By John Ruberry

“So listen, there’s still a little bit of it to go,” the host of NPR’s witty Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me!, Peter Sagal said as he opened his New Year’s Eve show, “but all the pundits and the pollsters have already called it: 2016 will go down as the worst year ever.” Which led moderator Bill Kurtis, the longtime journalist and Chicago news anchor to reply, “Sure, 1346 had the plague, but at least Black Death was a cool name.”

I’m here to explain, at least for me and people who visit Da Tech Guy and my own blog, Marathon Pundit, that 2016 was a darn good year, and absolutely a better one than 1346.

Defying the “pundits and pollsters,” but perhaps not the same ones Sagal was talking about yesterday, Donald J. Trump was elected president–he’ll be sworn into office in nineteen days. Although not as historic as being the first African-American elected to America’s highest office, Trump will be the first president who was not a prior public office holder or a general. That’s yuge.

Like Bob Dylan in 1964 keeping his love for the Beatles to himself and not, initially, telling his folk-music pals, I secretly hopped on the Trump Train in the autumn of 2015, but I was a vocal passenger well before the Iowa Caucuses. Like Sean Hannity, I saw Trump’s, yes, historic candidacy as the last chance to save America from collectivism and socialism, mediocrity, malaise, globalism, cronyism; and in what would have sealed the unpleasant deal, a runaway leftist Supreme Court. I am not an aberration, there are tens-of-millions of Americans who look at the rise of Trump in a similar manner.

A Hillary Clinton victory could have possibly hobbled America as much as the 19th century Opium Wars did to China. A large and populous nation does not necessarily mean that it will be a prosperous and powerful one, as India and Indonesia show us. And Russia is not prosperous.

I look at Trump’s win as the best news of the decade. But even as blogs and new media continue to prosper–my blog’s readership soared last year–the old guard media, which is dominated by leftists, for the most part despises Trump. Their bad news needs to be your bad news.

My daughter at the old
M*A*S*H set

The old year of course will forever be remembered as the year of so many celebrity deaths, which included Leonard Nimoy, B.B. King, Ben E. King, Dick Van Patten, Omar Sharif, Yogi Berra, and in one last cruel harvest by the Grim Reaper, a beloved actor from the television show MASH, Wayne Rogers, passed away on New Year’s Eve.

Wait…wait…don’t tell me! Yes, those are deaths from 2015. Celebrities die every year. Trust me, they really do.

Okay, second verse almost as same as the first: In 2016 the celebrity departures included David Bowie, Prince, Florence Henderson, George Michael, Carrie Fisher, and in one last cruel harvest by the Grim Reaper, a beloved actor from the television show MASH, William Christopher, passed away on New Year’s Eve.

[Editorial note: The WordPress blogging platform does not like words with asterisks within them.]

Admittedly, some of these celebs are a bit different from the Class of 2015. Although enigmatic, Bowie, Prince and Michael meticulously cultivated their public images, they became familiar presences on MTV; so people, even if they weren’t fans, believed they “knew” these performers, and their 1980s videos enjoy eternal life on VH1 and on YouTube.

Fisher played Princess Leia in Star Wars, which was arguably the most influential movie, both artistically and in the business-sense, since The Jazz Singer. If you haven’t seen Star Wars, then you probably haven’t seen many films. Florence Henderson’s TV show, The Brady Bunch, was not a first-run success, but it achieved legendary status on the re-run circuit. Like Bowie’s “Modern Love” video on MTV, sometimes you need to watch something every day instead of once-a-week for it to be properly digested.

Oh, I mentioned earlier that Dick Van Patten of Eight Is Enough died in 2015. And few cared because I’m pretty sure you have to buy DVDs of his show to watch it.

As members of the Greatest Generation and the Silent Generation pass on, there are proportionately more self-absorbed people remaining, those of course being the Baby Boomers, Generation X, and the Snowflake Generation, many of whom view every event, whether it is a natural disaster, a terrorist attack, an election, and of course, a celebrity death, as being about themselves. When Ish Kabibble, a kind of proto-Jerry Lewis, died in 1994, my parents didn’t take it as a personal loss.

John “Lee” Ruberry of
the Magnificent Seven

Here is some more good news from 2016: Third quarter growth in the United States was a robust 3.5 percent, perhaps because the end of the Obama era was in sight. And since Trump’s win, the stock market has been soaring, clearly many people, smart ones, are confident that 2017 will be a year of strong economic growth.

Now if we can only convince the self-absorbed ones to stop thinking about themselves so much, then 2017 will certainly be a great year.

John Ruberry regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.

As many Republicans finish basking in their victory over their Democratic relatives they only see at Christmastime, we’re looking at the final week of 2016. More importantly, we’re looking at the final four weeks of the Obama administration with new information that needs to be applied going further, particularly for conservatives.

For some of us, the future is about building on the successes of 2016 and applying our newfound DC dominance towards solving problems. For a number of stalwart conservatives who are still skeptical about what the future holds, there are lessons to learn and challenges to address in order to steer the Trump administration and GOP Congress in the right direction.

Some of the lessons from 2016 are obvious and won’t be covered here such as Obamacare (just repeal it), terrorism (do what it takes to stop it), gun rights (protect them), and mainstream media (don’t trust them). Other lessons need more focus if we’re going to have a productive 2017. Here are the top 7 lessons to heed.

