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The Iowa Caucus…and Beyond

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With days remaining until the first actual vote of the 2016 season, the myriad of issues that remain undecided still are quite remarkable. Is Trump still leading? Is Cruz fading? Does Rubio have a chance? Is Bernie’s surge real? Will Hillary blow it once again??

So where do we stand?

1. Either Donald Trump or Ted Cruz will win the Iowa Caucus.

I think everyone feels comfortable with this prediction. Marco Rubio will very likely finish third.

The question is how they place, and what the spin the day after will look like.

For either Trump or Cruz, a loss would be devastating to their case. For Trump, he has argued for six months that he the is king of the hill, routinely pointing to poll after poll that shows him on top. In fact, when a rare poll showed Cruz leading, Trump literally whined to the voters of Iowa: “What are you doing to me?”.  A loss would undermine his case that he is the inevitable nominee.

For Cruz, a loss would in some ways damage him even more. There is no state in the country that is more perfectly built for Ted Cruz than the Iowa Caucus.  It is traditionally dominated by Evangelicals and social conservatives; and even more so, virtually all the major leading traditional religious leaders in the state have come out and endorsed Cruz. Cruz has spent more time and money in Iowa than anywhere. For him to fall to second to Trump would be a hard pill to swallow, and would make many once again question his entire electoral strategy.

Rubio is very likely to finish in third in Iowa. Trump has shown a small surge in the last month, and Cruz is actually dropping in the polls after a surge late in the year. Rubio has seen a slight uptick. There is no better reason to believe Rubio is having a slight surge than this: in the past few days, the Cruz campaign has shifted their ad dollars in Iowa from targeting Trump…to targeting Rubio. Their internal polling must be showing something significant.

A finish lower than third in Iowa for Rubio would be catastrophic. It is hard to seriously consider any conservative candidate that can’t finish in the top 3 in Iowa. The rest of the repercussions of Iowa is up in the air. A close third place finish is likely to catapult him into New Hampshire, because of the ‘expectations‘ game being so low for him to begin with. Rubio’s only goal is to get one of the three ‘tickets’ out of Iowa, so he can make this a three-way Rubio/Cruz/Trump race going forward, and slowly push Jeb Bush, Chris Christie, and the others out the door.

2. The GOP race is too close to call.

As said above, either Cruz or Trump will win…but which one?

There are a number of variables that will help decide who wins the slugfest between Trump and Cruz…and all are unknowable, largely for the same reason: Trump is a wholly unquantifiable factor.

First and foremost is voter turnout. Polling in the last week has been telling; most show Trump with an approximately 7 point lead this week over Cruz. But what is interesting is that lead dramatically changes based on how your turnout model is set. If you expect a record turnout of around 200k voters, Trump wins by greater than 10 points. If the turnout model is closer to the record-setting 2012 Caucus, where about 130k voters cast their vote, Cruz and Trump are tied.

Compound this with the turnout infrastructure of both campaigns. Cruz’s state infrastructure is second to none. He has his own campaign staff, along with the well structured Evangelical base in the state, to help drive up turnout among his voters. Trump has..virtually no apparatus. He is largely depending on the enthusiasm of his voters. It will be a great future case study on how each philosophy works in practice.

But again, look at the above numbers. Trump’s lead has now surged to 7 points.  Cruz would not only have to hope for less turnout overall, but asymmetric turnout of his supporters. If you are a betting man, you put your money on Trump slightly at this point.

3. The Democrat Race is close…and in many ways similar. 

In many ways, the Democrat race is a strange mirror image of the Republican race. Bernie Sanders is the outsider, running an unconventional campaign based on enthusiasm, while Hillary Clinton is the established candidate with an extensive, long built statewide infrastructure.

Additionally, the polling is also similar. The race is a virtual statistical dead heat. Unlike the GOP race though, it is Sanders with momentum, while Hillary is not only stagnant..she has been slowly been hemorrhaging support for months.  Her favorability ratings continue to drop among Democrats, and she has not found of any way to reverse that trend.

