2018 in brief: Politics, sports, popular culture
We can summarize 2018 in two words:
We’re not 100 percent sure what “boofing” is, despite that this very issue was discussed in a hearing of the United States Senate Judiciary Committee. All we know for certain about boofing is that it is distasteful and stupid. As was 2018.
What made this year so awful? We could list many factors, including natural disasters, manmade atrocities, the utter depravity of our national political discourse and the loss of Aretha Franklin. Instead we’ll cite one event that, while minor, epitomizes 2018: the debut of “Dr. Pimple Popper.” This is a cable-TV reality show featuring high-definition slomo closeup videos of a California dermatologist performing seriously disgusting procedures on individuals with zits the size of mature cantaloupes. You might ask, “Who on Earth would voluntarily watch that?” The answer, in 2018, was: MILLIONS OF PEOPLE. That is the state of our culture. We can only imagine what new reality shows lie ahead. We would not rule out “Dr. Butt Wiper,” or “People Blow Their Noses Directly Onto The Camera Lens.”
Is there anything good we can say about 2018? Only this: It got us out of 2017. But even that didn’t work out as we hoped.
As you recall, we, as a nation, spent all of 2017 obsessing over 2016: the election, the Russians, the emails, the Mueller probe, the Russians, the Russians, the Russians.
So when 2018 dawned, we were desperately hoping for change. It was a new year, a chance for the nation to break out of the endless, pointless barrage of charges and countercharges, to move past the vicious, hate-filled hyperpartisan spew of namecalling and petty pointscoring, to end the 24/7 cycle of media hysteria, to look forward and begin to tackle the many critical issues facing the nation, the most important of which turned out to be… …the 2016 election.
Yes. We could not escape it. We were like Bill Murray in “Groundhog Day,” except that when our clock radio went off, instead of Sonny and Cher singing “I Got You Babe,” we awoke to still MORE talk of Russians and emails; MORE childish semiliterate presidential tweets about FAKE NEWS and Crooked Hillary; MORE freakouts by cable-TV panelists predicting that — forget about the previous 300 times they made the same prediction — THIS time impeachment was IMMINENT, PEOPLE. IMMINENT!!
Meet the new year: same as the old year.
So at some point during 2018, normal, non-Beltway-dwelling Americans simply stopped paying attention to current events. Every now and then we’d tune in to a cable-TV news show see what kinds of issues our nation’s elite political/media class was grappling with, and we’d see a headline like PORN STAR STORMY DANIELS: TRUMP DIDN’T USE A CONDOM.
So let’s not get too excited about 2019. Our emotional state, going forward, should be hopelessness leavened with despair, as we can see when we look back at the grotesque boofa-palooza that was 2018, starting with ...
… which sees world tensions rise when North Korean Leader Kim Jong-un states that he has a nuclear-
ONE EVENT, WHILE MINOR, EPITOMIZES 2018: THE DEBUT OF ‘DR. PIMPLE POPPER.’
missile launch button on his desk. This leaves U.S. Commander-in-Chief Donald Trump with no viable military option but to fire up his Random Capitalizer App and tweet “I too have a Nuclear Button, but it is a much bigger & more powerful one than his,” thereby leaving no doubt as to which leader is more secure regarding the size of his button. In an apparent effort to reassure everyone on his mental state, the president also issues a Tweet in which he describes himself as “genius .... and a very stable genius at that!” Which is EXACTLY HOW VERY STABLE GENIUSES TALK, OK??
The intellectual level of the national discourse soars even higher when it is reported that, during an Oval Office meeting on immigration reform, the president referred to some poorer nations as “sh*tholes.” This upsets many people, especially the frowny panelpersons of CNN, who find the word “sh*thole” so deeply offensive that they repeat it roughly 15 times per hour for a solid week. Washington, D.C., is consumed by a heated debate over what, exactly, the president said; the tone and substance of this debate are reflected in this actual sentence from a Washington Post story: “Three White House officials said [Sen. David] Perdue and [Sen. Tom] Cotton told the White House that they heard ‘sh*thouse’ rather than ‘sh*thole,’ allowing them to deny the president’s comments on television over the weekend.” (This is known in legal circles as the “sh*thouse defense.”)
