Saturday, January 30, 2016

Send in the Hammer

Not me but it's such a great photo I had to use it.
As you may have noticed I've been rather quiet of late and for good reason. I have entered the world of electoral politics. That's right friends, I have decided to martyr myself on the alter of democracy with nary a hope of gain or self aggrandizement...or victory for that matter. It's just sort of a bucket list thing, you know, like CW's obsession with funny hats. You don't why you do it, you just do it.

My campaign efforts have amounted to setting up a Facebook page and Twitter account and writing letters to the local fish-wrap. But I seem to be ruffling a few feathers as I dig deeper into the local's bidnez. As most of us here I take an interest in politics that is top down orientated. Ask me an opinion on a national issue and I'll drone on for hours (especially if I'm drunk). State politics? What Ronnie Van Zant said about love applies to what I know about state government "I know a little... and baby I can guess the rest". MAYBE I would add.

But LOCAL politics? I know NUTHING! I am learning though. You actually wouldn't believe it, well you might. I always knew the locals were gaming the system. I knew it but I figured it's small potatoes compared to the majors. But if you multiply this times a thousand, or more like a hundred thousand and well, one comes to realize that the majors ain't the majors. These local grifters are doing as much or even more damage that the big boys in DC.

Just by way of example, the amount of money some of these farmers get for doing jack-shit is really incredible. Around here there are a handful of big landowners and if you look at the USDA database they get get 80-90% of the farm handouts from the feds. Look back over twenty years and all the names are much the same. Look at the names and then look at the local politicians and they're all the same families. It's like the European aristocracy of old: oldest son gets the estate, middle son joins the military or goes into politics, youngest son goes in the clergy. Talk about establishment? Their tentacles are everywhere. Peel back the layers and start putting the puzzle pieces together and it's a little disconcerting no matter how cynical you may be.

Also another huge avenue for corruption is "economic incentives". We just had a situation where a European drug company got $150-$200 million dollars in tax relief and cash, and the deal was negotiated by the local "economic development board" and get this, the State Economic Developers Association. Two North Carolina entities were cutting deals with each other for the benefit of a Danish multinational. As the end of the day all sides were grinning like a mule eating briars. Somebody, everybody got a nice payday courtesy of the local tax base. The losers in this rigged game? The taxpayers of the State of North Carolina and the citizens of the county who will have higher taxes to make up for it all.

As you might imagine, putting me together with entrenched, bucktoothed knots-heads intent on keeping the cash flowing has turned into a somewhat volatile situation. But I am quickly becoming an underground celebrity. Here's an email I received today from an anonymous source.

You do realize the piece in the paper today by XXXXXX is a reflection of who XXXXXXX really is. XXXXXXX is as big of yellow dog Democrat as there is in the county. XXXXXXX continually affiliated himself with them all the time because he was a big D until it was politically smart to be a Republican in the county. All the Democrat mayors are for him as well. Keep pounding as the Panthers say. XXXXXX is bad news and you nailed him with the truth. Good luck and I will be voting for you.

There is stuff like this, so I'm not giving up. Plus I live for all this. I love going toe to toe with an arrogant dickhead. I love being underestimated. I LOVE it when some jerk who thinks I'm a bug on the wall gets his ass handed to him by little ole me! I adore it! It's like Ali standing over Sonny Liston or Namath running off the field holding up #1. It's a bunch of kids beating the Red Army team in 1980. It's the thrill, the rush, it's what Patton talked about "loving so" (at least in the movie). I'm having a lot of fun regardless of what happens. 

However, if I go missing or am killed by a robber in the parking lot of Wally World (or ABC Store) or struck by lightening, you'll know the reason why. For the record, CW I leave you my books and I leave your brother Jimbo my LP collection. Everybody needs a good copy of Second Helping.  

Friday, January 29, 2016

Leaving New Orleans at a Bad Time

I am sitting in the New Orleans airport, only minutes after having my fourth "TSA Pre is closed" security check in the last eight flights. Just what it is I paid for to receive is increasingly up for conjecture. There does appear to be some correlation between standard human meal times and the likelihood of closure, which seems to me--given that people fly during these times--that the staffing plan should account for this. I of course fired off a tweet to @TSA, and I imagine I will shortly wind up on the no-fly list.

