Well, it’s that time of year again (I’m sorry, but there’s just no other way to open a column like this with reusing the same tired old intro), when we look back upon ill-fated predictions of the past and finish up with our Predictions for 2011. The coming year will be interesting as it kicks off the start of the 2012 Presidential Election Season (I became a “Deaniac” when Howard was the first to announce his candidacy in his first appearance on Meet the Press in February of 2003.) I end every year here on Mugsy’s Rap Sheet with my predictions for the coming year. Not to brag, but I’m actually quite good at it. And I will defend my track record against any number of “publicly recognized psychics” and “published political pundits” any day of the week:
Many pundits, I feel, “cheat” by extending their predictions to cover two, three, five years, even decades into the future (“by 2100”). As any mathematician can tell you, the odds of anything happening approaches 100% as you extend your timeline out to infinity. So in that regard, I can’t really say whether or not the 36 Predictions by Mike Adams of NaturalNews will do as well as his claimed “79% for 2009”. But after a quick look, I’d grade Mike’s success rate of 3 for 36 (8%) as “off to a poor start” (maybe the world will go to Hell in a Handbasket over the next two years and prove more of Mr. Adams’ predictions true. Fingers crossed!). Actually only 2-for-36, but I’m confident “the world won’t come to an end on December 21, 2012 as the Mayans predicted” will prove accurate as well. The two he got right both happened less than a week after making his predictions. To me, that’s not a “prediction”, that’s “sticking you head out the window to predict tomorrows weather based on current conditions.”
Considering how poorly so-called “psychics” routinely do year after year, it is amazing that anyone still listens to them:
Hey, I gotta give the “famed” Craig & Jane of Great Britain credit for successfully predicting that the UK and Germany would agree to build a new factory in Great Britain to build wind turbines more than six months before it happened, but as for Mr. Craig’s 20 other predictions… I’ll give him partial credit for “predicting” “North Korea continues to threaten peace”… even though it was preceded by “Iran giving up its nuclear ambitions.” Britian’s “most famous” psychic duo best not go testing their psychic powers in Vegas next year.
Famed psychic Sylvia Browne has my respect for predicting “Barack Obama would win the presidency” on The Oprah Winfrey Show almost from the day he announced his candidacy in 2007. But just how much street-cred does that buy you when you continue to go 0 for 6 like she did in 2010 (the linked page reads “Predictions for 2011”, but she dates the majority of them “between 2009 and 2010”.)
“Financial Psychic” Roxanne Usleman of the NY Times gets 1 for 9 by “predicting” that many of the surviving mega-banks will begin merging with one another. You tell me, was that really a “prediction”?
As you can tell, I don’t like when people take credit for “predicting” the obvious. Even the paltry 2 for 10 (20%) I achieved following my first attempt at “predicting the political future” in 2007 (no longer online), was arguably better than the Pro’s. The 7 of 12 (arguably 9 of 12) I achieved in 2008 was a huge improvement as I learned not to overreach. In 2009, I went 11 for 15 (with partial credit) for a 73% accuracy rating. So how did I do in 2010? I was fairly gun-shy last year, after a year of unprecedented Republican obstruction and a White House that likes to concede victory before the players even get out onto the field, so trying to predict what would get done was a much shorter list than the things that I knew wouldn’t. I therefore limited my list to only 10 until I get the man figured out:
- (Correct) I predicted the only way health care reform would pass Congress would be if Democrats caved on The Public Option. President Obama could of have made a huge difference here if he had just come out in defense of the idea. But he never did once in 2009 and seemed more than happy to throw Democrats in Congress to the wolves and fight for something without his public support. A guaranteed losing strategy, so this prediction almost came with it’s own marching band heralding its approach.
- (wrong) I’m going to give myself a fail on this one, even though I was “technically” right. I predicted we would “miss the August 2010 deadline to pull ALL troops out of Iraq citing ‘logistics’.” By 2010, the call changed to “all combat troops out of Iraq” rather than “ALL troops”, and arguably, that’s a matter of logistics, but the fact is, President Obama did withdraw all “offensive combat troops” out of Iraq, and did so a week earlier than the official date. Though today, there are still 48,000 U.S. troops in Iraq. The U.S. is the only foreign nation with troops still in Iraq.
- (wrong) The number of U.S. troops in Afghanistan did NOT hit “Iraq peak levels” between 120-125,000 troops by years end. I expected the rise in conflicts in Afghanistan to be met by the Obama White House with an equally huge “show of force”, falling down the rabbit hole of “Bush’s Surge” in the mistaken belief that more is always better (when it comes to things Republicans like anyway… like tax cuts). The number of U.S. troops in Afghanistan is currently between “94,000” and “100,000“.
