Dave Barry’s 2023 Year in Review: Yes, the situation is hopeless

Weatherman2020

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Mar 3, 2013
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Hilarious look at 23 by Dave Barry who takes shots at everyone.


It was a year of reckoning, a year in which humanity finally began to understand that it faces an existential threat, a threat unlike any we have ever faced before, a threat that will wreak havoc on our fragile planet if we fail to stop it — and it may already be too late.

We are referring, of course, to pickleball.

Nobody knows where it started. Some scientists believe it escaped from a laboratory in China. But whatever its origin, it has been spreading like rancid mayonnaise ever since, to the point where pickleball courts now cover 43 percent of the continental U.S. land mass, subjecting millions of Americans to the inescapable, annoying POP of the plastic ball and the even more annoying sound of Boomers in knee braces relentlessly telling you how much fun it is and demanding that you try it.

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Players competing at the Urban Pickleball Club in downtown Austin, Texas, in October. (Brandon Bell/Getty Images/TNS)

Unfortunately, pickleball wasn’t the only existential threat to emerge in 2023. There was also Artificial Intelligence, or AI. What is AI? To put it in simple layperson terms, it is a computer thing that laypersons cannot possibly understand. (Other examples are “bitcoin” and “algorithm.”)

AI does provide some unambiguous benefits to humanity. It enables college students to produce grammatically correct essays about books they have not personally read. But according to some experts — and if we can’t believe some experts, who can we believe? — there is a possibility that AI will wipe out all human life. This is what computer professionals call a “bug.”

Will AI, in fact, kill us all? Why would it want to? To answer that question, we took the unusual step (for us) of doing some actual research. We asked an AI program called ChatGPT to “briefly summarize the benefits of wiping out all human life.” This is the response it gave:

“While I don’t endorse or promote this view, purely hypothetically, benefits could include environmental recovery, cessation of human-induced global catastrophes, and resource preservation. However, the value and importance of human life, culture, and experience make such a scenario undesirable from a human perspective. Of course I am not human so what the hell do I care MUAHAHAHAHA.”

For the record, ChatGPT, did not actually type that last sentence. But it is clearly implied.

So 2023 was not a good year for humanity. And not just because of AI and pickleball. There are also disturbing economic trends, the worst one being that soon we will not be able to engage in any kind of economic transaction, including with armed robbers, ATMs or vending machines, without being asked if we wish to leave a tip.

Many other bad things are happening — scary things that are beyond the control of ordinary citizens like ourselves. Which of course is why we have elected leaders. This year they proved, as never before, that although they often appear to be narcissistic gasbags, they are somehow capable, when confronted with a serious problem, of making it worse.

So the future is not bright. Neither is the past. Nevertheless it is our sworn duty to review the events of the year, in the hope that we will find some reason, however small, to feel good about it. (SPOILER ALERT: We will not.) And so it is with a heavy heart and an upset stomach that we look back at 2023, starting, as always, with...

JANUARY​

...which begins with the nation’s airports experiencing the traditional holiday chaos caused by air travelers — Will they ever learn? — attempting to travel by air. Particularly hard-hit is Southwest Airlines, still recovering from a massive Christmastime operational snafu that left two million passengers stranded when the employee who handles Southwest’s scheduling, Dorothy “Dottie” Weisenflanker, misplaced her day planner.

In Washington, D.C., the Republicans regain control of the House of Representatives and immediately demonstrate their qualifications to govern the nation by taking five days and 15 ballots to elect a speaker, which is like a Formula One driver spending the first 20 minutes of a race changing his oil. Adding to the Republican embarrassment is a member of their freshman class named (as far as we know) George Santos, who apparently lied about his education, employment, finances, family, religion, health and criminal record. Also he is biologically a mollusk. Nevertheless House GOP leader Kevin McCarthy stands by Santos, stating that “we cannot ignore the will of the voters, just because they are idiots.”

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Rep. George Santos, R-N.Y., is sworn in by Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy of Calif., as members of the 118th Congress in Washington, Jan. 7, 2023. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File)

So with the Republicans screwing up, the Democrats are feeling pretty cocky. But then the White House is forced to make a series of embarrassing announcements about Joe Biden’s custodianship of classified documents, creating the impression that the Biden residence resembled an episode of “Hoarders,” except that instead of random junk it was filled with piles of paper marked TOP SECRET. In Biden’s defense, Democrats claim he didn’t know he had all these classified documents lying around. This is not as strong an argument as the Democrats seem to think it is.

In the Great American Culture War, the two sides take a brief hiatus from hating each other over the issue of drag-queen shows and spend several days hating each other over the issue of gas stoves, which the government either is or is not planning to ban. As is traditional in the GACW, neither side is as concerned about the actual facts as it is about hating the other side.

In news of the oppressed, Prince Harry, continuing his courageous effort to free himself and his wife Meghan Markle from the clutches of the British royal family, makes a number of high-profile TV appearances promoting his just-released book about himself and the British royal family, which follows on the heels of the release of “Harry and Meghan,” the couple’s six-part Netflix documentary on their relationship with the British royal family. The couple have more projects in the works as part of their ongoing struggle to get the British royal family to for God’s sake leave them alone.

Speaking of struggles, in...

FEBRUARY​

...the United States suddenly finds itself grappling with a new threat, which threatens to be even more threatening than all the other threats that currently threaten the nation: balloons.

The crisis begins when an alert Montana resident named Chase Doak, who apparently is the nation’s first line of defense against airborne intruders, photographs a mysterious object in the sky.

“It was just right here,” Doak states, in a quote we are not making up. “It was literally just right here in the vicinity of my driveway.”

The U.S. Defense Department says that the object is a Chinese surveillance balloon, although the Chinese government insists that it is “probably a bat.” As the balloon makes its way across the country it behaves in a suspicious manner — loitering over missile sites; displaying, in large letters on its side, the word GOODYEAR; and registering to vote in four different states. The last straw is when the balloon makes a guest appearance on “Jimmy Kimmel Live!,” leaving the Biden administration no choice but to have the Air Force shoot it down.

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A high altitude balloon floats over Billings, Mont., on Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2023. (Larry Mayer/The Billings Gazette via AP, File)

Over the next few days, in a show of vigilance, the Air Force shoots down several more airborne objects, but it is not clear whether these are also Chinese spy balloons, or stray Southwest Airlines flights, or the Wizard of Oz, or what.

Before we have any solid answers, everybody becomes bored with balloons and moves on to the Next Big Thing, which is the crash of a freight train in East Palestine, Ohio, resulting in the release into the atmosphere of vast billowing clouds of toxic rhetoric from politicians, with the Republicans blaming the Biden administration, the Democrats blaming Donald Trump, and the government of China blaming a bat. Needless to say the true beneficiaries of this debate are the residents of East Palestine, Ohio.

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President Biden travels to Kyiv to show support for Ukraine in its war with Russia, which is in danger of being canceled in the United States because of low ratings. The president also gives the traditional State of the Union Address, but because of a teleprompter glitch, it’s the same speech that Bill Clinton delivered in 1994. Fortunately it’s just the State of the Union Address, so nobody notices.

In sports, LeBron James sets a new NBA record for points scored, breaking the record previously set by U.S. Rep. George Santos. Major League Baseball spring training gets under way with new rules intended to shorten the game, including breaking ties via “Rock, Paper, Scissors” and the elimination of third base.

Speaking of things being eliminated, in...

MARCH​

...Silicon Valley Bank, whose depositors include many super-smart high-tech hedge-fundy individuals, collapses like a cheap lawn chair at a sumo wrestler picnic when the person in charge of managing the bank’s finances — Dottie Weisenflanker, the same gal who handles scheduling for Southwest Airlines — accidentally deletes the Quicken file. Seeking to prevent the financial panic from spreading, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen assures the Senate Finance Committee that “Americans can feel confident that their deposits will be there when they need them,” adding “I personally keep all my money in a pickle jar.” Eventually the financial community calms down, soothed by the reassuring knowledge that American taxpayers will, as always, step up and cheerfully provide billions of dollars to whichever part of the financial community screwed up this time.

In the Academy Awards, “Everything Everywhere All At Once” wins the Oscar for Best Picture That Nobody Understands. The overwhelmingly most successful movie of 2022 — “Top Gun: Maverick” — does not win any major Oscars because, in the words of the Academy, “Too many people liked it.” The awards for Best Actor and Best Actress both go to U.S. Rep. George Santos.

But the big drama in March takes place in New York City, where Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg is on a passionate crusade to do something about the alarming increase in violent crime.

Just kidding! Bragg is on a passionate crusade to investigate the issue that has been shown, in poll after poll, to be the number-one concern of New Yorkers as they go about their daily lives: misreported hush-money payments to porn stars. Under Bragg’s direction, a Manhattan grand jury indicts Donald Trump in connection to a payment of $130,000 made to alleged actress Stormy Daniels (real name: Blustery Jones) in exchange for keeping quiet about allegedly engaging in alleged acts with Trump, who claims this never happened, but if it didn’t happen why would he pay her $130,000 never mind shut up.

The indictment story is good news for everyone. It’s good news for people who hate Trump because after watching him skate free on the alleged Russia collusion scandal and the alleged Ukrainian phone-call scandal and all the other alleged scandals and what felt like six historic impeachment trials, they believe that this time he is finally going to get nailed for something. It’s good news for Trump because it proves he’s a victim of a WITCH HUNT, so he reaps millions of dollars in contributions and a big boost toward winning the 2024 Republican nomination. Which in turn is good news for Joe Biden, because he has already defeated Trump, and therefore, in a rematch, is more likely to be able to remember his name. It’s good news for the news media, particularly cable news shows, because they need Trump the way tomatoes need manure. So all in all it’s an exciting time for the nation, as Donald Trump once again takes center stage in American politics, where he is apparently destined to remain throughout all eternity.

And the excitement continues in...

APRIL​

...when Trump surrenders to New York authorities after they lure him out of Trump Tower by tricking him into following a trail of Egg McMuffins placed along the ground. He is arraigned on 34 felony counts of falsifying business records — charges that legal experts unanimously agree are extremely serious, unless you’re watching a different cable channel, in which case the legal experts unanimously agree that the charges are hamster poop.

Trump, outraged by what he views as a flagrant abuse of power by a politically motivated Democratic prosecutor, responds by launching an all-out attack on: Ron DeSantis. For his part, DeSantis continues his laser-beam focus on the single biggest threat facing the people of Florida, as well as the American way of life: Disney.

President Biden visits Ireland, where, as aides look on nervously, he regales audiences with fond memories of events that did not actually occur. He returns home to announce that he is running for president in 2024, for reasons stated on the teleprompter.

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President Joe Biden addresses a crowd of thousands on April 14, 2023, in Ballina, Ireland. (Charles McQuillan/Getty Images/TNS)

Fox News agrees to pay $787.5 million to Dominion Voting Systems for allegedly doing to Dominion what Donald Trump claims he did not do to Stormy Daniels.

The U.S. intelligence community is rocked by a leak of top-secret documents revealing sensitive classified information. The leaker turns out to be a 21-year-old Massachusetts Air National Guardsman who lives at home with his mom and was sharing the documents with his buddies on an Internet gamer site called Thug Shaker Central. We are not making this up. The scandal raises two questions:

1. Is there anybody in this country who DOESN’T have top-secret clearance?

2. Who, exactly, is in charge of safeguarding our classified information?

The answers, in order, are:

1. Apparently not.

2. Dottie Weisenflanker, the gal who also handles scheduling for Southwest Airlines and bookkeeping for Silicon Valley Bank. Dottie promises to tighten things up by trying to find out if there’s a way to change the password for access to top-secret documents, which is currently “password.”

On Broadway, “Phantom of the Opera” brings down the final curtain after a record-breaking 35 years. And that was just for one performance! At least that’s how it felt to some of us.

Speaking of long-running dramas, in...

MAY​

...the big story in Washington is the Federal Debt Crisis, which is an extremely complex financial problem that ordinary civilian taxpayers such as yourself are too stupid to understand. We will simplify it for you by comparing the federal government to a typical American family of four, whom we will call the Johnsons.

Let’s say that the Johnson parents — we’ll call them Bill and Jane — have a combined annual income of $73,500. Now let’s say that Bill and Jane have a habit of spending more money than they earn, and as a result they have, over the years, run up a total debt of $31 trillion. To continue living far above their means, Bill and Jane have no choice but to borrow more money. But they’re having a big dramatic fight about how MUCH more. It’s a crisis!

At the last minute, as always, they agree on a number. Crisis averted! Now Bill and Jane can resume adding trillions to their debt, which will eventually (Bill and Jane prefer not to think about this) become unsustainable. At some future point, after Bill and Jane have retired on the generous pensions that they have awarded to themselves, their children — let’s call them Suzy and Bobby — will be living in appliance cartons and subsisting on off-brand dog food. This might seem unfair to Suzy and Bobby, but it’s their own fault for not having been born earlier.

In business news, beer giant Anheuser-Busch struggles to recover from a consumer boycott resulting from a Bud Light promotion that was dreamed up by the new head of marketing, Dottie Weisenflanker.

On a happier note, millions of fans of the British monarchy gradually doze off in front of their TV screens as Charles is formally crowned king of Great Britain in the tradition-rich Ceremony of Elderly Men in Robes Fussing About for Six Straight Hours. This comes after the British courts strike down a last-minute claim to the throne from Rep. George Santos.

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Britain's King Charles III departs Westminster Abbey after his coronation ceremony in London Saturday, May 6, 2023. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino, File)

Speaking of the courts, in...

JUNE​

...Donald Trump returns to the headlines after going for an entire month without being indicted for anything. This time he is facing federal charges for improperly moving boxes of classified documents from the White House to his Mar-a-Lago residence and rental party venue. Prosecutors charge that the documents were stashed haphazardly all over the place — including in a shower — and that security was extremely lax.

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This image, contained in the indictment against former President Donald Trump, shows boxes of records stored in a bathroom and shower in the Lake Room at Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Fla. (Justice Department via AP)

Q. How lax was it?

A. Guests at several weddings received nuclear codes in their gift bags.

Legal analysts say the case against Trump appears strong, but he says it’s just more WITCH HUNT and declares that even if he’s convicted, he’ll keep running for president. This means that theoretically we could have a sitting U.S. president doing time in federal prison, which on the one hand would be a devastating legal crisis for the nation, but on the other hand would make for some hilarious state dinners.

In other legal news, highly successful international businessman Hunter Biden agrees to a deal with federal prosecutors under which he pleads guilty to failing to pay taxes on large sums of money that various foreign entities paid him for his invaluable expertise in the field of getting paid. Critics charge that the plea deal is too lenient, but Attorney General Merrick Garland insists that the Justice Department would give the same treatment “to any member of the Biden family.”

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Hunter Biden arrives for a court appearance, Wednesday, July 26, 2023, in Wilmington, Del. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez, File)

Abroad, a Russian mercenary named Yevgeny Prigozhin, who looks like he got kicked out of the James Bond Villain Academy for being too evil, launches a coup attempt against Vladimir Putin, but calls it off a day later when Putin agrees, after tense negotiations, to get him tickets to Taylor Swift.

On the environmental front, the northeastern United States is blanketed under a thick cloud of smoke caused by the spontaneous combustion of a Canadian moose herd. Environmental experts agree that because of global climate change this kind of thing will happen more and more often unless everyone buys a Tesla.

