Thursday, January 7, 2016

Short Takes

U.S. and South Korea doubt that North Korea set off an H-bomb.

El Niño brings a lot of rain to California and around the world.

Texas trooper who arrested Sandra Bland indicted for perjury.

Alabama Chief Justice defies the U.S. Supreme Court on marriage equality.

Florida university fires Sandy Hook-doubting professor.

Ken Griffey, Jr. elected to the Hall of Fame with highest vote percentage (99.3%) ever.  (So who didn’t vote for him?)

Thursday, December 31, 2015

Looking Back/Looking Forward

It’s time for my annual re-cap and prognostication for the past year and the year coming up.  Let’s see how I did a year ago.

– Now that we have a Republican House and Senate and a president who isn’t running for re-election, get out the popcorn, and I mean the good stuff.  The GOP will try to do everything they can to destroy the legacy of Barack Obama, but they will end up looking even more foolish, petulant, infantile, and borderline nuts than they have for the last two years, and that’s saying something.  Repeals of Obamacare, Dodd-Frank, and recharged attempts to investigate Benghazi!, the IRS, and the VA will be like the three rings of Barnum & Bailey, all of which President Obama will gleefully veto.  As Zandar noted at Balloon Juice, “Over/under on when a Republican declares on FOX that Obama’s veto is  “illegal”, Feb 8.”

They did all that except actually pass the bills for President Obama to veto.  Instead they putsched John Boehner and replaced him with Paul Ryan who will more than likely face the same nutsery in 2016.

– Hillary Clinton will announce that she is running for president by March 2015 at the latest.  Elizabeth Warren will not run, but Bernie Sanders, the Gene McCarthy of this generation, will announce as an independent and become a frequent guest on MSNBC.  Jeb Bush, after “actively exploring” a run in 2016, will announce that he is running and quickly fade to the single digits when the GOP base gets a taste of his views on immigration and Common Core.  He may be popular in Republican polls, but those people don’t vote in primaries.  The frontrunners for the Iowa caucuses a year from now will be Rand Paul and Chris Christie.

Nailed that one except for the last sentence.  But to be fair I don’t think anyone had Donald Trump on their betting sheets a year ago, and if they did, it was more for the entertainment value than serious consideration as a Republican candidate.

– The war in Afghanistan is officially over as of December 2014, but there will be U.S. troops actively engaged in combat in what is left of Syria and Iraq in 2015.

More’s the pity.

– The U.S. economy will continue to improve at a galloping pace.  The Dow will hit 19,000 at some point in 2015 and oil will continue to flood the market, keeping the price below $60 a barrel and gasoline will sell for under $2 a gallon, and finally wages will start to catch up with the improving economy.  I blame Obama.

Except for my overly-optimistic prediction on the Dow, this pretty much came true, even down to the price for gasoline: I paid $1.99 last night in Miami, which is not the lowest-priced city in the country.  President Obama is not getting any credit whatsoever for helping the economy improve, which he should, but then the Republicans never blamed Bush for crashing it in the first place.

– The Supreme Court will rule that bans on same-sex marriage violate the Constitution.  They will also narrowly uphold Obamacare again.

Happy dance, happy dance.

– The embargo against Cuba will end on a narrow vote in the Senate thanks to the overwhelming influence of Republican donors who see 11 million Cubans starving for Dunkin Donuts and car parts and don’t care what a bunch of domino-playing dreamers on Calle Ocho think.

The embargo is still in place as a matter of law, but for all intents and purposes, it is crumbling.  U.S. airlines and cruise ships are setting schedules, direct mail service is resuming, and travel there has become routine.

– The Tigers will win their division again.

Oh, shut up.

– We will lose the requisite number of celebrities and friends as life goes on. As I always say, it’s important to cherish them while they are with us.

I hold them in the Light.

– I technically retired on September 1, 2014, but my last day at work will be August 30, 2019.  (It’s complicated.)  I’m planning a return trip to Stratford this summer — more on that later — and I’ll get more plays produced.  I will finish at least one novel in 2015.

This was a productive year for me on the writing front: several plays of mine were done either in full stage productions or readings, and more are on the way.  No, I did not finish a novel yet.

