by Justice William W. Bedsworth
Every year at this time, my constant battle against deadlines turns into a rout. One minute I’m out celebrating Christmas and Chanukah and Kwaanza and my wife’s birthday and New Year’s and Guy Fawkes Day and whatever else seems to mandate the ingestion of mass quantities of comestibles, and the next I’m explaining to a gaggle of editors and one acting presiding justice why I’m late filing my writing assignments. It’s embarrassing.
So this year, in an abundance of indolence, I’ve decided to just abdicate my column-writing responsibilities and hand them over to Fernando Strunk, King of the Orange County Gypsies.
Fernando’s been sending me his Can’t-Miss Gypsy Fortune Teller Predictions for the New Year every December for the last coupla decades. Most of the time, I’ve just forwarded them on to the Department of Homeland Security, with the suggestion they look into Fernando’s immigration status. But this year they’re even more disturbing than usual, so I decided to publish them.
Before you scoff, you should remember that I’ve been the beneficiary of these predictions for the last 20 years or so, and I’ve ended up with a life so good it’s starting to undermine my faith in a just God. So this might be a good time to suspend disbelief.
Here’s what Fernando sees ahead:
1. Governor Jerry Brown finally chooses a new justice to fill the opening on the Fourth District Court of Appeal, Division 3. Unfortunately, it turns out he was not paying enough attention to what he signed and thought he was responding to a written interview question from Rolling Stone magazine. His choice of Linda Ronstadt for the post does not make it through the confirmation process and the vacancy goes unfilled throughout 2012.
2. San Francisco Superior Court budget strictures are resolved by Presiding Judge Katherine Feinstein, who re-hires two commissioners to run courts in which litigants will solve their disputes by resorting to the time-honored custom of flipping a coin. Unfortunately, the plan fails when the court is unable to come up with a coin.
3. Border War breaks out between Gua- temala and Nicaragua. It rages for six weeks before the two countries discover they have no common boundaries.
4. Justice Clarence Thomas finally asks a question during oral argument. The question, “Has anyone seen my fountain pen? I had it when I came out here,” accomplishes two things: It gets the legal press off his back (no one ever again laments the fact he asks no questions), and it accurately foreshadows six more weeks of winter, a coincidence seized upon by journalists tired of trying to spell Punxsatawney Phil every Groundhog Day. Justice Thomas returns to his habit of silence during oral argument and there is not a severe winter in the United States for the rest of his career.
5. Legislation reaches the floor of Congress to provide emergency aid to the former Soviet republic of Trashkanistan, identified in the bill as “a brave little outpost of freedom fighting valiantly against Muslim fundamentalist extremists.” The bill fails on a strictly party-line vote. Every Democrat votes for it; every Republican except Michelle Bachman votes against it.1 No one notices that there is no such place until Vice President Biden tries to call them to give them the bad news.
6. After months of resisting increasing pressure to ease the budget crisis by selling naming rights to its major institutions, California finally relents and puts them up for bid. An unexpected complication ensues when a bidding war for the Supreme Court develops between Microsoft and Apple. The Supreme Court recuses itself, on the basis they are the ones who will henceforth be known as either the Apple Supreme Court or the Microsoft Supreme Court.
In their stead, a panel of appellate court justices is chosen to sit by assignment, comprising two justices from the Adobe Systems Sixth District, two justices from the Carl’s Jr. Fourth District, Division 3, two justices from the Fenton’s Ice Cream First District, Division 3, and one from the Sun Maid Raisins Third District.
The panel rules in favor of Microsoft’s bid, a decision which becomes controversial when someone realizes the name “Bill’s Gates of Justice” was chosen by a majority made up of Bill Rylaarsdam, Bill Bedsworth, Bill McGuinness, and Bill Murray, Jr.
7. Concerned about the inequity perpetuated by its law banning switchblade knives, the Maine state legislature approves an exception to the law that will henceforth allow one-armed people to possess them. Backers of the measure explain that legalizing switchblades would eliminate a need for one-armed people to open folding knives with their teeth in emergencies. Thousands of people immediately begin planning to relocate to Maine, on the theory that if this is typical of the magnitude of Maine’s problems, it must be paradise.