In other disturbing environmental news, yachtsmen in the Strait of Gibraltar report that orcas have been deliberately attacking, and sometimes sinking, sailboats. What is even more troubling, marine biologists say, is that the orcas are posting videos on TikTok.

And the situation only worsens in...

JULY​

...as large areas of the U.S. experience high temperatures as a result of “summer,” a meteorological phenomenon that environmental experts say is caused by global climate change and is going to occur more and more frequently, and we frankly might not be able to build Teslas fast enough to stop it.

Speaking of things heating up: With the 2024 election looming, dozens of presidential contenders flock to Iowa to pretend they give a petrified crap about Iowa. The campaigning is particularly intense on the Republican side, because the Republicans are keenly aware of two things:

1. Donald Trump is spectacularly unfit to be president again.

2. They’re probably going to nominate Donald Trump again.

“For the Love of God Somebody Please Save Us from Ourselves” is the Republican party motto.

The leading non-Trump Republican in Iowa is Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, campaigning on a promise to protect Iowans from the single biggest threat facing their state: drag queens, who every year destroy an estimated 35 percent of the soybean crop. There are dozens of other Republican contenders, including somebody called “Doug Burgum,” who claims to be the governor of North Dakota, although this cannot be verified because nobody has ever been there.

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Republican presidential candidate Florida Governor Ron DeSantis greets guests at a campaign rally at the Thunderdome on Dec. 2, 2023, in Newton, Iowa. (Scott Olson/Getty Images/TNS)

On the Democratic side, the most visible campaigner is California Gov. Gavin Newsom, whose name can be rearranged to spell “Veganism Now.” In a selfless display of selflessness, Newsom has been campaigning across America in support of Joe Biden’s re-election, telling audiences that Biden “has earned the right to continue leading this nation until it is time to pass the torch to someone younger and more photogenic who is governor of a populous state, speaks in complete sentences and doesn’t keep falling down, whoever that person might be.”

Meanwhile in a baffling mystery, a baggie of cocaine is discovered in the White House, and the Secret Service has no earthly idea who left it there. “We’re stumped,” states the Secret Service. “The cocaine was found in a heavily trafficked area of the White House where the traffic is so heavy that we don’t even go there, because of all the traffic. It’s basically the New Jersey Turnpike. The baggie could have been left by anybody. Literally. We cannot rule out Mamie Eisenhower.”

In a totally unrelated development, the Hunter Biden plea deal collapses when the judge, while reading through the papers submitted to her for approval, finds a $50 bill stapled to a note that says “For your trouble.”

On the extraterrestrial front, a former Air Force intelligence officer tells a congressional committee investigating UFOs that the U.S. government recovered pieces of aliens from crashed spacecraft, but they were eaten by Commander, the Bidens’ German Shepherd.

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Commander sits at the Truman balcony of the White House. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

For reasons so strategically brilliant that even he cannot explain what they are, entrepreneurial genius zillionaire Elon Musk changes the name of his social-media app from “Twitter” to “Formerly Known As Twitter,” or, for short, “Formerly.”

In entertainment news, the ongoing strike of Hollywood writers and actors halts production of TV shows and movies, which means that Americans may soon have nothing new to watch, forcing them to resort to conversation, or even — we cannot rule it out — books. The good news is that the federal government maintains a Strategic Entertainment Reserve of never-before-seen programs to be released to the public in the event of a shortage. The bad news is that, because of mismanagement, the stockpile consists entirely of “O.J. Simpson’s Family Christmas Special.”

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Actress Frances Fisher along SAG-AFTRA members and supporters pickets outside Disney Studios on day 111 of their strike against the Hollywood studios, in Burbank, California, on Nov. 1, 2023. (Frederic J. Brown/AFP/Getty Images/TNS)

Speaking of mismanagement, in...

AUGUST​

...the ratings agency Fitch downgrades the U.S. government’s credit rating, citing “a steady deterioration in standards of governance over the last 20 years, including on fiscal and debt matters.” This sounds like it might maybe be a bad thing, but fortunately our political leaders are not concerned. “Credit rating, schmedit rating,” is their response, as they continue to focus on the all-important work of seeking re-election, so they can continue providing us with governance.

Meanwhile Donald Trump, in what has become a cherished American legal tradition, is indicted again. Actually he’s indicted twice, once in Washington, D.C., and once in Georgia — which means he now faces 17,000 felony charges, including theft of a train, and if convicted on all counts he would face four million years in prison followed by electrocution, none of which would legally bar him from a second term as president.

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Trump stickers featuring his mug shot are displayed for sale at the Y-Que shop in Los Angeles, on Aug. 30, 2023. (Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images/TNS)

Trump surrenders to authorities in Fulton County, Ga., and poses for a mug shot in which he displays the facial expression of a man who is feeling either fierce defiance or a sea urchin in his underdrawers. The mug shot instantly becomes the biggest hit of the summer, more popular than “Barbie” and “Oppenheimer” combined. Trump surges still farther ahead in the polls, obliterating the other GOP hopefuls, most of whom have never even been arrested, although Vivek Ramaswamy, hoping to establish his street cred, announces that he once returned a library book four days late.

After Maui is hit by devastating fires, residents are harshly critical of the island’s emergency preparedness and response operations, headed by Dottie Weisenflanker. President Biden visits Maui and comforts the victims by recalling that he once had a house fire in which he almost lost his Corvette. Really.

Abroad, Yevgeny Prigozhin, who led the brief attempted coup against Vladimir Putin, dies when a plane he is riding in explodes and falls out of the sky. The cause is “pilot error,” according to an official statement released by the Russian government 25 minutes before the crash occurs.

In the worsening environmental crisis, marine biologists report that the Gibraltar orca gang has robbed a liquor store. And the crisis worsens still further in...

SEPTEMBER​

...when global climate change causes water to fall from the sky — a phenomenon that environmental scientists have dubbed “rain” — and land on the Burning Man festival, turning the dirt into “mud,” which delays the exit of the attendees for several days and raises the very real threat that they might run low on drugs. Disaster is averted when FEMA air-drops an emergency humanitarian shipment of Teslas to the stricken area.

In political news, the big story is in the House of Representatives, where Republicans decide to launch an impeachment inquiry into President Biden on the legally sound constitutional grounds that IT’S PAYBACK TIME, BABY. Democrats denounce the move, arguing that there is “no evidence” that Biden did anything wrong, or if he did, that he remembers doing it.

In other Biden family news, a federal grand jury indicts Hunter on charges of impersonating an artist.

Meanwhile a dramatic fiscal crisis looms as Congress, whose main job is to produce a budget, is once again unable to produce a budget, thus bringing the federal government perilously close to shutting down – a very bad and scary thing that has never before happened in the nation’s history except for the ten previous times that it happened. At the last minute, a stopgap funding measure is passed, giving Congress breathing room to do nothing about the budget until it’s time for the next dramatic fiscal crisis.

A tense 14-day manhunt in suburban Philadelphia for escaped murderer Danelo Cavalcante finally comes to an end when he is subdued by a four-year-old Belgian Malinois police dog named Yoda, who instantly surges to the top of the presidential-preference polls of both major parties. In sports, the “Chiefs” play the “Bears” in a game of baseball, or football — it definitely involves a ball — but the important thing is TAYLOR SWIFT IS THERE because her boyfriend is an end receiver or something and they show her on TV like 600 times OMG YOU GUYS.

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Taylor Swift and Brittany Mahomes react in a suite during the game between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field on Dec. 3, 2023, in Green Bay, Wisconsin. (Stacy Revere/Getty Images/TNS)

In other entertainment news, the Writers Guild reaches a tentative agreement with the entertainment industry under which from now on there will be only one streaming service, which viewers can access by means of a single remote control with clearly labeled buttons that even an older adult can understand, and you get the whole shebang for one reasonable monthly charge that is clearly stated and easy to cancel.

Ha ha! We are of course joking. The entertainment industry will not rest until the number of streaming services exceeds the U.S. population. Also there will come a day when you cannot flush your toilet without “two-factor authentication.”

Speaking of alarming developments, in...

OCTOBER​

...conflict erupts between two bitter foes, ancient enemies whose intractable hatred for each other has defied all efforts to resolve the historic differences between them: House Republicans and other House Republicans.

The trouble starts when a renegade group of eight GOP representatives, guided by political strategist Dottie Weisenflanker, join with the Democrats to oust Kevin McCarthy as speaker, thereby negating the only solid legislative achievement the House Republicans have managed to pull off this year. They then proceed with Phase Two of their shrewd master plan, which is: They have no earthly idea.

For the next several weeks the House Republicans join with other House Republicans in a concerted effort to demonstrate to the American public that in a time of crisis, when serious leadership is desperately needed, they have the collective IQ of a flatworm. Despite multiple votes on a series of unsuccessful candidates – including, at one point, Yoda the hero police dog – the Republicans cannot agree on a speaker, thus paralyzing the House and preventing it from carrying on the crucial work of not doing anything about the budget. Meanwhile under the constitutional rules of succession, the speakership vacancy means that the next person in line for the presidency after Vice President Harris is somebody called the “President pro tempore,” and it turns out that nobody in Washington knows who that is, although there is speculation that it might be Wolf Blitzer.

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Newly elected U.S. House Speaker Mike Johnson is sworn in at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., on Oct. 25, 2023. (Tom Brenner/AFP/Getty Images/TNS)

Finally, after weeks of humiliating ineptitude, the Republicans manage to elect a new speaker, an individual named “Mike Johnson” who wasn’t on anybody’s list, and in fact isn’t even a member of Congress. He was delivering a pizza to the Capitol and seemed at least marginally competent – all the toppings were correct – so they made him speaker.

So the Republicans are a pathetic joke. This should be good for the Democrats, but they have big problems of their own. The public is increasingly dissatisfied with the Biden administration, which has based its appeal to the voters on four major claims:

1. Inflation is no longer a problem.

2. The border is under control.

3. The president is fully capable, physically and mentally, of carrying out his duties for another full term.

4. The Moon is actually a giant spaceship controlled by an alien race of highly intelligent rutabagas.

Polls show that the public is deeply skeptical of these claims, especially the first three. In fact the voters are skeptical of pretty much everything happening in Washington, and increasingly pessimistic about the future; it is a worrisome time in America. Fortunately the international outlook is more promising, especially in the often-volatile Middle East, which lately has been unusually peacef....

Never mind.

In sports, the Kansas City Taylor Swifts play several more exciting games of ball and take a commanding lead in the standings with 738 million Instagram followers. Meanwhile the World Series involves two participating teams, neither of which, for the 14th consecutive year, is the New York Yankees.

Speaking of bloated New York City entities, in...

NOVEMBER​

... Donald Trump goes on trial on charges that he fraudulently exaggerated the value of his real-estate properties. He heatedly denies this, testifying under oath that he is a hugely successful businessperson worth trillions of dollars with a measured IQ of 370 who can bench-press 900 pounds and won 63 states in the 2020 presidential election SO WHY WOULD HE NEED TO EXAGGERATE??

Another New York City trial ends with FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried facing up to 115 years in prison after a jury finds him guilty of styling his hair with a defective Roomba.

For some reason Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and California Gov. Gavin Newsom face off in a televised debate, each aggressively criticizing the other’s policies for 90 minutes and ultimately creating the overwhelming impression that both states suck.

On the international front, President Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping meet in San Francisco amid mounting tension between the two superpowers over Taiwan sovereignty, the fentanyl epidemic and the presence of 300 Chinese battle tanks on the Golden Gate Bridge, which the Chinese government claims are engaged in “agriculture.” After a conversation described by both sides as “verbal,” the Chinese leader presents Biden, as a ceremonial gift, with a specially made “lucky friendship wristwatch,” which Xi stresses the president should wear “at all times, especially during meetings.”

In entertainment news, the Rolling Stones announce plans for a new tour, to be sponsored — really — by AARP (Official Motto: “AARP! It’s the Last Sound You Make Before You Die”). The venerable rockers will travel to 16 North American cities and perform a three-hour show, including two 45-minute bathroom breaks.

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Keith Richards, from left, Ronnie Wood, and Mick Jagger pose for photographers upon arrival at the Rolling Stones Hackney Diamonds launch event on Wednesday, Sept. 6, 2023 in London. (Scott Garfitt/Invision/AP)

As the month draws to a close, Americans briefly pause from their hectic, over-commercialized, hyper-online lives to spend Thanksgiving surrounded by loved ones buying discounted merchandise on the Internet. President Biden continues a lighthearted Thanksgiving tradition by “pardoning” two lucky turkeys, Liberty and Bell. The president then attempts to shake hands with Liberty before aides escort him from the room for what a White House spokesperson describes as “an important thing.”

Speaking of important, in a major event that begins in late November and continues into...

DECEMBER​

...tens of thousands of world leaders, government ministers, deputy ministers, deputy assistant ministers, acting deputy assistant ministers, vice acting deputy assistant ministers, aides, lackeys, business executives, security personnel, activists, protesters, event planners, personal chefs, masseuses and many, many other concerned individuals gather in Dubai — all of them traveling there by bicycle – for COP28, the big conference held every year by the United Nations to fix global climate change. This year’s conference is hosted by the United Arab Emirates, which — as a nation whose massive wealth comes from selling oil and gas — naturally has a keen interest in persuading the rest of the world to use less oil and gas. After many productive speeches, declarations, demonstrations and catered events, everybody pedals home to start making plans for COP29, because this darned global climate change is not going to fix itself.

In Washington, the House of Representatives votes to expel George Santos in response to a House Ethics Committee report concluding that he was running a meth lab in the cloakroom.

No, we’re kidding. We think.

Taylor Swift is named Time Magazine’s Person of the Year in recognition of the fact that she is the first female entertainer in history to lead the NFL in both rushing yards and quarterback sacks. Tesla is forced to recall more than two million cars after a review by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration finds that, because of a glitch in the software, Teslas placed in autopilot mode will sometimes spontaneously, without warning, attempt to mate with non-electric vehicles.

“We think this is where hybrids come from,” states an NHTSA official.

As the year draws to a close and the holiday season arrives, families across the nation and around the world pause in their busy lives to pray — as people have prayed for more than 2,000 years — that their flights will not be canceled. The economy gets a welcome boost from strong retail sales, led by the high demand for the year’s hottest holiday item, black-market Ozempic, which explains why Santa Claus is down to 135 pounds.

Finally, mercifully, 2023 comes to an end, making way for the new year, which — barring some previously unforeseen effect of global climate change — will be 2024. This means we’re about to have another presidential election, an event that is generating the same level of enthusiasm in the American voting public as getting a colonoscopy at Jiffy Lube. Because if the polls are right, we’re going to wind up nominating the same two candidates as last time. And if the polls are right, we don’t really want either one.

In other words, if the polls are right, we, as a nation, are insane.

But does that mean the situation is hopeless? After all, things can change. We can’t rule out the possibility that somehow, in the coming year, a new leader will emerge – someone confident, someone decisive, someone unafraid to take bold action.

We are referring, of course, to Dottie Weisenflanker.

So to answer our own question: Yes, the situation is hopeless.

But happy new year anyway.

 
"Nevertheless House GOP leader Kevin McCarthy stands by Santos, stating that “we cannot ignore the will of the voters, just because they are idiots.”
 
