"I never think of the future -- it comes soon enough."
—Albert Einstein (1879-1955)"The future will be better tomorrow."
—Dan Quayle (former US vice president no less)
(Swans - January 2, 2006) Well, what can be said? Laughter is not what it used to be. When the Catholic Workers are deemed by the powers that be to espouse a "semi-communistic ideology," or that the ACLU props up anarchy, or, worse still, Kurt Vonnegut is an un-American proterrorist -- Kurt Vonnegut, for cheesecake! -- what are we left with, Jay Leno and George Stephanopoulos's "funnies"?
"I know of very few people who are dreaming of a world for their grandchildren," writes Kurt in his latest book (A Man Without a Country, Seven Stories Press, 2005). Do you mean, dear Kurt, that there remain a few people around still dreaming? Just a rhetorical question, mind you.
And what kind of a world is their nightmarish dream? One in which we keep killing "Raqis" by the ten of thousands so that we can drive our SUVs to Wal*Mart and buy an Xbox? Who next, the "Ranians," the "Syriacs," the "Kureans," maybe the "Chineans"? There're so many of 'em, where to begin and carry on in a war without end...where? Or is it a world in which year after year after year the poorest of the poor are falling by the cliff and the next layer above stands in line, happily awaiting slaughter, even voting for their executioners? One in which the brainless religious fundies, craving death and rapture, craftily manipulated by Straussian ideologues and corporate barons for the betterment of the tiny few, force their poisonous correctness of consumption and destruction rhythms through our humanist, free-thinking throats?
Perhaps Vonnegut best encapsulates the ultimate humor in these humorless times: "There is no reason good can't triumph over evil, if only angels will get organized along the lines of the mafia."
Sure enough, we direly need the mafia. Our Infamous Predictions are all about Mafiosi who seem to have by and large taken over the reins of power. The humor (and life itself), meanwhile, has taken a hit. How much can one laugh about the globalizing shopocracy, the ecological and human disasters for which we, in the rich world, are overwhelmingly responsible, and the sheer greed that keeps governing our species? Jeeesuvah, last year we even missed, out of lassitude, the prediction that the petrified Cro-Magnon would finally hit the petunias.
Micronesia launches a mortal attack on the USA and takes over Washington. The occupying power justifies its move on the facts that the U.S. had direct links with Al Qaeda, which it financed (through the Saudis) in the 1970s and '80s, and had Weapons of Mass Destruction that had been used time and again in the name of the one percent of the polity that benefits from the creative destruction that's the US gift to the world.
Finally dead. Dead at last, dead at last! According to John Paul II's wishes, his cremated body will be spread all over North Korea so that Bush & co. will think twice about nuking the saint's ashes.
Happily for the hoi polloi, John Paul's choir boy remains hard at work on baby Bush who had not had a hard-on till last year when the boy joined the team. Evidently Saint John is no longer in need of prophylactics.
Peggy Noonan, having joined the sisterhood of the Holy Joes and, hearing the prayer of the deceased saint-in-the-making, will become a nun and a speechwriter for Baby Bush (who surely could use some help).
Following the Vatican's edict that gays will no longer be ordained, the Pentagon launches a recruiting drive in US seminaries. However, the Pope's Gucci frames and red Prada shoes begin attracting gay believers from the fashion world and beyond. The Vatican adopts the Pentagon's "Don't ask, don't tell" policy, and the Pentagon responds by updating military uniforms from camouflage green to bold reds and oranges, with fur.
Legislation will be enacted to overcome the shortfall in military enlistments. Prisoners who enlist will be pardoned of their crimes. Existing criminal statutes will have incarceration lengths doubled; and fines changed to incarcerations.
Patrick Fitzgerald's investigation of Plamegate inches dangerously close to Bush's brain, heart, and cojones (Rove, Cheney, and Rumsfeld, respectively), when the case is suddenly and mysteriously dropped. Unnamed sources confirm, but no newspaper will report, that Fitzgerald fled the country after finding a donkey head in his bed. Scooter Libby will by default be absolved of all charges and return to his post as Cheney's pacemaker.
In her best-selling memoirs Judith Miller discloses that the reference by I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby to the turning-in-clusters, root-connected aspens out West meant the bedroom she shared on various occasions at Dick Cheney's ranch in Wyoming, under Lynn's loving eyes. In the interest of full disclosure she confirms what everybody had long suspected: Arthur Sulzberger Jr., the NY Times publisher, made her do it in order to better sell the Iraq War to the populace. "We hanky-pankied quite a few times. It was fun and an acrobatic change from my Jason Epstein routine. Lynn was the perfect hostess and very discreet. We kept it all in the family," adds the author in her telltale book.
