HAPPY NEW YEAR! FOR ONCE, I THINK I CAN SAY WITH SOME CERTAINTY THAT THINGS ARE UNLIKELY TO GET WORSE. THEY MIGHT NOT GET BETTER, BUT WORSE SEEMS HIGHLY UNLIKELY. By DAVE BARRY VIA THE WASHINGTON POST

It was an extremely eventful year.

We are using “eventful” in the sense of “bad.”

It was a year so eventful that every time another asteroid whizzed past the Earth, barely avoiding a collision that would have destroyed human civilization, we were not 100 percent certain it was good news.

We could not keep up with all the eventfulness. Every day, we’d wake up to learn that some new shocking alleged thing had allegedly happened, and before we had time to think about it, the political-media complex, always in Outrage Condition Red, would explode in righteous fury, with Side A and Side B hurling increasingly nasty accusations at each other and devoting immense energy to thinking up ways to totally DESTROY the other side on Twitter, a medium that has the magical power to transform everything it touches, no matter how stupid it is, into something even stupider.

Fact: This year O.J. Simpson got a Twitter account, and the reaction of nearly a million people was: “What? The attention-seeking psychopath who got away with murdering two innocent people wants followers? Count me in!”

Speaking of attention-seeking psychopaths: The epicenter of the year’s eventfulness was, of course, Washington, D.C., an endlessly erupting scandal volcano, belching out dense swirling smoke plumes of spin, rumor, innuendo, misdirection, and lies emitted by both sides, A and B — or, if you prefer, B and A — filling the air with vicious rhetoric, always delivered with the pious insistence that OUR side, unlike the OTHER side, is motivated not by ego, power-lust, greed or hatred, but by a selfless desire to Work for the American People.

Meanwhile, from out beyond the Capital Beltway, the actual American people warily watched the perpetual tantrum that was supposed to be their government. And more and more their reaction, whatever side they considered themselves to be on, was: Nah.

Which is pretty much how we feel about 2019 in general. And not just because of politics. There was a continued general decline of human intelligence, as epitomized by the popularity of increasingly elaborate “gender reveal” events. Originally these involved simply cutting open a cake that had been dyed with food coloring, but they have escalated to the point where this year they resulted in — we are not making this up — a fatal explosion and a plane crash. It is only a matter of time before a major city is leveled by a pink or blue mushroom cloud.

Can we say anything good about 2019? Was there any positive news, a silver lining, a reason to feel hopeful about the future — to believe that we, as Americans, can recognize our common interests, overcome our differences and work together to build a better tomorrow, for ourselves, for our children and for the world?

Nah.

Anyway, before we shove 2019 down the garbage disposal of history, let’s take one look back and remind ourselves why we want to forget this train wreck of a year, starting with …

 

JANUARY

… which begins with the federal government once again in the throes (whatever a “throe” is) of a partial shutdown, which threatens to seriously disrupt the lives of all Americans who receive paychecks from the federal government. At issue is the situation at the Mexican border, which either is or is not a Crisis depending on which cable news network you prefer. President Trump wants a high concrete wall, but at the moment there is only enough money for a sternly worded south-facing billboard.

Finally, the president and Congress reach a temporary budget agreement that will not address the border situation but will enable them to resume spending insane amounts of money that the nation does not have until such time as they are able to reach a permanent budget agreement enabling them to continue spending insane amounts of money that the nation does not have, this being the primary function of our federal leadership.

Meanwhile, in the Robert Mueller investigation, which feels like it began during the French and Indian War, a grand jury indicts longtime Trump confidante and professional lunatic Roger Stone on a number of charges, including that he threatened to kidnap another witness’s therapy dog, Bianca (really). This news elates the courageous guerrilla fighters of the Resistance, who since 2016 have been evading the fascist authorities by hiding out underground, constantly on the move from CNN panel to CNN panel. The Resisters see the Stone indictment as a sure sign that Mueller is getting ready to release his much-anticipated report, which will prove, at last, that Trump colluded with the Russians and then, at last, it will be IMPEACHMENT TIME, BABY.

In the Robert Mueller investigation, a grand jury indicts longtime Trump confidante and professional lunatic Roger Stone on a number of charges, including that he threatened to kidnap another witness’s therapy dog, Bianca (really).

Abroad, Britain is in turmoil over “Brexit,” which is a very important thing we should all endeavor to learn about.

In sports, the Los Angeles Rams win the National Football Conference championship game after the referees, on a critical play, fail to notice when a Rams defensive back attacks a New Orleans Saints receiver with a chain saw. Responding to the ensuing outrage, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell says he will “conduct a thorough review of league policy regarding power tools,” adding that “New England is scheduled to win the Super Bowl anyway.”

In other sports news, the Clemson football team defeats Alabama to win the college national championship and is rewarded with an invite to the White House for a classy shindig. “I served them massive amounts of Fast Food (I paid), over 1000 hamberders,” tweets the president, who by his own admission has a genius-level IQ.

Speaking of intelligence: The burning question of whether the nation is capable of producing a social media craze even stupider than last year’s Tide Pod Challenge — in which YouTube dimwits sought to impress other YouTube dimwits by eating compressed laundry detergent — is answered in the affirmative (“yes”) when Netflix is forced to issue a cautionary tweet to people who are inspired by the movie “Birdbox” to take the Birdbox Challenge, in which YouTube dimwits engage in everyday activities — including driving — while blindfolded. Meanwhile, as polar vortex grips the nation, other YouTube dimwits are injuring themselves attempting to demonstrate that it is cold outside by flinging pots of boiling water into the air.

From somewhere beyond our solar system hostile aliens are monitoring all this and concluding that they need not waste energy exterminating humanity, as we’re doing fine on our own.

Speaking of hostile, in …

 

FEBRUARY

… President Trump, despite suffering from bone spurs, goes to Vietnam for a second summit with North Korea’s Kim Jong Un. After a one-on-one closed-room meeting, the two leaders agree via hand gestures that next time they should definitely bring interpreters.

In domestic politics, Virginia is rocked by a series of scandals involving elected Democratic state officials, originating with the publication of a 1984 photo from Gov. Ralph Northam’s medical-school yearbook showing a man in blackface. Northam initially says he is “deeply sorry” for appearing in the photo; the next day, however, he calls a news conference to declare that he does not believe he is in the photo, although he does recall one time that he was in blackface, that being when he entered a dance contest dressed as Michael Jackson and did the moonwalk. Northam further asserts that he won the contest, and at the request of a reporter appears to be on the verge of demonstrating to the press corps that he can still moonwalk, only to be stopped by his wife. We are not making any of this up.

