Monday, December 29, 2008

The VTK Year In Review


It's been an eventful year, an historic year, a year deserving of a review. It's an overused convention - the end-of-year review - but that's no reason to completely avoid it. Among other newsworthy developments, I published my graphic novel (and schlepped it shamelessly), the Boston Celtics won the NBA Championship, and Obama won the US presidency. Here are some highlights from the 82 VTK posts in 2008:

January 04 Post - The new year kicked off in frigid fashion on Von Trapper Keeper with a scientific discussion in the comment section about the temperature/water saturation point in my room - a discussion that soon grew to include references to Herman Melville, Malcolm Jamal Warner, Father Geoghan, and Brutus the Barber Beefcake. Only in VTKountry.

Update - Thanks to my free Massachusetts health insurance, my respiratory condition is now properly medicated.

January 22 Post - The year quickly intensified for this sedentary blogger when I went down South for one of the weirder bachelor parties I've ever been a part of (or heard of). A bizarre practical joke gone awry set the tone for a bone bruising physical challenge weekend that required weeks of recovery. In a portent of things to come in 2008, the good guys won.

Update: the story of the practical joke became legendary amongst the NYC contingent, with the description of my reaction to it being the punchline element. Several of them introduced their friends and parents to me at the wedding two months later.

March 07 Post - 2008 announced its intention to be a riveting electoral year early, with the Democratic Primary dominating the news deep into the first half of the year. It didn't take long for my dislike of Hillary Clinton to turn to disgust. This post came after the OH/TX primaries/caucus when Hillary was essentially mathematically done but was clearly going to drag it out until the bitter end. And it did get bitter. It wasn't clear at the time, but the protracted battle turned out to be the best thing for Obama. This post reprints the analysis from, which was probably my most visited website of the year (it also morphs into an interesting debate about wikipedia in the comment section).

Update: Clinton lost, Obama won, Clinton parlayed her strong primary challenge into a Secretary of State post. So much for change. More on the Obama Cabinet later.

March 19 Post
- The original video was removed by youtube, but here's an abbreviated clip of my favorite musical interlude of the vtk year:

Update: This fella's been taking time out to get close to the lady in 08. Thanks for the tip, Trouble Funk.

June 13 Post - "game four aka fucking awesome" - This wasn't the post after the Celtics won the title, but it was the post that recapped the moment that the Celtics grabbed the title by the balls and refused to let go. Ray Allen's layup in game 4 gave the C's a 3-1 lead in the series and set the table for their 17th championship. It was a thrilling year for the Celtics and beating the Lakers in the Finals was a dream ending.

Update: I've been wearing green laces in my Stan Smith sneakers since June to celebrate the C's title.

July 10 Post - The Obama Bubble burst rather quickly for progressives. After the Left, "the base", the grassroots progressives got him the nomination, he promptly turned his back on them (us). Not 24 hours after he officially got the nomination, he was waving the zionist flag in front of AIPAC. A month later, he made the shameful flip-flop on the FISA vote written about in this post. A heated debate on the significance of this vote followed in the comment section.

Update: Anyone who was troubled by this vote back then (and many who were untroubled), has not been surprised by his cabinet selections (and the Rick Warren face-slap) since Election Day. Obama's no liberal. More later.

September 23 Post - The long, long, awaited publication and release of my graphic novel, Business Casual Stag Devil Death Boy.

Update: If you read this blog, you're sick of me talking about it. As am I.

November 4 Post

The story of the year obviously, and deservedly, was the election of Barack Obama as president of the US of A. It dominated the news, our attention, and this blog. I was on dailykos all day long for months - tracking polls, analyzing trends, stories, factors, Effects, etc. Despite my problems with Obama's post-nomination flip-flopping and my prediction that there would be more to come in that regard were he to be elected, I voted for him and urged everyone I knew to do so too. And would do so again. A McCain Palin Administration would have been a nightmare. I poured all my anxieties (rational and irrational) into a pre-election paranoid top ten post. Then, on November 4th, I began a long and nervous 12 hour live-blog of Election Day at noon. It turned out to be a great day. We elected a black man as president of the US, just 44 years after the Civil Rights Legislation was signed by LBJ. Amazing. Some of us felt an unfamiliar wave of pride in our country and, even if we knew he'd be governing from the center, we allowed ourselves to savor the feelings of hope and change. The day after the election, I wrote an op/edy victory post in which I said that, while I'd often suggested that the work for progressives to hold Obama accountable started the day after the election, I'd make an exception and postpone that work because it truly was a day to celebrate.

