2016: The Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Year

Editor's Note: The following is a guest post from John Whitehead.

“What’s past is prologue.” ― William Shakespeare, The Tempest

What a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad year this has been.

Endless wars. Toxic politics. Violence. Hunger. Police shootings. Mass shootings. Economic downturns. Political circuses. Senseless tragedies. Loss. Heartache. Intolerance. Prejudice. Hatred. Apathy. Meanness. Cruelty. Poverty. Inhumanity. Greed.

Here’s just a small sampling of what we’ve suffered through in 2016.

After three years of increasingly toxic politics, the ruling oligarchy won and “we the people” lost. The FBI’s investigation of Hillary’s emails ended with a whimper, rather than a bang. FBI director James Comey declared Clinton’s use of a private email server to be careless rather than criminal. Bernie Sanders sparked a movement only to turn into a cheerleader for Hillary Clinton. Clinton won the popular vote but lost the election. Donald Trump won the White House while the American people lost any hope of ending the corporate elite’s grip on the government.

The government declared war on so-called “fake news” while continuing to peddle its own brand of propaganda. President Obama quietly re-upped the National Defense Authorization Act, including a provision that establishes a government agency to purportedly counter propaganda and disinformation.

More people died at the hands of the police. Shootings of unarmed citizens (especially African-Americans) by police claimed more lives than previously estimated, reinforcing concerns about police misconduct and the use of excessive force. Police in Baton Rouge shot Alton Sterling. Police in St. Paul shot Philando Castile during a traffic stop. Ohio police shot 13-year-old Tyre King after the boy pulls out a BB gun. Wisconsin was locked down after protests erupt over a police shooting of a fleeing man. Oklahoma police shot and killed Terence Crutcher during a traffic stop while the man’s hands were raised in the air. North Carolina police killed Keith Lamont Scott, spurring two nights of violent protests. San Diego police killed Alfred Olango after he removed a vape smoking device from his pocket. Los Angeles police shot Carnell Snell Jr. after he fled a vehicle with a paper license plate.

We lost some bright stars this year. Supreme Court justice Antonin Scalia’s death left the court deadlocked and his successor up for grabs. Joining the ranks of the notable deceased were Muhammad Ali, David Bowie, Fidel Castro, Leonard Cohen, Carrie Fisher, John Glenn, Merle Haggard, Harper Lee, George Michael, Prince, Nancy Reagan, Janet Reno, Elie Wiesel, and Gene Wilder.

Diseases claimed more lives. The deadly Zika virus spread outwards from Latin America and into the U.S.

The rich got richer. The Panama Papers leak pulled back the curtain on schemes by the wealthy to hide their funds in shell companies.

Free speech was dealt one knock-out punch after another. First Amendment activities were pummeled, punched, kicked, choked, chained and generally gagged all across the country. The reasons for such censorship varied widely from political correctness, safety concerns and bullying to national security and hate crimes but the end result remained the same: the complete eradication of what Benjamin Franklin referred to as the “principal pillar of a free government.”

The debate over equality took many forms. North Carolina’s debate over transgender bathrooms ignited a nationwide fury. Meanwhile, the U.S. military opened its doors to transgender individuals. A unanimous Supreme Court affirmed a Texas law that counts everyone, not just eligible voters, in determining legislative districts. The nation’s highest court also upheld affirmative action, while declaring a Texas law on abortion clinics to be an unnecessary burden on women.

Environmental concerns were downplayed in favor of corporate interests. Flint, Michigan’s contaminated water was declared a state and federal emergency, while thousands protested the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline and its impact on water sources.

Technology rendered Americans vulnerable to threats from government spies, police, hackers and power failures. The Justice Department battled Apple in court over access to its customers’ locked, encrypted iPhones. Microsoft sued the U.S. government over its access to customers’ emails and files without their knowledge. Yahoo confirmed that over half a billion user accounts had been hacked. Police departments across the country continued to use Stingray devices to collect cellphone data in real time, often without a warrant.

Police became even more militarized and weaponized. Despite concerns about the government’s steady transformation of local police into a standing military army, local police agencies continued to acquire weaponry, training and equipment suited for the battlefield. In North Dakota, for instance, police were authorized to acquire and use armed drones. Likewise, the use of SWAT teams for routine policing tasks has increased the danger for police and citizens alike.

Children were hurt. Police resource officers made schools less safe, with students being arrested, tasered and severely disciplined for minor infractions.

Computers asserted their superiority over their human counterparts, who were easily controlled by bread and circuses. Google’s artificial intelligence program, AlphaGo, defeated its human opponent in a DeepMind Challenge Match. Pokemon Go took the world by storm and turned users into mindless entertainment zombies.

Terrorism took many forms. Brussels was locked down in the wake of terrorist attacks that killed dozens and wounded hundreds. A shootout between a gunman and police wrought havoc on a gay nightclub in Orlando. Terrorists armed with explosives and guns opened fire in Istanbul Airport. Syria was ravaged by bomb strikes, terrorism and international conflict.

Science crossed into new frontiers. Doctors announced the birth of the first healthy three-parent baby created with DNA from three separate people. Elon Musk outlined his plan to populate Mars.

