the brilliant dave barry annual review

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always loved this bloke and i try and remember to post his annual review each year. may not appeal to all but i know there are other fans out there.

Dave Barry’s Year in Review: Trump and the ‘hideous monstrosity’ that was 2016


By Dave Barry January 1 at 4:41 AM

(Illustration by Mark Ward /For The Washington Post)

In the future, Americans — assuming there are any left — will look back at 2016 and remark: “What the HELL?”

They will have a point. Over the past few decades, we here at the Year in Review have reviewed some pretty disturbing years. For example, there was 2000, when the outcome of a presidential election was decided by a tiny group of deeply confused Florida residents who had apparently attempted to vote by chewing on their ballots.

Then there was 2003, when a person named “Paris Hilton” suddenly became a major international superstar, despite possessing a level of discernible talent so low as to make the Kardashians look like the Jackson 5.

There was 2006, when the vice president of the United States — who claimed he was attempting to bring down a suspected quail — shot a 78-year-old man in the face, only to be exonerated after an investigation revealed that the victim was an attorney.

And — perhaps most inexplicable of all — there was 2007, when millions of people voluntarily installed Windows Vista.

Yes, we’ve seen some weird years. But we’ve never seen one as weird as 2016. This was the Al Yankovic of years. If years were movies, 2016 would be “Plan 9 From Outer Space.” If years were relatives, 2016 would be the uncle who shows up at your Thanksgiving dinner wearing his underpants on the outside.

All the things that were so uniquely terrible about 2016


Play Video4:34

The year 2016 was filled with turmoil from a series of global terror attacks to the toxic U.S. presidential election, major disasters and high-profile shootings in the U.S. The Post's Elahe Izadi breaks down why for many 2016 felt like such a terrible year. (Claritza Jimenez, Elahe Izadi/The Washington Post)

Why do we say this? Let’s begin with the gruesome train wreck that was the presidential election. The campaign began with roughly 14,000 candidates running. Obviously not all of them were qualified to be president; some of them — here we are thinking of “Lincoln Chafee” — were probably imaginary. But a reasonable number of the candidates seemed to meet at least the minimum standard that Americans have come to expect of their president in recent decades, namely: Not Completely Horrible.

So this mass of candidates began the grim death march that is the modern American presidential campaign — trudging around Iowa pretending to care about agriculture, performing in an endless series of televised debates like suit-wearing seals trained to bark out talking points, going to barbecue after barbecue and smiling relentlessly through mouthfuls of dripping meat, giving the same speech over and over and over, shaking millions of hands, posing for billions of selfies and just generally humiliating themselves in the marathon group grovel that America insists on putting its presidential candidates through.

And we voters did our part, passing judgment on the candidates, thinning the herd, rejecting them one by one. Sometimes we had to reject them more than once; John Kasich didn’t get the message until his own staff felled him with tranquilizer darts.

But eventually we eliminated the contenders whom we considered to be unqualified or disagreeable, whittling our choices down until only two major candidates were left. And out of all the possibilities, the two that We, the People, in our collective wisdom, deemed worthy of competing for the most important job on Earth, turned out to be ...

... drum roll ...

... the most flawed, sketchy and generally disliked duo of presidential candidates ever!

Yes. After all that, the American people, looking for a leader, ended up with a choice between ointment and suppository. The fall campaign was an unending national nightmare, broadcast relentlessly on cable TV. CNN told us over and over that Donald Trump was a colossally ignorant, narcissistic, out-of-control sex-predator buffoon; Fox News countered that Hillary Clinton was a greedy, corrupt, coldly calculating liar of massive ambition and minimal accomplishment. In our hearts we knew the awful truth: They were both right.

It wasn’t just bad. It was the Worst. Election. Ever.

And that was only one of the reasons 2016 should never have happened. Here are some others:

American race relations reached their lowest point since ... okay, since 2015.

● We learned that the Russians are more involved in our election process than the League of Women Voters.

●Much of the year the economy continued to struggle, with the only growth sector being people paying insane prices for tickets to “Hamilton.”

● In a fad even stupider than “planking,” millions of people wasted millions of hours, and sometimes risked their lives, trying to capture imaginary Pokémon Go things on their phones, hoping to obtain the ultimate prize: a whole bunch of imaginary Pokémon Go things on their phones.

● A major new threat to American communities — receiving at least as much coverage as global climate change — emerged in the form of: clowns.

● In a shocking development that caused us to question our most fundamental values, Angelina and Brad broke up even though they are both physically attractive.

● We continued to prove, as a nation, that no matter how many times we are reminded, we are too stupid to remember to hold our phones horizontally when we make videos.

● Musically, we lost Prince, David Bowie and Leonard Cohen; we gained the suicide-inducing TV commercial in which Jon Bon Jovi screeches about turning back time.

Did anything good happen in 2016? Let us think. ...

Okay, the “man bun” appeared to be going away.

That was pretty much it for the good things.

And now, finally, it is time for 2016 to go away. But before it does, let’s narrow our eyes down to slits and take one last squinting look back at this hideous monstrosity of a year, starting with ...

(Illustration by Mark Ward /For The Washington Post)


... which actually begins on a positive note with the capture of elusive Mexican drug lord Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán, who in 2015 escaped (for the second time) from a Mexican prison when authorities failed to notice the signs reading (in Spanish) “WARNING: ESCAPE TUNNEL UNDER CONSTRUCTION.” Since then Guzmán had been in hiding except for an interview with Sean Penn, a guest spot with Jimmy Kimmel and a series of commercials for Buffalo Wild Wings.

Mexican police finally are able to track him down during his four-week stint as a guest judge on “America’s Got Talent.” He is taken to Tijuana and incarcerated in what authorities describe as “a very secure Motel 6.”

In health news, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, responding to the spread of the little-understood Zika virus, cautions Americans not to have unprotected sex with foreign mosquitoes. Meanwhile the Flint, Mich., water crisis worsens when samples taken from the city’s main water supply are found to contain traces of a Chipotle burrito.

North Korea successfully tests a hydrogen bomb, although this achievement is tarnished somewhat by the fact that the explosion causes the death, by startling, of the isolated nation’s lone remaining chicken.

In what critics cite as yet another example of declining U.S. prestige, Iran seizes two U.S. naval vessels and captures 10 crew members; what makes the incident particularly embarrassing is that these vessels were docked in Cleveland. The captured sailors are released, but only after Secretary of State John Kerry assures the Iranian government that he will not deploy James Taylor.

The Powerball jackpot reaches a record $1.6 billion, with an estimated 45 percent of the tickets being purchased by the city of Detroit using money budgeted for “infrastructure.”

Speaking of huge amounts of money being wasted, in ...

(Illustration by Mark Ward /For The Washington Post)


... the presidential primary season takes center stage. On the Republican side, the big issue — as you would expect, given the stakes in this election — is Donald Trump’s hand size and whether it does or does not correlate with the size of his portfolio, which he claims is huge, although he is reluctant to show it to the non-supermodel public.

The hand-size issue is raised by Marco Rubio, who scores in the early polls, then fades as voters realize that he is still in the early stages of puberty. Trump’s strongest rival is Ted Cruz, a veteran debater so knowledgeable and confident that Mahatma Gandhi would want to punch him in the face.

