ImageAs is our custom upon the turn of the year, we offer predictions of events that could or should (if the world were just) occur in the next twelvemonth.

Smokin' Top Gun. In a surprise move, President Obama flip-flops on his promise to quit smoking. Instead, he signs an executive order requiring that 25% of all federal office-space be designated as "must smoking". Occupants will be required to have tobacco products on their desks, even if they don't smoke them. Smokers will also be added to the list of "preferred classes" for affirmative action. The president further orders that the time-honored tradition of the "smoke-filled room" be returned to prominence in the Democratic Party.  Anti-tobacco activists who attempt to burn Mr. Obama in effigy are arrested for setting an illegal fire on city streets.

Bubba's Dream. On an official trip to Brazil with his wife, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, former President Bill Clinton is kidnapped by a tribe of militant Amazons and is never heard from again. A State Department leak later indicates that Mrs. Clinton secretly blocked all attempts to find and rescue her husband. After a year she marries A-Rod (Alex Rodriguez) of the New York Yankees, upon the latter's divorce from his current wife. "She's hot," says A-Rod.

Fairness Resurrection. Congress passes a bill that renews the so-called Fairness Broadcast Doctrine. President Obama signs it into law, prompting a national mutiny from the talk-radio listening-public. Over a million callers jam congressional switchboards with angry calls. Talk-radio host Rush Limbaugh and others lead a march on Washington, during which a half-million protestors flood the mall. Police cannot control the crowd, as protestors overrun the Capitol building. To avoid a full-fledged riot, the Congress meets in emergency session to pass a retraction of the previous bill, and Mr. Obama signs it.

Chicago Fairness. In the wake (so to speak) of the crash of the Neo-Fairness Doctrine, talk-show host Rush Limbaugh disappears under mysterious circumstances that law-enforcement authorities are unable to clarify. The Daily Kos claims that Limbaugh has run away with a female staff member, but this story collapses when the staff member is found in Acapulco with her boyfriend. In an official statement, Mr. Obama "regrets" Mr. Limbaugh's untimely disappearance, citing his important contributions to the nation. Mr. Limbaugh's memorial service is a gangland-style funeral whose cemetery procession (to bury an empty casket) includes 15 flower cars and a cake-walking Dixieland band.

Early Formations. Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee and mega-church Pastor Rick Warren form a political alliance to run for the presidency in 2012. In reaction, the IRS tries to cancel the tax-deductible status of the Rev. Warren's church, but another talk-radio-sponsored protest produces a reversal of the IRS ruling. As protection against his own potentially "unfortunate" disappearance, Rick Warren hires six former NFL linemen as bodyguards.

Leg Action. TV host Chris Matthews, who famously said "a thrill went up his leg" when he heard Barak Obama speak, finds he has a nerve problem in that leg, for which he undergoes an operation and subsequent physical therapy. Thereafter, he becomes disaffected with Obama politics and becomes a conservative talk-show host - essentially replacing Rush Limbaugh as the voice of American conservatism.

Leg Power. When Alaskan Governor Sarah Palin addresses a joint session of Congress in mid-year, she receives twenty-five requests for dates and fifteen offers of "help" from senators and representatives of both parties. Leaders of GLOBE (Gay, Lesbian or Bi-sexual Employees) denounce her for setting back the cause of gay influence in government by fifty years.

Tax Revolt. Michelle Obama joins a group that opposes her husband's plan to raise taxes on people who earn more than $150,000 a year. When questioned by reporters, she admits that the Obama household budget can't take any more taxes. "Do you know how hard it its to get along on what they're paying us?" she asks Sean Hannity, on whose show she appears as a "flat tax" advocate. "His @#$%^ Armani-suit bill was $80,000 last year! He's out of his mind on the tax-thing. We just can't afford it. He'll be sleeping in the Lincoln Bedroom until he quits being an idiot about this!" (The president makes $400,000 a year, plus a non-taxable expense allowance of $50,000 to defray expenses related to the discharge of his official duties.)