I have been in New Orleans for a couple of days. Originally, this was a trip with two purposes. The first (and surviving) was to spend half a day with the Midshipmen of the Tulane University NROTC Unit at the invitation of their CO--CAPT Patrick Huete--shipmate from days gone by. This half day of labor (yesterday morning) was pure wonderfulness, as I got to talk to the future of the Navy about the future of the Navy. They had a lot of good questions, and I am satisfied the country remains in good hands. Here's a shot of the Battalion just before I began to talk.

The second reason I was here was to look in on a little investment I have in New Orleans, but the gent who runs it had some emergent travel and we weren't able to meet. However, our past meetings here had led to my discovery of a little Cajun/Soul Food gem called Lil Dizzy's Cafe, where I met another friend (DC transplant) for a ridiculous lunch.

What I've come to discover since arriving here is that my timing--as New Orleans goes, is horrible. Apparently, Carnival swings into gear TODAY, and from the looks of the folks arriving at the airport, there is a festive mood awakening. I am not yet sold in New Orleans, though it is growing on me. I don't think I could ever get into Mardi Gras much, as I don't drink and this seems an essential part of the thrill. The other part though, is to actually belong to a "Krewe", which is from what I can tell, a rather exclusive club. Many Krewe's are ancient generational, and they march in particular parades on certain days. All of this I think, becomes far more important to one who grows up bathed in the pageantry. My boy Patrick has pushed New Orleans for as long as I've known him. Being here with him--the town he has come home to--was a great experience. We were talking in the car on the way to dinner Wednesday night (Crescent City Steaks) about how when you ask someone in New Orleans where they went to school, the answer is your high school. No one cares where you went to college--but your high school is destiny. As soon as we walked into the restaurant, standing there at the bar was a dude Patrick recognized from his high school, a year senior. A few members of the class were gathering for dinner to discuss the year end of their annual charity project, in which they provide hundreds of Turkeys to needy New Orleans families. A handful of dudes strolled in and Patrick knew them all.

I have no place like this. I think having one would be nice--but I don't think I require it. Perhaps I'm just not that social.

Your next trip, stay at Le Pavillon Hotel. It is haunted, and it serves a PB&J bar (I declined) at 2200 hrs. each night. It is a grand hotel, wonderfully appointed, unbelievably comfy beds, and reasonably priced.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

On the Great Eastern Blizzard of 2016

In Dr. Stewart's "Physics of the Atmosphere" class in college (I think that is what it was called--he was an old bull in the physics department who had an interest in weather, and so he called what was essentially a meteorology class "physics") we were all charged with a fifteen page paper, and I chose to write on the subject of "Great Eastern American Snowstorms", one of which included Thomas Jefferson's wedding night blizzard in 1772 (I think was the year).  Apparently, nearly three feet fell in that great storm. Of note, Kurt Schick (funniest dude at UVA at the time) wrote a paper called "A Case of the Winds", a title that still makes me giggle, my potty humor fancy tickled. I wonder whether this storm will come to be included in some future writer's rundown.

All four of us are here, hunkered down on the farm, as it is "post-exams winter break" at school for Kitten #2. We are well prepared for things, what with a full larder, warm clothes, and for the time being, the means to binge watch various things on TV. I cooked the hungry Kittens an 8 pound oven stuffer roaster last night, and that bird was indeed tasty. It's leavings-along with a sacrificial rotisserie bird from Giant--were turned into The Kitten's famous chicken stew last night whilst we watched a movie.  Pretty homey little scene.

As I was saying, we are well prepared. For what, you may ask?  To sit around in a warm house and not interact with the elements in any way, shape or form until they have begun to behave themselves. I truly have no real need to drive my car until Wednesday, at which point the higher temps would have served to melt much of the snow. But--no plan survives contact with the enemy.

