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My 2013 "McLaughlin Awards" [Part 2]

[ Posted Friday, December 27th, 2013 – 17:50 PST ]

Welcome back to our annual year-end awards column!

Part 1 of this column ran last week, just in case you missed it. We've got a lot to cover, so let's jump right in with no further introduction.

 

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   Destined For Political Stardom

At the risk of later being seen as overly optimistic, we're going to hand the Destined For Political Stardom award to the newly-elected mayor of New York City, Bill de Blasio. De Blasio not only won convincingly both in the Democratic primary (over such luminaries as Anthony Weiner, but more on him in a bit) and in the general election itself, which he carried by almost fifty points. That's a pretty impressive beginning, you've got to admit.

De Blasio's campaign was cheered on by progressives, since he ran a full-throated campaign on the subject of inequality, which is seen in more stark contrast in New York (Manhattan, especially) than perhaps anywhere else in the country. How successful Bill de Blasio will be is an open question right now, but so far he certainly seems to have his priorities straight, and it's easy to see him using this as a steppingstone to higher and higher office. So, optimistically wishing de Blasio the best, we feel he is indeed Destined For Political Stardom.

 

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   Destined For Political Oblivion

We have some old business to take care of in this award, to begin with. We'd like to note Sarah Palin's continued slide to political oblivion, as she and Fox News even parted ways this past year. We wish her well on her diminished career as tourism booster for the state of Alaska, though. You betcha.

We'd also like to thank former President Bush for voluntarily entering political oblivion and firmly keeping himself out of the political fray. The only news from Bush these days is about his paintings, which is, as we said, appreciated.

As for guessing the future, we would dearly love to see Trey Radel, coke-sniffing Republican House member from Florida, on his way to political oblivion, but we'll see how he rides the whole scandal out. In the same "wait and see" category, we include the mayor of Toronto, Rob Ford, who it seems is partial to smoking cocaine rather than snorting it. While normally these would be career-ending events in any politician's career, we have a longer memory than most and still remember Marion Barry's triumphant comeback from a similar situation, so we're reserving judgment for now on Radel and Ford.

As for politicians on their way out, we could always give Destined For Political Oblivion to Michele Bachmann, but we prefer to wait until she's actually gone from Congress at the end of next year (we feel it's a bit premature now). Likewise, we'd love to give it to Liz Cheney, but who knows -- she might actually win a Senate seat (probably not, but still...). In contrast, we have ex-mayor of San Diego, serial groper Bob Filner, who won't be entering political oblivion in the future -- but only because he's already there. Likewise, Anthony Weiner, who attempted the most disastrous comeback attempt we think we've ever seen -- where even more scandal erupted after he tried to re-enter politics.

In intangibles, Barack Obama announced in 2013's State Of The Union address, the formation of a blue-ribbon commission on the right to vote -- which was then never heard from again. Instant oblivion! On the other side of the aisle, the Republicans had a navel-gazing exercise (which they actually called a "post-mortem" or an "autopsy") to figure out what had gone wrong for them in 2012, which concluded that they really didn't need to change any of their policies at all. Maybe "oblivious" is a better word for that one....

Instead of all these tempting nominees, we're going with a movement which can now be said to have completely run its course -- the anti-gay-rights movement. Born in the late 1980s and early 1990s as a wedge issue for Republicans to use against Democrats, the anti-gay-rights movement was quite successful for a period of roughly two decades. The crowning achievement of this movement was passing laws in something like four out of five states "in defense of marriage" -- to deny marriage equality to gay couples. Many of these were passed at the ballot box, where they did a dandy job of increasing conservative voter turnout at the polls.

But the entire movement is now Destined For Political Oblivion. Not only has it hit its high-water mark (now starting to ebb) in state laws, the Supreme Court has clearly indicated the future, much to the anti-gay-rights movement's dismay. Gay rights -- and marriage equality in particular -- have now passed the tipping point, politically. The advancement of gay rights is now, indeed, unstoppable. Which means that no matter how successful it has been in the past, the movement against gay rights is now Destined For Political Oblivion.

 

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   Best Political Theater

Not really "political theater," but certainly melodramatic, Senator Bob Menendez proposed to his sweetheart in the Capitol's rotunda, which deserves some sort of mention (she said "yes").

This was a year of many a filibuster, what with Rand Paul (drones) and Ted Cruz (Obamacare) in the Senate, and Wendy Davis (abortion and women's rights) down in Texas, pink sneakers and all.

But in our opinion, a much more subtle and much more grassroots effort deserves Best Political Theater, over across the pond in Great Britain. In what can only be called an extraordinary effort, a song almost topped the UK singles chart -- a full seventy-four years after it was created. For political reasons. Alas, "Ding Dong The Witch Is Dead" failed to hit the number one spot, in the end. BBC radio refused to play the whole song -- even though it clocks in at less than a minute in length -- during their roundup of the week's chart. The reason the BBC couldn't bring themselves to play it in full, and the reason why such an odd little ditty made the charts three-quarters of a century after Judy Garland trod the yellow bricks was the same: this all happened in the week after Margaret Thatcher died.

Ding dong, indeed. For almost reaching the top of the charts, for the grassroots effort by hordes of Brits, and for the sheer theatricality of the entire idea, "Ding Dong The Witch Is Dead" was our Best Political Theater of the year. Was this effort in fact cruel? Yes... yes, it was. But then, so was Maggie (as far as a lot of British people were concerned). Which was kind of the point.

 

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   Worst Political Theater

At the beginning of the year, President Obama launched a so-called "charm offensive," where he staged a few dinners with some Republican leaders in Congress, as well as a few other peripheral events and photo ops. The idea was to rub shoulders with each other, hopefully creating some bonhomie as a result. This entire effort was (thankfully) abandoned fairly quickly, when it became apparent that it wasn't doing the slightest bit of good. So that was some pretty bad political theater, right there.

Anthony Weiner's attempted comeback was pretty cringeworthy, all around, and I'm still trying to forget that I now know who "Carlos Danger" is (shudder). Eliot Spitzer, too, now that I think about it.

But all of that was small potatoes indeed, when stacked up against the Worst Political Theater of 2013 -- the entire "government shutdown" five-act play, brought to you by the Republican Congressional Players Troupe. It's really hard to count the ways in which this was the worst, in fact. The most ludicrous part (almost deserving of the Worst Political Theater award on its own) was when some right-wingers tried to stage a "spontaneous" protest by young voters. Some bright spark got the idea that they could equate the protest to the burning of draft cards in the 1960s, by having students "burn their Obamacare cards." Never mind that today's youth read about such things in history books (if they're even aware of what the symbolism was supposed to be about). The truly and spectacularly bad thing about this political theater was that Obamacare cards do not, in fact, exist. Hoo boy. The quality of political consultants seems to have taken a sharp downward turn, folks, over on the right.

The second-worst thing about this political theater was that Republicans were utterly and hopelessly clueless about what they were trying to achieve. This became painfully evident to all, after the shutdown showdown had begun. In the first place, shutting down the government by refusing to pass any sort of budget did not shut down Obamacare, which was the whole reason for the Republican tantrum, or so they said. In the second place, there was the instant-classic quote from a Republican House member, explaining the GOP strategy: "We're not going to be disrespected. We have to get something out of this. And I don't even know what that is." Next up was the laughable spin from Republicans that: "Obama wanted this shutdown -- it's all his fault!" When that flopped, they went with the absurdity of: "getting a conference between the House and Senate budgets is a victory for the shutdown effort!" -- even though Republicans had been blocking just such an effort by Democrats all year long.

But what took the cake, really (at least for us) was the Ted Cruz "fauxlibuster." Cruz launched a talk-a-thon in the Senate. But it wasn't a filibuster -- there was a time limit, so he wasn't blocking anything, in fact. And he wound up voting the other way from the position he was trying to talk other Republicans into supporting. And what he was "blocking" (he wasn't) was a bill from his fellow Republicans in the House. I mean, the idiocy of the entire exercise was apparent to all -- which earned Cruz the most scathing quotes imaginable... from other Republicans.

But all of that aside, there was really one moment that topped all the others, in sheer stupidity, during both the entire shutdown mess and even during the Cruz "fauxlibuster" (which was chock full of stupidities, in fact) -- Ted Cruz reading Green Eggs And Ham to his children, from the Senate floor. Remember, the entire point of this exercise by Republicans was to stop Obamacare. Something new, in other words. Something untried. And yet Cruz, in complete oblivion, read a children's story about not being afraid of trying new things.

Worst Political Theater of 2013, easily. Next time, Ted, get a five-year-old to explain the moral of the Dr. Seuss story to you before you make a complete fool of yourself for the entire country to see.

 

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   Worst Political Scandal

While, on a personal level, the Justice Department aggressively going after reporters from the Associated Press and even Fox News, for no reason other than to hunt down government leakers, was a pretty bad political scandal, there was one which -- on sheer volume alone -- stood out among all other political scandals this year, thanks to Edward Snowden.

The National Security Agency's spying and wiretapping and snooping and all the rest of it are easily the Worst Political Scandal of the year. This could even have been called "Biggest News Story Of 2013," in fact, because it wasn't just one revelation, it was an entire series of revelations which happened from the point Snowden lit out for Hong Kong and has still not ended. There are still "other shoes to drop," that's about the only thing you can say with certainty on the extent of the disclosures. From the story of Angela Merkel's phone being tapped, to how the government was infiltrating Silicon Valley companies, to exposing all the lies that the spooks have been telling Congress (and the American people) with aplomb, the scandals just never stopped. So this one's a pretty easy call, this year, no matter how loudly Fox News screamed about Benghazi. And Anthony Weiner's online exploits never even really came close.

