After the stunning improbabilities that seemed routine in 2016, there was no way 2017 could match it for sheer insanity, inanity, unpredictability or unadulterated zaniness. But you can’t say 2017 didn’t try.
The year began with an event that put the ribbon on the most improbable remnant of 2016. The Election of Donald J. Trump as the 45th President of the United States of America. I could write non-stop for the next 365 days and not be able to accurately convey how amazing the set of circumstances were that led to this moment. All I can say now is all I could say in 2016. “Wow.”
That having been said, Trump’s inauguration has seemed to have had the impossible effect of pushing people even further apart. On the right, once-sane Conservatives like Evan McMullin and Jennifer Rubin were reduced to “Old Man Yelling at Cloud” status in their zeal to highlight all the evil they see from Trump. Many other so-called “Never Trumpers” also dug their heels further in. Their task was made easier by the unceasing stream of moronic Tweets sent from Trump’s account. The worst ones bear all the gravitas of a drunken teenager yelling at the top of his lungs at “Wrestlemania.”
It took a while, but I eventually made peace with the fact that this is the way it is going to be. My main interest now is making sure Trump adheres to the Constitution while appointing textualist judges and hamstringing government regulators. On those issues, the President has been an unqualified success, and I salute him for that. The President’s clear support of Israel also makes his Tweets a lot easier to swallow.
Without a doubt, the best part of the Trump reaction has been the formation of the honorable “Resistance©.” Yes, I’m kidding. These people bear all the dignity of a three-legged goat with polio trying to ice skate. The only thing they are “resisting” is self-respect.
The first visible evidence of The Resistance © came last January from the much-ballyhooed “March for Women.” It went about like you would expect. Basically it was a lot of people walking around in pink p*ssy hats, writing messages on tampons, etc. Again, it was another female-oriented event that failed to challenge us to consider anything outside of a woman’s sexual/reproductive organs.
“The Resistance©” kicked it up a notch in February when they used good old-fashioned violence to prevent controversial conservative speaker Milo Yiannapoulos from speaking at Cal-Berkley. Store front windows were destroyed, buildings were set on fire, innocent people were pepper-sprayed while giving TV interviews. In the resulting violence the school ordered the appearance cancelled. Milo had to be shuttled out by police for his own safety. I hoped the wanton violence and lawlessness over nothing more than a man speaking would have been one of those rare instances that united the left and right. I was disappointed. Some employed an argument that was amazing in its syllogistic simplicity. First, you claim the right to assault a “Nazi” or anyone else who promotes “hate speech.” Then, you classify everyone who disagrees with you as a Nazi. By your twisted logic, that gives you the moral right to assault anyone you disagree with. It was at this event that the public-at-large was introduced to “Anti-Fa,” an ironic acronym for “Anti-Fascists.” We would hear from them again.
Just a few days later, the “Resistance©” bravely prevented Education Secretary Betsy DeVos from making an appearance at a school. They physically prevented her from entering the building. Of course this was not the first time Democrats had prevented people who wanted to help African-Americans from entering a school building. At least George Wallace had the dignity to stand aside after saying his spiel.
All that having been said, I think the far left is MUCH happier than they would have been had Hillary been elected. With Trump in the White House, they can proudly join “The Resistance ©.” They can do what liberals do best—assign altruistic motives to otherwise pointless political posturing, empty symbolic gestures and willing martyrdom. With Trump as President, they have the perfect cover to allow them to promulgate vapid rhetoric while acting like a five-year old who’s been told they cannot have a third scoop of Neapolitan ice cream.
Underpinning all this was the laughable efforts of Hillary Clinton, the inglorious loser in last year’s Presidential election, trying to attach herself like a remora to the “Resistance©.” It reminded me of an elderly person trying to dance at a club in order still be seen as “cool.” Very soon, we are going to find Clinton sitting in a rocking chair on a front porch, taking long drags on a Chesterfield and deep slugs straight out of a fifth of Old Crow, screaming at passersby, “I got more votes!! I SHOULD BE THE F#$%ING PRESIDENT!!!”
Trump Derangement Syndrome seeped into popular culture as celebrities routinely had some meltdown traced back to the Orange Menace. Most notably, Kathy Griffin deep-sixed her floundering career when she shot a promo holding up Trump’s bloody, severed head. I feel sure that within the insular confines of Griffin’s world, the thought of beheading Trump would be seen as only *mildly* shocking—if at all. That is the danger of never exploring life outside of your circle. You never realize that there are perfectly good and decent people who disagree with the way you think. The people reacted. Griffin issued a horrible apology, then a rambling press conference where she (in true victim fashion) blamed Trump for everything.