Meanwhile Jeb Bush, who was considered the early favorite, fails to gain traction with the voters despite having by far the most comprehensive set of policy initiativezzz

Sorry! We nodded off thinking about Jeb, as did the voters.

On the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton is widely presumed to be the front-runner based on being a historic woman with a lengthy résumé of service to the nation who, with her husband, Bill, has serviced the nation for decades to the tune of several hundred million dollars. She is declared the winner of the Iowa caucuses via a controversial and confusing process that, in some precincts, involves dodgeball. But Clinton faces an unexpectedly strong challenge from Bernie Sanders, a feisty 217-year-old senator from Vermont with a message of socialism, but the good kind of socialism where everybody gets a lot of free stuff, not the kind where starving people fight over who gets the lone remaining beet at the co-op. Sanders wins the New Hampshire Democratic primary, followed — in what some observers see as a troubling sign — by Vladimir Putin.

In other February news:

● A lengthy standoff at a federal wildlife refuge in Oregon finally comes to an end when anti-government militants, after protracted negotiations, are eaten by the federal wildlife.

● Following the death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, the nation’s political leaders observe a period of mourning and reflection lasting 3 billionths of a second, then commence the important bipartisan work of not making any progress whatsoever on a replacement.

● The troubled Chipotle chain temporarily closes all of its restaurants after several customers are attacked by what health authorities describe as “E. coli bacteria the size of adult pythons.”

● The Denver Broncos win the Super Bowl, thanks in part to a costly unsportsmanlike conduct penalty called on the Carolina Panthers defense for stealing Peyton Manning’s walker.

Speaking of unsportsmanlike, in ...

(Illustration by Mark Ward /For The Washington Post)


... the Republican presidential race grows increasingly nasty, spiraling downward in tone to the point where Ted Cruz makes the following statement, which we swear we are not making up: “Donald Trump may be a rat, but I have no desire to copulate with him.” This sounds as though Cruz is saying that he would copulate with a rat, as long as the rat was not Donald Trump.

Presumably that is not what Cruz meant, but nobody really wants to know what he did mean. Meanwhile Ben Carson announces, in his extremely low-key and soft-spoken manner, that he is going to suspend his campaign. Or visit Spain. Or possibly rob a train. There is no way to be certain.

On the Democratic side, Clinton and Sanders are also in a tight and testy battle, although Clinton slowly gains the upper hand thanks to the Democratic Party’s controversial formula for allocating “superdelegates,” which is as follows:

● 57 percent go to Clinton.

● The remaining 43 percent also go to Clinton.

Responding to charges from the Sanders camp that the Democratic National Committee is tipping the scales in Clinton’s favor, chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz states that “the DNC is scrupulously neutral in the contest between Secretary Clinton and the senile Commie fart.”

In other political news, President Obama nominates Merrick Garland to replace Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court. Republican leaders are quick to note that, while Garland appears to be qualified, his name is an anagram for “Rancid Lark Germ.”

But by far the most controversial political issue of the month — which nobody thought about before, yet which all of a sudden is the defining civil rights struggle of the 21st century — is the question of who can pee where in North Carolina.

In foreign affairs, Obama pays a historic visit to Cuba but is forced to leave after three days when he discovers that there is only one golf course.

A historic baseball game between the Tampa Bay Rays and the Cuban national team has to be called off in the fourth inning because all but four of the Cuban players have switched sides.

Speaking of historic, in ...

(Illustration by Mark Ward/For The Washington Post)


... England observes the 90th birthday of Queen Elizabeth II, who celebrates the occasion by wearing a large hat and smiling grimly at horses.

Meanwhile world tension mounts when satellite imagery reveals that North Korea has positioned an 18-story-tall plastic bottle containing an estimated 40 million liters of Diet Coke on the border with South Korea, and has somehow obtained what one military analyst describes as “Mentos mints the size of barns.”

North Korea insists that the project is “strictly defensive,” but the United Nations Security Council, responding with its toughest sanctions yet against the rogue nation, votes to unfriend Kim Jong Un on Facebook.

In another alarming international development, Russian fighter jets, continuing a pattern of increasingly provocative behavior toward the United States, attack the control tower at LaGuardia Airport. After assessing the damage, airport authorities announce that departing flights will be delayed an average of four months, nearly twice as long as usual. Secretary of State Kerry calls the act “a deliberate provocation” and, in his strongest response to date, warns that the United States is considering “a harshly worded memorandum.”

In U.S. presidential politics, Ted Cruz, making a last-ditch effort to stop the Trump juggernaut, announces that his choice for running mate is — prepare for a game-changing jolt of high-voltage excitement — Carly Fiorina. This would be the same Carly Fiorina who dropped out after the New Hampshire primary because she got approximately six votes. On the plus side, Cruz manages to make this announcement without mentioning rats.

In other political news, Hillary Clinton is troubled by a persistent cough that leaves her unable to speak at some campaign stops, forcing her to express her commitment to working families by shattering a porcelain figurine of a Wall Street banker with a hammer.

A Trump spokesperson, speaking on condition of anonymity, says that the Trump campaign “will not speculate on Mrs. Clinton’s health,” adding that “she obviously has some terrible disease.”

Speaking of bad news, in ...

(Illustration by Mark Ward /For The Washington Post)


... tragedy strikes the Cincinnati Zoo when zoo authorities, fearing for the life of a 3-year-old who climbed into the gorilla enclosure, are forced to shoot and kill a gorilla named Harambe, who instantly becomes way more revered on the Internet than Mother Teresa.

In other domestic news, passengers at major U.S. airports complain that they are missing flights because security lines are so long.

Q. How long are they?

A. One of them contains a Wright brother.

Asked for an explanation, a spokesperson for the federal Transportation Security Administration, which is responsible for screening passengers, blames the airline industry, pointing out that “If the airlines didn’t keep selling tickets, we wouldn’t have all these people showing up at airports trying to catch flights.” The spokesperson suggests that people planning to travel by air during busy times should consider other options, such as suicide.

In a medical breakthrough, doctors at Massachusetts General Hospital announce that they have performed the first successful penis transplant in the United States. The patient’s name — we are not making this item up — is Manning.

Abroad, satellite surveillance reveals that North Korea has constructed what military analysts describe as “an extremely large slingshot” as well as a latex balloon believed large enough to hold a quantity of water equivalent to Lake Tahoe. The North Korean government insists that these items are intended for “medical research.”

In sports, suspicions of doping by Russian Olympic athletes resurface after little-known sprinter Vladimir Raspatovsky, who has never previously posted a world­

record time, wins the Kentucky Derby.

Speaking of winners, in ...

(Illustration by Mark Ward /For The Washington Post)


... it becomes evident that, barring some highly unlikely political development, the next president of the United States will be either Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump. Meanwhile, the nation is in the grip of a worsening heroin epidemic. Coincidence? You be the judge.

Speaking of coincidences: Bill Clinton happens to find himself in the same airport as U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch, and — as any two people would do if one of them was the nation’s chief law enforcement officer and the other was married to the subject of a federal investigation — they meet privately aboard Lynch’s Justice Department jet. When word of the meeting leaks out, Lynch assures the press that she and Bill did not discuss the FBI investigation into Hillary’s email, adding, “nor did we inhale.” For her part, Hillary continues to insist that she never emailed anything classified, and even if she did she actually didn’t, besides which so did a lot of other people such as Colin Powell and Harry Truman, and this so-called scandal is ancient history from literally years ago that just makes a person sigh and roll her eyes because it is preventing her from fighting for working families while at the same time being a historic woman.

