Saturday, December 31, 2016

The Year That Was 2016

       Here it is folks. The final day of 2016 has arrived. There is a general consensus 2016 was a particularly bad year. In many respects, it was. But much of what made 2016 considered to be so awful is a matter of opinion. On a personal level, I found the year to hold far more positive than negative, but I save the commentary on that for another post to spare those who are not interested in the exercise in narcissism that is personal blogging. Instead, I will weigh in the five major pints that allegedly made 2016 so terrible.
       First political upheaval. I must expose my political inclinations here...I thought the year, with a few exceptions, turned out well. The Brexit and election of Donald Trump as President of the United States were welcome blows to the old order which has become far too obsessed with globalism. Let us here it for populist movements that are finally fed up with being ruled by out of touch elites in far off enclaves.
       That said, I am a realist who is prepared to eat crow if proven wrong in y support of the political changes I just mentioned. The Brexit may very well lead to a break up of the United Kingdom if Scotland gets its second independence referendum and the far less likely secession of London as both Scotland and London prefer stronger economic ties to the European Union. But the United Kingdom is not the only country growing more skeptical of the European Union. Th recent referendum in Italy was exclusively a national issue over government reform, but one side got labeled an EU favored position and lost. Germany and France have their own nationalist movements. Scotland and London appear to be vocal minorities.
       As for the United States election, I will admit I was not an adamant Trump supporter. Neither were many of the people jockeying for spots in his Cabinet. I am looking at you, Nikki Haley and Mitt Romney. I was simply did not want Hillary Clinton to win. Like pretty much everyone else, I assumed until about nine o'clock on election night Clinton would win. Trump's victory was a shock for me, especially when he broke through the blue wall to carry Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin.
       Am I concerned about Trump's lack of experience? Sure. Back in 2008, I was more adamant Barack Obma's lack of experience was a bigger problem than his liberalism. I think this was ultimately proven true. Obama was weak and naive as president. Trump has even less experience than Pbama at this point, but I do not think Trump I either weak or naive.
       There is no doubt the 2016 presidential election did not feature the best options. You had a Democrat front runner who spent the entire campaign under investigation by the FBI versus a Republican political novice with a loose cannon demeanor. All this also came under the shadow of possible Russian interference in the outcome and rioting afterward because—you know—the political left cannot fathom the idea of ever losing.
       But I am cautiously optimistic about it all. There are some seriously bad points from 2016: the coup in Turkey, the rise of fascism in the Philippines, deposed leaders in Brazil, Argentina, and South Korea, Cuba is still a dictatorship after Fidel Castro's death, the civil war in Syria and Venezuela's economy has collapsed. But not everything can be perfect. The lights that shine this year shine bright against he darkness.
       Two, terrorism. The issue of terrorism is loosely related to the first. ISIS was responsible for thirteen attacks across the globe. Most notable Paris, Brussels, Istanbul, Berlin, Minneapolis, and Orlando. ISIS brought lone wolf terrorism to the West, and did best often by taking advantage of western compassion by sneaking in operatives as refugees fleeing various war zones. Much of ISIS' emboldened actions are due to a weak response lead by Obama. So yes, I will concede ISIS contributed heavily to making 2016 a bad year.
       Three, mass shootings. The Pulse night club shooting, in which more than fifty people were killed, is the worst mass shooting in American history. The shooter pledged allegiance to ISIS, making it the deadliest terrorist attack on American soil since 9/11. The ambush of cops in Dallas only inflamed tensions over controversial police shooting around the country. The Ohio State shooting ended before it could become far worse if not for one rave, armed cop.
       Four, natural and man made disasters. Two earthquakes in Italy. The largest forest fire in Canadian history. The Zika virus. Some may say the Four Horsemen of the apocalypse have been set loose upon the Earth. While I do not dismiss these calamities, I am not that much of a drama queen, either.
       Finally, celebrity deaths. Famous people die every year, but it seems as though we lost an awful lot of iconic figures in 2016, from music to movies, television to sports, and literature to public service. It started with David Bowie and ended with the daughter-mother loss of Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds. Sorry to say, but it is not going to get any easier. The baby Boomer generation is reaching its life expectancy. The icons of that generation often have their life expectancy exasperated by the hard living alcohol and drug excesses fame afforded. Brace yourselves. The number of celebrity deaths is only going to increase in the coming years.
        On that cheer note, have a happy and safe New Year's Eve!

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