Stick to our guns on abortion

The narrative of pro-life versus pro-choice has been shifted. We’re still addressing our movement with the same basic language, but the left is now pushing “reproductive rights” over “choice” because they simply couldn’t get around the idea that the baby must be considered in choices. In many ways, this leftward push towards politically correcting their narrative worked against them, but that doesn’t mean they’ll continue to lose.

Abortion is a cultural issue that has seeped into politics. It’s imperative for the pro-life movement to stay with the message of life beginning in the womb and not after birth. This stance will allow for more states to ban abortions at 20- or 24-weeks and will enable us to push those protections even closer to conception in the future. All we need to do is let science meld with emotion. This is political, but it must be fought on a cultural level if we’re going to continue to make up ground.

Democrats won’t be complacent again

The certainty the Democrats felt about winning the Presidency and the Senate left them absolutely shocked on election night. They didn’t lose so badly because they didn’t have enough supporters. They lost because in the key states there was enough complacency to prevent them from getting out the vote the way Obama did in 2008 and 2012.

It won’t happen again, at least not for a long time. They will come out hard in 2018. 2020 could be a bloodbath if Trump isn’t successful. They have the ammunition they need to get out the vote. They were overconfident; how many Democrats didn’t vote because they were so certain of victory? That will be the rallying cry going forward, so Republicans need to get their people out with as much fervor.

Free trade has enemies in every corner

It was once safe to assume that the Republican Party was the party of free trade. That simply isn’t so anymore as many party-line followers hear the message of fair trade and believe that it’s the new game plan. Fiscal conservatives who believe in the free market economy have to fight both the GOP and the Democrats to achieve the business growth and financial environment necessary for future prosperity.

Now more than ever, trade must flourish. It’s worrisome that so many in both major parties are fighting against this. It’s up to conservatives to hammer the message back in place before we start seeing the cost-expanding effects of “fair” trade.

Immigration is a winning issue

Remember that taboo of illegal immigration, walls, and deportations that allegedly helped doom Mitt Romney in 2012? Trump’s message was even harsher and it worked.

Illegal immigration is a major problem that most Americans can acknowledge. While more Americans lean in favor of some variation of amnesty, 2016 proved that it’s not important enough of an issue to prevent candidates from winning. Particularly when we tie it to the two biggest hot buttons – economy and terrorism – we’ll be able to continue to fight open borders, amnesty, and other liberal immigration principles without fear of losing elections.

Smaller-government needs further prioritization

Killing some regulations, pulling back on the reins in some departments, and eliminating most of Barack Obama’s executive orders is a good place to start, but doing so will only bring us back a decade when government overreach was still rampant. It will take a much more pronounced attack on big government to make a dent which is why I’m now a Federalist.

What’s worse is that many of the proposals coming from our future leaders in DC are pushing for bigger government. From a trillion dollar infrastructure plan to expansion of certain very expensive programs and initiatives, we have our work cut out for us. Reducing the size of government hasn’t been a priority since the last Federalist President, Ronald Reagan. We need to bring it back to the forefront quickly or continue to suffer through a two-party system where both sides increase budgets, bureaucracy, and power in DC.

Subsidies aren’t necessary for buying votes

One of the most important lessons that was forgotten by many is that subsidies don’t win elections the way they once did. Ted Cruz demonstrated that in the Iowa caucus by winning while being the only candidate against ethanol subsidies while Marco Rubio lost his home state of Florida while defending his sugar subsidies.

Now that we see this truth, it’s time to strike before everyone completely forgets. Subsidies are created to buy votes in local areas and they persist out of fear for losing votes. 2016 debunked the second part of the myth. That means we need to cut now.

The alt-right is a growing problem

Did the alt-right help Trump win? Absolutely. He brought out a slew of new voters in both the primaries and the general election, many of whom probably aren’t even aware that they embrace alt-right concepts.

Here’s the thing, and I say this knowing that it will be an unpopular statement to some who read this. The alt-right helped Trump, but they are not a positive influence on the GOP or American politics. The surface-level appeal that keeps them going makes their ranks easily manipulated away from conservative principles. The term “alt-right” is unfortunate because in many ways they have far-left views intermingled with the views that are considered far-right. This makes for a dangerous combination for any party that wants to address issues beyond the emotional surface.

2016 was a good year for Republicans and a potentially good year for conservatives. There’s hope, but let’s make certain that hope doesn’t turn into the same complacency that doomed the Democrats. If we don’t, we could be looking at quick reversals in 2018 and 2020.

Last night I covered the Twin City tea party meeting in Leominster (more on that later tonight) when Dinesh D’Souza movie 2016 came up. I was told it was playing in Fitchburg and a group of tea party members were planning to see it tomorrow night when then have the Tuesday matinees.

I was going to be busy Tuesday so on my way home I swung by the theater to see what time the movie was playing. To my surprise there was a 9:15 show so I figured I’d see it at once and pay the extra $2.

As you might guess on a Monday night the movie only had a few people. There were under 20 cars in the lot for the 9 movies that had post 9 p.m. I was one of 4 patrons, one I had previously met at a tea party meeting and a pair of ladies one who had brought her friend.

None of the patrons would agree to an on camera interview either before or after the film but I did talk one gentleman into interviewing ME. So I handed him my camera told him he could ask we what he wanted and voilà:

I’m told attendance was good enough this weekend to possibility justify carrying it over another week or at least the weekend, I’ll check back on Friday and find out.