November 5 to December 31 - Obamamania. The Cult of Barack grew and grew as he cast aside the Left and kissed the ass of the Center Right. I'm Abe Lincoln! I'm Abe Lincoln, screamed Obama. Say it with me. I'm Abe Lincoln. I'm assembling a team of rivals. I'm "from" Illinois. I'm going to be sworn in on Lincoln's bible. I'm practically a Republican. I'm Abe Lincoln! Your favorite president ever? Just think of him when you think of me. And if it's not Abe Lincoln, then listen to how I channel JFK in my speeches. Or listen to how I praise Ronald Reagan. I'm a great president already and I haven't even stepped foot in the Oval Office yet.

If you're sensing anger and disillusionment in my typing tone, you're on to something. The post-election day of celebration is long over and the holding accountable is on. As expected, Obama made his intention to govern from the Center clear shortly after he became president-elect. But the degree to which he planned to shut out the Left was a little surprising. The Change President stocked his Cabinet with Washington veterans from the Clinton Administration. The Peace President selected someone more hawkish than himself for his Secretary of State, and kept the Republican Secretary of Defense, currently presiding over two wars, on for another tour of duty. Cabinet selection after Cabinet selection we waited for our token liberal appointments - the scraps that would be tossed to us in gratitude for our support, to appease us. But pick after pick went to the Center or even to the Right. Behold: Obama and his Team of Rivals! Usually, a candidate will choose some representation for the sizable base that got him elected. But Barack Obama promised Change and that's what we're getting. Wait, what am I talking about. He selected Hilda Solis as Secretary of Labor. Thanks, Barack. America, here's your Team of Rivals:

Update: Ok, well, so I didn't quite get around to it. I was going to include a comprehensive report card of Obama's Cabinet selections, but when I laid out all 30 of them, I found that it was going to require more time and research than I currently have for this post (it takes a long time to write a post this long). The Report Card Post will have to be forthcoming. So, for the time being, feel free to consider me full of shit (if you didn't already). My major bitches are with the selection of Clinton and retention of Gates (noted above), the total bullshit selection of Salazar for the Interior, and the fact (read: my half-educated belief) that the most significant token liberal was Solis for Labor. The sum of these cabinet selections left me with unsurprised irritation. The real ire came when he chose Rick Warren to give the invocation at his Inauguration. This is nothing short of a completely unnecessary, completely political, completely insulting slap in the face of the gay community and all those supportive of gay rights. And if the selection was not insulting enough, he piled it on with his defense of it, in which he claimed to be trying to represent the diversity of the nation and beseeched us to disagree without being disagreeable. Fuck you. How's that for disagreeable. How about representing the diversity of those who got you elected rather than spitting in their faces while trying to represent the already-well-represented part of the electorate that didn't vote for you. Just politics? Yeah, I get it. I understand. Doesn't make it any less offensive. Why aren't more liberals outraged? They don't want to let go of that feeling of hope/change/pride that they've been floating on since November 4th? They don't want to leave the Cult of Obama?

There it is - the long-brewing bitch session. I'm not completely giving up on the Obama Administration before it even begins, but I'm not psyched. I'm going to the Inauguration again this year, and it would have been nice to be in a more celebratory mood about it. At least Obama/Biden is not Bush/Cheney or McCain/Palin. I guess I'll focus my celebration on the end of Bush/Cheney. For that reason alone, 2009, or at least 19/20ths of it, is going to be a great year. It's been a long eight years. And 2008 has been one of the best of them for VTK.

December 12 Post - On another positive note, the Celtics are still playing awesome. They started the season with the best record ever for a team with two losses and won a team record 19 games in a row.

Update: Am I worried that they promptly lost two games in a row on the West Coast, one to the Lakers? No. The Celtics aren't going to win them all, but they're going to win most of them in 2009. Happy New Year, VTKountry.


akboognish said...

