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My 10 Predictions for 2012

| January 3, 2012

My inspiration.

The art of making predictions, Voltaire wrote, was born when the first rascal met an imbecile, which suggests that prophets predate the oldest profession—or are at least its first unaborted issue. Journalists being society’s preeminent whores, I’m reluctantly doffing good sense and picking up where my last 10 left off. Last year I was four for ten (by the most generous reading), down from seven for ten the year before. So this year’s predictions, I predict, will most likely have the kind of batting average Alex Rodriguez will post  yet again in his dismal decline.

Pierre Tristam FlaglerLive editor

Pierre Tristam

The Live Column

Recapping last year’s 10: On the biggest call, I was wrong on Jon Netts losing the Palm Coast mayorship, though two factors played in his favor: he drew little opposition, and on his big vulnerabilities—his embrace of a new city hall and letting City Manager Jim Landon play Rasputin to the council—he did the equivalent of 180s. The city is better for it. Holsey Moorman, who stuck to his comfort zones, did not do so well. I was wrong on “several” state and local governments collapsing and on another Arab-Israeli war breaking out (that one is always a matter of time), and I thought the Supreme Court would rule on the health care law, but it didn’t take up the case until this year. And my prediction on the 2011 Nobel Prize  for literature (Israel’s David Grossman) was demolished by another one of those great obscure choices by the Swedish Academy, a Scandinavian poet whose name escaped me the moment I was done deciphering it.

I predicted that Barack Obama would get back above 50 percent approval. He did so for a couple of months in the middle of the year, compliments of Osama bin Laden’s Navy Sealed and delivered carcass, but his remarkable gift for pretending that centrism is still a virtue in a nation of reactionaries earned him chilly 40s again the second half of the year. His more recent anger has him back up near 50. I only get half credit for that one. Pakistan has, in fact, lurched back into a military dictatorship in all but name. The 9/11 commemorations were only somewhat embarrassing and generally free of the gaudy chest-thumping of the Bush years. I predicted a deceptive economic recovery and record poverty. So it’s been on both counts, particularly in Florida. And it’s always easy locally to predict economic development follies: on that score, Flagler County’s politicians outdid themselves, and still do.

Now the predictions.

1. Obama is reelected. He doesn’t deserve it. But we don’t deserve the alternatives, whose idea of governance is a blend of Darwinian laissez-faire to the tune of reactionary social policy underwritten by evangelical superstitions.  The irony is that while Obama has been the butt of endless slanders about his alleged Islamism, it’s his opponents who would most honor Sharia-type governance. It’ll be an ugly campaign, mostly because the flood of corrupting campaign contributors and so-called Super PACs—political action committees usually established and run by the candidates’ allies or ex-aides but supposedly without a direct connection to the candidates. It’s the sort of official lie sanctioned by the 2010 Supreme Court decision prohibiting spending limits on campaigns by corporations, unions and “independent” groups, the court’s worst decision, for democracy anyway, since Bush v. Gore. Obama’s second term should be more interesting than his first, especially if he gets rid of Joe Biden, Hillary Clinton and Tim Geithner. Substantive? Probably not.

2. Iran provokes the United States into a confrontation, or vice versa. I admit that this one is really inspired by my colleague Tom Brown’s predictions (see below), but also by history. Wars are an election-year necessity in the United States, cooking up that fake brew of patriotism and national purpose that translate into free advertising for the sitting president. Killing bin Laden is already old news for Obama, and killing bin Laden won’t win him South Florida’s Jewish vote—crucial to win the state’s 27 electoral votes—the way a confrontation with Iran might. Besides, with U.S. military engagements over in Iraq and Libya, and possibly winding down in Afghanistan, the Obama administration will have to do something to justify the Pentagon’s delusion that it is the policeman of the Middle East. Occupying Saudi Arabia’s oil fields would do the trick, but only when Saudi Arabia’s monarchy falls. That’s not in this year’s plans: the price of oil is too high and the monarchy’s ability to buy off its people still too cheap. In time, yet more American blood will irrigate Arab soil to slake our oil addiction.