You see, just across the farm is the home of The Kitten's mother--and she has three wild Labrabeasts that she pays some dude to watch for her while she is gone--and she is in South Carolina for an extended period. That dude and The Kitten spoke yesterday, and it seems the care and feeding of these animals passed unto her in preparation for the coming storm. I knew this, as she last night assigned each of the Kittens to be her companion on these outings in the AM and PM. And so, after awaking and a bit of coffee, The Kitten began the elaborate ritual of robing for the elements, to include several trips back and forth in front of me as I sat on the couch rattling away at my laptop in PJ's and warm slippers. You know. Executing the plan AS FRAGGED.

Just after they left, a debate began raging on Facebook after a friend asked the logical question of when to shovel--now or when it is all done. Of course I had already made that decision, but was unnerved when friends whose judgment I trust--one of whom used to be a CANADIAN for Chrissake--advocated the little bit at a time method. Added to this discontinuous signalling was of course, the growing sense of guilt that my woman was out braving the elements whilst I farted around on Facebook. And so, killing two birds with one stone, I took to the stoops with my trusty shovel and began to clear one-shovel wide paths. Truth be told, I felt exhilarated by the process--I was bundled up warm and the snow was an easy shovel. I believe the Kitten was so flabbergasted at seeing me so engaged, that she stopped at the end of the driveway to capture the moment on pixels.

I will venture out again before the sun sets to hit the stoops once more. But in the meantime, I shall sit here on the couch in my bedroom and enjoy the toasty warmth of the pound of flesh taken out of me in  renovating this house five years ago. It really is a wonderful place to live--especially when the wind is howling and the snow falls east/west.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Some Navy Religion for the People

Not all of you like when I post Navy stuff here, but some do--especially my Dad. So this is for him. It is a panel discussion I participated in that the Surface Navy Association Symposium last week.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Thoughts On the Navy Crews Taken by the Iranians

I've been asked by a few of you to provide some thoughts on what happened in the Arabian Gulf the other day. I began to write something, and then saw this piece by my friend at Information Dissemination--and while I don't agree completely with all of it, I do agree with most of it. And so I have cut and pasted it below into this entry, with my own comments interspersed in bold italics.


Thoughts on the Farsi Island Incident January 12 by Galrahn

By now most of you have heard the news of the initial incident and have read several details of the incident that have been reported in the press. The bottom line, there are still a lot of unknowns even as the incident was resolved diplomatically within 24 hours. Below are a few thoughts.

1) Even 48 hours after the initial incident it doesn't even appear CENTCOM or the Pentagon has a full accounting of the details of exactly what happened. People who have been telling the narrative since the incident first occurred are sure to be proven wrong, since they have almost certainly been guessing as to causes and motives. In the end, it is starting to look to be exactly what it looks like... a bunch of young sailors lost because of reliance on technology and/or machinery that failed. There is also, potentially, a training issue here related to navigation and leadership.

Couldn't agree more. When the incident was first reported, I was asked by a number of different entities to comment. I hesitated to speculate beyond indicating what I knew from dated experience. We observe their territorial standoffs meticulously, and they enforce them meticulously.  I could see no profit for the Iranians in seizing our boats/crews unless they had stumbled into Iranian waters. Note I'm not supporting what Iran did or saying that it was professional or legal. Simply that this was to me, the most likely scenario.

2) Those who are claiming the US Navy should have shot their way out of the standoff - when it appears the US Navy sailors actually involved appeared to have convinced themselves their ships were inside Iranian waters - make very interesting and yet terrible arguments for shooting at Iranians. Farsi Island may be a disputed Island in the Persian Gulf, but there is an IRGC naval base on that island and presence in the first rule of ownership. If the Iranian Navy, or Russian Navy, or any Navy drifted armed boats into US waters off Kings Bay, I suspect the US Coast Guard and/or US Navy would be very quick to point guns and be active in detaining the drifters.

Again, agreed. We are not at war with Iran, and it was plausible that those crews KNEW they had made this mistake. Additionally, as is stated above, there is an Iranian base at Farsi. My suspicion is that there was a firepower differential on the scene. 

