2012 Rearview Awards
Political Coal Bucket: Longtime Speaker of the House Tip O'Neill memorably declared all politics is local. Making that assertion more fact than fiction are the Northumberland County commissioners. Every time Stephen Bridy, Vinny Clausi and Rick Shoch are in the same room, there is plenty of passion and emotion that take a typical meeting from the theater of the mundane to front-page headlines.
Chaos cup: As congressional fiscal negotiations ran amok, Obama had the temerity to lecture the NHL on resolving its standoff.
Denial of the year: The Senate held hearings on the Obama administration's failure to protect the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya. Numerous communiques underscore that the attack was anticipated, but disregarded. Obama admitted mistakes were made, but maintains that no one he knows made them.
Joe Biden quote of the year: This award in itself could have warranted its own column(s), but given attention spans, time and space constraints, well, you get the idea. First prize goes to Biden addressing black Democrats' right before the November election: "Romney is going to let the big banks once again write their own rules to unchain Wall Street. He is going to put y'all back in chains."
Salesman of the year: Obama. After all, he was re-elected. Moreover, Wal-Mart sold out of semi-automatic rifles the day after Obama said they should be banned. Just imagine if Obama threaten to ban the sale of American cars? We'd be number one again.
Best campaign line 2012: Rick Perry - "Are you better off today than you were $4 trillion ago?"
Most improbable scandal duo: Who would have imagined that General Petraeus and Sesame Street's Elmo would be involved in sex scandals?
Question of the year: Few appreciate the plausible consequences of the fiscal crisis simply because the news media refuses to report the depth of it. What must be done to shake millions from their cocoon of complacency? U.S. debt increased $238 billion to reach 100 percent of GDP. The only road back to fiscal sanity and Triple-A status is to reverse the Keynesian economic policies of Obama and the Democrats.
Simpleton of the year: The liberal voter.
Improbable season: This is the 125th season of football at Notre Dame. It could also be the greatest Cinderella story in the program's unrivaled history if it hasn't already, making it very difficult to root against the Irish who meet Alabama for the national championship this week.
P.T. Barnum bequest: And you thought taxes were only increasing for "the rich"? Your taxes will go up by 2 percent of your gross annual income up to a maximum of $2,202 for those who make $110,100 and up. Single workers making $50,000 will take home $83 less each month. Every working American will be hit with a marginal tax rate increase of 5 percent on average, according to the Tax Policy Center, resulting in slow growth and more unemployment.
Not your daddy's military I: A captain named Matthew Phelps made history, but not in typical Marine Corps fashion, when he dropped to his knees, becoming the first gay to propose at the White House. Every Marine who I told this to had the same pained expression cross their faces. It was as if I told them their mother just got a swastika tattoo on her forehead.
Not your daddy's military II: Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, will review the numbers and type of support personnel who serve general officers. The review was ordered by Defense Secretary Leon Panetta after a series of scandals involving top generals, including retired four-star general David Petraeus, who was escorted to a party in Florida by 28 police motorcycles. In other cases, generals reportedly indulged in lavish trips at taxpayer expense and used military aides as errand boys. Long gone are the days when general officers like Patton used their own salary to help maintain equipment.
Factoid of the year: The Rolling Stones, who launched their 50th anniversary tour in London, are now older on average than the nine members of the U.S. Supreme Court. Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Charlie Watts and Ronnie Wood have an average age of almost 69 years, while the justices' average age is nearly 67. Since 70 is the new 60, here's hoping Obama makes no Supreme Court appointments in his second term.
There is so much more to grouse about, but space is of the essence. In order to keep this New Year's party going, see part two next week.
Who said you weren't lucky?
(Greg Maresca, a freelance columnist, composes "Talking Points" for each Sunday edition.)