Well, here it is at last, January, 2023. Like most, I thank God that 2022 is over. It was, after all, not the best of years. It will be, for most, an old acquaintance best forgot. But before it goes, I must reflect, what do I remember most? First of all, I remember covid. Why? Because America spent the year trying to pretend it had gone away, while it kept coming back to remind us it is not done with us yet, hatching as a Christmas present variant XBB 1.5, a new improved recombinant strain that promptly took over forty percent of the deadly infection market in the midst of an outbreak of multiple respiratory diseases cleverly dubbed the “tridemic.” In 2022, with four percent of the world’s population, the United States of America surpassed 1.1 million covid deaths, accounting for sixteen percent of the fatalities worldwide to date. And if that wasn’t enough, 2022 was also the year that monkeypox arrived to remind us that there are plenty of other weird viruses out there besides covid, lurking in the furthest corners of the world, just waiting for us to mess with the environment some more so they can infect a new Patient Zero, spread around the locals a bit, then hop onto a nice fat white tourist and come visit New York City via jet airplane.
The year also saw the shameless exploitation of foreign migrants as extras in elaborately staged political theater skits manufactured by the twisted minds of MAGA Republican governors Ron DeSantis and Greg Abbott, the idea being to stick it to the liberals by shipping the migrants to sanctuary cities and towns like Washington DC and Martha’s Vineyard, luring them into airplanes and buses by lying to them about where they were being taken and what was awaiting them there. And in the US Senate, Democrats Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema matched them for cynicism, leveraging their two votes against the slim Democratic majority in that body to get concessions for themselves and their corporate owners written into every bill that went to Joe Biden’s desk for signature into law.
2022 was also a memorable year in the history of Senate decorum, in which the depths of political shamelessness were plumbed to the lowest abyss with impressively inventive vigor as Republican senators continued to demonstrate the ongoing MAGA-mind obsession with pedophiles, doing heir best to insinuate that judge Ketanji Brown Jackson is one during her Supreme Court confirmation hearings.
And 2022 was, I will recall, the year that cryptocurrency and non-fungible tokens crashed, leaving millions of suckers fleeced of their life savings. A situation about which Samuel Benjamin Bankman-Fried, supposed financial wunderkind, and major architect / ringleader of the debacle most memorably remarked, “Look, I screwed up. I was the CEO of FTX. I was responsible ultimately for doing the right things and I mean, we didn’t. We messed up big.” And having said that, like most other members of his generation, he no doubt expects to be granted a do-over and given a participation trophy instead of spending thirty or forty years in prison. And who will be surprised if that’s what happens?
The year also saw a Russian invasion of Ukraine – other than the invasion of Crimea, of course, which happened in 2014, and about which, for some reason, nobody did anything. In 2022, lots of nations did something, although not nearly enough to end the conflict quickly. So, in 2023 the war will almost certainly continue, to the amazement of the free world and the dismay of Vladimir Putin, who never expected to get both of his gluteus maximus handed to him by a bunch of farmers while his economy imploded and practically every educated Russian fled his country in a desperate dash to get away from him and his ham-handed and totally inept leadership.
I will also remember 2022 as the year Chris Rock proved that jokes about alopecia aren’t necessarily all that funny, while Will Smith proved that there are some things you can’t do at the Oscars even if you win an Academy Award. And I will remember it as the year Elon Musk bought Twitter and immediately set out to destroy it, demonstrating that even someone like him can occasionally do something beneficial for society.
And as if wars, political chicanery and continued plague were not enough, however, 2022 saw the specter of inflation rise to haunt the land. Due to a combination of multiple economic and international factors over which President Biden, and in fact, no President in history, has had any control whatsoever, the price of everything went up. This scared the bejesus out of a public composed mostly of people who had never experienced inflation during their adult lives, throwing them into irrational panic. The Republicans and their mouthpieces at Fox News, et. al., of course, were quick to blame Biden for it, relying as they always do, on the monumental gullibility and encyclopedic ignorance of the American public. In particular, the price of gasoline climbed to heights sufficient to cause massive salivation among Republicans concerning the size of the huge Red Wave tsunami they were going to experience in the November mid-term elections. They were disappointed, however, only to see it recede to the size of a tossed pebble’s ripples in a frog pond after they finally got their way in June when six craven, idiot Supreme Court justices disgraced their offices and conclusively proved they are nothing but political stooges by overturning Roe v. Wade. I will definitely remember how that turned millions of women who either wouldn’t have bothered voting in a mid-term election or would even have voted Republican into committed campaigners for the defeat of every Republican running for office anywhere until the end of time. Yes, after forty-nine years, in 2022, the Republican’s self-righteous Right-to-Life dog, fizzing and foaming with the rabies of misogyny, finally caught the car, promptly got its teeth caught in a wheel, and was dragged down the street, leaving a trail of bloody spots on the pavement with every cycloid of the tire.
