My 2011 "McLaughlin Awards" [Part 1]

[ Posted Friday, December 16th, 2011 – 18:36 UTC ]

For the next two Fridays, instead of our usual nonsense here, we bring you instead our year-end awards columns. The categories for these awards are presented as an homage to the television show The McLaughlin Group, because they thought them up in the first place.

At this point, it seems 2011 was the "year of the primary debate," since the precedent set by Republicans this year for seemingly having a debate every week for six months will likely be followed for every election cycle to come. But that's just because it is fresh in everyone's mind -- a lot of other things happened this year which bear mentioning, so let's get right to the awards.

As always, if you disagree with any (or all) of my picks, feel free to make your own in the comments. The categories are completely open to interpretation, and don't forget that there will be a "Part 2" column next week, so I can likely squeeze things I forgot in there.

For reference, before I begin, here are the previous iterations of this column, should you want to go even further back upon Memory Lane:

2010 -- [Part 1] [Part 2]
2009 -- [Part 1] [Part 2]
2008 -- [Part 1] [Part 2]
2007 -- [Part 1] [Part 2]
2006 -- [Part 1] [Part 2]


   Biggest Winner Of 2011

As always, we're tempted to just hand the award to Wall Street and be done with it. Seems like they emerge winners no matter what else is happening (sigh).

We could also give it as a generic, for the idea of "running for president as self-promotion" -- an idea whose time has obviously come. The list of characters who used a run for the president as a clever method to sell books or television shows is quite impressive this year, in fact, and includes Donald Trump and Sarah Palin (even though neither one actually ran), as well as Herman Cain and Newt Gingrich who both shoehorned a run for the Oval Office into their pre-scheduled book tours.

Or we could define the award category as "the biggest absolute value of a win" and hand the award to Representative Kathy Hochul, who captured a seat in the House of Representatives (NY-26) that had been held by Republicans since the Civil War.

But instead we're going to interpret it more literally, and not politically. Militarily, in fact. The Biggest Winner Of 2011 was a combination of the Libyan rebels and N.A.T.O. airpower. You won't hear the line "airpower alone never wins wars" much in Washington anymore, one assumes, after the spectacularly quick victory by an untrained group of rebels in combination with high-tech precision bombing by the allies. No matter what happens to the actual government of Libyan in the future, the victory of the rebels, taken alone, has to be seen as the biggest winner of the year. From our point of view, this was about as good as war gets -- no American boots on the ground, no American fatalities, and the entire cost was nothing more than a rounding error in either Iraq or Afghanistan. Win-win, all around. Except for Ghaddafi, of course.


   Biggest Loser Of 2011

Speaking of Ghaddafi....

A case could easily be made for both the dictator of Libya and for Osama Bin Laden as Biggest Loser Of 2011, as they both lost their lives this year. Good riddance to both, but we simply can't hand them any sort of award, sorry.

We could get specific, and go with Rod Blagojevich, ex-governor of Illinois, for his 14-year prison sentence for corruption. That's a pretty big loser, right?

Or we could go generic, and hand the award to "The Middle Class" -- which keeps on losing as Wall Street keeps on winning.

But instead, we're going to say the Biggest Loser Of 2011 was the nation of Japan. They experienced an earthquake larger than anything even a Californian can imagine, and a resulting tsunami which (on live television) wiped out a goodly part of their northeastern coastline. The aftermath to these two disasters also brought a third, man-made, disaster as well. The world watched in horror as a nuclear power plant went haywire, complete with multiple explosions (also on live television). For enduring this triple punch, Japan has to be seen as having lost the most during the year.


   Best Politician

When I put together a list of nominees for this category, every name on it was Republican. Chris Christie certainly made a large splash this year on the Republican scene. Newt Gingrich's fall -- and subsequent rise -- was notable. Paul Ryan almost got the nod, for his budget plan (which would have been disastrous if passed, but which also was the high point of the Tea Party sweep in the 2010 elections). Ryan put into actual legislation what Republicans had previously just used as convenient talking points -- no small feat, that.

But instead, we're going to -- quite reluctantly, we assure you -- give Best Politician to none other than Speaker of the House John Boehner. Love him or hate him, you've got to admit that Boehner called the tune for everyone in Washington (from President Obama on down) on every single contentious issue. Because he controls the House, and because the Tea Partiers in his own party largely control the votes, he was able to (in effect) veto anything the rest of the government considered doing. Measured on the scale of raw political power, this made him the Best Politician in town this year.