 

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   Most Underreported Story

In years where we don't have anything else for this category, we just hand it to "Congress doesn't work" -- to point out the pathetic amount of time Congress is actually in session, doing the work of The People. This year, however, we have an absolute flood of things to choose from. Which made picking a winner tough to do.

The Guantanamo hunger strike raised barely a ripple in the American media, although it was widely reported outside of the country. The ongoing problems (and evasions) at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear reactor in Japan also barely raised an eyebrow here. The Pacific trade agreement being hammered out was also widely ignored by the American press. Fracking gets local coverage, but not so much in the national media. Diplomacy in the Middle East gets a bit more attention, but not nearly as much as it probably deserved this year.

But our winner for Most Underreported Story of 2013 was the economy, both good and bad. Let's start with the bad. There is a growing movement across the country to raise the minimum wage to a realistic level. Some stories are told in this struggle, but not nearly enough. From a town in Washington state raising their minimum wage to $15 an hour to fast-food workers staging strikes in dozens of cities across the country, the media largely shrugged in indifference. This may become more prominent next year, as some Democrats are highlighting raising the minimum wage as a key campaign issue for the midterm elections (look for it in Obama's State Of The Union address, in fact). But up until now, it's been underreported in a noticeable way.

But there has been plenty of good news on the economy as well -- which also gets short shrift in the media. We've lost count of the number of times we've seen the following presentation in the media, in fact -- no matter whether in right-wing, left-wing, or corporate media: "Unemployment number drops... here's why this is really bad news." You can find plenty of examples just about every month, in fact.

There were many positive economic stories in 2013, but the only one that really got any airtime was "stock market hits all-time record high... once again." Medical costs, for instance, are going up at the slowest rate in fifty years, but you never hear this fact mentioned on the news. Personal taxes are also at the lowest point they've been since World War II. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has been doing a bang-up job of reining in the big banks, handing out fine after fine -- even if you don't hear about it much on the news. The unemployment rate is falling, of course, lower than it was when Obama took office. And to top it all off, Obama made good on his promise to cut the annual deficit in half, but I guess the media didn't get that memo or something.

So for 2013, the Most Underreported Story (outside of the daily stock close) was the American economy.

 

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   Most Overreported Story

Um, Angelina Jolie's breasts? Ashley Judd almost (but not quite) running for the Senate in Kentucky? Twerking? Miley Cyrus? Miley Cyrus twerking?

Sigh. Yeah, there's always a whole bunch to choose from here, sadly enough.

But the most overreported story by far (especially on one particular network) was none other than Benghazi. No matter how hard and long Fox and the Republicans beat this particular drum, there was just nothing to really report. Even 60 Minutes got sucked in, by rumor and unsupported allegation. The entire exercise could in fact be labeled "Republican pre-emptive strike against Hillary Clinton's 2016 campaign." Because, when you got right down to it, that's really all it was about.

 

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   Biggest Government Waste

Our favorite is always the federal helium reserve, built to provide this precious substance for military purposes. After World War I. For our blimps. If there's ever an Exhibit A in "government programs go on forever," this would have to be it, in our estimation.

Although incredibly small potatoes, the Internal Revenue Service spending $60,000 on a training video where IRS people dressed up as Star Trek characters was certainly a contender this year, as well.

And then there's always the generic "Congress" -- certainly a possibility this year, with the "do-nothingest" Congress of all time.

But we have to give Biggest Government Waste this year to none other than the Drug War, or as we prefer to call it, the War On (Some) Drugs. Finally -- finally -- a bit of common sense seemed to prevail inside the Justice Department, as Attorney General Eric Holder not only announced that the feds would allow the states of Washington and Colorado to go ahead with their experiment in legalizing recreational marijuana for all adults, but Holder also gave a speech on what a waste it was to spend so much money locking so many people up for such long sentences, just to make politicians feel like they're "doing something."

While 2013 was indeed a tipping point for the issue of gay marriage, it didn't quite reach that point in the War On (Some) Drugs. The drug warriors are still fighting for their unworkable and proven-to-be-ineffective methodology, so we think it'll take a few more years yet before the insanity is halted. This year, important steps were taken to dial back the "lock them all up" way of thinking, but the federal government still spends an obscene amount of money each year on a strategy that just doesn't work.

Which makes the War On (Some) Drugs the Biggest Government Waste of 2013.

 

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   Best Government Dollar Spent

We would award the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau the award for Best Government Dollar Spent this year, but when we checked we had done so last year, so we thought we'd better come up with something new this time around.

One minor contender was the idea of "hiring a woman to run the Secret Service," which (hopefully, at any rate) will solve a whole lot of that "good ol' boy" atmosphere which has led them into repeated embarrassments in the recent past.

But we have to go with the military this year, in a surprise decision. The United States Navy now has a warship with extraordinary capabilities, which it has sent to the Middle East region. They released a video showing the new capabilities of this ship, which are nothing short of astounding. Most of the public hasn't even realized this has happened, but the United States of America has entered into a new realm of warfare that used to only exist in science fiction. Because the Navy has now deployed a phaser weapon which is capable of shooting down a plane or sinking a small boat. Don't believe me? You don't have to -- just watch the video.

Now, doubtlessly the Pentagon has spent a gazillion dollars on research and development (likely reaching back to the 1950s, at the very least) of this new weapon. That pretty much goes without saying. Also doubtlessly, there won't be many civilian applications of such technology (lasers, after all, have been around for a long time now). But the astounding thing -- and what very literally qualifies it for this award category -- is that the phaser weapon costs one dollar per shot to operate.

And that, my friends, is the Best Government Dollar Spent, in 2013. How much, after all, does one ship-to-air missile cost?

 

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   Boldest Political Tactic

In a normal sort of year, there would have been several strong contenders for Boldest Political Tactic. Obama spending political capital on pushing gun control legislation (even though he knew chances for passage were slim-to-none). Harry Reid "dropping the nuke" and getting rid of filibusters for presidential nominees. Vladimir Putin cutting through the muddle and offering up a resolution to the Syrian chemical weapons standoff. Iran coming to the table with the United States, in nuclear talks which haven't happened since their revolution in 1979.

Again, if this were a normal year, we likely would have handed this award to the Republicans in Congress. Say what you want about the whole "Tea Party/Establishment Republican" civil war, and no matter your opinion on the viability of their plan -- actually going through with their threats to shut the federal government down was indeed a "bold" action. Bolder than any Republican Congress since Newt Gingrich was around, in fact. OK, sure, they didn't really have an end game when they began. And, sure, the whole thing was an intra-party spat over on the Republican side. But it was bold -- it's hard to argue against that.

But even the shutdown was upstaged this year.

The Boldest Political Tactic of 2013 was made by Pope Benedict XVI. Now known as "Pope Emeritus" or perhaps "the old Pope," Benedict resigned due to advanced age. This stunned the Catholic world, as well it should, since the tradition had been for Popes to hold office until they died.

Benedict XVI became the first Pope to resign in 598 years. Yes, you read that correctly -- the first Pope to voluntarily step down in almost six hundred years. To put this another way, the last time a Pope resigned, the journey of Christopher Columbus was still seventy-seven years in the future.

This shocked many Catholics, who assumed there was some sort of holy writ which decreed that Popes had to die in office. Many were, in fact, outraged. But there is no such sacred rule, and while there were rumors about Benedict getting out before a scandal broke, the fact that he voluntarily resigned his office and made way for the much-beloved Pope Francis was -- without any question -- the Boldest Political Tactic of 2013. For that matter, it may have been the Boldest Political Tactic of the past six centuries.

 

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   Best Idea

There were numerous very good ideas promoted in 2013, some of which were successful and some of which will have to live to fight another day.

The first of these I personally suggested a while back, so it is good to see that President Obama has now given the military a one-year deadline to deal with their sexual assault problem. The military understands deadlines, and with the military legal changes that were just signed into law, they've now got until next December to radically alter the situation. The Obama administration also had a change of heart on marijuana, and it now appears that the federal government will not interfere (much) with Washington and Colorado allowing a legalized recreational marijuana marketplace to exist.

Over in the legislative branch, it was a good idea for Harry Reid to pass a budget bill at the beginning of the year, since he hadn't done so in quite some time. But to have real budget negotiations, both sides have to have a starting place, so hopefully this sort of thing will continue (as it should). Reid also passed a comprehensive immigration reform bill, which is now stalled in the House. And at the end of the year, Harry "dropped a nuke" on Republicans abusing the filibuster, which was a good idea that was long overdue.

Getting rid of chemical weapons in Syria was a good idea, which has to be chalked up to Vladimir Putin, really. Talking to Iran (rather than just raining bombs down upon their heads) was another good idea in the foreign policy sphere.

Good ideas which Democrats should keep pushing in 2014: expand Social Security (and scrap the cap), raise the federal minimum wage, and the Right To Vote constitutional amendment. Republicans, as previously noted, had a good idea with their "autopsy" report, but then they pulled back from the even-better idea of "now that we've identified the problems, let's do something about them," instead going with the worse idea of not changing a single policy at all. Better luck next time, guys.

