Hi readers whoever you might be.
This is the second part of my Year in Review. The first part, the exposition or what I referred to as the Batman Begins part is here if you wish to or have already read
This is where I recap what I feel are the top events of the year, at least events which are worth my satirical capital. This is also where I test my ability to recall events from the previous year, not an easy feat when you live in Miami and can barely tell what month or day of the week it is. Event number one was the Trump Proposed Travel Ban which has been in legal limbo since and provides a wonderful diversion to the ongoing Congressional investigation to determine if (1) He wears a hairpiece (2) His wife’s eyes are real and (3) whether or not we can use the pronoun their interchangeably with he/her.
And so without further ado, here are the remaining nine. Apologies to those events I left out and apologies to those to whom any particular event induces guilt. Then again, that’s what resolutions are for.
II. The enemy is within –
When it comes to national security, it is easy to point the finger of blame at radical Islamists. After all, most of them do not look like the kinds of guys you would want to date your sister, teach your sister, talk to your sister or get into a historical debate which actually involves facts. But if you look at the source(s) of terrorist-like violence here in the good ole US of A, “white, gun toting, get off on reading the second amendment, we wish we were an Aryan nation” are a far greater threat to peace and security than Arabic speaking, big bearded Islamists. Mind you the latter could use a little sprinkle of Americana plus a reminder why they came to the U.S. in the first place. But our new sheriff Mr. Trump is no Clint Eastwood when it comes to protecting Americans from internal threats.
I include this little rant in my YIR not just to point out some inconvenient truths but to illustrate the kind of hypocrisy that runs the country.
When the Vegas shooter mowed down almost 60 people enjoying a country music fest and the Texas shooter traveled from Louisiana to go on a rampage which killed 25 churchgoers, and when the bird brained White Supremacist attempted to turn a crowd of counter protestors in Charlottesville into a giant pancake, the issue according to Trump and his apologists was not one of homegrown hate mongrels in possession of mass violence inducing weapons, but mental health. Hmm Trump speaks of the importance of mental health.. Now this English teacher says feel free to read into my comments as much as possible.
Photo courtesy of the Mississippi Buddhist Society
Sorry for losing a bit of the satirical voice here but in 2017 over 100 people were killed by white, gun humping Neanderthals in Las Vegas, San Antonio, Ft. Lauderdale, Washington State, Orange County Florida and most recently an elementary school in California. The four soldiers who unfortunately died in Benghazi resulted in over a year’s worth of judicial investigations and an 11 hour hearing on Capitol Hill. These shootings…. well you get the point……
Speaking of points.
I went to take photos and a baseball game broke out
III. Cellphone pictures:
If photo snapping were an Olympic sport, the U.S. would definitely bring home a lot of hardware, especially those participants aged between 10 and 105. I am not sure how we survived so long without the smartphone camera (It’s a good thing the phones are smart because most users are not) and apparently for generations, people enjoyed pooping, breakfast, trips to the park, flights and drinks among friends without them, but now taking selfies or group photos during the aforementioned activities are rites of smartphone passage.
Assume the position
As a father of a three year old, I like to snap a spontaneous photo or two and enjoy the endorphin rush of sharing them with friends but I also like unfiltered views of the world around me. Again I understand the endorphin rush, but I can’t help but ask three questions:
(1) What becomes of all these photos?
(2) And especially in the case of selfies, don’t you already know what you look like? I don’t know about you, but I check myself out every bathroom visit during the day and on a few other vain occasions.
(3) imagine if we spent all that time and energy we used posing, snapping, swiping, uploading and sharing on something slightly more constructive, lets say, blogging :)? Rumor has it and I did get my stats from The Trump Foundation for Accuracy in Statistical Distortion but Americans snapped over 20 billion photos on their Iphones in 2017, only 15,000 of which they actually converted into hard copies.