Perhaps the year’s most significant (and conspicuous) TDS-induced meltdown was not a person, but an entire industry. It is impossible to overstate the amount of animus that has been built up by middle America over the Mainstream Media the past couple of decades. The feeling has been reciprocated. It is bad enough the traditional media outlets like CNN, MSNBC, The New York Times, NBC, the LA Times, et. al. have hard left views. But to deny it while hiding under the self-proclaimed cloak of “journalistic neutrality” was an insult to our intelligence. It was akin to having some despicable dictator from a Third World Nation rub our noses in “Diplomatic Immunity” while enjoying the riches of American Soil.
Trump’s inauguration was too much for many in the mainstream media to handle. It would be impossible to chronicle every chapter of their precipitous decline into madness. It included reading poetry at White House briefings, coining new positioning statements like “Democracy Dies in Darkness,” and feverishly trying to tell us the difference between an apple and a banana. As we prepare to turn the calendar on 2018, CNN has aired two dozen stories about a mysterious white van that is preventing their cameramen from getting a Paparazzi-style picture of the President golfing. During that same time period, there has been ZERO coverage given to a series of protests in a nation with whom our former administration negotiated a Nuclear Treaty. “Democracy dies in Douchiness.”
2017 was also the year of the Sexual Harasser. Or more accurately, it was the year that many people who had been getting away with it for some time finally got their comeuppance. Of course the indiscriminate firing of allegations produced a few “friendly fire” incidents, depending upon which side of the fence you reside. Matt Lauer, Charlie Rose, Mark Halperin, Glenn Thrush, Billy Bush, Harvey Weinstein, Senator Al Franken and Kevin Spacey lost their jobs. Others like Rep. John Conyers and George Takei took a hit. The ease with which allegations were met by actions suggests we’ll see more of them…and the threshold of proof will get lower and lower. In other words, the pendulum will swing too far. Soon, celebrities will be asked about the time they complimented their female co-workers’ culottes in 1978.
Oddly enough, the one “untouchable” in this fusillade is a target many levying the allegations despise. Vice-President Mike Pence took some heat earlier this year for his not-so-archaic policy of never meeting alone with women apart from his wife. “He is sexist!” “This is like Sharia Law!” “He doesn’t trust women!” “How can he hire women if he won’t eat with them?!” No. It’s called “respect.” And more than just a dash of common sense.
2017’s “B-Plot that no one is following” has to be former FBI Director Robert Mueller’s probe of Russia’s possible activities in regard to the 2016 Presidential Election. The people most focused on the probe were different every day; based upon the latest rumblings from Ye Olde Rumor Mill. Of course the probe began after Trump’s surprising firing of another former FBI Director James Comey. Like Trump, Comey has an innate gift for pissing off people of all political stripes. Such was 2017 that Comey closed the year working on a book and writing “Deep Thought” posts on Twitter. Wake me up when there are indictments.
The year’s culture wars came to a head in Charlottesville in August. It began when some Fightin’ Whities marched menacingly with their Citronella Tiki Torches (see picture) near the Rotunda at the University of Virginia. While the ghost of Thomas Jefferson was laughing his dead ass off, counter-protestors emerged. There was some pushing and shoving but nothing too bad. They looked like a group of hookers slapping each other over a John. By the way, if you think the phrase “White Nationalists” should produce images of big scary people that intimidate you, this picture should make you sleep better. This group couldn’t break up a church picnic.
But it got worse the following day. A motorist plowed into a crowd of counter-protestors. One was killed and several more injured. The President showed off his ability to screw up a leadership challenge with a laughably ineloquent response. And a downtown section of a city that I’ve grown to love over the years will forever live in infamy.
Violence got more than its fair share of headlines in 2017. In England, people were massacred by a bomb while leaving an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester. Less than two weeks later, several people were killed on the iconic London Bridge when Islamic terrorists mowed them over with a vehicle. They then got out of the vehicle and began stabbing as many people as they could. It was a telling sign of the times that, in the immediate aftermath of both events; no one on Twitter even bothered with saying things like “we cannot jump to conclusions!” Everyone knew the terrorists were Islamic. I’m glad we’re getting to the point where there is nothing wrong with stating the patently obvious.
But the British reaction to the incidents made me weep for the once-mighty nation. The alert sent out by London’s Metro Police while the attack was still underway told it all. It encouraged citizens to “Run, Hide, and Tell.” Specifically, citizens should RUN away if they encounter the terrorist. If that doesn’t work, they should HIDE. And of course, find a way to TELL the police what’s going on. You know, so they can get there in just the nick of time. It would be interesting to hear what Prime Minister Churchill would have to say about this. The mindset that this creates, whereby we are at the mercy of terrorists until the cops arrive, is a mindset I want no part of. It is the mindset of sheep. It is incompatible with the concept of freedom.