4. What happens next?

This is the most important question of all. Historically, the Iowa Caucus is a poor predictor on the Republican side over the past two cycles; Santorum and Huckabee won the last two, after all. On the Democrat side, as discussed above, if Hillary wins, she may shut the door on Sanders, even though he will persist in the campaign. If she loses, Sanders finally for the first time could see a viable path to the nomination; not a likely one, but at least a possible one.

The GOP side is cloudy, to say the least. Trump’s ideal strategy is to win Iowa and New Hampshire, claim that he is the inevitable nominee, and then convince the core of the party to unite under his banner. I question whether this is possible; will the majority of the party unite under Trump, unless absolutely forced to? Regardless of Trump’s lead, he has never been able to get above 40% of the GOP primary vote. Traditionally, a nominee needs to win over 50% consistently to get the nomination. He still has some work to do.

The paths for the others are even far less clear than Trump’s.

Cruz must win or at least do well enough in Iowa to claim some sort of victory. A bad finish in Iowa, regardless of placement, would stain Cruz’s argument that he is the viable conservative alternative to Trump. If Cruz does well in Iowa, he can proceed to New Hampshire and South Carolina as the ‘rational’ alternative, and hope that the Party’s innate hate of him will be overcome by the rational decision that Cruz is a far superior general election candidate.

As for Rubio, I’ve been saying for weeks that his strategy is all about threading the needle. He needs the media to turn his third place finish in Iowa into a ‘victory’ of sorts. Furthermore, his team prefers if Trump wins Iowa, in the hopes that the result will send Cruz spiraling.  He then can go on to New Hampshire, claim the flag of the Establishment, and hopefully finish second. That would, in turn, slowly push out the other mainstream candidates, at which time Rubio can consolidate that vote, rightfully claim he is the most viable General Election nominee, and head toward Super Tuesday.

Don’t ask me to say what is the most likely scenario of those; I simply have no idea at this point.

 

If I was forced to put money on who wins Iowa next week, I’d focus on a few key metrics: their current poll standing, momentum in the polls, and infrastructure to drive out voter turnout.

On the Democrat side, the candidates are tied, and momentum is on the side of Bernie Sanders. Can Hillary drive up turnout to counter that enthusiasm from the Progressive wing?  My gut tells me Hillary wins by a hair, but 8 years ago…I would have said the same thing, and she finished in third. If Hillary wins, this race is likely over before it starts, as Sanders simply doesn’t have the ability to fight Hillary in many of the later primary states, especially in states unfriendly to Progressives like the deep South.

On the Republican side, using the same three criteria,  you have to give Trump the edge. He leads in the polls, and has momentum. Cruz will narrow the margin some with his turnout machine, but I doubt it will be enough. Again, like many times before, the story of the night may be the loser; if Rubio can finish a close third to Cruz, that would damage Cruz even further. Cruz’s ideal scenario, if he doesn’t win outright, is to stay close to Trump, crush Rubio, and make this a two-man race. I think that is unlikely at this point.

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Ant-Man: Movie Review

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For fans who are not familiar with the Marvel Comic history, Ant-Man seems like a bad joke; a flashback to the heydays of low-quality science fiction B movies.

In fact, Ant-Man (at least in his original iteration, Hank Pym) was always want the integral members of the Avengers. As one of the founding members, and resident geniuses, of the group, Ant-Man was every bit as important to the team as Iron Man and Captain America.

For obvious reasons, Marvel very early on decided to delay a Ant-Man movie.  It is hard enough to get the non-comic book reading public to buy into Thor and mystical objects from space, without having a character that can miniaturize and control ants. That said, Ant-Man is able to deliver as a nice addition to the 2015 summer blockbusters.

