This is the time of year when the grocery store tabloids typically provide their readers with predictions for the coming year courtesy of fortune-tellers and sooth-sayers.
It's all hooey, of course. Television weathermen can't accurately predict the weather more than a day or two in advance, and even that's iffy. How could anyone expect to make predictions about world events and celebrity foibles months into the future?
But what really makes these predictions hooey is the lack of accountability. I would have grudging respect for the tabloids if, alongside their predictions for the new year, they'd run a scorecard showing how their previous year's predictions turned out.
Not one to turn down an opportunity to lead by example, then, here are the predictions I made for 2008 so we can check my track record:
- Ron Paul will not win the Republican presidential primary. Cynthia McKinney, running as the Green Party candidate, will not win the presidential election.
Not that it was ever in doubt, but those two predictions came true.
- After lots of bluster and flirtation with "dark horse" and third-party candidates, voters nationally will choose between two major-party candidates who are firmly entrenched in the establishment. Both alternatives will stink, but we'll hold our noses and vote for one of them anyway.
Ditto this one. It was funny during the presidential campaign to hear John McCain and Barack Obama, two U.S. senators, trying to out-outsider each other. And how many people did you hear say, "I'm only voting for McCain because he's not Obama"?
- Many Columbia County voters casting early ballots will actually vote for a candidate who, by the time Georgia's Feb. 5 primary rolls around, will no longer be in the race.
Fred Thompson dropped out of the race Jan. 22 but still got 72 votes in Columbia County; 33 of those votes came from early voters. Rudy Giuliani received 121 votes despite withdrawing from the race Jan. 30; 59 of his votes came from early ballots.
In the spirit of phony fortune-tellers and horoscope-writers, some of my predictions also were made to allow broad, impossible-to-lose interpretation. It's easy to declare victory when the terms are so vague.
- We will mourn the death of someone who is moderately important and/or famous.
I confidently make this prediction for 2009, too. It's sad to note, however, that two of our local losses this year - Preston Blanchard and Jennette "Bob" Smith - were former staffers for The News-Times.
- A local, regional or national sports figure or team will celebrate an important victory.
This is another one I'll repeat for 2009. Just fill in the blanks.
- A local, regional or national sports figure or team will suffer a humiliating loss. (To be more specific, it's the Atlanta Falcons. I know you're shocked.)
Ah, smartalecky specificity got me in trouble on this one. In the post-Michael Vick era, who knew rookie quarterback Matt Ryan would step up to lead the Falcons to the playoffs? Good for them.
- It will get hot this summer, and someone will blame "global warming." And, we will have a late frost this spring, and someone will cite it as proof that "global warming" is as fake as Al Gore.
We'll keep these around for 2009, too. What's funny, though, has been seeing the subtle change in language as adherents to the "global warming" religion have run out of excuses; now they refer almost exclusively to "climate change" instead.
- Someone who should know better will do something really stupid, and we will hear about it endlessly on the news.
And I confidently predict this will happen again in 2009, too - and every year until the human race goes extinct from "climate change."
Happy new year.
(Barry L. Paschal is publisher of The Columbia County News-Times. E-mail comments to barry.paschal at newstimesonline.com.)
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