Here on the Homefront, we witnessed the worst mass shooting in US history. At least 59 people were killed and about 527 were injured when Steven Paddock opened fire from his suite in the Mandalay Bay Hotel in Las Vegas on people attending a country music festival more than a quarter mile away. He was later killed by SWAT teams. Three months later and this is still pretty much the extent of what we know about this. In an era of ubiquitous media and an insatiable desire for information, the fact that authorities could keep a lid on a story like this is more than a little disturbing. People are going to fill in the blanks with whatever they like; including conspiracy theories that sound as though they were formed on the planet Neptune. The problem is when the truth eventually comes out, everyone will have already formed their opinions—for better or for worse.
Violence grabbed the headlines again on November 5th in the small hamlet of Sutherland Springs, Texas. 26-year-old Devin Patrick Kelley of nearby New Braunfels, killed 26 people and injured 20 at a church he had attended. The reactions followed a predictable pattern, with one notable exception. The shooting spree ending, in no small part, because a neighbor heard the commotion and grabbed his AR-15 and confronted the shooter as he was leaving the church. Kelley was shot twice. He later crashed after a high-speed chase and was found dead with multiple gunshot wounds, including a self-inflicted head shot. The intervention by the civilian with an AR-15 put gun control aficionados in the position of trying to minimize his impact on the series of events; lest it lend credence to the NRA’s popular “Good guy with a gun” argument. Some even went so far as to suggest the citizen should have stayed at home and waited for police to arrive. This is modern-day politico/socio debate. Even if it means abandoning common sense, the narrative MUST be protected.
As usual, the year in Sports was dominated by events that had little to do with sports. Sure, Clemson won a thrilling National Championship game over Alabama, Tom Brady cemented his reputation as the greatest QB of all time, the Houston Astros ended their World Series drought, and some team most assuredly won the NBA championship although I don’t care who.
No the dominant sports story of 2017 was the increasing number of NFL players who adopted the Colin Kaepernick tactic of taking a knee during the National Anthem as a protest against what they see as police brutality and systemic racism. For a time, it seemed like the story would die a natural death. Kaepernick couldn’t even get a CFL team interested in his services and only a small handful of players were still kneeling during the first couple of games. Then President Trump had to add his delicate touch, calling for all the players who knelt to be fired. The reaction was as predictable as the sunrise. Hundreds of players began kneeling. Entire teams began kneeling. Fans reacted, siding mostly with the President. The NFL responded in wishy-washy fashion and their numbers continued to plummet.
One viewer the NFL didn’t miss was me. My interest in the NFL has been declining for many years, and it had nothing to do with the social views of its players. I just think the product has become bland and watered-down. I would MUCH rather watch two high school rivals square off.
And one final note on the kneelers. You have every right to kneel. But timing is everything. I have heard your arguments. You see the nation as a racist construct. You see a lack of social justice. You see White Supremacy. But you dismiss the thoughts of others who see something entirely different. There are many who hear the National Anthem and see the colors and associate it with a nation that gave their immigrant parents hope. Others equate it with loved ones who served heroically in far-away lands. Still others associate it with coffins containing the remains of people they loved dearly.
To those who kneel during the anthem, I ask—is their reaction any less valid than your reaction when seeing something like the Confederate Flag? Major concessions are being made based on emotional responses to the stars and bars. Perhaps YOU could make a concession and find a way to protest that doesn’t denigrate something that so many people love.
Undergirding all of this madness was a welcome sense of normalcy. In 2017, the Dow Jones Industrial Average posted 12 months of gain for the first time in its history. Capitalistic economies rise and fall all of the time, but these gains were noteworthy for their sustainability. It produced the predictable talking points. The side in power takes credit when there’s an uptick in the market…the side NOT in power says the increases mean we’re due for a major crash any time.
Politically speaking, James Carville was right when he said “it’s the economy, stupid!” Voters will put up with a LOT of crap as long as the market is steady and their 401ks are growing. When Bill Clinton was wagging his finger in our collective faces, lying about getting a blow job, most people snickered. “Yea, whatever, President Lothario. Just make sure the economy is good and that you leave cab fare on the nightstand before you leave.”
I’m beginning to sense the same mindset at work today, even from people like me who were (and remain) highly skeptical of President Trump. “Yeah, whatever, Donnie. Tweet and golf all you want. Just keep the economy humming, appoint good judges, gut federal regulations and tell the UN to get bent.”
Come to think of it, maybe 2017 wasn’t so atrocious after all. Bottoms up!