The story begins with an introduction of Hank Pym (played by Michael Douglas, who we discover was the original Ant-Man). In this movie iteration of the story, Pym was a superhero decades earlier, in an era long before the Avengers. Pym had been a key part of the science team for S.H.I.E.L.D., the global police force, until he feared they would steal his secret technology of miniaturization and abuse that power.

Pym however has been pushed out of control of his own company by his protegé Darren Cross (Corey Stoll), as well as his own daughter, Hope Pym (Evangeline Lilly). We soon discover that Hope (who, as we find out, has a troubled history with her father) has a coming-to-Jesus where she realizes her mistake too late.

Pym is looking for a new hero to wear his Ant-Man suit, and to defend his life’s work from the abuse from evil hands.  In that quest, he finds his hero in the likes of a petty, convicted burglar, Scott Lang (Paul Rudd).

The biggest fear for movie producers of these type of films is that they will look cheap or silly. Ant-Man has that problem more than many other characters. As ridiculous as the character’s name is (and they don’t shy away from making fun of the name), the ability for him to control, ride, and use ants could have been ludicrous if done incorrectly. Instead, they make the interaction with the miniature world seem to be exciting, and actually fun to watch.

What makes this movie work however, in ways that Age of Ultron did not, was that this was a much more personal story. We grow to learn who these characters are, and cheer for them to succeed in what ultimately becomes in some ways a classic heist story.  Ant-Man also seems somewhat more lighthearted than any of the recent additions to the Marvel Universe, including Age of Ultron and Captain America: The Winter Soldier. The stakes here are significant, but can’t compare to the global annihilation in those movies. Thus, it allows the characters just enough leeway to be loose and relaxed, instead of waiting for the apocalypse.

In many ways, I enjoyed this movie far more than Age of Ultron, not that I disliked the latter film. This movie is not groundbreaking at all; people will recognize several very similar plot analogues to Iron Man for example.  But after the dull seriousness of the past few movies (despite their excellence) it was fun to watch Marvel get back to just making a fun movie.

Ant-Man concludes Marvel’s ‘Phase 2′ roll out of new heroes for the new Avengers. The end credits help set up several major characters that will be integral in the coming Captain America: Civil War movies, as well as the ultimate Infinity War series.

Overall, this was simply a nice, fun classic summer superhero movie, that doesn’t prove a game changer, but definitely adds to the ever-growing Marvel Comics Universe.

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2014 Musings….

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Some random thoughts on the year that has passed…