   Worst Politician

A few names sprung to mind for this one, as well. Donald Trump, although he's not really a politician, nor does he even play one on teevee. Scott Walker, for his massive overreach up in Wisconsin, was also a strong contender. A generic award for the "supercommittee" was given due consideration.

But the Worst Politician last year was, without question, none other than Rick Perry. Perry entered the presidential nomination race riding high. So did a few other Republicans, but while Herman Cain fell from grace due to his past catching up with him (there is no award category for "Most Hubris," sorry), Perry plummeted in the polls due to his own singlehanded incompetence as a politician. He was terrible in debates. He was worse in one-on-one interviews. He gave one speech zonked out of his skull. The only thing he was good at, in fact, was raising money from his Texas oil buddies. Bet they're all wishing they had wagered on a different candidate about now, eh?

Rick Perry was billed as the savior of the Republican field when he entered the scene. He turned out to be George W. Bush Lite, if such a thing can even be imagined. Perry's downfall was spectacular and cringe-worthy to behold. No other politician even came close to the Perry trainwreck, in fact.


   Most Defining Political Moment

We have three winners in this category, one domestic and two foreign. The world is too big a place for just one defining moment, to put it another way.

The first foreign one was the debt crisis in Greece. The dominoes in Europe are still falling in direct response to Greece's collapse, and so far have spread to other European countries. The fallout may spread to America, eventually. Whether it does or not, this was the Most Defining Political Moment for Europe.

Domestically, the Most Defining Political Moment was when John Boehner walked away from negotiations with Barack Obama over the debt ceiling crisis, because he could not convince his own caucus to accept the "grand bargain" he had forged with the president. This inability to get anything done served as the Most Defining Political Moment for America, which was repeated in a number of less dramatic moments of negotiation breakdown all year long.

From a more world-wide viewpoint, the Most Defining Political Moment was when fruit vendor Mohamed Bouazizi lit himself on fire in protest in Tunisia. His self-immolation was the spark that set the Arab world aflame, and the reverberations continue to spread. Bouazizi died without knowing that his defiant act had more consequences than he ever could have dreamed possible. Dictators across the region were overthrown -- some peacefully, some not so peacefully. The youth of the region rose up in what is now known as the "Arab Spring," and showed their strength to the world. A few dictators saw what was in the wind, and moved to modernize their own governments to give their own people a voice. Not all dictators chose either of these routes, however, and brutal crackdowns happened in some countries which are not America's friends... and one notable one who is our ally.

But this "people power" spread even beyond the Arab world, and has popped up in Europe, in Russia, and here at home on Wall Street. And it all started because one guy in Tunisia had had enough. Mohammed Bouazizi is hereby posthumously awarded Most Defining Political Moment for what his action has unleashed.


   Turncoat Of The Year

This one was tough. There simply weren't any prominent Democrats who stabbed their party in the back in spectacular ways this year. Some might argue Barack Obama, for such things as his recent support of Kathleen Sebelius' decision on over-the-counter sales of Plan B, but we felt that nothing Obama did this year really rose to the level of Turncoat Of The Year.

Instead, we go across the aisle to a blast from the past, Dick Cheney. This year saw the release of Cheney's book Darth Cheney: The Death Star Years (no, we're kidding, his memoirs were actually merely called In My Time). Cheney pulled no punches, we are told (you'd have to pay us a whale of a lot of money to read such a thing ourselves), and he eviscerated anyone in the Bush White House for whom Cheney still holds a grudge against. It's hard to feel sorry for the likes of anyone in Dubya's administration, but from the outcry which accompanied this book's release, we have to admit that Dick Cheney earned his Turncoat Of The Year award. At least until someone who has actually read the book tells us differently.


   Most Boring

Brian Williams springs to mind for this category, as he always does. Sigh.

Mitt Romney certainly was in the running for his campaign style, best summed up as: "Gosh darn it, I'd make a dandy president, wouldn't I?" The man just oozes whatever the opposite of charisma is.

But we're going to give a joint award to the same three congressional leaders we handed the award to last year: Harry Reid, Mitch McConnell, and John Boehner. Listening to any one of these three men is more excruciating that watching your houseplants grow. Observing paint drying would be a barrel of fun next to these snoozers. Seriously, if Harry Reid mumbled any more he'd put C-SPAN to sleep. McConnell and Boehner are no fun to listen to, either. Anyone who argues that politics is run by shallow people whose only accomplishment is looking good on television needs to explain why these three men are in the positions of power they hold.


