Opinion » John Rember

The Face of 2015

Grinning, crazed with fear

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I apologize to anyone who made life decisions based on my Boise Weekly predictions for 2014. I did foretell that Idaho would remain a one-party state after last November, falling further "into injustice and corruption, as nepotism, kickbacks and quid-pro-quos substitute for action of, by and for the people." But anyone with a handful of chicken entrails could have foretold that.

The Idaho Youth Party didn't spring into existence like I said it would. I said passive aggression would be a force among young voters, but didn't realize it would be powerful enough to effectively disenfranchise everyone under 30.

I said foreign bases would close as the American Empire dwindled. Turns out there's life in the old Cold War yet, and bases slated for closure are still open. I said Idaho police departments would be inundated by repatriated military equipment, but was premature in saying it would take the form of landmines, cluster bombs, battle tanks, paramilitary auxiliaries and A-10 Warthogs.

I said that prominent Idaho politicians would be embarrassed by leaked NSA files, but forgot that prominent Idaho politicians cannot be embarrassed because they have no shame.

I was off by 5 million when I said air pollution would kill 6 million people in China. I said Idaho farmers would take a hit from the climate, but they did pretty well as other places, notably California, took a far worse hit from the climate. I said the Fukushima meltdown would be deadlier than anybody let on. True, but I was wrong to suggest anything would be done about it.

I said Idaho parents would forbid their children to play football or soccer due to neurological concerns, that the Kardashians and Miley Cyrus wouldn't go away, that Rupert Murdoch's mummy would be stolen, that student debt would result in an American serfdom, that the Dow would go up and up and up. Mostly right, except Murdoch's mummy wasn't stolen. For all I know, it's still sitting in the Sun Valley Lodge's Duchin Room, covered with construction dust.

So, 2015. I predict it will start tomorrow, but won't predict what it has in store for us. Instead, I'm simply going to list some hopes and fears. If you want to see them as prophecy, go ahead:

I hope that Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush will realize that political families become more burden than joy for their members and constituents. I hope they both refuse to run for president. I fear that they both will run, making "Hobson's Choice" 2015's Political Phrase of the Year.

I hope that when it comes to Ukraine, Vladimir Putin will stop acting like a short, balding white guy wearing camo pants and no shirt. I fear that Barack Obama will taunt him about his baldness, whiteness, shirtlessness and camo-itude, saying, "You're playing chess, but I'm playing basketball. You're too short for basketball."

On a related note, I hope the world will get through another year without somebody firing off a nuclear weapon. I fear that in 2015, one or more will go off on the border between India and Pakistan. Or maybe the border between China and India. Or maybe in the South China Sea. Or Ukraine, what the hell.

I hope the militarization of police forces will reverse as people realize that black uniforms, tactical vehicles and automatic weapons act as hallucinogenic drugs that result in a deep us-against-them psychosis. I fear that such drug-induced hallucinations are going to get worse, M-4 by M-4, MRAP by MRAP, dead unarmed civilian by dead unarmed civilian.

I hope safeguards for privacy are enacted. I fear that worries about terrorism will be used to make drones, CCTV and electronic surveillance facts of citizenship. I fear that the personal information thereby collected will be used to destroy people by shaming them in public (assuming they aren't Idaho politicians).

I hope the climate doesn't get too weird. I fear the climate's going to get superlatively weird. I hope the oceans won't turn to carbonic acid and kill everything in them but jellyfish.

I hope that the repeal of key parts of the Dodd-Frank bill will provide unalloyed benefits for the country. I fear that the repealers are alloyed—and allied—with criminals.

I hope the Arctic ice cap won't melt, that Greenland and Antarctica won't melt, that the crust over the Yellowstone Supervolcano won't melt. I fear meltings in general, more often at 2 a.m. than at noon. At noon I often hope for a patty melt. At 2 a.m. I fear overgrazing/bovine methane emissions/slaughterhouses/coronary artery disease.

By now it should be obvious that hope casts a shadow of fear. If I'd really wanted to foretell the future a year ago, I should have said that in 2014 fear would dictate our laws, wars, political campaigns and environmental policies. People would be scared into obedience rather than taught the demands of ethics, inspired to revenge rather than urged to forgiveness, managed as cowardly herd animals rather than treated as independent beings with free will.

I don't want to carry this thinking much further, because it paints a picture of an ongoing national tragedy. For 2015, it's probably better to hope for the very best, hope that such a wild hope will still be recognizable a year from now, and be done with it.