Category Archives: Prognostication

Who Will Run With Trump?

I still believe in Nate Silver’s argument for why Donald Trump will almost certainly not be the Republican nominee for President (basically, if he doesn’t blow up his own campaign, the party establishment will do it for him), but the strength of my belief has been shaken by the Donald’s surprising staying power in the polls and by the big-time professional political operatives who have gone to work for him. It’s getting a bit scary.

This raises the question of who Trump might pick for Vice President if he becomes the Republican presidential nominee. It’s fun to speculate, because the usual rule is that the running mate has to be crazier than the main candidate, and who that heck would that be?

Michele Bachmann seems to be auditioning for the role with some of her recent remarks (the satirists are already giving her the job), and former pro-wrestler and Governor of Minnesota Jesse Ventura has indicated he’d be interested. And in breaking news, so has Charlie Sheen, who certainly meets the requirement, but I think he’s kidding.

The thing is though, the usual rules don’t apply to Donald Trump. The reason for picking someone crazy as a running mate is so they can act as the campaign attack dog, savaging opponents while allowing the presidential candidate to assume a dignified position above all the dirty fighting. But Trump likes the dirty fighting. In the Trump campaign, Trump is the attack dog.

I suppose it’s possible that Trump will follow the measured and careful advice of his high-priced political operatives and pick someone who balances out the ticket and helps with votes in critical states. But if Trump was the kind of guy who played it measured and careful, none of us would know his name. Trump is going to do something outlandish.

When he was sniffing around the presidency in 1999, Trump famously announced that he would fix U.S. trade policy by appointing himself as the country’s Trade Representative, so I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s thought of running for both President and Vice President.

That probably won’t happen. But at the same time, Trump loves the attention, so it’s hard to imagine him sharing the limelight with anyone else. Still, I think he’s got to pick someone, so who will it be?

Trump has a giant ego — the biggest, classiest, best ego — and he thinks he can run the country like he runs his company, so my prediction is that his second-in-command for the nation will be his second-in-command for his company: Donald Trump Jr. Because why wouldn’t he pick his eldest son to take over if he dies?

His other children, Ivanka and Eric, are too young to meet the presidential age qualification, but I expect that regardless of whether Junior gets the VP nod, if The Donald becomes The President, he’ll want some of his kids in the White House with him, if not in the Cabinet. Because that’s just how he rolls.

And in the unlikely even that he ever comes across this post, his honest response would probably be, “What’s wrong with that?”

Not the Norks

In response to threats apparently coming from hackers in North Korea, Sony pictures has withdrawn their movie The Interview from a Christmas release. Several major theater chains had already backed out, and Sony seems to have given in, possibly after being weakened by the earlier release of hacked proprietary data.

I’ve already made it pretty clear in a different context that I’m not impressed with anonymous online threats. However, if Sony has decided to take a hit to their revenue over this movie, my suggestion is that they give the North Koreans a taste of the Streisand effect and release the movie for free online to everyone, thus making it one of the most widely-seen movies of the year. That will teach the North Korean thugs a lesson.


I’m not buying it. I don’t think the Sony hack is a North Korean cyberwar effort, and I don’t think the threats are either. I’m inclined to agree with Marc Rogers that it’s a disgruntled Sony insider.

3. It’s clear from the hard-coded paths and passwords in the malware that whoever wrote it had extensive knowledge of Sony’s internal architecture and access to key passwords. While it’s plausible that an attacker could have built up this knowledge over time and then used it to make the malware, Occam’s razor suggests the simpler explanation of an insider. It also fits with the pure revenge tact that this started out as. […]

6. Whoever is doing this is VERY net and social media savvy. That, and the sophistication of the operation, do not match with the profile of DPRK up until now. […]

7. Finally, blaming North Korea is the easy way out for a number of folks, including the security vendors and Sony management who are under the microscope for this. […]

8. It probably also suits a number of political agendas to have something that justifies sabre-rattling at North Korea, which is why I’m not that surprised to see politicians starting to point their fingers at the DPRK also.

Somewhere, I saw that a North Korean defector was claiming the country has a cyberwar team with 1800 people. Maybe. But the North Korean government has a habit of telling lies that make them look good. This could just be someone trying to look important.

Then again, from what we know about the hack, Sony didn’t exactly have a robust security culture, so I don’t suppose it took a huge team to run the attack.

Anyway, for whatever it’s worth, my prediction is that the attacks and threats will turn out to be from somewhere a lot closer to home.

(By the way, apropos of nothing, but because I looked it up, with $66 billion in annual revenue, Sony corporation contributes about 1.5 times as much to world GDP as all of North Korea.)