   Most Charismatic

The flip side is much more fun to consider, of course. A case could be made for Ron Paul (believe it or not) or even Michelle Bachmann, because you just never know what's going to come out of their mouths at any given time, lending a certain edge-of-the-seat nature to watching them. Chris Christie and Newt Gingrich would also be in the running, if this were the criterion for this award.

But this isn't really charisma, per se. It's something, to be sure, but it's not exactly charisma. For the same reason, while we'd really like to give the award to Elizabeth Warren, for her evisceration of hecklers on the campaign trail, and her ability to frame very complicated financial issues in language that every voter can understand, again, this is not exactly the true definition of charisma.

The real Most Charismatic personality of 2011 was Herman Cain. Say what you will about him, he was the sole person in the Republican contest who looked like he was having a good time. He was (right up until all the sexual scandal accusations) cheerful, sunny, and exciting. He livened up the debates like nobody's business. Cain's "9-9-9" plan had the quality of a mantra -- and one designed to be easy for crowds to chant. Who else can make such a claim, from either party? Herman Cain's charisma was so large, in fact, that it will be sorely missed for the remainder of the campaign season.


   Bummest Rap

We had a lot of bum raps last year, so let's just go down the list of nominees.

Elizabeth Warren got a bum rap from Republicans, who hated the fact that she managed to get the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau enacted. She may have the last laugh, though, if she wins election to the Senate.

"Occupy Wall Street doesn't know what they're protesting about." Sheesh. OK, they may have had their problems, but this really wasn't one of them.

Dominique Strauss-Kahn may have gotten a very bum rap indeed, but we are not cognizant of all the facts of the case, so it is impossible to judge from this distance the fairness (or bum-ness) of this rap.

"Obama doesn't know what he's doing in Libya." Oh, I don't know, seems like it turned out a lot better than people predicted, eh?

But while all of these were in contention, we have two Bummest Rap awards to hand out. The first is that public unions are somehow the cause for all governmental financial problems. The Republicans pushed this idea harder than they have since about the Great Depression, and they made large legislative gains in crushing what is left of American Labor. But it's still a bum rap, no matter how successful they were.

The biggest, Bummest Rap of them all was, however, "Barack Obama wasn't born in America." The "birther" movement -- led by that mental giant Donald Trump -- crashed into the brick wall of Obama's "long form birth certificate" which the White House made public early this year. There are still conspiracy theorists who are keeping the birther flame alive out there, but they have been relegated to the fringe, where they belong.


   Fairest Rap

Wall Street. Need I say more?

Anthony Weiner's weenie.

Seriously, though, we have to give the Fairest Rap to none other than Rod Blagojevich. Have a nice fourteen years in prison, Blaggy. That's what you get for trying to sell Barack Obama's former Senate seat.


   Best Comeback

Two awards are necessary here. The first is sentimental, and quite literal, and it goes to Representative Gabrielle Giffords, who was brutally shot in the brain by a deranged individual. Giffords was not even expected to live, and she has fought her way back along a very long and hard recovery path to regaining her seat in Congress. While her future is in doubt, in the space of one year, we simply can't think of anyone else who struggled so hard to make such a spectacular comeback.

Less literally, however, and more politically, there is really only one possible name for Best Comeback: Newt Gingrich. Newtie's campaign was left for dead by just about everybody (us included), almost immediately after he entered the race, "at the Tiffany's counter" (so to speak). His senior campaign staff all bailed on him very early, stating that Newt just wasn't serious about actually campaigning and was more interested in selling books. But even with all these hits, Newt stayed a fairly steady second in the polling, just biding his time until the debates. As one shooting star in the Republican firmament fell after another, Newt became the "last man standing" in the race to be the "anti-Romney" candidate. Newt is now the frontrunner. This is as spectacular a comeback as John McCain managed four years ago, and so earns Newtie the Best Comeback of the year.


   Most Original Thinker

On the Democratic side, a case could be made for Jeff Merkley, who came up with the idea that the Congressional Budget Office should be required to "score" important legislation not only on the impact it would have on the federal budget, but also on the impact it would have on jobs. This was a brilliant idea, and Merkley deserves at least a mention for it here.

On the Republican side, one might think that Herman Cain's "9-9-9" plan would qualify -- since it (A.) was an actual plan, and (B.) was original (which was more than just about any other Republican candidate could claim). Unfortunately, Cain was disqualified because he apparently got the idea from the "Sim City" computer game, making it not exactly original.

