Wednesday, December 30, 2015

2016: Ten Predictions!

Photo: Man of the Year, Ted Cruz

Once again, here are the annual Unforeseen Contingencies predictions for the coming year. The entire staff at UC has been hard at work on these. By “our” count, we scored 70% right on our 2015 predictions (analysis will follow before the end of January, we hope). We aim to exceed this score for 2016. A number of these deal with the 2016 election, so before reading be sure to read the previous post. Predictions are always conditional, and the set of events on which I’m conditioning are themselves sufficiently complex and in flux that predicting is fairly hard. But enough of this chatter. Here goes:

1. Hillary Clinton the Democrat nominee, but with potential criminal charges hanging over her head. The investigation will be stymied, and FBI officials will publicly state this. For a hit on this prediction, two things must happen: Clinton is nominated and FBI whistleblowers complain about official interference. (This one is easy, since the second thing has already happened once. It must happen again in 2016 for a hit.)

2. Dirty deal at the Republican convention. Cruz or Trump (or some other non-establishment candidate) will enter the convention as the leader, but the party leadership will attempt to push an establishment candidate, Bush or perhaps Ryan, possibly Kasich or even Romney, upon the electorate. I do not predict the outcome, just that the convention will be acrimonious and bitter over this, not triumphal. That’s really something, because Obama’s policies are unpopular and the Republicans ought to be celebrating the strong hand the Democrats have dealt them.

3. Republican party split. The establishment won’t support Cruz or Trump. The base won’t support Bush, Kasich, Ryan, or Romney.

4. Meanwhile, a Mumbai-style attack by Islamists in the United States will result in at least 100 casualties, and race riots in at least one U.S. city that will exceed the damage done in Ferguson. (I’m making it harder on myself by making a joint prediction; both must occur for a hit. Each one has a strong probability attached. What else can you expect when the Obama administration strongly discourages investigation of Muslims suspected of links to Islamist groups, and when the mainstream media and Democrat party effectively endorse a movement – Black Lies Matter – that calls for race war.)

5. In response, there will be increasing grassroots activism in the U.S. that will be condemned by the political class (defined as politicians of both parties, bureaucrats, mainstream media, and academia – at least in the humanities). This activism will consist of things such as the Convention of States movement, Tea Party activism, conservative civil disobedience, and Americans continuing to arm themselves and otherwise prepare for the worst at rates that exceed 2015. (In November and December of 2014, firearm sales reached record highs. These records appear to have been easily broken in the same months of 2015.) It’s hard to state a single solid criterion for a hit, but this phenomenon will be of sufficiently great importance that I must place it on the list. In fact, I think it is the single most important development of 2016. If Clinton is elected, she’ll face formidable opposition. If Cruz or Trump is elected, the leftist project to remake America will be in disarray that far exceeds loss of the election. 

6. OK, the election: Cruz, Trump, or any other non-establishment Republican beats Clinton beats Bush, Kasich, Christie, Rubio (who will prove to be more establishment than not), Ryan, Romney. When the base stays home, the Republican loses. If they turn out and bring with them independents disgusted with political correctness and Democrat insanity like catering to Black Lies Matter rioters and “Syrian” immigrants, the Republican wins. OK, OK, if I have to pick a winner, I’ll say Ted Cruz. See my previous post.

7. Chinese military forces will fire on a U.S. ship or aircraft. This article from National Interest explains the possible triggers of an Asian conflict and how they might be defused and peace preserved by careful American policy. But this would require a desire and strategic vision that the current administration lacks. As an aside, libertarians who want Pax Americana dismantled are stupid – the replacement will be a clash of civilizations, and all the participants will be anti-liberal authoritarians.

8. The Chinese and Russian economic crises will worsen. Meanwhile, the U.S. economy will not undergo a crisis and will appear, at least on paper, to be strengthening, at least until November 9. Not part of the prediction, but the respective presidents of all three countries will tighten their authoritarian rule in response to their economic situations.

