A Major Political Prediction for 2013

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So you want to know what happens next? Don’t we all.

I happen to work in an industry built upon two things: reliable reporting about what has happened, and unreliable projections about what might happen in the future. It’s not that the projections are always wrong. It’s just that you would be a fool to believe that they are right.

Two weeks ago, no one knew what was going to happen with the fiscal cliff. Not Barack Obama, not Mitch McConnell and certainly not John Boehner, who didn’t even know how House Republicans would vote on his own bill. And yet for months, the experts offered up serious-sounding, faux-informed projections about what would happen. We were going over the cliff. We were not going over the cliff. A big deal would be struck. A small deal would be struck.

This sort of pontificating was most entertaining in the financial world, where lots of people in nice suits pretended for months to know what was happening. Watching CNBC the past two months sometimes felt like watching Glenn Beck’s Fox News program in its 2009 heyday. It was filled with guys like this, who had fancy numbers to back up their guesses.

Four days before the deal was cut, Stan Collender, whose credentials involve working for a large public-relations firm, laid out four possibilities for the fiscal-cliff outcome. He had exact, nicely rounded probabilities for each potential outcome. None came to pass. I feel a little bad picking on him, just because so many made the same sort of mistakes — and will do so again.

On Jan. 2, Karl Rove, the Republican consultant who spectacularly misread the 2012 tea leaves, wrote a piece in the Wall Street Journal boldly predicting that Hugo Chávez and Fidel Castro would die, that the Obama family would adopt a second dog and that Obama’s job-approval rating would drop below 53% by year’s end. He doesn’t know any of this. He is just guessing. So what do you get out of reading it? Why wouldn’t he write a piece about what he knows? It’s not as satisfying.

There are, in the end, two main ingredients to the serious prediction: hunches and evidence. It’s one thing for the Obama campaign or Nate Silver to predict the outcome of the presidential election a few weeks out. Both can base their predictions on enormous amounts of empirical data about the behavior of a large number of people. It’s another thing to predict whether or not Barack and Michelle Obama want to acquire another dog. The only bit of data Karl Rove has for that one is the President’s own statement on election night (“For now, one dog is probably enough”), which Rove evidently believes is just a bit of misdirection for an October surprise.

“Peggy Noonan and Dick Morris — these people take themselves seriously. And that’s harmful to people trying to be informed,” says Nate Silver in an interview with Joel Stein in the new issue of TIME. He’s right, but that won’t stem your hunger to know what will happen next.

“We all want to know what nobody knows,” sing the Japandroids in the first song on perhaps the best album of 2012, Celebration Rock. We have birthed an entire industry of people who pretend to know what nobody knows. But they are not the ones to listen to. Reality is a fixed thing. It is coming into being all the time, regardless of the empty predictions that precede it. But I will boldly predict, based on evidence gathered over the past several years, that this won’t stop anyone from guessing about next week tomorrow and sounding as if they know something others don’t.

The next round of fiscal catastrophe will either be averted or not. Evidence suggests that the most likely outcome, if past performance is indeed an indicator of future behavior, is a small deal at the last minute after markets become rattled. But that may not be what happens. In fact, no one knows. Not John Boehner, not Barack Obama, not Mitch McConnell and not pundits pontificating on the inner thoughts and secret motivations of any of them. There is no master plan for this thing. Human behavior will decide the outcome, and humans do not always behave rationally, especially these days, especially in Washington.

68 comments
fitty_three
fitty_three

"happen to work in an industry built upon two things: reliable reporting about what has happened, and unreliable projections about what might happen in the future."

This nugget from a guy who routinely spouted FOXisms in the run up to the election. Hmmmm...

"The next round of fiscal catastrophe will either be averted or not."

And this little nugget?

Hmmmm. I guess I have to give Micheal Scherer credit for being right some of the time.

sacredh
sacredh

Here's a funny thing about elections. When A person gets elected as president (twice in Obama's case), they get to choose who they want for judicial appointments. They choose judges that reflect their political and social positions. The basic question is whether the selection is qualified. When a republican makes a selection, they're conservative selections. We don't like it, but that's the way it is. When a democrat makes a selection, the republicans want selections that...are conservative.

.

http://www.cnn.com/2013/01/03/justice/obama-judges/index.html

fitty_three
fitty_three

Here's my perdickshun:

Obama will invoke the 14th, raise the debt ceiling, Rush Limbuah will go cardiac, and the GOP Teabaggers will be scratching their heads wondering how that skinny black guy with the funny ears got into the end zone to catch his own pass.

