woody zimmermann 120As is our custom at the turn of the year, we present predictions of events that could happen (and probably should happen, if the world were just) in 2017. With the most amazin’ presidential election in recent history now behind us, and the outspoken Donald Trump preparing to take office, there’s no end of possibilities from which to choose. Here are my selections.

Revenge of the Traveling Pantsuits. A new FBI-investigation, under the direction of AG Jeff Sessions, uncovers an unexpected twist in the case of the Democrat e-mails that Clinton-partisans claimed the Russians hacked to get Donald Trump elected. Agents learn that a list of account names and passwords was found in one of Mrs. Clinton’s pantsuits by an employee of a dry-cleaning establishment which launders her clothing. After the employee carelessly blabbed in a bar about his find, his rooms are ransacked by unknown parties who abstract the damaging list. Whether Russian agents had anything to do with releasing the e-mails to Wikileaks is never determined.

Get thee to a Nunnery. To evade almost certain prosecution for violating national security laws as Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton flees to a convent in Nepal where she takes Holy Orders. DNC efforts to have her elevated to sainthood are thwarted, however, when the Catholic Church rules that a person must be dead for at least five years in order to receive that honor. In response, DNC attorney file an ecclesiastical suit to prove that Mrs. Clinton is actually eligible for sainthood because she has been dead for several years. Lawyers claim that her presidential campaign was conducted by a replacement-double who had mastered her patented “cackle.” But the effort dies (so to speak) when a video goes viral on the Internet showing Mrs. Clinton, clad in full convent-habit, dancing the Watusi and the Mashed Potato at a party thrown in Nepal for her big-money donors. Her doctor says there is absolutely no doubt that it is Mrs. Clinton. (Rumors that she was hospitalized for injuries caused by the dancing cannot be confirmed.)

The Twelfth Imam. Citing his unflagging support for worldwide Islamic domination – culminating with his UN-betrayal of long-time US-ally (and Islamic arch-enemy) Israel at the close of his term – ex-President Obama presses his claim to be declared head of the world-wide Muslim caliphate. (This is a messianic figure called “The Twelfth Imam” by the Koran.) To demonstrate his solidarity with the Islamic cause, Mr. Obama adopts Muslim-style garb for his public appearances – except while golfing, when the flowing robes prove ungainly. But his attempts to get his wife, Michelle, his two teen daughters, and his mother-in-law to wear the hijab do not succeed. Insiders report a furious argument between Barack and Michelle over the issue. (“I’m not trading my designer wardrobe for this [stuff],” she is heard shouting.)

Tour Director. After presiding over lavish family-vacations that cost US taxpayers upwards of $50 million during Mr. Obama’s two terms, Michelle Obama founds Obama Tours, which offers “executive vacations of distinction” that typically run to $100,000 a person (complimentary booze and mint-on-the-pillow included). In her first year, Mrs. Obama clears nearly $80 million from a clientele of film stars, business people, social climbers, assorted glitterati, oil sheiks – some accompanied by an entire harem of wives – and influence-seekers who want to be photographed standing close to the fashionable ex-First Lady at pool-side. “It beats making speeches for conferences of fat, half-crocked businessmen,” says Mrs. Obama in a moment of unguarded candor. She denies having political ambitions, but insiders say that exploratory committees are already laying the groundwork for possible runs in 2020 or ’24. (“There’s no substitute for name-recognition,” says an advisor on condition of anonymity.)

Cuban adventure. Amid lavish media-hype, Bernie Sanders defects to Cuba. Hailed at first as visiting royalty by Cuban officials, Mr. Sanders comes afoul of Cuban law for grousing about the decrepit hotels and restaurants, and for making disparaging public comments about Raul and Fidel Castro. (“They’ve ruined the place,” he tells the New York Times. “I’m driving around in a ’52 Pontiac, for pete’s sake! It’s giving socialism a bad name.”) The senator is arrested and convicted of treason for “insulting the state,” but Raul Castro commutes his sentence from firing squad to permanent exile. The senator is placed in a small rowboat which he manages to row to Florida in ten days. A Coast Guard patrol picks him up and attempts to return him to Cuba, but the Cubans won’t take him. The 75-year-old spends six months in a Miami hospital drinking piña coladas and recovering from exposure and malnutrition. He retires from the Senate and assumes a quiet life on a small marijuana farm in Florida, where he is seen wearing a large straw hat, speedos, and a calypso shirt. He declines all invitations to speak at colleges.

