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The Year in Bummers, from J to Q

Letter ‘P’ was particularly brutal. Third of four joyless parts.

Steve Burgess 28 Dec

Steve Burgess writes about politics and culture for The Tyee. Find his previous articles here.

If brevity is the soul of wit, 2016 staged one of the worst stand-up acts ever. Part three of our alphabetized list of the year’s biggest bummers:


Jail — “Lock her up!” cried the Trump crowds re: Hillary Clinton. “Lock her up!” cried a crowd of Ezra Levant trolls at the Alberta legislature re: Rachel Notley. “Lock me up!” cried Elizabeth May re: Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline expansion. Prison overcrowding could become a real issue in 2017. And if Premier Notley and Elizabeth May end up as cellmates, well — awkward.

Justin! — 2015 was giddy. 2016 was gritty. Pharaoh Trudeau II is still riding high with poll numbers better than those of election day. He is still an international political pin-up boy — perhaps even more so with the newly elected contrast next door. But from pipelines to fighter jets to pay-for-PM-facetime fundraisers to a frankly embarrassing electoral reform dog-and-pony show, his sunny ways have been looking more like November in Vancouver. Politics happens.


KKK — Star Wars is back, and 2016 saw a new Harry Potter stage play and movie prequel. So why not a revival for the original Imperial Wizards? This year the KKK was back like a nine-pitch inning. Prominent Trump supporters included David Duke, former Grand Wizard of the KKKK (that’s the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan — 4K is not just for fancy TVs, you know). The organization’s official newspaper, the Crusader, also endorsed Trump. Plus, the latest issue has a lovely recipe for angel food cake.

Kinder Morgan — The Trans Mountain pipeline has now been approved by the federal government. The boon to the local economy will be tremendous, especially if you sell tear gas, riot gear, barricades, flags, bullhorns, or plastic handcuffs.


Leap Year — 2016 had an extra day. Thanks, 2016.

Leitch — Thus far the Conservative leadership campaign has been as compelling as a kindergarten chess tournament, as star-studded as a Toledo Mud Hens alumni game. But at least the race has blessed us with Kellie Leitch. Leitch has spoken darkly of anti-Canadian values and bashed “elites,” clearly figuring that what worked for Trump will work for her. Those who eventually sign up for Leitch University will have only themselves to blame.


Media — The Committee to Protect Journalists says that 66 journalists and media workers were killed around the world this year. In that context, perhaps the events of the 2016 U.S. campaign are not so terrible. Yet Trump’s demonizing of the media and the general empowering of social media trolls made this a frightening year for those attempting to cover U.S. politics. Recently the Associated Press revealed it had pulled a reporter off the Trump campaign because of the volume of threats directed at the person, and Fox News’ Megyn Kelly recently revealed floods of violent threats that followed her high-profile disputes with Trump, who vigorously fanned his followers’ media hatred at rallies around the country.

Most Canadian reporters and editors and other media workers had more prosaic issues to deal with. With layoffs and papers closing across the country, they were just busy looking for work. At least Postmedia executives did well for themselves, so there’s that.

Mick Jagger — The Rolling Stones singer just became a father again at age 73. Very irresponsible. You just know that ultimately the child will have to be raised by Keith Richards.


Naloxone — Naloxone, which saves lives by counteracting opiate overdoses, is of course a very good thing. The bummer is that we’ve all become so familiar with it.

Nathan E. Stewart — Nathan E. Stewart was a sailor who was killed while serving aboard an American tug. The poor man deserved a better memorial. But on Oct. 13, when the tugboat named for him went down near Bella Bella, his name became an ominous warning of potential environmental disaster at sea. The ineffectual response to the tug’s diesel spill was disturbing. We can only hope Mr. Stewart’s namesake is someday remembered as an important wake-up call.

Nukes — Among other things, the U.S. Department of Energy takes care of America’s nuclear weapons. The next secretary of energy will be Rick Perry. America’s nukes will now be the responsibility of a guy whose most famous quote is “Oops.”


Obama — We already knew we were going to miss the guy. Now it can only be assumed that the face of Mount Rushmore will be dynamited and replaced with a full-length relief of Obama reclining on a bearskin rug. It helps Obama’s stature that his eight-year run was sandwiched between Dumb and Dumber. Say this much for trolls, put yourself between two of them and you’ll look that much better in a selfie.


Pipelines — Do you like pipelines? 2016 was not a great year for you with Northern Gateway nixed, Dakota Access stopped at the Missouri River, and Keystone XL halted. Do you hate them? Bad year for you too, with the Trans Mountain expansion approved along with the Line 3 pipeline southeast from Alberta, and perhaps a revival for Keystone XL under a Trump administration. Are you Justin Trudeau? You’re pretty much hooped either way.

President — In America, they say, anyone can become president. Let the revealed truth of that aphorism sink in. Then take your medication. No, you can’t have your belt and shoelaces back. Hey, remember when “presidential” was a synonym for “dignified” rather than “dangerous, ignorant and pathologically insecure?” See also below.

Partisan — The dominant p word of 2016. There were other candidates. The Oxford Dictionary chose post-truth as its Word(s) of the Year, a year in which Putin and Breitbart and Alex Jones and hundreds of fake news engines churned out bullshit daily to great effect. But it could also have been pussy, the body part you can boast about grabbing and still get elected; might have been Putin, the murderous strongman who should really have been Time magazine’s Man of the Year; promises, the kind so hateful and ludicrous that you don’t even get to be upset when they are confirmed to have been obvious lies; or propriety, a word that will never be used in connection with a candidate who boasted about sexual assault, mocked prisoners of war, the disabled, fallen veterans’ families, women, etc., threatened violence, embraced white supremacists, refused to accept the validity of the election or constitutional guarantees of liberty, cheated people he did business with, and generally behaved like a birthday-cake-throwing eight-year-old.

No, those p-words are just also-rans. Because this year’s p word is partisan. And despite everything they saw and heard, over 60 million Republicans still wouldn’t vote for Hillary.


Queen Cersei — No spoilers but my word, she did some truly awful things this year.

Feel free to add your own J to Q bummers in the comment thread. Tomorrow, the final: R to Z.  [Tyee]

Read more: Politics, Media

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