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December 31, 2007

The Ten Worst Stories of 2007


We have had a fairly mixed year. Both good stories and bad were bountiful, and sometimes good and bad news came together to neutralize mega-stories. Take Pakistan, where Pervez Musharraf’s lifting of both his military uniform and his country’s State of Emergency was closely followed by the untimely assassination of Benazir Bhutto. Nobody quite knows what the net effect of these events will be.


Other stories, however, can quite clearly be grouped into good and bad categories. Thus, in this first of a two-part series recapping the year 2007, I present to you the 10 worst stories of 2007:


10.  The University of Illinois ditches its mascot, Chief Illiniwek: The devastating part is obviously not the loss of the mascot itself (as loved and respected as Chief Illiniwek was by his community). It is instead the fact that we have reached a point in this society where we bow to a shallow but outspoken minority – polls show that four-fifths of Native Americans support the use of American Indian names in sports. All I’m gonna say is, don’t touch my Washington Redskins.


9.  Mississippi River Bridge collapse: There are very few functions that even small-government conservatives concede to the government, and those include highways. But due to the size of Minnesota’s bureaucracy and the state legislature’s decision to spend its money on everything but roads, government has somehow managed to mess up one of its most basic and uncomplicated responsibilities.


8.  Iran seizes Royal Navy personnel: How can anyone forget the big smiles on the faces of those British Navy personnel captured by Iran as they met with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, received gifts from their captors, and posed for the Iranian media while dressed in their pretty new suits? And who can forget that they were later allowed to sell their stories? In short, our best friends messed up, and the Iranians scored a major propaganda victory.


7.  Jena Six: Somehow, it has become acceptable to rally for a group of teenagers that knock unconscious a fellow student, as long as they are black and he is white. Yes, the prosecutor made a mistake with the original excessive charges, but the unwarranted defense of the criminals by the media continued for far too long after the mistake was corrected.


6.  Al Gore and his Live Earth: It is indeed necessary to have the global warming debate. It is an important issue. But it is a lie to say that there is a scientific consensus over whether humans are causing global warming. There is not. More debate would have been a better idea than a Live Earth concert, which according to one expert, requires 100,000 newly planted trees in order to counter all the energy it consumed.


5.  Authoritarian regimes still in place: It is not so much that something happened as something did not happen. We still have too many corrupt and authoritarian regimes around the globe, with some of the worst being Venezuela, North Korea, Myanmar, Iran, Syria and Zimbabwe. This status quo continues to be one of the worst stories every year.


4.  Media panics over Chinese exports: OK, some Chinese toys were found to contain lead, and we should be more careful about that – whatever, that’s not the point. The point is that this story was way, way overblown in an attempt by the economic Left to convince Americans to ride the protectionist wagon. The cheap Chinese products you, reader of this column, inevitably use daily, do give you a better quality of life. And the answer is more free trade, not less.


3.  Subprime mortgage crisis: No one gets credit for a strong economy (except Bill Clinton), but for some reason, when one single thing goes wrong in an otherwise solid economy, fingers are always pointed at the incumbent administration. How about we blame those who took out loans they cannot afford, and the banks that gave out those risky loans? The primary victims of this crisis are those who caused it – there is no reason to get the government (the rest of us) involved in solving it.


2.  National Intelligence Estimate on Iran: It is captivating to watch foreign policy doves adopt this NIE report as the Word of God when they can’t stop blaming the Bush administration for believing intelligence on Saddam Hussein’s weapons programs. But even if the report is accurate, it by no means says that Iran is not going to have nuclear weapons. It says that Iran in 2003 stopped its blatant nuclear weapons program, but it continues uranium enrichment, which is transferable to nuclear weapons technology.


1.  Democrats take the Congress: Take Nancy Pelosi’s appointment to the Chairmanship of the House Intelligence Committee of a congressman who could not say whether Al Qaeda was Sunni or Shiite. Take congressional Democrats’ unnecessary angering of Turkey. Or their embarrassing attack on Rush Limbaugh. Or their historically soaring pork-barrel spending. Or their leader’s declaration of the Iraq War as “lost.” Their incumbency can only be the worst story of 2007. And considering Congress’s approval ratings, sadly too many Americans would seem to agree.


© 2007 North Star Writers Group. May not be republished without permission.


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