  • Personally, an excellent year, on all fronts.
  • For the country…not so great.  At the very least, it was troubling to watch a country attack its men on the thin blue line, instead of working with the police force to make reforms to better us all.  It was disturbing to watch many supposedly intelligent people on the left fall into the trap of believing emotions before facts.  And most troubling, it is worrisome that our leaders, especially the President of the United States, appears not to have any type of learning curve, as he proposes to make his old mistakes all over again.
  • 2014 was a horrible, no good, terrible year for liberalism, and as a corollary, President Obama and Democrats.  More and more of their views of the world, as is, was discredited.
  • On foreign policy, ISIS proved Obama’s view of the Middle East was incorrect from the beginning; and he appears to be ready to repeat the same mistake in Afghanistan.
  • On the economy, we continue in our relatively stagnant path.  You know things are bad when Democrats are celebrating sub-3% GDP growth; things are better, but that is a poor barometer when millions remain out of work and out of the workforce all together.
  • On many basic issues (police use of force stories, Keystone pipeline, voter ID/intimidation, minimum wage) liberals continue to hide from basic facts and reality, to the detriment of all.
  • The biggest success story for Democrats was Obamacare; and even that comes with caveats.  The easy part of the program, delivering relatively free Medicaid benefits to millions of poor, is largely over.  On the other hand, they are largely failing on making the exchanges more affordable for the middle class.  Premiums are not increasing (a trend that has been going on now since 2004, before Obamacare was even a dream) but that doesn’t mean the pricing pressures have gone away.  In fact, there is some evidence it is getting worse.
  • Republicans had a very decent year.  They had no major detrimental scandals, for the most part.  They carried out their plan for the midterm election, and brought it successfully to fruition, even though they were outspent in many cases.  The increased majority in the House, and the retaking of the Senate, was a major coup, and all honest assessments will admit they did pretty much as well as they possibly could have.
  • I didn’t bother to do a movie review this year…because I saw so few movies.  I will say that I loved Guardians of the Galaxy and the Winter Soldier.  The X-Men movie, as well as the Hunger Games sequel were solid.  Other than that, not many movies impressed me much this year.
  • On the TV front, we continue to see the golden age of geekdom.  Whether it is the Walking Dead, Game of Thrones, Agents of Shield, Arrow, The Flash…you are living in the golden age of science fiction and fantasy. Enjoy it.
  • For 2015, I doubt politically we will achieve much.  I think the GOP is going to propose (and likely pass) a fair amount of decent legislation; Obama will simply obstruct. I think Obamacare will muddle along, with many of the same problems, and a host of new ones (especially the IRS rules that are impending).  On foreign affairs, things will get worse with ISIS, because Obama isn’t serious about confronting them; Iran will come a year closer to the bomb; and our other enemies will largely ignore the US.
  • Economically, I do believe we are improving.  But that improvement will continue to be asymmetrically targeted to the 1%.  The rich and upper middle class are continue to do quite well, as stocks and real estate surge and rebound.  The rest of the country, sadly, will continue to lag.  Obama’s policies will continue to widen the wealth gap, as it has done since the beginning of his presidency.
  • On the sports front, looking very much forward to watching how Jim Harbaugh leads the Michigan Wolverine football team.
  • 2014 was a mundane year for movies; the same cannot be said for 2015.  Avengers: Age of Ultron, the final Hunger Games, Fantastic Four, Jurassic World, James Bond’s SPECTRE, Terminator: Genisys, Ant-man, Minions, Mission: Impossible V, Ex-Machina, Pixar’s The Good Dinosaur and Inside Out, Mad Max: Fury Road, Disney’s Tomorrowland…a fantastic list, all culminating in the king of them all, Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens.  My kid is giggling in glee for a movie that won’t come out for a year; that should tell you all you need to know.
  • 2015 looks to be a banner year on many fronts.  I wish all of you the best of luck in the coming year.
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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.

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2010 Predictions…A Look Back

So you can see my predictions of the year 2010 here, if you wish.  My 2010 predictions weren’t too bad…but in hindsight, I have to say that I have outdone myself.  Regular typeface is my original prediction, and bold is my current commentary…