3) I am unable to see any strategic advantage the US would have gained by fighting Iran inside the 3 mile zone of Iranian territory, and I am unable to see any strategic consequence to the US by not fighting Iran inside the 3 mile zone of Iranian territory. However, had the US Navy tried to shoot their way out of that situation, the strategic consequences would have been significant, and not just how it relates to Iran. Such a violent action would have given China a valid example to act the same way in disputed places in the South China Sea. If the US Navy is going to lead the global commons based on our interpretation of the rules at sea, the LT who apologized (and everyone on the political right is flogging) just forwarded America strategically. I note it is primarily the parochial arguments from people whose expertise lies in other military services like the Army who have completely ignored the details like global rule sets at sea who have been the loudest to shout at the Navy in this incident. With all due respect, this is an incredibly parochial and shortsided overreaction of the incident, because the National Review can and should do better than finding an Army guy - Bing West (whom I know and respect but wtf...) when it comes to a complex naval incident. This isn't the Pueblo, nor is it the Korean War. There will be no museum in Iran, and both the boats and the crews were returned.

Here is where I disagree with my friend. While I certainly do not believe the Lieutenant should be "flogged" by people on the right or anywhere else for that matter, his onscreen apology was imprudent. Note again, I did not say a violation of the code of conduct--as the code of conduct applies to when we are held as prisoners of war--which he and they knew they were not. But--he should not have said what he did--no matter how true it was. The only acceptable (to me) explanation for his conduct would have been if he had received ORDERS from higher headquarters as this thing went down, to make an apology. 

4) This is one of those difficult issues that, in my mind, separates serious people who care about serious strategic issues the US faces in the 21st century and demagogues who see conspiracy and opportunity in every political crisis. If you are a partisan who sees a conspiracy, go away. For the rest of us, there are serious naval issues here that need serious answers. These are a few of the initial questions that should be considered.

- Is the maintenance of the riverine command boats contracted to the point the onboard crew was unable to repair the problem? The crew of only 5 sailors per boat suggests to me that something might be off with the manpower and maintenance procedures surrounding these very capable chess pieces of naval equipment. The RCB is made to fight in the Persian Gulf, but a broken RCB isn't going to win.

 - This is a teaching moment if there ever was one, and as an incident this appears to represent a textbook case study on the reasons why the Navy needs more, not fewer, Commands for junior officers. It may be the opinion of some hard core political demagogues who have over a decade of tactical success combined with over a decade of strategic failure that this incident is somehow a defeat for America, but each new fact that emerges from this incident suggests to me this may be a case of procedural failure far beyond the scope of a LT... but when shit happened, strategic acumen by the officer in charge (LT) is potentially emerging as a feature in handling a bad situation and not making it worse. The facts are still unknown, and we may not know for sure for awhile, but regardless of what the facts are in the end I see this as a very teachable moment that favors the argument for early Command as often as possible for junior officers.

- I have no problem with high profile diplomatic incidents like this between the US Navy and Iran, as long as for each incident the actions of the US Navy is aligned with the strategic aims of the United States. If the US Navy had attacked the IRGC inside the territorial waters of Farsi Island to defend their boats, this would be a major strategic setback for the US. Had the incident occurred outside the territorial waters of Iran and the US Navy not fought back; that would also be a strategic setback for the US. Right now it appears the US Navy sailors on the scene did everything right.

- The only way to produce a genuine strategic failure from this incident is to unfairly punish those involved, in other words... if the Navy wants better commanders, handle early career mistakes the right way. Tell me how any of those 10 sailors are somehow worse off for this incident. If legitimate mistakes were made, deal with it appropriately, but pinning blame for things out of their control would be a failure of leadership, and in my mind an unforgivable sin.