These were all good ideas, but there can only be one Best Idea. Forgive us if we went a little local on this one, but we think it's such a good idea that it could spread across the country if given half a chance. In Albany, New York, Bruce Roter is trying to get funding to build a museum of political corruption, close to the statehouse. If he succeeds in getting such a museum built, perhaps other states would follow his lead, and eventually we could have a National Museum of Political Corruption in Washington, D.C. There certainly is enough corruption throughout American history to fill more than one museum!

Seriously, though, some might think it crass or juvenile, but we beg to differ. If schoolchildren and the public at large are not exposed to examples of corruption from the past, then it skews the perception of corruption today. Americans have little perspective of scandal and politicians behaving badly, since all the juicy bits are usually ignored when schoolbooks are written. It would be of great benefit for the public to understand political corruption much better, including the fights against such corruption (after all, historical corruption examples are all the ones that were exposed). A museum would be a fun and educational way to learn this lesson. Which is why we're naming the Museum of Political Corruption the Best Idea of 2013.

 

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   Worst Idea

Um, cell phones on airplanes? Boy, that one died a quick death when people considered the idea, didn't it?

Right when Obama was changing the Secretary of Defense, a medal got approved (by Leon Panetta on his way out) for drone pilots. The problem was, the "Distinguished Warfare Medal" somehow got ranked above both the Purple Heart and the Silver Star. That was a pretty bad idea, and it had to be rescinded by Chuck Hagel.

Health and Human Services had the stupendously bad idea not to do adequate integration testing of the Obamacare website, with the results plain for all to see after its October launch. Obama's putting Chained CPI on the table in budget talks was a pretty bad idea as well. Republicans continuing (and increasing, in some instances) their War On Women is an astoundingly bad and shortsighted idea. Overseas, Putin launching his own War On Gays just before he hosts the Winter Olympics was a really bad idea. The protests should be amusing, though.

But the Worst Idea of 2013 was to actually go ahead and shut the government down. Threats and hostage-taking are bad ideas to begin with, but they had become so normal that the Republicans (led by the Tea Party absolutists) had to go a step further this time around. They accomplished precisely nothing by making good on their shutdown threat, and hurt themselves politically by doing so. This brought the simmering factionalism into open civil war within the party, and exposed to the public the fact that the Tea Party just isn't interested in governing at all -- they literally had no plan for what to do next. All around, shutting down the government for no reason whatsoever was the Worst Idea of 2013.

 

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   Sorry To See You Go

If there were a "NOT Sorry To See You Go" category, the first name on it would be Larry Summers, who finally withdrew his name for consideration for Federal Reserve Chair. Following his name would be Max Baucus and Michele Bachmann, who both announced they would not run for re-election in 2014.

Sorry for the snark. This should be a more respectful category, so let's get back to Sorry To See You Go. On our list:

Nelson Mandela

Pauline Esther Friedman Phillips (a.k.a. Abigail Van Buren, a.k.a. Dear Abby)

Roger Ebert

E.L. Konigsburg

Jean Stapleton

Karen Black

Jonathan Winters

Marcia Wallace (a.k.a. Edna Krabapple)

Lou Reed

Ray Manzarek

Alvin Lee, lead guitarist for Ten Years After.

And, finally, the Monopoly iron, which was retired this year.

 

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   15 Minutes Of Fame

There were many contenders for this title, but we're going to hand it to HealthCare.gov, which may surprise some. The Obamacare website really got an anti-Warholian "15 Minutes Of Infamy," really, but that's within the parameters of the 15 Minutes Of Fame award, we've decided.

The Obamacare website's problems loom large in the public mind right now. But we're really into minute 14, folks. Soon enough, the website will fade from the public's view in one way or another. The mechanics of the entire Obamacare system will be much more prominent in the coming months, and it's even conceivable that more and more states will decide to get out of the federal exchange website and run their own systems -- which will further diminish the Obamacare website. After the last round of stories (through the end of March), the website won't be on anyone's mind until next October, and by that time all problems should be smoothed out. So the Obamacare website -- problems and all -- are reaching the end of their infamy and newsworthiness. When we look back, years from now, this will all be nothing more than a 15-minute blip in time.

 

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   Best Spin

Any year that allows us to write a headline such as "The Corpse-Like Stench Of Washington's Giant Misshapen Penis" is a good one, spin-wise, in our books. Heh.

Alan Grayson always has some amusing spin, and this year he helpfully pointed out on the House floor several things which were more popular with the public than Congress. Among these were cockroaches and dog poop, which is certainly an interesting way to measure things.

Marco Rubio would have won if the award was for "Most Spin," as he set a new standard for Sunday morning chatfesting. Breaking through the "full Ginsburg" (appearing on five Sunday shows), we now have the bar set at the "full Rubio," after he appeared on an astonishing seven Sunday morning shows (one in Spanish).

But the Best Spin award this year goes to John McCain, who fully remembers how to play the Cold War spin game. When Vladimir Putin wrote a snarky op-ed in the New York Times, McCain didn't get mad, he got even. He wrote his own snarky op-ed and had it published in Pravda (or what remains of it online). While virtually everyone else was having a collective fit of the vapors that Putin had said some critical things about America ("Why, the very idea!" you could almost hear the pearl-clutchers murmur as they swooned), McCain showed how the game is supposed to be played by making some caustic comments about Russia right back.

The entire game -- from both sides -- was about spin. It always has been. In fact, the entire episode was nothing more than Cold War nostalgia, on one level. But for remembering how this game is played, and showing all the newbies in Washington how it's done, John McCain gets the Best Spin award for 2013.

 

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   Most Honest Person

We only have one runner-up in this category, before we get to the winner. Senate Chaplain Barry C. Black made the news this year during the government shutdown, by "speaking truth to power." Now, it has been our longstanding belief that tax dollars should not even be spent on congressional chaplains, but we have to applaud the performance of Black during the shutdown. Here are just a few things he said to the senators:

Save us from the madness.... We acknowledge our transgressions, our shortcomings, our smugness, our selfishness and our pride. Deliver us from the hypocrisy of attempting to sound reasonable while being unreasonable.... Remove from them that stubborn pride which imagines itself to be above and beyond criticism. Forgive them the blunders they have committed.

But the real winner of Most Honest Person this year was Dr. Sanjay Gupta, resident medical expert over at CNN. Gupta, up until this year, has looked upon marijuana with the "drugs are bad... 'mmmkay?" viewpoint (call it the Mister Mackey school of thought). The government told him drugs were bad, the government made all sorts of claims about how bad marijuana was, and Gupta just essentially repeated these claims whenever the subject came up.

Then Dr. Gupta decided to look into the science of the situation for himself. And he had an epiphany. The government had been lying to him! The science showed a far different picture!

Now, at this point, some might have just decided not to talk about the issue further, since Gupta might have jeopardized his position as a spokesdoctor on television. But rather than taking this timid route, Dr. Gupta decided to devote an entire show to his change of thinking. He outlined what he had learned, the evidence behind it, and the ridiculousness of the government's position.

This was a refreshing change from a well-respected voice on television. Gupta refused to take the easy way out and refused to "unlearn" what he had learned. He had to issue a gigantic apology for repeating false information, which (again) he really didn't have to do. Because he had the backbone to stand up and prominently state "I was wrong," Dr. Sanjay Gupta is our Most Honest Person of the year.

 

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   Most Overrated

Um, Miley Cyrus?

David Gregory, over at NBC's Meet The Press, seems a natural for this award, ever since he got the job in fact. I mean, the man couldn't ask an intelligent followup question to save his life, and he gets to host the longest-running television show in history? Sheesh.

But we're going to put forth a unique sort of perspective on this award, and give it to "pre-Obamacare healthcare in America." While House Republicans voted over 40 times to kill Obamacare, and while Republicans shut the federal government down in a gigantic hissy fit over Obamacare, what was lost in it all was how much the pre-Obamacare system sucked eggs. The cry of "Repeal Obamacare!" was echoed by Republicans everywhere, but nobody ever seemed to adequately ask them "...and replace it with what, exactly?"

When the website failure was made apparent to all, Republicans redoubled their efforts to make Obamacare seem like the worst idea ever -- without having to state what they'd replace it with. "People are losing their policies!" Republicans cried to the skies -- without once admitting that this sort of thing actually happened every year. "People won't be able to choose their doctor!" they bewailed, without admitting that this happened to millions of Americans on a yearly basis, as insurance plans (and employers) shifted.

The idea that the American health insurance and healthcare system was somehow perfect before the insidious Obamacare appeared on the scene was the Most Overrated idea of the year, in fact. Nobody really wants to go back to the pre-Obamacare days, which is a fact both the Republicans and the media have successfully ignored in the entire debate. There was, after all, a good reason for reforming the medical insurance market. Pre-Obamacare was not some sort of Utopia. Quite the opposite, in fact. So the idea that going back to it would be a good idea has got to be the Most Overrated idea of the year.

 

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   Most Underrated

There was one moment during 2013 which was underrated, or perhaps "underrespected," if I may coin a phrase. While marking the 150th anniversary of the Gettysburg Address, virtually no mainstream media just allowed their audience to hear Lincoln's words. The entire speech is something like two freakin' minutes long, and instead of hearing those two minutes of immortal oratory, what we got instead was two minutes of airheaded anchors talking about the speech. Sheesh. I mean, how hard is this to figure out? Just read the speech -- the whole thing!