As pressure builds on Northam to resign, Virginia Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax prepares to succeed him, only to become embroiled in a scandal of his own when he is accused of sexual assault. The third person in line is Attorney General Mark Herring, who, several days after calling on Northam to resign for wearing blackface, issues a statement admitting that as a college student he wore blackface when he went to a party as rapper Kurtis Blow. We are still not making this up.

At this point, Virginia’s political leaders realize that if they keep moving down the chain of succession they’re going to wind up with a Labrador retriever as governor or, worse, a Republican. And just like that the Great Virginia Scandals Scandal of 2019 goes “poof.”

Winter storms blast the Midwest, causing havoc in Iowa as snowdrifts close major highways and strand hundreds of Democratic presidential contenders in rural communities with limited supplies of voters. In one harrowing incident, a farmer and his family are trapped inside their home for six hours while Cory Booker pounds on the front door, demanding to be let in so he can outline his plan to reduce income inequality. “We tried to escape by the back door,” the farmer later tells reporters, “but Amy Klobuchar was waiting out there with a seven-point program to rebuild America’s infrastructure.”

In business news, Amazon (whose CEO, Jeff Bezos, owns The Washington Post) cancels plans to build a huge corporate campus in New York City, citing local political opposition and the fact that Amazon’s vice president for business development, during a visit to the site in Queens, was carried off by what a company spokesperson described as “a rat the size of a Volkswagen Jetta.”

Abroad, “Brexit” continues to be a very important thing with many significant developments.

In sports, the New England Patriots, led by 63-year-old Tom Brady, defeat the Los Angeles Rams, 13-3, in a Super Bowl featuring one touchdown and 14 punts. During the national anthem, TV cameras clearly capture Patriots coach Bill Belichick pouring liquid from a bottle labeled “SEDATIVES” into the Rams’ Gatorade, but the NFL referee crew fails to notice. Asked about this after the game, Commissioner Roger Goodell says, “To be honest, I was watching Netflix.”

Several weeks after the Super Bowl, Patriots owner Robert Kraft is charged in connection with a police sting operation in Florida at the Orchids of Asia Day Spa (motto: “Where Your ‘Day’ Lasts About 90 Seconds”). Kraft will ultimately avoid jail time after his lawyers convince a judge that he is in the line of succession for the governorship of Virginia.

At the 91st Academy Awards, the Oscar for best picture is awarded to “Goodfellas,” which came out in 1990 but never should have lost to “Dances With Wolves.”

Speaking of being overdue, in …

 

MARCH

… Robert Mueller finally delivers his report to Attorney General William Barr, who promises to release it to the public “as soon as we have blacked out the sex parts.” The cable news networks prepare for the release by bringing in panels of distinguished legal authorities to declare that the report means exactly the opposite of whatever the distinguished legal panels on the enemy networks are declaring it means.

In other political developments, President Trump, faced with mounting hostility from congressional Democrats, spends several days vigorously attacking … John McCain. For the record, McCain (A) was a Republican and (B) died in 2018. Nobody can say for certain whether the president (A) is playing some kind of four-dimensional political chess or (B) has the reasoning skills of a Chihuahua on meth.

The Iowa state legislature considers a bill that would fund construction of a border wall around the state to stop the influx of Democratic presidential hopefuls, now estimated at several dozen a day. “It’s a humanitarian crisis,” says one legislator, his voice rising in alarm. “They’re swarming all over the state, barging into pancake breakfasts. Many of them die within days from pancake bloat, but THEY JUST KEEP COMING.”

Abroad, “Brexit” continues to be a matter of grave concern, and for good reason.

The higher education community is rocked by scandal when federal prosecutors charge 50 people, including test administrators, wealthy parents, and college coaches, in connection with a widespread bribery and fraud scheme to get students admitted to some of the nation’s most prestigious universities. In one particularly egregious case, Yale admitted Trevor Buncombe-Plotzner IV, who supposedly was recruited to play varsity badminton, despite the fact that (A) Yale does not have a varsity badminton team and (B) Trevor is a cat.

In an official statement, the Association of College Admissions Officers says: “Bribing coaches to get unqualified applicants admitted is completely unacceptable. The correct way is to give a large sum of money directly to the college.”

In a controversial legal development, actor Jussie Smollett, who was indicted by a grand jury for allegedly faking a hate crime against himself, has all charges dropped by Chicago prosecutors following a review of the evidence by an NFL officiating crew.

Speaking of legal matters, in …

 

APRIL

… Attorney General Barr finally releases the Mueller report, which accomplishes two things:

⋅ It finally settles, to everyone’s satisfaction, all of the controversies surrounding the 2016 presidential election.

⋅ It proves that oysters speak German and can play the trombone.

Just kidding! In fact, the Mueller report does neither of these things, although it comes closer to the second accomplishment than the first. The pro-Trump people say the report proves there was no collusion; the anti-Trump people say it proves Trump obstructed justice, which means that it is, at last, IMPEACHMENT TIME, BABY. Both sides emit thousands of impassioned tweets, which go unread by the American public, which long ago moved on to “Game of Thrones.”

In other political news, Joe Biden launches his estimated 17th presidential campaign, with the slogan: “Let Uncle Joe Give You a Great Big Hug.” Biden immediately becomes the leader of the crowded Democratic field based on the fact that his name sounds vaguely familiar.

As millions of people around the world watched in shock and disbelief, the iconic Notre Dame cathedral in Paris is ravaged by flames after being struck, in what appears to be a deliberate act of provocation, by a North Korean missile.

Elsewhere abroad, “Brexit” continues to be a vitally important thing.

In science news, some astronomers at a party, after several rounds of tequila shots, take a blurry snapshot of a flaming gas-stove burner and release it to the news media, claiming that it’s the first-ever photograph of a black hole. The photo instantly becomes worldwide news, much to the delight of the astro-pranksters, who begin work on a plan to pass off a dental X-ray as the Loch Ness Monster.

In golf, Tiger Woods wins his fifth Masters tournament, catching and passing leader Francesco Molinari after two of Molinari’s shots — on the 12th hole and then again on the 15th — hit NFL referee crews that have strayed onto the fairway.

In entertainment news, “Avengers: Endgame” breaks box office records, proving that now, more than ever, people crave stories about time-traveling superheroes using magic stones to defeat a genocidal intergalactic warlord with no neck.

