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3

Cruel Reality Strikes Home…Evil Exists

By now, most of you know the tragic events of Saturday.  A deranged young man, with wild political leanings, approached Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (Dem., AZ) at a meet-and-greet congressional event being held at a Safeway grocery store outside of Tuscon, AZ.  Six people in all were killed, including a 9 year old child (later identified as the granddaughter of former Philadelphia Phillies manager Dallas Green), Federal Judge John Roll (a Bush appointment), as well as one of Giffords aides.  Giffords herself lies in the ICU of University Medical Center of Tuscon, following brain surgery.

The entire tragedy instantly captured the attention of the nation.  Few events in our society do that.  But here is a young woman, in her third term of Congress, simply doing her duty, and meeting her constituents on the issues that effect them.

And one insane man can change all that.

Mainstream media instantly tried to make this a political issue, what with the extreme tensions that arose in Arizona last year because of their immigration laws, health care, as well as Giffords heated 2010 midterm re-election.  Unfortunately, the shooter did not fit perfectly into their narrative.  None of these issues seem to have inspired this guy.  He was not a Tea Partier, not a member of any clear conservative or liberal group.   He seems to be a relatively deranged young man, who has leanings from being against hispanic immigration to antisemitic commentary to stating that his favorite books included The Communist Manifesto to Mein Kampf.

Then, you have the intelligensia claiming we have no proof this was political, but it must be!!! What idiocy.  This is exactly the type of vitriol they decry…and then they commit the same crime themselves.  Whether it be the talking heads of CNN or MSNBC, or idiots like Paul Krugman, for them to state that they know anything for sure is a rush to justice.  Will these same pundits decry the talk of people like Nancy Pelosi, if the guy turns out to be a liberal?  I doubt it.

No mainstream conservative or liberal would accept such an outrage, and for anyone to claim otherwise is to fall into the trap that these kind of events always create…they themselves are involved with the kind of rhetoric that is unfair, unjust, and frankly, unhelpful.

There is only a couple real lessons to be learned here.  First, if the shooter truly had a criminal or mental health record, how did he obtain a gun?  Or, if like the Virginia Tech shootings several years ago, if he didn’t have a mental health record, why was that so?  What was missed?  He had several run-ins with police, though apparently was never convicted of a crime.  He was also reportedly expelled from his community college recently, and was refused entrance into the military.  If either had evidence of his instability, is there a way to use that information to have prevented him from obtaining a weapon?

The other lesson is one of security.  I went to a party with Gov-elect John Kasich on Saturday evening, and there appeared to be more security at this event than other events I have been to.  All politicians now must be on alert.  The question is, how does a democracy survive if its representatives are a stone’s throw away for their constituents?  I am sure Congress will come up with a balance, but it will be difficult.

In the end, one can only hope that common sense prevails.  I know, maybe that is hoping too much.  All we can do in a free society is hope, and pray that those killed and injured go forward with God’s blessings.

1

Democrats Want A Fight Over Health Care…Again

Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.
Albert Einstein,

Congressional Democrats, in response to the Republican push in the House of Representatives to have a vote on repealing Obamacare, are making another ‘last stand’ to convince the American public that clearly they were too stupid to understand how good this bill was for America, and the last two years they were clearly to simple to understand the benefits of the program

The DNC is pushing talking points that supposedly will convince the doubting public.  Here are the talking points, as reported by the Washington Post:

* Republicans in Congress want to unravel the law that holds insurance companies in check.

* The insurance company lobbyists are working overtime with Republicans to return to the days when insurance companies were free to do whatever they want, including raising premiums and imposing higher costs on families and businesses to protect their CEO bonuses and corporate profits.

* Republicans will allow insurance companies to once again DENY coverage to children with existing conditions, CANCEL coverage when people get sick, and LIMIT the amount of care you can get — even if you need it.

* When the insurance companies are free to pursue their profits without any accountability, people have fewer choices, fewer options, and little recourse.

* And, by rolling back the Affordable Care Act, Republicans are adding a TRILLION dollars to the deficit.