- At the end of the day, this was a real diplomatic test of the US and Iran who under the recent agreement are partners in Iran's nuclear energy ambitions. The outcome is very positive for the United States. I don't trust the government of Iran, but I am yet to see anything from this incident that suggests to me Iran has has been inappropriate. If you're the American Idiot who doesn't think it was appropriate for the US Navy sailors to have their hands on their heads at any point in the engagement near the IRGC base on Farsi Island, try drifting your private armed boat into the US Navy area of Kings Bay or Norfolk or New London and pretend like there is a snowballs chance in hell you will get out of there without your hands on your head. You will have your hands on your head, or if you point a gun back at the US Navy or US Coast Guard, you will be shot dead by very serious people who protect that location and will be pointing guns at you. You don't even have to be an Iranian for that outcome to occur, nor will you need an Iranian flag on your boat, a US flag will result in the same action. Wake up people, don't let the silly season control your ability to think with objectivity.

It is entirely plausible to me that the recent deal with the Iranians and the familiarity it bred among negotiators aided in the relatively quick release of our Sailors. One would be ignorant not to at least consider this. But--one should also consider the possibility that the negotiation bred a familiarity that we did not bargain for, that we had been measured and found wanting. That the Iranians believed that they could do this with little or no fallout, and that their position as a power in the Arabian Gulf would be improved by taking us on. It would be just as ignorant not to consider this possibility, and others for that matter. 

As for the Sailors on their knees and the female in hijab, the bottom line for me is that when rough men with guns are pointing them at you, in virtually all cases you do what you are told. 

I look forward to learning what really happened, because at the end of the day we have a well armed naval craft in the middle of the Persian Gulf with a serious mechanical problem that couldn't be quickly resolved apparently combined with some incredibly bad navigation from two crews who somehow found their way to the only piece of land between their departure location and destination that could create a diplomatic problem. When you swim past all the political bullshit, the serious naval specific issues on the table leave a lot of serious questions that deserve serious answers.

What my friend describes as "political bullshit" I am not as quick to dismiss. It is difficult for me to separate Iran's willingness to tweak us, their willingness to fire rockets in the vicinity of our aircraft carrier--with their sense that these actions would be impact free, born of a lack of regard for our power. There are serious "naval" issues here of course--but there are also serious political ones--and in the end, the two will almost certainly be related.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

So, Who's Next?

Well well well, what have we here? You know I could crow about how I was saying a year ago Hillary would NOT be the nominee, but I'd be an asshole (well, MORE of an asshole). But I did, right up until Bernie gave her a pass on the emails and then I thought it was a cruise on home situation. And she may still win, but whoa Nellie, things are looking very shaky indeed over at the Clitoris Foundation.

Yep, it looks like to me Hillary could lose Iowa and almost certainly WILL lose New Hampshire. She may could survive New Hampshire but if she loses both then BIG MO comes into play and all you'll hear is 08 this and 08 that. Who can we thank for Hillary's troubles? Who else, The Donald.

Say what you will (and you will) Trump is running circles around all these "PROS". He beats up on Jeb like it was fun (it may be) and he laid a trap for the World's Smartest Woman and she fell for it hook, line and schlong. He took down Bill Clinton like HE took down Juanita Broderick and didn't even have the damn common courtesy to say "put some ice on that". As a result Hillary's numbers among the all important white chick demo has collapsed. Oh my! I'm telling you, the Clintons ain't what they used to be. Bill looks like total shit and has the stage presence of a cadaver and Hillary is all doddery with a grandma vibe. I expect her to walk on stage one day farting with every step. Regardless of who wins on the Republican side, Hillary's ass is grass assuming she does indeed hold on.

A young, sharp politician like CW's pin-up boy Marco Rubio would destroy her just with the optics. Ted Cruz would cut her up. Trump would make a laughing stock of her and have her melting under the lights like a bowl of Ben & Jerry's Schweddy Balls. All thanks to THE DONALD!

But if Hill & Bill do crash and burn (through politics or indictment) who then will fill the void? Please don't say Bernie, even the Democrats ain't crazy enough to run a guy who doesn't even have the brains to hide the fact he's a damn commie. He's out for a hundred reasons. Biden? Possibly. I talked about just such a scenario a few months back on this very rag of a blog. I've heard Al Gore, which I find hilarious. Run Al run! And if Al indeed CAN run more than say...50 feet, we'll give it to you by default. Elizabeth Warren? Possibly. And now we come to a guy who is slick enough to win, Martin O'Malley. I know, unlikely in the extreme. I don't disagree. But I've told you before and I'll tell you again, he's the best politician in the bunch, maybe even on both sides.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

A Hostile Takeover!