  • President Barack Obama will sign a health care reform bill…but not until well after the State of the Union, and only with a lot of difficulty.  Democrats will fight another civil war on the public option, taxes, abortion, and illegal immigrants.  CORRECT!
  • Democrats will try for a third stimulus, in which Obama will try to focus on tax cuts, but progressives in the House will push him to spend more on government programs.  CORRECT!  ASSUMING YOU ARE COUNTING THE CURRENT TAX BATTLE.
  • Obama’s Budget Director forecasts a 4.0% growth rate next year…the rate of growth will be much less, closer to 2.5% for the year.  SO FAR, ACCURATE.
  • We will see narrowing of job losses in the beginning of the year, but some of it will be smoke and mirrors as the government hires 700,000 temporary workers to carry out the 2010 census.  By the end of 2010, the overall rate of unemployment will still be in the double digits.  CLOSE.  WE ARE SLIGHTLY UNDER 10%.
  • The stock market will have a mediocre year, rising 7-8% to around Dow 11,300 by the end of next year.  Businesses, however, will again be profitable.  Hiring will start in earnest in the end of 2010.  NOT BAD…THE DOW IS UP ABOUT 8% FOR THE YEAR.
  • The Federal Reserve, in a bid to halt inflationary pressures, will increase Fed rates by middle of the year.  The dollar will actually gain value…and gold will stabilize or drop in price.  However, oil prices will rise to around $100/barrel.  WRONG.  THE FED IS STILL TRYING TO FLUSH MONEY INTO THE SYSTEM.  OIL IS AROUND $80.
  • Legislatively, Democrats will have greater and greater difficulty in passing anything.  Cap-and-trade, immigration reform, and card check will all die an ignoble death.  TRUE.
  • Obama’s attempts at budget deficit control will go to naught, as Democrats fight among themselves over which they should do:  tax increases or budget cuts.  Ultimately, nothing will be done, and the deficit for 2010 will be around $1.5 trillion…or about the same as 2009.  In other words, matching the largest national yearly deficit in world history.  CORRECT!
  • Almost nothing will get done by Congress, as Democrats (not Republicans) will virtually bring the legislature to a standstill.  FALSE.  REPUBLICANS STOPPED MOST EVERYTHING, TO THEIR CREDIT.
  • By summer, Tea Party protests will be ravaging the nation, as the protesters fight for control of the Republican Party.  Conservatives will be pitted against moderates, and in most races, the conservative will triumph; for example, Rubio probably will oust Crist in Florida.  Democrats will giggle in glee, remembering the outcome of NY-23.  But who has the last laugh?  ABSOLUTELY, POSITIVELY CORRECT!
  • Obama’s poll numbers will stabilize in the spring, as unemployment numbers artificially are leveled off.  However, as the year progresses, and unemployment stays in double digits, Obama’s popularity will drop below 40%.  As time goes on, Obama will be blamed more and more for the economy, and his laying the blame with the prior administration will sound more and more like whining.  FALSE.  ALTHOUGH MUCH IS TRUE, OBAMA’S POPULARITY HAS LEVELED IN THE MID-FORTIES.
  • Republicans will gain 8 Senate seats.  I will be more specific in my 2010 election prediction article, but briefly I predict Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Nevada, Pennsylvania, and New York to flip (I know, I am an optimist).  I predict Republicans will pick up 40 seats in the House, just short of the majority, but will try to entice additional Blue Dogs to switch parties.  It will be that close.  2010 will be a historic landslide, ala the Second Republican Revolution.  NOT BAD!  REPUBLICANS GAINED 6, NOT 8, SENATE SEATS.   AS FOR CONGRESS, I WAS CLEARLY PESSIMISTIC, AS THE GOP PICKED UP 63 SEATS…BUT CORRECT ABOUT THE LANDSLIDE!

As for my ever pathetic sports predictions:

  • Alabama will defeat Texas for the BCS Championship.  CORRECT!
  • The San Diego Chargers will finally break through and win the Super Bowl.  NOT QUITE.
  • Kansas Jayhawks will win the NCAA Basketball championship.  NOPE.
  • Pittsburgh Penguins will repeat as NHL Champions; the L.A. Lakers will repeat as NBA championships in a classic series over the Boston Celtics.  LAKERS CORRECT, PITTSBURGH NOT SO MUCH.
  • The United States will finish 3rd in the medal count at the Olympics.  WAY TOO PESSIMISTIC!
  • The Red Sox will outduel the Yankees, and win the World Series.  NOT EVEN CLOSE.
  • O.K., my ‘homer’ picks were horrendous last year.  Here we go:  The Pistons will miss the playoffs, and get the 8th pick in the Lottery.  The Red Wings will lose in the 2nd round of the NHL playoffs.  The Tigers will miss the postseason once again, this time by 5 games.  The Lions…who cares; I am a Redskins fan!  The Skins will get Mike Shanahan as coach, dump Jason Campbell as QB, and will draft Sam Bradford with their first round pick, which will guarantee that he will be a major flop in the NFL.  And my beloved Michigan Wolverines will get back to a bowl…but only an average one.  FRANKLY, NOT BAD, NO?

