History will likely record 2010 as the year Americans finally comprehended Obama math: 7.6 percent unemployment plus $787 billion stimulus equals 9.8 percent unemployment. Or, to express it in different mathematical terms, minus-63 seats in the House and minus-6 in the Senate.
But, being a glass-half-full kind of guy, I'll prefer to remember 2010 as the year governments around the world struck out in creative new directions in use of taxpayer dollars. Nothing symbolized the innovative capacity of the state like the way local governments in Great Britain used money from an $805 million program to help the elderly and the disabled, buying them lap dances from strippers and flying them to Amsterdam for visits with hookers.
Other great moments in governance and politics during 2010:
THE NEWEST FRONT IN THE WAR ON DRUGS: The U.S. National Institute on Drug Abuse gave $1.44 million in federal funds to a project estimating the number of gay hookers in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. Not that the study is just about dry statistics: ``Formative ethnography will be used to describe the settings, venues and overall social milieu in which male sex work is being situated,'' says the abstract for the project grant.
THAT'S GROUCHO MARX, NOT KARL: The German Communist Party gave away pens to school children -- that, when clicked, lit up with porn pictures. We were tricked by a crafty capitalist merchant, the party explained when newspapers got wind of the story.
NO CHILD LEFT BEHIND: When officials at Thorner Elementary School in Bakersfield, Calif., decided to throw a barbecue for students who passed a state exam, parents complained that it would traumatize the rest of the kids. So the barbecue was expanded to include those who flunked.
DON'T VOTE, IT ONLY ENCOURAGES THEM: Democrats seemed slightly befogged after they were crushed in November's midterm elections. Suggested filmmaker Michael Moore: ``Seriously, if we ran Tom Hanks, if we ran Oprah -- there's a whole column of people who are beloved people. Smart and good.''
Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., was so enthralled that his colleague Harry Reid survived a tea party challenge in Nevada that he spared no superlatives: ``Harry Reid isn't just Dracula, he isn't just Lazarus, he's our leader.''
On the other hand, little was heard from former Clinton hatchetman James Carville. Perhaps he was considering refunds for the book he wrote in 2009 while in the grips of raging Obamania: 40 More Years: How the Democrats Will Rule the Next Generation.
NEXT: THE CONSTITUTION AS HATE SPEECH: School officials in Denair, Calif., ordered 13-year-old Cody Alicea to take an American flag off his bicycle because it offended some students. At another school in Morgan Hill, Calif., five students were sent home for wearing American-flag T-shirts and bandannas on Cinco de Mayo.
DON'T ASK, DON'T TELL, DON'T SHOOT: British army cadets were forbidden to carry rifles during a parade on that country's equivalent of Veterans Day. ``It doesn't reflect our aims and ethos in the Army Cadet Force,'' explained Maj. David Waterworth.
DOES HE HAVE ANY ADVICE ON HURRICANES?: Iran's Ayatollah Kazem Sedighi told a Muslim gathering that women wearing short skirts ``cause youths to go astray, taint their chastity and incite extramarital sex in society, which increases earthquakes.''
LANDMARK MOMENTS IN EDUCATION (ADMINISTRATIVE DIVISION): At Lamar High School in Houston, principal James McSwain pulled all the books from the school library and turned it into a coffee shop. And at New York City's Middle School for Art and Philosophy, principal Andrew Buck sent out a sting rejoinder to students who claimed the school was short on textbooks. ``Just because high schools and college use textbooks, does that mean we have to?'' he scoffed.
LANDMARK MOMENTS IN EDUCATION (TEACHING DIVISION): When schools in Petaluma, Calif., cut back on support staff during a budget crunch, parents volunteered to answer phones and make photocopies. A union promptly went to court to block them, saying those tasks can only be performed by paid employees; After schools in Bridgewater and Raynham, Mass., cut library jobs in order to move the money into teaching salaries, unions blocked volunteers from checking out or shelving books. Not that teachers proved altogether incapable of making hard decisions about budgeting: In Milwaukee, as the school system laid off hundreds of employees, the teachers' union went to court to force the school board to spend $786,000 to include Viagra in its health insurance.
THE DEATH OF FEMINISM: Attorney Gloria Allred, who once led a campaign to get pornography outlawed as a violation of women's rights, went on Sean Hannity's radio show to defend TSA junk-touching. ``Yeah, they did'' touch my body parts, Allred said. ``And it was the first time anybody touched them in a long time and frankly, I liked it.''