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2015 was a lousy year

TOM BURGUM
Staff Columnist
burgum@lbknews.com

There are times, if you can believe it, when I’m accused of being overly negative in my weekly columns. One critic opined that I’m not only negative but also not funny. My wife has been a member of this chorus for some time. Just a week ago, she said in no uncertain terms that referring to John Kerry as a human hemorrhoid was an uncalled for and unjustified criticism of our Secretary of State.

Look, I apologize for my often tactless criticism of our public officials but I point out in self-defense that 2015 was a lousy year and any columns written last year would necessarily dwell on the negatives because they were being written during a year that seemed to promote the stupid and the disgusting.

Don’t try to tell me that 2015 was not a particularly bad year because I believe it was one of the worst. If you recall, as Dave Berry points out, we were exposed to a solid week in which the news media focused intensively on the question of whether a leading candidate for president of the United States had made an explicit reference to a prominent female TV journalist’s biological cycle. That actually happened last year and it was only one of the bad things we faced.

Just remember that January 7th saw the introduction of the Jihadists New Year in Europe. The holy warriors slaughtered virtually the entire senior staff of Charlie Hebdo and launched a year long assault on free speech.

World leaders gathered to announce they are friends of France. President Obama chose not to join the parade so John Kerry flew into Paris with James Taylor who sang “You’ve Got a Friend” in France. It was, I think, Mark Steyn who thought this bold action on the part of the United States could strike fear into the hearts of terrorists, who now fear that our Secretary of State is fully capable, if necessary, of unleashing Barry Manilow. You have to ask yourself, would a nation that refuses to water board stoop to unleashing the likes of Manilow.

The attacks in Copenhagen were followed by the mass beheading of 21 Christians in Derma. Our government attributed to the attacks and the beheadings as the results of a lack of job opportunities. Really, no failed attempt at humor here.

The concept of free speech suffered throughout the year. The cartoonist, Garry Trudeau of Doonesbury fame,  thought it appropriate to blame the columnists at Charlie Hebdo. He believed, it seemed, that no one had the right to offend anyone and persons so offended cannot be blamed therefore for any acts of murder.

In November of 2015, John Kerry gave an equally contemptible reaction to the carnage in France. In his last visit, he contrasted the terrorist attacks that took 129 lives in that city on a Friday night with the terrorist attack that took 11 lives at the Paris headquarters of the satirical weekly, Charlie Hebdo in January. Kerry said: “There’s something different about what happened from Charlie Hebdo, and I think everybody would feel that. There was a sort of particularized focus and perhaps even a legitimacy in terms of − not a legitimacy, but a rationale that you could attach yourself to and somehow and say, OK they’re really angry because of this and that this Friday was absolutely indiscriminate. It wasn’t to aggrieve one particular sense of wrong. It was to terrorize people. It was to attack everything we do stand for.”

In short, if someone criticizes your religion, your desire to murder them is understandable. Pope Francis, who expressed incomprehension at the Friday’s attacks, was more empathetic after the Charlie Hebdo massacre saying “It’s only human to respond with violence when someone insults your religion.” Really, Pope Francis? Do you mean that Catholics, Baptists, Methodists and other Christians can now respond to  criticism from the likes of Christopher Hitchens  or Bill Maher with violence, or does our Secretary of State or the Pope refer only to the Muslims’ right to punish apostasy.

If 2015 seemed a bit questionable, the current campaign for president promises little improvement. Bernie Sanders, an aging socialist from Vermont, has proclaimed that climate change is the root cause of terrorism. When Hillary Clinton and Sanders met in what can politely be termed a political debate, Lincoln Chafee joined them and he should have been grateful that the security officials at the debate didn’t escort him from the stage at gun point.

The Republican side of the presidential contest is even more puzzling. Donald Trump currently leads the field with around 30 percent of the vote. Cruz and Rubio seem to threaten him but at some distance. The Republican political debates featured a fractured stage. People like Mike Huckabee, Ben Carson, Rand Paul, Bobby Jindal, Rick Santorum, Scott Walker, and so many others can’t really believe the American public eagerly awaits the opportunity to send any one of them to the White House.

Trump campaigns about the country, issuing proclamations about the country and its future. He doesn’t seem to have any ideas of what he is going to do but that may only be because he spends his time issuing criticism of other candidates or media types who have said anything critical of Trump.

Trump was mildly perplexed when a British Court rejected an attempt by the Donald to block construction of a wind farm near his luxury golf resort in northeast Scotland. The court was concerned that he thought he was a Kennedy.

The Republican side of the contest brightened up a bit with a New York Times headline: “Hillary Clinton to Show More Humor and Heart aides say.” Ms. Clinton reportedly will display 17 percent more humor and 23 percent more heart. One of the Clinton aides said Mrs. Clinton will also engage some voters in banter. What we have to wait for. Hillary bantering with voters.  We may actually miss 2015 if we get a lot of this.

As 2015 staggered to a close, we set aside our differences, maybe only briefly, and joined the new tradition of watching the college finalists enter the playing field to determine a new national champion. This should be a wondrous series of games and only cause a split in the country if Bill Belichick is put in charge of inflating the footballs.  So happy New Year to all.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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