A mere smattering.
Our working definition of a bastard: Someone who does anything to win, and bows to no one. You'll find them on both sides of the moral fence, because human beings are a little bit ape, and even littler bit angel. Good or ill, you eventually need a bastard, because as we know, bastards always win. Unless they're facing bigger, more or better-equipped bastards.
The fact is, they're the ones who get the most done -- usually something reason and morality suggest should never have been done at all. If you don't claim them, some other group will. Here are the unbelievable achievers you would mostly not want to meet at parties.
2011's triumphant bastards (for the 10,000th year running), were the rich, powerful and corrupt, which (surprisingly) are sometimes discrete groups.
Oh, man, what a cock-up. Weiner was always a staff-mauling, race-baiting loudmouth, making enemies in his own party for protecting the middle class and for talking to Republicans the way Republicans talk to everyone. Still, it takes a Film-Schwarzenegger sense of invulnerability to use Twitter for sexting and not expect to end up with a Reality-Schwarzenegger scandal. Anthony Weiner, you are 2011's recipient of the Gary Hart Award for Sex-Addled Democrats. Your prize is a month's worth of irresistible news headline puns.
My colleague and comedy-crush Luke McKinney outlined what an infected cyst Trump really is, but there's no bottom to the pot of loathing that bubbles for this goon. What he doesn't coat in gold he files for bankruptcy, and only King Midas should be able to do both of those at once. Despite enough fiscal irresponsibility to thrive in politics, his presidential platform amounted to pounding the birther chord and hoping the chorus would carry the tune. Plus, he earned a lifetime ban for selling mail-order steaks through Sharper Image, which is offensive to cows and people who love to eat cows.
"I am personally going to take a shit on each one of these."
Every day they're not [allegedly -- Cracked.com's lawyers] hacking 9/11 victims' phones, they're [definitely -- Cracked.co.uk's solicitors] hacking dead English people's, because interviewing survivors is too classy. How do you hire for that kind of job, anyway? You need, at the very least, a sleazy private investigator, a sexy woman of mystery played by Angelina Jolie and a 13-year-old Korean whiz kid.
Other bastards hate this bastard for proving they're bastards with their own documents. This year WikiLeaks revealed how many prisoners at the Guantanamo
gulag phantom zone detention center are innocent but shackled up anyway, because the spring pageant needs a high headcount to really make the "Yankee Doodle Dandy" number soar. On the plate for 2012: determining whether Assange is also a molesty bastard.
2011 was the year we learned these rampaging bloodsuckers thrive on incest. Again, much like the 1 percent.
You'd think marrying your cousin would fall out of fashion
How is it our ancestors cured this problem with heavy boots and DDT baths for the kids, yet we future-wizards suffer a plague? Where is our army of microscopic Terminators fueled by bedbug eggs?
We hit 7 billion people this year! And nobody's getting out of here alive.
Saw our ecological rampage and raised. Pointing the gun at her own head, Earth slaughtered hordes of birds and fish just to prove she will go to the wall and climb it. Then she gave us a taste of next year's winter solstice with natural disasters. She's a defeated villain dangling over the edge of the building, but she'd rather die if she can pull us down with her.
Those villains are very foreign.
Suppose I asked you to hold a hundred bucks for me. Now say you lost it before I came back from wherever I was afraid to carry money -- probably Newark. You'd be the jerk, right? But our friendship would survive unless you pretended to be baffled. Then you'd be Jon Corzine, the former CEO of Goldman Sachs (oh, no ...), former senator (oh, Jesus ...) and former governor of (Aaaah, here it comes!) New Jersey. Then you'd have misplaced $1.2 billion, including your employees' retirement funds, and crashed your commodities firm three years after all the cool CEOs were doing it. Testifying twice before Congress, he summoned an achingly heartfelt shrug and didn't even claim to have been mugged in Newark.
And yet someone managed to out-bastard him. Someone managed to out-bastard them all, so profoundly that it's difficult to imagine any of the runners-up inventing a fictional character as perfectly bastardly as him ...
But before we get to the 2011 bastard of the year (or before you scroll down to find out who he is), the results of our global bastard census ...
