It was an extremely eventful year.
We are using “eventful” in the sense of “bad.”
It was a year so eventful that every time another asteroid whizzed past the Earth, barely avoiding a collision that would have destroyed human civilization, we were not 100% certain it was good news.
We could not keep up with all the eventfulness. The epicenter of the year’s eventfulness was, of course, Washington, an endlessly erupting scandal volcano, belching out dense, swirling smoke-plumes of spin, rumor, innuendo, misdirection and lies emitted by both sides.
Meanwhile, from out beyond the Beltway, the actual American people warily watched the perpetual tantrum that was supposed to be their government. And more and more their reaction, whatever side they considered themselves to be on, was: Nah.
Can we say anything good about 2019? Was there any positive news, a silver lining, a reason to feel hopeful about the future — to believe that we, as Americans, can recognize our common interests, overcome our differences and work together to build a better tomorrow, for ourselves, for our children and for the world?
Anyway, before we shove 2019 down the garbage disposal of history, let’s take one look back and remind ourselves why we want to forget this train wreck of a year, starting with ...
... which begins with the federal government once again in the throes (whatever a “throe” is) of a partial shutdown, which threatens to seriously disrupt the lives of all Americans who receive paychecks from the federal government. At issue is the situation at the Mexican border, which either is or is not a crisis depending on which cable news network you prefer. President Donald Trump wants a high concrete wall, but at the moment there is only enough money for a sternly worded south-facing billboard.
Finally the president and Congress reach a temporary budget agreement that will not address the border situation but will enable them to resume spending insane amounts of money that the nation does not have until such time as they are able to reach a permanent budget agreement enabling them to continue spending insane amounts of money that the nation does not have, this being the primary function of our federal leadership.
Meanwhile in the Robert Mueller investigation, which feels like it began during the French and Indian War, a grand jury indicts longtime Trump confidante Roger Stone on a number of charges, including that he threatened to kidnap another witness’s therapy dog, Bianca (really).
Abroad, Britain is in turmoil over Brexit, which is a very important thing we should all endeavor to learn about.
In sports, the Los Angeles Rams win the National Football Conference championship game after the referees, on a critical play, fail to notice when a Rams defensive back attacks a New Orleans Saints receiver with a chainsaw.
Responding to the ensuing outrage, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell says he will “conduct a thorough review of league policy regarding power tools,” adding that “New England is scheduled to win the Super Bowl anyway.”
In other sports news, the Clemson football team defeats Alabama to win the national championship and is rewarded with an invite to the White House for a classy shindig. “I served them massive amounts of Fast Food (I paid), over 1000 hamberders,” tweets the president, who by his own admission has a genius-level IQ.
From somewhere beyond our solar system hostile aliens are monitoring all this and concluding that they need not waste energy exterminating humanity, as we’re doing fine on our own.
Speaking of hostile, in...
...Trump, despite suffering from bone spurs, goes to Vietnam for a second summit with North Korea’s Kim Jong Un. After a one-on-one closed-room meeting, the two leaders agree via hand gestures that next time they should definitely bring interpreters.
In domestic politics, Virginia is rocked by a series of scandals involving elected Democratic state officials, originating with the publication of a 1984 photo from Gov. Ralph Northam’s medical school yearbook page showing a man in blackface. Northam initially says he is “deeply sorry” for appearing in the photo; the next day, however, he calls a press conference to declare that he does not believe he is in the photo, although he does recall one time that he WAS in blackface, that being when he entered a dance contest dressed as Michael Jackson and did the moonwalk. Northam further asserts that he won the contest, and at the request of a reporter appears to be on the verge of demonstrating to the press corps that he can still moonwalk, only to be stopped by his wife. We are not making any of this up.
As pressure builds on Northam to resign, Virginia Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax prepares to succeed him, only to become embroiled in a scandal of his own when he is accused of sexual assault. The third person in line is Attorney General Mark Herring, who, several days after calling on Northam to resign for wearing blackface, issues a statement admitting that as a college student HE wore blackface when he went to a party as rapper Kurtis Blow. We are still not making this up.
At this point Virginia’s political leaders realize that if they keep moving down the chain of succession they’re going to wind up with a Labrador retriever as governor, or, worse, a Republican. And just like that the Great Virginia Scandals of 2019 go “poof.”
Abroad, Brexit continues to be a very important thing with many significant developments.
In sports, the New England Patriots, led by 63-year-old Tom Brady, defeat the Los Angeles Rams 13-3 in a Super Bowl featuring one touchdown and 14 punts. During the national anthem, TV cameras clearly capture Patriots coach Bill Belichick pouring liquid from a bottle labeled “SEDATIVES” into the Rams’ Gatorade, but the NFL referee crew fails to notice. Asked about this after the game, Commissioner Roger Goodell says, “To be honest, I was watching Netflix.”