Under pressure regarding the legality and necessity of the NSA wiretapping revelation, the Bush administration is forced to publicly reveal some of its anti-terror successes achieved by the program, such as the interception of Bill O'Reilly's threat against San Francisco's Coit Tower, and an Iraqi-American housewife's attempt to order ten bombes for her daughter's wedding. Reassured by the utility of the practice, Congress overwhelmingly approves the government's takeover of all US telephone companies and Internet Service Providers in the name of socialized communication.
The august members of the US Congress, realizing that the NSA has been snooping on the entire world since its day of inception in 1952, including friends and allies, and further realizing that the more snooping the NSA does the less chance it has to catch the bad guys (too much data...cf. pre-9/11), in their majestic and admirable causal logic, will extend the program to encompass the inhabitants of the United States, under the formidable rationale that since it does not work it cannot be detrimental to civil liberties and, furthermore, since we do it to everybody, globalization should include the whole of us.
To reassure the country that civil rights are fully protected and respected, Dick Cheney announces a new program in which people must call a special phone number -- 1-202-456-1111 -- once a week to report on their next of kin and neighbors. "See," says baby Bush, "we value the [retired] Constitution."
After providing the president with a top-secret report on intercepted phone calls, a couple of intelligence agents will suddenly disappear. Extraordinary Rendition will be presumed. The report will claim that strange phone calls, supposedly from god to the White House, actually emanate from the Middle East. The caller is a fraud whose advice is intended to harm the U.S. Bush will not only repudiate the report but will label the agents traitors and irresponsible iconoclasts.
Meantime, the Justice Department investigation into the leak of NSA wiretapping, disclosed by The New York Times, results in the paper of record being deemed an enemy combatant, and the entire staff disappears through Extraordinary Rendition. Frank Rich ultimately surfaces, having been rescued and offered immunity by Al Jazeera. Jazeera Select turns a profit by year end.
The Taliban, unwelcome in their own country -- Afghanistan -- move to the U.S. and join the Evangelical Christians. Pat Robertson rejoices. Then, the Jewish crazies, attracted by the new brotherhood and the Florida sun, will leave the West Bank to form the World Ecumenical Fundamentalist Association, thus providing a lock for the Republican Party for the foreseeable future and peace in Israel-Palestine.
Claiming his inherent Constitutional power in times of war Bush gives order to the military to invade another country. Says Bush: "Here is a country that has illegally invaded another; has used torture and humiliation on its prisoners; resorted to secret extraordinary rendition; is eavesdropping on, and wiretapping, its own citizenry; has the biggest stockpile of WMDs and CWs in the world, which it has used liberally; has threatened and keeps threatening other nations." "We cannot," he adds, "let these evildoers threaten our security and that of our friends and allies." Asked about his decision-making process Bush adds, "god told me." US military lemmings oblige, and order kamikaze attacks on all US bases. Bush prays to god for an explanation, and Cheney awards no-bid contracts to Halliburton to rebuild the United States of America.
Congress, perturbed by the latest developments of excessive presidential power and fearing that the boy's lost all remnants of sanity, invokes the dreaded Articles of Impeachment. Even Bill Clinton laughs all the way to the floor. His adoptive mother, Barbara Bush, applauds. Billy Boy, says she, now understands Baby George: The poor and downtrodden have never had it better than in this day and age.
The electorate's distrust of the Bush administration increases over the year. Republican legislators, fearful of the upcoming election, will prove their independence by vehemently opposing White House directives. In response, an angry Bush will invoke his wartime powers to suspend the legislative and judicial branches and the Constitution as well.
The main media approves. Congress votes 99 percent in favor of its own dissolution and goes on indefinite, fully paid, vacation. The Constitution is archived in the Library of Congress, which has just been dissolved. Bush calls the threesome -- the Constitution, Congress, and all libraries within the continental borders -- quaint and obsolete. Rumsfeld quips, "it's like 'Old Europe'...who needs them?"
From Tom DeLay to Ken Lay to Jack Abramoff, the entire world knows that the corruption leads all the way to the top of the Bush edifice. The entire world, yes, but 90 percent of the American public has never heard of these names. Bush walks a free man.
The Securities and Exchange Commission quietly approves Bechtel's hostile takeovers of the University of California, Ford, GM, United Airlines, and the Gap, creating the world's largest for-profit army and simultaneously solving the military recruitment, education funding, and unemployment problems.
