Normally I limit predictions to the political front, but since there's no election in 2015, I thought I'd delve into some finance, justice, sports and cultural predictions as well. Just call me an unencumbered Renaissance man. I have some extra time hanging out New Years Eve at my brother's house in Vermont, so I've included more than the usual share of graphics.
1. No, No, No, No In New Hampshire--The the extent that the same old stuff surfaces again in Concord, expect the New Hampshire Legislature to once again say no. No to expanded gambling once again. No to right to work. No to the death penalty repeal (if it even gets filed), and thankfully, with Republicans in control of both House (14-10 in the Senate and 239-160-1 in the House) no to new layers of nanny state government such as cell phone restrictions while driving, parental notification for tanning, or a tax on paints, all of which were pushed by Democrats last year. Sadly, it'll probably also be no to the attempt the just plain silly ban of ballot selfies passed last year.
2. Police Cams Everywhere--Based on the incident in Ferguson, Missouri and other horror stories involving police, expect police helmet cams to pass across the land this year. Republican Kyle Tasker has filed such a bill in New Hampshire. It should pass easily, the only question being about the cost of these modern devises. I look at it this way--the cameras will actual prove that good cops are doing a good job, so only bad cops should fear them.
3. Decriminalization Yes, Legalization No--Maybe it's just wishful thinking, but I have to believe that while not yet ready to pass full legalization of marijuana, the New Hampshire House and Senate will pass (and Governor Maggie Hassan will find a way to sign) some modified version of a decriminalization bill. It's ridiculous to think this libertarian-minded state, this live free or die state, would remain the only state in the Northeast to treat this harmless drug more harshly than we treat truly dangerous drugs. Of course, full fledged legalization, regulation, and taxation is the only real long-term solution. That's the only way to get drugs out of the hands of street pushers and for the state to realize a share of the profits.
4. Jody Arias Lives--Arizona is currently doing its best to put Jody Arias to death. After being found guilty in an especially brutal slaying of her boyfriend Travis Alexander last year, the jury was hung on the death penalty. The prosecution gets only this second try, and it will fail again thus meaning that Jody will live out her life in prison.
5. Aaron Hernandez Guilty--A Massachusetts jury will find former Patriot tight end Aaron Hernandez guilty on at least one count of first degree murder. Since the Bay State doesn't have the death penalty, the tattooed "superstar" will simply spend the rest of his days in prison.
6. Guilt But No Death For Dzhokhar--If the trial ever gets under way, Boston Marathon bomber Dzokhar Tsarnaev will be found guilty and although the jury might well want to put him to death, problems will arise in coming years. While a federal death penalty exists, a very real question exists as to whether someone can be given the death penalty for an act committed in a non-death penalty state. The very prospect of the challenge being out there will Tsarnaev alive for a very long time.
Is this the face of a man you'd like to spend an hour with every night? Me neither. It's the face of James Corden, Craig Ferguson's replacement for the Late, Late Show on CBS.
7. Late Night Failure For CBS--Neither James Corden,replacing Craig Ferguson in March for the Late Late Show, nor Steven Colbert, replacing David Letterman for the Late Show come fall, will prove to be a ratings success. Undoubtedly they'll both be around at this time next year, but don't expect them to make it through 2016, especially . Of course, I readily admit-- I'm rooting for a return of Craig Ferguson!
8. A Foxy Oscar--Movies on the big screen don't interest me all that much; the last one I saw was Lincoln, but I plan to see the Fox Catcher...so I'll predict that either Steve Carrell wins best Oscar for his portrayal of millionaire John duPont who recruited the wrestling Shultz brothers to train Olympic athletes...or even that the movie wins best picture.
9. Down Goes Obamacare--In his second chance on striking down Obamacare, Chief Justice John Roberts will not fail. He will join Scalia, Thomas, Alito, and Kennedy in deciding the case currently wending its way through the court that Obamacare as we know it will for all intents and purposes be dead.
10. Supremes Uphold Gay Marriage--Now that two lower courts have come forth with opposing ruling on gay marriage, the Supreme Court will be forced to take a case in the spring. Expect the decision in favor of gay marriage to be more than 5-4 (with Kennedy once again writing the majority opinion). I get the feeling Chief Justice Roberts would like to be on the right side of history on this one; and after he flips on the Obamacare case, this will come as a bone thrown to more progressive types. Hey, is that really the way the court operates?
11. Gas At $1.50--Now that gas prices have fallen below $2 a gallon in much of the county (it's about $2.25 on average as I write this on New Years Eve...albeit closer to $2.90 in Burlington, Vermont!), why stop there? Expect the price to be below $1.50 in most of the country by summertime (except probably not in Burlington).
12. A Strong U.S. Dollar--It's not really that the United States economy is doing all that well, but we're certainly heading in the right direction and stronger than much of the rest of the world, so expect the U.S. dollar to continue to move forward throughout 2015. I was looking for $1.20 Canadian ($1 U.S. gets you $1.20 Canadian) and 1.20 for the Euro ($1.20 U.S. gets you a Euro), but with the dollar already up to $1.16 Canadian and the Euro down to 1.23, let's look for $2.25 Canadian and 1.15 for the Euro some time in 2015.
13. Markets Up--Stock markets dipped late in the day January 31 to close at 17,823 for the Dow, 4736 for the Nasdaq, and 2058 for the S. and P. Look for Dow 20,000 in 2015--that's only a 12.2 percent gain; Nasdaq 5500, a 16.1 percent gain; and an even better move from the S. and P., up more than 20 percent to close approach the 2500 level.
14. Clinton/Bush Redux--Sad to say but by this time next year, Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Jeb Bush will be poised to win our first in the nation primary even if they both should stumble in Iowa. Don't expect either Mitt Romney nor Elizabeth Warren to enter the fray in 2015. I fully intend to support Rand Paul, but my record of being with winners is not exactly stellar.
15. Undefeated Wildcats--Normally I stay far away from sports predictions. After all, even Nate Silver (who picked Brazil to win the 2014 World Cup) learned that sports calls are much tougher than political ones, but as an out on a limb prediction, I'm going to go with John Calipari's Kentucky Wildcats to not only win the NCAA basketball championship but to go undefeated in the process. The question of a perfect season was being posed prior to the Kentucky/UCLA game a few weeks ago; I thought no, but then after watching the first half in which the Wildcats grabbed a 44-7 lead (they then went on to beat Louisville by eight), call me a believer in Team Calipari (I've never been a fan of Rick Patino or Louisville).