9. Angela Merkel’s political career a shambles. As Germans wake up to the reality of what it means to take in one million mostly unemployable, inassimilable Muslims a year, her domestic political popularity will collapse. Externally, within the E.U. her de facto leadership will vanish, as the French, Italian, and now Spanish governments revolt against austerity and demand more subsidization from German taxpayers. I predict her political career will end, although she might get a spot in the U.N. or E.U. bureaucracies (or maybe even the U.S. Republican nomination in a brokered convention!) Note that her term runs until 2017, though, so this is not a prediction that she’ll leave office.

10. The discovery of extra-terrestrial life will be announced. This is a perpetual prediction of mine, and eventually I will get it right. But this past summer a noted scientist who studies this subject stated that he believes life will be discovered within the next ten years.

11. Wild Card prediction: After a brokered convention selects an establishment candidate for the GOP, Donald Trump runs as an independent. No one wins a majority of the electoral votes in the ensuing election, and the determination of the president goes to the House of Representatives. Wild enough for you?

There are other things I could predict. For example, Obama will be increasingly dictatorial in his last year in office (I hope it’s his last year… that would sure throw my predictions off!) which will further fuel the hatred of the Republican base for the Republican leadership when the leadership permits it to continue. Another would be that nothing will be done to stop or even slow the growth of America’s national debt. But predicting these is similar to predicting sunrise in the morning. So long as the world keeps turning, they’ll happen.

Predicting exercise in conditional, joint, and discombobulated probabilities

Four years ago at this time I predicted that Mitt Romney would be the Republican nominee for president and that Barack Obama would beat him in the general election. I thought it was easy to predict these matters. Romney was facing apparently strong challenges from Santorum, Huckabee, Gingrich (the frontrunner in polling), and Ron Paul. But Romney was well-financed compared to the others, and he had a nationwide organization which the others lacked. (Santorum, who ultimately mounted the strongest challenge, failed to even have sufficient organization to file for primary ballot status in several states!) I was aware of these differences and predicted Romney as the eventual nominee, with Obama winning owing to the generally inferior grassroots organizing of the Republican establishment (and, we now know, because of the effectiveness of Obama’s IRS in blocking formation of conservative grassroots organizations!) and the generally uninspiring message of the GOP establishment and their man Romney. I was right on both counts, and for the reasons I suggested.

2016 is not so clear at all. Consider the two GOP frontrunners. Ted Cruz (my favored candidate) appears to already have fairly strong nationwide grassroots organization, and is financially strong. Donald Trump doesn’t have a nationwide organization, but appears to be building one, and has obvious financial resources. Marco Rubio is not exactly a frontrunner and doesn’t have a nationwide organization, but does seem to be getting some interest from donors to the Republican establishment. Whether one likes them or not, none of these men is boring. Each can inspire in his own way.

Imagine the presidential debates, Hillary Clinton vs. an as-yet undetermined Republican.  Clinton is not particularly intelligent, well-informed, nor principled -- i.e. she lacks characteristics that stand one in good stead in a debate.  She tends to speak in terms of slogans, appeals to emotion, and fabrications.

Now consider her possible opponents.  Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, or Carly Fiorina – the non-political class/non-establishment candidates – would beat her soundly in a debate, as they have all the characteristics she lacks, and are passionate and articulate.  I think they'd also clobber her in the election.  They'd not tolerate her nonsense, they'd expose her as a liar and crush her with facts, logic, and emotionally appealing rhetoric.  The American people will by and large respond favorably to someone who emphasizes liberty, limited government, and a hopeful future.  Most Americans oppose importing Syrian Muslims at taxpayer expense, confiscating our firearms, raising our taxes, floundering around against Daesh, shutting down our economy because it's the "green" thing to do, and the like.

Next consider Clinton vs. the GOP political establishment candidates, Jeb Bush or John Kasich, probably Chris Christie as well.  One can imagine such a debate beginning with the Republican candidate thanking Mrs. Clinton for her service as Secretary of State -- "service" for which she should have been impeached and for which she is being investigated for multiple felonies by the FBI, felonies of which she's certainly guilty.  The Republican side of the debate would go downhill from there, with “Bushich” apologizing for various positions favored by the conservative base.  The Republican would lose the debate, and the election.