Some would argue for Ron Paul, but while his ideas are original within the Republican Party, they are the same ideas he's been pushing for decades, meaning they're not exactly fresh either.

Paul Ryan is the Republican who came closest to this award, because whether you loved it or hated (and feared) it, his budget proposal was indeed an original piece of work. And you can take that "piece of work" however you'd like....

But the real Most Original Thinker of the year was whomever came up with the positively brilliant slogan: "We Are The 99 Percent!" As political slogans go, this one is pretty near perfect. Short, snappy, to the point, and immediately obvious to anyone who hears it. While the slogan "Occupy Wall Street" will likely eventually fade, our guess is we'll be talking about the "99 Percent" for years to come. Whatever bright spark got this idea and wrote it down on a placard deserves the Most Original Thinker of the year, hands down.


   Most Stagnant Thinker

The Republican Party? [pause for drumroll and laughter...]

We're going worldwide with this one, actually, all kidding aside.

The Most Stagnant Thinker is a group award this year, given to all the dictators who have violently resisted change across the globe. Thinking that you can just cow your people into submission by a heavy show of force used to be fairly standard operating procedure. No longer. What with the interconnectedness of the world today, what with everyone having a cell phone which takes video, and what with seeing the fate of the leaders of Egypt and Libya, dictators everywhere should really be having second thoughts. Shooting your people in the street should no longer be seen as a solution to popular demands for reform. Some leaders have gotten this message and gotten out in front of it. Some, sadly, have not. For those dictators who still deny the new reality, a collective Most Stagnant Thinker award is due.


   Best Photo Op

Two monumental events this year could easily have won Best Photo Op, but neither one had pictures, which tends to be disqualifying.

Mohamed Bouazizi setting himself aflame would doubtlessly be the banner under which hundreds of thousands would have marched this year -- if such a photo had been available.

Likewise, the dead corpse of Osama Bin Laden would have also been a world-changing photo, if the Obama administration had gone public with it. Perhaps some time in the future, decades hence, it will be made public, but for now it remains the Best Photo Op that wasn't.

The tenth anniversary of 9/11 was pretty somber, and the new memorial park was indeed photogenic in a sobering way.

But the real Best Photo Op was won by a nation that really knows how to do this sort of thing right. Because the royal wedding in Great Britain was indeed the Best Photo Op of the entire year, bar none. Leave it to the Brits to do the pomp-and-circumstance thing in high style.


   Worst Photo Op

We've got a four-way tie in this category. It all depends on your interpretation of "worst," we suppose.

The video of Ghaddafi's capture, cowering in a drainpipe, was certainly "worst" in one way.

The incredible video of the Japanese tsunami and the explosions and continuing crisis at the nuclear power plant were also riveting photo ops, if you define "worst" another way.

Michelle Bachmann's "deer in the headlights" cover photo for Time magazine was pretty bad, in its own special way.

But, more recently, the images of Iran displaying a captured American drone spy aircraft was the worst possible photo op, in a very realpolitik sense.


   Enough Already!

As always, this is the most fun category to just unbelt and let the chips fall where they may. Ready? Here we go....

Rod Blagojevich? Enough already!

Kardashians? Enough already!

The "birthers"? Enough already!

GOP obstructionism? Enough already!

Donald Trump? Enough already!

The Iraq War? Enough already!

And one giant one to end on, from the Queen of Tease herself:

Sarah Palin? Enough already!


   Worst Lie

We've got a few strong candidates for this one, sad to say.

First up is Anthony Weiner, who spent several days lying about the fact that he had sent photos of namesake (which, honestly, could have been a nominee for Worst Photo Op as well...) to females who were not, in fact, his wife.

We can retire forever the "Barack Obama wasn't born in America" lie this year, one hopes.

Taking a worldwide view, there are Pakistan's lies about not knowing where Osama Bin Laden was living. The equivalent here would have been if he had been holed up down the street from West Point or the Naval Academy. It's simply not credible that no one in Pakistan's government or military knew where the guy was.

Of course, America engages in these sorts of lies as well, for both domestic consumption and the foreign audience, so it's not like we're all that better in this category. Domestically, there was Barack Obama insisting that Libya was nothing more than a "kinetic military action" (and not, you know, a "war") -- a term so Orwellian I'm surprised it didn't come out of the mouth of Dick Cheney himself (it does have a certain Cheneyesque ring to it, n'est pas?)