Speaking of hard copies, I mean pointless uses of the Iphone
IV: “When I Get that Feeling, I need Digital Device Healing”
For good or for bad, photo taking seems to be just a fraction of what phones can do. Truth be told, I probably interacted with my phone in some form for 20 minutes a day, every day this year so when I do the math, that is about 120 hours or 5 days of my life. Five full days. I’m likely in the middle here, hopefully lower middle. As mentioned, Apple alone came out with three iterations of the IPhone this year and although he likely uses a Droid because he is such a devotee of Sinatra’s “My Way”, Trump uses his smart phone to make such Kennedyesque proclamations as:
(1) “Crooked Hillary is more Crooked than Mother Teresa and the Apostle Paul combined”
2) “I just found out that John Quincy Taft was so fat that he did get stuck in a bathtub but did not die there. That was just fake news cooked up by the crooked NY Times which was owned by the crooked Clinton family at the time“.
But back to the phones, 78% of all Americans admit to spending more time with their phones than their spouses, 62% cannot remember what is the color of the sky and 91 percent, including those as young as four years old, would rather swipe their phones than read, write, sing, exercise or eat breakfast.
Courtesy of Pope Francis
Thus Congress, which arguably had a bad year, has vowed to get almost across-the-board bipartisan support for the following legislation:
(1) Making eye contact optional
(2) Requiring all kindergarten teachers to teach students to say “cellphone “in ten different languages, alphabetize their apps and to properly identify seven different emoticons to express each mood.
My three year old, for example, has decided to fast track himself to potty training as he realizes it allows him more time to fondle a phone.
Speaking of fondling and this is the time to take a deep, deep, deeper breath…
V. #MeToo, #YouToo, #Pleasenotyoutoo, #Waytoomany (Men tend to behave badly)
2017 was a bad year for men, women and the history of unplanned, perhaps one-sided interactions between them.
I know 2018 is to be the year of the dog but famous, though seemingly boring men, got a big jump start on the Chinese lunar calendar, bringing new meaning to the words “dog days” and “doghouse”.
If 2017 taught us anything it’s that Tiger Woods, Bill Clinton and the aforementioned Trump got away from the PR fray relatively unscathed. Maybe it’s because the Trumps of the world are quite clear in their intentions. None of them had to quit or were removed from their profession of choice because of their dalliances though I am still holding out hope with Trump.
This was the year of #MeToo #OhnoYoutoo and #Wegotyouoncamera all rolled into one #Menareshmucks dragnet. This was the one year when all those corny 70’s and 80’s pop songs like “Private Eyes Are Watching You” started to make sense. Granted there were some low grade offenders such as Elie Wiesel who was said to have moved his hand down a young lady’s back 40 years ago during a Nobel Prize award ceremony and Garrison Keilor who pretty much did the same thing. By this measure, most of us are guilty of sexual misconduct. But Harvey Weinstein, Kevin Spacey, Matt Lauer, Charlie Rose, Louie C.K., Bill O’ Reilly and others showed that just because you are feeling horny, doesn’t mean everyone else is. And if your horniness is not as appreciated as you thought, women, gay-men and a few unnamed species are rather patient in seeking justice.
In fact 2017 was so full of revelations of testosterone gone wild, the following cases of sexual misconduct came to light:
Fred Flinstone by Wilma, Charlie Brown by Lucy, Donald Duck and Mickey Mouse by pretty much every female visitor to Disney between the age of 14 and 50. The historical Jesus by Mary Magdalene, Batman by Catwoman.
What happens when Wilma rebuffs Fred’s advances
It takes a lot to make Trump look good, but by this standard, the Donald is a model boyscout.
Speaking of models, first lady Jared Kushner, I mean Melania Trump was quoted as saying “Listen accuse my husband of anything you want. But if you haven’t figured it out by now, you should know that my husband is all talk.”
Speaking of talk…
VII: Conversation Stoppers (Climate Change is fake news)
The Oxford-English dictionary lists about 250,000 English words, including slang though not including a bunch of technical and scientific terms such as “read, write, spell and fact”.
Unfortunately, 90 percent of all domestic conversations begin with the question: “How are you?”, especially here in Miami where more often in Spanish than English, the question is blurted out even when someone is being pulled over by a cop, stealing something from them or violently attacking an inanimate object.