What about Trump? Trump never relies on anything like principles and it is hard to know what he would do. I’m rejecting the “Trump is a Democrat operative” hypothesis and take him at face value. He says what he thinks – which varies considerably at times because he doesn’t have a particular ideology or set of principles – and he wants to be president. A Clinton vs. Trump debate would be a real show. Trump would be quite willing to call her a liar (this should be done). He regularly uses ad hominem arguments and is ruthlessly politically incorrect – something for which he deserves great praise. I can’t predict such a cage match and popularity contest, other than to say that the debates and election would be a free-for-all. The United States would become a reality TV program. Trump might well win the debates, and the election, but it is not easy to say.

Rubio? Rubio combines characteristics of the first two camps, the non-political class and the GOP establishment. As with Trump, I think this is similarly hard to predict. Rubio doesn’t seem to be particularly principled and this doesn’t serve him well. But he is quite articulate and has passion. I suppose he’d have an edge in the debates and the election. (Note, BTW, that on the Democrat side I entirely discount Sanders and O’Malley. The nomination is Clinton’s. She is being investigated for felonies and no doubt could be indicted. She has patrons who are keeping this from happening, and that’s for a reason.)

This might make it sound like I’m predicting a GOP victory in 2016, but these are analyses, not predictions. This is already a complex problem to analyze, but it is made far messier by the internal dynamics of the GOP. The GOP leadership and establishment hate people like Cruz, Trump, Paul, Fiorina, and Carson. (I ignored Carson because he’s not sufficiently aggressive to even sound like a candidate, unfortunately. He’s a good man, but his campaign will not succeed.) “Country club Republicans,” “patrician conservatives,” “crony capitalists” describe the GOP establishment. They are advocates of big government, which they use to benefit themselves, and they hate their own base. The base hates them back, rather reasonably, because they are absolutely useless in standing up to the left and preventing the destruction of the country. They simply want to manage its decline while preserving corporate welfare.

These dynamics pose two problems for predicting. First, the establishment candidates inspire no one and will continue to fail, hence the establishment will attempt dirty tricks at the convention. If they succeed in foisting an establishment candidate upo the country, that alone will ensure a Democrat victory as the outraged base deserts them. [Memo to GOP establishment: your boy Paul Ryan is hated by the base for what he did to us with his budget deal.] Second, if a non-establishment candidate does get the nomination, there’s a good chance the establishment will sabotage the republican candidate and throw its support behind Clinton. (For example, John McCain suggested he would do this if Rand Paul were the nominee.) Clinton still might lose, but predicting the outcome of such a mess is… a mess.

So who will be the Republican nominee? Cruz? Trump? Rubio? Bush/Kasich/Ryan? (Don’t count out Ryan at a brokered convention.) It’s just a big mess. All of this is simply background for my predictions for 2016... forthcoming soon!

Happy New Year 2016!

Greetings from Unforeseen Contingencies in Montana, and Happy New Year!  I am looking forward to some great things this year.  I hope all of our readers (always the optimist, I assume there are some of you!) are as well.  May 2016 be a good one for liberty and prosperity.

I will be posting a couple of end-of-year posts shortly, including my traditional predictions for the coming year..  My internet access remains poor at present, so I wrote these up in Word trying to remember as much html code as I could, and will post as is.  If they are a mess, perhaps I will edit later...or perhaps not.

But Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Fun on the road...

As we roll west, I heard from my friend, climbing partner, and ultrarunner Mats "Crazy Swede" Roing that he and his wife Christine and a friend were heading east from Montana.  Through careful coordination and impeccable timing we managed to meet up at the Cenex Station in Medina, North Dakota.  The photos below show us doing our obligatory pushups, me and Mats standing, plus a group photo.