And in 2022, who could forget that the January 6 Committee concluded its Herculean effort, surely one on a par with cleaning out the Augean Stables, of demonstrating, in extreme, excruciating and mind-boggling detail that twice-impeached, dishonored, defeated former President Donald John Trump masterminded a premeditated conspiracy to overthrow the United States government and install himself as a dictator, providing, as the year concluded, an eight hundred and forty-page report replete with irrefutable evidence substantiating every particular of his treason, and accompanying it with a criminal referral the Justice Department. And who will forget that meanwhile, Trump proved himself without parallel in felonious behavior by being caught during the summer with an extensive cache of classified federal government documents, a number of which were marked Top Secret. In response, he claimed they are his property, and anyway, it doesn’t matter because he declassified them right before he left the White House in 2021. Whether DOJ will actually do anything about these things – or the numerous other federal crimes for which Trump is under investigation – remains to be seen. Attorney General Merrick Garland must, naturally, weigh the issues of prosecuting a former President against the issues of the consequences of failing to do so. In addition, as reports from inside DOJ have it, he must also either find his yarbles or grow a pair. It’s a good bet that in 2023, we will see if he has any.
And oh, yeah – 2022 cannot be forgotten as the year the United Kingdom’s Tory government went through three prime ministers in a row and Queen Elizabeth II died, her funeral providing American Anglophiles with enough upper-class British ambiance, pageantry, frisson and thrills to fill an entire decade of Downton Abbey – and leaving the UK with an new King, who will probably be known to history as Charles the Adulterer. And right on the cusp, December 31, the very last day of 2022, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI died. He was the first Pope to retire since 1415, when Pope Gregory XII quit the job in an attempt to unify the Roman Catholic Church during the Western Schism, a time when the Church had two Popes; or was it three? Anyway, he took a bullet (or a musket ball, I suppose) for the team. Benedict, on the other hand, retired primarily because of scandals involving leniency bordering on negligence for pervert predator priests doing unspeakable things to Catholic children, and for basically being a Nazi. The scuttlebutt at the Vatican is he’s going to Hell.
And as 2022 grew to a close, there was another of its events that I am sure I will never forget – no matter how hard I try. It was on New Years Eve, while relaxing with Cerise over cocktails prior to our departure for a night of festivities, that I received a call at my residence in Great Falls, Virginia, from a newly-elected Congressman representing the Third District of New York, on Long Island, one George Santos.
Tom: Good evening, Representative Santos.
Santos: Uh… yes… is this Tom Collins?
Tom: It is.
Santos: Ah… how did you know it was me?
Tom: Caller ID. To what do I owe the honor of this telephone call, Congressman?
Santos: I heard from… um… other people in the House… that you… uh… give free consultations?
Tom: The first time, yes. It’s part of my marketing plan.
Santos: So, I can get some advice from you without paying?
Tom: Sure – but we don’t have much time. My companion and I will be leaving for a New Years Eve party soon.
Santos: Me, too. I’m attending a New Years Eve party at the Brazilian Embassy.
Tom: Oh, yes, over on Independence Avenue, South East, right?
Santos: Yeah, sure. Been there dozens of times. The ambassador is a close personal friend. I saved his life once in the upper Amazon, when I rescued him from Xingu headhunters. We were there searching for the true location of El Dorado. After I saved his life, I found it, and donated all the gold to the Brazilian treasury. That saved Brazil from a big financial crisis, which is why I have six different official Brazilian medals and there’s a twenty-foot larger-than-life-size statue of me in Sao Paulo and my name is inscribed on the marble base of Christ the Redeemer in Rio de Janeiro.
Tom: I’ll bet. The Brazilian Embassy is at 3006 Massachusetts Avenue, North West.
Santos: Oh, yeah, sure. I meant the Brazilian ambassador’s official residence.
Tom: That’s at McCormick House.
Santos: Right – on Independence Avenue, South East.
Tom: No, it’s at 3000 Massachusetts Avenue, North West. You’re a pathological liar, aren’t you, Congressman?
Santos: Me? No, no, of course not!
Tom: Well, didn’t you claim to have degrees from Baruch College and New York University, when, in fact, you never attended any college or university, anywhere?
Santos: I… um…
Tom: Didn’t you claim to be biracial?
Santos: I said I like to race bicycles!
Tom: Oh, I see. Thanks for the clarification. Didn’t you claim you are descended from Ukrainian Holocaust survivors?
Santos: That is… er… it’s like this, uh…
Tom: Didn’t you say you worked at Citigroup and Goldman Sachs, but in fact, they’ve never heard of you?
Santos: They ah… it was subsidiaries… and…
Tom: Didn’t you claim you are Jewish?
Santos: No, that’s a mistake. I said I was Jew-ish. I was raised a Catholic.
Tom: Didn’t you claim to have worked on carbon-capture technology?