Speaking of long-running dramas, in …

 

MAY

… Robert Mueller resigns as special counsel, saying that he plans to return to private life and “whimper in the fetal position.” In his final statement, he clears up any lingering confusion about his investigation by noting that the Justice Department cannot charge the president with a federal crime, adding, “not that I am, or am not, saying, or not saying, that the president did, or did not, do anything that was, or was not, illegal. Or, not.”

Congressional Democrats, firm in their belief that the American public wants nothing more than to continue refighting the 2016 election until the Earth crashes into the sun, take Mueller’s statement as a call for IMPEACHMENT TIME, BABY.

For his part, Trump emits a tweet stating, quote: “Russia, Russia, Russia! That’s all you heard at the beginning of this Witch Hunt Hoax…And now Russia has disappeared because I had nothing to do with Russia helping me to get elected.” This wording seems to suggest that the president thinks Russia helped him to get elected, so a short while later he clarifies his position by telling reporters, “No, Russia did not help me get elected.” And thus the matter is finally laid to rest.

As far as we are aware, none of this has anything to do with “Brexit.”

On the domestic political front, disgraced former New York Congresscreep Anthony Weiner is released from a halfway house and, in a sincere display of remorse, announces that he is running for president.

Just kidding! In fact Weiner is one of the estimated four Democrats not running for president. Among those entering the race is New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, who, having solved all of his city’s problems, announces that he is running under the campaign slogan “This Slogan Is Currently Out of Order.” De Blasio heads for Iowa, where he quickly surges to 13,357th in the Des Moines Register/CNN poll, just behind swine dysentery.

In sports, the Kentucky Derby is won by Country House after the apparent winner, Maximum Security is disqualified for trampling an NFL officiating crew on the backstretch.

Speaking of violence, in …

 

JUNE

… tensions in the Mideast, which have been escalating for over 3,000 years, escalate still further when Iran attacks two oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman, then shoots down a U.S. spy drone. In retaliation, President Trump orders a military strike against Iran, only to call it off at the last minute when he is advised that it could result in serious damage to a golf course.

In other presidential actions, Trump travels to England, where, in his role as leader of the United States on an official visit to America’s greatest ally at a critical time, he attacks … Bette Midler. In a tweet emitted at 1:30 a.m. London time, the president describes Ms. Midler as a “Washed up psycho.” Fox News confirms this.

Later in the month, Trump becomes the first sitting U.S. president to set foot in North Korea, where he and Kim Jong Un engage in denuclearization talks, capped off with a ceremonial Prisoner Shoot.

This seems like a good place to mention “Brexit.”

Meanwhile, as the 2020 U.S. presidential race heats up, several hundred Democratic presidential contenders gather in Miami for the first major debates. The front-runner is Joe Biden, but he suffers a setback when Sen. Kamala Harris, in what is clearly a planned attack, points out that Biden is wearing his pants backward. Biden’s staff hastily releases a statement explaining that the former vice president “thought it was Friday.” Also getting a lot of attention is Marianne Williamson, who qualifies for the debates based on the number of campaign donations she received from other dimensions.

For his part, President Trump launches his 2020 reelection bid with a rally in Orlando attended by 246 million people, as confirmed by Fox News.

In entertainment news, James Holzhauer’s record-breaking victory streak on “Jeopardy!” finally comes to an end when, in the Final Jeopardy round, he is flagged for a face mask violation by an NFL officiating crew.

San Francisco, always on the forefront, becomes the first U.S. city to ban exhaling, which according to scientists is a leading cause of carbon dioxide. Meanwhile, the city of Riviera Beach, Fla., pays nearly $600,000 in bitcoin to hackers who paralyzed the city’s computer system by attacking it with “ransomware,” which is sort of like a Windows update except that at least there’s somebody who knows how to fix it.

Speaking of Internet menaces, in …

 

JULY

… President Trump, having dealt with the existential threat to the nation that is Bette Midler, turns his attention to four Democratic first-term members of Congress known as “The Squad,” tweeting that if they hate America so much they should “go back” to where they come from. Critics note that three of the four were born in the very same nation as Trump, not to mention the fact that the “go back” thing is an old racist taunt, leaving the president with no decent course of action but to issue an apology. So, of course, that is not what he does. What he does is tweet additional criticisms of The Squad, along with the assertion that “I don’t have a Racist bone in my body!” (The exclamation mark proves it’s true!)

The president also finds time in his busy July schedule to issue tweets attacking — among other targets — Baltimore, the Federal Reserve, the mayor of San JuanCNN, the mayor of LondonPaul RyanFox News (!) and Sweden, but if we’re going to go into detail on every single one of the president’s Twitter beefs we will never get through this year. Suffice it to say that the Resistance is so frantically busy refuting Trump tweets — this being the activity that consumes 99.9 percent of the Resistance’s time and mental energy — that toward the end of the month prominent Democrats find themselves reflexively defending the integrity and moral righteousness of Al Sharpton.

In other political news, an exhausted-looking Robert Mueller makes his 237th appearance before the House Kabuki Theater Committee, and the entire nation tunes in, except for those parts of the nation located outside of Washington, D.C. Mueller says little that is new, generally limiting his answers to “yes,” “no” and, when an aide pokes him awake, “ouch.” Under questioning, Mueller seems surprisingly unfamiliar with his own team’s report, at one point stating, in response to a question, that he had never heard of any “Vladimir Putin.”

Trump declares that the hearing proves the whole investigation was a WITCH HUNT! Congressional Democrats say it proves that it is IMPEACHMENT TIME, BABY. Bears continue to poop in the woods.

In the second round of Democratic debates, front-runner Joe Biden is still the main target of the other candidates, but he does a better job of defending himself, delivering several well-crafted retorts written in Sharpie on his forearms.

In Federal action, White House and congressional negotiators set aside their mutual loathing long enough to agree on a bipartisan budget deal that will enable the government to continue spending insane amounts of money that it does not have. Thus the pesky problem of uncontrolled federal spending is disposed of until after the 2020 election, freeing our leaders to focus on more pressing issues, and of course tweet about them.

Abroad, a person named “Boris,” who apparently styles his hair with a commercial leaf blower, becomes prime minister of England, a development that very likely could have something to do with “Brexit.”

On the escalating Middle East tension front, the United States says it shot down an Iranian drone in the Strait of Hormuz. In response, Iran’s ambassador to the United Nations claims he will produce documentation proving that “Strait of Hormuz” can be rearranged to spell “Him Fart Zoo Rust.”

