2011 will long be remembered as the flip side of 2008, as it hosted a GOP pre-season primary every bit as tough as the famous Clinton/Obama duel, but much sillier. Seemingly afraid to advance their serious candidates, the Republican bullpen was chocked fuller of nuts than an Almond Joy bar. Exhibit A being Newt Gingrich, who last week declared himself willing to arrest and/or abolish large parts of the Judicial Branch if they continue to piss him off.
Similarly whipped into a frenzy of anti-government obstructionism by Tea Party freshmen, the Republican House forced a near government shutdown over the debt ceiling in April, and unfortunately, continued being dicks for the rest of the year.
Much of the Muslim world changed virtually overnight as its various peoples overthrew long-ensconced dictators in a series of uprisings dubbed the Arab Spring. Riding the wave of these domino revolutions, the Obama Administration managed to oversee the removal of both Libyan strongman Muammar Gaddafi and Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak without launching a ground war or waterboarding anyone -- a major step for American foreign policy.
While Obama capped his external successes with the violent removal of Osama bin Laden in May, his domestic approval continued to tank. This, along with a stubbornly rotten economy, led to the birth of the nebulous populist movement, Occupy, which seems poised to push long censored topics such as wage equity and class mobility into the 2012 presidential race.
Japan and Europe both experienced traumatic earthquakes this year. Japan's was of geologic type, which was so powerful as to singlehandedly tank not only a large chunk of the country's GNP, but also destroy a budding quasi-green movement towards nuclear power around the world as an alternative to fossil fuels. Europe's quake was of the financial variety, a consequence of over-leveraged governments starting with Greece and ending with France and Italy. The euro, and in fact, the entire European Union is starting to look pretty shaky as a result. Keep your boots on.
Attempts to halt global warming fell flat once again in 2011, as deniers continued to use the illogical to fool the uniformed, despite some of the strongest temperature evidence yet compiled that we humans are indeed simply polluting beyond the earth's capacity to absorb. That reminds me, I have to be sure and cash my check from the Global Climate Scientist Conspiracy Group for my continued silence on the cover-up. Did I say that out loud?
Transitions included Steve Jobs, Vaclav Havel, Christopher Hitchens, Harry Morgan, Joe Frazier, Andy Rooney, Wangari Maathai, Amy Winehouse, Cy Twombly, Peter Falk, Gil-Scott Heron, Jackie Cooper, and Geraldine Ferraro, all of whom will be dearly missed; and Osama bin Laden and Kim Jong Il, who will not.
Overshadowed by the yearlong GOP clownfest was the end of the Iraq War. A burning issue for Americans of all stripes for years, the conflict sputtered out of focus under the crushing weight of a brutal recession. The lessons Iraq taught on responsibility and accountability went unlearned, making it all the more likely that we will repeat those mistakes, to our cost.
Lastly, and coming under the category of "we already went down that street and got G.W Bush out of it and he royally fucked up the country," make sure to get out and vote for Obama next year. Sure, sure, I know. I hear you. But try this on: "President Gingrich."
You really want to go there? Me neither. I'm a Mounds kind of guy.