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Predictions for a New Year: Not All Happy
After a long rest, during which I’ve reset some plans for the newsletter, we find ourselves beginning a new and critical year. Yes, it is an election year, during which control of Congress could switch hands, which will likely be the most important “event” during this coming year, for Americans. But the election itself will turn on many other factors that may or may not come together.
In this first issue of the newsletter of the new year on New Year’s day, I’m taking a ballpark swing at identifying the issues that will most impact the country’s direction and predict how they will shake out. Though the predictions are “informed,” in that I know the facts surrounding the events to come, I am not clairvoyant (yet) and am subject to being wrong.
I dearly hope I’m wrong about a lot of things. Unfortunately, I’ve been pretty good at this stuff:
THE HOUSE SELECT COMMITTEE FINDS EVIDENCE THAT THE WHITE HOUSE WAS AWARE OF AND INVOLVED WITH JAN. 6TH AND WILL REFER THE MATTER TO DOJ. DOJ WILL THEN BEGIN ITS OWN INVESTIGATION, ONE THAT IS NEAR USELESS
One has every right to call me out on this, given that there already exists a ton of evidence that points to White House involvement. But it is the second portion of that prediction that is going to drive everyone mad.
Trump’s documents will get to the committee, whether through the National Archives directly - by order of the SCOTUS, which I think will happen rather quickly, or the Committee will get the equivalent from people who were participating in the plot. As but one example, Bernie Kerik (a convicted felon, which puts increased pressure on Kerik to cooperate) has already dropped off a large number of records sought, a little like Mark Meadows. He also kept a log of records he withheld, one of which is entitled: “DRAFT LETTER FROM POTUS TO SEIZE EVIDENCE IN THE INTEREST OF NATIONAL SECURITY FOR THE 2020 ELECTIONS.”
Pro Tip: When naming things in a privilege log, don’t give the document a name that includes a felony within the title. A party to an election “seizing evidence” is also known as evidence tampering and is a bad idea.
This is just one example of the slow drip, drip, drip, of records that the Select Committee now has in its hands. We have been assured we’ve only seen the tip of the iceberg, and it is an impressive tip. Mark Meadows’s texts provide strong evidence that Trump very much approved of what was happening that day, which may say a lot about what he knew going into the day.
Peter Navarro provided even stronger evidence in describing “Operation Green Bay Sweep,” a plan devised by the Trump advisor, Bannon, and others (we presume), one that sounds exactly like the plan we said was the objective all along. According to Rolling Stone:
The goal was not to get the election overturned on Jan. 6. Instead, they aimed to create such a spectacle that Pence would be forced to exercise his authority as president of the Senate to “put the certification of the election on ice for at least another several weeks” while Congress and the state legislatures pursued the “fraud” allegations. The dark particulars for how Trump would remain in office after that are not spelled out.
Navarro was quick to say that the riot hampered the plan which is what one would likely say right after admitting to what amounts to a conspiracy to overthrow the government. Because simply looking at the tiny portion of the plan I’ve provided, one easily sees that the plan almost required an “interruption.” If Pence was “unavailable” due to the spectacle, the entire constitutional requirement is “put on ice” and Trump’s attorneys would say that the Constitution requires the House to decide the election. Trump wins.
DOJ could charge Trump with conspiracy to obstruct Congress if he had prior knowledge of the plan, approved of it, and did something, even something small, to assist. We suspect that the Committee already has a lot of proof to that end, but the White House call logs, particularly to Navarro’s “war rooms” would go a long way to proving it to the point of criminal charges.
The Committee will be well aware of the fact that it may no longer exist as of January 4th, 2023, and thus it will take what it is has gathered and refer the matter to DOJ for investigation on January 3rd (if it is defeated), and the referral will contain a sufficient number of crimes against a sufficient number of people, that DOJ will be compelled to do something. This is why, as Trump’s lawyers have already claimed that the Committee is exceeding its authority by setting out its findings as elements of a crime.
The evidence against Trump will be near overwhelming.
And yet Merrick Garland does not want to prosecute Donald Trump, nor anyone in Trump’s family. That seems self-evident to me (I have called for his resignation in this newsletter) and the pressure against prosecuting Trump will only grow as we get closer and closer to 2024, where Trump can cry that it’s nothing but a political prosecution to stop him from running for president.
Despite overwhelming evidence of a conspiracy to overthrow a properly elected president of the United States, Trump will walk away unscathed. Some of the lesser players, like Navarro, might go down. Trump, will not.
Merrick Garland turned out to be the wrong man for the job. Joe Biden should have nominated Adam Schiff to be Attorney General. I fully believe that Trump would already be indicted if Schiff was attorney general.