- (wrong) “A war-weary electorate will make ending the war in Afghanistan a key campaign issue in the 2010 mid-term elections.” The joint issues of rampant unemployment and the bad economy just sucked all the oxygen out of the room this election. The war in Afghanistan, now in its tenth year, was barely a blip on the radar this election. I didn’t anticipate the economy remaining this bad for this long.
- (wrong, Wow, I just couldn’t catch a break last year, could I?) And speaking of misjudging the economy, my predictions that “Democrats would not lose the majority in the House and only one seat in the Senate” were pretty far off the mark… if only because the economy did not improve significantly last year. If it had, the election surely would of turned out differently.
- (correct) Ah, finally! My prediction of a rapid decline in the amount of “Marxist/Socialist/Nazi” rhetoric once the heath care debate had passed, seems to be pretty much on the money.
- (partial-credit correct) Unemployment was indeed “above 8%, but below 10% by the time of the November election” as predicted; though not by much. If you had asked me at the time, I probably would of predicted “8.4%” by November, a figure I believe Democrats might of actually pointed to as a sign of progress. But President Obama has turned out to be “Progressive” only on “social” issues (fair pay, access to health care, DADT), but is clearly Conservative when it comes to economics, tax cuts and fiscal policy. I was clearly hoping that wouldn’t be the case… but here we are, having just passed the extension/expansion of a massive tax cut for the rich and talk of “cutting Federal spending” at a time when the economy needs it most. You don’t restart a $21Trillion dollar economy by sucking Billions in government spending out of it.
- (correct) Okay, I’m going to give myself a check-mark on this one, even if my dates are slightly off. The price of gasoline did (arguably) go back up to the $3/gal level. Not during the Summer months as predicted, but just in the past week. On December 20th, the U.S. national average for a gallon of gasoline hit “$2.98”… $0.39 cents a gallon higher than a year ago (Update: DoE is reporting gas hit $3.052 on December 27th). It also (as predicted) never fell back below the $2/gal point (the oil companies have trained us to accept $2.50/gal as “the new normal”.)
- (correct) Not much of a stretch here, but bin Laden was neither caught, nor did he release another video (not seen in video since the week before the 2004 election, which somehow hurt Kerry… something I’m still trying to figure out.)
- (wrong) Unless it is happening in secret with no way to confirm, my prediction that the military brass would begin advising President Obama to consider “negotiating with the Taliban for a peaceful resolution to ending the war in Afghanistan” (similar to what we did in Iraq) didn’t come to pass. Instead, we are told we have made “fragile progress” in Afghanistan and that our current “bomb them into submission” policy appears to be working (almost makes that “Most Liberal Senator in Congress” claim against Obama in 2008 seem almost quaint, doesn’t it?) There are some very serious people out there still advising President Obama to seriously consider the idea.
So, that’s my record for 2010: 4-1/2 (with partial credit) out of ten (45%?). How’d I do? Would you gamble on Wall Street with a record like that? Probably not.
Now for what we’ve all been waiting for… my list of Predictions for 2011:
- Grampy McCain led the opposition to repealing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” while his wife Cindy and his (increasingly spotlight hungry) daughter Meghan appeared in public ads denouncing it. Angry John responded by taking to the airwaves two weeks ago to rebuke his own daughter, claiming his Marine son Jimmy also opposes the repeal of DADT. So where does that leave the McCain Family? I believe “divorce” is out of the question, because the notoriety of being John McCain’s wife gives Cindy McCain a public platform she would never have otherwise (he gets money, she gets fame. The perfect, symbiotic Republican marriage.) This could be a sign of “trouble’s afoot” for the McCain’s in whatever one of their seven mansions they share at the time. But a quiet separation isn’t beyond the realm of possibility. First there will be rumors, then one of the McCain’s will attend a formal public appearance without the other, and soon the truth will break.
- Government shutdown? Wow, I going to have give a qualified “No” here. The Tea Party candidates might be all for it, but the vets remember what the Gingrich shutdown did to the GOP in 1996. I predict a “backdoor shutdown”, where House Republicans simply stall voting on the annual budgets of dozens of much needed Federal Agencies until they come just short of closing their doors. Budgets will pass, but with deep spending cuts. I just don’t think the GOP is suicidal enough to actually try shutting down the government in the midst of an economic disaster. When you start withholding paychecks, people don’t pat you on the back for taking “a principled stand”.