Meanwhile the Wall Street Journal reports that shortly before the 2016 election, President Trump’s personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, arranged a $130,000 payment to porn star Stormy Daniels so she would keep quiet about an alleged act of executive outreach with Trump in 2006. Cohen responds that “President Trump once again vehemently denies any such occurrence, as has Ms. Daniels.” So that set- tles THAT.
The residents of Hawaii experience an exciting Saturday morning when they receive the following message on their phones from the state’s Emergency Management Agency: “BALLISTIC MISSILE THREAT INBOUND TO HAWAII. SEEK IMMEDIATE SHELTER. THIS IS NOT A DRILL.” Hawaii’s governor, David Ige, is quickly informed that it’s a false alarm, but 17 extremely tense minutes go by before he gets the word out on social media. Asked about the delay, he says — we are not making this quote up — “I have to confess that I don’t know my Twitter account logons and the passwords.” This statement arouses feelings of longing among high-level Trump advisers.
In youth fads, the American Association of Poison Control Centers continues to receive reports of young people suffering ill effects from eating Tide detergent pods. Asked to explain why young people would persist in eating something that tastes terrible and makes them sick, an AAPCC spokesperson says “As far as we can determine, it’s because they’re stupid.”
Speaking of stupid, in …
… with yet another government shutdown looming, Congress, whose spending practices have put the nation on the road to fiscal disaster, faces a choice. It can either:
1. Continue to spend huge amounts of money that we don’t have, or 2. Not.
After much late-night drama, Congress agrees on a compromise deal under which it will continue to spend huge amounts of money that we don’t have. This display of leadership solves the budget problem permanently until March, when Congress will once again tackle the complex problem of government spending.
But the big story in Washington, D.C., is the hotly debated release by congressional Republicans of the so-called “Nunes memo,” which, depending on which cable-news network you listen to, either does or does not prove that the FBI, in its investigation of possible Russian influence on the 2016 election, abused the FISA process when it used the so-called “Steele dossier” — which was prepared by Fusion GPS, a research firm originally hired by The Washington Free Beacon, a conservative news outlet, to investigate Trump, but dropped by that organization when Trump was nominated, then hired by an attorney for the Hillary Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee, after which Fusion hired former British intelligence officer Christopher Steele as an investigator — to obtain a warrant to wiretap Carter Page, a foreign-policy adviser in the Trump campaign who allegedly … Hey, wake up! This is important! Also there’s a Democratic counter-memo!
On the Stormy Daniels front, Michael Cohen acknowledges that he did, in fact, pay $130,000 to the porn actress, but he used his own money and the Trump campaign had nothing to do with it and it was all totally legit. So that settles THAT.
In domestic sports, the Eagles defeat the Patriots to win their first Super Bowl, and huge crowds of joyous Philadelphia fans celebrate by destroying downtown Boston.
No, that would actually make sense. In fact the Philadelphia fans spend the night destroying their own city, then head home for a hearty breakfast of Tide Pods.
Speaking of classy behavior, in …
… Secretary of State Rex Tillerson learns that President Trump has fired him when, during an official visit to Africa, he is ejected from his State Department plane at 35,000 feet.
No, seriously, Tillerson learns of his firing via a presidential tweet, which says: “Mike Pompeo, Director of the CIA, will become our new Secretary of State. He will do a fantastic job! Thank you to Rex Tillerson for his service!”
Speaking of air travel: United Airlines, which received some unfortunate publicity in 2017 when it “reaccommodated” a 69year-old man by dragging him, bleeding and screaming, off his flight, has an eventful week involving traveling dogs (these events actually happened):
A On Monday, a United attendant on a Houston-toNew-York flight orders a passenger to stow a bag containing a French bulldog puppy, Kokito, in the overhead bin. This does not turn out well for Kokito.