Grrr.

Pet peeves aside, the Most Underrated person of 2013 was Secretary of State John Kerry. Kerry has moved America's foreign policy forward by leaps and bounds this year, although he had no huge victories... yet. But he got the ball rolling on the stalled Middle East peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians, and he got an interim agreement with Iran which could bear fruit next year. Even talking with Iran is an enormous breakthrough -- something that hasn't happened in over three decades.

So Kerry may later deliver on efforts he started this year, but he's already accomplished an extraordinary amount for his first year in office. For some reason (perhaps because he also won our Most Boring award this year), Kerry is almost consistently underrated in the media. So far. We'll see if he steps a bit more into the spotlight in 2014, but for this year he was the Most Underrated.

 

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   Predictions

Whew! We're finally at an end, after two weeks of columns and dozens of awards handed out. The final category isn't an award, it is a free-for-all to predict what will happen next year.

As always, we are going to preface our picks this year with what we predicted last year, so you can judge our record on your own. Here were all our rash predictions for 2013, copied from last year's column:

We will indeed go over the fiscal cliff, but then a deal will be passed before the end of the 112th Congress. On January 3rd, when the new Congress first meets, John Boehner will be re-elected Speaker of the House.

John Kerry will be confirmed as Secretary of State, and Democrats will easily retain his Senate seat in the special election.

Puerto Rico will take a big step towards actual statehood at some point in the year, but the media will ignore it as it will take another voter referendum on the island before the U.S. Congress has to get involved.

A sex scandal will be big news, because for the first time on the national stage it will involve not just a politician, but a female politician.

President Obama will "evolve" on marijuana, and decide that bitter legal fights with Colorado and Washington are not worth it. He will instruct his Attorney General to lower marijuana to Schedule II, solving the medical marijuana legal problems, and he will announce that Washington and Colorado will be "laboratories of democracy" for outright legalization.

The Supreme Court will kind-of, sort-of rule in favor of gay marriage (I fully detailed this prediction in an earlier column, for those interested).

And, finally, immigration reform will be signed into law in 2013. It will not reach the "comprehensive" mark, but it will be more extensive than the DREAM Act. There will indeed be a path to citizenship, but it will be a rocky and expensive one. Republicans will actually vote for it -- or enough of them to allow it to pass both houses.

Let's take these one by one. On the first, the deal passed at two in the morning on the first of January, right at the end of the 112th Congress (and two hours after we went over the fiscal cliff). And Boehner was indeed re-elected Speaker. This one's a clear win.

Kerry was easily confirmed, and Democrats did hold his seat. So that's two for two.

Puerto Rico didn't move towards statehood in any noticeable way, so I'm counting that one as a miss. Two for three.

OK, I went out on a limb on the next one, and it snapped off under me. There was no female political sex scandal. So, two for four.

Obama and Holder did "evolve" considerably on marijuana, but not to the extent I predicted. Washington and Colorado are being given a green light (so to speak), but there was no mention at all of moving marijuana to Schedule II, so I'm awarding myself a half-point for this one. Two-and-a-half out of five.

I did, however, quite accurately predict what the Supreme Court was going to do on gay marriage, in both the cases before them. So an unqualified win here, giving me three-and-a-half out of six.

Immigration reform did pass the Senate, with more votes than I would have predicted, but then it languished and died in the House, so this one's a clear loss.

Which gives me a final score of three-and-a-half out of seven. Fifty percent, in other words, or precisely the same odds as flipping a coin. Oh well, that's better than I've done in some years....

Which brings us to predictions for 2014.

There will be a visible protest over Russia's laws against gay rights -- on the medals podium -- by at least one Olympic athlete. This will be on a par with the "black power" closed-fist salute from 1968. Perhaps a rainbow flag will be involved.

Edward Snowden will be pardoned. This will involve a complicated deal where he returns the data he filched, and it will be extremely controversial. But the Obama administration will be forced into giving Snowden some degree of legal immunity in order to secure the data.

Pope Francis will call for a Third Vatican Council. The Catholic Church will be shocked, but Vatican III will be even more revolutionary than Vatican II was, back in the 1960s. After Vatican III concludes (it may take years), priests will be able to get married, divorce will be allowed, and contraception will no longer be a sin. The Church won't, however, sanction gay marriage or abortion.

Obamacare will not be the biggest issue in the 2014 elections. Raising the minimum wage will be.

The Tea Party will successfully "primary" two sitting Republican senators. Neither winning candidate, however, will be named "Liz Cheney." Both of these candidates will then go on to lose in the general election. The Tea Party will lose a lot of their power as a direct result.

Democrats will lose two seats in the Senate, but retain control. Harry Reid will announce he is stepping down as Majority Leader right after the election, due to advanced age. The fight for leadership will be between Chuck Schumer and Dick Durbin. Schumer will win.

Republicans will retain control of the House, but they will lose six seats, meaning their majority margin will shrink. John Boehner will stay as Speaker of the House.

OK, that's it for this year, folks! Have a happy new year, everyone. Or, as McLaughlin would say:

"Bye-bye!"

-- Chris Weigant

 

If you're interested in traveling down Memory Lane, here are all the previous years of this awards column:

2013 -- [Part 1]
2012 -- [Part 1] [Part 2]
2011 -- [Part 1] [Part 2]
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]

 

Cross-posted at The Huffington Post

Follow Chris on Twitter: @ChrisWeigant

 

58 Comments on “My 2013 "McLaughlin Awards" [Part 2]”

  1. [1] 
    Michale wrote:

    We'd also like to thank former President Bush for voluntarily entering political oblivion and firmly keeping himself out of the political fray. The only news from Bush these days is about his paintings, which is, as we said, appreciated.

    It's called integrity and character..

    Things our current POTUS seems to be utterly lacking.

    Obama would do well to actually LEARN from President Bush instead of trying to blame him for everything...

    Likewise, Anthony Weiner, who attempted the most disastrous comeback attempt we think we've ever seen -- where even more scandal erupted after he tried to re-enter politics.

    Word is that Weiner is planning a third "comeback"..

    Which makes him perfect for the HCWMUIUWGA award... :D

    In intangibles, Barack Obama announced in 2013's State Of The Union address, the formation of a blue-ribbon commission on the right to vote -- which was then never heard from again. Instant oblivion!

    WHAT!!!??

    Obama said something to score political points but then never followed thru!!!????

    Say it ain't so!!!!

    /sarcasm

    :D

    But the most overreported story by far (especially on one particular network) was none other than Benghazi. No matter how hard and long Fox and the Republicans beat this particular drum, there was just nothing to really report. Even 60 Minutes got sucked in, by rumor and unsupported allegation. The entire exercise could in fact be labeled "Republican pre-emptive strike against Hillary Clinton's 2016 campaign." Because, when you got right down to it, that's really all it was about.

    And yet... If it had happened under a GOP POTUS, it would have been "worse" than Abu Ghraib..

    That's how you can tell if it was truly the horrific story that it really was...

    Of course, we'll learn more and more about Benghazi during the next POTUS election...

    Benghazi is not over.

    Not by a long shot..

    In a normal sort of year, there would have been several strong contenders for Boldest Political Tactic. Obama spending political capital on pushing gun control legislation (even though he knew chances for passage were slim-to-none).

    I would dispute this assertion.

    Obama actually thought he would prevail on Anti-Gun legislation.. I am also constrained to point out that many Weigantians also thought Anti-Gun legislation was a done deal. I seem to recall many comments to the effect of "Going after guns is not as toxic for Democrats as it once was"..

    Of course, reality seeped in and several Democrats lost their jobs because of their Anti-Gun tirades..

    So, I have no doubt that Obama actually thought he could ignore the Constitution (AGAIN) and push thru such an infringement..

    "He chose.... poorly"
    -Knight, INDIANA JONES AND THE LAST CRUSADE

    :D

    Getting rid of chemical weapons in Syria was a good idea, which has to be chalked up to Vladimir Putin, really. Talking to Iran (rather than just raining bombs down upon their heads) was another good idea in the foreign policy sphere.

    As to the former, there hasn't actually BEEN any CWMDs moved out of Syria.. Oh sure, lots of talk and promises... But that's about it.. So much for the vaunted "red line", eh?? :D

    As to the latter, I have to wonder if it will be seen as a "good idea" when we see a mushroom cloud over Tel Aviv...

    A nuclear armed Iran should scare the absolute CRAP out of any civilized person...

    I'm just sayin'...

    All in all, a much more well rounded AWARDS commentary.. :D

    Kudos...

    Michale
    0275

  2. [2] 
    Michale wrote:

    Getting rid of chemical weapons in Syria was a good idea,

    "We are glad the Americans are here, but we fear that the president has lost credibility after Syria."
    Ahmed al-Ibrahim, Saudi Royal Advisor

    This is exactly what I was talking about..

    Obama put the US's credibility on his "red line"..

    When Obama blinked and caved, our credibility took a major, a likely irrevocable, hit in the region...

    And you just HAVE to know that Russia and China will be HAPPY to become the Kingdom's newest BFFs....

    Michale
    0276

  3. [3] 
    Michale wrote:

    Iran developing new centrifuges for uranium enrichment
    http://www.albawaba.com/news/iran-centrifuges-uranium-543454

    Someone remind me again exactly WHY our POTUS wants to make a deal with Iran???

