My 2022 "McLaughlin Awards" [Part 1]

[ Posted Friday, December 16th, 2022 – 18:45 UTC ]

Welcome to the first installment of our year-end awards!

As always, we must begin with a stern warning: this is an incredibly long article. So long you likely won't make it to the end, at least not in one sitting. It is, as it always is, a marathon not a sprint.

We have tried to credit readers' nominations where we could, but writing the whole column is such a frenzied activity that we may have omitted the citations here and there -- for which we apologize. Reader suggestions make our job putting together this list a whole lot easier, and we are indeed grateful for the people who do take the time to do so (and you still have a chance to, for next week's awards, we would point out).

OK, since it is so long, let's not make it any longer and get right to it. Here are our winners for the awards categories first created on the McLaughlin Group television show, for the year that was.


   Biggest Winner Of 2022

A good case can be made for "democracy," since virtually all of the candidates in the midterm races who were running on Donald Trump's Big Lie of "stolen" elections wound up losing. Which was, no doubt, critical to the future of American democracy. When you get people running for office who will be in charge of the state's elections promising that once they do get elected, Republicans will never lose another election, that is a big sign that democracy itself has been abandoned by one of America's main political parties. Which is outrageous. Thankfully, though, the voters had other ideas.

Reader "Kick" nominated Joe Biden for his spectacularly good midterm election results -- which, by some measures, were the best first-term midterms since Franklin D. Roosevelt. Every incumbent Democratic senator was re-elected. Democrats flipped Pennsylvania, adding to their Senate majority. Democrats picked up governor's races and whole legislatures in multiple states. True, they lost control of the House of Representatives, but only just. But we've got another category in mind for Joe.

Instead, we are going to give the Biggest Winner of 2022 to "abortion rights on the ballot." All of a sudden, the shoe is on the other foot and voters are being given a real choice between forced-birth extremism and freedom. The issue didn't get on many states' ballots this time around, but in 2024 we fully expect to see abortion referenda in multiple states, both red and blue.

The winning streak started in astonishing fashion, when the voters of Kansas trounced an anti-abortion measure by almost 20 points. Then in various fashion abortion rights were on the ballot in five states in November, and the anti-forced-birth position won in all of them.

Up until now, American women had had Roe v. Wade to protect them from Draconian state-level laws, but with that taken away by the Supreme Court the state laws have become an enormous issue. And it is a "wedge issue" that favors Democrats, since (as Kansas and other states proved) even lots of Republican women are incensed and motivated to protect their rights and the rights of their daughters.

The Kansas measure was supposed to be close. It wasn't. It was a blowout. And that gave Republicans everywhere a new perspective on how unpopular their party's position truly is. Next time around, more voters will have a chance to weigh in, and we fully expect abortion rights to be a big winner at the ballot box then, too.


   Biggest Loser Of 2022

We had a lot of losers to choose from this year. The red wave that wasn't, for instance. Vladimir Putin. Rick Scott, who was the Republican in charge of getting more Republicans elected to the Senate (and did a spectacularly bad job, from all accounts). Rick Scott again, for handing Democrats an enormous political club when he released his very own GOP agenda -- which included taxing all the poorest people in the country as well as forcing Congress to vote every five years on all federal laws, including Medicare and Medicaid (which clearly would be a recipe for disaster). From Biden on down, Democrats made all kinds of good political hay out of Scott's plan.

From our readers: Sarah Palin losing twice in Alaska -- to a Democrat ("John From Censornati"). American women, who lost a constitutional right they had for 50 years ("ListenWhenYouHear"). Other suggestions we got included Stacey Adams and Beto O'Rourke -- both of whom will likely never even be a political candidate again, after repeatedly losing statewide races. And MAGA candidates, in general.

But the biggest loser of them all was clearly Donald Trump. Trump ended the year being humiliated in a big way by Georgia's voters. Not only did Trump's hand-picked candidates for governor and secretary of state not even make it out of the primaries, the Georgia Republicans Trump hated all won their elections handily. And Trump's hand-picked candidate for Senate was even more unqualified for office than Trump himself, which is truly saying something.

Trump spent his summer watching the House Select Committee on January 6th expose him for who he was, after the 2020 election. Trump was denounced from the witness chair by Republican after Republican, some of them in scathing terms. Trump had his Florida golf resort searched by federal agents, after lying repeatedly about the papers he had taken with him when he left office. This shocked even some Republicans, since there were so many secret and top secret documents stashed away in unguarded storage closets. When Trump tried to fight the search in court, at first he won concessions from a judge he named to the bench mere days before he left office, but the appellate court smacked this judge down not once but twice, in the most humiliating fashion imaginable. His company was found guilty in New York, on 17 counts of federal crimes. He now has a special counsel named to investigate all his various other criminal activities.

The company which arranged Trump's for-profit speaking tours collapsed and filed for bankruptcy. His "Truth Social" website is in the process of crashing and burning in rather spectacular fashion. Even the rightwing echo chamber is growing more and more silent. Fox News, the Wall Street Journal, and the New York Post have all moved drastically away from Trump (although the primetime hosts on Fox News haven't... yet). Other Republican politicians are getting bolder and bolder about calling Trump a loser, after the failure of the "red wave" to appear in the midterms. Donors have soured on Trump.

Trump tried to counter all this by making his formal announcement that he is running for president in 2024, but his speech was panned by all as being incredibly boring, and ever since the announcement, Trump has been all but silent, hiding away in Florida and continuing to golf (and, recently, charging people $99 for a cartoon of him, because grifters gotta grift...).

Donald Trump is, obviously, nothing more than a big fat loser. Which is why he's our choice for Biggest Loser of 2022.


   Best Politician

There were many possibilities to choose from this year, and we did consider Nancy Pelosi, but that's more of a "lifetime achievement" award than anything else.

Instead, we have what might be a surprising pick for Best Politician -- President Joseph Robinette Biden Junior.

Biden had some impressive victories in Congress this year, seeing big chunks of his agenda make it past Senator Joe Manchin's disapproving gaze. He got the Inflation Reduction Act passed, as well as health care for burn-pit veterans, the CHIPS Act, gun safety legislation, a federal anti-lynching law, and the Respect For Marriage Act -- and those are merely the high points. Biden has so far chalked up more legislative victories in his first two years than any president going all the way back to Lyndon Baines Johnson.

He also averted what would have been a disastrous rail strike, twice (we are tempted to say "he made the trains run on time," but we won't). He weathered the political storm of an immense spike in the price of gasoline (due to Russia invading Ukraine), and he has finally seen inflation start to come down in a big way. He has presided over 10 million new jobs being created, which is an all-time record. He tried to forgive $10,000 to $20,000 in student loans (which is being challenged in court by Scrooge-like Republicans). He pardoned everyone convicted of simple marijuana possession at the federal level. He brought Brittney Griner home.

Biden's midterm strategy baffled many Democrats, but in the end it seemed to work much better than expected. He started calling out the "ultra-MAGA" elements in the Republican Party and Biden hit them as hard as he could -- devoting two televised speeches to the subject. He warned of the threat to democracy those who pushed Trump's Big Lie truly were. Biden believed that protecting democracy was a big deal to the voters, and he was right -- even though the conventional wisdom in the punditocracy was that he was wasting his time.

Biden was also right about something else which drove the midterm turnout. Here he was two months before the election: "Republicans have awakened a powerful force in this nation: women. Republicans don't have a clue about the power of women, not a clue. Let me tell you something: they're about to find out." And they did -- Biden was right about that.