- Unemployment? Now that I know President Obama is a “fiscal Conservative”, I’d be stunned if unemployment were below 8.6% by this time next year. (Editors Note: The problem with getting the UE Rate down is the vast number of no-longer-counted “long-term” unemployed, who suddenly rejoin the search and become counted again the moment things improve, driving the rate UP instead of Down.) Fiscal Conservatism has no foothold in reality. Unemployment is likely to go down (I don’t expect it to go higher than the 9.7% it’s at right now) as some people start spending again, but not enough to turn the economy around. For that, you need to create JOBS… not just any jobs either, but Government “not for profit” jobs where ALL the money circulates back into the economy. Conservative paranoia over “wicked evil Socialism” won’t allow Republicans to support that kind of government spending. Instead… wait for it… TAX CUTS for corporations that create jobs “here in the U.S.”… which I qualify with quotes because Republicans… slaves to Wall Street that they are… would probably demand a caveat like that stripped out (the same way they did with the “buy American” provision in “Cash for Clunkers”.)
- The National Debt will top $15Trillion in 2011 (it is currently just a shade beneath $14T) as the “Bush Tax Cut Extension” kicks in. Who’ll get the blame? Democrats of course! For failing to “cut spending”. Tea Partiers made “reducing spending” the core of their movement, only to elect dozens of Republicans that were vowing to explode the Deficit by ending the Bush Tax Cuts for the richest people in the country. Expect the teanuts to lead the charge against the Democrats in 2011 for their “fiscal irresponsibility”.
- This one could get me into a lot of trouble: what might the price of gold be by the end of 2011? At the end of 2009, gold closed at $1095.80 per ounce. A year later, gold now trades at $1,379.89/ounce (NY trading price), a jump of almost $300 an ounce in just one year. This is a sign of a global economy going in the wrong direction, as people invest in gold because they don’t trust the value of their paper currency anymore. While I expect things to improve slightly, there comes a point where people are just too poor to buy gold. I predict critical mass to be just under $1600 next year.
- Okay, here’s one we’re all anxious to see: filibuster reform; will Senate Democrats finally get this done? I give this a “qualified Yes”. And note, there is ONE DAY and ONE DAY ONLY the Senate can do this with a simple 51-vote majority: January 5th, so we are going to know if this prediction comes true barely a week from now. Will Democrats change the system? Yes? Will they make the changes necessary to dissuade Republicans from abusing the system and stop filibustering every damn bill that comes before them? Not on your life. What WILL they do instead? First, kiss “secret holds” goodbye. If you want to filibuster a bill. Be man (or woman) enough to affix your name to it. Second, while we won’t be seeing any “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington” (or even “Bernie Sanders”) moments, as long as a bill is being filibustered, at least one supporter is going to have to stick around in the Senate and wait it out. No speeches, just take a nap and have someone bring your meals. Wanna go off to dinner or that crucial bathroom break? Tag the next guy. This little loophole guarantees this will be “filibuster reform” in name only.
- And speaking of the filibuster, will Republican obstructionism be better or worse next year? Huh. That’s a tough one (/snark). I’ll take Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s word for it when he tells Democrats: “If they think it’s bad now, wait till next year.” The new rules might slow them down a bit, but between the new Republican-controlled House and continued obstruction in the Senate, don’t expect a whole hell of a lot to get done next year. Nothing like the “Lame Duck” session that finished off a laundry list of must-do bills, mostly because Democrats know what they are in for next year.
- The GOP can’t “repeal health care reform” like they said they would during the elections as long as a Democrat resides in the White House. But opponents think they’ve found a weak spot in the “mandate” clause, arguing (incorrectly) that “the Federal government can’t force people to buy something”… you know, like Social Security. While I would just LOVE to hear President Obama take that opportunity to push for The Public Option that they railed against, that’s not going to happen either. Expect lots of talk about what “a Republican President will do if elected in 2012 as the debates ramp up in earnest next July/August, but expect no “official” action to take place on health care reform next year.
- Here’s a popular topic: “gas prices”. Last year I correctly predicted we’d see the return of $3/gallon gas. It took till December, but it happened. And it’s not going to stop there. Gasoline will, I predict, crack the $4/gal mark again sometime next year… which, ironically, may do a world of good for Chevy Volt sales, which are already being cranked up to meet the expected demand. High gas prices are like an extreme regressive tax on the working class. Soaring gas prices under Bush, from roughly $1.50/gal when he took office in 2001, to just over $4/gallon in July of 2008, played a key factor in our economic meltdown. If it happens again in the coming year (and it will), expect the Republican Presidential Candidates to lambaste the Democrats over it, attacking them for attacking Bush (who gave us this new “normal”) back then.
