Cassandra Watches the Ball Drop

Something I’ve been noticing lately, even among my brightest friends, is an eyes-averted tendency to focus on the narrow, the personal. The big picture is just too much to handle.

Yet celebrations are planned for the arrival of 2017. “Let’s forget our troubles and party” seems to be the attitude, and this is somewhat understandable. But only somewhat.

New Year's Eve, Times Square
New Year’s Eve, Times Square. Photo: Inside New York.

Just consider what we’re carrying into the new year:

  • An arguably illegitimate presidential election.
  • A demonstrably unqualified President-elect.
  • A hostile attack by a foreign power (including, as reported today, alarming hacks on the American power grid).
  • A President-elect who consistently praises said foreign power.
  • A new Presidential Cabinet of zealots and incompetents which is dedicated to the destruction of every key government agency (let’s hope the incompetents remain incompetent).
  • Right-wing control of all three branches of the federal government (once Trump takes office and a new Supreme Court justice is confirmed).
  • Republican control of most states as well, and an enfeebled Democratic opposition.
  • An American public which has been sundered in two, with one half unable and/or unwilling to distinguish truth from falsehood.

And this is but a sampling of what’s in store. It doesn’t exactly make for a happy new year’s outlook, does it?

However, there is one New Year’s tradition worth preserving, and that is the New Year’s resolution.

Here’s my suggestion: resolve to resist.

On the Brink

As I write this (on Monday, December 19), Donald Trump has just surpassed the 270 Electoral College votes he needs to become President. This, despite the news of Russian interference to tilt the election in his favor. This, despite the fact that his opponent had a popular vote margin of more than two and a half million.

Plenty has already been written and said about both factors. The fact that the popular vote winner has lost the presidency is nothing new; we only have to go back to 2000 and George W. Bush for another example. The Russian hacking is new, though, and it is highly disturbing for anyone who genuinely cares about American democracy. But not disturbing enough to make a difference, apparently.

The Russian connection, like Trump himself, has already been “normalized” with “Saturday Night Live” skits and jokes around the office. All the talking heads are still talking, and irony is still frequently called upon. The seriousness of the situation continues to escape most of us, most of the time.

Is America’s political nightmare so horrifying that, like death itself, we find it difficult to view straight on? Is it only possible to avert our eyes and twitter (pun intended) nervously at stupid skits and jokes? If so, things are about to get a whole lot worse.

Sneak Preview: 2017 TV Season

Big Changes Are in Store for Your Favorite Shows! has learned that the Trump Administration has negotiated major changes with America’s TV networks and cable companies—plus streaming providers Netflix, Hulu and Amazon—to “bring prime time TV programs into closer accord with America’s values.”

Virtually every prime time program will reflect these changes. Here, for example, are some of the changes planned for the well-regarded FX series “The Americans.”

"The Americans"
“The Americans” title card © FX.
  • Rather than being set in the early 1980s during the Cold War, the upcoming fifth season will take place in present-day America.
  • Elizabeth and Philip Jennings, two Soviet KGB officers posing as an American married couple living in the northern Virginia suburbs of Washington, D.C., will come out of hiding and join their neighbor Stan Beeman at the FBI.
  • Paige Jennings, who had intended to follow in her parents’ footsteps, becomes an intern at the Trump White House.
  • Elizabeth and Philip join Stan in combating un-American bureaucrats at the CIA, who are alleging that America’s close ally Russia interfered with the 2016 election. Certain members of Congress who prove susceptible to these claims also become FBI targets.
  • Vladimir Putin will make a cameo guest appearance mid-season.
  • John McCain, who had been spearheading efforts to prove Russian interference in the election, is poisoned with polonium-210, a radioactive isotope. Elizabeth and Philip are seen hovering near his hospital bed.
  • At a news conference in the season’s final episode, President Trump makes his own cameo guest appearance. He is asked if Russia is responsible for the McCain poisoning. “That’s ridiculous,” the President replies. “Besides, I like senators who haven’t been poisoned with polonium-210.”

President Trump has announced that he will serve as executive producer for “The Americans” next year, along with “The Apprentice.” The President also referred to some “fabulous” changes in store next year for “PBS News Hour.”

“We’re going to bring back that fantastic two-woman anchor team,” the President said, alluding to the duo of Judy Woodruff and the late Gwen Ifill. The program’s new 2017 anchors will be Kellyanne Conway and Sarah Palin.