Monthly Archives: August 2009

My Top 5 80’s Movies List

Here is a list of my five favorite 80s movies. Now, this is not a list of the “objectively” best 80s movies (though that list could be forthcoming), but only a list of my favorites. Now that I think of it, maybe it should be a list of what I think are the best, because in my view, the two lists are different. Actually, maybe it would be best to break it up and have this list be the best movies that signify “the 80s”, and not necessarily the best films of the 80s. For example, when you think of the 80s, do you think of Ferris Bueller’s Day Off or Raging Bull? I would say the former, and both films came out in that decade. Raging Bull might be in the list for the best movies of the decade, but not the list of movies that makes you think “80s”.

Okay, so I am going with the Quintessential 80s Movie list. What qualifies a movie to be here, you ask? I think a film with the “cheesy” clothes and music, or a “slow clap”, or a bad guy you love to hate, or a high school setting, or a fanciful or impossible romance, or an inexplicable dance/song number, etc. …

Alas, here is my list:

Can’t Buy Me Love
St. Elmo’s Fire
Top Gun
The Breakfast Club
The Karate Kid

I inserted Can’t Buy Me Love over the aforementioned Ferris Bueller’s, Fast Times at Ridgemont High and The Goonies, not because I like it more than those films, but because in my view it better satisfies the “quintessential 80s” requirement and has one of the greatest slow clap scenes ever. Apologies also to Sixteen Candles, Lucas and Weird Science. Although, the latter could qualify under a different list: “Bad” Movies That We Love. Stay tuned, but for now, enjoy theses “iconic” scenes (apologies for all the ” “s).

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Health Care Bill Fact Check

Factcheck.org has released their study of H.R. 3200, or more specifically, the claims being made about the bill. The article is worth a read, and most definitely worth passing along to EVERYONE.


Health Care Cont’d

John Harwood at the NYT lays out where we stand on health care, and towards the end of his piece lays out in very clear terms where legislators are in agreement, and where they still differ. When reading it I was struck by the fact that Obama and other democratic leaders have failed to lay out in such simple terms what a bill would do and how it would benefit both the insured and the uninsured. As a result, the Republicans have controlled the discourse and with the aid of the inept MSM, we are left talking about things that are NOT in the bill (death panels, coverage for undocumented aliens, etc.).

Obama needs to take control of this sinking ship now, lay out the vision in clear terms (the guy is a great orator; why is he struggling with this?), make reform a moral issue (“how can the world’s greatest democracy turn a blind eye to 47 million uninsured Americans”, or something like that), and use all his political resources to ensure that the best bill possible crosses his desk this fall.


The Mess in Afghanistan

We are nearing the eight-year anniversary of the start of the war in Afghanistan. What have we accomplished? The Taliban is arguably more influential, potent and organized in that country than they were in October of 2001. The country’s infrastructure, in terms of economics, civil services, and politics, still appear to be in disarray. Oh, and one other thing, Osama-Bin Laden is still at large.

Unfortunately, Obama seems intent to stay the course there, which will probably destroy his presidency the way Vietnam did Johnson’s. If the mighty Russian army could not emerge from that country victorious, why do we think we can build that state to our liking when after nearly eight years we have regressed in our efforts, and our military is stretched thin in Afghanistan and Iraq.

The new strategy to fight the war in Afghanistan is leading the news today, and the story in Time carries this statement from a former CIA expert:

“President Obama inherited a disaster, a war which had been under-resourced horribly for at least six of the last seven and a half years,” former CIA official Bruce Riedel, who was tapped by the White House to review Afghan policy, said last week. Even if McChrystal gets whatever forces he feels he needs, the best one can hope for is that the situation may be stabilized in 12 to 18 months. “Anyone who thinks that in 12 to 18 months we’re going to be anywhere near victory is living in a fantasyland,” Riedel said.

It is not going to matter to the people in Afghanistan or voters in this country that Obama inherited the mess; all that will matter is that he will be the one unable to clean it up or get is out of it.


RGV Town Hall

I attended the health care town hall meeting this past Monday at the McAllen Convention Center and I intended to write a long entry about it, but the truth is I am tired of trying to infuse reason into this debate (in my limited way here on this blog) and it is not worth my time or effort to do so. Or maybe I am just having a bad day.

In any event, suffice it to say that most of the people who attended the meeting were against reform, incredibly misinformed or misled, and really have no sense of irony about the hypocrisy in their stance. It is absurd that the people who railed against “big government” and complained about budget deficits, are the same people that receive Medicaid or VA benefits (two of the biggest bankrupting entities on our books). Apparently American taxpayers should subsidize these people’s health care, but no one else’s.

I have an idea on how to erase our debt: eradicate entitlement programs entirely (say that fast three times). Of course, I do not really advocate for that position (though reform in those areas is needed, too), but if budget deficits are what these people are genuinely concerned about, then they would agree with that position. But of course, that is not what this “debate” is about. I think most of these people were McCain supporters and remain fearful of an Obama presidency, a fear that is probably instilled and strengthened through the right-wing media. And like the media, they do not hesitate to make nonsensical, false or misleading, and/or contradictory statements to help derail this presidency. And no fact can convince these people of the error(s) in their proclamations.