Now, does any of that seem familiar?  It should.  It is virtually identical to the talking points pushed by the White House in the earlier part of 2010 to sell Obamacare to the American public.

Let us take a step back for a second.  Since the summer of 2009, Democrats have continued to tell us that they will ‘go on the offensive’, and make the public truly appreciate health care as Obama has devised it.  Over and over again, liberal forces have spent hundreds of millions of dollars to convince you and I that we have been poorly misinformed, and that Obamacare is a panacea to the future of health care in this country.

What have been the results of these efforts?  The public is vastly against the program.  At last count, 60% of Americans support repeal, with peak opposition since the passage of the bill at 63%.   Although the public is divided on whether the government should even ensure that all citizens have healthcare (47% favor such a guarantee in a recent Gallup poll, versus 50% against), 61% still support private insurance over any public option.

Additionally, a few of the health care laws provisions have gone into effect.  Many of these provisions have been disaster.  Rules to guarantee coverage for children with pre-existing conditions has forced many insurers to simply refuse to insure children at all under individual plans.  Rules that allow parents to cover children until 26 years of age have resulted in higher premiums for the majority of families trying to cover those kids.  And a program to give access to uninsured that went into effect in late summer was supposed to have approximately hundreds of thousands of participants by now had less than 1% the number predicted.

In the meanwhile, Republicans took over the House of Representatives; John Boehner ousted Nancy Pelosi as Speaker; Republicans narrowed the margin in the Senate; Republicans now hold the majority of Governorships; and that doesn’t even mention that a Virginia federal judge ruled the individual mandate under Obamacare unconstitutional.

Liberals truly are delusional.

Every time the issue of health care is brought into the public arena, it is a net positive for conservatives, and a net negative for liberals.  The longer they try to convince us that we are truly too stupid to understand the benefits of Obamacare, the better for the Right in this country.

So I say, let them have their fight…and we shall continue to enjoy the spoils of victory.

1

End of the Pelosi Era

The 2010 midterm elections were largely about the job that Barack Obama, Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, and Democrats have been doing in running the country the last two years, with huge majorities not seen in decades.  The voters gave an absolute ‘thumbs down’ on the House.  Unfortunately, Obama and Reid remain to fight another day.

But no matter what else happened, very few people will miss Nancy Pelosi as Speaker of the House.

Only for the liberal splinter of the American populace was Pelosi a good Speaker.  She must be given credit:  the was able to strong arm  her caucus into passing a ridiculous liberal agenda that will damage the country for years to come.  Whether it be the Stimulus, Obamacare, or a multitude of other bad policy initiatives, Pelosi was able to get her way for the past two years, often over even the objections of Obama and Reid.

Pelosi was also quite inept on many issues.  None stood out more than her relationship with the CIA.  In May 2009, Pelosi was accused of knowing about the specifics of the CIA interrogation plan from the very beginning.  Records would later verify that this was, in fact, the case.  But Pelosi, who had staked her reputation on fighting virtually all of the Bush-era anti-terrorism policies, instead tried to blame every but herself.  In a press conference on May 2009 is one of the great ‘deer in the headlight’ video events ever by a politician.

Pelosi had a stark inability to work with anyone who disagreed with her.  In that, she was a perfect example of someone who was a good majority/minority leader, because she could keep her caucus together, while at the same time an extremely poor Speaker.  The great Speakers of the House were those that could unite the body to some common purpose.  Even compared to divisive names like Newt Gingrich, Pelosi’s ability to ostracize the minority stood out.

It showed in her national appeal.  Pelosi has a national approval of 9%…NINE PERCENT.  There are probably mass murderers with similar approval ratings.  The midterm elections were as much about disfavor of Obama’s policies as it was about dislike of Nancy Pelosi.  She became the poster child of bad liberal government.

After what has to be one of the longest goodbye speeches in the long history of the House of Representatives, Pelosi finally turned the gavel over to Speaker of the House John Boehner.  It is Beohner’s job not to unite the conservatives, and push through much needed policies to fix the damage that Pelosi and her minions created over the past four years.