The Natural Disaster We’re Having

[Update: I was far too pessimistic about the heatwave. According to Wikipedia, it killed 82 people, far fewer than I was worried about. I guess I am a bit of an alarmist after all.]

Over at Breitbart, Joel B. Pollack is trying to use the recent heat wave against President Obama:

With much of the East Coast still struggling to recover from recent storms that cut power to millions of residents during a heat wave, President Barack Obama is wrapping up a comfortable vacation in Camp David. He was not too busy to visit the scene of wildfires in swing-state Colorado–and make some fundraising calls from Air Force One en route–but he somehow could not muster the strength to address the state of emergency closer to home.

Twenty-two people have died, and residents around Washington, DC are struggling to navigate roads whose signals have not worked for days.

He goes on on lambast the mainstream media for not reporting Obama’s dereliction of duty…like I said, this was in Breitbart. I don’t think there’s much Obama or Congress could do about the heat wave (although in an election year, they’re likely to try something) but Pollack has a point of sorts: This heat wave is a very serious problem.

First though, let me get this off my chest: Just because you folks who live in DC felt really hot and lost power doesn’t make this a DC disaster. It was hot everywhere. I was in eastern Kentucky this weekend and we were sweating in 106°F. It’s not just about you.

That said, Pollack is right that this is a serious natural disaster. That figure of 22 dead is almost certainly a gross underestimate. When all the counting is done, I think this heat wave — combined with the power failures — will turn out to have killed a few hundred people.

And I wouldn’t be surprised if this heatwave turns out to be the United States’ worst natural disaster of the decade. Maybe of the last several decades, including hurricane Katrina.

Think I’m being an alarmist? It’s certainly possible. I’m far from an expert on weather and public health. But answer me this: What was the worst natural disaster in the United States in the 1990’s?

It was the Chicago heatwave of 1995. Heat death is slow and insidious, and it mostly kills people who live by themselves and have no one to rescue them, so the bodies are not discovered right away. Even when the bodies are discovered, the cause of death is not obvious or easy to prove — it’s mostly a diagnosis of exclusion — and there’s political pressure to keep the numbers low. When all the bodies had been found and examined, and all the politics pushed aside, the Chicago heatwave had killed 700 people.

That’s more than a third as many as were killed in hurricane Katrina, yet the Chicago heatwave was much smaller than this one, striking mostly in a single metropolitan area. By comparison, the heatwave that hit Europe in 2003 covered several countries and killed 70,000 people.

I’m not hearing anything that would make this heatwave that bad, but I think it’s probably already a lot worse than we know.

McCain To Lose

I know nothing about election politics, but I’ve decided to make a prediction for the Prognistication file anyway.

I’m noticing that a lot of conservative coverage of Obama’s campaign is pointing out that he’s just another politician, he’s not divine, he has ties to Chicago politicians, or that some of his actions are politically motivated (in an election year, no less).

When you’re stuck arguing that your opponent is not a deity, you’re going to lose.

John Mark Karr

Okay, I’ll get in the game with my prediction:

John Mark Karr didn’t kill JonBenet Ramsey.

(I’ve been right about things like this before, but didn’t say anything in advance so who’d believe me, right? This time, right or wrong, I’m on record.)

He allegedly says her death was an accident, which is obviously not true: The forensic evidence shows a deliberate, brutal murder. This sounds like something the police got him to say to encourage him to minimize the crime as a way of getting him to confess.

He’s also allegedly said he drugged her, which also contradicts the forensic evidence.

If news reports are correct, it appears that Karr is obsessed with JonBenet Ramsey, but so far I’ve heard nothing that proves he was obsessed with her before she died. I think he became obsessed with her later on, about the same time everybody else became obsessed with her. I think he’s a celebrity stalker.

Think about it. Someone stalking, say, Britney Spears, would be telling people how he knows her and understands her better than anyone else. How they’re really good friends, even if her people don’t understand. How she secretly sends him coded messages in her songs. How he’s the real father of her baby.

But Karr isn’t stalking Britney. He’s stalking a poor little girl who’s biggest fame came when she died. Claiming to have been there when that happened would make him a very important person in her life.

The police and prosecutor are being very cautious. I don’t think they believe it either.

Still, I could be a fool. As in so many crimes these days, the DNA will tell.

Update: I think I called it.

Another Reason I Couldn’t Be A Criminal Lawyer

One of defense lawyer Norm Pattis’s ex-clients apparently wants to kill him.

On the one hand, he’s got an internal justification for his actions (revenge), and he doesn’t seem like the type to care about the consequences. So he’s a serious threat in that sense.

