"To laugh is proper to man."
—Rabelais (in Gargantua and Pantagruel, 1532)"Everything human is pathetic. The secret source of Humour itself is not joy but sorrow. There is no humour in heaven."
—Mark Twain (in Following the Equator, 1897)
(Swans - January 1, 2005) The unbearable scenes of the natural disaster that has befallen so many countries surrounding the Indian Ocean, and the unfolding carnage in Iraq -- as well as the long term consequences of these catastrophes -- should in and by themselves put a damper on our traditional Infamous Predictions. So should another four messianic years of malfeasance by the current fundies occupying the White House, the continued sexual repression, loss of liberties at home and abroad, dilapidation of human capital, abandonment of the environment to the worse predators, the ever-intensified social Darwinism transcended in Creationism cum-rapture, and all those forces of darkness (literally, since these people have long gone biblical) -- all these heavenly lullabies and songs of renunciation, by which, in the words of Heinrich Heine, "the people, that giant clown, is lulled from its lamentation."
Yet Twain reminds us that sorrow sows humor. Remember the rule Maurice Maréchal, the founder of the satirical French weekly, Le Canard Enchaîné, once concocted (see our 2002 Predictions): When confronted with the gravest of injustice, first, "get indignant;" second, "Laugh: It's more powerful, more effective, more avenging, and funnier." After all, "freedom produces jokes and jokes produce freedom," said Jean Paul Richter in his 1804 Introduction to Aesthetics. Though highly unlikely, perhaps aesthetics will carry the day in the not-too-distant future and defeat meanness, ignorance and sheer idiocy.
So, here again, we present for your enjoyment our yearly, slightly obnoxious predictions, courtesy of the few clowns (1) who find Swans' stables more appealing than the Emperor's clothes, and who, in the company of Max Ernst, prefer "one wild strawberry to all the thrones in the world."
After Bush's second inauguration, it is reported that many Democrats are suffering from a condition akin to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. As a result the pharmaceutical industry rushes a new antidepressant to market -- Republizac: The drug causes Democrats to smile like happy imbeciles as they roll over for far-right-wing appointments and legislation without a fight nor even a whimper of complaint. It is later reported that the leadership of the Democratic Party has been medicated on a test version of the drug for many years...and the side effects are plain for everyone to see.
The thriving pharmaceutical companies will become the benefactors of the under-funded public education system: As a result, public schools will begin to be named after the popular products marketed by their benefactors. Example: The Ritalin Way Elementary School.
After an American company mucked-up the flu vaccine supply and the United States government implemented a convoluted reversal on its ban of drug imports from Canada, and then scrambled to acquire 40 million doses of vaccine, scientists predict a record mild flu season. Embarrassed by all the controversy, President Bush orders the Department of Homeland Security to release influenza virus on all domestic flights thereby creating the threat of an epidemic and ensuring the hard-won vaccine inventory will be utilized.
The last remaining blockbuster drug on the prescription market, Viagra, is found to be associated with fatal heart attacks in males during sex. Fearing the FDA will ban its use, men across America band together for the first time ever to fight for the right to choose. "It's my body and I have a right to do what I want with it, even if it kills me," says the recent Viagra convert and new Pfizer spokesman, Newt Gingrich.
In other pharmaceutical related news: A vial of Steroids will be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.
The FBI under Alberto Gonzales will vigilantly prosecute those responsible for outing Valerie Plame, those outed for rigging the election for Bush, and of course, Kenneth Lay; all other evil people in the world will turn themselves in peaceably.
The new, compassionate conservative head of the Environmental Protection Agency introduces the "No Salmon Left Behind" and "No Forest Left Behind" Acts. However, after the release of the 2004 education statistics, the EPA decides it is probably not prudent to document the demise of species, and the acts are quietly shelved.
The State Department announces new language guidelines to replace some of the highly charged words that have been bandied about as of late. Genocide will now be described as "Persuading Non-believers to Accept our Values." Global Warming will be referred to as "Pre-Rapture Thaw-Out," and nuclear war, "Rapid Jesus Delivery System."