Goodbye Ms. Pelosi…the country is better off without you in the Speaker’s chair.

2

2011 Predictions

Well, after reviewing my predictions for the past year, I am considering buying a lot more lottery tickets.  I was pretty spot on.

That said, the law of averages pretty much guarantees that I will be completely erroneous in this coming year’s predictions.

Well, anyway, here we go…

1.  Economy

The economy will have an up-and-down year.  Most economists predict GDP growth at around 3%.  I think it will hover at around 2.5%.  Both predictions are far lower than the Obama Administration’s predictions of 4% growth by 2011, predicted at the time of the passage of the stimulus in 2009.

Other economic predictions:

  • Unemployment will not significantly drop.  I would be surprised to see it fall under 8.5% for the end of the year.
  • Business will continue to have good profits.  They are cut to the bone, with no fat dragging them down (fat being, unfortunately, excess employees).
  • The stock market will have another solid year, up 7-10%.  The financial markets will have another roller coaster year, with borderline defaults of banks and, possibly, government entities continuing.  The domestic markets will actually outperform foreign markets.  And stocks will outperform bonds and commodities.
  • Oil will surge past $100 a barrel, and gasoline will pass the $4 mark by midyear.  This will create a political crisis for the Obama Administration.
  • Gold and silver prices will rise until mid year, when the bubble finally bursts.
  • GDP will grow at 3%…a decent rate, but not enough to create significant jobs to reduce unemployment.
  • Close to a hundred localities will default on debt, and a few states will need to be bailed out to avoid the same fate.

2.  Politics

  • Republicans will keep their promise to make wholesale changes to Obamacare.  They won’t be successful in repealing the whole thing; that cannot happen as long as Obama is President.  Whether Democrats are smart enough to take advantage of it is another matter.
  • Republicans will call for broad spending cuts, and may join Obama on long term deficit reduction measures regarding Social Security and Medicare.  However, the Republicans will be attacked for wanting the elderly and children to starve.
  • There will be a huge fight over raising the debt ceiling, but Republicans will be forced to ultimately pass it.
  • Obama, as arrogant as ever and possibly more so after his recent successes, will fall back into his belief that he is the greatest politician of his generation.   He will make no significant changes to the leadership of the West Wing or Cabinet, and continue on his current path.  Sure, he will compromise with Republicans on certain issues.  But he will also fight Republicans tooth and nail on certain provisions, but unlike Bill Clinton, will overplay his hand at some point.
  • Several Democrats, realizing that 2012 is going to be a replay of the disaster of 2010 for Congress, will decide to retire.
  • The focus  next year will shift from DC to the states, as gridlock hampers Obama. With huge budget problems in the states, Republican and Democrat governors, many newly elected, will have to do some painful cost cutting and budgetary measures to survive.  This will be most pronounced with MI Gov. Rick Snyder, NY Gov. Andrew Cuomo, IL Gov. Pat Quinn, and CA Gov. Jerry Brown.
  • Obama’s popularity will stay unchanged, in the low 40s.  Republican popularity will slowly rise, as will Congressional approval ratings.
  • Obama will not be seriously challenged for the Democratic nomination in 2012.  Liberals will whine and complain, but will fall into line.
  • Republicans will slowly narrow their list for 2012 Presidential candidates.  Sarah Palin will delay her decision, but will ultimately choose not to run.  No leading candidates will emerge, with a scrum in early 2012 for the nomination.  At least one dark horse candidate, however, will remain among the top tier, with a chance to win in 2012.  I predict that Mike Pence and John Thune will be viable candidates going into the 2012 nomination process.