In an effort to quell what I believe to be the biggest conversation stopping pleasantry, more “enlightened” folks such as myself have simply chosen to ignore the question or respond with the slightly snarky “I’ll answer but not before you ask me that same question in at least three other languages”.
Speaking of languages, Mr. Trump who is by no means a polyglot nor I think bilingual, made it official that he does not wish to be part of multilateral accords on climate change or for that matter, speak the language of modern science. Bucking the lead of his predecessor, the heads of state of 191 countries out of 192 now that Nicaragua has signed onto the Paris Climate Accords (mainly for the free chocolate croissants), Trump pulled out of the agreement, one because of the excess amount of helium circulating in the White House and two, just to see what “it would feel like to pull out”.
The decision did not play out well in Europe where for decades, especially during anything involving territorial disputes, ethnic warfare, creating excess amounts of waste or corny reality show games, the U.S. has become the go-to-guy. Though for a moment, at the coaxing of Ivanka Trump, Rex Tillerson and pretty much everyone in his inner circle who can spell the words “global warming”, there was some hope that we were going to experience a brief display of Trump 2.0, or 1.1 or even 1.00001. But in keeping to his original promise to erase everything with Obama’s fingerprints, including the doorknob to the West Wing and the White House basketball hoop, Trump opted to remain at Trump 1.0 and opted out claiming without any historical or legal precedent, that “he hoped to negotiate a better deal”.
VIII: World leaders react with disappointment
In yet another attempt to figure out who are his fellow heads of state other than his two mistresses Putin and Netanyahu, Trump bragged about his “pulling out” on Twitter (the author has exercised some poetic license here):
“I was elected to represent the citizens of Pittsburgh, not Paris. I was elected to sell air conditioners not hydroelectric power. If my brain runs on coal, the rest of the world should too. Besides, as my good friend Groucho Marx said, or maybe it was Richard Marx, or Karl Marx, I would never want to belong to a club which would have me as a member.
Others were not so blithe. Said German Chancellor Angela Merkel, with whom Trump has absolutely no chance of sleeping or for that matter negotiating on anything logical, ” I think the real problem is that aside from the inconvenient truth of climate change, Trump sees every deal he did not negotiate in the first place as a bad deal which is why the next four years are going to suck because it was Russia that negotiated the American election“.
Or said French wunderkind Emmanuel Macron, who is half Trump’s age but is well, more deserving of a smart phone, “Seas are rising, so is temperature, so is carbon monoxide, so is the need for green energy. No offense to Trump but we got much prettier gardens in Paris than in any U.S. city and I want to keep things that way.”
Trump was unfazed by the criticism barking back in a Tweet likely written by Steve Bannon, “Listen up all you tree hugging hombres who think the atmosphere is turning into one big gaseous soup, hot weather gets people onto the golf course, air pollution keeps Asians inside playing casino games and that’s good for business. I mean for jobs, I mean for me, whatever. Just ask the Chinese. They invented this hoax.
Speaking of Hoaxes:
IX – X: Equifax has some privacy issues/Sayonara to the guys who won the election for Trump
I will take these news stories in order. Equifax, which is the largest credit rating agency and keeper of sensitive fiduciary information in the country experienced a data breach which compromised the privacy of over 140 million customers, although the original breach was reported to have affected about 10 individuals or the number that Trump believes is truly affected by climate change.
I’m not a big credit score guy. Maybe if I was I wouldn’t be carrying so much credit card debt. But the minor breach was discovered in March, reported in July and blown open in mid September, was perhaps a bit understated. The company spokesperson, Vladmir Spicer, the grandson of the spokesperson for the Titanic, was quoted as saying “We should be fine. Just a little collision with some hackers but think of it as the melting of an iceberg, there will be plenty of water to go around.
Speaking of going around, the White House staff, or better Trump’s inner circle has been a revolving door. More on that in a bit but before I do I wanted to re-post a job description from about this time last year:
Wanted: Aploogist/Spokesperson for a prominent national figure. Pays way upwards of six figures. Excellent benefits, almost no weekends. Guaranteed to be lampooned on SNL. Must be fluent in new Presidential lingo, familiar but firm with key members of the press and proficient in the art of selective fact picking. Must be able to vouch for your employer’s very large……..inauguration crowd.