A On Tuesday, a German shepherd named
Irgo, which United was supposed to fly to Kansas City, instead gets flown to … Japan! Meanwhile a Great Dane that United was supposed to fly to Japan winds up in Kansas City. It is probably a good thing that both of these breeds are too large for the overhead bin.
A On Thursday, a United Flight from Newark to St. Louis is diverted when United realizes that a dog that was loaded onto the plane was supposed to go to Akron.
Responding to public outrage over these incidents, United Airlines issues an apology but sends it to the wrong email address.
Congress averts yet another government shutdown by passing, with President Trump signing, a bill under which the government will — prepare to be shocked — spend a truly insane amount of money that it does not have. With spending addressed, Washington, D.C., then turns to more pressing matters, specifically the Stormy Daniels crisis, which escalates when Ms. Daniels files a lawsuit to invalidate her nondisclosure agreement on the grounds that Trump didn’t sign it. This issue dominates the news cycle, especially on CNN, which puts Ms. Daniels’ extremely outgoing lawyer, Michael Avenatti, on Full Sh*thole Rotation, which means he is featured on every CNN news program and also handles weather and sports updates.
In entertainment news, Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway, seeking to atone for the 2017 envelope fiasco, return to the Academy Awards stage and triumphantly announce that the winner of the Oscar for Best Picture is “Gone With the Wind.” Fortunately by then nobody is watching.
The fiascos continue in...
… when the abandoned Chinese space station Tiangong-1, which has been anxiously watched by sci- entists as its orbit decayed, plunges back to earth and, in a worst-case outcome, fails to land on Michael Avenatti, thus enabling him to continue appearing on CNN more often than the Geico Gecko.
Responding to alleged Russian infiltration of Facebook and breaches of user data, the Senate Committee of Aging Senators Who Cannot Operate Their Own Cellphones Without the Assistance of Minions holds a hearing intended to answer such probing questions as:
What IS Facebook, anyway?
Where does it go when you turn off the computer?
Is Facebook the one with the video of a cat riding on a dog?
A How the heck do you get a cat to do that, anyway?
Patiently trying to answer these questions is Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, who wears a suit and does a solid job of impersonating a regular human, except for not blinking and at one point having a tentacle emerge briefly from his left ear.
In sports, Patrick Reed wins the Masters Tournament, prompting jubilant Eagles fans to celebrate by destroying what little is left of Philadelphia.
Speaking of celebrations, in ...
… the biggest story by far is the wedding of American ex-actress Meghan Markle to Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex, who is in the direct line of succession to the British throne behind Prince Louis of Cambridge, who is behind Princess Charlotte of Cambridge, who is behind Prince George of Cambridge, who is behind Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, who is behind Charles, Prince of Wales, who is 70 but any year now could get his shot at becoming the anachronistic ceremonial figurehead of one of the world’s most second-rate powers. With the stakes so high, the media giddiness level soars to Defcon 1; the wedding cake alone gets more media coverage than Africa and global climate change combined.
In other international developments, hopes for a summit meeting between Kim Jong-un and President Trump soar when North Korea releases three American prisoners, only to be dashed when North Korea refuses to accept, in exchange, Stormy Daniels. Later in the month hopes soar again when North Korea announces that, as a good-faith gesture, it has destroyed its Punggye-ri nuclear test facility, only to be dashed again when satellite imagery of the explosion reveals that what the rogue nation actually blew up was a 2006 Hyundai Sonata.
Trump announces that the U.S. will withdraw from the 2015 multi-nation nuclear deal with Iran on the grounds that (1) it is deeply flawed, and (2) he does not own any golf courses there.
In sports, the wettest Kentucky Derby in history is won by the favorite horse, Justify, after the rest of the field is eaten by sharks.
Speaking of eating, in ...
… President Trump flies to Quebec to attend the G7 summit. Hopes that the meeting will produce a historic agreement on global climate change, or at least a nice group photo, are dashed when, during dinner, Trump becomes embroiled in a heated policy disagreement with the leaders of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United Kingdom over the
President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un crossed swords (figuratively) over nuclear negotiations.
Adult film actress Stormy Daniels made headlines for an alleged sexual encounter with Donald Trump long before he entered politics.