In sports, the superb U.S. women’s national soccer team, following years of hard work and sacrifice, wins its fourth World Cup and a first prize of $4 million, or about $200,000 per player. Later in the month, a 16-year-old high school student named Kyle Giersdorf wins a Fortnite video-game tournament. His prize — really — is $3 million. “I’m so happy,” says Kyle. “Everything I’ve done in the grind has all paid off and it’s just insane.”

It is, Kyle. It really is.

The news turns grim in …

 

AUGUST

… when the nation is shocked by two horrific mass shootings, which spur a Serious National Conversation about gun violence, in which sincere and committed individuals on both sides — at long last — openly and honestly talk to people on their own side about how stupid and evil everybody on the other side is. This goes on for several days, after which the shootings drift out of the news until it’s time for the next Serious National Conversation.

Conspiracy theories swirl in the wake of the death of millionaire pedophile Jeffrey Epstein, who allegedly committed suicide in a New York City federal prison cell despite supposedly being under the close supervision of an NFL officiating crew.

In financial news, the Dow Jones industrial average flits up and down like a butterfly on meth as investors try to figure out what President Trump’s mood is at any given minute regarding the trade war with China, which is caused by China unfairly forcing U.S. consumers to buy low-cost Chinese-made electronics instead of traditional American brands such as Philco. The president’s main strategy in fighting this war is to impose tariffs on Chinese imports, which means U.S. consumers have to pay more for them. Take THAT, China!

Another bee buzzing around in the presidential bonnet during August is Greenland, which Trump decides the United States should try to purchase since it has a strategic location and is potentially the source of more than 70 percent of the world’s supply of frostbite. It turns out, however, that Greenland belongs to Denmark, which for some reason wants to keep it. “We’re not for sale,” states Greenland’s minister of education, culture, church, and foreign affairs, whose name — we are not making this up — is Ane Lone Bagger.

It is not immediately clear where Ane Lone Bagger stands on “Brexit.”

Meanwhile, the American Midwest faces an unprecedented humanitarian crisis as Nebraska, Wisconsin, and Minnesota struggle to absorb waves of Iowans fleeing the worsening disaster in their home state, which is overrun with Democratic presidential contenders demonstrating their likability by eating fried things on sticks. Joe Biden remains the front-runner in Iowa despite the fact that to judge from his remarks at campaign events, he believes he is in Belgium.

In other August news, Popeyes introduces a chicken sandwich to compete with Chick-fil-A’s chicken sandwich. Also there are massive pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong and the Amazon rainforest is burning, but the Battle of the Chicken Sandwiches definitely generates more excitement.

Speaking of excitement …

 

SEPTEMBER

… begins with President Trump facing a major crisis involving the crucial issue of whether Alabama was, or was not, ever actually threatened by Hurricane Dorian. The crisis erupts on Sept. 1, when, with Dorian moving toward the U.S. mainland, the president tweets that Alabama is among the states that will “most likely be hit (much) harder than anticipated.” Minutes later the National Weather Service in Birmingham responds with a statement that “Alabama will NOT see any impacts from #Dorian.”

At this point the president acknowledges that he made a minor mistake, thus laying the issue to rest and freeing everyone to focus on more important matters.

Ha-ha! That would never happen. Donald Trump did not get where he is by allowing himself to be corrected about the weather by any so-called “National Weather Service.” The president mounts an intensive, multi-day, multi-tweet offensive on the Alabama issue, highlighted by an Oval Office meeting with reporters during which he displays a week-old National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration map proving conclusively that Alabama was in fact threatened by a black line that was obviously added to the map by an inept amateur with a Sharpie.

The crisis continues for several more days, with the president refusing to back down or drop the subject, very much the way Winston Churchill, in the darkest hours of World War II, stood firm when England, alone, faced the menacing forces of the National Weather Service.

Speaking of dire threats: CNN’s special seven-hour “town hall” broadcast on the global climate crisis attracts a nationwide audience estimated at nearly 30 viewers, counting household pets. Ten Democratic presidential candidates present their plans for saving the planet, which includes strictly regulating or banning fossil fuels, nuclear power, red meat, plastic straws, fracking, white meat, cars, lightbulbs, barbecues, capitalism, farting, grayish meat, babies and airplane flights that are not transporting Democratic presidential candidates. The highlight of the night comes when Joe Biden develops a weird red eyeball as a result of being hit by a tranquilizer dart fired by his staff to prevent him from suddenly hugging a CNN moderator. This debate is followed by another debate later in the month. Or maybe it was the same debate, and we all fell asleep for a while in the middle. There is no way to tell.

Bill de Blasio drops out of the Democratic presidential race, bitterly disappointing the residents of New York when they learn that Bill plans to resume mayoring them.

In international news (we are counting Canada as a foreign country) Canadian Premier Justin Trudeau is embarrassed by the publication of yet another photograph — this is the third time — of him wearing blackface. The good news for Justin is that this moves him up to fourth in the line of succession for the governorship of Virginia.

Meanwhile in Great Britain, “Brexit” continues to cause everybody over there to be quite agitated, for British people.

As September draws to a close, President Trump finds himself facing what could prove to be his biggest single crisis of the entire month when a whistleblower accuses him of improperly pressuring Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in a July phone call to investigate Joe Biden and Joe’s son Hunter’s connections with a Ukrainian energy company, which at one point was paying Hunter $50,000 a month, apparently for his expertise in the field of receiving large sums of money.

In a surprise move, Trump orders the release of a rough transcript of the call, which proves conclusively whatever you want it to prove depending on whether you are on Side A or Side B. Congressional Democrats declare that it is a Smoking Gun, which means that, at last, it is IMPEACHMENT TIME, BABY, AND THIS TIME WE REALLY MEAN IT. Trump declares that this is just another WITCH HUNT and emits an unusually high volume of tweets in which he sounds increasingly like a derelict arguing with himself in an alley next to a convenience store, but not as coherent.

While all this is happening the U.S. budget deficit approaches $1 trillion, but everybody in Washington is way too excited about the Impeachment Drama to even think about it.

The excitement continues in …

 

OCTOBER

… when Washington whips itself into a frenzy the likes of which it experiences only once every two or three weeks as a consensus begins to develop among the courageous Resisters of the Resistance that it really is DEFINITELY ALMOST NEARLY IMPEACHMENT TIME AND WE ARE REALLY NOT FOOLING AROUND ANYMORE. The Democrats, led by Rep. Adam Schiff, a man who — this is merely an observation, not a criticism — would not look out of place popping up from a prairie-dog hole, accuse Trump of breaking the law in the Ukraine phone call, while Trump defenders insist that technically there was no quid pro quo, in the same sense that, in “The Godfather,” the severed horse’s head in the movie producer’s bed was technically not a threat.