Santos: I did. As a matter of fact, I invented a totally new carbon-capture technology that generates power while making biodegradable jet fuel from water. That got me nominated for the Nobel Prize; which I won, last year.
Tom: Okay, so tell me: how does your technology capture carbon?
Santos: It takes carbon in the air… and it… um… captures it.
Tom: I’ll bet. Okay, how about this – didn’t you submit a financial disclosure in 2020 that stated you had no major assets and no earned income, and then, in 2022, loan your campaign $700,000?
Santos: I refuse to answer that on the grounds of my rights under the Fifth Amendment.
Tom: Did you not claim your family name was Zabrovksy and then use that to raise money for a “charity?”
Tom: Did you not claim to have made millions of dollars in the last six months, while Dun and Bradstreet says your company, the Devolder Organization, had only $43,688 in revenue?
Tom: Didn’t you claim that your mother died in the 9/11 attacks, when in fact she died fifteen years later, in 2016, after which you collected money for her funeral on GoFundMe and spent it on a ski vacation in the Poconos?
Santos: We didn’t collect enough for a decent funeral! I mean… Fifth.
Tom: Sounds like you have the makings of a successful MAGA Republican, there.
Santos: Gee, thanks. You know, they say you’re the smartest person in Washington.
Tom: Which is a lot like being the tallest building in Baltimore.
Santos: Baltimore? Oh, yeah, I’ve been there. I worked at Johns Hopkins… doing heart transplants, yeah… that’s the ticket… heart transplants at Johns Hopkins. As a matter of fact, I did a heart transplant on George W. Bush at Johns Hopkins, right after I graduated from Harvard Medical School.
Tom: Good Lord! You just can’t help yourself, can you?
Santos: Help myself doing what?
Tom: Lying! It’s uncanny – like a physical reflex you can’t suppress.
Santos: Hey now, wait a minute there! I am not a criminal who defrauded the entire country and made up a fictional character and ran for Congress.
Tom: Complicated by narcissism and delusions of grandeur. Fascinating. No, you did not “defraud the entire country,” although I am sure you imagined you did. You defrauded some voters on Long Island. Tell me, have you heard about the efforts of you colleague who represents New York’s Fifteenth District, over in the Bronx?
Santos: No, what’s he doing?
Tom: He has announced he will introduce a bill in the 118th Congress, called the Stop Another Non-Truthful Office Seeker Act.
Santos: Stop Another Non-Truthful Office Seeker Act?
Tom: Yeah. The SANTOS Act. How does it feel to have a piece of legislation named after you?
Santos: I am honored, as I was when several other pieces of legislation were previously named after me.
Tom: No doubt. So, Representative Santos, what is the nature of your problem?
Santos: My problem?
Tom: Yes, your problem. Why are you calling me? What is it you want advice about?
Santos: Oh, that! Yeah, right – I called because all these people are saying that because I put some… embellishments in my resume on my campaign Web site and in my speeches and so forth, that I shouldn’t be seated in Congress on Tuesday. What can I do to make sure they don’t stop me?
Tom: Is that all?
Santos: Um… yeah.
Tom: Didn’t you declare, like three days ago, that you were going to vote for Kevin McCarthy to be elected Speaker of the House?
Santos: Yeah, I did. He’s MAGA, I’m MAGA, we both know the 2020 election was stolen from President Trump and Joe Biden should be investigated for selling us out to the Chinese Communists. It’s a no-brainer.
Tom: Yep, you can say that again.
Santos: It’s a no-brainer?
Tom: A no-brainer, indeed. Look, Representative Santos, McCarthy has two hundred and twenty-two Republicans out of four hundred and thirty-five House seats. That is a one percent majority. If just five Republicans decide they don’t want to vote for him, he can’t be Speaker. Consequently, McCarthy needs every vote he can get. The mere fact that you declared you will vote for him guarantees you will be allowed to take your seat when the 118th Congress convenes on Tuesday, January 3, 2023. No need to worry about that.
Santos: Really? Wow! What a relief! But… duh… what about after I vote for him and he’s Speaker of the House? He won’t need me then, will he? So what happens afterward?
Tom: Hey, you’re an obvious sociopath with no compunction about taking the Fifth repeatedly, you’ve already publicly demonstrated that you are a pathological liar; and what’s more – and this is very important – you’ve just proved to me that you are a compulsive pathological liar with absolutely no shame, remorse or any other discernible moral reaction to concocting the most fantastic, elaborate and totally absurd lies conceivable. I’d say, with those qualifications, sir, you are the future of the MAGA movement in the Republican Party!
Santos: Really? Oh, boy! I am so excited!
Tom: My pleasure! Now – go forth and lie some more!
Santos: I will, oh, I will!
Tom: That’s the spirit!
Santos: Oh, thank you, thank you!
Tom: You’re Welcome. Happy New Year!
Santos: God Bless America!
Tom: And all Her ships at sea! Goodbye!