President Biden, all around, had a pretty good year. He even saw his job approval rating tick upwards (finally). But throughout it all he largely ignored the people running around with their hair on fire and kept to his gameplan. Which didn't always prove to be 100 percent perfect, but what he did manage to accomplish was astonishing -- right up to a better midterm election result than has been seen in the past 60 or 90 years (depending on how you measure it).

You can say what you want about Joe, but his political instincts still seem to be pretty sound. Which is why he is our choice for Best Politician of the year.


   Worst Politician

This one was hard to pick just one winner for, because there were so many bad politicians to choose from.

There were politicians who not only advocated violence but used violence in an almost pornographic way in their campaign advertisements, like Eric Greitens in Missouri. Greitens put out several male-fantasy ads, the worst of which showed him breaking into a house with a squad of what looks very much like special forces soldiers -- in full battle gear, with weapons drawn -- as Greitens announces he is "RINO hunting." In other words, he wasn't just stoking violence against the opposition party, he was celebrating violence against his own party. That's taking things to a very scary level indeed.

There was Marjorie Taylor Greene, just on general principles of how awful she truly is, both as a human being and as a politician. Ditto for Lauren Boebert. And there was the woman who ran for governor in Georgia who drove around the state in a bus with "JESUS GUNS BABIES" written on the side of it.

There was Kevin McCarthy, who caved again and again when faced with disciplining the radical extremists in his own party -- from Donald Trump on down.

There was Trump himself, doing far more damage to the Republican Party's chances of getting elected than tens of millions of dollars in advertising from Democrats.

On the Democratic side, there was Kyrsten Sinema and Joe Manchin. 'Nuff said.

But there were two aspiring politicians on the Republican side who both deserve the Worst Politician award for 2022: Mehmet "Dr." Oz and Herschel Walker.

Oz tried to be slick as he adopted all the MAGA stances required to compete as a Republican today. But he failed so miserably at trying to connect with the voters it was almost sad to watch, at times. He will forever be known in the political world for his ad where he was shopping for "crudités" and vodka. He couldn't even get the store's name right, because he does not actually live (or shop) in Pennsylvania. This led to much merriment online, but the best was from Kim Quindlen, a comedian who recorded a video where she played a store employee trying to help him shop (which was absolutely hilarious!). It also led to heaps of ridicule from John Fetterman, as well.

Fetterman ran a brilliant campaign, painting Oz as an out-of-touch celebrity carpetbagger who had no idea what people in Pennsylvania were like or wanted in their daily lives. He hilariously got two Jersey celebrities to cut ads ripping into Oz for abandoning Jersey (Snooki from Jersey Shore, and even more hilariously Stevie Van Zandt from Bruce Springsteen's E Street Band). Oz had no idea how to fight back against this onslaught. It was truly a battle of the authentic versus the inauthentic, and Oz lost this battle badly.

Herschel Walker was in a class by himself in the annals of bad politicians, as well. He tried to bluster his way through his campaign with lies and denials of the constant stream of scandal which trailed him. This failed rather badly. It was so patently obvious that Walker had been hit in the head a few too many times on the gridiron, and that he was just manifestly unprepared and unqualified for the job of U.S. senator. It got so bad that in the end he was essentially babysat by other Republican senators who had to appear in interviews sitting next to Walker, just to keep him on a very short leash. That's downright embarrassing.

But we found we couldn't choose between the two, in the end, so we are giving Worst Politician of the year to both Mehmet "Dr." Oz and Herschel Walker, for going down in flames and handing control of the Senate back to Chuck Schumer.


   Most Defining Political Moment

There were many intense moments in politics this year, but we really see only three as even contenders for "most defining." In another year, if other things hadn't happened, the search of Trump's home -- the first time an ex-president has ever had to have a search warrant executed -- would have been a defining event. Or yet another school full of small children being massacred in Uvalde, Texas, for that matter.

But this year there are only three. The first was not one specific moment, but rather a series of them -- the publicly-televised hearings held by the House Select Committee on January 6th. These were must-see TV and defined the narrative of the worst attack on the United States Capitol since the War of 1812. Trump's culpability and guilt were laid bare for the entire world to see.

Internationally, Russia's decision to invade neighboring Ukraine was a defining moment for the whole world. To see a land war in Europe of such scale reminded many of the death and destruction of World War II. The war affected gas prices worldwide, food prices, and the peace and stability of the modern world.

Donald Trump, of course, proved from the sidelines why America is very glad he wasn't in the Oval Office at the time. In the opening days of the war, Trump had nothing but praise for Putin. Then he had what is quite possibly the stupidest idea in the history of modern warfare. Here is how the Washington Post reported it:

Former president Donald Trump mused Saturday to the GOP's top donors that the United States should label its F-22 planes with the Chinese flag and "bomb the s--t out of Russia."

. . .

"And then we say, China did it, we didn't do it, China did it, and then they start fighting with each other and we sit back and watch," he said of labeling U.S. military planes with Chinese flags and bombing Russia, which was met with laughter from the crowd of donors, according to a recording of the speech obtained by The Washington Post.

This man used to have access to the nuclear codes, we hasten to remind everyone.

What was most surprising (and defining) about the war in Ukraine, however, is that it is still ongoing. Most people (us included, we sheepishly admit) had just assumed that the Red Army would roll over Ukraine and subdue the country within a few weeks. Months, at the most, but not very many of them. Instead, they never took Kyiv and now the Ukrainian army is pushing them back further and further. But we've got more to say about this in a bit.

Our choice for Most Defining Political Moment was when the Supreme Court handed down the Dobbs decision which overturned Roe v. Wade. The loss of a basic constitutional right was a staggering blow, and it reverberated all year long. If the Supreme Court hadn't thrown out the right to an abortion, the Democratic turnout in the midterm elections might have been anemic and the Republicans could indeed have seen their red wave wash in. That didn't happen, and Dobbs is the biggest reason why.

The punditocracy largely missed this as well, before the votes were counted. They all convinced themselves that abortion was a passing issue, that people were upset about it for a month or so but then returned to worrying about the price of gas. This was an enormous misread of the rage that Dobbs sparked.

Abortion used to be an issue that worked to the Republicans' advantage, electorally. The anti-abortion people were motivated, to put this another way. But now a sleeping giant has awakened, and the anti-forced-birth forces are more than just a little motivated. This will reverberate for a number of elections to come, but it was clearly the Most Defining Political Moment of 2022.


   Turncoat Of The Year

We have to admit, personal bias probably played a part of this choice.

We did seriously consider Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger, but we gave them the award last year so we decided someone else should have a crack at it. Nonetheless, both House members were stellar examples of putting country -- and the U.S. Constitution -- ahead of party. Cheney in particular expressed the proper amount of indignation and outrage at Donald Trump as co-chair of the House Select Committee on January 6th (final report due next week). Kinzinger just gave his "goodbye" speech in the House today, and it was pretty scathing as well.

We also considered going abstract, and giving it to abortion rights and gay marriage for being "turncoats" to the Republican Party. Both of these used to be dandy GOP culture-war wedge issues that could be counted on at the ballot box. Now the shoe is on the other foot -- both issues do indeed produce results at the ballot box, but now they do so for Democrats. While a long time coming, this development got especially acute this year.

Then there was Donald Trump, calling for terminating the United States Constitution, continuing to aid and abet insurrectionists (saying at one point he was helping to pay for their legal representation, but who knows whether that was just a lie or a grift, since he did vaguely ask for donations), and promising them pardons. This was suggested by reader Kick, but somehow I can't reward Trump for being a traitor to his country.

Another reader suggestion ("nypoet22") was the members of the Supreme Court who vowed to honor stare decisis but were obviously lying through their teeth about that.