Also for the sake of balance we should note that throughout June Donald Trump continues to emit a steady stream of truly idiotic statements.

In sports, Cleveland — in a historic upset — actually wins something.

But the big sports story for June, and the year, is the death of Muhammad Ali, a person so remarkable that even the tidal wave of phony, saccharine media-manufactured grief-hype that engulfs modern celebrity deaths cannot detract from the simple truth that he really was as great as he said he was.

Internationally, the top story is “Brexit” — the decision by voters in the United Kingdom to leave the European Union. This comes as a big surprise to professional pollsters, who had confidently predicted the opposite result; they enjoy a hearty laugh, then head across the Atlantic to apply their talents to the forthcoming American presidential election.

Meanwhile British politics is plunged into chaos, the result being that in ...

(Illustration by Mark Ward/For The Washington Post)


... Prime Minister David Cameron and other top officials resign, new people take office, and the United Kingdom essentially has a new government, ready to move on. This entire process takes about two weeks, or less time than it takes the major American political parties to agree on the seating arrangements for a “town hall debate.”

In U.S. politics, the Republicans gather in Cleveland to nominate Trump, although many top party officials are unable to attend because of an urgent, compelling need to not be there. Nevertheless Trump receives enthusiastic prime-time endorsements from former celebrity Scott Baio, several dozen Trump children and current Trump wife Melania, who enthralls delegates with a well-received speech in which she tells her heartwarming story of growing up as an African American woman in Chicago. The dramatic highlight comes on the final night, when Trump, in his acceptance speech, brings the delegates cheering to their feet with his emotional challenge to “grab the future by the p---y.”

On the Democratic side, the month gets off to a rocky start when FBI Director James Comey, announcing the results of the bureau’s investigation, reveals that when Hillary Clinton was secretary of state, her official emails, some including classified material, were basically as secure from prying eyes as a neon beer sign. Nevertheless Comey says he is recommending that no criminal charges be brought against Clinton, because, quote, “I don’t want to die.”

With that legal hurdle cleared, relieved Democrats gather in Philadelphia for their convention, which opens — in a bid to placate Sanders delegates — with the ceremonial caning of Debbie Wasserman Schultz. This is followed by several hundred speeches praising Hillary Clinton for the many accomplishments she has achieved, as well as the achievements she has accomplished, while at the same time being, historically, a woman. In her acceptance speech, Clinton calls on Americans “to join with me in building a better world for us and for our children,” adding, “or I will crush you like an insect.”

In a media shake-up, Roger Ailes resigns as chairman of Fox News following allegations that his name can be re­arranged to spell “I ogle rears.”

As the month ends, skydiver Luke Aikins sets a world record by jumping out of a plane 25,000 feet over California without a parachute or wingsuit. He manages to land safely in a net despite the fact that on the way down — in what John Kerry calls “a deliberate provocation” — he is strafed by Russian fighter jets.

Speaking of provocations, in ...

(Illustration by Mark Ward /For The Washington Post)


... Donald Trump goes to Mexico, having been informed by his team of foreign-policy advisers that this is where Mexicans come from. He meets with Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto, and although he does not try to convince Peña Nieto that Mexico should pay for the huge imaginary wall that he has promised to build, Trump does demonstrate his legendary prowess as a hard-nosed businessman by negotiating what he describes as “a fantastic price” on a souvenir sombrero that he claims is “easily four feet in diameter.”

Meanwhile newly released State Department emails cause some people to suggest that the reason a variety of dodgy foreign businesspeople and nations gave millions of dollars to the Clinton Foundation while Hillary Clinton was secretary of state was that they expected — Get a load of THIS wacky right-wing conspiracy theory! — to receive special access to or favors from the U.S. government. Hillary has no choice but to roll her eyes and laugh in a violently unnatural manner at this latest attempt to use these discredited smear tactics to prevent her, a historic and lifelong woman, from fighting for working families as well as working for fighting families.

Abroad, the Summer Olympics open in Brazil amid dire warnings about Zika, riots, muggers, muggers with Zika, and windsurfers being attacked by predatory oceangoing feces. But the games for the most part go smoothly, the biggest glitch being when one of the diving pools mysteriously turns a dark, murky green. The mystery is finally solved when the pool is drained, revealing a Russian nuclear submarine, which Russia insists is in international waters.

In the athletic competition, Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt becomes the first athlete ever to win the men’s 100-meter final wearing flip-flops. But the U.S. team dominates the Games, with the most memorable performance coming from a team of athletes led by swimmer and rocket scientist Ryan Lochte competing in the Four-Man Gas Station Wall Pee.

Elsewhere in sports, the opening of the National Football League season provides a much-needed diversion to Americans who are sick of being bitterly divided over politics and welcome the opportunity to be bitterly divided over how players respond to the national anthem.

Speaking of bitter, in ...

(Illustration by Mark Ward /For The Washington Post)


... Clinton and Trump square off in the first presidential debate, which leads to a national conversation about an issue of vital concern to all Americans, namely the alleged weight gain of Alicia Machado, Miss Universe of 1996. This topic is raised by Clinton in an obvious attempt to bait Trump into wasting valuable campaign time talking about something that cannot possibly benefit him, so naturally Trump, who by his own admission has an extremely high IQ, latches on to it like a barnacle on the Titanic. He focuses on the former Miss Venezuela with laserlike intensity for the better part of a week before getting back to his previous campaign strategy of engaging in bitterly personal Twitter feuds, often with other Republicans.

But it is also not a totally great month for Clinton, who appears to collapse while being helped into a van after hastily leaving a 9/11 memorial ceremony. Her campaign, responding with the transparency, openness and candor for which it is famous, initially downplays the incident, saying that Clinton felt “overheated.” Ninety minutes later she appears outside her daughter’s apartment building and tells reporters, “I’m feeling great.” But later that afternoon her physician releases a statement saying that two days earlier, Clinton was diagnosed with pneumonia. This leads to renewed speculation about Clinton’s health, which is quickly quelled by a vast army of Clinton campaign officials, surrogates, allies, lackeys, henchpersons and media flunkies, all heavily armed with talking points and declaring, in unison, that she has no undeclared health problems and is going to power through this minor, pesky so-called pneumonia, which is old news and will not distract her from being a historic person of gender with a lifelong commitment to fighting for working etc.

Speaking of overheating, Samsung announces a recall of all Galaxy Note 7 phones after an attempt to rebrand them as “smart charcoal lighters” meets with consumer resistance. Adding to Samsung’s woes are reports that some of its top-loading washers have exploded, although the company insists that the machines are “perfectly safe when operated using the delicate cycle,” provided that “there are no humans nearby.”

In other technology news, Apple announces the release of the iPhone 7, which is basically the iPhone 6 with the added convenience of not having a headphone jack. The marketing slogan is “At Least It Doesn’t Burst Into Flames.”

In entertainment news, “Game of Thrones” once again wins the coveted Emmy Award for Drama Series With the Most Naked People.

But for sheer drama, no TV show can compare with what happens to the American political system in ...

(Illustration by Mark Ward/For The Washington Post)


... when the U.S. presidential election, until now a cross between farce and soap opera, mutates into a full-on horror show.

