**The following is satire.  It is based on recent news and commentary available in media outlets from the internet to print media.  I have fast-forwarded each event to show one possible outcome of the scenario.  In all truth, we can never know the future as that is beyond our ability, but is always important to consider the future and to plan for it.**

Imagine that it is early 2013.  The 2012 election is in the rear view mirror and springtime is coming to America.  Despite the talk of bipartisanship coming from Washington in the latter part of 2012, the scale of the problems before the nation proved to be too large and both sides could only agree on small piecemeal solutions which failed to address the actual fiscal situation the country faced.

The national debt has hit it’s largest amount ever and the deficits are projected to run far into the future.

The economy has effectively stalled.  This was caused by the expiration of the demagogued “Bush Tax Cuts.”  The only bipartisan effort out of Washington resulted in those tax cuts being extended only for households making less than $50,000 a year.  Tax rates on capital gains, inheritances, and corporations were increased slightly causing an immediate economic contraction.  The warning bells on Wall Street immediately after the 2012 election with multiple days of triple digit losses proved to just be the tip of the iceberg and the stock market averages all took significant hits.

The hundreds of new regulations, fees, and fines have further squelched life out of the economic engine.  Layoffs, plant closures, litigation, and bankruptcy protection are the buzz words in every business section of every newspaper in the country.  For millions that still have jobs, m,ost are seeing their hours cut back to part time in order to exempt them from the Affordable Care Act provisions and regulations on the employer.  The reason given from sea to shining sea is that the owners don’t want to go under, but simply can’t afford to keep staffing at regular levels and deal with the onerous costs and burdens of the ACA.

The Catholic Church in America, with Vatican support, has elected to not obey the ACA’s provisions regarding birth control, abortion, or the fee/tax structure developed for it and has petitioned the courts to exempt them from the law.  Judges are refusing to make a ruling against the ACA after two prominent judges had their personal addresses circulated to labor unions and openly democratic.  The Vatican publicly advised the Church’s leadership to close all Catholic hospitals should the courts not rule in their favor.  A growing number of Protestant and nondenominational churches are coming out on the side of the Catholic Church’s stance.

The Eurozone’s economic contraction is at flank speed as Greece’s austerity measures, together with those in Italy, Spain, Ireland, and Portugal are not having enough impact and the more wealthy nations refuse to lend them more money.  There is growing grumbling coming from the European continent about sharing the wealth – mostly directed at Germany and France and coming from the countries mentioned previously.

Iran has just detonated a small-yield nuclear bomb inside a mountain in the east of the country.  The Iraqi government is conducting negotiations with Iran to explore a political and military alliance due to the large number of Shiites in Iraq with close ties to Iran.  Saudi Arabia has announced that they are now pursuing nuclear weapons.  Israel has openly declared that they are a nuclear state and promise mutually assured destruction of any nation that attacks them.

Syria is still in the midst of a bloody civil war.  Iran is propping up the Assad regime, although Assad has gone into hiding (most likely out of the country for his own safety after a failed assassination attempt). Lebanon is being dragged into the Syrian Civil War as well.  Egypt has torn up the peace treaty with Israel and is now arming Hamas in the Gaza Strip with advanced rocketry and other weapons in order to threaten the south of Israel.

Chinese and Japanese naval vessels traded fire recently over the uninhabited islands that have been the central piece of a border dispute in the latter half of 2012.  Due to the shrinking US Navy’s fleet size, only two US destroyers were available to move into the region to prevent a broadening conflict between the two countries.

After the lack of accountability on the 2012 Benghazi consulate attack, Islamists and al Qaeda have been emboldened.  Embassies, consulates, and American business interests in Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Libya, Mali, Yemen, Iraq, Kuwait, and Jordan have been attacked in the last few weeks – all within a twelve hour window. Two ambassadors were injured, and dozens of consular and embassy staff have been killed or injured.  The US military, despite having a variety of special and regular forces in range to respond, were unable to do so as the wide range of attacks was so stunning that the administration was paralyzed by a need for more information.

There is growing discontent over wide swaths of the American continent as talk begins in Washington about a “pathway to citizenship” for illegal immigrants and talks of secession are beginning to grow more vociferous within conservative political circles although national politicians on both sides argue against the growing grassroots movement as “misguided,” “foolhardy,” “radical,” or “racist.”

The Senate just passed a bill for a new assault weapons ban, effectively immediately that bans all semi-automatic firearms without exception.  There is no grandfather clause or exemption.  The NRA and GOA demand the House tear the Senate’s bill up as unconstitutional.  Thousands of gun owners proudly send pictures (anonymously) of their semiautomatic rifles to the White House and the Senators that voted for the bill with a single subject line “Molon Labe.”  Smith & Wesson and Ruger both report that they have a record number of orders for semiautomatic firearms, and ammunition plants report that they are unable to keep up with demand.

The country is still deeply divided between right and left and reports of political violence begin to pop up.  Conservative businesses are targeted by flash mobs, especially those that cite Obamacare as the reason for cutting employees or raising prices.  A tea party activist is arrested and is being prosecuted for a hate crime because he assaulted an SEIU protestor who was accosting his wife at a Tea Party in the Midwest.

This is just the beginning.  There will surely be more to come, but the old Chinese curse of “May you live in interesting times” is surely to visit us in the coming years.  Know where you stand.  Know where to hold firm.  Pray constantly for you, your family, your friends, your neighbors.  Fortify your spirit so that you may hold steady as a rock in the storms to come.

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