Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Grading my 2014 predictions

It's that time of year again! On most January 1sts since 2008, I have made a pulled a bunch of predictions for the upcoming year out of my ass and posted them online for everyone to see. Then on the December 31st of that same year, I have gone back to those predictions and graded them. On January 1, 2014, I posted these predictions. Here is how I did:

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]

Right! This one is a free point every year.

 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.

Right again.

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.

Another point for me! The current number of U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals vacancies is 7. And yes, the reason the number is so low is because of the abolition 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.

Yet another point! The current number of vacancies on the U.S. District Court is 32.

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))

Also right. The filibuster still exists for legislation.

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

Okay, so this was completely wrong. Maybe not completely wrong--the Democrats did lost seats in both chambers, and the House did not switch parties because it was already in Republican hands. But this prediction clear was saying there would not be a switch in the Senate and a switch clearly did happen. It wasn't even that close.

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].

He's still there! Russia ended up giving him a three year residency permit.

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]

Wrong. Even though they are all getting up there in years, none of them kicked the bucket or was thrown out of office in a coup (which is basically the only ways I expect any of them to leave)

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.]

Right. There is a pretty detailed map of who controls what here.

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

Yes. hurray!

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.

Nope and nope. The anti-Scott backlash just didn't materialize.

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

I'm going to count this one as wrong. I don't believe that there is any ongoing investigation of the Benghazi!TM  matter at this particular moment. The House investigation concluded last month with a report that basically debunked the most frothed about on Fox Benghazi!TM  allegations. But that's not going to stop anyone in the House, and/or the new GOP-controlled Senate for that matter, to launch a new shiny investigation wasting even more taxpayer dollars. Actually, I fully expect that will happen. But at this moment, I think there is no ongoing investigation, so I have to count this as wrong. (Please correct me in the comments if I am incorrect)

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.

I am going to count this as half right. The MB was barred from participating, but beyond that, there did not seem to be Iranian-style pre-vetting of all candidates.

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

Yes! And by utter coincidence, the President also happens to be the same guy who as chief of the Armed Forces deposed Mohammed Morsi last year (although he resigned his military post when he announced his presidential candidacy)

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

Well that didn't happen.

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

That did happen. (There didn't seem to be any major allegation of unfairness, although there were a bunch of controversies related to the election.)

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.

Unfortunately, I was right about this one.

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)

Wrong! The idea that the conservative majority would give a shit about the logical consequences of its decision now seems laughably naive. This year has really revealed just how results-oriented they have become. I wonder how they will deal with the inevitable follow-up cases where unfavored religions try to use the Hobby Lobby decision to get what they want. (e.g.)

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

Yes, 9,800 U.S. soldiers are staying in Afghanistan, never mind that bullshit ceremony the other day.

21. Libya will not hold general elections in 2014.

I guess I have to count this as wrong. Elections were held, but the results were later annulled when the courts ruled that the legislation authorizing the election was unconstitutional. Plus, Libya is pretty fragmented and doesn't have a single governing authority that controls the country enough to hold a real national election, or issue universally respected legal decisions. Still, my prediction was about whether the general election would take place in 2014. It did, so I was wrong.

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.

Although two months ago, the Obama Administration claimed that it was not giving up on restoring the extension, it never was able to get Congress to restore it. I was right on this one.

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.

Wrong. At least it hasn't happened yet. With yesterday's failure to have Palestinian statehood endorsed by the Security Council, the Palestinian Authority is apparently considering whether to try joining the ICC as its next move. It did not, however, take that move in 2014. My prediction failed.

WAIT! See update below. I got this right after all, with just hours to spare!!! Woo-hoo!!!!

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

Did not happen.

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

I am going to count this as half right and/or half wrong. Implicitly my prediction was about immigration legislation, and I was right that no such legislation passed. But I did not expressly limit it to legislation and Obama did issue an executive order to deal with the immigration issue. So there was a kind of reform.

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.

Right. Currently gay marriage is legal in 36 states (plus D.C.). I was also right that all of the advances on marriage equality in 2014 happened because of judicial decisions or a decision not to contest a judicial decision. No state legalized gay marriage in 2014 through an act of legislation or popular referenda.

So what is the final score? I count 16 correct predictions to 10 incorrect predictions (okay, technically 15 right, 9 wrong, and two half points in each column, which makes another point for each). That is a 61.538% success rate, which is pretty close to the 62% (15.5 to 9.5) I got last year. But it is slightly lower and last year was already my worst success rate since I started doing this. [SEE BELOW UPDATE] (2012: 15.5 right to 6.5 wrong (70.455%); 2011: also 15.5 right to 6.5 wrong (70.455% correct); 2009: 14.5 right to 7.5 wrong. (65.909%); 2008: 20 right to 4 wrong (83.333%)--I never did a 2010 prediction because Kazakhstan).

Which means that 2014 is the new reigning champion of bad predictions. I can't wait to find out how badly I do in 2015!

UPDATE (1/1/15): As Snarki pointed out in the comments, on December 31, 2014, the Palestinian Authority joined the International Criminal Court.Which means that prediction number 23 was right, not wrong.

My prediction-grading posts are always pretty long. So it should come as no surprise that I work on these posts in advance, usually the last week of the year and then set the post to appear in the last minute of the year. In most years, doing things in advance makes no difference, what are the chances of something happening at the last minute? I have no idea what the chances are. But it did happen this time.

Anyway, that means the final score for 2014 is, in fact, 17 correct predictions to 9 incorrect (16 right, 8 wrong, and two half points for each), which is a 65.385% success rate, better than last year, and only slightly behind 2009. 2014 is not my worst year after all. It's only my second worst, and it's only a hair behind being the third worst. Woo-hoo! USA! USA!