Now for the predictions for 2016:

  • Hillary Clinton will be the next President of the United States.  I have no idea who she will beat; I don’t think the Republicans know, either, but she will win, and I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that it will be a decisive win.  The GOP will blame everybody else and become even more cranky, self-injuring, and irresponsible.
  • The Democrats down-ticket will do better than expected by taking back the Senate and narrowing their gap in the House.  This will be achieved by the number of voters who will turn out to vote for them in order to hold off the GOP’s attempt to turn the country back over to the control of white Christian males.
  • The economy will continue to improve; maybe this is the year the Dow will hit 19,000.  The limiting factor will be how the rest of the world, mainly China, deals with their economic bubble.  I think a lot of the economic news will be based on the outcome of the U.S. election and the reaction to it.  If by some horrifying chance Donald Trump wins, all bets are off.  Economists and world markets like stability and sanity, and turning the U.S. over to a guy who acts like a used car hustler crossed with a casino pit boss will not instill confidence.
  • ISIS, which barely registered on the radar as an existential threat to the U.S. and the west a year ago, will be contained.  There will not be a large American troop presence in Syria and Iraq thanks in part to the response by the countries that themselves are being invaded by ISIS.  Finally.
  • Refugees will still be pouring out of the Middle East, putting the strain on countries that have taken them in.  It will be a test of both infrastructure and moral obligation, and some, such as Canada, will set the example of how to be humane.
  • Maybe this will be the year that Fidel Castro finally takes a dirt nap.
  • The Supreme Court will narrowly uphold affirmative action but leave room for gutting it later on.  They will also narrowly rule against further restrictions on reproductive rights.  And I am going out on a limb by predicting that President Obama will get to choose at least one more new justice for the Court, an appointment that will languish in the Senate until after the election.
  • Violence against our fellow citizens such as mass shootings will continue.  The difference now is that we have become numb to them and in an election year expecting any meaningful change to the gun laws or the mindset is right up there with flying pigs over downtown Miami.
  • Marriage equality will gain acceptance as it fades from the headlines, but the LGBTQ community’s next front will be anti-discrimination battles for jobs and housing.  It’s not over yet, honey.
  • We’re going to see more wild weather patterns but none of it will convince the hard-core deniers that it’s either really happening or that there’s anything we can do about it.
  • The Tigers will not win the division in 2016.  (Caution: reverse psychology at play.)
  • On a personal level, this could be a break-out year for my writing and play production.  I don’t say that every year.
  • A year from today I will write this same post and review what I got right and what I didn’t.  But stick around and see how I do on a daily basis.

Okay, it’s your turn.  What do you see for 2016?

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Short Takes

President Obama: “We are hitting ISIL harder than ever.”

Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, held captive for five years by the Taliban, faces court martial for desertion.

Congress works to avoid a government shutdown.

The Fed looks to raise interest rates, but not by much.

No Dice: Pete Rose kept on the permanent ban list of major league baseball.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Short Takes

Russia says the plane that crashed on the Sinai broke up in flight.

Witnesses describe gun rampage in Colorado Springs.

G.O.P. campaigns meet to whine about debate procedures.

43 Chipotle restaurants closed due to E. coli breakout.

The Royals won the World Series against the Mets.

R.I.P. Fred Thompson, 73, former senator, presidential candidate, and actor (Law & Order).

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Monday, October 5, 2015

Short Takes

Floods batter South Carolina.

Doctors Without Borders pulls out of Kunduz after strike on their hospital.

Coast Guard renews search for missing freighter in Hurricane Joaquin.

F.D.A. approves new immune therapy drug for lung cancer.

Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) announces his bid for Speaker.

The Tigers ended the season with a win over the White Sox.  Thank you, boys.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Short Takes

Congress passes stop-gap spending measure.

Russia launches airstrikes against Syria, targeting rebels.

Oklahoma governor halts execution of convicted killer.

Hackers tried to break into Hillary Clinton’s e-mail at least five times.

Kim Davis had a private meeting with the Pope.

The Tigers lost to the Rangers 6-2.

Rabbit, rabbit, rabbit.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Short Takes

Afghan forces struggle to retake Kunduz from the Taliban.