We almost gave it to the Democratic Party, but again were held back by refusing to reward bad behavior. This year, the Democrats latched on to a very risky scheme. Democratic donations were spent boosting the most radical Republicans running in several races. This didn't work universally in the primaries -- not all the MAGA candidates they backed got their nominations -- but it did wind up with a perfect record in the general election. Every single extremist MAGA candidate Democrats helped went on to lose to a Democrat. That was the whole point -- choosing your opponent, in essence. The theory was that such extreme candidates would be easier for a moderate Democrat to beat, and it proved to be true (at least, where it was tried).

Still, the risk factor is too high, we believe. Plus it sets a precedent that could be turned against the Democrats by the Republican Party. So we simply could not reward this tactic, even though it did bear fruit.

Which leaves us with one very obvious choice. Kyrsten Sinema ($-AZ) is our Turncoat Of The Year. It wasn't so much that she did turn her coat -- a development that wasn't entirely surprising and could have been worse (she could have announced she's now a Republican) -- but the timing and in-your-face nature of how she did it. Sinema at least had the sense (or decorum) to wait until after the runoff election in Georgia was held, which gave the Democrats a 51st seat in the Senate, but then she rained all over Raphael Warnock's parade almost immediately afterwards.

Kyrsten Sinema seems to regard being a senator as performance art. And her brand of doing so is nothing short of repugnant. Which is why she was our choice for Turncoat Of The Year.


   Most Boring

We did get multiple nominations for Mike Pence for Most Boring, which makes all kinds of sense. One reader (ListenWhenYouHear) summed it up perfectly: "The man is Ambien incarnate."

But we're going to go abstract on this one this year. We're going to give Most Boring to COVID-19. While the year started off terrifyingly -- as we all suffered through the Omicron wave, which was the biggest wave yet -- by year's end everything had returned if not completely to normal at least to a simulacrum of normalcy.

As the virus mutated, it became less deadly. The vaccines were freely available to everyone who wanted them. Everyone else eventually got COVID and gained some immunity. The disease is not gone, but the pandemic phase of it is over. It is epidemic now, much like the flus we see each year during "flu season."

Masks and social distancing have all but disappeared in most places, for most people. Life got back to normal, even if it did have an edge of fear to it. But the sense of emergency is over -- hopefully for good.

In a word, COVID became boring. Which is why it is strange to give it an award, but we feel that Most Boring is actually apt.


   Most Charismatic

We did get one rather amusing tongue-in-cheek nomination for this from reader John From Censornati ("Mike Pence wins by a mile"), but we didn't consider it a serious suggestion for obvious reasons. Reader "John M" suggested Raphael Warnock, and we also considered Liz Cheney for her passionate performances on the House Select Committee on January 6th.

But we thought this one was an easy one, because John Fetterman was easily the Most Charismatic politician of the year. Fetterman took the fight to Mehmet "Dr." Oz in a way a lot of Democrats have been longing to see. He used social media brilliantly, he mocked Oz for all sorts of things (chief among them not actually living in Pennsylvania), and he bounced back from a stroke in the middle of his campaign to boot.

Fetterman is authentic. He oozes authenticity. He's a regular Joe. He's a guy you'd expect to meet at a bowling alley bar. He is rarely ever seen in a suit. And he is one tough cookie (and looks it too).

We look forward to seeing Fetterman in the Senate and hope he enjoys a full recovery to the point where he starts appearing regularly on political television. We barely had to think about this award, because John Fetterman is so obviously the Most Charismatic politician around today.


   Bummest Rap

We did get one amusing nomination in this category (kind of), from John From Censornati -- to name Kanye West "Bummest Rapper."


A lot of folks got a bum rap this year. Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger were drummed out of their party for defending and protecting the U.S. Constitution. Dr. Fauci has spawned so many bizarre conspiracy theories it boggles the mind. As more than one person pointed out (nypoet22, John M), Brittney Griner got a very literal bum rap and did some hard time in Russia as a result (until Joe Biden got her out).

"Election fraud" has been not just a fraud but also a bum rap. Republicans decided to set up special election fraud police, and they have not come up with any actual widespread election fraud -- because it never existed.

Then there were all the cocaine-fuelled orgies held by prominent Republican politicians in Washington, at least according to Representative Madison Cawthorn. Who seemed particularly aware of the slang associated with doing cocaine, for some strange reason. For once, we have to offer condolences to all Republicans in Washington, because that was so obviously a bum rap.

The entire storyline of "Democrats are so divisive," which Republicans love to spout at the drop of a hat, while never admitting how insanely divisive they themselves are. We've even got an example, for this one. From a Friday article we wrote back in September:

Biden is rightfully ignoring all the handwringing and pearl-clutching in the media over his campaign strategy. Just like clockwork, the press chimed in after Biden's "MAGA Republicans" speech and pronounced it "divisive." This double standard is beyond hilarious. Stop and think for a moment -- why is it that this word is only ever used as a complaint against Democrats? When was the last time you saw a Republican politician's speech described as "divisive"?

Donald Trump appeared at a rally in Pennsylvania and denounced Biden's speech as "the most vicious, hateful, and divisive speech ever delivered by an American president." Apparently he's forgotten pretty much every single speech he gave as president, all of which were vicious, hateful, and divisive in the extreme. During the same speech, Trump likened Joe Biden to "the Devil" and called him "an enemy of the state." Trump also called for the crowd to "stand up to this rising tyranny of sickness, lawlessness, and death." He called America "a third-world nation." He called the F.B.I. and the Justice Department "vicious monsters." He whined about "demented persecution." He complained his political enemies were "very dishonest, sick people." Trump used playground taunts, calling Adam Schiff "Watermelon Head." He warned that "our beloved country is being taken over by the very people who turned democracies into dictatorships and into, ultimately, ruination." Hilariously, he followed that line up with: "They think they can divide us but they can't. Can't divide us."

But the bummest rap of the year was both specific and generic. First, the specific. At the historic Senate confirmation hearings for Ketanji Brown Jackson, Republicans tried a smear that was just as repulsive as it was false. Here's how we put it (again, from a Friday column):

During the week's big television event -- the Supreme Court confirmation hearings -- Republicans repeatedly clutched their pearls over supposedly light sentences for child pornography crimes which were handed down by Ketanji Brown Jackson during her tenure as a federal judge. Meanwhile, yet another prominent GOP Senate candidate was accused by his spouse of abuse (which also reportedly included physically abusing his children, leaving one son with a "swollen face, bleeding gums, and loose tooth"). This brings the total up to (by our count) three Republican candidates for the United States Senate who have been accused of physically abusing their partners. One has withdrawn from the race, but the other two -- Herschel Walker in Georgia and newly-accused Eric Greitens of Missouri -- are still running. Greitens (in case you've forgotten) previously had to resign the governor's office when it was alleged he tried to blackmail the hairdresser he was having an affair with, using a nude video he shot of her while sexually assaulting her. Two of these three candidates have been endorsed by Trump. The moralists in the GOP have not denounced anyone concerned, of course.

. . .

GOP moralists turned a blind eye to all of it, because they were busy training their fire on Jackson, during her Supreme Court confirmation hearings in the Senate. They insinuated that Jackson was some sort of apologist for child porn criminals, while conveniently ignoring the fact that they were essentially making it all up out of whole cloth. Yes, Jackson handed down lighter sentences than the guidelines allowed -- just like a whole bunch of Trump-appointed federal judges who were never questioned about the issue by any Republican on the committee during their confirmation hearings. A legal writer for the conservative National Review called Senator Hawley's initial faux outrage an "allegation [that] appears meritless to the point of demagoguery." That's what the conservative press was saying, mind you. Senator Mitt Romney responded to the attacks by channelling his inner Gertrude Stein: "It struck me that... the attacks were off course... there is no 'there' there."

