By Susan Grigsby / Daily Kos
It is traditional at the end of the year to look back at the year’s events and rank them according to significance or popularity. In my youth, I used to enjoy the news reports that focused on the biggest stories of the year, mostly because I was too busy living to pay much attention to them while they were happening.
Now the years pass so quickly that I find year end round-ups to be a bit of a bore. It feels like January was last month. So instead of dwelling on the news stories that did happen and that everyone else will be covering, I decided to recount the top ten stories that were NOT written (because they did not happen) but that should have been written, and in the utopia of my imagination, DID occur. Here they are, in no particular order:
10. U.S. to fossil fuels industry: You are on your own
The federal government announced in September that over the next five years, it will phase out the annual $17.2 billion subsidy that the fossil fuel industry receives.
A portion of the savings will be passed on to alternative energy sources in the form of direct subsidies to the industries, and tax credits to residential solar and wind adopters. The bill also included a ban on fracking and mountaintop removal operations.
9. The arrival of Syrian refugees
In November 2015, just in time for Thanksgiving dinner, President Barack Obama welcomed the first of what will be 250,000 refugees from the war-torn Middle East. Many, forced to flee their Syrian homes in the face of the intolerant bigotry and barbaric savagery of ISIL, are grateful to find that America is as warm and welcoming as its legend has long proclaimed it to be.
Anxious to begin a new life, many spent their 18-to-24 month wait while being cleared for refugee status by the United Nations Refugee Agency, the National Counterterrorism Center, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Department of Homeland Security, and the Department of State learning English and studying the United States government and geography.
8. Wilson jailed
Darren Wilson began serving his 25-year-to-life sentence for the murder of 18-year-old Michael Brown. Brown, an unarmed African American, was guilty of jay-walking on a Ferguson, Missouri, street.
The U.S. Department of Justice has added a new requirement for state and local law enforcement agencies who receive federal dollars. Testing for anabolic steroids is now mandatory in any incident involving law enforcement use of force, whether justified or not.
7. GOP brawl
During the third GOP debate last Thursday, Rubio and Cruz came to blows on the floor of the debate stage in their continuing battle over who is the greater liar on amnesty. Not to be left out, Chris Christie started swearing about 5-year-old children and kicking at Rubio and Cruz while they were ineffectively wrestling each other on the highly polished stage floor.
Both Bush and Trump signaled for their lackeys to come up and enter the fray on their behalf. Trump offered Bush odds on the eventual winner. The moderators continued to ask all participants to please pay attention to the red lights which were displayed on their podiums. No one noticed what Kasich was doing at the time, but Ben Carson was seen shaking his head and repeating “Tsk, tsk.” And while Rand Paul was fleeing the stage, Carly Fiorina pulled her handgun from the podium and fired a shot into the air. The network cut to a commercial, but it appears that no one was seriously injured.
6. Mayor likely to recover
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, still fighting calls for his impeachment, was stopped for driving erratically on Lake Shore Drive in the family SUV early Saturday morning.
As he reached for his driver’s license, he was shot by a Chicago PD officer who swears he feared for his life and the lives of others. Comments from those who know the mayor indicate that his hair-trigger temper and tendency toward profanity may have indeed provoked the police officer.
Although Mayor Emanuel is expected to fully recover, he has decided to resign his office in order to spend more time with his family. The law enforcement officer has been terminated and is facing criminal assault charges, because, after all, it was Rahm Emanuel. And no one gets away with attacking the Rahm.
5. Howard Dean to return to DNC
Debbie Wasserman Schultz’ chief of staff announced that she has abruptly resigned her congressional seat, as well as the chairmanship of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) in order to relocate to a small village just outside of Lhasa, Tibet, where she plans to study Tibetan Buddhist architecture. It is unknown if her husband and family will join her there.
Howard Dean was prevailed upon to retake the chair of the Democratic National Committee and immediately scheduled three additional primary debates. He then invited Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert to moderate. Both men have agreed to participate.
Within 24 hours of assuming control, Dean announced that the DNC had received $5 million in small donor contributions and had been flooded with calls from activist Democrats volunteering their time and energy to canvass voters for the 2016 general election, regardless of the name at the top of the ticket.
4. The Zuckerbergs to purchase Fox News Channel
Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, Dr. Priscilla Chan, have decided to use part of their projected future income from Facebook stock to purchase Fox News Channel. The New York Times excerpted a portion of the letter that the two wrote to their newborn daughter:
“We must participate in policy and advocacy to shape debates. Many institutions are unwilling to do this, but progress must be supported by movements to be sustainable.”
Although their original plans called for donations that focused on “personalized learning, curing disease, connecting people and building strong communities,” they have realized that none of that will be feasible as long as a segment of the United States population remains blind to reality.
Their plan would require Fox News to actually tell the truth about the news 80 percent of the time. Since they currently only tell the truth 16 percent of the time, they will initially have to work the truth into their daily shows subtly in order to prevent the simultaneous explosion of millions of heads. Most pundits would be allowed to remain, retaining the network’s rightward slant, but they would no longer be permitted to make shit up.
3. Universal background checks law passed
The Senate passed a bill to require universal background checks for all gun purchases—no matter where they occur—which the president has stated he will sign. Unfortunately, the amendment that would have required a two-week waiting period failed.
However, a 72-hour waiting period was included in the bill, as was an amendment that requires all future purchasers to include a positive psychiatric evaluation.
The highly contested mental health amendment passed after a heated floor debate that compared the requirement to state laws demanding that women submit to (and pay for) a vaginal ultrasound prior to obtaining an abortion. The difference being, of course, that an ultrasound is not a medically necessary examination in order for a woman to exercise her constitutionally guaranteed right to control her own body.
2. The Hyde Amendment has been defeated
The Hyde Amendment has been defeated, allowing Medicaid dollars to flow into abortion clinics across the country. As a result of the influx of federal dollars, state, county, and local health clinics, in partnership with Planned Parenthood, are planning a massive expansion which should result in clinic availability within a 20-minute drive for a majority of American women.
Hospital Corporation of America and Tenet Healthcare announced plans to offer full reproductive health services to all women at their existing facilities. Military health care and Tricare medical insurance beneficiaries will also be allowed access to the full range of reproductive heath care at military facilities anywhere in the world.
1. Marijuana no longer a controlled substance
The Drug Enforcement Agency, in cooperation with the Food and Drug Administration, has removed marijuana from its listing of controlled substances. The agencies acknowledged that the plant, often used illegally for recreational purposes, poses no known physically addictive qualities. In addition to the potential for medicinal uses, marijuana is a safer recreational alternative for many Americans than alcohol (which is widely available, causes dangerous side effects when taken with some medications, impairs driving, and elevates diabetics’ blood sugar to dangerous levels).
With the removal of cannabis from all controlled substance schedules, federal grants under programs like the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant (JAG) can no longer consider marijuana arrests among the criteria for determining the amounts awarded to local law enforcement agencies. It is expected that this will lower incarceration rates across the nation.