2014 - The Year in Review Author: BobRDate:12/31/2014 15:50:55
Time is a strange concept. We cannot see it in front of us - we can only look back at what has already happened. As we mark these artificial boundaries, let's take a moment to remember the big stories from the past year...
The big one of course is the ongoing problem with police overreaction. Remember way back when that was demonstrated by giving innocent people repeated enemas to look for drugs? Remember when excessive force was encapsulated in the phrase "Don't taze me, bro!". With stories popping up almost daily now, the phrases are "Hands up, don't shoot!" and "I can't breathe!". Shoot First and Ask Questions Later seems to be the current M.O. Two disturbing incidents of cops being assassinated have not helped the situation either. We cannot continue to abide this. Here's hoping this toxic mindset stays in 2014 and eventually is relegated to the dustbin of history.
Internationally, it was more from the Usual Suspects. Russia invaded, then annexed Crimea. After that, they set their sights on Ukraine and Poland. Poland quickly dissuaded them of that notion, but eastern Ukraine opened the doors and said "Let's party". That ugliness continues.
In the Middle East, seemingly out of nowhere arose ISIS/ISIL. I say "seemingly" because we were all waiting for the other shoe to drop when the Bush Administration fired the highly trained Iraqi Red Army and replaced them with the Keystone Kops. It's surprising that it took this long for them to pop up, but boy did they ever - sweeping across eastern Syria and western Iraq like Genghis Kahn, absorbing all the military hardware and bank assets they could get their hands on.
Here at home, we had panics over a couple "invasions" as well. There was much sturm und drang over the Obama Administration's commonsense approach to the surging throngs of disease-ridden toddlers breaching our southern border (to hear the Republicans describe it). That hullabaloo had barely subsided when another menace from the Dark Continent - a veritable Red Death - poised to strike us a fatal blow whilst we huddled in our castles. I am of course referring to ebola. As the reality of it's banality became apparent, the fearmongers news agencies found other stories to peddle.
President Obama made news all year. He kicked it off with his State of the Union speech in which he flipped a figurative bird at Congress and told them everything he planned to do via Executive Action. The Republicans gnashed their teeth and wailed that it wasn't fair, then asked him to use Executive Action to resolve the aforementioned immigrant situation, since they were too busy voting to repeal Obamacare.
Those votes were useless, because the last big part of the ACA officially kicked in this year - the Exchanges and the health care plans. People who hadn't been able to go to the doctor for years were finally able to, without fear it would bankrupt them. This of course infuriated the Republicans who love nothing more than to have a country full of serfs asking for a second bowl of porridge.
Since they couldn't repeal the ACA, they continued to hold hearing after hearing on BENGHAZI! and the IRS. Just like everything they tried legislatively, the end result was a huge waste of taxpayer dollars and reports that continued to confound them with a summary somewhat like "sorry - nothing there".
President Obama also used his Executive Actions to reopen ties with Cuba. A small minority of old cold war junkies and some emigres from Cuba were upset, but most of the country shrugged and said "about time", and looked forward to Cuban cigars and rum.
This being an election year, election results were also big news. Eric Cantor lost his seat, and like a true Republican quit before his term was complete. Why be a lame duck when you can be a highly-paid consultant/lobbyist in the private sector?
Of course - the results of the November elections had the Republicans making modest gains in the House, but more importantly - taking control of the Senate. Everyone immediately cast this as a repudiation of President Obama, despite the fact that his ratings were at least 20 points higher than Congress.
In the Sports world, Michael Sam was the first openly gay player drafted into the NFL. He was also the first openly gay player in the NFL cut by the team who drafted him. The NFL also finally got serious about domestic violence after videos of Ray Rice surfaced showing him knocking out his fiance (now wife) in an elevator. LA Clippers owner David Sterling was stripped of his team after it was reported he told his wife he didn't want her seen with black men. This initiated yet another round of old white men saying "I'm not a racist, but..." causing black folks nationwide to collectively roll their eyes.
Finally - the Stupid Fad of 2014 Award goes to...
The Ice Bucket Challenge.
Yes, it raised money for a good cause, but really? Is that what it takes?
Here's hoping that 2015 brings us a fad that encourages not wasting water and energy, yet still raises awareness and money to help those who really need it.
And here's hoping 2015 brings health and happiness to us all.
What are YOUR big stories of 2014 and predictions for 2015?