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Bye, Bye 2013: The Year of Bad Politicians, Baby Princes and 'Duck Dynasty'

Columnist Marsia Mason looks back on the year in news—and isn't impressed with what she sees.

Columnist Marsia Mason looks back on the year in news—and isn't impressed with what she sees. Credit: Patch file photo
Columnist Marsia Mason looks back on the year in news—and isn't impressed with what she sees. Credit: Patch file photo
We are mere minutes away from a holiday that one either embraces and delights in, or greets with disdain, eye-rolling and pronouncements like: "New Year's Eve is for amateurs." There really is no in-between. You either love New Year's or you hate it.

After many years that saw me partying hardy with the rest of the world or entertaining two young sons with monster movies and ice cream, I find myself in the latter category.

On the other hand, I like the idea of a new year just as much as the next person. Starting anew is a very appealing concept: wash away the troubles of last year and march forward toward the best year ever; make resolutions you don't intend to keep; dream of becoming a Mummer; get ready for endless bowl games on television while you recover from copious amounts of booze with a Bloody Mary in one hand and a remote in the other.

You needed alcohol to deal with some of this year's biggest news stories. We had the usual stories of politicians behaving badly, from the crack-smoking mayor of Toronto, to a horndog mayor in San Diego who has apparently groped the entire female population of California. And then there's Anthony Weiner, who was thwarted in his run for mayor of NYC by his inability to keep it zipped—both his mouth and his pants. I hope he has the good sense to stay out of politics—or at least change his screen name from "Carlos Danger" to "Narcissistic Danger to Himself."

We were greeted by the appalling news that Detroit had declared bankruptcy and was lobbying to become a province of Canada. Good luck with that. Prime Minister Stephen Harper is still mulling that one over and has asked for an Escalade for every Canadian citizen as part of the deal. We were also treated to the word "sequester," as the folks in D.C. just couldn't figure out how to get along. Some of us raced to our dictionaries to figure out what the word meant. The first definition to pop up was: "to remove or withdraw into solitude." We could only hope the idiots on Capitol Hill would do just that.

After years of denying doping rumors, Lance Armstrong finally fessed up to the Queen of Confessions, Oprah Winfrey, on her little-watched talk show. Want a riveting headline that will attract lots of attention? Write about a professional athlete who ISN'T doping. Case in point: the story of a woman who successfully swam from Cuba to Florida. Diana Nyad, the 60-something distance swimmer, finally succeeded, fulfilling a lifelong goal. Thanks for giving all us middle-aged gals a hefty dose of hope and pride. Not that any of us want to get stung by jellyfish and swim for days on end, but wasn't it admirable she was able to achieve her goal?

In April, at the running of the Boston Marathon, two disgruntled young men from the former Soviet Union, who were welcomed into this country with open arms, detonated two pressure-cooker bombs. We watched in horror and wondered why—if they hated the U.S.—they didn't just leave? (We haven't heard the end of this story, as one of the brothers is still in legal limbo.) My opinion? Put Dzhokhar Tsarnaev in a room with two pressure-cooker bombs, lock the doors, and let him wonder and wait.

If you're a cruise lover, there was nothing but bad news from the industry, as several cruise ships lost power and drifted without electricity or food for days. Rumors were rife that several passengers resorted to cannibalism and ate the captain. Apparently, he tasted just like chicken! I am not a cruise lover, as some of my readers might remember. After suffering from the Norovirus on our last cruise, I am staying miles away from cruise ships masquerading as big tubs 'o' fun. They're big tubs 'o' germs, as far as I'm concerned.

The UK welcomed another heir to the throne when Prince William and his wife welcomed their first child, a blessed boy named George. Because of the obvious longevity of the royal family, George can expect to become king when he is 85.

Over in sunny Vatican City, Pope Benedict stepped down and Pope Francis, the first non-European pope in more than 1,000 years, stepped up. A humble humanist, the new pope made me swoon—and I'm not even Catholic. He washed prisoners' feet and walked, unprotected, among the masses. He eschewed many of the luxurious trappings previous popes enjoyed and spoke of tolerance—something that seems to be in short supply in our polarized world.

In New Jersey, we reelected our very popular governor, who handled the Superstorm Sandy disaster with a can-do, bipartisan attitude, and a navy blue fleece he gamely parodied on SNL. He prides himself on being a Jersey boy who tells it like it is, as we all watch him and wonder whether he'll bail on us and run for president. Is the rest of the country ready for Chris Christie? I guess we'll find out in a few years.

Many Shore dwellers shuddered when the 2013 hurricane season was predicted to be unusually active. Instead, it was one of the most quiet hurricane seasons ever. In my next life, I want to be a meteorologist. Theirs is the only profession where one can be wrong most of the time and still hold a job.

I've changed my tune on Obamacare. When he first started talking about health insurance for everyone, I thought it was a good thing. "Everyone deserves good health care," I thought. "How could anyone find fault with it?" I am now finding fault with it, from the disastrous rollout to the fact that many of us will now be paying through the teeth for lesser coverage AND giving up doctors and medical practices we were promised we could keep.

Speaking of insurance, I wonder if the Russian government is giving Edward Snowden a good health care package? Does anyone think it's ironic he fled to one of the most oppressive governments on the globe? I hope he enjoys borscht and frigid weather. Yes, I was shocked to learn the NSA has been collecting all of my emails and text messages. There is no way to rationalize the mass collection of private citizen's information by the government, but I question Snowden's motives and modus operandi.

Several months after George Zimmerman was acquitted of killing Trayvon Martin in Florida, he was arrested for abusing his girlfriend. When the police searched his apartment, they found an arsenal of weapons. Is anyone surprised? Also falling into the "Is anyone surprised" category is the continued gun violence in schools. The majority of U.S. citizens want more gun control, but until the omnipotent gun lobby is taken down, we can sadly expect the violence and loss of life to go on and on and on.

Last but not least is the A&E debacle regarding Duck Dynasty. Let me say up front I have never watched this program. I do not like the facial hair/camo-wearing thing and I do not share their values. I was not surprised to hear the hate talk coming from their patriarch's mouth. His redneck, fundamentalist rhetoric is well-known, even if one doesn't watch the show. What surprised me was A&E's flip-flopping: The show is cancelled; the show is back on. He's banned from opening his mouth; he can say whatever he wants. I think it's safe to say people watching the show share his skewed values and were not offended by his hate blast. The rest of us shook our heads and asked "What do you expect?"

Regardless of your religious beliefs, let me leave you with this thought: If God was so anti-gay, why isn't "Thou shall not commit homosexual acts" one of the Ten Commandments? Think about it and have a Happy New Year!

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