# 15 The injectable drug Ozempic, designed to help people with type 2 diabetes regulate insulin levels, became the hottest dietary drug in 2023, generating big bucks for drug company Novo Nordisk, now valued at $354 billion. It is not FDA-approved for weight loss, but millions use it to shed pounds. The drug mimics a naturally occurring hormone that tells your brain you are full. It sounds too good to be true. Check with your doctor before using, or just join a gym.
#14 Taylor Swift’s U.S. concert tour generated almost $5 billion in total consumer spending, contributing to US GDP, which was larger than the GDP of 35 countries, according to the Common Sense Institute. Forbes also named Swift the 5th most powerful woman in the world. Who thought there was so much money in sad songs about breaking up?
#13 The top-grossing 2023 movies included blockbusters Barbie ($1.4 billion) and Oppenheimer ($952 million). One was about dolls, the other about the creator of the atomic bomb. Not your traditional blockbuster holiday themes. The films were released simultaneously and their box office impact was called the “Barbenheimer” effect.
#12 Many say Artificial Intelligence will eliminate millions of jobs. Sam Altman, the CEO of OpenAI, the leading AI software company, was fired by his board, rehired, and then the Board was fired. AI is certainly causing people to lose their jobs.
#11 On October 7th, the terrorist group Hamas slaughtered 1200 Israelis, girls were raped, babies decapitated, and over 240 people, including Americans, were taken hostage. However, on US college campuses, students ripped down posters of Israeli hostages, including children, and harassed Jewish students. They held rallies more anti-Semitic than pro-Palestinian and supported Hamas, which uses Palestinians as human shields.
#10 University presidents from Penn, MIT, and Harvard got an F grade for their testimony before Congress for failing to answer a simple question: “Is calling for the genocide of Jews appropriate speech on a college campus?” proving that intelligent people can be very stupid.
# 9 The Supreme Court, which hears cases involving ethics, has its own ethics problem. It was uncovered that Justice Clarence Thomas got a loan from a wealthy “friend” for his luxury RV ($267,000) that he never paid back in full or reported gifts, including 38 destination vacations, 26 private jet flights, VIP sports passes, helicopter flights, private resort stays, among other things. There’s nothing like a lifetime gig with perks.
# 8 Eric Adams, the embattled Democratic NYC Mayor, responding to the radio interview question, “Why is NYC the greatest city on the globe?” said, “This is a place where every day you wake up, you could experience everything from a plane crashing into our Trade Center to a person who’s celebrating a new business that’s open.” Not the best tourism pitch.
# 7 A majority of Americans support allowing legal abortions in cases of rape, incest, and when a woman’s health is in danger. However, the 2022 Supreme Court Dobbs decision overturning Roe v. Wade and many 2023 state abortion laws include no such exemptions. Even where there are such exceptions, many doctors and hospitals are fearful of performing the abortion and being sued, resulting in significant legal exposure. I expect these exemptions would be swiftly added if men were the ones forced to give birth under these circumstances.
# 6 In 2018, Washington Post contributor Jamal Khashoggi, a critic of the Saudi regime, entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul and was brutally murdered. U.S. intelligence believes the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman ordered the hit. One way to cleanse the Saudi brand is to buy popular sports properties called “Sportswashing.” There’s nothing like an exciting Saudi-sponsored hole-in-one to offset the image of a Saudi hit team dismembering a journalist. In 2023, the Saudi Public Investment Fund spent $2 billion to create LIV Golf, luring away top PGA players with huge contracts and forcing a merger with the PGA. Play on.
# 5 Rudy Giuliani and his fall from America’s Mayor to nut job to now bankrupt.
# 4 The GOP House continues to go after Hunter Biden, the broken, former drug-using son of the President who is currently under indictment by the Justice Dept. But what about Jared Kushner, the former President’s son-in-law? He secured a $2 billion investment into his private equity firm, Affinity Partners, from an investment fund led by the Saudi Crown Prince only six months after leaving the White House. While at the White House, Kushner helped broker a $110 billion weapons sale with the Saudis and defended the regime after the assassination of Khashoggi. Kushner’s White House tenure was pretty lucrative. How about a hearing on that?
# 3 The GOP House clown show was on full display in 2023: George Santos (R-NY), the indicted pathological serial liar, was finally expelled from Congress; a small group of GOP House members effectively shut down the government after firing their Speaker, Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) without having a Plan B; and Rep Lauren Boebert (R-CO), a guardian of family values, engaged in groping with a male companion, captured on security video, during a packed family-friendly Beetlejuice musical performance. I wish we could just say “Beetlejuice” three times, like in the movie, and make the clown show disappear.
# 2 Former Congresswoman Liz Cheney (R-WY), considered a leading conservative idealogue from a powerful hawkish political family, was not MAGA-enough for today’s GOP. She voted for Trump in 2016 and 2020 and with him 93% of the time in Congress. However, the Jan 6 attack on the Capital turned Cheney into an anti-Trump leader. She sacrificed her party leadership position and House seat to stand up to Trump and defend the Constitution.
# 1 And the most upside-down thing of 2023 was Donald Trump. After all the false claims of 2020 election fraud, which failed in 60 court cases, the refusal to allow a peaceful transition of power that led to the January 6th attack on the Capital, which he egged on, and the 91 indictments for various crimes, he is still the GOP Presidential front-runner.
Hugh Panero, a tech & media entrepreneur was the founder & former CEO of XM Satellite Radio. He has worked with leading tech venture capital firms and was an adjunct media professor at George Washington University. He writes about Tech and Media for the Spy.