Crystal Ball Watch 2011

It’s that time already (where did 2011 go?!)—time to see how my New Year’s predictions faired in the cold, hard light of reality.

Last year’s New Year’s predictions forecasted an unpopular Obama, an unraveling Europe, and a Verizon iPhone. And, surprisingly enough, we had an unpopular Obama, an unraveling Europe, and a Verizon iPhone. On the other hand, Fidel Castro hasn’t yet gone off to his villa in Hell, and the Bush tax cuts aren’t permanent—yet. Let’s see how I did:


  • President Obama, increasingly embittered by the political process and the Republican House, retreats from the public eye and rumors swirl that he will not run for a second term.

    More-or-less right: President Obama made a few speeches through the year, but for a politician that was elected based on his oratory, he’s made himself scarce over the past year. As his approval ratings have declined, the President has been trying to sell his unpopular policies to a diminishing office. But he’s made no bones about it: he’s running again.

  • The GOP won’t have a much better year. Their commitment to fiscal discipline will be continually tested, meaning that there will be plenty of difficult votes on spending in 2011.

    Right: Indeed, the Tea Party-backed GOP has been trying to be fiscally-responsible, but have not been able to do much to slow the rapacious growth of government.

  • Sarah Palin will continue to tease a run for the Republican nomination in 2012, but won’t actually commit to anything.

    Wrong: Sarah Palin is, mercifully, not running for President, and while she remains popular with the Republican base, her celebrity is fading.

  • The Democrats will once again learn the wrong lessons from their 2010 drubbing, and will embrace the far left instead of running to the center.

    Correct: Instead of moving to the center, the Democrats have decided that it’s time to stop pretending that they’re anything but a party owned by the left. Their supportive reaction to the Occupy movement and their embrace of populist rhetoric demonstrates foretell their strategy for 2012.

  • Redistricting battles will end up getting fought in court as the Democrats try to fight to keep as many Democratic seats as they can.


  • ObamaCare suits will be appealed, and will eventually end up on the Supreme Court’s docket. But because Congress will end up removing the mandates from the bill, the Supreme Court will declare the issue moot.

    Half-Right: The Supreme Court will take up the ObamaCare issue in three days of oral arguments this March. But despite Republican opposition, the GOP just doesn’t have the votes to repeal ObamaCare… yet.


  • The last vestiges of democracy in Venezuela will be cast aside as Hugo Chavez extends his emergency rule into a lifetime dictatorship.

    Correct: And even though the Venezuelan dictator is nearly ready to join Osama bin Laden, Mohammar Qadafi, and Kim Jong-Il in Hell, what will happen to the country he has plundered is still very much in the air. But it looks like Chavez will be the Venezuelan dictator for life—what little life he has left.

  • The conflict in Afghanistan will continue to be bloody and difficult. By the end of the year the conventional wisdom will be that Afghanistan is Obama’s Vietnam, and the future of the US mission there will be in doubt.

    Partially Right: As the mission in Iraq winds down, the mission in Afghanistan continues to drag on. But the media, ever faithful to Obama, has avoided turning Afghanistan into another Vietnam. But if the situation there continues to destabilize over the next year, it may become harder to sweep it all under the rug.

  • North Korea will continue to rattle their saber, but they will stop just short of provoking a full-scale war.

    Right: And now that Kim Jong-Il has shuffled off this mortal coil, and his son is (allegedly) in power, all bets are off for the future.

  • Iraq’s biggest problem in 2011 will be corruption rather than terrorism, and civilian casualties will remain low.

    Right, Maybe: So far Iraq has been relatively quiet, although now that the U.S. has pulled out, the country is once again in danger of flying apart. The fact that sectarian tensions are once again bubbling to the surface may mean that Iraq will be a hotspot once again. Let’s all hope the Iraqis will be able to keep a republic.

  • Fidel Castro will die, and Raul Castro will begin implementing policies similar to the glasnost and perestroika of the old Soviet Union in order to liberalize the Cuban economy and pave the way for a free-market system.

    If Only It Were True: Even though Cuba is very slowly liberalizing, it has a very long way to go.


  • The US economy will improve, but much too slowly. Unemployment will remain high, only retreating to around 8%.

