History, a wise man said, is a pack of tricks we play on the dead. Very well: Let's get out the deck and deal. As we stand on the cusp of 2008, let's look back on the follies of 2007.
North Korea returned to the negotiating table and announced it wants a Playstation 3 and a ham sandwich. Also a pony. Talks broke up when the Americans refused to supply a Playstation because they bought North Korea an Xbox last time, and it just sat in the closet.
The new Democratic Congress repealed the Patriot Act, banned racial profiling at airport checkpoints, required the executive branch to inform terrorists by certified mail that their phones were tapped, and began efforts to revive the draft. As Speaker Pelosi put it, "This is not about this war. This is about setting the stage for the racial and class-based rhetoric that will automatically undermine the attempts to fight the next war. Wait a minute, is this mike on? Oh, crap."
The bird flu killed millions of birds.
Rumors of presidential irrelevance were put to rest when President Bush appeared in Punxsutawney, Pa., and saw his shadow, thereby predicting six more weeks of Keith Olbermann monologues.
Fidel Castro died and lay in state for 48 hours while Cubans filed past to pay their respects in the traditional manner. Experts estimated that 24,302 liters of spittle were expelled. Brother Raul declared a "National Day of Mourning and Mopping Up."
North Korea tested a nuclear bomb attached to a medium-range missile; it was headed towards a U.S. carrier group before it was destroyed. The United States subsequently tested several nuclear missiles on North Korean soil. The tests were successful.
Iraq remained a mixed bag. The Kurdish parts were peaceful and prosperous, and hence unreported upon. Evidence of Syrian and Iranian complicity in Iraqi violence continued to accumulate, forcing James Baker to suggest it may be necessary to invade Israel and give Syria the Golan Heights by force. The Bush doctrine, meanwhile, was quietly amended: You're Either With Us Or Against Us. Whatever: It's All Good.
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Terror plots in London continued to be unearthed daily. The Labor government, seeking to defuse the more immediate threat of Islamophobia, forbade anti-terrorist squad members from wearing a cross during raids and required all policemen to remove their shoes before raiding mosques.
Vladimir Putin prepared for his eventual retirement in 2008 by forcing the Russian Parliament to create a position called "Czar," which he described as "purely ceremonial." Critics of his imperial ambitions and corrupt, gangster-style government were not reassured by the theft of Lenin's body, which turned up on eBay, was then stolen from the winning bidder and was finally discovered in a London alley. Poisoned.
American politics were in that blessed period between elections, but jockeying continued for the presidential spot in both parties. Hillary Clinton made a masterful move to the center by coming out against gay marriage for stem cells; Barack Obama continued to run on a platform of being Barack Obama, and Mitt Romney continued to remind people of his impressive chin. Rudy Guiliani rolled out a new campaign slogan: "Why? Because I'll Nuke Them Old-School Style if I Have To, and You Know It," while John McCain's team came up with a GOP base-tested slogan, "Suck It Up, Haters! It's Him or the Witch."
In Iran, President Ahmadinejad said, "I have signed legislation outlawing Israel, Britain and the United States. The bombing begins in 18 minutes!" Commentators observed that he was obviously channeling a Reagan joke made when the mike was off and noted the difficulties Gorbachev faced in his bid to bring about world peace. The bombing actually did begin 18 minutes later, leading to renewed calls for stiff U.N. sanctions on toner cartridges, a move that would severely crimp Iran's ability to make copies of its instructions to its regional operatives.
Something happened somewhere in Africa, but no one was quite sure. It was pretty bad though.
Nothing happened in China, as far as we could tell. Isn't that peculiar? One billion-plus people, and nothing seems to happen. It's like they're just waiting. For what? Who knows.