Oh, and of course, the obligatory JibJab piece:

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McCarthyism, Obama-Style

The hatred and attempted suppression of free expression is reaching levels that I have never seen in my lifetime.

The left, who is now in charge of the White House, Congress, and has always been running the mainstream media, has tried to take tragedy after tragedy, and politicize it.  It started with the Kansas abortion doctor Dr. Tiller’s murder.  It culminated yesterday with the murder of a guard, Stephen Johns, at the Holocaust museum in Washington D.C. by an insane, antisemitic neo-Nazi.  Johns is clearly a hero, and his murder should be considered as such.

And somehow, the political right is to blame for these things.

First of all, let us be clear:  those murders were by wacko, lone wolf characters.  If you want an entire political belief system to be responsible for the insane actions of lone individuals, you are living in a dream world.  Second, some how the attack and murder of army recruiters in Arkansas did not achieve that kind of attention, because the media didn’t make that linkage to the extreme left that calls our soldiers ‘baby-killers’.  But you want to use the same logic, the linkage can be made.

Then we have the lead hypocrite, President Barack Obama.  After the murder at the Holocaust museum, Mr. Obama called for more vigilance against prejudice.

“This outrageous act reminds us that we must remain vigilant against anti-Semitism and prejudice in all its forms,” Obama said Wednesday.  “No American institution is more important to this effort than the Holocaust museum, and no act of violence will diminish our determination to honor those who were lost by building a more peaceful and tolerant world.”

Really?  Are you kidding?

This happened on the same day that Mr. Obama’s long time friend and preacher, Jeremiah Wright, came out and said that he could not voice his opinions to his friend the President, because ‘Jews’ are preventing him from talking to him.

Them Jews ain’t going to let him talk to me …. He’s got to do what politicians do. And the Jewish vote, the AIPAC vote that’s controlling him, that will not let him send representation to the Darfur Review Conference, that’s talking this craziness on Israel because they’re Zionists, they will not let him talk to somebody who calls a spade what it is. Ethnic cleansing is going on in Gaza—the ethnic cleansing of the Zionists is a sin and a crime against humanity.

Um, Mr. President…where is your vigilance against this prejudice?  I guess it is the same place it was in the 20 years you spent in Mr. Wright’s church…conveniently hidden.

The media has been absolutely abhorrent on these issues, led by the pseudo-network MSNBC.  I really believe that MSNBC is left of the Huffington Post...at least Huffington is honest about its position, but MSNBC still pretends to be somewhat objective.  Who are they kidding?

There is as much hate in the mainstream media as there is anywhere else. For the past 8 years, the media was perfectly happy calling for evil things to happen to the Bush Administration. People even wished for several of their deaths.  But that is not hateful, not at all.  Even now, we see the left attacking family members of conservatives (ala Palin’s daughters).  Do you think that a sex joke would have been acceptable against Chelsea Clinton in the nineties?  How about a joke about the Obama kids?  This is frankly disgusting. Public figures are fair game…families should always be off limits.  But the left is fine with that, as long as it is a right wing politican’s family that is being attacked.

What scares me most about all this is not that they are saying these things…let them say whatever they want.  What scares me is their attempts to limit my free speech.  Their hate is acceptable…ours is not.  Frankly, I think speech has become too extreme on both sides.  There will always be extreme wackos like the prolifer murderer and the antisemtic killer.  The fact that the neonazi hated Republicans and conservatives (including reports that the neocon magazine The Weeekly Standard was on his hit lists)is not even the point; the comparison should never have gotten that far.   Not to mention, some are reporting that he may be a registered Democrat; but I digress.  But as leaders, and people who are responsible and want what is best for our country, we should do better.  When supposed mainstream people like Paul Krugman blame Fox News for incidents like this, when they were in fact targets, it speaks to lack of intellectualism…these people are pure hacks, and should be ignored.