But we're going to say that the Worst Lie of the year was the oh-so-diplomatic denials that the United States of America is operating military drones (what used to be "spy planes") anywhere in the world. The Pentagon has never confirmed any of our numerous drone programs, except on actual battlefields we have publicly copped to already (Libya, for instance). Drones in Pakistan? Nope, not the U.S.A., sorry, I have no information about that. Drones over Iran? No comment.

This lie (which nobody in their right mind actually believed) was exposed as falsehood recently when Iran exhibited what the Pentagon had to sheepishly admit was indeed one of our drones. So can we please just stop repeating this lie that nobody believes in the first place?


   Capitalist Of The Year

This one is going to shock a few people.

The Capitalist Of The Year for 2011 was none other than... [drumroll]... Occupy Wall Street.

Gasp! Not the fighters of capitalism itself!

Yes, indeedy. Occupy Wall Street has taken in an eye-popping $660,000-plus in donations so far. And they've spent less than $200,000 of it. Which leaves them with a half a million dollars in the bank! That is pretty downright impressive, right there. The group, which has been evicted from the park and is trying to stay cohesive throughout the winter (assumably, until the weather's nice enough to protest effectively again) is actually sitting on a pretty impressive stack of resources, measured in dollars and cents.

What they've accomplished, and for what they have collected from like-minded folks, and (most importantly) for husbanding their money carefully and not blowing through it as fast as it came in, we hereby award them Capitalist Of The Year. Whether the thought of such an award makes them cringe, or not.


   Honorable Mention

Almost done, for this week at least.

Because I didn't know where else to put it, an Honorable Mention is deserved for the new memorial to Doctor Martin Luther King Junior in our Nation's Capital.

This year was the 100th anniversary of Workers' Compensation, even if the Post Office turned down a stamp to commemorate the occasion.

The people of Wisconsin deserve special mention, for being at the forefront of the protest movement from the Left -- in some very cold weather last year, when they turned out in droves and shut down the state government in protest over their Republican governor's overreach. The year began with this event, and it closes with a half a million signatures (so far) on petitions to recall Scott Walker.

My best Honorable Mention of the year, though, goes to Daniel Hernandez, who had just begun (he'd only been on the job for five days) working as an intern for Gabrielle Giffords when the shooting occurred. Read what I had to say about it back then (for details), but what summed up his act of courage more than anything else was the phrase: "When a gunman attacked... Hernandez ran towards the shots...." To me, that's the definition of heroism.


   Person Of The Year

Knowing little about macroeconomics, there's a good chance that our Person Of The Year may cause some dissent.

But, sitting from the sidelines, it seems to me that the person who was largest on the world's stage this year was the Chancellor of Germany, Angela Merkel. With the strongest economy in Europe, Germany's got the most to lose if the common Euro currency falls apart. Knowing this, Merkel has led the effort to save the Euro from extinction, by propping up the weakest economies in their union. This has had the widest impact on the world at large, because while they've walked up to the brink, so far (at least) Europe hasn't economically collapsed, dragging the entire globe into a depression.

France has stood with Germany, but again, from watching events unfold from afar, Merkel's the one who seems to be not only holding back the tide, but also the one pushing for fundamentally rethinking how the European Union should be constructed. This is key, because the constitution they saddled themselves with is proving to be just as unworkable as our own early attempt at union, the Articles of Confederation. The problem is similar -- too weak a central government. Merkel has called for significant changes in the foundation of the E.U., and if she is successful may lead the way to a more stable Europe in the future.

For her efforts this year to avoid a worldwide economic catastrophe, Angela Merkel is our Person Of The Year.

[See you next week, for Part 2!]


-- Chris Weigant


Follow Chris on Twitter: @ChrisWeigant

Cross-posted at: Democratic Underground
Cross-posted at: Democrats For Progress


26 Comments on “My 2011 "McLaughlin Awards" [Part 1]”

  1. [1] 
    nypoet22 wrote:

    The Biggest Winner Of 2011 was a combination of
    the Biggest Loser Of 2011 was the nation of
    We have three winners in this category, one domestic and two foreign.
    we're going to give a joint award to the same three congressional leaders.
    given to all the dictators
    We've got a four-way tie in this category.
    Occupy Wall Street

    and seven choices for "enough already," with no single winner selected.

