Wow. This year has been a real humdinger!
Technically it ain't over yet (I'm writing this on 12/30) but it's the weekend and pretty much everyone is just doing the pre-New Years thing. I'm hoping there are no surprises in the next day or so that will mess up my breezy review of a monumental year in the life of our great nation.
2017 started with an overarching sense of foreboding, as January spelled the final three weeks of having a reasoned, intellectual, empathetic President in charge. Barack Obama remains one of the best presidents we've had in the last 70 years. He may not have done everything I wanted to have him do, but a large part of that was because of the Republican controlled Congress for the last 6 years, led by schmucks that publicly said they would do everything they could to ensure Obama's presidency would fail. If the Democrats had control of both Houses of Congress, there certainly would have been sweeping changes to the culture of corruption that rules the land. We'd have gotten Single Payer Healthcare. We'd have made enormous strides in equality and compassionate care for our least privileged citizens. And we would have led the world in science and technology and socially-responsible legislation.
But in 2016 a minority of Americans voted for a clown from a failed TV show to be their leader, and due to quirks in our electoral process, the guy with 3.5 million LESS votes than his opponent was made president.
Which, by the way, is exactly WHY we need to reform the way we elect our leaders. I'm a big fan of "one person, one vote", and let the people decide. The electoral college is a holdover from the early years of our republic, and we need to move past this obsolete system of choosing our leaders.
Of course, you can't simply say that Trump "stole" the election, because he had a lot of help from unlikely places.
White supremacists loved Trump. His populist message, with his genius slogan "Make America Great Again" (and you have to admit, it was a catchy slogan that translated well to the low-information masses) struck a chord in middle-American. The Russians certainly helped Trump. Voter suppression, especially among minorities, was a significant factor. James Comey's remarks about the Clinton emails (which he quickly retracted immediately after the election) absolutely was a gift to Trump. Wikileaks hacked into the DNC computers and released a boatload of damning emails from many of the main players.
But we cannot deny that Hillary Clinton was very much a victim of her own hubris. By campaigning like she'd already won, it turned off a portion of her base who assumed it was a slam dunk. The machinations of the DNC in tilting the primaries to Clinton absolutely was a factor. I still think the use of super-delegates is the antithesis of the idea of democracy, and running elections on the taxpayers tab that are intrinsically unfair is just plain wrong!
Debbie Wasserman-Schultz didn't quit as head of the DNC right before the convention and take a job with Hillary's campaign because she did everything above board. Clinton's use and destruction of a non-government email server while Secretary of State, which was absolutely against State Department rules, did little to endear her to the undecideds, and it basically gift-wrapped a perfect crowd pleasing chant of "LOCK HER UP!" to every Trump rally and extensive media coverage.
So Trump won in the Electoral College, and the fact that he immediately challenged the results of the popular vote was basically a clear signal of what his presidency would consist of. Trump isn't emotionally stable enough to be "presidential", and his insane obsession with his "popularity" has led him to Tweet his unmeasured thoughts to the world. Usually while he's taking an angry shit, I would think, since that's the ONLY time he doesn't have at least ONE advisor within arms-reach of his thumbs when he's typing a typically outrageous thought.
We saw a million women protest in DC the day after the inauguration, which showed that there is an intense and strong resistance to Trump's rule.
A week into his term, Trump signed an executive order to ban travel from seven countries that he considered hostile. Most were Muslim nations, but he left off the home country for 15 of the 19 hijackers who on September 11th murdered over 3,000 Americans, because he does business with Saudi Arabia and he didn't want to anger them.
In February Trump fired Michael Flynn, his national security advisor, for being dishonest about a meeting he had with a Russian operative. This firing is just the first domino to fall in a year of dominoes.
Trump then set about trying to reverse every single accomplishment of the Obama administration. Not because it would be good for the nation, but merely for the selfish desire to erase his predecessor's legacy. Because it galls Trump to no end that Obama was always WAY more popular than Trump can ever hope to be, and it eats at him like a cancer of his own design! So he is making decisions based solely on his vindictiveness.
At the beginning of March, Jeff Sessions recused himself from the Russia investigation, probably because he is knee-deep in the scandal. Trump then obsessively tweeted about Obama yet again:
FBI Director James Comey was fired by President Trump in early May. The president said he fired Comey for incompetence. Comey suggested at a congressional hearing later in the year that he was fired because the president wanted him to “go easy” on Flynn in the investigation of ties with Russian officials.
On May 17th former FBI Director Robert Mueller was named as special counsel to conduct the investigation into Russia’s alleged meddling in the 2016 presidential election. The appointment gave Mueller the authority to investigate potential collusion between Russian officials and the Trump campaign. He takes his job seriously as we'll see.
Wake up and smell the covfefe! Our Commander-in-Grief had a rough July. Sean Spicer, the White House press secretary, resigned in July after Anthony Scaramucci was named as head of White House communications. Scaramucci, a GOP donor and investment banker, lasted on the job for 11 days, after he mentioned that Trump advisor Steve Bannon enjoyed an activity that studies say is 99.9% impossible for most males to achieve (this study doesn't actually exist as far as I know). But if Bannon does manage that, well, bravo to you pal! Wear a bib.