What is now acceptable on mainstream challenges is abhorrent.  And frankly, I will throw the President and his cohorts into the mix.  Mr. Obama can talk about talking down prejudice…yet he is failing on that same call for vigilance.

4

D-Day…65 Years Later

On June 6th, 1944, Allied troops walked, ran, climbed, crawled, and dug their way in to German fortification in Normandy in the north of France, to start the campaign to ultimately end the Nazi threat to the world. Their sacrifice has rarely been matched in history.

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Today Obama will arrive at his first D-Day ceremony as President.  However, it is also the 25th anniversary of one of, if not the greatest speech abouth D-Day, Ronald Reagan’s address on the 40th anniversary of the invasion.  His full speech can be read, and heard, here.  I think many Americans have forgotten what real sacrifice, real suffering, and real evil and war is…Reagan didn’t forget at all.

But some key excerpts…

We stand on a lonely, windswept point on the northern shore of France. The air is soft, but forty years ago at this moment, the air was dense with smoke and the cries of men, and the air was filled with the crack of rifle fire and the roar of cannon. At dawn, on the morning of the 6th of June, 1944, two hundred and twenty-five Rangers jumped off the British landing craft and ran to the bottom of these cliffs.

Their mission was one of the most difficult and daring of the invasion: to climb these sheer and desolate cliffs and take out the enemy guns. The Allies had been told that some of the mightiest of these guns were here, and they would be trained on the beaches to stop the Allied advance.

The Rangers looked up and saw the enemy soldiers at the edge of the cliffs, shooting down at them with machine guns and throwing grenades. And the American Rangers began to climb. They shot rope ladders over the face of these cliffs and began to pull themselves up. When one Ranger fell, another would take his place. When one rope was cut, a Ranger would grab another and begin his climb again. They climbed, shot back, and held their footing. Soon, one by one, the Rangers pulled themselves over the top, and in seizing the firm land at the top of these cliffs, they began to seize back the continent of Europe. Two hundred and twenty-five came here. After two days of fighting, only ninety could still bear arms.

And behind me is a memorial that symbolizes the Ranger daggers that were thrust into the top of these cliffs. And before me are the men who put them there.

These are the boys of Pointe du Hoc. These are the men who took the cliffs. These are the champions who helped free a continent. And these are the heroes who helped end a war.

Gentlemen, I look at you and I think of the words of Stephen Spender’s poem. You are men who in your “lives fought for life and left the vivid air signed with your honor.”…

…We will pray forever that someday that changing will come. But for now, particularly today, it is good and fitting to renew our commitment to each other, to our freedom, and to the alliance that protects it.

We’re bound today by what bound us 40 years ago, the same loyalties, traditions, and beliefs. We’re bound by reality. The strength of America’s allies is vital to the United States, and the American security guarantee is essential to the continued freedom of Europe’s democracies. We were with you then; we’re with you now. Your hopes are our hopes, and your destiny is our destiny.

Here, in this place where the West held together, let us make a vow to our dead. Let us show them by our actions that we understand what they died for. Let our actions say to them the words for which Matthew Ridgway listened: “I will not fail thee nor forsake thee.”

Strengthened by their courage and heartened by their value [valor] and borne by their memory, let us continue to stand for the ideals for which they lived and died.

Thank you very much, and God bless you all.