America continued to ease off its foreign bastardry commitments to invest its remaining $10 in misery at home. Exiting Iraq relieved pressure on an inflated bastard reputation, even as 63 deaths wrote a touching post-script to the love letter we wrote that country in the blood of dead citizens. With anywhere from 100,000 to 1,000,000 Iraqi corpses -- ahhh, but who's counting? -- the important thing is that we shared this kind of once-in-a-lifetime-and-usually-at-the-end-of-it intimacy.
Domestic bastardry continued its 50-year climb, as fiscal titans raised a snide glass of champagne to the 99 percent who had saved their asses without even being allowed to stipulate how the money should be spent. The strongest growth was, as always, among uninformed bastards that think they know everything, who chided at protestors angry about the lack of real jobs to go get real jobs.
Iraq didn't even wait till the door stopped swinging to re-embrace bastardry, with the Shiite Prime Minister promising " rivers of blood" if the Sunni try to defect, as well as if they stay and govern. It's reassuring to know that after trillions diverted from our economy, after 37,000+ U.S. servicepeople killed or maimed, and after the staggering six-figure Iraqi casualties, authoritarian sectarianism was able to afford a new suit.
Big gains for Russia with a possibly crooked and definitely dubious election. Putin's Russia is a continual top performer with blue chip projections for 2012 and beyond. Expect to see public figures brutally murdered in mysterious circumstances, coupled with expanded sex trafficking in foreign markets. Sex and death never go out of style, and we're backing Russia for the long-market. Definitely a buy, if you can't steal it.
A rare surge of hopeful bastardry swept away regimes in the countries of the Arab Spring, paving the way for democracy and subtler brands of corruption.
Japan suffered a slow Q2 caused by global sympathy caused by radioactive pollution caused by tsunami caused by earthquake caused by I bet you expected a Godzilla joke here, but nope! The plucky archipelago redoubled its bastard efforts, striking back at nature with its annual whaling hunt, and swiping $30 million in tsunami relief funds to do it. Before you get outraged, though, they had already withheld that money from the victims of their government's nuclear-grade negligence -- wait, that's worse. That's a triple-double of staggering dickery.
China remains a steady source of bastardry after 5,000 years of its successful "Wonderful People, Terrible Government" program. The modest empire insists that it wouldn't have a bad reputation if everyone would just stop mentioning the horrible way it treats its own citizens. Spoken like a bone-marrow bastard, China. The wakening giant also managed to trigger an explosion of ivory poaching, because apparently it's still the 19th fucking century.
The Jivaro people of Peru and Ecuador remain a high-yield penny-bastard stock, drawing insider spec for their 60 percent warfare murder rate. The small but thriving group of bastards had earlier pioneered shrunken heads, and ... holy crow, this can't be right -- successfully repelling Spanish conquistadors with an IPO of 25,000 slaughtered settlers and a bellyful of molten gold poured down the mayor's throat.
Oh, they got up to some shenanigans, but they lack that essential je ne sais quoi (French for "I do not quoi") which makes a right bastard.
For God's sake, if you're going to father a love-child, make sure your mistress is a trade-up. Nothing will ever be worth it, so shoot the moon! I'm not advising an affair; I'm just saying you already torched the house, might as well splash on the kerosene.
Occupy Wall Street
Failed to raise any decent bastardry, but teemed gently like krill until rich folks felt creeped out. Not all was lost, though, as NYPD blocked reporters from their constitutional right to cover the evacuation. Analysts consider this an excellent sign of bastardry to come.
Before we conclude, take a moment to remember the bastards who ran afoul of bigger bastards like angry mobs and cancer.
Creepy Bastard died like a true supervillain: shot in a secret compound while using his wives as shields. The mission was carried out by 79 heroic bastard SEALs and the best dog ever. As no nation would have him, OBL was buried at sea where he currently collaborates with C'thulu on some really great curses for future societies who disturb his tomb. He leaves behind a niece who's a 6.
Really, who doesn't have an uncle they're ashamed of? Not my nieces, by God.
Old Dirty Bastard, and subject to just as many name variants, he made the biggest exit on this list. As rebels swarmed the capital, Gaddaffi was dragged out of a sewer pipe, pistol-whipped in the streets, and sodomized with a bayonet (or a stick. But: OW! Still). Shot in the head and chest, he stayed alive for another half-hour, because he never could recognize when nobody wanted him around anymore.