Since we're comparing bum raps to fair raps, here's a little more detail as to who the Republican Party supports, these days:

"Republicans are now yelling 'pedophile!' at the drop of a hat, it seems, which is just laughable since they have absolutely no moral leg left to stand on anymore. Donald Trump has endorsed a candidate for governor in Nebraska who has been accused by multiple prominent Republican women of sexual assault. Trump's going to appear at a rally for the guy. In South Carolina, Trump endorsed -- and the Republicans are falling in line behind -- a Senate candidate who pointed a gun at his ex-wife's head and threatened to kill her. A frontrunner in the Senate GOP contest in Missouri has been accused of physical abuse by both his ex-wife and his ex-mistress. And that's just scratching the surface, folks. Remember Trump trying to get Roy Moore elected -- a guy who hung out at shopping malls trolling for underage girls? That is a pedophile. Or take Matt Gaetz, who reportedly paid underage women for sex and called it 'tuition.' Have any Republicans said a word about Representative Lauren Boebert's husband, who did time in jail for exposing his penis to two young women, in a bowling alley, while she was also there? Funny, I haven't heard one of them denounce him. The Republican Party simply has no claim to any moral high road, folks. People like this used to be unceremoniously chucked out of the party for such abhorrent behavior, but now that Trump has normalized it, they are fine with all of this stuff... when Republicans do it. I mean, I hate to say it, but where is the Moral Majority when you really need them?"

That's not a full list, of course, so we had to revisit the subject one Friday later:

"Republicans are in a real race to the bottom, in fact, as they seem almost to be trying to outdo each other in what used to be universally considered disqualifying behavior for a public servant. Madison Cawthorn is a total Dumpster fire all on his own, and after the month he's had it'll be interesting to see how he tries to top it next month. So many Republican candidates for office have been accused of beating their spouses or children that it is actually hard to keep track of them all anymore. In Idaho, a former state representative was just convicted of raping a 19-year-old intern. Meanwhile, 'one of the most powerful senators in the North Dakota legislature' actually did step down after it was revealed that he had exchanged 72 text messages with a guy who was being held in jail on child pornography charges. This is the Republican Party of today, people. What's most astounding is that as they continue this race to the bottom, with every lurch downwards, within their own ranks they have normalized behaviors which used to be career-killing but are now seen as not as bad as what the rest of them are doing. It is disgraceful and disgusting, and it is indeed today's Republican Party."

It's pretty easy, when you examine the evidence, which party still retains a sense of morality, and which one doesn't. The accusations of child pornography were nothing short of the Republicans reaching out to the QAnon fringe, in fact, keeping alive their bizarre conspiracy theories about "what Democrats are doing to children."

It came from QAnon and it was nothing more than pandering to extremists in the GOP base. The scurrilous charges against Supreme Court Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson were all the Bummest Rap of the year, without a doubt.


   Fairest Rap

The Republican Party wants to ban all abortions?

Republicans hate babies so much they voted against fixing the supply-chain problem with infant formula?

Republicans have no moral compass anymore?

Madison Cawthorn has questionable sexual morals?

Steve Bannon deserves to be in prison?

There's a robust pro-Putin, pro-Russia wing within the Republican Party?

(see above) Ronald Reagan is spinning so fast in his grave he's begun to generate electricity?

Herschel Walker is dumber than a bag of hammers (although, as reader Kick politely pointed out with this nomination, that's "not really fair to the hammers").

No, the Fairest Rap this year was pretty much "all of them" against Donald Trump. The legal noose is drawing tighter and tighter with each passing week. Towards the end of the year, we found ourselves doing a "bad legal news for Trump" segment of this column, each and every week. With multiple items, each week. There are simply too many to run them all down here, in fact. So here's just a few of the most prominent:

Trump stole documents when he left the White House, he refused to voluntarily hand them all back, he refused to honor a subpoena for them all, he had to have a search warrant executed for most of them to be seized, and even after all that there were still highly-classified documents in Trump's possession. This is all pretty cut and dried, and might be the easiest court case for the special counsel to bring against him.

Trump's business was found guilty on all 17 counts of tax fraud and other assorted serious federal crimes.

And as the House Select Committee on January 6th showed beyond a shadow of a doubt, Trump wasn't just a bystander or somehow swept along with the insurrection attempt, Trump himself was at the center of it all from beginning to end. The committee's final report is due out early next week, so we'll all be able to see this one, the biggest and Fairest Rap of them all.


   Best Comeback

We got a lot of ideas for this one, the funniest being if you interpret it as "playground comeback" -- the "Dark Brandon" meme as a comeback for the whole "Let's go Brandon!" origin of the term. Biden went viral as a sort of dark superhero type, which we had to admit was a pretty good rejoinder.

Or a speech given by Mallory McMorrow, a legislator in Michigan, after Republicans started raising money by calling her a "groomer" -- a despicable lie, and one that McMorrow shot down in indignant flames ("I am a straight, White, Christian, suburban mom" was the most memorable line). That was a comeback for the ages.

There were a few other Democrats who certainly qualified to be in the running, from Raphael Warnock to Catherine Cortez Masto, who all had impressive comebacks in the midterms. The one that might have won the prize this year (other things being equal) was John Fetterman, who had to come back from a stroke he suffered just before the primary election. He was ruthlessly mocked by his opponent, who is a doctor, for not being fully recovered -- but Fetterman overcame this. He participated in one debate that some were saying ruined his chances of victory, but the Pennsylvania voters were more shocked by Mehmet "Dr." Oz's suggestion that "local politicians" should be in on the decision of whether a woman gets an abortion or not. It was a stunning political comeback, to be sure.

If we stayed purely domestic, we probably would have given the award to Jon Stewart, for refusing to accept defeat on a bill to help veterans whose health had been impacted by all the "burn pits" in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The bill -- for veterans' health care for Pete's sake -- should have sailed through both houses of Congress. However, Chuck Schumer and Joe Manchin had just pulled a fast one on Mitch McConnell (as he saw it, at any rate) and so the GOP leader was in a snit. He had also been denied the legislative hostage he had been planning on using, so he decided to use the PACT Act instead. So McConnell got 25 Republicans to vote no on the bill in a hissy fit, and he thought he had scored a legislative point.

But he forgot that Jon Stewart was championing the bill. Stewart entered politics earlier by shaming the nation into taking care of the 9/11 responders, and he had taken up the burn pit victims as a new cause. When McConnell torpedoed the bill, Stewart got booked on every television show in sight, and was absolutely scathing in his denunciation of the GOP and McConnell. This lasted a few days, and then McConnell and the Republicans caved under the public pressure.

Stewart did what almost nobody else has been able to do since the advent of Donald Trump -- he shamed Republicans into doing the right thing. Which is quite a feat, in this day and age.

But while that was a stunning legislative comeback, the award this year for Best Comeback simply has to go to the Ukrainian military. When the tanks rolled across the border from Russia, many expected the invasion to succeed in fairly short order.

What happened instead was extraordinary. The tanks never made it to Kyiv. The Ukrainians started taking them out one by one. It was a slaughter, in fact, because the Russian troops made gross tactical and strategic errors. The Red Army is not exactly a "paper tiger," but it is a lot less formidable than it once seemed, that's for sure. Not only did the Ukrainians halt them in their tracks, but then they chased them out of the central region around Kyiv and have made some stunning battlefield advances since. After the initial blitzkrieg, the Russians haven't made any significant advances at all.

