2014: Good Riddance and Enough Already
I’ve heard it said that we should never wish our lives away, yet every year about this time, it’s pretty common to hear someone say, “I wish this year was over already. Next year has got to be better.” I guess that’s how I feel, mainly because I lost my Mom in 2014. But at least with her passing I am left with a lifetime of wonderful memories to cherish. Not so with most of the other memorable events that took place this year. Here, then, in no particular order of sadness or stupidity, is a look back at some of the reasons why I say to 2014, “Good riddance and enough already.”
THE UN-CIVIL WAR
The fatal shooting of Michael Brown by Ferguson Missouri police officer Darren Wilson, and the fatal choking of Eric Garner by New York City patrolman Daniel Pantaleo, ushered in a new era of racial divide unlike anything we’ve seen since the 1960s. Ostensibly because neither of the white officers were convicted, Ferguson was burned and looted, and it’s now open season on police in the Big Apple. Instead of blaming all cops, victims, or mayors, we need to focus on substantive reforms such as body cams and more diverse hiring practices on all police forces. Enough already with civil unrest.
This year we got to see videos of Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice punching out his fiance in a hotel elevator, and photos of Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson’s bruised and battered 4 year old son, after his football dad beat his genitals with a tree branch. Just as we know that all cops are not racists, not all NFL players are guilty of domestic violence. Nevertheless, the League’s image took a hit, in part because team owners and the commissioner were ill prepared to deal with a problem that they had turned a blind eye toward for years. We are told that reforms are in the works, and hopefully public awareness will heighten as a result. Good riddance to domestic abuse.
Though Duke Energy executives had known for years that most of their coal ash ponds needed to be repaired, redesigned, or closed, they turned a blind eye to the problem, and the result was a massive leak of toxic coal ash into the Dan River. Initially, Duke Energy’s new CEO, Lynn Good, said customers would have to pay for the cost of the cleanup, but that didn’t go over too well. The company then appeared to cooperate with state and federal officials, and even launched a PR campaign to tell us how much they care about the environment. But the goodwill from that transparent stunt was minimized when Good was grilled by Leslie Stahl, and couldn’t seem to offer a good reason as to why Duke Energy hadn’t simply fixed the pond problems years ago. I’d like to say good riddance to the Dan River spill and hope that Duke Energy will make things right, but after watching the “60 Minutes” interview, I’m afraid Hell will leak over before that happens.
Last year we had to suffer through NBC’s live production of “The Sound of Music.” This year we were subjected to the most anemic performance of “Peter Pan” in the history of stage or television. The sets were impressive, but everything and everyone else was an embarrassment. Allison Williams’ pleasant but lightweight voice is okay for Youtube videos and late night talk shows, but not for belting out songs as the Pan. Christopher Walken was badly miscast as Captain Hook, mainly because he played Christopher Walken playing Hook. Meanwhile the flying sequences were second rate and the audio was plagued by too much ambient noise and incorrect microphone placements. If you want to see “Peter Pan” done right, pick up a DVD of Mary Martin’s 1960 live performance on NBC. The production was flawless and so were all of the performances. My advice to NBC is “enough already with the live musicals.” If you can’t do them right, don’t do them at all. Unfortunately, however, today’s television audiences seem to settle for mediocrity, so I’m sure we haven’t seen the last of live plays from the Peacock.
As I pointed out in an earlier column, Barack Obama has bombed more countries than any other President, and this from the man who campaigned as an anti-war candidate, and who snagged a Nobel Peace Prize for his philosophy of diplomacy. Now, years later, his aggressive policies have only served to strengthen the resolve of every terrorist group in the Middle East. Obama should return his Nobel Prize and start practicing what he used to preach. Enough already with the bombing, Mr. President.
THE UNAFFORDABLE CARE ACT
The Affordable Care Act was supposed to reform our healthcare system and guarantee coverage for all. True, you can no longer be denied coverage for a pre-existing condition, but Washington buckled to the health insurance lobby and failed to impose a cap on premiums. That means you can buy insurance, but if your family is faced with a catastrophic illness, you may not be able to afford the monthly premiums. Speaking of which, Blue Cross Blue Shield is running roughshod over small business owners and individual policyholders with 2015 premiums expected to increase by nearly 80% in some cases. The Republicans were right. Obamacare must be repealed. In the meantime, enough already with for-profit health insurance companies.
DOUBLE DIPPING AT UNCG
Two UNCG employees were caught operating their own private business out of the University, on University time, and using University equipment. The two men and their supervisor, whom they paid to facilitate their scheme, were fired and arrested as they should have been. The public should have been outraged by the fraudulent actions of the UNCG 3, but thanks to a series of sensationalistic and one-sided articles by the Greensboro News & Record’s Margaret Moffett, the trio was transformed into martyrs. Shame on the UNCG 3 for stealing from taxpayers, and shame on the News and Record for acting as an advocate for three people who didn’t have the balls to start a business with their own resources like everyone else does. Good riddance to the UNCG 3 and enough already with your whining.
STERILIZATION VICTIMS VIOLATED AGAIN
It was bad enough that the state of North Carolina sterilized over 7,000 young people against their will, then kept stalling when it came to approving reparations. But finally after the surviving victims were promised $50,000 each, the state ruled those whose sterilization was authorized by a local board were not eligible for the state payout. How many times do we have to rape these people? Enough already with the degrading quibbling.
PASSING OUR MIDTERMS
The one bright spot in this year’s election cycle was Republican Mark Walker who defeated his Democrat opponent Laura Fjeld, decisively. The two political newcomers were vying for Howard Coble’s seat in Congress after the 30-year veteran announced his retirement. Walker promised early on not to go negative. Fjeld made no such promise and attacked Mark at every opportunity. In the end, Walker never aired or published a single attack ad, thus keeping his promise to stay positive. So good riddance to mudslinging, and to the pundits who said you have to go negative to win.
Here’s hoping that 2015 will be a great year for you and yours, and that twelve months from now, we’ll have no reason to wish away any of it. !
JIM LONGWORTH is the host of “Triad Today,” airing on Saturdays at 7:30 a.m. on ABC45 (cable channel 7) and Sundays at 11 a.m. on WMYV (cable channel 15).