Interestingly, in the store they had several small stacks of CD's featuring Joe Schmidt.  I asked the gal at the counter, and she told me he's a local rancher who has recorded music and that she liked the album, so I bought one.  Shortly thereafter, Joe Schmidt himself came in.  I asked him to autograph the CD, which he graciously did, and also sold me on a CD single that's a fund raiser for Farm Rescue.  I've known about Farm Rescue for some time; it's a great organization, and I was pleased to buy this CD.  I didn't get his Christmas album, but probably should have.  His voice is great, the music is full and well performed.  Julie and I don't listen to much country but we enjoy both the album and the single.  "Nineteen" is particularly good.  Readers of Unforeseen Contingencies are encouraged to check out his site.  Buy a CD!

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

The American Left: Hypocrisy and Totalitarianism

Greetings from beautiful Manistique, on the northern shore of Lake Michigan.  This is a favorite stopping place of ours as we make our way west.  Julie, Chaos, and I did a short (3.6 mile/6 km) run this evening on the boardwalk along the shore.  We continue west in the morning.

Does today's left care about rights?  No.  Read on for explanation.

We happened to hear Rush Limbaugh today, and I think it might have been one of his most profound programs, at least in the hour we heard.  He was explaining the failure of so many critics of today's American left and today's Democrat party mainstream to understand that what we have today is not just politics as usual, a debate over the policies that will be pursued within the American system -- instead, we have an entire side that is devoted to destroying the American system.  To be clear, that means destroying things fundamental to the American system such as freedom of speech.  Limbaugh cited examples of Democrats in Congress attempting to promote criminalization of political speech and dissenting opinions (e.g. re climate) through RICO and through campaign finance laws.  (It's rarely mentioned that the Citizens United case went to the Supreme Court because the Citizens United organization had made and shown a documentary unflattering to Hillary Clinton, and was convicted of a felony for doing so.)  The stifling of free speech on campus -- complete with the insistence that free speech is not a value to be defended -- tells us exactly what today's left has in mind: imposition of a single ideology that allows no dissent.  It's totalitarian.  (I've had a blog post written on paper on this that has been sitting around for four years!)   Much of his intro relied on an excellent piece by Kevin Williamson in National Review.

Limbaugh, and Williamson, are quite right about this.  That's why I see substantial turmoil ahead for the United States.  But I'll hold this topic for another post.  Instead, this had me thinking about an example that exposes the hypocrisy of the left.  There has been substantial opposition from the left -- from mainstream Democrat politicians and from mainstream progressive organizations such as ACLU -- to surveillance of questionable mosques and muslim groups.  Sources of the criticism include the Obama administration, and it's sufficiently serious that federal law enforcement agencies have said it interferes with their investigations of terrorists, and that they've even taken to investigating non-muslim groups that were known not to be a threat, just to have investigations they could point to in order to defend themselves against charges of profiling.  That's crazy, of course.  If terrorist threats turn out to be overwhelmingly Islamic, then investigations should be overwhelmingly of Muslims.

But one can imagine a response from from the left: "This vigilance is necessary to protect all of us.  If an unpopular group, e.g. Muslims, can be singled out today, who among us would be safe tomorrow?  This is necessary to protect the rights of all of us."  Leftist critics of mosque surveillance -- that is, of sending agents to listen to sermons -- claimed it would have a "chilling effect."  It seems a good argument, only...

Only the left has no intention at all of protecting rights, except those of certain favored groups.  For example, when the IRS was denying tax-exempt status to Tea Party and conservative groups before the 2012 election, the IRS demanded of a number of religious groups copies of their prayers.  Where were these critics of the "chilling effect" of government surveillance then?  Or more recently, in a Houston controversy over same sex marriage, the mayor ordered local ministers to turn over their sermons for inspection or face jail time.  The ministers refused and eventually the mayor withdrew her demand.  But during all this, ACLU was silent (I'm on several ACLU mailing lists).  ACLU only spoke out once the voters of Houston overturned the mayor's policy, and then to condemn the ministers and the voters.

Today's left has no interest at all in rights.  It uses the rhetoric of rights, but only as a political weapon.  The left's arguments appear increasingly to be not arguments at all, not logical constructs designed to demonstrate truth of a proposition.  Instead they are constructions designed to manipulate listeners and nothing more.

This does bode ill for the future.  Some ideologies are incompatible with liberty, and adherents find it necessary to crush those of us who insist on liberty.  There's no such thing as a peaceful solution to that.

