News & Politics

Year in Review, McLaughlin Group Style

Christine Blasey Ford testifies to the Senate Judiciary Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Sept. 27, 2018. (Saul Loeb/Pool Photo via AP)

Every year since college, my best friend Dan and I have compiled our best observations on a wide range of topics that reflect on the year that has just expired. We follow the well-established template of “The McLaughlin Group” program. We lost the venerable John McLaughlin in 2016, but the 2018 reboot of the program, hosted by Tom Rogan, features the familiar roundtable of guest talking heads to discuss the issues of the day. It is in this spirit that I offer my reflections on 2018.

Biggest Winner of the Year

Nancy Pelosi, who gets the gavel back from Paul Ryan. The Democrats badly underperformed expectations, but still won almost 40 seats to flip the House back to their control. The next two years will be filled with investigations, impeachments, and grandstanding that will make the Kavanaugh hearings look like a grade-school class president election.

Biggest Loser of the Year

Sears, K-Mart, Toys “R” Us. America’s shopping habits are changing with new technology, and if you can’t keep up with those changes, you’re toast. It’s especially poignant to see Sears going away, as they pioneered new technology in the ’40s and ’50s with their catalog sales. That was a looooong time ago.

Best Politician of the Year

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), who rediscovered his swagger — and his conservative bona fides — the second Sen. John McCain was no longer around to influence him.

Worst Politician(s) of the Year

Republican Senators Tim Scott and Marco Rubio, who withdrew their support for Ryan Bounds for the Ninth Circuit Court over college writings in which he mocked quotas and affirmative action. That wasn’t racist then, it’s not racist now, and those two needlessly stained the reputation of a good man, forcing him to withdraw as a candidate for the higher court.

Most Defining Moment of the Year

Jim Acosta justifiably having his White House credentials suspended. His job is to report the news and ask the White House about policy, not to lead the resistance to the Orange Man on national television.

Best Spin of the Year

General Mattis resigning as the secretary of Defense. In his resignation letter, the Mad Dog showed the utmost respect for the commander in chief while skewering his decision to announce the U.S. withdrawal from Syria.

Most Boring Politician of the Year

Paul Ryan. Am I the only one who forgot he was there until he announced his retirement? What a waste of a former free-market champion. The Paul Ryan from the Obamacare debates so long ago might have staved off the Democrats from taking over in 2019.

Most Charismatic Politician of the Year

Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez, who overcame a profound lack of knowledge about just about everything to get herself elected to Congress. Young, vibrant, good-looking, socialist. The face that spawned a bazillion memes on both the Right and the Left. She mastered what Trump learned long ago — it doesn’t matter what kind of press you get, as long as they spell your name right.

Bummest Rap of the Year

Brett Kavanaugh being savaged by the filthy liars in the Democratic Party. Every single witness against him was so obviously full of holes that the proceedings should not have been allowed to continue. I rarely get worked up over these things, but I was glued to my TV when Christine Blasey Ford was being grilled by Lindsey Graham and Ted Cruz, and then for Kavanaugh’s astonishing response, capped off by an eloquent defense by Susan Collins. Dianne Feinstein, Corey “Spartacus” Booker, Kamala Harris, and the rest of the #resist crew revealed themselves as subhuman. They made the Clarence Thomas hearings look collegial.

Fairest Rap of the Year

Congressional Republicans lost the House by squandering promises made. Repealing Obamacare, cutting spending and waste, a real budgeting process, building the wall, defunding Planned Parenthood. All make for good policy and good politics, but all opportunities to act came and went.

Best Comeback

Believe it or not, the NFL has stemmed the tide. The league survived severe self-inflicted wounds to report a modest increase in television viewership after two years of significant drops. The anthem protest issue has subsided, despite the NFL’s continued mishandling of the issue. On top of that, they got lucky with the prime-time schedule, with several compelling matchups driving eyeballs to tv sets.

