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Predictions, New And Old
Published on Monday, November 1, 2004 by the San Francisco Chronicle
Predictions, New And Old
by Harley Sorensen
 

We won't discuss presidential politics today. Too close to the election. We don't want to influence the outcome. We'll leave that up to Fox News.

We'll discuss the future. And the past. And our ability to predict the future.

Emboldened by past successes, I will bravely predict the outcome of tomorrow's election. I will also predict some of the events of the next four years. But first, some history.

In a column posted on April 8, 2002, I wrote that we were being set up "for a war with Iraq, a war that will cost thousands, perhaps tens of thousands, of lives ... you and I will be told that our sons and daughters will be fighting in Iraq because Saddam has suddenly unlocked the secrets of weapons of mass destruction and is about to blackmail the world."

Was that on the money or what? The first bombs didn't start dropping on Baghdad until almost a year later, on March 19, 2003, to be exact. Now, more than a year and a half after the killing started, the respected British medical magazine, Lancet, reports that approximately 100,000 Iraqis have died because of the war, most of them women and children.

And, of course, the mysterious weapons of mass destruction have vanished.

In the same column, I predicted that Secretary of State Colin Powell's belated effort to bring peace to Israel would fail. It did, but there's no glory in a prediction like that. In the Middle East, what else is new?

Here's what I wrote on Aug. 5, 2002, still many months before the war: "Is Saddam stockpiling weapons of mass destruction? People who have been to Iraq, and have had access, say no. People in our government say yes ... I prefer to believe the reports of independent outsiders rather than our government, which has a pretty solid record of lying to us."

And, on Sept. 30, 2002, I wrote about the infamous Project for the New American Century, and the neo-conservatives' plan for America's future: "The plan is very dry reading and 90 pages long, but I suggest you scan it if you have the time. If you read between the lines, you'll conclude -- as I have -- that we're going to invade Iraq no matter what."

Getting back to the Israeli-Palestinian fracas, on Sept. 22, 2003, I wrote about Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's thinly veiled threat against Yassar Arafat, leader of the Palestinians. A few days earlier, Sharon's security cabinet voted to "remove" Arafat.

I offered the opinion then that "remove," which was undefined, meant to "remove from Earth."

"It appears now," I wrote, "that Sharon's forces are merely waiting for the proper time and place for an 'accident' to occur. Perhaps Arafat will soon come down with a fatal case of 'accidental' food poisoning."

No one can say yet whether Arafat's health failure can properly be blamed on "natural causes," aggravated by old age, or if Sharon's people finally carried out their implied threat. But one has to wonder.

None of my predictions was rocket science. They all relied simply on public information and a small dose of common sense. I can't find where I wrote it, but I also once wrote that, by killing Iraqi innocents -- parents, children and so forth -- we'd be creating more terrorists. Duh! Who couldn't figure that out? How forgiving would you be if soldiers from another country came over here and killed off your friends and relatives?

Okay, as for tomorrow's election, I'm predicting victory for a Yale graduate and "Bonesman" (member of Yale's secretive and exclusive Skull and Bones society). The final margin will be, as it was in 2000, a black-robed 5-4, same five, same four.

As for the next four years, we start with a disastrous war on our hands and a good share of the world gearing up to do us harm in any way it can. So, barring a complete turnaround in our foreign policy, we can depend on a lot of international violence in the next four years, regardless of who is president.

Our economy (always referred to as "recovering") will continue to worsen, regardless of the president. Look for inflation and stagnation, caused by high oil prices, our huge debt, and the sudden emergence of competition from such countries as China and India.

It's a bleak picture. A growing number of Americans feel that democracy is dead in America, with power resting not in the people but in the corporations. Corporations by their nature are shortsighted and greedy, with only their own interests at heart.

International terrorism, which has skyrocketed worldwide since Sept. 11, 2001, is increasingly likely to strike home here in the U.S. How we'll react to that is anyone's guess. I never would have predicted we'd react so cravenly to the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. I truly thought we had more national character than what we've shown. Our brief history in dealing with terrorism here at home is not encouraging.

Illegal immigration will most likely continue out of control. As long as desperately poor people are willing to pluck chickens and mop floors for a pittance, there will be no motivation to limit the flood of illegals.

We'll continue to be a world leader in executions and imprisonment, and we'll continue to lag behind in our treatment of the indigent mentally ill. (See "corporations" above.)

I've just scratched the surface here. All in all, we can depend on a pretty dismal four years. Our system is broke, and we've shown no inclination to want to fix it. Our television news media has become corrupt beyond belief, so we'll get no help there.

Vote early and often tomorrow, and may the best Bonesman win.

Harley Sorensen is a longtime journalist. His column appears Mondays. E-mail him at harleysorensen@yahoo.com

© 2004 SF Gate

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