"Lo! the poor humorist, whose tortured mind
See jokes in crowds, though still to gloom inclined --
Whose simple appetite, untaught to stray
His brains, renewed by night, consumes by day.
He thinks, admitted to an equal sty,
A graceful hog would bear his company."
(From the entry "Humorist" in Ambrose Bierce's The Devil's Dictionary, Plain Label Books, ISBN-13: 978-1-4243-1302-0, page 131)
(Swans - January 2, 2012) Remember Tevye the Dairyman in the 1971 Norman Jewison-directed movie Fiddler on the Roof? Remember when Tevye (played by Chaim Topol) sings about "traditions, traditions," with the fiddler (played by Tutte Lemkow) gently accompanying him with his violin? Traditions exist in all cultures. They run through the ages in families and communities. They are a bridge between the past and the unknown future and allow an uncertain, often challenging present to be more bearable -- a feeling of belonging to the long chain of life. And so it is with Swans Infamous Predictions, a tradition.
At one point in the song Tevye says: "You may ask, how did this tradition get started? I'll tell you. I don't know." Sure enough, we cannot tell you either in regard to Swans predictions, but they began the second year after the publication's inception in 1996. Perhaps the abysmal socioeconomic conditions, the wars, the destruction of the social contract, the inequities, the injustice, the senselessness, all of which our contributors covered time and again, called for a respite, a breath of fresh air, a pause, a need to be serious enough not to take oneself seriously -- to laugh at it all. As Lord Byron wrote in Don Juan, "Nothing can confound a wise man more than laughter from a dunce."
So the tradition goes on courtesy of a bevy of Swans. As always, take it or leave it.
Newt Gingrich calls upon Monica Lewinsky to help blow him to the presidency. Chelsea Clinton, very upset, declares that she should have been chosen for the job. Papa sues in the family name. Mama kneels to Obama to offer her own advice. Michelle goes fishing.
Benedict XVI, the ever-valiant Vatican Poppy thanks to Viagra and energy-drink boosters, who, as far as one knows, never required the services of John Paul II's choir boy -- sexual abuse is now passé in the Catholic church, though homosexuality remains tolerated as long as condoms are not used -- pleads for peace in the Middle East and for economic justice. The Middle East implodes and at least three European nations, including Italy, go under. Smoke escapes from the Sistine Chapel, Urbi et Orbi. Sede vacante.
The Family Research Council recognizes Jerry Sandusky for his altruistic efforts to teach underprivileged boys how to shower. Sandusky appreciates the accolade as he heads to jail.
Ariel Sharon is to be embalmed and buried next to Kim Jong-il, Christopher Hitchens, and Václav Havel. Delighted, North Koreans convert to Judaism and emigrate en masse to Israel.
Bibi Netanyahu welcomes the latest Aliyia. Palestinians learn the lesson and convert too. Israel becomes a big zoo -- without monkeys.
Moderate Islamists bring back Sharia law to the Arab Spring-liberated countries. Women, gays, thieves, and adulterers rejoice. Purification at long last. Haraam! Obama applauds the changes in the name of freedom and democracy.
Documents found in the spy agency headquarters of the deposed Assad regime in Damascus, Syria, show that Iran was funneling money through Syria and Lebanon to the Ron Paul campaign during the 2012 election. Republican are furious about this "betrayal" but also somewhat mystified as to why the transfers were in Renminbis. Conspiracy theories run rampant.
Iran shelves its nuclear program and opens an embassy in Tel Aviv -- mazel tov!
Once reelected, President Obama launches Gulf War III, named "Operation You Can Believe In" -- a series of drone attacks to combat the growing al Qaeda movement in Iraq. "While the original mission was accomplished," he declares, "this is an entirely new mission that will surely succeed, and it doesn't even require coalition forces!" In keeping with tradition, the new war effort is launched unfunded.
The Nobel Committee announces the withdrawal of the Prize they awarded President Barack Obama in 2009. In a terse press release, the committee says the recipient was a Laureate they can no longer believe in. The White House spokesman responds that the president, who is visiting a US drone facility deployed in Baluchistan, remains unperturbed and is keenly focused on consolidating the peace and prosperity achieved under his watch.
To placate the Occupy movement and other indignados around the world and to show solidarity with the 99%, the wealthy few agree to have their earnings taxed at a 90% rate, with only two conditions: First, they must be legally allowed to multiply their earnings by 200%; and, second, the taxes they pay must be returned to them through subsidies galore. The US Congress, where over 50% of its members belongs to the wealthy class, vote overwhelmingly for the measure. Darrell Issa and Nancy Pelosi uncork the champagne.