That is impressive. And it was the Best Comeback of the year, hands down.


   Most Original Thinker

Perhaps we are a bit parochial in our choice, but California's Governor Gavin Newsom is our choice for Most Original Thinker.

Corporate greed is everywhere, and nowhere is it more disgusting than in the field of medicine. Insulin, in particular. Americans pay obscene prices for insulin, while the rest of the world sells it for a pittance. Congress tried to address the problem, and while they did make some progress, they fell short in the end. So Newsom decided to do something about it. He released a video explaining his plan:

Newsom said in a video posted to Twitter that $100 million from the state budget he recently signed for 2022-2023 would be allocated for California to "contract and make our own insulin at a cheaper price, close to at cost, and to make it available to all." Half of the $100 million would go toward the development of a "low-cost" insulin, Newsom said. The other $50 million would go toward a facility in the state to manufacture insulin that would "provide new, high-paying jobs and a stronger supply chain for the drug."

"California is going to make its own insulin," Newsom said in the video. "Nothing epitomizes market failures more than the cost of insulin. Many Americans experience out-of-pocket costs anywhere from $300 to $500 per month for this lifesaving drug. California is now taking matters into our own hands."

. . .

"In California, we know people should not go into debt to receive lifesaving medication," Newsom said in the video.

Got that? You can take your oligopoly and shove it, essentially. We're going to undercut you in the marketplace and if we're lucky, drive your greedy asses out of business. Because it is precisely what you deserve.

This plan wouldn't work for every instance of corporate greed, but if Newsom can singlehandedly tame the insulin marketplace it would be a huge accomplishment. So we have to say, to us at least, Gavin Newsom is the Most Original Thinker of the year.


   Most Stagnant Thinker

Reader John M suggested this one, and we had to immediately agree.

Vladimir Putin was the Most Stagnant Thinker of the year. He figured his Red Army was so invincible that his enormous land-grab would work and Russia could just absorb Ukraine into its orbit once again without much of a fuss.

Putin tried Hitler's strategy from World War II -- blitzkrieg. Lighting-war. He rolled all his tanks and missile launchers and armored personnel carriers into Ukraine and fully expected the major parts of it to be subdued and conquered within the first few weeks of the invasion.

Sadly for Putin, new tactics and weapons have been developed since the 1940s. Also sadly for Putin, his army was rather pathetic. The Russians made impressive gains in the first few weeks of the war, and then the Ukrainians began fighting back.

The Russian soldiers had no real idea why they were fighting, they were caught completely unawares (none of the units were told they weren't just going to practice maneuvers), the soldiers themselves were ill-equipped and mostly untrained, and their military tactics were disastrous. Russian officers had gotten used to boosting their wages by selling off fuel, weapons, and other military supplies, and this hollowing-out of the military from within has proven to be one of the weakest links in the Russian military chain.

Since then, things have gotten worse. The Ukrainians continue to recapture their homeland. They have a serious reason to fight: "This is our land." Putin, meanwhile, had to institute a draft (which caused hundreds of thousands of young men to flee the country as quickly as they could) and can't rebuild the most sophisticated weapons in his armory due to electronics being embargoed. The Russian economy could collapse at any moment. Virtually every other country in the world is standing against Russian aggression.

Things weren't supposed to work out this way.

Vladimir Putin thought he could replicate a quick and decisive military victory on Ukraine, by essentially using the tactics from World War II. These are clearly the thoughts of the Most Stagnant Thinker of 2022.


   Best Photo Op

There were actually a lot of great photo ops this year, including:

The Congressional Gold Medal ceremony for all the cops who fought to defend the United States Capitol, and Mitch McConnell and Kevin McCarthy getting totally snubbed in the line afterwards (some family members refused to shake their hands).

Steve Bannon doing a perp walk in handcuffs.

Lizzo playing James Madison's crystal flute for the first time ever, in the Library of Congress and then onstage at a concert she gave.

Nancy Pelosi trying to swear in a new member of Congress, while the family's two kids absolutely stole the show.

Larry The Cat, chief mouser at 10 Downing Street (who is now cohabitating with the fifth prime minister he's shared the house with), caught on camera attacking and driving away a fox that's at least 50 percent bigger than Larry is.

A Ukrainian mine-sniffing dog who fell asleep at his medal ceremony and press conference.

All those are worthy photographs, but there was one (well, a pair) that outshone them all. The war in Ukraine has had its heroes, and none captured the public's imagination more than a contingent of Ukrainian soldiers guarding an island out in the Black Sea. When contacted by radio by a Russian warship who demanded they surrender, their response was an instant classic: "Russian warship, go fuck yourself!"

Ukraine, knowing the value of a good wartime story, commissioned a stamp to memorialize the incident. The image is of a soldier standing on land flipping the bird to a ship offshore. The image was later updated, after the Ukrainians sank the warship -- the pride of the Russian Black Sea fleet -- with a missile attack. In the updated image, the warship has disappeared.

Without doubt, the Best Photo Op of the year (although technically it's a painting, but we're stretching the definition just because).


   Worst Photo Op

All the war photos from Ukraine were grim, but we can't count them as "photo ops," to do so is demeaning.

Rudy Giuliani singing "Bad To The Bone" on The Masked Singer was pretty bad. So was (as reader Kick pointed out) seeing Ron DeSantis in white go-go boots.

Donald Trump provided two bad photo ops this year, first the photo of a huge number of top-secret classified documents spread out on the floor of his Florida golf club, in a documentary photo taken by the people executing the search warrant. That was pretty bad, and since they only released one photo, it will become an iconic and historic one as well (the type of photo we'll see in future kids' schoolbooks, in other words). Plus, New York Times reporter Maggie Haberman somehow got photos of ripped-up documents with Trump's handwriting on them at the bottom of a White House toilet. That was pretty bad, too.

We really, really wanted to give this award to Mehmet "Dr." Oz, for giving a speech (you cannot make this stuff up) posed right in front of Adolf Hitler's car, complete with swastikas. That's beyond bad. It had to be the worst, right?

Well, we had to agree with the suggestion from reader John From Cincinnati, when he proposed the real winner in the Worst Photo Op category: President Joe Biden giving Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman a friendly fist-bump. You know, the man who ordered the murder and dismemberment of a Washington Post writer. That guy.

Later in the year, Biden tried to get his buddy M.B.S. to increase oil production to counter the price spike that the Russian invasion of Ukraine had caused in world markets. His response? The Saudis announced at OPEC soon after that they'd be cutting their production instead. With friends like these....

So we have to admit, Oz in front of a swastika-bedecked Hitler car was bad, but Biden fist-bumping M.B.S. was worse. The Worst Photo Op of the year, in fact.


   Enough Already!

The first of our "catchall" categories. And an always-popular one to boot. Here is our list for "Enough Already!" this time around the sun (with credit for readers afterwards in parenthesis, to give credit where it is due):

Joe Freakin' Manchin -- Enough Already!

Kyrsten "Everyone Look At Me!" Sinema -- Enough Already!

(fair is fair) Cutesy names for Manchin and Sinema (nypoet22) -- Enough Already!

Ginni Thomas -- Enough Already!

Kanye West and Elon Musk (nypoet22) -- Enough Already!

Vladimir Putin (John M) -- Enough Already!

Alex Jones -- Enough Already!

"The queen is dead" (John From Censornati) -- Enough Already!

Forced-birth laws (nypoet22) -- Enough Already!

"Election-deniers," both the term and the people -- Enough Already!

2020 election conspiracies (nypoet22) -- Enough Already!

Republicans suing to block students from getting relief on their loans -- Enough Already!