On a related note, it's almost time for me to make my official Unforeseen Contingencies predictions for 2016, they are already in the works, and they include substantial trouble.  Of course, we haven't yet finished 2015, and the dictator in the Whitehouse appears to be ready to impose gun control by executive fiat.  If he does so, predicting "substantial trouble" will be like predicting wetness during a flood.  The Whitehouse is keeping it secret for now, we aren't to know what Obama has planned for us.  That's today's left for you -- secret government by dictate.

Photo: Chaos and Julie, with Manistique lighthouse in the distance.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Sign of the Times

Ted Cruz for President campaign ascends, political correctness has begun to wane, and the holiday approaches... highly appropriate on all counts!

"We" at Unforeseen Contingencies are making our annual Christmas pilgrimage to Montana.  We've be silent of late, owing to a heavy workload, but hope to be able to blog over the Christmas and New Years holidays, despite what I expect will be poor internet access.  Believe it or not, I've written a number of posts in the last month that haven't made it into cyberprint.  Here's hoping this will be rectified soon.

Meanwhile, Merry Christmas (Gregorian) to all!

Photo taken just outside Hillsdale, Michigan.

Wednesday, December 09, 2015

Correction: Unforeseen Contingencies in error!

Well, almost in error.  I hedged "our" position in the previous post sufficiently that I can legitimately claim not to have been in error.

It turns out that what Donald Trump proposes, temporarily banning Muslim aliens from entering the country, already is incorporated in federal law.  (Thanks to Rush Limbaugh for pointing this out.)  More precisely, since 1952, the U.S. Code has given the president full authority to ban and even deport any aliens he deems a threat to the United States.  He can even apply this to all aliens.

No. 8 United States Code, inadmissible aliens: "Suspension of entry or imposition of restrictions by president.  Whenever the president finds that the entry of any aliens or of any class of aliens into the United States would be detrimental to the interests of the United States, he may, by proclamation, and for such period as he shall deem necessary suspend the entry of all aliens or any class of aliens as immigrants or nonimmigrants or impose on the entry of aliens any restrictions he may deem to be appropriate."

President Carter seems to have done this with Iranians in 1979.  President Obama seems to be doing this with Middle East Christian refugees... see this and then this.

Christian refugees from the Middle East are unlikely to have any sympathy for sharia, jizya, and the like.  Admitting them while banning Muslims would be quite sensible... and, it appears, legal.

Tuesday, December 08, 2015

Trump is right (!?)

Donald Trump has just called for a temporary ban on immigration into the U.S. by Muslims, a ban that would be maintained until we better understand how to deal with Islamism.  Practically everyone in media and politics is attacking Trump over this (its seems there's more outrage over Trump's proposal than over the actual San Bernardino massacre by Muslim jihadis).   I'm not a supporter of Trump for president, and I am not so sure Trump's proposal is a good idea, but the criticism of Trump strikes me as largely nonsensical.  Here's why.  (Caveat: Trump has subsequently extended his proposal to include American citizens who are Muslims -- I am not writing about that, only about immigration by non-citizens.  Stopping free travel for citizens based on their religion certainly violates the First Amendment prohibition on restrictions of free exercise of religion.)

The criticisms of Trump largely claim his idea is unConstitutional. (If that is criterion for outrage, why does Barack Obama get a pass for legislating via executive orders, picking and choosing the laws he'll enforce, and the like?)  I think they are wrong.  The Constitutional arguments I've heard hinge on Article VI:

The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the members of the several state legislatures, and all executive and judicial officers, both of the United States and of the several states, shall be bound by oath or affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.

It supposedly follows, then, that there can be no religious test for citizenship, or for immigration.  I'm somewhat skeptical, but perhaps this is so.  But here's my question: is sharia a part of Islam?