Feeling bullish in the New Year and wanting to distance itself from the OWS movement, Wall Street hires a PR firm and changes its name to Bull Street. The Occupy BS movement is immediately formed in response, but the elite BS continues through 2012 with no foreseeable end, despite the growing economic woes for the 99%.
Millionaires occupy skid row to protest the decrease in consumer spending that threatens trickle-up economics and their future well being. No arrests are reported; in fact, police serve coffee to the OSR crowd to keep them comfortable while outside of their comfort zone.
In response to the growing poverty level among American elderly and the decline in physicians treating Medicare patients, conservative Republicans recommend death panels to deal with the costly surplus of patients. "We had no alternative," says an anonymous wealthy white male senator. "What could we do, raise taxes on the wealthy? That would be a fatal decision!"
US newscasts replace daily reports of the stock market performance with the unemployment rate, housing and fuel costs, and the poverty rate as the daily indices of the country's financial health. Just kidding.
Rupert Murdoch will be exposed as the ring leader in a gigantic Ponzi scheme that takes Wall Street and the world by surprise. Fox News, Murdoch's own company, will be the first news organization to break the story.
The banking sector wises up and decides to forgive the debts of homeowners who have foreclosed or lost their jobs due to the misdeeds of the big finance and laissez faire government policy. Eventually the banks and government realize that if no one is working or cannot pay their bills, they can't either.
Pepper spray receives FDA approval as a treatment for the newly-identified syndrome Income Identity Disorder, in which confused, low-income individuals mistakenly believe that they're entitled to the American Dream. Police departments are granted indemnity from any side effects that result from relentlessly pepper-spraying -- err, treating -- the delusioned, and their budgets soar from insurance companies' reimbursement of such treatments.
France and Germany, at long last, decide to merge. The newly-combined entity becomes known as Merkozyland. A national dish made of krauts and frogs is the first decision taken by the parliament. Italy soon joins. The threesome becomes the economical and political engine of a newly reinforced European Union that is renamed the UFM, or Union of the Financial Markets.
UFM decides, in coordination with the U.S., that in order to compete with the BRICs all social contracts will be abolished. Hence, there is no longer a requisite retirement age until one turns 100, no minimum wage, no unemployment benefits, and no socialized health care. The churches are supposed to pick up the slack, thus creating many jobs in pedophilia land.
French president Sarkozy appoints Dominique Strauss-Kahn the new ambassador to the U.S. He justifies this controversial decision by saying, "Who else would be better at dealing with Secretary of State Gingrich?"
Silvio Berlusconi will have a wife-swapping session with Nicolas Sarkozy and Carla Bruni. But Sarko doesn't feel that the teenager the former Italian prime minister brings along can sustain his pillow talk. Silvio says, "Well all right, then, send for your ex-wife." But it turns out that Cécilia is busy doing other charity work. Sarko says he's sorry but he'll have yet again to call on Angela Merkel as a stopgap.
The euro will partially rebound on news that Silvio Berlusconi will return to power in Italy while in the midst of another sex scandal. Tales of his sordid affairs will revive the film and tabloid industry there and create jobs.
Vladimir Putin will call for new democratic elections in Russia. He will hand pick all of the candidates.
Putin wins the Russian presidential election with 117% of the vote. Jimmy Carter mysteriously vanishes en route to observe the vote recount. President Obama launches Cold War II in response, again unfunded.
George Soros acquires Greece and Portugal and reinvigorates the faltering countries by cultivating a marijuana industry that supplies the eurozone with a zoned-out euphoria. Despite, or because of, all the new leaders being stoned, the euro tramples the drug-war-weary US dollar. America responds by finally legalizing marijuana. US tax revenues soar to all-time highs.
Alexander Cockburn, financed by the Koch brothers, publishes his biggest bestseller, Why Climate Change is a Hoax. His expertise, only challenged by the late Hitchens on Iraq, is enlightening. Amidst continental ice and glaciers melting, excoriating floods, wildfires, earthquakes, worldwide drought, and the highest temperature in 100 years, we all breathe better.
Polar bears are no longer able to migrate due to melting arctic ice, and in a show of environmental solidarity, shipping companies offer them free rides and all-you-can-eat sardines on their trans-Arctic supertankers.