3. Obama will kill the Keystone pipeline: Speaking of oil addictions, Obama has a few weeks left to decide whether to approve or reject the so-called Keystone XL pipeline from Canada’s tar sands. He’ll say no. The $7 billion pipeline itself isn’t as horrific as its environmental opponents claim. It can (and should) be rerouted, if built, to avoid Nebraska’s magnificent sand hills, among other jewels along the way. But building the 1,700-mile thing isn’t necessary. It won’t produce nearly as many jobs as its proponents claim. TransCanada, the pipeline company itself, projects no more than 6,500 construction jobs for a couple of years, at best—not the 20,000 jobs House Speaker John Boehner is inventing, let alone the 100,000 jobs John Huntsman, the putative presidential candidate, spoke off, though he did so during those GOP primary debates where, in all fairness, fiction and its pulp derivatives were prized more than fact. Anyway, the pipeline isn’t the bigger problem. The kind of oil it carries is. Extracting oil from tar sands is an environmental cataclysm worse than strip-mining or “fracking” (the reckless water-pressure-based extraction of natural gas). It consumes three to four barrels of water for every barrel of oil extracted, it contaminates rivers, demolishes habitats, vastly increases air pollution, and in Canada, it will by 2020 produce more greenhouse gas emissions than all other sources in the country combined. Brazilian oil will be cheaper and less damaging in the short run. Investment in alternative energy, rather than continued dependence on fossil fuels—which aren’t called fossils for no reason—is wiser in the long run.

4. The Supreme Court will ratify the health care law. That’s a reversal for me. Last year I thought that the Roberts court would rule 5-4 against individual mandates. It might have, absent recent appeals court opinions by Judge Laurence Silberman of the D.C. circuit and Judge Jeffrey Sutton of the 6th Circuit in Cincinnati—two very conservative and respected judges, one appointed by Reagan the other by the second Bush. It might even be a 6-3 split, with only Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito in dissent. Thomas’s wife, who has been speaking in Sara Palin clichés about the evils of élites and the left long before Palin thawed into the Lower 48s,  has been a mercenary on the issue for the Heritage Foundation (the GOP’s leading madrassa), a job—and an income—her husband thought nothing of hiding from his Supreme Court financial disclosure forms for years.

5. The euro survives. Europe’s experiment with a single currency marked its 10-year anniversary without marking it a few days ago, because no one is excited by Europe’s Monopoly money. But for all of the continent’s economic nightmares, and a big European recession in 2012 that will ripple over the American economy like the wavelets of a distant tsunami, the euro is still stronger against the dollar than when it was first introduced. It will survive, as will the European Union. For now, anyway. That won’t stop riots, store-smashing and tire-burning from becoming Europe’s most visible climate change this year as governments impose the sort of austerity measures still foreign to Americans, to whom borrowing and spending is still a matter of national pride.

6. Tim Tebow’s prayers will not be answered. The Pittsburgh Steelers will thankfully retire the Bronco-Gator quarterback and his knee-jerk evangelism by the end of the first quarter in Sunday’s one-sided playoff game. Tebow’s public displays of prayer have not been nearly as vulgar and embarrassing as the suggestion that god, assuming she exists, would somehow have a hand in ensuring that the Bears, the Vikings or the Chargers should lose, or that Tebow’s presumptions rate divine intervention on gridiron irrelevance.

7. Gore Vidal, Fidel Castro, Pope Benedict XVI and a Supreme Court justice to be named later will die: It’s an annual habit of prognosticators: They predict Castro’s death, and Castro proves them wrong. But there’s eventual certainty in predicting Castro’s death, just as a broken clock is right twice a day. Maybe this is the year he stops ticking. I won’t say that Joseph Ratzinger’s death is overdue, but the end of his tenure is—has been since April 19, 2005, when it began. Maybe the college of cardinals will finally wizen up and elect a non-European next, for the church’s relevance’s sake (since it’s too much to ask for an Arab Spring-like insurgency inside the Catholic Church, the single-most regressive, undemocratic global institution extant). As for Gore Vidal, he stopped writing, which did not seem possible as long as he breathed. It’s death to any writer. His physical check-out time can’t be far behind. The Supreme Court Justice? I’m not specifying whether it’s a sitting or former one. I need the odds.

8. Jim Landon and Sharon Atack will look for other jobs: Only one of these two should be a surprise, and it’s not the one about Jim Landon, the Palm Coast city manager, whose days may be numbered not only because of the less subservient council he’s dealing with, but particularly if the News-Journal finally publishes its investigation of the city’s public works department. The paper was tipped off by former public works employee Terry Geigert (among others), a self-described whistle-blower who’s making a series of disturbing claims about the department, the way it’s run as a “hostile work environment” and the contractors it’s doing business with. The News-Journal is sitting on the story for now. County Judge Sharon Atack’s decision not to run again will be a big surprise, and a loss to the county, opening a local judgeship for the second time in two years. You know what that means: a fresh new circus of lawyers behaving badly and spending too much for the kind of seat that should never be up for electoral grab. (Jan. 4 update: 16 hours after this piece posted, the 7th Judicial Circuit announced Atack’s retirement. The story here.)

