Thinking Right Now


Random musings nicely categorized so you can skip to what you care about (aka avoiding what you don’t)…


Entertainment

  • JJ Abrams was my one of my directorial heros prior to Star Wars. Star Wars puts him on the modern era Mount Rushmore.
  • You want a dark horse candidate for a spot in next 5 or 10 years…Ben Affleck.  Name me a better three movies out of the gate from a director in the last 20 years than Gone Baby Gone, The Town, and Argo….  Still waiting…
  • Fargo Season 1…flawless. The Wire-level quality. I can’t think of another show where each and every character was so fleshed out and interesting to me. Shows yet again the beauty of contained, 10-episode story arcs.
  • Family saw their third London show (The Illusionists) since arriving in the city – we are averaging one every two months (train + Tube + tickets for 5 does add up!).  Which means we only have 9 left to see…time to get moving!!

Sports

  • IMG_0858I am close to officially choosing my adopted UK soccer team. Colin already chose Manchester City – that will NOT be my pick.
  • Vikings…please beat the Bears. Please!!  After the Cubs, Hawkeyes and JG falling just short, please don’t cap off the disappointment by missing the playoffs.
  • Ascot Racecourse…Best.  Track.  Ever.

Politics:

  • Illegal immigration in the US peaked about 8 years ago and is down about 8% since then. But I’m glad so many make sure to not let facts get in the way of sound bites.
  • Approximately 1/3 to 1/2 of the illegal immigrants in the US are due to visa overstays. I’m sure a bigger wall will stop that as well.
  • To all the Border Patrol agents that have to listen to this debate…and who are suffering under a large spike in suicide rates as well as inherent risks from the job…thank you for your service
  • “America is stronger with the many immigrants who come here to make a new life and participate in the American dream.”  Bet you can’t guess who said that…  Still guessing?  Well here’s a hint – they are the only Republican candidate for president who has worked in all 3 branches of government and yet has no significant achievements to show for it. Quite the outsider credentials.
  • I think some people missed the memo, so I will reprint it here: the actual goal of being in government is, you know, governing.
  • Donald Trump will not be the Republican nominee and will likely lose 2 of the first 3 actual contests.  Unless of course we change the voting process quickly to a Survivor or American Idol type system…then all bets are off!!
  • Not ready to declare my full primary scenario expectations just yet (I will publish prior to Iowa on February 1st) but two paths in play that people don’t realize:  a brokered R convention and R victory of White House but loss of Senate.

Until next time…

 

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Spoiler alert – this is a deviation from my normal posts and is a political post.  You have been warned.

The first time I ever heard the above title spoken, it was by a Major League Baseball player during the pre-game festivities of his first All-Star game. Having reached the pinnacle of his profession and upon being in the presence of the very heroes of the game that he had looked up to, his only response at the time was to look, listen and observe. I have always enjoyed that quote and have leaned on it often when dealing with emotional and overwhelming situations. Reflecting on the last few weeksFlag_of_Cameroon.svg has once again returned that quote to my mind:

“Eyes open, ears open, mouth shut.”

Now I am a huge fan of the West Wing, having watched the entire series on at least 4 separate occasions. One of the techniques that Aaron Sorkin and the writing staff regularly utilized when dealing with an emotional issue on the show was to have one of the main characters (usually President Josiah Bartlett) list statistics in quFlag_of_Chad.svgick succession to reinforce the magnitude of the problem. In homage to that show, I provide the statistics below:

16:     The number of terror attacks in the last two months where more than 10 people were killed

786:   Total number of people killed in those 16 attacks

10:      The number of different countries where those attacks occurred (France, Lebanon, Egypt, Pakistan, Nigeria, Chad, Turkey, Iraq, Cameroon, Somalia)

Flag_of_Egypt.svgDo those stats stun you?  They are stunning to me. Not due to the magnitude, because there has been larger tragedies historically in terms of sheer numbers. But I am stunned due to the breadth of terror in such a short amount of time across 10 countries. And it mainly has been the work of two groups: ISIL and Boko Haram. Please, please, please educate yourself on these two terror groups. Look…listen…learn. And when you have finished with that, you will realize that the time has now come to speak.

I have been a student of politics for many years. I enjoy it from a strategic standpoint and a policy standpoint. I have enjoyed many debates with my friends and family over the years and plan on continuing to do so. I even ran for office once in 2004 (losing pretty easily) which opened my eyes even more to the political game. I can game plan for you how a certain candidate can best position themselves to win the election via a ‘SEC primary’ strategy or how another can be the establishment darling. I can even plot out how the Republican candidate could be decided by a brokered convention which would bring the biggest reality show ratings of all time. That is fun. That is amusing.Flag_of_Somalia.svg

That is not what I’m addressing in this post.