Speaking of being overdue, in...
...Mueller finally delivers his report to Attorney General William Barr, who promises to release it to the public “as soon as we have blacked out the sex parts.”
The cable news networks prepare for the release by bringing in panels of distinguished legal authorities to declare that the report means exactly the opposite of whatever the distinguished legal panels on the enemy networks are declaring it means.
In other political developments, Trump, faced with mounting hostility from congressional Democrats, spends several days vigorously attacking — J0ohn McCain. For the record, McCain (a) was a Republican, and (b) died in 2018.
Abroad, Brexit continues to be a matter of grave concern, and for good reason.
The higher-education community is rocked by scandal when federal prosecutors charge 50 people, including test administrators, wealthy parents and college coaches, in connection with a widespread bribery and fraud scheme to get students admitted to some of the nation’s most prestigious universities.
In one particularly egregious case, Yale admitted Trevor Buncombe-Plotzner IV, who supposedly was recruited to play varsity badminton, despite the fact that (1) Yale does not have a varsity badminton team, and (2) Trevor is a cat.
In a controversial legal development, actor Jussie Smollett, who was indicted by a grand jury for allegedly faking a hate crime against himself, has all charges dropped by Chicago prosecutors following a review of the evidence by an NFL officiating crew.
Speaking of legal matters, in...
...Barr finally releases the Mueller report, which accomplishes two things:
— It finally settles, to everyone’s satisfaction, all the controversies surrounding the 2016 presidential election.
— It proves that oysters speak German and can play the trombone.
Just kidding! In fact the Mueller report does neither of these things, although it comes closer to the second accomplishment than the first. The pro-Trump people say the report proves there was no collusion; the anti-Trump people say it proves Trump obstructed justice, which means that it is, at last, IMPEACHMENT TIME, BABY. Both sides emit thousands of impassioned tweets, which go unread by the American public, which long ago moved on to “Game of Thrones.”
In other political news, Joe Biden launches his estimated 17th presidential campaign, with the slogan: “Let Uncle Joe Give You A Great Big Hug.” Biden immediately becomes the leader of the crowded Democratic field based on the fact that his name sounds vaguely familiar.
Elsewhere abroad, Brexit continues to be a vitally important thing.
In entertainment news, “Avengers: Endgame” breaks box office records, proving that now, more than ever, people crave stories about time-traveling superheroes using magic stones to defeat a genocidal intergalactic warlord with no neck.
Speaking of long-running dramas, in...
... Mueller resigns as special counsel, saying that he plans to return to private life and “whimper in the fetal position.” In his final statement, he clears up any lingering confusion about his investigation by noting that the Justice Department cannot charge the president with a federal crime, adding, “not that I am, or am not, saying, or not saying, that the president did, or did not, do anything that was, or was not, illegal. Or, not.”
Congressional Democrats, firm in their belief that the American public wants nothing more than to continue refighting the 2016 election until the Earth crashes into the sun, take Mueller’s statement as a call for IMPEACHMENT TIME, BABY.
As far as we are aware, none of this has anything to do with Brexit.
On the domestic political front, among those entering the Democratic presidential race is New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, who, having solved all of his city’s problems, announces that he is running under the campaign slogan “This Slogan Is Currently Out of Order.” De Blasio heads for Iowa, where he quickly surges to 13,357th in the Des Moines Register/CNN poll.
In sports, the Kentucky Derby is won by Country House after the apparent winner, Maximum Security, is disqualified for trampling an NFL officiating crew on the backstretch.
Speaking of violence, in ...
... tensions in the Mideast, which have been escalating for more than 3,000 years, escalate still further when Iran attacks two oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman, then shoots down a U.S. spy drone. In retaliation, Trump orders a military strike against Iran, only to call it off at the last minute when he is advised that it could result in serious damage to a golf course.
Later in the month, Trump becomes the first sitting U.S. president to set foot in North Korea, where he and Kim Jong Un engage in denuclearization talks.
This seems like a good place to mention Brexit.
San Francisco, always on the forefront, becomes the first U.S. city to ban exhaling, which according to scientists is a leading cause of carbon dioxide. Meanwhile, the city of Riviera Beach, Fla., pays nearly $600,000 in bitcoin to hackers who paralyzed the city’s computer system by attacking it with “ransomware,” which is sort of like a Windows update except that at least there’s somebody who knows how to fix it.
Speaking of Internet menaces, in ...
...Trump turns his attention to four Democratic first-term members of Congress known as “The Squad,” tweeting that if they hate America so much they should they should “go back” to where they come from. Critics note that three of the four were born in the very same nation as Trump, not to mention the fact that the “go back” thing is an old racist taunt, leaving the president with no decent course of action but to issue an apology. So, of course, that is not what he does. What he does is tweet additional criticisms of The Squad, along with the assertion that “I don’t have a racist bone in my body!” (The exclamation mark proves it’s true!)