The early part of the month goes badly for Trump with the release of a 2005 video in which he talks about kissing and groping women, which according to him he can get away with because he’s a star who uses Tic Tacs.

Trump quickly apologizes for the video, noting that (a) it was recorded long ago when he was just 59 years old; (b) his remarks were “locker-room banter” such as you would hear in any locker room in America occupied by morally deficient billionaire pigs; (c) Bill Clinton did way worse things; and (d) WHAT ABOUT BENGHAZI?

But the story does not go away. Over the next week Trump is accused of improper groping by enough women to form a professional softball league. Trump responds to these allegations with a five-pronged defense:

Prong One: These women are lying.

Prong Two: ALL of them. They are LIARS.

Prong Three: They are frankly not attractive enough to be groped by a star of his magnitude.

Prong Four: The election is rigged!


Meanwhile the Clinton campaign is dealing with a steady stream of WikiLeaks emails suggesting that the Clinton Foundation is dedicated to humanitarian relief in the same sense that the Soprano family was dedicated to waste management. But this kind of scandal is ho-hum stuff for the Clinton campaign, whose slogan has slowly morphed from “Stronger Together” into “At Least She’s Predictably Corrupt.” As the month wears on and Trump continues to flail away unconvincingly at his alleged groping victims, it appears more and more likely that Clinton has established herself, with just enough voters, as the least loathsome choice in this hideous, issues-free nightmare of an election.

And then, just when we thought it could not get any weirder or any worse, we are hit with the mother of all October surprises in the form of the incurable genital wart on the body politic known as Anthony Weiner. While probing Weiner’s laptop (Har!) for evidence of alleged sexting with an underaged girl, the FBI reportedly discovers thousands of emails that were sent from or to Hillary Clinton’s private email server, which apparently had a higher Internet profile than Taylor Swift.

FBI Director James Comey sends a letter informing Congress that the FBI is taking another look at the email issue.

In a display of the intellectual integrity that has made our political class so respected by ordinary citizens, all the Democrats and allied pundits who praised Comey in July as a courageous public servant instantly swap positions with all the Republicans and allied pundits who said he was a cowardly hack.

This new development sends the political world into Full Freakout Mode, with cable-TV political analysts forced to change their underwear on an hourly basis. Meanwhile millions of critical swing voters switch from “undecided” to “suicidal.”

In non-campaign-related October news:

● A government report concludes that the Affordable Care Act (Motto: “If You Like Your Doctor, Maybe You’ll Like Your New Doctor”) is going to cost many people a lot more, while continuing to provide the same range of customizable consumer options as a parking meter.

● In a chilling reminder of the nation’s technological vulnerability, a series of cyberattacks disrupts popular Internet sites such as Twitter and Netflix, forcing millions of Americans to make eye contact with one another.

● In yet another blow to Samsung, the Federal Aviation Administration announces that it will not permit commercial aircraft to fly over states known to contain Galaxy Note 7s.

● In the arts, Bob Dylan refuses to answer his doorbell, forcing members of the Swedish Academy to leave the Nobel Prize for literature in his mailbox.

The month ends on an upbeat note as Americans celebrate Halloween, a welcome escape from the relentless drumbeat of bad news, as evidenced by this headline, which we swear we are not making up: “Some Florida parents plan to arm themselves while going trick-or-treating over clown concerns.”

Speaking of treats, in ...

(Illustration by Mark Ward /For The Washington Post)


... the Chicago Cubs win the World Series. Finally! Yay! What a fun month! Okay, that’s our summary of November. Now it’s time to move along to the events of ...


No, that would be wrong. This is supposed to be a review of the whole year, warts and all, and we have to face reality. So let’s all take a deep breath, compose ourselves and go back to ...


... which begins with yet another letter to congressional leaders from FBI Director Comey, who lately has generated more correspondence than Publishers Clearing House. This time, he says, concerning the newly discovered emails on Anthony Weiner’s laptop: never mind. This forces Republicans and Democrats to again swap positions on whether Comey is a courageous patriot or total scum. For a brief period members of Congress are so confused about who stands where that they are in real danger of accidentally working together and accomplishing something. Fortunately before this happens the two sides are able to sort things out and resume being bitterly deadlocked.

As Election Day approaches, a consensus forms among the experts in the media-political complex, based on a vast array of demographic and scientific polling data evaluated with sophisticated analytical tools. These experts, who have made lucrative careers out of going on TV and explaining America to Americans, overwhelmingly agree that Hillary Clinton will win, possibly in a landslide, and this could very well mean the end of the Republican Party. The Explainers are very sure of this, nodding in unison while smiling in bemusement at the pathetic delusions of the Trump people. Unfortunately, it turns out that a large sector of the American public has not been brought up to speed on all this expert analysis. And so it comes to pass that the unthinkable happens, in the form of ...


No, damn it! We have to do this! What happens in ...


... is that Donald Trump is elected president of the United States, unless this turns out to be one of those really vivid dreams, like the one where you’re at the dentist but you’re naked and your dentist is Bette Midler and spiders keep coming out of your mouth.

Trump’s victory stuns the nation. Not since the darkest days of the Civil War have so many Americans unfriended each other on Facebook. Some even take the extreme step of writing “open letters.” Angry, traumatized protesters cry, march, shout, smash windows, set fires — and that’s just the New York Times editorial board. Leading celebrities who vowed to leave the country if Trump won immediately start making plans to ... okay, to not actually leave the country per se, but next time they definitely will and YOU’LL BE SORRY.

In Washington, Democrats who believed in a strong president wielding power via executive orders instantly exchange these deeply held convictions with Republicans who until Election Day at roughly 10 p.m. Eastern time believed fervently in filibusters and limited government.

On TV, the professional Explainers, having failed spectacularly to predict what just happened, pause for a period of somber and contrite self-reflection lasting close to 15 minutes before they begin the crucial work of explaining to the rest of us what will happen next.

Joe Biden lies awake nights, staring at the ceiling.

Meanwhile a somber Trump, preparing to assume the most powerful office on the planet, puts the pettiness of the campaign behind him and — facing a world rife with turmoil — gets down to the all-important work of taking Twitter shots at the cast of “Hamilton.” He also begins assembling a Cabinet that — reflecting the diversity of the nation he has been elected to lead — includes several non-billionaires. The president-elect also receives classified briefings, during which he learns, among other things, that there are a LOT of foreign countries, including some where he does not even have golf courses.

Meanwhile the Democrats, now on a multi-year losing streak that has cost them the presidency, both houses of Congress and a majority of the state legislatures, desperately seek an explanation for their party’s failures. After a hard, critical look in the mirror, they are forced, reluctantly, to stop seeking scapegoats and place the blame where it belongs: the electoral college, the Russians, Facebook and of course James Comey.

In the month’s biggest non-election news, the death of Fidel Castro is greeted with expressions of sorrow from several dozen world leaders who never had to live under his rule, and tears of happiness from many thousands of Cubans who did.

As the bitter and tumultuous month finally draws to a close, Americans briefly stop fighting over politics and come together to celebrate Thanksgiving in the same way the Pilgrims did in 1623: fighting over flat-screen TVs.

But the focus turns back to politics in…

(Illustration by Mark Ward /For The Washington Post)


... during which Trump continues to dominate the news, his face appearing 24/7 on every channel including the Food Network, even when the TV is turned off.