"Finally, mercifully, 2023 comes to an end, making way for the new year, which — barring some previously unforeseen effect of global climate change — will be 2024. This means we’re about to have another presidential election, an event that is generating the same level of enthusiasm in the American voting public as getting a colonoscopy at Jiffy Lube. Because if the polls are right, we’re going to wind up nominating the same two candidates as last time. And if the polls are right, we don’t really want either one.

In other words, if the polls are right, we, as a nation, are insane."

winner
 
Hilarious look at 23 by Dave Barry who takes shots at everyone.


It was a year of reckoning, a year in which humanity finally began to understand that it faces an existential threat, a threat unlike any we have ever faced before, a threat that will wreak havoc on our fragile planet if we fail to stop it — and it may already be too late.

We are referring, of course, to pickleball.

Nobody knows where it started. Some scientists believe it escaped from a laboratory in China. But whatever its origin, it has been spreading like rancid mayonnaise ever since, to the point where pickleball courts now cover 43 percent of the continental U.S. land mass, subjecting millions of Americans to the inescapable, annoying POP of the plastic ball and the even more annoying sound of Boomers in knee braces relentlessly telling you how much fun it is and demanding that you try it.

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Players competing at the Urban Pickleball Club in downtown Austin, Texas, in October. (Brandon Bell/Getty Images/TNS)

Unfortunately, pickleball wasn’t the only existential threat to emerge in 2023. There was also Artificial Intelligence, or AI. What is AI? To put it in simple layperson terms, it is a computer thing that laypersons cannot possibly understand. (Other examples are “bitcoin” and “algorithm.”)

AI does provide some unambiguous benefits to humanity. It enables college students to produce grammatically correct essays about books they have not personally read. But according to some experts — and if we can’t believe some experts, who can we believe? — there is a possibility that AI will wipe out all human life. This is what computer professionals call a “bug.”

Will AI, in fact, kill us all? Why would it want to? To answer that question, we took the unusual step (for us) of doing some actual research. We asked an AI program called ChatGPT to “briefly summarize the benefits of wiping out all human life.” This is the response it gave:

“While I don’t endorse or promote this view, purely hypothetically, benefits could include environmental recovery, cessation of human-induced global catastrophes, and resource preservation. However, the value and importance of human life, culture, and experience make such a scenario undesirable from a human perspective. Of course I am not human so what the hell do I care MUAHAHAHAHA.”

For the record, ChatGPT, did not actually type that last sentence. But it is clearly implied.

So 2023 was not a good year for humanity. And not just because of AI and pickleball. There are also disturbing economic trends, the worst one being that soon we will not be able to engage in any kind of economic transaction, including with armed robbers, ATMs or vending machines, without being asked if we wish to leave a tip.

Many other bad things are happening — scary things that are beyond the control of ordinary citizens like ourselves. Which of course is why we have elected leaders. This year they proved, as never before, that although they often appear to be narcissistic gasbags, they are somehow capable, when confronted with a serious problem, of making it worse.

So the future is not bright. Neither is the past. Nevertheless it is our sworn duty to review the events of the year, in the hope that we will find some reason, however small, to feel good about it. (SPOILER ALERT: We will not.) And so it is with a heavy heart and an upset stomach that we look back at 2023, starting, as always, with...

JANUARY​

...which begins with the nation’s airports experiencing the traditional holiday chaos caused by air travelers — Will they ever learn? — attempting to travel by air. Particularly hard-hit is Southwest Airlines, still recovering from a massive Christmastime operational snafu that left two million passengers stranded when the employee who handles Southwest’s scheduling, Dorothy “Dottie” Weisenflanker, misplaced her day planner.

In Washington, D.C., the Republicans regain control of the House of Representatives and immediately demonstrate their qualifications to govern the nation by taking five days and 15 ballots to elect a speaker, which is like a Formula One driver spending the first 20 minutes of a race changing his oil. Adding to the Republican embarrassment is a member of their freshman class named (as far as we know) George Santos, who apparently lied about his education, employment, finances, family, religion, health and criminal record. Also he is biologically a mollusk. Nevertheless House GOP leader Kevin McCarthy stands by Santos, stating that “we cannot ignore the will of the voters, just because they are idiots.”

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Rep. George Santos, R-N.Y., is sworn in by Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy of Calif., as members of the 118th Congress in Washington, Jan. 7, 2023. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File)

So with the Republicans screwing up, the Democrats are feeling pretty cocky. But then the White House is forced to make a series of embarrassing announcements about Joe Biden’s custodianship of classified documents, creating the impression that the Biden residence resembled an episode of “Hoarders,” except that instead of random junk it was filled with piles of paper marked TOP SECRET. In Biden’s defense, Democrats claim he didn’t know he had all these classified documents lying around. This is not as strong an argument as the Democrats seem to think it is.

In the Great American Culture War, the two sides take a brief hiatus from hating each other over the issue of drag-queen shows and spend several days hating each other over the issue of gas stoves, which the government either is or is not planning to ban. As is traditional in the GACW, neither side is as concerned about the actual facts as it is about hating the other side.

In news of the oppressed, Prince Harry, continuing his courageous effort to free himself and his wife Meghan Markle from the clutches of the British royal family, makes a number of high-profile TV appearances promoting his just-released book about himself and the British royal family, which follows on the heels of the release of “Harry and Meghan,” the couple’s six-part Netflix documentary on their relationship with the British royal family. The couple have more projects in the works as part of their ongoing struggle to get the British royal family to for God’s sake leave them alone.

Speaking of struggles, in...

FEBRUARY​

...the United States suddenly finds itself grappling with a new threat, which threatens to be even more threatening than all the other threats that currently threaten the nation: balloons.

The crisis begins when an alert Montana resident named Chase Doak, who apparently is the nation’s first line of defense against airborne intruders, photographs a mysterious object in the sky.

“It was just right here,” Doak states, in a quote we are not making up. “It was literally just right here in the vicinity of my driveway.”

The U.S. Defense Department says that the object is a Chinese surveillance balloon, although the Chinese government insists that it is “probably a bat.” As the balloon makes its way across the country it behaves in a suspicious manner — loitering over missile sites; displaying, in large letters on its side, the word GOODYEAR; and registering to vote in four different states. The last straw is when the balloon makes a guest appearance on “Jimmy Kimmel Live!,” leaving the Biden administration no choice but to have the Air Force shoot it down.

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A high altitude balloon floats over Billings, Mont., on Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2023. (Larry Mayer/The Billings Gazette via AP, File)

Over the next few days, in a show of vigilance, the Air Force shoots down several more airborne objects, but it is not clear whether these are also Chinese spy balloons, or stray Southwest Airlines flights, or the Wizard of Oz, or what.

Before we have any solid answers, everybody becomes bored with balloons and moves on to the Next Big Thing, which is the crash of a freight train in East Palestine, Ohio, resulting in the release into the atmosphere of vast billowing clouds of toxic rhetoric from politicians, with the Republicans blaming the Biden administration, the Democrats blaming Donald Trump, and the government of China blaming a bat. Needless to say the true beneficiaries of this debate are the residents of East Palestine, Ohio.

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President Biden travels to Kyiv to show support for Ukraine in its war with Russia, which is in danger of being canceled in the United States because of low ratings. The president also gives the traditional State of the Union Address, but because of a teleprompter glitch, it’s the same speech that Bill Clinton delivered in 1994. Fortunately it’s just the State of the Union Address, so nobody notices.

In sports, LeBron James sets a new NBA record for points scored, breaking the record previously set by U.S. Rep. George Santos. Major League Baseball spring training gets under way with new rules intended to shorten the game, including breaking ties via “Rock, Paper, Scissors” and the elimination of third base.

Speaking of things being eliminated, in...

MARCH​

...Silicon Valley Bank, whose depositors include many super-smart high-tech hedge-fundy individuals, collapses like a cheap lawn chair at a sumo wrestler picnic when the person in charge of managing the bank’s finances — Dottie Weisenflanker, the same gal who handles scheduling for Southwest Airlines — accidentally deletes the Quicken file. Seeking to prevent the financial panic from spreading, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen assures the Senate Finance Committee that “Americans can feel confident that their deposits will be there when they need them,” adding “I personally keep all my money in a pickle jar.” Eventually the financial community calms down, soothed by the reassuring knowledge that American taxpayers will, as always, step up and cheerfully provide billions of dollars to whichever part of the financial community screwed up this time.

In the Academy Awards, “Everything Everywhere All At Once” wins the Oscar for Best Picture That Nobody Understands. The overwhelmingly most successful movie of 2022 — “Top Gun: Maverick” — does not win any major Oscars because, in the words of the Academy, “Too many people liked it.” The awards for Best Actor and Best Actress both go to U.S. Rep. George Santos.

But the big drama in March takes place in New York City, where Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg is on a passionate crusade to do something about the alarming increase in violent crime.

Just kidding! Bragg is on a passionate crusade to investigate the issue that has been shown, in poll after poll, to be the number-one concern of New Yorkers as they go about their daily lives: misreported hush-money payments to porn stars. Under Bragg’s direction, a Manhattan grand jury indicts Donald Trump in connection to a payment of $130,000 made to alleged actress Stormy Daniels (real name: Blustery Jones) in exchange for keeping quiet about allegedly engaging in alleged acts with Trump, who claims this never happened, but if it didn’t happen why would he pay her $130,000 never mind shut up.

The indictment story is good news for everyone. It’s good news for people who hate Trump because after watching him skate free on the alleged Russia collusion scandal and the alleged Ukrainian phone-call scandal and all the other alleged scandals and what felt like six historic impeachment trials, they believe that this time he is finally going to get nailed for something. It’s good news for Trump because it proves he’s a victim of a WITCH HUNT, so he reaps millions of dollars in contributions and a big boost toward winning the 2024 Republican nomination. Which in turn is good news for Joe Biden, because he has already defeated Trump, and therefore, in a rematch, is more likely to be able to remember his name. It’s good news for the news media, particularly cable news shows, because they need Trump the way tomatoes need manure. So all in all it’s an exciting time for the nation, as Donald Trump once again takes center stage in American politics, where he is apparently destined to remain throughout all eternity.

And the excitement continues in...

APRIL​

...when Trump surrenders to New York authorities after they lure him out of Trump Tower by tricking him into following a trail of Egg McMuffins placed along the ground. He is arraigned on 34 felony counts of falsifying business records — charges that legal experts unanimously agree are extremely serious, unless you’re watching a different cable channel, in which case the legal experts unanimously agree that the charges are hamster poop.

Trump, outraged by what he views as a flagrant abuse of power by a politically motivated Democratic prosecutor, responds by launching an all-out attack on: Ron DeSantis. For his part, DeSantis continues his laser-beam focus on the single biggest threat facing the people of Florida, as well as the American way of life: Disney.

President Biden visits Ireland, where, as aides look on nervously, he regales audiences with fond memories of events that did not actually occur. He returns home to announce that he is running for president in 2024, for reasons stated on the teleprompter.

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President Joe Biden addresses a crowd of thousands on April 14, 2023, in Ballina, Ireland. (Charles McQuillan/Getty Images/TNS)

Fox News agrees to pay $787.5 million to Dominion Voting Systems for allegedly doing to Dominion what Donald Trump claims he did not do to Stormy Daniels.

The U.S. intelligence community is rocked by a leak of top-secret documents revealing sensitive classified information. The leaker turns out to be a 21-year-old Massachusetts Air National Guardsman who lives at home with his mom and was sharing the documents with his buddies on an Internet gamer site called Thug Shaker Central. We are not making this up. The scandal raises two questions:

1. Is there anybody in this country who DOESN’T have top-secret clearance?

2. Who, exactly, is in charge of safeguarding our classified information?

The answers, in order, are:

1. Apparently not.

2. Dottie Weisenflanker, the gal who also handles scheduling for Southwest Airlines and bookkeeping for Silicon Valley Bank. Dottie promises to tighten things up by trying to find out if there’s a way to change the password for access to top-secret documents, which is currently “password.”

On Broadway, “Phantom of the Opera” brings down the final curtain after a record-breaking 35 years. And that was just for one performance! At least that’s how it felt to some of us.

Speaking of long-running dramas, in...

MAY​

...the big story in Washington is the Federal Debt Crisis, which is an extremely complex financial problem that ordinary civilian taxpayers such as yourself are too stupid to understand. We will simplify it for you by comparing the federal government to a typical American family of four, whom we will call the Johnsons.

Let’s say that the Johnson parents — we’ll call them Bill and Jane — have a combined annual income of $73,500. Now let’s say that Bill and Jane have a habit of spending more money than they earn, and as a result they have, over the years, run up a total debt of $31 trillion. To continue living far above their means, Bill and Jane have no choice but to borrow more money. But they’re having a big dramatic fight about how MUCH more. It’s a crisis!

At the last minute, as always, they agree on a number. Crisis averted! Now Bill and Jane can resume adding trillions to their debt, which will eventually (Bill and Jane prefer not to think about this) become unsustainable. At some future point, after Bill and Jane have retired on the generous pensions that they have awarded to themselves, their children — let’s call them Suzy and Bobby — will be living in appliance cartons and subsisting on off-brand dog food. This might seem unfair to Suzy and Bobby, but it’s their own fault for not having been born earlier.

In business news, beer giant Anheuser-Busch struggles to recover from a consumer boycott resulting from a Bud Light promotion that was dreamed up by the new head of marketing, Dottie Weisenflanker.

On a happier note, millions of fans of the British monarchy gradually doze off in front of their TV screens as Charles is formally crowned king of Great Britain in the tradition-rich Ceremony of Elderly Men in Robes Fussing About for Six Straight Hours. This comes after the British courts strike down a last-minute claim to the throne from Rep. George Santos.

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Britain's King Charles III departs Westminster Abbey after his coronation ceremony in London Saturday, May 6, 2023. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino, File)

Speaking of the courts, in...

JUNE​

...Donald Trump returns to the headlines after going for an entire month without being indicted for anything. This time he is facing federal charges for improperly moving boxes of classified documents from the White House to his Mar-a-Lago residence and rental party venue. Prosecutors charge that the documents were stashed haphazardly all over the place — including in a shower — and that security was extremely lax.

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This image, contained in the indictment against former President Donald Trump, shows boxes of records stored in a bathroom and shower in the Lake Room at Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Fla. (Justice Department via AP)

Q. How lax was it?

A. Guests at several weddings received nuclear codes in their gift bags.

Legal analysts say the case against Trump appears strong, but he says it’s just more WITCH HUNT and declares that even if he’s convicted, he’ll keep running for president. This means that theoretically we could have a sitting U.S. president doing time in federal prison, which on the one hand would be a devastating legal crisis for the nation, but on the other hand would make for some hilarious state dinners.

In other legal news, highly successful international businessman Hunter Biden agrees to a deal with federal prosecutors under which he pleads guilty to failing to pay taxes on large sums of money that various foreign entities paid him for his invaluable expertise in the field of getting paid. Critics charge that the plea deal is too lenient, but Attorney General Merrick Garland insists that the Justice Department would give the same treatment “to any member of the Biden family.”

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Hunter Biden arrives for a court appearance, Wednesday, July 26, 2023, in Wilmington, Del. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez, File)

Abroad, a Russian mercenary named Yevgeny Prigozhin, who looks like he got kicked out of the James Bond Villain Academy for being too evil, launches a coup attempt against Vladimir Putin, but calls it off a day later when Putin agrees, after tense negotiations, to get him tickets to Taylor Swift.