A far more interesting question going into 2022 and directly pertaining to the election will be how many Republicans will be entirely exposed as both A) Having been aware all along that Trump lost fair and square and B) Fighting for the Big Lie anyway, perhaps committing crimes along the way.
Should it turn out that enough “obvious” evidence arises that Trump was the only elected official that actually believed the election was stolen it will have an impact on the 2022 election. It will cause the GOP voter that “didn’t really like Trump” to pause and wonder whether they want to hand Congress right back to the same people.
Some open questions will likely get answered: What did Jim Jordan know and when? Will any of the real suspects, Boebert, Marjorie Taylor Greene, Gosar, Gaetz, any of them be arrested? I predict that none will be arrested and charged but a few of them will be stepping down as a sort of “informal” agreement between the Committee, prosecutors, and the potential defendant.
The Committee’s investigation will have a huge impact on the election but the GOP will still take the House, just with nowhere near the advantage they anticipated having. The Senate remains a 50-50 proposition in every way.
THE SCOTUS WILL UPHOLD MISSISSIPPI’S “15 Weeks” LAW, OVERTURN TEXAS’S LAW, BUT NOT “OVERRULE” ROE V. WADE
The current collection of nine justices is already too well aware of the fact that they are seen as nothing more than the third political branch. They know that the Democrats have been cheated out of at least one seat and - depending on how the Kennedy retirement actually went down, possibly two. They also know that there is already talk about a constitutional amendment to insert term limits, and the temptation to pack the court with more than nine justices. Court packing might not even require an act of Congress. Biden could simply nominate two more justices and if the Senate confirmed them, voila - there’s nothing really stopping those justices from walking to the building and asking for directions to their chambers. Someone will challenge it and guess who will vote on the challenge?
The current court doesn’t want that. It may want to strike down Roe v. Wade but it will not. In part, because by ruling on behalf of Mississippi, they don’t really have to overrule Roe. They simply continue to erode its protections.
The decision will likely be one where a majority votes to uphold the ban, two to three justices write separately to say that Roe was wrongly decided and they would overturn it but support the majority decision and it will likely be 5=4 instead of 6-3.
John Roberts has been quietly sliding left, knowing that he is the one whose name is on this most political court and he is the one who would have to justify overruling “precedent upon precedent.” (A reference to Casey) in which Sandra Day O’Connor wrote that a state could regulate abortions, just not place “undue burdens” upon the woman involved. Considering that “four to six” of those weeks of pregnancy would remain largely unknown to many women, that leaves precious few left to weigh one’s options, get an appointment, travel a long way (in many states) while getting time off work… an undue burden.
Texas will be overruled in order to appear more “moderate,” but in reality out of terror as to what other states might do with other rights, especially pertaining to the 2nd Amendment.
This remains the Republican and court pattern. They do not overrule Roe v. Wade, they work to make it meaningless. If the court ever did overrule Roe, what would Republican presidential candidates have to run on as an issue?
The ruling will have a massive impact on college-educated women, those reliable and elusive voters that the GOP always tries to win over in order to not have to rely solely upon white men. The ruling will not save Democrats in the House, but much like the Committee investigation, it will also suppress the GOP margin, perhaps to a margin small enough that they cannot even impeach Biden when they get a majority, a few may hold out because it sort or requires a crime.
The ruling might shade the Senate from 50-50 toward the Democrats. Women will not forget the MEN who put these justices on the bench.
COVID IS THE NEW FLU, JUST DEADLIER AND EVER-CHANGING
Those of us that have been boosted already will likely get boosted again this summer. COVID isn’t going anywhere, indeed, it keeps changing clothes. This latest one, OMICRON is so much more contagious it’s almost unfair. However - so far, it also seems to be milder. There was no rule that it had to be. It could have been more contagious and far more deadly. Eventually, as the virus keeps circulating, it will mutate again and perhaps in a manner that isn’t quite as accommodating as Omicron:
Just like the flu, some of us will carry around a lot of immunity, the type that we dearly hope keeps us out of the hospital but could get us sick anyway. The unvaccinated will continue to die, though in smaller numbers… unless it mutates into a far more deadly form, at which point, we predict, far more people will get vaccinated.
Admittedly, all of the above is obvious. What is not obvious is the impact that COVID will have on the economy in 2022. It is not off to a great start with respect to inflation - which is all the MAGAs talk about. Inflation is high. It is a problem. And Democrats better start introducing bills to tamper its impact very quickly and let the Republicans vote them down at their peril. American families will really miss those $250 per child payments starting January. Inflation could actually help Biden get a deal done with Manchin (Biden and Manchin will reach a deal early this year, too much is needed and Manchin has already solidified his status as a hero to West Virginians. Biden will let Manchin sell it as a win for him. In reality, it will help us all. COVID has taken a big enough toil and something is better than nothing.