    Michale
    0278

  4. [4] 
    Chris Weigant wrote:

    Michale [1] -

    It's called integrity and character..

    OK, I'll play. Best Integrity And Character Of Ex-President... Jimmy Carter!

    Best ex-president of my lifetime, in fact. Bar none.

    On guns, I was certainly never convinced that anything real was going to happen. I even wrote about how tough the nuts and bolts of gun control actually were, I believe, at the time. But I never thought it'd be an easy lift, and I don't think Obama ever thought he'd get it through the House. My evidence? The SOTU, where all Obama asked for was "a vote" -- knowing even THAT would be a stretch (no vote ever happened in the House, I think, meaning Obama was right to set such a pathetically low bar for himself -- he knew gun control was going to fail all along, yet he boldly attempted it).

    All in all, a much more well rounded AWARDS commentary.. :D

    I dunno, I thought both were kind of equal, but that this week's leaned further left and last week's leaned further right. But there's one HuffPost commenter that thought there was no balance at all (can't please everyone, I suppose).

    :-)

    -CW

  5. [5] 
    Chris Weigant wrote:

    OK, everyone...

    Just caught up on comments for the past week, all the way back to Part 1 of this.

    Everyone having a good holiday season?

    I got a set of KISS Pez dispensers, top that for a cool present! Heh...

    :-)

    -CW

  6. [6] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Chris,

    Being half-way through the Holiday Season, I'm officially in recovery mode. I certainly can't top your coolest present.

    As for the HP commenter who lamented the lack of balance in your latest piece ... well, let's just say that it's a good thing I've lost my commenting privileges over there or there'd be some choice words for him. What he doesn't seem to understand is that, far from being "in balance", the US political system has become completely out of whack, for lack of a better phrase and "balanced" reporting would, by definition, be shoddy journalism.

    I trust he's made a generous contribution to the Holiday fund drive ...

  7. [7] 
    Michale wrote:

    OK, I'll play. Best Integrity And Character Of Ex-President... Jimmy Carter!

    Best ex-president of my lifetime, in fact. Bar none.

    When compared to the same amount of time that GW has been an "ex president", I would agree with you..

    But Carter's anti-Israel comments and actions of the last few years seems to indicate he is lacking in the character and integrity department..

    I think, meaning Obama was right to set such a pathetically low bar for himself -- he knew gun control was going to fail all along, yet he boldly attempted it).

    We'll just have to agree to disagree.. I am certain Obama thought he could walk on water. Remember, this was right after his re-election.. He thought he had the political capital to part the Red Sea....

    I have no doubt that Obama thought he could just say it and it would be so...

    The Fates handed him and the entire Left a massive reality check...

    Michale
    0279

  8. [8] 
    Michale wrote:

    The Fates handed him and the entire Left a massive reality check...

    ALMOST the entire Left..

    Present company excepted, of course. :D

    Michale
    0280

  9. [9] 
    Michale wrote:

    As for the HP commenter who lamented the lack of balance in your latest piece ... well, let's just say that it's a good thing I've lost my commenting privileges over there or there'd be some choice words for him. What he doesn't seem to understand is that, far from being "in balance", the US political system has become completely out of whack, for lack of a better phrase and "balanced" reporting would, by definition, be shoddy journalism.

    It's been my experience that any political commentator that pisses off BOTH the Right and the Left simply *MUST* be calling it fairly accurately .. :D

    Michale
    0281

  10. [10] 
    Chris Weigant wrote:

    Nobody's got any predictions for next year?

    Come on, ya pays yer money and ya takes yer chances...

    :-)

    -CW

  11. [11] 
    TheStig wrote:

    CW -

    Great finish, with some surprise winners that really did deserve their selection over more obvious choices!

    De Blasio is a good example of the above, but perhaps this is something of a daytime Emmy? Where do you go in politics from mayor of NYC, in this day and age?

    I'm assuming Best Government Dollar Spent is tongue in cheek, a chew toy for every science fiction geek and every 10 year old boy that fried an ant colony using a solar powered magnifying glass "laser." Yeah, it may be 1 buck per shot, but it's one hell of an expensive gun. The (soft)target looks to be a BQM-147 Dragon, under 100 lbs, span under 10 feet, top speed maybe 100mph. Still, it's pretty impressive to hold the laser on spot for the 5 seconds or so it takes to start a fuel fire. Military value to the USS Ponce (amphibious dock) - mostly psychological I'd have to say.

    Fifty percent cold prediction is awesome! You aren't flipping a coin, you're calling the side of hyper-sided dice! Keep up the good work in '14!

  12. [12] 
    akadjian wrote:

    Wow, CW. I hadn't heard the story about "Ding, Dong, the Witch is Dead".

    That is indeed some humorous political theatre. And something it appears the American "liberal" media pretty much ignored.

    Also, nice callout on the economy as most under reported story. So much to choose from here: gerrymandering, shifting of wealth upwards, the TPP negotiations, cost savings of the ACA ... but the economy is good just for the sheer size and willful ignorance of almost anything which isn't touted in a Chamber of Commerce report. The media completely fears reporting on the economy in any meaningful way that might offend their advertisers.

    I'd like to add a farewell to 60 Minutes in the Sorry to See You Go category.

    With their paid advertisement for Jeff Bezos right before Black Friday, their kow-towing to Republicans on airing a Benghazi piece full of more holes than a Hollywood movie script, and their "Billionaires are people too" interview w/ Bill Gates, or CBS' covering up of Leslie Stahl's role with the Peter Peterson Foundation it's apparent that 60 Minutes is no longer investigative journalism.

    *sigh*

    Sorry to see you go 60 Minutes, but it's better we no longer pretend that you're journalism.

    -David

  13. [13] 
    akadjian wrote:

    let's just say that it's a good thing I've lost my commenting privileges over there

    Oh bother ... What happened, Liz?

    Curious more than anything. HuffPo has been on a steady decline though since AOL/Time Warner purchased it. My opinion, anyhoo.

    Nobody's got any predictions for next year?

    I hate to say it but I think it's going to be a tough year for middle class America. Something going largely unreported is that the conservative strategy of pretending to be centrists again seems to be working.

    The references to Ayn Rand are being removed, the Tea Party candidates are being told not to say what they really believe, and Republicans are dressing themselves up as moderates. I've even seen conservatives running as Democrats. With their tremendous media advantage, gerrymandering and voter suppression efforts, and money, I think the 2014 elections bode poorly for most of America.

    In other words, we're likely to see a whole lot more ALEC, tax breaks for the rich, and deregulation before things get better. I say this with a heavy heart and hope differently.

    One positive prediction: Elizabeth Warren declares her intent to run for President *fingers crossed* This would certainly bring the economy front and center.

    -David

  14. [14] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    David,

    Oh bother ... What happened, Liz?

    Oh, it's nothing, really. It's just that HP now requires all commenters on their site to acquire a facebook account, ostensibly for the purposes of "turning the page on anonymity" and hence improving the "civility" of conversations.

    All I have to do is find a way to get over my seemingly innate aversion to anything having to do with facebook. I'll undoubtedly succumb sometime in the early stages of the new year ...

    Speaking of which, Happy New Year, everyone!

  15. [15] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    David,

    Sorry to see you go 60 Minutes, but it's better we no longer pretend that you're journalism.

    Yes, I couldn't agree more. And, it's a real shame. I guess it's just a sad reflection on the caliber of journalists and journalism that generally exists today.

  16. [16] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Okay, I have only a couple of predictions for 2014 and they are as follows:

    (1) Vice President Biden (what, you thought I'd talk about someone else!?) will be so busy this year managing White House relations with Congress and keeping the Asia Pacific Pivot on a smooth track and generally covering President Obama's back on any number of foreign and domestic issues that he will simply have no time whatsoever to even seriously contemplate running for president again. Of course, that still leaves all of 2015, plenty of time to consider another presidential run for one of the most successful and influential Vice Presidents ever.

    (2) Former treasury secretary, Tim Geithner, will release his much anticipated book about the 2007/8 financial crisis and response to it. Get your orders in now as it will be must read material!

  17. [17] 
    Michale wrote:

    With their paid advertisement for Jeff Bezos right before Black Friday, their kow-towing to Republicans on airing a Benghazi piece full of more holes than a Hollywood movie script,

    As opposed to the NY Times Obama-Stroking that stated it was all local militia and Al Qaeda had NOTHING to do with it???

    No matter how ya'all try to spin it, we LOST a US Ambassador..

    Under ANY GOP Administration, that would be a REALLY big deal and heads would roll.. The Left would go completely and utterly batshit...

    One only has to look at Abu Ghraib (which was a REAL non-issue) to know THAT is true..

    But, because it's Obama, it's a "fake" scandal...

    Funny how that is, eh??

    Michale
    0282

  18. [18] 
    Michale wrote:

    Nobody's got any predictions for next year?

    obamacare (the website) will not survive to spring. It's going to take a mortal blow in January when "all those" Americans who signed up for obamacare will return to the website to make their payments and discover that there is NO WAY to do so..

    The Obama administration will inform Americans to bypass the website all together and deal directly with the insurance companies, thereby conceding that obamacare is, indeed, a train wreck..

    From that point on, obamacare will be known as TrainWreckCare...

    I think I'll get a jump on everyone else and start using it now...

    Wonder if trainwreckcare.com is available.. :D

    Michale
    0283

  19. [19] 
    TheStig wrote:

    M (18)

    You don't make payments through healthcare.gov. It's a brokerage. You make payments directly to your selected provider.