3.  Sports

  • Auburn will crush Oregon for the BCS National Championship.
  • The University of Michigan will fire Rich Rodriquez, and hire Jim Harbaugh as coach.  Michigan will go 7-5 in the 2011 season.
  • New England Patriots will dominate, and win the  Super Bowl.
  • Kansas Jayhawks will with the NCAA Basketball Championship.
  • Boston Celtics will win the NBA Championship.  Miami and the L.A. Lakers will falter in the playoffs.
  • Detroit Red Wings will win the Stanley Cup.
  • Tiger Woods will have another mediocre year.
  • Philadelphia Phillies, behind their awesome new pitching staff, will win the World Series.

4.  Entertainment

  • The Social Network will win the Oscar for Best Movie.
0

START Treaty: Epic Fail

Last month’s ratification of the START Treaty was considered a victory for the Obama Administration.

They might not view is as such a victory in the weeks ahead.

Much of the Republican opposition to the bill centered on the ability of the U.S. military to continue their missile defense program, which is in the later stages of implementation.  This has been a critical cornerstone of Republican foreign policy since President Reagan.  To ensure that the policy would continue, President Obama signed a Presidential order that stated the START treaty in now way interfered with missile defense, even though the preamble of the treaty itself mentioned it.  The White House stated that the preamble, for whatever reason, was not legally binding.

The Russians may view it differently.

The State Duma, the lower house of the Russian Parliament, is actively pursuing language in its ratification of the treaty that would bind the US to rolling back their missile defense program:

[Konstantin Kosachev, chairman of the Duma Committee on International Affairs says] “We will deal with these interpretations. The first thing is that our American colleagues do not recognize the legal force of the treaty’s preamble. The preamble sets a link between strategic offensive arms and defensive arms. The second thing is an attempt to interpret certain provisions of the treaty unilaterally.

This is our reaction on the US steps, which are not justified because you cannot selectively validate or invalidate certain provisions of the treaty. We are quite consistent here. We said that the entire treaty, the preamble and the articles have the same judicial force. This is logical and this is right.”

The irony?  Kosachev is right.  How can you arbitrarily take a line out of the treaty, preamble or not. and ignore it?  You can’t.  This is Obama trying to have his cake and eat it to.  He placated to the Russians on the missile deal, and now cannot convince the Senate that such a giveaway is worthwhile.

If the Duma changes the wording of the treaty, in any way, then the ratification must go back the U.S. Senate…in which case, a simple letter from the President will not be enough to allow for passage, assuming the Duma is now clearly tying missile defense to START, something that  has never occurred previously.

This is again the ignorance and incompetence of the Obama Foreign Policy team showing.  They rushed the vote, thinking the Duma would rubber stamp anything that came their way.  Time will tell if Putin will put his foot down, and force the Duma to pass the treaty as/is.  But Putin has little to lose by letting this fester.  And thus, Obama and the Democrats rush to pass this may come back to haunt them.

Most damaging longterm however is not the treaty itself.  It is Obama’s credibility.   The next time the President gives his promise or word, one need simply to point to his opinion on the preamble of the START treaty.  It will be a long time before anyone, Democrats or Republicans, will go out on a limb on the word of this President.

0

Most Anticipated Movies of 2011

As always, you can see my most recent movie posts here, and my list of upcoming movies of interest here.

This is always a hit or miss list.   When you go back and look at the movies that I was really looking forward to a year ago, there were some excellent choices (Toy Story 3) and some complete and utter disasters (The Last Airbender)

But anticipation is 3/4 the fun…and so, in chronological order, here are my most anticipated movies of the year…

Battle:  Los Angeles, February 18, 2011

One part Independence Day; one part Black Hawk Down.  Geeks and alien lovers everywhere are going to get excited.

Thor, May 6, 2010

Of all the superheroes in the Marvel universe, this is the one I care about least.  I honestly have never had the urge to pick up a Thor comic, even as a child.  And Thor, as a character, always seemed…well…insane.  But the preview below looks at least interesting.   Kenneth Branaugh directs, so there is hope.

Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, May 20, 2010

No Kiera Knightley.  No Orlando Bloom.  But no one cares…Capt. Jack Sparrow is back!  Can Disney pull off a watchable movie, after the last two were mediocre?  If it gets back to its roots from the original, then this could be a lot of fun.

