2016 Review

Only Two Posts Left! Get them while you can. This is the penultimate post for 2016.

People died, some famous, whom we remember, many not famous, whom we gloss over.

Political upheavals took root. The Arab Spring has given way to the Western Winter of Democracy.

Record temperatures, wildfires, floods and droughts, hurricanes, earthquakes.

Was 2016 as bad as the critics suggest? The economy is relatively healthy in the USA. There have been some slippages in things like distribution of wealth, life expectancy, and voting rights, but the basic outlook should seem positive on the whole.

A lot of people are fixated on the presidential victory of the infamous Donald Trump, but early indicators point to enough legislative friction and civic fervor to push back on anything crazy he might attempt. So Alaska might get invaded by Russia, or Miami might get a new above-ground salt-water swimming area a bit sooner than otherwise. New neighbors are nothing to be afraid of, and swimming is great exercise!

Sure, the Republicans are planning to cut taxes, cut Medicare, cut Social Security, block-grant Medicaid, repeal the Affordable Care Act, defund Planned Parenthood, dismantle the scientific capacities of our most-lauded federal agencies including NASA, the EPA, and the FDA… but all of that’s planned for 2017. This is supposed to be about the year we’re finishing, not the year yet to come.

And if the Republicans can cut all of that with a single blade, we’ll just package that up and sell it on late-night infomercials. If it can cut through the will of the people, it can cut through anything, including that fruit cake you got for Generic Winter Holiday.

Point is, 2016 was largely a fuse being lit. 2016 wasn’t the worst year in history, but it may represent the winter solstice, the start of an unfortunate historical period. The governmental explosion that is the Trump-administration-to-be will play itself out, and like always, humanity will work to right itself in the aftermath. Same goes for the Brexit and other pending disasters.

The real risk that Trump poses may not be his policies (however much damage they may do), but the legacy of skepticism that will result: the next generation of real, needed government shakeups may be harder to come by once Trump has tossed out a lot of rotten fruit that takes years to clean up.


The GOP Roast of President Obama

Another debate. It’s hard to say whether they are getting worse, or if I keep forgetting how bad they are. And that’s just the moderators. There are a lot of questions they fail to ask. For the candidates, as actual votes are looming so stiffer rhetorical medicine is called for as they scramble to actually place in Iowa and New Hampshire.

They claimed that the US military and security situation has deteriorated under Obama. If any of these candidates were elected, how long will it take them to make the US safe? Five years? Fifteen? Usually it would be important to indicate the severity of the problem. Have the candidates themselves told their families to run to the mountains? Have they bought extra insurance? How bad is it? Level with us, but do it in specifics, not vagueries.

The truth is, obviously, they don’t believe the situation is anything approaching what they claim. It’s just more pins to stick in their Obama voodoo doll, trying to win the election.

On the topic of ISIL, the candidates to a man pretend they represent a real threat to the USA. They simply do not. Could they inflict harm on some Americans? No more than we already do to ourselves with regularity. That’s just a fact, and most of those harms the Republican candidates either ignore outright, or worse, blame the president for trying to improve the situation.

Does that mean the USA should ignore ISIL? Nah. But we shouldn’t pretend we’re going to fight them because our lives depend upon it. Others’ lives depend upon our assistance in defusing ISIL, and it’s important we help to protect innocent lives. But by-and-large, Americans are not less safe because of ISIL.

The Republican candidates simply see another fear button, and they are leaning on it like a skinny kid trying to TILT a pinball machine.

Over and over, throughout the debate, the candidates fail to understand the specifics of law and history.

Chris Christie claimed the founders chose to place the Second Amendment in that position because of its import; in reality the Second Amendment was fourth as proposed. The first two proposed were not ratified, so third became first and fourth became second (the second proposed was ratified in 1992, and it is now the 27th Amendment). He also claimed that the election would kick the president out. Obama is term limited.

Marco Rubio opposed tariffs on the basis that the price is passed on to consumers. That’s actually the point, though. The tariffed good’s higher price implies that the good at its natural price would lack some necessary thing, either inspection or trade equity, whatever. The point of the tariff isn’t to make money off of the importation. It’s a basic economic signal.

The utility of tariffs is debatable, but pointing out a basic fact of tariffs, as though it were revelation, is just silly. As the tariff question lingered, the stated problem was retaliatory tariffs. Ted Cruz bothered to suggest that a change in the tax code would magically solve the problem. I seem to recall the Republicans not seeing a difference between a fine and a tax for Obamacare; why is a tax different than a tariff all of a sudden?

Anyway. Another counterproductive debate. For the candidates that get bumped soon, I hope they will realize they had more time to talk about issues, but they squandered it talking about Obama. If the Democrats win the election, I hope the party will realize that pissing on the president is not a winning strategy. But given they seemed to learn nothing in 2012, 2020 will be another rerun of clowns in a clowncar running for president.