    Do you see where i'm going with this? Come on now, CW; what's with all the cop-out multiple and collective award winners? i mean one or two i can understand, but the whole point of handing out awards is that among the nominees, whoever does the choosing needs to CHOOSE. in the case of a tie perhaps the cat could be consulted ;)

    or as the highlander says:

    "There can be only one."

  2. [2] 
    Chris Weigant wrote:

    nypoet22 -

    In my defense...

    Winner -- I was just going to give it to the rebels, but then the rebels couldn't have done it alone. This was a truly joint effort, so I see it as a single military offensive.

    Loser -- hey, c'mon, Japan's ONE country, right?

    Most Defining -- OK, guilty as charged. I couldn't make up my mind on that one.

    Boring -- I tried to pick one, but I fell asleep, sorry... (heh).

    Stagnant -- This one deserved a "class" award, because there are (sadly) so many deluded dictators. Assad would be first on my list, but I had to make it generic.

    Worst Photo -- Guilty as charged. My gut told me go with the drone, but I thought it might have just been the bias of how recent it was.

    Capitalist -- nobody's name is on the bank account, it's a group thing, which is why OWS is a single entity for this one.

    So... not counting "Enough Already" (where we ALWAYS give multiple awards), that leaves me by my count as having punted on 3, maybe 4 if you count "dictators" against me. That's still not that bad, considering we had 20 awards in Part 1.



  3. [3] 
    nypoet22 wrote:


    Winner -- I was just going to give it to the rebels, but then the rebels couldn't have done it alone.

    thanking all the folks who made victory possible is what the acceptance speech is for ;)

    hey, c'mon, Japan's ONE country, right?

    i figured that might be the reasoning, but i guess i read the award titles as being more specific than a whole country. if a similar disaster hit Seattle, would we award the category to the entire United States?

    Boring -- I tried to pick one, but I fell asleep, sorry... (heh).

    ha, that's the aforementioned scenario where one lets the cat choose...

    Assad would be first on my list, but [snip]

    no but should be necessary. as for the other dictators, it's an honor just to be nominated :)

    OWS i suppose deserves a pass, but that still leaves 3 total punts and 3 that are a bit sketchy. the other thing these awards need, what really makes an award is a cool nickname. the film academy awards are called oscar, year-end awards is already mclaughlin's thing, so what shall we call these?

  4. [4] 
    Michale wrote:

    or as the highlander says:

    "There can be only one."

    Kudos on the movie quote... :D


  5. [5] 
    DerFarm wrote:

    John Boehner? You mean the guy who had to

    pull his own legislation because he couldn't get his party to vote for it?

    Or maybe the guy who couldn't get it right a SECOND time?

    Is this the same guy who couldn't get the Balanced Budget Amendment passed? You know, the one that was previously passed?

    The same guy who couldn't get DISASTER relief passed?

    And you think this is a good politician because????

  6. [6] 
    DerFarm wrote:

    Much as I dislike him, I would put in my vote for Mitch McConnell. The guy is totally a politician and has little if any, regard for the best interests of the US, but he IS a great politician.

    Controlling the R's in the Senate has to be like herding cats. And noone can say that he hasn't done it IN SPADES.

    2 years of almost total domination of 40+ powerful politicians? Magic. Pure Politics.

  7. [7] 
    DerFarm wrote:

    Worst Photo Op:

    I don't know how it could get worse than this ... maybe if it was Rick Santorum rather than Rick Perry?

  8. [8] 
    dsws wrote:

    Was that photo op, or Photoshop?

  9. [9] 
    DerFarm wrote:

    Dunno. Probably Photoshop.

    Still, its out there and like pictures of kittens, puppies and baby seals ... it gets passed around.

  10. [10] 
    Chris Weigant wrote:

    DerFarm -

    I still say Boehner, because the cats in the House are a lot harder to herd than the Senate felines. Of either party, now that I think about it.

    Boehner did what his party wanted him to do, which was mostly "just say no". The Democrats only very occasionally managed to split them when it came to vote, so I stand by Boehner as Best Politician.

    And, yeah, that's GOT to be Photoshopped...


  11. [11] 
    DerFarm wrote:

    "cats in the house are a lot harder to herd ..."

    For whom, exactly?

    Tip O'Neill
    Jim Wright
    Nancy Pelosi
    Sam Rayburn

    Nah, this time, with all due respect (hehehehehehe), you missed it.