The president’s defense strategy is to tweet several times per hour, sometimes with most of the words correctly spelled, that the call was PERFECT and everyone should READ THE TRANSCRIPT! Apparently, he is unaware that everyone already did. Along the way the president reaches a historic milestone, sending out his 11,000th tweet as president, eclipsing the record held by Grover Cleveland.

For the Democrats, there is good news and bad news. The good news is that Trump’s poll numbers are down. The bad news is that the Democrats are … the Democrats. Their front-runner, Joe Biden, continues to struggle on the campaign trail, as exemplified by an appearance at a 7-Eleven store in Waterloo, Iowa, during which he addresses the Slurpee machine as “your excellency.”

Poised to eclipse Biden is Elizabeth Warren (campaign slogan: “She Is MUCH Smarter Than You”) with her Medicare-for-all plan, which she says will cost $20.5 trillion, with the “.5” proving that she has this thing figured out right down to the penny. Warren says her plan will not raise taxes on the middle class because all the money will come from greedy corporations, greedy billionaires, greedy gold-pooping unicorns and various cost efficiencies, which of course is what the federal government is famous for.

In foreign affairs, Trump surprises everybody, possibly including himself, by suddenly pulling U.S. troops out of Syria, thus throwing the region into even more turmoil than usual, which is a lot of turmoil. During the confusion, U.S. forces conduct a daring raid that results in the death of Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, thus removing him from the line of succession for the governorship of Virginia. And of course, no discussion of foreign affairs would be complete without some mention of “Brexit.”

Meanwhile, California, plagued by out-of-control wildfires, widespread power blackouts, spiraling housing costs, decaying infrastructure and a worsening homelessness epidemic, becomes the first state to enact a law banning the sale of fur products.

In sports, Simone Biles becomes the first gymnast to perform a floor routine that requires clearance from the Federal Aviation Administration. In another “feel good” sports story, the New York Yankees, with by far the highest payroll in baseball, complete an entire decade without even getting into the World Series.

Meanwhile, concern mounts over the state of NFL officiating after a Lions-Packers game in which, late in the fourth quarter, the teams play two consecutive downs without a single penalty being called. “It won’t happen again,” vows Commissioner Goodell.

Speaking of mounting concern, in …

 

NOVEMBER

… it is finally IMPEACHMENT TIME FOR REAL, ALMOST, as the House Committee on Endless Squabbling holds a classic congressional hearing palooza featuring Bombshell Testimony, Gaveling, Points of Order, Yielding of Time, False Civility, Really Long Questions That Are Not Actually Questions and all the other elements that would make for riveting drama if everybody on the planet didn’t already know the outcome, specifically that the Democrats would conclude that the president committed impeachable offenses, and the Republicans would conclude that he didn’t. When it’s all over, the public remains divided exactly as it was between the people who loathe Trump and the people who loathe the people who loathe Trump. Meanwhile, bears continue to, etc.

There is one positive impeachment-related development, which occurs when Rep. Eric Swalwell, appearing on MSNBC, makes the following statement: “So far the evidence is uncontradicted that the president used taxpayer dollars to help him cheat [GIANT FART SOUND] an election.” This results in several days of spirited debate on Twitter concerning the issue of whether Swalwell cut the cheese (he denies it) with people of all political persuasions weighing in on #fartgate in the closest thing we have had to a genuinely open-minded national conversation in years.

Conan, a Belgian Malinois who was injured in the Delta Force raid that resulted in the death of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, is invited to the White House, where President Trump, in recognition of the heroic dog’s service to the nation, appoints him secretary of the Navy.

In other political news, Mike Bloomberg joins the Democratic presidential field, declaring that “what America needs, now more than ever, is a rich, aging, white male New Yorker with a huge ego.”

On the economic front, Popeyes resumes production of chicken sandwiches, and consumers resume assaulting one another over them, because if a $3.99 wad of heavily breaded chicken on a bun is not worth getting injured or even killed over, then what is?

Tesla CEO Elon Musk introduces an all-electric “Cybertruck” featuring sophisticated technology and a striking resemblance to a doorstop. The best feature, Musk notes, is that “when you’re sitting inside it, you can’t see it.”

Abroad, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is indicted on charges including bribery and fraud; if convicted, he would move up to sixth in the line of succession for the governorship of Virginia.

Also still happening abroad, to the best of our knowledge, is “Brexit.”

The month draws to a close with the Thanksgiving holiday, a time when families gather to argue about politics, according to helpful guides written on this topic each year by people from other planets, as opposed to Earth, where families gather to argue about pass interference and burp. At the White House, Trump, carrying on a lighthearted holiday tradition, “pardons” two turkeys, named Bread and Butter. Within seconds they are eaten by Secretary of the Navy Conan.

The capital carnage intensifies in …

 

DECEMBER

… when House Democrats decide that IT REALLY, REALLY IS IMPEACHMENT TIME SERIOUSLY, PEOPLE, THIS IS NOT A DRILL. This sets the stage for a historic trial in the Senate, after which (spoiler alert!) the Democrats will vote to convict and the Republicans will vote to acquit and we will be back to exactly where we started with no minds changed and Sides A and B hating each other more than ever.

So this is a very exciting time in Washington, although to the rest of the nation, which is getting into holiday mode, the heated rhetoric emanating from the capital is an unwelcome annoyance, like the shouting of the couple in the next-door apartment who never seem to stop arguing (“WHAT ABOUT THE JULY 25TH PHONE CALL?” “OH YEAH? WHAT ABOUT HUNTER BIDEN?” “OH YEAH? WHAT ABOUT …”). Each morning the nation wakes up, hears the angry noise coming through the walls, then plugs a pair of Apple AirPods into its national ears and cranks up Johnny Mathis singing “Winter Wonderland.”

In other political news, Joe Biden, seeking to add some “zing” to his presidential campaign, tours Iowa in a bus sporting, in big letters, his new slogan: “No Malarkey!” (“Malarkey” is an ancient Gaelic word meaning “clue.”) This slogan was selected after being tested on a focus group of voters, half of whom were senior citizens and the other half of whom were dead. The runner-up slogans were “You’re Darned Tooting He Can Cut the Mustard!” and “Stay Off His Lawn!”

