- - Wednesday, December 31, 2014

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

With my first column of 2015, I’m dusting off my crystal ball and making some predictions for the new year.

There’s always a risk in engaging in this particular mug’s game. Jackie Mason famously quipped, “Predictions are preposterous,” while baseball great Casey Stengel said, “Never make predictions, especially about the future.”

Both statements are correct, but you have to have some fun in life. Why not make some predictions that are either realistic, humorous, or completely off-the-wall? (You can decide in which category each prediction belongs.)

My list is as follows:

President Obama will spend the entire year blaming everyone for America’s political and economic problems, except for one person: himself. OK, that was an easy one. I need to get one prediction right, after all.

Jeb Bush will open up a wide lead for the 2016 GOP presidential nomination. Some people are worried about another Bush family member running for president. It’s up to him to ease fears about his candidacy, learn from John McCain’s and Mitt Romney’s losses, and create a balanced political platform of fiscal and social conservatism. My sense is that he will.

Hillary Clinton’s biggest rival for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination won’t be Elizabeth Warren. Some people believe these two women will duke it out for the nomination. Mrs. Clinton, who’s more centrist, gained a huge advantage over the uber-liberal Mrs. Warren after their party collapsed in the midterm elections. Her biggest opponent, if there ends up being one, has yet to be revealed.

Bill de Blasio will remain at odds with the New York Police Department. While it would be better if both sides resolved their differences, don’t count on it. New York City’s mayor has a horrendous relationship with the police, and this department knew what they were in for when he was first elected. Even if a public truce is eventually declared, closed-door meetings will be the equivalent of hell on earth.

The economy will continue to struggle. The White House can tout skewed job numbers and inflated growth all they want. Here are the facts: The United States is less economically free, and more heavily regulated and taxed since Mr. Obama became president. It will be more of the same in 2015, alas.

There will be a small presence of American boots on the ground against the Islamic State. Mr. Obama has refused to give an inch, but knows deep down that the only way to beat the terrorists is with the brave Americans in uniform. It won’t be a full military surge, but the president will establish a small presence before his last year in office.

Vladimir Putin’s insatiable thirst for conquest will continue. The Russian president, who is a self-styled Soviet leader at heart, still has his sights set on rebuilding the Iron Curtain. Ukraine and the Baltic States will have to remain on high alert in 2015, I’m afraid.

Stephen Harper will be re-elected as Canadian prime minister. Canada’s economy is solid, and the budget has been balanced. Alas, my old boss has struggled in opinion polls for months. He always runs strong election campaigns, meaning the youthful, inexperienced and vapid Liberal leader Justin Trudeau, and more experienced (and ardently left-wing) NDP leader Thomas Mulcair, will be on their heels. Mr. Harper should win a close election, and form a minority government.

The NFL will change the rules about sub-.500 division winners. The Carolina Panthers captured the NFC South with a 7-8-1 record. They’re the second NFL team in four years to win a division with a losing record. Should they really make the playoffs, at the expense of teams with winning records? Maybe it’s time for a rule change, Commissioner Roger Goodell.

Roger Federer will win one last Grand Slam title and retire. His best chance is at Wimbledon, where he barely lost to Novak Djokovic this year. Still, I wouldn’t be surprised if Mr. Federer wins the U.S. Open and, like Pete Sampras before him, promptly retires.

“Mr. Turner” will upset “Selma” for Best Picture at the Oscars. The Hollywood establishment believes the film about Martin Luther King and voting rights marches is a shoo-in to win the Academy Award. Wouldn’t it be something if it went to an equally praised film about the great British landscape painter? It would certainly make liberal heads spin.

There won’t ever be “The Interview 2.” Thank God for that.

Happy 2015.

Michael Taube is a contributor to The Washington Times.

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