January 2, 2008

Get Behind Me, 2007

While the 2006 midterm elections were a clear mandate for change, the Democratic Congress that resulted has been a model of spinelessness, ignorance and ineffectiveness, and for me, it made 2007 an extremely frustrating year. I have high hopes for 2008 - if nothing else, we'll have elected a new president - and with any luck, it will be someone who is serious about undoing the horrific damage wrought by the criminal fools in the Bush Administration. With all that in mind, here are some of what I think are the better year-in-review efforts that were published in the waning days of '07.

Over at Rolling Stone, Bill Maher leads off on the relatively lighthearted (if profane) side with his Dickheads of the Year; fourteen people who represent the Real Time host's pick for "the biggest assholes of 2007." My personal favorite:
7. The Solid Quarter

That twenty-five percent of America who would not desert George Bush if he ran over Dakota Fanning with his pickup truck on the White House lawn. Is it a coincidence that twenty-five percent is also the number of people who, in an A.P. poll of predictions for 2007, said they expect Jesus Christ to return
this year!? I don't think it is.
Next up is Slate's Dahlia Lithwick, with Legal Fictions: The Bush Administration's Dumbest Legal Arguments of the Year. Judging from the title, most people will probably expect this to be pretty dry reading, but the utterly ludicrous nature of the statements coming out of the White House over the past 12 months keeps it entertaining. (In a gallows sort of way.) My personal favorite:
5. Everyone who has ever spoken to the president about anything is barred from congressional testimony by executive privilege.

This little gem of an argument was cooked up by the White House last July when the Senate Judiciary Committee sought the testimony of former White House political director Sara Taylor, as well as that of former White House counsel Harriet Miers, in connection with the firing of nine U.S. attorneys for partisan ideological reasons. Taylor was subpoenaed in June and, according to her lawyers, she wanted to testify but was barred by White House counsel Fred Fielding's judgment that the president could compel her to assert executive privilege and forbid her testimony. As Bruce Fein argued in
Slate, that dramatic over-reading of the privilege would both preclude congressional oversight of any sort and muzzle anyone who'd ever communicated with the president, regardless of their wish to talk.
And, saving the best for last, we have The Beast's 50 Most Loathsome People in America, 2007. Absolutely no one is spared, and my favorite pick from this compilation aims at the root of much of the frustration that was so endemic last year:

9. You

Charges: You believe in freedom of speech, until someone says something that offends you. You suddenly give a damn about border integrity, because the automated voice system at your pharmacy asked you to press 9 for Spanish. You cling to every scrap of bullshit you can find to support your ludicrous belief system, and reject all empirical evidence to the contrary. You know the difference between patriotism and nationalism - it's nationalism when foreigners do it. You hate anyone who seems smarter than you. You care more about zygotes than actual people. You love to blame people for their misfortunes, even if it means screwing yourself over. You still think Republicans favor limited government. Your knowledge of politics and government are dwarfed by your concern for Britney Spears' children. You think buying Chinese goods stimulates our economy. You think you're going to get universal health care. You tolerate the phrase "enhanced interrogation techniques." You think the government is actually trying to improve education. You think watching CNN makes you smarter. You think two parties is enough. You can't spell. You think $9 trillion in debt is manageable. You believe in an afterlife for the sole reason that you don't want to die. You think lowering taxes raises revenue. You think the economy's doing well. You're an idiot.

Exhibit A: You couldn't get enough Anna Nicole Smith coverage.

Sentence: A gradual decline into abject poverty as you continue to vote against your own self-interest. Death by an easily treated disorder that your health insurance doesn't cover. You deserve it, chump.

In fairness, if current poll numbers are any indication, The Beast's #9 actually applies more to the people who shape the narrative of the mainstream press than it does to the general public. Still, there is truth to it; and ignorance and apathy remain the biggest reasons we end up saddled with complete disasters like the current president and his cronies. So maybe not entirely justified, but I (obviously) have a soft spot for witty, confrontational tough love, and as I said, 2007 was a frustrating year.

Here's to a great 2008, and some much shorter "worst of" lists 12 months from now!

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