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Hangover 2, May 27, 2010

Hangover is the highest grossing R-rated movie of all time….and is a cultural phenomenon.  Everyone I know has watched it multiple times.  Will the sequel will be anywhere as good?

Green Lantern, June 17, 2011

Green Lantern has been a cornerstone of comic books for decades.  And although it has grown out of favor in recent years, its following is still significant.  Within the past few years, the Lantern Universe has significantly grown, and brought new readers to the series.  Whether Ryan Reynolds can reignite the character is still a question.  But this is still going to be a guaranteed blockbuster, regardless.

Cars 2, June 24, 2011

Every Pixar movie automatically gets on this list…it is a rule.  My son has literally watched the original ‘Cars’ at least 50 times, if not 100.  I am forced, as a father of sons, to go see this movie, and then buy tons of merchandise to further enrich Disney.

Rise of the Apes, June 24, 2011

James Franco headlines this reboot of the ‘Planet of the Apes’ storyline.  This, of course, is the origin story of how the apes became smart enough to overthrow man.  Of course, opening on the same weekend as ‘Cars 2′ may not be the best strategy…

Transformers 3:  Dark of the Moon, July 1, 2011

This movie is going to make a bazillion dollars, have lots of bombs and booms and explosions, and no Megan Fox.  Michael Bay knows how to makes really loud and explosive movies with no plot.  That said, this is going to dominate Fourth of July weekend.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2, July 15, 2010

The Harry Potter series come to a fiery end, as the Battle of Hogwarts commences.  Anyone who is a Potterhead is hoping for a Lord of the Rings Helm’s Deep sort of battle scene.  After a decade, 7 blockbuster books, and 8 movies that now hold the record for the biggest grossing franchise in movie history…this is a must see.

Captain American, July 22, 2010

Captain America was one of the first major comic book heroes.  Arising out of  World War II, he now seems anachronistic.  But the first pictures of the movie set appear to show a movie based in that era.  Ultimately, this, as well as Thor, will set up for The Avengers movie in 2012.

Cowboys & Aliens, July 29, 2011

Now that Jon Favreau has exited the Iron Man Series, he jumps to an alien movie set in the wild, wild west.  With a cast made up of Daniel Craig, Harrison Ford, and the lovely Olivia Wilde, this should be interesting at least.

X-Men:  First Class, August 30, 2011

I love superhero movies…but this one worries me.  This could either be brilliant…or a disaster.  Here is crossing fingers…

Super 8, September 10, 2010

No one really knows what this movie is about.  The opening day is still shrouded in secrecy.  The trailer, posted below, is haunting.  So why the anticipation?  Mix J.J. Abrams, Stephen Spielberg, and possibly aliens?  Trust me, people will line up to pay for that.

Others To Keep a close eye on:  Red Riding Hood (3/11), Sucker Punch (3/25), Crazy/Stupid/Love (4/22), Horrible Bosses (7/29), Contagion (10/21), Sherlock Holmes II (12/16), The Adventures of TinTin (12/23).

Movies that may be interesting, or painful:  Zookeeper, Breaking Dawn, The Muppet Movie, Paul, The Thing, Fast Five, Kung Fu Panda 2

2

Persons Of The Year: The Tea Party Movement

It was the spring of 2009 when the Tea Party movement made its first impact.  Just weeks after Barack Obama took office, the public was already stirring.  After Congress passed a huge stimulus, and had promised to pass a budget with the largest deficit in U.S. history, the grassroots movement of the right and of disaffected independents started to take shape.  All through 2009, they fought the huge Democrat majorities from passing Obamacare, and were able to successfully kill off the public option.

In January, spurred by the support of the Tea Party, Republicans were able to elect Scott Brown to Ted Kennedy’s seat in Massachusetts…supposedly to be the 41st vote against Obamacare.  However, that would not be enough.  In February, Democrats were able to successfully pass their $1.5 trillion health care program through reconciliation, and against the opinion of the majority of Americans.

