Friday, January 01, 2010

grading my 2009 predictions

i did pretty well predicting what would happen in 2008. but 2009 was harder. a new administration was coming in, it was not clear at all what kind of presidency obama would have. here's my grade of each of my 2009 predictions:

1. all, or almost all of obama’s cabinet nominees will be confirmed by the senate (that is, no more than one will be rejected or withdrawn). also if one is rejected or withdrawn, the replacement will be confirmed.

wrong. pretty spectacularly wrong, in fact. although none were rejected, several were withdrawn at even the faintest peep of controversy. unfortunately, that pretty much set the tone for this first year of his presidency.

2. the prison at guantanamo bay will be closed before the end of the year.

wrong. actually, i'm a little surprised that i made this one, it seems so unrealistic from where i sit today. sucked up in the post-election optimism, i guess.

3. at least one supreme court justice will announce his or her retirement in 2009 (though the retirement might not go into effect until next year)

right. if i had taken a guess which one would be the retiree, i doubt i would have picked souter. i probably would have went with stevens (who is probably next). luckily, i didn't try to guess, so the prediction is right.

4. some kind of major health care reform bill will pass both houses of congress in 2009, but it won’t be a single payer system.

right. i may have gotten this one right just by the accidental way that i worded the prediction. a major health reform bill has passed both houses of congress, they're just not the same bill. but wording counts, i'm going to count this as accurate.

5. the NLRB still won’t have a full complement by the end of 2009 (currently there are only 2 members on the 5-member board).

right. when last i checked, obama had nominatees for all three missing members, but none had been scheduled for a confirmation vote.

6. the employee free choice act will not pass the senate.

right. see? i wasn't overly optimistic.

7. there will be significantly (i.e. at least 40k) fewer u.s. soldiers in iraq by the end of the year than there are now. but the withdrawal rate will be below the one-division-per-month rate that obama promised during the campaign.

half-right. there are significantly fewer u.s. soldiers in iraq at the end of 2009 than there were at the end of 2009, and the withdrawal rate has been less than the one-division per month rate. but as near as i can tell, the difference is troop levels between the two years is less than 40 thousand: in september 2008 president bush announced that he would keep troop levels at 146k through the end of 2008. there are currently approximately 115k u.s. soldiers in iraq.

8. roland burris will be a u.s. senator by the end of the year, as will al franken.

right. remember all that noise about how the democratic leadership would never seat him?

9. but caroline kennedy will not.

right. that whole caroline kennedy should be appointed to replace hillary clinton idea seems like a distant memory now.

10. the economy will continue to tank in 2009, with the economy shedding jobs for at least the first six months of the year. the dow will end up being higher at the end of the year than it is now.

right. economy tanked, jobs shed and the dow was 8776.39 on december 31, 2008 and it closed yesterday at 10,428.

11. there will be an effort to repeal, or at least undo a substantial portion of the bankruptcy reform act (by that i mean the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005). the effort will at least get as far as having a bill in congress, though it may not get out of committee.

wrong, at least not one that i'm aware of. it would have been a good idea for someone to try it though. especially with the economy tanking.

12. the price of oil will be higher at the end of 2009 than it is at the end of 2008.

right! in december 2008, oil was down to $30.28 a barrel. yesterday, it is trading at $79.36

13. hamas will still be in control of gaza by the end of 2009.

right. i wrote these predictions in the middle of operation cast lead, when the future of gaza was the question of the day. now most people, at least most people in the u.s., have gone back to not giving a shit.

14. bibi netanyahu will be prime minister of israel.

right. again, when i wrote this the israeli election hadn't happened yet and tsipi livni was trying to use the gaza offensive to win hawkish votes from bibi. i didn't think it would work and it didn't.

15. israel will not attack iran in 2009 (neither will the u.s.) and the standoff over the country’s nuclear program with the international community will continue.

right. i make some version of this prediction every year. why stop now? it's the gift that keeps on giving.

16. thailand will get yet another new prime minister in 2009.

wrong. the current prime minister of thailand is still abhisit vejjajiva. he has been in the position since december 17, 2008. that'll teach me to try to predict something about thailand. what do i know about thai politics?

17. the maliki government will lose ground in the provincial elections to be held later this month.

wrong. actually, he did rather well.

18. osama bin laden and ayman zawahiri will still be "at large" on december 31, 2009.

right. another gift that keeps on giving. (not that i want them to stay at large. i just mean that predicting they will not be caught is a pretty safe bet)

19. there will be some kind of coordinated armed action by the international community against the somali pirates.

wrong. as far as i can tell, there was no serious discussion of ever doing this.

20. the number of u.s. forces killed in afghanistan in 2009 will be higher than the number of u.s. forces killed there in 2008.

right. 106 american soldiers were killed in afghanistan in 2009, more than double the 51 who were killed in 2008.

21. and on a personal level, we’ll still be waiting for this to happen, but this will actually come to fruition in the coming year. that is mrs. noz and i will set foot in central asia at some point during 2009.

i'm going to count this as right. it is true that our kazakh adoption has not finished yet. technically, there is no adoption until we get the decree several weeks or maybe months from now. but the second sentence saves me. by clarifying that "to happen" is defined as setting foot in central asia, we've clearly done that! our feets are still here now. and yeah, we're still waiting for this, as predicted.

extra just-after new year prediction: mahmoud ahmadinejad will lose next summer's election in iran.

wrong. if i were in a charitable mood, i guess i could argue i was right because ahmadinejad probably did not get a majority of the vote. but we don't know that for sure and, in any event, he was declared the winner. when i made the prediction, i don't think i foresaw a stolen election. before 2009, iranian elections were largely above-the-board. Once the candidates passed the pre-election screening, the government generally honored the results even when their favored candidate didn't win. they let khatami serve two terms and ahmadinejad himself wasn't the mullah's choice when he was first elected in 2005. the 2009 election was a major break with this regime's history, i didn't foresee that happening at all.

overall, i got 14.5 right and 7.5 wrong. 65.909% accuracy, which is significantly worse than my 83.333% score from last year.

eventually, i'll put up my 2010 predictions.