Sharia is the Islamic legal system, so that might seem a stupid question.  But sharia is a set of legal and hence political doctrines, and not simply theology; in fact, it's more than that -- it's an entire institutional framework, something like a constitutional order.  If sharia is a necessary part of Islam, then Islam isn't simply a religion, it's a political ideology.  And it is certainly not unConstitutional to ban immigration by those who support political ideologies that are incompatible with or even hostile to American principles.  During the Second World War, Nazis were excluded from immigrating to America.  During the cold war, so were communists (I think this is still enshrined in law, although am uncertain).  Certainly adherence to political Islam could be -- and should be -- grounds to block immigrants.

Not all Muslims support sharia, I'm fairly sure.  But this might be a minority.  Certainly among the "Syrian" immigrants, it must be a minority.  The bulk of these immigrants (fewer than 50% are from Syria, according to Eurostat) come from countries where the vast majority of Muslims believe sharia should be the law of the land.  According to Pew Research, 99% of Afghanistan Muslims, 91% of Iraqi Muslims, and 84% of Pakistani Muslims believe sharia should be the basis of national law.  Sharia includes blasphemy laws, criminalization of homosexuality, oppression of women, and many other anti-liberal doctrines.  If Islam is inseparable from sharia, then banning immigration by adherents isn't banning them on the basis of a religious test, but a political one.  And that is certainly legitimate, particularly when the U.S. government appears to have no ability at all to vet immigrants.

This isn't an endorsement of Trump -- he's a wild man.  He seems to have no political principles -- I don't mean that he's unprincipled -- I mean that he seems unfamiliar with the concept of political principles.  If he does have any, he's a Democrat (I still wouldn't entirely discount the theory that he's a Clinton operative, working to sabotage the Republicans -- I just heard a gentleman from Commentary magazine suggest on the John Batchelor show that Trump's most outrageous/least politically correct statements regularly come at times that Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama are facing their own damning revelations or gaffes, and the effect is to rescue them from scrutiny.  Interesting.  (You can read Rothman's argument here.)  Of course, damning moments for Clinton and Obama, and outrageous statements from Trump, are so regular that discerning a regular pattern is a problem in advanced time series (Granger causality, anyone?) so the argument isn't exactly convincing, and even Rothman didn't seem convinced in the interview.

Regardless, Trump strikes a chord with many people because his "outrageous" arguments usually have a measure of sense in them, as well as a refreshing refusal to be intimidated.  It is certainly sensible to be worried about "Syrian" immigrants.  I don't want neighbors who think that it's important to establish sharia as the law of the land.

Monday, December 07, 2015

A date which will live in infamy...

Pearl Harbor Day, 2015. Seventy four years ago today, December 7 1941, the Japanese attacked the United States at Pearl Harbor and elsewhere. They attacked without warning, without declaration of war, all as part of an aggressive expansion to build an empire (a literal empire).  This marks the beginning of World War II for Americans.  For Western Europeans, the war began earlier, 1 September 1939, while the Soviets date the beginning as 22 July 1941.  For the Chinese the war began 7 July 1937 with the Lugou Qiao (Marco Polo Bridge) Incident.

When did the war begin?  That's a matter of one's perspective (I have tended to adopt the Chinese' date), but what is important is not exactly how we date the war, it's that we remember this.  In response to the Japanese' attack, the President of the United States, Franklin Roosevelt, called it "a date that will live in infamy."  It is something to remember.

President Roosevelt also declared before Congress that "The American people in their righteous might will win through to absolute victory." I'm no fan of Franklin Roosevelt, but he was cut of a different cloth than the pro-Islamist traitor who now sits in the Whitehouse.  In response to another infamous attack, the current occupant spent the bulk of his time lecturing Americans on gun control and, bizarrely enough, defending Islam, as if Islam had somehow come under attack.  Then there's Congress... Congressional Democrats watch and realize the President is selling out the country, and yet do nothing, for fear of sacrificing the party, I guess.  Congressional Republicans posture but also do nothing.  Here's a suggestion: declare war on Daesh, and impeach the President if he doesn't prosecute it to the fullest.  It won't happen, I know, and saving the republic will be up to us, the American people.

I am uncertain how historians will date the current war, but there is one going on, and it will grow.  There's no leader in Washington today, but I still think that the American people will win.  I will expand on this in future posts.

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?