As a woman who has embraced change, I must point out that all things are good in moderation. It was my intention to highlight the top 10 stories of 2011 and look at the bright side of those events. As I began to compile the list, I was at around #30 when I realized how unmanageable it was. At the same time I got an understanding why this has been such an unsettling year. If 2011 will be known for anything – it will be known as The Year of Change. So, here it is – the good, the bad and the downright ugly. Side note – because there is truly no way to rank these in order of importance, I’ve listed them chronologically.
January 8 – The shooting of Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and the murder of 6 innocent by-standers including one of her Aides, a Federal judge and a 9 year-old girl with 14 others wounded. It took America 15 minutes before their ADD kicked in and they completely lost focus on how or why this happened. Thanks to the NRA and the TeaSheep, no reasonable discussion on limiting weapons access to the mentally ill will take place. On May 25th, Jared Lee Loughner was adjudged mentally incompetent to stand trial. When people have greater access to firearms than mental health services, it speaks volumes about us as a nation.
February – The Arab Spring – A revolutionary wave of demonstrations across the Middle East resulting in the fall of the Libyan government, the resignation of the Yemeni and Egyptian Prime Ministers and more uprisings across the region. May the United States mind her own business and permit these nations to sort it out for themselves. We suck at deposing despots by replacing them with even worse despots. Perhaps we should focus on the people hell-bent on bringing down our own government before sticking our noses into things we don’t understand.
February – The Wisconsin Protests – When newly elected Governor Scott Walker, a trained monkey paid for by Koch Industries, introduced the “Budget Repair Bill”, at one point, as many as 100,000 enraged citizens stormed the Capitol Building in Madison to avail themselves of their Constitutionally protected right to assemble and petition the state government for redress of grievances. The governor ended up locking them out of the Capitol Building and urging the newly elected Tea Baggers to hurry and pass the bill. Violating the Open Meetings law, they got it passed. It was struck down by the courts, but that didn’t stop the Governor – he signed the bill anyway. The resultant recall elections in the Senate have been effective, as has the current effort to recall the Governor, which looks like it will most likely happen. America owes a debt of gratitude to the protesters in Wisconsin for showing us how it’s done. I personally believe it was the precursor to the “Occupy” movement. All I can say is, “ON WISCONSIN!” You people rock.
March 11 – The earthquake and subsequent Tsunami that hit Japan. More than 13,000 people died within a matter of minutes – more than 12,000 of them were drowning victims. A sad enough story in and of itself, until the nuclear reactors at Fukushima began to melt down – SEVEN of them, making the area around the reactors uninhabitable for decades to come. Given the aging nuclear reactors in this country, many in and around earthquake areas, one would think we would strongly evaluate the safety of our own nuclear program. Uh, no. We Americans are nothing if not deaf, dumb and blind to impending and preventable disasters.
April 25-28 2011 Super Tornado Outbreak – The National Weather Service confirmed 353 tornadoes in 21 States in less than 96 hours. 346 people were killed, most of them across the Southern U.S. 239 of those deaths were in Alabama alone. While FEMA did a stellar job of responding to this disaster, they exhausted virtually all of their funds on this event alone. Good thing there were no more natural disasters in 2011…. (tap… tap… tap…)
April 27 – After the Right Wing smear campaign designed to discredit the President and create yet another shiny object with which to distract the country, President Obama released his long-form birth certificate. So, once and for all, the rumors that he was secretly born in Kenya, his parents and grandparents had planted his birth announcements in local papers more than 50 years ago, and that he was a secret Kenyan Muslim placed here to overthrow our Democracy as we know it, dissolved overnight, right? Those who believed this nonsense continue to cling tightly to their tin foil hats in the hope of receiving yet further instructions from the Mother Ship…
May 1 – The death of Osama bin Laden – The most wanted man in the world, responsible for the deaths of thousands worldwide, all in the name of religion, met a watery end at the hands of Seal Team Six at the direction of President Obama. The President made his announcement and exited stage left. The Right Wing took immediate steps to pat themselves and former President Bush, former V.P Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld on the back for war crimes. Way to stay classy.
Began May 5 – GOP debate-a-thonmageddon begins with (dog help us) 12 more planned from January through March of 2012 in the Republican party’s never-ending quest for their “Anybody but Romney” candidate. Pandering to the most extreme faction of their party, Rick Perry was cheered for his execution record, Ron Paul was cheered for saying that people without health insurance deserve to die, a gay soldier was booed (way to support the troops!), Herman Cain was cheered for blaming poverty on the poor and Newt Gingrich was cheered for his pro-child labor stance. This all proves just how low the bar has been set for support of GOP polices.