Ground Hog Day redux. In a candid interview with Brian Williams, Barack Obama admits to being in a kind of “alternate universe” in which he wakes up every day convinced that he’s running for president all over again. To join this recurring hallucination with reality, Mr. Obama launches a national campaign to repeal the Constitution’s 22nd Amendment, which limited him to just two terms. “This isn’t good for the country,” he declaims. “We’ve got to break free of these racist shackles. It’s absolutely undemocratic! I know I could have beaten Trump…”

Never say die. Still convinced that Mr. Trump’s presidency will crash and burn, former Republican candidate Jeb Bush continues to stump the country in preparation for a new run in 2020. On one occasion he greets the residents of a nursing home personally.  He shakes the hand of one elderly lady and asks, “Do you know who I am?” “No,” she answers, “but if you ask at the desk, they’ll tell you…”

Canadian adventure. Climate-activist Al Gore is stranded by a blizzard in the Canadian Arctic, where he has been gathering data on the damage being done by global warming. He survives three weeks on a diet of raw crab and rotting walrus-carcass. Made aware of his presence in the country, Canadian Mounties find and rescue Mr. Gore, but then arrest him on a warrant that charges him with “causing the coldest weather in the country’s history.” A group of Canadian businesses has sued the ex-VP (and Hollywood film-star) for $500 million in damages they suffered during the years-long cold wave. Hudson Bay, which usually thaws in June, has remained continuously ice-bound for five years. “This idiot has made a complete mess of the climate,” says a spokesman for the group. “Things were fine, but thanks to him we’re freezing our kiesters off up here. He’s got to be stopped. We haven’t been able to extradite him, but we’ve got him now and he’s going to pay.” During the course of the lengthy trial, some Canadian environmentalists help Mr. Gore to escape – spiriting him across the US border via dog-sled after extracting a payment of $1 million (US) from him. They refuse Mr. Gore’s offer of payment in Cap-and-Trade futures – insisting on small bills, cash, delivered in shopping bags.

Going to the Mattresses. Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel – Mr. Obama’s longtime ally and crony – is forced to hole up with his family in an underground bunker beneath police headquarters, after narrowly escaping a fusillade of gunfire outside his offices. Hizzoner is not hit, but two of his security guards are wounded and his limousine is riddled. The Illinois governor deploys the National Guard, and President Trump sends a Secret Service detail to escort the mayor to safety at Camp David in the Maryland mountains. In a subsequent public statement, Mayor Emanuel thanks the governor and the president for their concern, but says the situation is entirely under control. A bomb destroys the Mayor’s mansion on the next day. News videos show lines of fleeing refugees, like those seen in Middle East war-zones. “I want no acts of vengeance,” rasps the embattled mayor in a news conference. An intermediary arranges a meeting with Chicago gang leaders. But warned that it’s a trap to assassinate him, the mayor cancels. “Ram who?” asks his old pal Barack Obama, when reporters solicit his comments. “Never heard of the guy…”

Peace-proposal in Potté-wars. To soothe the fevered brows of transgender activists – after their determined post-election effort to overturn North Carolina’s law requiring persons to use the public restroom that corresponds to their biological sex dramatically failed, the legislature passes a new law. It requires every public facility, including schools and government buildings, to provide a single gender-neutral outhouse for use by all of the 57 genders now recognized in the state by some local governments. Since most public buildings lack outdoor space for this, a court rules that the gender-neutral privies may be placed on a building’s roof. As a gesture to environmentalists, officials supply the outhouses with old Sears Roebuck catalogues instead of toilet tissue. Historians praise the “charming nostalgia” of this move, although polls show that they don’t use the privies, themselves. (“Sears catalogues ain’t what they used to be,” said a UNC history prof.) The state sets up an office to get to the bottom of any complaints that emerge.

Career Transition. Hillary Clinton’s longtime aide, Huma Abedin, embarks on a new career as CEO of a nationwide company which specializes in cleaning out barns and stables. Many ex-staffers from the Clinton campaign find jobs with the new enterprise on the strength of highly relevant recent experience. “We Know how to Shovel It!” is the new company’s motto.  Ms. Abedin says the work stinks, but the money is good.

Going Native. On a publicity excursion to the Brazilian rain forest, Bill Clinton is abducted by a tribe of Amazon women. Mrs. Clinton issues no public statement, and makes no effort to find him. Mr. Clinton is never heard from again.

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Confidential seers have furnished more material, but we’ll leave it there for this year. Throughout 2016 we’ve tried to keep readers informed, encouraged, and sometimes entertained on the premise that a lighthearted jab is always preferable to a deadly serious thrust. We do address serious issues, but we don’t take ourselves too seriously. Some of our fellow citizens – including a few readers – seem to have forgotten that last part, from time to time, but we remain optimistic that our best days lie ahead.

Thanks for reading the column. Happy New Year! And may God bless us all, every one!