Sounds like a dream job unless of course your employer is Trump. Sean Spicer, Anthony Scaramucci, Boutros Boutros Sanders, Johnny Cochrane, Bill Clinton and Barron Trump, all have held the position of White House Spokesperson in 2017 and none, mainly because they were actually really good at doing their jobs, are around other than Sanders to show for it. She kept her job because she has the public speaking skills of a broken record.
Alright I am sure you are tired of hearing about politics. After all, we are on holiday. So I will simply list a few other members of Trump’s inner circle who are no longer with the team, guys who likely won him the election and are almost all Italian so I am not quite sure why Trump believes loyalty is a one way street: Chris Christie, Rudy Guliani, Rence Preibus, Steve Bannon, Porky Pig, James Comey, Chuck Norris and the referee from the Super Bowl.
In the meantime the Congress which was having the type of year that the Dolphins have about 34 out of every 35 years, in the waning moments before they had to buy their mistresses a bunch of holiday trinkets, passed a $1.5 trillion tax overhaul that among other modifications cuts corporate tax loopholes, decreases the corporate tax to whatever each company feels like paying and allows anyone who either voted Republican or makes enough money not to have to pay taxes, to now no longer “officially have to pay taxes. After the signing of the new bill Trump was quoted as saying,
“Every time I get my obligations from the IRS I just grab it by the “pu$$@” and give it to some shmuck who lives in Panama. It’s about time the rest of the country wizens up too”.
X. Puerto Rican’s chant “Tell me this was just a bad dream while Trump perfects his set shot
Speaking of wizening up, after some delay, mainly because he was trying to figure out that Puerto Rico does not mean “Beautiful Breasts”, Trump made a trip to this U.S. territory/island nation to help quell the frustration and destitution after Hurricane Matthew. Aside from giving them a public guilt trip about already owing us, actually Goldman Sachs a big chunk of money after helping to bailout the struggling island two years ago, and feuding with the Governor of San Juan, not to mention downplaying the number of deaths in Puerto Rico as compared to other hurricanes, Trump did what any good troubleshooter would do who was in a real pickle – he helped clean up. No, I am not speaking about getting his hands dirty or donating some of his personal fortune as he kindly did in Houston. I’m talking about as the picture so well illustrates, threw rolls of paper towels at his audience at a “feel better” rally for hurricane survivors. Yes, paper towels, not just paper and towels.
Hero to the rescue – alas paper towels
Now I don’t know about you but every time I’m feeling down and out a new roll of Paper Towels does the trick. Even if I am nearly starving, overworked and without electricity and running water, as long as I have fresh paper towels, I’m good. And it feels safe to say that most of history’s most dire natural disasters seem to always take a turn for the better when someone jump shots paper towels to the survivors. I could go on and on here but I am starting to get emotional just thinking about what a perfect example of American teamwork that was. As one Puerto Rican survivor who as of two weeks ago has still yet to get electricity back, “Toda es malo ante Senor Trump – pero ahora, yo tengo toilas de papel y todo es perfecto.” Translation – “That hombre can wipe his ass with these paper towels”.
Speaking of teamwork, there are so many names and events I have left off the all-imbecile team for 2017 and that’s because I really shouldn’t stretch this blog any longer. Besides, I just got a text message.
Nonetheless before we raise a glass of kale water and put 2017 behind us, I want to end on a somewhat even-handed note. Besides, President Trump donates his salary to various causes including the Geothermal Institute for Non-Barometric and Ambiguous Climate Science Research, so we should at least praise him for doing such vigorous volunteer work.
As the year winds down, let’s keep swiping and massaging apps, and pressing and recording, and liking and downloading all as we sleep, and then after awakening, continue the same routine but while trying to teach a class or lead a seminar. I realize this blog has been a marathon but I would not have done what has to have been the weirdest year since 2016 any justice. And if you don’t mind, please like this blog, take a photo of your “like” and share it with your friends. After all, if they’re anything like me, they could use a little diversion from all this whackiness.
Happy 2018. Just beware of the dog. At the bare minimum, he bites.