  12. [12] 
    Osborne Ink wrote:

    This needs rephrasing. I know what you're trying to say:

    You won't hear the line "airpower alone never wins wars" much in Washington anymore, one assumes, after the spectacularly quick victory by an untrained group of rebels in combination with high-tech precision bombing by the allies.

    In fact, Libya is the perfect demonstration that air power cannot win wars all by itself and maneuver on the ground is essential to victory. In Libya, the maneuver elements were simply made up of Libyans instead of Western troops.

    There was a question whether local forces would be able to coordinate attacks, plan offensives, etc., no matter how much air power NATO used. Of course, that question was resoundingly answered in the affirmative when Libyans used Zodiac boats and cobbled-together armor to take Tripoli from three directions -- proving that Arabs are quite capable of wanting their freedom enough to fight and die for it.

  13. [13] 
    dsws wrote:

    It proves they're capable of fighting for what they want. It doesn't prove one way or another to what extent their goals include freedom, revenge, dignity, honor, improving the lot of their ethnic or sectarian or tribal group, ... .

  14. [14] 
    Osborne Ink wrote:


    Those Arab youth riding to battle with Justin Bieber on their iPods don't want a more fundamentalist regime that will take their Metallica and Lady Gaga away. They just don't. Not while they're painting Man'O'War album covers on walls in Tripoli.

    If you want to understand the Libyan uprising, start with the flags. They showed up early, often, and everywhere, demonstrating a remarkable unity of purpose -- and a sense of national identity. If by "honor" you mean Libyans with pride of country, then sure. Revenge? There's some of that too. No regime like Ghadafi's can be in power for 40+ years without engendering at least a little bit of resentment.

    As far as ethnic or sectarian tensions: Ghadafi had spent the last four decades playing tribes and ethnic groups against one another, so he was reaped exactly what he'd sown. One need look no further than the Berber tribesmen South of Tripoli, who pressed on against him week after week with grim determination, for an example. Their fight had everything to do with Ghadafi's very official and longtime oppression.

    So it isn't that we don't understand Libyan motives, it's that all those motives you mention are part of the whole picture -- but none is the whole picture by itself.

  15. [15] 
    akadjian wrote:

    Boehner did what his party wanted him to do, which was mostly "just say no". The Democrats only very occasionally managed to split them when it came to vote, so I stand by Boehner as Best Politician.

    Is doing what your party wants you to do what makes for "best politician"?


    Or maybe it's just a sign of the tail wagging the dog.

    Traditional Republicans like Boehner are quickly becoming extinct (or Democrats) as the monied interests figure out how to unelect them if they aren't fringe enough.

    Still, credit where credit is due on picking someone who makes us think about what it means to be "best politician".


  16. [16] 
    dsws wrote:

    If by "honor" you mean Libyans with pride of country, then sure.

    Honor isn't nationalism. It's an ethos (tightly bound with gender identity) that keeps the strong from picking on the weak-but-honorable, demands that the weak-but-honorable defer to the strong, and prescribes rather unpleasant treatment for the dishonorable.

  17. [17] 
    DerFarm wrote:


    "... tightly bound with gender identity ...)

    Really? You actually said that? Do you mean that you can tell which Marines belive Semper Fidelis and which Marines that don't can be seen by whether they stand or sit as they pee???

    Or are you saying that men and women who prefer same sex can't be honorable?

    "Demands that the weak-but-honorable defer to the strong ..."

    Really? Where did you get that? I've never known anyone in my life that I considered honorable to DEMAND or even vigorously ask that another honorable person defer to strength.

    Dsws, you've either got a very strange definition of honor or you've totally mis-written on that post.

  18. [18] 
    Michale wrote:

    In fact, Libya is the perfect demonstration that air power cannot win wars all by itself and maneuver on the ground is essential to victory. In Libya, the maneuver elements were simply made up of Libyans instead of Western troops.

    Ya'all might want to mark this day on your calenders..

    I am in COMPLETE agreement with Matt on this..

    Libya showed unequivocally that Air Power by itself will do nothing but destroy targets...

    W/O boots on the ground, Air Power is simply blowing shit up..


    Those Arab youth riding to battle with Justin Bieber on their iPods don't want a more fundamentalist regime that will take their Metallica and Lady Gaga away. They just don't. Not while they're painting Man'O'War album covers on walls in Tripoli.

    Yea and the Egypt revolution was all about goodness and light and freedom and democracy..

    Until it wasn't..


