It’s that time of year again when Freindly Fire heaps praise upon those most deserving. You probably aren’t going to find these winners on the lists of typical media outlets, most of which bow at the altar of political correctness.
The Biggest Winner of 2010, as is the case every year, goes to none other than illegal invaders, all 20 million of them. Year after year, they continue to win everything. They are handed driver’s licenses, free education – in some cases all the way to college – and free first-rate health care. Most appallingly, their freedom exists because of our government’s non-existent efforts to deport them. Their presence has forced the closure of hospitals, taken jobs from American workers, depressed wages and caused taxes to sharply increase. And let’s not forget that many illegals are voting in our elections. How’s that for irony: foreigners deciding American elections. And every time the illegals win, there is an even bigger loser. Us.
Michael Vick and the Canine Community
As quarterback for the Philadelphia Eagles, Vick has played spectacularly well, good enough to hide the team’s considerable shortcomings and earn the Birds the Division crown. He is often mentioned as a leading MVP candidate, and many experts predict he will lead his team to the Super Bowl.
Which is all an unexpected pleasure, given that Vick was in jail not that long ago for executing losing canines in his dog-fighting operation. Given a reprieve by the League, he was the Eagle’s third-string QB last season, and he started this one as the backup. He got his shot though, and, made the most of it. Perhaps most noteworthy, he never used his numerous injuries as a crutch when the team lost, and has demonstrated more leadership in one season than former-quarterback Donovan McNabb showed in his entire, lackluster career.
Is Vick truly remorseful about the dog killing, or sorry only that he got caught? Tough to say, but second chances are what America is all about, and, for the most part, he has kept himself out of trouble. With dogs everywhere breathing easier (actually, breathing at all), and Vick on the right track, he is definitely the most unexpected winner this year.
Governor Ed Rendell
Ok, not really. Rendell’s eight-year tax-and-spend agenda, combined with widespread conflicts of interest throughout his Administration (some say pay-to-play) has driven Pennsylvania off the financial cliff, leaving a $5 billion deficit debacle for incoming Governor Tom Corbett to fix. And it’s been three years and counting since his promised interview with "Freindly Fire" — making that the only media entity with which he refuses to speak. I wonder why.
But fair is fair, and Rendell could not have been more correct when he hammered the NFL for canceling the Sunday night football game in Philadelphia because of a snowstorm. Not a two-foot storm of the century, mind you, but an 8 inch "weather event" that would have made an outdoor football game one to remember. The roads were drivable, subway trains were operational, and the fans would have shown up in force — loving every minute of it. They do it in other places just fine — Green Bay, Chicago and New England, to name a few. But now, Philadelphians are officially considered pansies.
The reality is that the League saw an opportunity to test market Tuesday Night Football. As with most things, the decision was rooted in money. But it was done so at the expense of the last real sport in America, where players gut it out with broken bones instead of running to the disabled list because of a hangnail. In many ways, the game’s cancellation reflects what America has become: soft and wimpy, offended by everything and decisive in nothing. It’s how we run business, operate government, wage war, and yes, play football. The pioneering, tough-as-nails spirit that made us unique is all but gone.
Rendell labeled the NFL’s action the "wussification" of America. Wrong first letter, Guv.
Congressman Joe Sestak
True, Sestak lost his bid for United States Senate, but he was unique among politicians. Here’s a guy who gave up the job security of a 100 per cent safe congressional seat to take on 30-year incumbent and Goliath of the Senate, Arlen Specter, in a long-shot bid. The entire Democratic Party power structure was against him, from Rendell to President Obama, thus ensuring very limited campaign money. Yet he persisted in his mission, even turning down a reported job offer from the White House. And a funny thing happened along the way: he won the primary election.
But the more admirable trait of Sestak was that he never backed down from his core convictions. Whether or not one agreed with him, he should be respected for standing his ground and not playing both sides or "moving to the middle" to appease the pundits.
For any pol to do that is unusual, but it’s even more amazing in a year that saw a political wave running in the polar opposite direction of his beliefs. To Sestak’s credit, in the best Republican year since 1946, he ran to the left of Barack Obama, favoring bigger government, higher taxes, more stimulus and expanded national healthcare. And with the courage of his convictions, he ran towards those ideas, not away, as the vast majority of Democrats did.
Voters are craving more leaders committed to their ideals, whether Right or Left. They may not always agree with those people, but they respect knowing where such leaders stand. Unfortunately, such courage is in short supply.
The global recession is wreaking havoc on America, but China continues to grow at an unprecedented rate. Why? Because they put themselves in a position to win no matter what transpires, assuming that political will in America doesn’t raise its head. And since there’s a fat chance of that happening, China’s push toward domination continues.
Taking advantage of its favorable trade deals with the U.S. (READ: bad for us), and benefitting from America’s business-killing tax rates (highest in the world), China is advancing itself with state of the art infrastructure — such as the world’s fastest train, biggest hydro-electric dam, and 25 nuclear power plants under construction —, and a first-rate military that not only boasts quantity but quality.
If the dollar stays (relatively) strong, China’s boom will continue as its manufacturing expands. And if the dollar plummets, China, while taking a slight hit in the value of the considerable U.S. debt it holds, could well find itself a kingmaker by controlling the world’s reserve currency.
Blaming China for our woes makes for effective campaign commercials, but unless we start taking a hard look in the mirror very, very soon, we might as well invest in Rosetta Stone for one last financial hurrah, as its "How To Speak Chinese" will be the hottest seller in the USA since Rubik’s Cube.
Chris Christie and the Republican Party — Sort Of
New Jersey’s Christie has accomplished more in one year than damn near all the other 49 governors combined. And all it took was that elusive trait called "political will." The Republican Chief Executive has successfully taken on all sacred cows, from public education to unions, bureaucrats to the entrenched political culture. So effective has his brand of in-your-face reform been — achieved with both legislative chambers being solidly Democratic —, Christie’s star power is so bright that he is routinely mentioned as a presidential contender, and serves as a model for politicians nationwide, including Pennsylvania’s Tom Corbett. With Corbett and Christie as bookends in two powerhouse states, these law-and-order leaders may yet pave the way for how America gets itself back on track.
The Republican Party as a whole is a different story.
The GOP would be wise to understand that the election was NOT a mandate for Republicans, as much as it was a protest…a shot across the bow of both Parties. Voters have grown increasingly irritated with the Business As Usual approach in Washington, Harrisburg and Trenton, and are demanding their elected officials focus on what the people want, not what some leaders think they need.
If they become the Party of No, expect the pendulum to swing back yet again. People don’t want more of the status quo.
And with America more vulnerable than ever before, from its reliance on foreign oil to its economy — with the dollar based on absolutely nothing of value — the stakes have never been higher. Will the GOP work with the President on his promises to expand nuclear energy and offshore drilling, enact further tax cuts and demand more teacher accountability?
The next year will tell, and if the Republicans — and the President — don’t play their cards right, they will end up on the nations’s Biggest Losers list. And most definitely, neither can afford to be on such a list.
Look for Freindly Fire’s Biggest Losers of 2010 column next week…
Chris Freind is an independent columnist, television commentator, and investigative reporter who operates his own news bureau, www.FreindlyFireZone.com
Readers of his column, "Freindly Fire," hail from six continents, thirty countries and all fifty states. His work has been referenced in numerous publications including The Wall Street Journal, National Review Online, foreign newspapers, and in Dick Morris’ recent bestseller "Catastrophe."