Scorecard 2010

Here were my predictions for 2010, and here’s how they did:

  1. Jon Huntsman will resign as ambassador to China and begin to lay the groundwork for a Presidential bid in 2012.  Has not happened.  In retrospect, I failed to credit the idea that Ambassador Huntsman might actually like being the Ambassador to the PRC and that he might not really want to be President.
  2. Foolishly, Democrats will campaign in 2010 against George W. Bush.  This will fail and result in gains by Republicans, but more in the House than the Senate.  Congressional Republicans will realize a net gain of only two or three seats in the Senate, leaving the Democrats still firmly in control of that body and reviving talks of abolishing the filibuster.  But, net gains in the House of Representatives will be such that the Democrats’ majority in the lower chamber will be roughly ten seats and Republicans will optimistically talk of re-taking the House in 2012.  Democrats abandoned their strategy of running against George W. Bush in favor of atomizing local races, which was only partially effective; Republicans took the House but not the Senate, although their Senate gains were larger than I had predicted.
  3. A reconciled health care “reform” bill will not be passed out of Congress until March or maybe even early April.  Its effect will be to very moderately increase taxes on middle-class Americans, only negligibly affect their actual health care options, and substantially inflate both the governmental deficit and the profits of enterprise-level health care providers.  I’m taking credit for calling this one pretty much correctly.
  4. The net inflation rate of the United States for CY 2010 will be in excess of 4%.  Gratefully, this has not happened, but only because the Fed has kept the prime rate at a rock-bottom level.
  5. President Obama will again increase the number of American troops deployed to Afghanistan.  This happened. That doesn’t mean I’m happy about it because I’m not, especially because we’re now talking about bringing them home with no apparent political objectives accomplished despite hard work and bloodshed by our military.
  6. Canada’s government will collapse, for real this time, and new elections will result in a badly-fragmented Federal Parliament with the BQ playing the role of powerbroker.  However, the BQ will not be able to leverage this into actual autonomy. Didn’t happen; PM Harper took a hard hit, but survived.
  7. An El Niño condition will manifest in the Pacific Ocean, relieving California’s drought. In fact, it was a La Niña, but we had a wet winter at the start of 2010 and a wet winter at the end of 2010, and have been out of drought conditions all year.
  8. Despite the economic help of favorable (that is, “wet”) weather, California will increase sales taxes to 10.5% or higher, resulting in the highest sales tax in the nation.  Despite this, functionally all incumbents in the Legislature eligible for re-election will be re-elected in November and the Democrat nominee (who right now looks like Jerry Brown) will win the Governorship. Mostly happened. The only thing I got wrong was the sales tax hike.
  9. A national newspaper of significant stature, I’m thinking the Boston Globe, will be liquidated. The Seattle Post-Intelligencer went all-online and has functionally diedas a result.
  10. 2010 will be a good year for the stock market.  The S and P 500 will realize a net gain of over 20% in CY 2010.  As of today, the S and P 500 is 1,124.57, so that means that to win this prediction, the S&P will need to be at least 1,349.48 on December 31, 2010.  The year-end close was it was 1,257.64.
  11. Iron Man 2 will be the biggest box office hit of the summer.  But another much-anticipated sequel in the same general genre, Tron 2, will disappoint and lose money.  Wall Street 2 and Sex And The City 2 will both prove to be so unwatchably bad that we all would have been better off had they not been made at all.  Remakes of Clash of the Titans and Red Dawn will both prove to be convincingly entertaining.  Mostly happened. Clash of the Titans disappointed; the release of Red Dawn has been delayed; Tron was fun to watch but looks on track to not make much of a profit compared to its production expenses.
  12. In First Amendment news, the Supreme Court will decide for the government, 5-4, in the case of Salazar v. Buono, ruling that a large cross, originally built privately as a war memorial, later transferred to Federal land, then the subject of an Establishment Clause lawsuit, and then the subject of a law transferring the cross to the VFW.  The Court’s decision will consider the longevity of the monument as a significant factor mitigating against the finding of an Establishment.  (I consider this a pessimistic prediction, for the record).  Justice Sonia Sotomayor will prove to be the decisive vote in favor of the government.  I nailed it right up to the Sotomayor prediction, which turned out to be wrong. The decisive vote was Anthony Kennedy.
  13. In Second Amendment news, the Supreme Court will decide, by at least 7 votes, that the individual right to own weapons articulated in District of Columbia v. Heller will be “incorporated” into the Fourteenth Amendment and thus apply to the several states as well as to the national government.  However, the Court will unanimously decline the opportunity to expand the “privileges and immunities” clause embodied in the arguments.  Watch for the decision in McDonald v. City of Chicago to be one of the last decisions announced in June. I hit this one right on the head.
  14. Brett Favre will play his final year for the Minnesota Vikings, and then retire.  For real this time because he’ll be 41 years old and in at least moderate pain almost all of the time. He hasn’t announced his retirement yet and there will be lots of jokes in August, but after the Vikings’ disastrous season, it’s clearly time for Brett to say goodbye.
  15. Iran will successfully detonate a nuclear device.  This will cause much wringing of hands and gnashing of teeth and many Americans and a significant number of Europeans will consider this to be an existential threat.  While all of this is going on, the Russians will hem and haw and whistle tunelessly while staring at the ceiling while trying to blend into the background and go unnoticed.  However, the Iranians will not use their newly-developed nuclear weapon against anyone, including Israel. Gratefully, this did not happen.
  16. On December 31, 2010, the U.S. national unemployment rate will be somewhere between 7.5% and 8.5%. I was too optimistic here; the unemployment rate hovered just under 10% all year.