    Once I selected a provider through healthcare.gov, my provider contacted me about payment. It took a while, but the back end has been working well in my region for at least a month. From what hear, that's typical.

    I made my first payment, I'll be covered starting Jan. 1. Repeat once a month.

    I see no train wreck. I see a train that left the station late.

  20. [20] 
    Michale wrote:

    You don't make payments through healthcare.gov. It's a brokerage. You make payments directly to your selected provider.

    Financial management tools remain unfinished, he said, particularly the process that will deliver payments to insurers.
    http://www.politico.com/story/2013/11/tech-chief-didnt-see-march-obamacare-memo-100058.html

    Maybe that's how it is in your state..

    But there IS an obamacare pay system.

    Well, there is supposed to be.

    At last word, it's not installed yet...

    I see no train wreck. I see a train that left the station late.

    Too-MAY-toe, Poe-TAY-taa

    It's all how you look at the spin.. :D

    Michale
    0284

  21. [21] 
    Michale wrote:

    Maybe that's how it is in your state..

    Or, more likely, you don't have to worry about any subsidies..

    obamacare computes the subsidies and sends those to the insurance companies..

    Except the system to do that is not installed yet..

    Do you think the Insurance Companies are going to cover people if they haven't been fully paid??

    Michale
    0285

  22. [22] 
    Michale wrote:

    Do you think the Insurance Companies are going to cover people if they haven't been fully paid??

    You DO realize that Insurance companies use absolutely ANY excuse imaginable (and some they just make up) to avoid paying out, right??

    If a person's premiums are not paid if full, then they are not covered..

    Multiply that by hundreds and thousands of Americans and there you have your TrainWreckCare... (dot com :D)

    Michale
    0286

  23. [23] 
    Michale wrote:

    Another prediction....

    If my first prediction comes to pass, you can bet that it will be Democrats who are screaming, yelling, in fact BEGGING, to repeal obamacare...

    " Your honor, these are the telephone records from GITMO for August 6th. And these are 14 letters that Santiago wrote in nine months requesting, in fact begging, for a transfer. Upon hearing the news that he was finally getting his transfer, Santiago was so excited, that do you know how many people he called? Zero. Nobody."
    -Tom Cruise, A FEW GOOD MEN

    :D

    Michale
    0287

  24. [24] 
    akadjian wrote:

    Under ANY GOP Administration, that would be a REALLY big deal and heads would roll.. The Left would go completely and utterly batshit.

    Sorry, Michale. It did happen under a GOP administration. Several times in fact.

    http://i730.photobucket.com/albums/ww307/AndreasFerrari/zzzzzzzzz2n8d5z8_zpsf277ba75.png

    No one went completely and utterly batshit but you guys.

    Keep trying in 2014 though!
    -David

  25. [25] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Yes, that reminds me of another prediction ...

    ... that 2014 is going to be a very challenging year for Michale here at CW.com ...

    ... in more ways than one.

    But, it's okay because, he is among friendly souls here. :)

  26. [26] 
    akadjian wrote:

    Former treasury secretary, Tim Geithner, will release his much anticipated book about the 2007/8 financial crisis and response to it.

    Hmmm. That might be interesting. I hope he doesn't call it "Stress Test" though.

    Someone suggested "A Tale of Two Citis" ... heheh

    -David

  27. [27] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    David,

    I'll have you know that Geithner's 'stress tests' for the banks were a great success and instrumental in mitigating the disastrous consequences of this financial crisis.

    Unfortunately, the Europeans took too long to take his advice on that score.

    Oh, I think it will be very interesting ...

  28. [28] 
    Michale wrote:

    Sorry, Michale. It did happen under a GOP administration. Several times in fact.

    Really??

    A US Ambassador was killed and a GOP administration tried to cover it up by putting out a fake story of some mythical phantom protest?? A story that was total and complete bullshit??

    "And you can PROVE that, right? Oh that's right, I forgot. You were absent the day they taught Law at Law School."
    -Tom Cruise, A FEW GOOD MEN

    :D

    No, nothing like this ever happened under a GOP administration..

    Because, if it had, the Left and the near entirety of the MSM would have crucified said GOP Administration.

    Abu Ghraib proved that beyond any doubt.. :D

    Michale
    0291

  29. [29] 
    Michale wrote:

    ... that 2014 is going to be a very challenging year for Michale here at CW.com ...

    If the last few months have proven ANYTHING here in Weigantia it's that, when Obama has bad times, Michale has great times.. :D

    Unfortunately, the rank and file don't seem to want to hang around and defend Obama.

    Which simply proves beyond a doubt that said rank and file KNOW that Obama is wrong... :D

    "Simple logic."
    -Admiral James T. Kirk, STAR TREK III, The Final Frontier

    :D

    Michale
    0292

  30. [30] 
    Michale wrote:

    A US Ambassador was killed and a GOP administration tried to cover it up by putting out a fake story of some mythical phantom protest?? A story that was total and complete bullshit??

    I mean, seriously, David..

    This administration has lied so much and so big that it makes the Nixon Administration look like a paragon of honesty by comparison.

    Why would ANYONE believe ANYTHING this administration says???

    Hell, if Obama (2013 Lie Of The Year Winner) tells me that the sky is blue, I would have to look outside first to confirm...

    Michale
    0293

  31. [31] 
    Michale wrote:

    After ObamaCare, NSA, Benghazi scandals could 2014 bring course correction for Team Obama? Don't bet on it
    http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2013/12/30/after-obamacare-nsa-benghazi-scandals-could-2014-bring-course-correction-for/?intcmp=HPBucket

    I wish I could post that in it's entirety here so ya'all might actually READ it..

    But I actually doubt any of ya'all would, even then..

    It's so dead on ballz accurate and most of ya'all here (with a few notable exceptions) simply won't address ANYTHING that shows that our Emperor is buck-assed nekkid...

    But, I have a challenge..

    To the best of my knowledge, I am pretty much caught up on my fund-raising donations (CW, a private note if this is not the case).. As we can see at the top, the marker is on the wrong side of the graph...

    If I can get five Weigantians to actually READ the above link and make comments regarding the content (supporting or disputing) I'll throw another donation into the kitty equal to 200 comments..

    As an aside to CW, I won't be able to do it til Friday, but I WILL do it...

    I know, I know... It's FoxNews.. But come on! Hold yer noses and expose yourself to a DIFFERENT opinion...

    It won't kill you.. I promise..

    And it's for a good cause...

    Any takers???

    Michale
    0294

  32. [32] 
    Michale wrote:

    On another note...

    Chris Turney, a climate scientist and leader of the expedition, was going to document 'environmental changes' at the pole

    In an interview he said he expected melting ice to play a part in expedition

    MV Akademik Schokalskiy still stuck among thick ice sheet 1,500 nautical miles south of Hobart, the Tasmanian capital

    Called for help at 5am Christmas morning after becoming submerged in ice

    Australia's back-up ship, Aurora Australis could not break through

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2531159/Antarctic-crew-build-ice-helipad-help-rescuers.html

    This is what happens when so-called scientists confuse their pet theories with reality..

    It's what happens when so-called scientists look at the world as they would LIKE it to be, rather than how it really is..

    In short, it's what happens when dogma and ideology replace REAL science...

    Fortunately, these "scientists", these people were able to be rescued by air..

    It could have been a LOT worse...

    The lesson here, the "teaching moment" is that one should never conflate their "faith" with their "science"....

    Michale
    0295

  33. [33] 
    db wrote:

    Okay Michale,

    #31

    Aside from the fact that the "article" was little more than her rehashing the good old days when she was writing stuff that President Reagan might use; her arguments were little more than the "lack of experience" argument that John McCain ran in 2008. Or at least ran until he picked Sarah Palin to run for VP.

    It assumes that "corporate" is an existential good & diminishes everything else. President Omaha has worked as a Community Organizer and has seen poverty & need up close & personal. Compare to the MIRC Romney's common touch.

    #1?

  34. [34] 
    Michale wrote:

    That's one!! :D

    Aside from the fact that the "article" was little more than her rehashing the good old days when she was writing stuff that President Reagan might use; her arguments were little more than the "lack of experience" argument that John McCain ran in 2008. Or at least ran until he picked Sarah Palin to run for VP.

    So, do you agree with the "lack of experience" argument??

    As for Palin, she had a LOT more management and executive experience than Obama had at the time...

    This is fact..

    The lack of experience issue IS a good point.

    Wouldn't you agree???

    Michale
    0296

  35. [35] 
    Michale wrote:

    It assumes that "corporate" is an existential good & diminishes everything else. President Omaha has worked as a Community Organizer and has seen poverty & need up close & personal. Compare to the MIRC Romney's common touch.

    Experience as a Community Organizer does not translate into experience running a country..

    The jobs are completely and 1000% different with different goals, different methods and different tools..

    Obama may have been a great community organizer..

    But, as we can see, that didn't help him set up a great website. Or how to win friends and influence allies..

    Or how to grow an economy..

    Americans are WORSE off since Obama has been POTUS...

    That right there indicates that Obama simply did not have the right experience to be POTUS..

    Michale
    0297

  36. [36] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Michale,

    I read your Fox link ... so, that's two.

    It was a pretty shallow and decidedly unenlightening piece. Are all Fox News pieces like this? Because, you know, that would explain quite a lot ...