I read with a combination of amusement and bemusement a NY Times piece this morning on the fix the Republican Party establishment finds themselves in. Unlike much of the Times political reporting this one rang true. The Old Grey Bitch is still worth reading, sometimes, I guess. But there are a few quotes I wanted to share and comment on.

The first from ex-George I Attorney General Dick Thornburgh I know Republicans who will support Hillary if Trump or Cruz is the nominee, no question.” That's nice, an absolutely brilliant strategy and the picture of maturity. If I'm reading this right (help me out here CW) the plebeians who put Richard Nixon in office along with both Bushs and contributed/volunteered/voted for Bob Dole, John McCain and Mitt Romney are now looked upon as uppity house negros and therefore Hillary is more acceptable! So this is the 2016 Republican Party? Not the Party of RR but the Party of David Frum, Rick Wilson and David Brooks. The Party that excludes (unless you're Hispanic), has forgotten family values (for God's sake, don't talk about abortion!) and fiscal responsibility (we had no choice, the Omnibus was a done deal). No, can't make those mistakes again, that's in the past. Now we are the Party of hedge fund managers and K Street. The Party of the successful, i.e. those who work both sides of the aisle and (wait for it) hedge their bets. People who have a pay-for-play mentality with no morals, no ideology apart from expediency and narrow self-interest, people who will bolt in a heartbeat if they don't see a return on their "investment". The money-changers who care not one iota for America or Americans because hey, we've gone GLOBAL! They run the Party now?

“I haven’t seen this large of a division in my career,” said Senator John McCain. McCain goes on to say maybe Reagan/Ford in '76 was similar. To which I say, NO SHIT!? How about the exact same thing? But then again at least there was some attempt at reconciliation. Ford dumped Nelson "Hold on baby I'm getting chest pains" Rockefeller who was completely unacceptable to conservatives in favor of Bob Dole (Jeez, what's the diff?) and Reagan took the unprecedented step of naming his VP prior to the convention vote (in case you're wondering it was Senator Richard Schweiker from Pennsylvania, a real weenie). Now we get nothing. Apparently both sides want to kill each other. Which brings me to the last quote.

“The Republican Party has never done anything for the working man like me, even though we’ve voted Republican for years,” said Leo Martin, a 62-year-old machinist from Newport, N.H., who attended Mr. Trump’s Claremont rally. “This election is the first in my life where we can change what it means to be a Republican.”  Hold the phone! Change what it means to be a Republican? Is that what this guy said? Establishment Republicans have no problem changing, let's say what it means to be an American. But to change what it means to be a Republican? You just better wait just a God-damn minute. The establishment types think they own the joint. THEY decide who is and who isn't a Republican, not a bunch of stump-jumpers out in fly-over country. This is unacceptable! Who will guarantee our trade deals? Who will look out for our stock portfolios? Who will bail out the bankers who bailed out the industries that bailed on America? My God this is like a hostile takeover and we can't have it. Best put our resources behind Hillary and we'll get 'em next time.

...and you guys wonder how all this could be happening.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Tea Party Gets Victory It Sought, Moves Goalposts

Republicans in both the House and Senate have delivered unto the Tea Party a victory for which they have clamored, and that is legislation repealing Obamacare. One would think that they would be dancing in the streets, as for a long time, their response to the "but the Democrats hold the White House, numbers don't lie, the President will veto it and we'll be right back where we started" with the strategically inept "So what. We want to see that those RINOS are fighting for us. Make him veto a hundred bills." And so that's what they did, with Speaker Ryan delivering the House yesterday. Are they happy with getting exactly what they asked for.

No, of course.

