Saturday, March 29, 2008

What’s Going to Happen in 2008

Time to roll out this year’s predictions and score last year’s. Last year’s predictions, which are located here, where not so go. So, let’s score last year’s predictions before making this year’s

1. A big congressional investigation(s) will lead to impeachment proceeding.

Well that never happened. I was going on my belief that the second term is cursed – by LBJ nonetheless. The Bush administration proves that if you just ignore the scandals, you don’t have to worry about no stinkin’ curse. As I indicated in the linked post, it’s the response and not the actual offense that is the undoing of an administration, so if you don’t respond the chances of making a self-destroying blunder is greatly reduced.

2. The Surge will not work.

Wrong here. Is the fact the Surge is working the results of military leaders on the ground determining strategy and not required to follow Washington's detail instructions – especially the Neocons, or the result of Sunni’s forsaking Al-Qaeda and deciding to align with the U.S.? Probably a lot of both, however, if the troops sent to Iraq for the Surge are still there this summer, it’s not a Surge it’s an Escalation – which we’ve heard of before in other wars, but the predictions was that it wouldn’t work and I was wrong – last year.

3. Castro will die.

No, he didn’t, but he did give up his power position, or whatever that is in his communist totalitarian state, but he did that this year, so that doesn’t count. And he is still alive according to the internet – which never lies – at the time of this post.

4. Bush will have a nervous breakdown.

Didn’t happen, but item number one above didn’t happen, so he was not put into a situation where his family's status, wealth, or his father could not save him from total loss. If the impeachment had occurred, how he would have weather it, we can only wonder.

5. Bush will get us into a war with Iran.

Didn’t happen either. Sometimes your worse fears don’t come true.

I’m 0 for 5. Not the best of odds when it comes to procrastinating, however this was my first attempt to write them down, and so hopefully, I’ll get better with time. If you look back at the first prediction site, the last two were wild shots anyway and shouldn’t count, so I’m 0 for 3, actually.

This year’s predictions:

1. John McCain will be elected President of the United States overwhelmingly. It will not even be close. Hillary/Obama or Obama/Hillary or one of them with somebody else will somehow - as all good Democrats do - self-destruct.

2. The Republicans will pick up on something that happened in the Democratic Primary that no one much noticed at the time it occurred and turn it into a major political issue during the general election. Like Kerry's flip-flop speech. Conservatives have learned mass communication. They will not be bested by the likes of JFK in the debates or LBJ's job on Goldwater. They have become masters of the medium. Liberals strive to play fair, conservatives play to win.

3. Castor will die. This year for sure. I hate to shoot fish in a barrel, but the old coot can’t keep going forever. At least I – and a bunch of Cubians in South Florida – hope not.

4. Post Castor Cuba will be big in the news and draw the media's attention away from that old news story, the war in Iraq.

5. The Surge will prove a failure. It appeared to work and did work for what? 10 months? Maybe make its anniversary in June. But the violence will return and the Surge will simply become an old fashion escalation − which is doomed to fail also. Anyway, much of the Surge’s success was actually the decision by the Sunnis to turn against Al-Qaeda. Maybe the Surge worked there.

6. A major event or disaster in Iraq that will make the Surge appear meaningless. It could be a major attack on the Green Zone, such as the infamous “nuclear suitcase”, or forces unfriendly with the U.S. seizing control of Basra and cutting off the supply line to the coast and Kuwait, or an intense re-escalation of the violence to levels in excess of the pre-Surge time. Something is going to happen and it will not be good for pro-Iraq War politicians.

7. The recession will be a short one. The economy is strong, it will weather the money crisis over bad loans, and the Christmas season will be a big one for retail sales.

Let's hope we do better at predicting this year than we did last year, but I'm making no prediction.


Sunday, March 16, 2008

Hubris, Experience’s Last Lesson

Time magazine had a recent story about the experience issue in this election cycle and whether Obama had enough or not. The magazine provided a chart showing the experience of all the previous presidents and what kind of experience they had prior to taking office, specifically: public service, congress, or military. I would link to it but Time did not include it the same story online. It was one very informative chart. Amazingly, some of our best presidents had the least experience and some of our worse had the most. What does that tell us?

I saw a recent set of stories of the development of the internet and one theme that seemed to run through all the episodes was how companies lost out because they became big, dominate, and failed to notice changes in the market over which they had seemedly complete control. Microsoft did it to IBM and then nearly had it done to them when they fail to see the internet coming. Netscape was the browser everybody used and didn’t think they had to talk to Microsoft when they woke up and realized the importance of the internet. Who uses Netscape now?

Experience breeds arrogance which will lead to anyone's undoing. It is experience’s last lesson before someone with less experience takes over. And then the cycle begins again.

In the history of American policy, few have had as much experience as Dick Cheney and Don Rumsfeld and yet their hubris, the arrogance they displayed against any critic or detractor, the authority with which they dismissed the experts in the State Department, CIA, and anywhere else that knew they were wrong led to where we are today in Iraq and their reputation in that ol’ dustbin of history of the forgotten and ruined.

Perhaps someone with less experience is willing to listen to others that have more of it or at least others who have different opinions. Maybe that’s the best lesson experience can teach us: to not rely on experience too much. The best experience is to be open to new experience without prejudice or bias, to not let experience go to your head and make you forget how you gained that experience in the first place.

To some, experience leads to hubris, to others it leads a humility and openness to new experiences. Let us hope our experience will be the latter whoever is elected come November 4, 2008.