    It's one thing to point out the less than stellar performance by the Obama administration on its handling of the Benghazi attacks, the NSA revelations, and the rolling out of Obmamcare, not to mention its counterproductive moves in Afghanistan and on the CT effort in general (which the author did indeed fail to mention, I might add).

    It's quite another thing to completely ignore the role played by Republicans in Congress - particularly the extremist wing of the party - in opposing literally everything that the administration has tried to do even when that opposition has been directed at formerly Republican ideas (until Obama promoted them!) and even when that opposition has done further damage to a very fragile yet recovering US economy.

    I did have to laugh out loud, though, when I saw that annus horribilis had to be defined as a horrible year. Sorry, but THAT was funny! And, it compelled me to continue reading until the end, too. So, there's that.

  37. [37] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Michale,

    It might be a good idea to repeat your Fox Challenge at the top of each of the next few CW columns, just to be sure there are three more responses to it.

    Now, I wouldn't normally go around promoting the discussion of a Fox News piece, you understand but, this is for a very good cause!

    The Holiday drive goes right through New Year's Day, right?

  38. [38] 
    Michale wrote:

    Two!!! WOOT!!! :D

    For the record, the extra 200 comments donation will be in ADDITION to my actual count... :D

    It's quite another thing to completely ignore the role played by Republicans in Congress - particularly the extremist wing of the party - in opposing literally everything that the administration has tried to do even when that opposition has been directed at formerly Republican ideas (until Obama promoted them!) and even when that opposition has done further damage to a very fragile yet recovering US economy.

    What roll did the Republicans play in the NSA scandal??

    What roll DID they Republicans play in Benghazi and the disastrous train wreck care roll out???

    Repulicans had absolutely NOTHING to do with ANY of it..

    Those scandals and so many more are owned completely and unequivocally by Obama and his minions..

    It's a perfect, a TEXTBOOK example of how someone who is only versed in THEORY can royally frak things up in reality..

    ALL of Obama's ideas look good on paper.. They look good in theory..

    But when it's time for the rubber to meet the road, when it's time to actually put those theories into practice, Obama et al simply cannot be bothered by "details"...

    With Obama and his plans, it's all "minor glitches" or a anti-something video or some other excuse..

    Obama (and so many others) just doesn't seem to understand that it's the POLICIES that are the problem...

    Now, I wouldn't normally go around promoting the discussion of a Fox News piece, you understand but, this is for a very good cause!

    A VERY good cause!!! :D

    The Holiday drive goes right through New Year's Day, right?

    That's my understanding.. I have a plan for tomorrow as well to stimulate some more discussions. :D

    Michale
    0299

  39. [39] 
    Michale wrote:

    http://thehill.com/video/in-the-news/194168-lemon-slams-msnbc-for-romney-grandson-joke

    No comments regarding the Leftist's MSM racial attack on Romney's family???

    Why is it that the Left can spew such racist bile and no one from the Left says squat???

    But let something like this happen from the Right and the Left is apoplectic??

    Double standard much??

    Michale
    0300

  40. [40] 
    db wrote:

    Michale,

    #34 & 35.

    "The lack of experience issue IS a good point."

    You say that as if experience is relevant.

    Should I tell you of a man, elected President whose only prior experience was a a one term Congressman? He was a lawyer who was superseded on what would have been his biggest case.

    Or should I tell you of the man who had experience running major organizations, had served in the Cabinet, and ran a humanitarian relief organization for the entire US?

    Who would you choose as President? One proved one of the best Presidents America ever had the other one of the worst. Care to guess which?

  41. [41] 
    db wrote:

    Michale,

    #32

    Weather is not climate.

    Though I will point out that the very unpredictability of the weather you cite, viz. the unexpected hurricane that froze the ship in, is evidence for a changing climate pattern.

  42. [42] 
    Michale wrote:

    Weather is not climate.

    And yet, EVERY time there is a *weather* event, the Human Caused Global Warming (Yet The Planet Is Cooling) nutjobs scream to high heaven that the end is nigh...

    You remember some moron named Al Gore, right???

    Though I will point out that the very unpredictability of the weather you cite, viz. the unexpected hurricane that froze the ship in, is evidence for a changing climate pattern.

    No one is arguing that climate is not changing..

    Climate has been changing for billions of years..

    The idea that man, in less than 100 years, could affect a planetary climate that has been changing perfectly fine on it's own for BILLIONS of years simply stretches the bounds of credibility to the breaking point...

    Humankind's effect on planetary climate is like a single man who is sitting in a dingy in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean and flops his wee-wee out over the side to take a piss..

    Yea, it's probably not the BEST thing in the world to happen to the ocean..

    But the idea that it could, somehow, affect the entirety of the ocean ALSO stretches the bounds of credibility to the breaking point..

    My only point in pointing out the article is that this "scientist" assumed his dogmatic theory was correct and did not even CONSIDER the idea that there might not be melting ice, that ice might actually be MORE prevalant..

    It's called faith based "science" and, as this moron found out, it can have dire consequences...

    Michale
    0302

  43. [43] 
    Michale wrote:

    You say that as if experience is relevant.

    Of course it is....

    Who would you choose as President? One proved one of the best Presidents America ever had the other one of the worst. Care to guess which?

    Of course, there are outliers...

    A young black man who starts experimenting with cocaine and other hard drugs..

    What are the odds??

    That he would end up in jail or dead in the gutter??

    Or that he would rise to become President Of The United States??

    Of course, there was ONE instance where the latter happened..

    But, because of that one happenstance, do we want to encourage our kids into hard drugs??

    Obama is a perfect case study as to WHY management experience in a POTUS is a good thing...

    Michale
    0303

  44. [44] 
    db wrote:

    CW, Happy New Year & thanks for everything.

    Dear Old Michale,

    #43

    There you go again.

    You state that experience is relevant to a successful Presidency. I (foolishly) cite one President with next to no experience who became one of the best & a President with gobs of experience who turned out one of the worst. You cite then as outliers.

    So if I'm to continue this discussion you're going to have to define "experience". You're also going to have to define "Successful Presidency". I suspect you'll define yourself right out of an argument.

    But because I'm as big a fool in 2014 as in prior years; I'll start off. The following Presidents were notable military leaders. Generals if you will, who became President. Let's discuss the success of their Presidencies.

    Washington: Epic Success.
    Jackson: Success.
    Harrison: Incomplete.
    Taylor: Incomplete (though I might be talked into failure).
    Peirce: Epic Failure.
    Grant: Failure.
    Hays: Failure.
    Garfield: Incomplete.
    Roosevelt: Success (Though TR never got his star, he was an acting Brigadier at the end of the war. If you want to drop him okay.)
    Eisenhower: Success.

    From that list I determine that success as a General has little or no impact on success as a President.

    On to the next subject.

    #42

    I never met a moron named Al Gore. I know several guys who know a guy named Al Gore but they tell me he's smart as a whip & a pretty nice guy overall.

    You assert, "Humankind's effect on planetary climate is like a single man who is sitting in a dingy in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean and flops his wee-wee out over the side to take a piss.."

    Now Michale, I'm really trying to understand here. This is a God's Honest Truth question. There are hundreds if not thousands of serious scientific studies showing the impact of human activity on the environment, ranging from the "Little Ice Age" of the 18th century, through the causes of the Dust Bowl of the 1930s, to the rise of CO2 in the atmosphere today.

    Why do you insist on rejecting these studies?

    I'm not being a smart ass, & will not challenge your answer, though I might ask for clarification.

  45. [45] 
    Michale wrote:

    So if I'm to continue this discussion you're going to have to define "experience". You're also going to have to define "Successful Presidency". I suspect you'll define yourself right out of an argument.

    As the old NYPD Cop said, "I may not be able to define pornography, but I sure as hell know it when I see it!"

    I may not be able to DEFINE a successful presidency, but I can give you plenty of examples..

    Reagan Successful
    Clinton Successful

    Carter Dismal
    Obama Dismal

    As to experience.. I am just going to have to rely on common sense..

    If one is going to be a leader one should.. Oh I dunno... have SOME experience in leading...

    If one is going to rebuild an economy, one should.... oh I dunno.. have some EXPERIENCE in doing just that..

    Now, of course, my argument is that Obama was elected without ANY experience..

    Your counter is that MANY presidents have been elected without experience and they did all right. And that is a good counter argument.

    AS FAR AS IT GOES...

    Because Obama's problem is not *JUST* that he had no experience when he was elected.. Obama's BIGGER problem is that he surrounded himself with OTHER PEOPLE who had no experience at doing anything...

    The POTUSes that you cite that did good, even with no experience surrounded themselves with people who DID have experience..

    THAT is the mark of good leadership.. You surround yourself with people who make up for your own deficiencies..

    Obama is such a narcissist, he doesn't think he HAS any deficiencies.. Therefore, he surrounds himself with people who ALSO believe that Obama doesn't have any deficiencies..

    Result??

    A train wreck of a presidency..

    THAT was the point of the article that you missed..

    It wasn't slamming Obama for not having any experience..

    It was slamming Obama for choosing people who ALSO didn't have any experience at anything...

    Obama's core group are people that think EXACTLY like Obama and do not have the integrity to tell Obama how things really are...

    CW himself has said the same thing on many occasions..

    In short, a GOOD leader can make up for ANY deficiencies he has.. He just has to be able to admit that he HAS deficiencies..

