Last week, I scored myself on how I did with my 2015 predictions. Today I am making my predictions for 2016. Here we go!
- Hillary Clinton will be elected President of the United States.
This is an easy prediction to make if one pays attention to the polls. Clinton is lapping Sanders (who has my vote in the primaries) two-to-one, and is going to waltz to the nomination. In the general election polls, Clinton clobbers the front-runner (Trump) and most of the other candidates as well. In fact, the only candidate that comes close to beating her right now is Chris Christie, and he's third tier.
The bigger question is what kind of coat-tails she will have. Which brings us to:
- The Democrats will gain seats in the US House of Representatives, but nowhere near enough to take control in the next Congress.
The GOP has a massive majority (+58 seats with one vacancy), most of which are safe (and gerrymandered as fuck). The would have to lose thirty (30) for the House to switch control. The House is going to stay in Republican control, barring a massive, and I mean biblical, GOP meltdown. Paul Ryan has already managed to avoid a budget meltdown, which puts him light-years ahead of Boehner, so the chances of the GOP creating more self-inflicted wounds is slim. Of course, if their Presidential Candidate pulls a Mourdock, all bets are off.
- The Democrats will score a net gain of at least four US Senate seats, enough to control the Senate in the next Congress.
The US Senate, on the other hand, is much more volatile these days. Assuming I'm right about Clinton, the Democrats only need four (4) seats to win back control of the Senate. Of the 34 seats being voted on in 2016, only thirteen (13) are up for grabs in any real sense. Democrats are likely to pick up seats in Wisconsin and Illinois assuming just moderate coat-tails. If Clinton has wider coat-tails (i.e. because she's running against Trump), then the Democrats have a good chance to pick up seats in Florida and New Hampshire as well, and to defend their seats in Colorado and Nevada. That would give them a total of fifty (50), just enough to barely control the chamber (with the Democratic Vice-President breaking ties). Unfortunately, that puts Chuck Schumer in charge, and he's never seen a war or a violation of civil liberties that he didn't like.
- Kate Brown will be elected to finish her predecessor's term as Governor of Oregon.
Oregon is a purple state that's on the threshold of turning blue. Between that and Democratic strength during Presidential election years, she's a shoo-in. The real challenge will be 2018.
- Augustus Invictus will NOT be Florida's next US Senator.
This is the easiest prediction on the list, but it's worth making given how many friends of mine seem to like this guy. As for who WILL be Florida's next US Senator, I don't know, but I'm pulling for Alan Greyson.
- Tammy Duckworth will win the general election to represent Illinois in the US Senate.
The Illinois Democratic Party establishment is lining up behind her and Hillary, and they have enormous electoral strength in Presidential years, so this is an easy deal. Again, for her, the challenge will be to hold on to that seat --- which used to belong to Barack Obama --- for more than one term. Nobody has been able to do that since Alan Dixon lost it to Carol Mosley-Braun in 1992.
- Black Lives Matter will dominate the Presidential race
Black Lives Matter will be bigger than abortion, bigger than guns, bigger than gay marriage, bigger than the economy, bigger than ISIS. Black Lives Matter will be THE issue of 2016. It will be so for two reasons.
First, Black Lives Matter protesters will make sure the issue goes to the forefront of Presidential politics, and stays there. They will disrupt debates, interrupt conventions, and pull the kind of stunts we haven't seen since the 1970s, to make sure they are heard. Why shouldn't they? They're literally fighting for their lives.
Second, the backlash against Black Lives Matter is strong, and it will be fodder for whomever the Republicans choose as their candidate. Especially if that candidate is Donald Trump: he will run on white resentment and bring it from 4chan to the prime time. White privilege is a thing, folks.
This is not to say that conditions will improve for African Americans, but only that the discussion will be had. Which, unfortunately, will feed into the next prediction:
- Gun sales will continue to reach new records; prices of both guns and ammo will increase.
We've seen this happen over and over again. A mass shooting happens. There is media outrage and calls to "do something," perhaps including a ban on "assault weapons." In fact, Congress and the President aren't going to do anything even remotely close to an assault weapons ban. Obama can only do so much with executive orders, and with the Republicans controlling Congress, they're not even going to pass universal background checks. Your average American isn't going to consider that reality, both because most people have forgotten grade school civics and because they're scared out of their wits. And so, people who have been considering getting an "assault weapon" or a similar firearm will rush to pick one up before Congress or the President does...something. This is classic panic buying, which we've seen happen at least a dozen times since 2008.
I am frankly disgusted by this situation, both by the utter pants-shitting cowardice on the pro-gun side, and both the craven dishonesty and the sheer roaring incompetence on the anti-gun side.
Let's set a few things straight.
On the one hand, we need to do something about the flow of guns to gangs and the horrendous suicide rate in gun-holding households. We can address this without violating people's rights by cracking down on straw purchases, educating the public on the laws of gun safety, and encouraging people to keep their guns locked in a safe. Even better would be universal background checks, to give prosecutors a hammer to use against the grey market. If we do these things, the rate of gun deaths will go down, a LOT. If the pro-gun side would acquiesce to a few measures like this, that have an enormous benefit for everybody with no net change in the rights of law abiding gun owners, it would do away with a lot of the anti-gun side's talking points. In fact, if, as part of this bill, we set mandatory minimum standards for concealed carry licenses that include a program to encourage widespread reciprocity, that would go a long way towards opening up gun rights for the rest of us.