Marjorie Taylor Green and her "gazpacho police" -- Enough Already!

Tucker Carlson bizarrely pushing "testicle tanning" -- Enough Already!

and finally, from reader Kick:

"Kari Lake needs to go jump in the lake!"

Enough Already!


   Worst Lie

This was another category where we got an amusing nomination, interpreting the category in a very golf-centric way. From reader Kick: "Ivana's grave near the first hole at Bedminster."


Other nominations included "Elon musk promising to make Twitter better" (John M) and "We gave back all the documents" (John From Censornati).

Then there was the lie that keeps on going, Donald Trump's Big Lie, which influenced the midterm elections far more than it really should have.

And the ridiculous charge that Supreme Court Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson was somehow a proponent of child pornography, which was a damnable lie if we ever heard one. But we already gave her "Bummest Rap" for that one.

Instead, we are going with nypoet22's suggestion, because we agree that the accusations Republicans almost routinely make these days about teachers, drag performers, trans people (and all the other flavors of L.G.B.T.Q. there are, by extension) secretly "grooming" children to have sex with them.

This is a lie that is as old as the prejudice against gay people in general. It is trotted out again and again, and each and every time it has to be forcefully shot down. This time the targets are pretty much "anyone who admits the reality that there are different kinds of identity, attraction, and relationships," which covers quite a few people.

The best rejoinder to this baseless charge we've already noted, in the "Best Comeback" category. If you haven't already seen it, take the time to watch the video of Michigan Democrat Mallory McMorrow fighting back after her opponent tried to raise money off the lie that McMorrow was somehow a "groomer." It was the most righteously indignant video of the political year, in fact. Here is the end of her extraordinary speech:

I am a straight, White, Christian, married suburban mom. I want my daughter to know that she is loved, supported, and seen for whoever she becomes. I want her to be curious, empathetic, and kind.

People who are different are not the reason that our roads are in bad shape after decades of disinvestment, or that healthcare costs are too high, or that teachers are leaving the profession. I want every child in this state to feel seen, heard, and supported -- not marginalized and targeted because they are not straight, White, and Christian.

We can not let hateful people tell you otherwise to scapegoat and deflect from the fact that they are not doing anything to fix the real issues that impact people's lives. And I know that hate will only win if people like me stand by and let it happen.

So I want to be very clear right now -- call me whatever you want. I hope you brought in a few dollars. I hope it made you sleep good last night. I know who I am. I know what faith and service means and what it calls for in this moment.

We will not late hate win.

Each and every time this lie rears its ugly head it has to be defeated once again. This is how to do so. The baseless "groomer" smear was easily the Worst Lie of the year.


   Capitalist Of The Year

We hate to say it, but Elon Musk is really the only choice for Capitalist Of The Year. Musk proves one basic inescapable fact of capitalism: when you have more money than anyone else, you can do pretty much whatever you want with it and not be concerned in the slightest about consequences.

At first, Musk threatened to buy Twitter. Then he had second thoughts and didn't want to, but Twitter sued him to make good on his offer. To avoid the lawsuit going to court, he bought Twitter at the last minute.

Since then, he has actively been trying to destroy it. He has made it his toy. Which he was able to do because he had $44 billion to toss around on a whim.

We rarely hand this award out as any kind of honor, and this year is no different. Elon Musk is in no way admirable, he is just filthy rich and can do whatever he likes without having to worry what others think of him. Which makes him Capitalist Of The Year, as we all witness the fallout from him breaking his new toy.


   Honorable Mention

Our second catchall category, for everyone who did or said something notable that didn't quite merit an actual award this year, our list of Honorable Mentions:

Joe Biden's speech on the anniversary of January 6th.

Biden calling a Fox News reporter a "stupid son of a bitch" on a live mic.

Alaska's hybrid new voting system, a combination of the "jungle primary" and ranked-choice voting, which worked amazingly well (in that it kept Sarah Palin out of Congress -- twice!).

Senator Marco Rubio for sneaking a bill to institute permanent Daylight Savings Time through an unawares Senate (most senators had no idea what they had voted for afterwards).

Arnold Schwarzenegger's pro-Ukraine video (which is absolutely awesome).

Stacey Abrams doing a cameo as "President of United Earth" on Star Trek: Discovery.

Democrats refusing to put up a candidate in the Utah Senate race, to bolster Evan McMullin's chances. It didn't work, Mike Lee won re-election anyway, but it was an admirable instance of putting country ahead of party.

Erin Maye Quade, who also did not get elected, for giving a speech to a Democratic group asking for the nomination while she was in labor.

Katie Darling, House candidate in Louisiana, who cut a campaign ad showing her giving birth -- another first.

The wit that suggested renaming the CHIPS Act (after Chuck Schumer changed it at the last minute) the: "Creating Helpful Incentives to Produce Semiconductors and Sustaining American Leadership in Scientific Affairs Act," or the "CHIPS and SALSA Act." You'd think all the senators could have dug into that one with gusto, right?

America's poll workers, for overseeing a very smooth election, despite all the challenges and threats.

NASA, for successfully crashing a probe into an asteroid, proving that the concept of a planetary defense system against rogue rocks in space is feasible.

The North Andover Middle School civics class who, as a class project, convinced the Massachusetts government to pardon the last remaining person convicted of witchcraft in Salem. Now that is some notable civic engagement!

And finally, the Supreme Court amicus brief written (satirically, of course, but also very seriously) by The Onion. We will close with quoting just two paragraphs of this, although we heartily encourage everyone who needs a laugh to read the whole thing in full:

The Onion is the world's leading news publication, offering highly acclaimed, universally revered coverage of breaking national, international, and local news events. Rising from its humble beginnings as a print newspaper in 1756, The Onion now enjoys a daily readership of 4.3 trillion and has grown into the single most powerful and influential organization in human history.

. . .

I. Parody Functions By Tricking People Into Thinking That It Is Real.

Tu stultus es. You are dumb. These three Latin words have been The Onion's motto and guiding light since it was founded in 1988 as America's Finest News Source, leading its writers toward the paper's singular purpose of pointing out that its readers are deeply gullible people. The Onion's motto is central to this brief for two important reasons. First, it's Latin. And The Onion knows that the federal judiciary is staffed entirely by total Latin dorks: They quote Catullus in the original Latin in chambers. They sweetly whisper "stare decisis" into their spouses' ears. They mutter "cui bono" under their breath while picking up after their neighbors' dogs. So The Onion knew that, unless it pointed to a suitably Latin rallying cry, its brief would be operating far outside the Court's vernacular.


   Person Of The Year

We have to agree with Time magazine this year: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is unquestionably the Person Of The Year.

Soon after the war began, Zelenskyy (remotely) addressed the U.S. Congress. He pleaded for help and ended his speech in dramatic fashion:

Remember Pearl Harbor -- [the] terrible morning of December 7, 1941, when your sky was black from the planes attacking you. Just remember it. Remember September the 11th, a terrible day in 2001, when evil tried to turn your cities, independent territories, in[to] battlefields, when innocent people were attacked, attacked from air. Yes, just like nobody else expected it. You could not stop it. Our country experienced the same every day, right now, at this moment, every night for three weeks now.

We wrote about his speech in an article we titled: "Greatness Thrust Upon Him."

Zelenskyy, you have to keep reminding yourself, is not just one of the most admirable wartime leaders any country has seen since Winston Churchill, his election to the highest office in his country was a fluke. Just as big a fluke as Donald Trump getting elected was.