May 22, (tap…tap…tap…) an F-5 tornado wiped out nearly half of Joplin, Missouri, killing 160 people. More than 990 more were injured. It took an act of Congress to get emergency monies appropriated to FEMA for disaster relief that continued until Hurricane Irene. I personally spent a week down there in clean-up recovery, bringing potable water to people attempting to sort out their few remaining belongings and serving meals in the Red Cross shelter. The United Arab Emirates pledged up to 1 million dollars in Apple notebook computers so school could begin on time – and it did.
May and June – NY Congressman Anthony Weiner, in a hideous lapse of judgement, sexted photos of his underwear clad private parts to untold women via Twitter. After days of denial, claiming his Twitter account had been hacked, he eventually admitted to being the author of the Tweets and affirming that the photos were indeed, Weiner’s weiner. Though he never met any of the women, never had relations with any of the women, he was forced to resign, because in order to have kept his position in Congress, he would have to have been filmed having gay sex with a congressional staffer.
Ended in June – Dominique Strauss Kahn, also known as “DSK”, was Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund. Accused of sexually assaulting a hotel maid, DSK was indicted and confined to house arrest in a posh New York apartment pending further investigation. Because the defense proved the maid was not a practicing nun, she was tried and convicted in the court of public opinion, all charges were dropped and DSK was freed. And who said you can’t buy justice?
June 25 – New York became the sixth state to legalize gay marriage. On June 26th, the sun rose, as usual, and the institution of marriage did not collapse overnight, as predicted. While gays have been accused of threatening the sanctity of marriage, studies have concluded that Newt Gingrich has managed that little task all by his lonesome.
July 4th – The details of “Murdoch-gate” broke worldwide. It was revealed that media tycoon Rupert Murdoch and his minions had hacked the cell phones of politicians, celebrities and private citizens. The most notorious of those being the phone of a murdered teen, leading her parents to believe that because of erased messages, their daughter was still alive. It has resulted in the closing of the News of the World, a Murdoch controlled paper. Looking like a doddy old fool while being interrogated by Parliament, son James took the lead and did the bulk of the lying for the family. While many of Murdoch’s employees have been arrested and charged with crimes, money has once again managed to insulate those ultimately responsible.
July 5 – Casey Anthony is acquitted of murdering her two year old daughter but convicted of lying to police. In a classic case of prosecutorial over-zealousness, Anthony was over-charged and the jury made the correct move in not convicting her of the charges. It did not, however, absolve Casey Anthony of her sick behavior subsequent to her daughter’s disappearance. There have been no confirmed sightings since her acquittal. Sadly, the real loser in this case was baby Caylee – there will never be justice for her.
July 8 – The final launch of the Space Shuttle -The Space Shuttle was a manned orbital rocket and spacecraft system operated by NASA on 135 missions from 1981 to 2011. The system combined rocket launch, orbital spacecraft, and a re-entry spaceplane with modular add-ons. Major missions included launching numerous satellites and interplanetary probes, conducting space science experiments, and 37 missions constructing and servicing the International Space Station. While two crews were lost, one on take off (1986 Challenger) and one on reentry (2003 Columbia), the Shuttle program was a technological and scientific feat for America’s space agency. Until the U.S. decides space is once again a worthy endeavor, the International Space Station will be serviced by the Russian Soyuz spacecraft.
July 23 – Anders Behring Breivik claimed 77 innocent lives in three separate attacks in Norway, including 68 children at a youth camp. While the media was quick to report the slayings were “most likely” a terrorist act at the hands of radical Muslims, when it was learned Breivik was an Islamophobic, right-wing Fundamentalist Christian, the word “terrorist” was replaced by “lone gunman”. I didn’t know you had to travel in organized groups and wear a turban to be called a terrorist (because that’s sure as hell what it was), but okay.
August 23 – A 5.2 magnitude earthquake shook the eastern United States. The epicenter was in Virginia. The quake was felt in more than a dozen US States and parts of Canada. Televangelist Pat Robertson was quick to state that the earthquake was a punishment from God for the evil perpetrated on the world by homosexuals. Given that the bulk of the damage in the nation’s capitol was to the National Cathedral, I suspect if there was any message from God, it was for Pat Robertson to shut the hell up.