On the other hand, I don’t see how the guy can pull this off. I mean, he didn’t have the ability to order a hit when he was a free man. What are the chances he can pull this off in prison? Why wouldn’t any prisoner he approaches just dime him out for a deal? How would he pay for such a thing? Why would anybody he pays bother to go through with it when they already have his money?

Hey, I’ve never had anyone literally want to kill me, so what do I know…but unless there are some frightening details Pattis left out in his post, this doesn’t seem like anything to worry about too much.

Besides, his client sounds like someone with a real chip on his shoulder, so I imagine prison will soon give him other things to worry about.

My prediction: Norm Pattis outlives his client.

The Michael Jackson Trial

(Because I am becoming a site statistics whore.)

Public Defender Dude has asked people to post their predictions about the Michael Jackson case.

Here’s my prediction:

Having read as little as possible about the case, I nevertheless boldly lead the way by predicting he will be found guilty of at least one count of administering an intoxicating agent, but he will moonwalk his way out of there on the lewd acts, the attempted lewd act, and the conspiracy charge.

Think I’m wrong? Go tell the Dude.

Update: Not guilty on all counts.

Predicting Matt Hale’s Innocence

Well, he’s guilty of some stuff. But it looks like someone other than white supremacist Matt Hale was responsible for the February 28 killing of the husband and mother of United States District Judge Joan Humphry Lefkow.

I’m guessing that this murder of a judge’s family hits a guy like Mike at Crime & Federalism pretty hard. He knows a lot of judges and is, of course, an officer of the court himself. His own trial work has probably angered enough people that he’s been threatened a few times himself. I’m sure the Lefkow family killings left him very angry and—Hale being the obvious suspect—Mike wanted Hale’s blood.

Now, however, Mike is apologizing for us all:

Everyone just knew that Matt Hale was responsible for the murder of Judge Lefkow’s family. We all just knew it. […] We would have convicted him, and justice would have been served.

In cases like these I lose faith in the criminal justice system, and in all of us. How can we so arrogantly be sure of what happened in a home thousands of miles away from us? But we were sure, and we would have extracted our pound of flesh.

Speak for yourself, Mike. Ever since I heard about this I’ve been pretty sure Hale wasn’t involved in the Lefkow family killings. My thinking went like this:

  1. One of the things that made Matt Hale the central suspect in this is that back in 2002 he tried to have Judge Lefkow killed. However, that case isn’t quite out of the court system. Next month, U.S. District Judge James Moody will be sentencing Hale for soliciting the murder. The attack on Lefkow’s family (unsolved at the time) probably destroyed any remaining chance that Hale would get a light sentence. Judge Moody isn’t supposed to take notice of the killings because nothing about them has been proven in court, but do you really think he can pull that off? More to the point, would a white supremacist like Matt Hale think he would even try?
  2. One response to the above argument is that perhaps Hale was hoping the Lefkow killings would intimidate Judge Moody into a lighter sentence. But if Hale was trying to intimidate Moody with violence, why didn’t he intimidate Moody with violence? Surely he would have wanted to make the threat a little more personal?
  3. Matt Hale, aka prisoner 15177424, is locked in the Metropolitan Correctional Center in downtown Chicago. It’s pretty hard to order a killing from prison. It’s possible that gangsters—of either the Tony Soprano or Avon Barksdale varieties—can order a hit from inside a prison cell because their gang provides the organization, planning, and resources. Most other types of prisoners, Hale included, would have a lot of trouble arranging a hit from behind bars.
  4. Ordering a hit on a federal judge would be even harder. It brings an awful lot of heat, so it’s hard to find someone willing to do it.
  5. Don’t forget that Matt Hale wasn’t even able to order a hit on Judge Lefkow from outside of prison. That’s how he got sent there in the first place: He tried to hire a guy to kill Judge Lefkow, and it turned out the guy was a federal informant. Hale wouldn’t have had to do that if he knew anyone who would kill a judge for him.

I was thinking along these lines when the Lefkow family killing story first broke, and the resulting developments have proven me right. Of course, I can’t prove I predicted this because I didn’t mention it to anyone. Now I sound like some TV psychic who claims to have predicted the latest piece of big news even though nobody can find any mention of it before it happened. If I’d thought to blog about it, I would now be hailed as a genius. Blogging about it after the fact however…not so much.

So now I’ve resolved to start blogging these kinds of things. That’s why I’m starting a new feature here at WindyPundit: The Prognostication Department. Next time I think I know what’s going on in a situation like this, I’ll go on the record about it. That way if subsequent events prove me right or wrong, there’s nothing I can do to fake it.