Year-end lists are a longstanding tradition, so who am I to struggle against them? The following is my contribution, a list of the stupidest things done by persons and institutions over the past year. As is customary, they are listed in reverse order of stupidity:
10! Bank of America announces debit card fees
Really, they should have known better. Clearly, people were going to notice. One assumes they now have found other, less in-your-face ways to gouge the same revenues from depositors.
9! Wisconsin governor Scott Walker attacks public sector unions
I guess he though he'd get away with it and become a Republican icon with a clear path to the White House – but it kind of backfired. Unwittingly, he managed to revitalize the labor movement and become the target of a recall campaign.
8! Dominique Strauss-Kahn gets blow job
It may have been the most expensive blow job in history, surpassing the Bill Clinton blow job of 1998. Clinton kept the presidency, but DSK never will be Premier of France.
7! The Supercommittee
6! Democrats buying into the "deficit problem"
The biggest concern of the largest number of Americans is unemployment. Even the people with jobs seem to understand that high unemployment rates are depressing their wages, but, as usual, Democrats let Republicans define the parameters of the debate — and, as usual, wound up on the defensive. Given that the Treasury currently is borrowing at less than 2%, nobody who matters is too worried about US solvency.
5! Republicans having all those debates
The more the Republican primary candidates debate, the more obvious it becomes that they're all genuinely defective. The most victimized victim was Rick Perry. Hell, he has great hair, rugged good looks, solid conservative credentials, and cowboy masculinity. Difficulties arose, however, when his handlers let him open his mouth, thereby demonstrating just what an ass he is. (Nevertheless, the debates have been the most entertaining "reality television" I've ever seen.)
4! Ongoing US support for al-Maliki in Iraq
It's been clear for years that Nuri Kamal al-Maliki is a corrupt, self-aggrandizing piece of shit, and about ten minutes after our long overdue withdrawal from Iraq, he showed us just how stupid we were to put any trust in him whatsoever. Sorry, Barack. There goes democratic Afghanistan.
3! European austerity programs
So, where's the growth supposed to come from? Just because the eternally anal-retentive, moralistic Germans have all the money doesn't mean the rest of Europe should buckle under to their demands. Outside the Eurozone, I'm thinking David Cameron, too, might be in trouble.
2! Egyptians putting trust in their military
Damn, it's rough when, after your revolution, you have to do it again. Maybe there should be a handbook telling people how to tell the difference between a revolution and a military coup.
1! Obama attempting to compromise with Republicans
Dammit, he's not that stupid! Well, maybe he is. Maybe he thought his neo-liberal stances would somehow endear him to his sworn enemies. (That kind of thinking would have been very stupid indeed.) More likely, he thought his Wall Street friends would come to his rescue. Well, they didn't. Wall Street execs still value short term outcomes over long term outcomes, because the short term still is where their bonuses are generated.
So there you are, and a happy New Year (uh-huh!) to all.