16 bold predictions for 2016 (including ‘Cruz schlongs Trump’)

Screenshot 2015-12-26 11.17.49

The bromance is headed for a rocky break-up in 2016.

The pundits were soooooo wrong in 2015 that it seems silly for anyone to pull out the crystal ball again. Especially in the midst of the most unpredictable Republican presidential nominating process in … what, four years? (President Gingrich, President Santorum, President Perry, we hardly knew ye.)

But since so many pundits make good salaries predicting things that don’t come true, I’m going to let you in on some things that are as solid as Sears. (OK, if you’re under 50 years old, you probably don’t understand that line.)

Here are my 16 bold predictions for 2016:

      1. The New York Daily News headline on Feb. 2, 2016 (the day after the Iowa caucuses): CRUZ SCHLONGS TRUMP
      2. Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, the winner of the 2008 Iowa Republican caucuses, drops out of the 2016 race on Feb. 3 after finishing eighth in the previous evening’s Iowa caucuses. Nobody outside of the Huckabee family notices.
      3. Donald Trump continues his slide from frontrunner status on Feb. 23 with a stinging defeat in the Nevada caucuses when fellow gambling mogul Sheldon Adelson pulls out all the stops in support of [Editor’s note: He hasn’t yet decided which non-Trump candidate he will support]. Front page editorials in the Adelson family’s Las Vegas Review-Journal strongly support [candidate to be decided upon later]. Adelson tells close friends that Trump eliminated himself from contention when he didn’t know he was supposed to say that Jerusalem is and always will be the indivisible capital of Israel — and then canceled his meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu in a fit of pique after Adelson buddy Bibi bashed Trump for saying he’d bar all non-citizen Muslims from the U.S. — and then used “schlong” as a verb.

        Screenshot 2015-12-26 11.24.18

        Larry David got more attention from the mainstream media when he played Bernie Sanders on Saturday Night Live than the real candidate got when playing himself on the campaign trail.

      4. Bernie Sanders will be the Mo Udall of 2016. Without the wicked sense of humor. Favorite of the liberal liberals. String of second-place finishes. His last stand will be in the Vermont primary on March 1. But while Bernie battles for his home state’s 15 delegates chosen in the primary, Hillary Clinton will take something like 207 of the 208 Texas delegates up for grabs that day.
      5. The Republican Party in the United States will remain the only conservative party in the entire world to dispute the fact that humans contribute to climate change. Not a good strategy to win the support of young Americans, who wonder why so many old fogies can’t accept global scientific consensus.

        Screenshot 2015-12-26 11.37.28

        Just saying no.

      6. The Democratic Party in the United States will continue to argue for protectionism and managed trade. The Tea Party will continue to argue for protectionism and managed trade. The rest of the world will wonder why America continues to have such a robust, resilient economy when its politicians seem to be trying so hard to destroy its competitiveness.
      7. America will make history again — by electing the first female president ever, the first candidate with a Spanish surname and/or the first U.S. president ever born in Canada.
      8. The next vice president’s last name will end in an “o.” Leading possibilities are Castro, Rubio or uh-oh.
      9. Ratings on MSNBC will continue to slip-slide toward oblivion. Morning Joe’s audience will be limited to the DC Beltway, Manhattan and Joe Scarborough’s family’s homes. More than 95 percent of Chris Matthews’ audience will be aged 65 and above.
      10. The Washington Post website, having passed the New York Times in online audience in 2015, will rocket ahead of CNN through a combination of good, solid, old-fashioned reporting and analysis and an understanding of viral-news marketing.
      11. The Huffington Post, having reached the limits of page views through click-bait, rewrites and journalistic trolling, reassesses its business strategy amid general stagnation.
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“Mister Hearst, tear down that wall.”

12. American newspapers continue to reassess the ill-fated paywall fad amid mounting evidence that they are destroying any potential for long-term community-building in a misguided attempt to increase short-term revenues.

13. No pro team from Philadelphia or Austin will make the playoffs in any sport.

14. Dan Snyder will continue to top the lists of “worst sports team owner,” despite his mediocre team’s miraculous 2015 run in the NFC Least division.

15. The Pyongyang Marathon will continue to be the least popular marathon in any nation’s capital. It’s on April 10, if you’re interested in signing up.

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Have you signed up yet? One-way airfare not included.

16. American newspapers and news networks will feature stories about the poisonous air in Beijing with frightening regularity, causing the Chinese government to (a) condemn the negative news coverage and (b) develop a new and improved strategy for dealing with a problem that’s not going away, despite the occasional blasts of fresh air from Siberia.

Happy New Year to all!


Red Alert in Beijing

Ten impossible dreams for 2015, from Louie Gohmert to Chris Christie

Chris Christie and the Joneses: A bro-hug for the ages.

Chris Christie and the Joneses: A bro-hug for the ages.

It’s a New Year, and everybody can dream big. In politics, every governor and senator, every Clinton and Bush, can dream of getting elected president next year. In sports, every team can dream of winning the championship. (Well, maybe not the Philadelphia 76ers.) In Hollywood, every crappy moviemaker can dream of hitting the jackpot with a smutty pseudo-farce involving a controversial world figure.

So many dreams. So little time.

To save time, here are 20 quests that, like Don Quixote de la Mancha, are not likely to end in success.

Louie Gohmert practices his sharpshooting in Quantico, Va.

Louie Gohmert practices his sharpshooting in Quantico, Va.

1. House Speaker Louie Gohmert

Not gonna happen. Only on Planet Colbert.

2. Republican presidential frontrunner Rick Perry

Too many Texans — or brothers of Texans … or blood brothers of Cowboys owner Jerry Jones — in the race. Plus there are those precious memories of the 2012 campaign.