Kamala Harris drops out of the race, reducing the number of leading Democratic contenders to 58, an estimated one-third of whom are billionaires.

Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton continues to hint that she may run again at the urging of many highly respected voices that only she can hear. In Iowa voter polling, the front-runner remains Pete “Pete” Buttigieg, followed closely by a surging Baby Yoda.

In foreign affairs, President Trump attends a meeting of NATO leaders in London, where, using his unique diplomatic skills, he is able to unite America’s crucial European allies in the belief that he is a buffoon.

And let’s not forget about “Brexit.”

In entertainment news, millions of Netflix users are watching Martin Scorsese’s film “The Irishman,” a sweeping epic that begins in the 1950s and ends at some point after you fall asleep on the sofa, because the running time is longer than veterinary school. Nobody, including Scorsese, has ever actually made it to the end of “The Irishman,” which takes place in the distant future and is rumored to feature an intergalactic battle between alien space Teamsters.

In other TV-related news, people are outraged about a Peloton ad, because in this day and age people need things to be outraged about.

Finally, mercifully, this highly eventful year draws to a close. As New Year’s Eve approaches, the nation pauses to look back on 2019 and throw up a little bit in its national mouth. But then the nation looks forward to 2020, and it feels faint stirrings of hope in its national heart. Because America has been bitterly divided before. There was the Civil War, for example, and that time we could not agree on the color of that dress on the Internet. If we got through those troubles, we can get through the current ones. Because in the end, despite our political differences, we’re all Americans, and we care about each other and want the best possible future for everyone. Right?

Nah.

But happy new year anyway.

Dave Barry is a Pulitzer Prize-winning humor columnist and author. To comment on this story, email wpmagazine@washpost.com or visit wapo.st/magazine.

Illustrations by Alexander Wells. Design by Michael Johnson.

NO ESCAPE AND NOWHERE TO RUN – Marilyn Armstrong

FOWC with Fandango — Escape

A lot of my post this morning are quotes from “The Washington Post.”

Why, you might ask, since I’m a born and bred New Yorker living in New England and Boston for more than 30 years, would I read “The Post” rather than “The NY Times” or “Boston Globe”? Because both of these two papers — run by the same company, by the way — charge nearly $30/month for an online edition. In other words, $60/month if in my madness, I subscribed to both.

I like the Times and the Globe. I would prefer to read local news and not just national news. But their prices make that impossible. If the Times/Globe organization wants to get a bump upward in their readership, they should reconsider their pricing. Even if they were delivering the paper to my door (physically, the actual newspaper), I still could not afford those prices.

The “Squad” in U.S. Congress on television yesterday evening

I understand that it’s hard times for the press these days, but raising prices so that the very people who might actually read them can’t do it is stupid in every possible way. If you drive away your only readership, you are driving yourselves out of business as so many others already have done.

I pay $10/month for “The Washington Post” and anyone can get a trial of their paper for a month for $1. They also have “cheat sheet” online papers that come out many times a day to update you on issues that are actively progressing, as well as summaries of current issues on any number of subjects from sports to politics to humor.

I would quote other newspapers too, but anything worth reading is a “pay to read”paper. I’m out of money.

It is ironic that “The Boston Herald,” which was Boston’s “other” newspaper — the right-leaning one — was bought up by the Trumpist Sinclair Group and now, you can get whatever crap they print for free. They aren’t worrying about circulation. They own more than half the papers and TV stations in the country and can (and do) say whatever they feel like saying. It doesn’t need to have even a scrap of truth in it. They say march and anyone who wants to keep his or her job, marches.

Back to the subject of escape.

As the holder of two legal passports, one from Israel and the other (obviously) U.S.A., I always had the thought in my mind that if things turned pear-shaped in this country, I had someplace to go. It never crossed my mind that both countries would go fruity together. I cannot tell you how sad this makes me. Israel has always been a country with a lively internal war going on inside it, but it was a war of words, thoughts, and ideas.

Since I left and came home in late 1987, Israel changed. The children who grew following the 1967 and 1973 wars are more hawkish than were their parents. More hard-nosed “hold the liners” and less inclined to reason and discussion.

Photo: Washington Post

I saw this beginning to happen when I was there. I saw the country taking a sharp right turn. Arabs blame Israelis for this, but they can also blame themselves. Whenever Israel tried to find any road to peace, Arab “neighbors” shattered it with bombs.

Why? I don’t think most Arab-Israelis want a war any more than most Americans want a war … but the driving force for war is never a nation’s citizens, but its politicians and generals. War makes those people powerful and rich. If it kills off the population? So? They are not in the rank and file these days and probably their children are not, either.

If the Arabs ever wanted peace — something I often question — they had many opportunities make a deal to forget everyone’s past and start from NOW. Build peace on today. Build peace on what we need to move ahead into a better future and LET THE PAST GO. I know it’s not easy, but that’s what has to happen and if no one can do it, there will never be peace in this or any future generation.

Which brings me back to the good old U.S.A.

Did I always know this was a deeply flawed country that liked pretending our past didn’t count and we are/were/will be a nation of equals? Sure I knew that. Did I believe we could turn around and become the people we fought against or think we could stir up the type of hatred which brought on the Civil War — in 2019?

No, really, I didn’t believe it. I knew it wasn’t impossible because I read history. I know nothing is impossible. I just thought it very unlikely. And yet, here we are, at the front door, fingers on the doorbell of hatred and despair.


From this morning’s “Washington Post,” a few thoughts to ponder. If we can’t escape — almost none of us can because we have nowhere to go or where we could go doesn’t want us and maybe, we don’t want them, either.

1) Trump’s rhetoric is creating a more dangerous climate and corroding the public discourse.

House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) asked the Capitol Police last night to provide extra protection for the four lawmakers, citing a growing threat profile, per Fox News.

There are also longer-term impacts to consider. For better or worse, the president is a role model. Modeling bad behavior sends signals to young people just as much as good behavior.

Conservative columnist George Will argues that this is why Trump is worse than Richard Nixon. “I believe that what this president has done to our culture, to our civic discourse, you cannot unring those bells and you cannot unsay what he has said, and you cannot change that he has now in a very short time made it seem normal for schoolboy taunts and obvious lies to be spun out in a constant stream,” the consistent Trump critic said on a New York Times Book Review podcast last week. “This will do more lasting damage than Richard Nixon’s surreptitious burglaries did.”