That was the final catalyst for the Tea Party to truly gain strength and momentum.   After almost a year of trying to convince the governing party that their health care policy was too extreme for the bulk of the nation, Democrats simply ignored them, and went against the wishes of a significant majority of the population.

Conventional wisdom from the left at the time was that the Tea Party would fade into oblivion.   However, they did not disappear.  Far from it.  Instead, they refocused their sights to the 2010 elections.  If they didn’t have the power to reform the entire country in a single move, then they would start with reform of their party.  Although not always successful, clearly the results were satisfactory.  2010 gave Republicans their largest gains since 1994, and significantly moved both Houses of Congress to the right.

When picking a person of the year (or in this cases persons of the year) one has to look at their large scale impact on society.  Within the United States, no movement or group has had the impact that the Tea Party has had over the past 20 months.  One could argue that they have done the impossible…and have successfully moved Barack Obama to the middle (well, maybe not the middle, but let us say, less far left).  They have given the Republican party focus that it had completely been lacking since the 2008 elections; some would argue that focus had been missing for much of the past decade.

If the Tea Partiers are able to keep Republican’s feet to the fire, and force them to make difficult decisions on spending, the deficit, and maintaining a small but efficient government, their power and influence will be greater than anyone else for the year 2010.

9

2010 Top Movies of the Year

I do this every year…and every year, I get more hate mail than support.  And yet, I come back for more.  I guess I am a glutton for punishment.  Well, for what its worth (not much, I know), here we go…

Honorable Mentions:  Millenium Trilogy, Exit Through The Gift Shop, Black Swan, 127 Hours, The King’s Speech, The Fighter, Shutter Island, Splice, Let Me In, How To Train Your Dragon.

10.  Tangled

Tangled is the first non-Pixar movie in a long time that really captured the Disney spirit.  First and foremost, the main character was Rapunzel, a princess…a character that obviously appeals to all those little girls out there.  Mix that with a tried and true storyline that Disney has perfected over the decades, along with a beautiful cinematography, and Disney had an obvious hit on their hands.  This is a film that every little girl should be taken to.

9.  True Grit

It is a rarity when a movie remake is better than the original…but this is a prime example.  The Coen Brothers (No Country For Old Men) took the Charles Portis novel, and renewed the story with a beautiful cast and artistry.  The original, the 1969 film that gave John Wayne his only Oscar, is considered by many Western film afficionados as a classic…I still think this movie is better.   It has a deeper artistry and reality about it.  And in this time and age, when Westerns simply are not in vogue anymore, the ability of the Coen brothers to time and again make films such as these is remarkable.

8.  Winter’s Bone

You want a real, unflinching view of where the dark side of America exists?  This is it.  From Daniel Woodrell’s novel from which the story is adapted, the movie is set in Missouri’s secretive Ozarks, where families deal with their own problems, for good or ill.  Ree Dally (Jennifer Lawrence) is taking care of her two younger siblings, as well as her virtually mentally incompetent mother, while her father, a crystal meth dealer, is MIA.  The movie follows Ree as she searches for her father, and tries to keep her family together, all at the same time.

7.  Waiting For Superman

Davis Guggenheim also directed and produced An Inconvenient Truth…an excellent reason to ignore him.  But don’t ignore this movie.  Really.  The prior movie was a travesty…Waiting For Superman was a necessity.  Guggenheim weaves an emotional story of students fighting for spots in an elite school.  He doesn’t pull punches, going after traditional liberal third rails such as the public education system and the teachers union.  You think America needs to reform?  It all starts with education, and Guggenheim shows us why reform needs to start now.

6.  The Social Network

I, like many of you, are Facebook fanatics. So, it is definitely fascinating to see this documentary on the partially factual tale of how Jeffrey Zutterberg and friends created the largest and most powerful social network on the internet…and in turn, created a world wide phenomenon.