Especially since he throws like a girl!


Adalberto Cervantes Rodriguez
Adalberto Cervantes Rodriguez

I have to open an account with Navy Federal Credit Union because part of my family used to serve in the military, and my wife advised of possible identity theft in banks like US Bank, Chasse Bank and other, because they have out data bases in India, and the IT terrorism is growing really fast there. Calderon and Fox used the international legal and illegal security network in USA and Mexico against me, after a comment on line in Excelsior and Universal about the issue of two plagiarisms of Fox in Mexico at Universidad Iberoamericana for his Bachelor´s degree and also in his thesis presented at an American University for his PhD. It was long time ago but since then he has been using the international legal and illegal security network in USA and Mexico against me for almost three years, as a personal issue. Also I used to work in Hildebrando, Calderon´s family business and both of them decided to use this international legal and illegal security network in USA and Mexico against me because of my comments on line about the plagiarism of Fox using government documents as Theses.

carotexas
carotexas

I predict that I am  tired of our congress calling Wolf and predictions of the downfall of the U.S.A.  I do not think they will do this and weary of the childish games.  

I disagree that they do not know what will happen.  I really think this is just to hide  what they really do want to pass and then they can say well we had to do this to get it passed.

sacredh
sacredh

"A Major Political Prediction for 2013"

.

Here's mine:

Republicans look worse and worse and show signs of coming apart at the seams.

The dry cleaners do a good job on Boehner's suit and he breaks down.

Michelle Bachman says something nuts.

Mitt Romney will not be making regular appearances on Meet The Press.

Ron Paul will discover the Fountain of Youth and make a surprise visit to Disney World looking 75 years old.

MrObvious
MrObvious

http://www.cnn.com/2013/01/04/politics/obama-congress/index.html?hpt=hp_t1

So GOP promises not to compromise. The one thing a majority of our country wants. Seems like they lost an election on this very thing. I just don't know why GOP keep drinking stupid but it seems that they're more into teenage emotionalism rather then legislation.

Forget what is the matter with Kansas. WTF is wrong with GOP?

grape_crush
grape_crush

Oh fun. Now we're back to disappearing comments.

forgottenlord
forgottenlord

Here's a fun question dying for a prediction: will Boehner still be Speaker at the end of the year?

gysgt213
gysgt213

"humans do not always behave rationally"

Certain humans do not always behave rationally. In these particular times we know who those certain people are and they have the backing of the Tea Party.

outsider
outsider

I think this was a good article. 

Though some things can be stated as a given. 



AlexVallas
AlexVallas

I predict the Tea Party has learned nothing and will contnue to divide the GOP and the GOP will become more dysfunctional than ever.  Further, they will impede Boehner from further compromise and he will cede to their wishes for fear that Cantor's constant stabbing him in the back will work.  However, to Cantor's surprise he will not be elected Speaker -- he is too hated by the majority even if they don't admit it publically.  Paul Ryan will fade away. 

fitty_three
fitty_three

@sacredh  

Imagine what would happen if we could turn back the clock and date like this.  Wouldn't we all be dating the same guy?

sacredh
sacredh

Obama is the most popular President in over a half of a century according to the vote totals. Too funny.

grape_crush
grape_crush

Nah. It was Scherer's post I was responding to, and I wasn't even using any creative euphemisms for profane language.

It was critical of Scherer's use of Collender - who was overly pessimistic but not flat-out wrong as Scherer states - as a foil for the larger (valid) point he was trying to make in this post.

Either that, or it was too critical of Scherer's selection of Celebration Rock as 'perhaps' the best album of the past year.

forgottenlord
forgottenlord

@grape_crush 

I'm pretty sure what is happening is that each sub-thread is updated together.  As a result, as soon as it detects that one comment has been added to said thread, it removes the entire thread and waits until it gets the trigger to refetch.  What's the trigger?  I believe it's whether the root post was actively displayed or you've scrolled to where the hole it should be in would be.

This is, of course, entirely an assumption, but it follows the behavior pattern I've been seeing

Paul,nnto
Paul,nnto

@grape_crush It's the disappearing posts/threads that are really head scratching to me. 

Alex (he's the only one who reads and responds in comments, right?) had some explanation that when they replace an AP story with a TIME piece they take down the AP story/thread. 

An explanation that both made sense and made no sense. 

