Could 2007 somehow have been avoided? Where does one begin to recap 12 months of such willful self-parody? Isn’t it insulting to explain why, say, waterboarding is wrong, especially when one of the few people who needs this clarified is the new attorney general of the United States?
Corporate and political hoodlums spent the year doing three things: planning crimes, committing crimes, and covering up crimes. If this is news to you, no summary will bring you up to speed. So here are just some highlights of 2007, because it would be cruel and indecent to make you remember it all.
This past year excised at least one bromide from motivational speakers’ rusty-saw collection — that is, unless they shift gears on the fly and start telling us that whatever doesn’t kill us only serves to make us weaker. Clearly, if you’re reading this, you — like a few million other schmos just trying to keep body and soul in proximity — survived, despite being sandwiched between poverty and the evermore obscenely wealthy cadre of oligarchs who create it.
Americans still dream in dollar signs, but the super rich lack the conscience to dream at all. So the rest of us ended up scrambling after a monetary unit that is no longer the envy of even Canadians. A land of people who once had good jobs with good benefits has now become a place where corporate behemoths slowly squeeze us for everything that was ours — including our very homes.
Mortgages too good to be true, peddled by swindlers too bad to be truthful, led to domiciles being repossessed like there was no tomorrow — for the people living in them, anyway. How were you to know that, when you mortgaged your soul to a predatory lender, it would end up being owned by Bob Jones University?
If the credit hustlers didn’t dispossess us, we still had to worry about having a health-care racketeer tell us that our home, when liquidated, should be enough to cover the co-pay for our first course of meds. The most important American film of 2007 was Michael Moore’s Sicko, a work so entertainingly stark that it left us blankly grinning at the boundless inhumanity of corporate avarice.
We still had manners
As ’07 began, America was preoccupied with teaching Iraqis how to behave in a civilized manner . . . while imposing death sentences on their former leaders. This past year ended with Saddam Hussein becoming the final holiday ornament hung by the White House. Cell-phone video of Hussein’s indelicate departure caused some grumbling in international circles. He may have been a mass murderer, but he was, after all, a head of state. So the State Department began tutoring prime minister Nouri al-Maliki’s government in lynch-mob decorum — no mobile communications devices please, and anyone above the rank of vice-president must be hung with a red-velvet VIP rope.
A couple of Saddam’s henchmen, including his half brother and former head of the secret police Barzan Ibrahim Hasan al-Tikriti, and Awad Hamed al-Bandar, the former chief justice of the Revolutionary Court, were scheduled to meet the hangman in early January. In a case of unfortunate fashion-police statism, the two prisoners were made to wear jumpsuits before being noosed and dropped from such height that Saddam’s half brother was decapitated. Later the mishap was explained away as a translation problem — when Saddam’s sibling’s time came, his executioners thought their instructions were to "halve brother."
January was a time of great jubilation for the American people — their new Democratic Congress arrived in Washington to take back both houses for the first session since 1994.
The Dems took their seats with specific instructions from voters to get us the hell out of Iraq. They responded with a non-binding resolution — a concoction consisting of equal parts Kaopectate and Milk of Magnesia. It was meant to sort of, um, suggest, if it wasn’t too much trouble or anything, that the president perhaps think about reducing troop levels in a war that two-thirds of the American people opposed. After several weeks of decisive Democratic language readjustments, the measure failed.
Throughout the year, the party of the donkey stubbornly nuanced its stances, leaving the Bush–Cheney White House no choice but to do exactly whatever the heck it wanted. And so, on January 10, Bush broke the ties that didn’t bind and announced the “surge.” He did it with inimitable humility, admitting that he’d made a mistake by not sooner sending enough of our children into harm’s way.
This increased troop deployment resulted in the bloodiest year of the war for Americans, and went none too lightly on the locals. But because casualty stats decreased over the last few months of ’07, Bush and his pie-eyed devotees deemed it the miracle they’d been expecting all along. No one dared suggest that perhaps violence had decreased because, after four years of foreign invasion, occupation, civil war, ethnic cleansing, and wholesale exodus, there just weren’t that many people left to wander into free-fire zones.