This year crawls toward its doom while 2012 waits to unleash new horrors upon us.
Here in California, we enjoyed the first year of rule by our resuscitated governor, who has learned to his chagrin that the 1970s are indeed over—although his predecessor clung to life by unveiling a love child. Governor Brown did not lie during his campaign: His assertion that he had no plan or any idea what to do in office has proved to be true. We teeter ever closer to financial ruin while remaining wealthy enough to produce 120 people willing to fork over $17,900 a head to dine with President Obama.
Obama can claim credit for two coups in 2011: Osama bin Laden, the 21st century’s very own Emmanuel Goldstein, was at last packed off to paradise or wherever, and our troops are finally out of Iraq. Closer to home he reaffirmed his roots by replacing newly anointed Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel as Chief of Staff with the former mayor’s brother. Unlike Truman, who broke with the Pendergast machine that created him, the president is a man of loyalty. Chicago-on-the-Potomac remains secure.
In royal news, Prince William married Kate Middleton in a pageant that melted the hearts of folk worldwide. The heads of government of the 16 Commonwealth realms agreed to change the Act of Succession, thus allowing gender equality in choosing the next heir and allowing him or her to marry that most dreaded of all things, a Catholic. In response to Japan’s earthquake and nuclear crisis, the country’s Emperor took the unprecedented step of addressing the nation directly without a government speechwriter. The heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne, Otto von Habsburg, died at age 99 and was sent off with an imperial funeral the likes of which Vienna had not seen since 1916.
The Arab world erupted in unrest: Presidents-for-life were toppled in Tunisia, Egypt, and, most bloodily, in Libya. At year’s end, Syria’s president remained employed, albeit at a large cost in his constituents’ blood. The war in Afghanistan ground on, and rumors of conflict continued to flash around Iran and Israel.
The worldwide recession continued along its merry way, spreading unemployment, homelessness, and despair in its wake. In response (and partly inspired by their supposed colleagues in the Arab world), the Occupy movement set up camp in many of the country’s cities. Tellingly, Occupy San Fernando Valley was canceled after more reporters showed up than protesters; the Valley is a place people usually try to flee. Poignantly, Occupy LA‘s leaders were outraged by the homeless moving in to gorge on the free food, shelter, recreational drugs, and women.
The Republican Party paraded an extraordinary menagerie of presidential candidates. This election is theirs to lose, and I predict they will, thus giving John Boehner more reasons to cry. But Obama may yet prove he has what it takes to make whomever the Republicans nominate look good.
Pope Benedict XVI made some key appointments and decisions that will doubtless outlast his critics: He reinforced the legal status of the Tridentine Mass and saw the first Anglican ordinariate erected. He sent us Archbishop José Gómez, who has been a real breath of fresh air here in Los Angeles. The Chinese government continued to rebuff the Vatican and persecute the Church within its boundaries. In other religious news, the Dalai Lama renounced control of the Tibetan government-in-exile, while Mrs. Schori, the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, continued to tighten her control of that body.
I will spend New Year’s Eve at a local restaurant and then slither home for a late supper of black-eyed peas while watching Dinner for One on YouTube. Upon waking I’ll attend a Tridentine Mass, gobble an osechi brunch in Little Tokyo, and enjoy PBS’s broadcast of the annual Vienna concert. I wish you a happy 2012.
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