The time between Christmas and New Year’s Day is one of the slowest news periods of the year, which is why you see an avalanche of “Top Ten” this and “Most Important” that on a lot of websites. When there’s nothing to write about, columnists and analysts will generally write about … nothing, albeit as creatively and entertainingly as possible.
That’s why I wasn’t surprised when Aaron Hanscom, PJM’s managing editor, pinged me on our AIM channel and asked me to write a year end piece, listing the top stories for 2010.
Now Aaron is a benevolent tyrant. It’s been years since he executed a writer for refusing to obey orders, and floggings have become quite rare — at least for males. Nevertheless, it was not without a little trepidation that I meekly suggested an alteration in my assignment: I wanted to write a piece predicting news headlines for 2011.
With a personal motto of “the easy way is always the best way,” you can see why I chose predictions over doing all that boring research on which stories made an impact over the previous year. Writing about what’s going to happen is infinitely less stressful and more entertaining than penning a column on what has already occurred.
Besides, it’s New Year’s Eve, you and I want to go out tonight and celebrate, and if perchance you don’t catch up with this article until New Year’s Day, reading it will not put any additional demands on your hangover-addled brain. So consider this my holiday gift to all of you who have given me your love and support this past year.
The easy thing about predicting news headlines for 2011 is that they will almost certainly look an awful lot like news headlines from 2010. The dirty little secret about this insignificant little ball of dust and gasses we exist upon is that the more things change, the more they stay the same. Anyone can predict that Hugo Chavez will say something loony, Vladmir Putin will do something odd, and some jihadist nutcase will blow himself up actually thinking that 72 virgins await him in paradise. The challenge is to come up with something plausible and present it as something new and exciting.
For instance, I have absolutely no doubt that over the next year, there will probably be several headlines involving a Democrat saying something bat guano crazy about economics. It’s not that Democrats know next to nothing about how the economy works. It’s that they are absolutely, stone cold clueless about the subject. Comparative lit majors didn’t need to take Econ 101 to graduate, so the subject is even less familiar than Mandarin Chinese to most liberals. You get the impression that liberals believe that unless government controls it, nothing exists, and that this control extends to every thin dime you earn by the sweat of your brow. It’s not your money, it’s government’s — and government has the power to tell you how much of it you can keep, rather than you telling government how much they can take.
Anyone who seriously believes that unemployment benefits are “the biggest boost we can give the economy” will no doubt make similar horrifically inept gaffes in the coming year about the nature of a free market and how things really work. Try these on for size, the generic “Democrat” substituting for the name. Just fill in the blanks later:
“Democrat accuses GOP of trying to shorten recession on the backs of the unemployed”
“Democrat says 90% employment ‘acceptable'”
“Democrat says eliminating 200,000 jobs in coal industry will grow the economy”
Not to be outdone, I am also certain that some prominent Republican somewhere will literally get caught with his pants down in some kind of sex scandal. There’s a 50-50 chance that it will be a gay liaison and that the tawdry details will spill out on blogs first, to be reluctantly followed by the Washington Post and New York Times, who hate it when blogs scoop them on these kind of scandals but agonize over contributing to the sleaze.
What is it about Republican lawmakers and sex? I can understand the attraction. After all, I’m sort of a Republican and I like sex a lot. Straying from my Zsu-Zsu has never seriously crossed my mind, however. Certainly, as H.L. Mencken said, “Temptation is an irresistible force at work on a movable body.” But many Republicans seem to heed Mae West’s advice: “I generally avoid temptation unless I can’t resist it.”
Everybody likes sex and doing it with someone that is not your wife has an element of daring and risk taking that spices up the encounter. But really, how dumb can you be to leave a paper trail of your love life so that once jilted, your ex-paramour can take her revenge? Or leave an email trail that authorities can follow when you’re caught using taxpayer funds to keep your mistress at that cute little hideaway in Adams Morgan? There are dozens of ways to get caught and the GOP has been gradually, and systematically, working their way through each and every means of being discovered.
It’s not that Democrats don’t stray from their marital vows; it’s that Republicans are stupid enough to get caught. Ergo, we will probably see headlines like this in the coming year:
“Republican caught with gay soldier lover in House gym shower room”
“GOP governor freed from bondage by police but denies affair with ‘Mistress Bonnie'”
“RNC staffers arrested for ‘lewd behavior’ at female mud wrestling contest”
Then there are issues that will no doubt prove both sides to be utterly imbecelic. Take global warming, for instance. I guarantee this summer, this headline will appear somewhere:
“Record heat continues: Scientist says it proves global warming”
Then, a little later in the year:
“Cold snap grips region: Scientist says it disproves global warming”
Confusing weather with climate has become so common that having a debate about the subject is impossible. The few voices of reason are drowned out by this cacophonous nonsense that just because it’s warmer this year, or colder, or drier, or wetter, or even because it’s normal, this proves something profound about the subject of climate change. From statements by Al Gore to even some articles printed on this and other sites, the march toward deliberate delusion and ignorance about what exactly is happening to the climate and whether there is anything we can or should do about it continues unabated.
Then, there is the prospect that Governor Abercrombie of Hawaii will rise to the challenge and put the issue of Obama’s birth to rest once and for all by releasing his full, complete, actual, and forever birth certificate.
This headline writes itself:
“Obama’s birth certificate shows he was born in Hawaii. Orly Taitz says ‘it’s a fake'”