Early in the month the president-elect ruffles the feathers of the Chinese government when — in what is viewed as a departure from diplomatic protocol — he texts Beijing a poop emoji. Also he threatens a drone strike against Alec Baldwin.

But the big story continues to be the Trump Cabinet. His choice for secretary of defense is James N. “Mad Dog” Mattis, who impresses Trump with his sophisticated understanding of modern military strategy and also by biting the head off a live hamster. Most of the drama, however, involves the herd of hopefuls auditioning for secretary of state, including former Trump foe Mitt Romney, who dons wingtip kneepads for his pilgrimage to Trump Tower, after which he explains to the press that his previous criticisms of Trump have been taken out of context, particularly his use of the phrase “scum toad,” which Romney says he meant “in the spirit of constructive dialogue.”

Chris Christie dines alone in a Golden Corral in Freehold, N.J., pondering whether to accept the ambassadorship to Belize.

The New York Times and Washington Post, seeking to improve their understanding of pro-Trump America, partner with TV network news divisions to create “Operation Outreach,” in which teams of reporters will travel to non-coastal regions carrying rucksacks full of chewing tobacco and moon pies, which they will trade with the natives in return for colorful quotes about their political views, religious beliefs, sex practices involving livestock, etc.

Meanwhile abroad:

● French President François Hollande announces that he will not seek reelection, leading professional pollsters to predict, based on scientific analysis of the data, that he will win in a landslide.

● In a disturbing development, North Korean troops mass near the South Korean border armed with what intelligence sources identify as “a large quantity of Samsung Galaxy Note 7s.”

Finally, mercifully, 2016 draws to a close. On New Year’s Eve, a festive crowd gathers in Times Square, and millions more tune in on TV, to watch the ball drop that marks the dawn of the new year. This is one of the great traditions that connect us as a nation, and it serves to remind us that, although we disagree on many things, we are all part of the same big family — the American family — and when all is said and done, we hate each other.

This is what we are thinking as the big lighted ball begins to slowly descend the pole, traveling roughly two feet before it is vaporized by Russian fighter jets.

Happy new year, fellow Americans. It’s going to be exciting.


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2 hours ago, Ken Gargett said:

most people i know enjoy him but i know some do not.

i have been reading him for decades. love his stuff.

I understand...I usually youtube this stuff so no qualms with me!  I understand to each his own Sir!:buddies:



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For decades Barry and his writing style have always made me laugh, perhaps most effectively in difficult times. No one is safe and that fact alone is a powerful force in bringing differing people together.

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Ken Gargett

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On 11/9/2016 at 4:06 PM, PigFish said:

A plea for leniency is all that it is. I mean mate, what if the laws changed in your country that allow people like me to carry a XXX? Would you not be a little frustrated today? You would. Knowing that, and knowing you would I understand if you maybe went off the rails just a bit, and were deserving of some leniency? Answer, yes!

Of all people who have skirted the rules my friend, you and I have gotten away with quite a lot. Neither of us is innocent of rule breaking! Locking down out of bounds threads and posts is not being argued by me. I get it! I have run a forum.... but going nuclear is excessive, that is my unsolicited personal opinion. Throwing people out as you have threatened seems a bit excessive.

I am not pleading for myself as I am, not to my knowledge, in any sort of trouble (yet -LOL). I just see getting out in front of it one thing, and making any infraction the death penalty a totally different matter. A lot of my countrymen are a little wigged out today. If you did not understand that, I wanted you to. You will do what you want with the information. As such, I am not going to fight with you about it, it is not necessary. But as a passionate guy, one who has said that he wants to see all whalers killed (when in the heat of an argument about it), I thought you might understand about what some may say and do when under duress.

My case rests...

Cheers mate.

Oh and lastly... I have not written to aggravate you further, although it does sound like fun!!! It is beginning to look like you are more frazzled than my countrymen! -LOL I will therefore not pressure you further, the compassionate individual I am!!!


ray, asking grown human beings, who joined a forum knowing the rules set by the forum owner, to exhibit some courtesy to others (as these things inevitably offend someone) by showing the absolute minimum of self control or advising them that they will face the consequences is hardly nuclear. there are endless opportunities for us all to vent/applaud/scream outrage/express joy about the election. nothing stopping anyone going there. the owner has requested it not be done here. so no, it is not excessive. it is so minor that those who transgress, or advocate leniency for those who do, should bury their heads in shame.

as for locking down threads - well, this is a thread about not posting. we have to lock that down? this is not monty python (most of the time). as for deleting posts and threads and hiding them and warning people, for christ's sake, you think i have not got a million better things to do. it is quicker and easier to have them banned. that way, we don't have to worry about going through the crap next time. same situation when someone transgresses for language or something similar. they get all wound up about why didn't we just spend our time going through their post and editing it. because we are not schoolteachers and we have better things to do.

ray, why the hell should i or any of the other mods waste our day because people want to be morons? now, if i have not completely covered this topic, i can't imagine what else i could add.

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13 minutes ago, RickHendeson said:

A great deal of this post involves American politics.  Haven't we been told numerous times discussion of American politics is banned?  Or does that just apply to some political views, and not others?


if rob wants to delete it and chastise me, fair enough.

i would suggest that it is humour (and won't this be a special year if we ban humour). but since you raise it, "some political views"? so you feel that mr barry has favoured one side of politics over the other? i would have thought he skewered both pretty well. i really could not tell you which he favoured.

how far would you like us to take it? given cuba/the embargo/bringing cigars into the states/obama visiting cuba/a hell of a lot more is pretty close to the bone with reference to american politics, it might be a rather skinny forum.

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4 minutes ago, RickHendeson said:

Ken Gargett

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ray, asking grown human beings, who joined a forum knowing the rules set by the forum owner, to exhibit some courtesy to others (as these things inevitably offend someone) by showing the absolute minimum of self control or advising them that they will face the consequences is hardly nuclear. there are endless opportunities for us all to vent/applaud/scream outrage/express joy about the election. nothing stopping anyone going there. the owner has requested it not be done here. so no, it is not excessive. it is so minor that those who transgress, or advocate leniency for those who do, should bury their heads in shame.

as for locking down threads - well, this is a thread about not posting. we have to lock that down? this is not monty python (most of the time). as for deleting posts and threads and hiding them and warning people, for christ's sake, you think i have not got a million better things to do. it is quicker and easier to have them banned. that way, we don't have to worry about going through the crap next time. same situation when someone transgresses for language or something similar. they get all wound up about why didn't we just spend our time going through their post and editing it. because we are not schoolteachers and we have better things to do.

ray, why the hell should i or any of the other mods waste our day because people want to be morons? now, if i have not completely covered this topic, i can't imagine what else i could add.


all this was posted while i was doing my previous post and i missed it. but i really must be missing the point. dave barry is a humourist and has been since the beginning of the 80s, i have been reading him for nearly that length of time. still could not tell you which side of politics he favours. call his work satire or parody or whatever but he has a go at all sides. he has written many books and countless articles and been highly regarded - a cronkite award and a pulitzer. are we to kill humour?

i have no issue with anyone who doesn't enjoy his work or find it funny, though i do feel a smidge sorry for them, but as for this being some political thread, i find that nearly as funny as the column - an annual column which he has done for many years and it just so happened that there was an election which took up a fair whack of the year. he should neglect it?

as i have said, entirely up to rob to delete and for me to be chastised if he feels that is appropriate but seriously, i would see that as the greatest imaginable PC over-reach and quietly think those behind it really should take a long hard look at themselves. nothing better to do?