3. Super Bowl Champion Philadelphia Eagles

It’s never happened. Why should this upcoming season be any different? (Even though it will be 2016 before we know for sure.)

4. Respected sports owner Dan Snyder

Only one hope for redemption: Replace that racist football team nickname with the Washington Generals to honor the Great American War Machine — and to commemorate the only team to lose thousands of times to the Harlem Globetrotters.

5. Academy Award winning film “The Interview”

Let’s be more realistic: A Razzy for worst movie, worst director, worst actor, worst supporting actor, worst idea for a movie.

6. Popular New Jersey Governor Chris Christie

For a man who got re-elected by an overwhelming majority in a Democratic state, the Joisey guvn’r has managed to alienate almost everybody outside of the Dallas Cowboys owners’ box. Eagles, Giants and Lions fans top the long, long list, followed by George Washington Bridge commuters, Republican conservatives and citizens who believe in civil discourse. At least he isn’t running for anything in the future.

7. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer

The New York Democrat has been waiting and waiting and waiting for Majority Leader Harry Reid to depart the Senate, either voluntarily or not. Then the voters messed everything up by putting the Republicans in the majority.

8. Authoritative magazine Rolling Stone

It gathers no moss, but it gathers lots of other smelly stuff as a result of the UVa rape story debacle. Some click-bait web site could do a Rolling Stone “top ten ways to destroy what’s left of your reputation.”

9. An all-Southeast Conference national championship game

We got the mini-playoff that the for-profit college football conferences wanted and then two non-SEC teams ruined it all. Proving that even the most powerful interests can’t always control everything.

10. Penn State professor Tom Corbett

Pennsylvania’s ex-governor could use a job, but it’s not going to be in Happy Valley, where everybody is mad at him for his ham-fisted role in the Joe Paterno affair. Paterno’s friends and family despise the man — and did whatever they could to defeat him. Paterno’s critics marvel at his incompetence. No Ph.D. here.

Adjusting to life in China: Little by little, I’m at home in Beijing

It's easy to adjust to the serenity and natural beauty of the Tsinghua University campus.

It’s easy to adjust to the serenity and natural beauty of the Tsinghua University campus.

Little by little, there are signs that I’m adjusting to life in China. I still speak terrible Chinese, but I’m making (slow) progress. Some other signs point to a shorter-than-expected period of adjustment in my new country. A few examples:

  • At my apartment, I’m eating more meals  with chopsticks than with forks, knives or spoons.
  • I take the subway and wander the streets of Beijing without fear of getting lost.
  • I venture off campus on my bicycle into the chaotic swirl of Chinese traffic.
  • I add money to my subway fare card without the help of my Teaching Assistant.

    I can take subway line #2 clockwise or counterclockwise and not get lost.

    I can take subway line #10 clockwise or counterclockwise and not get lost.

  • I price things in yuan and don’t convert to dollars anymore.
  • I leave my passport at home when I go out.
  • I don’t get upset when the Internet connection is really slooooooooooooooooooow. Like the Texas weather, just wait an hour and it’ll change.
  • I don’t get upset when a car is driving down the wrong side of the road and appears to be heading straight for my bike.
  • I’m posting on Weibo as often as on Twitter.
  • I’m beginning to understand the difference between the four Chinese speech tones.
  • I’m beginning to understand a few street signs. In Chinese.
  • I’m starting to get the hang of sign language. Or maybe charades.
  • I’m starting to think it’s normal to ride your bike after dark without any lights.
  • I’m starting to say “ni hao” to people rather than “hello.” (With Caroline Ward, it’s still “ni howdy!”)
  • I can introduce myself as “DOO-NUH REE-KUH” rather than “RICK DUNHAM.” (I’ll pass along my real Chinese name when my colleagues show me the spelling.)
  • I don’t check the Internet every day to see what’s happened to the Phillies … or Nats … or Eagles … or Redskins.
  • I come home every night and turn on CCTV in English to discover what good deeds President Xi has done today. And what’s new in Turkmenistan.
  • I thank my lucky stars that I took this job.

Beijing by the numbers: Random observations from my first week in China

Everything at Tiananmen seems to be undergoing restoration -- except for Chairman Mao

Everything at Tiananmen seems to be undergoing restoration — except for Chairman Mao

I’m not one of those often-wrong, never-in-doubt Americans who visits a city for a week and decides he knows everything about its history, culture and politics.

That having been said, I do have a few first impressions through the eyes of a China newbie. Here are some random observations of life in Beijing by the numbers:


Number of Beijingers wearing anti-pollution face masks


Number of Beijingers wearing bike helmets


Number of Beijingers who have used hand signals while riding bikes


rick caroline jane

Cornering the market on blondes in Beijing: with Caroline Ward (left) and Jane Sasseen (right)

Number of Beijingers holding a cell phone while biking in traffic


Number of blonde people sighted in Beijing


Number of blonde people sighted in Beijing who are not friends or students of mine


Number of European-origin people seen on the subway


Number of people speaking English on the subway


Number of Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurants seen around town


Number of people who have asked me about the Cowboys, Redskins, Eagles, Texans, Ted Cruz, the Tea Party, Mitch McConnell, Nancy Pelosi or Capitol Hill gridlock


Number of students who have asked me about the American government’s lies leading up to the invasion of Iraq


Number of universities in this section of northwest Beijing


Number of Texas on the Potomac alumni now living and working in Beijing


Number of people I’ve met who have worked or studied in Pennsylvania


Number of Texas Aggies I’ve run across. (Gig ’em, Caroline!)