Zelenskyy's former occupation was "comedian." He had a television show where he portrayed a president of Ukraine, fighting corruption. People liked it so much they convinced him to run and he won. For us, the equivalent would be electing Stephen Colbert president. Or Martin Sheen (after West Wing). But even that's too serious -- it'd be much more like electing Julia Louis-Dreyfus after her character in Veep.

That is who Zelenskyy was. And then he got elected into office. Much like George W. Bush, nobody expected him to be a wartime leader. But Zelenskyy has more than risen to the occasion. He has held his country together through a very brutal war and occupation by a much bigger foe. He has rallied his people to fight back. He has convinced the Western world to support his war effort. And throughout it all he has been an extraordinary leader in every way.

Volodymyr Zelenskyy is already a historic figure -- and not just in his own country, but worldwide. That is beyond impressive. Which is why we have to agree, he is also our choice for Person Of The Year.


[See you next week, for the conclusion of our 2022 awards!]

-- Chris Weigant


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

2021 -- [Part 1] [Part 2]
2020 -- [Part 1] [Part 2]
2019 -- [Part 1] [Part 2]
2018 -- [Part 1] [Part 2]
2017 -- [Part 1] [Part 2]
2016 -- [Part 1] [Part 2]
2015 -- [Part 1] [Part 2]
2014 -- [Part 1] [Part 2]
2013 -- [Part 1] [Part 2]
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]


Follow Chris on Twitter: @ChrisWeigant

Cross-posted at: Democratic Underground


54 Comments on “My 2022 "McLaughlin Awards" [Part 1]”

  1. [1] 
    italyrusty wrote:

    Hooray for the McLaughlin Awards! It is a pleasure to end the year with *two* FTPs that make me think, remind me of some highlights - and lowlights - of the year, and make me laugh.
    Thank you, Chris.
    And a big 'Thank you' to your smarter-than-the-average-bear readers for their suggestions, both serious and silly.

  2. [2] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    You can say what you want about Joe, but his political instincts still seem to be pretty sound. Which is why he is our choice for Best Politician of the year.

    Just don't run again, right? 'Cause you just can't be best AND oldest, can you ... :-)

  3. [3] 
    John From Censornati wrote:


  4. [4] 
    John From Censornati wrote:

    I was disappointed when Florida Man's trading card collection didn't include a constitution Terminator. I was gonna right click and save image as.

  5. [5] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:


    Good luck finding a Dem who can beat Trump in 2024. Of course, if Trump isn't the nominee, then the Dems will have good odds for winning the WH in 2024, even without Biden. So, there!

  6. [6] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Or, do ya think he'll be in prison by then. Hehehehehehe

  7. [7] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Trump, I mean. Ahem.

  8. [8] 
    ListenWhenYouHear wrote:

    The North Andover Middle School civics class who, as a class project, convinced the Massachusetts government to pardon the last remaining person convicted of witchcraft in Salem. Now that is some notable civic engagement!

    The woman in question, Selma Spiderwood, celebrated her 328 birthday days before being released from the MA prison... which some say proved that she was actually a witch. When asked about how people still claiming she was a witch suddenly turned into frogs, Ms. Spiderwood responded, "I was born this way. You cannot fault me for wanting to be my true self."

    In other news, the HRC today announced that they have decided to recognize Ms. Spiderwood's plight, saying the community will now be known as LGBTQ+W.

  9. [9] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:


    Hillary was the only opposing candidate that Trump could beat, and it took something of a perfect storm.

    So is Trump was the only opposing candidate that Biden could beat? I don't know, Joe has delivered on a lot of fronts. I can see him winning reelection and resigning in favor of Kamala with 18-24 months left to go in his second term.

  10. [10] 
    Speak2 wrote:

    While I have as many thoughts as anyone else, I didn't offer anything in advance, so I feel it would be inappropriate to comment too much.

    I felt the need to comment on Biggest Winner of 2022 b/c you did name Putin as a possibility in Biggest Loser, so the category isn't limited to domestic. But, you caught my comment at the end, with Person of the Year. Way cool!

  11. [11] 
    Speak2 wrote:

    I don't hear much about what I think the Ukraine situation has shown us about Russia. They may threaten to Nuke, but I don't think they can.

    Sure, they can do something disgustingly awful, create a few mushroom clouds, but they can't engage in a nuclear war. Russia can no longer destroy the world x number of times over.

    You allude to it, but the grift: They invaded the Ukraine in February and there wasn't enough winter gear for their soldiers. Repeat for effect: RUSSIA didn't have enough winter gear for their soldiers.

    90-95% of all of their military capability monies were embezzled. The "officer" cut was small. The oligarch cut, much larger.

    Fact: The US spends $60-70 Billion every year maintaining our nuclear arsenal. I'm sure some of that is "stolen," but I'm also pretty sure we can still blow up the world x number of times.

    Maintaining a nuclear arsenal is expensive and non-trivial. It's not just the radioactive material. Heck, the silo doors need to have their hinges greased to prevent rusting, as a silly, but true, example. After the Ukraine invasion, does anyone really believe that the money Russia "allocated" to maintenance was actually spent maintaining their arsenal?

    I most certainly do not.

    Thank you for showing us that, President Zelenskyy.

  12. [12] 
    Speak2 wrote:

    Oh, and to anyone who reads CW, if you haven't read the Onion's SCOTUS brief, it really is worth reading in full. CW is absolutely on mark with that one.

  13. [13] 
    Speak2 wrote:

    Last comment: No one ever has, in all of history, executed a witch.

    People have murdered women, but no witch has ever been harmed!!!

  14. [14] 
    John M wrote:

    [6] Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    "Or, do ya think he'll be in prison by then. Hehehehehehe"

    Trump will definitely at least be arrested before 2023 is over!

  15. [15] 
    John M wrote:

    [13] Speak2 wrote:

    "Last comment: No one ever has, in all of history, executed a witch.

    People have murdered women, but no witch has ever been harmed!!!"

    Hear, hear! So very true! Reminds me of an episode of the TV series "Bewitched" where Samantha and Darrin were both put on trial for witchcraft, and Samantha demonstrated and taught them all a lesson about how they were actually only persecuting other mortals like themselves for being different, and how they could never really hold a real witch like herself.

  16. [16] 
    John M wrote:

    Persecution for witchcraft is misogyny taken to its worst extreme. It's almost exclusively targeted at strong, independent women in order to uphold a male patriarchy power structure. For example, in the Middle Ages, there were some small towns in Germany, where after the Witch hunters came through, no female over the age of 12 survived.

  17. [17] 
    John M wrote:

    [8] ListenWhenYouHear wrote:

    "In other news, the HRC today announced that they have decided to recognize Ms. Spiderwood's plight, saying the community will now be known as LGBTQ+W."

    Speaking as a member of the LGBTQ community also myself, we happily welcome Wiccans into the rainbow family.

  18. [18] 
    Mezzomamma wrote:

    Zelenskyy did earn a law degree before becoming a comedian*; I wonder which has been the more helpful to him personally during the invasion?

    With the quote from his 'Pearl Harbor' speech, it's worth noting that former Drumpf press secretary Sean Spicer confused Pearl Harbor with D Day recently.

    *Producer as well as comic actor.

  19. [19] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:


    does anyone really believe that the money Russia "allocated" to maintenance was actually spent maintaining their arsenal? I most certainly do not.Thank you for showing us that, President Zelenskyy.

    Well, if Z and Ukraine end up accomplishing even a little more than that, do you think it would all have been worth it? For Ukraine, I mean, not the US. ;)

  20. [20] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    After all, Speak2, the US will come out of all this just fine, thanks very much. ;)

  21. [21] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Most boring?