In other political news, an exhausted-looking Mueller makes his 237th appearance before the House Kabuki Theater Committee, and the entire nation tunes in, except for those parts of the nation located outside of Washington, D.C. Mueller says little that is new, generally limiting his answers to “yes,” “no” and, when an aide pokes him awake, “ouch.” Under questioning, Mueller seems surprisingly unfamiliar with his own team’s report, at one point stating, in response to a question, that he had never heard of any “Vladimir Putin.”
Trump declares that the hearing proves the whole investigation was a WITCH HUNT! Congressional Democrats say it proves that it is IMPEACHMENT TIME, BABY. Bears continue to poop in the woods.
Abroad, a person named “Boris,” who apparently styles his hair with a commercial leaf blower, becomes prime minister of England, a development that very likely could have something to do with Brexit.
The news turns grim in ...
... when the nation is shocked by two horrific mass shootings, which spur a Serious National Conversation about gun violence, in which sincere and committed individuals on both sides — at long last — openly and honestly talk to people on their own side about how stupid and evil everybody on the other side is. This goes on for several days, after which the shootings drift out of the news until it’s time for the next Serious National Conversation.
Conspiracy theories swirl in the wake of the death of millionaire pedophile Jeffrey Epstein, who committed suicide in a New York City federal prison cell despite supposedly being under the close supervision of an NFL officiating crew.
Another bee buzzing around in the presidential bonnet during August is Greenland, which Trump decides the United States should try to purchase, since it has a strategic location and is potentially the source of more than 70% of the world’s supply of frostbite. It turns out, however, that Greenland belongs to Denmark, which for some reason wants to keep it. “We’re not for sale,” states Greenland’s Minister of Education, Culture, Church and Foreign Affairs, whose name — we are not making this up — is “Ane Lone Bagger.”
It is not immediately clear where Ane Lone Bagger stands on Brexit.
In other August news, Popeye’s introduces a chicken sandwich to compete with Chick-Fil-A’s chicken sandwich. Also there are massive pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong and the Amazon rain forest is burning, but the Battle of the Chicken Sandwiches definitely generates more excitement.
Speaking of excitement ...
... begins with Trump facing a major crisis involving the crucial issue of whether Alabama was, or was not, ever actually threatened by Hurricane Dorian. The crisis erupts on Sept. 1, when, with Dorian moving toward the U.S. mainland, the president tweets that Alabama is among the states that will “most likely be hit (much) harder than anticipated.” Minutes later the National Weather Service responds with a statement that “Alabama will NOT see any impacts from #Dorian.”
At this point the president acknowledges that he made a minor mistake, thus laying the issue to rest and freeing everyone to focus on more important matters.
Ha ha! That would never happen. Donald Trump did not get where he is by allowing himself to be corrected about the weather by any so-called “National Weather Service.” The president mounts an intensive, multi-day, multi-tweet offensive on the Alabama issue, highlighted by an Oval Office meeting with reporters during which he displays a week-old National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration map proving conclusively that Alabama was in fact threatened by a black line that was obviously added to the map by an inept amateur with a Sharpie.
The crisis continues for several more days, with the president refusing to back down or drop the subject, very much the way Winston Churchill, in the darkest hours of World War II, stood firm when England, alone, faced the menacing forces of the National Weather Service.
Bill de Blasio drops out of the Democratic presidential race, bitterly disappointing the citizens of New York when they learn that he plans to resume mayoring them.
In international news (we are counting Canada as a foreign country), Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is embarrassed by the publication of yet another photograph — this is the third time — of him wearing blackface. The good news for Trudeau is that this moves him up to fourth in the line of succession for the governorship of Virginia.
Meanwhile in Great Britain, Brexit continues to cause everybody over there to be quite agitated, for British people.
As September draws to a close, Trump finds himself facing what could prove to be his biggest single crisis of the entire month when a whistleblower accuses him of improperly pressuring Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky in a July phone call to investigate Joe Biden and Joe’s son Hunter’s connections with a Ukrainian energy company, which at one point was paying Hunter $50,000 a month, apparently for his expertise in the field of receiving large sums of money.
In a surprise move, Trump orders the release of a rough transcript of the call, which proves conclusively whatever you want it to prove depending on whether you are on Side A or Side B. Congressional Democrats declare that it is a Smoking Gun, which means that, at last, it is IMPEACHMENT TIME, BABY, AND THIS TIME WE REALLY MEAN IT. Trump declares that this is just another WITCH HUNT and emits an unusually high volume of tweets in which he sounds increasingly like a derelict arguing with himself in an alley next to a convenience store, but not as coherent.