2) Trump’s “go back” rhetoric is consistent not only with his own long history of attacks on people he perceives as the other but also the nation’s oscillating attitudes toward immigration throughout its history.

Marc Fisher traces the etymology: “The Know-Nothings wanted German and Irish immigrants to get out because they were allegedly subversive and diseased people who were stealing American jobs. White preachers and politicians of the 1820s urged freed blacks to move to West Africa, supposedly for their own good. From that drive to encourage blacks to go back where they came from to waves of nativist attacks on Catholics, Jews, Asians and Hispanics in nearly every generation that followed, ‘go home’ rhetoric is as American as immigration itself. ( … )

“There is hardly any ethnic or racial group in the country that hasn’t been told to go back where they came from. In collections of voices from the Japanese American internment camps of the World War II era, in diaries of the earliest Italian and Irish immigrants, in Jewish novels and memoirs from the turn of the 20th century, the slur is a mainstay. … From Calvin Coolidge’s warnings in the 1920s that the country was becoming ‘a dumping ground’ and that ‘America must remain American’ to the ‘America: Love it or leave it’ rhetoric that surrounded Richard Nixon’s presidency, the nation’s leaders have struggled for two centuries with a central ambivalence about its core identity as a magnet for immigrants.”

Conservative lawyer George Conway, the husband of counselor to the president Kellyanne Conway, explains in an op-ed for The Post why this episode caused him to conclude that Trump is a racist – after years of giving him the benefit of the doubt. ( … )

3) White identity politics is driving Trump as 2020 approaches, and the Republican Party that he’s remaking in his image. Trump is making clear that his reelection campaign will feature the same explosive mix of white grievance and anti-immigrant nativism that helped elect him.

Michael Scherer explains: “Trump’s combustible formula of white identity politics has already reshaped the Republican Party, sidelining, silencing or converting nearly anyone who dares to challenge the racial insensitivity of his utterances. It also has pushed Democratic presidential candidates sharply to the left on issues such as immigration and civil rights, as they respond to the liberal backlash against him. Unknown is whether the president is now on the verge of more permanently reshaping the nation’s political balance — at least until long-term demographic changes take hold to make nonwhite residents a majority of the country around 2050. ( … )

4) “Trump is proposing a giant swap: Republicans can no longer count on suburban women and we will continue to lose college-educated men and women.

“While increasingly picking up working white Americans without college degrees,” said Ari Fleischer, who was a White House press secretary for President George W. Bush and who has spoken with Trump campaign advisers about their strategy for increasing turnout. “Nobody knows who will come out ahead in the swap,” he told Scherer. “That’s what the campaign will tell us.”


There is no escape for me or at least none I’m likely to take … and probably none for you. The younger people who will still be alive in 30 years? This is your fight. This is your world war. Your final battle to live in a decent nation.

If you have a conscience and you vote for it this coming election in 2020, we may survive this crisis. Maybe. If you don’t vote. If you shrug your collective shoulders and mutter “This has nothing to do with me,” you will ultimately discover that it has everything to do with you and worse, it has, even more, to do with the children who are yet unborn.

This is not a battle for today. It’s a battle to have a future worth living — for any of us still alive and for our children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.

Will the nations of the world utimately “come around”? Assuming, of course, Planet Earth doesn’t decide it no longer wants human beings living on it? Sure it will.

But historically, that could easily take a few hundred or a thousand years. If you’d like to see this country remain a place we and our descendants can live in safety and hope, do something positive. Vote. Talk to your official representatives. Clean up the garbage along the rivers and roads. Fight for clean air and water.

Decide what you want and stop brooding about how the world isn’t what you expected. The world was never what anyone expected.

Trump responds after hundreds of newspaper editorials criticize his attacks on the press – THE WASHINGTON POST EDITORIAL – Reblog

August 16 at 1:32 PM

Hundreds of newspaper editorial boards across the country answered a nationwide call Thursday to express disdain for President Trump’s attacks on the news media, while some explained their decision not to do so. The same morning, the president tweeted that the “fake news media” are the “opposition party.”

The editorials came after the Boston Globe’s editorial board called on others to use their collective voice to respond to Trump’s war of words with news organizations in the United States.

Trump has labeled the news media “the enemy of the American people” and called much of the coverage “fake news.”

The Globe’s op-ed board wrote in an editorial published online Wednesday that, “Today in the United States we have a president who has created a mantra that members of the media who do not blatantly support the policies of the current US administration are the ‘enemy of the people.

“This is one of the many lies that have been thrown out by this president, much like an old-time charlatan threw out ‘magic’ dust or water on a hopeful crowd.”

The Globe’s editorial board made the appeal last week, urging newspaper editorial boards to produce opinion pieces about Trump’s attacks on the media. These boards, staffed by opinion writers, operate independently from news reporters and editors.

As The Washington Post’s policy explains, the separation is intended to serve the reader, “who is entitled to the facts in the news columns and to opinions on the editorial and ‘op-ed’ pages.”

The Globe reported Thursday that more than 300 of them obliged.

Trump responded to the editorials Thursday morning, tweeting that the Globe is “in collusion with other papers on free press” and that many of the media are “pushing a political agenda.”

The Boston Globe, which was sold to the the Failing New York Times for 1.3 BILLION DOLLARS (plus 800 million dollars in losses & investment), or 2.1 BILLION DOLLARS, was then sold by the Times for 1 DOLLAR. Now the Globe is in COLLUSION with other papers on free press. PROVE IT!

A month after taking the oath of office, Trump labeled the news media “the enemy of the American people.” In the year that followed, a CNN analysis concluded, he used the word “fake” — as in “fake news,” “fake stories,” “fake media” or “fake polls” — more than 400 times. He once fumed, the New York Times reported, because a TV on Air Force One was tuned to CNN.

Then last week, at a political rally in Pennsylvania, Trump told his audience that the media are “fake, fake disgusting news.”

“Whatever happened to honest reporting?” Trump asked the crowd. Then he pointed to a group of journalists covering the event. “They don’t report it. They only make up stories.”

In response, the Minneapolis Star Tribune’s editorial board wrote:

Let’s start with a fundamental truth: It is and always has been in the interests of the powerful to dismiss and discredit those who could prove a check on their power. President Donald Trump is not the first politician to openly attack the media for fulfilling its watchdog role. He is, perhaps, the most blatant and relentless about it.

To this president, the journalist’s time-honored role in a democracy is meaningless. Reporters present a fact-finding counter to the fanciful narrative Trump spins daily.

