Monday, December 31, 2007

2007 - The Best and the Worst

Best person. Al Gore. Like Carter before him, Gore has shown that it's possible to move from one of the highest offices in the land to a life of even higher service. In Gore's case, it has been fighting for the very existence of the planet. Many were not impressed with Gore's tenure before and during his Veep years, nor with his presidential campaign. The new Gore has thrown himself into fighting for our future with such fervor that he has helped keep the issue in the news (between Anna Nicole Smith updates) and in our minds. And while I'm sure he was pleased to get the Oscar and Nobel, being named as "best person" by "Make it Stop! Make it Stop!" will, no doubt, be the highlight of his year ;).

Worst person. Bush or Cheney? Bush or Cheney? Each has so much going for them in this category. Cheney's health scares pop up from time to time as they try and convince us that the man has a heart. On the good side, Cheney didn't shoot anyone in the face this year. On the other side, he continues to emit such evil that his office caught fire this year. But in the end, Bush wins this hands down. Even if Bush was only the channel for Cheney's decisions, the buck still stops at his desk. In the end, the decisions that have resulted in so many deaths and such destruction are Bush's.

Best decision. New Jersey's decision to abolish the death penalty. New DNA evidence has helped overturn convictions across the county. LaPopessa has been against the death penalty all my life - for the simple reason that I don't believe in killing, and I certainly don't think the state has the right to do it in my name. I also understand the desire for justice and gut need for vengeance. But life in prison without parole takes the person off the streets without risking the chance that we have killed in error.

Worst decision. Pick a vote (or non vote), almost any vote in the House or the Senate. The prize for worst decision of 2007 is that of the Democrats in the U.S. Congress to ignore the mandates that brought them to power and cower in the face of the most widely unpopular and hated president of ages.

Biggest Disappointment. Find a dart board. Put up the names of every Democratic member of Congress. Throw dart. You've found the winner. Repeat.

Best Surprise. The fact that OJ Simpson might actually spend time in jail for his misdeeds.

Most Annoying Thought. That if Simpson is sentenced to prison, it will because he tried to take back his sports memorabilia, not because he murdered two people.

Silliest Media Obsession. This one was hard. Anna Nicole Smith's death and Paris Hilton's jail time both gobbled hours of cable news hours that could have been used to inform the public about so many other things, including actual news. This one gets a tie.

Worst Media Misstep. Ok, so the obsession with celebrity "news" that really wasn't news certainly seems an automatic win. But I think the worst media misstep in 2007 continued to be the inability of the press to give the American public an actual view of what America is doing in Iraq.

Best Media Contribution. Even with the writers' strike, Jon Stewart's Daily Show wins this hands down. Whether we're laughing to keep from crying, or just laughing because it's so damn funny, the Daily Show regularly surpassed anything on the cable news stations. And yes, Colbert comes in a close second.

Worst Performance by a US Government Agency. Is there room for a multi-agency tie here? I mean the choices are so many. The Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) didn't seem to pay any attention to the flood of lead-tainted toys coming out of China. The Justice Department was . . . well, little more than a national joke. The Environmental Protection Agency seemed to believe that the P in agency's title stood for Profits. In just one example of many, the EPA refused California the right to set its emissions standards for vehicles, even though the state got them in the past. Agency director Steve Johnson argued that "one state" cannot set standards that compete with the newly passed CAFE standards. Well, actually, make that 17 states seeking one tougher standard--and they comprise nearly half (45 percent) the nation's electoral votes. But as sad as those three agencies' performance has been in 2007, the award goes to one of the newest government agency, The Department of Homeland Security. The Department (which includes FEMA, don't forget) that more than any other is charged with our safety continues to be unable to find its butt with both hands. Only two years after their miserable performance during an actual national emergency (Katrina) they have yet to convince anyone that they would actually be able to help anyone during a new national disaster (whether man-made or natural). DHS did manage to institute a color-coded terrorism alert system that continues to do more to confuse than alert and has yet to develop a plan to deal with an outbreak such as Avian flu. (shhh, don't tell al Qauda, they'll start coughing on us!).