While all this is happening the U.S. budget deficit approaches $1 trillion, but everybody in Washington is WAY too excited about the Impeachment Drama to even think about it.
The excitement continues in ...
... when Washington whips itself into a frenzy. For the Democrats, there is good news and bad news. The good news is that Trump’s poll numbers are down. The bad news is that the Democrats are ... the Democrats. Their front-runner, Joe Biden, continues to struggle on the campaign trail.
Poised to eclipse Biden is Elizabeth Warren (campaign slogan: “She Is MUCH Smarter Than You”) with her “Medicare for All” plan, which she says will cost an additional $20.5 trillion, with the “.5” proving that she has this thing figured out right down to the penny. Warren says her plan will not raise taxes on the middle class because all the money will come from greedy corporations, greedy billionaires and various cost efficiencies, which, of course, is what the federal government is famous for.
In foreign affairs, Trump surprises everybody, possibly including himself, by suddenly pulling U.S. troops out of Syria, thus throwing the region into even more turmoil than usual, which is a lot of turmoil. During the confusion, U.S. forces conduct a daring raid that results in the death of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, thus removing him from the line of succession for the governorship of Virginia. And, of course, no discussion of foreign affairs would be complete without some mention of Brexit.
In sports, Simone Biles becomes the first gymnast to perform a floor routine that requires clearance from the Federal Aviation Administration. In another “feel good” sports story, the New York Yankees, with by far the highest payroll in baseball, complete an entire decade without even getting into the World Series. Meanwhile concern mounts over the state of NFL officiating after a Lions-Packers game in which, late in the fourth quarter, the teams play two consecutive downs without a single penalty being called. “It won’t happen again,” vows Commissioner Goodell.
Speaking of mounting concern, in ...
... it is finally IMPEACHMENT TIME FOR REAL, ALMOST, as the House Committee on Endless Squabbling holds a classic congressional hearingpalooza featuring Bombshell Testimony, Gaveling, Points of Order, Yielding of Time, False Civility, Really Long Questions That Are Not Actually Questions and all the other elements that would make for riveting drama if everybody on the planet didn’t already know the outcome, specifically that the Democrats would conclude that the president committed impeachable offenses, and the Republicans would conclude that he didn’t.
Conan, a Belgian Malinois who was injured in the Delta Force raid that resulted in the death of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, is invited to the White House, where Trump, in recognition of the heroic dog’s service to the nation, appoints him Secretary of the Navy.
In other political news, Michael Bloomberg enters the Democratic presidential field, declaring that “what America needs, now more than ever, is a rich aging white male New Yorker with a huge ego.”
Also still happening abroad, to the best of our knowledge, is Brexit.
The month draws to a close with the Thanksgiving holiday, a time when families gather to argue about politics according to helpful guides written on this topic each year by people from other planets, as opposed to Earth, where families gather to argue about pass interference. At the White House, Trump, carrying on a lighthearted holiday tradition, “pardons” two turkeys, named Bread and Butter. Within seconds they are eaten by Secretary of the Navy Conan.
The capital carnage intensifies in ...
... when House Democrats decide that IT REALLY REALLY IS IMPEACHMENT TIME SERIOUSLY PEOPLE THIS IS NOT A DRILL. This sets the stage for a historic trial in the Senate, after which (Spoiler Alert!) the Democrats will vote to convict and the Republicans will vote to acquit and we will be back to exactly where we started with no minds changed and Sides A and B hating each other more than ever.
In other political news, Joe Biden, seeking to add some “zing” to his presidential campaign, tours Iowa in a bus sporting, in big letters, his new slogan: “No Malarkey!” (“Malarkey” is an ancient Gaelic word meaning “clue.”) This slogan was selected after being tested on a focus group of voters, half of whom were senior citizens, and the other half of whom were dead. The runner-up slogans were “You’re Darned Tooting He Can Cut The Mustard!” and “Stay Off His Lawn!”
Kamala Harris drops out of the race, reducing the number of leading Democratic contenders to 58, an estimated one-third of whom are billionaires. Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton continues to hint that she might run again at the urging of many highly respected voices that only she can hear. In Iowa voter polling, the front-runner remains Pete “Pete” Buttigieg, followed closely by a surging Baby Yoda.
And let’s not forget about Brexit.
Finally, mercifully, this highly eventful year draws to a close. As New Year’s Eve approaches, the nation pauses to look back on 2019 and throw up a little bit in its national mouth. But then the nation looks forward to 2020, and it feels faint stirrings of hope in its national heart. Because America has been bitterly divided before.
There was the Civil War, for example, and that time when we could not agree on the color of that dress on the internet. If we got through those troubles, we can get through the current ones. Because in the end, despite our political differences, we’re all Americans, and we care about each other, and want the best possible future for everyone. Right?
But Happy New Year anyway.