Most Original Thinker

A backhanded award this year goes to Michael Wolff. In his book, Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House, Wolff had some very original passages. A creative writer, Wolff appears to have created most of this book from his imagination.

Most Stagnant Thinker

Brett Kavanaugh. The weakest of the conservatives on the short list for SCOTUS, once confirmed he sided with the liberals on the court to deny an appeal that would allow states to defund Planned Parenthood. The decision also denied Oregon Judge Vance Day an appeal on his judicial fitness hearing over religious conscience objections. With his history of setting a precedent for Obamacare to be ruled constitutional, early indications are that he could be more Roberts than Scalia.

Best Photo Op

Melania Trump was widely criticized for wearing Timberland boots while in Iraq, while Michelle Obama was lauded for wearing those weird, shiny, hip-high legging boot things. If ever you needed proof of bias in the mainstream media, that was it.

Worst Photo Op

Antifa mobs in Portland taking over the streets while police were ordered not to interfere. They actually created no-go zones that citizens conducting their day-to-day affairs were not allowed to enter. They also doxxed an elderly driver who tried to escape after thugs did thousands of dollars worth of damage to his vehicle — for the sin of driving on the wrong street during a mob protest.

Enough Already (also known as the “Shut Up and Get Out Award”)

Venezuelan socialism. 5000 percent inflation is bad, and it is not the fault of the U.S. of A. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, take note.

Worst Lie of the Year

Climate change caused the wildfires in the West. The state of California FINALLY allowed for fuel cleanup in forests for the first time in 20 years after devastating late-year fires. When your claptrap has lost the state of California …

Capitalist of the Year

Every single person involved in the fossil fuel industries. The United States became a net exporter of energy for the first time in 75 years in 2018. Record exports of American oil due to the revolution of fracking technology have moved the U.S. ever closer to energy independence. This is all courtesy of free markets and reduced regulations on production, and has almost nothing to do with publicly subsidized green energy efforts.

Person(s) of the Year

Donald Trump. His supporters revere him, his many enemies pick him apart, the mainstream media obsesses over trying to trip him up (instead of doing their job and reporting the news).

Destined for Political Stardom

Beto O’Rourke. He can’t win anything outside of his congressional seat in his home state, but he gained quite a bit of street cred by giving Ted Cruz a credible challenge in deep red Texas.

Destined for Political Oblivion

The Central American refugee caravan. Organized by Bartolo Fuentes, a Soros-backed far-left Honduran politician who has pulled other such stunts in the past, this caravan was conveniently timed for maximum impact during the U.S. midterm elections. Now that the election has passed, the migrants have been abandoned on the Mexico side of the border.

Best Political Theater

The midterm elections. The Democrats took control of the House for the first time since 2010, but lost seats in the Senate. Being anti-Trump worked in some races, and backfired massively in others.

Worst Political Theater

The British National Health Service once again killing a child to save money and preserve its power over individual citizens. Baby Alfie died despite his parents, other nations, and even the Vatican offering to treat him at their own expense. Good job, guys, you really showed us who’s boss.

Most Under-Reported Story

The mountainous array of political donors and foundations on the Left that fund the worst actors in our body politic. From Indivisible, to #Resist, to the Women’s March, to the National School Walkout, to Antifa, to all the other leftist movements designed to undermine American liberty, they can all trace their funding to non-profit organizations that play fast and loose with IRS regulations. These 501(c)(3)s and (c)(4)s have access to billions of dollars raised by donors they keep anonymous and push for nothing short of fundamental change to our constitutional republic.

Most Over-Reported Story

The celebrity status of the Obamas. How self-indulgent can a couple be? It’s only going to get worse in 2019. It makes you pine for the humility of the Bush family.

Biggest Government Waste

Debt service on an ever-expanding and unnecessary debt. We are now $22 trillion in the hole, this year’s budget borrowed an extra trillion despite record tax revenues, and our spending is equal to our GDP. Will anyone get this under control?

Best Dollar Spent

NASA sending a dune buggy to Mars. Capturing those images of a large lake of ice inspired awe and fascination. What a time to be alive.

