2021 is almost done - what were the highlights? - opinion

Good News – Trump is out, Biden is in and this year is over.

 US PRESIDENT Joe Biden, First Lady Dr. Jill Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris and Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff participate remotely in a virtual Presidential Inaugural Prayer Service at the White House on January 21. (photo credit: REUTERS/JONATHAN ERNST)
US PRESIDENT Joe Biden, First Lady Dr. Jill Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris and Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff participate remotely in a virtual Presidential Inaugural Prayer Service at the White House on January 21.
(photo credit: REUTERS/JONATHAN ERNST)

Pandemic 

COVID-19 has been a global tragedy, killing more than 800,000 Americans so far, plus many more around the world, infecting millions more, hitting nearly every family in the country, damaging the economy and leaving a wide path of destruction.  Part of the tragedy is that it needn’t have been so deadly had the prior administration not politicized it by failing to take the threat seriously, and instead peddling quack treatments and telling people it was a hoax. Former president Donald Trump feared the truth could harm his reelection chances and that wearing a mask in public would make this vain, uncaring narcissist look like a sissy.

American Democracy 

The far greater threat than COVID-19 this year and into the foreseeable future is the failed coup led by the defeated president to overturn last year’s presidential election and derail the democratic process. Trump challenged its legitimacy, but some 60 court challenges by him and his supporters failed to produce any tangible evidence. On January 6 Trump incited his followers to “walk down to the Capitol” and “if you don’t fight like hell, you’re not going to have a country anymore.” Then he sat back and watched on TV the violent and deadly attack on the Capitol unfold. The majority of House Republicans voted to back his “Big Lie” and undermine Americans’ faith in what even his attorney-general called claims of a stolen election “bulls**t.”

Iran Nukes

 US PRESIDENT Joe Biden delivers remarks on Afghanistan during a speech at the White House in August.  (credit: REUTERS/CARLOS BARRIA) US PRESIDENT Joe Biden delivers remarks on Afghanistan during a speech at the White House in August. (credit: REUTERS/CARLOS BARRIA)

President Joe Biden wants to return to the Iran nuclear agreement, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, but the Iranians are upping the stakes and a deal looks increasingly unlikely. The year ends with Tehran closer to having nukes than when Trump ripped up the pact saying he could get a better deal. He never really tried, and Iran today has more enriched uranium than it had five years ago, and the stockpile keeps growing. Many Israeli political and security leaders privately admit they were better off before Trump tore up the agreement.

Abortion

Republicans may get their wish, thanks to Trump’s Supreme Court justices, and outlaw abortion and repeal Roe vs Wade, but don’t call them pro-life because they’re still voting overwhelmingly against birth control, prenatal care, aid to families, childcare, pre-school education, food stamps and healthcare. At the same time they support making more and deadlier guns more available. “Pro-death” seems more accurate.

Benjamin Netanyahu

He was dumped (“F*** him”) by his BFF Donald Trump for all the wrong reasons and by Israeli voters for the right reasons. The disgraced former American president was miffed that Netanyahu congratulated Biden on his election victory. Israeli voters decided he needed to spend more time with his family and criminal lawyers during his trial for corruption and bribery.

Bipartisan Support for Israel

The new Israeli government is working to rebuild relations with the Democratic Party and the Jewish community so badly damaged by Netanyahu’s deep plunge into partisan American politics. Jerusalem also sent a serious ambassador to replace the Republican hack who shared responsibility for the problem.

Vice Presidents

History was made by the two who held the job this year. Mike Pence put loyalty to the Constitution over loyalty to Trump, whose supporters brought a noose to the Capitol on January 6 and chanted “Hang Mike Pence” because he wouldn’t overrule the American voters. His successor, Kamala Harris, became the first woman and the first person of color to hold that office, and her husband is the first second gentleman and first Jewish spouse of a Veep.

Abraham Accords

Actually signed in 2020, this historic agreement expanded in its first year as four Arab countries made peace and normalized relations with Israel. Egypt and Jordan signed treaties a generation ago, but it has been a cold peace with little normalization and less warmth.

Antisemitism

It has always been on the fringes of American politics, but more recently it has been moving front and center, most notably in Republican politics and Trump’s attacks on Jewish loyalty. American Jews “no longer love Israel,” he told one interviewer, accusing them of “great disloyalty” for voting for Biden and not for him. It reminded us of Richard Nixon telling his top aide “most Jews are disloyal… you can’t trust the bastards.” The religious Right professes love for Israel, but Jews not so much. On the Left, antisemitism can be a different problem, often an expression of hostility toward Israel and usually condemned within the Democratic Party.

Jewish Space Lasers

GOP media star and conspiracy theorist Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (Georgia) revealed that California forest fires were ignited by a Jewish space laser. She also has shared a video on Facebook claiming that “Zionist supremacists have schemed to promote immigration and miscegenation,” Vox reported. She said she came to Congress “to work to see America restored to the Christian principles.“

Voting Rights

Republicans have taken advantage of their superior organization in many states to muscle through some of the most repressive and restrictive voting laws since the days of official segregation. They have been able to dilute Black and other minority voting by putting more rural and white suburbanites into urban and minority districts. On Capitol Hill, Senate Republicans consistently block every effort to enact electoral reform. Democrats may be the majority party by national registration and presidential votes, but they’ve failed at the state level and it is costing them dearly.

2024

Trump is flirting with running again for president but if he doesn’t, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) has declared himself the heir apparent to the GOP nomination. He may have spent the last four years kissing Trump’s tush, even after Trump called the Texas senator’s wife ugly and tried to link his father to JFK’s assassination. Trump may love sycophants, but he won’t forget “Lyin’ Ted” calling him a “sniveling coward,” “pathological liar,” and an “utterly amoral, serial philanderer.” Cruz is the kind of guy who, when the going gets tough, he gets going. As in February when he fled to sunny Cancun, Mexico, while his Texas constituents were struck by a crippling blizzard. Heroically, he stood up to Big Bird, accusing the yellow one of peddling “government propaganda” by promoting vaccination. Cruz speaks of “restoring” America, which means recovering the original identity as a Christian nation, writes Rachel S. Mikva, a professor of Jewish studies, in USA Today.

Scrooge

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-West Virginia) is a coal industry multi-millionaire senator who drives a Maserati and lives on a luxury houseboat and opposes climate change provisions and child-tax credit payments in the Build Back Better legislation. He said parents might use the credits to buy drugs. Like EpiPens, the emergency treatment for acute allergic reactions made by Mylan, Inc., a pharmaceutical company run by his daughter, raised the price of the life-saving item from $124 to $609 a few years back when she was collecting an annual salary of $18.5 million.

Fact Checkers

These purveyors of truth expected that with Trump out of office, his presence on their whopper lists would shrink. But his and his minions’ ceaseless spreading of the Big Lie and other conspiracy theories is keeping them busy. He’s planning a January 6 news conference to celebrate the first anniversary of his failed coup that he’s now calling an “unarmed” peaceful gathering of “patriotic people.” Not unlike, and probably including, some of those “very fine people” in the 2017 Charlottesville demonstration of white nationalists shouting, “Jews will not replace us.”

Good News – Trump is out, Biden is in and this year is over.