"So tell me, oh wise one, what will be our fate for the coming year?"
Uncle Spud rolled his eyes in apparent disgust, sneered politely, and then set his empty Geratol bottle on the floor by his chair.
"What makes you think I can tell the future?" he asked.
"You made some predictions last year," I reminded him, "and about 20 percent of them came true. I was impressed."
"The outcome of a rain dance depends a lot on timing," he said.
"So set your timer to 2009 and tell us what you expect to happen in the coming year," I pleaded.
"Well, okay," he said. "But I only predict the future. I don't make it happen."
"Fair enough," I agreed.
"I think president Obama will be in big trouble right off the bat," Spud began. "About 60 percent of the people think he can walk on water, but he'll be in over his head.
Hezbullah, Osama bin-Laden, the Taliban, Russians, Koreans and Hugo Chavez will all invite him to dance right after the inaugural ball. We'll soon find out what kind of a dancer he is. Does he do break-dancing or bawl-room?
"But then, Obama will have some expert help and advice. Hillary and Bill will travel the world, she as secretary of state and he as worldwide ambassador to foxy chicks."
"Communist Red China (remember them?) will buy up all of our national debt and we will be forced to give them the deed to all of our public lands and national forests to hold as collateral on the loan.
"In a secret deal to keep shipping lanes open, the pirates in Somalia will be allowed to immigrate to the United States. To avoid publicity, the U.S. will buy them tickets to Mexico where they can sneak across the border and no one will notice."
"On the home front, the big oil companies will go broke after Congress mandates price controls to keep gas prices low. Congress will then give the oil companies a $700 billion bailout and pay for it by imposing a $3.37 per gallon federal gas tax.
"Obama will be forced to reinstate the draft after finding it necessary to send more troops to Iraq, Afghanistan, and downtown Detroit. In fact, all of our major cities will need military garrisons after inflation hits 500-percent because of all the trillions of worthless dollars being printed to pay for the economic bailouts and stimulus packages."
"Because Bernard Madoff was so good at balancing a gigantic ponzi scheme for so many years without being caught, he will be tapped by the new administration to run the biggest ponzi scheme of all, the social security system. His new title will be Secretary of the Treasury."
"Former Clinton chief of staff, Leon Pinetta, will be the new head of the CIA. Under his watch all agents will be required to conform to the standards of Boy Scouts. Osama bin-Laden will be retained as a paid consultant on terrorism. Half of the agency's budget will be used to buy hybrid vehicles and energy saving light bulbs for the office."
"In a bold move applauded by the environmental lobby, Obama will stop all drilling for oil in U.S. and decree a complete switch to wind and solar energy. Only then will he discover that trains, planes and automobiles don't go very far with air and sunshine in the fuel tank."
"The Bureau of Land Management and the Division of Wildlife Resources will be put under the office of Health and Human Services since they are in the business of managing people more than managing land and wildlife."
"On the Fourth of July, in a solemn ceremony, the ashes of the Republican Party will be scattered over the Lincoln Memorial. The men who killed it, George Bush and John McCain, will stand trial in the court of public opinion for the next hundred years."
"Good grief," I muttered. "Sounds like big changes are coming."
"People voted for change," the Spudster reminded. "Some changes are good, some changes are bad, and some changes are irreversible."
"You sound like a pessimist."
"No, I'm really quite an optimist," he insisted. Then he explained. "There are two kinds of people: pessimists and optimists. The pessimists always say, 'things are so bad we couldn't get any worse off.' But we optimists always remind them, 'Yes we can.'"
"Wasn't that a campaign slogan?" I asked.