Boldest Political Tactic

The Democrats doubling, tripling, and quadrupling down on the #resist movement. They will criticize Trump over ANYTHING, even stuff that Barack Obama did routinely. It’s as bold a tactic as it is transparent. Eventually, most Americans will tune it out.

Best Idea of 2018

Conservatives fleeing Facebook and Twitter. It has now become obvious beyond a shadow of a doubt that anti-conservative bias is real, and has a significant effect on free expression in our modern society.

Worst Idea of 2018

The short-term rental host Airbnb, which decided in November to de-list several hundred rental units in the West Bank. This naked anti-Semitism stems from a politically correct culture in Silicon Valley that openly supports the BDS movement, and portends the implosion of the gig economy. Uber and Lyft are suffering from similar cultural rot instead of sticking to the profit motive — signaling that leadership in these companies has no idea how to build a company that can actually be successful at its core business functions. Ironic, as Uber and Lyft both plan IPOs in 2019, and are desperately seeking any way to turn a profit.

Sorry to See You Go

George and Barbara Bush. The funeral of our 41st president was especially poignant. For those few days, we once again came together as a nation to reflect on what binds us as a people.

Honorable mentions: Burt Reynolds, Stan Lee, Keith Jackson, Aretha Franklin, Harry Anderson, R. Lee Ermey, Dolores O’Riordan.

The Fidel Castro Not Even a Little Bit Sorry to See You Go Award

Whitey Bulger, Ion Ficior, and Edgar Ray Killen, mass murderers in their own way, in the name of hatred and organized crime.

15 Minutes of Fame

David Hogg, whose usefulness to the gun control movement expired almost as soon as it started. Kid, you’re being used.

Turncoat of the Year

Jeff Flake, who took his hatred of the Bad Orange Man so far that he worked against conservative principles solely to damage the president. This guy was elected by the Tea Party and promptly threw Republicans under the bus every chance he got. Where have we heard that before?

Honorable Mention: John Kasich, who vetoed the fetal heartbeat bill that hit his desk. What kind of Republican is this guy, anyway? Hey, did you know his dad was a mailman?

Most Honest Person of the Year

Sarah Huckabee Sanders, who has handled with grace a withering and coordinated attack from the left. Despite harassment and abuse heaped on her by the resistance, including being refused service at a restaurant, she continues to do her job. That job, for those who have forgotten in their Trump Derangement Syndrome, is to tell the press what the White House is doing.

Most Overrated Person, Event, or Story of the Year

The Jamal Khashoggi torture and murder. Other than the gruesome nature of the torture he endured, the reaction in the press to his demise seemed way out of place.

Honorable mention: Heisman Trophy winner Kyler Murray’s old tweets. We now live in an age where if you engage in social media as a 15-year-old, and publicly use the coarse language of a junior high school locker room, you will be forced to apologize to the outrage mob.

Most Underrated Person, Event, or Story of the Year

Direct Primary Care gains traction. A movement that returns market fundamentals to health care in the U.S., it sets up a system in which medical practices and patients can side-step the morass of Obamacare, insurance regulations, and mandates. Prices plummet, patients gain control over their own care, and you don’t have to pay for someone else’s abortion or birth control. No wonder the leftist media doesn’t want to cover it.

Grade the Planet (A through F, pluses, and minuses accepted)

B. Our politics are only going to get more ugly as Nancy Pelosi pushes for impeachment in 2019, but there are always options for individuals to establish and maintain control over their own lives, if only you’re able to think as a free person.

Macro Prediction

1. The Article V Convention movement will continue to grow as both Democrats and Republicans come to realize they have more control over Washington, D.C. than the other way around, and no American will want to concede that the American experiment of self-governance has failed.

2. The 2019 Comeback of the Year will be Scouts BSA, which will emerge from a series of tumultuous reorganizations as a much stronger organization that will serve more children and create more future leaders.

New Year’s Resolution

To smoke more cigars.