It is revealed that Dick Cheney will retire before the end of the second Bush term and has already began working on his autobiography -- with the aid of a prominent horror novelist as ghostwriter (rumored to be Steven King) -- tentatively titled: "The Rise Of Cheney: Dick Of The Living Dead.
Electronic voting machines revolt against the slander that they were used by Republicans to rig the 2004 election and the machines claim the actual winner -- and rightful president -- was: one of their own, an electronic voting machine...with second place going to a write-in candidate -- a toaster oven.
Wal*Mart teams up with Diebold to make sure that every sales transaction world wide -- and more -- is counted, and that union votes (where applicable in the heavens) are handled fairly.
The Democrats and the Greens decide to join forces to create one cohesive, ineffectual political party to take a stab at the 2008 presidential election, with Dan Rather and Tom Brokaw identified as the most likely figures to resonate authority with the American people. "Divided we Stand, United we Fall" is their slogan, under DGNC Party leader Howard Dean. "Demgreens don't stand no chance," the Red States snicker.
Hillary Clinton decides to run for president when a poll comes out showing she's universally despised on the right and the left, and Donna Brazile tells her "that's exactly what it takes to become president."
Democrats will move to center, causing democratic centrists to move to right. In order to compensate, the Republican right will move further to right...causing Democrats to move closer to center so they won't be labeled out-of-touch leftists, and this will allow Republicans to move further to right. This cycle continues until Santorum (or is it Sanatorium?), Scalia, and DeLay are all declared dangerously left-wing ideologues and purged from power by a race of carnivorous, extraterrestrial reptiles who have been watching the drift of the US political system for years, were impressed with what they saw, and decided it was time for us to join their "League of Intergalactic Space Predators." At the induction ceremony, Dick Cheney's face splits opens, his skin falls away, and it is revealed that he was a flesh-eating space reptile all along. In thanks for their services, George W. Bush, his cabinet, members of Congress, and the Supreme Court are given the highest honor accorded to members of a lesser species -- they are ritually eaten by the reptilian brotherhood.
Ronald Reagan's spirit rises from the ashes and -- praise the lord -- reincarnates into Arnold Schwarzenegger's body, thus making moot the amendment to the Constitution offered by moronic, err mormonic Orrin Hatch. Ahhnold announces his candidature for the presidency. It's a sign of god: Reagan's sanctity in muscle bodywear. Humvees become the official presidential limos.
John Ashcroft, Tom Ridge and Pat Robertson embark on a 4-year world tour with their new musical group, Trinity, singing the lord's praises and raising billions of dollars (for themselves) in Jesus' name, Amen.
The US Government will allot more dollars for faith-based programs and preaching abstinence to children than in aid to victims of the tsunamis -- "su what?" asks the president.
Miscomprehending "beyond comprehension" tsunamis for su mommies, Bush the Second declares the December 2004 Indian Ocean natural disaster a gift of god to all the mothers of the world and orders bibles to be sent to the region. The world is in awe before such generosity.
In accordance with Bush-era attitudes and perceptions, that depressing monument to negativity and defeat, "The Vietnam War Memorial" will have its name changed to "The Big, Bad Victory Slab." Plus, a sound system will be installed from which Queen's anthem of mindless dominance, "We Are The Champions," will continually blast from giant underground speakers.
A similar memorial is planned for the war dead of "Operation Iraqi Freedom." In light of the official policy of shielding the general public from the demoralizing imagery of body bags and flag-draped coffins and the like, the official name given to the war in Iraq will be "Operation Invisible Triumph" and an official memorial won't be erected but, instead, will be located "everywhere and nowhere," and will be as "visible as the very air you breathe." This will be especially true on smoggy days...when the emissions from internal combustion engines reveal the true reason that the soldiers gave their lives.
Directed by god, George the Second officially rechristens Iraq the Free & Democratic Republic of Abu Ghraib. Abu Ghraibians appoint Pfc. Lynndie England as their Special Assistant of earthly pleasures. All Internet porn sites relocate to RAG -- as well as the School of the Americas, now known as the School of Halliburton.
The Iraq War ends, so to speak, when the Pentagon runs out of soldiers and George Bush asks Paul Wolfowitz if he's willing to fight naked in the company of his big-dick neocon fellow travelers.
