Politics as Usual

2020 vision

The year in review: Putting 2019 in the rearview mirror

A wise man once said, “You never realize what a good memory you have until you try to forget something.” That was journalist Franklin P. Jones, and I’ll never forget the 12.6 seconds it took me to search the Internet for “quotes about memories” and find that line.

As the year 2019 winds down to the final days and hours and champagne toasts, let us remember the happenings of the past year, including the things we are trying to forget.


Well, this is cool: A Chinese space probe, the Chang’e 4, is the first to land on the far side of the moon. It was not eaten by hostile Selenites, so scientists generally agreed that this was a well-deserved win for humanity.

Down in the failed state of Venezuela, President Nicolás Madura is declared illegitimate by legislative leader Juan Guaidó, who begins the process of trying to remove Madura from power. Madura severs ties with the United States.

Thing we’d like to forget: It’s my column, so the thing to forget was the death of my grand old 20-year-old cat, Charlie (star of the Cathouse column in these pages years ago).


President Donald Trump says the United States will leave a nuclear treaty with Russia, and the next day Russia says the Russian equivalent of “gotcha” and immediately begins violating the treaty.

In the workers’ paradise of Venezuela, Maduro severs ties with Colombia because it tries to send humanitarian aid to the 2,000 Venezuelans left in the country.

Gov. Gavin Newsom endorses Senator Kamala Harris for president.

Thing we’d like to forget: The U.S. Department of Transportation cancels a grant worth nearly $1 billion for California’s slow-moving high-speed rail project.


Nancy Pelosi, the most powerful woman in the country, continues to pour cold water on pleas from her party’s left flank to impeach President Trump, telling The Washington Post “He’s just not worth it.”

Venezuela expels the German ambassador for allegedly meddling in its affairs.

Thing we’d like to forget: Trading Paint, starring John Travolta, is released. The film earns an approval rating of 0 percent on Rotten Tomatoes.


Kamala Harris, under fire for a rediscovered 2010 video of her speaking at The Commonwealth Club defending a law that would allow the jailing of parents of truant children, says she regrets “unintended consequences” of the law.

In Venezuela, opposition leader and possibly interim President Juan Guaidó leads a doomed rebellion against Maduro.

Thing we’d like to forget: Former Bay Area congresswoman Ellen Tauscher passes away.


The Washington Post publishes an article that goes viral: “How San Francisco broke America’s heart.” This sets off another round of San Franciscans and U.S. presidents criticizing their city and vowing to do absolutely nothing to fix it.

A prison riot in Venezuela leaves 29 dead and 19 guards injured.

In an interview with CNN, Kamala Harris defends her stance on truancy.

Thing we’d like to forget: Shootings at the University of North Carolina, a school in Colorado, an Oregon high school, an event in Virginia, and Virginia Beach.


Heat wave! San Francisco feels more like Las Vegas with fewer strippers as temperatures are recorded hitting the triple digits.

Thing we’d like to forget: Sarah Huckabee Sanders, who established a new low as White House press secretary, leaves her job after effectively killing the daily press briefing. She toys with the idea of running for governor of Arkansas.


President Trump has a chat with Ukraine’s new president and definitely does not offer any quid pro quo to get that country to announce an investigation into his likely opponent, Joe Biden. No way.

Thing we’d like to forget: So many Democrats are running for president, the party splits the debate into two nights and still can’t fit all the candidates on stage.


President Trump sues California over a law that requires candidates to reveal their tax returns or be banned from primary ballots.

Protests in Hong Kong, Moscow and Zimbabwe and the ongoing standoff in Venezuela highlights that there is worldwide unrest at governments of every type.

Thing we’d like to forget: Legendary writer Toni Morrison passes away.


The Chase Center finally opens up for business, all 900,000 square feet of it. The venue kicked off its inaugural season with high-profile concerts and soon the debut of the now-hometown Warriors.

Nancy Pelosi finally admits that it’s time to start formal impeachment proceedings against President Trump.

Thing we’d like to forget: A fire on a dive boat near Santa Cruz Island kills 34 people.


San Francisco’s own Senator Kamala Harris, lagging in the Democratic polls, goes all-in on Iowa, betting that a big finish there can recharge her campaign. Harris is banking on her longstanding relationship with the midwestern farming state, which is only eclipsed by this writer’s longstanding relationship with journalist Franklin P. Jones — 20 minutes and counting.

In Sonoma, the Kincade fire rages, ultimately burning more than 77,000 acres. PG&E begins preemptive power shutdowns in areas where high winds might lead to power lines setting off more fires.

Thing we’d like to forget: It is reported that more than 28,190 people left San Francisco in the second quarter of 2019. Yet somehow the total population is at a high of 879,000. We also hear that about one-third of people in the city say they want to leave.


In the election, Mayor London Breed sweeps into a full term after facing only token opposition. But the Board of Supervisors swings further left, and the district attorney wants to be the public defender.

The bad news on the homeless continues to roll in, with reports that the city’s homeless population is “much bigger” than we previously thought.

In the public impeachment proceedings, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union, Gordon Sondland, testifies that lawyer Rudy Guiliani directed a quid pro quo attempt against Ukraine at the direction of President Trump, and that Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and others all knew about it—and there are emails to prove it.

Venezuela’s Nicolás Madura can’t believe he’s having a better year than Trump.

Thing we’d like to forget: Steph Curry breaks his left hand during a game at Chase Center. He will miss about three months of the season.


This issue of the Marina Times comes out at the beginning of December, so this will be a prediction of memories.

The San Francisco 49ers, after years in the NFL cellar, sweep their opponents in December playoff games and march toward the Super Bowl with heads held high in confidence and . . . well, the result of that will only be known in 2020.

Thing we’d like to forget: An entire year has gone by without the city solving making any significant progress toward solving its homelessness debacle, its housing debacle, or its small business debacle.


Our old friend of 23 minutes, Franklin P. Jones, left us another bon mot: “Experience is that marvelous thing that enables you to recognize a mistake when you make it again.”

Let’s not do 2019 again.

Send feedback to [email protected]. John Zipperer has perfect 2020 vision. Email: [email protected]

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