August 26 – (tap… tap… tap…) Hurricane Irene causes 7 billion dollars in damage to the eastern seaboard and is responsible for 56 deaths. Congress claimed we couldn’t afford to help those people and refused to appropriate additional FEMA funding. In an effort to appease all parties involved, funding for the Joplin tornado victims was permanently suspended and all funds were moved to the Hurricane Irene states. Way to stay classy, Congress.
September 17 – Occupy Wall Street (OWS) is born. It is a protest movement which was initiated by the Canadian activist group Adbusters. The protests are against social and economic inequality, high unemployment, greed and corruption and the undue influence of corporations within the financial services sector on government. The protests in New York City have sparked similar protests and movements around the world. The Occupy protesters were named Time Magazine’s “Person of the Year”.
September 19 – President Obama signs the necessary documents effectively ending the military policy that, while not banning gays in the military, allowed them to serve so long as they told no one. It was also supposed to prevent the military from asking about a person’s sexual orientation. Despite overwhelming public support for an end to this policy, homophobes across the land, including Senator John McCain, fought tirelessly to keep the policy in place. Despite the dire warnings, there has been no negative impact on troop readiness. Fighting wars on 3 fronts seem to impact troop readiness far greater than what those troops choose to do in the privacy of their own homes.
October 5– Co-founder, Chairman and CEO of Apple, Inc., Steve Jobs, dies of pancreatic cancer. Widely regarded as either demon or angel, few were ambivalent in their opinion of the Apple brand mastermind. Widely known for his acerbic management style and demand for perfection, Jobs was most widely criticized for the use of cheap Chinese labor in the production of Apple products. But love him or hate him, Apple produced the most aesthetically pleasing, user friendly products in the tech world. I would have protested the Chinese child labor thing by not writing this on my iPad2, but I’m a loyal American consumer doing my part for the economy.
October 20 – The killing of
Muammar Moammar Mohamar Gaddafi, Kadafi, Qaddafi, the Libyan dictator. Videos spread around the web of him being beaten, sodomized and eventually killed by rebel forces. I know I’m supposed to be sad that he wasn’t tried in court but guess what? They don’t operate by democracy over there. Their country. Their rules.
October 30 – After 10 days of trying to get a straight answer from the Cain campaign, Politico breaks the story of the Herman Cain Sexual Harassment Allegations. What became a case of “He said. She said”, became a case of “He said, she said, she said, she said, she said….” Cain claims to have been a victim of a “high tech lynching” a la Clarence Thomas – but in the end, it was Cain who did himself in. He can blame the “Democrat machine” all he wants, but unless there’s a Democrat Machine in his pants… this one’s on you, Herman. And please, dump the creepy smoking guy in your ads…
November 5 – The Penn State Scandal breaks. Former Penn State assistant coach, Jerry Sandusky is charged with 42 counts of child molestation. Several high level school officials have been charged with perjury and head coach, Joe Paterno was fired. The university president was forced to resign. I’m all for the waiting until a man’s had a fair trial. I read the Grand Jury indictment and I heard that horrible interview he gave to Bob Costas. I’m not saying a word until he’s convicted and then I’ll have plenty to say.
November 14 – Supreme Court agrees to hear challenges to the Patient Protection and Affordable Health Care Act. States are challenging the ‘individual mandate’ requiring everyone to pay into the fund, because guaranteeing affordable health care for all our citizens is just Socialism run amok.
December 8 – After the 2007 massacre at Virginia Tech that claimed 32 lives and wounded 25 others, this country learned nothing. On December 8th, a Virginia Tech police officer and another individual in a parking lot were slain. The gunman committed suicide. Within 72 hours there was virtually no media coverage and the matter is considered closed. *shaking my damned head…
December 17 – The Iraq war officially ends with a $4 trillion dollar IOU. The date for withdrawl was set in stone by former President Bush, but President Obama has been roundly blamed by Conservative pundits and the entire GOP for his “failure” to complete the mission. Which just goes to show that beauty fades but stupid is forever.
As for me? In some ways this was a tough year, personally in the people and pets I’ve lost. In some ways, it has been the most endlessly rewarding. I’m hoping for a few less natural disasters, a better economy for the average American and peace and prosperity for each of you. I’ll see you all in 2012 for another rousing round of The Opinionated Bitch. Until then, grab the world by the balls and hang on for dear life.
Carol Baker is a political writer, satirist, and co-host with Vicki Childs of our Here Women Talk weekly internet talk radio show called BROADSIDED. You can hear their show every Thursday at 11 am Eastern/10 Central/8 Pacific. You can “LIKE” The Opinionated Bitch Facebook Fan Page for regular updates!