|Part 1 (with setup)|
James Avery, Juanita Moore, Greg Caiola, Rev. Eric Freed, Phil Everly, Jerry Coleman, Saul Zaentz, Carter Camp, Al Porcino, Bronson Binger, Susan Rafsky, Andy Granatelli, Franklin McCain, Rev. Robert Nugent, Russell Johnson, Tom Gola, Sarah Marshall, Pete Seeger, Harry Gamble, Maximilian Schell, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Joan Mondale, William “Bunny Rugs” Clarke, James J. Gallagher, Ralph Kiner, Shirley Temple Black, Sid Caesar, Jim Fregosi, Bob Casale, Garrick Utley, Harold Ramis, Chokwe Lumumba, Paco De Lucia, Sarah Elizabeth Jones, Alain Resnais, Joe McGinniss, Hal Douglas, David Brenner, Robert Strauss, Ken Forsse, Lawrence Walsh, Kate O’Mara, Sardar Ahmad, Nils Horner, Anja Niedringhaus, Chuck Stone, Mickey Rooney, Edmond Harjo, Phyllis Frelich, Jesse Winchester, Sue Townsend, Gabriel García Márquez, Rubin “Hurricane” Carter, Jack Ramsay, Bob Hoskins, Al Feldstein, Jim Oberstar, Efrem Zimbalist, Jr., Ross Lonsberry, Camille Lepage, Jerry Vale, Gordon Willis, Moftah Abu Zeid, Maya Angelou, Lewis Katz, Karen DeCrow, Don Zimmer, Roy Goodman, Rik Mayall, Ruby Dee, Casey Kasem, Jimmy Scott, Tony Gwynn, Horace Silver, Gerry Goffin, Chuck Noll, Gerry Conlon, Eli Wallach, Howard Baker, Bobby Womack, Paul Mazursky, Meshach Taylor, Walter Dean Myers, Tommy Ramone, Lorin Maazel, Nadine Gordimer, Johnny Winter, James Garner, Elaine Stritch, James Shigeta, Dick Smith, James Brady, Maj. Gen. Harold Greene, Robin Williams, Lauren Bacall, Jim Jeffords, Don Pardo, James Foley, John Blake, Jr., Don Cannon, Richard Attenborough, Estelle Brager, Joan Rivers, Molly Glynn, Gerald Wilson, Steven Sotloff, James Laurita, David Haines, Tony Auth, PA State Police Cpl. Bryon Dickson, Polly Bergen, David Kedra, Daniel Crespo, Paul Revere, Bill Campbell, Geoffrey Holder, Jan Hooks, Carolyn Kizer, Gloria Casarez, Oscar de la Renta, Ben Bradlee, Frank Mankiewicz, Jack Bruce, Reyhaneh Jabbari, Marcia Strassman, Thomas Menino, Galway Kinnell, Brittany Maynard, Tom Magliozzi, Earl E. Everett, Tomas Young, Jane Byrne, Peter Kassig, Glen A. Larson, Jimmy Ruffin, Mike Nichols, Elizabeth Pena, Pat Quinn, Roberto Gomez Bolanos, P.D. James, Mark Strand, Phil Hughes, Bobby Keys, Jean Karaty, Jean Beliveau, Ian McLagan, Ken Weatherwax, Mary Ann Mobley Collins, Joyce Craig-Lewis. Michael Du Cille, Richard Schaal, Phil Stern, Norman Bridwell, Pete Stainthorpe, Ernie Terrell, Clint Reif, Joe Cocker, David Ryall, Luise Rainer, Christine Cavanaugh, Edward Herrmann, Caldwell Jones
And now, without any more ado…
Despite all of the screwy nonsense that happened this year in this country’s mid-term elections, to say nothing of the deaths of Michael Brown, Eric Garner and Tamir Rice (as well as out ol’ buddy Vlad Putin’s little adventure in Crimea), I absolutely can’t get past what kind of a year Israeli Prime Minister (and former resident of Cheltenham, PA) Benjamin Netanyahu had.
As noted here by Wikipedia, in early June, three Israeli teenagers were abducted and later killed (Israeli said Hamas was responsible, which is likely I guess, but offered no proof – Mahmoud Abbas and Fatah condemned the abduction and murder). This of course is reprehensible and called for a response, preferable in a court of law. However, Netanyahu decided to go after Hamas’s “infrastructure and personnel on the West Bank” instead. The ultimate result (of Operation Brother’s Keeper, a Bushian/Orwellian-sounding name if I ever heard one) is that 66 Israeli soldiers and 5 civilians were killed (1 Thai also) with hundreds of soldiers and civilians injured. On the Palestinian side, over 2,000 were killed in a conflict affecting anywhere from 55 to 70 percent of Palestinian civilians (including 110 killed in Gaza over a 24-hour span, as noted here – I guess the phrase “proportional response” doesn’t exist in Bibi’s vocabulary); Netanyahu also earned condemnation here for striking six United Nations shelters in Gaza housing displaced Palestinians.
Contrition from “Bibi” for any of this? Are you kidding??
