Dear 2008 – go ahead and let the door hit you in the ass on your way out, okay?
Seriously, 2008 was such a fucked-up year that I’m glad to see it gone. From the endless Democratic primaries to the bumbling, disjointed, and frighteningly-inept campaign of John “Insane In The Brain” McCain to the sad collapsing stumbles of a drunk-on-greed economy, to the pants-wettingly-horrifying possibility that Sarah Palin could have been one weak, cancer-ridden, stuttering heartbeat away from being President, to the continuing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, to the intensely gratifying victory of Barack Obama on the same day as the big-step backwards passage of Proposition 8 in California, and then, just for a few good kicks on the way out, terrorist attacks in India, rising tensions between India and Pakistan (both tied for the title of Most Unstable Nuclear Power – 2008), Israel and Hamas skipping over tension to just blasting at each other, and, last but certainly not least, Blago, 2008 was truly a year filled with downs and downs and downs and up and downs and downs.
2008, fuck you very much and goodnight.
So what’s going on 2009? Here are 5 stories that I plan on keeping an eye on this year (in no particular order):
"And these are the people I will kill if you assholes don't leave me the fuck alone." Rod Blagojevich holds a truly unique press conference.
Finally, a scandal we can all get a good laugh from. It’s just one sleazy, foul-mouthed, Governor-Gone-Wild, caught on tape trying to sell Barack Obama’s vacant Senate seat, all the while , cursing like a drunk sailor on shore leave after losing a fight with a Thai ladyboy. (Whatever happened to that Obama guy, anyway? You never see him in the news anymore.) Nobody’s dead, no lives are in danger, there’s no massive economic breakdown involved (save as possible motivation for Blago’s acts), Blago’s not firing rockets at Jews. . .it’s just good, clean schadenfreude at the expense of the Illinois governor and his equally (and impressively) foul-mouthed wife. . .but on her, the potty mouth is kinda sexy. 23/6 is right: Blago truly is the scandal that just keeps on giving.
2. How Bailout Money Is Being Used (or, what you’re letting Blago distract you from)
Arianna Huffington raised a great point in her most recent blog: why is the media more focussed on the admittedly entertaining antics of Rod Blagojevich while almost a trillion dollars of taxpayer money are being distributed, with little to no transparency as to how it’s being spent, to people who are obviously already bad with money? According to her, the Treasury’s inspector general admitted that “it’s a mess” and no one knows how to establish proper oversight. Um, why is this not getting more media attention? Anybody got any answers? Anybody? Hello, media?
3. Arr My Goodness, It’s Pirates!
Somali pirate or American cross-dressing gangsta rapper MC Jemima with a circa-1990 cellphone? You make the call!
Pirates, while cool in the abstract, are actually not good in reality. They basically commit massive armed robbery, and the acts of the infamous Somali coast pirates, who went so far as to hijack an oil tanker and hold it for $20 million ransom a few months ago, have drawn the ire of politicians the world over, who are sending navies after these dastardly seagoing bastards. The UN Security Council even passed a resolution allow the US and other countries to go all-out and intervene by “all means necessary.” So, the evil pirates will be stopped, right?
Except. . .maybe, just maybe, the pirates are actually the good guys here.
See, according to an article by British newpaper The London Independent‘s Johann Hari, the pirates began their swashbuckling ways in response to, well, Western skulduggery. After the collapse of the Somali government in 1991, European ships allegedly began appearing off of the now-unprotected Somali coasts, dumping barrels into the ocean. People began getting sick and unhealthy. In 2005’s tsunami, hundreds of of these barrels, damaged and leaking, turned up on the Somali coast. People got sicker; hundreds died. It seems the barrels contained nuclear and medical material, much of which was tracked back to European hospitals and factories.
Elsewhere on the Somali coast, European fishing boats have been raiding the hell out of the unprotected waters, taking so much that the Somali people, for whom fish is a major dietary staple, are losing both their livelihood in the fishing industry and their major food source.
Enter the pirates, who originally got together in speedboats, to defend the Somali coast against these dumpers and fish-thieves with the one thing that Africa has no shortage of: guns. They’re not all altruistic, but the core of their piracy is the defense of their homeland. . .which just happens to lay along a major international trade route.
So now, these defenders against Western exploitation are being labeled in the media as gangsters, criminals, and warlords, with the CIA chief even alleging that the pirates may be loosely connected to Al Qaeda – the American politician’s favourite spectre of fear. (There is no evidence of a connection, by the way.) That sounds familiar, that whole “invoking Al Qaeda’s name to generate some enthusiasm for attacking others thing”. . .where have I heard that before?
They’re not all altruistic, to be certain. There is money to be made in piracy, to be sure, and Somalia is a dirt-poor country. But before we go blasting them out of the ocean, maybe we should do something about the circumstances – i.e., illegal waste dumping and over-fishing in unprotected waters – that created them.
4. The Palin Family Follies
Sarah Palin, looking deceptively intelligent
You know, after losing the presidential election in what was an electoral college landslide, the smart thing to do, I think, would be to sit down, shut up, and focus on being a good governor so as to sweeten the resume for another run at the big dance in four years.
Thatwould be the smart thing to do. Here’s what Sarah Palin did.
She’s given more interviews since the election than she did before, and she just doesn’t seem to have learned much at all: she’s blasted Katie Couric and Tina Fey for “exploiting” her for their own gain, she’s given a peppy interview while turkeys are being slaughtered right behind her, and brought a creepy girl-crush out of Greta van Susteren. She also put out a pro-Bristol’s-baby/anti-teenage pregnancy press release (yes, that is contradictory) and accused the press of giving Caroline Kennedy a free pass, compared to how they treated Palin, due to a “class bias.” (She also rants against bloggers, John McCain, and those who called Levi Johnston a dropout in the same interview. . .it’s comedy gold.) Oh, Sarah, you are every bit as entertaining as Blago, yet much easier to look at. . .though I do believe his hair is more lustrous and silkier than yours.
And the rest of the Palin clan?
Levi Johnston quit the job he somehow got despite being completely unqualified for it (it requires a high school degree), Bristol had her baby (finally), Levi’s mom got busted for dealing Oxycontin, and Piper practiced her hunting and field-stripping skills on six hobos. Okay, I totally made that last one up, but tell me it would really surprise you if it was true.
The Palins may (hopefully) never get to be America’s First Family, but they will perhaps always be America’s Trainwreck Family With A Comedically Unintelligent Matriarch. Why are they not a reality show yet?
5. Barack Obama
"Heh, heh. I totally own you all."
11 days until he becomes President. . .Good luck, Barack Obama. You’re gonna need it.
And that’s it for my watchlist for this year. . .it’s gonna be an interesting ride.
VS – 01.09.09