“Last year we said: Things can't go on like this... And they didn't, they got worse.” - Will Rogers 1930’s
Okay, 2016 was a bummer in a lot of ways. For one, it was a year filled again with iconic passings (Lemmy, Bowie, Prince, Florence Henderson, and then Debbie Reynolds dies of heartbreak over her daughter’s passing - Carrie Fisher, etc. etc., etc.) Then in November Trump became president elect and the tone was set.
So, let's start our journey to say farewell to 2017 with the Presidential inauguration in January. Immediate controversy began with the Trump crew becoming defensive at the small turnout being reported by the press (in comparison to Obama’s ceremonies). Embarrassing air shots of the esplanade crowds showed Trump’s clusters covered what looked like a third of Obama’s attendees. Who can forget then press secretary Sean Spicer basically scolding the press room for reporting the truth (a reoccurring theme that would continue with current press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders)?
Following Trump's swearing in, the Russia Investigation started to bloom with perhaps the biggest mistake that Trump may face - obstruction of justice in his attempt to defend Mike Flynn to FBI Director James Comey in a controversial meeting where he asked Attorney General Jeff Sessions to leave the room. The fact that this was highly unethical is nothing compared to the subsequent firing of Comey, which forced the deputy director to appoint a special prosecutor, Robert Mueller, himself a former FBI Director. Subsequently, Sessions had to recuse himself as a possible witness. As we know, Flynn who resigned as a Senior National Security Advisor was recently arraigned and fatefully is said to be a cooperating witness in Mueller’s investigation.
Trump continued to run rampant signing executive orders that essentially dismantled anything Obama accomplished as President, and as we go to press, the GOP managed to pass a new tax code that heavily favors the rich and corporations with tax breaks of significant proportions (21%) and limits personal income deductions, eliminates mandatory health insurance (with no replacement in sight), and also cuts Medicaid and Medicare while still building a trillion dollar deficit.
Next on the list is the opioid “epidemic”.
This writer is a little bewildered by the latest drug breakout, and while I recognize that 64,000 Americans succumbed to overdose in 2016, it is still unclear to me how this is related to pharmaceutical opioids prescribed by qualified medical practitioners and distributed by a licensed pharmacy. As usual the “there ought to be a law" crowd is putting the pressure on doctors and nurse practitioners to avoid painkillers now and huge pharmacy CVS is limiting patients to a week’s supply at a time. Talk about overkill!
A closer examination of the facts actually shows that most of the overdoses were caused by a street drug being referred to as fentanyl. To date, more than 12 different analogues of fentanyl have been produced clandestinely and identified in the U.S. drug traffic. The biological effects of the fentanyl analogues are similar to those of heroin, with the exception that many users report a noticeably less euphoric high associated with the drug and stronger sedative and analgesic effects. In other words, this junk causes much greater respiratory suppression than the legal stuff. Unfortunately we have an ignorant AG (Sessions) who is trying to roll back state’s pot laws as it is still classified as a schedule one narcotic by federal law. No one in the current administration is advocating treatment, but rather reverting to a war on opioids status where addicts are processed as criminals.
Also in 2017, we had an epidemic of what I (but the POTUS won't) call domestic terrorism. The oft-offending lone white-male shooter possessing semi automatic assault style weapons was atop the a-hole list. On the night of October 1, 2017, one such a-hole, a gunman, opened fire on a crowd of concertgoers at the Route 91 Harvest music festival on the Las Vegas Strip in Nevada, leaving 58 people dead and 546 injured.
In ten minutes, the gunman (64-year old Stephen Paddock) fired 1,100 rounds from an arsenal of weapons (he somehow got past hotel security) perched from his suite and fired out the windows - to murder innocents below before killing himself. It was like shooting fish in a barrel. The incident is the deadliest mass shooting by a lone gunman in United States history and yet law enforcement officials still don’t have a clear picture of what the motive was for this self made millionaire to go off.
Furthermore, celebrity passings continued in 2017 with the most shocking being Linkin’ Park singer Chester Bennington (42 years old) committing suicide and also the sudden passing of Tom Petty. Jim Nabors (Gomer Pyle), Fats Domino, Robert Guillaume (Benson), Playboy’s Hugh Hefner, Harry Dean Stanton, and comedian Jerry Lewis all perished too; but perhaps the sentimental favorite was grunge rocker and frontman extraordinaire Chris Cornell whose death met many fans shattered.
Perhaps though the biggest story of 2017 was the plethora of women who came forward and exposed some powerful men for sexual harassment and lewd behaviors. In the wake of the accusations made by so many women in the Bill Cosby case, this paled in comparison (pun intended) when the white women came out and exposed Hollywood mogul, Harvey Weinstein, who had exposed himself in quite the literal sense.
More women, empowered by the fact that such a powerful man could be brought down (and soon to be prosecuted) came forward and by the time December rolled around Matt Lauer, Charlie Rose, Garrison Keillor -- and even Senator Al Franken -- all were off the job. More over with the hashtag #metoo being re-appropriated as a badge of abuse or advances that women have endured for centuries, it was no surprise this year’s TIME Person of the Year represented those who spoke out.
2017 also had it’s share of natural disasters as severe weather patterns increase while your current government rolls back environmental protection laws. Will 2018 bring an even bleaker picture to our already divided nation? Will terrorist acts like the recent New York bombing attempt cause increased security? Will World War Three start in the Middle East and with North Korea? Will a strong black women’s voter block begin to challenge the current political landscape? Tune in to these pages to find out, or better yet read some Fake News.
Until next year…
Read More WBOB