What we NOW hear from the Tea Party (in the House--the "Freedom Caucus") and its adherents are cries akin to the Lost Cause rhetoric of the South--the "we shoulda" school of politics which states that this legislation is bogus, and that the GOP leadership should have taken the President to the brink on shutting down the government. This is silly, of course. While I believe the degree to which Republicans have suffered as a result of past shutdowns is way overblown (I'm not sure the 2014 shutdown hurt much at all), there is no question in my mind that shutting down the government HELPS the President. He tends to look concerned and in charge and responsible, while the Republicans look like reactionaries and swivel eyed loons. Don't get me wrong; there's a part of me that emotionally would have liked to see the government shut down for a couple of weeks in order to make a point. But anyone who believes that such a tactic would ultimately have led to victory on the issues is mistaken. What Ryan and McConnell have done here is a reasonable needle-threading, one that makes every member of both chambers render their support for or objection to Obamacare in an important vote as the 2016 elections approach. They did not burn their ships on the beach, but that's not what responsible Generals do.

Friday, January 1, 2016

The Official TigerHawk Predictions for 2016

We're not sure what the rules are, but predictions seem to be a "thing" around here. Well, here are a few, audacious and otherwise, verifiable, or not, wishful thinking, or not.

1. Marco Rubio will win the Republican nomination for president, and become the first actually young GOP nominee since Thomas E. Dewey in 1944 [Corrected per comments below], beyond the memory of virtually all living Americans. The era of pharty old dudes will come to an end, for better or for worse. Youth has the potential to matter a lot, because legal weed initiatives will drive the youth-social libertarian turnout in several key states. See #13 below.

2. The Iowa Hawkeyes will win the Rose Bowl this afternoon, but will not cover the spread (now standing at 6 points). Note that the shelf life of this prediction is about 9 hours.

3. UVA won't do any of that stuff CW predicts, even if it would make the TigerHawk nephews very happy.

4. Barack Obama will "use his pen" to issue an executive order on guns, and it will cost the Democrats at least one swing state: Colorado, Wisconsin, or Pennsylvania.

5. I will weigh not more than 205 pounds on December 31, 2016 (202 today).

6. Against expectations, Ted Cruz will campaign aggressively and positively for the GOP nominee (even if #1 is wrong), he will mend as many fences with Republican Senators as possible, and will be on the short list for Attorney General if the Republicans win in November. Once they wake up and realize Cruz's true talent, conservatives will want to put him in a position for eventual nomination to the SCOTUS when Antonin Scalia retires.

7. ISIS will be substantially weaker by the end of the year, and may even recede as a GOP talking point by Labor Day.

8. Barack Obama will not be invited to campaign for the Democratic nominee, who will probably be Hillary Clinton, with the possible exception of events devised to promote African-American turnout.

9. Nobody will "steal" the presidential election, just as nobody has done in the history of the United States (no, not in 1960 or 2000, either).

10. Immigration, legal and otherwise, will continue to be a huge issue in the general election, and the Democratic nominee will visibly tack to the center. Pundits will agree that Donald Trump gets the credit or the blame for this, but news of the migration crisis in Europe will make even American liberals pause.

11. Donald Trump will neither win the nomination nor run as an independent, but he will suck up a "huge" amount of air time at the Republican convention and have a "huge" impact on the platform, such as it is. He will not campaign for the GOP nominee, and will say things during the general election that the Republicans will have to delicately disavow.

12. The Dow Jones Industrial Average will crack 20,000 during the year, but close below. Oil prices will continue to languish.

13. The legal weed movement will hit a tipping point in 2016, with blue, purple and even red states in the mix. This will drive turnout among the young social libertarians, including in must-win Ohio and swinger Nevada. Not only will this force the GOP nominee to take a dovish position on weed, but it will drive social conservative issues (which are unpopular among millennials) in to the background no matter who the Republican candidate is.

14. The inequality issue will continue to loom large (as it should). Because the weed-driven youth turnout will be a huge wild card, the Republicans will emphasize "opportunity" rather than tax cutting in their rhetoric. This will be especially important and especially likely if Rubio is at the top of the ticket.

15. Hillary Clinton will not be indicted in 2016. CW is a year early on this one. However, if Ted Cruz realizes my aspirations for him and becomes Attorney General in 2017, look out!

Of course, your results may vary.

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