Ten Lessons Learned in 2008
6. Asking the wrong question at the neighborhood block party could get you investigated. OK, perhaps Joe the Plumber was overly referenced by John McCain as an example of Middle Class Man About to Get Hosed by Obama Taxes. But it's not as if Samuel Joseph Wurzelbacher did anything to grab the limelight besides challenge Obama on his tax plans at an Ohio campaign stop. In return, the director of the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services, who used her state computer to fundraise for Obama, played Big Brother and snooped on the plumber. Talk about un-American.
7. Peace on Earth goes better with plutonium. Just when you thought the European sympathizers couldn't get any more batty, a British TV station ran Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's Christmas message as a counterpoint to the queen's annual message. Ahmadinejad's annual message, in a nutshell, is "what would Jesus do if he were an Islamic fundamentalism like me?"
8. Everybody has their breaking point. Israel's patience with Hamas lackeys firing rockets into their country has been absolutely incredible. But the fight they eventually took to Hamas is more about one country's security. As Egypt can attest, and Hezbollah and Iran view with glee, Hamas delights in throwing the whole region into turmoil. Will this teach Israel's critics that the Jewish state is really the safe-and-sane choice in the region? That lesson will likely fly over many heads. But even Mahmoud Abbas had his light-bulb moment, acknowledging that Hamas invited the attack by not extending the cease-fire.
9. Some twerps still think the white-powder letters are funny. Since Dec. 8, reports the FBI, "letters containing a note and suspicious white powder have been received by the offices of more than 40 governors across the country." The white powder, of course, tests negative for anthrax each time, but the talcum-powder pranks that draw out the cavalry each time and drain time and resources have gotten really old. So cut it out, Mr. Texas Postmark.
10. Since history tends to repeat its lessons, whether or not those in the corridors of power pay attention, this year reminded us, yet again, that the United Nations is pretty much useless. About 250,000 Congolese were displaced in violent fighting that easily intimidated the overwhelmed U.N. peacekeeping force. Despite the slayings, rapes, abductions, use of child soldiers, and more heinous war crimes, the piddly pace of peacekeeping once again taught parties to the conflict that crimes can, indeed, pay. The day after Christmas, 45 women, children and seniors were hacked to death inside a Catholic church in the northeastern part of the DRC. It barely made the headlines. When will we ever learn?