DonQuixotic
DonQuixotic

@grape_crush 

I guess moderators don't like when I call one of my state's Representatives a jack***.  It's a fitting term for Cantor.

kbanginmotown
kbanginmotown

@forgottenlord This Boehner has just had another election and so has lasted over 4 years. Time to call your doctor...

Paul,nnto
Paul,nnto

@forgottenlord Yes, because no one else wants the job.

For the TPers it's easier to be pure and cry from the back than it is to lead. And for the others, who would want to deal with the TPers?

bobell
bobell

@gysgt213 Or they back the Tea Party -- as by voting for TP candidates.

Which  is worse -- peddling snake oil or buying it?

Paul,nnto
Paul,nnto

@PaulDirks I didn't even catch that. I thought only Goobers from Minnesota used that made up word. 

sacredh
sacredh

fitty, let me give you a good analogy. When my MIL buys food, she buys what she likes and the brands that she prefers. When I buy groceries, I buy the food I like and the brands I perfer. She wants me to buy the things she likes even if I don't like them and won't eat them. Of course I buy what I want. She'll eat them, but usually makes a face with eat bite.  It's why I NEVER give her money to buy me things. She'll buy what she wants instead.

sacredh
sacredh

Let's put this another way. Each candidate was going to get 47% of the vote no matter what. The rest were on the fence. Obama got all of them.

sacredh
sacredh

47% of the people will vote for Romney no matter what. They see themselves as victims. They're takers.

deconstructiva
deconstructiva

@Paul,nnto @grape_crush JNS has responded before, but she's doing more overseas work and not always working on swampland stuff. Sometimes Katy replies. Alas, the pool of reporters engaging readers keeps evaporating ...and not just here: WaPo (aka KT's digs) has a terrible track record.

forgottenlord
forgottenlord

@Paul,nnto

Ah: but if Obama puts Boehner in a position where he ends up having to choose between multiple violations of the Hastert Rule or blowing up the GOP's suicide bomb and can whip enough Democrat votes to keep the game going, how long will it be before the Tea Party is accusing Boehner of being a Democrat and pushing to have him ousted? Mind you, it would take some insanely good maneuvering for Obama to pull that off but if he can get Boehner on the debt ceiling deal, you'll be hearing it by then.

sacredh
sacredh

The world is going to win but the republicans will continue to live in their imaginary one.

fitty_three
fitty_three

@sacredh  

I think it's a case of the GOP vs. The World.

Takers on who wins?

sacredh
sacredh

fitty, I'm very curious to see how Roberts votes on same sex marriage and how narrow the ruling is. Roberts threw away almost all of his conservative cred with the ACA ruling. He didn't vote party line ONE time and all of a sudden he was a RINO. If he takes another step and votes in favor of same sex marriage, he'll be a socialst, activist, liberal puppet. These litmus tests are starting to be fun.

fitty_three
fitty_three

@sacredh  

Almost the same thing. "The guy" would be myself.

I've always thought it comical that Republicans scream about how un-Republican Obama's choices were. But then again, the GOPers these days are not particularly smart and just don't seem to understand this. 

"Be more like me than I am!"

sacredh
sacredh

I must have went over the line (again) because my post showed up and now it's gone. I might as well do some work around the house because I can't see myself toning it down. Have fun folks.

Paul,nnto
Paul,nnto

@sacredh I do enjoy when people play along, and even more so when they don't realize it. 

sacredh
sacredh

Pnnto, OT, but yesterday I had to stop in at work to pick something up. I got there when the shift was getting ready to change. They were complaining about the payroll tax going back up to 6.2%. It's going to mean $ 40 less a pay for them. I said it wouldn't affect me because I never got the break to begin with. I'm the only person at work left under CSRS. I had some fun yelling at them that "It's about time you welfare queens paid your own way and quit sticking your hands out to Uncle Sam and expecting people that actually work like me to carry you through life". Fun times.

fitty_three
fitty_three

@nflfoghorn  

...though, I'll have to admit, that still won't make them any more popular on the East coast.

Paul,nnto
Paul,nnto

@forgottenlord @Paul,nnto I agree with you that Boehner is boned, just doubt that anyone (who could actually get the votes) wants the job.

I suspect that the TPers already have a hunch that their Speaker is a closet Democrat. Which helps illustrate how far off the rails they are. 

BHO insisting (although I doubt he insists on anything) he wants a clean, stand alone debt ceiling vote would be interesting.