You'd think I would have learned my lesson. But at this time last year, I predicted six 2011 headlines, only one of which has appeared - below the Mendoza Line even for a columnist.
To be fair, these were news items I wanted but did not necessarily expect to see. And the one that did come true was a biggie.
First, I was hoping we'd see a regional primary system in the presidential contest. Instead of the traditional Iowa-New Hampshire-Super Tuesday routine, I hoped the 2012 cycle would be the first to use a rotating system of primaries for four regions of the country.
That didn't happen, and as Iowans prepare to caucus on Tuesday, the need for change has grown more acute. The beginning of the presidential cycle gives too much power to an unrepresentative few.
Another disappointment is that I still can't buy a six-pack at a Wawa. I had hoped this was the year I would see a headline proclaiming that Bud could be bought at a local convenience store. Nope. Big Brother continues to protect us by limiting our 7-Eleven purchases to cigs, soda, and snacks. Go figure.
Gov. Corbett is still promising to deal with the Liquor Control Board in 2012. I'm already drinking to that.
But my third wished-for headline did come true this year. I said I wanted to read this: "U.S. Special Forces Enter Pakistan." Five months before we really got Osama bin Laden, I wrote this hypothetical lead:
"ISLAMABAD, Pakistan - After receiving fire from militants on the Pakistan side of the border with Afghanistan near the mountainous Hindu Kush region, U.S. troops today pursued their attackers across that border. ...
"An exasperated President Obama today confirmed that U.S. Special Forces will continue to cross the Afghanistan border into Pakistan on the ground in search of Osama bin Laden, Ayman al-Zawahiri, and other al-Qaeda leaders."
An economic headline I wanted to read never materialized. But I continue to believe that a necessary step toward an economic recovery is psychological, and that we'll see marked improvements when talking heads start speaking in more optimistic terms. That still hasn't happened, which is a shame.
I also prayed that the U.S. Supreme Court would rule against Westboro Baptist Church and in favor of Al Snyder, the father of a Marine whose funeral was marred by members of the small Kansas congregation carrying hateful placards. Instead, the court sided with Westboro - a real sin.
Finally, I hoped there would be an up-or-down vote on the Simpson-Bowles commission's fiscal plan. Not only did that not happen, but as the year ends, there has been no congressional vote on any bipartisan bid to address the debt and deficit. And that remains a disgrace.
Despite all this, I remain undeterred. So here are six headlines I hope to read in The Inquirer in 2012:
Pennsylvania opens primary process: Recognizing that unaffiliated voters now make up the fastest-growing demographic in the nation's electorate, the commonwealth should end its closed primary process and allow independent voters an entrée into primary contests.
Sandusky pleads guilty: If he didn't do it, the ex-coach should fight. But if he did it, he should move quickly to spare his victims the indignity of a brutal criminal trial.
Christie accepts Romney invite: The Garden State would survive not having its chief executive for the four months he'd be needed on the campaign trail, and the state would benefit from having its former No. 1 as the country's No. 2. Christie would give a Romney-led ticket a sense of populism it will otherwise desperately lack. Romney should ask, and Christie should accept.
Clean sweep: However the 2012 election turns out, I'm increasingly of the mind-set that one party needs to hold all the reins of government, if for no other reason than to finally show whether austerity or a Keynesian approach can turn the economy around. The only thing coming from divided government is obstinacy, epitomized by the House class elected in 2010, and by the Senate, where 60 is the new 51 (votes).
Led Zeppelin Blu-ray released: Look, if Van Halen can stage (another) comeback in 2012, the least Led Zeppelin can do is finally release a DVD of the heralded Dec. 10, 2007, Ahmet Ertegun tribute concert staged at the O2 arena. So sharp were Messrs. Plant, Page, Jones, and (Jason) Bonham that there were rumors of a world tour that, sadly, never materialized.
They're not getting any younger, and neither are we. If we're not bringing our lighters to an arena one last time, at least let us watch at home on our flat screens.
Frazier statue unveiled: The Rev. Jesse Jackson was correct when, at Smokin' Joe's November funeral service, he said the champ deserved a statue á la Rocky. The idea has since caught some fire online. The Philly Live! development seems like an ideal location. Here's hoping it materializes soon.
Happy new year.