    I know I'm late but, how about the latest release of JFK Assassination Files. You know, the ones that the FBI and CIA and Joe Biden reckon that we are allowed to see. Ahem.

    Speaking of which, there is only one of those files that interests me. It's the FBI report written by the two FBI agents present at the (official) autopsy.

    This was the FBI report that formed the basis for David S. Lifton's book Best Evidence: Disguise and Deception in the Assassination of John F. Kennedy.

    In their report, FBI agents Sibert and O'Neill state that when the president's body was placed on the autopsy table it was wrapped in a sheet with additional wrapping around the head. They then wrote: "Following the removal of the wrapping ... it was apparent that a tracheotomy had been performed, as well as surgery to the head area, namely, in the top of the skull."

    Lifton concludes that, since the doctors at Parkland hospital in Dallas had not performed any "surgery of the head area", the body of the president - which should have provided the 'best evidence' (by way of an official autopsy report) to determine how he was killed - was tampered with and altered at some point before the official autopsy.

    So, any more files that the US government deems safe to release can only be boring by comparison!

  22. [22] 
    Speak2 wrote:

    EM [19-20]
    My thought: There is no possible outcome that makes this "worth it" for the Ukraine, not even Crimea. But, they didn't start this, they had no real choice in the matter.

    Of course, I agree with the Ukrainians that simple surrender at the beginning was not an option, and there's no appeasement strategy that would qualify as being in Ukraine's best interest, so there's that.

  23. [23] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    I think you, like countless others, confuse surrender with sound negotiation over the neutrality (and sovereignty!) of Ukraine.

    Biden's big mistake is trying to make everybody think that Ukraine's membership in NATO ever had a snowball's chance in Hell of happening. He also pretended to ignore very simple geopolitics. All of which I, for one, will never forgive him.

    Biden's move to put a State Department guy at the head of the CIA was brilliant. That's the Biden I know and love.

  24. [24] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:


    Hooray for the McLaughlin Awards! It is a pleasure to end the year with *two* FTPs that make me think, remind me of some highlights - and lowlights - of the year, and make me laugh. Thank you, Chris.

    I second all of that! Just finished reading all of the awards. Not that these write themselves - far from it! - but there sure was no shortage of material this year.

    Looking forward to next week!

  25. [25] 
    Speak2 wrote:

    EM [23]
    The Ukraine made the decisions. They apparently don't agree with you. What I think about that is not relevant. I defer to them to make that call. That's how I think about it.

    From there, I systematically ask a set of questions.
    Do I think the Ukraine is blatantly wrong in assuming that Putin would not bargain in good faith and had goings on in Russia (and in his head) that made this happen?
    No, I can't say they're blatantly wrong. They may be wrong, I wish they were wrong in their assumptions, but I think their call is not unreasonable.

    Do I think one side is right (no one in the world qualifies as "good guys," but the question is still legit)?
    Yes, I think the Ukraine qualifies as the good guys here.

    Given that, do I think that the US and NATO should risk possible escalation scenarios to assist the Ukraine in this fight? Yes, I do.

    You and I can disagree about this, of course, but that's what I've got.

  26. [26] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Speak, let forego any more discussion about this until Chris writes a headlining piece about it. :-)

    I think I'm gonna get our regular Sunday night party going tonight as I'm not working as originally scheduled. No particular theme, though it is Christmas a week from today, so ... Hope you'll consider being a part of it!

  27. [27] 
    Speak2 wrote:

    Sounds good.

    I won't be around tonight, but thanks for the invite and enjoy yourself.

  28. [28] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Yeah, me, myself and I ... as per usual. :(

  29. [29] 
    nypoet22 wrote:
  30. [30] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Very funny.

  31. [31] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    There'll be no tears tonight!

  32. [32] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    But, lots of water ...

  33. [33] 
    nypoet22 wrote:
  34. [34] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Yeah, like that!

  35. [35] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Welcome, everyone to the last of the year CW Sunday Night Music Festival and Dance Party where we leave political chatter aside for a few hours in favour of basking in the music. Of course, the songs may be as political as we wish, we should note.

    Special thanks to Joshua for getting into the spirit of things early this evening!

    I'll start things off with something very special from the Beach Boys.

    The Smile Sessions is an album, released in 2011, that comes closest to the "most famous unreleased album ever" - Smile. More special thanks to my other favourite political analyst for bringing this almost masterpiece to my attention this evening. Smile, he said, would have been the greatest album of the sixties and bested the Beatles' Sgt. Pepper had Brian not cracked.

    Below is a review of The Smile Sessions, followed by the full album ...

    The Beach Boys: the Smile Sessions Album Review

    The Beach Boys - The Smile Sessions - Full Album

  36. [36] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    My favourite band, PRiSM, also worked on producing a concept album that was ultimately discarded/reworked into the See Forever Eyes album, released in 1978 as the follow-up to their phenomenal debut a year earlier.

    It was to be a sci-fi themed suite of songs entitled The Invincible Yang. Perhaps I'll present more about that another time. For now, we stick with the water theme and a tune off of the 1980 album, Young and Restless, the last of four studio albums with Ron Tabak on lead vocals ...

    PRiSM - Runnin' For Cover

  37. [37] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:
  38. [38] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:
  39. [39] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:
  40. [40] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    More Brothers Cazimero - these guys were a complete joy to listen to live at the Royal Hawai'ian hotel, the Pink Palace, on my visits to Hawai'i ...

    Pua Hone

    Ku'u Ipo Ka He'e Pue One


    The Brothers Cazimero in Concert

  41. [41] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    That ends my part of the festivities. Which means it's that time again for our left coast friends to bring it home!

    Aloha, everyone!

  42. [42] 
    Speak2 wrote:

    I've been moderated. Hopefully that's short. My comment was clearly benign. I assume YouTube URLs are OK.

  43. [43] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    There are some very strange filters around here, Speak2 ...

  44. [44] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    ... but, I'm guessing your comment wasn't about music.

  45. [45] 
    Speak2 wrote:

    It was music. John Lennon and Paul McCartney songs and my experience with the two songs. Benign, for real.

  46. [46] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Well, try again next time, then ...

  47. [47] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Wait ... your experience with the songs. That would be great to hear about but, you have to watch the words you use, even ones that seem benign to you ... like cas-ino, for example. Heh.

  48. [48] 
    John From Censornati wrote:

    Isn't there an issue with 2 links in one comment?

  49. [49] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Not if you do it right, JFC. :-)

  50. [50] 
    John From Censornati wrote:


  51. [51] 
    nypoet22 wrote:

    Was it perhaps Mae West who was asked if sex was dirty, and replied only if it's done right

  52. [52] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:


  53. [53] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Well, dirty is the wrong word ...

    Rock Candy - Montrose

    And, a really great cover ...

    Rock Candy - Parallel 49: United We Rock (Montrose cover)

  54. [54] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:

    I researched Russian nuclear doctrine and, even setting aside the almost certain maintenance issues you bring up, I am not especially concerned about nuclear Armageddon.

    Just like us Westerners, Russian nuclear doctrine is public knowledge. This is to reduce the chances of an avoidable misunderstanding leading to catastrophe.

    In the twenty plus years that Putin has been in power, their nuclear doctrine has gotten more conservative, a good thing. Basically, only an existential threat to the regime would permit the use of nukes.

    Launching requires Vlad, his Minister of Defense and his Chief of Staff to all simultaneously turn the key. Knowing that the Americans would launch in return means Vlad has to convince two fellow rich guys to commit suicide. Won't happen.

    Plus, every nuclear power is making double sure not to set off Armageddon so we are collectively safer than before Putin's invasion. So sleep well at night.

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