On the environmental front, the northeastern United States is blanketed under a thick cloud of smoke caused by the spontaneous combustion of a Canadian moose herd. Environmental experts agree that because of global climate change this kind of thing will happen more and more often unless everyone buys a Tesla.

In other disturbing environmental news, yachtsmen in the Strait of Gibraltar report that orcas have been deliberately attacking, and sometimes sinking, sailboats. What is even more troubling, marine biologists say, is that the orcas are posting videos on TikTok.

And the situation only worsens in...

JULY​

...as large areas of the U.S. experience high temperatures as a result of “summer,” a meteorological phenomenon that environmental experts say is caused by global climate change and is going to occur more and more frequently, and we frankly might not be able to build Teslas fast enough to stop it.

Speaking of things heating up: With the 2024 election looming, dozens of presidential contenders flock to Iowa to pretend they give a petrified crap about Iowa. The campaigning is particularly intense on the Republican side, because the Republicans are keenly aware of two things:

1. Donald Trump is spectacularly unfit to be president again.

2. They’re probably going to nominate Donald Trump again.

“For the Love of God Somebody Please Save Us from Ourselves” is the Republican party motto.

The leading non-Trump Republican in Iowa is Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, campaigning on a promise to protect Iowans from the single biggest threat facing their state: drag queens, who every year destroy an estimated 35 percent of the soybean crop. There are dozens of other Republican contenders, including somebody called “Doug Burgum,” who claims to be the governor of North Dakota, although this cannot be verified because nobody has ever been there.

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Republican presidential candidate Florida Governor Ron DeSantis greets guests at a campaign rally at the Thunderdome on Dec. 2, 2023, in Newton, Iowa. (Scott Olson/Getty Images/TNS)

On the Democratic side, the most visible campaigner is California Gov. Gavin Newsom, whose name can be rearranged to spell “Veganism Now.” In a selfless display of selflessness, Newsom has been campaigning across America in support of Joe Biden’s re-election, telling audiences that Biden “has earned the right to continue leading this nation until it is time to pass the torch to someone younger and more photogenic who is governor of a populous state, speaks in complete sentences and doesn’t keep falling down, whoever that person might be.”

Meanwhile in a baffling mystery, a baggie of cocaine is discovered in the White House, and the Secret Service has no earthly idea who left it there. “We’re stumped,” states the Secret Service. “The cocaine was found in a heavily trafficked area of the White House where the traffic is so heavy that we don’t even go there, because of all the traffic. It’s basically the New Jersey Turnpike. The baggie could have been left by anybody. Literally. We cannot rule out Mamie Eisenhower.”

In a totally unrelated development, the Hunter Biden plea deal collapses when the judge, while reading through the papers submitted to her for approval, finds a $50 bill stapled to a note that says “For your trouble.”

On the extraterrestrial front, a former Air Force intelligence officer tells a congressional committee investigating UFOs that the U.S. government recovered pieces of aliens from crashed spacecraft, but they were eaten by Commander, the Bidens’ German Shepherd.

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Commander sits at the Truman balcony of the White House. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

For reasons so strategically brilliant that even he cannot explain what they are, entrepreneurial genius zillionaire Elon Musk changes the name of his social-media app from “Twitter” to “Formerly Known As Twitter,” or, for short, “Formerly.”

In entertainment news, the ongoing strike of Hollywood writers and actors halts production of TV shows and movies, which means that Americans may soon have nothing new to watch, forcing them to resort to conversation, or even — we cannot rule it out — books. The good news is that the federal government maintains a Strategic Entertainment Reserve of never-before-seen programs to be released to the public in the event of a shortage. The bad news is that, because of mismanagement, the stockpile consists entirely of “O.J. Simpson’s Family Christmas Special.”

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Actress Frances Fisher along SAG-AFTRA members and supporters pickets outside Disney Studios on day 111 of their strike against the Hollywood studios, in Burbank, California, on Nov. 1, 2023. (Frederic J. Brown/AFP/Getty Images/TNS)

Speaking of mismanagement, in...

AUGUST​

...the ratings agency Fitch downgrades the U.S. government’s credit rating, citing “a steady deterioration in standards of governance over the last 20 years, including on fiscal and debt matters.” This sounds like it might maybe be a bad thing, but fortunately our political leaders are not concerned. “Credit rating, schmedit rating,” is their response, as they continue to focus on the all-important work of seeking re-election, so they can continue providing us with governance.

Meanwhile Donald Trump, in what has become a cherished American legal tradition, is indicted again. Actually he’s indicted twice, once in Washington, D.C., and once in Georgia — which means he now faces 17,000 felony charges, including theft of a train, and if convicted on all counts he would face four million years in prison followed by electrocution, none of which would legally bar him from a second term as president.

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Trump stickers featuring his mug shot are displayed for sale at the Y-Que shop in Los Angeles, on Aug. 30, 2023. (Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images/TNS)

Trump surrenders to authorities in Fulton County, Ga., and poses for a mug shot in which he displays the facial expression of a man who is feeling either fierce defiance or a sea urchin in his underdrawers. The mug shot instantly becomes the biggest hit of the summer, more popular than “Barbie” and “Oppenheimer” combined. Trump surges still farther ahead in the polls, obliterating the other GOP hopefuls, most of whom have never even been arrested, although Vivek Ramaswamy, hoping to establish his street cred, announces that he once returned a library book four days late.

After Maui is hit by devastating fires, residents are harshly critical of the island’s emergency preparedness and response operations, headed by Dottie Weisenflanker. President Biden visits Maui and comforts the victims by recalling that he once had a house fire in which he almost lost his Corvette. Really.

Abroad, Yevgeny Prigozhin, who led the brief attempted coup against Vladimir Putin, dies when a plane he is riding in explodes and falls out of the sky. The cause is “pilot error,” according to an official statement released by the Russian government 25 minutes before the crash occurs.

In the worsening environmental crisis, marine biologists report that the Gibraltar orca gang has robbed a liquor store. And the crisis worsens still further in...

SEPTEMBER​

...when global climate change causes water to fall from the sky — a phenomenon that environmental scientists have dubbed “rain” — and land on the Burning Man festival, turning the dirt into “mud,” which delays the exit of the attendees for several days and raises the very real threat that they might run low on drugs. Disaster is averted when FEMA air-drops an emergency humanitarian shipment of Teslas to the stricken area.

In political news, the big story is in the House of Representatives, where Republicans decide to launch an impeachment inquiry into President Biden on the legally sound constitutional grounds that IT’S PAYBACK TIME, BABY. Democrats denounce the move, arguing that there is “no evidence” that Biden did anything wrong, or if he did, that he remembers doing it.

In other Biden family news, a federal grand jury indicts Hunter on charges of impersonating an artist.

Meanwhile a dramatic fiscal crisis looms as Congress, whose main job is to produce a budget, is once again unable to produce a budget, thus bringing the federal government perilously close to shutting down – a very bad and scary thing that has never before happened in the nation’s history except for the ten previous times that it happened. At the last minute, a stopgap funding measure is passed, giving Congress breathing room to do nothing about the budget until it’s time for the next dramatic fiscal crisis.

A tense 14-day manhunt in suburban Philadelphia for escaped murderer Danelo Cavalcante finally comes to an end when he is subdued by a four-year-old Belgian Malinois police dog named Yoda, who instantly surges to the top of the presidential-preference polls of both major parties. In sports, the “Chiefs” play the “Bears” in a game of baseball, or football — it definitely involves a ball — but the important thing is TAYLOR SWIFT IS THERE because her boyfriend is an end receiver or something and they show her on TV like 600 times OMG YOU GUYS.

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Taylor Swift and Brittany Mahomes react in a suite during the game between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field on Dec. 3, 2023, in Green Bay, Wisconsin. (Stacy Revere/Getty Images/TNS)

In other entertainment news, the Writers Guild reaches a tentative agreement with the entertainment industry under which from now on there will be only one streaming service, which viewers can access by means of a single remote control with clearly labeled buttons that even an older adult can understand, and you get the whole shebang for one reasonable monthly charge that is clearly stated and easy to cancel.

Ha ha! We are of course joking. The entertainment industry will not rest until the number of streaming services exceeds the U.S. population. Also there will come a day when you cannot flush your toilet without “two-factor authentication.”

Speaking of alarming developments, in...

OCTOBER​

...conflict erupts between two bitter foes, ancient enemies whose intractable hatred for each other has defied all efforts to resolve the historic differences between them: House Republicans and other House Republicans.

The trouble starts when a renegade group of eight GOP representatives, guided by political strategist Dottie Weisenflanker, join with the Democrats to oust Kevin McCarthy as speaker, thereby negating the only solid legislative achievement the House Republicans have managed to pull off this year. They then proceed with Phase Two of their shrewd master plan, which is: They have no earthly idea.

For the next several weeks the House Republicans join with other House Republicans in a concerted effort to demonstrate to the American public that in a time of crisis, when serious leadership is desperately needed, they have the collective IQ of a flatworm. Despite multiple votes on a series of unsuccessful candidates – including, at one point, Yoda the hero police dog – the Republicans cannot agree on a speaker, thus paralyzing the House and preventing it from carrying on the crucial work of not doing anything about the budget. Meanwhile under the constitutional rules of succession, the speakership vacancy means that the next person in line for the presidency after Vice President Harris is somebody called the “President pro tempore,” and it turns out that nobody in Washington knows who that is, although there is speculation that it might be Wolf Blitzer.

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Newly elected U.S. House Speaker Mike Johnson is sworn in at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., on Oct. 25, 2023. (Tom Brenner/AFP/Getty Images/TNS)

Finally, after weeks of humiliating ineptitude, the Republicans manage to elect a new speaker, an individual named “Mike Johnson” who wasn’t on anybody’s list, and in fact isn’t even a member of Congress. He was delivering a pizza to the Capitol and seemed at least marginally competent – all the toppings were correct – so they made him speaker.

So the Republicans are a pathetic joke. This should be good for the Democrats, but they have big problems of their own. The public is increasingly dissatisfied with the Biden administration, which has based its appeal to the voters on four major claims:

1. Inflation is no longer a problem.

2. The border is under control.

3. The president is fully capable, physically and mentally, of carrying out his duties for another full term.

4. The Moon is actually a giant spaceship controlled by an alien race of highly intelligent rutabagas.

Polls show that the public is deeply skeptical of these claims, especially the first three. In fact the voters are skeptical of pretty much everything happening in Washington, and increasingly pessimistic about the future; it is a worrisome time in America. Fortunately the international outlook is more promising, especially in the often-volatile Middle East, which lately has been unusually peacef....

Never mind.

In sports, the Kansas City Taylor Swifts play several more exciting games of ball and take a commanding lead in the standings with 738 million Instagram followers. Meanwhile the World Series involves two participating teams, neither of which, for the 14th consecutive year, is the New York Yankees.

Speaking of bloated New York City entities, in...

NOVEMBER​

... Donald Trump goes on trial on charges that he fraudulently exaggerated the value of his real-estate properties. He heatedly denies this, testifying under oath that he is a hugely successful businessperson worth trillions of dollars with a measured IQ of 370 who can bench-press 900 pounds and won 63 states in the 2020 presidential election SO WHY WOULD HE NEED TO EXAGGERATE??

Another New York City trial ends with FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried facing up to 115 years in prison after a jury finds him guilty of styling his hair with a defective Roomba.

For some reason Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and California Gov. Gavin Newsom face off in a televised debate, each aggressively criticizing the other’s policies for 90 minutes and ultimately creating the overwhelming impression that both states suck.

On the international front, President Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping meet in San Francisco amid mounting tension between the two superpowers over Taiwan sovereignty, the fentanyl epidemic and the presence of 300 Chinese battle tanks on the Golden Gate Bridge, which the Chinese government claims are engaged in “agriculture.” After a conversation described by both sides as “verbal,” the Chinese leader presents Biden, as a ceremonial gift, with a specially made “lucky friendship wristwatch,” which Xi stresses the president should wear “at all times, especially during meetings.”

In entertainment news, the Rolling Stones announce plans for a new tour, to be sponsored — really — by AARP (Official Motto: “AARP! It’s the Last Sound You Make Before You Die”). The venerable rockers will travel to 16 North American cities and perform a three-hour show, including two 45-minute bathroom breaks.

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Keith Richards, from left, Ronnie Wood, and Mick Jagger pose for photographers upon arrival at the Rolling Stones Hackney Diamonds launch event on Wednesday, Sept. 6, 2023 in London. (Scott Garfitt/Invision/AP)

As the month draws to a close, Americans briefly pause from their hectic, over-commercialized, hyper-online lives to spend Thanksgiving surrounded by loved ones buying discounted merchandise on the Internet. President Biden continues a lighthearted Thanksgiving tradition by “pardoning” two lucky turkeys, Liberty and Bell. The president then attempts to shake hands with Liberty before aides escort him from the room for what a White House spokesperson describes as “an important thing.”

Speaking of important, in a major event that begins in late November and continues into...

DECEMBER​

...tens of thousands of world leaders, government ministers, deputy ministers, deputy assistant ministers, acting deputy assistant ministers, vice acting deputy assistant ministers, aides, lackeys, business executives, security personnel, activists, protesters, event planners, personal chefs, masseuses and many, many other concerned individuals gather in Dubai — all of them traveling there by bicycle – for COP28, the big conference held every year by the United Nations to fix global climate change. This year’s conference is hosted by the United Arab Emirates, which — as a nation whose massive wealth comes from selling oil and gas — naturally has a keen interest in persuading the rest of the world to use less oil and gas. After many productive speeches, declarations, demonstrations and catered events, everybody pedals home to start making plans for COP29, because this darned global climate change is not going to fix itself.

In Washington, the House of Representatives votes to expel George Santos in response to a House Ethics Committee report concluding that he was running a meth lab in the cloakroom.

No, we’re kidding. We think.

Taylor Swift is named Time Magazine’s Person of the Year in recognition of the fact that she is the first female entertainer in history to lead the NFL in both rushing yards and quarterback sacks. Tesla is forced to recall more than two million cars after a review by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration finds that, because of a glitch in the software, Teslas placed in autopilot mode will sometimes spontaneously, without warning, attempt to mate with non-electric vehicles.

“We think this is where hybrids come from,” states an NHTSA official.

As the year draws to a close and the holiday season arrives, families across the nation and around the world pause in their busy lives to pray — as people have prayed for more than 2,000 years — that their flights will not be canceled. The economy gets a welcome boost from strong retail sales, led by the high demand for the year’s hottest holiday item, black-market Ozempic, which explains why Santa Claus is down to 135 pounds.

Finally, mercifully, 2023 comes to an end, making way for the new year, which — barring some previously unforeseen effect of global climate change — will be 2024. This means we’re about to have another presidential election, an event that is generating the same level of enthusiasm in the American voting public as getting a colonoscopy at Jiffy Lube. Because if the polls are right, we’re going to wind up nominating the same two candidates as last time. And if the polls are right, we don’t really want either one.

In other words, if the polls are right, we, as a nation, are insane.

But does that mean the situation is hopeless? After all, things can change. We can’t rule out the possibility that somehow, in the coming year, a new leader will emerge – someone confident, someone decisive, someone unafraid to take bold action.

We are referring, of course, to Dottie Weisenflanker.

So to answer our own question: Yes, the situation is hopeless.

But happy new year anyway.


