It’s time again to reflect on those who made life more interesting over the past year through their incomprehensible actions. In other words, the biggest boneheads of 2014:
Soon to be Ex-Gov. Tom Corbett: Amount of money wasted trying to (futilely) win re-election after four years of incompetence, inaction, gaffes, and most of all, the Penn State/Jerry Sandusky albatross hanging around his neck? $25 million. Being the only statewide Republican incumbent in the entire nation (yes, the sole loser in America) to fall, despite the largest Republican landslide since 1932? Priceless.
The funniest thing is that Corbett actually believes he went down swinging, but as we all know, he never entered the ring. Let’s hope he golfs better than he governs, though that’s not exactly setting the bar too high.
Related: Pennsylvania consumers: While the rest of the nation is enjoying free-falling gas prices, Pennsylvanians just saw their fuel increase 10 cents per gallon, thanks to the unnecessary Corbett-initiated gas tax. But it’s the gift that keeps on giving, as we have three more years of increases. When it’s all said and done, Pennsylvanians will pay the highest gasoline and diesel prices in the nation (yeah — that’ll help the state’s moribund economy). To stomach prices that high, you definitely need a drink, though at least now there are two reasons to stock up over the border: cheaper gas and liquor. Cheers!
Airlines and aircraft manufacturers: How is it possible that cellphones and cars can be pinpointed to within three feet using GPS, but we still can’t track massive commercial aircraft costing $300 million? Since it’s certainly not a technology issue, it comes to dollars and sense. The airlines and plane manufacturers don’t want to spend the money for installation and monitoring (showing no common sense) but really, how much could it be? They routinely increase fees and invent new ones, so why the stubborn cost-consciousness on this paramount issue? A one-dollar surcharge would undoubtedly fund the system, so let’s stop flying blind and get it done.
The NFL: Commissioner Roger Goodell’s handling (actually, nonhandling might be a better description) of numerous domestic assault cases by players left the league with a huge black eye. He should have been sacked, but because he makes team owners a lot of money, they were willing to weather the storm and look the other way, keeping Goodell firmly entrenched in the Good Old Boys Club.
But the league once again looks really bad, for a different reason. An obvious penalty against Dallas in its playoff game against Detroit (which, if it stood, could well have sealed a victory for the Lions) was inexplicably retracted, giving Dallas a blatant gift. (This wasn’t a questionable judgment call, but an absolutely-no-doubt-about-it penalty). The Cowboys went on to win, leading millions to believe the NFL wanted Dallas to advance instead of Detroit, as ratings would be much higher (and thus, millions more for the NFL). But since football is America’s game, and fans will still pay a fortune for tickets and merchandise, nothing will change.
Sidenote: New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, a self-proclaimed Cowboys fan, was widely seen whooping it up with Dallas owner Jerry Jones in Jones’ private box. Fine. But could the guv really have been that stupid as to have allowed Jones to pay for his, and his family’s trips, to Dallas, in which they flew on Jones’ private jet? There are already allegations swirling of possible impropriety, which, truth be told, are probably politically motivated. But for a presidential candidate still operating under the cloud of Bridge-gate, doing anything that could generate bad headlines is inexcusably bad judgment. Why couldn’t he just pay for his trip out of his own pocket like most other people? Answer: hubris. Look for Christie’s candidacy to begin and end in New Jersey.
Florida State football: No, not because they got annihilated, 59-20, by Oregon in college football’s first-ever playoff game. Blowouts happen. It’s how you handle them that show your true character. Flat-out, Florida State quit when they fell behind. And that’s simply inexcusable. Like it or not, they are role models to youngsters, and the lesson ought to be that you never quit. Period!
But even worse, the Seminoles showed their true colors when a whopping 70 percent of the team walked off the field without shaking hands. Responsibility for such horrendous lack of sportsmanship rests with coach Jimbo Fisher, who, like many of his players, apparently doesn’t believe in "class."
Kim Khardashian: Beyond the fact that her derriere resembles a place to park a bicycle, does this really need any explanation?
Race relations: Too many on both sides with ulterior motives rooted in self-interest; not enough with the courage to call them out. Black and white and "read" all over is no longer reserved for newspapers, but is the state of America as more and more blood from blacks and whites is spilled in the streets. Brothers and sisters we are not, as societal colorblindness in now but a pipedream. We have failed to uphold the accomplishments of the Civil Rights Movement, and that is a black – and white – mark on our history. Look for things to get worse before they get better.
Big Brother: Bad: Closing public schools or opening two hours late because it’s cold. Snow or ice is one thing, but cold? When did we become so mind-chillingly wimpy? What’s next? Outlawing sledding? Why, yes.
Worse: Stupefying as it is, more towns are banning sledding. Part of it stems from the nanny-state mentality of power-hungry, sanitize-everything bureaucrats and politicians, and part of it is fear of standing up to the bloodsucking leeches, also known as trial lawyers. Where has our collective sanity gone?
Worst: Taking the cake is the state of Connecticut forcibly removing a 17-year-old girl with cancer from her home, placing her in the custody of child welfare, and forcing her to undergo chemotherapy, which she and her mother adamantly do not want. The state supreme court is now reviewing the case. More to come on this.
Everybody: We all suffered a huge loss when Robin Williams took his life. The hows and whys still need to be sorted out, but the bottom line is that we lost one of the very best. He made us laugh, cry, think, and laugh some more. He inspired us. He brought out the very best in humanity, dazzling us with a range of performances reserved for the truly elite. From "Good Will Hunting" to "Dead Poet’s Society" to "Patch Adams", he wasn’t a character, nor even an actor. He was something infinitely more. Many can act, but Williams was an honest-to-God person to whom we could relate. He became part of our lives because his very essence — everything about him — exuded a passion that simply cannot be taught. He will never be forgotten, and there will never, could never, be another Robin Williams. And that is the biggest loss of all.
Chris Freind is an independent columnist and commentator. His column appears every Wednesday and occasionally on Friday. He can be reached at [email protected]