And the Houston Chronicle:

What makes Trump’s undermining of the press worse is that it’s not taking place in bureaucracy’s backrooms. Trump’s insults directed at reporters and news organizations, and his threats to limit press access and freedoms, are front and center at news conferences, at rallies, on Twitter. And they’re incessant.

Not only do they pose a danger to journalists’ safety — history tells us mere bias can progress to harsh words, to bullying and even to violence if society comes to accept the escalating forms of ridicule as normal — but there’s a more insidious threat. Trump’s broad brush undermines the collective credibility of thousands of American journalists across the country, and the world, who make up the Fourth Estate — so called for its watchdog role over the other three branches of government.

And also the Denver Post:

We believe that an informed electorate is critical to Democracy; that the public has a right to know what elected officials, public figures and government bureaucracies are doing behind closed doors; that journalism is integral to the checks and balances of power; and that the public can trust the facts it reads in this newspaper and those facts coming from the mainstream media.

Trump is a difficult politician to cover. His tweets and factually inaccurate statements frequently put him at loggerheads with the media. In a vacuum void of his outlandish statements, some of Trump’s policies would earn more straightforward media coverage. It has become a destructive cycle where the media covers Trump’s words and instead of self-reflection following scathing media reports, Trump cries fake news.

It’s a dangerous cry coming from the White House.

The Miami Herald’s editorial board called on Trump to end the war:

We all — as citizens — have a stake in this fight, and the battle lines seem pretty clear. If one first comes successfully for the press as an “enemy of the American People,” what stops someone for coming next for your friends? Your family? Or you?

Not even President Richard Nixon, whose original “enemies list” of the 20 private citizens he hoped to use his public office to “screw” included three journalists, tried to incite violence against reporters. While stewing privately about Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein as “enemies . . . trying to stick the knife right in our groin,” not even Nixon tagged the lot of us, Soviet-style, as “enemies of the people.” Nor did even he dare to take on the idea that our free press is worth protecting.

President Donald Trump. (Carolyn Kaster/AP Photo)

However, some newspapers decided not to run editorials on the issue, including The Washington Post. This newspaper’s editorial board has previously responded to Trump’s attacks on news organizations, but Editorial Page Editor Fred Hiatt said Saturday that the board would not participate in the organized response.

Neither did the Los Angeles Times.

The Chronicle’s editorial page editor, John Diaz, wrote that “It’s not that we take issue with the argument that Trump’s assault on the truth generally, and his efforts to diminish the free press specifically, pose a serious threat to American democracy.” But, he said, the newspaper values independence — a sentiment that was shared by the Los Angeles Times.

“The Globe’s argument is that having a united front on the issue — with voices from Boise to Boston taking a stand for the First Amendment, each in a newspaper’s own words — makes a powerful statement,” Diaz wrote. “However, I would counter that answering a call to join the crowd, no matter how worthy the cause, is not the same as an institution deciding on its own to raise a matter.”

The Globe’s call represents one side of a debate about how the media should view and respond to the president’s splenetic attacks on the press — or whether they should do anything at all.

Washington Post Executive Editor Martin Baron, who has responded directly to Trump’s attacks, said the paper’s reporting on the president is not a result of hostility. Baron told the Code Media conference in California: “The way I view it is, we’re not at war with the administration; we’re at work. We’re doing our jobs.”

Baron told interviewers that The Post would have approached a Hillary Clinton administration with the same aggressive reporting.

On Thursday the Senate unanimously passed a resolution that “affirms the press is not the enemy of the people” and “condemns the attacks on the institution of the free press.”

But at least one newspaper said that the president is not its primary concern.

The editorial board for the Capital Gazette in Annapolis wrote that the newspaper is more concerned with how its community sees it.

“It’s not that we disagree with concerns about the president’s language in speeches and on social media,” the op-ed board said. “We noted with regret the hurtful nature of his remarks last month calling most journalists dishonest even as we attended funerals for five friends and colleagues killed in the June 28 attack on our newsroom.

“We’re just not coordinating with other news organizations because the president’s opinion, frankly, is just not that important to us. We are far more concerned about what this community thinks of us.”

Seung Min Kim contributed to this report.

Read more:

Trump says he may end press briefings — here’s a breakdown of the most memorable moments

Newseum pulls ‘fake news’ shirts after outcry from journalists

Sean Spicer has resigned as White House press secretary. Let’s remember his greatest hits.

Graphics omitted due to technical issues. If you can, please see the original article at today’s THE WASHINGTON POST EDITORIAL

What happened to Boston?

Our president was in Boston today, giving a pep talk. He was here for the remembering. Something happened here and it wasn’t a small thing.

obama-in-boston-580.jpg

Massachusetts invented America,” Governor Deval Patrick said at Thursday morning’s interfaith service honoring the victims of the Marathon bombing. President Obama in the speech that followed, noted that all Americans were thinking about the city. “Every one of us has been touched by this attack on your beloved city,” he said. “Every one of us stands with you.” The marathon attacks were personal, he said.

75-BostonView__08

There are voices to which we should listen. We need to pay attention to positive voices so the psychopaths and sociopaths, terrorists and bad guys with guns, bombs and a determination to reduce us to shivering in our locked houses don’t get to do a victory lap.

We really must not allow that.

75-BosCommonHP-2

From Stephen Colbert watch, smile and ponder (video).

What happened to Boston could (and has) happened in other places here and overseas. Open societies are inherently vulnerable. To terror, to deluded groups and individuals who murder people to make a point. No matter how news-weary we are, pep talks are important.

They remind us to not let the bad guys win. We all need to remember bad stuff can happen anywhere and sometimes it happens to us or those we love. There’s nowhere far enough off the grid that those people can’t find us.

Read “To Boston With Love,” a particularly apt and touching op-ed piece from the Washington Post by former local writer E.J. Dionne. It’s especially meaningful if you’ve ever lived in or near Boston.

75-AlongTheCharles-HPCR-1

A couple of hours ago, it was all over the news. The FBI has pictures of two out of who-knows-how-many people involved in the bombings at the Marathon on Patriot’s Day. I’m waiting to hear what the point of the bombing was supposed to be. Did the voices in someone’s head tell them to do it? Or what? Why?

What if there was no reason at all? What if this horror was perpetrated by a bunch of local sociopaths having their version of a good time? That would be the weirdest, creepiest answer of all.

One way or the other, I would like to know what happened, if there is a semblance of a reason. I hope answers are coming.