    Honor isn't nationalism. It's an ethos (tightly bound with gender identity) that keeps the strong from picking on the weak-but-honorable, demands that the weak-but-honorable defer to the strong, and prescribes rather unpleasant treatment for the dishonorable.

    Well said...


  19. [19] 
    Michale wrote:


    Really? Where did you get that? I've never known anyone in my life that I considered honorable to DEMAND or even vigorously ask that another honorable person defer to strength.

    I think that's what DSWS meant...

    The way I took it is that the honorable would never demand yada yada yada...

    Might have been a typo on DSWS's part...


  20. [20] 
    Michale wrote:

    Oh yes... Egypt is turning out SO well...

    Too bad no one had the prescience to state that things in Egypt would go very south very fast, despite on the PollyAnna-iums coming from the Obama Administration.

    Oh wait...

    Someone did.. :D

    Next up to become an Islamic State... LIBYA....

    Obama is quite the uniter....

    He is uniting all of the enemies of the Unite States...


  21. [21] 
    Michale wrote:

    To be fair to Obama, I am not sure what he could have done differently..

    My only beef with the Left in general (and even some Weigantians) is that everyone scoffed at the idea that the Muslim Brotherhood was actually anything to worry about..

    The Left just dismissed such talk as Right Wing fear mongering...

    Well, look who turned out to be right (no pun intended... :D) about things...


  22. [22] 
    dsws wrote:


    Honor is what regulates the fighting of duels. In an honor-based social system, if someone slaps you with a glove (or whatever the signal is in that particular system), you either fight them or defer to them on whatever was at issue.

    Of course, if you're both strong and honorable, honor also demands that you not abuse that deference. You can't just be a bully. It wouldn't be honorable. If you try it, you lose honor and then you're in big trouble.

    But when a dispute is a matter of honor, i.e. something that prevailing norms say you can insist on up to the point of fighting over it, then the weak are in a position of having to knuckle under.

    For the most part, we don't fight duels any more. But if an ethos is properly to be designated as "honor", that means it has roots in a system that limited and legitimized some form of fighting (or substitute for fighting, especially at later stages of the development of such systems) short of total war.

    Honor is a thread in the heritage of all cultures: bullying is a possibility wherever and whenever there are people, and in the absence of something like a modern police force, you need norms to contain and limit it. Such norms succeed best when they limit the abuse of strength as much as possible but no more. If the strongest 49% have nothing to lose by subverting prevailing norms and nothing to gain by upholding them, those norms won't prevail for long. There has to be something in it for the potential bully.

    Or, in the case of a scumbag like Andy Jackson who knew how to play the system, the actual bully. The planter aristocracy he represented was stuffed to button-popping with honor.

    He is uniting all of the enemies of the United States...

    I don't think he had any hand in "uniting" Kim Jong-Il with bin Laden and Qaddafi.

  23. [23] 
    Michale wrote:

    I don't think he had any hand in "uniting" Kim Jong-Il with bin Laden and Qaddafi.

    Well, we know that he had a hand in uniting Daffy with Bin Laden..

    Bush had more of a hand in uniting Bin Laden with the afterworld...

    Kim Jong?? Stroke of luck..

    Get it?? "STROKE" of luck?? :D yuk yuk yuk

    I'll be here all week, be sure and tip your waitresses... :D


  24. [24] 
    DerFarm wrote:

    Dsws what you are describing is Chivalry. A code of action that could be ignored virtually without consequence. It had little to do with honor as we know it.

  25. [25] 
    dsws wrote:

    Chivalry is the culture of the upper-class soldiers who could afford horses. It's the same word as cavalry, except that cavalry comes via Italian and chivalry comes via French.

    Be unchivalrous, and you're still a member of that class. You might have your prospects downgraded a couple notches, but you'd normally be ok. It's a culture, so if you deviate from it you're eccentric.

    Be dishonorable as a member of the lower orders of society, and you could be in real trouble. It's a code, so if you deviate from it you've committed the kind of act that people do something about.

    The planter aristocracy had ersatz chivalry: although military service was highly regarded, and they produced a disproportionate number of our history's military leaders, they were not essentially a military class. It wasn't the basis of their claim on society. They were land- and slave-owners with a tradition of military service, not cavalry paid in land and peasants.

    The planter aristocracy had genuine honor. They were a violent lot, in their pastimes and in how they extracted economic value from their principal assets, as well as in their social relations. They needed and had powerful controls on that violence.

  26. [26] 
    Michale wrote:

    Looks like some people in Syria miss Bush... :D


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