrong. I believe the worst one in 2020 was the "Boogaloo attacks", which killed two and injured three. So it did not meet my threshold for a "major" attack.


I got 10.5 right and 10.5 wrong, exactly 50% success rate, just what a chicken flipping a coin would get on average. So, not too good. I used to be better at this, honest! Check out the record:
2008: 20 right to 4 wrong (83.333%)
2009: 14.5 right to 7.5 wrong. (65.909%)
2010: (none because Kazakhstan)
2011: 15.5 right to 6.5 wrong (70.455%)
2012: 15.5 right to 6.5 wrong again (70.455% again)
2013: 15.5 right to 9.5 wrong (62.000%)
2014: 17 right to 9 wrong (65.385%)
2015: 11.5 right to 13.5 wrong (46.000%)
2016: 17.5 right to 9.5 wrong (64.815%)
2017: 18 right to 8 wrong (69.923%)
2018: 14.5 right to 11.5 wrong (55.769%)
2019: 15.5 right to 11.5 wrong (57.407%)
Tune in just a minute or two from when this goes up to see my exciting predictions for 2021!

How many days before an election can I donate to a campaign giving the campaign enough time to use my money to gain support

I donated to the Ossoff and Warnock Senate campaigns shortly after it became clear they were going to a runoff. I have no regrets about that, but it did earn me some regular spam email from both campaigns regularly begging me for more money. Which is fine, a campaign's gotta do what a campaign's gotta do. It's just that those emails keep coming, were are now just days away from the runoff election date and the emails have not slowed down. If anything, they have intensified.

This always happens with campaign donor solicitation emails. They keep coming right up to election day, and sometimes continue throughout that day. I always wonder if I did decide to kick in another donation that late, would the campaign have the time to spend it? Or would I really just be helping to pay down the campaign's debt after the election is over?

Campaign debt does need to be paid. I understand that. But the bottom line is the reason I donate is in the hopes that will actually give the candidate a better chance to win, either by convincing voters to vote for my candidate over the other one or to support get out the vote efforts so the increased turnout will push my guy or gal over the top. I'm not particularly motivated to help pay the overdue invoices of campaign advisors after the vote is over.

Saturday, December 26, 2020

Remember when the U.S. news was obsessed with terrorism?

The things the national news media focuses on is totally nuts in dozens of ways, but the fact that an American city was hit with a terrorist attack on Christmas Day and it has received barely any coverage is hard to comprehend for anyone who was a news consuming adult in the early 2000s.

I mean, if Trump tweeted about it, I'm sure it would be all over the news. Because this era's obsession is anything our demented president posts on social media. But he won't tweet about it until he is sure the terrorist isn't one of his supporters.

Thursday, December 24, 2020

Something only a British politician would ever say

No American would ever put it this way:

We have taken back control of every jot and tittle of our regulation in a way that is complete and unfettered.
Also, if you read the whole article it really looks like Boris is completely full of shit. But "jot and tittle"! How delightful.

Tuesday, December 22, 2020

Pence could save us the worst of Trump's waning presidency

I do not think this will happen. But considering that Trump seems to be turning against Pence (and I'm sure that Trump will completely lose his shit when his Vice President presides over Congress' certification of Biden's victory on January 6), in just a few days Pence could invoke the 25th Amendment and "temporarily" remove Trump from office for enough time to cover the remainder of Trump's term. 

Again, I don't think Pence will even try this. But he could if he wanted. And it's fair game to forever hold Pence responsible for whatever crazy stuff happens in the last 25 days if he doesn't try it.

Wednesday, December 16, 2020

Қазақстан Тәуелсіздік күні

Ten years since our Kazakhstan adventure ended and our new adventure with Kazakh began!

Previously on Каучуктан жасалған Құбыршек-101234567 [forgot], 8, 9

Sunday, December 13, 2020

Fourteenth Amendment, Section 3

Isn't this a good practical reason for Pelosi to refuse to seat the 126 members of Congress who signed on to the Texas lawsuit to overturn the election results?

Tuesday, December 08, 2020

For some reason Warnock has a bigger target on his back than that other Democratic senate candidate who is white

It is incredible to watch the GOP simply jettison any notion that it is anything but a party of race-baiting white people.

I mean, the party has been doing racist dog whistles for a while, but until recently their campaigns were just a racist undercurrent, flowing under a respectable facade in which they pretended to not just be a party of white people. I mean, it wasn't that long ago that they had a black party chairman, Michael Steele. Of course, even Steele is no longer welcome in the today's Republican party.

Thursday, December 03, 2020

Fire Bill Barr!

I'm kinda hoping that Trump fires Bill Barr. The firing would hamper the ability of the DOJ to ram through some new terrible policy in the waning days of the Trump Administration, and Barr has been so terrible I'm really not worried that any acting replacement AG can do any worse than what Barr would do in the next 48 days.

Yes, Barr getting fired could convince some people that Barr is not the horror that he actually is. But let's face it, the people around Trump are likely to suffer no long term consequences for working with him, even in the unlikely event that Trump's standing among his remaining supporters plummets once he leaves office. Because that is how this country works. Big wigs never suffer consequences for their actions in government. Look at what happened to Henry Kissinger. Hell, look at what happened to Olly North or Richard Nixon or John Yoo, or, well, think of anything awful that someone in power did during the pre-Trump period and then look to see what happened to them. People can do incredibly awful stuff, like bombings that burn babies, or propound naziesque legal theories that ignore large portions of the actual law to justify torture, and still land professorships and appointments without any apparent problem. Gina Haspel violated the law when she tortured detainees, then lied about it and destroyed evidence, and she still was confirmed as CIA Director, with a bunch of Democratic votes. I would love it if the excesses of Trump end the culture of impunity that pervades our treatment of monsters who formerly served in government, but I won't believe that unless I see it. Odds are everyone in Trump's orbit will land comfortable jobs and be treated as full members of polite society no matter what they have done in the last four years. That is true of Barr whether or not he is fired before the term ends.

But still, a firing would be fun on its own merits. Proving, once again, that there is no real benefit to ever work for Trump. No matter how much you pervert justice to help him our, he will turn on your in a second just for a single public comment that he doesn't like. If this is ever going to get better, everyone in Trump's orbit will have to learn that. Another example wouldn't hurt.

Tuesday, December 01, 2020

Vote Ossoff/Warnock for Democracy (not just Democrats)

It should come as no surprise that I want both Ossof and Warnock to win the Georgia special election next month. But putting aside my partisan interests, it would be good for American democracy if both won.

Let's face it, both Democratic candidates face an uphill battle. While Biden narrowly won Georgia, historically it is a solidly red state and the only reason the two Democratic Senate candidates reached a runoff is because the conservative vote was split between multiple conservative Senate candidates.

If Democrats pull off two upsets and both win, then the message that comes out of the race is that questioning the integrity of elections is bad electoral politics. If politicians come to understand that making statements that undermine their supporters' confidence in the fairness of their ballot depresses their side's turnout, they might stop making those statements.