Predictions for 2006: Read ‘Em and Weep

Long-range predictions by meteorologists at this weather station for the New Year are gloomy (bearing in mind, of course, that there is no money in good news).

With that in mind, here’s the forecast for 2006:

January: In his State of the Nation speech, President George W. Bush says that the Iraqi war is kinda like a long horse race, but that the thoroughbred named U.S.A. is leading down the home stretch and heading to a barn called Democracy.

He tells people that now is not the time to give up on S.U.V.’s. He promises that the price of oil and natural gas is going to go down because of the miraculous technology advances that our scientists, who are the best in the world, will have growing out of their test tubes “faster’n you can say ‘ethanol.’”

Congress repeals the Freedom of Information Act. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist says, “It was useless, and we are trying to get old, unenforced laws off the books.”

President Bush pardons people convicted of white-collar crimes involving more than $10 million. “These are the men and women who create jobs and grow the economy,” he tells visiting journalists from Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan.

February: An air marshal who is a member of a VIPER anti-terrorist patrol kills an old man on a commuter train coming into Chicago from suburban Park Forest. The man, Arinsoe Palgrave, 81, carrying an attaché case, began emitting strange sounds that the marshal (name withheld for security reasons) took to be Arabic. When Palgrave ignored orders to place his case on the railroad car’s floor and assume the position, the marshal was forced to take the suspected terrorist out. The bomb squad determined that the case contained Palgrave’s medical records and a petition to the Veterans Administration to raise his disability payments. A grandnephew, Marcel Palgrave, 23, said that his uncle suffered from an undiagnosed neurological disorder.

March: Congress reaches a milestone. In secret session, it passes the first classified law. When asked how people can obey a law they don’t know about, House Speaker Denny Hastert says, “You’ll know when you break it, because we’ll be down on you like a ton of bricks.” The ACLU says that Classified Law No. 1 is taking the country in “a new direction.”

April: Karl Rove, George Tenet, John Ashcroft and Fats Domino are awarded the Medal of Freedom. Fats entertains the glamorous Washington audience with “Ain’t That a Shame?”

Avian flu breaks out in Minnesota. Secretary of Health and Human Services Michael O. Leavitt says, “Not to worry—the disease is only infecting undocumented immigrants, who are being deported as fast as possible.”

May: President Bush announces that three million Iraqi soldiers have been trained, plus four million Iraqi police. Thus, one out of every five Iraqis is in the army or law enforcement. He expects that the American force there can be reduced by the end of the year.

Dick Cheney declares that “we have reached a turning point.”

The Department of Energy says that scientists have achieved a release of energy via cold fusion, which is described as “the way the sun releases energy, only a lot cooler.” Secretary of Energy Samuel W. Bodman tells a press conference that cold fusion can extract enough energy from a teacup of ocean water to power every home and office in the United States for a month. He has his picture taken with the teacup.

June: The Department of Education reveals that it has perfected a computer program to teach federal law-enforcement officials how to connect dots.

Pat Robertson tells his TV audience that the new Medicare prescription-drug benefit is too complicated to be explained by political evolution and thus is obviously the product of intelligent design. Democrats, he says, simply evolved.

Officials fear gasoline prices will go through the roof this summer.

At the request of the White House, The New York Times says that it will skip its June 15 issue lest national security be jeopardized. Executive editor Bill Keller declines to say why the whole issue must be scrapped, but a person at The Times, who cannot be named, says dumping the entire issue will foil narco-terrorists from learning which article the government wants suppressed.

President Bush tells his radio audience that he is worried terrorists may try to disrupt American elections in the fall.

The Supreme Court rules that government employees or persons deemed “critical in the G-WAT (global war against terrorism)” may not tell others who they are if ordered to be “invisible.” The case was originally brought by Grandmother X, who is not allowed to reveal to Grandchild Y who his mother (Z) is. She may work for the C.I.A.

July: Secretary of Energy Samuel W. Bodman admits to a Senate committee that he dropped the teacup and broke it, which has set back the cold-fusion energy program, but he predicts it will be up and running before the last drop of oil has been pumped out of Saudi Arabia. When queried, Mr. Bodman is quoted as saying: “Senator, you’re asking me if I would buy an S.U.V. under present conditions? My answer is yes. We can get another teacup.”