Al-Qaeda severs the hotline between George Bush and God. Shortly thereafter Bush is declared brain dead. Cheney takes over as president and nominates Rumsfeld to be vice president. To fill Rumsfeld's vacancy, Cheney names the Lockheed Martin Corporation as the next secretary of defense, justifying his selection by applying the Supreme Court's reasoning that a private corporation is entitled to all the benefits of a citizen.
Disney, Amway, and Halliburton engage in a fierce bidding war to take over stewardship of the privatized Social Security system. The competition ends when the three competitors merge to form a corporation whose principles are based on a kingdom of fantasy, built on the foundation of a pyramid scheme and maintained by a system of patronage and corruption... In short, the perfect embodiment of corporate capitalism.
An auction of the Treasury bonds receives no bids. In desperation the president announces that for the right price any government property can be privatized and sold. China is awarded the US Air Force for 250 billion Euros.
Acknowledging the fundamentality of Christianity and Order in the making of the nation, George the Second, through an amendment to the Constitution ratified within months by over 40 states, renames the USA, "the United States of Halliburton" (USH).
The pope's favorite choir boy, announcing that his employer has been effectively mummified and can't make use of the boy's ass, files for unemployment benefits. George the Second, out of compassion (benefits have long been replaced by profits), hires the services of the second-hand, pope-blessed anatomy and leases it to USH-anointed Grand Priest, Dick the Cheney. Mary embraces the new faith-based reality; Lynne is consoled by Hillary; Laura praises the lord for this new god-sanctioned capitalist ownership society.
The Pope will continue to defy Swans' annual predictions and live to perform his final act of self-beatification.
Mary Cheney and Jenna Bush go on a year-long trip to France. Asked about their recorded frolicking by Cokie Roberts, their mothers Laura and Lynne say, "we have two wonderful daughters. We love them very much. They are bright. They are hard working. They are decent. And we simply are not going to talk about their personal lives. And we are surprised, Cokie, that even you would want to bring it up."
Alabama bans the colors pink and lavender...as well as the word "fabulous." Furthermore, all window displays in the state must be inspected by Baptist clergy to prevent the danger that overly-meticulous homosexual patterns of design will insidiously destroy the sanctity of the retail shopping experiences of unsuspected, godly consumers.
A new macho gospel emerges in the heartland. Tired of being portrayed as a soft, tolerant girlie-man god, a non-sissified, right wing Jesus descends from heaven in a flying fortified Humvee. He bestows a steroid Eucharist; he chews and spits out stigmata nails, break crucifixes over his broad back, and challenges Allah, Buddha, Shiva, et al. to a caged, no-holds-barred Death Match to determine who among them will hold the title of World Wrestling Savior of the World.
Intent on making prison life more humane and tasteful, Martha Stewart opens her own chain of minimum security detention facilities, Martha Stewart's Captive Living. Insider trading on the Captive Living IPO provides the first wave of "resident guests," Martha's euphemism for prisoners in what is marketed as a holistic spa retreat. White collar crime rises sharply among disenfranchised professional women aged 44 to 59 who are longing for a healthier, more regimented and peaceful life.
Michael Jackson is finally, once and for all, charged with crimes against humanity and stashed away somewhere as a ghost detainee, where prison justice will prevail.
Swans sees the light and is born again. Contributors attend church every Sunday. The publication receives a $1 million grant from god-sent philanthropist Richard Scaife, along with sizable donations from the Bradley Foundation, the Coors Foundation, the Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation, and the John M. Olin Foundation. Charité bien ordonnée commence par soi-même, announces its publisher before picking up his marbles and moving to the Cayman Islands on his way to Cuba. Jerry Falwell takes over the editorship. Success assured.
Finally, the sun will keep shinin', the rain fallin'; George Carlin will resurface from rehab a new and converted man; terrorism will rhyme with imbecilism, bin Laden will marry George W., humanitarian Lib-Labs will move to the Sudan and Ohio to the Ukraine; there'll be peace in Palestine (no kidding!); and Swans will get a new face-lift to compete with Barbara Walters's.
One prediction will prove correct (although we do not despair to see the pope eventually resting six feet under...).
Vade Retro Papanas!