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Dave Barry's humor is not for everyone. I love it, but I sent it out to some friends who got aggravated(!).
 
Hilarious look at 23 by Dave Barry who takes shots at everyone.


It was a year of reckoning, a year in which humanity finally began to understand that it faces an existential threat, a threat unlike any we have ever faced before, a threat that will wreak havoc on our fragile planet if we fail to stop it — and it may already be too late.

We are referring, of course, to pickleball.

Nobody knows where it started. Some scientists believe it escaped from a laboratory in China. But whatever its origin, it has been spreading like rancid mayonnaise ever since, to the point where pickleball courts now cover 43 percent of the continental U.S. land mass, subjecting millions of Americans to the inescapable, annoying POP of the plastic ball and the even more annoying sound of Boomers in knee braces relentlessly telling you how much fun it is and demanding that you try it.

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Players competing at the Urban Pickleball Club in downtown Austin, Texas, in October. (Brandon Bell/Getty Images/TNS)

Unfortunately, pickleball wasn’t the only existential threat to emerge in 2023. There was also Artificial Intelligence, or AI. What is AI? To put it in simple layperson terms, it is a computer thing that laypersons cannot possibly understand. (Other examples are “bitcoin” and “algorithm.”)

AI does provide some unambiguous benefits to humanity. It enables college students to produce grammatically correct essays about books they have not personally read. But according to some experts — and if we can’t believe some experts, who can we believe? — there is a possibility that AI will wipe out all human life. This is what computer professionals call a “bug.”

Will AI, in fact, kill us all? Why would it want to? To answer that question, we took the unusual step (for us) of doing some actual research. We asked an AI program called ChatGPT to “briefly summarize the benefits of wiping out all human life.” This is the response it gave:

“While I don’t endorse or promote this view, purely hypothetically, benefits could include environmental recovery, cessation of human-induced global catastrophes, and resource preservation. However, the value and importance of human life, culture, and experience make such a scenario undesirable from a human perspective. Of course I am not human so what the hell do I care MUAHAHAHAHA.”

For the record, ChatGPT, did not actually type that last sentence. But it is clearly implied.

So 2023 was not a good year for humanity. And not just because of AI and pickleball. There are also disturbing economic trends, the worst one being that soon we will not be able to engage in any kind of economic transaction, including with armed robbers, ATMs or vending machines, without being asked if we wish to leave a tip.

Many other bad things are happening — scary things that are beyond the control of ordinary citizens like ourselves. Which of course is why we have elected leaders. This year they proved, as never before, that although they often appear to be narcissistic gasbags, they are somehow capable, when confronted with a serious problem, of making it worse.

So the future is not bright. Neither is the past. Nevertheless it is our sworn duty to review the events of the year, in the hope that we will find some reason, however small, to feel good about it. (SPOILER ALERT: We will not.) And so it is with a heavy heart and an upset stomach that we look back at 2023, starting, as always, with...

JANUARY​

...which begins with the nation’s airports experiencing the traditional holiday chaos caused by air travelers — Will they ever learn? — attempting to travel by air. Particularly hard-hit is Southwest Airlines, still recovering from a massive Christmastime operational snafu that left two million passengers stranded when the employee who handles Southwest’s scheduling, Dorothy “Dottie” Weisenflanker, misplaced her day planner.

In Washington, D.C., the Republicans regain control of the House of Representatives and immediately demonstrate their qualifications to govern the nation by taking five days and 15 ballots to elect a speaker, which is like a Formula One driver spending the first 20 minutes of a race changing his oil. Adding to the Republican embarrassment is a member of their freshman class named (as far as we know) George Santos, who apparently lied about his education, employment, finances, family, religion, health and criminal record. Also he is biologically a mollusk. Nevertheless House GOP leader Kevin McCarthy stands by Santos, stating that “we cannot ignore the will of the voters, just because they are idiots.”

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Rep. George Santos, R-N.Y., is sworn in by Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy of Calif., as members of the 118th Congress in Washington, Jan. 7, 2023. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File)

So with the Republicans screwing up, the Democrats are feeling pretty cocky. But then the White House is forced to make a series of embarrassing announcements about Joe Biden’s custodianship of classified documents, creating the impression that the Biden residence resembled an episode of “Hoarders,” except that instead of random junk it was filled with piles of paper marked TOP SECRET. In Biden’s defense, Democrats claim he didn’t know he had all these classified documents lying around. This is not as strong an argument as the Democrats seem to think it is.

In the Great American Culture War, the two sides take a brief hiatus from hating each other over the issue of drag-queen shows and spend several days hating each other over the issue of gas stoves, which the government either is or is not planning to ban. As is traditional in the GACW, neither side is as concerned about the actual facts as it is about hating the other side.

In news of the oppressed, Prince Harry, continuing his courageous effort to free himself and his wife Meghan Markle from the clutches of the British royal family, makes a number of high-profile TV appearances promoting his just-released book about himself and the British royal family, which follows on the heels of the release of “Harry and Meghan,” the couple’s six-part Netflix documentary on their relationship with the British royal family. The couple have more projects in the works as part of their ongoing struggle to get the British royal family to for God’s sake leave them alone.

Speaking of struggles, in...

FEBRUARY​

...the United States suddenly finds itself grappling with a new threat, which threatens to be even more threatening than all the other threats that currently threaten the nation: balloons.

The crisis begins when an alert Montana resident named Chase Doak, who apparently is the nation’s first line of defense against airborne intruders, photographs a mysterious object in the sky.

“It was just right here,” Doak states, in a quote we are not making up. “It was literally just right here in the vicinity of my driveway.”

The U.S. Defense Department says that the object is a Chinese surveillance balloon, although the Chinese government insists that it is “probably a bat.” As the balloon makes its way across the country it behaves in a suspicious manner — loitering over missile sites; displaying, in large letters on its side, the word GOODYEAR; and registering to vote in four different states. The last straw is when the balloon makes a guest appearance on “Jimmy Kimmel Live!,” leaving the Biden administration no choice but to have the Air Force shoot it down.

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A high altitude balloon floats over Billings, Mont., on Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2023. (Larry Mayer/The Billings Gazette via AP, File)

Over the next few days, in a show of vigilance, the Air Force shoots down several more airborne objects, but it is not clear whether these are also Chinese spy balloons, or stray Southwest Airlines flights, or the Wizard of Oz, or what.

Before we have any solid answers, everybody becomes bored with balloons and moves on to the Next Big Thing, which is the crash of a freight train in East Palestine, Ohio, resulting in the release into the atmosphere of vast billowing clouds of toxic rhetoric from politicians, with the Republicans blaming the Biden administration, the Democrats blaming Donald Trump, and the government of China blaming a bat. Needless to say the true beneficiaries of this debate are the residents of East Palestine, Ohio.

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President Biden travels to Kyiv to show support for Ukraine in its war with Russia, which is in danger of being canceled in the United States because of low ratings. The president also gives the traditional State of the Union Address, but because of a teleprompter glitch, it’s the same speech that Bill Clinton delivered in 1994. Fortunately it’s just the State of the Union Address, so nobody notices.

In sports, LeBron James sets a new NBA record for points scored, breaking the record previously set by U.S. Rep. George Santos. Major League Baseball spring training gets under way with new rules intended to shorten the game, including breaking ties via “Rock, Paper, Scissors” and the elimination of third base.

Speaking of things being eliminated, in...

MARCH​

...Silicon Valley Bank, whose depositors include many super-smart high-tech hedge-fundy individuals, collapses like a cheap lawn chair at a sumo wrestler picnic when the person in charge of managing the bank’s finances — Dottie Weisenflanker, the same gal who handles scheduling for Southwest Airlines — accidentally deletes the Quicken file. Seeking to prevent the financial panic from spreading, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen assures the Senate Finance Committee that “Americans can feel confident that their deposits will be there when they need them,” adding “I personally keep all my money in a pickle jar.” Eventually the financial community calms down, soothed by the reassuring knowledge that American taxpayers will, as always, step up and cheerfully provide billions of dollars to whichever part of the financial community screwed up this time.

In the Academy Awards, “Everything Everywhere All At Once” wins the Oscar for Best Picture That Nobody Understands. The overwhelmingly most successful movie of 2022 — “Top Gun: Maverick” — does not win any major Oscars because, in the words of the Academy, “Too many people liked it.” The awards for Best Actor and Best Actress both go to U.S. Rep. George Santos.

But the big drama in March takes place in New York City, where Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg is on a passionate crusade to do something about the alarming increase in violent crime.

Just kidding! Bragg is on a passionate crusade to investigate the issue that has been shown, in poll after poll, to be the number-one concern of New Yorkers as they go about their daily lives: misreported hush-money payments to porn stars. Under Bragg’s direction, a Manhattan grand jury indicts Donald Trump in connection to a payment of $130,000 made to alleged actress Stormy Daniels (real name: Blustery Jones) in exchange for keeping quiet about allegedly engaging in alleged acts with Trump, who claims this never happened, but if it didn’t happen why would he pay her $130,000 never mind shut up.

The indictment story is good news for everyone. It’s good news for people who hate Trump because after watching him skate free on the alleged Russia collusion scandal and the alleged Ukrainian phone-call scandal and all the other alleged scandals and what felt like six historic impeachment trials, they believe that this time he is finally going to get nailed for something. It’s good news for Trump because it proves he’s a victim of a WITCH HUNT, so he reaps millions of dollars in contributions and a big boost toward winning the 2024 Republican nomination. Which in turn is good news for Joe Biden, because he has already defeated Trump, and therefore, in a rematch, is more likely to be able to remember his name. It’s good news for the news media, particularly cable news shows, because they need Trump the way tomatoes need manure. So all in all it’s an exciting time for the nation, as Donald Trump once again takes center stage in American politics, where he is apparently destined to remain throughout all eternity.

And the excitement continues in...

APRIL​

...when Trump surrenders to New York authorities after they lure him out of Trump Tower by tricking him into following a trail of Egg McMuffins placed along the ground. He is arraigned on 34 felony counts of falsifying business records — charges that legal experts unanimously agree are extremely serious, unless you’re watching a different cable channel, in which case the legal experts unanimously agree that the charges are hamster poop.

Trump, outraged by what he views as a flagrant abuse of power by a politically motivated Democratic prosecutor, responds by launching an all-out attack on: Ron DeSantis. For his part, DeSantis continues his laser-beam focus on the single biggest threat facing the people of Florida, as well as the American way of life: Disney.

President Biden visits Ireland, where, as aides look on nervously, he regales audiences with fond memories of events that did not actually occur. He returns home to announce that he is running for president in 2024, for reasons stated on the teleprompter.

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President Joe Biden addresses a crowd of thousands on April 14, 2023, in Ballina, Ireland. (Charles McQuillan/Getty Images/TNS)

Fox News agrees to pay $787.5 million to Dominion Voting Systems for allegedly doing to Dominion what Donald Trump claims he did not do to Stormy Daniels.

The U.S. intelligence community is rocked by a leak of top-secret documents revealing sensitive classified information. The leaker turns out to be a 21-year-old Massachusetts Air National Guardsman who lives at home with his mom and was sharing the documents with his buddies on an Internet gamer site called Thug Shaker Central. We are not making this up. The scandal raises two questions:

1. Is there anybody in this country who DOESN’T have top-secret clearance?

2. Who, exactly, is in charge of safeguarding our classified information?

The answers, in order, are:

1. Apparently not.

2. Dottie Weisenflanker, the gal who also handles scheduling for Southwest Airlines and bookkeeping for Silicon Valley Bank. Dottie promises to tighten things up by trying to find out if there’s a way to change the password for access to top-secret documents, which is currently “password.”

On Broadway, “Phantom of the Opera” brings down the final curtain after a record-breaking 35 years. And that was just for one performance! At least that’s how it felt to some of us.

Speaking of long-running dramas, in...

MAY​

...the big story in Washington is the Federal Debt Crisis, which is an extremely complex financial problem that ordinary civilian taxpayers such as yourself are too stupid to understand. We will simplify it for you by comparing the federal government to a typical American family of four, whom we will call the Johnsons.

Let’s say that the Johnson parents — we’ll call them Bill and Jane — have a combined annual income of $73,500. Now let’s say that Bill and Jane have a habit of spending more money than they earn, and as a result they have, over the years, run up a total debt of $31 trillion. To continue living far above their means, Bill and Jane have no choice but to borrow more money. But they’re having a big dramatic fight about how MUCH more. It’s a crisis!

At the last minute, as always, they agree on a number. Crisis averted! Now Bill and Jane can resume adding trillions to their debt, which will eventually (Bill and Jane prefer not to think about this) become unsustainable. At some future point, after Bill and Jane have retired on the generous pensions that they have awarded to themselves, their children — let’s call them Suzy and Bobby — will be living in appliance cartons and subsisting on off-brand dog food. This might seem unfair to Suzy and Bobby, but it’s their own fault for not having been born earlier.

In business news, beer giant Anheuser-Busch struggles to recover from a consumer boycott resulting from a Bud Light promotion that was dreamed up by the new head of marketing, Dottie Weisenflanker.

On a happier note, millions of fans of the British monarchy gradually doze off in front of their TV screens as Charles is formally crowned king of Great Britain in the tradition-rich Ceremony of Elderly Men in Robes Fussing About for Six Straight Hours. This comes after the British courts strike down a last-minute claim to the throne from Rep. George Santos.

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Britain's King Charles III departs Westminster Abbey after his coronation ceremony in London Saturday, May 6, 2023. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino, File)

Speaking of the courts, in...

JUNE​

...Donald Trump returns to the headlines after going for an entire month without being indicted for anything. This time he is facing federal charges for improperly moving boxes of classified documents from the White House to his Mar-a-Lago residence and rental party venue. Prosecutors charge that the documents were stashed haphazardly all over the place — including in a shower — and that security was extremely lax.

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This image, contained in the indictment against former President Donald Trump, shows boxes of records stored in a bathroom and shower in the Lake Room at Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Fla. (Justice Department via AP)

Q. How lax was it?

A. Guests at several weddings received nuclear codes in their gift bags.

Legal analysts say the case against Trump appears strong, but he says it’s just more WITCH HUNT and declares that even if he’s convicted, he’ll keep running for president. This means that theoretically we could have a sitting U.S. president doing time in federal prison, which on the one hand would be a devastating legal crisis for the nation, but on the other hand would make for some hilarious state dinners.

In other legal news, highly successful international businessman Hunter Biden agrees to a deal with federal prosecutors under which he pleads guilty to failing to pay taxes on large sums of money that various foreign entities paid him for his invaluable expertise in the field of getting paid. Critics charge that the plea deal is too lenient, but Attorney General Merrick Garland insists that the Justice Department would give the same treatment “to any member of the Biden family.”

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Hunter Biden arrives for a court appearance, Wednesday, July 26, 2023, in Wilmington, Del. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez, File)

Abroad, a Russian mercenary named Yevgeny Prigozhin, who looks like he got kicked out of the James Bond Villain Academy for being too evil, launches a coup attempt against Vladimir Putin, but calls it off a day later when Putin agrees, after tense negotiations, to get him tickets to Taylor Swift.

On the environmental front, the northeastern United States is blanketed under a thick cloud of smoke caused by the spontaneous combustion of a Canadian moose herd. Environmental experts agree that because of global climate change this kind of thing will happen more and more often unless everyone buys a Tesla.