Also because he was a zombie, which I propose we call Zombaffie, even though Gaddombie would be good too.
In his long reign Gaddafi gadhaffied gadafi kadhafy's gaddhafi by khaddafying qadaffily. He spent much of his life asking nuclear powers if they had any spare bombs, for which he would gladly pay them on Tuesday.
No demagogue ever embodied such diversion as Gaddafi: a handsome young soldier who melted into the fifth Golden Girl (Madge, the zany sex offender). He was also branded twice as a "freedom fighter" and then "the mad dog of the Middle East," depending on how convenient he was to the West. Despite looking like a walking Muppet parody he was rockstar enough for a cadre of devoted Amazonian Guards. What to make of him? Besides hamburger. He was a bastard, take him for all in all. The world shall not laugh upon his like again.
The Rich Bastard will be missed by weird Apple cultists and fans of Wrangler dad jeans with tennis Reeboks. You know which of yourselves I'm talking about, Victoria's Secret models. The world will miss his relentless vision of the sterile totalitarianism promised to us by 1970s sci-fi, as well as his branding campaign pretending to be the complete opposite. We're sure he's thinking differently and tolerating no variance in Heaven now, praise iGod.
Crazy Bastard's sudden demise left his nation adrift. Without Dear Leader, whose statues will fill their bomb shelters in lieu of food? (Assuming they one day get food.) Who will teach them the secret mysteries of a child's laugh, or the 22-minute orgasm, or worst of all, the strange connection between the two? Who will sprinkle the sky with stars every time he sneezes, and who will invent new musical notes to write the greatest song ever composed (about himself)? For God's sake, who will tow the sun from the eastern horizon every morning and slam-dunk it to bed while Michael Jordan watches helplessly? (Yes, a Blake Griffin joke would be more timely, but in North Korea it's 1992.)
Nobody knows, and that's why the future is terrifyingly uncertain. Mourners gathered to lose all control in perfectly ordered rows.
I haven't seen such an overwrought display of grief since every Italian funeral. But at least when you lose Nonna you're crying because she knew the good recipes. In the sensory deprivation chamber of Pyongyang, they missed the world's Return of the Jedi celebration because they were terrified of losing the one man who could fistfight American jets. That said, it's always sad when people die without leaving care instructions for their pets. What's happening on North Korea's psychological map now is like when a local kook dies, and neighbors discover he had a 15-year-old daughter handcuffed to the boiler, except not quite as hilarious.
Born Bastard was the snob your aunt imagines all atheists to be, and an iconoclast who must have been doing something right, because everybody wanted to shush him. Some also coveted his glorious, shiny locks. Efforts to label him as Neoconservative Pig or Idiot Liberal will begin just as soon as everyone forgets his original message of "Stop hurting people, you hypocrites."
You know why people hate cops? Because 70 percent of people are terrible under pressure, which means even in a routine traffic stop, the odds are 91 percent someone will be a jerk, and 100 percent at least one of you has a gun. It's a tough job.
But it's supposed to be a tough job. It calls for tough bastards to protect us from all the freelance tough bastards. A policeman's job, they say, is only easy in a police state, and Pepper Spray Cop has the easiest job imaginable: gassing cowering teenagers. He could at least get into it. Sneer or smile, or enjoy the rare moment to boot-stomp some liberal campus faces. But no, he's just doing a job. Is it so much to ask for a little passion from the vandals of the First Amendment? Anything worth doing is worth doing well, and that means a rampage, not blithely following orders.
They learned so much more about the world in this one moment than in four years of college.
Yes, Pepper Spray Cop, the very symbol of world politics today: a bloated blue line between oligarchic overlords and the mob they strip of all but enough sustenance to harvest again next year. Swinging his indiscriminate poison, he waters the tree of liberty with the tears of idealistic youth -- blast their hopes and blight their lives, Amen.
For this is the bastard's world, and we're all struggling through it. Our only hope, and indeed, one of our hard-won rights, is to laugh at their frail humanity and remind them they're us. Or barring that, rise up as one and overthrow them, but I don't own a cool bandana mask. Do you?
Brendan McGinley wishes you a happy bastard New Year, and will see you in 2012 for The State of the Gentleman.