Not so good this year. Hey, at least I didn’t make any predictions as boneheaded as these:

10. U.S. Vice President Joe Biden: “More people are going to be put to work this summer.”  June 17, 2010. Embarrassingly for me, Vice President Biden’s prediction looks a lot like one of my own.

9. U.S. private citizen Meghan McCain: Sharron Angle, Charlie Crist, Christine O’Donnell, and Carly Fiorina will win their Senate races. November 2, 2010. All those candidates lost, three by decisive margins, congruent with polling data that had been available for weeks prior to Ms. McCain’s prediction.

8. U.S. President Barack Obama: Guantanamo Bay’s prison facilities will close within one year. January 22, 2009. Still over 150 prisoners there and only three trials have been held, all resulting in convictions.

7. U.S. Gen. Stanley McChrystal: “We’re not at the end of the military phase, but we’re clearly approaching that.” March 2, 2010. Gen. McChrystal was referring to Afghanistan, not Iraq, although in each theater we present have over 50,000 combat troops actively engaged in the vital job of killing bad guys.

5. (Tie) Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou and Irish Prime Minister Brian Cowen: “Our countries don’t need to be bailed out” (paraphrase), February 21, 2010 and November 15, 2010. Within weeks of each prediction, both countries were bailed out of imminent financial collapse by special funds created by the EU and the IMF.

4. Newsweek Magazine: Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez will be ousted in a military coup, December 2009. While Chavez remains in power, Newsweek was sold for one U.S. dollar earlier this year.

3. Former Cuban dictator Fidel Castro: The U.S.A. will soon launch an overt attack on Iran, shortly followed by another overt attack on North Korea, June 25, 2010. That, um, didn’t happen, El Commandante. Better luck next time.

2. Former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton: If Israel fails to launch an overt military strike on Iran within eight days, the Iranians will achieve a nuclear weapon, August 17, 2010. The Israelis (presumably) used a computer virus instead.

1. Russian Foreign Ministry Diplomatic Academy Dean Igor Panarin: “There is a high probability that the collapse of the United States will occur by 2010,” March 3, 2009. Sharp political differences over seemingly vapid causes should not be mistaken for the imminent collapse of a common national identity.

…Stay tuned for my fearless predictions for 2011, some of which will be based on sober analysis and some of which I’m pulling straight out of um, parts of my body.

Burt Likko

Pseudonymous Portlander. Homebrewer. Atheist. Recovering litigator. Recovering Republican. Recovering Catholic. Recovering divorcé. Recovering Former Editor-in-Chief of Ordinary Times. House Likko's Words: Scite Verum. Colite Iusticia. Vivere Con Gaudium.