    Obama is not a good leader...

    Hope I cleared that up for you.. :D

    Michale
    0304

  46. [46] 
    Michale wrote:

    Why do you insist on rejecting these studies?

    I don't reject those studies..

    I have stated time and time again that those are VALID studies, that it's all VALID evidence..

    My point is... My point has ALWAYS been is that it is YOU (and people who think like you) that reject EQUALLY valid studies, EQUALLY valid evidence that DOESN'T support the Human Caused Global Warming (Yet The Planet Is Cooling) theory.

    Why do YOU reject THOSE studies..

    Why has not ONE SINGLE IPCC model ever been accurate??

    Why has not ONE SINGLE IPCC prediction ever come to pass??

    Why doesn't the IPCC reports even acknowledge the Medieval Warming Period?

    Why doesn't the IPCC reports acknowledge and explain the FACT that there has been NO GLOBAL WARMING since the 1990s?

    Why do you reject these very valid questions??

    It's like the gay nature/nurture argument. There is VALID science on BOTH sides of the issue..

    But the Left ONLY accepts the science that supports the desired conclusion and ignores/attacks the science that disputes the desired conclusion.

    That is faith. Pure and simple... It's as pervasive and as blinding as any religious dogma...

    "MY priests/scientists are right and the OTHER priests/scientists are wrong.."

    I know, I know.. These are all old arguments..

    But that's because no one has successfully refuted them.. And I always go with what works.. :D

    The long and short of it is this..

    The entirety of the Left *MIGHT* be right about Human Caused Global Warming (Yet The Planet Is Cooling)....

    But the entirety of the Left *MIGHT* also be wrong..

    And THAT is what ya'all have a problem in conceding..

    Me?? I don't have that problem..

    I could be dead on ballz WRONG and humankind is completely and unequivocally responsible for every weather event on the planet...

    Logic and common sense would seem to dispute that, but I still could be wrong...

    Can you say the same??

    Regardless, my original point was that it can be dangerous to assume in science. This so-called "scientist" went down to the Antarctic expecting melting ice and proof of his Human Caused Global Warming theory.

    He did not even consider the possibility that he could be wrong...

    And look where such shortsightedness landed him...

    That's what happens when so-called scientists conflate ideology and science...

    "Enthusiasm about science is commendable. Enthusiasm IN science is dangerous and should be avoided at all costs"
    -Commander Spock

    Michale
    0305

  47. [47] 
    Michale wrote:

    I still need 3 more Weigantians to read and comment on that opinion piece..

    Com'on people! It's for a good cause..

    Hold yer noses and expose yourself to a different opinion!!

    It won't kill you. Promise... :D

    Michale
    0306

  48. [48] 
    Michale wrote:

    So, optimistically wishing de Blasio the best, we feel he is indeed Destined For Political Stardom.

    I dunno...

    The more I read about de Blasio, the more the phrase "too true to be good" comes to mind...

    Call it my natural in-grained cynicism, but I have a feeling we're going to learn that deB is bought and paid for by some special interest/corporate group...

    Michale
    0309

  49. [49] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Michale,

    Your comments are becoming way too long!

    If you had chopped them up into multiple shorter comments you'd be well on your way to 800 by now. :)

  50. [50] 
    Michale wrote:

    David,

    I hate to say it but I think it's going to be a tough year for middle class America. Something going largely unreported is that the conservative strategy of pretending to be centrists again seems to be working.

    I hate to say it, but yer right...

    In California, policies for about 900,000 Californians are being canceled because of ObamaCare's mandates, and about two-thirds of these do not qualify for subsidies, according to The Chicago Tribune. The result: These folks will be paying higher premiums.

    In Alabama, premiums have doubled for some middle-class families, like that of Courtney Long, a stay-at-home mother of four. She told WHNT News, "It's devastating. I started crying."

    "I mean, we have worked so hard to get out of credit card debt, get ahead on the car loan, transfer our mortgage to a 15- from a 30-year mortgage… and for what?”

    In Tennessee, GOP Sen. Lamar Alexander issued an analysis of a White House report and found the following:

    Today, a 27-year-old man in Memphis can buy a plan for as low as $41 a month. On the exchange, the lowest state average is $119 a month — a 190 percent increase.
    Today, a 27-year-old woman in Nashville can also buy a plan for as low as $58 a month. On the exchange, the lowest-priced plan in Nashville is $114 a month — a 97 percent increase. Even with a tax subsidy, that plan is $104 a month, almost twice what she could pay today.
    Today, women in Nashville can choose from 30 insurance plans that cost less than the administration says insurance plans on the exchange will cost, even with the new tax subsidy.
    In Nashville, 105 insurance plans offered today will not be available in the exchange.
    In Washington state, ObamaCare will increase the underlying cost of individually purchased health insurance by 34 to 80 percent on average, according to Forbes.

    http://theweek.com/article/index/254564/the-hidden-costs-of-obamacare

    If the Middle Class is who yer worried about, maybe supporting a repeal of obamacare would have been the prudent choice...

    It seems obamacare looks after the corporate interests at the expense of the Middle Class...

    I'm just sayin' ....

    Michale
    0310

  51. [51] 
    db wrote:

    Michale,

    #34 et. seq.

    If you can not define experience and if, "I may not be able to DEFINE a successful presidency, but I can give you plenty of examples.." then you have set the parameters where only experienced Presidents are successful.

    That is; you've defined the terms of your position.

    Call me if you want to put specifics out there like "were Governors" or "were Cabinet Ministers" or such. But I don't have time to play silly word games.

  52. [52] 
    akadjian wrote:

    The more I read about de Blasio, the more the phrase "too true to be good" comes to mind.

    He does look good, dudn't he?

    Now if Elizabeth Warren will just run for President :)

    -David

  53. [53] 
    Michale wrote:

    He does look good, dudn't he?

    Yes, he does..

    A little TOO good...

    "Wow. It's dark."
    "Yea. A little TOO dark."
    "Hmmm It's quiet."
    "Yea. A little TOO quiet."
    "Hay look!! It's Raph!!"
    "Yea, a little TOO Raph."
    "Would you quit that!!!"

    -Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

    :D

    De Blasio Inauguration Both Populist and Tightly-Controlled
    http://politicker.com/2014/01/de-blasio-inauguration-both-populist-and-tightly-controlled/

    Now THAT certainly looks familiar...

    Looks like DB is going to follow the Obama model for "Progressive"...

    Michale

  54. [54] 
    Michale wrote:

    He does look good, dudn't he?

    The only question remains is how long it takes for New York to go the way of Detroit...

    Three years. That's my guess...

    Michale

  55. [55] 
    Michale wrote:

    If you can not define experience and if, "I may not be able to DEFINE a successful presidency, but I can give you plenty of examples.." then you have set the parameters where only experienced Presidents are successful.

    As I explained, it's not necessarily experience that is the sole defining characteristic of a successful POTUS..

    If one doesn't have experience, but has good leadership, then one can be successful..

    IN other words, if you have ONE of those two qualities (experience or leadership) then your chances of being a successful POTUS are WAY up there..

    But, as has been absolutely PROVEN beyond any doubt with our current POTUS, if you have NEITHER of those qualities, then your presidency is going to suck purple panther piss...

    Call me if you want to put specifics out there like "were Governors" or "were Cabinet Ministers" or such. But I don't have time to play silly word games.

    Especially since those "silly word games" totally decimate yer position. :D

    I DID give specifics... And the opinion piece that started it all ALSO gave specifics..

    Your problem with the specifics is that they totally disqualified Obama as POTUS..

    And, as with the Human Caused Global Warming (Yet The Planet Is Cooling) one disregards or ignores any facts or specifics that do not fit the selected agenda/ideology...

    Call me when you want to examine ALL the facts, ALL the science, ALL the specifics, not just cherry picking the ones that fit your chosen mindset.. :D

    Michale

  56. [56] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Michale,

    The only question remains is how long it takes for New York to go the way of Detroit...

    Okay, so I think I've finally figured out what your problem is ... you don't drink enough.

    Have a cold one, on me!

    :-)

  57. [57] 
    Michale wrote:

    Have a cold one, on me!

    Don't gotz to tell me twice!!! :D

    Okay, so I think I've finally figured out what your problem is ... you don't drink enough.

    I am sure the Democratic leaders in Detroit never thought that THEY would bankrupt their city either..

    The problem isn't the city..

    The problem is the Democratic Party mindset of coddling criminals, protecting criminal rights and ignoring victim rights, instituting a buttload of benefits and not having a clue how to pay for it all...

    DeBlasio looks to be cut of the same cloth, so it's highly possible that New York will go the way of Detroit..

    Michale

  58. [58] 
    Michale wrote:

    DB,

    Antarctic ice shelf melt 'lowest EVER recorded, global warming is NOT eroding it'
    Human CO2 just not a big deal at Pine Island Glacier

    http://www.theregister.co.uk/2014/01/03/antarctic_ice_shelf_melt_lowest_ever_recorded_just_not_much_affected_by_global_warming/

    Here's an example of the science that the Human Caused Global Warming (Yet The Planet Is Cooling) proponents ignore..

    It is as much science as anything else out there. Yet it is ignored..

    When one ignores the science that doesn't fit the ideology, that's not science..

    That's faith..

    It's conclusion-based evidence.

    It SHOULD be evidence-based conclusions...

    Michale

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