Meanwhile, in a move to stimulate the economy and grow jobs in the auto industry, the Obama administration decides to lower fuel economy standards to permit the sales of 5- to 10-ton trucks as SUVs. Demand for the new vehicles explodes, as mothers anxious to protect their children race to buy them because "they are so safe."
Satellite imaging shows that the Chinese are involved in massive construction projects, which appear aimed at moving all coastal buildings and habitations inland for up to 6 km. In a possibly related development, the Chinese government announces it is about to begin operation of 52 new coal-fired power plants, and raise Chinese energy production 178%.
China becomes a benevolent neighbor, sharing all the resources of the South China Sea -- until they run out.
Government scientists in Japan find that eating vegetables grown within 30 km of Fukushima produces erections lasting up to 18 hours, with a slight side effect of reducing IQ by 2% per use. "I think we've figured out how to pay for the clean-up," said Dr. Soshiro Hasegawa, as a new program for lead-foil packing of the hot produce for export gears up.
Apple introduces the iEye, a discrete device worn on the head that allows people to see what's happening 360 degrees around them without ever having to look up from their iPhone or iPad. Human interaction hits new lows, while Apple stock hits unprecedented highs.
The Internet goes down for one day. Worldwide panic ensues with people wondering what they do during that day if they can't twitter or post a day's worth of meaningless, trivial, Facebook status messages.
Facebook's initial public offering raises billions of dollars, demonstrating that the value of navel-gazing is either meaningful or meaningless, depending on which side of the economic divide one inhabits.
Mitt Romney bumps into Newt Gingrich, and both explode. Later, the wreckage shows that Gingrich is a lost flak balloon, and Romney an out-of-control drone. Both Iran and Israel grin and deny involvement. German bloggers claim this is the first collision of unexploded WWII bombs.
Sarah Palin announces that she is being cast for the roll of President Jesuschick in the sequel to the motion picture Idiocracy. The new film is tentatively titled Idiocracy 2: Devolution. Looking for a boost to her media-appearance career, Palin gushes, "This role is such a natural for me, I look forward to showing America how we should take the country back."
The Tea Party will attempt a coup on the American government. Once they obtain power, they will preach about the evils of government while jailing every citizen who has to beg for subsistence on the streets once their unemployment benefits are cut while diligently looking for work.
The television show "Cheaters," which documents spouses breaking their vows, will be brought out of the purgatory of syndication and be renewed. Herman Cain will host.
Republicans overwhelmingly support No One as their presidential nominee. The Supreme Court declares the unchallenged 2012 election invalid and appoints Jeb Bush to the presidency. Bush III and his vice president Newt Gingrich promptly disband the Supreme Court to head off an appeal. Lawlessness prevails for four more years, and many more to come.
The Republican Party is torn by disagreement over the proposed new government regulations that waiters and baristas be required to have college degrees. One wing declares this is "too much regulation" while another declares it is an employer-friendly safeguard against substandard labor. A major sticking point is the provision that people who have unpaid or defaulted college loans be kept indentured at minimum wage till they have worked off their debts, or be deported as illegal combatants if they are deemed "incorrigibly unexploitable."
In an act of conscientious objection, Dick Cheney's artificial heart quits working. No one sheds a tear, and the world becomes a slightly kinder place.
Tony Blair is disowned by his Teddy Bear.
It is revealed that David Icke is actually a lizard.
There will be a revolt of urban dogs throughout the developed world. Their spokesdog put the canine grievances bluntly. "We can't take it any more. It's bad enough that these stand-up creatures in clothes drag us around the streets at the end of a cord. But no sooner do we, like any other mammal, crouch for a crap than they're around the back of us with their noses in our rear ends. It's some kind of perversion. A turd barely hits the pavement and they have it in a paper cup. Some of the pervs actually follow us with shit-scoops. What next, collecting our pee for cocktails?"
Much to the dismay of end timers, the world does not come to an end in 2012 -- in fact, it continues on life support for the foreseeable future.
Enjoy the ride.
1. The irreverent subset of the Swans collective that brings these Infamous Predictions to you features the usual clowns that perform at your local circus on a regular basis, whose cast this year is Femi Akomolafe, Michael Barker, Jan Baughman, Peter Byrne, Manuel García, Jr., Raju Peddada, Harvey Whitney, Jr., and, of course, your fearless Gallic editor, who welcomes readers' flames, whines, and outrage while denying all responsibility for the reckless endeavor. Don't sue him. He is penniless. (back)
Swans' Predictions over the years
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