Nice post, VTK! I was expecting the rundown on the cabinet nominations, but am not disappointed that you punted because the rest of the post was so good. I like reviewing the year through the VTK lens; it's so much more relevant than any other "year in review" I've read so far (well, the top ten animal videos of the year I found on HuffPost wasn't all that bad).

When you're doing the cabinet nomination post, pay some attention to the economic team (which I know you will). This is as right-wing a team as a Democrat could possibly assemble, unfortunately. Obama's got Krugman freaked out with these picks, but maybe that's just because of Krug's clear anti-Obama and pro-Hillary bias? (where are Dewy 24's comments on these latest columns?).

Go Celts!

Dan said...

Thanks, akb. Your participation in the comments sections of the 83 VTK posts this year has been a valuable contribution to the dialogue. I decided to postpone the cabinet report card because I didn't want to half-ass it. Also, a comprehensive analysis would have eclipsed the year in review post, which was already a little Obama-heavy. For good reason, I guess. And I knew that dewy24 would shred any unresearched analysis I did about the economic team.

Lastly, I have to say that immediately after writing this post, I perused the headlines on and felt a little ashamed about calling it a great year:

- Over 310 Palestinians Killed in Israeli Attack on Gaza
- Israel: International Community Should Condemn Hamas
- Hamas Accuses Israel of Causing a Holocaust
- UN Calls for “Immediate Halt to All Violence"
- US Officials Back Israeli Attack
- Tennessee Coal Disaster Three Times Larger Than First Projected
- Pakistan Redeploys Troops to Indian Border
- 14 Afghan Children Killed in Suicide Bombing
- Somalian President Resigns
- Brazil to Arrest Rancher in Death of American Nun
- 19 States Make Cuts to Medicaid Benefits
- Abstinence Pledges Ineffective, Study Finds
- GOP Candidate Sends Out “Barack the Magic Negro” CD

With the exception of the abstinence study headline (which just makes me laugh), that's a pretty depressing round-up. Then remind yourself about the tanking of the global economy in 2008, the displacement/rape/murder/chaos in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the displacement of 1/3 of the population of Darfur, and the fact that the Yankees didn't make the playoffs. Sorry. Bad taste. But my point is that I got a wave of shame over proclaiming it a great year. Then I reminded myself of all the other conflicts and disasters over the past 20 years and concluded that you have to find happiness where you can and appreciate the good times. And for me, at least, these are good times.

Dearest Cupcake said...

Wow! Another mini post in the comments section. It was a good year, VTK, and no need to feel bad about it. I'll be heading back to the states in a few weeks and hope to be in Boston soon (where I will purchase my autographed copy of bcsddb). Happy New Year!

Dan said...

Excellent, DC. Looking forward to your visit!

Anonymous said...

I look forward to seeing the new papercrafts :)
I'm working on a line of originals myself, modeled after the characters from Pictures For Sad Children (
Shoot me a comment when you have the images up!

Dewy24 said...

One of my New Year's Resolutions was to avoid vitriolic political debate with friends. I can get carried away. But here is a genuine question (read: not attack). Does Obama owe his victory to liberals? I just think the base of the Democrats looks a lot more like Hillary Clinton than Ralph Nader. I think you do too which is why you have a love/hate/hate/hate relationship with the party. Voter turnout for the Democrats was essentially flat so it's not like the left supported Obama anymore than they supported Kerry or Gore. I understand your disappointment with his cabinet selections but I'm not sure Obama necessarily owed you or any of the hard left anything.

Dan said...

But would Obama even have been in the picture on Nov 4th if it wasn't for the left. The "base" that got him elected may have been a more centrist Democratic demographic, but he wouldn't have even been there in the first place - he wouldn't have won the primary nomination - if it weren't for the left wing of the party (those who weren't voting for Edwards or Kucinich that is). So yes, I do think it's reasonable to expect him to give some representation to that portion of his voters. As far as the Rick Warren thing goes, I don't really see that as a far left issue. The queer communities and pro-choice communities that he insulted with that pick are not confined to the far left - or even the left. That was non-partisanly fucked up.