This post is meant to be a course correction. Because some have either knowingly or unknowingly allowed themselves to be pulled so far off course, they may not realize they can even come back. And reading this may even offend you. But given the horrific attacks of the past two months, including at a place I was fortunate enough to visit for the first time less than a month ago, and given the conflicts that our country will face for many years to come, I feel compelled to explain some c225px-Flag_of_Pakistan.svgonclusions I’ve reached regarding those that would like to help decide our next Commander-in-Chief:

  • It is not intellectually honest to claim that you love the United States of America and care for it as a country and then support/defend a candidate
    who is unfit or unqualified for the office of President. And yes, being unfit or unqualified for office includes being300px-Flag_of_Nigeria.svg willfully ill-informed, ill-prepared, ignorant, a racist, a misogynist and/or a liar. If you care for the country, then one must respect the Office. And those that want to earn that honored place, must respect it as well. And if you think I’m talking about your preferred candidate, then doesn’t that say everything you need to know about them as a candidate?
  • Flag_of_Turkey.svgThe only logical and intellectually feasible rationale for supporting an unfit or unqualified person for President is simply an unquenched desire to see the entire institution and system burnt to the ground out of anger and vengeance. They have a word for that – it’s called anarchy.
  • If you are adhere to a Christian worldview and place a high value on Scriptural authority, please remember that pursuing the previous path as explained above is explicitly NOT what we are commanded to do in relation to a governing authority.  And please recall that when those commands were
    Flag_of_France.svgwritten, their governing authorities were people like Nero and Domitian.

In summary, being a citizen of the United States should make us feel fortunate and grateful for the opportunity to live in such freedom. And we should seek every Flag_of_Lebanon.svg possible way to provide that same hope and opportunity to all within our country. That is a serious and sober pursuit. May we approach our tasks as citizens in just such a way.

(And P.S. – this also includes embracing those that would like to join our country, under the law, in pursuit of life, liberty and happiness – similar to the very people upon which this country was built.  But further discussion of that point is for another time…)

  • Must read #1:  “Why I Am Leaving Goldman Sachs” by Greg Smith.  Ego of the writer aside (as well as the fact that he made so much money from Goldman that he can say these things and never work in the industry again), much of what is stated here is spot-on regarding the investments industry.  And it will never change because no laws or regulation can prevent this – only losses and failure.
  • Heard this recently from Francis Chan – if you were promised heaven, with no pain, no sickness, no crying and no sorrow; where all your friends and family would be and where all your needs were perfectly provided for eternity but the catch was Christ was not present…would you want heaven?  How you answer that question explains everything and breaks our soul and true desires wide open.
  • UNC-Ashville had a striped deck stacked against them.  Unfortunate.
  • Must NOT watch:  The HBO Movie “Game Change” – not because of how it portrays anyone but because I learned absolutely nothing new about Sarah Palin (she was overwhelmed; over her head; not fit for the presidency; had strong desire for the celebrity life) that I did not already know.  However, I did learn a ton about John McCain, Steve Schmidt and Nicole Wallace that crystallizes why the McCain/Palin ticket lost in 2008 – and that was too painful to watch and recommend to anyone.  Being a “maverick” is feast or famine and unfortunately has severe consequences at times.  And from what I’ve heard, as always, the book was better.
  • Must read #2:  “The Big Short” by Michael Lewis
  • The QB to WR combos in my NFC North as of right now:  Rodgers to Jennings; Cutler to Marshall; Stafford to C. Johnson; Ponder to Jenkins…which one doesn’t sound right…
  • I grew up around dog tracks and I have thoroughly enjoyed the Milch/Mann series “Luck”.  From all accounts, it was an honest take on the track and its people.  Quite disappointed in its cancellation.  But listening to the Milch/Mann confrontations leak out now is fascinating.
  1. From a pure “level of accomplishment versus expectations” standpoint:  Victor Cruz (Super Bowl) > Tim Tebow (Playoffs) > Jeremy Lin (Spectacular couple of weeks).  Now if Lin helps the Knicks make a run in the playoffs, he instantly vaults over Tebow.
  2. Must listenThe Civil Wars.  Unique – distinct – awesome. Start with Barton Hollow.  Many thanks to Matt Perrault for introducing me to them.
  3. Have not laughed harder recently than when Dr. Ron Paul claimed in a debate that people are sick and tired of people from Congress…a declaration from a CONGRESSMAN of over two decades.  Can’t make this stuff up.  Wake me up when he decides to actually run for President versus what he is doing now –  running as Romeny’s hit man and laying the ground work for his son’s (Rand) VP or 2016 presidential ambitions.
  4. Must watchKen Burn’s three-part miniseries on Prohibition recently on PBS.  Fascinating.
  5. Late night re-run alert update:  Friends is holding up VERY well over time (especially since I don’t recognize that any Joey/Rachael storyline ever existed).  Maybe even better than Seinfeld.  Yes, I just said that.  Welcome to the life of an insomniac.
  6. Did you know that over 50% of the members of Congress are millionaires…and we wonder why they seem incapable of relating to “normal” people and understanding how laws truly affect the general public.  Many are not part of the general public and never have been.
  7. For entertainment value alone, I would really like to see either a brokered or contested Republican convention.  Now that would be can’t-miss reality TV.
  8. Must NOT readLost Symbol by Dan Brown.    Theology concerns aside (which there are many), I was so mad at one plot swerve, I will likely never read another book by Mr. Brown.
  9. As of today, 80% likelihood that President Obama will be re-elected.  But if gas prices get to $4 or $5 a gallon, that number will drop very quickly.
  10. Senator Santorum’s debate performance this week = train wreck.  Hard to watch and not watch…at the same time.