On the other hand, the anti-gun side is a study in bullshit. For example:
The Assault Weapons Ban, as proposed in HR4269, is lunacy. It calls for, and I quote, banning "(A) A semiautomatic rifle that has the capacity to accept a detachable magazine and any 1 of the following: (i) A pistol grip. (ii) A forward grip. (iii) A folding, telescoping, or detachable stock. (iv) A grenade launcher or rocket launcher.
(v) A barrel shroud. (vi) A threaded barrel." Of those, the grenade launcher or rocket launcher is the only feature that makes such a rifle more deadly. Fortunately, grenade and rocket launchers are already severely restricted as Destructive Devices, and practically impossible to get. Threaded barrels are for attaching sound suppressors, which are also strictly regulated under rules similar to those for grenade launchers. The rest of those features --- pistol grips, forward grips, adjustable stocks, and barrel shrouds --- don't make a rifle any more deadly than a semiautomatic rifle that accepts a detachable magazine and DOESN'T have any of those features, such as a Ruger Mini-14 Ranch Rifle or a Springfield M1A. This is about banning guns that look scary, because you think that by taking them away from people, you can keep them from playing warrior. Except that the actual point of mass shootings is to commit terrorism, either against the state or against the culture.
What's even dumber about this proposed ban, however, is that by making it illegal to purchase a semi-automatic version of an AR-15 patterned rifle (for example), you're encouraging people to pursue the other, remaining legal options. Which include --- wait for it --- Class III fully automatic versions. Whoops!
Also, it is not paranoid to claim that people are trying to take away citizens' guns, when everyone from the President to the President's likely successor to the New York Times is calling for Congress to look on Australia --- which used mandatory buy-backs --- as a model of gun control. You are a lying, gaslighting shit for claiming otherwise.
That's not to say that progress can't be made, but both sides are going to have to give something up first. The pro-gun side has to give up the notion that any gun control is a step towards a total ban. But before the pro-gun side does that, the anti-gun side has to give up Australia and England --- that is to say, prohibitionism --- as models for gun control. A better model, the model they need to adopt, is that of the Czech Republic or Switzerland, which have active gun cultures that are nonetheless tightly regulated. That way we can work towards making sure that law-abiding gun owners are competent enough to manage the firearms they own, without undue risk of mass disarmament.
- ISIS will execute a Paris-style attack on the United States.
Last year, I was wrong about the scale of the attacks; but I'm not wrong about the motives. They want to raise money. With the United States hammering their ability to deliver oil, they're starving for cash, and they're going to need to raise revenues elsewhere. One possible stream is donations from the rest of the Middle East. An attack on the Continental US with a high casualty count would really help them here. Also, it would push the United States further into Islamophobic hysteria and war fever, which is what they're trying to achieve.
- ISIS will lose half their territory between 1/1/2015 and 12/30/2016.
Despite all their bluster, ISIS doesn't really control a lot of territory --- most of what they have is empty territory that they can't patrol or enforce, although they control key checkpoints along the way. Their ability to hold those checkpoints depends on their economy and their recruiting. Their recruiting is doing just fine, unfortunately, but their economy is under pressure as the West blows up oil wells and oil trucks. They'll try to make up the deficit elsewhere, but it's not going to be quite enough. They'll need to conserve resources, which means they'll need to fall back to more defensible positions. Which means they'll cede control of huge swaths of territory, mostly on the Iraqi side, in order to better defend Raqqa.
- Oil prices will go back up this summer.
When oil was $100 a barrel, the United States went from being a net oil importer to a net oil exporter. This is because our consumption went down (because gasoline was expensive and fuel guzzlers were phased out) while production went up (because it suddenly became profitable to extract oil from tar sands, and because of the discovery of huge oil reserves in the Dakotas). OPEC is eager to stop competition from the United States, and so they're producing more oil than the world needs in order to keep prices low. The result: the price has dropped in half ($70 to $35/bbl) since January 1, 2015. This means new American wells aren't being developed. As the current wells dry up or go off-line, American production will drop, and oil prices will start to tick up. I predict $70/bbl between June 1 and September 1, 2016.
- The Oregon Ducks will win the Alamo Bowl.
The Ducks went 9-3 this year, which is lackluster compared to the last few years, but still good enough to qualify for a bowl game. More to the point, they showed remarkable improvement in the second half of the season (6-0). Their opponent, Texas Christian University (TCU), went 4-2 in the second half of the season. In other words, the Ducks have gotten hotter and the Horned Frogs (formerly the Horny Toads!) have gotten colder.
- The Carolina Panthers will beat the New England Patriots in the Super Bowl.
The Panthers aren't the best team in football this year, but they're the hottest, and have the best record in the NFL at 14-1. Granted: they're in the NFC South, which is generally dreadful. I think they're going to surprise people by powering their way through the playoffs. The Patriots, on the other hand, are dominant in the AFC, as usual. I personally am thinking the Panthers will go all the way.
- The Chicago Cubs will return to the postseason.
They were good in 2015, and recent trades have made them even better in 2016. Jason Hayworth in particular is a pitcher's nightmare. I still don't think they'll go to the World Series (although I'm starting to set aside money just in case), but I think they'll go to the NLCS again.