He followed up all of this here by saying, basically, that those cowardly ISIS murderers who killed Americans James Foley and Steven Sotloff earlier this year are the same as Hamas (as much as I detest that group, they are somewhat of a governmental body responsible for providing services to a population, though from what I can tell, they’re pretty bad at that job). That claim remains a lie that is so stoo-pid as to insult the intelligence of a reasonable adult (also echoed here).
(By the way, I love Netanyahu’s supposed rationale saying that he and the IDF dropped fliers and send out text messages warning Palestinians of an attack and telling them to get out. Where exactly did he think they were supposed to go?)
And for good measure, Netanyahu called for any Palestinian with dual Israeli citizenship to be stripped of the latter here (conjuring up a comparison by Juan Cole of what would happen in this country if, say, we tried to do something like that to African Americans protesting the events in Ferguson, MO). Oh, and Netanyahu said that anyone criticizing Israel over those damn settlements in Israeli-annexed Arab West Jerusalem was acting in a way counter to “American values,” or something, as if this egomaniac knew the first thing on that subject (earning a rare and completely well-reasoned rebuke here). If nothing else, I think that makes it pretty plain that much of what Netanyahu says and does is directed at Jews in this country at least as much as it is towards own countrymen.
Yeah, “Bibi” had an awful 2014 as far as I’m concerned, earning him the title of Dregs of the Year.
Update 12/31/14: And of course, leave it to “Bibi” to frame this action by Mahmoud Abbas as an attack on Israel’s soldiers as opposed to Bibi himself – Bushco couldn’t have done it any better.
I’m not sure that it’s possible to overstate the positive impact (as far as I’m concerned) of Francis I, the 266th pope of the Catholic Church.
As noted here, Francis said that anything contributing to climate change is a sin, with an edict to be issued in the new year as noted here (none of this “I’m not a scientist” BS with this guy) and called for an end to fossil fuels here, along with a group of Catholic bishops. He also said here that the church should be more welcoming to gays (which drove conservative US Catholics nuts, as you might imagine) and unmarried couples (Francis being the one who said “Who am I to judge?” when asked about gays), and planned to build showers for homeless men and women at Vatican City here (he celebrated his recent 78th birthday by distributing sleeping bags to the homeless here). He also noted the “feminine genius” of American nuns here in an effort to reach out to their somewhat fractured ranks (the gesture was, I think, notable for what it did NOT include, and that was a rebuke of the nuns’ social activism). Francis also gave a special blessing to an 11-year-old New Jersey girl suffering from cancer here.
Basically, try imagining most of this taking place under Benedict or either John Paul who preceded Francis (reaching out to the nuns and gays/unmarried couples in particular). Yes, a lot of this stuff is symbolic, but the symbolism is important (being probably the oldest bureaucracy in the world, minutes are like centuries as far as the Church is concerned).
Oh, and as noted here, Francis in particular played a key role in helping to thaw U.S./Cuba relations just enough for the recent deal to be brokered between President Obama and Cuban Leader Raul Castro (typical for Marco Rubio to oppose it, of course).
I also think Francis sent a signal to the U.S. Catholic Bishops here with the appointment of Spokane Bishop Blasé Cupich, who replaced Chicago’s retiring conservative Cardinal Francis George as archbishop later this month, with Cupich being a moderate, conciliatory prelate who asked his priests not to pray in front of abortion clinics because it was too provocative. As the USA Today story tells us…
David Gibson, an experienced church observer, wrote in a Religion News Service article that Cupich’s appointment “may signal the beginning of the end of three decades of conservative dominance.”
We can only hope; Francis also demoted Cardinal Raymond Burke, who led the charge to stop giving communion to U.S. politicians who supported a woman’s right to choose, as noted here.
Has there been push-back in this country? Uh, just a bit – as the USA Today story also tells us…
Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Chaput complains that a recent Vatican conference called by Pope Francis produced “confusion,” adding, “Confusion is of the devil.”
Spoken like a man who opposed an extension of the statute of limitations for sexual abuse of minors for civil lawsuits and equated birth control with drug and alcohol addiction here (nice – last bullet). With that in mind, I guess it isn’t surprising that, for the first time that I can recall, U.S. House Republicans couldn’t agree on a resolution honoring Francis here (typical for those clowns).
And lest I get too misty-eyed and sentimental over this, let’s not forget that Francis is a hard-line kind of guy in his way; as noted here, he excommunicated a priest who advocated for gay marriage and female clergy (as far as I’m concerned, the time has come for both). However, he’s not afraid to “knock heads,” as it were, with people who apparently are feeling a bit too full of themselves in his papacy here.
So, for what it’s worth, please allow me to grant the highest honor I can to an individual denied the proper recognition from our politicians in Washington and proclaim Pope Francis the First as Do-Gooder of the Year.
Update 1/12/15: Offered without further comment…
Well, that wraps up another year of doing this; every year, I wonder if this will be the last time I do it, and every year I manage to keep doing it somehow (maybe a glutton for punishment, I don’t know). We’ll see what the coming year brings and what, if anything, affects my posting activity. As soon as I know of anything that could get in the way of doing this, I’ll let you know.
And as is my custom, I want to thank anyone who has taken any time at all over the prior year to visit this site, and I wish everyone a happy holiday season (what’s left of it) and a peaceful and prosperous 2015 full of all good things.