And if you don’t understand the reality of that day...watch Steven Spielberg’s amazing fictionalization of the invasion on Omaha Beach from Saving Private Ryan

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I Knew I Liked Miss California…

phelps_miss-californiaNow, I really could care less about the whole Miss California ‘crisis’ or ‘catastrophe’ or whatever the media is calling it.  And I really could care even less if she took off her clothes for photographs years ago; I mean, come on, we are talking about a beauty pageant contestant here.  But now that she is a University of Michigan Wolverine fan, I will defend her to my dying breath…

And it is pretty sad when a mainstream journalist needs to spend an entire segment on a beuaty contest participant.  Come on…I always knew Keith Olbermann was dumb, but really…you can’t find anything better to talk about?  No wonder you get less than a million viewers a night on a major cable news network (if MSNBC can still be called a major news network, that is…).  And stop using Miss California as a punching bag…I am talking to you, David Axelrod…it is likely  to get you into more trouble than her.  Bill Maher attacked her for her breast implants…pretty sexist, IMHO.  I guess all these people think that Obama is lying about being for traditional marriage, right?  Otherwise, they would be attacking the President…

And of course…I am obliged to say that Miss Cali will be hosting on Fox and Friends next week…another blonde for Roger Ailes harem, I guess.

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Nerdprom, a.k.a. White House Correspondents Dinner

Always an interesting event, where a bunch of left wing reporters get together and say how they are great.  Apparently, Ann Curry of NBC today exclaimed to a crowd: “You are the most powerful people in the world!”  God, that is a scary thought.

We shall see if Obama is funny, or if he is truly ‘Spock-like’.  Last year he and John McCain came, and McCain was great, while Obama was just so-so.  Obama has an arrogance about him where he just can’t pull of self-depricating humor, which for him would be ideal.  We shall see if his humor has improved.  I hope so; his bit last year was almost painful.  You can watch the whole thing on C-SPAN, if you have nothing better to do on a beautiful May Spring Saturday afternoon.

People never gave credit for Bush, who had the best anti-Bush jokes out there.  Even when Stephen Colbert made a fool of himself one year, Bush could laugh.  That is class.  Bill Clinton was also stellar, because he too could laugh at his, lets politely call them, faux pas.

The guest list is fascinating, and can be seen here.  Some of the interesting characters?  Alabama Maersk Capt. Richard Phillips, Kara DioGuardi of American Idol, George Lucas, Glenn Close, former Atty General Alberto Gonzales, a bunch from Fox (Todd Palin, Matthew Modine (?!??), Greta Van Susteren, Bill O’Reilly, Glenn Beck),  Newt Gingrich, Warren Buffett, Ben Affleck and wife Jennifer Garner, group from CNN (Ashton Kutcher, Demi Moore, Val Kilmer, Kyra Sedgwick).  ABC has the whole White House staff, it appears, and Jon Bon Jovi.  Damn, if you could just include Paris Hilton, Perez Hilton, and Miss California, it would ideal for Celebrity knockdown!

You can follow Politico’s updates here.  What may be more interesting, the new bane of conservatism Meghan McCain will be tweeting!  Woohoo!  That should be entertaining as well.

UPDATE: Obama was certainly funnier than last year, poking more fun at himself.  He made fun of the media (saying they all voted for him, except the Fox table…).  He stated that Hillary got Specter to join the Democrats, because ‘if you can’t beat them, join them.’  Wanda Sykes had some funny lines (who thought of giving an ipod to the queen?), but may be best remembered for hoping Rush Limbaugh gets kidney failure…with Obama laughing along.  And you wonder how the left would be screaming if someone on the right has stated that Keith Olbermann, or Alec Baldwin, or god forbid Barack Obama was actually the 20th hijacker on 9/11…like Sykes said of Limbaugh.  And Limbaugh had enough class to avoid the issue on his radio show. Even Robert Gibbs, Obama’s press secretary, tried to distance himself and the President from that joke.  Actually, I fine the whole episode hilarious.

You can see the President’s bit below: 

http://www.cnn.com/2009/POLITICS/05/09/obama.correspondents.dinner/index.html

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R.I.P. Chuck Daly

42a5315c-be3f-4bad-ac60-2e60a95537f7widecChuck Daly, legendary coach who led the Detroit Pistons and the Bad Boys era to two NBA championships, in 1989 and 1990, passed away this morning from complications of pancreatic cancer.  He was 78.  R.I.P. Chuck.

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