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Thanks for sharing Ken.  I grew up reading Barry's columns and books.  I can't remember the last time I read anything from him, though.  As much of the world (myself most definitely included) seems to have gravitated toward edgier humor, it's refreshing to read his light, playful wit, that's still as clever and poignant as ever.  Perhaps familiarity with his writing voice makes a difference, but I find it impossible to imagine anyone being genuinely offended by anything he writes.  

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I am willing to admit when I am "wrrrrooonnngggg" 


Read other Dave Barry Annual Reviews and when not seen in a vacuum (I've never hear of the guy) its not one sided...well depending on what year it is and what side your on!



Dave Barry’s Year in Review. (Jack Ohman/TNS) Jack Ohman TNS 2014



It was a year of mysteries. To list some of the more baffling ones: 

▪ A huge airliner simply vanished, and to this day nobody has any idea what happened to it, despite literally thousands of hours of intensive speculation on CNN.

Daniel Portnoy

▪ Millions of Americans suddenly decided to make videos of themselves having ice water poured on their heads. Remember? There were rumors that this had something to do with charity, but for most of us, the connection was never clear. All we knew was that, for a while there, every time we turned on the TV, there was a local newscaster or Gwyneth Paltrow or Kermit the Frog or some random individual soaking wet and shivering. This mysterious phenomenon ended as suddenly as it started, but not before uncounted trillions of American brain cells died of frostbite.

▪ An intruder jumped the White House fence and, inexplicably, managed to run into the White House through the unlocked front door. Most of us had assumed that anybody attempting this would instantly be converted to a bullet-ridden pile of smoking carbon by snipers, lasers, drones, ninjas, etc., but it turned out that, for some mysterious reason, the White House had effectively the same level of anti-penetration security as a Dunkin’ Donuts.

▪ LeBron James deliberately moved to Cleveland. 

Of course not everything that happened in 2014 was mysterious. Some developments — ISIS, Ebola, the song Happy — were simply bad. There was even some good news in 2014, mostly in the form of things that did not happen. A number of GM cars — the final total could be as high as four — were not recalled. There were several whole days during which no statements had to be issued by the U.S. Department of Explaining What The Vice President Meant To Say. And for the fifth consecutive year, the Yankees failed to even play in the World Series.

But other than that, it was a miserable 12 months. In case you have forgotten why, let’s take one last look back, starting with… 


…when the nation is invaded by the Polar Vortex, which blasts in from Canada, bringing with it heavy snows, record low temperatures and Justin Bieber, who penetrates as far south as Miami before being arrested for racing a Lamborghini. Weather is also the big story in drought-stricken California, where the state legislature passes a tough new water-conservation law requiring all noncelebrity residents to go to the bathroom in Oregon. 

In Colorado, the new year begins on a “high” note as the sale of recreational marijuana becomes legal. Despite dire predictions from critics that this will lead to increases in crime and addiction, state law-enforcement officials report that if you stare for a while at the flashing lights on top of their cars, you can see some amazing colors. 

The U.S. Senate confirms Janet Yellen as chair of the Federal Reserve after she assures senators that she will let them know if anybody ever figures out what the Federal Reserve actually does. 

In a major speech, President Barack Obama, responding to allegations that the National Security Agency has been electronically snooping on foreign leaders, announces that all federal agencies will henceforth follow strict new guidelines on the sale and distribution of photos of Angela Merkel naked. 

In other foreign affairs, French President François Hollande is embroiled in a sex scandal involving his attractive girlfriend and an attractive actress despite the fact that he looks remarkably like George Costanza.

Elsewhere abroad, NBA legend and idiot Dennis Rodman makes a fourth visit to North Korea to hang out with his misunderstood pal Kim Jong-Un, who defeats Rodman 168-0 in a friendly one-on-one game refereed by the North Korean army, then celebrates by firing a missile at Japan.

Speaking of soldiers, in…


…as the Northeast continues to be battered by heavy snows and subzero temperatures, the Massachusetts National Guard is called out to battle the Polar Vortex, eventually cornering it inside a Costco store near Boston, where it barricades itself along with several dozen hostages who are forced to survive by eating caramel cheddar popcorn from containers the size of hot tubs. 

In sports, the largest audience in American TV history tunes in to watch one of the most anticipated Super Bowls in years, pitting the Denver Broncos against the Seattle Seahawks in a historic matchup so boring that the entire second half is pre-empted by Bud Light commercials. In other football news, Michael Sam, a defensive end for the University of Missouri, makes history by becoming the first Division I college football player to openly declare that he actually attended some classes. 

But the big sports story takes place in Sochi, where Russia hosts the Winter Olympics. Despite fears of violence, the games go smoothly until late in the opening ceremony, when — in what observers view as a troubling omen — the Russian biathlon team wipes out the entire Ukrainian delegation. 

General Motors recalls 800,000 Chevrolet Cobalts and Pontiac G5s after tests show they don’t always have enough wheels. President Obama hosts a state dinner for French President François “Le Muffin de Stud” Hollande, who arrives at the White House driving a red scooter with two women riding on the back and three more chasing on foot.

In politics, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, responding to a radio interviewer’s questions about his alleged role in the 2013 “Bridgegate” lane-closure scandal, eats the interviewer. And in a historic policy shift, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder announces that same-sex married couples will henceforth be subject to the same incomprehensible tax laws as everybody else.

Speaking of incomprehensible, in… 


…the news is dominated by the baffling disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, which has millions of viewers tuning in to CNN to follow its round-the-clock exclusive video coverage of random unidentified objects floating in the ocean that might be airplane pieces — although they never actually turn out to BE airplane pieces, but they MIGHT have been — accompanied by countless hours of analysis by a wide array of experts who have no more actual knowledge of what happened to Flight 370 than the people selling jewelry on the Home Shopping Network. 

Abroad, the big story involves the Crimea, which until now many of us thought was a disease, as in “Bob has a bad case of the Crimea,” but which turns out to be a part of Ukraine that Russia wants to annex. As tension mounts in the region, the United States and the European Union issue Stern Warnings to Russia, such as “You better not annex the Crimea!” And: “Don’t make us turn this car around!” Nevertheless Russia goes ahead and annexes it, forcing the U.S. and Europe to escalate from Stern Warnings to Harsh Sanctions, including the suspension of Vladimir Putin’s Netflix account.

In other international developments, Bill Clinton discreetly inquires about the legal requirements involved in running for president of France.

Hopes for an end to the brutal winter weather are dashed when the Polar Vortex, having disguised itself as a warm front, manages to slip past surrounding Massachusetts National Guard troops and escape moments before the Costco is leveled by artillery fire, destroying two-thirds of the state’s supply of jerky.

On a happier note, Colorado announces that it has already collected marijuana sales taxes totaling $2million, which the state plans to spend on “a subwoofer the size of Delaware.”

General Motors recalls 1.5million more cars to correct a steering issue that causes certain models to deliberately aim for elderly pedestrians.

In a development that surprises film critics, Academy Awards voters, apparently hoping to woo a younger audience, award the Oscar for Best Picture to Sharknado. 

Speaking of surprises, in…


…Russia, ignoring both the Stern Warnings and the Harsh Sanctions, continues its military intervention in Ukraine, leaving the United States with no choice but to deploy the ultimate weapon: Joe Biden, who is sent to Kiev to deliver a Strong Rebuke, followed by dinner.