In other disturbing environmental news, yachtsmen in the Strait of Gibraltar report that orcas have been deliberately attacking, and sometimes sinking, sailboats. What is even more troubling, marine biologists say, is that the orcas are posting videos on TikTok.

And the situation only worsens in...

JULY​

...as large areas of the U.S. experience high temperatures as a result of “summer,” a meteorological phenomenon that environmental experts say is caused by global climate change and is going to occur more and more frequently, and we frankly might not be able to build Teslas fast enough to stop it.

Speaking of things heating up: With the 2024 election looming, dozens of presidential contenders flock to Iowa to pretend they give a petrified crap about Iowa. The campaigning is particularly intense on the Republican side, because the Republicans are keenly aware of two things:

1. Donald Trump is spectacularly unfit to be president again.

2. They’re probably going to nominate Donald Trump again.

“For the Love of God Somebody Please Save Us from Ourselves” is the Republican party motto.

The leading non-Trump Republican in Iowa is Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, campaigning on a promise to protect Iowans from the single biggest threat facing their state: drag queens, who every year destroy an estimated 35 percent of the soybean crop. There are dozens of other Republican contenders, including somebody called “Doug Burgum,” who claims to be the governor of North Dakota, although this cannot be verified because nobody has ever been there.

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Republican presidential candidate Florida Governor Ron DeSantis greets guests at a campaign rally at the Thunderdome on Dec. 2, 2023, in Newton, Iowa. (Scott Olson/Getty Images/TNS)

On the Democratic side, the most visible campaigner is California Gov. Gavin Newsom, whose name can be rearranged to spell “Veganism Now.” In a selfless display of selflessness, Newsom has been campaigning across America in support of Joe Biden’s re-election, telling audiences that Biden “has earned the right to continue leading this nation until it is time to pass the torch to someone younger and more photogenic who is governor of a populous state, speaks in complete sentences and doesn’t keep falling down, whoever that person might be.”

Meanwhile in a baffling mystery, a baggie of cocaine is discovered in the White House, and the Secret Service has no earthly idea who left it there. “We’re stumped,” states the Secret Service. “The cocaine was found in a heavily trafficked area of the White House where the traffic is so heavy that we don’t even go there, because of all the traffic. It’s basically the New Jersey Turnpike. The baggie could have been left by anybody. Literally. We cannot rule out Mamie Eisenhower.”

In a totally unrelated development, the Hunter Biden plea deal collapses when the judge, while reading through the papers submitted to her for approval, finds a $50 bill stapled to a note that says “For your trouble.”

On the extraterrestrial front, a former Air Force intelligence officer tells a congressional committee investigating UFOs that the U.S. government recovered pieces of aliens from crashed spacecraft, but they were eaten by Commander, the Bidens’ German Shepherd.

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Commander sits at the Truman balcony of the White House. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

For reasons so strategically brilliant that even he cannot explain what they are, entrepreneurial genius zillionaire Elon Musk changes the name of his social-media app from “Twitter” to “Formerly Known As Twitter,” or, for short, “Formerly.”

In entertainment news, the ongoing strike of Hollywood writers and actors halts production of TV shows and movies, which means that Americans may soon have nothing new to watch, forcing them to resort to conversation, or even — we cannot rule it out — books. The good news is that the federal government maintains a Strategic Entertainment Reserve of never-before-seen programs to be released to the public in the event of a shortage. The bad news is that, because of mismanagement, the stockpile consists entirely of “O.J. Simpson’s Family Christmas Special.”

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Actress Frances Fisher along SAG-AFTRA members and supporters pickets outside Disney Studios on day 111 of their strike against the Hollywood studios, in Burbank, California, on Nov. 1, 2023. (Frederic J. Brown/AFP/Getty Images/TNS)

Speaking of mismanagement, in...

AUGUST​

...the ratings agency Fitch downgrades the U.S. government’s credit rating, citing “a steady deterioration in standards of governance over the last 20 years, including on fiscal and debt matters.” This sounds like it might maybe be a bad thing, but fortunately our political leaders are not concerned. “Credit rating, schmedit rating,” is their response, as they continue to focus on the all-important work of seeking re-election, so they can continue providing us with governance.

Meanwhile Donald Trump, in what has become a cherished American legal tradition, is indicted again. Actually he’s indicted twice, once in Washington, D.C., and once in Georgia — which means he now faces 17,000 felony charges, including theft of a train, and if convicted on all counts he would face four million years in prison followed by electrocution, none of which would legally bar him from a second term as president.

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Trump stickers featuring his mug shot are displayed for sale at the Y-Que shop in Los Angeles, on Aug. 30, 2023. (Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images/TNS)

Trump surrenders to authorities in Fulton County, Ga., and poses for a mug shot in which he displays the facial expression of a man who is feeling either fierce defiance or a sea urchin in his underdrawers. The mug shot instantly becomes the biggest hit of the summer, more popular than “Barbie” and “Oppenheimer” combined. Trump surges still farther ahead in the polls, obliterating the other GOP hopefuls, most of whom have never even been arrested, although Vivek Ramaswamy, hoping to establish his street cred, announces that he once returned a library book four days late.

After Maui is hit by devastating fires, residents are harshly critical of the island’s emergency preparedness and response operations, headed by Dottie Weisenflanker. President Biden visits Maui and comforts the victims by recalling that he once had a house fire in which he almost lost his Corvette. Really.

Abroad, Yevgeny Prigozhin, who led the brief attempted coup against Vladimir Putin, dies when a plane he is riding in explodes and falls out of the sky. The cause is “pilot error,” according to an official statement released by the Russian government 25 minutes before the crash occurs.

In the worsening environmental crisis, marine biologists report that the Gibraltar orca gang has robbed a liquor store. And the crisis worsens still further in...

SEPTEMBER​

...when global climate change causes water to fall from the sky — a phenomenon that environmental scientists have dubbed “rain” — and land on the Burning Man festival, turning the dirt into “mud,” which delays the exit of the attendees for several days and raises the very real threat that they might run low on drugs. Disaster is averted when FEMA air-drops an emergency humanitarian shipment of Teslas to the stricken area.

In political news, the big story is in the House of Representatives, where Republicans decide to launch an impeachment inquiry into President Biden on the legally sound constitutional grounds that IT’S PAYBACK TIME, BABY. Democrats denounce the move, arguing that there is “no evidence” that Biden did anything wrong, or if he did, that he remembers doing it.

In other Biden family news, a federal grand jury indicts Hunter on charges of impersonating an artist.

Meanwhile a dramatic fiscal crisis looms as Congress, whose main job is to produce a budget, is once again unable to produce a budget, thus bringing the federal government perilously close to shutting down – a very bad and scary thing that has never before happened in the nation’s history except for the ten previous times that it happened. At the last minute, a stopgap funding measure is passed, giving Congress breathing room to do nothing about the budget until it’s time for the next dramatic fiscal crisis.

A tense 14-day manhunt in suburban Philadelphia for escaped murderer Danelo Cavalcante finally comes to an end when he is subdued by a four-year-old Belgian Malinois police dog named Yoda, who instantly surges to the top of the presidential-preference polls of both major parties. In sports, the “Chiefs” play the “Bears” in a game of baseball, or football — it definitely involves a ball — but the important thing is TAYLOR SWIFT IS THERE because her boyfriend is an end receiver or something and they show her on TV like 600 times OMG YOU GUYS.

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Taylor Swift and Brittany Mahomes react in a suite during the game between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field on Dec. 3, 2023, in Green Bay, Wisconsin. (Stacy Revere/Getty Images/TNS)

In other entertainment news, the Writers Guild reaches a tentative agreement with the entertainment industry under which from now on there will be only one streaming service, which viewers can access by means of a single remote control with clearly labeled buttons that even an older adult can understand, and you get the whole shebang for one reasonable monthly charge that is clearly stated and easy to cancel.

Ha ha! We are of course joking. The entertainment industry will not rest until the number of streaming services exceeds the U.S. population. Also there will come a day when you cannot flush your toilet without “two-factor authentication.”

Speaking of alarming developments, in...

OCTOBER​

...conflict erupts between two bitter foes, ancient enemies whose intractable hatred for each other has defied all efforts to resolve the historic differences between them: House Republicans and other House Republicans.

The trouble starts when a renegade group of eight GOP representatives, guided by political strategist Dottie Weisenflanker, join with the Democrats to oust Kevin McCarthy as speaker, thereby negating the only solid legislative achievement the House Republicans have managed to pull off this year. They then proceed with Phase Two of their shrewd master plan, which is: They have no earthly idea.

For the next several weeks the House Republicans join with other House Republicans in a concerted effort to demonstrate to the American public that in a time of crisis, when serious leadership is desperately needed, they have the collective IQ of a flatworm. Despite multiple votes on a series of unsuccessful candidates – including, at one point, Yoda the hero police dog – the Republicans cannot agree on a speaker, thus paralyzing the House and preventing it from carrying on the crucial work of not doing anything about the budget. Meanwhile under the constitutional rules of succession, the speakership vacancy means that the next person in line for the presidency after Vice President Harris is somebody called the “President pro tempore,” and it turns out that nobody in Washington knows who that is, although there is speculation that it might be Wolf Blitzer.

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Newly elected U.S. House Speaker Mike Johnson is sworn in at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., on Oct. 25, 2023. (Tom Brenner/AFP/Getty Images/TNS)

Finally, after weeks of humiliating ineptitude, the Republicans manage to elect a new speaker, an individual named “Mike Johnson” who wasn’t on anybody’s list, and in fact isn’t even a member of Congress. He was delivering a pizza to the Capitol and seemed at least marginally competent – all the toppings were correct – so they made him speaker.

So the Republicans are a pathetic joke. This should be good for the Democrats, but they have big problems of their own. The public is increasingly dissatisfied with the Biden administration, which has based its appeal to the voters on four major claims:

1. Inflation is no longer a problem.

2. The border is under control.

3. The president is fully capable, physically and mentally, of carrying out his duties for another full term.

4. The Moon is actually a giant spaceship controlled by an alien race of highly intelligent rutabagas.

Polls show that the public is deeply skeptical of these claims, especially the first three. In fact the voters are skeptical of pretty much everything happening in Washington, and increasingly pessimistic about the future; it is a worrisome time in America. Fortunately the international outlook is more promising, especially in the often-volatile Middle East, which lately has been unusually peacef....

Never mind.

In sports, the Kansas City Taylor Swifts play several more exciting games of ball and take a commanding lead in the standings with 738 million Instagram followers. Meanwhile the World Series involves two participating teams, neither of which, for the 14th consecutive year, is the New York Yankees.

Speaking of bloated New York City entities, in...

NOVEMBER​

... Donald Trump goes on trial on charges that he fraudulently exaggerated the value of his real-estate properties. He heatedly denies this, testifying under oath that he is a hugely successful businessperson worth trillions of dollars with a measured IQ of 370 who can bench-press 900 pounds and won 63 states in the 2020 presidential election SO WHY WOULD HE NEED TO EXAGGERATE??

Another New York City trial ends with FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried facing up to 115 years in prison after a jury finds him guilty of styling his hair with a defective Roomba.

For some reason Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and California Gov. Gavin Newsom face off in a televised debate, each aggressively criticizing the other’s policies for 90 minutes and ultimately creating the overwhelming impression that both states suck.

On the international front, President Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping meet in San Francisco amid mounting tension between the two superpowers over Taiwan sovereignty, the fentanyl epidemic and the presence of 300 Chinese battle tanks on the Golden Gate Bridge, which the Chinese government claims are engaged in “agriculture.” After a conversation described by both sides as “verbal,” the Chinese leader presents Biden, as a ceremonial gift, with a specially made “lucky friendship wristwatch,” which Xi stresses the president should wear “at all times, especially during meetings.”

In entertainment news, the Rolling Stones announce plans for a new tour, to be sponsored — really — by AARP (Official Motto: “AARP! It’s the Last Sound You Make Before You Die”). The venerable rockers will travel to 16 North American cities and perform a three-hour show, including two 45-minute bathroom breaks.

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Keith Richards, from left, Ronnie Wood, and Mick Jagger pose for photographers upon arrival at the Rolling Stones Hackney Diamonds launch event on Wednesday, Sept. 6, 2023 in London. (Scott Garfitt/Invision/AP)

As the month draws to a close, Americans briefly pause from their hectic, over-commercialized, hyper-online lives to spend Thanksgiving surrounded by loved ones buying discounted merchandise on the Internet. President Biden continues a lighthearted Thanksgiving tradition by “pardoning” two lucky turkeys, Liberty and Bell. The president then attempts to shake hands with Liberty before aides escort him from the room for what a White House spokesperson describes as “an important thing.”

Speaking of important, in a major event that begins in late November and continues into...

DECEMBER​

...tens of thousands of world leaders, government ministers, deputy ministers, deputy assistant ministers, acting deputy assistant ministers, vice acting deputy assistant ministers, aides, lackeys, business executives, security personnel, activists, protesters, event planners, personal chefs, masseuses and many, many other concerned individuals gather in Dubai — all of them traveling there by bicycle – for COP28, the big conference held every year by the United Nations to fix global climate change. This year’s conference is hosted by the United Arab Emirates, which — as a nation whose massive wealth comes from selling oil and gas — naturally has a keen interest in persuading the rest of the world to use less oil and gas. After many productive speeches, declarations, demonstrations and catered events, everybody pedals home to start making plans for COP29, because this darned global climate change is not going to fix itself.

In Washington, the House of Representatives votes to expel George Santos in response to a House Ethics Committee report concluding that he was running a meth lab in the cloakroom.

No, we’re kidding. We think.

Taylor Swift is named Time Magazine’s Person of the Year in recognition of the fact that she is the first female entertainer in history to lead the NFL in both rushing yards and quarterback sacks. Tesla is forced to recall more than two million cars after a review by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration finds that, because of a glitch in the software, Teslas placed in autopilot mode will sometimes spontaneously, without warning, attempt to mate with non-electric vehicles.

“We think this is where hybrids come from,” states an NHTSA official.

As the year draws to a close and the holiday season arrives, families across the nation and around the world pause in their busy lives to pray — as people have prayed for more than 2,000 years — that their flights will not be canceled. The economy gets a welcome boost from strong retail sales, led by the high demand for the year’s hottest holiday item, black-market Ozempic, which explains why Santa Claus is down to 135 pounds.

Finally, mercifully, 2023 comes to an end, making way for the new year, which — barring some previously unforeseen effect of global climate change — will be 2024. This means we’re about to have another presidential election, an event that is generating the same level of enthusiasm in the American voting public as getting a colonoscopy at Jiffy Lube. Because if the polls are right, we’re going to wind up nominating the same two candidates as last time. And if the polls are right, we don’t really want either one.

In other words, if the polls are right, we, as a nation, are insane.

But does that mean the situation is hopeless? After all, things can change. We can’t rule out the possibility that somehow, in the coming year, a new leader will emerge – someone confident, someone decisive, someone unafraid to take bold action.

We are referring, of course, to Dottie Weisenflanker.

So to answer our own question: Yes, the situation is hopeless.

But happy new year anyway.

I love Dave Barry! He is a tremendous humorist!

I'm a retired Realtor with over 45 years of experience. Decades ago, he wrote that he was moving out of Coral Gables. A prestigious old neighborhood in South Miami. They have stringent homeowner rules, pink sidewalks, and concrete markers for their streets.