Gassing the Economy. Within days of taking office, President Obama signs an executive order reinstating the prohibition on offshore oil-drilling. (George W. Bush eliminated that prohibition in July 2008, and Congress allowed its own restrictions on drilling to lapse on September 30.) Oil hits $200 a barrel by April, with gas soaring above $6.00 a gallon. Service station owners change price-marquees hourly, during the price run-up. At the height of frenzied oil-futures trading, two pit-runners are trampled to death in a stampede on the commodity-exchange floor. Mr. Obama declares the commodity-exchange a "hazardous" area and closes it, pending congressional investigation. He also orders the FBI to arrest oil company CEOs for price gouging. The Dow Industrials average crashes to 4000, and all three American automobile manufacturers file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy when their fifteenth bailout request fails passage in the U. S. Congress.

Reviving the Bear. With the Russian economy re-invigorated by renewed oil profits, Vladimir Putin dispatches Russian troops to annex Ukraine - which they accomplish in one week. He cites "mistreatment of Russian citizens" in the Ukraine as his reason for invading. The Russian leader - fresh from winning a "who is the buffest" poll vs. President Obama, sponsored by People magazine - rudely rebuffs the president's calls to sit down and rap with him at the Table of Reason. "Great leaders do not sit down and talk. They act," says Mr. Putin.

Stop the Cooling. Noting that it was too cold to swim in Hawaii during his pre-inaugural Christmas vacation, President Obama issues an executive order canceling all federal attempts to stop global warming. (Annual federal expenditures on stopping climate change were over $5 billion.) "There's no longer any debate - we've won the War on Warming," he declares in a news conference. He also cancels a joint appearance with Al Gore at a conference on global warming, claiming that Michelle has him scheduled to rearrange his sock-drawer. "I've got chores to do - she's really tough about it..." he tells reporters.

An Offer They Can't Refuse. The federal corruption case against Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich falls apart for lack of credible testimony, and he outlasts impeachment to hold onto his office. A federal judge rules that wiretapped phone conversations of Mr. Blagojevich allegedly saying he planed to "sell" Mr. Obama's senate seat do not constitute evidence of a crime. U. S. Senators refuse to accept several Blagojevich nominations for Mr. Obama's seat, leaving the seat vacant. When Democrats see that Mr. Blagojevich cannot be dislodged, they finally agree to accept one of his appointees. But Republicans filibuster to prevent the acceptance vote, as they see advantage in having fewer Democrats in the Senate. The U. S. Supreme Court refuses to hear lawsuits on the issue of the vacant seat, citing lack of jurisdiction due to a Constitutional Article that empowers each house of Congress to decide who will be seated.

Dueling Blondes. Singer/actress Madonna announces her interest in filling the Senate seat vacated by Hillary Clinton. She answers criticism about her lack of experience by noting that she has more "real life" experience than Carolyn Kennedy Schlossberg, who had also expressed interest in the Senate. Governor David Patterson equivocates over the controversial selection until each lady threatens to enter a convent if she is not selected. Seeing a rare opportunity, Mr. Patterson appoints his ex-wife to fill the seat. When both Madonna and Ms. Schlossberg renege on their convent-threats, the ACLU sues them for "breach of public promise".

West (by God!) Virginia. When Middle-eastern terrorists attack Mr. Obama's motorcade as it drives through West Virginia, he is saved from harm by armed citizens. In a fierce gun-battle on the streets of a small town, residents kill five terrorists, wound three, and drive off five others. As he is dragged to safety by local miners, Mr. Obama continues to invite his attackers to "come to the table of brotherhood". After the attack, Mr. Obama announces a "changed mind" on gun control, and encourages all law-abiding Americans to keep operable weapons within easy reach. He also announces that his administration will promote the use of coal to honor the West Virginians who defended him.

Happy New Year to all my faithful readers. God bless.