9. The world will not end. I’m going out on a limb with this one, but I’m pretty sure the Maya calendar has it wrong. The end is scheduled for Oct. 24, 2016. I have James Ussher’s email, somewhere in my spam folder, to prove it.

10. The Daytona Beach News-Journal will buy a low-performing national funeral home or cemetery chain. That’s to follow up on its acquisition of the 16 New York Times Regional Group papers last month for the equivalent of play money. It’s called horizontal integration.

For variety’s sake, here are my colleague Tom Brown’s predictions for the coming year. Feel free to add your own in the comments.

1. The U.S. election will be close but the Republican candidate will prevail. There will be allegations of serious voter fraud in at least 3 states.
2. The Occupy movement will incur casualties – serious injuries and 2 or more deaths in at least 1 or 2 locations.
3. A major bank will suffer arson or a bombing, as foreclosures continue to increase.
4. A run on Europeans banks will have spillover impact on the U.S. A bank holiday will be imposed for at least 3-5 days somewhere within Europe.
5. The U.S. inflation rate will near 6 percent and unemployment will stay above 8 percent.
6. A record number of incumbent congressmen and senators will be defeated in November.
7. Hillary Clinton will resign as secretary of state before Obama’s term is up.
8. A 3rd party candidate will garner at least 5 percent of the popular vote and will swing the election either right or left in at least 3 swing states.
9. War will break out in Iran – either an Israeli attack or a CIA-aided coup attempt.
10. An oil embargo will force gas prices above $5 a gallon.

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28 Responses for “My 10 Predictions for 2012”

  1. Jennifer Kuiper says:

    These were very fun to read but I still say Tebow’s going to win on Sunday! GB²! :)

  2. My list. 1. Obama re-elected. 2. Wisconsin governor recalled. 3. Ron Paul will run as third party candidate. 4. Euro survives. 5.Must-needed systemic changes in finance/politics will not be made as Congress continues to be a place where hope dies. 6. Unemployment will dip to 7 percent, though so many people have given up looking for work or are underemployed or in part-time jobs that the official figure is meaningless. 7. Florida Gov Rick Scott will face a recall movement. 8. Occupy will get headlines, but occupiers won’t vote. 9. The stock market will rise because of speculation, with little benefit to mainstream America. 10. Alex Rodriguez will flirt with the Mendoza line at the the start of the 2012 season, but rally to bat .250 before the season ends.

  3. Chris Conklin says:

    Pierre, if the broncos lose I’ll paint your house free of charge. You will supply the paint. Broncos win and you wear a tebow jersey and post a picture on Flagler live. I look forward to taking the picture.

    • Pierre Tristam says:

      Chris, first off, happy birthday (it was broadcast to the world during the school board meeting this evening. I think Sue Dickinson remembered to mention it). Now to tee-ball: it’d be a waste to take the bet on painting because every wall in the house is either covered by bookshelves or by the kind of art that would induce more Tebow fumbles than the usual rash. But I’ll do this: If the Broncos win I’ll go to a Catholic Sunday service of your choice and cross myself in public any given Sunday, preferably with Colleen along so I can show her my Richard Dawkins notes during the service. If you come too I’ll bring the beer (the wine at these things tends to be really, really cheap, if memory serves). The wearing of a Tebow jersey thing is really stretching it because I haven’t worn a t-shirt in public since 1970, and that was on another continent. I might compromise and wear a t-shirt, but you’ll have to let me choose it. All that is immaterial of course (there goes the materialism talk again) because the game will be over by the 12th minute at most. Jim Guines’s son-in-law is a Steelers fan, and we all know that Guines has more pull than god.

  4. themontecito says:

    I simply agree on 1 thru 10 but I’m concerned for #8. Being a Palm Coast resident I can only say what do we pay this guy Landon so much money for and yet mis-management seems to follow him.

    Just like the garbage bid? What seems to be a big joke. Maybe Terry Geigert is saying the truth on Public Worksand here is another one that should be looked at?

  5. Monkey business hasn’t interested me since it screwed this nation in the 1988 presidential election.

  6. Oneofthe10%whovoted says:

    I’ll go with Tom Brown’s predictions.