On the domestic front, U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius, who oversaw the rollout of Obamacare, resigns from the cabinet to take a position overseeing email storage for the Internal Revenue Service.

In an aviation miracle, a 15-year-old boy sneaks into the landing-gear compartment of a Hawaiian Airlines Boeing 767 and somehow survives a five-hour flight from San Jose to Maui. Hours later major U.S. airlines jointly announce that they are offering “an exciting new seating option for budget-minder flyers who enjoy fresh air.” 

In financial news, India edges ahead of Japan to become the world’s third-largest economy in purchasing power, behind JayZ and Beyonce. 

General Motors, in what analysts view as a shrewd tactical move, announces that it is recalling 435,000 Fords. Tyson Foods recalls 75,000 pounds of frozen chicken nuggets following reports that some of them may contain chicken. 

On a happier note, the Polar Vortex finally goes back to Canada after becoming involved in a street altercation with Alec Baldwin. 

In sports, Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling, whose racist comments have sparked widespread outrage, is given the NBA’s harshest possible punishment: season tickets to the Knicks. 

Speaking of harsh punishments, in… 


…the United States and Europe, which are really starting to lose patience with Russia’s actions in Ukraine, announce that they intend to “seriously consider” taking steps that could ultimately result in the cancellation of Vladimir Putin’s American Express card.

Meanwhile in Thailand, where people have the best names on Earth, Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra is found guilty of abuse of power by the Constitutional Court, whose members include Nurak Marpraneet, Taweekiat Meenakanit, Udomsak Nitimontree and of course Boonsong Kulbupar. Yingluck is replaced by caretaker prime minister Niwatthamrong Boonsongpaisan. There will be a quiz on this. 

In domestic news, the Department of Veterans Affairs is engulfed in scandal following revelations that some VA hospitals are just now getting around to treating veterans of the War of 1812. Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric Shinseki tells a Senate committee that he is “mad as hell” about this, but he ends up resigning after he is out-angered by President Obama, who according to a top aide is “madder than hell.” Numerous Republicans declare that they, too, are extremely mad. Basically everybody in Washington is hopping mad about this scandal, leaving little doubt that it is only a matter of time before some strongly worded reports are generated. 

Also resigning from the government is White House press spokesperson Jay Carney, who plans to pursue a career as a Magic 8-Ball specializing in “Reply hazy try again.” 

In sports, the month’s biggest event is the National Football League draft, which draws 32 million viewers, who tune in to witness the high-voltage excitement of Roger Goodell walking to a microphone every 10 minutes to read a name, kind of like a slower version of Bingo. The Kentucky Derby is won by a 2005 Chevrolet Malibu that escaped the steering recall. 

And the sports excitement continues in… 


…as the World Cup soccer tournament gets under way in Brazil, where, in a surprise first-round elimination, the highly regarded Spanish team is consumed by an anaconda. The Russian team is also eliminated in the first round but is able to remain in the tournament — over the strongly worded objections of the American team —by annexing the Belgian team.

In Washington scandal news, the Internal Revenue Service, responding to a subpoena, tells congressional investigators that it cannot produce 28 months of Lois Lerner’s emails because the hard drive they were stored on failed, and the hard drive was thrown away, and the backup tapes were erased, and no printed copies were saved — contrary to the IRS’s own record-keeping policy, which was eaten by the IRS’s dog. “It was just one crazy thing after another,” states the IRS, “and it got us to thinking: All these years we’ve been subjecting taxpayers to everything short of rectal probes if they can’t produce EVERY SINGLE DOCUMENT WE WANT, and here we lose YEARS worth of official records! So from now on, if taxpayers tell us they lost something, or just plain forgot to make a tax payment, we’ll be like, ‘Hey, whatever! Stuff happens!’ Because who are we to judge?”

But all kidding aside, you can bet that before this thing is over there will be a strongly worded report.

As California’s brutal drought worsens, state law-enforcement agents, operating under emergency authority granted by the legislature, raid Cher’s home and confiscate an estimated $3million worth of moisturizer. 

Speaking of brutal, in… 


…the Ukrainian crisis intensifies when a Malaysia Airlines plane is shot down over Ukraine by a missile apparently fired by separatists backed by Russia. This is the last straw for the U.S. and Europe, which retaliate swiftly with a stern statement warning that any Russians planning to dine in U.S. or European restaurants in the future can expect to receive “very slow service.” 

In other July Russia-related news, the Russian space agency launches a six-ton satellite carrying, among other animals, five geckos — four female and one male — as part of an experiment to determine how weightlessness will affect their sex lives. Sex Geckos In Space! We are not making this item up.

In state news, Colorado calls up Mexico at 1:30 a.m. and attempts to place a takeout order for 65,000 beef chimichangas. 

General Motors, in an efficiency move, announces that it will start recalling cars while they are still on the assembly line. 

In sports, LeBron James decides to return to Cleveland, revealing his decision in a heartfelt and deeply personal first-person essay written by Lee Jenkins. Overjoyed Cavaliers fans rush to purchase LeBron James jerseys to replace the ones they burned when he left. The Tour de France is won by Derek Jeter as part of his seemingly endless farewell tour. 

Speaking of seemingly endless, in… 


…President Obama announces that the U.S. military, which finally, with much fanfare, managed to get out of Iraq after a long string of operations including Operation Desert Fox, Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation New Dawn, is commencing an operation in … Iraq. This new operation — against a group called “ISIL,” an acronym that stands for “ISIS” — is hampered when a technical glitch causes the Pentagon’s Operation Name Generator to spew out a string of unacceptable candidates, including Operation Staunch Bedspread, Operation Iron Tapeworm and Operation Thunderous Bidet. While technicians work to solve the problem, the military is forced to refer to the new operation as “Bob.” 

In other endless-conflict news, a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas is broken three-thousandths of a second after it is signed, setting a new Middle East record that is celebrated by rocket fire far into the night.

In Thailand, the national assembly chooses, as the new prime minister replacing Yingluck Shinawatra, General Prayut Chan-O-Cha, whose appointment becomes official when it is approved by King Bhumibol Adulyadej. 

In a potentially troubling development, Russia annexes Canada. 

Domestically, the big story is in Ferguson, Missouri, which is rocked by a wave of sometimes-violent protests following the fatal shooting of Michael Brown by police officer Darren Wilson. The shooting ignites a passionate national debate whose participants have basically as much solid information about what actually happened as they do about Malaysia Airlines Flight 370.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, responding to criticism of his handling of the Ray Rice case, announces a strict new policy under which the league will assume that an unconscious woman being dragged off an elevator “probably is not napping.” 

In entertainment news, the big winner in television’s Primetime Emmy Awards, taking home five Emmys including Outstanding Drama Series, is, to nobody’s surprise, Derek Jeter. 

Speaking of drama, in…


… the FBI announces that it is investigating the distribution of hundreds of naked-celebrity photos that were helpfully uploaded from the celebrities’ iPhones to the “cloud,” which also has all of your personal information despite the fact that you have NO idea what it is. An outraged Miley Cyrus threatens to sue Apple when she discovers that none of the photos are of her. 