Tragedies abounded. An Amtrak train derailed outside of Philadelphia. A commuter train crashed through a barrier in New Jersey. Floods in Texas killed nine soldiers stationed at Fort Hood. Heatwaves swept the southwest, fueling wildfires. Flash floods and heavy rain devastated parts of Maryland and Louisiana.

The nanny state went into overdrive. Philadelphia gave the green light to a tax on sugary drinks. The FDA issued guidelines to urge food manufacturers and chain restaurants to reduce salt use.

The government waged a war on cash. The government’s war on cash is a concerted campaign to do away with large bills such as $20s, $50s, $100s and shift consumers towards a digital mode of commerce that can easily be monitored, tracked, tabulated, mined for data, hacked, hijacked and confiscated when convenient.

The Deep State reared its ugly head. Comprised of unelected government bureaucrats, corporations, contractors, paper-pushers, and button-pushers who are actually calling the shots behind the scenes, this government within a government is the hidden face of the American police state that has continued past Election Day.

The U.S. military industrial complex—aided by the Obama administration—armed the world while padding its own pockets. According to the Center for International Policy, President Obama has brokered more arms deals than any administration since World War II.

Now that’s not to say that 2016 didn’t have its high points, as well, but it’s awfully hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel right now.

Indeed, I frequently receive emails from people urging me to leave the country before the “hammer falls.” However, as I make clear in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People, there is nowhere in the world to escape from the injustice of tyrants, bullies and petty dictators.

So let’s not take the mistakes of 2016 into a new year with us. The election is over. The oligarchs remain in power. The police state is marching forward, more powerful than ever. All signs point to business as usual. The game continues to be rigged.

The lesson for those of us in the American police state is simply this: if there is to be any hope for freedom in 2017, it rests with “we the people” engaging in local, grassroots activism that transforms our communities and our government from the ground up.

Let’s get started.

Constitutional attorney and author John W. Whitehead is founder and president of The Rutherford Institute. His book Battlefield America: The War on the American People (SelectBooks, 2015) is available online at www.amazon.com. Whitehead can be contacted at johnw@rutherford.org. Information about The Rutherford Institute is available at www.rutherford.org.

Featured Image: (marekuliasz/Getty Images)

A town in Sweden is under fire after denying requests to ring church bells in the 1990s and the 2000s but recently approving a mosque's request to conduct a weekly Islamic call to prayer.

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Authorities in the town of Vaxjo in southern Sweden have given the local mosque a one-year permit to recite the call to prayer every Friday for about four minutes. But Fr. Ingvar Fogelqvist of St. Michael's, the local Catholic church located about a mile from the mosque, says similar requests to ring church bells were denied.

On today's show, Pat and Jeffy talked about this story and favorable bias toward the Muslim faith. The issue isn't that the Islamic call to prayer is allowed; it's that all religions are not being treated equally.

Somebody might want to check the temperature in hell, it might be just a tad chillier than normal.

If you missed Friday's episode of The Glenn Beck Program, you missed something you probably never thought you'd see in this timeline or any other. Glenn actually donned President Trump's trademark red "Make America Great Again" hat and laid out the case for why he thinks Trump will win in a landslide in 2020.

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Bottom line: Nancy Pelosi and the mainstream media may have pushed Glenn to this point, but believe it or not, Trump's record will make this next election a walk in the park for number 45. At this point, the sitting president has done enough to earn even Glenn's vote.

Glenn broke down what he thought were the 10 biggest campaign promises that — unlike those made by most politicians — Trump actually kept.

10. Impose a 10% repatriation tax to bring jobs back to America

Not all of Trump's promises were good ones, but regardless of what the consequences may be — he did keep this one.

"Now, I think this one is dangerous," Glenn said on radio Friday. "He did it. Ten percent. Bring all of your money back into the United States. It will create jobs. Yes. It will also create inflation. But it's creating jobs."

9. Withdraw from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP)

This has been one of Trump's most passionate issues.

"The stop the TPP. Uh-huh. Right. Sure you are. Uh-huh. Yes. He did," Glenn admitted.

8. Withdraw from the disastrous Paris Climate Accord

Glenn found himself eating crow on this.

"I'm on record saying he will never do that because his daughter is a huge global warming person and he only listens to the family. Eh. Wrong," Glenn said with a puff of crow feathers coming from his mouth.

7. Bring North Korea to the table and rein them in

This looked impossible. Not so.

"'I'm going to bring North Korea to the table.' Are you? Everybody has tried to do that," Glenn said. "Now, they're at the table. We don't know what's going to happen. So the result of that is unknown. But has anybody else done that?"

6. Stop over-regulation and jump-start the economy

It's the economy, stupid.

"Does anybody feel like America is beginning to get on track somewhat economically? You know why? Because he fulfilled another promise," Glenn said. "Stop over-regulating the American people. Give them their money. Give the companies the opportunity to expand and bring their money back into the country, and maybe they'll build buildings. Maybe they'll build offices. Maybe they'll build new products. Maybe they'll build new factories. Maybe they'll hire a bunch of people."