8. Prince Henry of Wales, receiving extended helicopter training in Arizona, is rounded up by INS officers who note that the “real” prince is named Henry but this impostor goes by “Harry.” Their response to his insistence he is the heir to the British throne is bleeped out by every American television station except the Spice Channel and the Playboy Network. The Prince spends six bewildered hours in a Tijuana holding facility, but is otherwise unharmed.
9. Voters elect an illiterate clown to Con-gress.2
10. Five of seven fervid Republican presidential debaters, scrambling to adopt a position that has won a round of applause from the audience, endorse a constitutional amendment that would adopt the Necco wafer as the nation’s primary medium of exchange. The other two endorse a position that it is always better to exchange mediums for larges, on the basis it is better for your clothes to be too loose than too tight.
11. The City Council of Las Vegas considers a proposed ban on hula hoops, which Fremont Street merchants complain are interfering with their business. Despite the suggestion there are other things going on in Vegas that might merit their attention, the governing body of “Sin City, USA” tries to decide if hula hoops are what they should outlaw. The Council backs down, though, when the ACLU steps in, citing serious Free Speech issues.3
12. On October 29, the 83rd Anniversary of Black Tuesday, the market loses 2,000 points. Brokers leap from windows.4
13. On October 30, the market finds the 2,000 points. Turns out they were right next to Clarence Thomas’ fountain pen.
14. Due to a computer programming error, the Republican National Convention accidentally nominates Warren G. Harding for President.
15. The Democratic Party, in keeping with its long tradition of squabbling and infighting, manages to lose 37 states and the District of Columbia to Harding in the general election.
16. Harding’s election precipitates a constitutional crisis that is resolved only when Microsoft and Apple agree to bid for the Presidency. Microsoft, its coffers depleted by the six billion it spent for the naming rights to “Bill’s Gates of Justice” pulls out of the bidding at 47 billion and Apple wins the office. Steve Jobs being unavailable, they immediately post the position on Facebook, announcing that it will be awarded to the one millionth person to buy their new iPad3.
17. Walmart puts in an order for 1 million IPad2’s and claims the Presidency for Sam Walton.
18. President Walton announces the nat-ionalization of Costco.
19. Costco objects, pointing out that Sam Walton has been dead since 1992, and can’t possibly be signing orders. President Walton issues a press release denying this “base canard.”
20. Democratic Party “deathers” demand that President Walton release his non-death certificate. At a nationally-televised press conference, house minority leader Nancy Pelosi and minority whip Ed Begley, Jr. insist, “If he really is alive, there’s no reason for him not to provide this information.”
21. President Walton, speaking from be-hind his now-famous curtain re-affirms his pro-life principles and insists he is not now and never has been a member of the deceased. And even if he were, he’d be less dead than Harding.
22. Pundits David Brooks and E. J. Dionne urge the American people to “pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.” Walmart security arrests both for violation of the Alien and Sedition Acts, prompting the first constitutional challenge to the 1798 laws.
23. The United States Supreme Court finally intercedes in the famous case of Obama v. Dead Guy. In a 5–4 opinion written by “Punxsatawney” Clarence Thomas, the court finds that Sam Walton died in December, 2012—five weeks after his election—and the office therefore devolves to Harry Mafuffnik, an unemployed dry wall contractor who has recently purchased the one millionth IPad3 not sold to Walmart.
24. Order is restored. Justice Thomas’ fountain pen is returned.
25. 2013 arrives despite the Mayans.
Yeah, I know: These are pretty . . . unusual . . . predictions. Fernando makes Nostradamus look like Edward R. Murrow.
But it’s hard to argue with a guy who correctly predicted the Maine one-armed man switchblade statute, the illiterate clown election, and the ACLU’s successful Las Vegas intervention on behalf of hula hoop speech.
Me, I’m buying Necco wafers.