- And speaking of the start of the 2012 Presidential Debate season, who’s going to run on the Right? Who will be the front runner by the end of the year just prior to the Iowa Caucus? First off, I find it amazing we’re even talking about the next presidential election already. The election is still nearly two years away (and we wonder why campaigns cost so much?) The GOP really has no “new guy” that we haven’t seen on a near daily basis for the past four years. Unlike Obama who exploded on the scene just two years before he declared his candidacy for President, we already know their lineup: everyone from the 2008 race (sans McCain)… and Newt Gingrich. Palin will NOT run for the GOP nomination. Dissatisfied with their offerings, the teanuts will clamor for a “third party candidate”… Palin, who thinks running for the Republican nomination to be “too conventional” (no pun intended). Having no respect for process, unwilling to actually have to debate a challenger for her Party’s nomination, if Palin runs at all, it will be as the first “Tea Party Candidate”. She might do slightly better than Ross Perot did in 1992 (19%). But that’s a prediction for next year. The GOP frontrunner right now is the Mittster, but “RomneyCare”… which ObamaCare mirrors… will hurt him badly (I suspect even the FAR religious right is over the “legitimizing Mormonism” thing by now). There will still be no clear “runaway frontrunner” for the GOP nomination by years end.
Will there be a Democratic challenger to Obama? I see Obama going down the same road as Jimmy Carter more and more often. Carter was frequently at odds with his own Democratic Congress, and Ted Kennedy’s 1980 challenge for the nomination could very well have cost him a second term. But President Obama will have something next year that Carter didn’t: an obstructionist asshat Republican House and filibuster-crazy Senate to blame for the bad economy. So “No”, I don’t expect any “serious” challenger to the President next year.
Oh, and FWIW, Ron Paul won’t run again either.
- Troop levels in Iraq and Afghanistan by years end? I expect that the “December 31, 2011 date for all troops to withdraw from Iraq” will remain firm and be met. As for the July 2011 “deadline” for “the start of troop deployments out of Afghanistan”, I expect a token 5,000 or so to come home in July, and no more for the rest of the year. Obama will campaign on “ending the war in Afghanistan by 2014” in his second term. Republicans will attack him for setting “a deadline” on the longest war in American history (as of last July).
- Closing Gitmo. There’s one that slipped under the radar since the economy went South. Barack Obama campaigned on closing Gitmo (and “reforming the Patriot Act”) in 2008. Neither happened in 2009 or 2010. Don’t expect it in 2011 either.
- Will Michael Steele keep his job as head of the GOP (despite doing the most inept, embarrassing and fiscally irresponsible job in history)? Well, we already know he’s running, and despite his ineptitude, Republicans won back the House and made gains in the Senate, which he will try and take credit for. And just as with the GOP Presidential field, there are no strong contenders to usurp the black face (“blackface“, get it?) of the GOP, and no appetite to be seen as “the Party of old White Men” again. Will Michael Steele keep his job as head of the GOP? You Betcha! (no, Sarah won’t challenge him, though she has been asked. Queen Sarah will never agree to do anything she considers “inside baseball” ever again.
UPDATE: Michael Steele drops out of the race to remain on as RNC Chairman (1/14). To be replaced with yet another average white guy: Wisconsin GOP chairman Reince Priebus.
- Will Congress raise the Debt Ceiling over the protests of the Tea Party? They’ll hem. They’ll haw. They’ll drag it out for weeks, and flirt with shutting down the government over it, but in the end, they pretty much have no choice. Tea Party candidates that think it is unnecessary and say they’ll vote against it, will be allowed to vote “No” knowing that Democrats will give them cover, allowing teanuts like Rand Paul to take “a principled stand” from which they can safely lob grenades at responsible Democrats. Tea Party dissatisfaction will hit a fever pitch as they do, with more calls for a Third Party Candidate. The vote to raise the Debt Ceiling will come in either March or July (conflicting reports), still early enough for a Third Party to declare its candidate.
- Inflation –Just as it did under Bush in 2007-2008, the rising price of gas will make everything more expensive and stifle the economy even more. Technically, this isn’t “inflation”, but it has the same effect. The Fed even has a cockamamie idea to artificially spark inflation as a way of getting people to spend their money now before prices go up. But I don’t truly expect inflation to become a real problem until the Fed starts having trouble finding countries that will loan us money to pay for the Bush Tax Cuts. When that happens, they will HAVE to raise rates to attract investors, bad economy or not. I hope the Top 2% enjoys that massive tax cut, because it comes with a hefty price tag. But will we see significant inflation in 2011? I say No.
- And last but not least, the obligatory “gimme”… will Osama bin Laden be caught or release another video in 2011? No. Not because he’s dead (he’s not), but because… outside of the Washington Beltway… he’s become irrelevant.
And there’s my list of 16 “rock solid, take it to the bank” predictions for 2011 (yeah, right). I went a bit more “seat of my pants” this year and just let the ideas fly. Maybe that was a mistake? We’ll see. Got any predictions of your own? Anything I missed? Add them to the Comments section below.
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