5.  Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1

J.K. Rowling’s saga of the magical world takes a turn to the dark side, as we see the forces of good and evil battling to the death.  We see destruction, murder, and mayhem.  And all that stands between the totalitarian magical takeover and peace in our time is…three teenagers, led by Harry Potter.  This movie is nothing like those that came before it in the series…this is a war film, a film about rebellion and jungle warfare.  I know people think that I am taking that too far, but that is what I believe.  This movie sets up beautifully for the climactic battle in part 2, arriving next summer.  I can’t wait.

4.  KickAss

This is a violent and dirty look at what happens when an ordinary kid is dumb enough to think he can be a Superhero.  In a movie that is certainly NOT for children, this movie does not show any of the glory or heroism you see in most superhero flicks.  It is bloody, gory, and downright disturbing at times.  But if you don’t think HitGirl is one of the best new characters this year…you simply are missing something.

3.  Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World

This is a movie that most of you won’t get.  I know that, and accept that.  This is a very, very geeky movie.  Basically, if you were born before 1970 or after 1990, you don’t have a real chance of getting this movie.  But it is a novel way of showing what is, at its heart, a simple concept:  boy is geek, boy falls for girl, girl has baggage, boy has to deal with the baggage.  Now mix in ninja fighting, video game type artistry, a very gay roommate…and you have what I considered one of the more entertaining movies of the year.  But beyond those superficial things, this is a movie about all the difficulty that comes with being in a relationship.   We all enter relationships with a lot of baggage, and figuratively have to fight through the ‘Evil Exes’ of our past to really stay with the one we love.

2.  Toy Story 3

A top 10 list is not complete without a Pixar movie…and Pixar didn’t disappoint.  Toy Story 3 may be the best of the ‘trilogy’, a movie where men cried, children relearned the joy of ordinary toys, and we all continue to be amazed at the magic of Disney/Pixar.  May it never end.

1.  Inception

Inception is one of those unique films that blend visual artistry, a fundamentally unique story, and superb acting, and puts it all together into a beautiful story.  Christopher Nolan is turning into one of the great Directors of our time, with this coming after maybe the best superhero movie of all time, The Dark Knight. Nolan’s view of dreams, with the futuristic prospect of invasion of those most protected spaces of our minds, is a movie like no other…and I believe, by far the best movie of the year.

4

The Census and Electoral Shift: Palin Is Right…She Could Beat Obama

Unlikely

Unlikely? Yes. Impossible? No.

I am not Sarah Palin’s biggest fan.  I am not a hater either.  In fact, when she was chosen by John McCain in the summer of 2008, I was pretty excited.  Here was a young, attractive, conservative governor, who could have been the new voice of the Republican Party.

Ms. Palin then went on to have, in polite terms, a less than successful interview circuit in 2008. Her interviews with Katie Couric and Charles Gibson were not exactly the best coming out party in modern political history, to say the least.  Some was the mainstream media was attacking her, to be sure…but much was her lack of preparedness.  Some have blamed the Palin camp, the others the McCain camp, but in the end, it didn’t matter.   Ms. Palin did not rise to the occasion.

Now, as Ms. Palin and others start to think about a run in 2012, the hardest knock against her candidacy is the conventional wisdom that she simply cannot beat President Barack Obama.  There is evidence to support that.  In most polls, Palin is by far the most polarizing candidate, and her favorables right now are upside down.  So, with those ‘facts’, at least, the political elites and beltway pundits do have something to support their thought process.

In lieu of that conventional thinking, Sarah Palin shocked many in the mainstream press by stating her belief that she could beat Barack Obama in the 2012 Presidential election.  In an interview with Barbara Walters last month, Palin was quite open about considering a run for the top job.

“I’m looking at the lay of the land now, and … trying to figure that out, if it’s a good thing for the country, for the discourse, for my family, if it’s a good thing,” Palin said, according to a short video clip released by ABC News.

Walters followed up with the key question: “If you ran for president, could you beat Barack Obama?”

Palin’s response: “I believe so.”

Almost every pundit I have heard on TV and elsewhere laughed at the suggestion.

There is only problem:  Sarah Palin could be right.