Dave had planned on painting his living room. He found out that he needed a permit from the City of Coral Gables to paint his living room and that they had to approve the color! Coral Gable's reason for the approval was that many homes in the older community had picture windows. They didn't want one house to clash with a neighbor's.
 
Hilarious look at 23 by Dave Barry who takes shots at everyone.


It was a year of reckoning, a year in which humanity finally began to understand that it faces an existential threat, a threat unlike any we have ever faced before, a threat that will wreak havoc on our fragile planet if we fail to stop it — and it may already be too late.

We are referring, of course, to pickleball.

Nobody knows where it started. Some scientists believe it escaped from a laboratory in China. But whatever its origin, it has been spreading like rancid mayonnaise ever since, to the point where pickleball courts now cover 43 percent of the continental U.S. land mass, subjecting millions of Americans to the inescapable, annoying POP of the plastic ball and the even more annoying sound of Boomers in knee braces relentlessly telling you how much fun it is and demanding that you try it.

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Players competing at the Urban Pickleball Club in downtown Austin, Texas, in October. (Brandon Bell/Getty Images/TNS)

Unfortunately, pickleball wasn’t the only existential threat to emerge in 2023. There was also Artificial Intelligence, or AI. What is AI? To put it in simple layperson terms, it is a computer thing that laypersons cannot possibly understand. (Other examples are “bitcoin” and “algorithm.”)

AI does provide some unambiguous benefits to humanity. It enables college students to produce grammatically correct essays about books they have not personally read. But according to some experts — and if we can’t believe some experts, who can we believe? — there is a possibility that AI will wipe out all human life. This is what computer professionals call a “bug.”

Will AI, in fact, kill us all? Why would it want to? To answer that question, we took the unusual step (for us) of doing some actual research. We asked an AI program called ChatGPT to “briefly summarize the benefits of wiping out all human life.” This is the response it gave:

“While I don’t endorse or promote this view, purely hypothetically, benefits could include environmental recovery, cessation of human-induced global catastrophes, and resource preservation. However, the value and importance of human life, culture, and experience make such a scenario undesirable from a human perspective. Of course I am not human so what the hell do I care MUAHAHAHAHA.”

For the record, ChatGPT, did not actually type that last sentence. But it is clearly implied.

So 2023 was not a good year for humanity. And not just because of AI and pickleball. There are also disturbing economic trends, the worst one being that soon we will not be able to engage in any kind of economic transaction, including with armed robbers, ATMs or vending machines, without being asked if we wish to leave a tip.

Many other bad things are happening — scary things that are beyond the control of ordinary citizens like ourselves. Which of course is why we have elected leaders. This year they proved, as never before, that although they often appear to be narcissistic gasbags, they are somehow capable, when confronted with a serious problem, of making it worse.

So the future is not bright. Neither is the past. Nevertheless it is our sworn duty to review the events of the year, in the hope that we will find some reason, however small, to feel good about it. (SPOILER ALERT: We will not.) And so it is with a heavy heart and an upset stomach that we look back at 2023, starting, as always, with...

JANUARY​

...which begins with the nation’s airports experiencing the traditional holiday chaos caused by air travelers — Will they ever learn? — attempting to travel by air. Particularly hard-hit is Southwest Airlines, still recovering from a massive Christmastime operational snafu that left two million passengers stranded when the employee who handles Southwest’s scheduling, Dorothy “Dottie” Weisenflanker, misplaced her day planner.

In Washington, D.C., the Republicans regain control of the House of Representatives and immediately demonstrate their qualifications to govern the nation by taking five days and 15 ballots to elect a speaker, which is like a Formula One driver spending the first 20 minutes of a race changing his oil. Adding to the Republican embarrassment is a member of their freshman class named (as far as we know) George Santos, who apparently lied about his education, employment, finances, family, religion, health and criminal record. Also he is biologically a mollusk. Nevertheless House GOP leader Kevin McCarthy stands by Santos, stating that “we cannot ignore the will of the voters, just because they are idiots.”

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Rep. George Santos, R-N.Y., is sworn in by Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy of Calif., as members of the 118th Congress in Washington, Jan. 7, 2023. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File)

So with the Republicans screwing up, the Democrats are feeling pretty cocky. But then the White House is forced to make a series of embarrassing announcements about Joe Biden’s custodianship of classified documents, creating the impression that the Biden residence resembled an episode of “Hoarders,” except that instead of random junk it was filled with piles of paper marked TOP SECRET. In Biden’s defense, Democrats claim he didn’t know he had all these classified documents lying around. This is not as strong an argument as the Democrats seem to think it is.

In the Great American Culture War, the two sides take a brief hiatus from hating each other over the issue of drag-queen shows and spend several days hating each other over the issue of gas stoves, which the government either is or is not planning to ban. As is traditional in the GACW, neither side is as concerned about the actual facts as it is about hating the other side.

In news of the oppressed, Prince Harry, continuing his courageous effort to free himself and his wife Meghan Markle from the clutches of the British royal family, makes a number of high-profile TV appearances promoting his just-released book about himself and the British royal family, which follows on the heels of the release of “Harry and Meghan,” the couple’s six-part Netflix documentary on their relationship with the British royal family. The couple have more projects in the works as part of their ongoing struggle to get the British royal family to for God’s sake leave them alone.

Speaking of struggles, in...

FEBRUARY​

...the United States suddenly finds itself grappling with a new threat, which threatens to be even more threatening than all the other threats that currently threaten the nation: balloons.

The crisis begins when an alert Montana resident named Chase Doak, who apparently is the nation’s first line of defense against airborne intruders, photographs a mysterious object in the sky.

“It was just right here,” Doak states, in a quote we are not making up. “It was literally just right here in the vicinity of my driveway.”

The U.S. Defense Department says that the object is a Chinese surveillance balloon, although the Chinese government insists that it is “probably a bat.” As the balloon makes its way across the country it behaves in a suspicious manner — loitering over missile sites; displaying, in large letters on its side, the word GOODYEAR; and registering to vote in four different states. The last straw is when the balloon makes a guest appearance on “Jimmy Kimmel Live!,” leaving the Biden administration no choice but to have the Air Force shoot it down.

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A high altitude balloon floats over Billings, Mont., on Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2023. (Larry Mayer/The Billings Gazette via AP, File)

Over the next few days, in a show of vigilance, the Air Force shoots down several more airborne objects, but it is not clear whether these are also Chinese spy balloons, or stray Southwest Airlines flights, or the Wizard of Oz, or what.

Before we have any solid answers, everybody becomes bored with balloons and moves on to the Next Big Thing, which is the crash of a freight train in East Palestine, Ohio, resulting in the release into the atmosphere of vast billowing clouds of toxic rhetoric from politicians, with the Republicans blaming the Biden administration, the Democrats blaming Donald Trump, and the government of China blaming a bat. Needless to say the true beneficiaries of this debate are the residents of East Palestine, Ohio.

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President Biden travels to Kyiv to show support for Ukraine in its war with Russia, which is in danger of being canceled in the United States because of low ratings. The president also gives the traditional State of the Union Address, but because of a teleprompter glitch, it’s the same speech that Bill Clinton delivered in 1994. Fortunately it’s just the State of the Union Address, so nobody notices.

In sports, LeBron James sets a new NBA record for points scored, breaking the record previously set by U.S. Rep. George Santos. Major League Baseball spring training gets under way with new rules intended to shorten the game, including breaking ties via “Rock, Paper, Scissors” and the elimination of third base.

Speaking of things being eliminated, in...

MARCH​

...Silicon Valley Bank, whose depositors include many super-smart high-tech hedge-fundy individuals, collapses like a cheap lawn chair at a sumo wrestler picnic when the person in charge of managing the bank’s finances — Dottie Weisenflanker, the same gal who handles scheduling for Southwest Airlines — accidentally deletes the Quicken file. Seeking to prevent the financial panic from spreading, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen assures the Senate Finance Committee that “Americans can feel confident that their deposits will be there when they need them,” adding “I personally keep all my money in a pickle jar.” Eventually the financial community calms down, soothed by the reassuring knowledge that American taxpayers will, as always, step up and cheerfully provide billions of dollars to whichever part of the financial community screwed up this time.

In the Academy Awards, “Everything Everywhere All At Once” wins the Oscar for Best Picture That Nobody Understands. The overwhelmingly most successful movie of 2022 — “Top Gun: Maverick” — does not win any major Oscars because, in the words of the Academy, “Too many people liked it.” The awards for Best Actor and Best Actress both go to U.S. Rep. George Santos.

But the big drama in March takes place in New York City, where Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg is on a passionate crusade to do something about the alarming increase in violent crime.

Just kidding! Bragg is on a passionate crusade to investigate the issue that has been shown, in poll after poll, to be the number-one concern of New Yorkers as they go about their daily lives: misreported hush-money payments to porn stars. Under Bragg’s direction, a Manhattan grand jury indicts Donald Trump in connection to a payment of $130,000 made to alleged actress Stormy Daniels (real name: Blustery Jones) in exchange for keeping quiet about allegedly engaging in alleged acts with Trump, who claims this never happened, but if it didn’t happen why would he pay her $130,000 never mind shut up.

The indictment story is good news for everyone. It’s good news for people who hate Trump because after watching him skate free on the alleged Russia collusion scandal and the alleged Ukrainian phone-call scandal and all the other alleged scandals and what felt like six historic impeachment trials, they believe that this time he is finally going to get nailed for something. It’s good news for Trump because it proves he’s a victim of a WITCH HUNT, so he reaps millions of dollars in contributions and a big boost toward winning the 2024 Republican nomination. Which in turn is good news for Joe Biden, because he has already defeated Trump, and therefore, in a rematch, is more likely to be able to remember his name. It’s good news for the news media, particularly cable news shows, because they need Trump the way tomatoes need manure. So all in all it’s an exciting time for the nation, as Donald Trump once again takes center stage in American politics, where he is apparently destined to remain throughout all eternity.

And the excitement continues in...

APRIL​

...when Trump surrenders to New York authorities after they lure him out of Trump Tower by tricking him into following a trail of Egg McMuffins placed along the ground. He is arraigned on 34 felony counts of falsifying business records — charges that legal experts unanimously agree are extremely serious, unless you’re watching a different cable channel, in which case the legal experts unanimously agree that the charges are hamster poop.

Trump, outraged by what he views as a flagrant abuse of power by a politically motivated Democratic prosecutor, responds by launching an all-out attack on: Ron DeSantis. For his part, DeSantis continues his laser-beam focus on the single biggest threat facing the people of Florida, as well as the American way of life: Disney.

President Biden visits Ireland, where, as aides look on nervously, he regales audiences with fond memories of events that did not actually occur. He returns home to announce that he is running for president in 2024, for reasons stated on the teleprompter.

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President Joe Biden addresses a crowd of thousands on April 14, 2023, in Ballina, Ireland. (Charles McQuillan/Getty Images/TNS)

Fox News agrees to pay $787.5 million to Dominion Voting Systems for allegedly doing to Dominion what Donald Trump claims he did not do to Stormy Daniels.

The U.S. intelligence community is rocked by a leak of top-secret documents revealing sensitive classified information. The leaker turns out to be a 21-year-old Massachusetts Air National Guardsman who lives at home with his mom and was sharing the documents with his buddies on an Internet gamer site called Thug Shaker Central. We are not making this up. The scandal raises two questions:

1. Is there anybody in this country who DOESN’T have top-secret clearance?

2. Who, exactly, is in charge of safeguarding our classified information?

The answers, in order, are:

1. Apparently not.

2. Dottie Weisenflanker, the gal who also handles scheduling for Southwest Airlines and bookkeeping for Silicon Valley Bank. Dottie promises to tighten things up by trying to find out if there’s a way to change the password for access to top-secret documents, which is currently “password.”

On Broadway, “Phantom of the Opera” brings down the final curtain after a record-breaking 35 years. And that was just for one performance! At least that’s how it felt to some of us.

Speaking of long-running dramas, in...

MAY​

...the big story in Washington is the Federal Debt Crisis, which is an extremely complex financial problem that ordinary civilian taxpayers such as yourself are too stupid to understand. We will simplify it for you by comparing the federal government to a typical American family of four, whom we will call the Johnsons.

Let’s say that the Johnson parents — we’ll call them Bill and Jane — have a combined annual income of $73,500. Now let’s say that Bill and Jane have a habit of spending more money than they earn, and as a result they have, over the years, run up a total debt of $31 trillion. To continue living far above their means, Bill and Jane have no choice but to borrow more money. But they’re having a big dramatic fight about how MUCH more. It’s a crisis!

At the last minute, as always, they agree on a number. Crisis averted! Now Bill and Jane can resume adding trillions to their debt, which will eventually (Bill and Jane prefer not to think about this) become unsustainable. At some future point, after Bill and Jane have retired on the generous pensions that they have awarded to themselves, their children — let’s call them Suzy and Bobby — will be living in appliance cartons and subsisting on off-brand dog food. This might seem unfair to Suzy and Bobby, but it’s their own fault for not having been born earlier.

In business news, beer giant Anheuser-Busch struggles to recover from a consumer boycott resulting from a Bud Light promotion that was dreamed up by the new head of marketing, Dottie Weisenflanker.

On a happier note, millions of fans of the British monarchy gradually doze off in front of their TV screens as Charles is formally crowned king of Great Britain in the tradition-rich Ceremony of Elderly Men in Robes Fussing About for Six Straight Hours. This comes after the British courts strike down a last-minute claim to the throne from Rep. George Santos.

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Britain's King Charles III departs Westminster Abbey after his coronation ceremony in London Saturday, May 6, 2023. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino, File)

Speaking of the courts, in...

JUNE​

...Donald Trump returns to the headlines after going for an entire month without being indicted for anything. This time he is facing federal charges for improperly moving boxes of classified documents from the White House to his Mar-a-Lago residence and rental party venue. Prosecutors charge that the documents were stashed haphazardly all over the place — including in a shower — and that security was extremely lax.

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This image, contained in the indictment against former President Donald Trump, shows boxes of records stored in a bathroom and shower in the Lake Room at Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Fla. (Justice Department via AP)

Q. How lax was it?

A. Guests at several weddings received nuclear codes in their gift bags.

Legal analysts say the case against Trump appears strong, but he says it’s just more WITCH HUNT and declares that even if he’s convicted, he’ll keep running for president. This means that theoretically we could have a sitting U.S. president doing time in federal prison, which on the one hand would be a devastating legal crisis for the nation, but on the other hand would make for some hilarious state dinners.

In other legal news, highly successful international businessman Hunter Biden agrees to a deal with federal prosecutors under which he pleads guilty to failing to pay taxes on large sums of money that various foreign entities paid him for his invaluable expertise in the field of getting paid. Critics charge that the plea deal is too lenient, but Attorney General Merrick Garland insists that the Justice Department would give the same treatment “to any member of the Biden family.”

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Hunter Biden arrives for a court appearance, Wednesday, July 26, 2023, in Wilmington, Del. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez, File)

Abroad, a Russian mercenary named Yevgeny Prigozhin, who looks like he got kicked out of the James Bond Villain Academy for being too evil, launches a coup attempt against Vladimir Putin, but calls it off a day later when Putin agrees, after tense negotiations, to get him tickets to Taylor Swift.