Silliest quotes from 2007. There are too many to make room for here. Fortunately, we've got a sister site, "Notable Quotables" that handles these. Check them out.

Worst Recommendation for Unchecked Capitalism Since the Savings & Loan Scandals. This of course goes to all those bankers and mortgage brokers who fought each other bloody trying to lend money to anyone who had a pulse. As the CEOs and presidents of all those companies and banks relax with umbrella drinks in the tropics this winter, hundreds of thousands of people across the U.S. are wondering how much they can take with them when they go to live in their cars.

Best Use of Brain Power to Tackle Impossible Situation. The Iraq Study Group (James Baker, Lee Hamilton, Lawrence S. Eagleburger, Vernon E. Jordan, Jr., Edwin Meese III , Sandra Day O'Connor, Leon E. Panetta, William J. Perry, Charles S. Robb, and Alan K. Simpson.)

Least Surprising Non Use of Brain Power to Tackle Impossible Situation. Bush Administration's unenthusiastic reaction and lack of adherence to the study group's report.

Best Use of a Minority Group as Knee-jerk Punching Bags. As always, there are several notable candidates for this award. But we're looking for more than just one stupid headed statement (sorry Imas). This year the award goes to a group of people who have found common ground in one thing - Fear of Immigrants. Ok, not just any immigrants, but those who speak Spanish. (British ones get millions of dollars to come over and play soccer in LA). So this year the award goes not only to Colorado Rep. Tom Tancredo, who made this the touchstone of his campaign, but to the rest of the Republican presidential candidates, who worked hard to grab the issue from him and run with it. Unfortunately, the coat-tails of this award are long - other winners include television pundits such as Lou Dobbs and Glenn Beck.

Greediest Stupid Political Maneuver. To the politicians of Florida, Iowa and New Hampshire and a few others for their juvenile grabs at national attention by moving their political primaries earlier and earlier and earlier until we have presidential wannabes breathing down our necks months earlier than they should be.

Least Surprising Move. Bush commuted Scooter Libby's prison term.

Most Surprising Move. It took more than eight months for Don Imas to get back on the air after being a racist idiot on the air. Call me cynical, but I thought he'd have been back on the air in weeks.

Best Dealing With Horrible Circumstances. This award I am giving to a group of local people. The players and coaches of my beloved Washington Redskins. Joe Gibbs has shown the leadership and class that those of us who knew and loved the team during his first years knew he had in him. Sean Taylor's death was a blow not only to his family, but to his sports family as well. Taylor's locker, uniform on display, is under Plexiglas now, a reminder that he is always with them.

So have a good new year, and whatever you do, "Don't Get Tased, Bro!"


Blogger buckarooskidoo said...

Impossible to argue with those selections! Well done.

I would add to the list "worst and most outrageous instance of historical revisionism," a category in which Russian historians at work on the new national history textbooks are clear winners for their characterization of J.V. Stalin as "a most effective manager."

I guess by this standard Adolf Hitler is the greatest military genius in all of German history.

2:09 PM  
Blogger jobsanger said...

As a Cowboys fan, I want to say that Sean Taylor's death was a tragedy for the entire league and all fans. He was a great player. I thought opening the next game with only 10 defensive players was a wonderful tribute.

PS-Congratulations on making the playoffs. I wish you luck (unless you play the Cowboys again).

Happy New Year!
I hope 2008 is a great year for you and your blog.

12:14 AM  
Blogger Carol Gee said...

lapopessa, this was a very fine post, worth the wait!
Here's wishing us all better days ahead.

9:44 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I cringe whenever I hear of people against the death penalty. Why? Because I spent my entire childhood at the hands of a psychopath. How many clever ways can you think of torturing someone? These people really enjoy torturing others. I can see no redeeming value for them. At least I am not a hypocrite. I put down a animal that endangers others, rather than keeping them in a cage, at my expense, for the rest of their life. I have better things to do with my tax money, like help people who can really benefit from it. When I see this kind of misguided good will I can only say they have never suffered at the hands of a maniac. I think the families of the people who are victims of their cruelty would agree with me.

3:29 PM  

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