    True: Unemployment has retreated—but much of the decline is due to people leaving the workforce. The endemic level of unemployment is both an economic and a societal disaster that we will be dealing with for a very long time.

  • The Bush tax cuts will be made permanent, and while President Obama will complain, he will still sign the tax reductions into law.

    Wrong: The tax cuts were extended, but have not yet been made permanent. And while Obama campaigns on raising taxes for the rich, he still signed off on extending the Bush tax cuts.

  • The Eurozone will face collapse as the fiscal crisis in nations like Greece and Portugal tug at the Euro’s foundations. Germany will refuse to bail out European banks and will threaten to leave the Euro.

    Right and Wrong: The first sentence was right on the money, as we’ve seen in the last few months. But Germany has (thus far) gone along with bailing out the debts of the countries on the periphery in order to keep the Eurozone afloat—but they will not be willing or able to do that for very long, especially if a large country like Spain or Italy starts failing.

  • The Chinese economy will begin to slow, stoking fears of another worldwide economic panic.

    Not Yet: There are serious concerns about China’s economy, but they haven’t yet manifested themselves as serious worries yet. The world seems more concerned about the situation with the Euro.


  • The iPhone will come to Verizon, and will sell like hotcakes. The next version of the iPad will also come to Verizon, and will be accompanied by a major push by Apple to get the iPad into the business market.

    Correct: I got this one right, but it wasn’t that bold a prediction…

  • The battle between Google’s Android and Apple’s iOS will continue, but the Verizon iPhone will put a serious dent in Android’s growth.

    Wrong: Android continues growing like gangbusters. But don’t think that means that Android is “winning.” Apple does not compete based on market share, they compete based on making the best products and making the most money selling them. On that front, Apple remains the key player. Given that Apple is using the 3GS to try and compete in the entry-level market, they are not ceding anything to Google. Android’s growth seems to be more driven by people trading in their dumbphones or featurephones for smartphones—just try and buy a cellphone that isn’t a smartphone these days, it’s not easy. And most of those cut-rate smartphones that the carriers are pushing run some variant of Android.

  • The SyFy Channel will stop airing real science fiction.

    Correct: SyFy has a few decent shows that arguably qualify as science fiction (I’ve heard Warehouse 13 and Eureka are good), but is basically a dumping ground for B-movies, shitty reality shows, and wrestling. NBC/Universal have completed what former channel head Bonnie Hammer started in killing what made the network unique.

  • Global warming hysteria will officially jump the shark after 2011 sees record cold temperatures.

    Correct, Sort Of: Winter 2011 was miserable, and Summer 2011 was not the scorcher that some were predicting. But despite even more leaked emails demonstrating that “climate science” has become an echo chamber, global warming hysteria has not gone away. That’s because global warming is less about science than it is about creating a quasi-religion, complete with all the trappings.

  • SpaceX will successfully dock a Falcon capsule to the International Space Station and will announce that they will be ready to bring tourists to the ISS before 2016.

    Not Yet: But it looks like they will dock with the ISS early in 2012, and that 2016 date might be optimistic, but it’s within the realm of possibility.

  • The 3D movie trend won’t save Hollywood from declining box office figures and their own creative stagnation.

    Correct: Hollywood’s creative bankruptcy knows no ends: now they’re re-releasing the same old crap, but this time in 3D! Kids, the extra D in the re-release of Star Wars: Episode I is for an extra dose of disappointment…

Wrapping Up

So, I didn’t do too badly on my predictions, although a lot of them were fairly obvious even back then. What I didn’t predict is notable: I wouldn’t have thought that this year would have seen the deaths of Osama bin Laden, Mohammar Qadafi, and Kim Jong-Il. I would not have imagined that the self-immolation of a Tunisian fruit dealer would lead to a wave of revolution that would remake the Middle East. I wouldn’t have imagined in December 2010 that Newt Gingrich would have been a front-runner for the 2012 GOP nomination (albeit briefly).

And sadly, I wouldn’t have predicted that Steve Jobs would leave us, even though it wasn’t that great a surprise. Genius is often fleeting.

What a long, strange year it has been—and who knows what 2012 may bring… but that won’t stop me from making another set of predictions for the next year…