Wednesday, January 01, 2014

2014 Predictions

Welcome to my annual post where I make a bunch of edumacated guesses about what I think will happen in the coming year so that I can then wait and see how many I get right 12 months later.

A new version of my usual disclaimer: The below list is what I currently think will happen, not what I necessarily want to happen. And the predictions aren't listed in any particular order. I have tried to come up with predictions are are relatively easy to grade at the end of the year. That is, I'm not going to say "the U.S. economy will improve" or "get worse," because in most years you could argue that either way. I am trying to list things that I can later label as either "right" or "wrong" later on.

Anyway, here goes:

1.  Neither the U.S. nor Israel will launch a military strike against Iran in 2014. "Military strike" does not include covert action. So if a nuclear facility mysteriously catches on fire that everyone assumes was the Mossad or CIA, that does not count. I'm talking about a straight military strike with the armed forces of either country. In order words, I'm saying that Joe Lieberman is full of shit. [Yes, I predict some version of this one every year. I mean I predict no military strike. I don't always predict that Lieberman is full of shit, although he pretty much always is]

2. The next debt ceiling standoff will end the way the last two did: with the President refusing to negotiate and the Republicans claiming they will only raise the ceiling if they get something in return, only to give in at the last minute to pass a clean debt ceiling rise.

3. The number of vacancies in the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals will be below 10 by the end of 2014 (the current number is 16), thanks to the end of the judicial filibuster.

4. The number of vacancies in the U.S. District Court will be below 40 by the end of 2014 (the current number is 72), thanks to the end of the judicial filibuster.

5. The filibuster for legislation will still exist at the end of 2014. (In other words, the elimination of the filibuster for judicial and executive nominees in 2013 will not lead to the elimination of the filibuster entirely, at least not in 2014 (I actually think it will lead to that eventually. It just will take more than a year))

6. The Democrats will lose seats in both the House and Senate in the 2014 midterm elections, but neither chamber will switch party control.

7. Edward Snowden will still be in Russia at the end of 2014 [yeah, I know his current asylum is for only one year and will expire in the summer. But he will either get an extension or some other way to stay, largely because few other countries will take him, he will have no way of getting to the few countries that would take him, and Russia won't want to let the U.S. catch him].

8. At least one of the current leaders of the five Central Asian former Soviet Republics will no longer be in power at the end of 2014. Yes, this is the reverse of 2013 prediction #12. [I'm not going to guess which one, and this is not part of my prediction, but I do think the most likely one to go is Karimov]

9. There will be at least one terrorist attack on Russian soil during the 2014 Olympics, but the attack will not be in Sochi, where the security is the highest.

10. Bashar al-Assad will still be in charge of the Syrian Arab Republic at the end of 2014 and his forces will still control Damascus and a significant portion of the rest of the country. Rebels will still control other portions of the country. (In other words, those things will be much like now) [Yes, this is the opposite of prediction #2 from last year. What can I say, I learned my lesson.]

11. Tom Corbett will lose his reelection race in November and Pennsylvania will end 2014 with a new governor elect.

12. Scott Walker of Wisconsin and Rick Scott of Florida will each lose their reelection race, as part of a nationwide backlash against people named Scott. Also because they are both shitty governors.

13. There will still be at least one ongoing investigation of Benghazi!TM at the end of 2014.

14. Egypt will hold both Presidential and Parliamentary elections in 2014, but the government will keep the Muslim Brotherhood from participating and will also bar from running any candidate it views as too Muslim Brotherhoodie, which will mean the elections will resemble Iranian elections, where all the candidates are pre-vetted by the regime.

15. At the end of 2014, the President of Egypt will be someone who comes from the military.

16. The 2014 Turkish Presidential Election will reawaken the protest movement in Turkey and bring back large protests to Turkish cities.

17. Recep Tayyip Erdogan will win the 2014 Presidential election (although I am not sure whether the international community will deem it "fair").

18. The U.S. Supreme Court will strike down the Federal Election Campaign Act, and will thus bury the last vestiges of campaign finance regulation in McCutcheon v. FEC.

19. The Supreme Court will rule against Hobby Lobby because letting companies have a religion and also giving them the ability to create an individual religious exception to whatever the company disagrees with on religious terms would have such profound consequences, it would go too far even for this highly conservative court. (I mean, if Hobby Lobby wins, what would stop Quaker Oats from deducting 54% from its taxes. I'm kidding, because Quaker Oats isn't really Quaker. But the same idea would apply)

20. The U.S. will still have soldiers in Afghanistan at the end of 2014 (i.e. the "zero option" will not happen, unfortunately)

21. Libya will not hold general elections in 2014.

22. The federal unemployment benefits extension that expired last weekend will not be restored by Congress. The Democrats blew their chance to get this when they did not include it in this month's budget deal.

23. The Palestinian Authority will ask to join the International Criminal Court, which will raise the specter of a criminal case against Israel in the ICC over settlements (a case that I think Israel is sure to lose if the Court ever gets to hear it). This will cause a major shitstorm, with the U.S. scrambling to convince the P.A. not to join.

24. President Obama will get to nominate someone for the Supreme Court in 2014.

25. No immigration bill will be signed into law in 2014. No comprehensive reform, not piecemeal reform, no DREAM Act, nothing.

26. After getting my ass handed to me in a day after when I predicted no more states would legalize gay marriage until 2015, I'm going to completely flip-flop and predict that more than 25 states will be on the marriage equality team by the end of the year. But marriage equality will only come through the courts this year. None of the new gay marriage states will join the club because of an act in their state legislature or a popular referendums.

I can't come up with a good personal prediction this year, which has been the last prediction on the list in prior years. That tradition dies today (subject to revival next year if I get a good idea then).

Tune in on December 31, 2014 to see how spectacularly wrong I am this time!