Despite Samuel Alito's support of domestic wiretaps, his desire to overturn Roe v. Wade, his anti-worker/pro-discrimination opinions, and his anti-immigrant stances, Democrats decide to choose their battles and overwhelmingly approve his Supreme Court appointment, betting instead on Justice Stevens living to the age of 90 and remaining on the Court until at least 2008, hoping that before then they'll have a platform, and can elect one of their own as president, who can then appoint one of their kind to the high court.
Faith becomes the ever-so guiding force in American politics. Bush announces an executive order stipulating that the stars are to be replaced by crosses on the flag. Hillary Clinton concurs.
To keep our way of life going, as non-negotiable as it is, a bipartisan ticket will run in 2008. Howard Dean, Dennis Kucinich, The Nation, Jesse Jackson, Michael Albert and ZNet, Ted Glick, Marc Cooper, Amy Goodman, In These Times, moveon.org, Stephen Zunes, Mother Jones, Norman Solomon, Juan Cole, and all the pwogwessives, after having joined the Progressive Democrats of America in the 2006 mid-term elections, will get on board of the big Democratic sinking ship to keep fully abreast of their fund raising goals. They'll bank on the Hillary-Arnold 2008 ticket to defeat the McCain-Rice Republican dream team. Billy Boy will whine that Hillary is pulling a Lewinsky on him. In turn, Billy will be exiled to the U.N. to replace Kofi Anan.
From his new international pulpit Billy will promote the dearest American values to the world -- death penalty, torture on demand, war without end, and shopping till you drop -- and be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.
With violence on the rise, crumbling infrastructure, claims of voter fraud, reports of prisoner torture and no clear leadership, America declares its export of democracy to Iraq a success and withdraws all unnecessary troops (a number that remains classified).
That said, we'll still be in Iraq by this time next year and we still will be consuming more energy per capita than anywhere else in the world -- and not one, NOT ONE, so-called progressive outlets will come up with any serious, positive solution.
Evo Morales, Bolivia's new president, will appeal to the UN for the legalization of the coca leaf. After providing substantial evidence of the nutritional and medicinal benefits, the UN will approve. Within a short time a new Bolivian company will be successfully marketing their Bolivian brands -- 'coca-milk,' 'coca-coffee,' 'coca-tea,' and 'coca-chocolate' -- throughout the world. Wall Street jumps on the bandwagon. The newly-energized New York Stock Exchange moves to 24-hour trading.
Bloggers' dream gadgets of the year will be: a laptop to hack away their prose, an iPod or better an iPod nano for their mp3 files, TiVo for their favorite TV shows, NetFlix to salivate in front of the latest DVD played on their computer screen, an Xbox 360 or PlayStation 3 for gaming, and the ubiquitous Treo 650 to stay in touch with the world -- thus fully deserving the cyborg appellation. Their nirvana, however, will remain the old-fashioned book deal and the advertising revenues.
Michael Jackson's face will melt in the scorching sun of Bahrain, and he will be forced to don a burka and carry out his life as an undercover woman.
The fundies will have their spiritual colon scoped for suspicious polyps, the number of which leads to an immediate total colonoscopy. Pathology examination of the excised organ reveal that the polyps were actually foci of cerebral cortex, and the surgery is deemed to have been an accidental frontal lobotomy. The fundies can no longer think worth shit, so it doesn't occur to them to sue for malpractice. The Church of Scientology quickly steps in to fill the fundie void.
The world becomes a single globalized "shopocracy." Banks bank on it. Wall Street acquiesces. The FBI surveils. US Military, Inc. administers.
Stealing, self-serving, me-me-tooism won't abate in this New Year. Expect more atomization down to the balls-caressing morning endeavors of the macho-like lilies and the clitoris pleasure-searching Medea Benjamin pinkettes.
A 2002 prediction that never fails to come to pass: Barbarity, mediocrity, macabre adventures, self-serving reporting, puking pundits, pousse-à-jouir malarkeys, extroverted assholes, introverted wholeasses, bushies and cheynies, hillaries and sissies will carry the day. It's Sunday morning in America forever after.
And, ojala, Bush falls off the wagon, Condi comes out of the closet, Cheney lapses into a coma, the Democratic and Republican power-brokers are sent packing all the way to Iraq (for reconstruction purposes)...and all is right with the American universe again.
The refusal to imagine the imaginable, however, carries on as always.
Humor will hopefully seep from the wells of life next year. Stay well, Mr. Vonnegut.