  7. Tom Brown says:

    Pierre, thanks for running my foolishness. I’ll reassure your readers that my 2010 predictions were even more dire and most of them didn’t come true, so not to worry. I was striving for a Jeane Dixon tone but sadly I’ve lost all touch with Hollywood. I don’t even know who Kim Kardashian is or why she’s important.

  8. SAW says:

    Pierre, Your predictions are not bad, but number # 5 the Euro will not survive, unless of course we the U.S. step in and support it through the IMF . Question is, will the American people have the stomach for yet another huge bailout what with all our current troubles at home, probably so only time will tell.

  9. roco says:

    I hope you”re wrong about Obama getting reelected. Another four years of a leaderless president and we’ll end up like so many other countrys which don’t have a pot to pi– in or a window to throw it out of..

  10. K says:

    Impressive Pierre- just saw a PCO article that Judge Atack is retiring and won’t run for reelection.

    Lets hope your Landon prediction comes to fruition just as quickly.

  11. palmcoaster says:

    Regarding prediction #8….and PC Public Works. Maybe by 2012 Fl will get out of “the good old boy tax payers contracts outsourcing” and more into the 3 to 5 bids system for our tax payers funded contracts assignments?
    Looks like the same style prevails all around Fl… if the above link sounds familiar.

  12. Jack Cowardin says:

    I predict Mother Earth will continue to show her displeasure with her occupants.
    And they, in turn, will continue their path of hate, war, greed, and neglect. Things
    basically never change, but to the few caring souls in this world I give thanks for
    your efforts. After all, the little ones are innocent and we, the tired, restless, cynics,
    occasionally reflect that the future is theirs.

  13. New Jersey says:

    Prediction 1 is a very good possibility.
    When it does happen the Teaparty will have a collective mental breakdown. What you will see then is a house and senate that will rebel even more. Anyone of color will be a target. New voting poll tax laws, to carrying papers to prove you are free, I mean legal, and who knows what other laws they will try to enact.

    I can’t wait to hear their new mantra.
    It won’t be the current one; our main goal is to make the president a one term president.
    Then maybe they can start earning their money and serve the people who elected them.

    I question prediction 8.
    Jim Landon may and I say may leave on his own accord. Although I doubt it because there may not be another government dumb enough to pay him over $200k+ per year.
    The collective town council doesn’t have enough sense to see that a competent manager can be hired at 90k and then add the 25-30% benefit package.
    Those who say he is doing a good job need their head examined.
    Even if he is doing a good that is far short of what $200k+ buys.
    He should be walking on water and feeding all of the homeless in Palm Coast and Flagler County with 2 loaves of bread and a couple of fish in a basket.

  14. palm coast is home says:

    Why, is a person or persons guilty by newspaper until found innocent? What if Terry Geigert is a former employee with an ax to grind? Why not get ALL the facts before making statements? Irresponsible journalism!

    • PC Resident says:

      I Agree-Disgruntled former employees? Why is that, because maybe someone ask them to do their job! I am sorry don’t we pay them to do their job? Far too long city employees asleep and not doing their jobs, residents ask for a change, City brings a change in a positive manor and now you accuse them of a hostile work environment which is it? Don’t we want our tax dollars going to work for our city! Let’s stop chastising our city managers and applaud and support them!! I am proud of our city , my hat off to all of them for job well done!

  15. Christie 2012 says:

    I applaud Ms Geigert’s attempt to fight city hall. With the high number of employees leaving the city, there most be some serious problems within. Maybe some house cleaning is in order!!!!

    • Tony C says:

      One of the main problems with the city is the fact that the Human Resources Department, run by Wendy Cullen, does not follow up on employee complaints about favoritism, bullying and questionable practices in the Public Works Department.
      Employees have complained and complained to Ms. Cullen about whats going on in Public Works for over 3 years, nothing has been done.
      When an employee quits or is fired, Ms. Cullen does the exit interview. When an employee goes to HR to put in a complaint, they talk to Ms. Cullen. She has continuously not acted on these problems, swept them under the rug or made it an employee problem.
      So, now you have a major problem.
      Send out letters to past employees and current employees of Public Works and get a response. You will be very surprised.

