We've survived 2017, taking no bets on 2018

BC by Mastroianni and Hart
BC by Mastroianni and Hart

| "Drop a giant ball and hope for the best" — pretty much sums it up.

New Year's eve, amongst the usual suspects, has become a matter of getting together, usually at Réal's place, to share food, drinks, and a lot of laughs while watching Anderson Cooper banter on CNN with Andy Cohen (formerly Kathy Griffin before she went overboard with the Trump head and got fired). Then, after the ball drops in Times Square and with appropriate heartfelt wishes for a happy, healthy, and prosperous new year, we disperse to our individual abodes to be sure of being off the road before the police set up their DUI checkpoints. By midnight in the west, we are all sound asleep.

Then the new year dawns and there is always a feeling of anti-climax. This is it? Just another day? What was all that hoopla about, anyway?

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Fifteen years of Chronicles
15+ years of Chronicles

Since it is now 2018, I had to add another year to the structure of my website for this article, and that brought me face-to-face with the realization that I have been writing these Chronicles for more than 15 years, having begun with my retirement from HP in 2002. My how time flies when you're having fun!

Maybe I'll spend part of this year going back and reading the entire oeuvre. I've occasionally dipped back into it to settle one of those "When did we...?" questions that always seem to come up, but I've never re-read the whole thing. I just hope I don't have the same reaction that I had when I decided to read the entire published works of Anthony Trollope: by the time I was done, it was clear he should have stopped long before he did.

One thing is certain about 2018: it's going to be a helluva year, what with elections coming up in November. They can't come a moment too soon, as far as I'm concerned, but I confess to having a dread that in the face of opportunity to depose the rascals (actually "rascals" is too mild a word for the malignant, nefarious GOP) from power, the Democrats will find another way to blow it.

The end of 2017 was marked by frantic fund-raising, and I received email pleas from dozens of Democratic office holders, usually filed with alarming words and phrases like "tonight's important FEC deadline" and "critical chance to support" and "continue to protect" and "hold accountable" and "RUSH $5 or anything you can to help us cross the finish line." Frankly, I'm totally fed up with pseudo "surveys" that are really just requests for donations. I get that politicians need to raise piles of cash to run campaigns, but just occasionally I'd like to get an email that deals with a substantive issue: Dear Paul, Here's what I've been thinking about ... and what I think should be done." The closest anyone has come is Chris Murphy whose recent beg began, "Nothing upsets me more than the sheer inability of Congress to have a serious debate about the epidemic of gun violence in this country." Of course he went on to ask for a donation of $3, $10, $25, $50, $100 or more, but at least he grounded it in an issue he wants to do something about.

These are trying times for our country. So much damage has already been done by Trump and his syncophants and cronies, and vicious attacks are being launched on a daily basis against the press, courts and the "so-called judges," the rule of law, anyone investigating Trump. Everyone should be chilled to the bone by Trump's recent assertion in an interview with Michael Schmidt of the New York Times, "I have absolute right to do what I want to do with the Justice Department." And the mob of Republicans in the House wielding their torches and pitchforks in defense of Trump should give everybody pause.

Pearls Before Swine
Pearls Before Swine

Some people profess to be optimistic on the grounds that our institutions are holding — sort of.  As Benjamin Franklin famously said, we have "A republic, if you can keep it." That is the question of our times. Happy New Year!

Darrin Bell
The pessimist's view. By Darrin Bell

Last updated on Apr 13, 2018



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