In government news, the troubled Secret Service once again comes under withering criticism when an intruder is able to jump the White House fence, enter the White House through the front door, overpower a Secret Service agent, run through the Central Hall, enter the East Room, deliver a nationwide radio address and appoint four federal judges before being overpowered. In a congressional hearing probing the incident, the Secret Service director promises to improve White House security but suggests that in the meantime the First Family should “consider adopting a larger dog.” 

Abroad, Scottish voters, in a closely watched referendum, decide by a surprisingly large margin that they, too, hate bagpipe music. 

In a sad development, the Russian space agency announces that when the satellite containing the five geckos in the weightless-sex experiment returned from orbit, the geckos were dead. On a more positive note, the agency notes that “they were all smiling.” 

On the weather front, eastern Asia is hit by a tropical storm named (really) “Fung-wong.” Incredibly, Fung-wong does not strike Thailand. 

In the celebrity social event of the year, George Clooney marries Amal Alamuddin in what it is believed to be one of the most elaborate and expensive weddings ever held in a Chuck E. Cheese. Sources describe it as “like a fairy tale, until Anna Wintour threw up on Matt Damon in the ball pit.” 

But the mood turns less festive in… 


…when the Ebola virus takes center stage as a parade of medical authorities appear on cable news to assure the American public that there is absolutely no reason to panic about Ebola so we should just stay calm regarding Ebola because given what we know about Ebola there is probably no danger that you will get Ebola so just stop worrying about Ebola Ebola Ebola OMIGOD EBOLA! After a solid week of being reassured 24/7 about Ebola, the public has been soothed into a state of panic, which is not improved when the director of the Centers for Disease Control does an interview for CNN from inside a bubble. 

President Obama, responding decisively to the mounting crisis, appoints as his “Ebola Czar” Ron Klain, an attorney who is never heard from again. 

In military news, the Pentagon announces that it has finally come up with a name for the current U.S. actions in Iraq and Syria: “Operation Inherent Resolve.” Seriously, that is the actual name. They should have gone with Thunderous Bidet. 

In politics, the big story is the looming midterm elections, which have President Obama crisscrossing the nation at a hectic pace in a last-ditch effort to find a Democratic candidate willing to appear in public with him.

The president is finally able to schedule an event with 94-year-old R. Nordstrom Fleemer, who is running for his 17th term as road commissioner of Carwankle County, Tennessee. Mr. Fleemer appears pleased by the endorsement, although he refers to the president repeatedly as “Mr. Truman.” 

Abroad, Joko Widodo is sworn in as President of Indonesia, succeeding Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono. It is not known whether Widodo plans to visit Thailand, and if so whether he plans to take his eldest son, Gibran Rakabuming Raka. 

In baseball, the Giants defeat the Royals to win the World Series, with the Series MVP award going to Derek Jeter. 

Speaking of defeat, in…


…the Democrats get creamed in the midterm elections, which means the Republicans will control both houses of Congress as well as the road commissionership of Carwankle County, which R. Nordstrom Fleemer, despite being unopposed, loses badly, although his wife elects not to tell him. With the federal government now facing total gridlock, Republican and Democratic leaders realize that the only way they can attack the many serious problems facing the nation is to stop their endless cheap-shot partisan bickering and work together in the spirit of … Wow, this is some STRONG stuff I am smoking here.

In other political news, the debate over U.S. immigration policy intensifies when President Obama, in a move that infuriates Republicans, signs an executive order giving Texas back to Mexico. In a close vote, the U.S. Senate defeats the Keystone Pipeline, which would, at peak capacity, have delivered 830,000 barrels of oil per day from the Canadian tar sands to Leonardo DiCaprio’s yacht.

A monster early snowstorm paralyzes much of the nation, dumping more than four feet of snow on Buffalo, New York, which fortunately is uninhabited. As highways become impassible, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo declares a state of emergency moments before being carried off by a yeti.

In what some international observers see as a deliberate provocation, a Russian fighter jet shoots down the Goodyear Blimp.

On the science front, a module from the space probe Rosetta, having traveled 310 million miles, lands on a comet and sends back clear images of what astronomers identify, based on the planets orbiting it, as Kim Kardashian’s butt.

In a much-anticipated decision, a St. Louis County grand jury elects not to indict Darren Wilson, setting in motion a vintage performance of the timeless Kabuki theater of American racial relations, with all parties — blacks, whites, conservatives, progressives, politicians, the media, police, protesters, racists, rioters and of course the Rev. Al Sharpton — playing their traditional roles and delivering their traditional lines, following a script that could have been written five years ago, or 10, so there is no risk that anybody will say, do or think anything remotely unexpected, or emerge in any way changed. (This doesn’t apply to YOU, of course. I’m talking about everybody else.)

As the month draws to a close, the healing begins, with the Thanksgiving holiday bringing Americans of all races and religions together to fight over discounted electronics.

Speaking of fighting, in…


…President Obama, moving to fill the cabinet vacancy created by the resignation of Chuck Hagel, announces — in what is seen as a major shift in military policy — that his new Secretary of Defense will be Chuck Norris. The nomination is swiftly approved by the Senate Armed Services Committee after Norris, in lieu of making an opening statement at his confirmation hearing, reduces the witness table to kindling with his forehead.

But the biggest White House surprise comes later in the month, when the president announces he has reached an agreement under which Cuba will release two prisoners, in return for which the Castro brothers will receive $274 million worth of Viagra.

In other political news, Rob Portman announces he will not run for president in 2016, setting off a nationwide frenzy of Googling by people wondering who “Rob Portman” is. Fortunately, there are still plenty of politicians in both major parties thinking about getting into the race, thereby assuring that the voters will ultimately be able to choose their next president from a wide range of fresh, exciting options, be it Jeb Bush or Hillary Clinton.

Elsewhere on the political front, Democrats on the Senate Intelligence Committee release an explosive and controversial report alleging that the CIA repeatedly poured buckets of ice water on people’s heads. CIA defenders claim this was done for a good cause, although nobody is sure what it is. Former Vice President Dick Cheney, appearing on NBC’s Meet the Press, bites the head off a live rabbit. 

Air travel in the Midwest is disrupted when four unscheduled Russian bombers land at O’Hare during rush hour and refuse to leave until they receive fuel and Egg McMuffins. Prince William and Kate, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, arrive in New York City for a whirlwind visit that begins with a four-hour ride from the airport to their hotel in a taxi with a driver complaining the entire time about Uber.

In entertainment news, Sony Pictures announces that it has begun production of a major new film tentatively titled Kim Jong Un: God, or Deity?

In sports, the top college football teams play in the traditional year-end bowl games, including the TaxSlayer Bowl, the Bitcoin Bowl, the Popeyes Bahamas Bowl, the Duck Commander Bowl and the Thunderous Bidet Bowl. All but one of these are actual bowl games.

In another year-end tradition, millions of children stay up late on Christmas Eve, eagerly awaiting the arrival of Santa Claus, who unfortunately is delayed because five of his reindeer were recalled by GM.

As the year draws to a close, happy revelers jam New York’s Times Square to watch the traditional dropping of the illuminated ball, while in Denver a mellower throng gathers to ring in the new year with the lighting of the Two Hundred Foot Doobie. And all across America, voices join in singing Auld Lang Syne, the beloved traditional song that makes no sense.

Which makes it perfect for 2014.

Maybe 2015 will be better. We can hope, right? It might help if we stand downwind of Denver.

Anyway, Happy New Year.


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