In late July the president announced – via Twitter – that he would ban transgender individuals from serving in the U.S. military. Many of his military leaders seemed to have a different opinion. And this is once again a position in direct opposition to his campaign promises. I think he wanted this because his BFF Vladimir Putin has cracked down on what he calls "sexual deviants" in Russia, and it may be that Trump is trying desperately to please his father figure Putin. Because Trump's dad never showed him any love.
August brought a cute little Twitter war between him and North Korea's Kim Jung Un (and this is the closest President Bone Spur ever got to battle!) Then, tensions at a white supremacists’ rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, erupted into violence leaving a young woman dead. As protestors marched at one end of a street in the Virginia college town, a car roared down the street from the other end, slamming into the crowd. Heather Heyer, 32, was killed and 19 others were injured. Following the incident, Trump was criticized for being slow to condemn the neo-Nazis. Two days after the violence, he condemned both the white supremacists and the counter-protesters.
Of course, the counter-protesters didn't murder anyone, but that doesn't matter to our Dear Leader.
Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria hit Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico, respectively, over a 26-day period, bringing record winds and water. While Trump is somewhat proactive in getting aid to the two states that voted for him, he seems just fine with letting Americans in Puerto Rico suffer and die because of lack of basic services. His remarks about Puerto Rico's economy served as his excuse for letting them die.
On October 30th, Robert Mueller's investigation resulted in indictments to two of Trump's advisors. Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and his business partner, Rick Gates, surrendered at the FBI field office in Washington, D.C. after being indicted by a grand jury. Also on that day, special counsel’s office announced it had struck a cooperation agreement with former Trump adviser George Papadopoulos, who had in July pleaded guilty to lying to federal agents about contacts with Russian officials.
People from Trump's inner circle are talking to prosecutors, and Mueller is patiently building a case that may change the course of our nation's history.
Dec. 1 Former national security adviser Flynn pleaded guilty in federal court to lying to the FBI about his contacts with the Russian ambassador. The former national security adviser had denied that he talked with Kislyak about sanctions levied by former President Obama. A guilty plea means that he's likely working with prosecutors to exchange testimony for a reduced or suspended sentence. Because really, who wants to go to prison while their boss is acting like a buffoon?
Doug Jones became the first Democrat in 25 years to win a U.S. Senate seat from the state of Alabama. He defeated former Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore (shown here prancing around the stage with a prop gun). Trump supported Moore up until the day of the election, and after the loss he said he knew it was gonna happen and he really didn't even like the guy. What a nerd! And Moore has refused to concede to this day, even after the election results were certified in Alabama.
In mid-December Trump's horrible head of the FCC Ajit Pai was the tie-breaker when the Federal Communications Commission voted to allow them to speed up service for some websites, and slow down, or even block it for others. Anything that screws consumers, Trump is all for!
Then, on December 20th, in an inevitable end to the year from hell, Republicans who pretended to be moderate voted in lockstep with their corrupt party and gave the wealthiest people in our nation the biggest tax break in history, while adding a trillion and a half dollars to the deficit. The poor and middle class will see a pittance for a few years, but the rich are stealing the wealth of America and adding to the fiscal burden.
This is the most heinous thing Trump and the Republicans could have done, and they did it with smiles and slapping each other on the back.
So, here we are at the conclusion of possibly the worst year in American politics since 1973. And much like that time, when Watergate was just gaining momentum, we are at a very critical time in our nation's path. The coming year may be a reckoning for the powers that be. The mid-terms in November may see a sweeping change in Congress. And as the Mueller investigation goes on, we may start to see members of Trump's party starting to turn against him.
Much like the Watergate years, it will take time to build a case against the President. Much like Nixon, Donald Trump will become increasingly paranoid and tend to lash out at his enemies, with his Tweets being fodder for the prosecution. We may get to see a president resign or be removed from office sometime in mid-to-late 2019.
But we'll have to wait. In the meantime, we need to support our legislators and the candidates who will run against the opposition. There can be no unchallenged Republican seats. We MUST find people who can turn the tide of history!
And hopefully, we'll assign Trump to the dumpster with the eternal label upon him, "Worst President Ever!".
Oh, and Happy New Year to you!
Addendum: One thing I forget when I posted this 20 minutes ago...if Hillary won the presidency, she would have ALREADY been the subject of impeachment hearings, and the nation would be mired in televised hearings already. And regardless of whether or not she was convicted, it would definitely result in a gigantic mid-term victory for the Republicans next year. So as awful as this is, maybe it NEEDED to happen to get this country back on track. Yes, I would have liked for Hillary to win. But the consequences of that might have resulted in an even WORSE situation in 2018 and 2020 than even the most cynical of us can imagine. I welcome comments on this thought. Cheers!