Completely undeterred by my decidedly spotty track record from last year, I'm forging ahead with bold predictions for 2011. A little different format this year, grouping my predictions by subject area:
International Relations: No nuclear weapon for Iran, no overt military activity involving Iran. U.S. offers to broker peace settlement between India and Pakistan; both countries accept but no resolution reached. The civilized world, following a cue for the U.S. and China, will puss out and give more money and food to North Korea in exchange for their promise to not kill any more South Koreans until they do again. Turkey will cease attempting to gain membership in the European Union and make noises about withdrawing from NATO but not actually go through with it. Watch for religiously-motivated violence to dovetail in to Presidential elections in Nigeria, Mexico's drug violence to spread south of the border into Guatemala, and for Taliban/Al-Qaeda activity to spread from Afghanistan into Tajikistan.
Domestic Politics: Congress will fail to impose meaningful spending cuts and by New Years' Day 2012, the U.S.A. will be more than fifteen trillion dollars in debt. Candidates announcing for the Republican nomination for President before year's end and will include at least Sarah Palin, Mitt Romney, Mike Huckabee, Tim Pawlenty, Ron Paul, Mike Pence, and John Thune.* The Republicans will shut down the Federal government and walk away from doing so with no significant gains to show for it. Emboldened by the prospect of such weak Republican competition, President Obama will announce no changes to his top Cabinet officers and no serious primary challenge to him will manifest in 2011. There are three gubernatorial elections in 2011 (Kentucky, Louisiana, and Mississippi), and Republicans will win them all. The Senate will consider filibuster reform and everyone will agree that the existing system has significant imperfections, but any attempt to actually change the filibuster rule for future Congresses will be, itself, filibustered.
Economy: Will muddle along with little significant improvement or decline in jobs or construction. (I feel that I'm being optimistic when I say this.) Inflation will rise above an annualized rate of 4% and there will be much wringing of hands and gnashing of teeth, to little effect. The government will attempt to kick-start mortgage lending and consumer credit with loan guarantees to banks; this will result in little economic growth, more bankruptcies, and increased governmental debt.
Law and the Courts: The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals will affirm the trial court's ruling in Perry v. Schwarzenegger, on the grounds that no party with standing to do so lodged a challenge to the plaintiffs' claims, and offer no binding legal authority on the Fourteenth Amendment claims. This ruling will be appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, which will grant certiorari for an expected oral argument in early 2012. There will be no nomination to the Supreme Court.
California: Governor Jerry Brown will propose an austerity budget and quickly find himself at odds with his own party. Republicans will be all but completely ignored in the ensuing mess, and the annual budget kabuki will last even longer than it did this record-breaking year. The state will fall once again into drought, and unemployment will remain at functionally its current level most of the year, measured in jobs created versus jobs lost. (Again, it's my opinion that I'm being optimistic here.) There will be very serious wildfires in the Sierra Nevadas, possibly affecting parts of the southern Sierra national parks like Kings Canyon and Sequoia.
Movies: It'll be a big year for superheroes and quasi-superheroes: Pirates of the Caribbean 4, Thor, Green Lantern, Harry Potter 7 (Part 2), and I Am Number Four should all do very well. Captain America: The First Avenger a little less so; the X-Men, Hangover, and Transformers sequels will also disappoint. Speaking of which, we will learn that the villains in the third and final Christopher Nolan Batman movie (which we won't see until 2012) will be Catwoman (who we will learn trained with Ra's al-Ghul before his demise in the first movie) and a lesser-known villain named Black Mask. I'll be most looking forward to Jon Favreau's Cowboys and Aliens. Someone will make "WikiLeaks: The Movie" (it'll have a better name than that, I hope) and it will lose money. After seeing the financial success of reality television, we will see the first of several "unscripted" reality movies starring "real people" and it will make money, inspiring numerous dreary, insipid imitators.
Note that for the first time on record, I'm abandoning my prediction that Britney Spears will publicly and loudly become a devout Christian. Oh, it's still coming, but I realize now why she hasn't yet. Despite everything, she still has too much and needs to hit rock bottom -- I'm talking about the puking-on-her-own-vomit-in-the-ER, bankruptcy-trustee-with-moving-crew-at-the-door, owes-scary-money-to-Lithuanian-mafia kind of rock bottom.
* Gary Johnson doesn't count; he has effectively announced already and while out of that group I easily like him the best, let's face it, he doesn't have a prayer.
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