It is remarkable that COVID hasn’t had an even bigger impact on the economy. Republicans do not talk about the fact that the S&P 500 is higher (by percentage) than it was under Trump, that jobless claims are at their lowest levels in decades, and all the other good news coming out about the economy. But inflation will flatten and go down as the world adapts to its new reality. This is good news for Joe Biden, who will come out looking more heroic in helping the country get through the pandemic with less and less damage (to the vaccinated) and to the economy. Indeed, the more prices rise, the more Biden can point to vaccinations as the answer.
WE ENTER A NEW SPACE RACE GETTING OUR ASSES KICKED. THAT IS A GOOD THING
How many readers know that the Chinese plan on landing people on the moon in 2023? Or that the Chinese have a space station already, one that is far more modern than ours? Alright, alright, silly question because the readers of this newsletter are more sophisticated than the guy that writes it. You know. But 90% of America does not.
This is far more than a passing interest in scientific studies in space and on the moon. It is also about which country controls the high ground and Americans have always assumed that we do, as an American birthright.
To be sure, we have one billionaire, the richest guy on earth - a small nation unto himself, that might have the most sophisticated rocketry in the world. But a guy is just a guy and that guy himself has pointed out that he doesn’t have the authority to control a military or national fiscal policy, powerful as he is. But space was always a national thing anyway and we were rightfully proud of our record. That damned moon has an American flag on it. Not China’s. For now.
Why have we fallen so far behind? The end of the Cold War is one reason. Space is expensive. During the space race, the richest Americans taxed themselves at well over 50%. Now, the richest Americans believe 34% over 31% is nearly a crime against humanity. Under the billionaire Koch brothers, they were taxed enough already. The Republican party exists - almost solely - to lower taxes and some regulations that cost money.
But again, when Zuckerberg, Bezos, Musk, and everyone else with over a few million dollars are hardly taxed at all, it makes it very hard to have nice things, like healthcare and people on the moon. Don’t worry, our military still has nice things. It is just that most of it stays on the ground (not all of it). And that will be a problem because if there is ever a war between superpowers again, it will likely start and maybe end in space. Why invade a country when you can shut it down with some well-placed shots at satellites. (They need not even blow them up and “clutter” orbit) an electromagnetic pulse would have near the same effect, though that is getting pretty sophisticated.
The Chinese are making a move for the high ground. The highest ground, at least from a military perspective. And even though many sophisticated folks in a position to know, believe we do actually have a very secret military space program, with people up there at all times, a civilian space race may actually be exactly what the country needs.
Sometime this year, Americans will wake up to the fact that China has surpassed us in this space race, and maybe only then will “Let’s Go Brandon” be less important than “Let’s get our shit together.” Some national unity may actually develop. AND, there may be a cry to raise some money to pay for some of this stuff. Raising some money wouldn’t and shouldn’t all go to the space race. Americans might be reminded that taxes do play a role in our national health, not just the health of the nation’s billionaires - who will not suffer at all, no worries.
The James Webb telescope, the most sophisticated thing ever sent into space, by far, is due to come online in the next few months, and that’s great. But it means very little to the average citizen compared to Americans “way up there.”
There are many more deserving topics that could be addressed, briefly, with predictions that may or may not be worth anything:
-Russia will invade Ukraine but it will be very limited and all but reversed, given the Russian economy is just so weak already.
-The GOP will take the House, but barely, and maybe not by enough to do whatever they want.
-Trump’s power will wane this year as he continues to talk 2020 while secrets about 2020 are revealed. He could easily regain that power next year.
-It will be the hottest year on record and another horrific hurricane will blow through because that’s what happens when the water is 87 degrees.
-There will be a domestic terrorist attack surpassing anything imagined so far, targeting federal buildings, or officials (think Oklahoma City). There is just too much rage out there to avoid it.
-Artificial intelligence and genetic engineering will become bigger and bigger dangers and opportunities, but remain almost completely unregulated, still - and they must be regulated internationally.
As for this newsletter, it appears likely that it will go from a dream of 3-4 issues per week to two. There is only so much writing one person can do and there will be no repetition between what I write between Political Flare or PoliticusUSA. It will remain free for the foreseeable future. At least another week. Ha.
Hopefully, you will find more love in your life and less anger. Maybe exercise a little more. It is hard to love much of anything if it doesn’t start with yourself. Sometimes loving yourself starts with doing something unusually nice for someone who isn’t your type. So I wish you all a Happy New Year, even if - on a national level - much of it won’t be so happy.