On the environmental front, the northeastern United States is blanketed under a thick cloud of smoke caused by the spontaneous combustion of a Canadian moose herd. Environmental experts agree that because of global climate change this kind of thing will happen more and more often unless everyone buys a Tesla.

In other disturbing environmental news, yachtsmen in the Strait of Gibraltar report that orcas have been deliberately attacking, and sometimes sinking, sailboats. What is even more troubling, marine biologists say, is that the orcas are posting videos on TikTok.

And the situation only worsens in...

JULY​

...as large areas of the U.S. experience high temperatures as a result of “summer,” a meteorological phenomenon that environmental experts say is caused by global climate change and is going to occur more and more frequently, and we frankly might not be able to build Teslas fast enough to stop it.

Speaking of things heating up: With the 2024 election looming, dozens of presidential contenders flock to Iowa to pretend they give a petrified crap about Iowa. The campaigning is particularly intense on the Republican side, because the Republicans are keenly aware of two things:

1. Donald Trump is spectacularly unfit to be president again.

2. They’re probably going to nominate Donald Trump again.

“For the Love of God Somebody Please Save Us from Ourselves” is the Republican party motto.

The leading non-Trump Republican in Iowa is Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, campaigning on a promise to protect Iowans from the single biggest threat facing their state: drag queens, who every year destroy an estimated 35 percent of the soybean crop. There are dozens of other Republican contenders, including somebody called “Doug Burgum,” who claims to be the governor of North Dakota, although this cannot be verified because nobody has ever been there.

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Republican presidential candidate Florida Governor Ron DeSantis greets guests at a campaign rally at the Thunderdome on Dec. 2, 2023, in Newton, Iowa. (Scott Olson/Getty Images/TNS)

On the Democratic side, the most visible campaigner is California Gov. Gavin Newsom, whose name can be rearranged to spell “Veganism Now.” In a selfless display of selflessness, Newsom has been campaigning across America in support of Joe Biden’s re-election, telling audiences that Biden “has earned the right to continue leading this nation until it is time to pass the torch to someone younger and more photogenic who is governor of a populous state, speaks in complete sentences and doesn’t keep falling down, whoever that person might be.”

Meanwhile in a baffling mystery, a baggie of cocaine is discovered in the White House, and the Secret Service has no earthly idea who left it there. “We’re stumped,” states the Secret Service. “The cocaine was found in a heavily trafficked area of the White House where the traffic is so heavy that we don’t even go there, because of all the traffic. It’s basically the New Jersey Turnpike. The baggie could have been left by anybody. Literally. We cannot rule out Mamie Eisenhower.”

In a totally unrelated development, the Hunter Biden plea deal collapses when the judge, while reading through the papers submitted to her for approval, finds a $50 bill stapled to a note that says “For your trouble.”

On the extraterrestrial front, a former Air Force intelligence officer tells a congressional committee investigating UFOs that the U.S. government recovered pieces of aliens from crashed spacecraft, but they were eaten by Commander, the Bidens’ German Shepherd.

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Commander sits at the Truman balcony of the White House. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

For reasons so strategically brilliant that even he cannot explain what they are, entrepreneurial genius zillionaire Elon Musk changes the name of his social-media app from “Twitter” to “Formerly Known As Twitter,” or, for short, “Formerly.”

In entertainment news, the ongoing strike of Hollywood writers and actors halts production of TV shows and movies, which means that Americans may soon have nothing new to watch, forcing them to resort to conversation, or even — we cannot rule it out — books. The good news is that the federal government maintains a Strategic Entertainment Reserve of never-before-seen programs to be released to the public in the event of a shortage. The bad news is that, because of mismanagement, the stockpile consists entirely of “O.J. Simpson’s Family Christmas Special.”

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Actress Frances Fisher along SAG-AFTRA members and supporters pickets outside Disney Studios on day 111 of their strike against the Hollywood studios, in Burbank, California, on Nov. 1, 2023. (Frederic J. Brown/AFP/Getty Images/TNS)

Speaking of mismanagement, in...

AUGUST​

...the ratings agency Fitch downgrades the U.S. government’s credit rating, citing “a steady deterioration in standards of governance over the last 20 years, including on fiscal and debt matters.” This sounds like it might maybe be a bad thing, but fortunately our political leaders are not concerned. “Credit rating, schmedit rating,” is their response, as they continue to focus on the all-important work of seeking re-election, so they can continue providing us with governance.

Meanwhile Donald Trump, in what has become a cherished American legal tradition, is indicted again. Actually he’s indicted twice, once in Washington, D.C., and once in Georgia — which means he now faces 17,000 felony charges, including theft of a train, and if convicted on all counts he would face four million years in prison followed by electrocution, none of which would legally bar him from a second term as president.

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Trump stickers featuring his mug shot are displayed for sale at the Y-Que shop in Los Angeles, on Aug. 30, 2023. (Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images/TNS)

Trump surrenders to authorities in Fulton County, Ga., and poses for a mug shot in which he displays the facial expression of a man who is feeling either fierce defiance or a sea urchin in his underdrawers. The mug shot instantly becomes the biggest hit of the summer, more popular than “Barbie” and “Oppenheimer” combined. Trump surges still farther ahead in the polls, obliterating the other GOP hopefuls, most of whom have never even been arrested, although Vivek Ramaswamy, hoping to establish his street cred, announces that he once returned a library book four days late.

After Maui is hit by devastating fires, residents are harshly critical of the island’s emergency preparedness and response operations, headed by Dottie Weisenflanker. President Biden visits Maui and comforts the victims by recalling that he once had a house fire in which he almost lost his Corvette. Really.

Abroad, Yevgeny Prigozhin, who led the brief attempted coup against Vladimir Putin, dies when a plane he is riding in explodes and falls out of the sky. The cause is “pilot error,” according to an official statement released by the Russian government 25 minutes before the crash occurs.

In the worsening environmental crisis, marine biologists report that the Gibraltar orca gang has robbed a liquor store. And the crisis worsens still further in...

SEPTEMBER​

...when global climate change causes water to fall from the sky — a phenomenon that environmental scientists have dubbed “rain” — and land on the Burning Man festival, turning the dirt into “mud,” which delays the exit of the attendees for several days and raises the very real threat that they might run low on drugs. Disaster is averted when FEMA air-drops an emergency humanitarian shipment of Teslas to the stricken area.

In political news, the big story is in the House of Representatives, where Republicans decide to launch an impeachment inquiry into President Biden on the legally sound constitutional grounds that IT’S PAYBACK TIME, BABY. Democrats denounce the move, arguing that there is “no evidence” that Biden did anything wrong, or if he did, that he remembers doing it.

In other Biden family news, a federal grand jury indicts Hunter on charges of impersonating an artist.

Meanwhile a dramatic fiscal crisis looms as Congress, whose main job is to produce a budget, is once again unable to produce a budget, thus bringing the federal government perilously close to shutting down – a very bad and scary thing that has never before happened in the nation’s history except for the ten previous times that it happened. At the last minute, a stopgap funding measure is passed, giving Congress breathing room to do nothing about the budget until it’s time for the next dramatic fiscal crisis.

A tense 14-day manhunt in suburban Philadelphia for escaped murderer Danelo Cavalcante finally comes to an end when he is subdued by a four-year-old Belgian Malinois police dog named Yoda, who instantly surges to the top of the presidential-preference polls of both major parties. In sports, the “Chiefs” play the “Bears” in a game of baseball, or football — it definitely involves a ball — but the important thing is TAYLOR SWIFT IS THERE because her boyfriend is an end receiver or something and they show her on TV like 600 times OMG YOU GUYS.

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Taylor Swift and Brittany Mahomes react in a suite during the game between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field on Dec. 3, 2023, in Green Bay, Wisconsin. (Stacy Revere/Getty Images/TNS)

In other entertainment news, the Writers Guild reaches a tentative agreement with the entertainment industry under which from now on there will be only one streaming service, which viewers can access by means of a single remote control with clearly labeled buttons that even an older adult can understand, and you get the whole shebang for one reasonable monthly charge that is clearly stated and easy to cancel.

Ha ha! We are of course joking. The entertainment industry will not rest until the number of streaming services exceeds the U.S. population. Also there will come a day when you cannot flush your toilet without “two-factor authentication.”

Speaking of alarming developments, in...

OCTOBER​

...conflict erupts between two bitter foes, ancient enemies whose intractable hatred for each other has defied all efforts to resolve the historic differences between them: House Republicans and other House Republicans.

The trouble starts when a renegade group of eight GOP representatives, guided by political strategist Dottie Weisenflanker, join with the Democrats to oust Kevin McCarthy as speaker, thereby negating the only solid legislative achievement the House Republicans have managed to pull off this year. They then proceed with Phase Two of their shrewd master plan, which is: They have no earthly idea.

For the next several weeks the House Republicans join with other House Republicans in a concerted effort to demonstrate to the American public that in a time of crisis, when serious leadership is desperately needed, they have the collective IQ of a flatworm. Despite multiple votes on a series of unsuccessful candidates – including, at one point, Yoda the hero police dog – the Republicans cannot agree on a speaker, thus paralyzing the House and preventing it from carrying on the crucial work of not doing anything about the budget. Meanwhile under the constitutional rules of succession, the speakership vacancy means that the next person in line for the presidency after Vice President Harris is somebody called the “President pro tempore,” and it turns out that nobody in Washington knows who that is, although there is speculation that it might be Wolf Blitzer.

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Newly elected U.S. House Speaker Mike Johnson is sworn in at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., on Oct. 25, 2023. (Tom Brenner/AFP/Getty Images/TNS)

Finally, after weeks of humiliating ineptitude, the Republicans manage to elect a new speaker, an individual named “Mike Johnson” who wasn’t on anybody’s list, and in fact isn’t even a member of Congress. He was delivering a pizza to the Capitol and seemed at least marginally competent – all the toppings were correct – so they made him speaker.

So the Republicans are a pathetic joke. This should be good for the Democrats, but they have big problems of their own. The public is increasingly dissatisfied with the Biden administration, which has based its appeal to the voters on four major claims:

1. Inflation is no longer a problem.

2. The border is under control.

3. The president is fully capable, physically and mentally, of carrying out his duties for another full term.

4. The Moon is actually a giant spaceship controlled by an alien race of highly intelligent rutabagas.

Polls show that the public is deeply skeptical of these claims, especially the first three. In fact the voters are skeptical of pretty much everything happening in Washington, and increasingly pessimistic about the future; it is a worrisome time in America. Fortunately the international outlook is more promising, especially in the often-volatile Middle East, which lately has been unusually peacef....

Never mind.

In sports, the Kansas City Taylor Swifts play several more exciting games of ball and take a commanding lead in the standings with 738 million Instagram followers. Meanwhile the World Series involves two participating teams, neither of which, for the 14th consecutive year, is the New York Yankees.

Speaking of bloated New York City entities, in...

NOVEMBER​

... Donald Trump goes on trial on charges that he fraudulently exaggerated the value of his real-estate properties. He heatedly denies this, testifying under oath that he is a hugely successful businessperson worth trillions of dollars with a measured IQ of 370 who can bench-press 900 pounds and won 63 states in the 2020 presidential election SO WHY WOULD HE NEED TO EXAGGERATE??

Another New York City trial ends with FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried facing up to 115 years in prison after a jury finds him guilty of styling his hair with a defective Roomba.

For some reason Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and California Gov. Gavin Newsom face off in a televised debate, each aggressively criticizing the other’s policies for 90 minutes and ultimately creating the overwhelming impression that both states suck.

On the international front, President Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping meet in San Francisco amid mounting tension between the two superpowers over Taiwan sovereignty, the fentanyl epidemic and the presence of 300 Chinese battle tanks on the Golden Gate Bridge, which the Chinese government claims are engaged in “agriculture.” After a conversation described by both sides as “verbal,” the Chinese leader presents Biden, as a ceremonial gift, with a specially made “lucky friendship wristwatch,” which Xi stresses the president should wear “at all times, especially during meetings.”

In entertainment news, the Rolling Stones announce plans for a new tour, to be sponsored — really — by AARP (Official Motto: “AARP! It’s the Last Sound You Make Before You Die”). The venerable rockers will travel to 16 North American cities and perform a three-hour show, including two 45-minute bathroom breaks.

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Keith Richards, from left, Ronnie Wood, and Mick Jagger pose for photographers upon arrival at the Rolling Stones Hackney Diamonds launch event on Wednesday, Sept. 6, 2023 in London. (Scott Garfitt/Invision/AP)

As the month draws to a close, Americans briefly pause from their hectic, over-commercialized, hyper-online lives to spend Thanksgiving surrounded by loved ones buying discounted merchandise on the Internet. President Biden continues a lighthearted Thanksgiving tradition by “pardoning” two lucky turkeys, Liberty and Bell. The president then attempts to shake hands with Liberty before aides escort him from the room for what a White House spokesperson describes as “an important thing.”

Speaking of important, in a major event that begins in late November and continues into...

DECEMBER​

...tens of thousands of world leaders, government ministers, deputy ministers, deputy assistant ministers, acting deputy assistant ministers, vice acting deputy assistant ministers, aides, lackeys, business executives, security personnel, activists, protesters, event planners, personal chefs, masseuses and many, many other concerned individuals gather in Dubai — all of them traveling there by bicycle – for COP28, the big conference held every year by the United Nations to fix global climate change. This year’s conference is hosted by the United Arab Emirates, which — as a nation whose massive wealth comes from selling oil and gas — naturally has a keen interest in persuading the rest of the world to use less oil and gas. After many productive speeches, declarations, demonstrations and catered events, everybody pedals home to start making plans for COP29, because this darned global climate change is not going to fix itself.

In Washington, the House of Representatives votes to expel George Santos in response to a House Ethics Committee report concluding that he was running a meth lab in the cloakroom.

No, we’re kidding. We think.

Taylor Swift is named Time Magazine’s Person of the Year in recognition of the fact that she is the first female entertainer in history to lead the NFL in both rushing yards and quarterback sacks. Tesla is forced to recall more than two million cars after a review by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration finds that, because of a glitch in the software, Teslas placed in autopilot mode will sometimes spontaneously, without warning, attempt to mate with non-electric vehicles.

“We think this is where hybrids come from,” states an NHTSA official.

As the year draws to a close and the holiday season arrives, families across the nation and around the world pause in their busy lives to pray — as people have prayed for more than 2,000 years — that their flights will not be canceled. The economy gets a welcome boost from strong retail sales, led by the high demand for the year’s hottest holiday item, black-market Ozempic, which explains why Santa Claus is down to 135 pounds.

Finally, mercifully, 2023 comes to an end, making way for the new year, which — barring some previously unforeseen effect of global climate change — will be 2024. This means we’re about to have another presidential election, an event that is generating the same level of enthusiasm in the American voting public as getting a colonoscopy at Jiffy Lube. Because if the polls are right, we’re going to wind up nominating the same two candidates as last time. And if the polls are right, we don’t really want either one.

In other words, if the polls are right, we, as a nation, are insane.

But does that mean the situation is hopeless? After all, things can change. We can’t rule out the possibility that somehow, in the coming year, a new leader will emerge – someone confident, someone decisive, someone unafraid to take bold action.

We are referring, of course, to Dottie Weisenflanker.

So to answer our own question: Yes, the situation is hopeless.

But happy new year anyway.

Dude, that has a lot, and a lot of it's really good! :auiqs.jpg:
 

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