How is that possible?  How am I, and Palin for that matter, challenging the conventional wisdom of the smartest of the smart?

Well, first of all, today the results of the 2010 census returned.  The results?

The gainers:

Arizona +1
Florida +2
Georgia +1
Nevada +1
South Carolina +1
Texas +4
Utah +1
Washington +1

The losers:

Illinois -1
Iowa -1
Louisiana -1
Massachusetts -1
Michigan -1
Missouri -1
New Jersey -1
New York -2
Ohio -2
Pennsylvania -1

With the above electoral changes, and the shift we have begun to see after the 2010 midterm election, you have to make significant alterations to the Presidential map.  Here are my predictions, as of today, for 2012 in a theoretical matchup of Palin v. Obama:

Palin 275, Obama 263

Conventional Wisdom?  Let me show you to the window.

Couple points are key to this analysis.  First of all, what, if anything, has changed since 2008?

  • First, electoral votes have shifted from red to blue states, giving Republicans a slight edge.
  • Second, Obama is no longer viewed as a moderate.  In 2008, he was able to convince center-right suburban women that he was a middle of the road pragmatist.  That belief no longer exists.
  • In 2008, Obama’s favorables, even in deeply red states, was quite high.  His popularity is now in the tank.

So what changed on the map itself?

  1. I think we can safely assume that Virginia, North Carolina, and Indiana will switch back to Republican hands; it was shocking they went to Obama in the first place.  All three states have been solidly in the hands of Republicans since then.   Electoral Votes:  39.
  2. I feel safe in saying Nebraska’s one split vote will go red.  Electoral Votes:  1.
  3. Ohio and Florida seem to have shifted rightward in the 2010 campaign.  For example, look at the Ohio Congressional map today…that, my friends, is dominance.   The same goes for Florida.  I don’t think either state should be considered a lock, but a decent get-out-the-vote apparatus, and solid campaigning, and it is very reasonable to believe both states could switch from Obama to Palin.   Electoral votes: 47.

4.  Now comes the hard part; and admittedly, on my part, a leap of faith.  Assuming my above guesses, that would give Palin 265 electoral votes.  She would need to pick up 5 more somewhere.  There are a lot of choices.  I think the most likely is Wisconsin (which is what I used in the map above), where Russ Feingold was crushed.  That would give her 10 votes, and the Presidency.  Other options would be Iowa, New Mexico, Colorado, or a combination of Maine and New Hampshire.  All of those states had either close elections in 2008 or 2010, and could potentially trend Republican in 2012.  Many of those states are unlikely, to be sure. But at the same time…would any of us put a significant bet that a Republican, even Sarah Palin, couldn’t flip just one of those states?

Now, I am not saying Palin, or any Republican for that matter, would definitively win in 2012.  That would simply be ridiculous at this point. But for the media and conventional wisdom to discount any Republican, even Palin, with the above dynamic, now seems foolish beyond reason.

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Voyager 1…Leaving The Solar System

Voyager 1, a space probe launched in 1977, was planned as a 20 year trip to photograph the most distant aspects of our local neighborhood.  Since its launch on September 5, 1977, Voyager 1 has traveled almost 11 billion miles, giving us spectacular pictures of Earth and our closest neighbors.

Voyager has become one of the most famous of items of ‘space junk’.  Several movies, including the first Star Trek movie, had Voyager as a core plot point.  A series of messages and sounds were added to the probe, intended to be a greeting to any alien race that encounters the probe.  In recent years, Stephen Hawking lamented the sending of the message, stating that any race that encounters it will likely lead to humanity’s doom.

Crescent-shaped Earth and moon

Earth and the Moon, 1977

Voyager also gave us some perspective of our small place in the Solar System, let alone the universe…

Earth as the 'Pale Blue Dot', 1990

It gave us our first look at our neighboring planets as well.

Great Red Spot

Jupiter's Great Red Spot

Most of the great space adventures of our generation have passed with the end of the cold war…but Voyager simply keeps going on into the depths of the eternal darkness.

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