H.H.S. boss Michael O. Leavitt concedes that there have been “a few hiccups” in the avian-flu inoculation program, but the “people most vital to our society—police, elected officials and risk-taking, job-creating innovators with incomes over $500,000 a year—have been vaccinated.” When asked about others, Mr. Leavitt responds that “most of them have high-definition TV.” An anonymous H.H.S. official says: “Budgetarily, it doesn’t make sense to spend money for expensive vaccines on people who most likely will die next winter because they can’t afford to heat their homes. Either Big Bird gets you in July or Frosty the Snowman offs you in January,” but then adds that he was only joking. Welfare advocates say the jest is in poor taste.

Shortly after ruling against intelligent design, a federal judge in Walla Walla, Wash., is struck dead by a lightning bolt on the eighth hole of a local golf course. Walla Walla Police Department criminalists and scientists from nearby Walla Walla Bible College examine the bolt protruding from the judge’s chest and tell TV cameras that this “could not possibly be a random act of nature.”

August: A gas station in Beaver Falls, Penn., is identified by the Associated Press as the first one in America to charge $10 for a gallon of regular. President Bush says that the price of gas is a sign that the free market is working and the economy is growing. He tells reporters that he is buying each of his twins a Ford Explorer, but with the cup holders removed.

Vice President Cheney declares that “we have reached another turning point in Iraq” and adds that “losers and defeatists need to deal with it.”

September: Attorney General Alberto Gonzales asks Congress to pass a law mandating that every child born in the U.S. will have a small chip inserted in the back of the neck to enable the government to keep track of who’s where and where is who. Mr. Gonzales explains that people move around “too much,” although not as much as they did before gas hit $10 a gallon. “But what will happen if prices drop?” he asks.

Lucile McHenry, 42, of Hoboken, N.J., a Burger King employee, is arrested by F.B.I. agents and charged with revealing to her lawyer that her son, Azod, 19, has disappeared under what the lawyer calls “federal circumstances.” The attorney will not give his or her name.

Hurricane Albino destroys Houston.

October: Secretary of Energy Bodman says that he hopes to have a new teacup up and running by sometime in the second quarter of next year.

A FEMA press release states that Katrina victims are being evacuated from their temporary housing so that Hurricane Albino victims can move in. A spokesperson, when asked what Katrina victims are supposed to do now, answers: “They need to deal with it.”

Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, reacting to a Washington Post story about proactive interrogation, angrily explains to reporters who, he says, haven’t done their “homework” that when a fingernail is only pulled out halfway, it is “emphatically not a violation of the Geneva Conventions, and you, ladies and gentlemen, should know that.”

The average price of gasoline drops to $7.21. Officials say the price of heating oil is over $6 a gallon, but those using natural gas will have no cold nights this winter if they take out home-equity loans.

November: Donald Rumsfeld denies that a sack of fingernails discovered by investigative reporter Seymour Hersh for The New Yorker magazine are human nails. “These are chimpanzee nails. Don’t you people know anything?” a testy Secretary of Defense asks Pentagon reporters.

White House press secretary Scott McClellan says the President believes that Iraq has reached an important milestone. But the milestone is classified, “for obvious reasons.”

In a joint news conference, the President and Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff announce that the elections this month will be held under “Iraqi election rules.” For the 48 hours preceding Election Day, no one other than unruly Mexicans will be allowed in the country. All plane and railroad traffic will cease. Schools will be closed and no cars will be allowed on the streets. Only people on their way to or from their voting place will be permitted to leave their homes. The Army will count the ballots, and the country will be informed of the election outcome “as soon as it is safe.”

December: Secret Service agents and police in Omaha have to use nightsticks and pepper spray to protect President Bush from a mob of enraged golden oldies in wheelchairs and on walkers after they assail the Commander in Chief with canes, dentures, hearing aids and empty plastic pill containers. A shocked Mr. Bush asks, “What did I do?”

The Department of Justice asks the nation’s animal shelters to close their doors to keep dogs and cats, capable of bearing bombs and other weapons of mass destruction, out of the hands of terrorists. Members of PETA are also detained.

Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld concedes that not all the fingernails belong to chimps.

While lighting the National Holiday Tree, President Bush asks his fellow Americans “to stay the course.” He predicts some troops will be withdrawn by the end of May 2007.