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The next four years

Predictions: 1) The economy will recover, slowly but surely, but we won't be close to where we were before the '08 meltdown until near the end of Obama's second term. 2) The Republicans will FINALLY get it through their thick skulls that Tea Party ideology not only won't win them a national election, it won't even win them most *state* elections. While it would be foolish to expect them to compromise on everything, it's a given at this point that the Bush tax cuts on the rich will expire and the Republicans will do nothing to stop it. They will also have to steer way back towards the middle on immigration if they want any chance of preserving the party both in 2016 and in the future, given the ever-growing power of the Latino voting block. If even colossal idiots like George W. Bush and Rick Perry can manage to be moderates on immigration, non-Texans can as well. Given Congress' historically low popularity figures, I fully expect fewer obstruction tactics on the House's part over the next four years. 3) Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg will announce her retirement no later than a year before the 2016 election. She's held in there and put in a good fight, but she's immensely frail and is too smart to try and hold on through another election that could at least potentially go to the Republicans. (While Clarence Thomas is only in his 60s, I'll just note that overweight African-American men that age have an unusually high chance of dying of a massive heart attack. Just sayin'.) No one from the conservative bloc, however, will leave willingly. There's only an outside chance swing-vote Kennedy will retire. 4) The Republicans are going to throw away their presidential-election playbook and start from scratch, even if it means disenfranchising remaining Tea Party factions in the next round of primaries. They've now pursued the same strategy twice -- take a fundamental moderate, have him flip-flop to the extreme right to win the Tea Party/racist vote, and then nominate a controversial and even further right-wing young and attractive running mate -- and utterly failed. Expect some extremely outside-the-box thinking here; I wouldn't even count out Mike Bloomberg as a candidate, with someone like Nikki Haley as his running mate.

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