Glenn went on.

"Now, I know Seattle is trying to do everything they can to make sure everybody in their city is homeless and unemployed, but the rest of the country is enjoying the feeling of, wow, maybe things are going to be okay."

5. Reverse Obama's executive orders

If you're like Glenn, you've gotten used to politicians promising "no new taxes," but you can really tell they're lying if their lips are moving. Guess what? That's apparently not Trump.

"The executive orders? Yeah. He's reversed a lot of Obama's executive orders," Glenn said. "These are outrageous promises."

4. Pull out of the Iran nuclear deal

No big deal...

"'I'm going to cancel the Iran Deal.' Yep. None of these are small. You know, I've got maybe ten minutes. I think we can get that done in the first term. And they did," Glenn said.

3. Give tax cuts to middle-class Americans

Maybe this could have been better, but we'll take it.

"I don't like the tax cut. I think he could go a lot further," Glenn said. "But that's not even his job. His job is to sign things that Congress puts in front of him. Not to design it. You Republicans in Congress, you disgust me. You disgust me. 'Imagine what we could do if we had the House and the Senate and the White House.' I can imagine what you'll do — nothing. You'll do nothing."

2. Change strategy and defeat ISIS

The mainstream media have been radio silent on this.

"How about the president's — well, I know I can defeat ISIS. I know I can do it. I'll defeat ISIS. He did," Glenn said. "And did you notice no one in the press even talked about it? All of a sudden, we're not talking about ISIS anymore. How come? Oh, I know. President Trump. That's why."

1. Recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and relocate the US embassy

This one is a true game-changer.

"Now, every president will say to you, when he's running, 'I'm going to make Jerusalem the home.' Well, really? The home of the embassy. Really, are you? Because everybody says that, nobody does it. He did it," Glenn said. "And I think that's going to go down as the biggest game-changer possibly in my lifetime. This is going — it already is — it is changing the game in Iran."

Glenn continued.

"And when it does, this president is going to come out and say something directly to those people, that we support them," he said. "And that's going to add fuel to the fire. And you might see a regime change and a collapse of the Islamic regime in Iran. And it will be 100 percent Donald Trump that made that responsible. One hundred percent. You're going to see changes because of this. He kept that promise. A promise I said, he's not going to do that. Nobody is going to do that. He did."

One chapter of ISIS has ended, but another may be starting

AHMAD AL-RUBAYE/AFP/Getty Images

For the most part, ISIS has fallen in Syria and Iraq. But before we celebrate the demise of this awful terrorist group, before we let our guard down, we should zoom out a bit, because ISIS is spreading. ISIS has largely just scattered out of the region as if someone turned on the kitchen lights and they scrambled.

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The Wall Street Journal spoke with Rohan Gunaratna, head of the International Center for Political Violence and Terrorism Research at the Nanyang University in Singapore. “Although Islamic State's ideology has suffered, it still has a huge potential," he told them. “Islamic State has entered a phase of global expansion, very much the same way al Qaeda extended globally in late 2001."

ISIS has spread into West Africa, and throughout much of Southeast Asia, and, as is typical of ISIS, they have done it violently, with a sick venom.

The world is their potential rubble, and their fight is endless.

Again, from the Wall Street Journal: “One chapter of ISIS has finished and another is beginning," said Hassan Hassan, a specialist on Islamic State at the Tahrir Institute for Middle East Policy in Washington. “Their resurgence is coming sooner than expected."

The world is their potential rubble, and their fight is endless.

'The Handmaid's Tale' got it right, just with the wrong religion

Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images

Just in case The Handmaid's Tale's heavy-handed message wasn't already heavy-handed enough, a recent episode made it clear there's always room for further hysteria. Particularly, in relation to depictions of a “patriarchal society" run by Christian doctrine and determined by men — oh those dastardly men.

RELATED: Christian privilege is the new white privilege

The show appropriates Margaret Atwood of the same name, depicting a totalitarian society led by Christian doctrine in which women's bodies are controlled, and they have no rights. The story sounds familiar, but not in the same way Atwood and the show's creators have so smugly assumed.

Just as tone-deaf as 4th wave feminism itself, and tone-deaf in all the exact same places. Most notably, the show's heavy-handed indignation toward Christianity. Toward the patriarchy. Toward conservatives and traditional values. And just like 4th wave feminism, the show completely overlooks the irony at play. Because there is a part of the world where women and children are being raped and mutilated. In fact, in this very real place, the women or girls are often imprisoned, even executed, for being raped, and they are mutilated in unspeakable ways.

Theirs is a cruel, bloody, colorless life.

There is a place, a very real place, where women are forced to cover their entire bodies with giant tarp-like blankets, which is all the more brutal given the endless heat of this place. There is a place where women literally have one-third of the rights of men, a place where women are legally, socially and culturally worth less than men.

They cannot drive cars. They cannot be outside alone. They cannot divorce, they cannot even choose who they marry and often, they are forcibly married at a young age.

They are raped. A lot. Theirs is a cruel, bloody, colorless life. This is the life of tens, perhaps hundreds of millions of women. And, I'll tell you, their religion isn't Christianity.