It is depressing and maybe that is why I do not feel like writing more. What is the point? If you read the Newsweek article I shared earlier you will know that people will search for information to validate their beliefs, no matter how wrong those beliefs are. And beliefs can be wrong. But that is another topic for another time. The point of this rambling post, I guess, is that no matter how beneficial reform might be, even to those who oppose it (middle class families that had a family member suffer a serious accident or illness requiring extended medical care would probably be bankrupted by the experience), or how badly reform is needed to help reduce our national debt, some people, for numerous reasons, will never get on board. What is sad is that some of those reasons have no basis in reality.


Cubs 2009 Season, Dead at 116 games

At approximately 11:54 p.m. CST, on August 17th, the Cubs 2009 baseball season came to a tragic and premature end. With the Cubs taking a 1-0 lead into the bottom of the ninth in San Diego, closer Kevin Gregg blew the save and gave up a walk-off 3-run home run to rookie Padre Kyle Blanks. It was Gregg’s sixth blown save of the year and it resulted in the Cubs falling six games behind the first-place Cardinals, ending the Cubs season. There was still forty-six games left to be played. In a cruel irony, while the Cubs season dies, Kevin Gregg’s season continues.

You could argue the Cubs 2009 season began at various points: on Opening Day, when pitchers and catchers reported to Mesa, AZ, for spring training, or soon after their 2008 season ended at the hand of the Los Angeles Dodgers in the NLDS. I will argue for the last possibility.

The Cubs had just been swept by the Dodgers, and barely even put up a fight after being the class of the NL all season. Convinced they needed to get more left-handed in their lineup, Cubs GM Jim Hendry and Manager Lou Piniella began thinking about roster moves the team could make to address that need and put the Cubs “over the top”.

That thinking led the Cubs to trade away a key component of their team, utility-man Mark DeRosa, and sign Aaron Miles to play second base. This was not a popular move among Cubs nation. The club also traded away long-time Cub Kerry Wood, one of the most (if not THE most) popular Cubs players of this generation. To fill in the gap left by the Wood trade, the Cubs signed the aforementioned Kevin Gregg, who just the year before, had blown nine saves to lead the majors. To add more left-hand punch to the lineup, the Cubs signed free-agent outfielder Milton Bradley to a three-year, $30 million contract.

From the start of the regular season, it became clear that this year would not be the cake-walk it was the year before. The team struggled offensively, and succumbed to the injury bug, as well. The biggest blow came when All-Star third baseman and the team’s best hitter, Aramis Ramirez, separated his shoulder in a game in Milwaukee on May 8th. He would not return to the lineup until July 6th, and he returned to one of the worst offensive clubs in the league. In 2008, the Cubs scored the most runs in the NL.

While Derrek Lee returned to his 2005 form, Alfonso Soriano (.243,19,51,.304,.427), Mike Fontenot (.225,9,36,.293,.380), Geovony Soto (.222,9,29,.330,.391), Aaron Miles (.182,0,5,.220,.245) and Milton Bradley (.263,8,30,.392,.394) all struggled or dealt with injuries of their own during Ramirez’s absence. The Cubs simply could not score runs on a consistent basis, which called into question the various off-season moves the club made and made Cubs fans long for Mark DeRosa. To add insult to injury, the Cubs biggest rival ,the St. Louis Cardinals, traded for Mark DeRosa before the July 31st trade-deadline, crushing the already fragile Cubs spirit.

The Cubs pitching staff, on the other hand, was a relative bright spot for the club. Especially the starting pitching. Cubs starters are second in the league in quality starts and the team’s ERA of 3.92 is good enough for 5th in the league. The bullpen has been somewhat of a different story. Gregg won the closer’s role in spring training and Carlos Marmol, arguably the team’s best reliever, settled back into the setup role. It has been an up-and-down season for both pitchers. Gregg struggled early before settling into a nice grove in June and July. Meanwhile, Marmol has struggled with his command all year, and though his strikeouts are high, his walks are high, too. And Gregg has simply self-destructed in the last couple of weeks and has given up more home runs (13) than some of the Cubs starting pitchers, in a fraction of the innings.

The tragic story of the Cubs can be attributed to many factors: injuries, bad luck, or questionable roster moves. But the bottom line is the team simply did not perform on the field and quite possibly, did not mesh in the clubhouse. All year long, players, Piniella, and fans alike all stated the club would get on a roll once the guys who were struggling started playing to their potential. For the most part, we are all still waiting. That pretty much sums up what it is to be a Cubs fan.

The Cubs are mourned by the city of Chicago, Wrigleyville, Ronnie “Woo Woo” Wickers, Jim Belushi, Billy Corgan, John Cusack, millions of other Cubs fans throughout the country, and of course, yours truly.

For the 100th consecutive year it will be said: “Wait ‘Til Next Year.”


Stay Classy, Oakland Raiders

This just in: Oakland Raiders head football coach Tom Cable has allegedly punched an assistant coach, breaking the latter’s jaw.

This one is for you, Gordito. Go Broncos!