<strong>POWERBALL AND POLITICS: </strong> Who knows what shake-ups, like the crazy Wall Street ones described in <em>The Big Short</em>, lie ahead?

HANG ON TIGHT: It’s shaping up to be a wacky 12 months.

Middle America thumps the Bible and warns that gambling is immoral and gamblers are going straight to hell. But let a $1.5 billion jackpot hit the news, and every office in the nation posts a signup sheet and collects money. (The Indy did, too, won $13, and bought doughnuts.)

Okay, so Santa Barbara lost, and something called Chino Hills is a winner. Actually, it really wasn’t gambling. Not at 292 million-1 odds. It was a fun game the entire nation could play. I even bought my ex-wife a $2 ticket at 7-Eleven.

Barney Brantingham

On the good side, 2016 came fast with a great surprise: The long-lost Rams are coming back to L.A., and this year, too, at the old Coliseum, and then a new stadium somewhere, maybe Chino Hills.

Speaking of gambling, The Big Short may not win an Oscar, but it tells of real-life Wall Street greed. You’ve got to wonder what else they’re cooking up to steal our money. (Tip: See the movie, but do your homework first.)

What else can you say about a year that begins with Ventura twin girls being born on each side of the new year? Right, one at 11:59 p.m., the other a minute later at midnight.

Does that mean two birthdays? And future statistical entanglements. Does one go on Social Security a full year before her twin?

Another portent of a bizarre 2016: a presidential election coming up, and we’re already bored. Soon will come the electoral horrors of all those primaries in states TV comedians make fun of.

My parents hailed from Iowa. Good people live there, but I’m not sure I want the leader of the Free-by-God World decided by a margin that would barely fill the Arlington Theatre.

The election likely will be decided by a tiny fraction of voters in Florida or some other battleground state too close to call. Or by the weird concoction called the Electoral College, which no one but poli-sci majors and D.C. insiders understand.

And as usual, we’ll probably see very little live campaigning. California’s 55 electoral votes are considered solidly in the Democratic column, so why bother?

We’re not a toss-up state that hopefuls woo, except for raiding parties by candidates mining the Golden State for billionaire and multimillionaire gold.

As for the roving bands of Republican hopefuls, each bursting with loco weed smoke, it feels as if Hillary Clinton is a schoolmarm trying to keep order in a classroom of GOP cutups, or Snow White and the Seven (or more) Dwarfs.

Meanwhile, in Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo counties, we have people who want to take Rep. Lois Capps’s place in that loony bin known as the House of unRepresentatives. Either Mayor Helene Schneider or 1st District Supervisor Salud Carbajal, liberal-moderate Democrats, would certainly raise the House IQ level. But with the Republicans running the House, any Demo winner would no doubt be given a broom-closet office and a dial phone. Republican Assemblymember Katcho Achadjian of San Luis Obispo County and fellow GOPer Justin Fareed would get warmer welcomes, better offices, and pats on the heads from the dunderheads who run that Citadel of Democracy. But on the good side, so far it’s been a fairly civilized race for Lois’s seat, which is hardly preparation for the uncivilized mayhem in the Capitol.

Speaking of which, I’m planning to visit D.C. in May with two of my kids. People lucky enough to tour the White House fantasize about running into President Obama in the hallway and swapping a few words.

Highly unlikely? I went online and saw a video from a few years ago when a very surprised group of ordinary, non-VIP Americans filed in to shake hands and briefly greet Obama and First Lady Michelle.

We still await an IRS decision on the late Huguette Clark’s hilltop Bellosguardo mansion. Will the green eyeshade IRS folks waive the $16 million-$18 million the newly created Bellosguardo Foundation owes in penalties dating to Clark’s drunken-sailor-like million-dollar giveaways?

Once that’s settled, the nonprofit board can decide what to do with the magnificent but aging, high-maintenance white elephant Clark envisioned as a center fostering the arts, or something.

Mayor Schneider, not on the board but awarded th e power to appoint members (and she has) remains mum on what, if anything, is happening on Huguette’s Hill. But the year is young.


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