      • concerned resident says:

        Funny how none of these employees filed complaints while still employed. City employee files are public information, why don’t you people who believe this nonsense go to city hall and read their employee files, Im sure you will be quite surprised.
        I personally didn’t want my tax dollars to pay for gps traking units for city vehicles because employees want to do nothing all day, but in fact that’s what happened. There are lots of hard working people looking for work, why should we pay to employ these deadbeats.
        Do any of you know what the word Supervisor means??? A Supervisors job is to delegate and ensure that employees perform their jobs effectively…..they don’t get paid to BABYSIT!!!! Keep up the good work.

        • Silly Me says:

          Concerned resident: Where do you get your information? I am a City employee and don’t appreciate your assumption that City employees are deadbeats. Sure there are always some deadbeats, but the majority are good hard working people. Don’t just assume that when employees complain it is because they don’t want to work. Oh, and that statement about city employees not understanding that a supervisor’s job is to delegate and ensure that employees do their jobs is priceless. It would be nice if the city would send their managers to school to learn how to treat employees to get the most from them and that doesn’t include treating them like substandard humans. Maybe you should go to City hall and ask for all the facts. Fat chance on getting what you ask for. Just saying!

      • captainsniz says:

        I can say with 100% confidence that this is true. Back in 2008 an anonymous letter was sent to Landon outlining safety and hostile work concerns in a City department. Rather than deal with the issues raised, they went on a head hunt for the author. Eventually identifying a “suspect” and forcing them out of employment. This suspect was actually not the author and the concerns in the letter were never addressed. The actions sent a clear message to others about speaking up. The actual author left employment 6 months later after finding a new position.

        How do I know this? I was the “suspect”. It was shocking what went down!

  16. Liana G says:

    Some of these predictions are on par with some of my New Year’s resolutions – not likely to happen.

    Nay on Pierre’s first. I am tired of the ‘lesser of the two evils’ option. I want none! But if I have to settle, I am going with evil. Let’s bring evil out and see it for what it is. Maybe if we did have 4 more years of GOP rule instead of Obama we, the American public, might have finally been able to see it.

    But then again, Obama’s policies are more far right than they are far left of right and nowhere near left of right. So how does this make his party the lesser of the two evils? Sorry, I don’t buy that HE has a voice. Therefore, HIS policies are HIS party’s policies. So his presidency is ideal cover for more ramming through of the real agenda which means he will serve another term.


    I can appreciate observing a person bent in reverence to honor a divine belief – very humbling. What I cannot stand is watching grown men perform clownish antics and struts for every simple game play. Very tasteless. And while the uniforms are very nice, not everyone can wear them well even with all the excessively buff padding.

  17. Oneofthe10%whovoted says:

    Anybody but Obama at this point. Our hungry families needed some of that bailout money and got nothing but excuses. So much for hope and change.

    How many know that US military can now arrest an American citizen anywhere in the world, including here, if you are suspected of having terrorist ties and hold you indefinitely with no trial? Prez signed that one during the Christmas holidays. And HE makes the decision who to arrest. Your liberty is about to follow all that hope and change right out the door.

    How many know that the entire US House of Representatives is up for reelection this year? Thats right, these clowns run EVERY TWO YEARS. With a real good effort, it is possible to show up and vote them all out, even ours. How many years has it been since anyone has seen him in Palm Coast or Flagler County? What’s HE doing for us?

  18. roco says:

    Liana G. Where have you been? Obama is so far left he has a sore neck. Have you heard about Obama care? His party recommends policies and the Prez approves or VETOs. One person enjoying his rule is Jimmy Carter because Obama has upstaged Carter as being the worst president in US history..

    • Liana G says:

      roco – Obama care is a sweetheart deal that benefits big business/corporate America, not the American people who will be FORCED to buy into it or be fined. Don’t forget Romney, the republician front runner, did same to the citizens of MA way before Obama was elected. And have you looked at some of Obama’s appointees and advisors? They are Wall Street Titans. The whole president approve/veto gimmick is just public posturing. The real decisions are made by congress and the house egged on by their corporate masters.

  19. Anonymous says:

    {How many know that the entire US House of Representatives is up for reelection this year? Thats right, these clowns run EVERY TWO YEARS. With a real good effort, it is possible to show up and vote them all out, even ours. How many years has it been since anyone has seen him in Palm Coast or Flagler County? What’s HE doing for us? }

    YEARS??? really I know that “he” Micca was in Flagler at least 3 times last year as i did see him.

  20. Chris Conklin says:

    Hope you got to see the game last night. Colleen and I invite you to join us Saturday night for service and then to the house to watch the game in your t-shirt. Of course, wife and kids are invited!!

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