President Obama tells U.N. that it will take more than weapons to defeat ISIS.

House conservatives push Trey Gowdy for Majority Leader.

Volkswagen’s diesel fix doesn’t apply to U.S vehicles.

Tropical Update: TS Joaquin is heading towards the Bahamas, but is expected to turn north before it gets to the U.S. mainland.

The Tigers lost 7-6 to the Rangers.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Short Takes

Obama and Putin trade views on ISIS and Syria at the U.N.

Senate backs spending bill that avoids shutdown.

Dry Hole: Shell pulls out of Arctic oil drilling for now.

The F.B.I. says violent crime dropped slightly in 2014.

Tropical Update:  TD Eleven is curving north; Keep an eye out, Carolinas.

The Tigers beat the Rangers 7-4.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Short Takes

Iraq will share ISIS data with Russia, Syria, and Iran.

Boehner says the government will not shut down.

Pope Francis wrapped up his trip to the U.S.

Did you watch the total lunar eclipse last night?

Tropical Update:  There’s Invest 98L and the remnants of Ida in the Atlantic.

The Tigers ended their season at Comerica Park with a loss to the Twins.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Short Takes

Volkswagen CEO resigns over emissions scandal.

Hackers stole 5.6 million sets of fingerprints from the federal government.

Pope Francis talks about immigration and climate change.

Eastern Europe lightens up on migrant quotas.

The Tigers beat the White Sox 7-4.

Tropical Update:  TS Ida moves a little to the north.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Short Takes

VW admits to diesel emissions fraud.

E.U. ministers approve migrant plan.

Democrats defeat GOP abortion bill in the Senate.

The sage grouse doesn’t get protected status.

U.S. stops screening passengers from Liberia.

Tropical Update: TS Ida is still stuck in neutral.

R.I.P. Yogi Berra, 90, ballplayer and force of wit.

The Tigers beat the White Sox 2-1 in extra innings.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Short Takes

Secretary Kerry upped the number of Syrian refugees the U.S. will take to 100,000 by 2017.

Bye, Scott.

Volkswagen’s stock went into the tank after it was revealed they cheated on emissions software.

Here comes Pope Francis.

The best argument possible for price controls on prescription drugs.

Tropical Update: TS Ida is not making much of a move anywhere.

The Tigers lost a doubleheader to the White Sox.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Short Takes

Strong earthquake hits off the coast of Chile.

Hungarian police clash with migrants at the Serbian border.

Oklahoma execution called off with just hours to spare.

GM and feds reach settlement on faulty ignition switches.

Will the Federal Reserve raise interest rates?

Tropical Update: TD Nine forms in the North Atlantic.

The Tigers beat the Twins 7-4.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Short Takes

Reports on ISIS were distorted by the military, analysts say.

Hungary cracks down on immigrants.

Flash flood in Utah kills nine.

The Obama administration adds $250 million to fight the California wildfires.

Facebook is working on a “dislike” button.

Tropical Update: Still out there: Invest 93L and 95L.

The Tigers beat the Twins 5-4.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Short Takes

Hungary built a fence to keep immigrants out.

23,000 people forced out by wildfires in California.

Professor shot and killed at university in Mississippi.

Political turmoil down under: Prime Minister Abbott booted from office.

Tropical Update:  Three in the Atlantic 93L, 94L, and 95L.

The Tigers lost 7-1 to the Twins.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Short Takes

Thousands flee California wildfires.

Babies drown as migrant boat capsizes off Greek island.

Germany begins border checks to limit immigrants.

Phoenix police search for highway sniper.

R.I.P. Frank D. Gilroy, 89, playwright.

Tropical Update: Two disturbances in the Atlantic: Invest 93L and 94L.

The Tigers split a double header with Cleveland.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Short Takes

President Obama says U.S. will accept 10,000 Syrian refugees.

Senate Democrats block GOP attempt to scuttle Iran nuclear deal.

Feds and Duke Energy reach settlement of pollution from coal-fired plants.

New species of human ancestor discovered in South Africa.

Tropical Update: TS Henri heads for Newfoundland.

The Tigers lost 7-5 in Cleveland.